It wasn’t supposed to be an actual mud pie…

Yesterday, I fulfilled my “provide sweet treats for your colleagues after you’ve had a birthday” obligation and made Mississippi Mud Pie.

Crushing 600g of chocolate biscuits took a while!

Biscuit crushing in progress
Biscuit crushing in progress
Crushed biscuits and melted butter
Crushed biscuits and melted butter

These marshmallows came with a warning to only eat one of them at a time!

Not sure I'd like to meet the person who could eat more than one of these at a time!
Not sure I’d like to meet the person who could eat more than one of these at a time!

The last time I made this, I was still young enough to require supervision in the kitchen and I’d forgotten how annoying marshmallows are to melt!

Melting the giant marshmallows
Melting the giant marshmallows

Yes of course they stuck to the bottom and started to crystallise because I had the audacity to leave them to their own devices for 30 seconds while I sorted out another ingredient…

My dad’s instructions called for one pint of double cream (this dish is not for people on a diet!). My jug, being German, only does millilitres, so I measured the cream in a pint glass:

A pint of cream
A pint of cream

Finally I was ready to start mixing all the ingredients together.

Melted marshmallows and melted chocolate
Melted marshmallows and melted chocolate

Once everything was well combined, I poured it onto the biscuit-crumb base (which had been hardening in the fridge while I made the topping) and the whole thing went back into the fridge while I headed to the train station to buy something to decorate the pie with. I’d forgotten I needed decorations the day before and, being a Sunday, all the supermarkets were closed. At home, we always used Milky Bar Buttons for decoration, but no such thing is available here. Also, being a crappy train station shop, the selection of decorative streets was rather limited, so I ended up going with M&Ms then adding some sugar confetti that I still had in the cupboard. The result wasn’t too bad:

Colourful Mississippi Mud Pie
Colourful Mississippi Mud Pie

Now all that remained was to let the pie set overnight then bring it into work this morning and hope my colleagues didn’t object to finding the occasional piece of caramelised marshmallow in their pie… oh so I thought. I hadn’t reckoned with the torrential rain when I got off the train this morning… or the little holes where the handles of my cake carrier met the rest of the plastic…

My colleagues were willing to give the cake a try anyway, and pronounced it good… despite the fact that the M&Ms had been completely washed clean of colour! Poor cake, as Jan said when I texted him about it…



Okay, enough snow pictures! What else has been going in in the land of Confuzzledom?
Well, I bought these shoes:

Polka dot shoes

I spotted them through the doorway as I walked past H&M and I just had to go in and see if they were available in my size. They were – and they only cost €9.95! Bargain. And yes I am aware that some people will consider me the devil incarnate for shopping at H&M (think of the poor Chinese workers…), but I’m already boycotting Proctor and Gamble (which, by the way, means no Pringles for me, ever!!) and Lidl. A girl can’t give up everything you know… and especially not polka dot shoes! Unfortunately, so far I’ve only been able to wear them inside the flat. It’s too cold out for anything other than boots!

Hmm, what else?
I’ve been trying to incorporate exercise isn’t my daily routine, so that I can still work off my daily treats even when there’s no time for my exercise DVD. So whenever nobody else is in my office, I do some weight lifting with my water bottle (1.5 l of water isn’t exactly light!) or lift up each leg in turn and hold it straight for a few seconds. Then, at home, while waiting for water to heat for pasta or potatoes, I do star jumps*. I’m hoping this will at least slightly counteract my inability to walk past the Easter basket at work without taking just one or two tiny chocolate eggs…

Stare (Photo credit: Hen3k Hen3k)

I heard a girl speaking English on the tram the other day and she had the exact same accent as my American friend. I kept looking at her thinking “You sound just like L… but you’re clearly not L!”. If you’re an American in Karlsruhe and you noticed someone staring at you on the tram towards Ettlingen, I swear I’m not a psycho!

Yesterday was the monthly “Stammtisch with my colleagues”. A Stammtisch can either mean your regular table at your local pub or a regular meetup for people with similar interests (such as an English Stammtisch for people who want a chance to speak English). In our case, the Stammtisch simply involves going for a meal with our colleagues and having a chance to chat outside of work. Former colleagues/interns, etc. are also invited, but don’t often show up. This month, the chosen meeting place was an Indian restaurant (there’s a vote), so I had a delicious curry for last night’s tea. The first few times one of us ordered something, the waiter would say in broken German “You can’t order that – it’s not real Indian food!”, then the person would change their mind. It was pretty funny (although I suspect you had to be there to think so). I actually managed to order something that he had no objections to first time round. Yay me!

That’s about it, I think. There haven’t really been any happenings around here lately. But tomorrow is the start of my four-day weekend, so hopefully I’ll have something to report after that.

