Book challenge by Erin 6.0: bonus round check in 1

Today I am checking in for the bonus round of Erin‘s current reading challenge. Don’t worry, I haven’t finished already 😉 Although I am quite impressed that I got through my choice for “favourite author”…

Here’s what I read for the challenge in February:

books-feb-2017

10 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (399 pages). I had absolutely no idea what this book was about – had never seen the film and somehow had never heard anything about it. Turns out there is no real story. Not one with a beginning, middle and end anyway. Instead we just follow the titular psycho around while he socialises and shops and eats in New York City. Oh, and occasionally kills someone… brutally, graphically, violently. Obviously I was expecting it to be disturbing and graphic, but it was so much more disturbing than I was expecting. Especially towards the end. What I was not expecting was constant references to Donald Trump. Even in fiction I can’t escape him! I gave it 4 stars but I will never, ever read it again!

15 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “W”.

I had two choices for this one, but I decided to read Where She Went by Gayle Forman (264 pages) because it had been on my list longer. Also there are extra bonus points for choosing books that someone had already chosen for the challenge. I must have loved If I Stay because as soon as I finished it I knew I needed to read the sequel, but by the time I got round to reading this one I only had a vague recollection of the story. I still know the main outline, obviously, and I remember crying a lot, but the details are gone. Hmm. Anyway, I really loved this one. I was devastated for Adam and once Mia came back on the scene I really felt for her as well. It made me think about what I would have done in her situation. 5 stars.

20 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) green cover.

green-coverThe Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson (434 pages). This book was not at all what I was expecting! I thought it would be some kind of chick lit/romantic comedy, and in a way it is, but it’s also so much more than that. There is romance, but there’s also a mystery and parts of it are very dark. It deals with mental health and there is a twist that I truly was not expecting. I don’t really know how to review this any further without giving things away, so I’ll just say you should definitely give it a chance. It got 4 stars from me anyway. Photo to the left to prove the cover is green 😉

25 points: Read a book with a homonym in the title

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (324 pages; homonym = tale/tail). I had literally zero idea what this book was about. All I knew was that it’s some kind of classic and people seem to rate it highly. And it’s number 131 in the BBC Big Read list so I would have had to read it no matter what. It turns out that it’s really good, and also incredibly relevant right now given the current political situation in various countries. The story is a bit disjointed and vague, which would probably annoy some people, but I actually thought that was quite a clever tactic – it let you fill in the blanks yourself (potentially with even worse things than the author was imagining) and reinforced the fact that the narrator was very much kept in the dark. At the time it was written this book probably seemed extreme and nobody believed it could ever actually happen. I might have thought that myself if I had read it 10 years ago. But now, in 2017, I’m not so sure. 5 stars.

25 points: (Submitted by Linda) Read a book by your favourite author

I could never pick just one favourite author, so I chose from among the few I always list when asked. Stephen King has been a favourite ever since I read Insomnia when I was far too young to actually understand what I was reading. For this challenge, I read The Stand (1439 pages). Although I love King’s writing, my one problem with him is that he has a tendency to go on and on, long past when he should have stopped. This book is definitely one that could have done with being shorter. Admittedly it’s partly my own fault for reading the uncut edition, but even the original was 817 long, long pages. On the positive side, the writing was, as always, excellent, as was the characterisation – King always makes me feel like his characters are real, and it’s amazing how different he makes them all. How does he manage to get into the minds of such a variety of people? The story of the plague that destroyed the world and the struggles of the few survivors made a really compelling story. However, the supernatural element felt out of place in this one. The whole good versus evil, or God versus the devil (or someone like him) sub-plot made no sense, especially given the ending. Trying not to give too much away, but in my opinion “good” didn’t even defeat “evil” in this book – a few good guys turned up where the good guys were and then something accidental happened and the day was saved… but not by the people who had trekked all that way to save the day. What? It almost felt like King had got that far with the story and had no idea how he even wanted to end it. Minus one star for that. I still gave it 4 though because I really did enjoy reading it – and got through all those pages surprisingly quickly.

And that’s it. I’m halfway through the bonus round with two months to go.

Are you taking part in this challenge? Read anything good recently?

