A Day in My Life – 7 February 2014

I’ve done a few Photo an Hour posts now, but all of them have been on Saturdays. So I decided to take part in Manda from Break the Sky’s Day in the Life linkup again this month… and this time do it on the actual day. That way, you can all get an insight into what I do on a typical day. As it happens, the day of a link up was a Friday, but they’re not really much different to any other week day.
*Note* Unlike with my photo an hour posts, there are large chunks of this day that I didn’t take photos for. I mean, I couldn’t exactly keep whipping the camera out while I was supposed to be working…

Elmo slippers and red pyjamas
Elmo slippers and red pyjamas

After hitting snooze a couple of times, at 6:05 am I’m finally up and on my way to the bathroom. Not even my Elmo slippers can make the earliness of the hour bearable… (supposedly people get used to waking up early after a while, and even wake up stupidly early at weekends when no alarm is set. I’d love to know who these people are, because I’ve certainly never met one!)

Once I’m showered and dressed, it’s time to dry my hair. Then I brush my teeth and get my bag packed for the day. Pictured above, waiting to go in my bag, are breakfast (a yoghurt) and lunch (some instant mashed potato thingy… the height of good nutrition, I know ;-))

Early morning in Karlsruhe
Early morning in Karlsruhe

At 7:20, I say goodbye to the boyfriend (so jealous that he’s still in bed) and head to the train station. The street lights are still on, but at least the sky is showing signs that daytime is just around the corner. Soon, I will actually get to see sunlight on week days!

By 7:40 am, I’m on the train and the sun is rising. It’s pretty much impossible to get decent photos of the sun rise from a moving train (especially with a camera as crappy as mine!), but I tried. The above two are the best of a bad bunch. After taking the sunrise photos, I did what about 90% of the people I commute with do on the morning train… closed my eyes. (In case you’re wondering, the remainder mostly read or get started on the days work. I hope I never, ever have a job where I need to do the latter! Starting work before actually arriving at work is just wrong!)

Apologies for the incredibly crappy photo...
Apologies for the incredibly crappy photo…

For the first time in ages, I managed to get on the bus at my destination (it’s supposed to leave precisely when my train arrives). I got to work at 8:10, and the first thing I did was fetch a spoon so I could eat my yoghurt 😉 After putting in the corrections for a small job that was due in the morning, I spent the rest of the morning working on an urgent translation due that afternoon (a horrible job that I didn’t understand a word of! Thank goodness for terminology.). At around 8:30, a colleague came and asked if anyone would like a tea. We had no Erkältungstee (tea for colds), so I chose one that called itself “Hol dir Kraft” (Rough translation: Get some power) and claims to be “enlivening”. The Germans have a tea for everything…

Feeeed me...
Feeeed me…

At 12:30, it was time for lunch. I ate at my desk so I could read the news (and blogs, of course). I was watched by a hungry looking giant flesh-eating bacteria (photo above especially for Aussa Lorens). After lunch it’s back to work – this time on a longer translation that I started yesterday. The text is IT-related and actually quite interesting. At 2 pm my proofreader sends me the corrections for the horrible translation from the morning and I enter those and prepare the job for delivery before returning to my nice translation for the rest of the afternoon.

Waiting for the train to leave
Waiting for the train to leave

4:45 is home time! Usually I leave at 5, but because I caught the bus this morning I can go a little earlier today. I have plenty of time, so I walk back to the train station and have a browse in one of the shops there. Then I go and stand in my usual position just inside the door of the train. Once everyone is on and the doors have closed, I’ll sit down on the step. There’s no point in even trying to get a seat on the way home… especially not on a Friday evening when all the people who usually take the next train are on mine, making it even more full!

Reusing an Amazon box...
Reusing an Amazon box…

Back in Karlsruhe, I briefly stop off at home to pick up a package I need to send then head to the post office. On the way home, I do a bit of shopping. Usually Saturday is shopping day, but since I’m in town anyway I might as well do it now!

It’s 10 to 8 by the time I get home, so once I’ve unpacked the shopping it’s time to make a start on tea. Not until after I’ve washed the dishes though…

Apologies vegetarainas/vegans for the photo of meat...
Apologies vegetarians/vegans for the photo of meat…

Jan and I have an agreement that I’ll make food for 8:30 pm-ish and if he’s not home and I haven’t heard from him then I’ll eat alone. Usually I make an exception for Fridays since I don’t have to be up as early the next morning, but this time I told him in the morning that I would want an early night and wouldn’t be waiting for him. I’m making a turkey  and chickpea curry (it would have been chicken but the shop had run out) in the hope that the spiciness will cause my cold to do one so I can actually enjoy my weekend! I get a text from Jan just after I’ve started cooking saying he won’t be leaving work for another 45 minutes, so it looks like I’ll definitely be eating alone. While I’m cooking, I intermittently pop into the spare room to do things on the computer… because apparantly I don’t spend enough time staring at a screen at work?!

