Those Books I’ve Listened To!

Pic by Franzi (Audible screenshots from my mobile).

During the last four weeks life was busy. Thus, I only re-read one favorite book of mine and listened to two audio books…

Sophie KinsellaMy Not So Perfect Life (Read by Fiona Hardingham)

I love all novels by Sophie Kinsella. Only the Shopaholic series is not my cup of tea. But she simply is a genius in the field of writing romance novel plots! This is her last book:

Katie Brenner has the perfect life – at least on her Instagram account. In reality she lives in a tiny flat in London, has a stupefying commute every day, isn’t worshiped in her job and she hates her boss Demeter, who seems to have it all (the perfect job, man, family, house and look). But then the worst happens: Katie loses her job and goes back to her hometown, where she pretends to be only on a sabbatical to help her dad in starting a glamping (glamorous & camping) side. Everything works out well… until Demeter arrives for vacation with her family.

The plot was easy to follow, the heroine likable and there was – of course – some romance in the air. A book like a cup of hot chocolate on a rainy March Day ;).

*** (out of five)

Hendrik GroenEierlikörtage (Read by Felix von Manteuffel)

This book is based on the “secret diaries” of Hendrik Groen, 83 years old, living in a retirement home in Amsterdam.

Since my own grandpa is living in a retirement home (in Berlin) since a year now, I was immediately hooked by the idea to get an insight into the life of such an environment.

Hendrik Groen describes all those funny and not-so-funny everyday situations in his retirement home. Sometimes you have to laugh out loud and sometimes you are nearly crying.

I big must-read for everyone with relatives in retirement homes (and everyone else)!

****

I wish you a wonderful week! Have a remarkable one :)!

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*Sponsored Post & Lottery*: The Spice Box “Sinnesräuber” & a Recipe for Baked Potatoes with Fenugreek & Radish Dip!

Grinding the fenugreek. All pics by Franzi.

I had the opportunity to test Sinnesräuber – a monthly box filled with three packages of surprise spices :). Here are my experiences with the box, plus a recipe I tried using fenugreek, plus a LOTTERY where you can win the April box and try it out yourself (for details on how to participate scroll to the end of the post).

The contents of my box:

One package of fennel seeds, one package of fenugreek and one package of Panch Phoron – a spice blend used in Bangladesh, Eastern India and Southern Nepal. It also included three recipes cards with ideas for using the spices and two cards with background information about the fennel seeds and the fenugreek.

I was positively surprised: I already had fennel seeds in my crowded spice cupboard (I’m a big fan of fennel tea). But there was no fenugreek and I didn’t even know about the Panch Phoron blend. So, two new spices! I also liked the small packaging that will suffice for 2-3 times of cooking and is perfect for experimenting with it.

The cards with the information about the spices were interesting and the suggested recipes sound easy and delicious.

Nevertheless, I tried I recipe with fenugreek I learned a loooong time ago in an Ayurveda cooking class:

Recipe for Baked Potatoes with fenugreek and radish dip: Serves 2-3.

Ingredients:

500 g potatoes (washed and dried), 2 TSps fenugreek (grounded), 100 g grated cheese (I used Edam cheese), olive oil, salt, 1 bunch of radishes (grated), 400 g cream cheese, herbal salt.

Preparation:

Potatoes:

Cut the clean potatoes into halves. Spread a baking tray with olive oil, salt and grounded fenugreek. Sit the potato halves face-down onto the tray. Sprinkle with more olive oil. Bake for app. 30 minutes at 220 °C. Then turn the potatoes around and top with grated cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes or until golden-brown.

Dip:

Simply mix the grated radishes (I used a kitchen machine for the grinding) and the cream cheese until a smooth texture is reached. Season with the herbal salt.

Serve potatoes with the radish dip.

Conclusion:

The box surprised me with a blend I didn’t know before and reminded me of a past experience (the Ayurveda cooking class). So, it brought not only some fresh tastes into my kitchen but was also a trip down memory lane. I think it would be a nice gift idea for a friend who loves cooking. Speaking of it ;)…

Lottery:

If you would like to win the April Sinnesräuber box, let me know in the comments below this post or comment or like this week’s Facebook post. The lottery ends Sunday noon (March 19, 2017).

