On the Verge of Tears

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I spent some time on youtube today discovering new music. Found some very good stuff that I am gonna put on my permanent playlist. Here is one I have to share because this is what makes me wish I could play an instrument and have a real understanding of how sheet music works or let’s just say not be tone deaf to begin with ;-). This is so intense that it almost made me cry. I am pretty sure it will when I watch it again. But do see and hear for yourself and don’t be afraid to drop me a line about it. And if there is music that makes you cry please share.

Saved by the Snail

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I’ve been reading a lot this year so far – admittedly good and not so good books. I haven’t much felt like sharing my opinion about most of those but here is one I cannot keep quiet about. It’s ‘The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating‘ by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. I picked it up more or less by accident but it managed to find its way into my heart very easily. So let’s get started.

Upon returning home from a trip to Europe Elisabeth Tova Bailey was struck down by a mysterious virus that left her bedridden for a year and is something she is still struggling with from time to time to this day. This story is mostly about that first year which was the hardest of all.

On a hunch a friend brings her a snail that she found in the woods. She also brings some field violets to put in a pot in which the snail will live from then on to keep the patient company. Said patient is not amused at first and has no idea what to do with the snail that could probably outrun her at this point but keeps it nonetheless. And so as days, weeks and then months of intense watching pass she grows so fond of the wild animal that she even admits to owing her sanity to the little creature.

“Each evening the snail awoke and with astonishing poise moved gracefully to the rim of the pot and peered over, surveying the strange country that lay ahead. Pondering its circumstance with a regal air, as if from the turret of a castle, it waved its tentacles first this way and then that, as though responding to a distant melody.”

–Quote from chapter 2–

Along the way we learn that snails make a sound when happily chewing away on a mushroom, that they have more than 2500 teeth, that they communicate with each other on some level and to top it all off, snail love making is explained to us in great detail. All that is done in a perfectly lovely and quiet language that left me deeply moved. It made me smile and it warmed every corner of my heart. I am very thankful for that.

In the past I have called books all kinds of things but seldom have I used the word beautiful. But this is exactly what this story is: it’s beautiful.

 

New Hiking Trails

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The move is complete, almost all boxes are unpacked, only a few pieces of furniture are missing and I am slowly getting used to my new surroundings. The latter happens mostly by walking around the neighborhood with my camera and taking the occasional hike.

My new Hausberg (German for the mountain most prominent in the immediate vicinity) is called Niesen which is the German word for ‘sneezing’ and it never fails to make me smile – especially when I do have to sneeze while on top. I’d been up there a few times before but last Sunday was a first for hiking down. That’s about 1600 m or nearly 5250 ft altitude difference. Normally it should take about 3 1/2 hours but closer to 5 1/2 and so many photos later I finally made it. With all those new sights to capture and having to crouch on the ground to get the right angle for certain flowers I was moving forward with the speed of a snail rather than that of an average human being. No complaints though. The photos were all worth it and lingering here and there to enjoy the scenery is good for the soul after all.

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The Niesen as seen from the Harder Kulm

Up I went with the funicular. It’s got two sections and it takes about 30 min to reach the top – 30 very steep minutes with this beauty.

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Up on top there’s quite the pretty playground called the Niesendorf – Niesenvillage.

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The mountain is popular for paragliding.

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That day there were especially many due to some event of which I have forgotten the name. When was about half way down I walked through a little valley and when I came up again this is what I saw.

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It felt like they came out of nowhere. Quite the spectacle. But back to the top for a moment which is where you can find those lovely piles of stones…

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…and from which you have the perfect view over Lake Thun…

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…depending on where you stand all the way into Lake Brienz.

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From there my slow descend started along flower-lined trails.

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With a view on to the Fromberghorn.

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Never losing my way thanks to tons of yellow signposts.

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Chasing butterflies.

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Refilling my bottle with clear spring water.

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Walked past a self service cheese box of which I naturally bought a couple for the boyfriend.

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Enjoying the view into the valley I would have to cross.

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Then there are the two lakes again.

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And eventually past a stream indicating that I was coming closer to my destination.

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Which would be this village.

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I loved every bit of the way but my feet hurt terribly in the end and climbing stairs the next day was a bit of a challenge.

A few more random photos coming up and then I will sign off for today but before I do so: Is it just me or does this stone look like a fish – maybe? I think I see a nose and a slightly open mouth.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

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Saying Goodbye

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It’s been over eight years since one cold snowy November night I first set foot into Arosa – this little village up in the Alps that I have come to love so much. By now every corner of it holds memories – happy, sad, funny, scary, peaceful, even weird ones. It’s all there, it was all appreciated and it’s safe to say that the good ones outweigh the bad ones by far. I fell in love here more than seven years ago and that is very likely the most cherished memory of all. That one and many others I will carry with me to my new home which incidentally is his old home in the Bernese Oberland in only a few days. Now that almost everything is packed I’ve had time to myself to think some and to tell the truth it still hasn’t sunk in. I know for a fact that it’s gonna happen but have I truly wrapped my head around it? That’s a ‘no’. It will happen eventually and I know that all will be good in the end but for the time being I choose to be sad. I am leaving home after all.

Last week after three days of constant snowing I was given one gloriously sunny one and in the morning while everything was still covered in this wonderful white mess I went for a walk, armed with my camera and somehow it felt like ‘my’ mountain village was saying goodbye to me by once more showing me all of its beauty

Here are some photos of that day and I am a kind of hoping that you will enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them. Thanks for reading me.

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365 Week 3 and 4

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It’s been a month since I started with Project 365 and I am still having a lot of fun with it. The past two weeks have been of the snowy variety. So the not so snowy outside photos weren’t actually taken in Arosa but instead on trips I went on to escape the snow. I am not complaining all too loudly though because snow does make for great photos. See for yourself.

0028 More Snow0027 The Secret Garden0026 Snowy Morning0025 Vegetable Dinner0024 Snowy Night0023 Strawberry Cupcakes0022Vegan Strawberry Shake0021 Fresh Produce0020 Yet another Window0019 Waterwheel0018 Friendship Board0017 Vegan Delights0016 Winter is persistent0015Cherry Cupcakes

An Ode to the Mixed Tape…

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…yes I am old enough to remember mixed tapes. Something that almost feels like time travel now and let’s face it the CD made it all so much easier. No rewinding to listen to your favorite song of the moment over and over again. Just press the repeat button to annoy your parents, boyfriend or anyone else in listening distance. Oh, what sweet memories come rushing back. I did some annoying in my time.

Soon enough we all learned to burn our own CDs and could suddenly put the songs in exactly the order we wanted them to be in without having to re-record them painfully slow. What a revelation. I used to put together CDs according to mood (melancholy, love, cheer up! – whatever came to mind), made some lazy Sunday morning mixes and for a while the monthly compilation of whatever I loved the most at the time to play in the car.

Now that I live in a place where you can pretty much walk from any ‘a’ to any ‘b’ at any time I don’t drive on a regular basis. Hence the need for mixed CDs simply disappeared. I do, however, still make monthly playlist from time to time on my laptop and thought it might be nice to share the current one with you. I decided on 12 songs even though they don’t quite fill the standard CD but I didn’t want to overwhelm anyone and 12 always seems to be a good choice.

So here it goes.

