A Photo An Hour: 18 March 2017

I almost missed the photo an hour link up this month! Luckily I went on Twitter and saw that Sharon was doing it. As a result, my first photo was not taken when I got up, but half an hour later… and I ended up doing photos on the half hour instead of the hour. I took part on Twitter this time, but I also wanted to record it on my blog.

Jan had to go into work for a special project/organisation meeting thing, so I was alone all day! Here’s what I got up to:

10:30 a.m. Starting late means my first photo is not tea! Shower time.

11:30 a.m. It looks grey and miserable outside, but I need to go to the post office and food shopping, so out I go.

12:30 p.m. Shopping done, heading home through the park. But where are all the children? It might have been grey, but it wasn’t raining or all that cold! DO people here take the midday quiet time that seriously?

1:30 p.m. Aaah, there’s the tea that no photo an hour would be complete without! (Well, a cup that once contained tea anyway.) Lunch done, cuppa drank. Now what?

2:30 p.m. Thought I’d better actually do a bit of my OU course while I didn’t have any other commitments. Discovering Wales and Welsh for those that were interested. It’s a not for credit short course that you have 6 months to complete. I want to do a proper Level 1 course, but the Europe price is way too expensive!

3:30 p.m. Enough studying for a Saturday! Another cuppa while I leaf through cross stitch magazines for card inspiration.

4:30 p.m. Suppose I’d better do something useful! Emptying the dishwasher.

5:30 p.m. Writing to a pen pal. Spring paper seemed appropriate 🙂

6:30 p.m. Watching Come Dine With Me – my guilty pleasure TV show. It’s total trash, but I love it. The narrator makes it for me!

7:30 p.m. Another episode of Come Dine With Me. (And an awful picture! I forgot to take one with my camera and the computer refuses to acknowledge my phone so I had to re-download this one from Twitter!)

8:30 p.m. I had been waiting for Jan to let me know whether he wanted tea, but he apparently got stuck talking and forgot to message me. By 8:30 I was starving so I decided to just cook anyway!

9:30 p.m. Pyjamas time! Also note the confetti that is somehow still in my flat even though I’ve hoovered several times since Fasnacht!

10:30 p.m. In bed with a book. Once I’ve read this I’ll have completed the bonus round for Erin‘s reading challenge!

11:30 p.m. I’m off to sleep! There’s just time for one more photo of the view from my bed… purely to preserve symmetry, obviously 😉

And that’s it for this month. How was your Saturday? Did you do anything interesting?

Linking up with Jane and Louisa, as always.

 

Recent doings #15

Another month, another link up with Kristin and Gretch. I know the use of the progressive form makes it sound like this is what’s happening right now, but I like the way it sounds, so just think of it as what I was doing in February, okay?

whats-new

Reading. All of these books for the bonus round of Erin’s challenge plus The Mysterious Howling, which is book one of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (I had originally planned to use it as my 6 word title for the challenge until I realised the six words were the series title, not the book title. *Sigh*). It was cute and fun and I loved it so much that I immediately ordered book 2 (but have yet to actually read it). I also read a children’s book called Hatching Magic to see whether my little brother might like it. I don’t know about him, but I LOVED it… but what’s not to love about a baby wyvern that’s addicted to chocolate? And right at the very end of the month I squeezed in The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag. The author is new to me but I will definitely be reading more of her books! This one reminded me a bit of Sarah Addision Allen or some novels by Joanne Harris (who I adore!), except set in England and with books. It’s very quirky, whimsical and it just made me happy. It’s maybe a little cheesy and some may find the ending too perfect, but I don’t care. This book is like the literary equivalent of comfort food and it was exactly what I needed in that moment.

Watching. An animated film called Igor that featured the voices of Eddie Izzard and John Cleese but wasn’t as good as those names would suggest and Inglorious Basterds, which my mum gave us for Christmas when it first came out on DVD and we hadn’t actually got round to watching until now! Umm, I think I managed to sneak in a few episodes of Pointless as well, but that’s about it. Actually, Jan always has the TV on when he’s home but I rarely pay attention to what’s on it. Boring (to me) documentaries usually.