Enjoy your week!

I got the Sinnesräuber Box for free. Nevertheless, I only stated my own opinions . I’m happy to answer all questions regarding blog corporations in a personal message.

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Fashion Highlight Spring 2017: Blousons (Bomber Jackets)!

Two blousons I saw last week at the #SMWHH. Pic by Franzi.

The last week I spent at the Social Media Week Hamburg #SMWHH. I not only learned a lot of interesting new things, but also spotted very stylish people all around me. The one item that I came across again and again were silky (really: parachute fabric!) blousons – aka bomber jackets!

I was surprised: Bomber jackets always remind me on my adolescence in the 1990s were they represented a clear (right-oriented) political standing. Now they come with floral designs and bright flashy colors. They are teamed up with skirts or skinny jeans and worn by women and men! With the still colder temperatures out there most people I met wore them as a blazer or cardigan underneath their winter coats. Nevertheless, I am sure that blousons will be worn as light coats when it’s finally getting warmer.

Would you wear a bomber jacket? Let me know!
Have a beautiful week!

Some second-hand blousons I found in the PICKnWEIGHT store in Hamburg.

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Two Days Back in Berlin!

The Müggelsee. Pics by Franzi.

The last two days I spent in Berlin with dear friends, my god-son and his siblings. It’s always wonderful to be back in the city of my own childhood. Looking at the Müggelsee reminds me on my own young years. And do you also smell spring already? I saw the first blooms and despite the fact that it’s still grey outside the warmer season is coming closer!

I wish you a wonderful week! Look out for those beautiful early bloomers :)!

Daffodil season!

Two little reasons to always come back to Berlin! (And yes, my godson wears a sock instead of a glove.)

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Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra!

Last month I heard Frank Sinatra‘s song Fly Me To The Moon during an elevator ride to the viewing platform of Rotterdam’s Euromast. What a funny choice of a song! I wish you a good start into the fresh week with those mood-lifting and jazzy tunes!

Happy listening!

And do you know Angelina Jordan’s interpretation of the song? It’s amazing!

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Essay: Looking at Night into Foreign Windows!

Pics by Franzi.

I love walking, even when it’s dark outside. It frees my mind, I finally end the day with the recommended 10,000 steps and some fresh air, smelling distinctively like the current season – filled with the thick scent of blooms in spring, sunny and dry in summer, humid and spicy on fall nights, clear and icy in the winter.

Strolling through the night

When it’s dark, only a few people are still outside. Everything is a lot quieter than during the day. Fewer passers-by, less chitchat, fewer cars. Life is going on inside the houses, not on the dark sidewalks outside. Strolling through the night is meditative. A good moment to recapitulate the day’s events or simply to let flow the thoughts.

A glimpse of life

Illuminated windows are like doors to other worlds. They show glimpses of the life  inside all those foreign houses: The family at their dinner table, the book shelves stacked with hundreds of thick volumes, the kitchen counter with a basket of fruits, the flicker of a TV. Passing all those light boxes, watching them for maybe two seconds, moving along, it’s easy to invent a very own story  about the just seen scenario: The family on the table maybe just speaks about an adventure the kid experienced the day, the bowl of fruits was maybe shopped on the farmers market this morning, the men in front of the TV is maybe enjoying his leisure time after a hard day at work.

Every window tells another story

I love those little insights into foreign worlds. It gives my own world another perspective. I am here, walking outside, those people are inside, having a great or maybe bad evening together or alone, living their life until tomorrow. Then everyone will leave his or her home again, a new day starts with all those new stories to experience.

As a kid I was living in Berlin, in a block of apartment houses. My bedroom window had a free view onto the 12-floor building opposite. There were around 100 windows. During a sleepless night I would sit on the window-sill and imagine a story for every illuminated window I saw. Those dream journeys into foreign lives made me calm and sleepy, until I was ready to go to bed again.

Today, coming home from those evening walks, I am also a lot more relaxed then when I left only half an hour ago. Here I am, letting the world outside. Closing the curtains. Switching on the light. There are a lot of stories out there. Now it’s time for my very own.

