I had my entire week planned: printing half a million pages for school, doing the laundry, trying all the recipes from this new magazine and of course write some blog posts but then I had a cold the entire week and because I cannot skip school or work my usual tactic of 'sleep until it goes away' wasn't an option.
So I figured I needed to find a couple of new things that would make me feel better as soon as possible, preferably things I already have at hand. (careful though, if you are having an actual viral influenza you should go see a doctor!)
1. water: drink. all. the. time. Carry a stainless steel or BPA-free plastic bottle with you everywhere you go and drink every 5 minutes. I mean it. I trained very hard to be able to drink 3 - 4 litres a day and I know this seems like a lot when you don't pay attention to it usually, but belive me this is the minimum you should drink when you're sick. Of course it doesn't have to be all water, tea will make you feel warm and fuzzy and my number one tip of all time ever:
2. ginger: boil water, chop 3 pieces of ginger, add fresh lemon juice and a huge spoon of honey and you have a magic elixir that will cure all your headaches, sickness, stomach aches, sore throats and it will also help with that dizzy feeling.
3. tiger balm: if it feels like you can't breathe, use it twice a day on your chest and back, I also use it on my nose but be careful to a) not get too close to your eyes or you will never see through the tears again and b) obviously don't put it on sensitive or broken skin.
4. mints: they help you breathe. The stronger the better, it's likely you won't taste anything anyway.
5. baby cream: really thick, oily baby cream. Because your nose will be thankful and although everytime I touch it I will instantly have to blow my nose again, in the end it pays off to keep it moisturized. I use this one because it has the best package and smells like babies.
6. fresh air: As I said, few things are better than sleep when you are feeling under the weather, but fresh air is preferable to spending all day in a heated room with dry air. A short walk outside will help you breathe and gets your circulation going. (just don't go outside alone when you feel dizzy and remember to keep yourself warm).
And now I will have a nice cup of ginger-lemon-honey and then go back to sleep.
If you have any tips to make a cold more bearable do not hesitate to let me know. Seriously, tell me, please!
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see
It has been raining here for a few days now. Rain does something to me, at first I am so unpleased and grumpy because if it was to me, we'd have sunshine 24/7 (yes, at night too) but then I get out there and feel the rain and suddenly I am so glad it rains!
It's a very special mood I get in when I walk through the rain (to work, the train station, the grocery store, doesn't matter where I'm walking) I wouldn't call it melancholia but it's something close to that but with a more positive vibe. Is there a word for that?
I start thinking about my Papa a lot and how we would go for walks in the rain but it's not the usual sadness that comes with it whenever I think of him, but pure love. This sounds sappy but I swear it isn't. Rain reminds me of how much love we must have had for another if I can still feel him with me every day of my life.
During our walks we would either talk for 3 hours straight or hardly say anything at all, and to be honest, I never felt closer to him than during our time of shared silence.
As a child I had extreme fear of loss including panic attacks because my parents got divorced so very early. Being with him made me feel at ease, I was free to think without being scared constantly, free to just be and exist in the moment.
Lately I've worried about not enjoying the time I had with him, but whenever I am walking through the rain, I realize that I did. We both weren't talking a lot about it or showed our affection all of the time. We didn't need to.
To know he was walking besides me in the rain, and to feel that he still does is all I ever needed.
Sometimes talking about how I am dealing with the loss of my father migth seem like oversharing, but when I was going through this, I didn't know anyone who could actually help me. As much as I appreciated the love and care I got from everyone around me, all I wanted was someone to tell me "I've been there, I know you feel like the world should have stopped and to know it didn't makes you feel angry and alone but believe me, you will heal. Not completely, of course not, but a little. Every day the tiniest bit until one day when you touch the wound it won't burn anymore, just sting a little."
So I write this in case anyone needs to hear it.
We've got this tablet a while back with our tv & internet contract in Switzerland but until now we've only used it to listen to audiobooks at night, but now that I'm going to school I found out how useful this little thing is when you don't want to print and carry hundreds of pages of scripts with you. However, I like to be careful with my things and carrying a tablet around without any protection made me feel really uncomfortable. Hence this project.
What you'll need:
thick felt (I bought 40cm x 120cm and I have enough leftovers to make a second case)
some scrap fabric
sewing machine, thread, scissors and a pen
1: First measure how much felt you'll need by placing the tablet about 1 cm from the edges, mark with a pen, double the length and then add another 10cm for the flap.
3: Fold at your mark and sew on the sides.
4: Put a 10cm piece of elastic under a scrap piece of fabric and sew to the inside of the flap (place it in the middle!), make sure a small loop stays outside. Fold the flap over and mark where the loop meets the case, this is where you'll add the button (by hand).
