Thursday, 28 February 2013

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Goal Review


Well, February is almost over already so it's time to review those monthly goals.

I was really pleased to achieve my January goal of losing two kilos at last.

Claiming my evening class money and using it to pay off several debts and my London trip felt great.

I wrote at least four letters this month as well as sending some birthday presents and the invitations so I feel very in touch with people at the moment.

With the wine cellar tour, drawing sessions and message in a bottle, this one also worked out well.

We booked our flights and some accommodation on Sunday - so excited!!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Scotland here we come!

Loch Lomond source
It's booked!  Well, the flights and some of the accommodation are booked, we still have some small details to iron out but the fact is - we are going to Scotland on honeymoon!  I am so excited.  We are spending two nights in Edinburgh, two near Loch Lomond and two in Oban.  I've visited all three before but it will be a first for Mrs Baden (and Mr Baden for that matter) and we're very excited.

Edinburgh source
Oban source

Monday, 25 February 2013

Birthday Cards


In preparation for next month, I've been busy making some more birthday cards.  Things were getting on top of me last month so I resorted to moonpig but this month I was back on it.  As I've mentioned, I sometimes struggle with cards for men but I'm quite pleased with how the two above turned out.  Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Fitness Twist

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Like many women, I'm very conscious of my arms or bingo wings and with the wedding coming up, I don't want any nasty surprises when the photos come back.  This is why I have added a new twist to my Zumba workout with these weight balls as recommended by one of my lovely bridesmaids.  It did make me feel like I was working harder than ever but hopefully, the results will show on the day!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Saturday Update

A very busy week this time, it has absolutely flown again but mainly because I haven't stopped.  It was back to work on Monday, I took the tram Monday and Friday as the bike is starting to feel the pressure with this weather and it's not good for my knees but hopefully we'll have that fixed up soon and spring might make an appearance with some warmer weather.  It snowed again this week and dropped below zero so we're not out of winter yet.

Work was good this week - I was glad to be back after missing it the week before.  I won't see year nine for five and a half weeks now which will be a nice break.  Unfortunately our little class is growing up fast and with far too many girls in the group, problems are starting to set in.  We'll get there with them though.  The Spanish groups were also rearranged, leaving me with the top set which is great but means I need to work on my own Spanish more - hence heading back to the Spanish conversation group on a Friday.

On Friday, I also attended my first English teachers' workshop at Volkhochschule which was nice.  It was a small group and it's a pain on Fridays but it's only once a month so I will see how that goes.  There's also the possibility of another teaching job, we'll see.

My new toy arrived on Tuesday - a sewing machine so I headed round the shops for material last night and will be experimenting later on - hopefully more on that to come.

All the paperwork has now arrived from both of our hometowns so that we can start getting the official side of the wedding organised.  That's on the list for next week.  More people are slowly booking flights and accommodation and we need to look at our honeymoon soon.  

I lost 1.1kilos at Weightwatchers on Monday, which was a great result but probably because I was ill the week before, so I hope I haven't undone it while I've been getting back to full health.  Giving up chocolate for lent has hopefully helped though.

We have friends coming for dinner tonight  and those few projects mentioned above to focus on this week, so let's hope it's another good one!

Friday, 22 February 2013

28 things...send a message in a bottle




The deadline for my 28 things list is looming and I'm trying to work off some of the last remaining things.  This one has bugged me for a while because we haven't been to the seaside for a long time.  It only occurred to me last week - who said I have to send it via the sea?  I live in a city with a huge river which leads right out to the North Sea.

This realised, I came across a second problem - am I littering?  I'm quite good about littering on a day to day basis - by that I mean I don't do it.  I figure if I put one little bottle out there with one nice message inside, it's not litter anyway, it's a little piece of good karma.  

On that note, I selected one of the miniature wine bottles I have emptied lately (I've resorted to mini bottles in a bid to stop myself getting carried away when I'm drinking wine solo.) and dug out one of the karma cards I've had lying around for a while and prepared a little something.

I dropped the bottle into the Weser on my way to work one morning this week.  As my conscience was still pricking me a little bit with the whole littering question, I didn't stop for a photo but you can see above, how I prepared the message.  

I hope someone finds it!!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Nine Days of Nice Update

As I mentioned last week, I've been taking part in Yes and Yes' Nine Days of Nice project.  Here's a little update on how I am getting on.

