Sunny, peaceful Sunday

April 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

Hello everyone, I hope you’re all doing really well. Spring is finally here, and although it’s still a little chilly i’m happy to say that the leaves are back on the trees and the flowers are blooming :) It’s wonderful, it really lifts the spirits, especially after such a hard week last week.


My first week back after my break was in a word: pandemonium. I worked 72 hours the whole week and I was utterly exhausted, also feeling more irritated and oversensitive to the behaviors of certain hard to deal with coworkers. This weekend I’ve been trying to recuperate from that week, mentally, physically, emotionally and even financially! (I ate out every day, only had dinner one day and one day with a proper breakfast, took taxis home…)

So to begin this week correctly I have a tray full of oven roast veg in the oven (veg chopped “rustically” with some stock + water on the bottom and a few glugs of olive oil on the top, mixed dried herbs and salt and pepper. Sorry it’s a little blurry but the colours come through just fine ;)


This will serve as my lunch mixed in with some cooked pasta tomorrow and I’m happy to eat that hot or cold. Only snacking for a whole week really made me appreciate how lovely it is to have a warm meal!

For Easter we had thought about going away to Holland, this particular place caught my eye, it’s just my kind of place. While I think I really do need some quiet-time I think I will concentrate on finding a new job during these few days off. I have already started thinking about interview outfits to have ready and have updated my wardrobe (you can see my newest purchases on my “wardrobe planning” page). Anyway, we have booked a holiday “hut” on a danish island called “Orø” for the may bank holiday weekend. Denmark is really lovely, slow paced and lots of nature. Let’s hope the weather will be nice!

This weekend I also organised some birthday presents and some home-made cards to go with them. I will post them tomorrow at some stage.

I’ve been steadily putting away money into my sealed pot and it is already quite a weight! On it is written “Japan 2014″, so I’m extra excited to see how SFT enjoys her trip there this week. We hope to be there this time next year :) Hope you all have a great week!

The end of a whole week off

March 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Hello! I had a productive and exciting week off, not really what you’d call restful. It began with the laying of the long-awaited new click-floor for the bedroom:

2014-03-24 17.45.53

ok, it’s just pretty standard clickfloor, but I’m excited about it! The yellow tone really brightens the room up! Even though you can’t really see it in this pic with the dull evening light.

2014-03-23 12.18.17

This is the old, stained blue carpet that was down before

Then I travelled by train to Duisburg to visit some friends. I took the cheaper HKX train, which is a private train company that runs between Hamburg and Cologne. It was the first time I’d used it. The ticket was €18, and I had been warned that the trains were very old. I kind of like those old-style compartment trains where the seats are in separate “cabins” of groups of 6. I packed a flask thinking that there would be no on-board bistro the way there is on the regular Deutsche Bahn trains. On the way over there was a coffee service (which I slept through!). On the way back at night there was nothing. The train was packed and quite warm, but it was comfortable enough obviously for me to sleep through the coffee service on the way over. I would definitely take it again because the journey time is the same as the more expensive InterCity train, but put a cool drink in my thermos next time ;)

2014-03-27 11.34.16

At the next station the peace and quiet of the empty cabin was soon over! LOL!

As gifts I brought my friend’s kids over some Easter Eggs like we know from home and rolled them with them down their slide in the garden. Those large chocolate eggs with sweets inside are not known here in Germany so when I saw them for sale in the english-foods shop I couldn’t resist. The smaller Kinder Surprise eggs are very well known and a year-round treat, and there are other chocolate egg brands like milka and lindt. They thought it was very strange to roll those big foil-covered chocolate eggs, since to them, easter eggs are real eggs (and some chocolate ones) are found in the garden! But they had great fun doing this tradition a little bit different. And there’s chocolate at the end! Who’s not to love that?

So now I’m wondering what to do for Easter, since we have some free days and can TRAVEL a little bit :) Do you do something special for the Easter break (if you get one in your part of the world)? Normally I like to take a long walk in nature, weather permitting! We won’t have so long, so I’m thinking Holland (5hrs drive) or the Harz region(4hrs drive). We’ll be back in Denmark for Mayday, staying in a Hytter (a kind of wooden hut/shed/cabin) so, I can hold off on Denmark until then ;) Any ideas are greatly appreciated!

