How hard can it be to find a date?

Very is the answer to the question above  judging by the trouble I’ve been having doing just that. I was going to have my charity teaparty on the first Saturday in July, except it turns out a seminar  we’re having for work is being held on that day. This weekend I have visitors who I’ve promised to show round Karlsruhe and the following Saturday there’s a live music performance in my local Irish pub that I really want to see. It starts at 8pm and I’m planning on holding the tea party from 5pm (the five o’clock tea stereotype, remember?) which rules that date out. A tea party that has to end after three hours isn’t a real tea party! So it’s looking like I’m going to have to postpone things til further into July… but not too far in as towards the end things get busy again with Das Fest (Karlsruhe’s big music festival) on the weekend of 24th July followed by another trip to England the weekend after that for the next wedding. I’m not sure where I would fit in time to bake in among all that, never mind hosting the actual party! So another date shall have to be sought. In the meantime, I’m still collecting ideas for stereotypically British tea party food. All suggestions welcome! Recipes too, if you have them…

Getting crafty in memory of Ellie

Some of you may remember my post a few months ago about my friends little girl, Ellie, who sadly passed away from the genetic disease ARPKD (those who don’t know or remember what I’m on about can view the post here).
Ellie’s amazing mummy, my friend Naomi, has been raising money for the Tiny Lives charity, based at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where Ellie spent her short life. Now Naomi has opened an online shop “My Star Ellie” where she is selling handmade stuff to raise even more money for Tiny Lives. Various people are getting involved with the project, including me! Yes, very soon you will be able to marvel at greeting cards and bookmarks made by my very own hand!

I (and Naomi) would really appreciate it if you could take a look at the My Star Ellie shop, pass it on to your friends, blog about it, tweet about it and anything else you can think of to get the word out. And keep checking back! More stuff will be coming in. Not just greeting cards, but also gift tags, book marks, jewellery and anything else people decide to make and donate.

Here is the link:
www.artfire.com/users/mystarellie

Thank you all muchly for your help!

Finally Friday

It’s been a log, long week, despite the fact that I had Monday off work (we went to visit Jan’s dad) and I’m unbelievably glad it’s over. For some reason I just couldn’t concentrate. Everything seemed to take three times as long as it should have, then we had a customer complain and spent 2 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday sorting that out. Yep, that’s one week I’m pleased to see the back off.

Baby Ellie’s funeral was yesterday. I wish so much that I could have been there to support her parents – well, her mum mostly, I’ve only met her dad once – but for obvious reasons that wasn’t possible. One of the disdvantages of living in Germany. I know they had lots of friends and family there for them though, and I hear she had a good send off.  Quite a bit of money was put in the donation tin as well, and Ellie’s memorial page on Just Giving has already raised more than 1,500 pounds for the Tiny Lives charity! Not bad considering it was only created a little over a week ago. You can see the page here: http://www.justgiving.com/Naomi-Warburton Please pass the link on, even if you don’t feel you can donate to total strangers. They are trying to get the message out to as many people as possible and every little helps.

I must go and finish cooking tea now – we’re having fish and chips the healthy way (home-made and oven-cooked) and I really don’t think the potatoes are going to peel themselves!

For Ellie, with love (an appeal)

On 5th February 2011 my friend Naomi gave birth to a baby girl at 35 weeks gestation.

Baby Ellie was suffering from a reare genetic disease, ARPKD – the recessive form of Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD = autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease). Despite the staff at the RVI (Royal Victoria Infirmary) doing everything they could, Ellie fell asleep in her mum’s arms on 7th February 2011.

Now Ellie’s mum and dad, and their friends and family, are determined to give something back to the hospital that gave so much to Ellie during her short time on Earth, while at the same time raising awareness of ARPKD. Naomi has set up a fund for Ellie on JustGiving, and people are spreading awareness through Twitter. They’ve even managed to get a few celebrities involved in tweeting (I believe that’s the technical term…). And a local newspaper has also got wind of Ellie’s cause and now want to write an article about her and the various charity events. What a little star! And now, along with everyone else who would have liked to get to know Ellie, I want to do my bit to get people involved. That’s where you come in!