*These appear to be called jumping jacks in American, as I learned a few months ago. When Jillian Michaels instructed us to do jumping jacks for the warm up circuit, I watched her demonstrate for a few seconds then, as realisation dawned, said “OH, star jumps!”. Out loud. To myself. I’d always wondered what a jumping jack was…

Why I could never go freelance

My replacement BahnCard arrived on Friday, so yesterday I was actually able to take the train to work as normal instead of working from home, as I had been for most of last week. I was actually quite pleased to get back – despite the advantages of working from my own home (one of them being the opportunity to sleep for a whole extra hour but still start working earlier than I usually would. Lie ins. Bliss!). Sitting at home, all alone, just isn’t the same as being surrounded by colleagues. Admittedly the person I share an ofice with is on holiday this week, but I still have people popping in to ask me for help with a particularly badly written English text, and of course there’s always the tea breaks. A tea break all alone in your own kitchen seems pretty pointless to be perfectly honest. And after spending all of Thursday and most of Friday at home, by the time I signed off from work’s system I was suffering from cabin fever! in fact, I phoned Jan and asked him if he would meet me for food somewhere because I just had to get out of our flat! If I ever did go freelance I would definitely have to rent an office somewhere that I could go to at the beginning of each day and escape from once work was done, otherwise I think I may just find myself going crazy!


I’m completely confused by the new WordPress. They went and did things to it while I was away and now it takes me ages to figure out where the “New Post” button is. Humph.
In other news, we’ve been back from holiday exactly one week today and I’ve already managed to come down with a cold, or something. My throat is killing and I’m aching all over. I suspect it may have come from my colleague, who was off sick the last few days, meaning I got to do her work as well as my own. I’m now so behind that I’m going to have to do some translating today to catch up. I would have done it last night, but I was so tired that it wasn’t even an option. I was in bed by 10 (on a Friday night!), read my book for a bit then slept for about thirteen hours. Seriously! It was 5 past 12 when I woke up. Now half the day has been wasted and I haven’t done a scrap of work… or hoovered, done the shopping, put any washing. And I’m going out for a meal at six because one of my ex-colleagues (from when I did my interneship… seems so long ago now!) is leaving and wants to see everyone again before she goes. The benefits of the holiday have now officially been cancelled out…

… and it still isn’t Christmas

Does anyone else feel like “the season” has been going on forever? The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of buying and wrapping presents, trips to the post office (the last of my parcels to England finally went out last week), parties and Christmas markets. And in between all that I’ve had to do the assessment for my science course (a last minute job which I’m dreading getting the result for), work and keep on top the mundane every day things like cleaning the flat and making sure we have actual food to eat. The upside is that I now have lots to tell my blog. Unfortunately I still don’t have any time, so it’s going to have to be another boring bullet point list. Sorry about that…

  • I want to Mainz last Saturday with my ex-colleagues. I had never been to Mainz before. We went to the Christmas market, where the Glühwein was much cheaper than everywhere else I’ve been. Mainz is a bit of a strange town. It’s really pretty around the market square then you walk into the shopping street and it’s all horrible grey concrete buildings and huge glass monstrosities. The Christmas market was nice though.
  • It’s been snowing here on and off for the past few days. This is worth mentioning because it’s so unusual. Not that Karlsruhe never gets snow, but the little bit that does come is not usually this early. It’s also freezing. Yesterday it was -12°C! I had to go out in it to buy stuff for a Christmas party I hosted last night. It was so bad that I actually got on the tram to go one stop, which I usually think is a waste of time.
  • I had a progress meeting at work last week. There are a few things I’ve been asked to work on, but the verdict was generally positive (and no mention was made of my social skills… or lack thereof. There is something to be learned from this I’m sure…)
  • Last week we went to both my work Christmas meal (at an Italian restaurant) and Jan’s work Christmas party. Mine was more fun, although we missed the last train home and ended up having to wait until 1:06am for a train that would take us to Bruchsal, where we had to change onto an S-Bahn. I also had to work the next day. Tired is not the word…
  • I received a parcel last week, from the lovely Katyboo. It contained a Christmas card and a book – The Children of Green Knowe. Unexpected and very nice – I’ve been wanting to read that book for ages! 🙂
  • On Friday I went to the Christmas market in Mannheim with my colleagues. It was nice but so cold that we only stayed long enough to have something to eat and drink one Glühwein. I was back in Karlsruhe by 9pm!
  • Two more days at work then I’m off for Christmas. We’re staying in Germany this year (at Jan’s dad’s place) then going to Italy to visit his sister for New Year. Exciting stuff.

