Loose Ends

IMG_1769One of the tasks I feel I have in this life is get a handle on my tendency to walk away from messes rather than man up and take care of them. Why I find that so difficult is unclear, but it’s what it is. As I’m sure most of you, stitch readers, know, untidiness occurs on a daily basis if you live with other people (men or women both), pets and, most notably, children. Contrary to what you might think, having large places like we do in Berlin makes the problem worse instead of de-escalating it. It’s way too easy to physically remove yourself from the epicenter of the chaos without leaving the house. Dangerous, that.

I’m in a weird mood today. I have work, but can’t concentrate for s… Waiting for the shop to call back and give me the verdict on the car. Urgently waiting for my girl J. to _finally_ receive a package that has an astonishing history of getting lost. Making up my mind whether to knit a new hat for my daughter who has yet again lost one, or just get her a new one. Looking forward in panicky anticipation to seeing my son on stage as Lucifer in the school play that’s premiering this weekend. Waiting to hear back from a client who may or may not have ditched me for backing out of a project. The slings and arrows of pulling out of our hats the annual Winter Fayre at the Waldorf school on Thanksgiving weekend (Waldorf moms, you know what I’m talking about). Meeting with teachers about a kerfuffle at my daughter’s school concerning a very difficult kid (not mine, thank God, just me doing the parents rep thing). Needing to bill a client for a poorly organized project, which makes the invoice both complicated and susceptible to mistakes … Lots of stupid little things like that, and they keep piling up like a messed up round of Tetris. Stressful and annoying.

Oh, you’re asking for a solution now? Well. I guess I have a strategy, you could call it. I recently read a discussion on a related topic in a forum, regarding workday organization, time management and such. What I took away from it is that the world seems full of very organized folks. To my relief, there is also great diversity with regard to the systems they use. In the end, we’re all different, and whatever gets the job done is all that matters.

So, my personal way of going about Managing Messy Days is the following.

1. First beat into submission my knee-jerk impulse to walk away from it all. It’s real, I’ve done it more times than I can count, even though I’m aware that most issues do NOT just dissolve into thin air when you look away, sadly. Addendum: Walking the dog first is absolutely fine, for clearing of heads and channeling of energy from the trees and the sunshine and the oxygen. Also, it’s exercise, always a bonus.

2. Then, sit down and write down all the things I currently worry about. There should be two columns (or clusters if you’re a mind map person). One for the things that just require keeping an eye on as opposed to actively doing something about them. And another for actual tasks and chores.

3. Acknowledge the things you can’t change right now, and ignore for now. The other things: Just do them. One after the other. Check, check, and check. Banal, you say? Well, duh. I’m no type of expert for systematic approaches or life coaching, haha! You don’t even know how hilarious that notion is. I’m just 52 years old, have worked for about 30 years and have managed a family as a working mom for about 18. I suppose you could call me ‚experienced‘.

4. If you can, talk to someone about the other list, or cluster. Call a friend, whine, be a brat about it. Journal. Just communicate your dissatisfaction to a friendly listener. It always makes me feel better! And I guess the task to absorb my rant fell to you guys today :-). You’re welcome. And, more importantly: thank you for reading, truly.

So that is my method for getting the better of days like this one, lest they get the better of me.

There’s not much else I feel like talking about today. One thing, maybe. I mentioned that everybody is having babies, right. And you know I like to make things for little people. So I can’t really decide about the pattern for a friend’s baby. I have a bit of time, as it’s only due in a few months. But I’d like to get started before all the Xmas craziness sets in.

Remember the ripple pattern baby blankets I did in the past?

They were all pretty much the same, and based on Attic 24’s awesome pattern. This time, I wanted to do something different, more monochromatic. I was thinking a simple textured pattern. So, over the weekend, I played around a bit with patterns, color combinations and yarn.

I kind of settled on off white, maybe using two strands to make it more chunky, for it is thin yarn, which would be perfect for a summer blanket but the baby’s due in spring, so. I was also thinking of adding a pompom border in pastel colors, pompoms like I did here?

But around a blanket with a pattern like the one below (those are just swatches, to see and feel the pattern).

So that’s a question I’d like your input for. My daughter liked the middle one, but I’m not sure if it isn’t a bit too geometric for a little baby girl. What do you think? The one on the left is of course nothing else but the ripple pattern minus the different colors. Please help me make up my mind!

