November 2020 recap

Hello! Happy December. I’m not even going to bother expressing any surprise about how we got here already. Honestly, I’ve given up trying to understand time. There are days that I have to work and days that I don’t have to work, and my phone knows the difference. (Note to self: remember to turn off week day alarm once work finishes for Christmas). Anyway, today I am here to talk about November.

Coronavirus cases in Switzerland were high at the beginning of the month and slightly less high by the end (still around 4,000-5,000 per day, i.e. way too high, but better than the previous 9,000-10,000 per day!) – mostly thanks to some of the French-speaking cantons introducing stricter measures, basically amounting to a mini lockdown. Although numbers overall decreased, in Basel they actually rose so towards the end of the month Basel-Stadt (the city canton) also introduced stricter measures. All shops stayed open but bars, restaurants, swimming pools and gyms were made to close. I think I only went into town twice anyway – once to the refill/zero-waste supermarket and once to the post office by the train station to send some Christmas presents (we do have a post office in our town but it closes at 1 p.m. on Saturdays and I’m never ready by then). When I did venture out of the house it was either to go to our local supermarket, take away recycling, post Christmas cards or to go for my weekly walk.

Speaking of Christmas cards… I finished making, wrote and posted Christmas cards for every Post Pals family before November was over! When I say I “made” cards that basically means sticking on either cut out shapes (baubles, Christmas trees, stars) or some stickers and adding a greeting. Very simple cards. I also continued cross stitching Christmas cards for family and friends. I actually took two days off at the beginning of the month to work on them. On the first day I made all the designs I had stitched up to that point into cards while listening to an audiobook (Rise of the Jumbies, if you’re wondering) and the next day I stitched my little fingers off. I was hoping to have them all finished by December but I haven’t quite managed it – there’s only about 2 more to do though. I also bought, wrapped and posted most of my Christmas gifts – or ordered them to be sent directly to the recipients. I still have a couple more to sort but I’m mostly finished.

I managed to do a little bit of decluttering in November, although honestly it doesn’t appear to have made any difference whatsoever. I actually made a tiny space on my bookshelves, which I expect to be quickly filled again once Christmas rolls around!

On the subject of books, it was Believathon so I mainly read children’s books. We consistently watched Richard Osman’s House of Games every week day (sometimes Jan had a meeting at 7 p.m. so I recorded it and we watched it when he was finished). I also watched Children in Need and caught an occasional episode of Father Brown. At the end of the month I ended up watching a documentary about Diego Maradona, which I honestly had no interest in but Jan put it on while I was trying to finish cross stitching a card so I didn’t have much of a choice.

I treated myself to a dress from Popsy Clothing (it’s got penguins on it! I wanted the one with multi-coloured reindeer but it had sold out) and also dyed my hair. The box said it’s “mauve”, although as always it didn’t work the way it’s meant to on my hair. Here’s a photo:

Unlike what feels like the entire rest of the world, I did not put my tree up in November – party because I didn’t even see any for sale until the 27th but mostly because Jan will never in a million years let me have one until at least 23rd December – and even that’s a compromise! Apparently “it’s a Christmas tree, not an advent tree!” If he had his way, it would go up at noon on Christmas Eve, just like when he was growing up but I’ve managed to talk him round to the 23rd. I did, however, bake Vanillekipferl (vanilla crescents – an Austrian speciality) on the first Sunday of advent and I put up a grand total of three decorations on the final day of the month.

Jan’s friend continued to come here to study occasionally – sometimes once a week, sometimes twice, some weeks not at all. (All very coronavirus safe – she arrives with a mask on, we greet each other from a distance with no physical contact and we all sit in separate rooms to work.)

That’s all I can think of.
Oh wait, I almost forgot. Jan’s choir was supposed to have a concert in November but since all events ended up being cancelled they decided to do it as a live stream. It was actually quite nice to sit and watch from my living room with a cup of tea and my cross stitch. Ha! They fell into a grey area since amateur choirs weren’t allowed to practice but professional ones were and around half of that choir are professional/were actually getting paid for doing the concert.

Right, that really is it now. I hope you’re all well and not too stressed in the run up to Christmas. Stay safe and stay cosy (unless it’s summer now where you are, in which case stay cool!)

