11 years

Lady and the trampJan and I have been together for 11 years today! A long time. Unfortunately, he has choir practice tonight so we won’t be celebrating until the weekend.

Apparently, if this were a wedding anniversary, it would be steel.
In German, numbers made up of repeating digits are calles Schnapszahlen (in maths, they use the English term repdigits. Boring!). The term Schnapszahl comes from the fact that in lots of dice games if all the dice added together make a number with all the same digits, the person who rolled it has to drink a schnapps. Sounds like a much better gift than steel to me 😉

So much has changed since our last anniversary, and I’m really looking forward to starting a new adventure together. Here’s to (at least) another 11 years!

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Friday letters + links

Oh, hello! It seems it’s Friday again already, and we all know what that means…
Well, this week I was back at work as normal again since the train strike was over… and a good job too! Jan set up our new computer at the weekend and I had to actually go to work to be able to get the addresses for setting up our remote server again. Everything’s on the new computer now though, so next time there’s a strike I’ll be able to work from home again! Other than that, it’s been a pretty uneventful week. Jan worked late Monday and Tuesday so I ended up spending the evening alone both days. In fact, on Tuesday I was already in bed by the time he came home! Yesterday, being Thursday, he had choir practice as usual so I’ve barely even seen him this week. Hopefully we’ll get to spend some time together tonight, although I suspect it will end up being the two of us plus a whole bunch of other people because a friend who use to live in Karlsruhe is in town for the weekend and wants to go for a beer. Then tomorrow Jan’s choir is performing at a concert for charity, so of course I will be going to that. Phew, busy-ness! Work-wise things have calmed down a little for me now – I still have plenty to do, but I’m now at the stage where my days are just full enough rather than bursting at the seams. I haven’t even done any overtime this week, which is rare lately!

OK, that’s enough rambling. I know letters is what you want 😉

postbox

Dear winter reading challenge. So far, you’ve been so fun! I love the categories that were picked this time round. Now I’m hoping the rest of the books I’ve ordered arrive soon!

Dear Karlsruhe Christmas market. Why do you always seem to start later than all the rest? Some towns’ markets are opening on Monday, but we have to wait all the way til the 27th. No fair!

Dear 2014. I can’t believe we will be entering your final month in a mere two weeks (on Monday)! Between my grandpa dying and an amazing trip to Taiwan, this has been a real rollercoaster of a year, and I’m not actually sure I’m ready for you to end yet!

Dear chestnuts. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover you in forms other than roasted and in a paper bag, but now I have I’m making up for lost time! You are DELICIOUS fried together with pumpkin!

Dear cousin, dad’s cousin and Jan’s mum. Happy Birthday!! (Apparently 14 November is a popular day for birthdays!)

That’s all I’ve got this week, so here are some links to tide you over:

  • Here’s a list of 18 foods all British people miss when they’re abroad. I can’t stand Marmite or Branston Pickle and I’m not too fussed about custard creams, but the rest gets a huge YES from me. Especially the Indian takeaway. I would love a decent Indian right now. They missed out (savoury) pies and gravy granules though!
  • This list of the top 10 imaginary friends in fiction inspired me to add even more books to my want-to-read list. Because clearly it’s not long enough already.
  • Speaking of books, according to The Telegraph these are the best young adult books of 2014. Surprisingly, I have read precisely zero of them, which means there are now even more books I want to read!
  • The backpackers among you might be interested in this 30 second manual washing machine. Personally, I think it sounds a bit odd but I suppose you shouldn’t knock things til you’ve tried them. Also, I’ve never actually backpacked so clearly I have zero idea what I’m talking about anyway 😉
  • And finally, something on my own behalf… I’ve created a Facebook page for Confuzzledom (mainly so I can like other people’s pages without having to give away my real name to all and sundry), so if you want to like it that would be nice. Just click the purple writing then do the likey thing. Ta very muchly!

 

Friday Letters

It’s Friday again… finally! Despite my day off on Wednesday this week has been ridiculously long and busy! Hence why I’ve been sort of absent in the blogging world. Again! Never mind, here are some Friday letters for you.

Friday letters

Dear weather. I can’t believe you’re turning bad just in time for the weekend again. It’s like you’re doing it on purpose…

Dear work. Apparantly you weren’t listening when I asked if you could maybe get a little less crazy. Four-day working weeks should not be this exhausting!

Dear red pandas. Seeing you on my way to the train station in the morning always makes me smile. ♥

Dear boyfriend. Tomorrow will be our last day together for a week. Please don’t go leaving any bits of you in Turkey this time 😉

Dear everything peanut. I plan to take advantage of my boyfriend’s absence next week and eat you in abundance. You have been warned!

Happy Friday everyone! Have a great weekend.

