Lunch, Anyone?

I’ve written about that vicious cycle before (so much work – imminent starvation – translating cookbook); I swear I’ve gained half of my excess weight because of my specializing in that particular genre. Doesn’t bode well for the future, does it???

Trepidation of impending obesity aside, here’s what I whipped up today after wandering into the kitchen in search of food. For lack of a better term (for it took all of 20 minutes to make, and stews, in my mind, usually take hours and hours of, um, stewing) I’m calling it

No-Fuss Chickpea and Tomato Stew

IMG_2736As you can see, I topped it with Feta cheese and some fresh basil. I thought it looked very pretty, and it was also very good. Here’s how I made it.

1 shallot, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 TB olive oil

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 can chickpeas

Salt & pepper to taste

Pinch of sugar

1 handful fresh basil and oregano, chopped

Gently sauté the vegetables and herbs until the shallots are translucent but not brown, add tomatoes and season the sauce to your liking. Let stew for a few minutes, then add the drained chickpeas and let them heat in the hot sauce for a bit. Chop or crumble your Feta cheese, pour stew in a bowl, top with crumbled or cubed cheese and a bit of fresh basil (mainly for the looks, sauce is yummy just as it is), grab a spoon and eat :-). Quick & easy, as lunch should be, in my opinion.

Dropping out of Blogland again for now with a quick wave and a few pics of last week’s ninja crocheting – I made my first (and probably last, you’ll know why when you see it!) amigurumi for my sweet niece M.’s birthday, as well as a colorful mandala as a bright little personal addition to the white peonies I gave to my wonderful friend M. for her birthday.

It has to be noted, that while I managed the mandala by myself, the unicorn was only finished on schedule because my rock star of a son took care of the finishing and assembling. That boy can sew – soooo much better than I, and unlike me, he’s patient enough to do it, bless him.

Have a great week, everyone :-).

A Domestic Post

I love our apartment. It’s spacious, with large windows and just the right mix of slightly shabby bohemian turn of last century chic and modern amenities. The children get their own rooms, we can each be by ourselves whenever we choose to be, and there’s still enough room to converge for a meal, a movie or a game. But despite all that space, my favorite few square meters over the few precious months of warm weather we get in this climate are our two (!) balconies. One faces East and the other West, so we get both morning and afternoon sun.

IMG_2599The above is the kitchen balcony we share with our neighbors next door. They rarely take advantage of it, because they’re not home a lot, but I always use it for growing herbs. As of last summer, I’ve been proud owner of this fabulous urban gardening contraption, but it’s only recently that I’ve actually begun using it in its designated capacity. It’s a euro-pallet we found in the street, and my son took it home, painted it, lined it with plastic foil and made me this planter for my herb plants for my birthday last year. I’m having a lot of fun with it.

Last week I made a quiche from a random assortment of bits and pieces found in my vegetable drawer (leeks, zucchini, fennel, carrots and a leftover boiled potato), pimped with an unusual combination of herbs I had at my fingertips thanks to that planter (tarragon, mint and thyme – in bloom). Because I’m still trying to substitute as much wheat as I can, I used 2/3rds rye flour for the crust, which added a nice nutty flavor. I topped it with a few slices of goat cheese and thyme flowers …

IMG_2593IMG_2602… and look how pretty it turned out. It was very good, too.

I will tell you how I made this, but be warned: it’s not a lightweight, and that’s just how it is. Shortcrust needs butter (or in some recipes that are not mine, even lard), so if you’re counting calories, you’d better count in some time on the treadmill too ;-).

Veggie Quiche on a Rye Crust

The crust is pretty straightforward – flour, cold butter, 2 yolks, some salt. Some ice water if needed. Quickly make a smooth dough, chill for 1 hour, roll out and bake. Let cool for a bit. Then add the sauteed veggies, pour on the eggs-and-cream mix, and bake until puffed up and lightly browned.

You will need

200 g rye flour

100 g wheat flour

1/2-1 TSP salt

150 g chilled butter (sorry!)

