March 2020 recap

Hello friends! It’s time for my monthly recap. I’m linking up with Kristen for “What’s new with you?” – although I expect my answer is the same as most of yours, namely some form of lockdown. Nonetheless let me start at the beginning of the month, when life was still relatively normal.

whats new with you

1st March was Jan’s 40th birthday. He’s didn’t want a proper celebration but there were gifts and I made malted chocolate cake. We walked into town and had a coffee then in the evening we ate at one of the few restaurants in Basel that’s actually open on a Sunday. At that point Basel carnival, which was to have started at 4 am the next morning had been cancelled a few days earlier (along with other events with over 1,000 participants) but there was no indication yet of how much worse things were going to get. We briefly spoke to the staff about the situation and they were mainly worried about what they were going to do with the extra food and beer they had bought.

cake

The Friday after that I went into the office in Germany, then on Wednesday 11th June we were supposed to take a night train to Vienna and then continue on to Poland. After having mild cold symptoms starting on the Monday I woke up that day feeling much worse and called in sick to work. That day Poland also announced the closure of all museums, galleries, libraries, etc. Right up until I was supposed to leave for Zurich I was debating whether to risk travelling, but when I read that Poland were conducting health checks at the borders I decided not to  – also because I really didn’t feel up to spending 10 hours on a night train just to have to turn back. My temperature was higher than normal (when you’re infertile you get to know your normal temperature very well!) but never higher than 37.3ºC (a fever would be 38ºC). The next day I read that the Czech Republic  – which our train would have passed through  – had closed its borders for non-Czechs. Jan cancelled his holiday and worked from home on the Thursday then went into the office on Friday while I went to the doctors on the Thursday (who agreed I had nothing more than a cold) and got a doctor’s note for two days, which meant I got those 2 days of holiday back. I kept my holiday for the following week though since part of it was days I needed to use by the end of March anyway.

My family decided to still fly to Poland on the Friday since their flight wasn’t cancelled. An hour after they arrived the Polish government announced that bars and restaurants would close and there were also plans to close tge borders. Any foreigners still in the country at midnight on Sunday would have to go into quarantine. So on the Saturday MY family headed to the airport and were initially put on standby for the lsst flight out that day. Ryanair then announced two rescue flights so they were taken off the standby list to be placed on a rescue flight only for the employee to realise the flight was already full and put them on standby again. For a rescue flight where anyone who had managed to get a place was in the actual airport. So how exactly could there be standby places? Anyway, they also booked a place on a bus to Berlin for the next morning only Flixbus to also cancel all bus services to and from Poland. After hanging out at the airport all day they were finally told all flights had gonr and they should leave the airport. Luckily they were able to go back to the apartment they had booked! They had also managed to find a taxi driver who was willing to take them to Berlin and booked new flights from there. The next day there was briefly talk of them being dropped at the border between Poland and Frankfurt an der Oder then walking into Germany and taking a train to Berlin but the taxi driver then decided he would drive them all the way  (good people are out there! I hope he’s got back into Poland without issues!). After a night in a hotel in Berlin, my family caught their flight to Düsseldorf and transfer to Newcastle without issues. In the meantime Germany had closed its borders with Austria and Switzerland but flights to the UK were unaffected at that stage.

Meanwhile,  here in Switzerland, my canton  (Basel-Landschaft) became the first to announce that all bars and restaurants and all shops except pharmacies and supermarkets had to close. The national government then announced on the Monday that the rest of Switzerland had follow suit. I was supposed to have a dentist’s appointment in March but it was postponed until May! Emergency treatment only (no pain = no emergency) and that dentist isn’t actually able to open at all – only designated emergency dentists can see patients for urgent cases.

I spent my week off work mainly making Easter cards for PostPals  – with no idea how long the postal service would continue functioning or what delays there may end up being I wanted them all out as soon as possible. I also managed a bit of reading  (but less than I would have liked). And I copied all the necessary documents and sent off the form to renew my residence permit. Who knows when it will actually be processed now though! Jan’s work announced that anyone who could work from home should, so on the Monday he got a car and went to Zurich to fetch all the equipment he would need and then set up the spare room and has been working from there ever since. For most of that week the furthest I went was the post box (probably 3 minutes away) and a single trip to the supermarket (approx. 5-7 minutes walk), but on I think the Wednesday I had to take a tram to near the train station to pick up a prescription – I have a repeat prescription at the chemist next to my doctor’s surgery (the ones for IVF stuff are near the fertility clinic but I obviously won’t be needing any of that for a while!). The tram was basically empty but there were about 10 people at the pharmacy (queuing out the door since they had to keep their distance and there was a system in one place where you entered through one door and left through the other).