October 2020 recap

Hello friends! Kristen isn’t hosting her link up this month because she has too much going on, but I wanted to write a recap anyway because I like having them to look back on.

So, October…

Switzerland decided to allow large events with up to 1000 people – including allowing crowds at football matches – from 1st October even though coronavirus cases had been steadily creeping up throughout September. So we started October with an average of around 300 new cases per day and ended it with around 7000 cases per day… a fact which surprised absolutely nobody except, apparently, the Swiss Government. It took until 28th October for them to finally hold a press conference and introduce stricter measures (although individual cantons had introduced their own stricter measures before that). Those “stricter measures” ended up being masks to be worn in all public buildings (shops, museums, etc.), night clubs to close, bars and restaurants only allowed 4 people per table and have to close at 11 p.m., a maximum of 10 people allowed to get together, events back down to a maximum of 50 people, stricter rules for contact sport and choirs, and universities had to switch to virtual classes. That’s it. While the rest of Europe went into some kind of lockdown or “lockdown light”, Switzerland’s shops remain open, many employers still insist on everyone coming into the office (even if they could theoretically work from home) and plenty of people are continuing to go to bars and restaurants as normal. Yay Switzerland!

Four days before the new measures were announced, one of Jan’s choirs had a concert. In the days leading up to it a few cantons introduced measures banning choirs from singing, but Basel wasn’t one of them. So the concert went ahead – with a live stream as an option for those who didn’t want to risk actually going to the event. Obviously I had to physically be there and show my support though. I had a ticket for row 9, which was the first row – all the seats from rows 1-8 had been removed, so there was a huge distance between the audience and the choir. Before entering the building everyone was asked to keep their distance from other people and wear a mask, and the entire audience had to wear masks throughout the performance as well – although I was disappointed that they hadn’t separated the seats so different groups were still sitting right next to each other. Luckily there was an empty seat on one side of me, so I made sure to face in that direction throughout the entire concert (I faced the front/towards the choir, of course, but at the same time looked towards my right if you get what I mean?). A friend of ours had a ticket but chose to stay home and watch the live stream.

Apart from the supermarket, the fertility clinic and my weekly walks, the day of the concert was the only time I properly left the house and went among people in October. Knowing the new measures were coming in 4 days, I went into town on the day of the concert to try and pick up a few Christmas presents while it was still possible. I also stocked up on craft supplies for all the Christmas cards I have to make.

Speaking of crafting, I finished making all my Halloween cards to send to post Pals families and got them posted out, then I started on Christmas crafts. Post Pals is having an auction soon to raise money so I made some things for that (cards and felt Christmas tree ornaments), made a start on my own Christmas cards and also stitched a birthday card for my little cousin in New Zealand.

A friend of Jan’s who he knows from choirs has been staying with her boyfriend throughout the pandemic and she was struggling because she couldn’t concentrate on her studies. He lives in a shared flat and someone was always around making noise, etc., so Jan offered for her to come to our place to work (don’t worry – he did ask me first whether it would be okay!). Since we moved our dining table into the spare room back in March to make an office for Jan, we had to fetch the other table in from the balcony – it’s technically also a dining table, but since we don’t have balcony furniture it usually lives out there. It looks exactly the way you would expect from something that’s been out in the weather, so I decided to buy a tablecloth for it. When I asked Jan what he thought his response was “It’s a tablecloth” but whatever, I like it! (And it was reduced to about a third of the usual price, so bonus.) It’s kind of big but I’m hoping to one day get a nicer and possibly slightly larger table that it will fit better.

So now that table/room is in use a few days a week. It’s all very coronavirus restriction-compliant – she has a mask on when she comes in and we stand apart from each other (no hugging!), she gets the dining room area all to herself (Jan and I each have separate “offices” to work in), she brings her own water bottle and if she has a cup of tea or coffee she places the cup in the dishwasher herself. And of course we have plenty of soap and disinfectant for hand cleaning. It’s probably safer than some actual workplaces!

At the end of the month I went on my usual autumn walk along a nearby stream, as I have every year since we moved here. Despite the lovely sunshine I saw precisely one person, sitting on a bench smoking a cigarette. The photos for that will be up soon once I get around to sorting and resizing them.