2 egg yolks

2 TBSP ice water if needed to make dough smoother

Quickly knead the ingredients to make a firm, smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

In the meantime, get out a large skillet and sauté in olive oil:

1 leek, the white portion, cut into 1/2 cm rings

3 green onions, cut into rings

2 carrots, cut into thin slices

1/2 bulb of fennel, chopped

1 small zucchini, chopped

1 leftover boiled potato (but only because I had it, the quiche certainly doesn’t need any additional carbs!)

1 TSP thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

1 TSP fresh tarragon, chopped

A few careful leaves of mint to taste, chopped

(The above is what I used. You can, depending on the season, on what looks good that day and your personal preference, use any vegetable and/or herb that strikes your fancy – bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, chard, cabbage, or I suppose even kale, asparagus, beans, green peas, onions, eggplant, okra, squash, mushrooms and seeded and juiced tomatoes …)

Cut up the veggies and cook them with the herbs at medium heat for a few minutes. Season to taste, then let cool in the skillet until you’re ready to fill your quiche.

After 1 hour in the refrigerator, take out the dough and with a rolling pin, quickly roll out a 3-4 mm thick crust. Butter a baking dish and dust with flour. Line it with the dough evenly. You’ll probably have to do some patchworking here and there, because the dough might tear as you transfer it to the baking dish, but don’t worry, it’s not going to show after you bake the crust. Next, pierce the crust with a fork every few centimeters, preheat the oven to 160 °C and bake until the dough sets – 20 minutes should be enough. Let cool for a while.

For the topping, you will need

4 eggs

200 ml whipping cream

Salt and pepper

1 goat cheese log, cut into 5 mm thick slices

Fresh thyme flowers, one for each slice of cheese

Now beat 4 eggs into 200 ml whipping cream and add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the vegetables to the crust and spread evenly. Place as many slices of cheese as you like on the vegetables and top each slice with a thyme flower. Pour the egg mixture in the pan and bake for about 30 minutes at 150 °C, until the surface puffs and browns lightly. Serve with a large bowl of salad so you have a chance to have some non-fattening food with that indulgence :-).

We had a week off from school, two days of which were spent on the Autobahn No. 9. Car travel is always hell for my back, but good for crafts projects when I’m not driving. Here’s what happened on that front:

Originally, this was planned as an addition to my ‚give that couch some color‘ quest, but then my daughter pointed out how very well the color scheme matched that of her room, so … I’ll have to come up with another design for the couch, another time.

Right now, I’m grappling with my first amigurumi crochet project – very exciting, and so much more counting stitches than I’m usually comfortable with, but it’s for a good cause, so I’ll just have to cope ;-)). My sweet niece M.’s birthday is coming up, and I’m making her a unicorn, check it out:

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To come full circle with the domestic topics (notice how I didn’t mention work even once 😉 ?) let’s have a look at the first green peas my husband grew in his vegetable patch, proudly presented by our own little Sweet pea:

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Signing off today with a piece of interior decoration I saw in my mother in law’s guest bathroom:

IMG_2535For those who don’t know any German, it says: Sometimes it’s just better to blame others. It made me laugh out loud, because it’s so to the point for everyone who was, like me, brought up to be a ‚Good Girl‘. Not sure how well that worked out, but I do know that I’m still working on ditching some of that early childhood imprinting :-).

Have a great month of June, everyone!

Favorite Summer Things

Yesterday, we did something we hadn’t done in years. It used to be one of my favorite pastimes when my daughter was little: a lazy afternoon at the park, and a picnic dinner.

It felt nostalgic to think back to those carefree days with no school, no homework or piano practice and nothing more important to do than watch the toddlers play in the sandbox and change a diaper every once in a while. My daughter’s sweetest cutie-pie of a girl friend’s lovely mom and I were sprawled on the lawn – she as a former dancer way more graceful than I, no doubt, chatting and munching on carrot sticks. It was fabulous.

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The weather was like you can see above, and below you can see our mishmash eats.

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There were hard-boiled eggs, salami sticks, a slab of cheese, a lentils and chard salad, a quickly thrown together pasta salad, some cream cheese and crackers, olives, cherry tomatoes, bread and butter, carrot sticks and a few slightly stale leftover chocolate and almond muffins for the young. Not a bad turnout, and a good way to get rid of leftovers and slightly mismatched foods that had just about outstayed their welcome in the fridge.