I wish you a wonderful week! Have one full of little stories :)!

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Those Books I’ve Read!

Pic by Franzi.

During the last four weeks I read a bunch of books I would like to tell you about. Moreover, there was one more audio book and I  finally finished two books I started reading a long time ago and never made it to the end.

Edgar WallaceThe Green Pack (Lotterie des Todes)

I started this book because I wanted to read a crime novel by the famous Edgar Wallace. Moreover, I was in love with its retro look. It tells the story of Jacqueline, a doctor’s daughter who looses a vast amount of money in a card game. Because she isn’t able to pay, she makes an unmoral deal with Louis Creet, a rich ‘friend’ of the family. But this only leads to more conflicts… An easy read and a classic crime play.

*** (out of five)

Emma StraubModern Lovers

This was an impulsive book buy: The bookseller was recommending it enthusiastically with the words: “You will fall in love with the characters and their different developments during the story.” She was absolutely right. You get to know the life of two middle-class families, living in Brooklyn. The parents are old friends and had a college band together. Now they have kids and deal with their midlife-crisis(es). On the other hand, their teenage kids have their very own adolescence/coming-of-age problems. A great and entertaining read.

****

Jessamyn WestLove Is Not What You Think (Solange es die Liebe gibt)

This is a short non-fiction book about love, written in the 1950s out of a woman’s perspective. Jessamyn West’s views on love, falling in love, relationships and marriage are somehow old-fashioned, but also pretty amazing for a girl in the 1950s living in her parent’s house.

***

Paula McLainThe Paris Wife

A book I planned to read for quite some time: It’s the story of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley. The novel tells how they fell in love with each other, followed by their marriage, their time in Paris, the birth of their son, but also about the end of their marriage and the developments leading to divorce. I had to think a lot about this book – it really triggered something inside me. I even dreamed about Hemingway. Since the book oriented a lot on the real events, I also learned a lot about Hemingway and life the 1920s.

****

The books I finally finished:

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer:

A long time ago, together with my literature club (in Osnabrück), I started this non-fiction book about eating animals and the effect animal farming has on our environment, the animals and consequently also on us. Somehow I never found the time to make it through the last two chapters. Now I finished it and was reminded on a lot of discussions we had back then. A book really everyone should read.

*****

Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky:

This one I started reading when I was thinking about starting a business club for scientists. Since then my life was tuned in a completely other direction and I never made it through the book (or founded the business club). Now I finally finished it. It contains a lot of insights into team building and bringing ideas to life.

***

One audiobook I listened to:

Erbarmen (Mercy) by Jussi Adler-Olsen: I wanted to start this famous crime series about inspector Carl Mørck and his Department Q for investigating the unsolved cases for quite some time. Now I listened to the first book and have to say that I am not disappointed: Part two is already on my list.

***

I wish you a wonderful week! Have a fantastic one :)!

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Spotlight on: Musketeer & his new EP Seven Long Years!

Musketeer

In his just released studio EP Seven Long Years Australian singer-songwriter Musketeer (who very recently moved to Hamburg) explores quite a dark time of Australian and European history: It follows the journey of a 19th century British convict sent to the prison camps in Australia. The record combines old sea-tale story telling with a nu-folk musical sentiment. It’s no secret that I have a soft spot for singer-songwriters, especially if their music, voice and stories sound as authentic as Musketeer’s. Seven Long Years instantly had my attention. Luckily, I had the chance to ask him two questions:

Your EP deals with quite a dark time in the Australian and European history. Why did you decide on this topic?

Musketeer: I wrote this EP at a time when I was living in Australia’s second oldest city, Newcastle. I was considering the history of the place and my own European ancestry. Newcastle was a city built on mining and chain gangs. The British ravaged the landscapes and displaced the existing communities there. You can still see the same mining going on there today and the effect it has on people. I guess I thought that was something worth exploring and so I wrote a song about it, and then another, and it kind of transformed into this dark journey which you can now listen to on the EP.”

You just moved to Hamburg. What makes this city unique for you? Do you already have any favorite places?

