Lovely Little Letters

Quite a few children in my life have had birthdays recently – including my godson and my brother – so I decided to make use of some of the various alphabets that have featured in my magazines and make them all cards with their first initial on them. Here’s a small gallery of what I made (click the pictures to see bigger versions). For most of them, I took a close up photo of the stitched image and one of the full card… except the last one where I for some reason only took one of the finished article?!

Apologies for any blurriness – apparently I still don’t know how to use my camera.

You may have noticed that there are two Ts. Just to make things extra confusing they both have the same name! And their birthdays are just 17 days apart. They were born in different years though – one was 2 at the end of August and the second, my gorgeous godson, turned 3 on 13th September.

My favourite is the T monster, but the cheeky monkeys are pretty cool too 🙂

35 before 35: Cross stitch something for myself

When I added “Cross stitch something for myself” to my 35 before 35 list, I was initially planning on stitching a proper cross stitch kit – I now have two lying around waiting to be started, one huge one with poppies and a map of Northumberland. However, when I saw little pictures of various kitchen equipment in one of my cross stitch magazines, I instantly knew I wanted to stitch some of those for myself. My kitchen had been in need of some decoration, and they were in my favourite colour (red). Jan agreed that I could have them in my kitchen so I got stitching. I’m allowing this to count for the item because I think four little pictures adds up to a big enough project to be counted. Here they are in the order I stitched them. Maybe some people will recognise one that I was part way through a few months ago… 😉

Aren’t they the cutest? Now I’m just waiting for Jan to iron the interfacing onto the back so I can frame them. It’s his kitchen too, so he should make a contribution 😉

Chocolate Easter Nests

DSCN9420I first wanted to make Easter nests for my colleagues two years ago, but sadly I was unable to find any equivalent of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs. Last year I failed to find any such thing again… I even tried the English shop in Heidelberg, but they had run out. So when I was in England in February, I grabbed two large bags of Mini Eggs. Arriving back in Germany, I discovered that Milka have now released their own version of Mini Eggs… this is the law of sod in action!

There are probably a million recipes for these Easter nests on the Internet, but I’m going to share mine with you anyway… I tell you how to make them in Germany, so my version is totally different, obviously 😉

Chocolate Easter Nests

You will need:
Cupcake cases
A box of plain Shredded Wheat – in Germany, use the “Original” Toppas. They’re covered in icing sugar, but that doesn’t seem to hurt the nests
Plain or milk chocolate – enough to cover your Shredded Wheat – I used roughly 150g chocolate to 100 g Toppas (guessing as I didn’t actually do any weighing…)
Cadbury’s or Milka Mini Eggs (or your country’s equivalent of chocolate eggs in a colourful sugar shell)

What to do:
1. Break the chocolate up and melt it in a bowl over a pan of water. Or I suppose you could use the microwave… I don’t have one!

2. While the chocolate is melting, in a large mixing bowl break the Shredded Wheat/Toppas into bits. If you’re using Toppas, the ones with most icing sugar might be a little harder to crush – don’t worry if there are some slightly larger bits in there a this point.

Toppas

3. Ad the melted chocolate to the mixing bowl and stir the Shredded Wheat/Toppas and the chocolate together until the Shredded Wheat is completely coated. While stirring, you can crush any larger bits of Toppas that didn’t crush earlier.

4. Place roughly a dessert spoon of the mixture into each of your cupcake cases and use a teaspoon to push some of the mixture up the sides, leaving a dent in the middle. Be careful not to make a hole in the bottom though!

Nest

5. Place 2-3 Mini Eggs in each of the nests. If you think your nests are too dry for the eggs to stick to, you can use a bit of melted chocolate as glue.

Easter nest

6. Place the Easter nests in the fridge for at least half an hour to set. Once they’re ready, you’ll be able to take the cakes out of their cases and they’ll look just like miniature bird’s nests!

Aren't they cute?
Aren’t they cute?

Now go and check out Manda’s recipe post for a different take on edible Easter nests!

Resistance is futile…

A few months ago, when Jan commented that I had bought a lot of dresses recently, I promised I wouldn’t buy any more this year. So when I spotted another one that I liked, instead of clicking purchase I added it to my wishlist to buy in the new year. A few weeks later, Amazon recommended that exact dress to me again (although it was on my wishlist), but this time it had been reduced to €12.99. Obviously I was meant to buy it. I mean, just look at how adorable it is… could you resist?

dog dress dog dress 2

Have you bought anything recently that you didn’t need but couldn’t resist? Please tell me I’m not the only one with no willpower… Also, if anyone can tell me how to take a decent photo of myself in a dress it would be very much appreciated!

