Friday letters

Oh, hey! So apparently it’s Friday already? This week has gone far too fast!

Let’s have some letters:

Mail box

Dear trees. You’re so pretty right now! I love walking into my living room and seeing yellow beside the balcony, or looking out of my office window to see orange and red. Do you think you could maybe stay like that for while instead of rapidly going from colourful to naked? Thank you!

Dear birds. Now it’s getting colder, you can have some seeds again. Enjoy!

Dear Christmas. I see you lurking, but this year I shall be prepared! No stitching cards until midnight the night before we’re due to go away for a few days!

Dear November. You seem to be filling up rapidly. Visitors, Christmas markets, birthday celebrations. I feel tired already and you’re not even here yet! (It’s all fun stuff though, so no real complaints).

Dear bed. Let’s spend some quality time together this weekend, okay? (Despite going by in a flash, this week has also managed to seem like a lot of very long days and short nights. Time is a funny thing).

That’s all I’ve got today and I need to get back to work if I actually want to finish at my normal time tonight.

Have a fabulous weekend, bloggy friends!

Friday letters

The blogosphere seems strangely quiet lately. Or maybe it’s just me? I don’t know.

Anyway, exciting news people… tonight Jan and I are booking flights to New Zealand! We’ve only got about 12 days there, so we need to narrow down what we see a bit. We are definitely going to Roturua to visit my uncle and his partner (and meet my cousin for the first time!) and we’ll be flying into Auckland, where my aunt lives with her daughters and my other cousin, who is her au pair. But other than that, nothing is sorted yet. If anyone out there has been to New Zealand, please tell me your absolute must sees!

And now, letters!

letters

Dear January. Nearly over already? What happened? Don’t tell me this year is going to be another one that’s half over before I can even get my head around the fact that it’s started!

Dear little birds. I love watching you on the balcony when I’m having my morning tea break. I just wish you wouldn’t get scared when I enter the dining room. I promise, I have no intention of opening the balcony door!

Dear BBC Big Read. Why are so many of the books on you so long? I recently received The Magus and it has 667 pages! (Maybe this letter should have been addressed to the people that voted on the books. Doesn’t anybody like normal length novels?!).

Dear New Zealand. If we get the flights we want, in just 50 days we’ll be on a plane to you! We really must get planning.

Dear Swiss health insurance. I’ve had you for 7 months now and I still don’t understand you! All I know is when I go to the doctor, I will be receiving a bill for a lot of money! So why do I have health insurance again!? (Alternative letter: Dear NHS. I miss you! People who complain about you should try living abroad for a while!).

Happy Friday, everyone. I hope your weekend is a happy one.

Birthday plans

If you’ve been reading my blog for longer than say a week, you’ll probably have noticed that I have a birthday coming up (and if not, I applaud you on your superior selective reading skills!) As that birthday is, in fact, a week today, I thought it was about time I started figuring out what I want to do. Here’s the plan:

* Obviously I shall be ignoring all healthy eating plans completely. Birthdays do not come with calorie limits! So for breakfast I plan on having a nice fattening sausage sandwich with brown sauce.  I might even shove some bacon in there too. Yum!

* Jan has taken the day off, and he suggested going somewhere. I’m not sure what he has in mind, but wherever we go, I will definitely be tracking down some cake. You can’t have a birthday without cake!

* In the evening I would like to go for a meal somewhere – I don’t do cooking on my birthday! Then I shall ask my friends to join me in the Irish pub for drinks. It’s like a birthday ritual!

*My real celebration will then (hopefully) take place on the Saturday after my birthday…. if Jan actually books the place, that is. If not, I guess the party will be at my place.

So there you have it. Not too bad for a mid-week birthday.

How hard can it be to find a date?