The difference a day makes

Last night Jan came home early. So early that I hadn’t even thought about what to cook for tea yet! Then, instead of working some more, he washed the dishes while I made eggy bread and we sat down together to watch two episodes of Farscape, snuggled up on the sofa. I don’t know whether he figured out for himself that I was feeling lonely and neglected or if somebody told him (he never reads my blog, so that can’t be it), but however he figured it out he acted on it, and it was lovely. It’s amazing the difference that a few hours of quality with my boyfriend can make! Now he just needs to hurry up and finish his thesis so we can have regular couple time again…

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

cupcakeSaturday was Jan’s birthday, and on Sunday I felt like baking… perfect timing for Jan to be able to take something in for his colleagues today. I didn’t want to make a full on cake, so I decided on chocolate cupcakes using a recipe that I’ve had for ages and is really easy to follow. I found the original recipe on BBC Food years ago, but I can’t provide you with a link because it doesn’t seem to be on there any more. Buuut I’ve adapted the recipe to suit my own purposes over the years, which means it’s mine now and posting it here without a link won’t be breaking any copyright laws, right? Right? Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
220g butter
220 g caster sugar
220g self-raising flour OR 220g plain flour plus 1.5 teaspoons baking powder (plus half a tsp of bicarbonate of soda, if you have it)
4 eggs, beaten (mine were medium, but I’ve used large before)
15g cocoa powder
30g chocolate chips
A few drops of vanilla extract

For the frosting:
125g soft butter
210g icing sugar, sifted (the sifting is important or the frosting will have lumps of icing sugar in)
125g plain chocolate
1 tsp cocoa powder

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the cocoa powder and blend it into the other ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla extract.

3. Add the eggs and stir well (don’t worry if it looks a bit lumpy at this stage).

4. Gradually fold in the flour until you’re left with a thick paste that looks a bit like chocolate mousse.

5. Place heaped teaspoons of the mixture into cupcake cases in a bun tray and bake for around 15 minutes until risen and bouncy when touched. The mixture makes around 24-26 cupcakes, depending on how much of the mixture you eat before it makes it to the oven (what? I know I’m not the only one that does that…). Once the cupcakes are baked, leave then to cool while you make your frosting.

Fresh out of the oven (if they look flat in this picture, it's the camera angle. I swear they had actually risen!)
Fresh out of the oven (if they look flat in this picture, it’s the camera angle. I swear they had actually risen!)

6. Melt the plain chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water (or in the microwave if you have such a thing…)

7. While the chocolate is melting, cream together the butter and icing sugar.

8. Add the melted chocolate the sugar and butter and stir everything together well.

9. Add a teaspoon of cocoa powder and stir until all the powder is properly blended in.

10. Place a teaspoon of the frosting on each cupcake and spread it with a knife (or pipe it on if you want your icing to end up looking better than mine… I preferred the less washing up option!).

Chocolate cupcakes and chocolate frosting
Chocolate cupcakes and chocolate frosting

11. You can either leave the cupcakes as they are now or decorate them as you see fit. Apparantly, I saw fit to sprinkle stars on mine in an incredibly haphazard manner. I could claim it’s supposed to be artistic but we all know it was sheer laziness…

Seeing stars...
Seeing stars…

12. Leave the frosting to cool/set for a bit then enjoy your cupcakes!

Beep beep!

I didn’t want to make you go a whole week without a sign of life from Confuzzledom, so I quickly scheduled this post for you before I left. On Friday, I posted a photo of the unfinished Valentine’s card I was stitching for Jan. I did actually manage to complete it in time, so, for those who are interested, here’s the finished article:

robot card
Yes, it’s leaning against a sheet of music…

Jan liked it, by the way. He thought it was cute and decided it would have to go and live at his work…

I’m going to England!

Thank you for all the lovely messages on yesterday’s blog post. After speaking to Jan and to my dad, I decided to ask for time off work and book the first flight to England I could. I thought getting time off would be quite difficult because my boss was off on Friday and the other person responsible for approving holiday was working from home… but I messaged the colleague who was at home, he contacted my boss then he got back to me later in the day to say it was fine and we’ll just do the signing of the holiday form when I get back. Jan also arranged with his work to be away next week (although he will be taking his laptop with him and working while we’re over there), so we’re flying to England tomorrow and coming back on Friday. It means I probably won’t make it over for the funeral, but I decided seeing my grandpa while he’s still alive is more important to me.

At times like these, being in another country is hard. I’m so grateful to all the commenters who know what it’s like, and of course to my boyfriend who immediately volunteered to come with me despite how busy he is at the moment. The situation is crap, but I feel loved, which helps.

I won’t actually be able to post while I’m away (my crappy BlackBerry won’t let me on WordPress), so I’ll “speak” to you all when I get back.

p.s. Apologies for the lack of pictures, but honestly… what picture should be used to illustrate a post like this?!