  1. Wires by Athlete – I think it was on ‘The Vampire Diaries’. Not sure though. I’ve known Athlete for a long time but wouldn’t consider myself a fan. However, once in a while they make a song that really gets me and this is truly one of those.
  2. Gods and Monsters by Lana Del Rey – First heard a slightly cleaner version on ‘American Horror Story – Freak Show’ sung by the amazing Jessica Lange. So I checked out the original and I think by now it qualifies as an old time favorite rather than a new discovery. I’m blaming Elsa Mars.
  3. Helium by Sia – Literally everyone seems to know Sia Furler now which is well deserved but who remembers her ‘Breathe Me’ which brilliantly covered the last minutes of the final episode of ‘Six Feet Under’. That’s when I first fell for her and I am so glad I did.
  4. Million Reasons by Lady Gaga – That woman’s got some voice. There’s no denying that. I’ve never been a fan. I mean seriously even if I weren’t a vegan I would have been disgusted by that meat dress to say the least. She’s always been just a little to shrill for me. Well, as it turns out she was just the right amount of shrill to be the perfect choice for the role of ‘The Countess’ in ‘American Horror Story – Hotel’. She nailed that part and carried that season just like Jessica Lange carried the ones before. So I suppose because of that I listened to ‘Million Reasons’ in a slightly different way than I would have otherwise and therefore found its beauty.
  5. Adore by Amy Shark – Heard it on the radio a couple of weeks ago and fell for it immediately. So I did some research and she’s a 30-year old Australian singer-songwriter with an amazing voice that I hope to hear a lot more from in the future.
  6.  Rise Up by Andra Day – Another amazing voice. Probably heard it on the radio first, too  and what can I say: I respond to powerful voices. She’s the perfect example for that. That song gives me goosebumps.
  7. This World by Selah Sue – Enough with the powerful voices already. That song was on ‘Criminal Minds’ – one of my favorite shows ever that keeps on having the most amazing soundtracks and introduces me to musicians like Selah Sue. She’s a Belgian singer-songwriter who has been making music for about 10 years. Definitely worth a listen.
  8. Oats in the Water by Ben Howard – Time for a guy I should think. Typical soundtrack song and I most likely heard it on TV first but can’t recall where. I’ve always found it intense. For me it’s got a quality to it that just makes want to listen to it on repeat.
  9. There’s a Ghost by Fleurie – First heard it on ‘Pretty Little Liars’. She’s an American singer-songwriter with a timid yet beautiful voice and if there are that many Poe references in a song I just have to love it.
  10. Family by Noah Gundersen – I know it’s only April but I am pretty sure that he will be my greatest discovery of 2017. I am owing that to ‘Sons of Anarchy’ but also to ‘The Following’ which featured ‘David’ by him. There’s an indescribable beauty in this song that will make you cry if you listen to intensely. This version lacks a bit in quality but you can see him sing it. It’s just perfect.
  11. Feels Like Summer by Weezer – Anyone close to my age will remember their hit single ‘Island in the Sun’ from 2001. So yes, I know Weezer but not all too well which is why I was rather surprised that they were still together when I heard this song on the radio. Despite being on the upbeat side with a rather catchy title it’s a sad song about a dead lover and all the memories that go with it. It’s a great comeback song or were they ever gone to begin with?
  12. New Skin by Torres – No clue where I first heard it but it stuck with me and it seemed to be a good song to end this month mix.

So this was fun and I might do it again next month.

The Secret is in the Sauce

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I do remember a Bones episode with that title but that one didn’t end well – at least not for whoever ended up being the secret ingredient in the sauce. Now I don’t have a secret ingredient but last night’s dinner certainly ended well.

As a vegan it’s not always easy to find substitutes for all the foods that you will eventually miss. IMG_1258-001.JPGSauce Hollandaise was one of those rather important foods for me. Everyone can buy a vegan schnitzel and cook some asparagus but seriously the secret does lie in the sauce and I think I finally perfected the substitute. That falls into the category: too good to keep to myself. The recipe will be up in a couple of minutes.

And while I am at it, there is one more sauce that it took me a while to recreate but I managed. It’s vegan ranch dressing. Will be putting that up in a moment, too.

If anyone ever makes them please that me know what you thought.

Confessions by Kanae Minato

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“Extraordinary people have the right to violate conventional morals in order to bring something new in the world.” From ‘Crime and Punishment’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Confessions by Kanae Minato is one of those books where you have to hang in there for a while to realize that it is worth your time. Through at least half of chapter one I really wanted to put it away and not touch it again. The style didn’t quite agree with me – too sober, almost sterile, it felt more like a statement of facts than an actual story but it was recommended by a friend so I decided to pull through and it ended up turning into a great story.

Tiny spoiler alert but there is much more to it than what I am going to mention here.

The event around which everything revolves is the ‘accidental’ death of a four year old girl which wasn’t all that accidental as it turns out. Each chapter is told from a different person’s perspective and so bit by bit we find out what it took for that murder to happen. What makes it especially horrible is the amount of coincidences that contributed to it . So many times tiny things and if only one would have gone different she would have lived.

The book deals with revenge. The revenge of a heart-broken mother whose little girl was killed by two of her teenage students of which one ends up so damaged that that could be considered his rightful punishment. He is the one though who was pretty much coerced into participating to begin with. It the other one that we should focus our hatred more on. We learn about what turned the boys into monsters and we come to understand them in a way – even feel for them a little bit. We obviously feel for the mother more or at least I did but then again what she will do for retribution might be considered about as bad as the murder of her kid. It makes you wonder what each and everyone of us might be capable of if faced with such a tragedy. What would we do to get revenge for the lost life of our most beloved?

The quote on top is what the murderer used as his defence or rather as an explanation for what he did. He never felt the need to defend his actions because he never found fault in them. Looking at his childhood and his tremendous IQ it’s not all that surprising that he turned into what he did – a teenage psychopath and no one saw it coming when many could have. His life and its turnout is also an accumulation of loads of tiny things gone wrong that added up to one horrifying moment that changed so many lives forever.

What I probably liked best about the book is how it kept surprising me till the end without being unbearably suspenseful.  Every time I thought I had it figured out another big revelation came and I had to admit that I had understood nothing so far – right to the last sentence. I had never read a book before where the last words where actually the final piece of a huge puzzle.

 

365

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A little while back I googled ideas for a daily photo challenge and came across something called project 365. It’s basically a platform where you sign up and then you upload one photo a day – no strings attached. Been toying with the idea of joining for a few days because it’s not exactly the perfect time to start something new when you are about to move but then I thought: when is ever a perfect time? There’s always gonna be something. Today I uploaded my seventh photo and I must say it is lots of fun, it makes me pay more attention to my surroundings when I am looking for a good motive and I am fairly certain that it will help me get better, too.

So whoever is into photography should check the page out and should you end up joining please let me know so I can have a look at your photos.

Here are my first seven photos. I will try to upload more once a week.

0007 Chasing Ducks0006 The Ice is Melting0005 Spring on its Way0004 Lilac Crocus0003 Lemon Cupcakes0002 Winter Interlude0001 Early Morning Rain

This is what happens…

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FullSizeRender…when you prepare a perfect braided bread, let it rise again as required and then right before it’s time to put it in the oven the boyfriend calls telling you today’s paragliding adventure ended abruptly two villages over in a puddle of mud or as he says a huge meadow with that one tiny very wet area. Call it what you want, I’m calling it a puddle of mud and I’m the one doing the laundry right now. Anyway, that’s when I kindly suggest to pick him up bringing new clothes to avoid a bill from the train company for having to dry-clean his seat. Of course now the bread has an additional 45 minutes to grow completely out of proportion in all directions and since it’s braided there is no way to push it back into form. Throwing it out would be wasteful, so I baked it anyway.

What do we learn from that? Paragliding is a dangerous sport and it makes bread look like the puddle of mud your boyfriend previously landed in. Now guess who is gonna eat that one?

