Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


Friday letters (need more time!)

It’s Friday again! I can’t believe how time is flying. Only one more week of work after today, then I move that weekend, have a week off to sort myself out and as of may I’m officially a telecommuter (and resident of Switzerland). Phew. I feel like a week is far too little time to get myself sorted out, though – especially while working. I think I need Bernard’s watch (anyone remember that?)!

Eye'm watching you...Dear Rossmann employee. There’s really no use asking me for my postcard at 8 am… I can barely remember my own name then!

Dear bookshop. I spent way too long in you yesterday looking for a book with an alliterative title and didn’t find a single one. Not even Angela’s Ashes – which most people seem to be using for the challenge – or Rob Roy, which is supposedly a classic. I didn’t even spot Gone Girl (which would have been useless to me anyway since I’ve already read it, but given its popularity you’d think you’d at least stock it!). Now I’m going to have to order it, and as Switzerland has no Amazon of its own, it will come from another country and go through customs. If I fail to complete the challenge in time due to books arriving late I’m blaming you!

Dear Switzerland. Why you no has Amazon?

Dear to-do list. Why aren’t you getting any shorter? I have so much to do and so little time before the big move!

Dear Basel. See you again soon!

Happy Friday everyone! I hope the sun shines for you this weekend (and for us – we’re going to a wedding!).


The 2015 Summer Reading Challenge – preliminary list

Megan has put up the categories for her next reading challenge. It doesn’t actually start until 1st may, but I’m impatient so I felt compelled to make a preliminary list. All my books are in Switzerland already, so I had to pick them from memory… meaning this list will probably end up changing when I discover that the books I’ve picked don’t actually have enough pages ;-) It will do for a start though.

First, as always, the rules:

  • The challenge will run from May 1, 2015, to August 31, 2015. No books that are started before 12 a.m. on May 1 or finished after 11:59 p.m. on August 31 will count.
  • Each book must be at least 200 pages long. Audiobooks and large-print books are fine, as long as the regular print versions meets this length requirement.
  • A book can only be used for one category, and each category can only be completed once. If you want to switch the category of a book during a later check-in, that’s fine, just be sure to account for that in your point total.
  • Rereads can be used for a maximum of three books in the challenge. This rule is meant to encourage you to try new books while still allowing you to revisit books from your childhood or young adulthood that you might get more out of now. Please reread the entire book within the timeframe of the challenge in order to count it; no simply finishing old books or partial rereads.
  • The highest possible total is 200 points, and the first five people who finish the challenge will be invited to contribute a category for the next challenge.

And now for the fun part: challenge categories!

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that fits the general rules.
Captain Correlli’s Mandolin by  Louis de Bernières. It’s on the BBC Big Read and I need to get back on track with that.

10 points: Read a book you have never heard of before. (Just go to a shelf and pick a book based on the cover, the title, whatever you want!)
Well, this category will obviously have to wait because if I put something I’ve added to my TBR pile it obviously will be something I’ve heard of before ;-)

10 points: Read a book that has been on your TBR list for at least two years. (If you’ve had a Goodreads account for 2+ years, this will be easy to figure out. If you don’t, do your best to pick a book you’re pretty sure you’ve been wanting to read for years.)
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I’m sure it’s been at least two years since Jan recommended this book to me. It’s been sitting on the shelf mocking me ever since, so now seems like a good time to read it.

10 points: Read a book that won a Goodreads “Best Book” award in 2014.
Not sure yet. I’ll have to take a close look at the list and see which book sounds interesting and is available cheaply.

15 points: Read a book by an author who is completely new to you.
I’ll have to find one first, so passing on this one for now as well
*Update* I popped into the train station bookshop to see if I could find anything for this category. It’s surprisingly difficult as their tiny English book section mostly contains popular authors, but I managed to find one, so my book for this category is The Bees by Laline Paull.

15 points: Read a book by an author you have read before. (No re-reads for this one.)
Different Seasons by Stephen King. I was going to read this one for the last challenge, but then I replaced it because I wasn’t 100% sure it fit the category. I still haven’t read it and it definitely fits here!

