Lights, camera…

Is it really Wednesday already? This week is going fast!

Today I want to show you the birthday card I made for my brother, who recently turned 26. He did film studies at uni and is really into TV and films, so the popcorn cross stitch that was featured in one of my magazines ages ago seemed perfect for him.

popcorn-cross-stitch

Embellished with a printed out clapperboard, that I added “Happy Birthday” to, it ended up being a card that I’m actually quite proud of.

film-birthday-card

I cut out the hole for the popcorn myself using a punch, which meant there wasn’t a back bit to put over it as there usually is with aperture cards, so I backed it using red and white checked card. I didn’t take a photo of it, unfortunately, so you’ll just have to take my word that it made the inside look more interesting 😉

The popcorn was fairly simple, but I actually quite enjoyed stitching it. It was fun doing the back stitch and watching the pieces of popcorn come to life where previously there had just been a block of weirdly shaped stitches!

Would you like to receive this birthday card?

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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!

Friday letters and links

Can you believe it’s Friday again? It seems like only yesterday that I was writing my last Friday letters post. I’m very pleased it’s the weekend though. This week has consisted of a tonne of train delays and more work than I would have ever expected to be able to handle. It was actually a struggle not to groan out loud every time I saw something new in my tray! Only two more weeks to go though, then I’m on HOLIDAY for a week!

Eye'm watching you...

Dear work. Please stop with the craziness. I need to breathe occasionally!

Dear birthday. You’ve crept up on my this year so I’ve planned absolutely nothing for you. Also, I’m working. never mind… I’m probably a little old to be making a big deal out of my birthday anyway.

Dear sleep. Sorry I’ve been neglecting you lately. Let’s catch up soon!

Dear weather. I’m invited to a graden party tomorrow, so please stop your nonsense and settle on one thing for a change (preferably sun).

Dear weekend. Please don’t go too fast. I really need a break!

Okay, a bit pathetic on the letters front this week. I can’t think of anything! Never mind, here are some links:

 

My bee-day party

Yesterday was an interesting day. First, I left my purse at home and only realised when I was sitting on the train ready to go to work. Luckily I was able to get back off the train just before the doors closed, then I power walked home, got my purse and took a tram back to the station in time for the 8 o’clock train… all within 24 minutes. Miraculously, I actually got a seat on the second train… I tend to avoid that one because I always end up standing in the corridor, which is not what I want that early in the morning. Then, after work, I arrived at the train station ready to go home only to find police on my platform and the Bahn personnel telling everyone to go away. I headed back up to the departures boards to wait for them to announce where my train would be arriving and decided to treat myself to a Magnum while I waited. To get to the new platform, I had to pass the steps leading up to my original platform, which I saw were now taped off with Deutsche Bahn employees standing at the bottom stopping anyone from getting up there. As soon as I got home, I googled to try and find out what was going on, but the Internet had no information. Nothing in the news this morning either… curious!

But that’s not really what I want to talk about today…
What I do want to do is finally tell you about my birthday party! But first, some background.

I like bees, and one of my nicknames used to be Bee (for the first letter of my name, but written out), so a few years ago, I mentioned to Jan that one day I would like to have a “bee-day” party. The idea was that I would get people to dress in either black, yellow or black and yellow (black and yellow stripes would, of course, be perfect), decorate the flat with bees and have bee-themed food and drinks. I then didn’t have a birthday party for a couple of years for various reasons (last year I went to Sweden the day after my birthday, for example) and kind of forgot about the idea… until I found bee glasses at Claire’s in Dublin. I bought them, saying “these would be perfect if I ever do decide to have a bee-day party!”, then found myself explaining my idea to the friends who were travelling with me.

Bee glasses
Bee glasses

Fast forward to my 30th birthday… Jan’s gift to me was a dress with bees all over it. He made me try it on straight away to make sure it fit, then said he would like me to wear it at my birthday party that weekend. I had originally planned to wear a dress my mum bought me, but was easily persuaded to go for the bee dress instead (did I mention I like bees?!)

The Saturday after my birthday was the day of my party. We had arranged to have it at a relatively new bar/café called Soul, which does interesting cocktails and excellent food, including delicious homemade ice cream and excellent mozzerella Maultaschen in garlic butter. If you live in Karlsruhe, you should, check it out! We had the room from 7 pm, so Jan and I went a little early along with a friend who was staying at mine that night (it’s difficult for her to get back to where she lives late at night). We arranged the few last-minute details, then settled down outside with a portion of ice cream each. Then, at just before seven, Jan went off to see whether anyone was coming yet (the plan being to move inside when people started arriving so they would find us).

He was gone for quite a while, and my friend and I had started to joke that he’d run off leaving us to pay the bill, then he turned up with the group of friens I go to the quiz with. All of them (including Jan now) were wearing yellow and black striped T-shirts and my friend K (I really need to think of better pseudonyms for people…) was carrying a cake. This cake:

bee cake

How adorable is that? Underneath the icing is chocolate Guinness cake… which is delicious! Don’t let the Guinness put you off – it really does taste good! They also had bee-themed gifts… despite the fact that I had already received my gifts from them on my actual birthday (a Tina Dico CD and a bunch of flowers, in case anyone’s wondering). I got some honey, a bee-shaped ballon and this:

My pillow pal
My pillow pal

I’ve named him Johnny Bee (geddit?).

Jan had arranged with the bar owner that he would pay for everyone’s first cocktail plus crostini for everyone, and I had asked for everyone to be given a glass of Prosecco when they came in so we could do the glass-clinking thing. The crostini were really good – at least the tomato-mozzerella and the red pesto ones were. I didn’t try the others (the toppings contained things I don’t like) but they seemed to go down well… they disappeared quickly enough anyway! The cocktails were tasty too, and as far as I can tell everyone had a good time. I know I did!