On a happier note: This is whatIMG_9237 happens when you get to fully bake the sandwich bread before said phone call. Now I wonder if I should share that one with him or have it all to myself. I have to think about that some more. Probably while I’m having a sandwich.

 

 

Baking Frenzy

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Yesterday was day 15 of my Christmas baking challenge and it was easily the longest of them all. I spent about 10 hours in the kitchen. It almost felt like work. 😉 Too tired to blog about it afterwards but I took some nice enough photos. Here’s the selection.

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No Swiss Christmas without cinnamon stars. 

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These are called cat paws and I love them to bits. 

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Spitzbuben literally translated means ‘little rascals’.

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Those got a cherry jam filling. Delicious.

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Cinnamon stars covered in chocolate. 

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Vanilla half moons. What’s not to love?

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Under all that coloring are lemon cookies.

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Mini fruitcakes like the ones I made on Dec. 1st but an improved version. 

I basically made them all alone but had a lot of help with the decorating. I don’t recall putting any coloring on them at all to tell the truth.

What can I say? It was a fun day. I have a ton of cookies now of which a lot will be given away. And I decided to do an entirely sugar free January. I wonder how that’s gonna go. Lots of label reading for sure. But I am actually looking forward to it.

One more thing. Today was an entirely new day so I had to bake something. Something that in no way resembles a cookie. Turned out to be a lemon sponge cake. Oh, the sinful life I am leading these days.

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Sugar Rush

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Somehow I didn’t really find the time to blog those past days but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t bake or at least ‘create’ six more things. img_8604

After the cinnamon rolls came doughnuts just as I had planned and they turned out good enough but I have to say once more that there it room for improvement. The balls in the middle are sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and I really liked those. It’s the others that I wasn’t quite satisfied with but I am not really complaining and neither did anyone else who had a bite. img_8609

I wanted to make something with coconut pretty much from the start and since it had been a long day at work I made coconut macaroons the next day. They have three ingredients and making them almost felt like cheating because it was so easy and yet they taste so good. img_8633

It got a bit more challenging the next day but then again those apple roses are not nearly as hard to make as they look. They look impressive, don’t they? And they tasted just as delicious as they look. They have been put on the will-make-forever-list immediately after the first bite and I think they should be on everyone’s list. img_8639

Easier again the next day. This is raspberry pudding with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Sometimes work really gets in the way of my creativity. Got to work though to finance all that baking. 😉img_8644

Almond-chocolate-bites. I have been making those for a few months now and they are always eaten so quickly that I had to make them for the Advent calendar because I know that they can make everyone happy.

First time I made them with white chocolate my boyfriend disappeared on to the sofa with the box and didn’t come up for air before he had eaten them all. Been making them ever since. img_8648

After years of search I finally found the perfect peanut butter cookie recipe yesterday. Don’t mind them being called chocolate chip cookies. There’s peanut butter in them so that counts.

I am having one right now – so go ahead and envy me. They are so soft and taste like heaven.

That was today. I am still on schedule. Tomorrow will be my official Christmas baking day. I do that every year with some friends. It’s lots of fun and we end up with way too many cookies. There is always someone to take them off our hands though.

More from me tomorrow. If I am still up for typing then that is.

Cinnamon Roll Heaven

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After taking a baking break yesterday because I had prepared two things the day before, I was back at the stove today.

I spontaneously decided on cinnamon rolls. Funny story, it took me about twenty years to finally make them. The first time I had one was in 1996 when I spent an exchange year in the US. I fell for them then and there and that has never changedimg_8589. Oh, the cravings those little suckers can give me. Some of you will understand. Maybe even all of you.

The day I thought would never come is finally here. I made them and it was a lot easier than I had expected and it also didn’t take all that much time. And even if it had, it would have been all worth it.

They definitely go on the to-be-repeated list. They were great as they were but there was a little room for improvement. Next time I will add a bit more sugar and then all will be absolutely perfect.

By the way, they are all gone already. Need to make more next time.

Tomorrow it will be doughnuts. It won’t be a first but it’s a been a long time since I made them last.

I wish I had more cinnamon rolls now.

Still in the Game

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Yes, the baking project is still on, I was just too tired to blog about it last night. The days feel way too short at the moment and I am so exhausted all the time. I still haven’t quite adjusted too the dark days, I suppose. img_8552-001

The day before yesterday was nut cake day and I think so far they are my favorite. I actually made them with half nuts and half almonds because I ran out of hazelnuts – unorganized as I tend to be. The corners are covered in chocolate and there is a layer of apricot jam underneath the nut/almond filling.

After finishing those I got started on yesterday’s treat which were apple cinnamon candy balls that had to rest over night before being turned into actual balls and then dragged through grated white chocolate.  img_8562-001

They do look pretty cute, don’t they? I didn’t get to try them because they are not vegan but had the boyfriend do that for me because he tends to tell the blunt truth and he said they are too sweet. If he says that there’s something to it because he his likes sugar. So they might be the first not so great thing. Let’s hope they are also the only not so great thing. Gonna throw that recipe away, I suppose. img_8573-001

Gotta share a funny story now which is also the reason why today I made more cupcakes. They do look more Christmasy this time. However, here’s what happened to the last batch. I had given my friends six of them and she sent a photo to her parents which replied by saying: And what about us? So they came to visit the next day and after staying a night left again with the four remaining cupcakes. They actually ‘stole’ them and when they got home her mother called her up to ask: Guess what I am eating right now? That’s when my friend opened her fridge to notice that the cupcakes were gone. So basically I had to make more and she send out another photo to make them jealous. Worked out well. img_8577-001

After making the cupcakes I made lemon cookies for tomorrow because I will have to work long. Sometimes I am actually organized and I can plan ahead and then follow through with that plan. That’s not my normal self though.

So now that’s seven down and seventeen to go till Christmas Eve and I am still enjoying it. I wonder if the point will come when it gets just plain annoying. I hope not, because I do intend to keep going till the end.

But now I’ll be going to bed. It’s been dark outside for a long time and it’s beginning to get to me. I can basically hear the bed calling out to me. I am literally always tired. Let’s just hope it will pass soon. I’m off now reading a page or two in bed before falling asleep.

Cupcake Love

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Those beauties img_8538-001brought me a lot of praise yesterday and they were a lot easier to make than they look. They were the second ‘door’ in the Advent calendar and I suppose no one would mind if I kept making them every other day. Can’t do that of courseimg_8535-001. It will have be different things every day. That’s just the way I tick.

Today it was supposed to be a special rather thick nutcake with apricot jam. Only apparently I am still not able to read a complete recipe before getting started. Had I done that I would have noticed  that they have to rest for at least five hours after baking – better yet for a day. I noticed that devastating detail once I had put them in the oven which was close to six pm. Stupid me.

I spontaneously switched to Smarties cookies. I am nothing if not resourceful. They did turn out well and it will make tomorrow a lot easier because I just have to finish up the nutcake then. img_8549-001

So that’s three almost four down and about twenty to go. I must say though that I really like this little project so far because it makes me finally do all those recipes I kept on printing over the years only to then store them in the kitchen cabinet. Trust me it’s quite a pile and I am not gonna be able to go through all of them in the next three weeks but it will be a good start and it’s nice to have a project.

Almost time for bed  now. Or rather time to read in bed. Started on this year’s Christmas book. It’s called ‘The Christmas Mystery’ and funny enough it’s built up like and Advent Calendar. There’s a chapter for each of the 24 days and a little boy gets to open a door or window or whatever you want to call it once a day. I am trying very hard only to read a chapter a day to keep with the whole idea behind it but I don’t know for how long I can go on like that. With each read chapter I beg for more. Jostein Gaarder does that to me. He has that special gift.

