Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Let’s all eat cake…

My amazingly wonderful blogging friend Katy is on a quest. A quest to raise money for a very good cause.
In January, Katy’s friend Michelle lost her baby boy, Keelan, to what was diagnosed as sudden infant death syndrome. Instead of dissolving into a little pool of grief (which is probably what I would done), Michelle chose to remember Keelan by raising money in aid of FSID – The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID). The original plan was to take part in Mile in Memory, walking a mile in memory of Keelan, which Michelle and Katy duly did. The day of the walk ended up expanding into a whole event, with a raffle, cakes for sale, a bouncy castle and general fun for all the family. Bteween them, they managed to raise an amazing £6000 for FSID! I think you’ll agree that’s quite an achievement.

Originally, the fundraising was to have ended there. Then they learned that the FSID has come up with a new fundraising plan. The charity is turning 40 this year and they are asking people to celebrate their anniversary (and raise money) by having tea parties. How could anyone resist the idea of having a good natter of a cuppa and a piece of cake and not even having to feel guilty about it because, of course, it’s all for charity! So of course, after not much debate, the two of them put their fundraising caps back on.
And that’s where I (and you) come in.

Michelle and Katy are going to be arranging tea parties in memory of Keelan, of course. But that’s not the big plan. The big plan is as follows: have other people host tea parties as well, in memory of Keelan and in aid of FSID. The more tea parties the better. They can be small tea parties or large tea parties. Virtual tea partiesm birthday tea parties, teddy bears’ picnics… anything goes. As long as the hosts believe it’s a tea party it will be accepted.

Naturally, I want to help too. I am, after all, in a perfect position on put the “international” into the events. And that’s where I need your help.

The Germans (and quite possibly all continental Europeans) have the idea of 5 o’clock tea firmly fixed in their heads. I don’t know why, but they’re utterly convinced that every British person drops whatever their doing at precisely 5pm every single day and goes off to have a cup of tea and a snack. No matter how often I inform them that I have never in my life gone out of my way to have a cup of tea and 5pm and can’t think of even one friend or acquaintence who has they remain utterly convinced that this stereotype is true. I’ve managed to get them to admit that it doesn’t always rain in the UK and I’m slowly convincing them that English food can actually be quite good, but the five-o’clock tea myth persists. No matter that nobody in the English-speaking world seems to have heard of it – they’ve always heard about it, therefore it must be true. So I’ve decided to embrace the stereotype. Why not? At least it’s a nice stereotype. So, I shall be offering my friends afternoon tea proper British style in memory of Keelan. Starting at 5pm, obviously.

And this is where I need your help! I want you to tell me what foods instantly spring to mind when I say the words “Afternoon tea”. The more traditionally English/British the better. I already have scones (both cheese and plain) on my list, and I even know of a source for clotted cream here in Germany! I’m also thinkin Cheddar cheese sandwiches – cut into little triangles for maximum posh Englishness – shortbread and Yorkshire Parkin (the latter shall be made using my Grandma’s recipe. What could be more English). But I need more! Hungry mouths to feed and all that. All contributions welcome, especially from those readers out there who are not British. What do you think is an absolute must at an English tea party? In this particular case stereotypes are welcome! (But only good ones, please. That’s what we’re trying to reinforce here).

By the way, you too can host a tea party in memory of Keelan. Check out The Dormouse’s Last Stand to find out how…


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… and it still isn’t Christmas

Does anyone else feel like “the season” has been going on forever? The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of buying and wrapping presents, trips to the post office (the last of my parcels to England finally went out last week), parties and Christmas markets. And in between all that I’ve had to do the assessment for my science course (a last minute job which I’m dreading getting the result for), work and keep on top the mundane every day things like cleaning the flat and making sure we have actual food to eat. The upside is that I now have lots to tell my blog. Unfortunately I still don’t have any time, so it’s going to have to be another boring bullet point list. Sorry about that…