Celebrating. Our anniversary (way back at the beginning of the month). We’ve now been together for 13 whole years! Here’s hoping that turns out to be a lucky number for some 😉

Eating. Apples. I’ve been trying out that old “an apple a day” thing. I have them with almond purée (which is expensive by the way, even by Swiss standards!). Although I didn’t actually manage to have an apple every single day. I’ve also been trying to have fish twice a week – and not just in the form of tuna pasta bake. I may have resorted to fish fingers a few times… And of course I ate pancakes on Tuesday – some traditions are worth hanging on to!

Drinking. Dandelion tea and ginger & lemon tea in an attempt to cut down my caffeine intake. I still can’t bring myself to abandon my morning cup of normal (i.e. black) tea though!

Designing. My own cross stitch pattern! It will get its own blog post, but here’s a sneak preview of my designing process. So hi-tech 😉

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Cross stitching. The above design, for one thing. Also birthday cards – one of which is still waiting for you to guess what it is. Just sayin’…

Buying. Apart from books you mean? 😉 I bought a long black skirt a few weeks ago and have worn it almost constantly since then, except when it had to go in the wash because I spilled almond purée all down it. I also bought a necklace from Etsy. Plus birthday presents for my friend’s son.

Building. IKEA furniture. Technically it was also purchased during February, but Jan paid for it so it felt wrong putting it under “buying”. Elaine was wondering where my tights had been stored before so I took before and after photos for you. The white thing is a fabric storage container that went in Jan’s old wardrobe but is the wrong size for the one we have now, so it had to live alongside it. The chest of drawers makes things look so much neater, don’t you think?

Organising. My books. One of the other items of furniture we got was another bookcase, so some of the books that were piled up on the shelves moved over there while others got rearranged. I’m sure it won’t be long before the chaos of more books than shelves reigns again, but for now it’s looking good!

Enjoying. The fact that it’s actually light when I finish work now! The first time it happened I got so excited that I went for a walk to the further away supermarket then only bought a carton of milk because that was all I could afford.

Going to. Winterthur, near Zurich the day before our anniversary. We walked around the town then went to the nature museum where there was an exhibition about bees. The bee exhibition was kind of disappointing but the rest of the museum made up for it.

Planning. A trip to Berlin at Easter and potentially a trip around Britain in the summer. One of those things is more finalised than the other.

Wishing. I was in Belgium so I could visit Kerri and her new puppy. Seriously, just look at that little face!! I so want a cuddle.

Wondering. Why doctors don’t just let people arrange appointments online already. It would save me a lot of attempts to say/spell my last name over the phone to German speakers who just cannot (or will not?) understand!

Hoping. That things go well with all the projects that Jan currently has going on at work. Please send good thoughts our way!

And just like that February is done and dusted! So, how was your month? Been doing anything fun recently?

Book challenge by Erin 6.0: bonus round check in 1

Today I am checking in for the bonus round of Erin‘s current reading challenge. Don’t worry, I haven’t finished already 😉 Although I am quite impressed that I got through my choice for “favourite author”…

Here’s what I read for the challenge in February:

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10 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (399 pages). I had absolutely no idea what this book was about – had never seen the film and somehow had never heard anything about it. Turns out there is no real story. Not one with a beginning, middle and end anyway. Instead we just follow the titular psycho around while he socialises and shops and eats in New York City. Oh, and occasionally kills someone… brutally, graphically, violently. Obviously I was expecting it to be disturbing and graphic, but it was so much more disturbing than I was expecting. Especially towards the end. What I was not expecting was constant references to Donald Trump. Even in fiction I can’t escape him! I gave it 4 stars but I will never, ever read it again!

15 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “W”.

I had two choices for this one, but I decided to read Where She Went by Gayle Forman (264 pages) because it had been on my list longer. Also there are extra bonus points for choosing books that someone had already chosen for the challenge. I must have loved If I Stay because as soon as I finished it I knew I needed to read the sequel, but by the time I got round to reading this one I only had a vague recollection of the story. I still know the main outline, obviously, and I remember crying a lot, but the details are gone. Hmm. Anyway, I really loved this one. I was devastated for Adam and once Mia came back on the scene I really felt for her as well. It made me think about what I would have done in her situation. 5 stars.

