Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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A Photo an Hour: 21 February 2015

Yesterday I took part in A Photo an Hour, hosted by Jane from Is That You Darling? and Louisa from Duck in a Dress. Here are the results of my efforts.

11 a.m. A late start to the morning (but in my defence, I’d had a looong day the day before… and a long week for that matter!). First things first: a cup of tea is needed!

12 noon Doing a bit of cross stitch (actually, at this point I was unpicking. Yes, I messed up right at the beginning and had to start over)

1 p.m. A spot of lunch (brunch?) while looking for even more flat adverts to respond to. Jan took the tablet while I was fetching my camera and then wouldn’t give it back to me, so instead of a real estate website, you get a photo of my empty plate.

2 p.m. Wrapping a new home gift for a friend ready to take it to the post office.

3 p.m. Showered and dressed… aren’t my spotty tights fab?

4 p.m. Post office done, now to head home via the supermarket. I happened to be passing St Stephen’s Church at 4, and its chimes reminded me to take a photo so I decided it deserved to be the subject of said photo.

5 p.m. Time to wash some dishes. I’m ashamed to say that I was washing dishes from Thursday!

6 p.m. Sorting out some of my crafting supplies… a task that desperately needs doing so I can pack up the spare room read for the move.

7 p.m. Cracking some eggs to make omelets for tea.

8 p.m. Carrot and apple salad (it’s a German thing…)

9 p.m. (actually 9:30… I got distracted!). Cross stitching while watching TV.

11 p.m. I forgot to take a photo at 10! Not that it would have made much difference… still cross stitching. Working on the dreaded French knots of dooooom!

And actually forgetting to take a photo at 10 turned out quite well because it means I get to keep my symmetry. I went to bed after the news, which finished at 11:35, so there was no midnight photo.

So, that was my Saturday. Pretty boring! How was yours?


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My 2014

For the past two years, I’ve done a kind of month-by-month recap at the end of the year as I way to remind myself of everything I’ve done that year – where I’ve been and what I’ve achieved. Here’s this year’s version. I’m keeping photos small for this post so as not to overwhelm. Clicking on them should make them bigger.

January

We started the year on a high note watching the fireworks display in Madeira, which just happened to be on my 35 before 35 list. Woo hoo! I also counted that as my January trip for the take 12 trips challenge. And that was pretty much it for events in January. It was the first month of my English colleague’s maternity leave, and while my German colleagues complained of having very little to do, I was utterly swamped!

The famous Madeira fireworks

The famous Madeira fireworks

February

On 5th February, Jan and I celebrated our ten-year anniversary, which is quite frankly terrifying! A decade! What? How? And soon we’ll be celebrating 11 years. I just can’t get my head around it. We didn’t do anything on the actual day as Jan had a paper to finish, but a few days later we went for a (rather disappointing) Italian meal.

A week, later, I received a phone call from England with the news that my grandpa was seriously ill in hospital and wasn’t expected to last much longer (abdominal cancer). Thanks to my boss being lovely, I managed to get a week off at short notice and fly to England to be with him one last time. As it turned out, he survived for longer than the mere days or weeks that had been predicted, but I’m glad I saw him before he went really down hill so I was able to actually speak to him and have him know who I was.

At the end of the month, I took a spontaneous day trip to Bruchsal (the next larger town to the North of Karlsruhe) so that my trip for February wouldn’t have to be watching my grandpa die! It isn’t the most exciting town, but I did manage to see a few pretty things.

A stream running through Bruchsal

A stream running through Bruchsal

March

Jan’s birthday is the 1st of March, and this year I made him chocolate cupcakes to take to work. I’m informed they went down well.

Cupcakes

Cupcakes

Also in March, my grandpa was moved to another hospital (coincidentally the one where my mum works as a nurse – my grandma had to give her permission for my mum to work with him!).