Yes, I eat from my lap despite the fact that we have TWO tables...
Yes, I eat from my lap despite the fact that we have TWO tables…

Tea time! As expected, Jan is not here so I eat mine alone while reading a book. I’m a multi-tasking genius 😉

Once I’ve eaten, I decide to put my pyjamas on and head to bed with my book… not how I usually spend a Friday night, but I’m trying to get rid of a cold, remember? I’m still reading in bed when Jan gets home, half an hour later, and fills my hot water bottle for me.
And that’s basically it for my day. Jan went to heat up his food and I continued reading til about midnight, then refilled my water glass, said goodnight to Jan and switched out the light. And now you know exactly how unexciting my life really is… 😉

The link up is open all month, so feel free to join in on any day in February! You can read Manda’s Day in the Life post here: http://breakthesky.net/2014/02/07/day-life-february-2014/

A Day in the Life: A Linkup by Break the Sky

 

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So, I got my poppadoms

After all the talk of poppadoms and Indian takeaways right here on my blog, there was no way I was going to get through Friday without one! So I texted Jan the message “Want to meet me for curry tonight? I really fancy one!”. His response was “Sure, where?”, and so he left work relatively early and met me for Indian foods. He ended up going back to work afterwards, but that didn’t bother me… I was fed and watered by that time. Well, mango lassied anyway…

Papadums
I was too busy stuffing my face to take photos, so you’ll have to make do with someone elses… (Photo credit: Renée S. Suen)

The place we went to is called Continent. If you go there straight from England expecting the kind of curry you would get at home, I can guarantee you will be disappointed. But the food is reasonably tasty and at €8.90 for the all-yo-can-eat buffet, I’m not complaining. And anyway, they have poppadoms (which is what I was mostly craving) and some very nice Naan bread, so it’s all good. Basically, it’s a budget place and it shows… perfect for students and other people who don’t have a lot to spend. Oh, and it caters to German tastes, so the so-called “Lamb Vindaloo” was roughly as spicy as your average chicken tikka masala… The vegetable pakoras are… odd. They literally slice up some vegetables (courgettes, onions and potatoes as far as I can tell) and coat each individual slice in batter before deep frying it. The shape and size of the potato ones makes them basically battered chips (fries). I’m pretty sure that’s not how pakoras are done in the UK? But what do I know… I’m not Indian. And they’re still tasty even if they’re nothing like any pakora I’ve ever seen.

I don’t think they do anything vegan, but the buffet has 4 or 5 things that are suitable for vegetarians and I assume there’s more on the main menu (I keep telling myself that I’m going to order a full meal from them one day, but the idea of trying everything on the buffet is always too tempting…). So if you’re ever in Karlsruhe and fancy eating something vaguely Indian without spending too much money, you can do worse than a trip to Continent. The food there is certainly a million times better than the place we went to in Rottweil

Farscape
Farscape (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, we travelled to Germersheim (a village an hour’s tram ride away) for a birthday party. I ate a delicious panino with goat’s cheese, honey and sun-dried tomatoes. Then we came home, watched an episode of Farscape and ordered pizza for tea… or technically supper, I suppose. It was around 10 p.m. by that time. Yes, I’m pleased to report that 16 days after removal of my wisdom teeth I finally managed to eat pizza again! Hurrah.

The plan for today is to rearrange some of the living room furniture… whenever Jan decides to get out of bed, that is…

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you’ve all had an enjoyable weekend, too!

Happenings

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
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…

Sooooup!

I bought myself a hand blender just after we came back from our New Year’s trip and I was dying to try it out, so yesterday I decided to make this Creamy curried carrot and butter bean soup from the BBC Good Food website.

I made a list of the ingredients I didn’t already have at home and headed to the shops directly from work. Once home, I logged on to the computer to print out the recipe only to find… no Internet! (I’ve since found it was a larger problem that affected 150,000 customers).  I was already planning to improvise as the place I went shopping didn’t sell butter beans so I bought a tin of something calling itself “white beans” instead (they looked like haricot beans to me). I still wanted my soup – and of course to use my new blender – so I decided to make my own version, based very loosely on what I could remember of the recipe. And so I bring you my own personal Curried Carrot and Bean Soup.

