Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Friday letters: the end of February

February is over! Well, practically. There’s still tomorrow to get through. Then it will be March… the month that Jan was supposed to be moving. Actually, the month Jan has to move seeing as he starts his new job on the 1st of April!! Today I am leaving work early to go to Basel again. Jan is already there, and has about 10 flats to view today. I wish I was exaggerating! Then we’ll be staying overnight because we have another viewing tomorrow… at 8 a.m. In the meantime, we’ve had our second rejection. Oh joy. Here are this week’s letters. Apologies in advance for any negativity.

letter box

Dear Basel flat owners/agencies. Please could one of you just offer us a flat?! If I’d known it was going to be this difficult I would have started looking in December, and then taken a week off just to go to viewings.

Dear February. I know you’re the shortest month, but you’ve gone by way too fast this year! Between work and flat hunting, I’ve forgotten what a social life even is… and I still haven’t been to 90% of the places in Karlsruhe I wanted to visit before we leave.

Dear boyfriend. I know it’s your birthday on Sunday, and I’m very sorry, but the main part of your present hasn’t actually arrived yet. I’m hoping it will be waiting for me when we get back from Basel tomorrow!

Dear weather. How kind of you to be sunny/warm all week then start to rain just as we reach the weekend! (//end sarcasm)

Dear books. When did you get to be so many? I packed 2 boxes with you last night, yet anyone coming to our flat for the first time would assume all my books were still on the bookcases! I think we may need another bookcase once we’re in the new flat!

Dear work. Thank you for letting me leave early today (and last Friday). I will make it up to you once we finally find somewhere to live!

That’s all folks. I hope your weekend is less busy/stressful than mine is shaping up to be.


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Slow progress is progress too…

So far we have viewed a total of seven flats. In Basel. Where we currently do not live. This has involved three trips to Basel so far – a two hour drive from Karlsruhe. And we have written to many, many more. For some, we get an auto-reply saying to call a number. Others respond with “sorry, no viewings on weekends!”. One said the flat in question was already gone, another that they’d already had more than 40 applications so it wasn’t worth us taking the trip to Basel!¬†And one of the seven we’ve viewed has also rejected us. Jan has now arranged another 4 viewings on Friday – he’ll be attending those alone because I have to work. Then I’ll go to Basel straight from work on Friday and we’ll stay overnight because we have another viewing on Saturday. At 8 am! Yes, you read that correctly. Now Jan is phoning more people to try and persuade them to let us view flats on Saturday. Are you exhausted on our behalf yet? If any of you ever decides to move to Switzerland, this is what you’ll have to do to find a flat! (And this is just Basel… we’ve been told it’s even worse in Zurich.)

The next thing on my list...

The next thing on my list…

Meanwhile, I still haven’t packed more than one box. And I did that back in January when it was bulk rubbish day and I took out a bookcase that I no longer wanted. I have managed to sort msot of my crafting supplies into various containers, which will make it much easier to transport, and I’ve sorted out the many bills from my Internet provider that I never got round to putting away properly because they weren’t pre-holepunched and I’m lazy! I’ve also written to cancel said Internet contract and received a response saying they’ll accept my special termination if I send them my re-registration form to prove I no longer live in their supply area. Unfortunately, I can’t do that until I actually have de-registered in Germany and registered in Switzerland (yes, the Swiss make you register as a resident as well!). So, not much progress has been made, but I have managed to cross two things off my list (cancel Internet and cancel Bahncard 100). Oh, and I’ve handed in my holiday form to make sure I can get the last week in April off to move – I’m just assuming we’ll actually have a flat to move into by that time! Even slow progress is progress, right?


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A Photo an Hour: 21 February 2015

Yesterday I took part in A Photo an Hour, hosted by Jane from Is That You Darling? and Louisa from Duck in a Dress. Here are the results of my efforts.

11 a.m. A late start to the morning (but in my defence, I’d had a looong day the day before… and a long week for that matter!). First things first: a cup of tea is needed!

12 noon Doing a bit of cross stitch (actually, at this point I was unpicking. Yes, I messed up right at the beginning and had to start over)

1 p.m. A spot of lunch (brunch?) while looking for even more flat adverts to respond to. Jan took the tablet while I was fetching my camera and then wouldn’t give it back to me, so instead of a real estate website, you get a photo of my empty plate.