Please could those of you who have Twitter “tweet” the following link: http://www.justgiving.com/Naomi-Warburton
Obviously none of you know the family, and if we all gave money to every cause out there we’d be broke within minutes, but even so if you think you could perhaps donate a little something that would be amazing! Even if it’s just a pound or two, every penny that the RVI tiny lives charity gets could make a huge difference to a premature or sick baby’s life. (If you do decide to donate, maybe mention that you came from my blog, just so Ellie’s family can keep some kind of overview of where the donations are coming from). The point of this post is really to raise awareness though, not to ask you for money. Which is why all I really want is for the tweeters (twitterers?) among you to at least pass on the link. I know Ellie’s mum will be beyond grateful! I’m not on twitter myself so I thought my blog was the best chance I had to pass on the message. Thank you all!

Blogging fail

I know I promised to blog more after I received my prolific blogger award, and I’ve been meaning to post for nearly two weeks, but as you can tell I’ve failed utterly miserably. I just don’t have time to blog. Between all the overtime I’ve been doing lately (so many big jobs, so little time), the course I’m doing on Saturday mornings (10 finger typing course, bot interesting enough to write about) and all the usual cooking, attempting to spend time with my boyfriend and occasionally actually cleaning the flat, my poor blog just hasn’t had a chance. Sigh.

Soo, I’ve just found out a girl I used to be pretty good friends with, and whose family are friends of my family, is pregnant. Another one to add to the list. Currently I only know three people who are expecting, the fewest it’s been for a while. And another friend got married last week (an ex-boyfriend as it happens), which necessiated the sending of a gift to England. All these babies and weddings are going to bankrupt me! Baby clothes are so cute though, and it’s not like I’m going to be able to buy any for a child of my own for a while… or possibly ever, so there is a silver lining I suppose.

I had a meeting at work today. The bosses are happy with my work, I was expressly thanked for putting in overtime last week and I got a positive response from a customer the other day (usually we only get feedback when someone wants to complain, so it was a nice surprise). So all is good on the unemployment front. And in 23 days I’m off on my holidays. Good times 🙂 The only cloud on the horizon is that Jan is away this weekend with his choir, and I’ve barely seen him all week as it is. It’s only a small cloud though, and we’ll have plenty of time to make up for it once our holidays start. The countdown starts now…

Nothing to say, but I’m saying it anyway

Hmm, another new week. I seem to have entirely missed most of last one. All I remember is that it involved working like a mad woman all day then returning home to work like a mad woman some more, but this time on something that I’m not getting paid for. And all this while trying to recover from my monster cold. I’m all better now though, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know. And the dissertation is moving forward. I even managed to have some fun at the weekend, which is something that hasn’t happened in a while. On Friday night Jan and I went out for a meal then some cocktails with a friend. It was 2:30 by the time we got in and I was up again by 9:30, but the reminder of what it’s like to have a real life made up for the tiredness.

I also started putting some things in boxes on Thursday evening. It wasn’t much, and my place is still as chaotic and crowded as ever, but it’s a start. Somehow actually starting to pack things away makes the move seem so much more real. I’m hoping we’ll be able to get the keys soon, then we can go in and do some measuring so we can figure out where to put what. We already have a list of things we need to do – and buy. I think another trip to IKEA will be on the cards fairly soon. Not until after payday though. My university are now demanding money from me again. *sigh*. Thankfully this is the last installment, so hopefully they’ll leave me alone after that. Unless of course I have to pay for the privilige of having my certificate sent out to me. That is a bridge that shall have to be crossed when I come to it though… I have to pass the dissertation first!