Thank you to my amazing friends and boyfriend for arranging it all! ♥♥

And now I have to go cross stitch… my friend most inconsiderately went and gave birth and I’m not finished yet 😉

Snippets of life

The tagline for my blog is “Just a place to gather my thoughts”, and this is going to be one of those posts where I do just that…

  • Yesterday, I was reminded again of just how socially inept I can be when I’m not expecting to see someone. I bumped into my neighbour outside our building (not entirely unexpected you might think… but it almost never happens. I actually have neighbours who I wouldn’t recognise if I did bump into them!). This was the one neighbour who I know more than just to exchange hellos, so I stopped to converse… and could think of literally nothing to say! He started talking and I managed to respond, but I felt… awkward. And it was only after we parted ways that I realised he had asked how I am but I never returned the question. Hmmm…
  • I’m seriously starting to wish this cross stitch thing would just hurry up and get finished! No baby yet, luckily, but spending almost every spare minute stitching but failing to see much progress is very frustrating!
  • Purple loveliness
    Photo: rutty

    I was sent some Parma Violets for my birthday and introduced Jan to them this weekend. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of them, which isn’t really surprising. I’ve spent most of my life trying to figure out what to make of them! For those who don’t know, they’re little purple sugar sweets that smell like either floral old lady perfume or soap, depending on who you ask (the former is my description, the latter is Jan’s). They are supposed to taste like violets (as in the flower). Having never tasted a violet, I’ve no idea whether they actually do… mostly they taste incredibly sweet and vaguely soap-like. Definitely the weirdest sweet the UK has to offer!

  • Over a week after my birthday, I’m still trying to figure out where to put all my gifts. I need more surfaces! And more storage space!
  • Speaking of my birthday, I am aware that I haven’t posted anything about my party yet. I do plan to, but other things (like working late and tiredness) keep getting in the way, leading me to take the easy way out and take part in photo challenges instead. I promise to post about my party within the next week…

That’s all from me! I’m off to make another Mississippi Mud Pie so that Jan can actually try some too. At least this one won’t get rained on! 😉

 

Weigh-in Wednesday: The post birthday edition

Well, it’s been two weeks since my last weigh in, and since then I’ve not only celebrated my birthday with delicious cakes in Strasbourg, but also had my proper birthday party (which involved more cake, nachos (mmm cheese!) and cocktails. Then there was the Mississippi Mud Pie, which I obviously had to try to make sure the rain hadn’t completely killed it…

Needless to say, I haven’t been doing particularly well on my calroie goals recently. So it’s quite surprising that my weight this morning was pretty much exactly the same as it was two weeks ago. I was actually down almost a kilo on my current weight between the last weigh in and my birthday, but sadly it all came back. And I fear this delicious birthday gift from my uncle is not going to help me get back on track…

Sweet hamper
30th birthday sweetie hamper

Never mind, on with the measurements. Body fat percentage this morning was at 29.1%, which is 0.5% less than two weeks ago at least. Still only about one percent away from the danger zone though…
And as for the waistline… it’s the same as two weeks ago on 77 cm. I actually measured 76 cm the day before my birthday, but there was obviously no way that was going to last…

On the exercise front, I have nothing to report. As in I have done nothing in the way of exercise for the past two weeks. First it was too hot, then it was my birthday… and the past few days I’ve just plain been too tired! Work has had me stupidly busy this week… to the extent that I was convinced yesterday was Thursday… I’d been so busy that my brain simply couldn’t believe I’d fit all that work into a mere two days!

I will try to be better over the next week, but with the sweetie hamper to tempt me I’m not promising anything!

Birthday shenanigans

No weigh-in Wednesday today. Instead, I am going to tell you all about how I celebrated my 30th birthday yesterday.

As you already know, the day started off well with sausage and bacon sandwiches, provided by Jan. YUM! My friend then turned up bearing cupcakes with candles on them! For the record, I suck at blowing out candles… and there weren’t even 30 of them!

Jan and I then drove to Strasbourg (one of the great things about living where I do is that I can very easily just pop to France for the day! We walked around a bit then went and ate cake at a place called Christian’s, which is apparantly famous. Here are the cakes:

French cakes
French cakes

We choose two different cakes and halved them both. And because I am so dedicated, I even took a photo of the insides for you:

cake 2

cake 3

On returning from Strasbourg, we both went for a nap, then it was time to hit the pub. First we went and ate food at another place then we headed to the Irish pub. It was (mostly) great fun. I was given a bunch of flowers and a CD by my wonderful friends. Then I drank wine and waaaay to much whiskey – none of which I ordered or paid for myself. Then in a drunken state, I started telling people about my blog (mostly because our waitress is someone I originally knew through blogging). Despite me telling them it’s not particularly interesting, they all wanted to URL. So, that was the fun stage of drunkennes…. then the whiskey really kicked in and the tears started, as I told Jan he doesn’t care about me and I’m doomed to die alone and childless while all my friends get married. NOT pretty… and I’m sure I made one or two people very uncomfortable. If any of the people who were there last night have decided to read this, I hereby apologise most sincerely for my behaviour last night!! I don’t really remember most of the journey home. I ended up walking back with my neighbour, wailing and complaining at him all the way, then he came in with me because Jan wasn’t back yet. At some point, I decided I felt sick (classssy!!) and went into the bathroom, then I got a text to say Jan would be home soon so I sent the neighbour away and Jan arrived to find me sitting on the bathroom floor. I never was actually sick by the way, but it was embarassing nonetheless. Alcohol is evil people!!! Avoid it!

So that was how I turned 30. A good day surrounded by lovely people… until I ruined it all by being a drunken mess. But I wasn’t a mess until after midnight, so technically my actual birthday was all good 😉