Very is the answer to the question above  judging by the trouble I’ve been having doing just that. I was going to have my charity teaparty on the first Saturday in July, except it turns out a seminar  we’re having for work is being held on that day. This weekend I have visitors who I’ve promised to show round Karlsruhe and the following Saturday there’s a live music performance in my local Irish pub that I really want to see. It starts at 8pm and I’m planning on holding the tea party from 5pm (the five o’clock tea stereotype, remember?) which rules that date out. A tea party that has to end after three hours isn’t a real tea party! So it’s looking like I’m going to have to postpone things til further into July… but not too far in as towards the end things get busy again with Das Fest (Karlsruhe’s big music festival) on the weekend of 24th July followed by another trip to England the weekend after that for the next wedding. I’m not sure where I would fit in time to bake in among all that, never mind hosting the actual party! So another date shall have to be sought. In the meantime, I’m still collecting ideas for stereotypically British tea party food. All suggestions welcome! Recipes too, if you have them…

For a good cause…

I wanted to show you some of the results of the project I was telling you about in my last post, but the computer is refusing to upload photos from my camera so I shall just have to tell you instead…

After getting a few cross stitch designs onto paper, I decided it was about time to start getting a few of them onto fabric to find out whether what I’d been imagining could even work. There’s a world of difference between a few symbols on squared paper and an actual cross-stitched product! So I got some of the leftover Aida from a previous project, dug out some of the threads I no longer needed and gave it a whirl. And… success! I managed to produce a toadstool that actually looked like a toadstool! A few days before that an online friend had mentioned that she was running an auction in aid of the Shaken Baby Syndrome SUpport Network and was looking for people who made things and would be wiling to donate something for the auction. I decided this was an excellent first step on the road to my long-term goal (more on that later) and started stitching like crazy, managing to produce a bookmark, a birthday card and three gift tags, all in just over a week. Not bad for someone who works full time! The auction is on next Tuesday, so I guess then I’ll find out whether anyone is actually willing to buy my creations and whether it’s worth persuing my other idea. Which brings me back to long-term goals…

Back when I started toying with the idea of maybe designing my own cross stitch patterns, the vague idea of possibly selling them at some point also crossed my mind. At the time I dismissed it, but once I had actually started putting the designs on paper, the idea returned. What if, I thought, I created a shop on DaWanda (the German version of Etsy, for those who are wondering), sold some self-designed and hand-made cross stitched products and gave all the money to charity? Finally a hobby that might actually lead to something meaningful! Sounds good, no? Currently, though, I’m not actually sure whether I will ever be able to put my idea into practice. German law says that if I make things with the intention of selling them I am running a business, and have to register myself as such. What nobody seems to know is whether this is still the case if I don’t even want the money I’ll be earning from selling my stuff. My plan is to give every single penny to charity. No earning back the costs of material then giving the rest to charity. 100% of the selling price would go to whichever organisation I wanted to help at the time (the plan also involves switching charities once in a while to help as many people as possible). So for now I’m still researching and reading and asking questions and, of course, waiting to find out whether anyone even wants the items I’ve donated for the aforementioned auction. And in the meantime I shall continue to draw (badly) and design and stitch, so that if my shop ever does come into being I will actually have something to sell in it. Stay tuned…

Oh, and the auction that I have possible donated my creations to (if they actually manage to arrive on time) has a Facebook page here which you all need to go and look at and bid on stuff. It’s for a good cause you know…

Plans and potatoes…

Despite all my promises to get back to regular blogging, once again it’s been over a week since my last post. That pesky little thing called life has reared up its ugly head and got in the way again! So what have I been doing that’s kept me so busy?

~ Learning Spanish! Jan and I started another Spanish course recently (our third), so now that’s where we go on Monday evenings. Each lesson is an hour and a half and let me tell you it’s hard work! Hopefully it will be worth it in the end though!

~ Socialising! Last Saturday a friend of Jan’s who moved to Frankfurt was back in town for the day, so we met up with him and went to Stadtfest. Then in the evning we met up with friends for “Dirty Old Town”, the annual event in which all the pubs in Karlsruhe’s old town have live music all night. And on Wednesday our favourite Irish pub celebrated it’s 2nd anniversary, so of course we had to be there.