Be back tomorrow with news about the nutcake. Thanks for reading.

 

Oh my, it’s fruitcake weather!

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Christmas month is upon us and I am ready. My 12 pairs of Christmas socks have been lying in wait for the past 11 months,  same goes for the cookie recipes and the headline which I borrowed from ‘A Christmas Memory’ by Truman Capote – one of my favorite short stories and suggested Christmas reading. I know that they baked their fruitcake in late November but today just happens to be the first day of December which coincidentally is also the first day to open the Advent Calendar. It’s a Germany invention that is about 150 years old and has swept pretty much all over Europe by now. The calendar has 24 little door of which you get to open one every day until it’s Christmas Eve.

When I was a kid I used to make one for my grandparents every year. The first one was made of paper and had drawings of me in it. I never could draw. I still can’t. It must have been really awful. I also remember one with 24 little boxes on it filled with some candy. And one year there one with little sacks and once – with the help of my brother who must have been old enough by then and a cousin who is just a little younger than me – I  made one that was a whole village. I don’t know how we did it but there were even lights. Real lights. I wish I had a photo. Or photos of all of them except for the first maybe. However, I did that for many years until I grew out of it I suppose. Funny thing is that you can grow into things again and I finally did. My grandfather sadly died 9 years ago but grandmother is still alive and kicking at 90. She lives 500 miles though and I am not sure if she would care much for an Advent Calendar from me. Not if she hasn’t gotten one in 25 years. I got one from a friend and it contains 24 small bottles of wine. So I decided to reciprocate. Not with wine though. That would be boring and copying. Baking it is ’cause I guess I do that well enough and her boyfriend has the sweet tooth. Not just a sweet tooth but THE one. That term was probably invented for one of his ancestors or distant relatives or maybe for him in previous life. Can’t go wrong with baking there, can you now? img_8526-001

The first ‘door’ contained tiny fruit cakes that are so delicious that I almost ate all of my half already. Aren’t they just too cute?

I will translate the recipe and upload it later. They are too good not to share.

The plane for tomorrow is chocolate cupcakes. We’re gonna have friends over with their children, so those will make for a nice dessert, too. Gotta be practical. There are another 23 days of making sweets ahead of me after all.

Bon Voyage

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I just watched the last episode of Gilmore Girls for the umpteenth time and I now feel fully prepared for the four new episodes coming out in less than three weeks. I did re-watch it all and it almost scares me how fast I did it. I am officially a Netflix addict. There are worse things to be, right? Please, say that there are worse things to be. img_8213-001
We’ve finally had our first real snow. And for two straight days, too. I am so thrilled. Today the sun was finally out and so was I with my camera. Not for long because there was still a lot of packing to do and now I am almost all set to go on my fall vacation tomorrow. We will leave around noon to go to Como in Italy. The plan is to drive along the Ligurian coast a little the next day before boarding a cruise ship on Friday. It’s a first for both of us and I am not so sure if I will actually like it but gotta give it a try to find out. So as of Friday that’s what I’m gonna be doing. The idea of 5200 people on a ship is completely beyond me and I know that I am going to get lost all the time. That’s just a given. I am not so sure that the whole cruise concept is for me but even if I end up not being a fan I will at least get to take a glimpse at some new cities and I know that there is an adventure somewhere in there. I won’t rest until I find it.

Time to go to bed now and think about the things I forgot to pack. More from along the way. Almost forgot – a bit more snow to share.

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“A lot of you cared, just not enough.”

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’13 Reasons Why’ by Jay Asher is so not a happy book. It’s devoid of any hope from the very beginning because we know that one of our main characters – the one with the biggest speaking part in history I’d say (except maybe for Shirley Valentine) – is dead. What she leaves behind is confusion in some of her classmates but not as much as you would think. That, however, doesn’t matter so much because the book rather focusses on the before and not so much on the after. Hannah – the dead girl – gets to tell her story herself because she chose to by making tapes – yes, good old fashioned tapes. There are 6 1/2,  which adds up to 13 sides, which then in turn translates to 13 people who have contributed to her eventual suicide in one way or another. Not all of them can be blamed though – some just failed to see or do some tiny thing that might have changed the outcome, that might have given her hope and therefore they played a part.

Throughout her high school career bad things kept adding up and there was this huge ripple effect that eventually turned into a snowball effect and her will to live was systematically suffocated by callous, selfish and downright evil classmates to the point where she couldn’t handle life any longer.

Clay – or second protagonist – comes home from school about two weeks after Hannah’s premature departure and finds a parcel on his doorstep without a return address. He mobilizes daddy’s old stereo to take a first timid listen and later steals/borrows his best friend’s walkman to walk to places she had x-ed on a map while listening to her voice.

He has to listen to all the tapes not knowing when it’s his turn and right at the beginning she makes a threat to the listener that keeps him/her from stopping and from not passing the tapes on to the next person.

I am pretty sure I have never read a book that is so filled with pain. Pain that we get to endure with Clay – the only one of the 13 that I would have ever considered enduring it with.

‘Enjoy’ is not exactly a word I would use to describe what it was like to read this booky but I can definitely say that I liked it a lot. There is nothing ordinary about the story – in fact, I would say that it’s one of a kind -, it’s not for the faint-hearted, it’s not at easy to read most of the time and in the end it was almost impossible for me to let Hannah go and not only because we learn that there would have been hope for her after all but it didn’t have the time to reveal itself to her. Timing can suck.

Webster’s dictionary says: ‘Teenagers are more prone to suicide because they mistakenly believe their troubles are insurmountable.’ I think Hannah might not have been mistaken but read it and judge for yourself.

Winter on the Doorstep

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This morning I walked out into a freezing world filled with crystal clear air in which I could distinctly make out my breath. It came out in beautiful white clouds and everything around me was coated with a fine layer of ice. img_7656We are down to 28°F which puts us slightly in the minus on the Celsius scale which in turn adds up to winter being just around the corner. A couple of nights ago it snowed up in the mountains and in the morning the tops were all white. Did I mention before that I live on about 6000 ft? That should explain snow in early October. There was even a moment during the day when tiny snowflakes danced outside my window almost impossible to see for the untrained eye.  I am making my peace with yet again not getting a real fall but that won’t keep me from pretending. And with that I have help because a couple of weeks ago I bought a magazine that tells me what 11 things we all love in fall and I concur. Well, mostly anyway.

Here they come:

  1. Take your colorful umbrella out for a walk. – So I guess now I have to get me a colorful umbrella.
  2. Nibble on some nuts. – I do that all year long but will do more of it now.
  3. Read very thick books. – I basically read all the time but must admit that I do dread the huge ones. So it might be time for ‘Anna Karenina’ after all.
  4. Take out the warm boots. – Consider it done.
  5. Light some candles and get comfortable. – I intend to do that when I’m done with this post.
  6. Make stew. – Will look for some recipes in the candlelight later tonight.
  7. Eat roasted chestnuts. – I’m sorry to have to say it but I HATE those things. That’s the one thing I won’t do.
  8. Watch the colored leaves flying around. – I would if we really had any up here. I will watch the few I can find.img_7639
  9. Fly a kite. – I have a disturbing childhood memory that includes a handmade kite and me running down a hill multiple times to no avail but that was almost 30 years ago, so I might be ready to give it another try.
  10. Sip some hot chocolate. – Well, I had some vanilla scented coffee earlier and have upgraded to wine now but there is definitely hot chocolate in my not so distant future.
  11. Gather mushrooms. – Been there, done that. Might go again next week. Those chanterelle are really good and I finally know where to find them.

