Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Saturday Update

After our quiet weekend of getting things back to normal around the flat, it was also a regular work week.

It was nice to get back into a routine.  I also made a couple of trips into town to get Christmas decorations and a few other bits and bobs ready for this weekend - the first Advent already!!

The Christmas market started on Thursday - the stalls have been set up all week so it's a bit chaotic but nice and festive in preparation for our next family visit.

Also, on Friday I went to a training course at the evening school where I work.  It had been ages since the last one so it was good to catch up with colleagues and learn about Cuisenaire rods.

I've been a bit tired but better than last week.  Outside of work we have mainly been hibernating in the flat and catching up on our series'.  I feel much more on top of things than last week though so that is good.

This weekend will be about getting the flat decorated and getting my Christmas cards made and sent.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Project Life - Week 33

This week was our visit from Dad and Gran so there are lots of photos again and just a little bit of journalling.  It was a really good week.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

November Goals Review

I did learn to crochet and plan to do some more crochet projects next year.

I wrote three letters, Skyped and hosted a visit so it was a very social month.

I am all but ready for Christmas.  The presents are bought, the flights are booked, I just need to get the cards done and decorations up this weekend.

I did make it out of the flat every day this month!  That was already an improvement on last month!

This final goal is starting to haunt me.  I'm pushing it to the new year because there is no way I will get it done in December!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Recipe: Crunchy Polenta Fish Cakes


  • 125g brown rice
  • 500g white fish
  • 2tbsp creme fraiche
  • 1tbsp fresh coriander
  • 1tbsp frech mint
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3tbsp polenta
  • 30g plain crisps (crunched up)
  •  1tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

  1.  Cook the rice for 30 minutes, drain and set aside.
  2. Mash the fish, creme fraiche and rice together until roughly combined.
  3. Stir in the coriander, mint, lemon juice and seasoning.  Cover and chill.
  4. Mix the polenta and crisps.  Divide the fish mixture into eight equal portions and shape each into a cake.  Roll each cake in the polenta mix.
  5. Fry the fish cakes in the oil for five minutes on each side.  Serve with a leafy green salad.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Winter Garden

Okay, so we don't have a garden in the traditional sense but every year since we moved, we have been building up our little balcony gardens and while Nico is becoming somewhat of a whizz - and providing us with lots of tasty veggies for the kitchen, I can kill a plant just by looking at it.

When we got married this year, we were given a lovely rose bush as a gift and as it means a lot to us, we have been researching how to keep it alive this winter.  It turns out that it just needs protection from the sun so we used this hessian to wrap around it this weekend now that the frost is really setting in.  I hope it works!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Craft Corner: Link Up

Lately I haven't had enough time to rest, let alone focus on a new project so this week I thought I would share some of my favourite craft links from around the net with you.

Some gorgeous designs for inspiration when I get around to taking this course next year.

Something new for me.

Very useful as I plan to do more of this next year too.

And even more Project Life inspiration as well as many other craft ideas.

I hope you find them as useful as I do!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Birthday Wishes

So today a very important lady in my life turns ninety!  It's difficult to find words to express what an achievement that is.  I wrote about her for her eighty-eighth birthday and all of that still applies.  She has two great grandchildren now and has travelled to Germany twice this year - not bad! 

If she achieves half as much in the next decade she will be one lucky lady - moreover, we will be incredibly lucky, as we are right now to have her here.  She has her ups and downs, like the rest of us but really, we wouldn't have her any other way.

While looking for words to express the sentiment today, I came across this poem and it seemed to fit perfectly...

Birthday Blessings
Instead of counting candles,
Or tallying the years,
Contemplate your blessings now,
As your birthday nears.
Consider special people
Who love you, and who care,
And others who’ve enriched your life
Just by being there.
Think about the memories
Passing years can never mar,
Experiences great and small
That have made you who you are.
Another year is a happy gift,
So cut your cake, and say,
"Instead of counting birthdays,
I count blessings every day!"
By Joanna Fuchs
 Happy Birthday Grandma!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Saturday Update

What...a...week.  I know I have worried some people with my lack of updates this week - I apologise for that but it has been totally manic around here...