And now I have to go and do something about my flat, which is still suffering from the after effects of a Christmas party. It may take some time…

Oh what a night!

Who remembers that song? Obviously I’m too young for the original, but a cover version of it came out when I was in my teens.

So yesterday was incredibly sad. When I arrived the first thing P, my colleague, said to me was “The last morning that you’ll come in like that.” Then Cee, an English speaking colleague, sent me an email asking me to do a proofread. The message started with “last day…”. Sooo sad!
Later, after lunch, I had to send an email round to all the branches letting everyone know I was leaving. Some of the responses I got were so sweet I’m surprised I didn’t cry. One person said I have to come to the next meeting of the southern branches, another invited me to join them at the next Christmas meal. One guy even phoned me to say goodbye.  So nice and yet so, so sad.

At about 10:30 the colleagues from the Karlsruhe branch came in to give me a card. Inside it said that they wanted to take me for a meal after work as a leaving present. So after finishing work and handing back the key (*sniff*) I headed home for a quick shower and a change of clothes. Because one of my colleagues works until 7 we weren’t meeting til then, which gave me an hour to sort myself. It was so hot yesterday that, after showering and getting changed, I stood in the corridor of my student residence talking to someone and could feel myself getting sticky again. And I wasn’t even moving!

At quarter to 7 I headed back to work and met the others, P, Ju and F. We went to El Taquito, a Mexican restaurant in Karlsruhe. I’d only eaten there once before but I used to go there a lot for the cocktails – Friday and Saturday nights from midnight til 2am all cocktails are half price! Last night was not cocktail night though, but eating night. I had mixed tacos, which was three tacos with different fillings. One chicken, one that seemed to be beef mince and one pork (I think). It came with guacamole, sour cream, refried beans… the usual stuff. And I ordered a portion of Mexican potatoes (potatoes with cheddar cheese) to go with them. The food was amazing and I had a really good time. After 9pm all cocktails were only 4 euros 50, so we all had a cocktail. They’re huge, but very nice! All in all a brilliant night, despite the sad occasion that prompted it.

Jan called me at 8:30 to tell me he wouldn’t be coming over because he’d gone home from work with a headache. He asked me to come over to his instead, but warned me that I would have to get up early becasue he had a doctor’s appointment and would be leaving the house at 7:30am. Obviously I had to go after he came to look after me at stupid o’clock in the morning when I had sunstroke (and obviously I wanted to see him as well. I’m not entirely unselfish you know 😉 ). This meant I had to go home after the meal, get some stuff together, then head to Europaplatz to get a tram to Jan’s place. Such a carry on! It was after midnight when I finally got to bed and Jan woke me up at 7:25am telling me he had to leave in 5 minutes. No time for a shower! It’s now 8:50am and I’m at my place debating whether to have a shower now or go back to bed for a few hours then have shower. Decisions, decisions…

Cake and stockings

I made a cake last night to take into work with me*. You see, tomorrow is the last day of my internship. In Germany, when there’s an event, the person whose birthday or whatever it is expected to bring in something yummy for the rest of their workplace. You have to bake it yourself as well mind you – a friend of mine’s colleagues were most disappointed when she took in a cake from the bakers. I’ll never understand why on my birthday I have to give other people something, but never mind. When in Rome and all that. So today I took in a cake. It was another one of those ridiculously hot days where the sun was already unbearable by 8am and by the time I was half way to work I was already roasting. Who knew a simple marble cake could be so heavy? But never mind, both cake and I made it to work in one piece and it seemed to go down well with my colleagues. A brilliant result I’d say.

Oh, and here’s something that amused me today. I was doing a translation about stockings (the black lacy kind, not the ones you get a Christmas). Nothing too difficult, just a few random terms to be printed on the packaging. One of the items on the list was “halterlose Strümpfe”. Hmm, how would we say that in English? I wondered. Not being a stocking wearer I tend not to spend much time reading the packaging for them. An idea occurred to me and I decided to see whether the internet thought it existed. So I type the words “halterless stockings” into Google. A few hits did come up, but right at the top was that question Google asks you when it thinks you might have spelled something wrong…
Did you mean: “shelterless stockings”.
Umm, no I didn’t actually, but I’m quite intrigued now. What on Earth are shelterless stockings? Are those the ones that manage to get lost in the washing machine, leaving you with one half of hundreds of pairs? Are there shelterless socks as well? The mind really does boggle! (In case you were wondering, the actual translation was “hold ups” or in American English “garterless stockings”. I don’t suppose you were wondering though… unless you’re as ignorant about the world of stockings as I am).

*Actually, Jan did most of the actual making of the cake. I just measured stuff… and managed to get it out of the oven on time.