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 ­čśë 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 ­čśë

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 ­čśë

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 ­čśë

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.

 

 

Recent doings #22

It’s time for the What’s New With You link up again, and that means yet another month is over and done with. I know I always say I can’t believe how quickly time is flying, but this time the month sped by so quickly that I almost didn’t post my brother’s birthday card in time! Luckily my brain just about managed to switch from “it’s only mid-September” to “crap, it’s nearly the end of September” in time for me to get it written and posted (his birthday was on Monday). Anywaaaay… let me tell you about what I was doing in September.

whats-new

Reading. Not books from the BBC Big Read even though I should be! I read six books in September… come back on Tuesday to find out what they were ­čśë

Listening to. Welcome to Night Vale. We actually finished listening to the audio book before the next novel was published! A miracle. We also listened to two episodes of the podcast and as of right now we are a mere three episodes behind. Wow!

Watching. There never seems to be anything interesting on when I switch on the TV., so I usually end up flicking through then switching it back off. Jan watches MoMa (German breakfast TV) and I kind of passively watch too, so I guess that.

Eating. Pumpkins! And squashes too, I suppose (although in German it’s all K├╝rbis). We’ve had pumpkin stew, pumpkin and chickpea curry, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin mash. I love pumpkin season!

Drinking. Nettle tea. I’m trying to be as healthy as possible and that means cutting down on caffeine (except my morning cuppa – that has to be normal tea). Plus nettles are full of calcium – important since I hate drinking milk.

Buying. Craft supplies – mainly stickers and buttons. Oh, and shoes for my sister’s wedding. (If we work on the assumption that Jan’s money is my money then we also a bookcase and some other bits from IKEA ­čśë )

Going to. Castle Chillon on Lake Geneva. And also Karlsruhe to see Jan’s former choir perform and meet up with friends.

Chillon
Castle Chillon

Making. Cards, cards, cards. All for Post Pals.

Cross stitching. Designs for Christmas cards… not long now!

Unpacking. A box of books (uni books, not the fun kind). It had been sitting in my “office” since we moved in but with the new small Billy we bought I was finally able to get it unpacked. Hurrah!

And that’s about it – the only other thing I did in September was work. I lost count of the number of times I was given so much to do in the morning that I couldn’t even think about taking a lunch break until 2 p.m. On a few of those occasions, I then had very little to do for the rest of the day. I’m hoping things will be a little more evenly spread in October…

Linking up with Kristen and Gretch, of course.

What have you been doing recently?

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival 2016

Ludwigsburg K├╝rbisfest 2016

Wow, I have actually reached October in my travel posts, which means I’m almost caught up with #Take12Trips, Take 2.

This year, we went to the pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg again. A Finnish friend we have made in Basel (who from now on shall be referred to as The Finn) plus two friends from Karlsruhe also joined us.

As you may have guessed from the picture above, the theme this year was “circus”, or rather “The Pumpkin Circus is Coming to Town”. Apparently, that was mostly interpreted as clowns (if you don’t like clowns you may want to look away now…)

Even those who don’t mind clowns have to admit the last one is creepy. A clown throwing knives? Who came up with that?

There were a few other things as well:

This little group is called the Hubbard Family (because they’re carved using hubbard pumpkins). Personally I like to think of them as the Dumpty family because they remind me of Humpty Dumpty ! (I know he’s usually pictured as an egg and was actually probably a cannon). They’re the work of American artist Ray Villafane and the Hubbard family was featured in Ludwigsburg for the 4th time in a row in 2016 (although I don’t remember seeing them last year).

Here are some more photos from around the festival:

This year I ate pumpkin Maultaschen in pumpkin soup, orange and hokkaido ice cream and pumpkin strudel. All were delicious!

While wandering around, we spotted a bird. A survey of my Facebook friends came to the conclusion that it’s a common buzzard:

Once we’d seen everything at the actual festival, we had a wander round the fairytale garden then went looking for the aviary. There weren’t many birds around – I’m sure there were more when I went there before? It was raining on and off all day though, so maybe they were all hiding somewhere dry?

Of course, before heading home we hit the shop and bought a few pumpkin varieties that aren’t available in supermarkets plus some pumpkin seed pesto.

Despite the rain, it was a fun day out (although I thought last year’s “flight” theme had some more interesting interpretations for the sculptures!).

The festival has finished for this year since I’ve taken so long to write my post, but if you’re in the Stuttgart area definitely look out for it next September/October. This year’s festival took place from 2 September-6 November and next year’s will probably be roughly the same.