We had our visitors last weekend until Tuesday morning so on Monday I met them in town after work for some tea and cake (an English German compromise).  It was great to have them here and especially to see my Gran eating so much and generally enjoying herself.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I had parent teacher meetings at school so they were two very long days and along with my Wednesday evening classes, I was totally wiped out.

Thurday was our annual Autumn market at school so it was another long day with a late finish but our class did very well, making a small profit and almost selling out this year.

Friday was back to normal but I am still working on all the usual little jobs like washing and cleaning and getting us back on an even keel around here.

There are various mini projects waiting to be done like those Christmas cards and getting my old clothes listed online but this weekend is going to be about relaxing first and foremost before another long (but not as long) week.  

Tomorrow I am having a catch up with my best friend after many weeks so I am looking forward to that, I'll also be ringing Gran with birthday wishes and then it will be back to work.  For now, we are getting stuck into series seven of Bones.

P.S. Made me laugh.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Games Review

With Gran's visit last weekend we cracked out the dominoes again and Nico was even inspired to buy a new, extra large set.  Gran is an absolute domino shark - you have never seen a grandma get so excited and power crazy over a game!

We also cracked out another game that was a first for the English in the group.  It's called Pi Mal Daumen which is all about guessing numbers.  The questions all have numbers for answers and you don't have to get them spot on to get points.  It even gave Dad the chance to practise his German and we had great fun.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Autumn Market

Today is our annual Autumn Market at school.  This year, like last, our class is making and selling these lovely wooden angels.  I bought one last year and will be unpacking it again for the first advent next weekend.  I can't wait! 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Recipe: Coconut Macaroons


  •  25gg butter
  • 125g desiccated coconut
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 drops vanilla essence
  • 2 egg whites

  1.   Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and cover a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Melt the butter, mix in the remaining ingredients and stir for four minutes.
  3. Shape the mixture into 24 balls on the baking parchment.
  4. Bake in the middle of the oven for twelve minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for fifteen minutes.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Family Visit

With the town musicians
 Last weekend we had my Dad and Gran to stay.  The trip was a birthday present for my Gran who turns ninety on Sunday!  She seemed ti really enjoy herself and we loved having her here.

Here are some snaps from our trip into Bremen on Monday.

Dad in Knigge

With Gran in Knigge

Enjoying tea and cake

Clean plate!

Dad and Gran in the market square

Monday, 18 November 2013

Craft Corner: Chunky Knitted Scarf

So the picture above is an old one.  I spent this week creating a warmer, maroon version for Christmas but as it is for someone who regularly reads the blog, I don't want to spoil the surprise.

The pattern came from Craftsy - well worth a browse for inspiration for knitters of all levels out there.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Project Life - Week 32

Another update this week as I got a little behind last week.  

A lot of journalling again, but again I didn't mind it too much this week - there was a lot to tell and a few more photos to balance things out.

Next week should be much more photo based again due to our family visitors!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

The Saturday Update

Phew, what a week!  Well, it was my first full week back at work since some time in September and I really felt it.  The good thing was that it flew by and I slept better because I was so tired.

We had a nice quiet weekend before the chaos so I was ready for it.

On Tuesday we went on a training course through the teacher' union which was informative and inspired me to get on with work and my colleagues again this week.

There was a lot of cycling and I finally started wearing my helmet again - the news out of London was also an eye opener.

I received some more positive feedback from my evening class on Wednesday which always makes that extra shift of the week worth it.

