Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Look Up, Look Down – Großes Walsertal

I haven’t taken part in Look Up, Look Down for a while, and today seemed as good a day as any to join in again.
This is an old photo, from when I still lived in Austria. It was taken from up in the mountains of the Großes Walsertal (a Tal is a valley, so technically the Großes Walsertal is somewhere at the bottom, but I couldn’t tell you the name of the mountain!). Is anyone else reminded of The Land Before Time when looking at this scenery?

Großes Walsertal

This photo was taken at the end of May, and it was actually quite sunny down in the valley (although some stubborn bits of snow were still hanging on). It was freezing up in the mountains, though!

To take part in the Look Up, Look Down challenge and see all the other entires, check out Travel With Intent’s blog post.


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Chocolate Easter Nests

DSCN9420I first wanted to make Easter nests for my colleagues two years ago, but sadly I was unable to find any equivalent of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs. Last year I failed to find any such thing again… I even tried the English shop in Heidelberg, but they had run out. So when I was in England in February, I grabbed two large bags of Mini Eggs. Arriving back in Germany, I discovered that Milka have now released their own version of Mini Eggs… this is the law of sod in action!

There are probably a million recipes for these Easter nests on the Internet, but I’m going to share mine with you anyway… I tell you how to make them in Germany, so my version is totally different, obviously ;-)

Chocolate Easter Nests

You will need:
Cupcake cases
A box of plain Shredded Wheat – in Germany, use the “Original” Toppas. They’re covered in icing sugar, but that doesn’t seem to hurt the nests
Plain or milk chocolate – enough to cover your Shredded Wheat – I used roughly 150g chocolate to 100 g Toppas (guessing as I didn’t actually do any weighing…)
Cadbury’s or Milka Mini Eggs (or your country’s equivalent of chocolate eggs in a colourful sugar shell)

What to do:
1. Break the chocolate up and melt it in a bowl over a pan of water. Or I suppose you could use the microwave… I don’t have one!

2. While the chocolate is melting, in a large mixing bowl break the Shredded Wheat/Toppas into bits. If you’re using Toppas, the ones with most icing sugar might be a little harder to crush – don’t worry if there are some slightly larger bits in there a this point.

Toppas

3. Ad the melted chocolate to the mixing bowl and stir the Shredded Wheat/Toppas and the chocolate together until the Shredded Wheat is completely coated. While stirring, you can crush any larger bits of Toppas that didn’t crush earlier.

4. Place roughly a dessert spoon of the mixture into each of your cupcake cases and use a teaspoon to push some of the mixture up the sides, leaving a dent in the middle. Be careful not to make a hole in the bottom though!

Nest

5. Place 2-3 Mini Eggs in each of the nests. If you think your nests are too dry for the eggs to stick to, you can use a bit of melted chocolate as glue.

Easter nest

6. Place the Easter nests in the fridge for at least half an hour to set. Once they’re ready, you’ll be able to take the cakes out of their cases and they’ll look just like miniature bird’s nests!

Aren't they cute?

Aren’t they cute?

Now go and check out Manda’s recipe post for a different take on edible Easter nests!


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A trip to Colmar

Before Jan went to Turkey, he said that when he came back he would hire a car and we could go somewhere for a day trip.  I chose Colmar in Alsace because even after more than 7 years in Germany I still get excited about being able to just pop to France for the day. Colmar, in the Alsace region, is about an hour and 45 minute’s drive from Karlsruhe – perfect for a day trip!

The very first thing we saw when we entered Colmar was a giant Statue of Liberty. The creator of the original statue, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was born in Colmar and the city put up a huge copy for his 100th birthday. I don’t have a photo, unfortunately – it was standing on a roundabout at the entrance to town and my photography skills aren’t up to taking decent shots from a moving car!

Colmar

Being in Alsace, Colmar has switched hands between Germany and France several times, and the German influence is very much evident in its architecture… half-timbered buildings are everywhere! There were also lots of buildings with wooden shutters – like the one above. Wooden shutters always remind me of Austria. If I ever have a house of my own, I want some of those wooden shutters with little hearts cut out of them!

Here’s the outside of the cathedral. We had a quick look inside, but it wasn’t that impressive and it was very dark, so no photos of the interior. Check out how green the little roof is though!

