More Christmas cards

I recently showed you some Christmas cards I had been making using patterned Duck tape. But those aren’t the only ones I’ve made. I’m waaay behind with my cross-stitched cards for family, but the pile of cards made using washi tape, stencils, stamps, buttons and a lot of stickers is growing in a very pleasing manner. Here is a selection of them for your perusal:

I haven’t magically got any better at taking photos of cards, but at least the sun decided to show its face and make my job a little easier! (“Take them in front of a window in daylight,” they said. But what is this daylight of which they speak?!)

 


My favourites are the button tree and the one with the gingerbread house (even though my attempt at writing is awful!).

What do you think? Would you like to receive any of these cards?

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The books I read in October 2017

It’s that time of month again where I link up with Jana and Steph to tell you all about what I read in the previous month, in this case October 2017. I completed Erin’s book challenge 7.0 and also read three other books. As in previous months, challenge books are listed first.

show-us-your-books-2016-300by300

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (592 pages, read for the category “A book with a non-human main character”). I found this book hard to get into at first, and lots of times I actually managed to put it down after finishing a chapter, just like I had promised myself, but by the end I was invested. The storytelling is amazing! I was rooting for Shadow all the way and it was really interesting finding out where he came from along with him. Wednesday was a difficult character to like, but I think maybe that was the point? Honestly, I preferred Neverwhere, but I couldn’t bring myself to give this one less than 5 Goodreads stars. Probably I would give it 5 and a half, but they won’t let me!

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire (495 pages, read for the category “A book with a cardinal/compass direction in the title”). Lots of Goodreads reviewers seem to have hated this book. Maybe I’m too easily pleased, but I really enjoyed it. I liked Elphaba and thought it was interesting to read about her childhood and get an explanation for why she was green. It was nice to see her treated as a human being and not just some caricature of evil. I also liked that, in this book at least, she wasn’t really wicked. Towards the end she started to go crazy, but most of the time she was trying to do the right thing, in her own way. It’s not a perfect book and there are things that I would have liked more explanation of, but for the most part I enjoyed reading it and in my world that counts for a lot. 4 stars.

And, with that, I completed the bonus round of Erin’s challenge. Woo!
I probably would never have actually read the Wicked book if it hadn’t been for needing a new previously chosen book for my final category (I changed it from East of Eden because there was just no way I was going to be reading that in the final weeks of the challenge!),ย  so that was nice. Of all the books I read for the challenge this time, I think my favourite was Alfie Bloom and the Talisman Thief. And now I’m looking forward to the next challenge… categories to be announced in December. I’m so excited!

Now for the other books I read in October.

Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo. This book had been sitting on my bookcase for over a year and I have no idea why I hadn’t read it before! I absolutely loved the Snow Spider trilogy by this author when I was a child (I must have read it at least 20 times), which is part of the reason I bought this one, but somehow I never got round to reading it? I finally picked it up when I needed something nice and quick that wouldn’t task my brain too much. And I LOVED it! The one thing that slightly annoyed me is that, despite being the main character, Charlie didn’t seem to do anything much. His name is in the title, yet it seemed like other people were constantly making all the decisions, doing all the dangerous things and generally saving his backside. And two of those people didn’t even have any special powers/gifts! His friends are awesome though, so I can’t really complain too much about them having a large role. I just hope Charlie gets more proactive in book 2! Oh, and lots of the reviews called these books a rip-off of Harry Potter… just because it’s set in England, involves children with special powers and involves a school doesn’t automatically make it a Harry Potter rip-off! The school isn’t even for magic as such – it’s a school for the gifted (musicians, artists, etc.) that also takes people with “magical” gifts. Anyway, I gave it 4 stars.

The Wrong Train by Jeremy de Quidt. I really liked this, probably because the stories reminded me of the type of ghost stories we used to tell each other as children (the babysitter and the heavy-breathing phone calls anyone?). I liked that it’s short stories, but with an overarching storyline tying them all together (basically a boy gets on the wrong train and while he’s waiting for the right one, on a dark, creepy platform, an old man starts telling him scary stories). Most of the stories were the perfect blend of “is this all in the protagonistโ€™s head or could it, just maybe, be real?”, but the final one was a bit weird and silly and, in my opinion, let the whole collection down. This would be a great book for teens who like to creep themselves out… way better than the Point Horror books I adored at that age! 4 stars (without the final story it would have been 5).

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. This is a weird little book. It’s well written and very clever, but I didn’t find it particularly spooky – more confusing. Was any of it really happening or was the narrator just mad? Maybe that was the whole point? Maybe I’m just too stupid to understand? 3 stars.

And those were all the books I finished in October. I then started reading Magician, which has eleventy billion pages (okay, 841). Maybe I’ll finish it it time to include it in my reviews for November… or maybe it will have to appear in the January’s “Show Us Your Books”. We’ll see. I’m enjoying it so far anyway, but I can only read it at bedtime because it’s too big to take on the train!

That’s it from me. Read anything good recently? Check out the link up if you want to fill your to-read list with even more lovely, lovely books.