Apart from that I read – although not as much as usual – and we watched Richard Osman’s House of Games regularly. I also persuaded Jan to watch Heathers with me on Halloween. He didn’t seem impressed, but oh well. I still like it. It’s better than some of the crap he’s made me watch (*cough* Indiana Jones *cough*).

And that’s all I want to tell you today. The days are getting shorter and shorter and cases of coronavirus are higher than ever (over 10,000 on two days last week!) so I will most likely be leaving the house even less in November, but we’ll see what I manage to report next month. Until then stay safe and keep smiling!

June 2020 recap

Happy July friends! We’ve actually made it through half of this messed up, unpredictable year. As always on the first Thursday of the month, I’m linking up with Kristen for What’s New With You.

Honestly, June wasn’t the best for me for reasons that I will not go into now. Maybe one day. Also, my mum was supposed to visit but obviously couldn’t so I have no idea when I will see her (or any of my family) again.

But anyway, what did I actually do in June?

I made cards for two friends who had babies 15 days apart. One boy, one girl. The second child for each of them.

I’ve blurred out the name on the second card. Even if none of you know who my friend is, there’s no need for her daughter’s name to appear on my blog. (If you can actually manage to read it despite the blurring, please keep it to yourself.)

Switzerland relaxed the rules a lot more. Basically everything is open now. The border with Germany opened again on the 15th, but I haven’t actually been into the office yet. Jan went into his office once because he had to pick something up, then he went for lunch with some colleagues (keeping the appropriate distance apart) including someone who is relatively new, as in started working there during lockdown, so he thought it would be nice for her to actually meet some people in person. I haven’t actually been to any shops yet (other than supermarkets/pharmacies) but we did pick up take away sushi from a local place that doesn’t do delivery. Theoretically, events with up to 1,000 participants are allowed now, but I don’t expect there to actually be any since as far as I know everything that was originally going to be in July or August has already been pushed back to the autumn or next year.

We walked into town a couple of times, avoiding people as best as possible. On one of those walks, we had a drink by the river – staying on “our” side because the other side was packed! Some people seem to think this whole thing is over – and yes, Switzerland is doing pretty well, but at the end of last week there were 69 daily cases compared to just 18 at the beginning of the week, so even here where numbers are low we’re far from out of the woods!

Jan went to his first choir practice since the beginning of March! He says they put the chairs an appropriate distance apart and not many people were actually there anyway. Their next practice will be in August, provided Switzerland doesn’t end up having to restrict things again by then…

I finished 17 books. You will find out what they were on on Show Us Your Books day. There were a few I really enjoyed but only one I gave five stars, which happened to be the very last one I read in June: With the Fire on High.

That’s it I think. I don’t have anything else to tell you. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

Don’t forget to check out the link up. And tell me what’s new with you.

July 2019 recap

Hello everyone. Happy first day of August! I’ve taken today off work because it’s the Swiss national holiday. I’m still trying to figure out how I want to do these monthly update posts, so this time I’m trying out a different style. Let me know what you think. Linking up with the lovely Kristen, of course. If you’re not following her blog yet, you really should!

whats new with you

 

Renovation stuff

Pretty much everything was already done in our flat before the month started – the missing glass wall cover thing for the kitchen having arrived at the end of June. At the beginning of July they painted the stairwell, including our door frame (every time they wanted to do something there they rang the doorbell so I would open the door for them). Then on the 5th the construction manager and the architect came by to do a final inspection – even though we were still missing one radiator and the glass wall for the shower. The letter we got informing us about the inspection requested access to the entire flat so I spent the first week of July sorting out more things so that a) they could get to the windows/radiators and b) they wouldn’t see that we’d still been living like savages after the kitchen and bathrooms were complete. This meant unpacking the final box (which contained bathroom stuff), taking things back out onto the balcony, hoovering everywhere again (how was there still construction dust floating around?!). It doesn’t sound like that should have taken all week but I also had to work, do the usual household chores, make food every day. And it was hot for most of that week. Anyway. The spare room is back to pretty much normal, which means it still looks like a storage room with a bed. Before the renovation, I made Jan help me empty the final few boxes that had been in there so it would have been box free for the first time since we moved in if I hadn’t decided to pack away most of my picture books. I could still move them to the cellar but that feels too defeatist, like I’m accepting the fact that our chances of becoming parents are so remote that there’s no point in having anything relating to babies easily accessible. This week a man came to install the glass panel/door for the shower so finally the bathrooms are completely finished. The only thing missing now is that one radiator, but basically it’s done and I can finally shut up about the renovation 😉

