Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


35 Before 35 – Baking: Maple Pecan Nut Cookies

DSCN4418The first Sunday in advent is coming up, which for me – not being at all religious – is an excuse to drink tea and indulge in the first round of Christmas goodies. I decided to bake biscuits rather than buying stuff as an excuse to try out the cutters I bought last year and had only used a few of. I used a combination of this recipe, which somehow has something to do with Pippa Middleton, and one I already had. Unfortunately, it seems I should have replaced the egg in my other recipe with the maple syrup from the linked one – that way, I might have ended up with a more biscuity type dough rather than a soft, cookie one (yes, American readers. The word cookie exists in British English, but it refers to a specific kind of biscuit, not all of them!). If you want to use this recipe, make your dough into little balls before baking so you end up with nice round cookies. If you try cutting shapes like I did, you’ll end up with shapeless masses…

Maple Pecan Nut Cookies

225g unsalted butter or margarine
225g caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
1 egg
4 dessert spoons maple syrup
50g pecan nuts
300g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder (1 tsp if using German Backpulver)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1. Cream, the butter, caster sugar and brown sugar together in a large bowl.

2. Add the egg and maple syrup and mix to form a creamy batter. Break up and stir in the pecan nuts. (If you’re lucky enough to have a food processor, you can use that to do the breaking, but don’t make the nuts too small – you want nice chunks of pecan nut, not ground pecans!).

3. Sieve in the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix into a thick dough (you’ll probably need to get your hands in at some point to bring it all together properly).

4. Roll the mixture into 2 balls, wrap them in clingfilm and refrigerate for 1 hour.

5. Once chilled, preheat the oven to 160° C/fan 150°C/gas mark 3 and line a baking tray.

6. Form the dough into smallish balls, place on the baking tray(s) and bake for about 8 minutes or until the edges start turning brown (bigger cookies may take longer).



Will turn into this:

Oh well, they may not look very pretty, but they’re incredibly tasty. In fact, I’m not sure they’re going to survive until Sunday…


A Photo an Hour: 21 November 2015

This post isn’t so much “A Photo an Hour” as “a photo whenever I remembered I was actually supposed to be taking photos”. We were invited to a party back in Karlsruhe on Saturday, and between missing trains, buying tram tickets in the rain and helping refugees find their stop, taking photos kind of fell by the wayside occasionally. Oops!

9.30 a.m. Oh dear, I forgot to take a photo when I got up! Better take one now! Packing the overnight bag.

11 a.m. After just missing the tram we needed, arriving at the station one minute after our train left and then having to buy new tickets because we had ones that we valid only for that connection, I finally got round to taking a photo again! Waiting for the train to arrive…

12 noon. Reading on the train.

1.30 p.m. At one, we were helping refugees figure out where they were going, so I decided to switch back to photos on the half hour. At 1.30 we were eating lunch at Café Pan.

2. 30 p.m. Still at the café. These are some decorations.

3.30 p.m. A spot of shopping while we’re in nice, cheap Germany!

4.30 p.m. A quick stop for some tea and cake at Sukie’s. We shared a slice of pumpkin cake and it was delicious!

5.30 p.m. On the tram to the party, carrying a gift in a cute froggy bag.

6.30 p.m. One of the other guests brought yummy éclairs from France!

Midnight-ish. Coat and shoes back on, ready to leave!

Well, I may not have taken a photo every hour, but at least I managed an even number this month ;-)

Thanks as always to Jane and Louisa for hosting!



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Zelah Green by Vanessa Curtis

I changed things around a bit for the winter book challenge, and ended up reading Zelah Green for the category “Read a book with a person’s first and last name in the title”. Some editions are called Zelah Green: Queen of Clean). This category is worth 20 points.

The plot: Zelah Green is a cleanaholic. She spends most of her time running away from germs. And dirt. And people (who tend to be covered in both of those things). She thinks she’s doing just about okay at coping with her “little problem”, as she refers to it, but then her stepmother packs her off to some kind of hospital in the middle of nowhere with a load of strangers who all have issues of their own…

My review: In case you hadn’t guessed from the description, this book is about a girl with OCD. Except she doesn’t like to call it that, because giving things a name makes them real. The reading age is listed as 11+, which would explain why it’s a little simplistic in places and Zelah makes progress incredibly quickly once at the hospital, but I thought the author did an excellent job of showing how OCD can make normal life almost impossible for sufferers – it’s not just being obsessive about living in a clean house or getting annoyed if things aren’t arranged perfectly, as so many people seem to think (those who like to use the phrase “I’m sooo OCD about X”). I also really liked the character of Zelah Green. At 246 pages, it’s a quick read (I got through it in my lunch break!), but a nice one. I must have liked it – I’ve order the next Zelah Green book (One More Little Problem) to find out what happens next! I gave this one 4 stars.

I’ve actually already read a few other books for the challenge, which I haven’t reviewed all of here, so I’m at 65 points now.


Recent doings

There are various versions of this type of post out there. Jane calls hers Mondaying (can you guess which day she posts them?), others take part in a linkup called Currently. Basically, the idea is you take action words ending in -ing and tell people the things you’ve been up to lately that the word describes. A way of updating people on your life and talking about things that aren’t worth a blog post of their own. Here’s my version.