A canal runs through the entire town, albeit underground for most of the time. There’s one part of town where it flows freely though, and that area is known as Petit Venise, or Little Venice. According to a sign we read, it was christened Little Venice because of the street below, where the entrances to the buildings can only be reached by boat:

Little Venice

Little Venice was my favourite part of Colmar, mostly because of the water. Here are some photos of the Little Venice area:

Walking back from the Little Venice area towards the main part of the old town, we spotted a traditional style carousel. I was half tempted to have a go on it, but didn’t. I did take a photo though.

Carousel

On the way back, we stopped at the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg. The castle was closed (it was evening by now), but the view was nice. Here’s a photo of I have no idea what… Hills mostly, and possibly Strasbourg(?) in the background.

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

After that stop, it was time to head home as we both had work the next day. Back in Karlsruhe, we stopped at a petrol station for Jan to fill the car up and I popped into the shop for some frozen pizzas… not having to cook was the perfect end to a lovely day out.


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Friday Letters & Daily Diaries: 5–11 April 2014

Work-wise, this week has been just as full as the two before it, but somehow it’s still managed to go by quickly – probably because of all the deadlines! I’ve spent a lot of time worrying that I wasn’t going to get things finished when I was meant to, but somehow everything was ready by it’s due date. Go me! Anyway, have some letters and some more detail about my week. Apologies for the huge blocks of text without photos – I’m typing this from work, so I only have access to those that are already uploaded.postbox

Dear temperature. How am I supposed to know what to wear when it’s 7°C in the morning and 22°C by the time I leave work? Sort it out!

Dear large groups of women on trains. You have your reserved seats, so please just sit in them and let the rest of us pass, instead of standing next to your seats clucking away!

Dear Easter. This time next week, you will be here! (Well, Good Friday will be). I’m sooo looking forward to my four-day weekend.

Dear stomach. I’m not sure whether the doctor’s pills are working or you would have got better now anyway, but I must say I’m thoroughly enjoying actually being hungry again!

And now for the week that was…

The weekend. As I mentioned in last week’s Friday letters, I wanted a fairly relaxing weekend after the stress of the week before, so on Saturday I actually slept in til 11 a.m! I then had a cup of tea and did some cross stitch before jumping in the shower and then heading out to do some shopping – I purposely decided not to watch the Newcastle United match and I’m very glad I didn’! When I came home, Jan and I made tea together (pumpkin and pasta) then watched an episode of Farscape before heading to bed, where we read aloud to each other from Terry Pratchett’s Snuff.
There was an Easter market going on in Karlsruhe at the weekend, so on Sunday we decided to go and have a look at it. As it turned out, there wasn’t much there… mostly food stands. It claimed to be an “Easter and Gastronomy Market”, but most of the stalls were just from local cafés or the sausage/langos/crepe vans that are at every single event in Karlsruhe ever. However, it was also a verkaufsoffener Sonntag (a Sunday on which the shops are open – towns are only allowed to do this about twice a year!), so we headed to T.K. Maxx because Jan had never been. I managed to get a wooden letter holder thingy, so it worked out pretty well. Instead of going straight home, we stopped off at Bratar for yummy burgers – at this point my stomach was actually feeling fine! Then, back at home, I made practice Easter nests just to make sure I still remembered how (I’ll be making more this weekend for my colleagues). I ate precisely one Easter nest, but by bedtime my stomach felt uncomfortably full and bloated, although not sore. Gah!

Monday. I woke up feeling okay, but by the time I arrived at work my stomach was blown up like a balloon (I honestly looked pregnant!) and I had no appetite. It was 11 o’clock by the time the bloating went down and I could actually eat my yoghurt. By 1:30 p.m., I was slightly hungry but afraid to eat what I’d brought with me (it was curry), so lunch ended up being three rice crackers. I also had a sensation of acid in my throat all afternoon, which wasn’t fun! I had promised Jan toad in the hole for tea, and by the time it was cooked I’d managed to get rid of the acid and feld quite hungry. I only managed a small portion though. Apart from cooking, all I did on Monday night was watch an episode of E.R and wash the dishes.

Tuesday.  The acid reflux and bloating were back when I woke up, so I decided it was time for a trip to the doctor.  I informed my colleagues that I would be working from home and called the docs for an appointment (Jan wouldn’t do it for me and I still have no idea what the receptionist actually wrote in the appointments book – I highly doibt it had anything to do with my actual name though!). I managed to get an appointment for 3:30, so I worked til just before 3 then headed out. The doctor’s verdict was hyperacidity of the stomach, probably caused by stress. So he gave me some stomach drops and some tablets to stop my stomach from producting as much acid then sent me on my way, telling me to eat light foods for a few days and come back in 14 days if I wasn’t feeling better. After picking up my prescription, I headed home to carry on working for a while. It was my grandpa’s 80th birthday on Tuesday, so in the evening I phoned by dad while he was at the hospital so I could talk to my grandpa. His voice was very weak, but I could just about hear him say “Thank you for calling” and “Love you”. Wishing him a happy birthday was bittersweet – he always said he would live to be 80, and now he’s achieved it. That night was pub quiz, in which my team came second. YAY!