Friday letters

Ah Friday… you wonderful harbinger of the weekend! I’ve been having trouble falling asleep all week, so you’re even more welcome than you would have been anyway. To celebrate, let’s have some letters.

Friday letters

Dear Yankee Candle. That is not what a crackling wood fire smells like! Have you actually been near a fire lately?

Dear weather. I take it you are trying to convince me that it really is November and not May at the absolute latest, as my brain is still convinced it must be? I can think of no other explanation for this constant rain ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dear baked potatoes. I will never cease to be amazed (and grateful) that something so simple is so good.

Dear blue tits. Hello! How nice to see you gracing the balcony again. I’m not sure where you disappear to over the summer, but I’m glad you’re back! (But please stop trying to eat my parsley!)

Dear Christmas. You are sneaking up way too fast and I really need to decide on gifts for my family before it’s too late…

That’s all for today. Happy Friday everyone… and happy weekend!

Duck tape Christmas cards

I discovered that Duck Tape now comes in patterned versions when someone in a Facebook group mentioned that they have a unicorn one. I immediately thought I need that for Post Pals packages! At the same time, I bought a penguin version thinking I could use that one on winter parcels. Apparently I am entirely uncreative because despite the fact that I have literally used ribbons and patterned papers in the exact same way as the Duck tape on the cards I’m about to show me, it didn’t even occur to me that I could do the same thing withย  my penguin tape. Luckily, others have more imagination than me… when searching for quick, easy Christmas card ideas, I came across this post. This person just uses tape and a stamped sentiment for her cards, so I like to think I have been at least a little creative and added my own twist by also including stickers and other embellishments.

If you want to make your own Duck tape cards, all you will need is some blank cards, Duck tape (or other patterned tape that sticks really well), stamps/stickers for the sentiments – or you can write them yourselves if your hand lettering is better than mine (which to be fair most people’s probably is!) and any other embellishments you want to add, like stickers, buttons or beads. Here are some of my efforts. First, the penguins:

I also added two other tapes to my collection. Here are some cards made using Christmas tree tape:

And finally, snowmen:

I am loving how fast these cards are to make! Since I’m trying to make cards for every Post Pals family as well as my own family and friends, fast is definitely an advantage! And I think they look pretty good too. I spied tapes with things like spiders and pumpkins on as well, so ideas for next Halloween are already swarming around my head… as well as birthday cards, of course!

If you have any other ideas for fast Christmas cards that still look like I’ve made some effort, please throw them my way!

~Despite the constant mentions of a brand name, this is in no way a sponsored post. I purchased the tapes with my own money and am definitely not being compensated in any way. It just so happens that my tapes actually are the Duck brand!~

 

Think I’ll go and eat (meal) worms

In May of this year, the sale of insects as food for human consumption was approved in Switzerland, with one Swiss supermarket chain (Coop in case you’re interested) announcing that they would be selling insect burgers. Jan got very excited when I sent him an article about the burgers and announced that we would have to try them. I was maybe slightly less enthusiastic, but I’ve always said I’ll try anything once, so…ย  The launch of the burgers actually ended up being delayed due to a lack of approved insects, but eventually, in August, I saw an announcement that they were going on sale. Only at select branches, as it turned out, and not at our local one. A colleague of Jan’s told him that the big supermarket behind the train station was selling them, but every time Jan went they didn’t have any. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, he came home with this:

insect burgers

I opened up the packaging to reveal a burger-like entity:

insect burger

We fried them in the pan according to the instructions:

Then served with some Bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes) and cherry tomatoes.

To be honest, they didn’t taste any different to a veggie burger. Jan bought a “spicy” variety (he isn’t sure whether a “normal” version exists though since he just grabbed a pack) and they reminded me a bit of a spicy bean burger a vegetarian friend used to eat when I was about 10. Would I eat them again? Probably, although they aren’t the cheapest.

Originally, this was going to be the end of this post… but then we went to the autumn fair at the weekend and discovered the same company that makes the burgers selling their insect wares there. (And if you’re squeamish you may not want to look at the next few photos…)

Not only were they selling burgers, but also “Heuschrecke” skewers – which I thought were grasshoppers but apparently it’s the general term for grasshoppers, crickets and locusts and these particular ones were actually Eurasian Migratory Locusts. So there you go. I wasn’t brave enough to try a skewer, but we ordered a locust burger each. They also had actual, real, recognisable insects to try:

While we waited for our burgers, we got a little “trial plate” of insects to share. I ate a mealworm first, thinking they looked less scary (no legs!). Considering I find giant prawns creepy with their eyes looking at me you can imagine how I felt about locusts! But I managed to eat the weird shrimps on sticks in Taiwan (scroll to the end of the linked post to see them) so after Jan ate a locust and claimed it tasted nicer than the mealworms I gave it a go. Verdict: I’m not about to start eating dried insects as a snack any time soon but they didn’t actually taste too bad. The salted mealworms reminded me of the inside of a pistachio shell (you know the bit that sometimes comes off with the nut when you take it out?) while the locusts didn’t taste of a great deal, really. Jan preferred the locusts. And for any doubters ๐Ÿ˜‰ here is photographic evidence that I actually ate a mealworm (or at least put one in my mouth):

go and eat worms

After a while, the burgers turned up. They looked a lot like the mealworm ones we had from the supermarket. A bit thicker maybe? And they came with locusts for decoration, of course ๐Ÿ˜‰

Again, they tasted like veggie burger and the only identifiable thing I could see inside was tiny cubes of carrot. If nobody had told me they actually contained insects I would have had no idea! At 12 francs it costs exactly the same as a beef burger does at the stands along the river in summer, so fairly normal there.