Taking the easy way out…

I’m tired today. And once again stupidly busy (flat viewing this morning… then home to laundry, dissertation. Now it’s almsot time to cook tea…). But I feel bad that I’ve been neglecting my poor blog again. So I’m taking the easy way out with a meme that I meant to steal from Hails ages ago. You know you’ve been busy when you haven”t even had time for a cheat’s post! Ah well, I’m doing it now…

A. Attached or single? Attached. Although I prefer to think of it as “in a relationship”

B. Best friend? I don’t think I have one. I used to have one, but then my sister moved up to my dad’s and most of my friends suddenly realised they liked her better. Anyway, I live too far away from most of my friends now. And the people I know here are mostly just that… people I know. Three of them I would refer to as friends, but best friends? No. They already have one.

C. Cake or pie? Right now definitely pie. Preferably meat pie. I miss pie! And pasties. Why do German bakers not do pasties?

D. Day of choice? Strangely I think right now it’s Monday. I love my job (even though it’s stressful and tiring at times), Monday is early enough in the week for exhaustion not to have kicked in yet, and it gets me away from the dreaded dissertation of doom which is currently taking up every minute of my weekend that isn’t spent on housework.

E. Essential item? Train ticket, to get to work.

F. Favorite color? Red. But don’t tell my family, or they’ll buy me so much red stuff I’ll get utterly sick of it and never want to see it again. That’s what happened with my old favourite colur (purple). My old bedroom at my dad’s is still full of purple candles, purple ornaments, purple items of clothing.  Aargh!

G. Gummy bears or worms? Sour worms.

H. Hometown? Mostly Karlsruhe. Although part of me still thinks of the North East of England as home (I know that’s not a town but I just can’t bring myself to call the actual town I spent my teenage years in “home”. I was too pleased to get away from the place!)

I. Favorite indulgence? Eating ice cream on a cold day.

J. January or July? July. I love the summer (despite that fact that it hates me) and January is all dark and cold. At least in July I still get to see some sunlight… in January I leave for work in the dark and by home time it’s dark again.

K. Kids? Love them. I always wanted three, but with each year that passes the chances get slimmer (and my Grandma’s pleas to be made a Great-Grandma get louder…)

L. Life isn’t complete without? Friends, love and travel.

M. Marriage date? Possibly never.

N. Number of brothers and sisters? One sister. Two half brothers (who are not related to one another). All younger, although in the sister’s case nobody believes it.

O. Oranges or apples? Oranges I guess, although I prefer satsumas… which you can’t get here.

P. Phobias? Moths. Ugh.

Q. Quotes? Lots. I collect them. In fact, I have a whole page of them. If you really want to see a quote go there.

R. Reasons to smile? I love my job and soon I’ll (finally) have a flat with the boyfriend. Once the dissertation is handed in the smile will get bigger.

S. Season of choice? Spring, if it’s warm. I love summer, but it hates me (I get sunstroke reeeally easily). Autumn is nice for about three days (when it’s still warm and the trees are pretty colours), before turning grey and miserable, and Winter means Christmas which is not the favourite holiday of my family.

T. Tag 5 people. No. Anyone who wants to do it may feel free to tag themselves.

U. Unknown fact about me? Umm… what haven’t I already told you? No idea. Tell you what… anything you want to know, ask and I’ll write a post with answers. (And now it’s going to be really embarrassing if nobody asks anything…)

V. Vegetable? I’m not good with vegetables. Most of them make me feel sick. But I LOVE aubergines. Which is probably strange when you think about it…

W. Worst habits? Biting my nails. I’ve been trying to stop for years! Also, sarcasm. And an inability to stop buying books (curse you Amazon!)

X. X-ray or ultrasound? Huh?

Y. Your favorite food? Potatoes! Mashed, roast, baked. As chips, in soup. Prepare them any way you like, I will eat them.

Z. Zodiac sign? Leo, the lion. Which makes my birth stone tiger’s eye. Much better than my month birth stone, which is peridot.

Frog’s legs, football and snow all in one week

You know it’s been too long since your last post when you go to WordPress only to find you’ve been logged out! (I have mine set up to keep me logged in).
In my defence though it has been a busy, busy week.

