Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Friday letters

Good morning! I have been the wooooorst blogger this week. Even more so than previous weeks, which you would have thought was impossible. I just can’t be bothered to switch from one computer to the other immediately after work (and I’m not supposed to use the work laptop for personal stuff). Plus, now I’m home all the time, I feel like I no longer have any excuse to not stay at least kind of on top of the housework. So yeah, blogging kind of falls by the wayside. And now I have plans for almost every weekend between now and the end of October, which is good but leaves me with almost no time for other stuff (blogging, reading, cross stitching…). But enough of that, on with Friday letters.

Mailbox

Dear September. I see you, waiting to pounce. How did you get here so quickly? I’m not ready!!

Dear Goodreads/Amazon. I want all the books, and it’s your fault! Well, yours and my addiction’s. But it’s you that adds fuel to the fire.

Dear “baby” brother. Not such a baby anymore! Hope you enjoy your 9th(!!) birthday on Tuesday.

Dear Basel. A street festival tonight and then a beer festival tomorrow (plus the jazz festival we attended last Friday evening). You spoil us with all your events! There definitely was not this much going on in Karlsruhe…

Dear England. Five weeks until I see you again! *Note to self: Get flights booked soon!*

Dear Lion King musical. I am excited to see you next weekend! Hope the tickets arrive soon…

Dear Tea. I’m glad our plan to see The Lion King worked out at such short notice. Can’t wait to see you and show you my new home!

Right, that’s all I have time for now. I have a tonne of work to do today. Have a great weekend, everyone!


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Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge – Month 2

Hi all! Wow, I haven’t written a blog post since Monday! Poor bloggy. Today’s is going to be a short one, too, as we have our first overnight visitors since the move coming later and I have a tonne of things to get done before that. And my lunch break is already half over (thanks to that pesky actually having to eat thing!). But it’s check-in day for the Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge, so I wanted to at least get a quick post in.

Last month I managed to read a whole two books, and I’m afraid I can’t say I’ve done any better this month! In fact, it was another two-book month, at least as far as the challenge goes:

  • Read a novel with a kickass female character. The Third Day, The Frost by John Marsden. This is the third book in the Tomorrow series, and if Ellie and her friends aren’t kickass then I don’t know who is! Also, forget about John Green, it’s John Marsden everyone needs to be raving about!
  • Read a suspenseful book – a mystery, a thriller, a book about revenge. Without You by Saskia Sarginson. The blurb says “In a captivating blend of mystery, thriller and emotional family drama, Without You will leave you unsettled, even as it touches your heart”. Well, I can’t say I found it particularly thrilling, but there is a mystery and the story should have been thrilling, in theory, so it counts. The category didn’t say whether it had to be a particularly good thriller…

I have actually read other books since the last check in, but either they were too short to count even if I had been able to shoehorn them into a category or I just couldn’t see a way to fit them in. Here are some of my other recent reads:

  • The Twins, also by Saskia Sarginson and much better than Without You!
  • Anything But Typical by Nora Baskin Raleigh – excellent story told from the perspective of an autistic boy (and too short to count for the challenge at only 195 pages)
  • The Improbable Cat by Allan Ahlberg  – weird, in future I’ll stick to his books for younger children
  • A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz – an interesting take on fairy tales (Hansel and Gretel star in other Grimm tales), but I was annoyed by all the comments to the reader. Just shut up and get on with the story already! Also, very gory/violent so I’d be careful which kids you give this one too!

I am currently reading Zorgamazoo, which will definitely be my one-word title book for the challenge, but didn’t finish in time for the check in. I’m only two chapters in so far but it’s already excellent!


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Kerzers Papiliorama

Today’s entry for Monday Escapes actually was an escape… from the rain! We had originally considered maybe going hiking at the weekend, but Jan had a cold and didn’t really think he was up for it. With the weather forecasters predicting rain, rain and more rain, hiking was off anyway, so on Sunday we decided to take a trip to Kerzers Papiliorama (Saturday involved a spontaneous trip to Mulhouse, but I’ll tell you about that some other time).

Those of you who speak even a tiny bit of French will probably have already guessed what our day involved: Papillon = butterfly! yes, it’s a butterfly house (just outside the town of Kerzers in region Fribourg, in case you were wondering about the rest). But it’s not just a butterfly house – our first stop was in the nocternal area, where we saw very active porcupines (I don’t think I’ve ever seen one doing anything but just lie around before!), owl monkeys and sloths – no photos were allowed in that bit so I have none for you. Just inside the entrance there was an enclosure with Goeldi’s marmosets and birds (photos below this paragraph) and outside there was a petting zoo. Also, there was a jungle trail, which I’ll get to later.