Curried carrot and bean soup
Curried carrot and bean soup, by me

For this recipe, you will need:
1 small onion, chopped
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed
Some dried chilli flakes or a fresh chilli chopped small
400g of carrots, half of them sliced, the other half grated
1 large or a few small potatoes, diced
400g tin of white beans (haricot or cannellini)
About 200 ml vegetable stock
Curry powder
Ground turmeric
Ground cumin
200 ml tub of cream
(This amount served 2 of us as a main meal with plenty of bread. As a starter, it will probably do for 4-6 people)

Method
1. Fry the onions and garlic in some oil (I used olive oil) for about a minute
2. Add the chilli flakes (or fresh chilli if you have one – I didn’t) and fry for about another minute or 2
3. Add around 1-1.5 teaspoons each of curry powder, turmeric and cumin, depending on how spicy you like it, and stir well until everything’s mixed together

Onions, garlic and spices
Onions, garlic and spices

4. If the spices have soaked up all the oil, put a little more in the pan then add the chopped carrots and potato and fry for about 2-3 minutes, stirring once in a while
6. Add half of the tin of beans, stir in and fry for another minute or so

Vegetables
Vegetables

5. Boil the kettle and before making the vegetable stock pour a little boiling water onto any onion/spice mixture that’s stuck to the bottom of the pan. The stuck on stuff will come off and you can stir it in. Now make up around 200 ml of vegetable stock and leave everything to simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the vegetables have softened and most of the water has gone (I grated the remaining carrots while I was waiting)
6. Blend the vegetable and stock mixture to form a puree then return the pan to the heat (if you used a real blender, obviously return the mush to the pan first) and add just enough water to make it slightly runny again, although not completely liquid (about 30ml should do it)
7. Stir the grated carrots and the rest of the beans into the mixture then gradually add the cream until it reaches the consitency you want. I used all my cream, but you might not want to

Gradually add the cream...
Gradually add the cream…

8. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper (and salt, if you like. I didn’t bother as I thought vegetable stock would be salty enough). At this point, you might want to add more of the spices (turmeric, cumin, curry powder) if the cream has taken away too much of the heat. Add some chilli powder too, if you like.
9. Heat the soup through completely, stirring frequently then serve with buttered crusty bread (or if, like me, you forgot to buy decent crusty bread, with toast…)

Ready to serve
Ready to serve

This ended up being a really tasty meal. I liked the way the grated carrots and non-pureed beans gave it some texture while the blended ingredients and the stock/cream gave it a soupy consistency in the background. Also, I was rather proud of myself for inventing my own soup recipe (albeit loosely based on someone else’s – looking at the Good Food recipe, it seems I didn’t actually remember much though…).

And the countdown begins

Today my countdown to day 1001 starts. I’m think I’m more excited about that than I am about the fact that it’s my birthday! I’ve already made a practice birthday card in preparation for number 43 (I shall post a picture of it at some point, along with my failed attempts at making origami stars, then we can all have a good laugh). My photography challenge is underway – you might even get to see some of the results once I figure out where to put them – and Jan bought me season 3 of ER for my birthday (I already have seasons 1 and 2) so we can get started on that one pretty soon as well.

Jan and I are going for an Indian meal tonight. We’ve been to the restarant before, so unfortunately nothing for the list, but at least this way I know the food is going to be good. I love curry! And I haven’t had one in months. My mouth is already watering at the thought of it – mmmm! Then, after our meal, we’re going to the bar in my old student residence, so that should be fun. The only thing this birthday is missing is cake!

Return to Oz

I am back. Actually we got back last night but then I discovered my camera’s memory card had broken and destroyed all my pictures so Jan spent most of last night and this morning on the computer trying to rescue them. He saved about half, the rest are gone forever. Most irritating.

Anyway… we had a great time, despite having to rush around like loonies to fit everything in. We arrived on Wednesday morning after spending Tuesday night at Dublin airport. Strangely enough we were tired, so we went to bed for most of Wednesday afternoon. We were forced to get up again fairly early though when my Grandparents came over to see us. Then that night my dad took us out for curry. Thursday was spent in Edinburgh where Jan and I went sightseeing before meeting up with the others again to take my brother to a pub for his first legal drink. Later we went off on our own again and met a girl who I used to be an intern with before catching the train home. And Friday was the busiest day – a trip to Halifax in Morpeth to take out some money which then had to be paid into my other bank so that my uni can steal it for tuition fees (booo!) then we went to my Grandma’s for lunch before my dad drove us back to Bedlington where we popped across to see my friend Shell and her baby boy Dylan. He’s 7 months old now and gorgeous! After playing with the baby for a while and drinking a cup of tea it was time to dash back to my house and beg my dad for a lift down to the doctors. I had an appointment with the doc first then one with the nurse. The first appointment was fine – the doctir was running about 15 minutes late but that’s to be expected at a doctor’s surgery. But then we had to wait… and wait… and wait for me to see the nurse. It turns out the receptionist had only registered me as being there for the doctor’s appointment then when the nurse came out to see if I was there (while I was in with the doc) she was told I must have gone home!! Eventually I did get in to see the nurse though. By the time we finally got back home it was practically time to get ready to go out for my brother’s birthday celebration – a meal at a Mexican restaurant in Newcastle. In case anyone reading this is from the North-East of England and likes Mexican food you should definitely go to Blue Coyote in Newcastle. The food is excellent, massive portions, lots of choice and reasonably priced. Exactly what I like in a restaurant.

So much fun was had by all. It’s just a shame I have to be back at work tomorrow. I’m not ready to stop relaxing yet…