We had a nice 2 hours out in the sun, and I soaked up the rays like I rarely can once we’ve passed the 20s and entered the 30s. Usually, over the summer, my place is in the shade, under a hat, in some not too heavy long-sleeve garment. I just love the spring and the fall more than the heat, despite the outdoor swimming that I, illogically, love too.

In other news, I’m happy to report that the Three Weeks Without My Boy are drawing to a close. In fact, we’ll go get him Saturday – a prospect that has me feeling like Christmas came a bit early this year, with some Thanksgiving and a couple birthdays thrown in. As suspected, the world didn’t end while he was gone, and I wasn’t crying myself to sleep every night, nor did I stop enjoying life. It helped that, after a few days of absolute radio silence, we did get the odd What’s App and a few pics even – look, aren’t the goats pretty?

IMG_2409In terms of crafts, I started on yet another cushion – a simple Granny Square gradually getting bigger. I’m using up a few leftover sock yarns from the past few months for this.
IMG_2422The color combo is a bit random, probably due to the fact that I grabbed the first four yarn balls I could find when I rushed out the door late for picking up my daughter, and then challenged myself to make something pretty out of the colors anyway. I’m pleased at how it’s turning out, though. For the back, I’m leaning toward either the baby blue or the mint green, whatever will seem more promising in a few rounds.

And since my friend and picnic partner from yesterday M. was curious about the lentil salad, here’s how I made it:

Spontaneous Lentil Salad

2 handfuls black Beluga lentils, boiled

1 green onion, finely chopped

1 tomato, seeded and cut up in 1,5 x 1,5 cm pieces

1 handful cilantro, chopped

500 g baby chard leaves

Olive oil

White Balsamic vinegar

Pinch of sugar

Salt & pepper to taste

As I was in a rush, all I basically did was throw everything in a salad bowl and add the condiments and spices without much decorum or fussing with the dressing. I suppose everything kind of mixed nicely when I was walking over to the park.

And since I never took a picture of that salad, I’d like to throw in a cake, with pics.

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This is before it went into the oven. The cake is based on a recipe I got from Ms M., the wonderful midwife who helped me ease into motherhood when my son was born 15 years ago.

I hadn’t made this for years, and was reminded of it only recently when I was supposed to bring a cake to a school thing, and had neither time nor energy for a grocery run, but needed to work with what I had. So I took stock and what I found sort of triggered the memory of this buttery, fluffy indulgence topped with almond slivers, sugar and melted butter. (Who watches calories when they’ve recently delivered a baby, right?)

The one I made 2 weeks ago did go a bit easier on the butter, and unlike in the original recipe that doesn’t involve fruit, I topped 2/3rds of the cake with sliced apples. I also substituted most of the wheat flour with coconut flakes, and used Stevia sugar because I was out of the regular kind (it happens!). But it turned out nice anyway ;-), and everyone at the parents‘ meet enjoyed it. That’s why, today, I made it again: because I could, and also because it was Children’s Day.

Here’s how I went about it:

Children’s Day Cake

100 g coconut flakes

100 g sugar

Pinch of salt

Zest of 1,5 lemons

100 g plain yogurt

Juice of 1/2 lemon

3 eggs

150 g softened butter

50 g flour, possibly a bit more

1/2 p baking soda

1 p vanilla sugar

A dash of milk if needed

50 g sliced almonds (or coconut slivers)

4 TB sugar

2 large Boskoop or other tartish apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

50 g butter, melted

Cream the softened butter, sugar, salt and vanilla sugar. Add the eggs, yogurt, lemon zest, coconut flakes and flour. Add lemon juice to taste. Let sit for a while so the coconut flakes can absorb some of the moisture; should the batter seem too dry to you, add a bit of milk. If it seems to moist, add more flour.

Just before baking, stir in the baking soda.

