May 2020 recap

whats new with you

So another month is over. I can’t say another month of (semi-)lockdown because at this point we’re barely even in lockdown any more. The government still keeps asking us to stay home and for those who can work from home to continue doing so but kindergartens and primary schools, all shops, restaurants, museums and galleries (but not zoos or botanical gardens) opened again on 11 May. The shops have to limit the numbers of people allowed in at one time and restaurants are only allowed four people to a table (exception: parents with 3+ children) so it’s not entirely back to normal but not really any sort of lockdown either. Masks are “recommended” if you can’t keep 2 metres apart but are only mandatory at hairdressers, massage parlours, physiotherapists, etc. Not on public transport. For me, not much has changed though. I don’t feel the need to go in any shops even if the government says it’s okay. So I am continuing to only enter supermarkets and pharmacies – I don’t need new clothes or electronics! And I can’t go into the office (yet) since the border hasn’t reopened. A few of my colleagues have been going in occasionally though, only ever a few at a time so there’s never more than one person working in a room.

One place I did go was the dentist  – for an appointment that was originally supposed to be in March! I had to get a filling and also have my teeth cleaned. It was my first visit to the dentist since moving to Switzerland and the dental assistant (hygienist? technician? What are the ones who clean your teeth called?) wasn’t satisfied so she made me come back 2 weeks later for her to finish the cleaning. Yes, it’s shameful. Consider this me outing myself publicly. The filling wasn’t my fault though – I have two teeth that overlap and even the dentist said it’s really difficult to properly get in there and make sure the surfaces are properly clean.

I finally managed to buy yeast – after trying for 3 weeks! I originally wanted to make hot cross buns for Easter, but figured that ship had sailed, so we made Zopf – a kind of Swiss bread that’s plaited/braided.

We also made Capuns, which are a speciality of Graubünden and involve wrapping a dough/meat mixture in chard leaves then cooking them in a creamy/cheesy sauce. The first time we only had spinach, which worked out well but was so fiddly and took forever. We then tried again actually using chard and it was much easier (but still took a while). The end result was worth the wait though! Two Swiss things… am I integrated now? 😉

Speaking of being integrated, I received my new residence permit – slightly belatedly. I am officially allowed to stay for another 5 years, no matter what happens with Brexit. Hurrah! (I still don’t know whether I’ll be allowed to continue working in Germany after the transition period, but details…).

Apart from that we are continuing to go for walks. We decided to walk into town once (the Saturday before the shops/restaurants were allowed to reopen) to see what it was like and decided we won’t be doing that again any time soon. There were so many people walking by the Rhine without even considering social distancing! Plus joggers, cyclists. Nope… I’ll stick with my walks here in the “countryside”. We also got a car a couple of times and went for a drive, once to a village that’s famous for its stork colony (we saw baby storks!) And once to where some friends (a couple) are staying with his family. We met up and went for a walk in the woods, staying 2 metres apart at all times. This has been allowed in Switzerland from the beginning by the way – the rule was you could meet up outside in a group of up to 5 people, but at the same time they asked us to please stay home whenever possible. We hadn’t met up with anyone until now but with the relaxing of regulations and new cases in Switzerland having stayed consistently under 100 per day for a while now (actually mostly under 40) we decided it would be okay, especially since we know they’ve been isolating and we stayed further away from them than a lot of people bother to do in supermarkets!

We also had an electrician come by last week to look at a light in our corridor that hasn’t worked since the renovation last year. Something had changed and we couldn’t figure out how to make both lights work again. We all wore masks and we even provided hand disinfectant for him to use. And now we have two working lights in the corridor again and the useless dimmer switch that somebody installed in probably the 90s has gone so we can actually use both switches! Also, we supported a local tradesman so yay.

I attempted to dye my hair, but as I mentioned in my latest Style Imitating Art post, it didn’t work out as planned.

On Saturday we walked to the zero-waste/refill supermarket close to the train station and bought some bits  – mainly washing powder, shower gel, shampoo, washing up liquid. Not much food since we still have loads of rice and couscous from a previous trip. We took the tram back since the bags were heavy and the first one was totally full. It’s like lockdown/social distancing never happened! The tram we changed onto was fairly empty, but that’s normal. Not as many people come out to where we live.

I took part in the second Believathon and had lots of fun following the map and reading children’s books for two weeks. I finally read The Neverending Story! You’ll have to wait for Show Us Your Books day to find out my thoughts.

Believathon-tbr

That’s all I’ve got for you. We’re continuing to stay home as much as possible so there isn’t really anything exciting to report. But we’re plodding along and managing not to get on each other’s nerves so far 😉 I hope you’re all doing well and staying happy and healthy!