So now it is weekend.  This morning we are cleaning and tidying like crazy people ready for the arrival of my Dad and Gran later this afternoon.  I'm so excited as it's my Gran's first visit to our home and it's been a while since Dad's last visit too.  They are staying until Tuesday so we'll have a nice long weekend together and be able to celebrate Gran reaching the big 9 - 0 next week!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Project Life - Week 31

Better late than never, here's my week 31 update.  It was another very quiet week but I was pleased with the journalling this week, I felt like I had a little more to say and wasn't just forcing it.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Gone Girl

I finished this book over the weekend.  It was one of those that I just couldn't put down.

It's a thriller with an interesting twist.  The novel tells the story of a woman who disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary and is told from the points of view of both her and her husband.

This one had some really unexpected twists and kept me guessing right up until the end.  I don't want to write much more because I don't want to give away the story but I highly recommend this book!

Also I can't wait for the film next year with some top actors.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Recipe: Mince Pies

Yep, it's that time of year again!


  • 100g raisins
  • 100g sultanas
  • 100g currants
  • 50g cherries
  • 1tsp ginger
  • 1tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp mace
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 apple
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 120ml whiskey
  • 200g cornflour
  • 175g rice flour
  • 50g butter
  • 1 egg
  • sugar

  1. Mix all the dried fruits and spices.
  2. Mix the chopped frech fruits in a blender.
  3. Add to the dry ingredient mix along with the whiskey and set aside for at least two hours.
  4. Combine the flour and butter.  
  5. Add 8 - 10 tbsp of water and knead to form a dough and chill for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180 and grease your baking tins.
  7. Roll out your pastry to about 5mm and cut into circles to line your tins.
  8. Spoon the mix onto the pastry.
  9. Cut smaller circles as lids for the pies, pinching the edges together.
  10. Beat the egg in a bowl and brush the top of each pir generously.
  11. Bake for about 20 minutes until lightly brown.
  12. Allow to cool and sprinkle with sugar to taste.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Reading one of my favourite blogs lately reminded me that it's all too easy to get down and forget to count our blessings at this time of year so today I wanted to count some of the things I am feeling grateful for at the moment.

  • My health
  • My wonderful, patient husband
  • My family :-) (and their upcoming visits)
  • That I have a job I love
  • Cycling
  • Our new heater
  • My friends and colleagues
  • That I live in a relatively safe and stable country
  • Internet shopping
  • That Christmas is coming!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Craft Corner: November Cards

Here's this month's batch of birthday cards.  All very different this time and I really enjoyed that.  I also experimented with some new techniques including a little bit of calligraphy. 

Next on the list - Christmas cards!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Snail Mail

The first thing I do most mornings is to check my email - reply, act upon, or delete them and then get on with my day.

I still believe, however, that nothing can beat good old snail mail.  I had a penpal throughout my childhood and loved nothing more than receiving a letter in the post.

Today I have another penpal in America and I regularly write to friends and family to keep in touch.  Sometimes, I think I do end up repeating myself as I don't always remember what went into the last letter but it's still a great way to keep in touch and learn new things.

It's also always nice to see a lovely handwritten envelope in the box rather than the usual printed bank notices and official letters.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Saturday Update

Well, another week has flown by.  Yesterday was the first day back at work after a few quiet days off so excuse the missing post.  I'm working on bringing you a Project Life update soon.

Christmas preparations are underway, I've made a start on the shopping and today I hope to get onto the cards while Nico makes the first big mince pie.  Other than that we are having a quiet weekend before it all kicks off in the next weeks.  Next week will be my first full week back at work since September and then my Dad and Gran are coming to visit next weekend.  All things Christmas are starting to kick off at work too as well as the usual chaos of parents evenings and reports that don't really brighten these dark days but do make them go faster!

I'm currently flying through a new book called 'Gone Girl'.  I'd definitely recommend it - a crime thriller with a twist.  I may go into more detail when I finish, but now I must go and turn some more pages...!

P.S. Interesting and useful and putting this on my wishlist for a future house.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Christmas is Coming!

I refused to acknowledge this fact properly until November this year.  I have refrained from buying up decorations yet but I have made a little start on presents and cards.