Obviously, the main thing we had come for was the butterflies, so after going through the nocturnal area and watching the marmosets being fed, it was off to butterfly land! Isn’t there some quote about butterflies being flowers with wings? Something like that. It’s a pretty accurate description, anyway. And even though a lot of the butterflies wouldn’t stay still for long enough to allow photos, I did manage to get a few good ones. Here you are:

By the way, I uploaded all the photos in this post straight from my memory card without bothering to edit, because I’m lazy like that. I did at least filter out the horribly blurry ones though. Here, have more butterflies:

I wish I’d taken a photo of the information board now because I can no longer remember the names of most of the species (except the owl butterfly!) and googling doesn’t actually help. Oh well, have another photo just because I thought this was a really cool/unusual perspective:

Butterfly front view

Butterfly front view

OK, now I’ve overloaded you with photos of butterflies, let’s move on to the jungle trail. The Papiliorama supports/helped set up a nature reserve in Belize, and the junge trail is an exact replica of said nature reserve in small. There are a few animals in enclosures in there and then birds flying around loose (and also lizards roaming around loose, but we didn’t see any – just a sign saying “stair-climbing iguanas have right of way”). The absolute best thing about the nature trail though…. toucans!! Just flying around freely – one was sitting on the fence near where we came in, and he was so close that I could have reached out and stroked him. Obviously I wouldn’t because I don’t fancy having my fingers bitten off, but still SO COOL! I love toucans!! Here, have a few photos from the jungle trail, i.e. mainly photos of TOUCANS!!

In case you hadn’t noticed, I love toucans!! This love stems almost entirely from a book I had as a kid called “Two Can, Toucan” which basically tells the story of how the toucan got his colouful beak by spilling two cans of paint all over himself. Because obviously (I am sooo buying that book for my future kids by the way).

There was also a little bat cave in the jungle trail area. The sign outside said “no flash photography”, but non-flash photography is basically impossible, so this is the best I could do:

Bats

Bats

Yeah, pretty pointless. Never mind! (I also took a video but I think that might be a bit much for this post…)

Once we were done with the jungle trail, we headed outside to the petting zoo. It was feeding time for the ducks and pigs, and a bunch of goats were following the person doing the feeding everywhere trying to get some, then eating the duck food right out of the water. It was pretty amusing to watch. Also, they had some very pretty chickens – Appenzell something or others (sorry, I’m terrible at this being informative business!). Here, the final batch of photos:

Oh my gosh, so many goat photos! I do apologise (and that’s not even all of them. I don’t know. I have no excuse…).

We got a RailAway special deal, which give us 20% off our rail fare if we bought the entrance ticket and rail tickets together from SBB. From Basel to Kerzers Papiliorama (it has its own stop) took us just under 2 hours, with one change in Bern. We arrived at around 1 p.m. and took the 4:50 p.m. train home, so we managed to spend quite a bit of time there. Obviously being a rainy Sunday there were a lot of children around, but the place was big/spead out enough that we didn’t feel as though we were constantly falling over small people. So, to sum up, I can recommend! The entrance fee for adults is CHF 18 (sorry, I didn’t check the children’s price).

This has been a ridiculously long blog post for Monday Escapes with My Travel Monkey and Packing my Suitcase, except this time if you want to link up you have to do so on Mummy Travels as one of the usual hosts is away.

Phew, I really don’t know how to make a long story short, do I?

Packing my Suitcase


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35 Before 35: Progress report 4

Wow, my blogging has been really sporadic recently, hasn’t it? It’s not that I don’t want to blog, I just don’t seem to have anything to talk about. Also if you’re on blogspot (and use the blogspot comments form) I apologise if I haven’t commented on your blog for a while – I am reading but when I try to comment from my work laptop it just disappears into thin air when I press post. I assume it has to do with the (ridiculously high) security settings for the Internet browser…

Anyway, today seemed like a good day to post another progress report for my 35 before 35, seeing as I now have precisely 3 years to complete the challenge (why yes, that was a not-very-well veiled reference to the fact that today is my birthday). I haven’t actually done much towards it recently, what with moving countries and everything, but I can at least cross a few things off. My last progress all the way back in October 2014! You can read it here, if you’re interested. And here’s what I’ve done since then:

Number 9: Make cheesecake

I made a Toblerone cheesecake for my leaving party. It was delicious!