This was my October trip for Take 12 Trips 2016.

Recent doings #11

Another month has gone, and now it’s November. Aaah!! Less than two months left until 2016 is over! While I’m hoping for good things in 2017, I’m so not ready for it to be here yet.

Anyway, before I completely dissolve into panic, it’s time to look back on October as Gretch and Kristen ask “What’s new with you?“.

What's New With You

Firstly, as some of you may have seen on Twitter, I managed to fall over right at the beginning of the month and land heavily on both my knees, so I spent most of October not being able to work properly. I did call the doctor after waiting a week (plus one day because it was a Sunday) and was told it probably wasn’t anything serious and to come back in a week if it wasn’t better. The following week I was actually not in Basel so I couldn’t go, and after that I decided that since I wasn’t in pain and could manage stairs okay again I would just leave it. My legs are still a bit stiff and annoying at times, but the bruising has gone and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be fine.

Despite having to hobble around, I managed to get up to quite a lot, as you will see below:

Reading. After finishing my last few books for Erin’s challenge, I wanted something a bit lighter (and more modern) so I started reading The Dandelion Years by Erica James. Then I didn’t even finish it because November happened and it was time to start Megan’s winter challenge. *Sigh*

Visiting. The pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg. I preferred last year’s theme, but it was still a fun day out. And I got to see my friends, which is always a win! (Blog post to follow… eventually.) That was before I fell over luckily since the festival always involves quite a bit of walking around!

Ludwigsburg K├╝rbisfest 2016

Attending. A seminar in Frankfurt for work. It was all about banking terminology… not my most favourite subject.

Listening to. Jan singing in choirs. He had concerts with two different choirs in October so of course I went.

Buying. Christmas presents. Last year a few didn’t arrive in time even though I thought I had ordered them far enough in advance, so this year I’m being extra organised. Also the most amazing pair of tights.

Cross stitching. Still pictures for Christmas cards… lots and lots of Christmas cards. I think I have about half of them done now, ready to actually be transformed into cards. Also, a Santa shaped like a star that I wanted to experiment with turning into a Christmas tree ornament. It worked really well! *Proud face*

santa-star

Subscribing. To another cross stitch magazine… because one subscription clearly isn’t enough. Sadly they would only let me start my subscription from January, February or March next year! I was hoping for the December issue at least so I could get more Christmas designs (I subscribed two weeks ago – you’d think that would be plenty of time for them to get me on the December mailing list?!)

Arranging. To host more visitors. Apparently everyone wants to see the Christmas markets. First my mum and brother are coming again, this time with a friend of my mum’s as well, and then my sister and her fianc├ę will be here for a weekend (oooh, first time I’ve written “sister’s fianc├ę“!).

Eating. Pumpkins, purchased at the pumpkin festival, and also chickpeas. I seem to put chickpeas in everything lately.

I think that’s all that’s been happening in my world. What have you been doing recently?

Recent doings #10

Monday was a public holiday in Germany so, since I work there, I got the day off. This has left me way more confused than it should have and I’ve spent most of the week with no idea what day it is. But today is definitely Thursday and it’s the first one of a new month, so it’s time for the what’s new with you link up, hosted by the lovely Kristen and Gretch.

So… what have I been doing in September?

What's New With You

Eating. Pumpkins and squashes, more specifically spaghetti squash. It’s not spaghetti. It will never be spaghetti, no matter how many recipes try to convince me otherwise, but I’m okay with it not being spaghetti. I like it for what it is… which is a very tasty vegetable!

Reading. I told you all about my challenge reads here. But after finishing the epic novel that was Shogun I went on to read other books in quick succession.I started The Mirror World of Melody Black in September so I can totally count it here, right? I liked it. The descriptions of the ups and downs of bipolar seemed legit and it was just really well written.

Listening to. The Welcome to Night Vale audio book! I bought Jan it for his birthday in March and he finally felt like getting back into the world of Night Vale so we started listening. We’re on CD2 and so far it’s exactly as amazing as I would expect it to be.

Going. (The category for places that are too close to really call it ÔÇťtravellingÔÇŁ!) To Rheinfelden and Kaiseraugst when Jan’s dad came to stay with us for a weekend.

rheinfelden

Watching. Tatort – a German weekly police drama series that’s been running since the 70s! The name literally means crime scene and it’s basically an institution in Germany. We also went to the cinema and saw some short films featuring disability.

Cross stitching. An engagement card for my sister, two birthday cards and some Christmas cards. Also a little something I designed myself, which I will tell you all about in a few days once the recipient actually has it!