Travel theme: Brown

Ailsa’s travel theme for this week is brown. At first I wasn’t sure where to start with my post, but then I remembered that wood is brown, and given my love of half-timbered houses, it would be a miracle if I didn’t have at least a few photos of wood! Sure enough, I quickly came across this picture:

Ettlingen

It was taken in Ettlingen when two of my friends came to visit me last year.

Then I rediscovered this photo of some wooden figurines in Rhodt unter Riedburg:

Wooden owls

But that’s enough wood… time for some more brown things. Take a look at this mother duck out for a swim with her babies:

Duckies

How many of you said awwww to that one, I wonder?

Sometimes brown comes in more unexpected places – like on this stained glass in Tübingen:

Tübingen stained glass

And finally, a sneak preview of the trip Jan and I took today before I write a proper post on it:

Triberg bird

Brown wooden fence, brown fallen leaves on the ground and a bird with brown on its back. And where was it taken? Triberg in the Black Forest… plenty of brown tree trunks there!

Think you can do better? To join in with the challenge and see how other people have interpreted the theme brown, check out Ailsa’s blog post.

Travel theme: Play

As soon as I saw this week’s travel theme on Where’s My Backpack, I knew I wanted to join in. The theme is Play… what could be more fun than that?

The first thing that came to mind when I read the title of the theme was playing games. Then I remembered this photo that I took right here in Karlsruhe a few years ago:

Flying frisbee
Flying frisbee

A few people from the student residence I was living in were throwing a frisbee around and I managed to get a shot of it in mid-air. Not bad, even if I do say so myself 😉

My next photo shows a different type of game… Rugby! Jan wanted to attend a rugby match, so my dad bought us tickets for Newcastle Falcons vs Worcester Warriers on 27 December 2008. The game was fairly disappointing, ending in a draw, but at least he can say he went! If you look closely at the photo, you’ll notice the ball on its way between the posts. A conversion for the Falcons!

Rugby

Of course, games aren’t the only thing that can be played. How about instruments? Here’s KT Tunstall playing in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh on 1 January 2011.

KT Tunstall and band
KT Tunstall and band

And finally… humans are not the only creatures who like to play. I took this picture at Karlsruhe zoo last year:

Looks like somebody found himself something to play with...
Looks like somebody found himself something to play with…

Cute, isn’t it?

The weekly travel theme is open to submissions until Thursday. To join in and see how other people have interpreted the theme of “Play”, go to Ailsa’s blog post.

Stockholm

Now that it’s been a month and 2 days since we flew to Stockholm, I think it’s about time I actually got round to posting about it. I know, I know – I’m a terrible blogger. Anyway…

The first, and most important, thing to say about Stockholm is I LOVED IT! I loved the buildings, the food (although I did draw the line at pickled herrings for breakfast… just eeew!), the fact that there was so much water everywhere – which I know is obvious seeing as the city of Stockholm is made up of a group of islands (14 to be precise), but I miss water sooo much living in Karlsruhe. The weather was fabulous too, with temperatures between 20 and 24°C (err, Google says 68 – 75°F) all week at a time when it got up to 40°C (104°F) in Karlsruhe. I would literally have DIED!!!! 24°C is much more my kind of temperature. It only rained twice, and both times it had stopped within a couple of hours and we were able to hide inside until it had passed, so that was okay.

Some highlights of our trip:

We were there with another couple because Jan was taking part in an A Capella festival with someone he’s in a choir with (I spent most of the week hanging round with the other guy’s wife), but on the first day the workshop hadn’t started yet so we were able to spend some time together. We went to Skansen, which is the first open air museum in Sweden and was recommended to me by a Swedish friend. The founder (someone called Artur Hazelius) basically bought loads of different buildings from around Sweden, took them apart and rebuilt them at Skansen, so everything you see there is authentic. There is also a zoo bit, with reindeer, wolves, bears, etc. The place is HUGE!! We had bought some food before heading to Skansen, and the first thing K wanted to do was eat, so we walked for what felt like miles to get to the picnic area (missing out on looking at loads of cool stuff on the way! And I really wanted to go into the acquarium!). While we were walking we noticed that there were loads of squirrels about, and they were all coming really close to people – hoping for food I presume. At the picnic area we saw even more of them, including one that was being given food by a group of teenagers at another table. And that’s how we discovered that squirrels like Nutella! The teenagers had given one a slice of bread spread with it and the squirrel was ignoring the bread and licking off the Nutella. Sooo cute! Here he is, nibbling away at his hazelnut-chocolate spread:

