Crispy Sweet Potato Skins!

Pic by Franzi.

In Portugal we ate tons of fish. Nevertheless, the one dish that impressed me most were crispy sweet potato SKINS! Yes, you read it right: skins. What a genius way to use the whole sweet potato, without creating any waste. Back home in Hamburg, I already prepared them for myself as an easy snack :).

Recipe:

Ingredients:

Thickly peeled sweet potato skins, olive oil, sea salt.

Preparation:

Spread potato skins on a baking tray and sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Bake at app. 225°C for 15 – 20 minutes (until the skins are golden-brown).

Enjoy!

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Those Beautiful Days in ….Portugal!

All pics by Franzi.

We are back from Portugal. Somehow I made it through the plane flights …and it was totally worth it! The Algarve was a dream: On my birthday we had 30°C (a first in 35 years) and visited the most stunning beaches. The wedding of Isa and André was full of sunshine and love. Lisbon impressed me with its Fado sounds, the steep streets of Alfama, a hilarious tram ride, its elevators to reach the higher parts of the town and its many panoramic views. Here are some photographic impressions of our Portuguese adventures…

I wish you a wonderful fresh week! Let the sun shine in your hearts!

The Algarve:

The beach in Lagos.

I loved the patina of the houses at the Algarve …here in Aljezur.

The Algarve has the most incredible beaches I’ve ever seen … this is the Praia da Arrifana (view from above).

Praia da Arrifana.

The waves were huge! Like here at the Praia do Amado.

I was very impressed by the size of the Aloe plants!

The beach wedding of André & Isa was a dream: wonderful romantic and full of sun!

The light in the cathedral of Silves felt magical.

View from the Castle of Silves. I loved the orange groves!

Lisbon:

We had our apartment in the wonderful lively neighborhood of Alfama, the oldest part of Lisbon.

Sunset above  Lisbon. View from the São Jorge Castle.

The famous Lisbon tram (we made one hilarious trip with it).

On our last day we visited the impressive Bélem tower – one of Lisbon’s landmarks.

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Song of the Month: I Belong To You by Lenny Kravitz!

This month’ song I Belong To You by Lenny Kravitz is one of two wedding songs from Isa and André. So, let’s celebrate the two a bit more and dance through this fresh week.

Happy listening!

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Essay: Fear of Flying…

Pic by Franzi. See more on Instagram.

This week is a special one: My two pals Isa and André will marry. Life writes the most incredible, wonderful stories!

Both decided for getting married abroad. To be more precise: In Portugal (Algarve), at the Sea. When Isa asked me and Stephan to join them there, I said yes immediately. No matter if I am afraid of flying or not – I will be there, when those two special friends of mine tie the knot.

While I am writing those lines the two of them are already up in the air. Stephan and me will follow them soon and I am starting to get nervous.

My fear of flying started after a – let’s call it not so nice – flight to Cuba when I was still an adolescent. I never loved flying, but I was not really afraid of it. Then I didn’t fly for some years. It just didn’t happen. When I finally sat in a plane, 18 years old, on my way to Turkey to celebrate the end of school with friends (André was one of them) I only realized I was getting a panic attack when the plane started to move. Unfortunately, at this point it was a bit late to exit. My seatmate was an elderly lady who gave her very best to calm me down until we finally arrived. I don’t know how I get back from Turkey but afterwards I avoided flying – I was too afraid of my own fear.

Nevertheless, I still loved to travel: I went to Rome, Paris, London and Vienna by train. Also to Brussels and Prague and Amsterdam.

Then, 7 years after my last flight, my doctoral supervisor decided I had to fly to Nice for a conference. Luckily my friend and colleague Lars accompanied me. It was a remarkable journey: We lost our luggage and missed our connecting flight in Paris. In between all the chaos, Lars calmed me down by talking and holding my sweaty hands. Somehow we made it to Nice and back. It was totally worth all the drama!