Guess the cross stitch volume 5

Hello everyone. Sorry I’ve been a bit absent this week – being off work I haven’t really felt like turning on the computer, and for reasons unknown to me I can’t post from my tablet! But I thought I would quickly pop in before the week is over with an easy kind of post. A few people have asked whether I’ll be doing a cross stitch guessing game this year, and I’m finally stitching something that seems suitable. I was quite surprised to realise that this is the 5th time I’ve done one of these!

The rules are simple: I post a photo of something I’m cross stitching and you tell me what you think the completed image will be. If nobody guesses correctly I post an updated picture and you try to guess from that. I will give you one clue: it’s a birthday card for a boy who is turning one (also yes it is the right way up!).

Here’s your first photo:

guess-the-cross-stitch

Have fun!

(not) A Photo An Hour: 18 February 2017

As I mentioned, I had to attend an event at work yesterday. I couldn’t really take my camera out all the time (plus I had to help with things), but I didn’t want to miss out on the link up altogether, so I hereby present to you a photo every hour that I wasn’t working 😉

5:30 a.m. Yes, you read that right (ugh!). Up and off for a shower.

6:30 a.m. On the tram, which will be leaving in precisely 3 minutes.

7:30 a.m. My oh-so-healthy breakfast on the train: a vanilla croissant and some vegan drink thing. I’m clearly not vegan (don’t even want to imagine how much cream is in the filing of that croissant!) but I do like to try interesting looking things. This particular one was weird and not that nice, and I ended up not finishing it.

8:30 a.m. Couldn’t manage to sleep on the train so I’m reading instead.

9:30 a.m. On the way to work. I wonder how many readers now know which city my company is located in from this?

What followed was a lot of socialising, discussing and, in between, clearing away plates and things. It was an interesting day, but also kind of exhausting.

5:30 p.m. I should probably have left a gap between the two photo halves, but symmetry! Waiting for the train home.

I was supposed to take two photos on the train, but I was reading and totally forgot sooo…

7:45 pm. Back on the tram.

8:30 p.m. Home, and the oven is pre-heating for my pizza. There was no way anything but convenience foods was getting consumed after that long day!

9:30 p.m. Pizza has been consumed and my pyjamas have never felt more cosy!

10:30 p.m. The only reason I’m still awake is because Jan was at a choir practice thing all day and I wanted to at least say hello to him! He has arrived home now and is watching TV, so it’s time for me to turn out the light and snuggle up with this cutie! (He’s called Nick, by the way)

That was my Saturday. How was yours?

Friday letters

Finally it’s Friday! Music to my ears this week… work has been busy, particularly the last couple of days (somehow I have about 6 translations that are all due today?!). Actually, my working week still won’t be over after today – we’re having an open day thing tomorrow, so I’ll be on a train heading into the office at 7:15 a.m. But that’s a different kind of work at least… less brain power required. And then next week I’m off! Not that I’m doing anything, I just had to use up some holiday from last year.
Buuut anyway… letters time!

letter box

Dear IKEA. I am looking forward to you bringing my new furniture on Monday. Finally my tights will have a proper place to live!

Dear spare room. I am so sorry about the state you are in (world’s worst housewife strikes again…). Don’t worry, you will be sorted out on Sunday!

Dear EasyJet. Considering you are supposed to be a cheap airline the prices you’re giving me are ridiculous! I know we want to fly over Easter, but that’s still no excuse to charge over €100 for a one way flight!

Dear parcel delivery people. Is it really necessary to hold down the doorbell button for ages? No wonder I have a heart attack every time it rings!

Dear books. I don’t know what I would do without you! You are my escape from all the problems and horror in this world (although the book in the book I’m currently escaping into isn’t one I would particularly like to be in either…).

Right, that it for today. Happy weekend, dear readers. I hope the weather where you are is better than here!