So here were the tasks:

February 4th: Write a positive yelp review for a small business you love We don't have yelp but I wrote several reviews for Trip Advisor.
February 5th: Pay off someone's layaway plan We don't have layaway plans either so I went to the Oxfam website and bought a blackboard for a school in Africa.
February 6th: Write a thank-you note to a former teacher or mentor I wrote a short letter to my MA mentor, thanking her for her support and hard work getting me through my MA.  It's easy to forget now how much work we both put in and I was so proud of that achievement though I know I couldn't have done it without her.
February 7th: Praise someone to their supervisor I haven't been out and about too much lately but then I remembered that the ladies at John Lewis' did an excellent, professional and very fast job in setting up the gift list for our wedding so that we could get the invitations out quick.  I sent an email via their website praising them both.
February 8th: Give a gift card to a homeless person  As I mentioned, I haven't been out much this last week with being ill, so I skipped this one and responded instead to a call out from my old university which was looking for information on what its alumni are doing now and whether we would mentor current pupils.  I sent a lengthy response and, who knows, maybe something will come of it.

February 11th: Call your grandparents (or any other relative)  This was easy.  I call my gran (my only grandparent still living) twice a week.  I've talked before about what an amazing person she is and how well we get along so you can imagine how much we both enjoy these catch ups.
February 12th: Clean up a public space  I will be doing this one properly when my class take part in a project to clean up Bremen in April.  In the meantime, I sponsored someone I know who is running two half marathons and the very first Yorkshire marathon for the British Heart Foundation.
February 13th: Send a care package to a soldier  This is bought, packed and ready to send as soon as I get to the post office this week.
February 14th: surprise!  I donated to the clean water project through Sarah at yesnadyes' page and received the free download - 29 things to get through winter - bonus!

I really enjoyed this project and consciously doing nice things in what has been a pretty dismal month so far in some respects.  I hope it's made a bit of a difference to some people.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Wedding Box

Instead of buying a keepsake box for all the wedding things, I decided to make my own.  It was a similar project to one I did this time last year to keep my craft materials in.  Both were similar to papier mache and very fiddly.  
Unfortunately, I don't have the patience to get these as spot on as I would like to.  However, the good news is that one year on, I can no longer see the 'mistakes' in my first box.  
I'm sure it will be the same with this one but I bought a paper with a pattern that means mistakes won't stand out, and also I had different expectations.  I'm really pleased with this one too!

Monday, 18 February 2013

28 things - learn to draw



Over the past year, I have had a couple of attempts at this one.  I started with landscapes and when the process seemed to be going too slow, I jumped to cats so I could draw Pete!  Here are my latest attempts:



I really enjoyed this process.  A friend told me of a project where she draws scenes from places she visits on holidays and I hope to keep this hobby up in that way.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Tintenherz

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Finally, I made it to the end of this book.  It's not that it's a bad book - far from it.  It's just that it was my first one in German for a while and I stupidly decided to break it up with some other English books so it seems to have taken forever.

To the book itself though - I can't say anything negative.  It's a book for children but the vocabulary was still a stretch for me at times.  I loved the concept - it's a little like Harry Potter for bookworms in that it mixes magic and books.  I was vaguely aware that there was a film out there - Inkheart, but I have never seen it.

The characters and settings are brilliant.  The story line is also great in the way loose ends are tied up and it's full of twists and turns that are wonderfully written.  It was also important to me to read a book that was originally written in German too.  There are some books - like Captain Bluebear where that's really impossible for me but this one wasn't too much of a stretch. 

Looking forward to the next parts of the trilogy after a little break.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Saturday Update

This week was different for all the wrong reasons in that I have spent most of it in the flat.

I started feeling ill on Sunday and took Monday and Tuesday off to try and beat the cold off before it took hold.  As it was worse mornings and evenings, I felt a bit bad about not working so I decided to give it a go on Wednesday and managed to make it through the day despite feeling much worse and different colleagues and pupils trying to send me home.  I should have read the warning signs when first my bag and then my bike broke on Wednesday morning!  Anyway, by Thursday I was tucked up in bed again and signed off by the doctor for the rest of the week.

My biggest disappointment was that this was supposed to be a really big week for me and apart from almost a week of work, I've also missed a weightwatchers session, Valentine's Day dinner (although I was spoilt by my lovely fiance with some beautiful red roses), my first Kohlfahrt (I think I'm cursed since this is the third one in three years that I have missed) and a work day at Ristedt - the school country house.