Now that should keep the fall spirits alive properly for a little while longer, don’t you think?

And with that I will sign off, refill my wine glass and light some candles. Have a cozy evening.

 

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

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Yesterday I finished reading ‘Julie and Julia‘ and yes, I dragged it on for way too long because I wasn’t ready to let it go yet. I needed a special moment to read that final chapter. Last night it came when I finished cooking Julia Child’s Ratatouille which is incidentally a vegan recipe and therefore probably the only that doesn’t contain tons of butter. It was delicious to the extent to which something containing a bitter zucchini can be delicious. It only happens once in a blue moon but it’s sure to happen when I prepare my first Julia Child recipe. Oh well, better luck next time.

However, about the book now. Julie Powell’s style is snappy, funny and always entertaining. I loved every single sentence despite all the slaughter. My vegan stomach stirred uncomfortable while reading some of the more intense cooking procedures or rather pre-cooking procedures. But then again even Julie who I consider to be a truly passionate meat eater didn’t always have it easy. Let me quote: ‘I spent the better part of half and hour working the thick, large-pored pig skin off the enormous pork shoulder I’d bought, but when I finally pulled it off, I was rewarded with a hearteningly grisly pop.’ Then there was the lobster killing which is not for the faint hearted: ‘I quickly placed the tip of my knife between its eyes and […] plunged. Oh God. Oh God. Clear blood leaked off the edges of the cutting board onto the floor as the lobster continued to flail vigorously, despite the fact that its head was now chopped neatly in two.’ There’s more but I think I’ve made my case. No need to go into detail about the bone marrow extraction.

If the book can be believed and I choose to do so, she did it all and more and I’m fairly certain that no one else ever accomplished that except for Julia Child herself and that’s not such a huge accomplishment since she had all the time in the world and no annoying government job that she had to attend to simply to make a living. So my praise goes to Julie for actually seeing it through when anyone else would have given up at some point and most likely within the first two weeks.

Thank you for one amazing book and for inspiring me to cook more ‘intense’ myself in the future and don’t quote me on it but for once I got to say thank God the boyfriend is not a vegan but a very serious meat eater. He will have loads in the near future.

For all the vegans out there who now consider me a traitor to the cause, I’m not gonna go slaughter a lobster or split bones in half for their marrow nor will there be any sampling on my side but my cooking will get more interesting within the limitations of my frail vegan stomach. Because I do enjoy cooking and I even enjoy it more to see him happy. Oh, the things we do for love.

Wingardium Leviosa

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I think that would be my spell of choice if I had only one. That or Accio which brings an object directly to you from pretty much anywhere instead of just making it hover in the air and for that you have to see it. But it sounds so much better. However,  both of them could come in very handy when finally crashing on the sofa only to realize that the glass of wine is still on the dinner table. Know what I mean?

So I guess by now you wonder: Why all the crazy talk? Easy to answer, I finished reading ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ today. The question of whether or not to read it never arose because once a fan always a fan and then you have to read it all. I had checked out some reviews before and they were rather mixed. So I didn’t have high hopes which probably made it possible to be pleasantly surprised after all. I also managed to look at it as what it is: a play. It’s meant to move fast, to entertain and not with great detail because on stage you only have a few hours to put the audience under your spell. I am sure that they are perfectly capable of.

It reeks of cliches. There’s the villain that just won’t fully disappear, there’s the fully expected darkness hiding  in every corner and the central topic –  a complicated father son relationship that is mainly caused by the father’s celebrity but also in part by the fact that his older brother simply seems to fit in while he himself appears to be capable of deeper thoughts and therefore cannot make nice all the time. There is yet another father son relationship that shows us what kind of child Draco Malfoy could have been, if his father’s dark shadow hadn’t been looming over him at all times. What it all comes down to for me is that for a moment I got to re-enter the charming world of witches and wizard and especially when in Hogwarts I felt like returning home – a fast paced home where time flies by but home nonetheless with all warm and fuzzy feelings home is supposed to stir in you.

Albus Severus is the Potter child in the spotlight – the one that somehow doesn’t belong. We are taken through his first three years at Hogwarts in no time and the two most important things that happen in them is that the Sorting Hat puts him into Slytherin and that he befriends Scorpius Malfoy – no other than Draco’s son. The rest of the story happens in his fourth year and I will say no more except that all ends well. I hope I didn’t spoil too much already.

I can say that I truly enjoyed reading it even if it was a play and even if it could have been much more had it been a book. The story  was coherent and it didn’t destroy what came before by giving them a future that I would not have expected. So I guess what’s left to say is that all’s well that ends well and that I think it would be great fun to actually see the play.

Oh, and could someone please teach me that spell.

Dream on

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For as long as I can remember I’ve been a vivid dreamer. Even as a child I would wake up in the morning with lots of memories. That never changed and there were times when I wrote them down but never for long. However, once in a while along comes a very intense one and with it comes the urge to write it down. So what happened last night is this…

I was waking up in my bedroom or in a bedroom – I can’t really tell – went to the window to open the curtains because day had begun. Instead of looking out on a street with the woods behind it there was a beautiful white beach. For some reason I was convinced that I was in Ireland and my house was literally on the beach in the sand right next to the shoreline. It looked very Caribbean, not Irish at all and there was a palm tree on the left right next to the house. Just one and it was rather small – maybe five or six feet.

There were tons of clouds  in the sky – darker ones in the distance and one huge fluffy white one right on the shore only a couple of feet above the water. A father and his small son were throwing a ball at it and it kept bouncing back. They seemed to have such a blast and it was so amazing to witness how happy they were.

I knew I would tell people about it and what worried me the most was not that a cloud would hang so low and bounce back balls but how I would explain a palm tree at a beach in Ireland. In the dream that was the weirdest thing.

And right now I feel like the weirdest thing.

 

 

Into the Wild

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Ah well, wild is said too much but there was wildlife. Some at least. That must count for something. Anyway, this is mostly going to be about sharing some photos that I really like if I may say so myself.

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I walked along that trail I can’t say how many times but never have the clouds looked quite so interesting. But that might be just me.

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It does look a bit like fall, doesn’t it?

Here’s the wildlife.

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Now that is just too funny. Someone stuck a nut in there – not me – and apparently no squirrel had passed by yet.

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I never get over how good a photography subject rowan berries are.

I must have gotten back home around two and what followed was a lot of kitchen time to make all kinds of stuff. There was homemade mayonnaise, french dressing, sauce tartar, a wild berry pie, Mexican style potato wedges, cordon bleu – for the boyfriend – and white chocolate mousse – also for him. I am turning into crazy cooking lady and I am blaming it on Julie Powell.

I boldly went where no (wo)men has gone before (maybe)

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Cows have though. Found their droppings. Multiple times. Circled around them successfully. Every time.

After last month disaster of finding about a handful of chanterelle which barely made for a nice decoration while the actual risotto was made with button mushrooms from the supermarket, I vowed to do better this time. And that I did. I had to go quite deep into the mountains for them but a fall walk is always nice even without the undeniableimg_7525 perk of finding about four pounds of mushrooms. I dragged in half of the forest with them and it took about an hour to actually clean them up but oh they taste so good.

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I really enjoyed being out there a lot. The air has gotten cold and by now it truly feels like fall. It does feel good. I might be ready for summer to end after all.

