Wednesday, 30 April 2014

April Goals Review

  • Complete the next Quilting Project - a quilted clutch - I have done all I can on this pending the delivery of the zipper which is taking forever!
  • Spring clean our flat room by room - done (maybe it's the nesting but I already feel like this needs doing again. Good thing I'll finish work next week)
  • Complete the cooking course which was a wedding present - we didn't get this 'done' but we finally looked into it and we are waiting to hear when the next course takes place.
  • Complete three things from my 30 list (revealed tomorrow!) - done! (Wellies, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest', and the baby cardigan)
  • Answer my penpal letters - done!
  • Change, fix up and fill our photo frames - done!
  • Complete the application for Parental Money - ridiculously complicated so I'll be doing this when I get to my maternity leave.
  • Plant on the balcony and in the flat - done!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Spring Mani-pedi

As well as enjoying being out and about in my new summery maternity wear, I thought I would brighten things up with what will probably be my last mani-pedi for a while. Reaching those toes was not easy and the baby gave me a good kicking for trying but that's it for a while. Love that colour! 

Monday, 28 April 2014

Kindle

It's been almost month now with my new tablet and one of the big benefits is the Kindle feature. Knowing what a bookworm I am, it's one of Nico's reasons for getting me the tablet. I'm currently reading Tess of the d'Urbervilles and while I will never be completely torn away from a good old-fashioned paperback, there are many benefits to Kindle:

  • You can download most of the old classics for free. This is brilliant for me in my goal to read the BBC's top 100 list as many are classics - hence starting with Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
  • It's easier to read on the go. I tend to have the tablet with me all the time for work and email so it is quick, light and easy to pick up in a quiet moment.
  • I love the statistics - it's quite motivating to see how many pages to go. I especially love that it calculates roughly how long it will take to finish the chapter so I can decide on a night whether to start the next chapter or not when I am tired.
  • I had worried about my eyes and getting headaches from reading this way but I normally read with the brightness at the halfway point and haven't suffered yet.
I can't recommend the Kindle enough. I will be using it a lot from now on.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

30 things - Knit a Baby Cardigan

I'm so pleased with this project. I started knitting two years ago and this was by far my biggest project yet. It was the most complex and I learnt some new skills (thank goodness for YouTube).

I'm going to add a couple of buttons but otherwise this is ready for the baby. I kept it neutral for obvious reasons but I plan to make another with the colourful stripes of the original pattern as soon as I know which colours to use.

Now I am just waiting for the zipper to finish my other April project!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Saturday Update

This week I:


  • survived a rainy Easter Monday
  • went back to work tired but stress free
  • started Tess of the d'Urbervilles
  • finished season four of Grey's Anatomy
  • received and started working with my new wool supply
  • brushed up my languages
  • had lots of laughs with colleagues
  • sat on a sunny balcony with my lovely husband and our cat
  • baked a cake and mini buns
  • made lemon and mint iced tea
  • talked to / checked up on my crazy gran...a lot
  • gathered ideas for my forty things list!
  • ate two delicious and healthy take out lunches
  • had my last year ten Spanish class for a while
  • planned my prenatal course with the midwife

Friday, 25 April 2014

Lemon and Mint Iced Tea

I've been waiting for a nice day to try this out and what could be better than a sunny Friday afternoon - my last working Friday until 2015!!

Take a litre of water and boil it up with the juice of two lemons, four tablespoons of sugar and a good handful of mint leaves. Take off the heat and add three ginger and lemon tea bags to brew for at least ten minutes. Allow to cool. Serve over ice with lemon wedges. It's so refreshing - give it a try! (Recipe from here)


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Languages Link

source
As regular readers will know, I am a languages teacher and having studied English, German, Spanish, French, Catalan and Russian at different times in my life as well as teaching languages, I am always on the lookout for new resources.