Don’t forget to go on over the Kristen‘s blog to say hi and check out the link up.

p.s. I’m aware I haven’t addressed everything that’s going on in the world, and particularly the US. I am horrified by the images I see on TV. I have shared things on Twitter and signed various petitions, but beyond that I don’t know what to say. While not racist, I am far from perfect, and I know I have a lot of learning/reading to do. I am also very aware of my own privilege – especially as someone living abroad who has always been accepted without question because I am white and British. Even to the extent of being asked why I wanted to live in a certain part of town in Germany when “that’s where all the foreigners live”. Please don’t think I’m ignorant for continuing to post as normal.

Half-yearly goal recap

(Alternative title: Help, the year is half over already!)

3-sky
The sky’s the limit…

Now that we’re six months (plus a week and a bit) into the year, I wanted to take a look at the goals I set for myself back in January and see how I’m doing with them so far. Maybe decide if I want to change anything or add some new ones for the rest of the year. When I made my goals, I split them up into categories so I’m going to do the same again.

Reading goals

  • Read 100 books (Good Reads challenge goal). Of these:
    • 10 should be non-fiction
    • 12 should be from the BBC Big Read list
    • 20 should have been on my to-read list before 2019 started

I have actually read 94 books already, so I think it’s fair to say I’m doing okay with this goal! I’m thinking of upping it to 150. Another 56 books by the end of the year seems reasonable. Of those 94 books…
– 1 was non-fiction (actually one and a half, but I don’t think the half counts…)
– 5 have been from the BBC Big Read list
– 28 were physically on my shelves (and therefore my to-read list) before 2019 began. I have also read some others that were on my Goodreads or ancient, pre-Goodreads handwritten to-read list but were only acquired in 2019. Having this as a goal has been a real motivator. Whenever I go into work, I try to pick a book that’s been around for a while to take with me… and being stuck on a train for ages also means I will actually start it if only due to a lack of alternatives.

Overall I’ve been doing pretty well on my reading goals… apart from that damn non-fiction one! I’m going to be trying much harder with that one for the rest of the year. And I will be taking Big Read books on the train with me from now on! I think should have enough trips to work before the ends of the year to be able to meet my goal of 12 books…

I’m also going to add one extra reading goal:

  • Re-read four books that I own and decide whether I actually want to keep them or not

In the past I’ve kept most of the books I read (with the exception of ones I really hated and a few that I forced myself to get rid of before we moved to Switzerland) but that means there are a lot of books on my shelves that probably aren’t really worth hanging onto. I decided to do this after re-reading a book that I couldn’t remember whether I had read or not and discovering that I actually had, it was just really forgettable. Since then I’ve re-read two books on purpose and ultimately decided they weren’t worth keeping (in fact, one turned out to be a Bookcrossing book so it really should have been re-released after reading anyway! Oops.) but now it’s been added on to the goals list it’s official ;-). Four seems like a reasonable amount to fit in between all the unread books I feel like I should be giving my attention to. I also want to re-read Good Omens before I watch the TV series (waiting for it to come onto the BBC) but I already know I will definitely not be getting rid of that one!

Cleaning goals

  • Deep clean once per month. To include:
    • Cleaning the bathrooms including mopping floors
    • Cleaning the kitchen including mopping floor and cleaning the oven (bolded because I will clean that damn oven regularly if it kills me! Gah.)
    • Changing bedding
    • Dusting
    • Hoovering, taking away recycling, etc. as needed (although I do those things regularly anyway)

YES… I have actually been doing this! I did skip a couple of months during the renovation, but I then did an extra, almost month-long deep clean in June as I attempted to get all the dust off everything. And my new oven has a cleaning setting, which mainly seems to involve burning all the dirt into oblivion? I dunno… but result! It also tells you when it wants to be cleaned, which is fun. I am hoping that I can keep up with it for the rest of the year, but we’ll see…

Healthy eating goals

  • Eat 5 or more portions of fruit and veg on at least 3 days per week
  • Have nuts/fruit as snacks instead of chocolate and crisps
  • A maximum of 2 cups of black tea per day
  • Drink at least 2 pint glasses of water per day

Umm… *whistles nonchalantly*. Well, I’ve done okay at some of these. I drink enough water on most days and I’ve only rarely gone over the 2 cups of black tea limit (when I was really tired). Snacking is so-so… I have cut down on crisps and started snacking on dried fruit/nut mixes more often but I still definitely eat too much chocolate. But when it comes to my 5 a day… nope. I’m lucky if I eat five portions one day a week. I probably average around three (often all three of them in one meal) but I have to confess that there are days that I only manage one portion. And there have even been days that I haven’t eaten a single one. Those days are rare but do happen. So I really must try harder with this one. I will continue for the rest of the year and try to dream up some ways of motivating myself to eat more fruit and veg. Maybe I need to make myself a star chart like a small child?