~ Cooking Sunday dinner! The meat was fried pork steaks, so it wasn’t a real Sunday roast, but my roast potatoes were absolutely perfect. Crunchy on the outside and lovely and soft in the middle. Luckily I made extra so I get to enjoy them again for lunch tomorrow. Mmmm.

~ Making plans! We’ve decided to go to Edinburgh for new year as we only got such a short time there (one afternoon!) during our trip around Great Britain this summer. And since we’ll be heading to the island anyway, it makes sense to spend Christmas there as well this year. So we’ve been looking at flights, trains and B&Bs and have finally come to a decision. We’ll be staying at my dad’s for 9 whole days! My little brother won’t know what’s hit him – he’s never seen me for that many days in one go!

Where do YOU want to be in X years time?

When I was discussing the signing of the new contract with my boss he asked me what my plans are, careerwise, for the next few years. “Well…,” I began, “I would like to stay here for another year at least, maybe two. Definitely finish my Master’s. Try to do increasingly complicated and technical translations and hopefully work on getting into a specialist subject. Beyond that I haven’t really thought about it.””OK,” he replied. “Fair enough. But you should think about it. Two years is not as long as you think, it will soon be here. Ms. K (colleague) has very definite plans for the future. She knows exactly where she wants to be in 2 years, in 5 years…”
My first thought was ‘You mean people actually do that?!’ By that I mean plan every step of their career, actually knowing where they want to be at various points in the future. I certainly don’t. Until about 18 months ago I didn’t even know what I wanted to do with my life. For a while I thought it might be cool to be a teacher, so I tried being a language assistant and, while it was sometimes enjoyable (especially in Austria where the kids were nice), most of them time I hated it. Plus by the end of the first year I had realised I was no good at it. English conversation and playing games I’m fine with, but actually teaching people stuff that they don’t already know? Hopeless doesn’t even begin to cover it. Translation on the other hand I am good at (finally I found something I can do! Yippee!) And it’s something I really enjoy as well. I love the feeling of satisfaction I get when I read through a translation I’ve done and realise that yes, it actually makes sense. I can definitely imagine being a translator for the rest of my life… well, the professional part of it anyway. But making specific goals?? Honestly, I wouldn’t even know where to start…

Feeling popular

I’m invited to two birthday parties tonight. Amazing. You don’t get invited anywhere for months then two parties come along at once.
The first is for a friend of Jan’s. He turned 30 this week. There’s a tradition in the north of Germany that when a man turns 30 and isn’t married he has to sweep the steps in front of the Town Hall until a girl comes along and kisses him free. So guess what poor old Mat has to do today? Yup, we’re all meeting at Marktplatz at 5:30pm for him to do some sweeping. And as the tradition isn’t known here in the south of Germany he’ll probably be sweeping for a long time… Afterwards we’ll go to the party.

Then we’re invited to a second party, this time my friend Lisa. It’s a combined birthday party (for her), leaving party (for her boyfriend – they’re both moving to the Netherlands but he’s going first. She may have another leaving party later on) and moving in party (for the new flatmate). Phew, lots going on there.

Soo, I have a busy afternoon/evening ahead of me.

Beelzebub in a bottle

Jan and I went to the Bierbörse again yesterday. We had to. We had to find beer for my dad. He’s a big fan of beer is my dad. Not just any beer though. Oh no, it has to be proper beer. No lager allowed. The kind of beer he has isn’t chock full of chemicals and – shock, horror – can actually go off. Over the last few years his friends and relatives (with the exception of my grandparents) have developed a kind of competition to find new beers for my dad. Everyone wants to be the one that presents him with the most beers he hasn’t already tried. Jan and I have a slight advantage here, being in Germany. Everyone else can only check out their local supermarket and hope my dad hasn’t already discovered the ones they find. The beers we find tend not to be available in England. Big points for us. So yesterday we headed to the Bierbörse and checked out the “113 beers from throughout the world” stand in search of interesting beers. We ended up getting three – one from Brazil, one from Ethiopia (cos it sounds dead cool, even if the beer turns out to be crap) and a French one that I chose purely for the name. It’s called Belzebuth and has a great picture of a demon on it. Beelzebub in a bottle.