Avocado and Sheep’s Cheese dip/spread

Good morning! I hope those of you who celebrate Valentine’s day had a good one? We don’t really bother with it (except that one time Jan felt bad about ignoring our anniversary and got me flowers. This year I got chocolates for our anniversary, so not Valentine’s gift ;-)) so it was just a normal day. We both worked, then I did laundry and cooked. Jan came home at around 7:30, I ate at around 8 (he faffed around on the laptop doing work stuff and only ate the food I had placed in front of him half an hour later! Standard.) then we played Scrabble, in English, and I lost both times. How is he better at my native language than I am?! I had almost all vowels for most of the second game so I’m claiming that as my excuse! I did give him a chocolate heart in the morning and he shared it with me after dinner, but that was the extent of our “celebrating”.
Anywaaaay… you didn’t come him for an entirely uninteresting account of a random Tuesday in my life! Today I wanted to share a recipe with you, although it has so few ingredients/steps that calling it a “recipe” almost feels like an exaggeration… Remember that time I made pancakes with avocado and goat’s cheese spread? Welll, I liked the spread so much that I decided to make it again, only this time use it as a dip. And with sheep’s cheese, because that’s what I had. If you like avocado, goat’s/sheep’s cheese and garlic, you will love this. If you don’t like one or more ingredients or you’re vegan, I apologise. Come back another day for a post that might interest you.

dip

Above you see an awful photo of dip. Apologies! There’s a reason I’m not a food blogger. Anywaaaay…

You will need:
1 avocado
1 pack of sheep’s (or goat’s cheese) – give or take
1 clove of garlic
Seasoning of your choice (salt, pepper, etc.)

Take all your ingredients (except the seasoning), place them in a container and mash them all together with a fork until mostly smooth. Season to taste – I used a little bit of salt, a LOT of black pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Serve with raw vegetables for dipping, or spread on pancakes (or crackers… or toast). Or just eat it with a spoon if you feel that way inclined 😉

We had it alongside bell peppers stuffed with bulgur wheat (part of the sheep’s cheese went in the bulgur mixture, but if I wasn’t using the cheese for other things I would have put the whole block in the dip).

dippepper

Et voilà – world’s easiest recipe showcased in world’s worst photo (seriously guys… how do you all photograph food so well?!)

In which I attempt to do something different with my cross stitch

Some time around November last year it suddenly occurred to me that I could branch out from card making and use little cross stitch designs to make brooches. So I bought some brooch backs from the Internet and promptly became so busy with Christmas cards that the idea of making anything else went completely out of my head. At the weekend, I rediscovered the brooch backs and decided to give it a go…

From a distance it looks alright (particularly if the photo is nice and blurry… sorry about that). I pinned it on a cushion for the second photo to get an idea of what it would look like in use.

How about a close up?

daisy-brooch3

Hmm. The sharp-eyed among you may notice my not really even stitching and the badly cut edges of the Aida (the fabric the pattern is cross stitched on).

Turn over…

  1. The brooch back thing was supposed to be in the middle. Why isn’t it in the middle?
  2. The stitching on the little strip of felt that’s covering the brooch back is awful! Note to self: stitch that little strip on before sewing the two bits of felt together.
  3. The sharp-eyed among you may notice that the strip of felt isn’t even covering all of the stitching that’s holding the brooch back on, thus completely defeating its purpose.

Apart from all that, it’s not bad for a first attempt 😉

Now I just have eleventy million brooch backs to somehow use up. (Well, 99 anyway…)

Friday letters

Hello everyone! I hope your Friday is going well so far? As for me, the first thing I did after getting dressed this morning was spill almond purée stuff down my new skirt! Not a good start. Luckily the day has been fine since then. Also, it’s been snowing all morning, which is messing with my head after February started off unseasonably warm (seriously, it was like spring). I thought April was supposed to be the month that does what it wants?* I don’t think this snow is going to settle though – so far it’s just making everything wet.

Anyway, on with the letters.

Postkasten

Dear scales. I’m sorry I’ve left you without batteries for so long. I just wanted an excuse not to know my weight for a while. I promise to bring you back to life soon though!

Dear body. I swear sometimes you operate without any input from me. After all, I would never tell you to walk into desks, kick the bottoms of chairs or just generally do things that result in bruising in weird places. I would appreciate if you could stop for a while now!

Dear baked potatoes. I will never fail to be amazed by how something so simple can be so yummy!

Dear door bell. Why is it I jump a mile in the air every time you ring?! Even when I know the postman is due to bring a package that day I have a mini heart attack when he presses you. So weird!

Dear chick pea pasta. You are interesting, but in a good way. I will definitely be buying you again.

Right, that’s enough for today. This is my lunch break so I should probably go and, well, have lunch… Have a great weekend, dear readers!

*German proverb: “Der April macht was er will”