Butter a baking sheet and dust with flour. Spread the batter evenly, about 1 cm high. At this point, you can either go all the way and just sprinkle almonds (or coconut slivers) and sugar on the batter, and generously drizzle melted butter on top.

Or you can top the batter with apple slices and just sprinkle a wee bit of sugar and a few drops of melted butter on to caramelize. Bake at 160 °C for about 30 minutes or until a light, golden brown.IMG_2471That’s what it looked like when it came out of the oven…

img_2472.jpg… and that was 20 minutes later, I’m not lying. I’d say the cake turned out pretty good ;-). In fact, I’d recommend you go for the coconut slivers instead of the almonds if you do want to try this recipe, they’re far superior.

In Berlin, we get a week off from school next week – a short break that needs to last us until summer break, so I’ll feed the kids lots of fresh fruit and let them sleep in and relax – although there is some renovating I’d like them to help with at the cottage. Maybe I can bribe them.

Enjoy the early summer, be glad it’s not 40 in the shade yet, and look forward to the first strawberries from the region – I just bought some yesterday and there’s just nothing quite like them :-).

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The Ides of May – a Mother’s Day Post

IMG_2302The first ten days of May have come and gone, you know, the bad days when I think about Dead People a lot, and ponder the transitory nature of life. This year, I counteracted with a buttload of work, always a good strategy when feeling morose. Busy days and a couple of late nights later, one job is all but finished. IMG_2288

I’m being supported by my friend F. on this one, who not only has a brilliant academic mind and a keen eye for any typos that might lurk, but with whom I also share a deep love for crafts-related things, so we’re obviously collaborating on the Sewing Book :-).

The other project I’m currently spending most of my work time on is far from done, but we’re about half-way through, and I feel confident we’re doing a very good job of it. I’m co-translating this one with a friend who is in charge of the project, and enjoying every minute of it. We’ve worked together before, so I knew it was going to be good going in, and it is.

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All the while, crafts needed to take a time-out. I finished the pale blue stripies for my sweet A. because I was on a deadline, in fact it’s her birthday today, and although she won’t receive her gift until end of May, probably, I still wanted it to get to her as soon as the logistics of snail mail will allow.

And then yesterday night when I was catching up with all the episodes of Marvel Agents of Shield I missed over the past way too busy weeks with my squad, I finished the latest addition to my Mission To Brighten Up The Grey Couch: The Zig-Zag Cushion.

I’m pleased with how it turned out, and I like how the cushions are not even remotely alike. The next one may be something Granny Square-y, not sure yet, or even a knitted cable pattern, just one color and lots of texture. We’ll see.

For now, I’ve started with a little summery sweater for my daughter. It was one of those spontaneous yarn purchases made with no particular design in mind. I just liked the yarn, and after playing around with it today a bit, I decided it needed a seed stitch, and that I’d make her a boxy sweater, not too long, not too short.

As many of you are probably aware, it was Mother’s Day today – usually a great day for being brought tea in bed, the kids making you your favorite breakfast, and giving you flowers, handcrafted gifts and the likes. And while I got all of that …:

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… the blissful laziness came to an abrupt halt around noon, when I had to say goodbye to my favorite boy for 3 weeks. He’s off to intern on a farm, as part of the 9th grade curriculum. He applied to a sustainable goat farm, got in, and he’s greatly looking forward to working with the animals. Hopefully he’ll even get to learn how to make cheese. How cool is that?

The only downside is the fact we’re not supposed to have any contact with the children over the whole period, and I have to say that right now, 3 weeks seem like an awfully long time to me. I have gone a week without before, for class trips are usually like that also with the no phones policy. But I always have a hard time being away from him, helicopter parent (within reason, at least that’s how I see it ;-)) that I am. Oh well. Kids are supposed to become really independent when doing this, so there. Everything for healthy character development… And although it’s not going to be pretty, no doubt, in the words of the immortal Queen of Disco, Gloria Gaynor, I will survive.

Such a great song. There, I feel better already ;-).

And of course I’m not as bad off as the moms of only children, as I have my young daughter who is happy enough to have me all to herself for a while. Today, we did this:

It took me a while to remember the rules, but my daughter refreshed my memory, and then we had a lot of fun with this board game I brought back from Greece once upon another lifetime.