Baking. Hedgehogs… but you knew that, didn’t you?

Buying. Two new skirts and a T-shirt. I am very naughty! Also Jan’s Christmas present, but sssh! We won’t tell him that.

Wishing. For a puppy. Actually, it kind of goes without saying that I wish we had a puppy every month, but September involved a lot of actually looking at them on the websites of rescue places and sadly realising that we wouldn’t be allowed to have most of them. (Let’s just ignore the fact that we can’t have a dog anyway because we haven’t done the course to be allowed to own one yet…)

Okay, I think that’s it. I can’t think of anything else that went on in September.

What have you been doing lately?

Friday letters

Once again Friday has come around incredibly quickly… it only seems like a few days since I was last writing these letters! And this time next week it will be the last Friday in September! Time is really flying… the dreaded “C” word will be here before we know it… I really need to start figuring out what gifts to buy for the people in my life! (Apart from Jan. I have his gift already. Shh… don’t tell him that!)

For now, though, let’s just have some Friday letters.

Mailbox

Dear autumn. You are officially here now… even in astronomical terms, so nobody can argue any more (even though it’s warmed up again here after a cold and rainy start to the week). Apparently here astronomical autumn started at 4:21pm yesterday…. I had no idea it came down to the minute!

Dear pumpkins. Why can’t you be available for me to eat all year round?! Now I have to gorge myself on you for the next few months while I still can!

Dear authors. Could you please stop releasing amazing sounding books on a regular basis? My to-read list┬á keeps getting longer and longer… and that’s just with the books that are already available!

Dear crows. You are very cool birds, but I’d prefer it if you didn’t make an awful racket outside my window early in the morning! (Hopefully this will stop now it’s no longer light at 5 am…)

That’s all for today. I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! I’m off work next week – not going anywhere, but trying to use up some holiday – so this weekend is the start of what will hopefully be a nice long stretch of relaxation.

Friday letters

Is there any point in doing a Friday letters post when I just did a catch up post for the entire month of August yesterday? Could I possibly have anything left in my life to write letters to? Well, yes I could actually! Here they are:

Basel-postbox

Dear Switzerland. On Tuesday, I saw Lebkuchen in my local supermarket. On Tuesday it was still August! I know I’ve been stitching Christmas designs, but that’s no excuse for you to get the Christmas biscuits out. Just no, okay?

Dear little brother. I hope you had a fantastic 10th birthday yesterday. (Also, how is it you’re in double figures now?! Aargh, I feel old!)

Dear weather. If you could just stay like this for a week or two that would be fine. Warm but not OMG I’m actually going to die at any minute hot works just fine for me.

Dear autumn. I don’t need you short, miserable days and rain yet, but I am excited about all the autumn products that are starting to appear in the supermarkets. The return of pumpkin season? YES PLEASE!

Dear pumpkins. Speaking of your arrival in shops, why must you be so hard to cut? I would eat you every single day if only you weren’t so much work to prepare!

See, I told you I still had stuff to say? That’s enough for now though. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival 2015

I’m aware I haven’t actually finished telling you about our holiday in England yet, but today I want to skip to what we did this weekend because the festival isn’t over yet and there might be people in the area who feel like going.

Each year, the castle in Ludwigsburg hosts a huge pumpkin festival in its gardens. A few bloggers went last year and it looked amazing, but sadly I wasn’t able to go then, so when Meredith wrote a blog post about this year’s event I was determined to make it there this time. From Karlsruhe, it would have been fairly easy to get to. This year we were further away, meaning the journey took us around 3 hours (changing trains twice), but we decided that was just about doable. Since we had to change trains in Karlsruhe, I asked whether any of my friends there would like to join us and two of them did.

Tiny pumpkinsEach year, there is a theme for the sculptures at the festival to fit into and this year’s was Fliegen, which mines flight. However, there were some interesting interpretations of the word, for instance one sculpture was of a grand piano, which is der Fl├╝gel in German… and Fl├╝gel is also the German word for wing (as in what birds have, not the wing of a house), giving it a (slightly contrived) connection to flight. Here are some of my favourite photos that I took of the sculptures. The smaller carved pumpkins aren’t part of the “main” exhibition and therefore don’t have to follow the flight theme (hence cows and snakes).

I managed to take my camera along without it’s memory card because I’m a moron ­čśë Luckily I can actually take some photos with the camera’s own memory, but it meant I had to ration myself. Luckily my friend K took lots of photos, which she very kindly shared with me, so the next gallery is all her work.