5: (optional:) add another piece of scrap fabric to the flap to hide the stitches from where you attached the elastic.
As you see, my stitches are still all wobbly and especially with thick fabric such as this, it's not always easy and there's so much left to learn, but it's these easy little projects that help me make progress little by little.
I am still rather proud of how it turned out and think I will make another one with black fabric so M. can take the tablet to school when he needs it (he's not that big of a fan of polka dots, so sad).
You can costumize this to your heart's desires and add another pocket for headphones or a pen etc.
And some more tea-time! It's November and we should start talking about Christmas presents. If you like to give simple, homemade gifts, this might be an option. I made my own tea combinations (without artificial flavours) and teabags, too.
Let's start with the tea:
Step 1: chose a base. I decided to use rooibos tea this time because it's rather mild and goes well with nearly all flavours.
Step 2: chose flavours. I made the following three mixes:
lavender & jasmin
I pick and dry my own lavender every summer and use it in icecream,
in my closet, for baking etc. the jasmin was already a
tea I got as a sample from the teashop
apple & cinnamon
I used dried apple chips with no added sugar and a tiny piece of cinnamon stick,
all chopped up to fit a teabag
cranberry & marzipan
this was a bit tricky as both ingredients don't really dry out completely,
they stay sticky and moist and should be consumed within
2-3 weeks as they'll turn bad quickly
Step 3: mix well! I used about the same amount of tea & flavour combination but it would probably be wiser to use less tea and more flavour combination as rooibos tea is very aromatic.
Now you have your own, homemade tea - fill it in a nice little box and enjoy!
Or you could make some teabags. Because now you're in the crafting mood anyway, aren't you?
I used tea filters meant for teapots because I had them at home but a regular coffee filter or even very thin, undyed fabric works too. Cut out a rectangular shape about 1cm wider and 2 cm higher than a teabag would be, turn the edges and sew them together on the sides. I used my sewing machine with a 60-needle and sewed very slow to not rip the thin paper. For a pop of colour you could use naturally dyed thread (or even dye it yourself with beet juice for example).
Then use a spoon to fill the teabags!
Now just fold over the edge, roll it up once and using a 15cm embroidery thread and an embroidery needle secure the edge. Make your own little tag out of whatever you have at hand (I used an index card and washi tape) or print one with a personal message, a quote or a picture. Or little christmas-tree shapes, that would be funny!
I'm already thinking about other combinations to try, I'd love to make my own ginger-lemon green tea next time, orange-clove would also be a very nice winter-flavour or aniseed for a more spicy tea.
October has been very nice to me and my October wish to enjoy all of it came true! I loved the sunny t-shirt days, walked through a stormy fall shower with a big smile on my face, and watched the fog spread over brown corn fields like a big fluffy blanket. Seeing that as a good omen, I decided I would participate in something one of the girls from A beautiful mess came up with, called 'four simple goals'.
The idea is to to set yourself 4 personal goals for the rest of the year that are easy to achieve and will make your life richer or improve bad habits you might want to change. I loved the idea so here are my 3 + 1 goals.
1. learn how to knit: my Mama is an amazing knitter, she has made me the most beautiful ponchos, shirts, scarves and armwarmers in the past. She also has tried to teach me how to knit year after year with no big success. A few years ago I found some video tutorials on youtube that looked very good but I never really got around to try them. This season I am actually going to learn it and finish my very first knitted thing (probably a scarf, they seem easy).
2. do my homework: school has started! Going back to university after working full-time seemed challenging but it also gives me a motivation I have never experienced before. Interning at the job of my dreams, at the place of my dreams helped me realize just where I want to be in the future and how to get there. So in short: I want to be best. This starts with doing my homework regularly though, something I haven't been very good at in the past. This time I don't want to fall back into old habits but start new ones.
3. go outside: the colder it gets, the more comfortable my living room appears. Living in a big grey city does the rest and I hardly leave the house when I am not going to school or work, sad but true. So it seems obvious this is a goal that should be on the list: very easy to achieve and definitely more healthy.
And of course:
4. blog at least 3x a week: writing here is making my life so much richer, I can share and organize my thoughts, reflect on what is going on with my life, keep track of how I am feeling. It's the "me time" I need. Yesterday I was going through my past posts and just reading about how happy I was this summer made me realize that although I don't see my friends a lot (I hardly saw my friends at all to be honest) this year was filled with so much love and growth. It's hard not to share! So thank you to whoever is reading this.
Chai is to me what red wine is to pasta. We complement each other, I'm better with it.