There were other mushrooms, too. The inedible kind but they always seem to make for a good photo and especiallyimg_7515 the red ones. They are just too pretty, aren’t they. They actually scream: ‘Don’t eat me!’ I wonder whoever thought it might be a good idea to try anyway.

img_7526Later today I tried to make that apple cinnamon jam I talked about in another post and it a kind of turned into apple cinnamon sauce instead. Not what I expected but actually very good anyway and I do happen to really love applesauce. Got quite a few glasses now. So the recipe will appear here some time soon. Just not as jam.

I guess that’s about it for today and it is about time to hit the sheets anyway with ‘Julie & Julia’ by Julie Powell the book of the movie that inspired me to start a blog of my own a couple of years ago. I haven’t blogged as much as I had planned to but I am trying really hard to better myself.

One last photo of the road that I have taken today before I am gone until at least tomorrow.

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I’ll sleep when I’m dead…

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…apparently.

Whatever happened to sleeping in? I so meant to do that today; looked forward to it even but like clockwork my eyes opened at 6:30 and refused to close again.

So what do I do since I cannot curse myself back to sleep? I silently read a bit trying very hard not to wake my boyfriend who is happily snoring away next to me and I wonder how he does it. I guess that’s one of those things that can’t be taught but suggestions or even better solutions to the problem are very much appreciated.

The next best thing to do in the wee hours of the morning is to have some coffee, write a letter and maybe to plan the day ahead of me. Not gonna be exciting. There’s laundry to be done and in the evening I will have to work. Lucky me. Maybe there is room for a batch of cookies, too.

Oh the bitter winds are coming in…

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…and I’m already missing the summer.

I stole that line from ‘Emmylou‘ by First Aid Kid and totally recommend that band to anyone who is even remotely fond of folk music. Been in love with them for quite a while now and there is no end in sight.

So fall is here – unmistakably. Chilly is an understatement to what I am enduring these days. I had to turn up the heater and out came that ‘artificial’ air that always reminds me of the oncoming winter. I only seem to notice it the first couple of times and then it’s part of the season somehow, just like rainy evenings with the occasional thunderstorm and foggy mornings that seem to stretch on forever. All of that can be quite a blessing. I should mention that I enjoy all kinds of weather as long as it doesn’t stay too long. It’s the variety that’s so intriguing about life in the Alps and the fact that you will never truly know what the next day holds in store for you.

Anyway, as the days are getting shorter the time is coming for hot chocolate, baked apples, bubblebaths and snuggling up on the sofa wrapped in a blanket; the time for pumpkin soup, fruit cake and hot spiced wine (recipes will follow) but also for gathering wild berries, mushrooms and maybe even a colored leaf once in a while – I hold every single one precious because we hardly have any. It’s the price you pay when you live at an altitude of nearly 6000 ft. So far I only found a few birch trees and some sycamore maple. What we do have though are literally tons of rowan berries this year and they really cry fall right into my delighted face.

I am looking forward to the cooler season when the ringing of the cowbells will disappear from the mountains, the woodchucks will start to hibernate and nature will slowly go to sleep again. I am ready. And I already bought 6 pounds of apples to make apple cinnamon jam. If that does not sound like fall I do not know what does.

A happy chilly season to all of you.

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The last Days of Summer

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For the past week it’s been feeling like fall is right on our doorstep but not quite ready to step in. That’s not such a bad thing since I am  not quite ready yet either for it to enter. So instead I am trying to enjoy as much of the late summer as possible.

There is a thunderstorm raging outside and it’s been going on and on for hours. To tell the truth, I am rather enjoying the IMG_5721.JPGsound.

However, back to the last days of summer. Been spending the day before yesterday
in the mountains to soak in some of that late summer feeling.

IMG_5713.JPGI did ask myself what I was thinking when the alarm went off at 5 am but there are not many things equally as beautiful as a sunrise in the Alps especially when accompanied by some breathtaking alpenglow. After almost eight years of living here it still leaves me in awe.

Came across a lot of cows who seemed to be just waking up while chewing grass and lying around lazily.

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Isn’t it amazing what they can do with their hind legs?

Couldn’t take the trail I had planned on because there was a hunter lying in wait and nice as I am I didn’t want to disturb him. So I ended up heading back towards the village instead of down to a lake. It didn’t really matter so much since I got to take some nice photos along the way anyway.

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Harbingers of fall.

So  no complaints from my side. There’s always something nice to see if you open your eyes.

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Love the little marmot that was just standing there about 30 feet from me not really moving at all until after about a minute it decided to whistle after all and disappear in its hole.

A few more photos before I will go to bed to listen some more to the thunderstorm.

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Go Chelsea

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So yeah, my lunch looks weird at best but all of the ingredients in there were a kind of on the verge of getting seriously questionable and therefore had to go. Fast. And so did I. Where you ask? Back to Chelsea. IMG_6516.JPGNever heard of her? That might be a European thing. Sometimes we are spared the best there is for I don’t know what reasons. But surely no good enough ones. Doesn’t matter. I found her and I am sharing. So if you’ve also never heard of her just take a look at her imdb photo and you’re probably gonna say ‘well, yeah, seen her somewhere before’ but can’t put your finger on it. And again, doesn’t matter where she’s been all those years because – pardon my French – the bitch is back and shall we hope for good. Thank you Netflix. It needed to be said.

Now Netflix proposed the show to me after the end of a movie and I thought why not click the play button or rather the ‘let’s-give-this-a-try-button’ and see what happens. They started me on episode 18. Clever thing to do ’cause it not only features Anna Faris and Allison Janney from the absolutely hilarious sitcom ‘Mpinata trump.jpgom‘ (love it) but also a Donald Trump piñata. Yes, you read right and I have proof. Just look to the left. Chelsea had me before but she had me for good then.

If anyone is reading this right now who would not love to hit that thing: GET OFF my blog. All the other: got watch the show and start to love it.

Right now I am in episode two with Gwyneth (she’s got one of those names that needs no last name) and Tony Hale and I’m still feeling amused and very entertained and Kelsey Grammer hasn’t even come on yet. Imdb tells me that he’s gonna make an appearance.

Let’s finish this off with one memorable quote from the first episode. “I think people are afraid of asking too many questions because they are afraid of appearing stupid. But I’m OK with appearing stupid. Knowing you are stupid is the first step to becoming smart. And I don’t want to be comfortable. I want to be uncomfortable. And I want to make a lot of other people uncomfortable. And if you’re not comfortable with being uncomfortable, it’s OK because I’m gonna do it for fucking everybody!” Now that’s Chelsea.

A classical Bathtubday…

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…don’t you think so, too when looking at the photo? Well, I did. So I grabbed my phone to do my Dutch App – yes, I am studying Dutch now and really like it -, my copy of ‘The Black Dahlia’ and hit the waves. OkayIMG_6172, it was more like hitting the bubbles but actually they are a lot more fun. You should try it some time. With a good book.

I don’t know what it’s with me and the ‘noir’ movies and books but I always fall for them. There’s something oddly glamorous about those times,they seem so mysterious and simpler – no cell phones, no highly complicated forensics, no computer databases to check up on pretty much anything – just good old police work with lots of luck.

I am about half way through the Dahlia and while it seems to be a bit lengthy at times I am still enjoying it and sometimes wish time travel would be possible. Not to live there but just to observe. Oh come on, who wouldn’t like that? It would be beyond cool to see it with you own eyes. Feel it. Smell it even.

I do wonder though what a truly screwed up mind it must take to think up such a gruesome murder. I wondered the same thing about Bret Easton Ellis after reading ‘American Psycho’. To tell the truth, even more with that book. It was a true stomach turner but undeniably brilliant. I still don’t understand how he got it published though. I do recall reading somewhere that it was a struggle. It’s so brutal and I am thinking if he tried to publish it today he’d probably have to do it himself.