  • I want to Mainz last Saturday with my ex-colleagues. I had never been to Mainz before. We went to the Christmas market, where the Glühwein was much cheaper than everywhere else I’ve been. Mainz is a bit of a strange town. It’s really pretty around the market square then you walk into the shopping street and it’s all horrible grey concrete buildings and huge glass monstrosities. The Christmas market was nice though.
  • It’s been snowing here on and off for the past few days. This is worth mentioning because it’s so unusual. Not that Karlsruhe never gets snow, but the little bit that does come is not usually this early. It’s also freezing. Yesterday it was -12°C! I had to go out in it to buy stuff for a Christmas party I hosted last night. It was so bad that I actually got on the tram to go one stop, which I usually think is a waste of time.
  • I had a progress meeting at work last week. There are a few things I’ve been asked to work on, but the verdict was generally positive (and no mention was made of my social skills… or lack thereof. There is something to be learned from this I’m sure…)
  • Last week we went to both my work Christmas meal (at an Italian restaurant) and Jan’s work Christmas party. Mine was more fun, although we missed the last train home and ended up having to wait until 1:06am for a train that would take us to Bruchsal, where we had to change onto an S-Bahn. I also had to work the next day. Tired is not the word…
  • I received a parcel last week, from the lovely Katyboo. It contained a Christmas card and a book – The Children of Green Knowe. Unexpected and very nice – I’ve been wanting to read that book for ages! :-)
  • On Friday I went to the Christmas market in Mannheim with my colleagues. It was nice but so cold that we only stayed long enough to have something to eat and drink one Glühwein. I was back in Karlsruhe by 9pm!
  • Two more days at work then I’m off for Christmas. We’re staying in Germany this year (at Jan’s dad’s place) then going to Italy to visit his sister for New Year. Exciting stuff.

And now I have to go and do something about my flat, which is still suffering from the after effects of a Christmas party. It may take some time…


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All that you never wanted to know

I went to Maifest yesterday at my old student residence. That’s the Fest where the ex residents are invited to come back to meet the new residents and bore entertain them with tales of how things were back in the day. It was my first Maifest as a former resident, but seeing as I only moved out 2 months ago I didn’t have any back in the day stories to tell. Not that I would tell them if I did, but y’know. Mostly I spent the day telling people that I do not, in fact, still live there. I’m now wondering whether anybody actually noticed I was gone. I had planned to come home fairly early, but instead ended up sitting up all night drinking beer, finally making it home at 8am. I then went to bed, but only for a few hours. Seriously need curtains for the bedroom – the whole bright sun shining in on me thing makes daytime napping difficult. And now it’s 3:45pm. I’m still in my pyjamas and I’ve just eaten a whole 200g packet of chocolate raisins. You may decide for yourself what that says about me.

Anyway, I spotted this meme over at Home Office Mum’s blog and in the absence of other inspiration decided to steal it for today’s post.
So, what I have to do is answer the following questions. Oh, and I also have to replace one question and add one question. Fair enough.

1. What are your current obsessions?
Taking photographs. I took one of a purple tree on my way home this morning. Why? Because I could. Chocolate raisins. Adding books to my huge list of things I want to read some day. Facebook. And my blog of course, but that kind of goes without saying.

2. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often?
Black trousers. I wear them for work. Work is all I do. therefore I wear my black trousers all the flipping time. I seriously need to get a life.

3.Tell me your current most played song.
A Long December by Counting Crows. I am listening to it on repeat even as I type. no idea why I’m so into it at the moment. I just love it. I’m also listening to All For You by Sister Hazel a lot. “Words can’t say and I can’t do enough to prove it’s all for you“. Was this song written about me?

4. Last thing you bought?
Food actually, but I’m guessing that isn’t what you want to know. Other than that I believe it was 4 champagne glasses from Nanu Nana. They were 95 cents each. How could I possibly resist?

5. What are you listening to?
A Long December by Counting Crows. Still.

6. Wine or chocolate?

What do you mean or? Surely it has to be wine and chocolate!

7. Favourite holiday spots?
Somewhere that isn’t here. Anywhere. Please, just take me away.
Seriously? I adored Rome. Really want to go back. Also Austria. I miss looking at snow capped mountains. Just don’t ask me to climb the bloody things.

8. Reading right now?
On the tram: A Dragon Lance book. In German. At home: Nothing actually. How is that possible?

9. Four words to describe yourself.
Pretty much permanently confused. (Hence the title of the blog)

10. Guilty pleasure?
Naturals crisps in Balsamic Vinegar flavour. If I carry on like this I’ll be the size of a house by June.

11. Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak?
Katyboo‘s blog. Clue. Possibly the funniest film ever. Also Belgian Waffle. So two out of my three things are blogs. I’m sure that’s significant in some way.

12. Favourite spring thing to do?
Eat icecream. Spend time outdoors before it becomes too hot for me to cope.

13. Planning to travel to next?
England. In July. For a friend’s wedding.

14. Best thing you ate or drank lately?
Baked potato with lashings of cheddar cheese. I rarely get to eat any cheddar cheese here so when I do it’s as if Christmas, Easter and my birthday have all come and once.

15. When did you last get tipsy?
Last night. First time in months.

16. Favourite ever film?
Usually I say A League of Their Own, but really it’s a toss up between that and Edward Scissorhands.

17. Care to share some wisdom?
I have no wisdom of my own to impart so instead I give you a quote from the Dragonlance Chronicles, Volume 2. “If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear the pain of loss, then our lives will be emptier, our loss greater“. Or, in other words, take a chance people. At least if it all goes wrong you’ll still have the memories.

18. Song you can’t get out of your head?
Before I chased it away with Counting crows I had that Umberella (ella ella) song in my head. It was playing in a shop the other day and it’s been haunting me ever since. I don’t even like the bloody song!

19. One thing you’d really like to do this year
Ugh. Why must you asked such difficult questions?
If you’d asked me three months ago I’d have said get a flat, but I’ve done that now and I can’t think of anything else.

20. What or who makes you irrationally rage and totally not proud of yourself at the same time?
Old people on trams. I hate the way they expect you to give up your seat for them, even if they’re only going one stop. And if you fail to stand up they just glare at you until you do. It drives me mad! And then I feel guilty because they are old people after all.

If you could have chosen your own name what would you be called?
When I was younger I always wanted my name to be Abigail. I’ve no idea why, or where I even got the name from, but I always thought it sounded so much more interesting than Beverley.

OK, now it’s over to you. I’m not actually going to name specific bloggers,  so anyone who wishes may consider themselves tagged.


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I have a flat… but no furniture

No, I haven’t managed to get internet at home already. That would be way too efficient for me! I’m at the French-German cultural centre in Karlsruhe. Jan works for them sometimes, sorting out their computer problems, and so he has a key.

Thanks to everyone for the good wishes! I am starting to get settled in a little, but, as the title suggests, am almost entirely furnitureless. Actually, the bedroom is beginning to take shape. I have a bed, small chect of drawers, bookcase and have even hung up my dreamcatcher. I also have a fridge – not in the bedroom obviously. In the kitchen. The kitchen is far from sorted though. Most of my food is currently living on the bookcase, with the bigger stuff in a cardboard box next to the fridge. The kitchen is seriously lacking in storage space! So after next payday I shall have to do something about that.
And as for the living room… all I have in there is two beanbag style cushions to sit on. That is it. No sofa, no table, no shelves… not even a simple footstool. Instead the floor is littered with boxes and bags that are yet to be unpacked. I think I shall be ignoring that room for a while…

I got my very first item of mail at the new flat today! The lovely Katyboo, whose blog you should really read, sent me a housewarming present. A book (The Timewaster Letters) which looks excellent, a very pretty little makeup bag and the cutest little card ever. As soon as I am in a position to put photos on my blog again i shall take one and show you all. Thank you millions Katy!

Must go now – I worked til 6pm today and have to be back at work at 8am tomorrow in order to be allowed to go to my appointment at the bank on Thursday….


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Photo meme

Katyboo tagged me for this meme days ago, but as you can see I’m only getting round to doing it now.
The idea is that you open the fourth folder of photos on your PC, take the fourth photo from that album and post it on your blog. Then I suppose you’re meant to talk about it – at least that’s what everyone else has done.
I was a little afraid I might have to cheat on this one. You see, most of my photos are of people I know – family, friends, people from my student residence… that sort of thing. And while I don’t mind writing about my own life I do draw the line at posting photos of people on the internet without their knowledge (I don’t even use people’s full first names on my blog, unless they’re really, really common names meaning they could be anybody). As it turned out I didn’t even have to do any cheating. Photo four from album number four was this:
Halloween

I’m sure none of you need me to tell you that “this” is a photo of a skull and cross bones necklace. What you may, however, be wondering is why.