So, would you eat insects (or have you already)? Only in burger form or would you be brave enough to try the skewer? Are insects the food of the future?
And, a question for any vegetarians and vegans out there: how do insects fit in? Do you think eating a locust or mealworm burger is the same as eating a beef burger or pork chop? Or is eating insects okay? (I am genuinely interested so please no arguments/riots in the comments! Constructive criticism is, of course, always welcome – and by constructive I don’t mean telling me I’m evil for eating things with eyes!)

Autumn walk 2017

Around this time last year, I went for a walk along a stream near where I live. A year before that I had walked along the same stream and taken photos of the gorgeous autumn colours. It was only afterwards that I realised the photos had been taken on the same day. This year I wanted to take photos on the same day again, but unfortunately I misremembered the date and thought the others had been taken on 31st October. Actually, it was the 30th. Oh well…one day out is basically the same, right?

The trees have been weird this year with some of them changing from green to yellow then brown and finally losing most of their leaves all within a single weekend (a few weeks ago) while others are still looking very green even now. Two years ago I’m sure all the trees were red and yellow and orange at this stage? Anyway, here are some photos of this year’s autumn walk.

Leaving the house immediately proved worth it when I saw this guy mere minutes into my walk:

squirrel

As you can see, it was an absolutely glorious day for a walk. Hard to believe it had been freezing cold and rainy just two days earlier!

And finally, here’s a comparison of this year with the autumns of the past two years:

From left to right, the end of October 2015, 2016 and 2017. Unfortunately the photos weren’t taken in the exact same place/direction, but they are very close together and you definitely get an idea of how different the colours have been at the exact same time of year! I actually think last year was even greener… this year’s photo looks more yellow, while 2015 had all the orange. Now let’s hope we’re still here at this time next year so I can see what the colours are doing then!

Recent doings #23

It’s November (What? How? Why?) and it’s Thursday, which means it must be time for What’s new with you? If you’ve been wondering what on Earth I was doing on October instead of keeping my blog updated then you’ve come to the right place ๐Ÿ˜‰ Here are all the things I’ve been doing for the past month.

whats-new

Reading. I completed the bonus round of Erin’s reading challenge. Woo! To find out the specific books I read, you’ll have to come back when it’s time for Show Us Your Books… but I will tell you that I started Magician by Raymond E Feist about a week ago and so ar it’s really good. I had been putting it off because it’s so long!

Watching. Hocus Pocus! It was on TV on Sunday and I couldn’t resist. It’s been too long since I’ve seen it. I also saw some episodes of Extreme Cake Makers. Some very impressive cakes going on there!

Eating. Pumpkins and chickpeas. Standard autumn fare really. But last week we ate something more unusual. I will tell you what in a few days… don’t want to ruin the surprise ๐Ÿ˜‰

Drinking. I relapsed and went back to drinking too much caffeinated tea. Hmm. Also smoothies – sadly ready-made. I want to make my own but I need a blender first.

Buying. Too many patterned tapes. They are taking over! I need a better way to store them. Also my godson’s Christmas present, which I am very excited about.

Making. Halloween cards for Post Pals children. So, so many Halloween cards! Here are a few:

Cross stitching. Designs for Christmas cards. After spending so long making Halloween cards, I am now way behind with Christmas!

Seeing/hearing. Jan perform with two different choirs. At the second one, they were performing with a trio consisting of a harpist, flautist and… violaist? Is that a word? My spell checker doesn’t recognise it. A man on a viola anyway. I absolutely loved them!

Winning. The pub quiz. Yay! It was the first time we’d been in ages as well.

Visiting. The pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg – it’s becoming a bit of tradition. Again, I preferred the theme two years ago, but we had a nice day with our friends and I got to eat pumpkin Maultaschen, which is always a good thing.

Ludwigsburg Kurbisfest

Booking. Flights to England for my sister’s wedding. Not long to go now! I also got my dress altered in October (it was way too long). Thought I’d throw that in here since I couldn’t think of a category for it ๐Ÿ˜‰

Coveting. This jumper: https://www.aboutyou.ch/p/naketano/knit-maja-pusteblume-iii-3651582 It is way out of my price range though. I am not paying 57 CHF (=49 euros/42 pounds) for a jumper! Maybe I’ll send the link to Jan… he did ask what I want for Christmas ๐Ÿ˜‰

I can’t think of anything else. The rest of the time I was just working, cleaning and doing laundry. You know… life stuff. Not too exciting. How about you – been doing anything interesting recently?

Linking up with Kristen and Gretch, of course.