Later we went and met some of Jan’s friends at Cafe Max. The group that he hung around with at university are planning a kind of reunion next weekend. Most of them still live here and we see them reasonably often, but some have moved away, so the Karlsruhe dwellers decided a reunion was in order. They are currently trying to plan activities for the weekend, so we met up last night to discuss it. A number of activities had been suggested, including clmbing, bowling, paintball and go karting. Personally I was for paintball (I’ve wanted to do that for sooo long) but I was outvoted. Boring gits! Bowling, they decided, is boring and can be done any time. So it’s been decided that climbing will be the first choice with karting as an indoor alternative for bad weather. Boo, the two things I least wanted to do.

Today we’ve mostly been looking at tourist activities in Scotland. The boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Edinburgh. In October. Are we insane? Yes, it is entirely possible that we are. Oh well, if it rains I suppose we can always just spend all our time in bed 😉

Gotta get out of this place

I made a decision over the weekend.
I decided that I have to get out of here at the next available opportunity. I have to.It doesn’t matter whether I have a real job or not, even if I have no idea where I’m going to be 2 months after that date I am moving out.

Back in December, when my boyfriend decided it was time to move out of this student residence, we made the decision not to live together. He didn’t want to and I didn’t want to. The difference between was that I didn’t want to then but thought I might want to in the future. Jan just just knew he wasn’t ready to move in with me – he’s not the kind of person that thinks about the future. But that didn’t matter then. Mostly I was just jealous – why was it that he, who didn’tmind living in this building and had never even thought about moving out before, was going to be getting his own flat whereas I, who had been talking aboout wanting to move out for months and months, was going to be stuck here – possibly forever? No fair!

So fast-forward a few months. It’s April. He’s moved all his stuff out, the key to his old room has been returned, I’m forced to sleep in my own bed, cook in my own kitchen… and Jan has a flat mate. A flat mate who actually uses the flat. Meanwhile Jan doesn’t actually spend a night at his flat until May. So where did he sleep during that time? In my room of course. He might not have wanted to live with me officially, but he didn’t have any problem with sharing a bed with me every night. (He doesn’t mind me doing all his washing for him either, but that’s besides the point).

So now it’s August and here’s how things stand:
Jan is still living with Maik and is now starting to think that maybe he would have been better off living with me after all. Maybe. But he’s very cleverly set it up so that we won’t be moving in together for a very long time.
He told me at the weekend that he didn’t want to be moving around all the time, so he got a flat with the intention of staying in it until he finishes his phd… in four years time. Guess what? So did his flat mate. So that means Jan has no intention of moving out of his flat for the next four years and neither does Maik. Four years! I’ll be nearly 30 be then. (29 is nearly 30 no matter what way you look at it). I pointed out to Jan that he’d basically set things up so that there was no way we’d be moving in together at any point. He didn’t say anything to that, just looked at me. Then when I told him to stop looking at me like I’d slapped him round the face he replied “I’m looking at you like that because it’s true… and I feel bad.” So now I feel bad that he feels bad and… it’s all a big mess.

But all of that isn’t the point. That’s just background. The point is… four years. Four bloody years. That’s how long I’m going to have to wait for my boyfriend, unless he or Maik has a radical change of opinion in the meantime. And I refuse to spend that time here. I am not living in a student residence until I’m 29. No way, no how. Not happening.

So I’m moving out. At the next available opportunity. Which will be March.
Phew. I feel so much better now I’ve made that decision.