Toblerone cheesecake

Number 15: Read 30 books in German

I had read 17 books in German last time I updated, and now I’m up to a whole 20! I read Die Nacht des Zorns (original French title: L’armée furieuse) by Fred Vargas (thank you to the winter reading challenge for that one!), Liebesfluch by  Beatrix Gurian (also read for the winter reading challenge), MUH! by David Safir (a Christmas present) and Apfelrosenzeit by Anneke Mohn.

Number 21: Read all the books from the BBC Big Read that I hadn’t before starting this challenge

I was up to 9 last time I updated (plus a few I’d started but hadn’t finished). Now I’m on 13, so that’s 4 read for this category, too. I haven’t finished any of the ones I was working on before though. The one’s I’ve read since October are The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde, The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks (for the summer reading challenge), Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafón (highly recommend by the way – I LOVED this one!)

Number 24. Go to 5 different Christmas markets (other than Karlsruhe and Durlach)

I hadn’t been to any Christmas markets the last time I updated, so this is a new category! In December 2014, I went to the Christmas market at Burg Hohenzollern and the one in Speyer (those are links. Click them.).

Burg Hohenzollern

Number 31. Watch 35 films I’ve never seen before.

I was up to 16 last time, and now I’m on 18. Since October, I’ve watched Birdman (weird!) and Rush (really good).

Number 35: The KVV beer tour (drink a beer in all the breweries local to Karlsruhe that can be reached by tram/S-Bahn)

I did this right before I left Karlsruhe, in April. I’m glad I had it on my list because it was an amazing day out! Read about it here.

Wow, that’s actually quite a lot! It seems I did more than I thought I had – which I suppose is the advantage of leaving 10 months between updates ;-)

Bring on the next three years!


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Foodie penpals July reveal

I am a terrible blogger and forgot to get my foodie penpals post ready for the big reveal on the last day of July. Oops. In my defence, I received my parcel relatively late in the month and I had a wedding to attend. In the UK. Those are my excuses and I’m sticking to them! Anyway, my foodie penpals this month were both in UK. I sent a parcel to the lovely Selina and received one from Kate (I would provide links if they had blogs…). Here’s what I got from Kate:

Foodie package

What? You can’t see everything? Here – I took the items out of the box for you!

Foodie parcel

I have to confess, I very cheekily requested the beef Hula Hoops. I love beef Hula Hoops! (Also Flamin’ Hot Monster Munch, Skips, Bacon Fries, Mini Cheddars and Wotsits, just in case anyone was thinking of sending me a care package ;-) ).

This month I actually managed to restrain myself for long enough to take individual photos of some of the items, so here’s what I received in detail:

Foodie penpals

Baking stuff, specifically mini loaf cases, chocolate honeycomb decoratey type stuff and cardamom pods. I’ve never used a cardamom pod for anything in my life! Research shall have to be done…

Foodie penpals

Yummy sweet treats! Fruit crumble sweeties, treacle tart flavour chocolate and raspberry flavoured pieces of dried coconut. SO TASTY!

Foodie penpals

Beefy stuffs! The aforementioned Hula Hoops and some sweet/sour/spicy flavoured beef jerky. Kate is a vegetarian but she sent me meat. How nice is that?! The beef jerky was yummy.

Foodie penpals

Smoked chilli flavoured mayonnaise. I haven’t tried this yet – it’s sitting in my fridge waiting for an opportunity. What does one serve spicy mayonnaise with?

And that was this month’s package. Yes, I took my photos on the floor. So what?

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, here’s what I sent to Selina:

Foodie penpalsSwitzerland in an envelope, so to speak.

The matches for August came out today, so if you haven’t already I’m afraid you’re too late to sign up for this month, but you can sign up right now to take part in September. To read the rules and sign up go here. (This is the European version, for those of you in the US/Canada, the original Foodie Penpals on The Lean Green Bean is here.)


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Celebrating Switzerland’s birthday

Saturday was the 1st of August (what? How did that happen?!), which in Switzerland means Bundesfeier or Swiss National Day. Supposedly, 1 August was the date on which the original three cantons, Uri, Schywz (which gave Switzerland its name) and Unterwalden (which no longer exists as a canton) signed the Federal Charter of 1291. Unlike in Germany, where Reunification Day is a solemn occasion, in Switzerland National Day means fireworks! Lots of fireworks! And Basel isn’t content with just celebrating on one evening… the unofficial fireworks display (unofficial in the sense of not on the right day, they were organised by official people!) was on Friday evening on the Rhine then there was a second celebration in the Bruderholz area of the city on the actual day. We attended both, but I got the feeling most people only went to the celebration on the Rhine… things were certainly a lot more crowded there anyway!