Nice was a turning point: Together with Isa, I booked a flight to Barcelona. She was the perfect travel companion and soon realized, that the way to get me on board (and to cry only a little bit) was to talk to me and distract me. After Barcelona, we also flew to London and back. With every flight, I was slowly getting better in confronting my fear.

But then life went busy and time and money were tight. So, my last flight is already four years ago and my fear returned.

Lately, a friend of mine told me the most remarkable thing:

“I love the take-off. At this point you have no more control about what is happening. You just have to go with the flow and feel free.”

This sentence reminds me on the yogi-way of thinking. I am practicing yoga for years now but I am still not able to give up the control. Still it’s a daring thought and I will have it in mind when the plane will finally start to move on its way to Portugal.

Just in case this will not help, I bought an herbal calmative and Stephan resolved to tell me lots of interesting stories to distract me and to hold my sweaty hands.

Now I cannot await the journey to begin – as well as to be with Isa and André on this very special day.

I wish you a wonderful May week! Dare something :)!

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Those Books I’ve Read!

Pic by Franzi.

During the last four weeks I read one book that was famous in the 1970, one book as a follow-up of one I read the month before, one crime novel that waited a long time on my stack of unread books and finally I listened to an audio book I discovered on the Frankfurt Book Fair last October.

Carmen KornTöchter einer neuen Zeit (Daughters of a new Time)

I saw this book the first time on the Frankfurt Book Fair last October and wanted to read it ever since. It’s the first of three books about a bunch of women living at the beginning of the 20th century in Hamburg. Töchter einer neuen Zeit starts in the year 1919 and ends shortly after WWII. Now I finally listened to the audio book and was fascinated by the descriptions of the life in my hometown Hamburg 100 years ago. The women of the story are all very different from each other, but I liked every one of them and wanted to know what happens next in their lives! Now I can’t wait to read the follow-up Zeiten des Aufbruchs, which is planned to be released in June.

**** (out of five)

Ernest HemingwayA Movable Feast

After reading Paula McLain’s novel The Paris Wife about the first marriage of Ernest Hemingway, narrated by his first wife Hadley, I was curious about his view on this time of his life in the early 1920s in Paris. Luckily, he wrote the memoir A Movable Feast. Written during the last years of his life, the book looks back at his younger self at the beginning of his career as a writer, his life with Hadley in Paris and also at the other famous writers he met in those years – Gertrude Stein, Scott Fitzgerald, James Joys…. It’s a read full of insights, which showed me once more that I am a big fan of Hemingway’s style. I will definitely read more from him in the future!

****

Val McDermidThe Retribution

The Retribution is a follow-up of Scottish crime writer Val McDermid’s most famous novel The Wire in The Blood. After more that 12 years in prison serial killer Jacko Vance escapes. And he has one big goal: Revenge. On top of his list are Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan and the clinical psychologist and police profiler Tony Hill who once caught him. I couldn’t put down this book – it’s a real gem of a crime novel. If you loved The Wire in The Blood, you have to read The Retribution! Val McDermid at her best :).

****

Erica JongFear of Flying

Fear of Flying is a book that was extremely famous during the 1970s – mostly because of its description of female sexuality.

The main character Isadora Zelda White Stollerman Wing is a 29-year-old poet who accompanies her second husband on a psychology conference in Vienna. There she decides to try out her sexual fantasies with another man, also a psychologist. The story is about a young married woman who is struggling to find her place in the world and defining who she is and how relationships/marriages are influencing this.

I can totally see the point of why this book caused this much controversy back in the 1970s. Nevertheless, it’s a brave book, that dares to question the old ways of living and with it the institution of marriage in itself. I am sure that this book helped a lot of women to understand that they are not alone with their struggles and their desires.

****

I wish you a wonderful week! Have an inspiring one :)!

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Nut Cake!

Pic by Franzi.