I mended a pair of jeans for her, brushed her hair and watched one of her all time favorite movies with her when the weather did what it does this spring – it turned bad again, so no Fro Yo bar day yet again. And now I get to pour all these mixed feelings into my little speaker’s corner of the www, so I’m guessing the day is drawing to a close on a reasonably content, if not ecstatic note.

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I took this gorgeous pic on the one sunny afternoon we had the past week. We need to count our blessings, right? Hope all you moms out there had a wonderful time with your children today. Have a great week!

About a Bag Lady

When my son told me yesterday there was a homeless person sleeping on the lawn in front of our building it made me wonder what their story was, as it always does whenever I see someone in their situation. Everybody living outside of the normal societal spectrum has one, and some have even made it into our pop culture – remember ‚The Fisher King‘ starring Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges? It’s one of my favorite movies ever.

When I was cleaning up our balcony yesterday, getting rid of the sad shriveled stalks that were my plants last summer, I suddenly thought – what if they’re dead, or sick? So I peered over the railing to check whether the person had moved, and found that it was a woman who looked Latin American, with beautiful long black hair. She had made herself as comfortable as she could on a thermo picknick blanket, her backpack, sneakers and a paperback novel neatly arranged next to her. It felt weird looking down on her like that, as if I were intruding, so I didn’t stare once I had established she was alive.

Today, my neighbors from downstairs went out to take her a drink, which didn’t really go well. She lost it, yelled at them for their trouble, and finally they had to ask her to leave. They said she seemed pretty tweaked out on some drug. She’s gone now, and I hope she found another secluded (and safe) place to crash.

A friend pointed out to me recently that in Germany, nobody really has to sleep on the streets if they don’t want to. He said it’s always a choice people make, probably to do with some psychological disorder more often than not. Or even with a profound need to be alone, to the point of preferring a patch of front lawn to being crammed into a shelter, sharing space with a group of strangers.

I’ve said it before – I enjoy solitude a great deal myself, but unlike the bag lady, I’m privileged enough to be able to be alone in comfort rather than having to sleep on a park bench. Suddenly, being alone up here in my comfortable, central heated apartment with a bathroom, food in the fridge and WiFi seemed special and not something I should be taking for granted. In the end, we may not be that different, she with her paperback novel and me with my e-book, I thought.

It made me appreciate my life, which is always a good thing. My family have gone to the country for the long weekend, I’ve stayed back to do some work, and now I’m ready to welcome back the noise, the laughter and the mess that is my sweet kids and husband.

Did I do any crafts the past week? Well, it was a busy few days work-wise, also there were parents‘ meets, and my sweet girl J. came to stay with us for a couple days after winning the award for Best German Computer Game 2017 – a major achievement she can be soooo proud of! If you’re a gamer, you absolutely need to check out Portal Knights, it’ll be out for XBox on May 19th.

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As you can see, I have been knitting over the past week: another pair of stripy socks in the coolest shade of rockabilly baby blue. These are for my girl A. whose birthday is coming up in 2 weeks.

IMG_2158Remember when I was so bamboozled with my many color choices for my friend S.’s socks? The blue ball of yarn was one of the ones I bought that day. These are the ones for S., all wrapped up pretty, and modeled by myself.

When I’m done with the socks, I want to finish the Zig Zag crochet cushion I started over Easter. Without realizing, I included the pansexual colors (and a few more), what do you know. I was really just using up leftover yarn, not trying to make a political statement! But I think it’s going to be so pretty, another spot of brightness on the dark Grey that is our new couch.IMG_2228.JPGAnd now I have go check what to make my people for dinner. Have a good week, everyone!