So overall an okay first half of the year. Let’s see if I can make the second half more than just okay.

Did you set yourself any goals for the year? How are you getting on with them?

Worst possible timing

Kezzie posted the other day about how colds always show up at the wrong time – in her case it was losing her voice just when she needs it to sing. For me, it’s a horrible sneezy cold just when I a) have to fly (and I don’t want to be that person on the plane!) and b) am being a bridesmaid for my sister on Saturday. I also have to go into the office in Germany tomorrow (for the final time this year), which means waking up way too early to catch a train. Bleurgh. Currently I am wrapping up warm, dosing myself up with Lemsip, consuming as many hot drinks as I can and tonight’s dinner will be soup. If anyone has any other tips for a fast cure please send them my way (unless your tip is echichnea – or however you spell it – since I have no idea where I would even look for that here!). This cold has precisely two days to do one!

This post is brought to you by Rudolph’s less famous red-nosed relation!

Friday letters

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you are all well? It has got cold here recently, which gives me the perfect excuse to drink lots of hot chocolate. Except maybe not because my sister’s wedding is three weeks tomorrow and I have a bridesmaid dress to fit into? Dilemmas! Also, I have agreed to work for part of the weekend because apparently I am insane?! (It’s the only way we could actually accept this particular job and we really need to not be turning down jobs right now!). Anyway, let’s get on with some letters shall we?

Friday letters

Dear Christmas. You are creeping up too fast and I can’t think of gifts for half the people I have to buy for. Aargh!

Dear boyfriend. Thank you for not complaining about me being even worse than usual at keeping up with housework because I’m too busy making Christmas cards!

Dear birds. I’m pleased to see you seem to be enjoying your new food. We’ll keep putting it out as long as you keep coming to visit!

birds
Three little dickie birds sitting on a wall…

Dear self. You really need to stop buying new books before you’ve read the ones that are already sitting on the bookcase. For the sake of your bank balance if nothing else!

Dear magpies. Could you please stop flying around singly? I’m ready for some joy please!

Dear sun. It was nice to see you when I went out to buy lunch. Think you can come back tomorrow when it’s the weeeeekend?

Okay, that’s it. Lunch break over – gotta get back to work. Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

A photo an hour: 23 July 2016

On Saturday I once again took part in A Photo an Hour with Jane and Louisa. We didn’t have any particular plans for the day, but we ended up seeing a parade! Here’s my Saturday in pictures for you:

10 a.m. Breakfast! I thought I’d include something with my tea for once 😉

11 a.m. Trying to work out how the names should go on something I’m cross stitching.

12 noon. Cross stitch. Trying to ensure the photo isn’t too revealing…

1 p.m. Showered, time to get dressed. It’s so nice having all my clothes in one place!

2 p.m. We had to return our barbecue because it wasn’t working properly so while we were in the shop we decided to buy some extra bedding for the spare room (this is not the one we purchased!)

3 p.m. Back outside, there was a parade going on for the Basel Tattoo so we stayed to watch.

4 p.m. We followed one of the last groups to the end of the parade, where we grabbed a beer. I had to take its photo in front of the horse carriage, obviously 😉

5 p.m. After doing some grocery shopping we headed off to catch the bus. This is the Mittlere Brücke, which we had to cross to get to our bus stop.

6 p.m. Home! Time to do the dishes 😦

7 p.m. Making dinner.

8 p.m. Nearly finished eating. It was yummy, if I do say so myself.

9 p.m. Watching the animated BFG with a beer.

I apparently forgot to take a photo at 10 p.m., then I did take one at 11 p.m. but I won’t post it because symmetry is important! (It was of my toothbrush as I was on my way to bed, in case you’re interested).

How was your Saturday? Did you do anything interesting, or just relax (a perfectly legitimate activity for a weekend!)?

It’s wardrobe Wednesday!

In April, we finally managed to find and order a wardrobe that we liked. We were told they had a slot for delivery in June(!!). Three weeks ago, the wardrobe finally arrived, but without the back wall so it couldn’t be put together. Today, two men from the furniture company turned up with a back wall and finished the job! After a year and two months in our new home, I can finally finish unpacking my clothes!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

wardrobe

Recent doings #6

Uh, how is it time for the What’s New With You linkup again? How is it June? How will this year be half over in a matter of weeks? Could somebody please stop time for a while?

Anyway, like it or not, it is time for my monthly recap post. So here’s what I got up to in May.