15 points: Read a book with “light” or “dark” in the title. (Or “lightness” or “darkness.”)
I don’t think I have anything on my shelves that will fit, so I’ll have to have a look…

20 points: Read a book with the name of a city, state or country in the title.
Not sure about this one either. I can’t think of any book I’ve been wanting to read that names a place in the title, but I might get lucky..
*Update* The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez – I’d forgotten I had this one! I was hoping to read it for the last challenge, but coffee wasn’t allowed to count as a food. Kabul is 1005 a city, though, so now I can actually read this book ;-)

20 points: Read a book with an animal on the cover.
The Life of Pie by Yann Martel. At least I hope it does! I can’t see my copy right now, but it should have a picture of a tiger on the cover.

25 points: Read a book that is part of a series with at least four books.
Ooh, difficult! I think it will end up being something from a crime series – they always have loads! Maybe the new Flavia de Luce book, if I can get hold of it?

25 points: Read a book that is longer than 500 pages long. — Submitted by winter finisher Kristen from See You in a Porridge.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. I can’t currently check how many pages this had, but I know it’s long (which is why I haven’t read it yet – too big for my handbag) so I’m hoping it will work for this category!

30 points: Read a book with an alliterative title. (All words in the title must begin with the same letter; no exceptions for articles or prepositions. Examples: Gone Girl or Nicholas Nickleby. Yes, this is tough, which is why it’s worth the most points!)
She’s not wrong about this being tough! Most of the alliterative titles I can think of are aimed at 2-3 year olds so are obviously not 200 pages long. I’ll have a think… (Actually, I’m wondering whether Nicholas Nickleby is among the books my grandma bought Jan? I have a feeling David Copperfield is the only Dickens though).

Well, that’s five seven books so far. I don’t think I can force any of the other books I have waiting to be read into a category so I’ll have to go on a hunt. If you want to join in you can link up your provisional list or get inspiration from other people’s lists here.


Friday letters

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, what with packing and everything. Today seems like good day for some letters, though!

LettersDear Grandpa. Wednesday would have been your 81st birthday. If there is a heaven, I hope you were partying in it!

Dear sunshine. It’s been lovely seeing you in the evenings after work this week. Now, could you please stick around for another day so we don’t get rained on while out and about tomorrow?

Dear new shoes. I love you so much, and I don’t even care that you’re from Primark and therefore promoting evilness!

Dear boyfriend. Thank you for doing so much furniture arranging and unpacking before I even made it to Switzerland. It was nice that it already looked somewhat homely when I arrived last weekend.

Dear German banks and administrative offices. Why are your opening hours so crap? Don’t you realise that most of us have to work full time and can’t deal with all our bureaucratic stuff before 4 p.m. on a week day?!

That’s all for now. Just 15 days til I move, then hopefully I’ll be back to regular blogging again!


All those hours spent putting things in boxes only to remove them again

This weekend I’ve mainly been in Basel, unpacking and sorting out the new flat. Then, today – as those of you who follow my blog on Facebook may have already seen – I came back to Karlsruhe and, instead of sitting outside in the gorgeous sunshine, spent the afternoon cleaning windows. I hadn’t actually done them since we moved in here (5 years ago for the nosey curious – I’m such a terrible housewife!), so I’m sure you can imagine the state they were in…

Anyway, while I was in Switzerland, I managed to grab a few shots of the unpacking process, so I thought I’d share them here. I’m sure you’re all thrilled ;-) All photos were taken using a tablet with a terrible camera, so apologies for quality…

It seems the Swiss like to take their lights with them too, so Jan’s set up a few temporary lighting solutions:


A lonely lantern on the balcony – we don’t have any other furniture to go out there yet.


Almost all the books are unpacked, and we’re probably going to need another book case (three are pictured here and there’s a fourth just around the corner).

20150403_162837The desk is in position, just waiting for the computer to be set up.

20150403_162935Empty boxes (YAY!)

20150404_142641Full boxes (BOO!)

20150404_142702That’s all I took. Maybe I’ll share some proper pictures of the new flat once I’m moved in. Right now it’s time for food and a well-deserved glass of wine!


The Daydreamer Award

Briony from Fear of the Reaper nominated me for this award ages ago, but then  got caught up in moving stuff and never actually managed to write my post. I know.. excuses, right? Well, I’m getting round to it now, okay?

the-daydreamer-awardApparently, this is an award for blogs that are inspiring, creative or funny. Wow, I had no idea my blog was those things!

Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Complete the challenge they set you.
3. Select a blog or blogs that you want to give the award to.
4. Tell them about it and set them a challenge.
(Please include the rules in your post).