Enough now. Time to hit the sheets. Hoping for better weather but it looks like a few more bathtubdays are coming my way. Now that’s too bad. 😉

Korean Cinema

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A couple of days ago I watched my first Korean movie and loved it. So here comes a recommendation.

It’s called ‘The Beauty Inside’ 0r ‘Byuti Insaideu’ and it’s barely a year old.

The main character Woo-jin wakes up in a different body every morning. Old, young, male, female, beautiful, not so beautiful, fat, skinny, bold – there’s no end to it. Apparently it started when he was 18 and he adjusted well enough. He’s got clothes and shoes in all shapes and sizes, a bunch of glasses for any eyesight and each morning seems to have quite the same routine of fitting himself into something for the day. His mother and his best friend are the only ones who know and especially the friend helps with his day to day life. He basically sells the furniture Woo-jin designs and makes. So he pretty much doesn’t have to interact with anyone on a daily basis. He’s safe and has come to terms with the situation. At least that is until he falls in love. Now where do you go from there?

I’m not gonna say anymore. I guess, I have already given away too much. But just for a second, try to imagine what it must be like to look in the mirror each morning and see a stranger? And how could you ever explain that to a total stranger? How could you make someone fall in love with you?

 

A Perfect Day for Bananabread

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Woke up to about two inches of fresh snow this morning and decided that it just might be the perfect day to stay in and catch up on my letters.

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Next I made banana bread to keep me fed and to get rid of the more than slightly brown bananas I had in my fruit bowl.

The book in the back is basically the only vegan cookbook one will ever need. It’s absolutely amazing. I have others but have none of them used as often as this one. It’s a must for any vegan and trust me you will love it.

I’ve made my first ‘real’ flipbook about two weeks ago and now I just can’t stop. It’s so much fun. I ordered a bunch of crafting stuff off the internet and can barely wait for it. Very excited every time the mailman is due and a bit disappointed when he doesn’t ring my bell. I know, patience is a virtue. One that I don’t seem to have.

However, it’s not like I don’t have anything to work with already. So here are some photos of what I was able to put together and I hope you enjoy looking at them.

This one went out to Portugal.

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To Russia

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To England

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To South Korea

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To Taiwan

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And to Spain

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By the way, I do not have a system at all. I just sit at my messy desk and grab whatever is closest and seems to fit. I am not organized one bit. Yet another virtue I don’t have. But so far I am fine with the outcome.

The next one will go out to Paris and I will start to work on it as soon as this is posted.

Hope you had some fun reading this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can never hold back Spring

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I’m thinking when Tom Waits sang that, mountain villages in the Alps never crossed his mind.

Upon waking up this morning I was wondering if I had slept all through summer and at least parts of fall. I mean, how can it still be April when I’m looking out the window seeing this.

It looks just like first snow and I am not saying it’s not beautiful; it’s just NOT the time. Instead it’s supposed to look like this.

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This is Lugano in full bloom. We spend Thursday and Friday there enjoying the pleasant warmth, the colorful flowers and the blue sky. (I intend to blog about it separately with more photos later.) Point being, we had to go chase spring. Is that how it works now?

Other than searching for a green world, I’ve been enjoying the free time that comes with being in off season. There’s really nothing going on up here these days. All that’s missing for the perfect photo of desertion is tumbleweed. Imagine that! It does make me smile.

I finally fixed the braided bread problem I was complaining about in January and would go as far as to say that it I am as close to perfect now as I will ever get at making it.

I can easily live with that.

I’ve also been working on some mailart. Mostly flip books and will post about that a little later, too. First I will have to finish one more piece that will go out to Russia tomorrow.

Back in a jiffy.

Just the Day for Apple Strudel

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After watching the snow outside my window – for I don’t remember how many hours – I got this strange cravingIMG_7187.JPGIMG_7184.JPG for apple strudel. Oh well, cravings are not to be ignored, right? So I went to the supermarket after
work to get apples and – to tell the truth – ready made pastry and got started pretty much right after entering the apartment. Soon enough the air was filled with this sweet delicious smell and all that was left to do was to heat the custard and get on to it. That’s always the easiest part.

Here I proudly present the outcome. It doesn’t look like all that much, I know but oh, it was good and is there any fooIMG_7188.JPGd more perfect for a cold, snowy, slightly stormy day? I don’t think so.

Now that I am pretty much stuffed it’s back to ‘Dexter’. I started re-watching yesterday and I am already hooked again. It’s been a few years since the first round and I do feel like I am watching it differently this time because now I have been to Miami (twice, actually) and the outside shots are often of places I have seen. It’s that and my Spanish has gotten much better, too. Not that they speak much Spanish on the show but the little they do, I understand. It does still need a lot of work though. I’m on it.

Enough  for now. Dexter is calling.

Snow, Braided Bread and Trumbo

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This morning I woke up to thousands of snowflakes falling gently to the ground. Apparently their brothers and sisters had been doing that all night because the world was covered in serious snow. Very lovely and about time.

I walked around in my pjs for a while, prepared dough for braided bread which then had to rise, wrote a letter, haIMG_7054.JPGd pancakes, watched the sun infiltrating my world and eventually dragged my butt into the shower and walked outside with my camera. Let’s face it, I almost could not not go.

Armed and ready I made my way up the village taking photos left and right and yes I am glad I made the effort because I really liked what I saw.

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We haven’t had much snow until now which is bad given I live in a ski resort but I guess now the first step is made but oh we need so much more.

As you can see it has gotten cold enough for the chimneys to let out white smokeIMG_7121-001.JPGIMG_7138.JPG. (Except for the second one that is.) But doesn’t it look cozy? It a kind of puts me in that Christmas feeling I’ve been looking for those past weeks when it actually mattered. My timing was never all that great but this year at least I know I am not the only one. Everyone had a little trouble to get into the holiday spirit with the green mountains looking back at us while the birds were singing like they were announcing spring.

Christmas came and went and didn’t really leave any traces. Sometimes I wish I could bring back the meaning it used to have while I was growing up but that’s long gone.

Back to the walk.

I do really like our wooden signposts and I don’t really want to know how many pictures I have taken of them so far and how many more will follow.
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My personal winterwonderland. To me snow always had a way of making the world look peaceful – untouchable even.

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I ‘giant’ – well, compared to a real one – wooden squirrel marking the beginning of the squirrel trail. From there you can go through the woods back into the village and you will encounter numerous squirrels all of them waiting for you to extent your nut-filled hand for them to nibble on. The nuts, not the hand. It’s a popular trail and it has no age limit. Young and old alike can be found feeding the little critters, having great fun and taking some pretty neat photos.

I must admit that I never get tired of it myself. They are just too cute. And it’s not only squirrels but also birds that will fly into your hand and pick off whatever you offer them. Fear doesn’t exist in those woods.

I took the bus home to hurry back to my braided bread dough which had been rising for nearly six hours by then. It had been years since my last try I do remember not being all too successful back then and oh well why break a losing streak? I had kneaded it very well in the morning, it looked so very smooth and it had risen considerably but trust me to mess it up anyway.

It looked nice enough going in but going out it was torn and too flat and too hard but still edible. I will try again. Giving up is not an issue and as a last resort I have some friends who are real bakers and one of them will just have to spend a day with me baking if I can’t figure it out on my own. Tough luck.

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At least my spinach pie turned out pretty much just as planned and it a kind of saved the day – the baking day that is. The rest of it had been pretty good anyway. Snow does that to me.