What's New With You
Reading. I finished The Grapes of Wrath! Another one down for the BBC Big Read. It’s quite a fitting book for the current times, but so, so depressing. And that ending… what?! Goodreads said I also read 8 other books in May. I’m not going to list them all here though.
Watching. We haven’t got back to any series yet, but I did watch Wreck It Ralph on TV. It was actually really good and not at all what I was expecting.
Cooking. Lots of salad. You’re probably thinking “Silly, you don’t cook salad!”. Well, you do cook the kind I’ve been making! We’ve had bulgur wheat salad, a wild rice salad and a pasta salad. Yummy!
Buying. Apart from the obvious books, books and more books? I bought shoes (sandals) that I will hopefully be wearing for my friend’s wedding in August… provided the dress I bought for them to go with still fits me by then! (Let’s not talk about how much weight I’ve put on/the fact that I needed to wear decent clothes the other day (see listening to below) and precisely one of the things I tried on still fit!)
Cross stitching. Something for a friend. Jan helped me design it and I stitched it, but I can’t show you because I forgot to take a photo before I gave it to her.
Listening to. I can just about sneak this in here since it happened on 31st May 😉 We went to see the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra because for part of the concert they were playing with Daniil Trifnov, apparently the best pianist around at the moment. Jan had heard of him, I hadn’t (because I’m uncultured). I discovered that I quite like Tchaikovsky.
What did you get up to in May? Why not join the linkup (you don’t have to use this format – you can literally write any kind of catchup post).

Friday letters

This week has confused me by being both really slow and really fast at the same time! I’ve spent most of it completely confused about what day it was. I’m not confused today though… it’s most definitely Friday, and that means letters!

Friday letters

 

Dear birds. I’m glad you seem to like your feeders and the seeds we’ve been putting out for you. It’s cold out now, so eat up!

Dear cactus. Sorry I over watered you yesterday. My hand slipped. Please don’t die!

Dear new cabinet. I can’t wait to fill you up with all my cross stitch supplies!

Dear Dylan Moran. Our tickets have arrived and we shall be at your show on 30th January. Woo hoo!

Dear boyfriend’s work. Hurry up and approve his holiday so we can book flights. Don’t you know we’re planning the trip of a lifetime? 😉

Have a great and hopefully not too cold) weekend everyone!

 

A Photo an Hour: 21 November 2015

This post isn’t so much “A Photo an Hour” as “a photo whenever I remembered I was actually supposed to be taking photos”. We were invited to a party back in Karlsruhe on Saturday, and between missing trains, buying tram tickets in the rain and helping refugees find their stop, taking photos kind of fell by the wayside occasionally. Oops!

9.30 a.m. Oh dear, I forgot to take a photo when I got up! Better take one now! Packing the overnight bag.

11 a.m. After just missing the tram we needed, arriving at the station one minute after our train left and then having to buy new tickets because we had ones that we valid only for that connection, I finally got round to taking a photo again! Waiting for the train to arrive…

12 noon. Reading on the train.

1.30 p.m. At one, we were helping refugees figure out where they were going, so I decided to switch back to photos on the half hour. At 1.30 we were eating lunch at Café Pan.

2. 30 p.m. Still at the café. These are some decorations.

3.30 p.m. A spot of shopping while we’re in nice, cheap Germany!

4.30 p.m. A quick stop for some tea and cake at Sukie’s. We shared a slice of pumpkin cake and it was delicious!

5.30 p.m. On the tram to the party, carrying a gift in a cute froggy bag.

6.30 p.m. One of the other guests brought yummy éclairs from France!

Midnight-ish. Coat and shoes back on, ready to leave!

Well, I may not have taken a photo every hour, but at least I managed an even number this month 😉

Thanks as always to Jane and Louisa for hosting!

 

 

Friday (the 13th) letters

Good morning! Today is Friday the 13th, which is my favourite date! I’m not sure why – maybe because everyone else hates it? In fact, I was just lamenting to Jan last night that I won’t get to have a Friday the 13th birthday for aaaages! It should have been next year. but I am to be foiled by the stupid leap year. Gah! He then suggested that I could celebrate my 32-and-a-quarter birthday today 😉 I wouldn’t though. Or would I…?

letters

Dear birds. We still haven’t bought you a feeder. I’m so sorry! But at least it’s currently still unusually warm and you are hopefully able to find food elsewhere.

Dear scales. Finally the number you’re showing me is lower! Not as low as I would like, but we can’t have everything. At least I’m now back below my highest ever weight!

Dear vegetables. Healthy eating would be so much easier if you were as addictive as cheese!

Dear readers. I’m sorry I’m making you wait so long for the reveal of my cross stitch guessing game. I didn’t expect it to take so long to finish!

Dear self. When the DHL man makes a comment that there’s “always something for you” it’s probably time to stop ordering random stuff from the Internet!

Dear Jan’s mum, my cousin and my first cousin once removed (that’s you, Anna!). Happy birthday to all of you for tomorrow! Apparently 14th November is a popular date to be born 😉

Right, that’s all from me. I do actually have to work you know 😉 Have a good Friday and a fabulous weekend!