squirrel

He came up to our table as well, hoping for a few crumbs, but K scared him away when he tried to get on the table so I never managed to get a close up picture. He never came back to the picnic area after that either 😦 There were also birds that kept flying up trying to get a few crumbs of food, including the biggest magpies I’ve ever seen! At least they looked just like magpies, only huge. Are there any other black and white birds that look exactly like magpies, only bigger? If there are I don’t know them.

After eating we decided to split up as I wanted to go to the zoo part and K didn’t, so Jan and I managed to get some time on our own. I got to see reindeer and also real Swedish moose – albeit in captivity.

Sweden
Later we met up again and went back into town for food. I ate köttbullar, clearly a must when in Sweden.

The next day the two boys had to register for the festival, so we all went across to the island it was being held on. We walked along the waterfront taking photos of boats, found a citadel and then went for lunch, after which the guys had their first workshop and us two girls went off on our own. We walked around, took photos and had tea in a wonderful little tea salon right next to a German church (those Germans get everywhere! 😉 ).

The Vasa museum was another highlight – very interesting and we had a really cool guide. He told us all about the carvings on the ship – apparantly King Gustav II (the one who had it built) was known as the Lion of the North, which is why the ship had a lion carved on the front. The lion is holding a corn sheaf – called “vase” in Swedish, which is a similar word to Vasa, as in the House of Vasa aka the dynasty that King Gustav was part of, and which the war shop was anmed after. Well I thought it was interesting anyway! Here’s a photo of the ship, or part of it anyway. It’s too big to get the whole thing in one photo.

Vasa
Other things we did included a tour of the royal palace, where we also saw the changing of the guard (pretty impressive), a boat tour called “Stockholm: Under the Bridges”, which I really enjoyed (I love boats!) and also a visit to an amazing foodhall in a place called Söderhallarna, which is a fabulous indoor market thing on Sodermalm (south island).There was all manner of amazing looking food there. I also spotted an English shop on the top floor but K wouldn’t let me have a look in. *Sigh*.

On our final day in Sweden, the music festival had finished, so all four of us went out for the day together. We got up ridiculously early and went to get a ferry to one of the islands of the Stockholm archipelago. The island we went to was called Gällnö and it has something like 40 permanent residents! There is a little shop and café, but when we were there both were closed (although the sign on the shop claimed it was open?!). We went for a walk around the island, saw loads of butterflies that even stayed still for long enough to be photographed and found a little red rowing boat, which we went out in, but other than that we mostly just sat in the sun and enjoyed the peace and quiet. It’s amazing that such a beautiful, remote place is so close to a capital city (which Stockholm is, even though it didn’t feel like one!).

 

Pretty butterfly resting on some flowers
Pretty butterfly resting on some flowers

DSCN1471

So there you have it. I would love to return to Stockholm and see all the things I missed out on – inlcuding Gröna Lund (Sweden’t oldest amusement park) and Junibacken – a museum dedicated to Swedish literature, in particular Astrif Lindgren. Or, as I kept saying every time I spotted the building across the water, “Pippi’s in there!!”.

And that is all from me. If You’ve actually managed to read this far I commend you! Now go visit Stockholm and see for yourself how great it is. There’s no way my words (or terrible photography/random snapshots) could ever do it justice!.

On a desert island in December

Well, I’m still ill, although my voice had come back slightly this morning. I still can’t stop coughing though. *sigh*
But this post isn’t meant to be another moany pity-me one. Instead I’m finally going to get round to doing that meme I’ve been going on about for days.

So, I was tagged by Katyboo and the meme is based on Desert island Discs.
For those that don’t know Desert Island Discs is a BBC radio programme in which guests have to imagine they are castaways on a desert island and choose 8 pieces of music to take with them. Then they can choose one book, anything but the Bible or Shakespeare, both of which are already on the island (strange island this). And finally, they can choose one luxury item, nothing to help them escape from the island though.