2 p.m. Wrapping a new home gift for a friend ready to take it to the post office.

3 p.m. Showered and dressed… aren’t my spotty tights fab?

4 p.m. Post office done, now to head home via the supermarket. I happened to be passing St Stephen’s Church at 4, and its chimes reminded me to take a photo so I decided it deserved to be the subject of said photo.

5 p.m. Time to wash some dishes. I’m ashamed to say that I was washing dishes from Thursday!

6 p.m. Sorting out some of my crafting supplies… a task that desperately needs doing so I can pack up the spare room read for the move.

7 p.m. Cracking some eggs to make omelets for tea.

8 p.m. Carrot and apple salad (it’s a German thing…)

9 p.m. (actually 9:30… I got distracted!). Cross stitching while watching TV.

11 p.m. I forgot to take a photo at 10! Not that it would have made much difference… still cross stitching. Working on the dreaded French knots of dooooom!

And actually forgetting to take a photo at 10 turned out quite well because it means I get to keep my symmetry. I went to bed after the news, which finished at 11:35, so there was no midnight photo.

So, that was my Saturday. Pretty boring! How was yours?


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Gnocchi with leek and sausages in a creamy cheese sauce

DSCN0692At this time of year, all I want to eat are hearty, warming, comforting foods, like cottage pie, stews, pasta bakes and chilli. (This “phase” usually lasts from October until around Easter). This particular dish combines three of my favourite things: leek, potatoes (in the form of gnocchi) and cheese. It was actually supposed to be a recipe for gnocchi with vegetables in a creamy cheese sauce, but somewhere between doing the shopping and starting to cook, I managed to lose my courgette! It’s on the receipt, but it’s not in my kitchen. How on earth does one lose a courgette?! So I had a rummage in my fridge and improvised with a packet of Wiener-type sausages instead. Sorry vegetarians – my original recipe would have been for you!

Gnocchi with leek and sausages in a creamy cheese sauce

Ingredients (serves 2)
Butter (for frying)
400 g gnocchi
1 garlic clove
1 leek
4 Wiener (or Frankfurter, if that’s what you want to call them) sausages OR one large courgette/zucchini
1 pot of cream
Cheddar or other strong cheese (I used Swiss mountain cheese this time, because that’s what I had)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper

Method

1. Heat some butter in a frying pan. While it’s heating, chop your garlic into smallish pieces then fry it in the butter.

garlic

2. Put some water on to boil in a pan. Chop the leek – I usually cut off fairly thick slices then quarter the slices – then place the it in the frying pan with the garlic. (If using courgette/zucchini, you should also dice that it this point and put it in the pan at the same time as the leek).

leek

3. Chop the sausages into bite-sized pieces.

4. Once the water has boiled, pour in the gnocchi and boil it for as long as the instructions for your brand say to (usually until bits start to float)

5. Drain the gnocchi then add it to the frying pan along with the sausages. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

food

6. Pour the cream into the frying pan, stir it in and heat for a bit until it and the sausages are warmed though. Grate the cheese over the mixture, pausing every once in a while to stir it in. Keep adding cheese until the cream/cheese mixture forms a thick sauce/you think there’s enough (personally, I like a lot of cheese!). Stir in a pinch of cayenne pepper. Also add more salt/black pepper if you think it needs it.

7. Enjoy carbs covered in melty, cheesy goodness (see photo of the final product at the top).


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Basel zoo and a “hedgehog” for lunch

On Saturday, we were up bright and early to drive to Basel again. Our first of three flat viewings was at 11 am, meaning the latest possible time we could leave Karlsruhe was 9! And that is why we spent Valentine’s Day driving and looking at flats. Good job neither of us actually cares about the day of lurrrve ;-) We did, however, manage to stop for lunch in between the first two flat viewings. We went to a little baker’s/cafe where we each drank a home-made hot chocolate with chilli and I couldn’t resist eating an “Igeli”. Der Igel is German for hedgehog, but the Swiss like to diminutise (is that a word?) everything, and so it becomes Igeli. The English equivalent I suppose would be hedgehogling – in the sense of duckling or gosling (or maybe it would be hedgehoglet? Piglet… hoglet… hedgehoglet? You get the idea, anyway). Before I ate him, I had to snap a picture. Just look how cute he is!