I mentioned duolingo a while ago and I still use this free site regularly to keep up with my Spanish and German. However, they are not yet offering Turkish. I've been keen to learn Turkish for a while as we have many pupils from Turkish backgrounds, and it is one of my 2014 goals.

Recently a colleague recommended babbel. The only downside is that the site is not free - it costs around five euros a month depending on which payment package you opt for. However, I have been using the site (and the app) for around a month now and am making much better progress than with a course book. I find the interactive method and review options so much more useful.

They also offer a wide range of languages so it's worth a look even if your linguistic interests lie elsewhere.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Recipe: Nutella Madeleines

Ingredients:

  • 75g Butter
  • 75g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 60g Cornflour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 15g Cocoa Powder
  • 125g Nutella
  • 60g Icing Sugar
  • 30g chopped Hazelnuts
Instructions:
  1. While melting the butter, whisk the caster sugar and eggs until light in colour. Fold in the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder, followed by the melted butter.
  2. Grease a madeleine mould (ours makes nine and I got two and a half batches from this recipe) and heat the oven to 180 degrees. Spoon the mix into the tray - one tablespoon per mould.
  3. Bake for ten minutes and allow to cool.
  4. Mix the Nutella, icing sugar and some hot water (not too much, just enough to make the icing fluid) and cover the tops of the cakes with this icing. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over and allow to set.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Bridge

source
We are big fans of Scandinavian crime fiction, whether it's literature, film or television so we were thrilled when we found series one of The Bridge through Amazon television and then series two aired on German television. Dad had already seen both in England with subtitles so that was an extra recommendation for us.

Series one was fantastic. The German series were five episodes of almost two hours but we flew through them. They were also dubbed into German so didn't require the effort of reading subtitles. The characters are so interesting and unique. The leading lady is seriously lacking in social etiquette which brings something different to the story. The story itself was full of twists and turns and kept us on the edges of our seats to the end.

The second series, while very good, did not live up to the first. Somehow it wasn't as gripping and the last episode really dragged and for us, there did seem to be some holes in the plot.

It will be interesting to see if there is a third series and we will watch if there is. In the meantime we are keeping our eyes and ears open for anything else coming from the North. If you get chance and you like crime fiction, try to find this one.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Reading Review

The King's Deception - Steve Berry

I stumbled across this author a few years ago and am a huge fan. The best of his novels feature a character called Cotton Malone and this latest work belongs to that series. The novels have a heavy focus on history and each book tends to take place in a different country. The writer really reminds me of Dan Brown. 

The King's Deception takes place in London and has a heavy focus on Tudor history so it was especially interesting for me. The story was full of twists and I highly recommend it. It also has the benefit of including one of Berry's novellas which I am currently reading. 

Now that I have an e-reader I'm keen to buy his e-books to keep me going until his next novel comes out.

The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman

As part of my goal to read the BBC's top 100 novels, I finally got around to finishing this trilogy. I left way too long in between each of the novels which confused things slightly as the story is extremely complex and there was too much detail to forget in between. 

The story itself was really good. The world that Pullman creates for the reader is fascinating and so creative and the story and characters are interesting and keep you on the edge of your seat. I can certainly see how the trilogy made the top 100 but really recommend reading all three together.

Emil of Lonneberga - Astrid Lindgren

Nico bought this book in German (Immer dieser Michel) ready for the baby when it's a bit older. I hadn't heard of this one - Lindgren is better known for another of her works - Pippi Longstocking. While it is a children's book, I still found it entertaining reading as well as good practice for my German. 

Lindgren wrote stories with traditional morals that aren't outdated. Emil lives on a farm in Sweden and always manages to get up to mischief despite his best intentions. I especially love the tone the writer uses in treating her readers with respect despite their age. The closest parallel I could draw was Enid Blighton - one of my childhood favourites. 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

30 things - Watch One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

source
As part of my mission to watch all films which have won the best film Oscar, I had somehow let this one slip through the net for far too long so I made sure it was on my 30 things list and it's one of the first to be crossed off as we watched it on Friday.