Btw, I’ve gotten my car back in the meantime. The verdict is not great: I walked away with another appointment and the prospect of having to spend a good few hundred bucks, easy. :-(.

So, now I’ve gotten all of that out of my system, I guess it’s high time to sit down and do some work I’m actually getting paid for. Ducking back out of here with a picture I took last week by the lake. I swear this was midday to early afternoon (as the clever ones of you can probably tell by the position of the sun). I love the eerie lighting and the sense of impending doom. You can easily imagine an army of zombies just waiting to stagger out of that murky water in search of braaaaaiiiin.

IMG_2221Have a lovely day, everyone, hopefully more focused and less messy than mine.

Fight Racism in the Street and in your Mind

That’s what it said in Futura Bold on a T-shirt I was given by my sweet friend M., way back in our salad days. It was the corporate font of the ad agency he was working for, one of the more interesting places of the Nineties ad scene in Frankfurt, a place called Trust. They were remarkable for well designed and implemented corporate culture, and sneered at by the more conservative ad crowd, for being a bit flashy, in your face, and bold, but looking back, probably mostly for being different.

From today’s perspective, it was simply decent corporate design, and as far as I know the owners had a deep understanding of the secret weapon used by even the smallest enterprises today: the corporate idea. They were trying to establish something special and new (for Frankfurt in those days anyway). They certainly were hard to overlook.

One of the things the agency would do was print T-shirts with clever taglines like this one (kudos to whoever was responsible for it, could find no reference online – if anyone should know the wordsmith, please tell me and I’ll shout their name from the rooftops, here in my own small Speaker’s Corner of the Internet). The T-shirts were handed out to the staff, and my friend swiped one for me, good man. He really was. We lost touch when I moved away, and I miss him.

As my 25 years older self, I think it’s a huge, tall order, what it said on that T-shirt. Even though a migrant myself, I am not free of racism. In fact, while feeling kinship towards my Egyptian bestie N., my Spanish friend M., my daughter’s Romanian piano teacher etc. etc., I sometimes feel sort of a reverse xenophobia towards whoever makes stupid comments about race, gender, or sexuality. Not sure if that’s a thing, or just me being weird. Talk to me if you have experienced similar things?

In a way, this makes me no better than a right-out racist, I feel. And I get now that this is exactly what ‚in your mind‘ means. Why would I resent people only because they don’t share my own values? Gotta watch that. And fight it. In my mind. And in my children’s, whom it’s my job to bring up as smart and open and tolerant people. I should make them their own ‚Fight Racism‘ T-shirts. I’m sure my son would wear one.

So, that got a little deep ;-). Want to see a few pretty fall pics to lighten the mood?

One of the pics above was not taken in the country, can you guess which one?

Oh, and here’s my favorite shot, with a strange, extraterrestrial feel to it. Also, ears :-).IMG_1889.JPGIn terms of crafts, I used my free time to finish projects. First, rainbow baby blanket for tattoo artist, check.

As you can see, I added a picot border, and I’m not sorry.

Second, Starry Night socks for my daughter, check. Of course, I ran out of yarn on the last few cm and needed to improvise with another navy blue yarn. I blame the dog, who stole my ball of yarn and played with it a bit, entangling it to the point that forced me to throw out a considerable piece, the very length that would have enabled me to finish that sock, probably. Thankfully, my daughter still loves them despite the patchwork.

img_1336.jpgAnd third, don’t even know if you remember, I started out to make a stripy sweater in early spring, made from an ancient stash of silky black mohair yarn, a yellow skein of organic pure new wool I had bought at the school fayre last year, and some off white cashmere silk blend I had left from the lace mittens I’d made for my MIL two years ago.

The color scheme was inspired by Finnish crafts artist Tuija Heikkinen whose Instagram I follow. She’s a true genius, and I admire just about everything she creates. She posted a piece of  I don’t even know what to call it? It was these little mannequin-like dolls dressed in what I would call Swinging London Sixties dresses, featuring the colors I used, among others. I saw her post, loved it, my imagination ran with it, and it resulted in this:

I had no pattern, but I have a favorite similarly cut sweater I used as a model. As usual, this method involved some trial and error, there was swearing and frogging, but in the end it was pretty straightforward once I had figured out the design. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, as well as very proud to have finished it, and it’s still 2019 :-)).