Musketeer: “Hamburg is beautiful. I guess what makes Hamburg unique for me is that I am now one step closer to becoming a notorious pirate, plundering the choppy waters of the Elbe. Haha. Not really. But I love the river and there is a seaworthy grunginess to this city that I find very interesting.

There are also a lot of cool bars close to the river that I have slowly being discovering. I haven’t been here long enough to pick and choose the best ones yet, but Weinladen in St Pauli has very tasty wines… I guess I am more of a coffee gent. There is an abundance of delicious places that I like to go to. I would recommend Nord Coast, they roast their own coffee and have excellent waffles. Less Political is also pretty damn great. You can find them in the Schanze. The staff are warm hearted and hilarious and make a fine coffee. Can’t go past that.

Enjoy listening!

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Home-Made Stock!

Pic by Franzi.

Did you ever prepare your own vegetable stock? I have to admit that up until now I always used vegetable stock powder. It’s simply convenient. But then I was inspired by Rebecca Katz’ book Clean Soups and prepared a laaarge pot of vegetable stock – with a ton of fresh vegetables I actually had to carry home ;). Apart from this and the time it takes to prepare homemade stock it’s also quite convenient to use. Once you have a bottle of fresh stock in the fridge, you can use it right away. And the best: You really know what it contains! I will definitely prepare more homemade stock  in the future!

Recipe: Makes app. 2,5 – 3 l.

Ingredients:

4 unpeeled carrots (cut into thirds), 1 unpeeled yellow onion (quartered), app. 50 g leek (cut into chunks), 1/2 bunch of celery (cut into chunks), 2 unpeeled red potatoes (quartered), 2 unpeeled sweet potatoes (quartered), 2 unpeeled cloves garlic (halved), 1/4 bunch parsley, 1 TblSp dried seaweed salad, 6 black peppercorns, 2 whole allspice berries, 1 TSp salt, 1 bay leaf, 4 l water.

Preparation:

Rinse all of the vegetables well, soak the seaweed. In a large pot, combine the carrots, onions, leek, celery, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, parsley, seaweed, peppercorns, allspice berries and the bay leaf. Add the water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, partially covered for at least two hours.

Then turn off the heat and let rest the vegetables in the stock over night at room temperature.

Strain the broth through a large, coarse-mesh sieve or a colander. Discard the solids. Stir in the salt. Refrigerate or freeze. Store in the fridge for up to five days or in the freezer for up to six months.

Enjoy!

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He Says/She Says… Pocket Squares, a Yes or No?

Pic by Franzi.

There are some fashion trends men and women seem to have completely different opinions about. – Ballet flats for example. Women think they are cute and girly (and comfy), but I realized that most men I knew wouldn’t agree. They clearly prefer high heels (no surprise, I guess). So let’s talk about fashion. Funny enough, we start today with men’s fashion. What do you think about pocket squares?

She says (Franzi):

When Stephan told me that he would like to wear his suit with a pocket square my first reaction was a clear: “No! Why?!” In my opinion pocket squares are old-fashioned and should be worn by old, elegant men or snobs, not by young, confident men. Okay, it’s possible that the pocket square adds a touch of color to otherwise grey/black/dark blue suits. However, it also looks a bit like a tissue that peeks out of the suit jacket pocket, and not like an expensive accessory for men… But let’s hear Stephan’s view:

He says (Stephan):

When Franzi reacted with a “No! Why?!”, I was a bit dumbfounded why she would bother. Let me give you a couple of reasons a pocket square is amazing, imho. First of all, old-fashioned is a very similar word to classic. And timeless, affordable classics are hard to come by when you do not have a black Amex in your wallet. A pocket square is very affordable, but at the same time does not make you look cheap at all. It is a good way to jump out of a grey mass of people wearing navy-blue or grey suits without going crazy in the color of your suit. Furthermore, how many accessories can a man really wear? Watch, (bow-)tie, … pocket square! And finally, ladies out there, James Bond and Ryan Gosling don’t wear suits without one. I think those are the best example for confident, classy, young men.

So what do you think: Does a pocket square remind you more of James Bond or more of an old man/snob? Let us know!

Have a beautiful day!

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