It’s part of my Halloween costume from 2007. I went as Susan Sto Helit. I had a half black, half white wig that I rearranged a bit to make look white with a black streak. I wore a long black skirt, long sleeved black top and a lacy kind of cardigan, black lipstick and lots of black mascara. This necklace was something I had discovered that very day in a one euro shop and decided it would be the perfect accessory for my costume. I thought I did a good job. Unfortunately nobody managed to figure out who I was. Most of you are probably asking yourselves who Susan Sto Helit is as well**. *Sigh*. Where, oh where have all the Terry Pratchett readers gone?
I’m not entirely sure why I took a photo of the random euro shop necklace part of my costume. But for some reason I did. Maybe I knew even back then I would one day be called upon to find a fourth photo in a fourth album that was hopefully not a picture of one of my friends…

** Just in case any of you actually is wondering who Susan Sto helit is, she’s Death’s granddaughter in the Discworld novels. Yes, I said Death. Huge skeleton, walks around with a scythe, that Death. Obviously she’s not his real granddaughter. She can walk through walls though. Look, you’ll just have to read the books. It will all make perfect sense then.


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A happy meme

Katyboo has tagged me for another meme. I’m supposed to list six things that are essentially unimportant but make me happy. Quite a difficult task for the person whose own boyfriend calls her a pessimist, but I shall give it my best shot. Deep breath and here goes…

1. People watching. I like to do this from my bedroom window or while sitting outside a cafe in summer. Even if the people I’m watching aren’t doing anything interesting it’s somehow fun. And I get to make comments about what they’re wearing and stuff – “oooh, I like her dress!” “Look at that woman’s top – could that pink be any brighter?!?”. Good times!

2. Mashed potatoes with gravy. It’s the ultimate comfort food and never fails to make me happy. Most of the time I don’t even bother with a proper meal – who needs meat and veg? Just give me a huge bowl of mashed potatoes with gravy. Now I just need to figure out a way to get my comfort food without having to peel, cook and mash the potatoes first…

3. Curling up in bed with a good book… in the middle of the day. This is especially good on cold, rainy days. To make it even better get someone to make you a nice cup (or pot) of tea and bring it to the bedroom. It’s like a little piece of heaven.

4. Looking at kitchen things in Karstadt. I do not own a kitchen and neither do I earn anywhere near enough to buy Karstadt kitchen stuff, but looking at it and imagining how my kitchen will look one day makes me happy. Although I do get a little sad when I go in to find the crockery set I’ve been drooling over for months has been taken out of circulation and they’re almost sold out. I’m never going to get my beautiful square plates with the olives on now – they only have the round ones left and even they are almost all gone. I also like looking at kitchen things on the internet, but it’s even more fun in Karstadt cos I get to actually touch them.

5. Blogs. Blogs make me very happy. The first thing I do when I come in from work is log in to wordpress and read my way through my blogroll. I do this before i even write my own blog. Some evenings when I’m at a loose end (or trying to avoid studying) I’ll even look through my blogging friends’ blog rolls for new reading material. Reading about other people’s lives is almost like having one of my own.

6. Clean bedding. I love, love, love slipping into a nice clean bed at night. Unfortunately I hate doing washing (and it’s almost impossible to get an appointment here) and am not a big fan of actually changing the sheets either, so it doesn’t happen very often. But when it does I love it. I always make sure to put clean pyjamas on too on those nights. It’s fabulous.

And that’s six. Woo-hoo, made it to the end. Now to tag some people…
OK, I choose Hails, Sleepyjane, Lauren and anyone else who feels like having a go…


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On a desert island in December

Well, I’m still ill, although my voice had come back slightly this morning. I still can’t stop coughing though. *sigh*
But this post isn’t meant to be another moany pity-me one. Instead I’m finally going to get round to doing that meme I’ve been going on about for days.

So, I was tagged by Katyboo and the meme is based on Desert island Discs.
For those that don’t know Desert Island Discs is a BBC radio programme in which guests have to imagine they are castaways on a desert island and choose 8 pieces of music to take with them. Then they can choose one book, anything but the Bible or Shakespeare, both of which are already on the island (strange island this). And finally, they can choose one luxury item, nothing to help them escape from the island though.

So, here goes. First my eight pieces of music.
This is quite difficult actually. I have favourite pieces of music for every mood, and what I feel like listening to sometimes changes within hours never mind days, but I shall do my best.

1. Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler - This is my all time favourite song, although it also makes me a little sad. You see, it was also one of my step mam’s favourite songs. I like to listen to it on days when I find myself wishing she was still around (she died when I was 12 those who are wondering). So clearly it would have to come to the desert island with me for her sake. Also it’s on the soundtrack to the film Beaches, which makes it pretty appropriate for a desert island don’t ya think?

2. Bad Day by Daniel Powter – For those days when I’m feeling all hormonal and miserable. Who doesn’t like screaming “cos you’ve had a bad day” at the top of their lungs on days like that?

3. Carnival of Rust by Poets of the Fall – It took me aaages to decide on this one. I knew I had to have something b y Poets, them being my new favourite band and everything, but it was so unbelievable difficult to decide which one. I’ve gone for this one because it’s kind of loud and rocky, perfect for jumping around a desert island too, and plus my boyfriend can play it on guitar so it would be something to remind me of him.

4. World by Five for Fighting – It was a toss up between this one and Devil in the Wishing Well. This one won out, but only just. I would put it on full blast, close my eyes and imagine myself a new world, just like the song says. The perfect way to forget about being stuck on a desert island.

5. Miserable by Lit – Another one for horrible days when everything seems to be going wrong. I’ll never forget the first time I heard this song. I was 18 and I’d just had a fight with my boyfriend of the time. A guitarist friend of mine offered to play a song for me, so I told him to “play something miserable”, which he did. This was that miserable song. I’ve loved it ever since.

6. Ha Ha You’re Dead by Green Day - Not Green day’s best song and not even my favourite, but perfect for a desert island. Another great one for turning up to full volume and screaming out while jumping around like a loony.

7. Tribute by Tenacious D – This song is hilarious! It never fails to cheer me up. Also, it reminds me of my group of friends from uni. The DJ would play it for us every week and at some point it became our anthem. It’s nice to have something to remind of those times now we’re all spread across the world.

8. Keep on Loving You by REO Speedwagon – My first ever favourite song! Obviously I had no idea what it was about back then. I would just sing along to the chorus and imagine how it would be to have someone telling me he was going to love me forever. There are other REO Speedwagon songs that I like, but for my desert island it would obviously have to be this one that came along for the sake of my six year old self.

Phew. That was hard! I just hope I’ve got all the links right. Now for the book…
Well, obviously it would have to be something long otherwise I’d be finished with it way too soon and end up having to read and re-read the bible until rescue came. The obvious one would probably be War and Peace. I’m a quick reader and every time I finish yet another book my boyfriend threatens to buy me that one for Christmas! I think that one would be too obvious a choice though so I’ve decided to go with Gone With the Wind. I’ve heard so much about it but never actually got round to reading it (or watching the film) and I feel like I should. A desert island would be the perfect opportunity. And it 960 pages for this edition it should take me a few weeks to get through it…

And finally, my luxury item.
Now I know people are probably going to laugh at this but I think I would want my cuddly Eeyore.
This Eeyore was a birthday present from my mum this year. (Yes I got a stuffed toy for my 25th birthday. And your point would be?). He’s some kind of bedtime Eeyore, which means he’s dressed in a blue dressing gown and night cap thing and, depending on which way you look at him, either looks unbelievably exhausted or as if he’s just woken up. One day, not long after Eeyore arrived in Germany, Jan decided he felt sorry for him sitting on the table looking like he hadn’t slept in days, so before we left for work he tucked Eeyore up under my quilt. By the time I arrived home I’d forgotten he was there. I’d had a bad day and all I wanted was to get into my room and relax. Upon opening the door I saw Eeyore snuggled up waiting for me and my heart just melted. He looked so cute lying there, and of course knowing my boyfriend had put him there made it even cuter. So if I was going to be trapped on a desert island I would definitely have to tajk Eeyore with me so I could leave him tucked up in my bed waiting to greet me when I returned from a hard day of gathering cocunts and stuff. I’m sure he’d be a great comfort when I got sunstroke as well, which I most definitely would. If I can get sunstroke in Karlsruhe I’ve got no chance on a desert island!

OK, that’s it. Now I think I’m supposed to tag people. Unfortunately just about everyone I would have tagged has already done it though, so I pick sleepyjane and anyone else who wants to have a go…

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