On Monday it was Jan’s birthday. He turned 30 (causing a friend of mine to say “Wow, you have an old boyfriend” when I told her. She thought he was only a year or two older than me, not 3 and a half). Thirty being a special birthday I obviously wasn’t going to let him ignore it – like he has pretty much every year since I met him! So I started asking him what he wanted to do at the end of January, and finally managed to persuade him to let me take him out for a meal. We went to a slightly more expensive than usual restaurant which we had both seen from the outside but never been in. Actually, the prices were slightly better than I thought they would be, but the total still ended up being over €100. That did include an apertif each, a bottle of wine, starter, soup, two main courses and a dessert though, so not too bad. And we tried frog’s legs. In case you were wondering no, they don’t taste like chicken! They were nice and I wouldn’t object to eating them again but it’s not something I need to do every day.
Jan has decided he’ll be having a proper party once the two of us have found a flat, so there’s still that to look forward to as well. (We are officially looking now… exciting, yes?)

On Tuesday I went out for dinner with a friend. I hadn’t seen her since before Christmas and it was sooo good to meet up. This time we went for a slightly cheaper option – a bar/restaurant type place that mostly students go to. I think it was the first place I ever went for a drink in Karlsruhe, way back in my Erasmus days. That was the same year I met my friend, so we spent some time talking about homw time has flown since then… my year abroad was 2003/2004 and now we’re three months into 2010. Unbelievable!

Wednesday was the day of the long awaited Germany-Argentina match and I was right there in the stadium! A friend of Jan’s got tickets ages ago, and since I had 2 days holiday from last year that had to be taken before the end of March I decided I would go along. Some things just have to be done at least once in a life time. The match was in Munich, so Jan hired a car and we left the house at 7:30 am to drive down there. I still can’t believe I was up that early on my day off! It took us until nearly 12pm to get to Munich (damn traffic! Damn roadworks!) so the first thing we did was go and get something to eat. I had the biggest burger I’ve ever seen! That alone would have been enough for me, but it came served with homemade potato wedges (with the skin left on. Mmmm) and salad. The best thing about it though was that the gherkins and tomatoes had been left on the side of the plate, so I didn’t have to pick them out before I could start eating. It also came with three types of sauce – ketchup, mayonaise and something that may have been mustard (I didn’t try it) all of which came in proper little jars. Excellent! We then went for a wander around town, did a bit of shopping (I got a new coat) took some photos and finally headed for the stadium. Those who watched the match on TV thought it was boring and that Germany were week, but from where I was sitting it was pretty good. Germany at least seemed to try for once (number 24 played excellently!) and I enjoyed myself, despite freezing to death the whole way throguh – the Allianz Arena is completely open and unheatable! Germany lost 1-0, which is a shame, but the goal was so pathetic that they almost deserved it. We left Munich after the match and drove back to Karlsruhe, finally arriving at just after 3 am. I’m very glad I didn’t have to work on Thursday!

Last night we were invitied to a friend’s place for a DVD evening, to celebrate Jan’s birthday. We watched Office Space, which is funny if a little strange in places. By the time we left (at just after 2am) it had started to snow. Not the nice kind of snow either, horrible little flakes that are basically just freezing rain… and all blown about by a nasty cold wind. We missed the tram as well, but luckily our friend has a car so he gave us a lift home. We went straight to bed when we got in, then woke up this morning to find it was still snowing (at least I did, it’s now 1:20 pm and Jan’s still in bed!). Snow in March is unheard of for Karlsruhe, and it’s meant to continue for the rest of the weekend. And there was me thinking Spring was on its way.

That was my week. Very enjoyable, but now it’s time to get back to the boring stuff. Housework and my dissertation are calling…

I wish it were simple but we give up easily*

long-distance-relationshipJan and I will have been together six years next month. Six whole years! I was practically still a kid when we got together. In those six years we’ve gone from being “in a relationship” to “in a long distance relationship” and then back to where we started. While every other relationship I was aware of has either moved on or ended we seem to have come to a complete standstill. Of course there have been changes in both of our lives, but they seem to have only happened to us as individuals, at different times as if we were two entirely separate entities who just happen to know one another (well, obviously we are two separate entities but you’d think there would be some mutual stuff in a relationship as well, right?)