One more thing worth mentioning: I watched ‘Trumbo‘ tonight and really enjoyed it.

Yes, I am a big fan of ‘Breaking Bad‘ and therefore of Bryan Cranston  and yes, he does carry the movie with a little help of Elle Fanning and John Goodman but I wanted to see it because the topic is quite interesting and in parts new to me. Of course, I was aware of the McCarthy era and its implications and of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and their fate as portrait at the beginning of ‘The Bell Jar’ but somehow the Hollywood Ten had escaped my attention so far. It’s good to know that some people actually stood up to what happened there and I liked Kirk Douglas’s reactions as well as Otto Preminger’s. I know it was easier for them to show no fear because let’s face it you don’t sack Kirk Douglas after ‘Spartacus‘ is completely filmed and start over with a new actor. But still, it did take some courage given the political situation it could easily have ended in professional suicide.

I recommend the movie and I even downloaded the book it’s based on. It’s bound to be good simply because Dalton Trumbo seems to have been such an intelligent, interesting and slightly weird character ( I mean he did write most of his scripts in the bathtub) who certainly gave us some quite good movie but more importantly: he gave hope in very dark times.

With that I am signing off for today. Time to get to my current book. More about that later.

Yet another Year

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I am sure most of us feel like time is passing by way too fast, that there is never nearly enough of it and that the little we have is not filled properly.

2015 gone. No idea where it went but please enlighten me if you should have any idea. You don’t, I know.

I glided into the New Year sleeping. Been practicing that for years now and never had the feeling that I am missing out on much. I know that I sound incredibly boring but I guess you get that way when you have to get up at 6 am to get to work. So I read myself to sleep at 9:30 and that was that. Well, the fireworks around midnight woke me for a minute or two but that was to be expected.

However, I made it good into 2016 and made some resolutions – as always – of which I expect to own up to. Well, at least to half of them. Maybe. It’s mostly the usual stuff: read more, watch a movie a week, travel to a new country, try out new recipes. Nothing all too adventurous or specific but I might come up with more unique things in the next few days and will make a note about it.

Meanwhile, I have at least tried out a new recipe already. Made my first vegan Brownies.

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Pre-Baking

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Post-Baking

They are actually quite good but for future reference, sprinkling the nuts on top doesn’t really do it in my oven. They came out all black and I had to pick them off and replace them by new ones. Next time they go straight into the dough. Oh well, at least I baked something and it tasted nice enough.

That’s all for now. I did vow to myself to work on my travel section. So that might happen soon.

Getting Nervous

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Less than a week until I will be on a plane to the Bahamas. I’m obviously all excited but – as always before a big trip – also feeling utterly unprepared. My subconscious has decided to go mad again, too and so I’ve mostly been tossing and turning instead of sleeping for the past week. I hate that. Been thinking over and over again that it would be nice to not have to sleep until I’m leaving. What a lovely thought.

But back to the trip. After a week on the Bahamas, I will fly to Cuba where I will be staying for seven weeks to take a Spanish course and to get away from my life a bit. I felt in need for a time out for a while now. Somehow it has gotten to crowded in my head and I think it’s about time to get some perspective and I will never get that here. So a whole new environment might do the trick. At least in my mind. Going to Cuba and catching up on Spanish is also about finally doing something I always seem to only talk about.

I shouldn’t be whining, I know. I’m obviously not having it all that bad.

To round it all up, I’ll be spending two weeks in Florida with my boyfriend in November before returning to snowy Switzerland.

I will try to blog some about that little adventure and my experiences in all those foreign places. I do believe I will have the time and hopefully the internet connection, too.

Meanwhile, I’ll be packing and repacking.

Be back soon.

The other Side of Fall Melancholy

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Just yesterday I realized that fall has sneaked in. Not uncommon that early as far up in the mountain as I am but I should have seen the signs. So much thick fog for so many days, rain here and there and the temperature has dropped to a chilly 10°C (50°F). I’m not complaining. We had an unusually hot summer, I went on my normal share of hikes and was blessed with good enough weather the past three days while a friend was visiting, so that we could explore the mountains around here quite a bit. We had a lot of fun and took some amazing pictures.

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I think it was while looking at this one that it hit me: This year I am not only gonna miss the first snow but also the entire fall. Again not complaining  ’cause in exactly two weeks from now I will be on my way to the Caribbean but I think a little melancholy is in order nonetheless since fall is one of my favorite seasons. I can never quite decide between it and spring.

However I made the plan to drain every last possible bit out of fall and started doing so by making vegetable soup – which I can eat all year round but it’s still essentially a fall dish to me -, having some vanilla-pear tea and I might just keep on looking at this picture that I took last year in Basel. (No leaves up here. Just needles.) I will simply get in a fall mood while I still can.

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More about the oncoming trip another time. Let’s just say that I am getting more excited by the day now and that I feel utterly unprepared to go on a 10 week trip but I know it will be great. So this truly is the post of no complaints.

A few more pictures from the past days of hiking.

In Memoriam of Mr. Penguin and I’m not an early Bird

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This is Mr. Penguin.

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Happy in Florida. Those were the times.

He was with me for about three years. Practically joined at the hip since he was attached to my camera, we spent glorious days in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Greece, France, Egypt, Liechtenstein, Italy and the US. Sadly yesterday I lost him while taking a hike in the mountains. I do miss him and wonder how I could get so attached to an immaterial thing to begin with but here I am mourning him. Might have something to do with the fact that he was given to me by a close friend and I haven’t yet found out a way to tell her. Meanwhile, may he rest safely in the Alps.

I have never considered myself to be an early riser and past experiences have proved over and over again that I am right. That’s why I am still surprised that I managed to drag my butt up at 3:30 am yesterday without an airplane waiting for me somewhere or any other pressing reason that would force me to do such an insane thing. So I was all the more amazed that I basically jumped out of my cozy bed just like that.

The plan was to hike to a mountain lake to see the sunrise over it. I had heard that it was an especially nice place to take good pictures and I had meant to do it last year but my inner demons won time and again back then. This year I’ve been in the mood of catching up on some things that I always only seem to talk about. I am not getting any younger after all and what good does it to only talk. Now I got one more thing to cross off the list.

Here’s the first bit the sunrise at about 5 am.

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Schwellisee

I walked around the lake next and watched the sun slowly appear.

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Schwellisee

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Schwellisee

The bottom one was taken from the other side of the lake. Looking towards where I would go next.

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First rays of sunshine bathing the mounting tops into a very special light.

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A last look back before moving on.

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And a look at the village I live in.

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Walking along a mountain stream for a while.

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Made it to another lake a bit higher up and to my surprise someone was camping there. Given that it was not even 6:30 by then I tiptoed around there for a moment taking pictures, trying not to wake them. I think I did good.

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Spring water.

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Walking back but trying a different way. Which didn’t work out quite as planned but left me with a nice view of the first lake from up above with Alpine Roses in front of it.

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Always a sight for sore eyes: mountain cows. Black and white ones you hardly ever see here. The brown one below is the common one.

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Another drinking trough on my way back into the village.

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The first sign of civilization.

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The same stream as before but wider at this point.

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And another cow. Looks a bit like curious one.

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A real look at civilization.

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A last look back.

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And finally sheep. Mommy makes a real funny face.

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What’s left to say: I am not gonna get up that early again in the foreseeable future but I am glad I made an exception.

I was back home close to 10 and fell asleep for a few hours around noon. That’s what getting up so early is doing to me. But I have to admit that it was a day well spent. That is apart from losing Mr. Penguin, of course.