17th March is, of course, St. Patrick’s Day. Our favourite Irish pub did a full Irish breakfast the day before and on actual St. Patrick’s Day (a Monday) there was a party at the pub with live music. This year I was actually clever enough to take the day after St. Patrick’s Day off work so I could party all night!

Full Irish breakfast

Full Irish breakfast

March was another ridiculously busy month at work and involved lost of overtime, but I still managed to fit in my monthly trip. I went to the Gutenberg market in Karlsruhe for it. The next day, Jan and I took a trip to Colmar in France which is gorgeous!

April

April was Easter month, which meant a much-needed long weekend. Yay! Jan, K and I took a trip to Amnévile zoo. It was K’s first time there, but for Jan and I it was the second. The falconry display is amazing! On the way home from the zoo, K introduced us to Welcome to Night Vale, and we both instantly became big fans.

Amneville zooAlso, Jan and I looked after some friends’ pet birds over Easter weekend and succeeded in not killing them. Achievement of the year! ;-) At the end of the month, I took a trip to Heidelberg to meet up with some fellow English speakers in Germany. It was a great day out! Hopefully we’ll be having a winter meet up in January.

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle

May

May 2014 will forever be known as the month my grandpa died. When the phone rang before I’d even left for work in the morning, I knew immediately what it was going to be, and I was correct. Again, my boss allowed me to spontaneously take time off (only 2 days this time) so I was able to go home for the funeral.

Before heading to England, I took part in my first reading challenge with Megan from Semi-charmed Kinda Life and Jan and I took a trip to Speyer to see an exhibition celebrating 40 years of Playmobil.

Playmobil "Indians"

Playmobil “Indians”

Also in May, I published my 1,000th post on this here little bloggy! Unbelievable! At the end of the month, another public holiday meant a long weekend, so Jan and I took a trip to Konstanz for a couple of days.

June

In June, we went to see a charity concert in Karlsruhe featuring Fish of Marillion fame, among others. We also went to the Hoepfner Burgfest (a beer festival at Hoepfner – a local brewery) and almost melted! It was hot. In the middle of the month, I attended a seminar in Mainz for work and managed to snap some shots of the pretty old town area.

Hoepfner beer

Hoepfner beer

For our anniversary, I had bought Jan tickets to see Pearl Jam in Vienna, and in June it was finally time for our trip there. Since the concert was on a Wednesday, we decided to go for the entire week. Last time we were in Vienna was for New Year and it was freezing, so it was a treat to be there when the weather was nice! We also popped across to Bratislava for a day trip.

The UN headquarters in Vienna

The UN headquarters in Vienna

July

My little brother came to visit us in July and we went to lots of places… Strasbourg, Basel, the Black Forest and Frankfurt. Not bad for a week! I also made crumpets while he was visiting, based on a recipe that my dad’s cousin gave me.

Römerplatz, Frankfurt

Römerplatz, Frankfurt

August

My birthday month… in which I turned 31! I didn’t do much for it though – worked all day then headed to the Irish pub for curry and a few drinks that night. I was working the next day as well so we didn’t stay out too long.

A firned in the UK sent me this lovely card and mini Smarties cake, along with other British goodies

A firned in the UK sent me this lovely card and mini Smarties cake, along with other British goodies

At the end of the month, Jan had to go to a conference in Taiwan, so we decided that he would take holiday and stay out there for an extra week, and that I would join him for that week. I had never had Taiwan on my radar, but I’m so glad we went! It was amazing and beautiful and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Also, Jan keeps telling people it’s like “China for beginners”, so if you want to go to China but aren’t quite brave enough for something that’s so different to the West, try Taiwan first. I just wish we could have stayed for more than a week, but I was short on holiday after all the time spent in England.

View of Sun Moon Lake from Wen Wu Temple, Taiwan

View of Sun Moon Lake from Wen Wu Temple, Taiwan

The end of August also marked the end of the summer reading challenge. Sadly, I didn’t complete it, but I was only one book away!