I'm quite a fan of Jack Nicholson and he did not disappoint in this film. Actually there were more familiar faces than expected with Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd making brilliant comic appearances too.

The film starts kind of slowly, showing its age and I was worried I'd made a bad choice but without wanting to spoil the film for those who haven't seen it, I can tell you that it is indeed a fantastic film - a great mix of comedy with some tragedy. So glad I watched it. Next up on my Oscars list - the Artist.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Saturday Update

Good morning!

We have had another lovely week of holidays. We started off fairly quietly and Dad arrived on Tuesday but between being seven months pregnant, bank holidays and bad weather, we haven't overdone things on this visit. 

We spent the day visiting Nico's family on Wednesday, celebrating his Gran's birthday and touring the farm with Dad.

On Thursday we went into Bremen for lunch and a spot of shopping. Dad got me a gorgeous new bag for my birthday - much needed since my last one was falling apart.

Yesterday we had to cancel that trip to Munster but we got lots done - replanting the basil, making progress on the quilted clutch, taking a nice walk in the park with Dad, some bowling on the PlayStation and crossing off one of my 30 things - more on that tomorrow. 

Today is our last day with Dad and then we will be making the most of our last days of the Easter break with more relaxation and reading.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Basil Update

It's a rainy day here and I had forgotten that Germany is extra religious so everything stays closed on Easter Friday. As a result, we have put off our Munster trip until a future visit and have been doing bits and bobs around the flat. If it brightens up later, we'll head out somewhere closer to home. 

The basil has been thriving and in order to help it along we separated it into three pots today. My amazingly patient gardening teacher showed me how to separated out the roots and replant them. He even got me to leave the gardening gloves to one side for such a delicate job and made me up some special water for the roots.

I love having my own little green project going and the basil smells wonderful and fresh already. So looking forward to some nice salads this summer. 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

1000 posts!

I'm finding this hard to believe but this is indeed my 1000th post! How on Earth did that come around so fast? I didn't realise I'd had quite so much to say over the last four years. Thinking about it, an awful lot has happened in that time - moving to a new country, starting a new job, meeting and marrying Nico and starting a family.

I've tried to keep things relevant and interesting on here with a new zest since the summer break and I hope you are enjoying reading as much as I enjoy posting. Thanks for sticking with me!

Here's to the next thousand!!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A tourist again


As I mentioned, Dad is visiting this week and seeing as we have seen most of the Bremen sights with him and wenow have the car at our disposal we are going exploring.

Today we are visiting Schneverdingen to see Nico's family.

Tomorrow we will be popping into Bremen for lunch and a wander.

The highlight (hopefully) will be heading to Munster on Friday. It's a new German city for me, which hasn't happened for a long time so I've cracked out the old Lonely Planet guide from my student days and we'll be planning a bit of sightseeing - more on that over the weekend.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Recipe: Chocolate Brownies


Ingredients:


  • 125g Butter
  • 200g Brown sugar
  • 125g plain chocolate
  • 50g rice flour
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g nuts
Instructions:
  1. Melt the butter, sugar and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water.
  2. Add the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and stir well.
  3. Add the eggs and nuts. Mix in. Transfer to a baking tray.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees.
  5. Allow to cool, slice and serve.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Sewing Project 2014 - 7 Welcome Heart

Well as I was hoping, I got back into some sewing yesterday with this little embroidery project. It was a birthday gift from my best friend and I really enjoyed getting lost in it yesterday. It's all handmade and I think the mix of blue and pink makes it perfect for the future nursery. It's from docrafts and I'm considering looking at their other projects.

On a crafty note, I'm currently loving Elise's podcast.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Reading Round-Up

Wolf Hall -Hilary Mantel

I kind of did this one the wrong way around. I bought and read 'Bring Up the Bodies' last year when I read all the hype about it and really enjoyed the book. Maybe it's because of that but I didn't enjoy Wolf Hall quite as much. It was still good - strong characters and a big history focus which I always love. 