So many Things to Do, So Little Time

Sometimes I wonder if I wouldn’t have made one heck of a housewife. You know, cooking (check), bringing up kids (check), community work (check) but no job (well…) and a few lovely hobbies (check) instead. I very much doubt I’d have been bored. A solid fine arts education gives you a wide enough horizon to be an interested human being, after all. Maybe I’d practice piano again. Or sign up for Arabic classes like I’ve been wanting to do. Ha. I bet the very thought of a stay-at-home-mom daughter would have made my brainy mother and her women’s lib generation shudder. But as my fabulous and equally brainy sister-in-heart A. pointed out, that generation fought for us having the choice as well as the opportunities. She’s right – and it was what I needed to hear when she said that, as I’d been struggling with the whole ‚OMG why did I not make more of the chances I was given in life‘ … in connection with the big 5-0 approaching. Anyway, that isn’t how things have worked out for me, and that’s fine. I get to do things that I love, which is anything but a given.

Where did this train of thought come from anyway? It’s my friend A.’s fault. She asked me for a lasagna recipe earlier today, and since I already wrote mine down a while back, all I needed to do was point her here. And then she said, Jeez, when do you even find the time to write all this stuff? Which made me feel like a weirdo. I’m certainly not an artist by any stretch. I don’t feel compelled to tell stories like I imagine authors do, I have no fictional characters in my head, I’m not plotting any story arcs, and I don’t think my musings and pics posted here are of great importance. And yet I find the whole blogging experience gratifying, and when I’ve done a good job with a post, I feel reasonably proud of it, in much the same way I feel happy with a piece of knitting or crochet that turned out well. Obviously it’s a time-consuming hobby, and sitting my butt down to write a post seriously cuts down on my free time, for unlike with crafts, I can’t really do anything else while writing. I guess you’d have to be a blogger yourself to understand why I do it. I certainly didn’t get it before I started this blog, even though there were a few bloggers I was following. It’s a mystery I won’t be solving tonight, that’s for sure, as I need to go put my kid to bed, stat.

IMG_2102.jpgAn hour later. Kids. When you have them, they rule your life. Seeing that my mood has changed completely in the meantime, I’ll just continue this post with remembering one of the coldest Easters in years. But the crazy weather did make for some amazing light – magic, right?

IMG_2034My current crafts WIP is a pair of socks, for my friend S. in Frankfurt. Yesterday was her birthday, and I was going to finish the socks before that. I bought the yarn in good time, but I swear it took me 3 days to decide on a color scheme. I even did a color survey on Instagram because I just couldn’t make up my mind: IMG_2158.JPGDespite sound advice, I still wasn’t happy with any of the choices. I ended up trying out quite a few things – I don’t think I ever ripped up so many swatches. When I’d had it with that, I decided that stripies were the way to go, and here’s what that led to: IMG_2178I’ll finish the socks tonight so I can mail them to my friend tomorrow. She’s an alternative medicine practitioner, with beautiful long honey-blond hair and amazing eyes, blue and green and some grey – and I seem to remember she wears white to work, so I hope the socks will go well with her coloring. They’re made of a soft merino mix (mint green) and the downiest baby merino yarn (off-white). I think they’re really pretty in a retro kind of way, and also they feel really snuggly. Handmade socks warm your heart from the feet up, don’t they ;-)?

The rest of my week looks kind of crazy, wish me luck with not dropping too many of the balls I need to juggle. I guess that’s what you get for being brought up with the notion that since you can do it all, that’s what you’re supposed to do, too … No wonder people all suffer from burn-out syndrome these over-achieving days!

Stay sane, stitch readers, and remember to breathe.

The Day It Was Spring …

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… was Saturday last week. This picture was taken after an extraordinarily busy week during which I translated a huge number of pages, participated in two parents meets, worried about my mother in law who underwent major surgery and tried planning our summer around three book projects, one wedding, a trip to France and two families‘ (located on different continents) schedules …

The week after that was basically more of the same, and therefore mostly remarkable for offering the perspective of a Week With No Alarm Clock to follow. Not that it means I have a week off, but sleeping in is usually only happening on weekends, and I’m taking full advantage.

Unfortunately, the weather has been more rain than shine, less degrees than we hoped, and a chilly Easter to look forward to :-/. But we get to be in the country, so we can run outside as soon as the rain stops. Also, we’re here with our friends, and that is a treat whether the weather be good or bad.