September

5th September marked 8 years since I moved to Germany, which came as a bit of a shock to me once I realised it! I accidently marked the occasion by heading to a cocktail bar I’d never visted befoe with Jan and K.

cocktails

Travel-wise, we didn’t do a great deal – I think we needed to recharge our batteries after the insanity of June, July and August! But we did manage to go the wine festival in Bad Dürkheim again and also fitted in a day trip to Weinheim so that I could complete my take 12 trips challenge.

October

I spent most of this month trying to figure out exactly why my stomach was hurting practically every time I ate (culminating in a gastroscopy in the middle of the month). On a day when I was feeling okay, I managed to go to a new café in Karlsruhe and sample some delicious scones. We then went there again later in the month for breakfast. So much deliciousness!

Sukie's cake shop

Sukie’s cake shop

The fact that my 12 trips challenge was over didn’t stop me from travelling! Jan, K and I took a day trip to Bad Bergzabern one warm Sunday then we spent Halloween in Paris watching a live show of Welcome to Night Vale. So amazing!

Meeting Cecil Baldwin!

Meeting Cecil Baldwin!

November

On the first of the month, we were still in Paris. We took in a few of the sights then visited an incredibly cool bar. And I decided to take part in another reading challenge with Megan. I started reading my first book on the train home.

November was also the month of my annual Christmas dinner for friends. Usually I don’t have it so early but all other dates were taken!

Christmas dinner 2014

On the final Saturday of the month, Jan and I took part in a culinary tour of Karlsruhe, which could have included more information but did not disappoint in terms of the food!

Delicious dessert at Zum kleinen Ketterer

Delicious dessert at Zum kleinen Ketterer

December

That brings us to this month, which is currently still in progress. I’m sure I don’t really need to remind you of what I’ve been up to over the past few weeks seeing as they’ve only just happened ;-) But this is supposed to be a reminder for my future self, so I will quickly mention a few things. December is, of course, the month of Christmas markets here in Germany and we kicked things off in style by visiting one at a castle! The following weekend, it was off to Speyer for their Christmas market.

Burg Hohenzollern Christmas market

Burg Hohenzollern Christmas market

Other than that, December has as usual been a whirlwind of gift buying, gift wrapping and queueing for hours at the post office to send said gifts. This year, I’ve also had the added stress of trying to get Christmas cards cross stitched and sent on time. I’m not sure what I was thinking there, but I’m starting to make the things in about March next year!

Santa and snowman card

We were planning on heading to Jan’s mum’s on Saturday for Christmas, but after he failed to organise things in time, it turned out his dad is away from 23-29 December and his mum informed us that she has a full house, we decided to spend Christmas at home. We’ll be heading up North on boxing day instead then after a few days with Jan’s family, we’ll take the train from there straight to Zurich for New Year (the original plan of Iceland was vetoed because it was too expensive, then Bruges fell through because we left it too late and there were no more reasonably priced hotel rooms available…)

This has been a bit of a rollercoaster year to be honest… or maybe more like a yo-yo? It’s definitely had its ups… but there have been a few downs as well. Obviously losing my grandpa was devastating and will forever cast a shadow over 2014, but visiting Taiwan was absolutely amazing! I also feel like Jan and I have grown closer again this year, which is obviously good. :-) On the other hand, I had no idea just how much extra work was going to result from my colleague being away for an entire year! I can’t wait for February when her baby turns one and she comes back to work!
Next year is mostly definitely going to bring changes it with it, and I’m both nervous and incredibly excited to see where life is going to take me next. Here’s to a fabulous 2015, for me and also for you, dear readers.


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Culinary walking tour of Karlsruhe

Karlsruhe Schloss

On Saturday, Jan and I took part on a culinary walking tour of Karlsruhe that I had booked through Karlsruhe Tourism. I had no idea what to expect having only seen an advert for it and thought “that looks interesting”, but I assumed it would involve food!