As well as the sculptures, there were various culinary offerings involving pumpkin. We had roast pumpkin seeds – I bought ones with chilli and sugar while K chose sugar and cinnamon, pumpkin popcorn (boring – it was just ordinary sweet popcorn with crushed pumpkin seeds sprinkled on, and taste of just… popcorn), pumpkin burgers (amazing! Would eat again!), pumpkin chips/fries (also amazing! I plan to try and make my own), pumpkin Schorle (juice mixed with fizzy water) and pumpkin prosecco (“K├╝rbissecco”), and also sampled some of the items that were available to buy for taking home – including pumpkin seed pesto, pumpkin ketchup and pumpkin chutney. All were delicious!

As well as the sculptures, the entire place is decorated with pumpkins and the winners of the German and European giant pumpkin contests were also in display. Here are a few general impressions of the pumpkins, the park and the gorgeous autumn colours. First gallery contains my photos:

And the following photos are by K:

Sorry about the photo overload – I couldn’t narrow it down any further!

If anyone is in the Stuttgart/Ludwigsburg/Heidelberg area and wants to see the pumpkins for themselves, the festival is on until Saturday 8th November. The exhibition area is not lit, so I recommend going during the day/before dark. Entrance to the garden is ÔéČ8.50 – and make sure you do ask for a ticket to just the garden, unless you actually want to go into the castle! Apart from the pumpkins, the garden itself has a lot to offer, including a huge walk in aviary (which we sadly didn’t have time to go into this time, but Jan and I have been before and it’s amazing!) and a fairytale forest.

Phew! That was a long post, so congratulations if you’ve made it to the end!
I’m linking this up for Monday Escapes with Packing my Suitcase and My Travel Monkey. Click the button for more information.

Packing my Suitcase

It’s linky time again

Because I have no time am too lazy for a proper post today (whaaat? It’s Sunday!) here is another roundup of cool links I’ve come across recently.

  1. The Worst Things for Sale on the Internet ÔÇô a daily blog that lists all the really bad things that are available for purchase out there on the web. Like the iPad potty for kids and spam-flavoured macadamia nuts, which┬ásound even more disgusting than Marmite! . Why are these things even things?!
  2. I was never a fan of Pok├ęmon (I was born too early), but these Pokemon characters as Tim Burton creature drawings are fantastic!

    English: Pumpkin carving - photo taken in dark...
    Photo credit: Wikipedia
  3. IKEA or Death? ÔÇô In this game, you have to guess whether various words are the names of IKEA furniture items of Death metal bands. I got 15 out of 20.
  4. Halloween is coming, so here are 63 mindblowing Halloween pumpkin carvings for you to admire.
  5. From pumpkins to cake… these 27 painfully honest cake messages are pretty funny.
  6. For anyone who is struggling to understand the current German election crisis, Tina at KulturSchock has written a fantastic blog post that explains it all… with dinosaurs!

That’s all from me for today. Have you come across anything entertaining on the Internet recently?

Autumn days

Autumn has definitely come to Karlsruhe. I can see the pretty coloured trees from my window (Red! Orange! Yellow!). It’s just a shame these pretty days never last very long. Right now the sun is shining, but I know that in another week, or possibly two if we’re lucky, most of the trees will have shed their leaves, it will have stopped being light when I leave work (darkness when I get up is already established) and the rain and wind and mist will have set in. For now though the sun is shining and I intend to enjoy it. Here are some of my favourite things about Autumn:

  • Pumpkins. Such a versatile vegetable and so delicious. I just wish it wasn’t so hard to chop!
  • Roast chesnuts. I may treat myself to some of those later today.
  • Those few weeks at the beginning when the weather’s still nice and it’s no longer as ridiculously hot as in summer when I just want to hide away with a large supply of ice.
  • Pretty trees
  • Conkers! I don’t collect them, but I love to see them lying there, all shiny and red

It’s also Stadtfest this weekend – that’s city festival to all you English speakers; something like a village fair but not in a village, obviously. There are stalls at Marktplatz and live music can be seen/heard in various places. We missed it last year because we were in England for my Grandparent’s golden wedding anmiversary the week it was on.┬á It’s also “verkaufsoffener Sonntag” this Sunday, i.e the one Sunday in the year when the shops are actually *gasp* allowed to open. There’s still a law here that says the usually can’t! Not that I particularly want to go shopping on Sunday, but it’s always nice to know that it’s possible to pop and buy some milk if you happen to run out. Usually the only places you can actually buy anything are the ridiculously overpriced petrol garages. Or, in my case, the shop at the train station, which is just as overpriced but at least open