Weirdly, during that week it was the one year anniversary of my due date. So if things hadn’t gone wrong I would have had two 1-year-olds now and been returning from maternity leave in the middle of this pandemic. Not sure how I feel about that. It’s weird. However, I will say that I am sick of people either making “hilarious” jokes about a baby boom in nine months or complaining about being at home with their children – and I get that it’s hard being stuck inside and struggling to entertain them while the whole world seems to be collapsing, but those aren’t the complaints I mean. If you’ve seen them you’ll know.

Anyway… I went back to work on the 23rd and discovered that by then all my colleagues were working from home. Luckily that’s always an option so everyone already had everything set up. I also found out the company would be applying for “short term working” at some point and on the Friday my boss spoke to everyone via a Skype call and explained that they would be applying from 1st April and exactly how it would work, although I later learned they can’t apply for me. Luckily I’ve had plenty of work so far – currently I have enough to last until the end of Monday and I also have 24 hours of overtime I can use. That week (which was last week) I went out twice – to the supermarket on Thursday where I bought enough for a week and Jan and I went for a walk on the Saturday. As soon as we reached the field we wanted to walk around I felt guilty for adding to the masses  – I’ve never seen so many people there!

And that pretty much brings us to the end of March. The one other thing I have to mention is that I called the fertility clinic on Friday only to be met with an answering machine message stating they are closed and all current and future treatment is cancelled until further notice. I was expecting it but it’s still a bit of a blow. Who knows when we will be able to try another transfer now? I don’t expect it to happen before the summer anyway.

Let’s end this with something good… on the last day of the month I received mail that I didn’t remember ordering. It turned out to be a colouring book from my good friend Naomi with the message to make it pretty while stuck indoors. I know her in real life (from school!) but she has a blog, which you can read here.

And so endeth the first of my lockdown diaries.

How have you been keeping yourself occupied at home? Or are you one of those that still has to go out for work? (In  which case THANK YOU for ensuring that society keeps running, and if you work in care of the health service for looking after those in need. I for one appreciate your efforts).

One more thing – don’t forget check out the link up!

Autumn/winter goals

Basel-autumn
Basel in autumn

I don’t usually do seasonal goals and I wasn’t planning to now either, but this year has gone so fast that I feel like I need to have some specific things to tick off for the rest of it to avoid feeling like I’ve done absolutely nothing for the entire year. Also, these are technically “rest of 2019” goals since winter won’t end until the end of March and I don’t feel like planning my life out that far in advance. But autumn/winter goals sounded better. I’m rambling… I’ll just get on with it shall I?

  • Finish making Halloween cards for Post Pals – I have 10 so far, I need 40.
  • Make autumn cards for Post Pals families that prefer not to receive Halloween cards. I need 3 this year.
  • Get at least three quarters of my family/friends Christmas cards made before December (instead of staying up late rushing to finish them in the last few weeks before Christmas!)
  • Send Christmas cards to all Post Pals families.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer re-watch! (We’ve already started.)
  • Read It by Stephen King
  • Spookathon in October and Believathon in November.
  • Make crumble again (I made one last weekend and it was delicious. And it’s so easy – I don’t know why I don’t make it more often)
  • Bake muffins
  • Bake some kind of Christmas biscuit
  • Sort out the spare room (which currently looks more like a storage room!)
  • Sort out the shelving things in the dining area. Basically we currently have the shelf things below. We want to take the left-hand part to the cellar and keep just the right-hand part for now (which will be moved more into the corner). That means I need to get everything off the  part on the left. Eventually the plan is to replace the whole thing with a nicer cabinet/unit but that won’t be happening this year.
    dining room shelves
  • Get the huge bag of books that are waiting to go to free public bookshelves empty.
  • Sort out craft stuff and clear the desk that is currently covered in half my supplies.
  • Show my cousin and her boyfriend round Basel (they are visiting in November).
  • Day trip with my cousin and her boyfriend – decide where to go.
  • Take a day trip by myself while I’m off work in October/November.
  • Go to at least one Christmas market.
  • Take my annual autumn photos by the stream on 31st October.
  • Go to the pub quiz at least once more this year.
  • Respond to all pen pal letters I’ve received up to today. (I’m making no guarantees about ones that arrive throughout the next few months though…)

autumn6

 