The group met at the Badische Weinstube in the botanic gardens, where we were greeted with sparking wine and some appetizers. There, the guide told us a bit about the founding of Karlsruhe, including a legend that’s supposed to explain the name (the founder of Karlsruhe was the Margrave Karl-Wilhem of Baden-Durlach, who apparantly fell asleep in the woods, hence the “ruhe” part, which means peace/quiet or rest). She also showed us a photo of Karl-Wilhelm.

After leaving the Badische Weinstube, our first stop was the castle (pictured above). The Karlsruhe Schloss is the centre point of the town – the “main” streets start there and go out at angles in the shape of a fan, giving Karlsruhe its nickname “Fächerstadt (fan city). Next, we walked to the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court), then we passed the art gallery and headed down Waldstrasse, where we stopped at the first restaurant, Hügels Restaurant Dudelsack. We were served a pumpkin soup with caramelized pumpkin seeds. It tasted like there was something spicy in there as well, but we couldn’t figure out what. It was delicous anyway! I also had a prosecco with hibiscus blossoms (other than the sparking wine at the beginning, we paid for all drinks ourselves. Food was included.).

After leaving the restaurant,we headed to the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice – Germany’s highest criminal court). You can’t actually see much of the court from the outside – it’s all bullet proof glass and barbed wire – but the guide showed us a photo. The building was originally a palace belonging to Friedrich II of Baden. We then briefly stopped at St Stephen’s Church (Catholic) and the shopping centre Ettlinger Tor. Our guide also told us a little bit about Marktplatz (the market square), but we couldn’t actually go there because it’s currently a giant construction site! Surprisingly, she didn’t mention the pyramid. Our final stop was at Zum kleinen Ketterer, a restaurant belonging to a micro brewery. Our guide informed us that they try to use ingredients from regional sources, for example all the meat comes from a local butchers. We were served vension with Serviettenknödel (bread dumplings) and sprouts. The one vegetarian in the group got Käsespätzle – a kind of cheesy dumpling dish (he was given a choice of 2 dishes but I didn’t hear what the second one was).

Food

(I’m really sorry about the quality of the photos. I have no idea why Jan’s camera makes most of them come out blurry?!) Dessert was some kind of mousse/marscapone with oranges and chocolate sauce. All the food was delicious!

Dessert

Overall, it was a very interesting tour. Jan felt that the guide didn’t say very much (and it’s true that she didn’t really say anything while we were walking, and I was surprised that she didn’t really give us a lot of information on the restaurants we went to or explain anything about local cuisine), but we both learned something new and had a good time. For people who are new to Karlsruhe, this tour provides a great introduction and even those who have lived here a while can learn something from it. Plus, you get to eat yummy food!

According to the Karlsruhe tourism website, next year two types of culinary tour will be available – a “gutbürgerlich” one (basically your “plain” home cooking style of meal) and a “gourmet” one. With both, you get a limited edition recipe fan as a souvenir, which we did not get. The description also seems to indicate that there will also be more of a focus on learning about the food (the gutbürgerlich tour mentions that you will find out about “original Badisch cuisine”) so it sounds like it will be worth it! You can find the dates for the various culinary tours in 2015 here.


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Friday letters en route to Paris

Good morning! As this publishes, I am hopefully on my way to Paris – fingers crossed for no delays please! We’re off to see a live show of the most excellent podcast Welcome to Night Vale (give it a listen if you haven’t already. It’s surreal and bizarre and highly amusing in a mental kind of way).