Wednesday. I went into work on Wednesday, armed with my medicine. This week was our intern’s last week with us and we were having pizza for his leaving meal on Wednesday. I didn’t think pizza counted as 2light food”, so I ordered Pizzabrötchen instead – little bread rolls made from the same dough as the pizza. The ones I chose had spinach and a small amount of goat’s cheese on, and were apparantly plain enough for my stomach – at least it didn’t protest. I had wanted to get an early night on Wednesday, but I ended up coming home, watching E.R then getting back on the computer and working til 20 past 8 before finally getting round to cooking tea. We ate fishfingers with croquettes and frozen peas because it was quick, easy and at least fairly plain.

Thursday. I woke up feeling incredibly hungry and had to buy a couple of muesli bars for breakfast on the way to work – usually breakfast is a yoghurt, but I’m avoiding those til I’m sure my stomach has settled down. The morning was pretty stressful with deadlines galore, but by 3 p.m. I’d finished everything I had to do and was able to move on to a translation that I technically wouldn’t have needed to start til next week. I worked precisely 8 hours for the first time in ages, then went home to sort out the living room ready for Jan’s choir coming over to practice (they’re a double quartet  – so 8 people when everyone’s there, which they never are at my place because they only come to us when the person whose flat they normally practice at is away). I then quickly made us a meal of gnocchi with creamed spinach. Once the choir arrived, I retreated to the spare room where I worked on some cross stitch – it’s an Easter card so I really need to get it finished ready to send off! I also uploaded some photos ready to use in a blog post about Colmar. The choir finally left at just before 11 and, after taking my medicine, I basically went straight to bed.

Friday. And that brings us to today. So far, I have worked a bit on next week’s translation and entered the corrections from proofreaders for two jobs due today. Now I’m on my lunch break and as soon as I’ve posted this, I’ll be reading the news before getting back to work. It’s looking like I should be able to leave on time today, so I’ll be out of here by 5 p.m. Then tonight I’m off to watch my quiz master’s band perform – the first time I’ve seen them this year (although we saw him play solo on St. Patrick’s Day). As for the weekend, other than making Easter nests for mine and Jan’s colleagues, I have no real plans as yet…

And that’s what I’ve been up to. Why not join in with Kate’s link up on Diaries of an Essex Girl and tell us all about your week. Just click the button below…
Daily Diaries with Diaries of an Essex Girl


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German foods I love and loathe

Recently, Deanna at From Casinos to Castles wrote a post on the German foods that she really cannot stand. This has inspired me to write my own list, but to balance things out a bit, I also want to talk about the German foods that I love and will really miss if I ever leave here. I’ll do the ones I hate first so I can end on a high note…

German Foods I Loathe

1. Wurstsalat. I have talked about this abomination that dares to call itself salad before, here. My boyfriend loves it, but I cannot stand it. Firstly, I’m not keen on the meat it’s made with (some kind of soft, mushy stuff), secondly I don’t like the vinegra-based dressing it’s drowned in, and thirdly, it nearly always comes with raw onions, which I also can’t stand. YUK! This is a German food item that I definitely don’t need in my life!

2. Weizenbier (wheat beer). Sorry, sorry, sorry. I know this is practically sacrilege, but I just cannot get on with wheat beers. I don’t like the taste of them at all. Too bitter… too wheaty. Give me a Pils any day (but please not Becks! I don’t like that stuff either…)

3. Mett. The boyfriend insists that good Mett is really nice, but the one time I tried it, I was nearly sick. And now you’re probably all wondering what Mett is. Well, it’s minced pork. Raw minced pork that Germans like to spread on bread. Did I mention that it’s raw! Bleurgh… keep that stuff away from me!