So, here goes. First my eight pieces of music.
This is quite difficult actually. I have favourite pieces of music for every mood, and what I feel like listening to sometimes changes within hours never mind days, but I shall do my best.

1. Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler – This is my all time favourite song, although it also makes me a little sad. You see, it was also one of my step mam’s favourite songs. I like to listen to it on days when I find myself wishing she was still around (she died when I was 12 those who are wondering). So clearly it would have to come to the desert island with me for her sake. Also it’s on the soundtrack to the film Beaches, which makes it pretty appropriate for a desert island don’t ya think?

2. Bad Day by Daniel Powter – For those days when I’m feeling all hormonal and miserable. Who doesn’t like screaming “cos you’ve had a bad day” at the top of their lungs on days like that?

3. Carnival of Rust by Poets of the Fall – It took me aaages to decide on this one. I knew I had to have something b y Poets, them being my new favourite band and everything, but it was so unbelievable difficult to decide which one. I’ve gone for this one because it’s kind of loud and rocky, perfect for jumping around a desert island too, and plus my boyfriend can play it on guitar so it would be something to remind me of him.

4. World by Five for Fighting – It was a toss up between this one and Devil in the Wishing Well. This one won out, but only just. I would put it on full blast, close my eyes and imagine myself a new world, just like the song says. The perfect way to forget about being stuck on a desert island.

5. Miserable by Lit – Another one for horrible days when everything seems to be going wrong. I’ll never forget the first time I heard this song. I was 18 and I’d just had a fight with my boyfriend of the time. A guitarist friend of mine offered to play a song for me, so I told him to “play something miserable”, which he did. This was that miserable song. I’ve loved it ever since.

6. Ha Ha You’re Dead by Green Day – Not Green day’s best song and not even my favourite, but perfect for a desert island. Another great one for turning up to full volume and screaming out while jumping around like a loony.

7. Tribute by Tenacious D – This song is hilarious! It never fails to cheer me up. Also, it reminds me of my group of friends from uni. The DJ would play it for us every week and at some point it became our anthem. It’s nice to have something to remind of those times now we’re all spread across the world.

8. Keep on Loving You by REO Speedwagon – My first ever favourite song! Obviously I had no idea what it was about back then. I would just sing along to the chorus and imagine how it would be to have someone telling me he was going to love me forever. There are other REO Speedwagon songs that I like, but for my desert island it would obviously have to be this one that came along for the sake of my six year old self.

Phew. That was hard! I just hope I’ve got all the links right. Now for the book…
Well, obviously it would have to be something long otherwise I’d be finished with it way too soon and end up having to read and re-read the bible until rescue came. The obvious one would probably be War and Peace. I’m a quick reader and every time I finish yet another book my boyfriend threatens to buy me that one for Christmas! I think that one would be too obvious a choice though so I’ve decided to go with Gone With the Wind. I’ve heard so much about it but never actually got round to reading it (or watching the film) and I feel like I should. A desert island would be the perfect opportunity. And it 960 pages for this edition it should take me a few weeks to get through it…

And finally, my luxury item.
Now I know people are probably going to laugh at this but I think I would want my cuddly Eeyore.
This Eeyore was a birthday present from my mum this year. (Yes I got a stuffed toy for my 25th birthday. And your point would be?). He’s some kind of bedtime Eeyore, which means he’s dressed in a blue dressing gown and night cap thing and, depending on which way you look at him, either looks unbelievably exhausted or as if he’s just woken up. One day, not long after Eeyore arrived in Germany, Jan decided he felt sorry for him sitting on the table looking like he hadn’t slept in days, so before we left for work he tucked Eeyore up under my quilt. By the time I arrived home I’d forgotten he was there. I’d had a bad day and all I wanted was to get into my room and relax. Upon opening the door I saw Eeyore snuggled up waiting for me and my heart just melted. He looked so cute lying there, and of course knowing my boyfriend had put him there made it even cuter. So if I was going to be trapped on a desert island I would definitely have to tajk Eeyore with me so I could leave him tucked up in my bed waiting to greet me when I returned from a hard day of gathering cocunts and stuff. I’m sure he’d be a great comfort when I got sunstroke as well, which I most definitely would. If I can get sunstroke in Karlsruhe I’ve got no chance on a desert island!

OK, that’s it. Now I think I’m supposed to tag people. Unfortunately just about everyone I would have tagged has already done it though, so I pick sleepyjane and anyone else who wants to have a go…