Watching: The Blackadder box set that I bought Jan for his birthday. I had only ever seen bits and pieces of it, mainly from the later episodes (plus the millennium special “Blackadder: Back & Forth). We’re now on series 3 and we’re loving it! And I didn’t even recognise Hugh Laurie!

Reading: My way through the winter book challenge. I’ve completed three categories so far and have just started my second book for the two books with the same title one. At the same time, I’m reading Possession by A.S Byatt for the one-word title category. I will have to read Persuasion eventually, but it won’t be for this challenge!

Cooking: All the pumpkins! We used the muscat pumpkin and the Baby Boos that we bought at the festival, so now I’m back to my usual butternut squash. I love pumpkin season!

Designing: A cross stitch pattern for a Christmas card! I’ll show you it once it’s stitched – which won’t be until I’ve finished the one from the guessing game. *Sigh*

Drinking: Tea. So much tea. I’ve been failing to get to bed when I should lately, which has resulted in tiredness throughout the day. Multiple cups of tea are the only thing getting me through!

Planning: New Year! We’ve decided not to go away this time, since we now live somewhere where it might actually be worth being on New Year’s Eve. Instead, we want to invite some friends to come and visit us here in Basel. I’ve mentioned it to a couple, now all we need to do is invite people properly and discuss a few details (such as what food to provide – raclette is a possibility (when in Switzerland…), plus a non-dairy option).

Buying: Too many books from the Internet. Nothing new there then! Also card making supplies and a few Christmas presents. Can  you believe November is more than half over already?

Wondering: Why WordPress have changed the post publishing screen again? It’s all different and I can’t find half the features – like what happened to the option to insert a link to your own blog without having to type in the URL? And how do I change the size of images now? Grrr! Whatever happened to “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?

What have you been doing lately?


Paris on my mind

Inspired by this post the lovely Katyboo, today I wanted to write something positive about Paris to counteract the awful images we’ve been seeing all weekend. A sort of projecting of light into the darkness, if you will. Luckily, it turns out that, although I blogged about where we ate, the Welcome to Night Vale live show we saw and an amazing bar, I never actually got round to sharing the other photos from our stay.

Much like this autumn has been, the end of October/beginning of November was unseasonably warm in 2014, and we were able to enjoy lunch outside and a stroll around some of the sights of Paris. We didn’t have much time, but that didn’t matter. It was a lovely two days spent with my boyfriend and a good friend. Paris will never be my favourite place (sorry, but no big city will ever take that honour – I’m more of a small, quaint places kind of girl), but I have good memories from the times I’ve been there. And that’s something no terrorist will ever be able to take away from me.

Here are a few photos from last year’s Paris trip:

My thoughts are with the people of Paris, and also of all those other countries that are experiencing acts of terrorism and war every single day, but rarely receive as much news coverage as Friday’s attacks did.

I’m linking up with Monday Escapes again this week. I think we could all use an escape from sadness and hate right now.

Packing my Suitcase


Friday (the 13th) letters

Good morning! Today is Friday the 13th, which is my favourite date! I’m not sure why – maybe because everyone else hates it? In fact, I was just lamenting to Jan last night that I won’t get to have a Friday the 13th birthday for aaaages! It should have been next year. but I am to be foiled by the stupid leap year. Gah! He then suggested that I could celebrate my 32-and-a-quarter birthday today ;-) I wouldn’t though. Or would I…?


Dear birds. We still haven’t bought you a feeder. I’m so sorry! But at least it’s currently still unusually warm and you are hopefully able to find food elsewhere.

Dear scales. Finally the number you’re showing me is lower! Not as low as I would like, but we can’t have everything. At least I’m now back below my highest ever weight!

Dear vegetables. Healthy eating would be so much easier if you were as addictive as cheese!

Dear readers. I’m sorry I’m making you wait so long for the reveal of my cross stitch guessing game. I didn’t expect it to take so long to finish!

Dear self. When the DHL man makes a comment that there’s “always something for you” it’s probably time to stop ordering random stuff from the Internet!

Dear Jan’s mum, my cousin and my first cousin once removed (that’s you, Anna!). Happy birthday to all of you for tomorrow! Apparently 14th November is a popular date to be born ;-)

Right, that’s all from me. I do actually have to work you know ;-) Have a good Friday and a fabulous weekend!


Never forget

While Germans dress in costumes and get drunk starting from 11.11 a.m., the UK and many Commonwealth countries remember those who fought and fell in the first and second world wars, and in every war since then. This post is dedicated to my dad, who fought in the Falklands War, to all his army friends who fought there and elsewhere, and to everyone who has fought for Great Britain in any war, ever. Even those that I thought we should never have been part of (like the second Gulf War).  To those who never came home and to those who did come home but were forever changed. The main remembrance events in the UK were on Sunday (Remembrance Sunday), but today most people will take part in a two minute silence at 11 a.m.

My words are inadequate, so I’ll let someone else do the talking (see photo). Lest we forget.

In Flanders Fields


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