4. Leberknödel. Literally meaning liver dumplings, Leberknödel consist of ground liver that’s mixed with bread crumbs and egg to form a ball. They’re usually served in the form of Leberknödelsuppe (liver dumpling soup), which is basically a bowl of beef broth with Leberknödel floating around in it. I don’t like liver anyway, and it doesn’t taste any better floating in beef stock. Sometimes, Leberknödel also turn up on meat platters, where they are friend rather than drowned in stock. Still not tasty…

5. Erdnussflips. These are basically peanut flavoured corn snacks. They’re shaped like Wotsits (UK – I think Cheetos are the US equivalent), but instead of being flavoured with deliciously morish cheese, they’re covered in peanut dust. The Germans love these, but I find them really dry and the peanut taste is weird… not like real peanuts. It’s a bit like eating vaguely peanut-flavoured cardboard. I definitely will not miss these if I find myself back in the UK.

German Foods I Love

1. Bratkartoffeln. Literally fried potatoes, my family always called these “fritters”. In their most basic form, Bratkartoffeln are potatoes sliced very thinly and fried in oil until they’re crispy. In less basic versions, bacon or onions are fried in with the potatoes to give them flavour. Either way, they are delicious! (Technically, I wouldn’t actually miss these if I left Germany as I often make them myself anyway, but they’re definitely one of my favourite German foods!).

2. Maultaschen. Usually translated as Swabian Ravioli, this sourthern German dish consists of filled pockets made from a past-like dough. The traditional filling is a spiced minced pork, that I find very similar to English sausages. You can also get Maultaschen in other varieties, such as vegetarian, beef, turkey or even salmon. They are usually served in one of three ways: in broth as a soup, cut into slices and fried along with scrambled egg or “geschmälzt” – fried in butter along with onions that have been caramelised in the same butter. In Karlsruhe, the third variety is often sold alongside potato salad for a carb overload!

Sausages

Om nom nom

3. Sausages. Obviously they need to be on the list… after all, that is what this country is all about! Little mini Nürnberger Bratwurste, hughe Thüringer Bratwurst, Käsekrainer (a type of boiled sausage filled with cheese) or even Currywurst – I’ll take them all! The only German sauage I’m not too keen on is Weißwurst – literally “white sausage”, a veal sausage that is boiled and then eaten by removing the skin and eating the filling. The traditional way of doing it is to suck out the filling… errm, no thanks. I ate mine “normally” with a knife and fork, but wasn’t too keen on the flavouring (cardamom and lemon, among other things)

4. Schupfnudeln. A Schupfnudel, meaning rolled noodle, is a type of dumpling of noodle similar to Italian Gnocchi, in that it is made using potatoes.Unlike Gnocchi, Schupfnudeln are fairly long and thin, with pointed ends. In my region of Germany, they’re sometimes called “Bubenspitzle “, meaning little boys’ willies. It’s probably best not to ask! Schupnudeln are prepared by frying them in butter and can be served alongside sweet or savoury foods. At Christmas markets and the like, you’ll usually find them friend up with Sauerkraut (I never eat Schupfnudeln at markets because I don’t like Sauerkraut!).

5. Kartoffelpuffer, or potato pancakes. Are you sensing a theme here? I may be slightly obsessed with potatoes. Kartoffelpuffer are pancakes made by mixing together grated potatoes, flour, egg and seasoning, forming them into a pancake shape and then frying said pancake. The traditional way of serving them is with apple sauce, but at fairs you can sometimes get them with other things, like garlic sauce or sour cream.  I almost always eat Kartoffelpuffer at the Christmas market.

And there you have it. I could go on forever, but I think five of each will do. Are there any German foods you love or loathe? Or, if you’re living somewhere else that isn’t your own country, what foods do you love and hate in your adopted home?


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Friday Letters and Daily Diaries

Ugh… it has been another long and exceedingly crazy week where work is concerned. In fact, even crazier than last week if that’s possible. On Wednesday, I worked over 9 hours. Ok, that’s only an hour and a bit of overtime, which to some of you probably doesn’t sound like much (my boyfriend regularly works for more than 10 hours a day), but for me it’s exhausting! And next week my plan is looking just as full.
Anyway, here are some Friday letters for you, and I’m also linking up with Kate at Diaries of an Essex Girl for Daily Diaries again,  so after the letters there’ll be a bit more about what I’ve been up to.

letters

Dear work. Apparantly you’re not understanding the whole “less crazy” thing. It means I would prefer not to do any more overtime, okay?

Dear weekend. You have no idea how glad I am to see you! Let’s just hang out and have a nice, relaxing time, okay?

Dear stomach. Please stop randomly aching. It is annoying!