Igeli

Later, we had a slightly longer gap between viewings and the sun had come out (after pouring rain in the morning), so we decided to check out the zoo. Sadly, there are no red pandas there, but they do have meerkats, orangutans and some interesting birds. My camera battery was low, so I didn’t take many pictures, but here are a few:

As for the flats: the first one was most suitable, the second was nice but not in the best area and the third was expensive and also the available date has been moved back, but was very large and central. We took forms for all three of them anyway. And now, we go back to waiting… and in the meantime continue to try to arrange viewing appointments. We’ve managed to get 2 more for Friday afternoon, so I’ll be working overtime from now until Thursday and taking Friday afternoon off work. *Sigh* Flat hunting is exhausting!

 


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Friday (the 13th!) letters

Hi everyone! I’m very glad today is Friday… this week has been exhausting! So much going on at work, and I haven’t been getting a tonne of sleep either (thanks, boyfriend who grinds his teeth in his sleep!). I won’t have much of a chance to relax over the weekend either… tomorrow we have three flat viewings in Basel, the first of which is at 11 a.m., meaning we’ll be setting off at 8 a.m.. *Yawn*. Anyway… I’ll try and think of some letters for you, even though I haven’t been doing much of interest this week. Most of my free time has been spent scrolling through flat websites trying to figure out whether we’ve already replied to that particular ad (and getting accused of being a robot for my pains!).

Mail box

Dear tomorrow’s flats. I hope either one of you or last week’s works out because I really don’t feel like spending another Saturday running round Basel (or another week desperately trying to find new adverts to respond to that aren’t only available from 1st May, i.e too late).

Dear boyfriend. Please go to the dentist and get a new bite guard or I may have to murder you in your sleep!

Dear tea. You have been my saviour again this week. Without you, I would either have frozen to death or fallen asleep at my desk <3

Dear weather. I know February is statistically the coldest month, but could we at least have some sun? I’m so sick of clouds!

Dear self. Here’s a reminder: buy stamps! Also, find your customer number and write a termination letter to your Internet provider.

Dear friends/family with birthdays coming up. All of your cards and gifts will be late. I apologise.

Dear fellow bloggers. Once again, I apologise if I haven’t been by to say hello recently, but if you read the introductory paragraph you have your explanation.

That’s your lot for today. It’s supposed to be my lunch break, but I need to cut it short so I can get a translation finished by the end of the day. Have a great weekend, everyone!


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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I finished reading this book the other day and I loved it so, so, so much that I couldn’t be content with just writing a review on Good Reads… my blog needs one too!

The plot:
Essentially, this is a book about a circus – Le Cirque des Reves (which means “Circus of Dreams”). Except… it’s not really a circus. Not that kind of circus anyway. There are tents and some of them even have acrobats in them, but that’s as far as the similarities with a normal circus go. Plus, this circus is only open at night, closing its gates again at dawn. And anyway, the story isn’t really about the circus. Actually, it’s about two magicians competing against each other in a kind of game (that’s actually more of a… test? Battle of wits? Experiment?). Oh, I give up… summarising the plot is just too difficult!

My review:
In case you hadn’t gathered yet, I loved this book! It started off fairly slowly and I was torn between finding it interesting and being a bit put off by the pages and pages of description but not a lot of actual action. But gradually it sucked me in, until I got to the stage where I wished my commute to work was longer so I wouldn’t have to stop reading. I am aware that a lot of people won’t like The Night Circus – it’s like the Marmite of books, I think. Either you love it or you hate. Looking back, there isn’t really much of a plot and takes ages to figure out what’s actually going on (both for the reader and the magicians themselves!), but somehow, despite these failings, I fell in love with the characters and – more importantly – with the circus itslef. I desperately want there to be a real Cirque des Reves so I can go and visit it over and over again. I had to give it five stars on Good Reads because that’s all I’m allowed, but I want to give it a million stars.

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