A whole week off! Bliss!

March 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

Hello! I sort of disappeared there for a while, but everything’s ok! It was a hard last few weeks at work, but I have a whole week off now. It was so hard in fact that I decided about three weeks ago to stop drinking caffeinated coffee and to stop eating sugar to calm down a little bit. I’m doing good, havent had any bad cravings and I think it has helped a lot for me to keep my cool – most days. That being said for the first two weeks my digestive system did NOT want to co-operate, which was quite surprising, but now I feel great.
I had sort of hoped at the beginning of January to have moved on by now from where I am working, but I’m still working on that. Leaving a situation where I am unhappy always takes a lot of courage and a lot of time from me, but I’ll get there.  This upcoming week is a great opportunity for me to sit down and prepare my applications.

When I say “week” I have other things planned of course :) The first project is ripping up the scuzzy carpet and putting down a click-floor in the back room. I had hoped to do this last year and make it our bedroom since it faces the garden and is not on the street .But between visitors and what have you there was never the couple of days needed to sort it out.

I have some new clothing purchases which I will post on my Wardrobe planning page and have been buying a lot more second hand bits and pieces that I thought I would, which is great because I’m not spending so much money. A tip for buying new online is to have a quick google to see if a voucher code is available before pressing “checkout”. I saved €5 on my new runners for a 20 second investment of time! I have been planning a spring wardrobe but haven’t made any big purchases just yet.

Mother’s day is coming up and I had a chat with my grandmother who says that I shouldn’t go to the expense of sending flowers and gifts, that everyone has what they need and in fact more than I do and that she would be happier if I would take care of myself. I argued back, saying, “well if I sent nothing at all you’d both be disappointed”. What she said did resonate with me a little bit, so I sent her a hand-made card. Sometimes I take things that she says all the time and make a little card based on that theme. It always makes her laugh! My mum also got a handmade card, a customised printed teatowel that I made for her at the printing course I did and some fancy footcream that I bought in a kind of a hamper and kept for her.

Do you do anything special for mother’s day that you’d like to share?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Never judge a chicken by the sell-by-date

February 22, 2014 § 4 Comments

Basic Crock Chicken

Well, the sell-by date for this lovely specimen was for today (sorry veggie readers!) and at a bargainous price of €2.50 that’s a lot of eating. So I portioned it up (legs,breasts,wings), drenched in lemon juice and black pepper and a little sweet paprika, fried them a little in some sunflower oil and threw them in the crockpot (carrots first, then onions, then chicken then liquids). This is an adapted “Simple Crock Chicken” recipe to what I had to hand:

  • 1 whole chicken cut up into parts and fried as described above
  • 2 big carrots, cut ridiculously chunky
  • 2 onions, cut into fine rings
  • 1 lemon
  • 7 sprigs of fresh thyme (minus the twigs)
  • a can of cider (minus two “tastes” ;) )
  • a mug of vegetable stock
  • a third of a mug of cold water

I often have discussions with some of my German colleagues, for whom cooking is more of an event than something they regularly do. They often are amazed at why my boyfriend and I choose to cook so much rather than, as they see it, choose to eat out and have more time to do other things. I recently read somewhere that for every dollar you spend on bought meals, 20c of that has actually gone on food. If you breakdown the cost, of this meal, feeding 2 people, twice for approx €5.35 ( €2.50 chicken + can of cider €1.40 + organic lemon 75c + fresh thyme 30c + onions 40c + carrots 30c). That’s about €1.30 a meal. More when I serve it with potatoes and spinach. But that would not even bring it to €2! If i’d have bought chicken thighs, the whole process would have been much quicker. « Read the rest of this entry »

Getting to Work

February 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

StadtRad Hamburg

Yay! Cycling weather is here again! I cycle for free to work (when I can) with the citybike scheme. It’s free to use for the first 30mins and really saves me cash on busfares that are unavoidable in the colder weather, usually November to February when the snow comes. The busfare has gone up again, and now it’s €2 a pop. This time of year all you need is a pair of gloves and something to wipe the seat down with if there’s been some rain, and you’re ready to go.