March had better be a better month!  However, the whole experience made me realise how much I take my health for granted usually.  I always complain and worry at the slightest twinge but at the end of the day, I do pretty well.  The fact that I can cycle to school most days, in all weathers and that I managed my 10k run last year, show that I am capable normally.  While I think I live quite a healthy lifestyle where diet and exercise are concerned, I'm always trying to do better.  When I've finally kicked this thing, I'm going to avoid a repeat of it by eating better and exercising more and finally getting towards my goal weight again.

Anyway, all this time has given me the chance to finish the German book I was reading - more on that tomorrow, and finish a few other projects along the way so I'm starting to feel a little better about that.  I did a little wedding planning early in the week, but was soon thwarted by German bureaucracy.  Luckily that is getting sorted now and fingers crossed, we'll soon be on our way again.

Next week I'm hoping to be fit enough to get back into the usual routine, plough my way through Anna Karenina and have dinner with Nico's best man and his girlfriend next weekend.  Fingers crossed!!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Currently Loving...

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Continuing one of my 2013 projects, here are some things that I am loving this month:
  • Lighter days and marginally warmer weather.
  • Getting to grips with my goals.
  • Special events - wine tasting, kale trips, pancake day, Valentine's day...
  • Hot lemon and sage tea to fight off this cough / cold that I'm not loving.
  • Wedding plans coming together now that the invitations are out.
  • Disney
  •  Nico's delicious projects.
  • Pete playing with his new toy!  He's become very athletic:

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Lent

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It's been a while since I gave something up for lent but since it fits in so well with my other goals and projects this month I've decided to give chocolate a miss until I crack open that Easter egg.

I've tried to cut out several different food groups in my quest to get back to my target goal.  The most successful has been sweets which I only crave now when I go to the supermarket hungry (which doesn't happen too often).  I also have cheese and alcohol under control but the one I struggle with , especially after Nico's latest projects , is chocolate.  I've asked him very nicely not to be offended when I say no for the next few weeks and if possible, to make dark chocolate as I don't really like that anyway.

So wish me luck!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Nico's Kitchen Adventures


I am the luckiest girl in the world.  I know I shouldn't be smug but I have to share with you some of the delicious treats that my amazing fiance has been cooking up this year.  Barely a week seems to pass without a new project in the kitchen and I am definitely benefiting...though not on the scales perhaps!

Beef jerky from the dehydrator

Apple in the dehydrator

Amazing Flammkuchen (a bit like quiche)

Pear and blue cheese pizza

Spazle with mushrooms sauce

Beef, spinach and blue cheese roulade
 And finally, the amazing and ongoing chocolate project:






Monday, 11 February 2013

Classics

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I think Nico thought I had lost the plot a little bit when I picked this old gem up in the supermarket the other day.  

When I was little, we had a whole range of Disney classics on VHS and for me, it's a big memory from my childhood.  I've talked before about the Little Mermaid and how that was the first film I ever saw at the cinema.  Well, Lady and the Tramp, or Susi und Strolch as it's known here, is another of those classics for me, along with Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin - so now you know what is next on the list Nico.  :-)

To balance our collection out a little, I did order Braveheart the other day.  Firstly, because I'm looking through old Oscar winners lists for inspiration and also to show Nico a little of the country and its history before we head there on honeymoon this summer.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

My reading list

As I warned a couple of weeks ago, my reading rate has been slowing down lately as I am getting back into reading in German and starting on Anna Karenina at the same time!  This means I don't have a review this week although both of the books mentioned will be coming up in the future as I am really enjoying them both.  So this week I thought I'd share with you my own 'reading list' for the near future.  I'm still getting used to not having a proscribed reading list from school, college or university and being able to read purely for pleasure and I'm loving it.

As with Anna Karenina, I like to read books before I see them in film.  This is why Les Miserables is also sat waiting on the overflowing bookshelf at the moment.  However, I think I will need a break after Anna Karenina before I start on that one - I could use both of them as door stops!

Also waiting is Songbird.  When I reread Winter in Madrid last year, it mentioned that lovers of that book would also enjoy Sebastian Faulkes works so I had a browse and settled on this one.  If you've read my other reviews, you will know how much I love novels that combine a bit of history so I am really looking forward to this one.

My next German novel will be the second in the Harry Potter series.  I like reading new novels in German but it is obviously easier if I already know the content and it helps me expand my vocabulary.  I actually bought this one after last Christmas with vouchers from one of my classes but forgot I had it because it looks so similar to the first on the shelf!  