Reading

I was participating in Erin’s book challenge so most of my reading revolved around the categories for that. You can see my list here. I then participated in the Reading Rush, because apparently one challenge in a month isn’t enough?! The list of books I read for that is here. If you want to know what I thought of the books you’ll have to wait until Tuesday for Show Us Your Books.

Cross stitch stuff

In my world summer means the start of birthday stitching season, with two people to make cards for in August (one right at the beginning) and another two in September – although this year might be the last time I make one for my little brother. He’s turning 13… at what point does a cross-stitched card from your older sister become uncool? I stitched one and a half cards for friends’ children in July… I really need to get that half one finished! I made a previously cross-stitched design into a card as well and sent that to a Post Pals sibling. Totally winning!

mermaid card

Travel/days out

On the first Sunday in July we went to the zoo in Basel. I have no photos for you because we spontaneously decided to go in as we were walking past and my phone camera is terrible. It was fun to see the animals (they had baby beavers!) but I counted no less than three sets of twins and every person I saw with a toddler either also had an older child or a baby or was very heavily pregnant and I was so jealous that they had clearly not only been able to get and stay pregnant but apparently also plan to the extent that their children were close in age. I mean, obviously I don’t know their history but emotions don’t do logic. I should really have known better than to go to the zoo on a sunny weekend in the middle of summer!

As I’ve mentioned, today is Swiss national day, so last night we went to the Rhine Falls to see the fireworks display. We’ve been to the Basel one a few times and I just wanted to do something different. We got there early, which was good because there were a lot of people in the end and it meant we were able to get a great spot. It was definitely a cool setting for fireworks!

And that’s about it. We didn’t really do any travelling in July. I did spend a day in the office in Germany, as usual, but that definitely doesn’t count!

Miscellaneous/general life stuff

Jan was participating in the Basel Tattoo again as a member of the choir. I went to the parade on the first Saturday and then attended the Friday night concert. It wasn’t quite as good as in previous years – it seemed like there weren’t as many acts so some were repeated (the Red Hot Chilli Pipers performed three oo four times). But it was still entertaining and the Chinese lions were fantastic!

Basel Tattoo lions

Apart from that it was honestly a pretty boring month, at least I can’t really think of anything else I did. Work was busy again so I did a fair amount of overtime, but other than that I guess I pretty much just read. For this month I have a few plans with friends (yes, I do actually have a few of those in real life) plus August is my birthday month so maybe I’ll have more to say next time.

Meanwhile, why don’t you tell me what you’ve been up to recently? And check out the link up, of course.

Roar, roar, dinosaur!

Hello friends! I keep meaning to post more frequently but I’ve been absolutely snowed under at work recently. It’s as if all our customers somehow sensed that my colleague is on holiday and chose that very moment to decide they need all the translations into English. And of course 90% of it falls to me. We do have access to freelance translators, but if it’s in any way urgent or my colleagues just don’t feel like asking around I get to do it. Lucky me! Anyway, I wanted to at least pop in and say hi, so I thought I would show you a card I cross stitched a couple of weeks ago for one of the Post Pals children.

dinosaur card

Happy weekend everyone. If it’s as hot where you are as it is here I hope you find a way to keep cool!

Recent doings #20

I’m sure you’re sick of me saying it every month, but how is it August already? Ten days until my birthday… I’m so not ready to be 34! I am, however, ready for a holiday. 15 days until we fly. Not that I’m counting or anything…

Right now, though, it’s time to link up with Kristen and Gretch to talk about all the things I’ve been doing in July.

whats-new

Eating. I started the month continuing June’s theme of salads and ice cream, but then the weather got bad plus Jan was performing with the Basel Tattoo choir every evening so for the last half of July I just ate whatever could be made quickly and easily. Fish fingers featured a few times. And sandwiches.