Let me tell you a little about my week. On Saturday, Jan, K and I went to a drag queen competition in Karlsruhe (“Karlsruhe sucht den Superdrag”). It was a lot of fun, and I want this contestant’s hair:

drag queen

I admit it doesn’t look like much in the picture, but in real life it was really pretty! And yes, I’m aware that this is a wig, but if I grew my hair, dyed it and invested in some curlers I could achieve that look… right?! Also, this was one of the judges. How awesome is this costume?!

drag queen contest

Terrible picture, but in case you can’t tell, she’s a snake!
Other than that, my week has consisted of work, work, work. While some of my German colleagues haven’t had as many translations to complete as usual, I’m practically drowning in them! I even have a huge one that isn’t due until mid-December, so I’ll be kept busy basically until we close for Christmas. Definitely not complaining – I much prefer this to no work! But I have to admit I’m glad I’ve got this long weekend to break things up a bit (and also that I applied for the day off back in August – any later and it might already have been impossible!). Now let’s have some letters:

letter box

Dear Paris. See you in a few hours!

Dear French food. Can’t wait to eat you! (And I’m so glad my stomach seems to be my friend again.)

Dear November. I can’t believe you’re already here! I’m not ready for it to be the penultimate month of the year!

Dear Christmas. I suppose I’m actually going to have to start seriously thinking about you now if I want to get all my gifts bought in time! (And yes, it is possible to not think about Christmas while cross stitching snowmen and robins.)

Dear blogspot bloggers. I wish more of you would have the Name/URL options for comments! If I select the WordPress option, I always end up commenting as “confuzzledom” instead of Bevchen. I’m aware that’s partly my own fault for selecting differing user and blog names, but it’s still really annoying!

Dear everybody. Happy Halloween! I hope you have a great night, whether you choose to celebrate or not.

I’ll be back on Sunday and will answer any comments then. In the meantime, have a great weekend!


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Breakfast at Sukie’s

Remember Sukie’s cake shop, home of Karlsruhe’s one and only cream tea? Well, while I was looking at the Facebook page and website in preparation for the post I’ve just linked to, I read that they also do breakfast on weekends. Obviously this needed to be tried (the description included  bacon!), and when I mentioned it to Jan he suggested we go that very weekend. So last Sunday found Jan, myself and our friend K turning up at Sukie’s bright an early. We decided to go with something savoury first then move on to something sweet. For the first course, we ordered srambled eggs with bacon. What turned up was this:

bacon and eggs

All that for three people! There was also toast, fried tomatoes and, of course, a pot of tea each. The eggs were delicious and the bacon had just the perfect amount of crispiness. I’m getting hungry now just remembering it! Mmmmm.

For our sweet course, we chose scones, which came with clotted cream, jam and lemon curd. The scones came in blueberry and cranberry varieties… here’s a blueberry one before being creamed and jammed:

blueberry scone

After all that, we were absolutely stuffed so sadly didn’t get to find out about the pancakes that were also on offer. I’ll just have to go back again another day ;-)


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Sukie’s Cake Shop, Karlsruhe

For years I’ve been saying that what Karlsruhe needs is a place that serves a proper cream team. In fact, I’ve often joked that if I ever felt like a career change I would open an English café. It would serve full English breakfasts, sausage rolls, decent baked potatoes with fillings other than sour cream. It would be possible to order milk for your tea without being treated like an alien, or worse, given coffee creamer! Now it seems somebody has beat me to it ;-)

Sukie's

I first heard about Sukie’s Cake SHop before it even opened – Annabelle from the Piri-Piri Lexicon (who also lives in Karlsruhe) sent me a photo of the window, which featured the words “English cakes” and “opening on 1st September”. Obviously I was intrigued. As it happened, I even walked by on the very day of the opening, but sadly I was in a hurry (and it was just before closing time) so I couldn’t pop in. I did look through the window though, and I liked what I saw. A trip to Sukie’s was definitely in order at some point in the future! On Saturday, that day finally came. Jan, my friend K (who is Scottish) and I met up at 4 p.m. and headed off to try out some English cakes.

The decorations were perfect – from the inspirational quotes stuck on the walls to the cute upside down teapot lampshades, pretty roses on the tables and various cake-themed items standing around. The café consists of two rooms – we sat in the one closest to the entrance.