20 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) green cover.

green-coverThe Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson (434 pages). This book was not at all what I was expecting! I thought it would be some kind of chick lit/romantic comedy, and in a way it is, but it’s also so much more than that. There is romance, but there’s also a mystery and parts of it are very dark. It deals with mental health and there is a twist that I truly was not expecting. I don’t really know how to review this any further without giving things away, so I’ll just say you should definitely give it a chance. It got 4 stars from me anyway. Photo to the left to prove the cover is green 😉

25 points: Read a book with a homonym in the title

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (324 pages; homonym = tale/tail). I had literally zero idea what this book was about. All I knew was that it’s some kind of classic and people seem to rate it highly. And it’s number 131 in the BBC Big Read list so I would have had to read it no matter what. It turns out that it’s really good, and also incredibly relevant right now given the current political situation in various countries. The story is a bit disjointed and vague, which would probably annoy some people, but I actually thought that was quite a clever tactic – it let you fill in the blanks yourself (potentially with even worse things than the author was imagining) and reinforced the fact that the narrator was very much kept in the dark. At the time it was written this book probably seemed extreme and nobody believed it could ever actually happen. I might have thought that myself if I had read it 10 years ago. But now, in 2017, I’m not so sure. 5 stars.

25 points: (Submitted by Linda) Read a book by your favourite author

I could never pick just one favourite author, so I chose from among the few I always list when asked. Stephen King has been a favourite ever since I read Insomnia when I was far too young to actually understand what I was reading. For this challenge, I read The Stand (1439 pages). Although I love King’s writing, my one problem with him is that he has a tendency to go on and on, long past when he should have stopped. This book is definitely one that could have done with being shorter. Admittedly it’s partly my own fault for reading the uncut edition, but even the original was 817 long, long pages. On the positive side, the writing was, as always, excellent, as was the characterisation – King always makes me feel like his characters are real, and it’s amazing how different he makes them all. How does he manage to get into the minds of such a variety of people? The story of the plague that destroyed the world and the struggles of the few survivors made a really compelling story. However, the supernatural element felt out of place in this one. The whole good versus evil, or God versus the devil (or someone like him) sub-plot made no sense, especially given the ending. Trying not to give too much away, but in my opinion “good” didn’t even defeat “evil” in this book – a few good guys turned up where the good guys were and then something accidental happened and the day was saved… but not by the people who had trekked all that way to save the day. What? It almost felt like King had got that far with the story and had no idea how he even wanted to end it. Minus one star for that. I still gave it 4 though because I really did enjoy reading it – and got through all those pages surprisingly quickly.

And that’s it. I’m halfway through the bonus round with two months to go.

Are you taking part in this challenge? Read anything good recently?

Book Challenge by Erin 6.0: Bonus round

I know, I know… you were hoping for a break from book challenge posts now that I completed Erin’s challenge within a month. Unfortunately for you, there’s a bonus round, and I’m here to share my preliminary list. I do have some travel posts planned as well (need to tell you about New Year!) and I promise they will be coming soon, but for now it’s back to books.

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The categories are the same as for the initial round, but you get an extra 5 points per category this time. Here are my picks. I’m fairly sure I won’t get through them all again, but it’s worth a try.

10 points: Freebie – I’ve already started reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, so that’s my freebie. Apart from being generally disturbing (which I was expecting), it’s full of references to Donald Trump. What’s that all about? I’d never even heard of Donald Trump in 1991, which is when this book came out. Although to be fair I was only 7/8 in 1991 and hadn’t heard of most people 😉

15 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “W” – I have two choices for this. Either Where She Went by Gayle Forman (sequel to If I Stay) or We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa DIffenbaugh.

15 points: Read a book with six words in the title – I’m trying to read books that are already on my shelves this time round, so my choices seem to be Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (which the lovely Kerri sent me) or All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry.

20 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) green coverThe Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson is the only green book on my shelves.

25 points: Read a book with a homonym in the titleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Homonym is obviously tale/tail. Imagine a book called “The Handmaid’s Tail”? I would definitely read that!

25 points: (Submitted by Linda) Read a book by your favourite author – As I said last time, I don’t have a favourite author! And a good job too, otherwise I would have to read another book by Tana French and I’ve read all hers now. This time round I’m choosing Stephen King, who is definitely up in my top 5, and tentatively saying I’ll read The Stand. No promises though – much as I love King’s writing, this book is long!