So while all my friends are moving in together, buying houses, getting engaged, exchanging vows and having babies the two of us have moved out of our student residence and got our first flats separately, attended engagement parties and weddings as “boyfriend and girlfriend” (in what seems to me is the same sense of boyfriend and girlfriend that is uttered by 15 year olds) and bought dozens of gifts for other people’s children.

It’s not like I even want to get married and have babies at this stage in my life. I don’t even particularly want to get engaged yet. But it would be nice to feel like some day it might be my turn. What I would like is for us to get a flat together. I mean, I adore my flat, it’s the first place I’ve ever lived that was truly mine and it really is a nice place but only being able to have my boyfriend with my for some of the time… well, it gets a little lonely sometimes. I want to be able to wake up beside him every day (not just when he happens to be staying at mine). I want to know I’ll see him in the evening without having to ask. I want a bed that’s not mine, but ours. Is that really too much to ask?

quarto-desarrumado
Would he want to live with me if I cleaned up more often? (Photo: nanquimvirtual)

Sometimes I’ll find myself trying to work out reasons why he might not want to live with me, despite the fact that he tells me he dosn’t even know why. But it’s as if I need to have a cause so I can start trying to fix it. A while ago I got the idea into my head that once I had a proper job he would want to stay with me. Except then I found a proper job, moved into a flat (by myself), lost my proper job again and found a new one… and I’m still living alone. Now I occasionally think that maybe once I’ve got through my probation period things might start to happen. Then there was the time that I decided I needed to give him a reason to come home to me every night, so I started making sure tea was ready when he came home and he always had something clean to wear. He tells me he likes cooking with me though, so I guess that one’s backfired. A recurring theme (and something that I guess is always is that back of my mind) is thinking that he doesn’t want to live with me because he’s seen the state that my flat gets into, so every few months I’ll make a vow to myself to keep on top of the housework. Unfortunately, as I keep telling you (I am the proverbial stuck record!) my housewifely skills leave much to be desired. So I’ll clean and tidy the entire flat once and manage to wash the dishes immediately after we eat for maybe three days in a row, but then I get bored and the thought of the dishes waiting for me in the kitchen just makes me want to cry, and so I stop and once again Jan has to come home to a messy kitchen once again.

In my more logical moments I realise that whether he wants to live with me or not doesn’t depend on my job or my cooking or how tidy I am, but my logical moments are few and far between. Before long the crazy catches up with me again and I start obsessively cleaning the kitchen and dreaming up new and interesting dishes to win over my man’s heart (because we all know the way to that is through the stomach). And so it goes on, over and over again.

Sigh I know nobody said relationships were easy, but I wish someone had warned me it would be this hard…

*Title blatantly stolen from the song The Other Side of the World by KT Tunstall

What do you mean it’s Wednesday tomorrow?

Time is just flying by at the moment. I can’t believe I’m into my third week at work already! It’s probably a good thing though – if it’s going fast I must be enjoying it, right? I mean, we all know what they say about time flying…

So last week was the 5 year reunion of the very first year I spent in Karlsruhe. I was one of the group of internationals who did their year abroad in 2003/04 (yes, I do realise 2003 was 6 years ago. Obviously it was the 5 year reunion of when we left). The first of the group, and probably the person I most wanted to see, arrived on Sunday 6th September, which is why I cooked dinner that day. There were 6 of us and I made pumpkin lasagne. It was a total experiment… I had never made anything with pumpkin before, never mind lasagne, but it turned out great.
Monday was my day of rest, then on Tuesday the next group arrived, and from that night on things were just crazy. Most nights I went to meet the others straight from work, coming home just in time to fall into bed before starting all over again the next day. I’m in desperate need of sleep now, but it was all good fun and really great to see the others again. None of us seem to have changed much… the only difference is now we have grown up jobs. And 2 sets of couples who met back then are married now. The last of the group departed yesterday but we’ve already decided when the next reunion will be… in 5 years time, 2014. But this time we’re doing it in August so that the teachers can make it as well.