All the cakes on offer sounded delicious, but as I was still recovering from stomach problems, I decided to go with something “light”. Jan and I each chose a strawberry scone with clotted cream and jam. The scone looked more like a rock cake to me, but it tasted delicious! K had pumpkin pie, which I tried a tiny piece of and that, too, was very tasty. To drink, I choose a ginger and lemon tea. Jan went for Darjeeling and K had Irish Afternoon tea. Later, I had some Fentiman’s Dandelion & Burdock (I love that stuff!).

High Tea

” 1 pot of tea, salmon and cucumber sandwiches, various small cakes e.g. Victoria Sponge, other small, tasty surprises”

Sukie, by the way, is the name of the owner’s dog and your four-legged friends are also welcome at the café. There are even home made dog treats available so they don’t have to miss out on the fun!

As we were leaving I took a photo of the board listing all the treats that come with the High Tea. I will definitely have to go back to try that! According to their Facebook page, a breakfast is also available on Saturdays and Sundays, consisting of Porridge, Bacon, Scones, Lemon Curd and more. I’m drooling just thinking about it!

You can find Sukie’s at Bahnhofstraße 13 (next to the Eden Hotel). For more information, see their Facebook page and website (both in German).


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Cocktails at KofferRaum

(Apologies in advance for the quality of some of the photos in this post… my camera appears to be failing on me, and now utterly refuses to focus on anything at all!)

As I mentioned in my last post, Friday was the 8-year anniversary of me moving to Karlsruhe! When Jan suggested going out for a drink that night, I don’t think he was intending it as a celebration of that fact, but I’ll take any excuse ;-) Most of our friends were busy or out of town, so it ended up being Jan, K and I. We decided to go to KofferRaum – a popular cocktail bar in town – and by some miracle we actually got in! I think this was our fourth try… every other time it was completely full, and we were either told “not tonight” or “maybe try again in an hour?”. This time we got lucky… with only three of us, we were able to squish into a little corner by the bar. We were positioned next to a little “window” (well, gap in the wall), where you could see through to behind the wall, so of course my first act was to take a photo of the alcohol next to us.

The Union Jack bottle contains Beefeater gin infused with saffron

The Union Jack bottle contains Beefeater gin infused with saffron

Fun fact: Kofferraum is German for the booto (trunk) of a car. It is made up of the two words Koffer, meaning suitcase, and Raum, meaning room or space. Jan told me the owner of the bar’s surname is Koffer, so there’s a bit of a play on words going on there. And there were suitcases standing at various points in the room, obviously ;-)

I don’t actually remember the names of any of the cocktails we had, but here’s a photo of Jan’s and my first ones. Mine is on the right… I remember it contained run and passionfruit juice, but that’s it. It tasted very nice though.

cocktails

I also had to take a photo of the top of my friend’s first drink because I’m a sucker for cutsey things and her apple slices had tiny hearts cut into them. All together now… “awww!”

How cute?

How cute?

Later, Jan decided he felt a bit peckish and ordered some food. At the other cocktail bar we like, the snacks include nachos… but nothing so common for KofferRaum ;-) He ordered some Italian sausage with parmesan, and this is what arrived:

KofferRaum

And very tasty it was, too!

The cocktails at KofferRaum are more expensive than at other places in Karlsruhe (between €8 and €11 euros each), but they are all made using the very best alcohol and things like fresh herbs (my second cocktail contained a large sprig of fresh sage), so you get what you pay for. The waiters also come around with free cucumber-infused tap water for all guests… usually unheard of in Germany!

If you’d like to go to KofferRaum on a weekend, I highly recommend turning up early otherwise you will not find a place to sit! (And it’s not the kind of place where you can just stand anywhere). You’ll find Hirschstraße 17 (south of Europaplatz) and they’re open from 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Be warned, the cocktails are all quite strong, but at that price you’ll probably be wanting to pace yourself anyway!

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