Watching. The Coroner on BBC Entertainment. It seems to be over now though – when I tried to put it on last night Hustle was on instead. Also fireworks over the Rhine for Switzerland’s national day (which is actually on 1st August, but Basel is greedy and does fireworks twice, so the ones on the day before just about manage to sneak in to my July round-up ;-)).

Reading. I actually had a good reading month for a change and managed to read 14 books! Ten were for Erin’s challenge. I will tell you about the in detail next week.

Seeing/hearing. The Basel Tattoo! Since Jan was part of it, I got tickets for one of the performances. It was very cool and I would definitely go again.

Cross stitching. Birthday cards galore! I wanted to get all the Post Pals birthday cards for August finished and sent out before I go away (and of course I also stitched the July ones), plus my friend turned 30 so I made her a card as well.

mermaid birthday card

Booking. Our flight back from the UK and accommodation in Cornwall. And Jan has now booked the remaining accommodation so we’re all sorted. Woo!

Buying. It would probably be easier to say what I haven’t been buying to be honest! I spent way too much money in July. I definitely bought books, stickers and a load of badges/pins to send to Post Pals kids (they have all been given lanyards to collect them). I can’t even remember what else. Oh, birthday gifts for my mum and my friend, of course.

Wishing. Work would slow down a bit. I mean, having lots of work is better than sitting around doing nothing and I do appreciate being kept busy, but I am exhausted right now.

That’s all for today. All that aforementioned work awaits (and today I have to work longer again to make up for the fact that I’m in the office tomorrow and won’t actually arrive there until 10 a.m.).

What have you been doing recently? Don’t forget to check out the link up to find out what’s new with everyone else!

Stitching for a good cause

Hello everyone! I said in my update post that part of the reason I’ve been quiet on here recently is because work has been busy and I haven’t felt like getting back on the computer afterwards. But the main reason is that I’ve been using up all my free time for something else… namely cross stitching. Only this time it’s not dozens of Christmas cards I’m trying to get finished, but cards for a very different cause…

I first heard of the charity Post Pals about 6 or 7 years ago, thought it was a really nice idea and then promptly forgot about it. When I saw a mention of it again in a magazine recently, I realised that cross stitched cards would be perfect for sending to pals. And now those of you who don’t know post crossing are wondering what I’m on about….

Basically the idea of Post Pals is for seriously ill children to receive some happy mail. Many of them can’t go to school and end up isolated and lonely, so receiving post from all over the world helps them feel connected to other people and makes them smile. Post Pals also encourages people to write to siblings, who often feel overlooked when the ill child is getting all the attention. All addresses on the site are “care of” addresses and the children’s surnames aren’t mentioned, so it’s all pretty safe.

But enough talk… let me show you some of the cards I’ve made so far.

Pirates and flowers and ballerinas, oh my!

One little boy likes tractors and farms, so he got this card:

farm card

I mean, who wouldn’t want a picture of a sheep? 😉

Apparently I like stitching initials… gotta make use of all those alphabets somehow! 😉

By the way, as it happens the pirate and footballs went to boys while the ballerinas, bear, mermaid and lipstick were for girls. All are based on the children’s interests, and soon I will actually be making a unicorn card for a boy and a dragon for a girl… no gender stereotypes here! (It just so happens that most of the boys are not into ballet or butterflies).

I am particularly fond of this next card because I’ve had the book it appears in for ages but never thought I would actually get to stitch it!

Where's Wally card

A couple of birthday cards went out as well:

I thought the little dancing cake was adorable! (Jan’s opinion was more along the lines of corny though…)

And I shall end with one I’m particularly proud of. This little girl is blind, so I found a Braille alphabet and did this:

How’s everyone’s Braille? That says her name! I just hope it’s actually readable… I also stitched the rest using extra thread so it’s nice and thick and can (hopefully) be felt. And if you’re wondering why I bothered with colour… her family aren’t blind and they deserve to see something pretty, right?

You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all this. No, it’s not because I want you all to think I’m an amazing human being (obviously I assume you already know that 😉 ). This post is partly an opportunity to show you some more of my cross stitching, but mostly to tell you that you too can get involved with Post Pals.