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And now for something completely different! People have mentioned that I never really talk about my work on here. It’s sort of true, I mostly discuss crafts and cooking and stuff that’s on my mind. This may give the impression that that’s all I’m about, and since nothing could be further from the truth, let me put that in perspective a bit.

As you guys know, I’m a copywriter turned translator. My former and my current jobs are similar in terms of requiring you to become familiar with a new subject matter in record time, enough to be able to credibly pretend you know what you’re talking about anyway. In copywriting, that’s usually all you really do. Obviously it helps if you love words and know how to be witty, but it rarely goes any deeper than that, mostly because lot of bomb-ass ideas get trashed before they ever see the light outside of the dungeons of the art department.

Translating is different. When I translate nonfiction, I learn so much from my authors – and if I’m lucky enough to translate something I love, like a cookbook or a crafts book, it all adds to my own expertise. This past month has seen me buckle down and learn about sewing. And it’s great! All the yummy new words I learned, all the insight on fabrics and patterns and needles and utensils. I had FUN!

When translating fiction, it’s great to transpose a whole world, a culture, the main characters, and to make the readers get them, or even like them. When the readers don’t really notice they’re reading a translation, I’d say I did a good job.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a weakness for (gay) young adults fiction, and the millennials in particular. So far, I’ve translated two novels by Santino Hassell, both set in the very diverse gay culture of New York. The first book, Sutphin Boulevard, was well received and got good reviews, even a little love for the translator, which was such a relief because as a hetero cis-gender female translator, I was apprehensive as to whether I had done the work justice. It’s a deeply romantic love story, but in parts kind of dark. Not an easy read at all, but it’s got great protagonists, interesting character development and (because it’s Santino) some very explicit and highly emotional sex scenes.

The second book, Sunset Park, came out mid March, and oddly, it seems the reviewers have little patience with the woes and struggles of younger people. Why then would they even buy a book like that, I wonder. Just go for the grown-up books section and skirt everything that reeks of coming of age, finding out who you are and what you’d like to do with your life, falling in love and discovering your (sexual) identity… I’m sure Sunset will find its readers anyway, because it’s a great story, and very very funny.

When translating the first book, I struggled with finding the right tone for the sex scenes – ultimately, in German, we don’t have the playful and fun vocab English has for anything sex related. German tends to be either overly romantic, off-puttingly clinical or flat out vulgar. It was a challenge, but in the end I guess I pulled it off. The second book taught me (among other things) about Grindr, the gay sex dating app. I liked the pragmatism, the acronyms, the lingo … the whole system was fascinating to me. And since Santino doesn’t do sex for sex’s sake in his novels, there’s a very intense Grindr chat in one of the first chapters that is absolutely crucial for the whole story arc, and I just needed to nail that (no pun whatsoever intended). So now I know my way around that (not entirely sure what good it’s going to do me – again, straight cis-gender female – but it was cool to explore that parallel universe anyway.) And of course, translating two characters who are both funny as all hell, snarky and sweet, one with a Latino background who sounds a little ‚hood, and the other a clean-cut white boy from Connecticut who went to Brown. I found both of them equally lovable, and they’re my favorite couple in that ‚verse so far.

I’m supposed to work on the third book over the summer. It’s about two guys who’re both almost 40, so the most adult people he’s written about so far. We’ll see how I do with them.

Until then, I have the great honor of chipping in on the translation of a true cookbook classic – not supposed to say which one yet, but it’s huge, and I’m loving it SO MUCH!

So there, now I have talked about work – to those of you who thought all I do is bring up kids and crochet and knit, sorry to disappoint, not that kind of lady.

But I do do these things all the time anyway, because I’d go insane if I didn’t. Here’s some things I made over the past few weeks:
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Look, the soft pink socks for Sweet C. are done :-).

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As are two new sofa cushions to add a splash of color to the solemn grey.

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Voilà, the latest glittery sock creation for my daughter.

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This was enlightening – can you believe I made all of those…?

Signing off tonight (for it’s late!) with a series of my teenager creating street art with garbage. Love the way his mind works :-).

Happy Easter, everyone – let’s hope the Easter Bunny will be generous this year!

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