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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Song of the Week: Verschwende Deine Zeit by Gisbert zu Knyphausen!

“Verschwende deine Zeit
du wirst schon sehen, wohin das führt
dieser ganze Geiz ist sowieso nicht wirklich geil
das Leben ist ein Kopfschmerz
und es wird Zeit, dass du ihn spürst
hab keine Angst, er ist sehr schnell wieder vorbei”

During the last days, the song Verschwende Deine Zeit (translation: “Waste Your Time”) by German singer-songwriter Gisbert zu Knyphausen was on permanent repeat mode in my mind. It speaks out loud lots of truths, but in my opinion they all lead to the one thing everyone of us forgets during our every day routines: To enjoy the moment and that life is short. A simple truth, but an important one we should all be reminded of regularly. This is exactly what this beautiful song does.

Have fun listening!

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Those Days Between the Years… Quedlinburg/Harz!

A look onto Quedlinburg from the top of the Münzenberg. All pics by Franzi.

Wow, this was my first total blog-free week since five years. I have to admit that I missed it a bit, but then I also finished (two!) books. …Now let’s have a look back to my days between the years 2016 and 2017. Those I celebrated again with a bunch of great people (plus two little guys, who were born in 2016). We rented three apartments in a big, old timber frame building in Quedlinburg/Harz. It was a wonderful time, that was fun and also a bit emotional. A good start into a new year. Here are a few impressions.

P.S. There were three engagements during the last weeks and I am extremely happy about every single one of them: Congrats I & A, C & T and last but not least Little Bro & C!

Have a wonderful start into the fresh week :)! …Have an inspiring one!

Blue sky!

The market square!

I love those old timber frame buildings!

The castle!

Funny street names (Hölle = hell).

Cobblestones everywhere!

We all wrote a wish on a Flying Wish Paper and let it burn (& fly).

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A Fresh Start!

Pic by Franzi. Instagram @luckmysocalled.

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a good start into 2017. I am still in Quedlinburg and will be back in Hamburg this afternoon.

My so-called Luck exists now for five years. I published one post five days a week since October 2011 (THIS was the first one). Today’s post is number 1,361! Now it’s time for some changes. Don’t worry, I will keep on writing on My so-called Luck. I only need a bit more time for a bunch of other projects that had to wait in the past.

So, I would like to try out another schedule for posting. There won’t be one post from Monday till Friday anymore, but at least one post per week. That’s a promise.

The last five years were fantastic and I am sure that this fresh start for My so-called Luck will also have lots of positive effects for the blog and its content. So, let’s try this experiment!

Looking forward to writing the next post in around seven days.

Have a wonderful start into the fresh week :)! …And again: Happy New Year!

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New Year’s Resolution V: Visit more Museums!

Pic by Franzi. Instagram @luckmysocalled.

My fifth resolution: Visit more museums (and exhibitions)! I realized that this important part of my life didn’t play the same role last year as in the past.

I maybe was only five times in a museum during the last twelve months. Last week I visited THIS fantastic exhibition and learned a lot about my own country. So, next year I resolve to spent more time with cultural events, museums and exhibitions.

Have a beautiful day :)!

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New Year’s Resolution IV: Cook Foreign Dishes!

Pic by Franzi. Instagram @luckmysocalled.

My fourth resolution for 2017 is an easy one: Cook more foreign (gluten-free) dishes.

I already promised my special someone, that we will cook every month another dish from his new The Nordic Cookbook (my X-Mas gift for him).

Moreover, I read some exotic books lately, describing mouth-watering dishes from Mexico and Japan, that are still on my to-do list. So, more foreign cooking next year!

Have a delicious Tuesday :)!

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