1. Thanks for the nomination, Briony. It’s nice to be acknowledged! Now all my readers should go and read her blog because it never fails to make me laugh!

2. I was given the challenge to describe my perfect rainy day.

Obviously I’m going to assume that this day is taking place on a weekend, because no day that I have to spend at work could be perfect. I love my job, but there are limits!

I would start my perfect rainy day by waking up late. Then I would lie in bed for a while listening to the rain on the windows while I stayed under the warm covers with a cup of tea (brought to me by my boyfriend, of course… there would be no getting up to switch on the kettle on my perfect day!). Once I’d finished my tea, I would finally drag myself out of bed and head of to the kitchen, where Jan and I would work together to make pancakes for breakfast (or actually brunch. On my perfect day the first meal would not happen at breakfast time!). We would eat them with hot raspberries, Nutella, orange juice and of course more tea! After breakfast, the dishes would all go into the dishwasher (we have one in the new flat) while I took myself off for a nice long bath (we have one of those in the new flat as well). I would take whichever book I was reading into the bathroom with me. And of course I would not drop it into the water (something my mother is fond of doing!).

A rainbow over Karlsruhe

A rainbow over Karlsruhe

Once I was all clean, I would get dressed in my most comfortable lounging around the house clothes and head over to the sofa with some cross stitch and – yes – more tea. I would stay there for a few hours, stitching and watching the rain, then, on my perfect day, I’m assuming the rain would let up just a little bit, the sun would come out somewhere, and a rainbow would appear. I would then abandon my cross stitch and go for a walk, preferably to somewhere with ducks for me to say hello to. The rain would hold off until I got back from my walk, at which point it would start bucketing down again. Meanwhile, nice and dry in the house, Jan and I would make dinner together and settle down to eat it while watching a film. Again, the dishwasher would do the hard work (woohoo!) Jan and I would then head off to bed, at the same time for once. And what we would do there is none of your business ;-)

3. Phew. Moving on… here are the bloggers I would like to nominate:

Kerri from Crumbs in the Bed

Holly from Full of Beans and Sausages

Becster from her blog of the same name

Laura from Live, Love Laugh with Laura Jade

4. The challenge I would like to set my nominees is to describe your dream dinner party, including the guests (dead or alive), the decorations, any background music you might have…. use your imagination. But, most importantly, don’t forget to tell me about the food! (Can you tell I like to eat? ;-) )

Over to you guys. Have fun!


Why must everything be so complicated?

Once I move, I will no longer be able to have an account at my bank in Karlsruhe… because Germans are awkward and only allow you to bank at a specific branch. But I will still need a German bank account for my wages, so I decided to open one at the online bank where Jan has his account. I got all the forms, filled them in just fine and was ready to send them off… or at least I thought I was…

To send these forms, you have to use a procedure called “PostIdent”, which means you place the filled in form in an envelope then take it to the post office, give a separate little card to the post office employee and show your ID. The post office employee uses the extra form to confirm that you are who you say you are, sends your completed form plus the PostIdent thing to the bank and your account is set up. Easy! I had planned to do that tonight after work, but then I noticed the small print: “If using a passport for ID, you will also need to include a copy of your registration confirmation that’s no more than 6 months old”. So now I need to go to the citizen’s office (which is only open while I’m atwork!), pay 8 euros for a copy of the bit of paper that says I’m registered as living in Karlsruhe, put that in the envelope and then I can finally go to the post office and send off my form.

Could just one thing in this moving process not be complicated?!


35 Before 35: Make cheesecake

A few weeks ago, somebody posted a recipe for Toblerone Cheesecake on Facebook. I love Toberlone and I love cheesecake, so I immediately made a note of it. Then, when I was looking for simple, quick recipes for our leaving party, my mind went back to that Facebook post. With only five ingredients (chocolate Digestives, butter, cream cheese, cream and, obviosuly, Toberlone) and no need for baking it was definitely both quick and easy! I used this recipe from the BBC Good Food website. The Philadelphia website also has one that’s basically the same, but of course they insist you use Philadelphia rather than any old cream cheese (as it happens, I did buy Philadelphia, but only because it was on offer!). Here’s my finished article:

Toblerone cheesecakeEveryone who tried a bit said it was delicious and I liked it so much I actually ended up having some for breakfast on Monday because I couldn’t possibly wait til I got home from work to taste it again ;-)

And that’s another item crossed off the 35 Before 35 list.


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