If you are into historical fiction, this is for you. I really recommend reading these in chronological order though.

Nicholas Nickleby -Charles Dickens

When we rearranged the bookcase lately I became truly aware of just how many Dickensian novels I have read in the last year or so. Yes, classics can take a bit more effort to get through but I never get bored with Dickensian. He writes fantastic, entertaining characters and brilliant stories which have so many strands which come together - I love it! Nicholas Nickleby is no different, I really enjoyed it for all of the above reasons. And this isn't even one of his most popular ones! I'm so looking forward to working through the rest of his work.

The Keys to the Kingdom Series - Garth Nix

This one is kind of a guilty pleasure for me in that it is written for teenagers but I started it years ago and always wanted to read the other six books. (There are seven in all, based on the days of the week.) I bought them last year and finally got around to reading them this week.

I got through these at a rate of one a day!! Yes, I'm on holiday at the moment but they are also that easy to read. Nix creates a whole new world with seven realms for the protagonist Arthur to discover and rescue. Arthur is a teenager from Earth who kind of gets dragged into this adventure - something of an underdog who is easy to identify with. That, along with the fantastical worlds, characters and creations as well as the constant action make the series seriously addictive. Highly recommended for readers of all ages.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Saturday Update

Of course it doesn't seem like two minutes since the last update. It's always that way in the holidays. We spent most of the week relaxing which was just what we needed.

We had a couple trips out - Huchting on Monday and Oldenburg yesterday. Both were nice trips out without being too tiring. We both got new things we needed and we had two nice lunches together.

Apart from that I read seven books! (more on that tomorrow), got the flat tidied up, did Project Life for March, fixed, updated and filled all our photo frames and we are on series 3 of Grey's Anatomy now. So relaxing but not lazy.

Next week my Dad is visiting so we are planning a couple more trips and will be catching up with Nico's family. Apart from that I am getting my sewing inspiration back and plan to tackle the rest of my April goals! 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Basil Update

Just look at that pot of basil now! It has really shot up this week. We'll definitely be replanting it before the end of the holidays. I've been stretching my green fingers quite a lot this week nd am really pleased with the results. Take a look:
Now we just need the weather to fully enjoy it! Next green project: planting a lemon tree.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

A Visitor

Check out this cheeky little guy who has started popping by to steal the bird food from the balcony. He lives in the trees at the back of our flat and regularly greets me on the front doorstep on a morning. I love Spring.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Project Life - March

This month there is nothing really new in the spreads. I still used the rounded corners, the new kit and the new stamps and I'm pleased with this month's spread too.
A lot happened this month so the spreads are quite photo heavy which I like. I also managed to get more of Nico in there which is important to me too.
I really love this new monthly approach to the project. It's more intensive but it means I can theme the pages better, for example having all my crafting together as you can see above.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

30 things...

Wellies from Schuhpark
Less than a week into my 30th year and I'm pleased to say I am making progress on my 30 things list. Yesterday Nico and I went shopping and I used some of my birthday money to buy some wellies.

You would be right in thinking it's a strange time of year for such a purchase but I have a few reasons. First of all, whenever I need wellies, I have neither the money nor opportunity to buy them. Well, I have been looking at these cheery colourful ones every time I am in the Roland Center and could finally afford it guilt free.

Also, I am hoping that I will jinx the weather and not be able to wear these until Autumn at least. And oh well, if that doesn't work I have something bright to splash about in during those April showers.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Currently...

...enjoying relaxing into the holidays.
...being pain free after the start of the week.
...drinking lots of tea.
...reading the Garth Nix Mister Monday series.
...watching Grey's Anatomy. (Well into series two already.)
...planning projects for the next few weeks.
...looking forward to family visits.
...enjoying my new wardrobe.
...getting more excited about the future.
...making plans for our balcony.
...learning Turkish thanks to this tip from a colleague.
...loving extra time with the mister.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The Saturday Update

It's been a long but quiet week so I will keep this short today.