When I came back from India I searched far and wide to find a good chai mix but it wasn't until this summer that I found a really good mix at a street festival in Switzerland.
Last week, following Squeaky Swing's recipe I made pumpkin spice syrup, it turned out fantastic and I have been drinking pumpkin coffee ever since.
So today I was wondering if I couldn't make chai syrup as well. I tried using only 3 ingredients (well, technically there are more ingredients but seeing as the chai mix was already combined I am counting it as one).
The problem with most chai syrups and chai lattes you can buy at stores or coffee shops is that they either taste extremely artificial or have added flavour like vanilla. I've never tasted one I actually liked so although I loved the tea mix I was prepared to be disappointed and even more happy when it tasted just right.
Here's what you need:
1 cup water
3/4 cup cane sugar
5 tablespoons chai mix
Combine, boil, simmer for 10 minutes, enjoy.
To have a chai (latte) all you need to do is:
1. make yourself a black tea (I love Assam but Ceylon works too),
2. pour in some milk (I like my water-milk ratio at about 3:1 but you can also use more milk or no milk at all) and
3. add 2-3 teaspoons of syrup.
People who have ever witnessed my cooking or ate with me know that I have a huge problem with processed food and will buy nothing that has ingredients in it I wouldn't use when cooking the same thing (35-ingredient cookies? No, thank you.). I also decided to use cane sugar because of that but white sugar will work just as well.
Give it a try, this season is going to be long and you'll be happy to have a hot-drink option at hand.
I don't know its shelf life, but a batch will last about 2 months and I wouldn't store it any longer than that.
So I know I mentioned my lack of a sewing machine here and there, I didn't know it was clear how much I wanted one in my life, though. Suddenly my beautiful, amazing and talented friend Lisa (singer, barista, queen of everything) offered me hers. She just gave me a sewing machine like other people might give you a sample of a perfume they didn't like "Oh that, I really don't care for it, would you like to have it?"
YES, YES I WOULD LIKE TO INDEED.
And just like that I had a sewing machine.
Now, what to do with this magical thing that turns fabric into actually useful stuff? Learn to use it of course.
I'm the type of person whose favourite way to learn is by challenge. Starting with the basics bores me, I need a sense of achievement! I decided that my first project would be a padded 9-pocket diaper bag. Of course I didn't do well and of course that thing turned out wonky: crooked seams everywhere, thread sticking out from all corners etc BUT I've already made every mistake possible, and now I know better.
I call that "learning by failing".
Here it is, my first ever self-sewed bag, in all it's imperfect glory:
(It will still make a very cute beach or pool bag I think.)
Encouraged to do better next time I decided I would make another bag for my friend Nora's birthday. This time a little easier, I didn't even use a pattern and once again a huge success for the learning by failing method! She even said she liked it in a very convincing, sincere voice. Here is the second ever self-sewed bag I made:
Of course I still have a lot to learn (and now that our flat is finally connected to the internet, youtube will prove very useful for that) but I never imagined sewing would be so much fun! I have been thrifting most of my clothes in the past year so I made some alterations on these as well. My next project goes with the theme of bags though, I am sewing myself a backpack for university.
I'll keep you updated!
Ahh, autumn. It seems there are some places on earth where this means beautiful weather, not too warm, just right to sit outside and drink hot chocolate all day while watching the leaves change colours. Not here. We have 2 days of sunshine, which in reality is the sun saying goodbye for the next 6 months, followed by rain and fog and creepy monsters waiting in old asylums for the next 8 weeks until it starts snowing. IF it starts snowing, otherwise it's Silent Hill all winter.
The trick is to use these days of sunshine and enjoy them as much as possible so all your memories of autumn are of nice, sunny days. Which basically is a metaphor for everything.
One of these days was last week's German Union Day when we found out Black Forest is only 45 minutes away and decided to go for a little hike.
I love hiking because I love trees. I love how big and old they are, what they symbolize, love the calm and steady. My Papa was buried underneath a tree and we spend hours hiking and walking dogs from the shelter everytime I visited, so they make me feel close to him as well. He used to say there's no bad weather, just bad clothes and he really wouldn't approve of my dislike for autumn, you know, I should be glad we have 4 seasons and it's harvest time and where do I think my food comes from, surely not sunshine and heat.
So my October wish for this year is to start enjoying autumn. All of it, the Silent Hill forecast as well as the hot chocolate days. I made a first step by buying some really warm and fuzzy socks. Because there is no bad weather they say...
Woah, big absence here. Well as we recall, I have moved back to Germany and I STILL do not have an internet connection at home because apparently the only thing that is more complicated than getting a flat in Germany is getting that flat connected to the mysterious world wide web. However, luckily Starbucks managed to make the impossible happen and they are generous enough to share their internets with me.