The last one sat waiting here is Wolf Hall.  Having read the second in the series - Bring up the Bodies - first, because of the rave reviews, I though it would be good to go back and have a look at this one.  Again, I love the history aspect although the Tudors are a relatively new one for me.

So I think these will last me a while and come in handy for the amount of travelling I have got coming up this year!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

The Saturday Update

A really good first week to the new semester this week.  It started off with a great weigh in on Monday so I am hoping to keep that going for the month (although I haven't been very good this week...).  I did a little less cycling as the brakes on by bike froze on Wednesday!  Luckily I managed to get it to work with me and they had thawed by Thursday afternoon!  

Tuesday was parents' day at work and it was mainly nice to meet the parents and review the first semester with our pupils.  Of course there are always high points and low points on such days but the impact of the meetings really showed for the rest of the week.  Friday was school photo day and we were really proud of our lovely well behaved class.

On Wednesday, of course, we were out for the lovely wine tasting.  Thursday was my final evening class.  I found out the courses won't run in the next semester which is good and bad because it means no extra money in the Spring but more time for me and for the wedding planning.  I love teaching adults but it was always hard to come home from my early finish at work and drag myself back out on an evening, especially as it got colder and darker.

The invitations went out to England last week and we have our first RSVPs which makes it all more real and exciting!  We have been fitting more people into accommodation this week and things are just generally starting to take shape.  Loreto is coming over this morning for a girly catch up and to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding which should be fun.

I have been taking part in Sarah von Bargen's Nine Days of Nice, but I'm a little behind so I will be working on that and some other projects this weekend too.  More on that later....

Friday, 8 February 2013

28 things...go on a wine tasting experience!






On Wednesday, Nico and I headed into town for our appointment in the Bremen town hall cellar.  I love wine.  For a long time, I have wanted to learn a little more about wine and the different flavours and Nico, ever the perfect gift giver, bought me these tickets for a tour of the Bremen wine cellars, including wine and chocolate tasting, and this week we did it.



It was fantastic.  We learnt so much about the process of wine making and storing and also about the history of Bremen and at each stage, we were served a different wine with a well paired chocolate.  


First up was a half dry champagne while we inspected the 'vault' where the oldest and most valuable wines are stored.  That went with an almond praline.  Then were the white wines, first a dry and then a sweet, while we saw the normal storage rooms.


Up last were the red wines.  The first was dry and very nice but the last one blew me away.  It reminded me of a lovely French wine I had had with duck at a Christmas meal with some colleagues in Harrogate and never forgot.  The great thing is that prices are so much better here than in England.  In England, the bottle cost over thirty pounds but this one - 14 Euros.  That's expensive for here but I'll definitely be stocking up before my red wine drinking buddy's next visit!

This is the oldest wine in Bremen.  It costs 20000 Euros for a 'finger' and Queen Elizabeth II was the last person to drink from it!
 And though it was a school night - I felt great the day after.  I would definitely recommend the experience to anyone and they offer tours in different languages as we saw a Spanish one while we were there.






Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Nine Days of Nice Update


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As I mentioned in the Saturday update, over the next couple of weeks, I am taking part in Sarah von Bargen's 'Nine Days of Nice'.  On Monday, I posted a review of one of our favourite restaurants in Bremen - Tendure.  It's one thing I must do more of as we really like to travel and document our travels but never seem to leave enough positive feedback. 

Dankeschön!


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Teilen Sie den Aufruf mit Freunden und Bekannten

Sarah's second task was to pay off someone's 'layaway'.  First off, I had to google this to see what it was but even then, I don't know of any German companies that do this and couldn't find a way to do it online, so I decided to change it up a bit.  I wanted to donate to charity, and I wanted it to be a reliable charity that I don't regularly donate to.  After a little research, I donated a chalkboard to a school in Burundi.

I'll be working on step three later today!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Travel Wishes

Well I am out of past trips to share with you on a Tuesday so this week, I thought I would have a look at some of the places I hope to get to some time soon.

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We're going to Scotland for our honeymoon and hopefully spending a couple of days discovering the capital together.  I love the atmosphere in Edinburgh and the beautiful landscapes in the country and I can't wait to see them with Nico.

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 In April, I am heading to London with one of my favourite classes.  Looking forward to that!

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When thinking about which capital to visit next, I'm really stuck between Vienna and Copenhagen.  We're thinking of heading to one or the other in Autumn.

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Although neither of us are really beach holiday people, we are thinking about a trip where we get a little more sun and relaxation at some point and Croatia is on both of our must see lists...maybe next year!