Monday ended up being my last work day before the holidays as I had a terrible night of stomach pains and have been at the doctors every day since. Luckily things are much better now. We don't really know what caused it so I'm just taking things easy now.

That made my birthday a quiet day but I really enjoyed that. I was spoiled with presents and messages and had a lovely quiet day with the hubby and bump.

I've been reading a lot of course (more to come on that), we've watched the whole first series of Grey's Anatomy in two days and gotten into the second series of a Scandinavian programme we like called 'The Bridge' which is airing over here at the moment. I've also been getting to grips with my new tablet and exploring Instagram. 

We ventured out into Bremen on Friday, as I mentioned for a lovely breakfast, some retail therapy, and a positive meeting with our financial advisor. All in all, a great day.

I'll be slowly getting going on my monthly goals next week but still keeping things quiet and relaxed.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Maternity Wear

C&A
It was so nice to get out and about today and invest in some new clothes. I've been avoiding buying new clothes for so long in an attempt to save money, I'd quite forgotten how good it feels. It really makes you look forward to having the chance to wear the new outfit, you feel all sparkly and new in it, all of that seemed extra special in the maternity section today - imagining this bump getting bigger, imagining a whole new future when these clothes don't fit anymore...

I got a skirt like the one above, two new tops, some small and a lovely summer dress suitable for church among other thing. It feels great to have more than one pair of trousers and two tops that I can leave the flat in.

Another added benefit that a colleague told me about a few months ago - even though it's still something of a capsule wardrobe, that's a huge plus, it takes half as long to get ready because you're not spoiled for choice. It makes up for the fact that it takes me twice as long to put socks and shoes on now... 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

April Birthdays

I was excited to get going with the cards this month since I stocked up on new products in March and though there are only two, I am pleased with them. I love the new card stock and experimenting with layers.

I'm also pleased to be sharing my first post from my new tablet today. I am so pleased with my new toy and making progress on Google and instagram. I am still getting to grips with predictive text so please bear with me while I iron out the kinks.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

30 things before I turn 30

Today is my 29th birthday.  The last year was a big one and the next year is going to be even bigger.  I don't know if I will manage the following list with all that we have going on but I am going to try!  Here are thirty things I want to do before the big 3-0.

1. Learn HTML
2. Visit an African country
3. Make a quilt
4. Take a photography course
5. Complete the BBC 100 book challenge
6. Watch One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
7. Research my Family Tree
8. Get out of Credit Card Debt
9. Make / Sew a dress I can wear
10. Knit a baby cardigan
11. Make a will
12. Try accupuncture
13. Get back to my pre-baby weight
14. Visit a Buddhist monastery
15.
16. Watch Grey's Anatomy
17. Girls trip
18. Piano classes
19. Go on a picnic
20. Start a saving plan
21. File my work resources resposibly!
22. Try a new craft medium
23. Start swimming regularly again
24. Cook a family Sunday dinner
25. Buy wellies
26. Road Trip to another country
27. Learn to play a song on the guitar
28. Write my 40 things list
29. Add three new products to the Etsy shop and start promoting it!
30. Complete a 365 Photo project

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

April Goals

Here are my goals for this month:

  • Complete the next Quilting Project - a quilted clutch
  • Spring clean our flat room by room
  • Complete the cooking course which was a wedding present
  • Complete three things from my 30 list (revealed tomorrow!)
  • Answer my penpal letters
  • Change, fix up and fill our photo frames
  • Complete the application for Parental Money
  • Plant on the balcony and in the flat
It's going to be a busy old month with Easter holidays, a visit from my Dad, at least one road trip and my birthday.  Bring it on!