So here we are.
What else is new? Not that much to be honest, I have been
cooking: Pumpkin everything! Yeah, you are probably all already sick of hearing about anything pumpkin related seeing as every fall, the entire internet seems to be going insane with orange foods, sweets, decoration etc. But you know what? I didn't have internet. So I escaped the pumpkin craze and was therefore free to enjoy it all by myself without anyone else making me sick of it. So here I am, sipping on my pumpkin spice latte (because Germany finally realized it's heaven sent) and show you a picture of the beautiful pumpkin-ginger-soup I made the other week. Here it is:
reading: every thriller I could lay my hands on. Whenever it starts to get colder and more rainy, my mind goes to dark places and I find myself craving some nice, criminalistic literature. So what I have been reading is all 4 Simon Beckett books about that one guy, you know, Whatshisname. Followed by the third book by Ben Aaronovitch in his Rivers of London series. If you haven't heard of these books or have heard of them and still decided not to read them at once (in this case I am judging you taste in books really hard), go now and buy them all. You will not regret it. That man is funny.
If you like London, magic and interesting, thrilling books, you are in for a treat.
This is what Wikipedia has to say about it:
"The novel centers around the adventures of Peter Grant, a young officer in the Metropolitan Police; who, following an unexpected encounter with a ghost, is recruited into the small branch of the Met that deals with magic and the supernatural.
Peter Grant, having become the first English apprentice wizard in fifty years, must immediately deal with two different but ultimately inter-related cases. In one he must find what is possessing ordinary people and turning them into vicious killers, and in the second he must broker a peace between the two warring gods of the River Thames."
Ben Aaronovitch has written several Doctor Who episodes and I personally think he is a genius. Aside from the obvious, the books also give you a lot of information on London's history and architecture. Long story short: I recommend these books to everyone.
looking forward to: university is finally starting in two weeks. I have been trying to find a job and worked here in there, later today I have another job interview but basically all of my days have been filled with teaching myself how to sew (more on that in a seperate post) and cooking the most ridiculously time-consuming stuff so I have something to do. The new city really is not a nice place and there is no nature anywhere to be found so there goes runing and taking walks. But for the first time ever I am excited for university to start and about learning all these things I will actually need in my life. For those interested I am going to study "Special Needs Education". After 3 years of travelling and working this might actually be fun.
I know. Who would have thought. Let's be honest here, I hated it the first month, everything about it. The constant snow, that shitty job at the gym I had before I started my internship, the language (they want you to believe it's just a dialect of German, but it is not.) everything. But then I fell in love with Switzerland like Elizabeth fell in love with Mr. Darcy. I think Switzerland and me is the Pride & Prejudice of our time. I was proud and prejudiced and Switzerland was amazing all along. Totally mea culpa!
Today I wrote an email to a friend, comparing Switzerland to Middle Earth, and it's not an exaggeration, believe me. Look at that bridge for example and how the sun is just so excited to shine on such a beautiful thing:
I am so going back there!
Ah this was fun. I missed blogging a lot, but I fell into this big black hole of "okay, let's sew" and spend hours sitting in front of a sewing machine so I didn't even look at my laptop for weeks. But now I am back for good and I hope you are still with me my friends!
September came which means our time in Switzerland came to an end and we moved back to Germany. I am now once again in a new city, ready for whatever is to come.
It's strange, starting over again, after finally feeling settled in Switzerland but it's also a good feeling, it's a challenge and we all know how much I love being challenged.
Right now I am sitting at Starbucks, having no internet connection at home yet, enjoying an ice cold frappuccino (there still are some things to do like finding a health insurance for example and unpacking the last boxes) and that is something I feel so good about. In Switzerland things were too expensive so Starbucks happened about twice in 6 months, I am looking forward to going out for dinner, watching movies at the cinema and seeing my friends more often.
I mentioned before that the flat we are now living in is only available for 6 months, after that the actual renters are returning from their time abroad. This means we have a lot of time to find a flat we actually like. My university is in another city so we try finding something in between M.'s work and my uni, having more time makes this task a lot easier.
But unfortunately it also means that so far we both don't feel quite home yet. Maybe this will change in the next weeks and months to come but knowing that the place you are living at is not truly your place makes it hard to feel home, let me tell you.
It's only made harder by the fact that we are only unpacking the bare essentials of our stuff, leaving us with a lot of boxes standing around.
But you know, "home is wherever I am with you" isn't that far fetched and living with M. makes it a lot nicer and more home-y.