Dear shower/oven. Sorry, but you’re not getting cleaned this weekend. It’s been a long week and I need to relax! Soon though, I promise.

Dear Easter weekend. Please hurry up! I need a break from all this craziness.

And now a recap of my week from Saturday 29 March – Friday, 4 April

Saturday – I already told you about my trip to the market on Gottesauer Platz. And that’s basically all I did on Saturday. I was sick in the morning for reasons unknown (not much fun when you haven’t eaten anything… I basically threw up a cup of tea and a load of bile. Sorry, TMI ;-)), so I ended up spending the day on the couch with the TV on and a blanket. I felt better towards the afternoon/evening and decided to risk anything, but cancelled the friend’s birthday party I was supposed to attend in the evening. Jan arrived back from Turkey late on Friday night to find me already in bed!

Sunday – Before Jan went away, he had offered to get a car so we could go somewhere on this day. It was meant to be for Take 12 Trips, but even though I said I’d done something for it, he decided to still get a car. We went to Colmar… but I won’t tell you any more about it now because it will be getting its own post (the one I’ve been wanting to write all week!)

Monday – The only interesting thing about Monday was that my colleague came in to work to show off  her 8 week old baby. Other than that, I worked. Then I came home and worked some more to make up for having an extra long break while my colleague was there.

Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday – More work. I left early on Tuesday to go by the doctors and pick up a pill prescription/make an appointment for my next smear test before doing work from home again. I was in bed by 9:30 so I could get an early start the next day. On Wednesday, I was up at 5:30 a.m. My stomach randomly started aching after lunch – not badly enough for me to go home, but enough to be annoying. For once, I did not work in the evening, having already put in over 9 hours thanks to going in early and barely having a lunch break. On Thursday, my stomach hurt for most of the morning but was fine again by lunch time. I went in to work early again (another 5 a.m. wakeup call!), but then left at 3 for an appointment at the bank (finance check… I have to go back in May to talk about insurance. Ugh… grown up stuff!!). I then went home and ate dinner in front of the computer while doing yet more work. Too many deadlines! Once I’d shut the computer down, my stomach started annoying me again, so I went to bed. Jan was at choir practice – not at our place for a change – and when he came home, I woke up and noticed I had a horrible salty taste in my mouth. Weird!

Friday – That would be today. I woke up without a stomach ache (yay!), but still with the weird taste in my mouth… and it didn’t go away after brushing my teeth. Grrr! By the time I got to work, my stomach felt weird again (not sore, just weird) so I didn’t eat my yoghurt. An hour later, we all had a cup of tea and after drinking it I felt really hungry, so I ate my yoghurt. And worked… a lot. Which brings us to now. I’m currently on my lunch break, eating rice crackers  (I have a chickpea curry thing with me, but I don’t want to eat it in case my stomach rebels again). Soon, I’ll be getting back to work for the rest of the afternoon. Then I shall go home (hopefully on time), switch on the TV and proceed to do absolutely nothing until it’s time to make some food.

Phew… that was a lot of writing for a week where I essentially did nothing!  If you would also like to share what you’ve been doing all week, come and join the linkup and Kate’s blog. And no excuses about your week being too uninteresting – I mean,  just look at what I wrote about…
Daily Diaries with Diaries of an Essex Girl


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A bit of stitching…

This still isn’t the post I wanted to write yesterday, but it’s a post so that’s better than nothing.
At the end of last year, I dound myself getting really fed up with cross stitch, so in January I decided to start making some smaller projects that I would actually be able to finish in less than five months! Spending ages stitching the same thing had been getting really frustrating, and the idea of actually achieving something was very appealing. So I started stitching cards for various occasions that were coming up. The first was my paternal grandmother’s birthday at the end of January.

Bear card

She loves gardening and cute things, so this little bear seemed perfect for her. The watering can was actually supposed to be a different shade of green, but I didn’t have the right threads so I just made it up.

You’ve already seen the card I made Jan for Valentine’s Day, so next up is a daisy that I stitched for my other grandma’s birthday in March. I actually messed up at one point and had to improvise. Can you tell where?

Daisy

Finally, my most recent completed project – a Mother’s Day card for my mum. This one was difficult! So much complicated backstitch. But I managed… and I’m actually quite proud of how it turned out.

Mother's Day

So there you have it, my 2014 cross stitching so far. My current project is an Easter card that I’m working on for a friend, then I’ll be doing some baby cards for a few people I know who are due in May. Busy, busy, busy!

 

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