That’s all I can think of for now. And this actually already seems like a lot, so let’s hope I manage to achieve them all! What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Roar, roar, dinosaur!

Hello friends! I keep meaning to post more frequently but I’ve been absolutely snowed under at work recently. It’s as if all our customers somehow sensed that my colleague is on holiday and chose that very moment to decide they need all the translations into English. And of course 90% of it falls to me. We do have access to freelance translators, but if it’s in any way urgent or my colleagues just don’t feel like asking around I get to do it. Lucky me! Anyway, I wanted to at least pop in and say hi, so I thought I would show you a card I cross stitched a couple of weeks ago for one of the Post Pals children.

dinosaur card

Happy weekend everyone. If it’s as hot where you are as it is here I hope you find a way to keep cool!

A die-cut card-making session

I recently received more cutting dies that I had ordered and, still being excited by a new hobby, I decided I wanted to test some of them out. That led to a bit of a card-making session, some of which have already been sent off as birthday cards for Post Pals children. Others haven’t found a use yet. Here they are:

The princess castle isn’t stuck on straight. Grr! Unfortunately the glue had set before I realised. Also, I coloured in the flags but I’m not sure whether it would have been better to just leave them as they were. Oh well. That one has already gone off to a girl who, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, is turning 7.

I absolutely love the balloon jar and am already imagining other things I could put inside a jar. I’m not sure about the positioning of the writing though. I still have that card currently, but I’m sure I’ll find a use for it soon.

You might recognise the Happy Birthday shape and the felt butterflies from this card. The frame die cut is new. I quite like how this turned out. It’s simple, but I think it’s pretty. I still have that one at present but I think I know who’s going to get it.

Finally, for the football card, I die cut the shape twice, once in white and once in black, then used the black “negative” pieces to fill in the white outline, resulting in an inverted football. I’m not sure why I did it that way round first? I still have the black outline and white pieces so I can make a normal football. A lot of the Post Pals boys like football so I have a feeling this die will be getting quite a bit of use! The little footballs are stickers and the sentiment came free with a magazine. That card is already on its way to a Post Pal’s sibling.

I cut out a few other shapes, including a giraffe and some unicorns, but I haven’t done anything with them yet. Perhaps you’ll see them on a future card.

I think I’m going to need some more practice before I learn the most effective way to use die cuts on my cards! Not that these ones are bad necessarily, but I feel like I could make much better use of the shapes. Any die-cutting experts want to weight in with advice? I’m all ears (well, eyes… you know what I mean).

What do you think of these cards? Not bad for a die-cutting beginner, right?

Die-cut butterflies card

This probably won’t be exciting to anyone but me, but I shall tell you about it anyway.

I got a die cutter for Christmas – specifically the Big Shot foldaway – and after having a bit of a play with the shapes that came with it, I have been very much looking forward to making some actual cards with it. My opportunity came this week. I am determined to keep being involved with Post Pals* this year, and one girl who likes butterflies has a birthday coming up.

butterfly card

I cut out the red butterflies using a die that a penpal sent me. The yellow butterflies are felt ones I bought ages ago, the flowers are stickers, and the “Happy Birthday” was cut using a die I purchased.

I can’t wait until I’ve built up my die collection some more and can (hopefully) make better, more complicated cards.

* In case you’ve missed all my previous references to it, here is my explanation of what Post Pals is all about and here is a link to their website where you can read all about them in their own words and maybe even pick a pal to write to. Apparently January and February are the slowest months for mail, so if you do want to brighten a sick child’s day now would be the perfect time!