I like to make my own cards and visiting Idee was inspirational so there will be more on that in the coming weeks.

I also saw some great decorations and I just can't wait for December to start trimming the place up on the first Advent.  Speaking of which I am keeping my eyes peeled for an advent wreath again, haven't seen any yet but we did get our advent calendars at the Hachez outlet.

On the gift front I have started my shopping.  Living away from home and travelling with Ryanair is not ideal for getting those gifts back with us so I love online shopping and getting things delivered to family to hand out when we get back.  Some of my favourtie websites for online shopping are:

This year we'll be in Germany for Xmas with Nico's family before flying back to celebrate with friends and family in England.  I am sooo looking forward to it.  In fact I am looking forward to the whole season with the Christmas markets and the school festivities - I still haven't quite decided which classes are going to have the Xmas film Elf inflicted on them yet but it will happen.

So be ready for lots of Xmas updates in the next few weeks, I hope you don't get bored!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Recipe: Morrocan Meatballs with Salad


  • 175g millet
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 50g sultanas
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cucumber, chopped
  • 125g black grapes, hlaved
  • 4tbsp fresh parsley
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 300g lean lamb mince
  • 1 bunch spring onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2tsp harissa paste
  • 2tbsp tomato puree
  • 3tbsp fresh coriander
  • 170g Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 small garlic clove

  1.  Cook the millet with the stock until ready.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and add the sultanas, tomatoes, cucumber, grapes, parsley, lemon juice and seasoning.  Allow to cool.
  3. Combine the mince, spring onions, garlic, harissa paste, tomato puree and coriander.  Season well and shape into twelve walnut sized balls.
  4. Fry the meatballs, turning regularly until cooked through.
  5. Combine the yoghurt, mint, lemon juice and garlic.
  6. Serve the meatballs with the salad and yoghurt mix.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Driving in Bremen

On Sunday, I took my friend for a driving lesson.

Bremen has a special driving practice centre where you can hire dual control cars by the hour or take your own to practice.

I'd been a little worried about them accepting my English license but in the end they didn't even check it - just took our signatures for the insurance and handed over the keys.

My biggest shock was the hill that we had to drive up to access the grounds.  I hadn't expected to drive myself (especially as I have limited experience with a left hand drive) but was told that I had to drive up there and then swap with my friend.

I was also surprised my how hilly the grounds themselves were.  It's something that I always forget in my time away from England because Bremen just does not have hills.

So even though my friend has had several lessons before, the hills and getting used to the new car made the experience a little more nerve testing than I had expected but we both got used to it and I got back in one piece.

It did make me appreciate driving instructors much more and the first thing I said to Nico on my return - "We are never teaching our own ids to drive."

Monday, 4 November 2013

Craft Corner: Crochet

While in my favourite craft shop last week, I discovered a cute little crochet learner kit and snapped it up as it's something I've wanted to do for a while.

It wasn't very easy to follow but with the help of a handy you tube video I completed this project over the weekend - it's a pan holder.  It's not perfect but it's not a bad first attempt either.

I am looking forward to trying some more projects once I get Christmas presents out of the way.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Project Life - Week 30

Despite my promises to myself last week, I didn't take many more photos this week so there is a lot of journaling again and I am not overly pleased with the look as it's not really pulled together but on the positive side, the week is well documented and I am looking forward to the next week and getting more in there.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

The Saturday Update

Another mixed up week this week with a bit more time off.  I'm feeling better than last week though and I've been a little more productive in starting on those November goals already with a little crochet project and getting some more Christmas shopping done.  

I'm planning to start on the Christmas cards this weekend and tomorrow I am taking my friend out for a driving lesson!  Should be fun.

It is well and truly November now with miserable weather and the heating back on so I'm trying to focus on all those good winter things like hot drinks, candles and crafting.

Just a short one again this week - hopefully more to report next week!

Friday, 1 November 2013