30 points: (Submitted by Christina) Read a book set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live – Hahaha, this is just hilarious. I couldn’t even find a book set in Basel the first time round! I’m going with just Switzerland again as the closest I can get and plan to read Banner in the Sky by James Ramsy Ullman. It sounds ridiculously cheesy, but what can ya do? I hope it will at least be a quick read.

35 points: (Submitted by Peggy) Read a “Rory Gilmore” book – Again, I have two choices. Either The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco or Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. neither sounds like a particularly easy read though.

35 points: (Submitted by Stef) Read a book from a genre that you’ve never read (or rarely read)The Day of the Jackal is a spy thriller, apparently. Since I didn’t even know that was a genre, I think it’s safe to say I rarely read books from it 😉

40 points: (Submitted by Ferne) Read a book with time travel – Maybe I’ll finally get round to reading Outlander? A second option is The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North.

And that’s it for this round. Have you read any of these? Any suggestions for what to read once I’m done with American Psycho?

 

A Photo An Hour: 29 January 2017

Yesterday was the first photo an hour of the year, and like most times that it falls on a Sunday my day was incredibly boring. Naturally that didn’t stop me from joining in though!

11 a.m. An embarrassingly late start, but in my defence we were visiting friends the night before and didn’t get home til nearly 3 a.m. Starting the day with a cup of tea in the amazing cup a pen pal sent me for Christmas.

12 noon. Cross stitching a birthday card.

1 p.m. Based on the amount of dishes I have to wash by hand you wouldn’t think we have a dishwasher!

2 p.m. Back to cross stitching, with more tea of course.

3 p.m. Still stitching… yes, that’s how much progress I made in an hour!

4 p.m. At some point Jan got out of bed (so those of you who were judging me for getting up at 11 can now judge him instead!) and put the BBC News channel on.

5 p.m. There was nothing on TV, so we put a Big Bang Theory DVD on.

6 p.m. Time to make a start on dinner.

7 p.m. Food! Pancakes, avocado and goat’s cheese spread (made by me) and crispy bacon.

8 p.m. We put a film on while we ate. Tale of Tales… it’s weird!

9 p.m. End credits of the film. It had just finished and I hadn’t moved yet.

10 p.m. In bed reading my book… auf Deutsch!

That was the last photo I took I actually could have taken an 11 p.m. photo, right before I turned out the light, but symmetry must prevail 😉

I promise I did actually move from the sofa at some point during the day – to shower and quickly pop to the shop – but neither of those things coincided with an hour so I look even more lazy than I actually was.

Linking up with Jane and Louisa, as always.

How was your Sunday? Did you get up to anything more exciting than I did?

Book Challenge By Erin 6.0: Complete

I woke up early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to make the most of my time and read the last remaining book I needed to complete Erin‘s latest reading challenge. My preliminary list was here, for those who are interested. I did end up changing my picks for one or two categories…

challenge-books

5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages.

The Disappearance by Annabel Kantaria (382 pages). I guessed most of the twists in this one before the end, well kind of at least… one event didn’t go down exactly as I thought it had. Parts of the story felt vaguely familiar as well, which spoiled my enjoyment a bit. I ended up giving this one 3 stars.

10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “W”.

Without a Trace by Lesley Pearse (406 pages) – which I forgot to include on the photograph with the others. I quite enjoyed this, although it wasn’t as good as other books I’ve read by the same author. Everything seemed to come out too well in the end. It was an intriguing mystery though. 4 stars.

10 points: Read a book with six words in the title.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (434 pages). I’m not sure I’d call what I was reading about here “love”… obsession maybe? And – trying not to give too much away – there was one extremely disturbing aspect of the storyline. The writing was good though. 4 stars.

green-book

15 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) green cover.

I was stuck on this one, but then the lovely Alison who blogs at View from the Teapot sent me a green book – The Conjuror’s Bird by Martin Davies (305 pages). Part love story, part mystery, part historical fiction, this is not a book I would have picked up myself but it turned out to be really enjoyable. My only complaint is that there were three stories within the book and I felt like none of them got the attention they deserved in such a short book. 4 stars. Photo to the left to prove it’s green 😉

20 points: Read a book with a homonym in the title.