Happy Easter, everyone! How do you spend your free days? I am baking a lot of currant bread (…this year with gluten-free flour, which actually worked!) and a nut cake that reminds me on a cake my grandma often made. Have a wonderful time with your friends and family and here comes the cake recipe :)…

Recipe:

Ingredients:

200 g ground hazelnuts, 6 eggs, a dash of salt, 1 package vanilla sugar, 1/2 package baking powder, 250 g sugar, 150 g flour (I used gluten-free flour), 50 g apple jelly, 200 g powdered sugar.

Preparation:

Stir egg yolks, sugar, vanilla sugar and salt until creamy. Add the grounded nuts. Stir gently. Add 4 beaten egg whites, baking powder and flour. Fold in gently. Pour the mixture into a greased cake tin. Bake for app. 60 minutes at 180°C.

Spread warm apple jelly onto the still warm cake and top with glazing (For the glazing stir 2 egg whites with 200 g powdered sugar until creamy). Bake for another 15 minutes at 100 °C in the slightly opened oven.

Enjoy!

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Look Update: April 2017!

Just a few dresses I tried on… All pics by Franzi.

The last four weeks I was on the hunt for dresses! Honestly, I tried on at least 300 dresses. The reason: The wedding season starts. The first wedding of 2017 in my circle of friends is on Thursday. Obviously, I had nothing to wear for such a special event. It really was not easy to find something in this jungle of different dress styles. And once more I realized that I hate changing cabinets and this awful light. But finally I was successful and found three great dresses!

The three dresses I finally bought.

…And no, I will not reveal which dress I will wear at which wedding. By the way: There are more than ‘only’ three weddings in the line this year :D.

Moreover, I participated at a clothing swap party! Now I have a LOT more space in my wardrobe and got three nice cardigans and a pair of sunglasses! Such a great idea to refresh your spring wardrobe without much money (and eco-friendly) :)!

With regard to my shoes, there are also news: I trashed my old sneakers and bought these new beauties. Since I also ruined my sandals last summer, I also bought two new pairs of sandals:

My new sandals – brown leather by Keen, black leather by ZIGN.

Then, as an after-effect of last month’s look post, I bought a pastel colored blouson (by H&M):

My new blouson.

And I also spotted a new trend: BODYSUITS!

I saw some girls, who have gone really crazy about this distinct piece :)!

Would you wear bodysuits? For me they feel a bit too much 1980s… But on the other hand, they do look quite elegant on some women.

Have a beautiful April week! With lots of sun and dress-compatible weather :)!

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Song of the Month: Cloud 9 by Jamiroquai!

The British band Jamiroquai is back – with their brand-new album Automaton! Today’s song Cloud 9 reminds me – in a good way 😀 – on my teenage years in the 1990s (Jamiroquai was everywhere back then!). The song is funky, dancy and mood-lifting. So, let’s meet on the dance floor!

Happy (funky) listening!

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Spring Activities!

Pic by Franzi.

Those last few days were incredible sunny in Hamburg! I love the clear blue sky above my head as well as the intensive warmth of the bright spring-sun on my skin. The singing of the birds, the bloomy smell in the air. (Oh, and hello hay-fever… Nobody missed YOU.)
What do you plan to do during this new season? Here comes my list with ideas to enjoy springtime even a bit more:

Go to the farmers market and buy a fresh bouquet of flowers for your flat.

Create your own herb garden by planting basil, thyme and parsley on your windowsill.

Make a stroll through your city and get to know the old streets new (we love to walk through Hamburg using this guide).

Make plans for you summer vacations.

Eat more colorful salads.

Have the first BBQ this year.

Make your bicycle fit for the new season.

Take out your spring & summer wardrobe and store away all those thick sweaters, coats and heavy boots.

Create your personal spring playlist 2017 on Spotify and listen to it in the morning while enjoying your first cup of coffee.

(Re-) start a new or old sport. Running, anybody?

Eat ice-cream!

I wish you a wonderful spring week! Enjoy the sun and all those crazy-happy feelings coming with it :)!

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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)!

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

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