Duck tape Christmas cards

I discovered that Duck Tape now comes in patterned versions when someone in a Facebook group mentioned that they have a unicorn one. I immediately thought I need that for Post Pals packages! At the same time, I bought a penguin version thinking I could use that one on winter parcels. Apparently I am entirely uncreative because despite the fact that I have literally used ribbons and patterned papers in the exact same way as the Duck tape on the cards I’m about to show me, it didn’t even occur to me that I could do the same thing with  my penguin tape. Luckily, others have more imagination than me… when searching for quick, easy Christmas card ideas, I came across this post. This person just uses tape and a stamped sentiment for her cards, so I like to think I have been at least a little creative and added my own twist by also including stickers and other embellishments.

If you want to make your own Duck tape cards, all you will need is some blank cards, Duck tape (or other patterned tape that sticks really well), stamps/stickers for the sentiments – or you can write them yourselves if your hand lettering is better than mine (which to be fair most people’s probably is!) and any other embellishments you want to add, like stickers, buttons or beads. Here are some of my efforts. First, the penguins:

I also added two other tapes to my collection. Here are some cards made using Christmas tree tape:

And finally, snowmen:

I am loving how fast these cards are to make! Since I’m trying to make cards for every Post Pals family as well as my own family and friends, fast is definitely an advantage! And I think they look pretty good too. I spied tapes with things like spiders and pumpkins on as well, so ideas for next Halloween are already swarming around my head… as well as birthday cards, of course!

If you have any other ideas for fast Christmas cards that still look like I’ve made some effort, please throw them my way!

~Despite the constant mentions of a brand name, this is in no way a sponsored post. I purchased the tapes with my own money and am definitely not being compensated in any way. It just so happens that my tapes actually are the Duck brand!~

 

Recent doings #23

It’s November (What? How? Why?) and it’s Thursday, which means it must be time for What’s new with you? If you’ve been wondering what on Earth I was doing on October instead of keeping my blog updated then you’ve come to the right place 😉 Here are all the things I’ve been doing for the past month.

whats-new

Reading. I completed the bonus round of Erin’s reading challenge. Woo! To find out the specific books I read, you’ll have to come back when it’s time for Show Us Your Books… but I will tell you that I started Magician by Raymond E Feist about a week ago and so ar it’s really good. I had been putting it off because it’s so long!

Watching. Hocus Pocus! It was on TV on Sunday and I couldn’t resist. It’s been too long since I’ve seen it. I also saw some episodes of Extreme Cake Makers. Some very impressive cakes going on there!

Eating. Pumpkins and chickpeas. Standard autumn fare really. But last week we ate something more unusual. I will tell you what in a few days… don’t want to ruin the surprise 😉

Drinking. I relapsed and went back to drinking too much caffeinated tea. Hmm. Also smoothies – sadly ready-made. I want to make my own but I need a blender first.

Buying. Too many patterned tapes. They are taking over! I need a better way to store them. Also my godson’s Christmas present, which I am very excited about.

Making. Halloween cards for Post Pals children. So, so many Halloween cards! Here are a few:

Cross stitching. Designs for Christmas cards. After spending so long making Halloween cards, I am now way behind with Christmas!

Seeing/hearing. Jan perform with two different choirs. At the second one, they were performing with a trio consisting of a harpist, flautist and… violaist? Is that a word? My spell checker doesn’t recognise it. A man on a viola anyway. I absolutely loved them!

Winning. The pub quiz. Yay! It was the first time we’d been in ages as well.

Visiting. The pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg – it’s becoming a bit of tradition. Again, I preferred the theme two years ago, but we had a nice day with our friends and I got to eat pumpkin Maultaschen, which is always a good thing.

Ludwigsburg Kurbisfest

Booking. Flights to England for my sister’s wedding. Not long to go now! I also got my dress altered in October (it was way too long). Thought I’d throw that in here since I couldn’t think of a category for it 😉

Coveting. This jumper: https://www.aboutyou.ch/p/naketano/knit-maja-pusteblume-iii-3651582 It is way out of my price range though. I am not paying 57 CHF (=49 euros/42 pounds) for a jumper! Maybe I’ll send the link to Jan… he did ask what I want for Christmas 😉

I can’t think of anything else. The rest of the time I was just working, cleaning and doing laundry. You know… life stuff. Not too exciting. How about you – been doing anything interesting recently?

Linking up with Kristen and Gretch, of course.