Our first stop on Friday evening was at Marktplatz. The town hall was all decked out in Switzerland and Basel-Stadt flags, there were food stands, and a Dixieland band was playing. We each purchased a sausage then ate it while watching the band for a bit before moving on.

On the banks of the Rhine, there’s a statue of a boy holding a fish (don’t ask me why!). Some revellers had decked him out in a Swiss flag for the national holiday:

BundesfeierLots of people go all out for the national holiday. There were flags, bunting and lanterns in red and white everywhere!

Bundesfeier

We found ourselves a spot next to a stand selling Basel beer (very tasty, by the way). It wasn’t too crowded there – the Mittlere Brücke and the opposite side of the river seemed to be where most of the crowds were gathered – and we could see both sets of fireworks. A selection of photos:

After the fireworks, we walked down to the next bridge, crossed over to see what was on the other side of the river (lots of loud music, cocktails and a much younger audience!), ate raclette from one of the stands there and then headed home.

The next night, we went to the official celebrations for Basel-Stadt in a field up on the Bruderholz. Our own town was holding its own celebrations, but we chose not to go as there weren’t any fireworks (the place they would have been set off was subject to a ban due to them being too close to the woods after the extremely dry weather we’d been having – ironically, it was raining when we left the house!). Being official, these celebrations involved a speech by the president of the Gemeinderat (municipal council), but also various forms of entertainment, including presentations by the Schweizer Tambouren und Pfeiferverband (Swiss drummers’ and fifers assocation). They were very good, with even the youngest performers keeping perfect time! The final group of drummers wore skeleton masks and played with fire, which was kind of fun.

In between drummers drumming and pipers piping, people in traditional dress danced and we ate yet more sausages. Also, I couldn’t resist the Swiss cows on sticks being sold at the cake stand!

After the speech by the official and the drummers’ final performance, there was a fire show then two singers performed what they called “a tribute to the national anthem”. I think the organisers had expected them to actually sing the national anthem, which is why the progamme for the events had the text printed on the back, but oh well! What they actually sang was something weird in English with one line from the national anthem in each of the national languages in between. Not what I was expecting! Then, finally, those who weren’t already standing out in the field headed over to the bonfire to watch the main event… fireworks! Actually, people had been setting off their own fireworks all evening (there was an official area for it), even before it got dark, but of course only “official” people are allowed the really impressive ones!

The fireworks went on for about 20 minutes, after which we headed off to find a tram that would take us home – we had walked across the fields to get to the event, but I didn’t fancy taking the same route back in the dark!

Yesterday, I read that there is also a regular fireworks display over the Rhine Falls on 31 July, so I’ve now decided I need to see that one some day. A fireworks display over the largest plain falls in Europe has to be pretty spectacular! (And by the way, if anyone would like to explain to this idiot what a “plain waterfall” is that would be fabulous ;-) ).

It’s Monday, so I’m linking up with Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey again for the latest edition of Monday Escapes.

Packing my Suitcase


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The year so far in cross stitch

I just realised that I haven’t actually uploaded any of my cross stitching so far this year. Not that I’ve done much, what with the move and everything,but I did manage to make a few cards. Unfortunately I have a habit of forgetting to take photos before I send the cards so there are at least three missing, but here are the ones I did remember to photograph! For each one, I’ve included a picture of the full card and a close up shot of the actual stitching.

First of all, a birhday card for a friend’s little girl whose birthday was at the beginning of February. A fairly simple one to stitch, but I thought it was incredibly cute.

Next, a Mother’s Day cardI stitched for my mum. I decided the little girl looked like me. Please take note of all the French knots – there were loads of them and I hate French knots! With this one I didn’t actually take a picture of the completed card for some reason.

I’ve made two New Home cards so far this year, but only took a photo of one of them. Both were of bird houses, but in slightly different styles. Here’s the one I did remember to take a photo of.

Finally, my most recent piece of stitching – a card for the wedding I attended at the weekend. Try to ignore the weird pink splodges! I had to block out the names to protect the innocent!

Next up will be a birthday card for my godson, then I think I’ll need to get started on Christmas cards based on how long they took me last year!

Would you appreciate being given a cross stitch card, or would you just throw it away?
Which of these cards is your favourite? Let me know in the comments!

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