For me, it’s a perfect way of “volunteering”. I don’t have to interact with people face-to-face (scary!) or commit to being somewhere on specific days (I never know I’ll spontaneously have to work longer because something urgent has come in), I get to stitch new and different things, and I hopefully brighten the day of somebody who is so much worse off than myself. Every time I read a child’s story on Post Pals, I am reminded that whatever else may be going on in my life, I am actually incredibly fortunate to be living the life I do.

If you would like to get involved with Post Pals, all it will cost you is the price of a stamp. (Okay, an envelope and paper are involved too, but I’m sure you must have some of those to spare at home!). Just go to the website, click on Find Pals and choose a pal to write to. You can search by interest or just choose somebody at random. They even have a guide to writing post to help you work out what to say. Or, if you prefer not to write, you can always donate – they are currently organising a party and have an Amazon wish list of items they would like or you can just donate money.

So, what do you think of my cards? Any favourites here?

(By the way, can someone who is good at taking photos of cards please tell me your secret!)

Guess the Cross Stitch Volume 5 – Reveal

Wow, the picture I gave you for the last round must have been too easy. Only three rounds for you to correctly guess what I was stitching!

Before I show you the final, finished image let’s have a look at your guesses from round 3. Here’s what you had to work with:

guess-the-cross-stitch

Erin guessed a dinosaur holding a balloon.

Elaine said “I think I might stick with my previous guess of the balloon being held by something, but will refine it to say it’s a teddy bear. Although there is the suggestion of a tail, so maybe it’s a puppy.”

Holly guessed a blue teddy holding a balloon.

Continuing the theme, Alison guessed a gingham bear holding a balloon.

And finally, both Sarah and Kezzie guessed a boy holding a balloon (Kezzie’s boy had his leg in the air).

And now, I can reveal, this:

teddy cross stitch

Congratulations Elaine, Holly and Alison!

And here’s the final completed card:

teddy card

To be honest it looked better before I added the writing. I suck at nice writing! *Sigh*

Thanks for playing along, everyone 🙂

Guess the Cross Stitch Volume 5 – Round 3

Moving on with my cross stitch guessing game…

Here’s what you had to work with last time:

guess-the-cross-stitch

And here are your guesses:

Elaine guessed that a yellow balloon is involved, possibly being held by a cute animal of some sort.

Storm guessed a clown, in blue plaid, holding a balloon.

Jowi guessed a train.

Beth said “I’m seeing Trumplethinskin’s golden toilet and a jail cell, which you would definitely not send to a 1-year-old.” Obviously she is right about it not being suitable, but Trumplethinskin is just amazing and needs to be shared with everyone!

Erin said she still sees a castle, but decided to change her answer to a sail boat.

Kezzie also saw a yellow balloon and asked: “Is it a boy in blue checked dungarees holding a yellow balloon?”

And finally, someone calling themselves Lana Banana said “I see a tower with a yellow ballon attached to it.”

Such diverse answers! I love that about you guys 🙂
Nobody guessed the entire thing, but I will give you this much: everyone who mentioned a balloon was correct! But what’s with the balloon?

Why don’t you give this picture a go?

guess-the-cross-stitch

What am I stitching? (Or rather what was I stitching, the card has long been with the recipient ;-)) Answers in the comments, as usual.

 

Guess the Cross Stitch Volume 5 – round 2

There weren’t many guesses for the first round of “Guess the Cross Stitch”. Is this one too hard or is everyone just busy/bored with my blog? Either way, before we continue with round 2 I will present the guesses I’ve had so far.

Here’s what you had to work with:

guess-the-cross-stitch

 

Maia thought it might be a teddy bears’ picnic, with the checked part being a blanket.

Erin guessed a castle.

Jack thought it might be a TARDIS (I knew someone would ;-))

Kezzie thought maybe a Monsters, Inc. character or Thomas the Tank Engine – both very fitting for a 1st birthday card.

And that was it. Just four guesses this time. Nobody got it right, so on to round 2. Here’s a new photo with more completed:

guess-the-cross-stitch

So, now can you guess what I’m stitching? Answers in the comments…