The only thing about the citybike scheme is that it’s first come, first served so if you’re late getting out of work the chances of getting a bike are slim. Perhaps I should invest in a new (used) bicycle. After my second bicycle was stolen I decided it was a bit of a waste of time and thought I’d see how it went with just using the citybike. The added benefit of extra exercise is also something I’m looking forward to.

Busy as a…

February 16, 2014 § 4 Comments


Hello there! I’ve been very quiet because I was out of action with the cold the last week. But this weekend I made up for that with a screen printing course just for a bit of creative fun and to use my hands :) It was wonderful using all the colourful inks and getting my hands dirty! I printed these beavers (that I photographed in Canada and sketched with ink) onto both paper and material and plan to make some gifts with these little guys :) The other ladies were VERY organised, with rolls of material packed in little luggage trollies and had lots of patterns to print. Hats off to them! And they were so very inspirational!

Valentines day was lovely, we had a spontaneous simple meal in a very low-key family restaurant.

I invested in a good pillow this week, it’s kind of wedge-shaped and cost a ridiculous amount of money that I’m even embarrassed to mention anonymously! LOL! I’m not sure it was worth the price but my other pillow *had to go* asap. I think it wasn’t helping my shoulder. Because of that absurdly large expense I have been reluctant to take part in this week’s challenge of getting another wardrobe staple. I do however have my eyes on a lovely petrol-blue beret on Kleiderkreisel, which at €2 wouldn’t break the bank :) My sealed pot also got his weekly feed :)

Have a lovely weekend everyone! I hope you’re all well.


If at first you don’t succeed…

February 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Hello, hello! It’s an easy crockpot Sunday here, the dinner is simmering away in the kitchen. It’s a new recipe that I have never tried before that has:

  • diced beef
  • mushrooms
  • sweet potato
  • beef stock
  • red wine
  • sage and thyme and two bay leaves

It smells very good :) And I’ll serve some spinach with it. It’s been simmering on the highest setting for 6 hours now.

Last weekend was wonderful but was quite a lot to do in one weekend so this weekend, we planned less to do, particularly for today. Yesterday we did some much-needed clothes shopping (mostly for my boyfriend) and we went to a beautiful-looking café that I had passed by many times. What I find really funny about lunchtime on Saturdays in Germany is that some people are eating breakfasty-looking things, some are having cake and coffee (like us) and some are onto beers already :) In this particular café, a large platter of oysters shared among groups of friends seemed to be “de rigeur” ;)

Today I worked on my job application a little bit which feels so undescribably GOOD to get that underway and off my chest :) I need to just keep doing little bits. I tidied up around the house a little bit this afternoon and set out my outfits for the week (I updated my wardrobe planning page :) ) I even have some MaPo Tofu leftovers in my lunchbox for tomorrow.

Last week I wanted to make a real stab at getting my passport and drivers licence renewed. However, when cross-checking the form I read that the doctor (my witness) had mistakenly signed the form in the wrong place. I called the embassy to try my luck and see if it will do, but it turns out that this is a big deal and I have to do it all over again :( It’s better though than waiting weeks to have my application rejected and be without a passport for all that time.

For the driver’s licence, we drove early on Monday morning to the government motor “taxation” offices, but couldn’t access the building because there were roadworks all the way around with no diversion instructions. Grrr! We ran out of time driving around and I missed my appointment. But I can’t give up! No passport means no holidays!

I will go another day and leave more time to find my way in. And I found out that it is possible that an accountant in the place where I work can sign the documents to be my witness for the passport, I just need a few minutes to make some personal phonecalls during work hours to see if this would be acceptable. I have learned about myself that I get very caught up in feeling “busy” or allowing myself to feel so busy that I can’t do the things that I need to be doing for me! I have set an alarm in my calendar to tell me it’s time to go home and get my things done that need doing.

As a last thought, I think that there is no paycheque sweeter than February’s! I stocked up on household essentials (new toothbrushes, toilet rolls, shampoos, etc.) and have to behave myself a little bit now because I went a bit crazy eating out since Saturday :) But it feels good to get over January :) Doesn’t it?

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Anti-poverty campaigner for Oxfam and Child POverty Action Group, and supporting the Trussell Trust. Guardian recipe columnist. Mother. Food blogger. Cookbook author. Twitter@ :MsJackMonroe

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