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas (410 pages), with the homonym being by (buy/bye). I really wanted to enjoy this book. It was spooky and atmospheric with a family tragedy and a mystery from the past… but somehow it didn’t really suck me in. I got through it quickly enough but ended up feeling unsatisfied. And I guessed one of the big things that was going on way before the end. A rather meh 3 stars.

20 points: (Submitted by Linda) Read a book by your favourite author.

I don’t have a favourite author (although I might say Terry Pratchett if absolutely forced to choose), so I read a book by one of the authors I can’t get enough of: The Trespasser by Tana French (468 pages). I have enjoyed all of her books, although the first one disappointed me slightly, and each one seems to get that little bit better. I LOVED this one and gave it 5 stars.

25 points: (Submitted by Christina) Read a book set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live.

Yeah, it doesn’t say country anywhere here, but I’m hoping Erin will let this count anyway. I did find one book that was set in Basel but it turned out not to be long enough, so I read And Both Were Young by Madeleine L’Engle (238 pages). It is set in Switzerland, but in the French-speaking part, somewhere near Lake Geneva. It’s a boarding school book, and I do love a good boarding school book (I’m still trying to collect all the Chalet School books!). This one is quite a sweet one and has all the “traditional” ingredients – awkward or unlikeable girl realises things aren’t so bad and manages to make friends. It takes place just after World War 2 and I felt like the events of the war were glossed over a bit, despite being a major plot point, which is why I only gave it 4 stars.

30 points: (Submitted by Peggy) Read a “Rory Gilmore” book.

I read High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (245 pages) just this morning. It was a quick and fairly easy read, full of fun pop culture references (I’m sure you all know the story). However… and pay attention to this  next bit because I doubt I will ever say/type it again… the film was better! Something about the story just seemed to work better on the screen… Only 3 stars for this one.

30 points: (Submitted by Stef Read a book from a genre that you’ve never read (or rarely read.)

The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat (444 pages) is a war story and I really don’t like war stories… usually. This one surprised me by actually being quite readable! It’s basically a story of the British navy’s part in World War 2, focusing on a particular ship that had the job of escorting non-navy ships to their destinations. 4 stars.

35 points: (Submitted by Ferne) Read a book with time travel.

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terril (360 pages). I absolutely loved this book! The writing style, the characters. And even though it’s about time travel, it wasn’t too sci-fi-ish (if that makes any sense?). It was basically an action/adventure/romance that just happened to involve travelling back in time. Highly recommend! 5 stars.

And that’s all. I’m amazed that I actually managed to read all my books within the first month of the challenge! And 3 of them also count for the BBC Big Read, which is nice. Now I shall await the bonus round…

35 Before 35: Progress report 6

It seems my last 35 before 35 progress report was on 13th June 2016! So much for regular check ins 😉 Time for another one then. Here’s what I’ve managed to do in the last 7 months:

Number 13:  Read (or re-read) 50 non-fiction books

I had read 12 by last June and I’ve now reached 18. I’m not going to list all 6, but you can see them here. I need to get cracking with this one if I really want to complete by the time I turn 35! (Next year, by the way. Aarghh!).

Number 15: Read 30 books in German

Last time I had read 21, now I’ve read 22. Huh. I read Emmas Geheimnis by Liz Balfour, which would have been better if it wasn’t so predictable. I had only read one book in German between the last progress report and the one before that as well. Must try harder!

Number 18: Bake 10 different types of biscuits

I was on 6 before and now I’m on 7. The seventh was chocolate Christmas biscuits.

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Number 21: Read all the books from the BBC Big Read that I hadn’t before starting this challenge

I’ve been trying very hard to incorporate BBC Big Read books into all my challenges and have managed to increase my number from 27 right up to 46! And one of those was the ridiculously long Shogun. You can see the full list here. I now have less than 100 to go… 86 to be precise.

Number 31. Watch 35 films I’ve never seen before

Last time I was on 27. I’ve watched two more since then: Mirrormask and Paddington. Six more to go. Watching films should not be this difficult!

And that’s everything. It doesn’t seem like much for six months! Apparently I’ve mostly just been reading.

1 year, 6 months and 27 days to go. Somehow I don’t think I’m going to make it to Slovenia, Champagne and somewhere to see the Northern Lights by then! Not to mention learning to knit…