This week, it was back to school and getting into the groove of city life, which is so much easier now I’m taking daily walks by the lake in the community forest.

Work-wise, there may or may not be romance novel(s) in my near future, which would be lovely, so please keep your fingers crossed for me.

Enjoy your weekend, and the hour we’re getting back tomorrow, for summer time is no more.

Time Is Fleeting

An old friend posted a video of clouds passing overhead on his IG yesterday, asking ‚when was the last time you just watched clouds passing by?‘ in the hashtag. Funnily enough, this was precisely what I had been doing myself before I took my phone to check my IG. He lives on the East Coast in the States, I’m in Europe – and there we were, doing the exact same thing, and even the skies looked similar – partly cloudy ;-).IMG_E6670Not having enough time for xyz is a common pet peeve. We all complain about not getting around to accomplishing this or that, or about days being too short, or about having too little quality time with our loved ones. Our days are organized in ways that leave little room for improvisation – work, school, afternoon activities, exercise, chores, appointments … all these Regular Must Dos sometimes make it hard to find room for just about anything that doesn’t have a timeline.

As a person who works from home, my life is blessed in terms of my not having to run somewhere everyday for work. I love that, even if it sometimes means I have to hop when a client says frog, no matter if I’m on vacation or not. It just sort of fell into place this way over the years, and it works out well for everyone – even though my teenager would appreciate more alone time sometimes. On the other hand, he also appreciates me proofing his school assignments, a handy thing if you’re as dyslexic as he is.

And now I have, like, a dog, to quote Detective Rosa Diaz from Brooklyn 99. Regular bathroom breaks, even if they’re not scheduled, do need to happen, and one long walk per day is a must to keep him (and myself) happy and balanced. What this inevitably cuts into is my crafts time. My husband who is both a smart dude and a planner pointed this out in advance, not that I was paying a lot of attention. Before Charlie moved in, I was concerned with things like ‚will he even be happy with us‘, ‚will he be able to cope with city life‘, and ‚how the heck will he and our old kitty get along‘.

Having a cat as a pet, you can pretty much pick up your crafts project whenever you’re done with work and have no other, child-related obligations. With a dog, this is obviously not the case. Walking the pup takes up 2 hours, every day. I do try to get my friends to go with me, so I get to see them even if I don’t go out at night much, and Charlie thankfully doesn’t mind my chatting to someone while he’s off the leash doing his thing. But time for crafts has become scarce, and this is why I only have a measly half of a sock to show – which I made when watching movies at night when the dog was tired enough to simply sleep, without needing me to play, or cuddle.img_1174.jpgThis was yesterday morning when I thought it would be a good time to continue knitting sweet A.’s pair of birthday socks. It wasn’t really happening until later at night when watching a few episodes of Elementary. This is how far I’ve gotten over 1 week:img_1182.jpgSo not a lot of crafts, more walking, less watching the clouds – but all in all, life isn’t so bad.

And since dog or not, we do need to eat, here’s my version of hummus. It’s a mix of my lovely princess N.’s tahini recipe and the hummus tahini I got to know and love in Greece, in another lifetime.

Hummus My Way

1 can chickpeas

2–3 TBSP tahin paste

1/2 clove garlic

Salt to taste

1/2 tsp cumin

Generous squeeze of lemon

6 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP water

Yogurt to taste

Puree the chickpeas with the garlic and the olive oil to a consistency of your liking – mine turned out a bit on the chunkier side, because ancient stick blender, sigh. Add tahin, salt, lemon juice and cumin to taste. Stir thoroughly to make a smooth paste. If you’d like the mixture to be creamier, add a bit of water and/or yogurt. You could put some chili or pepper, but I actually prefer hummus to have its natural, nutty flavor rather than being spicy.

Enjoy with bread, veggie sticks, crackers or on a sandwich.

Thank you for reading, and have a productive day :-).

Is Being Right Stupid?

Hi stitch readers, this is your wayward host who, unlike last year, had a Very Busy Summer. There were things I wanted to write about, but I just couldn’t find the time. My days were tightly packed, what with caring and catering for the vacationing brood, my City Dog who had great difficulties finding his footing out in the country, and managing a substantial workload. It was what it was, and I’m happy I was asked to translate this book. The timeframe could have used some work, but translators can’t be choosers, I guess. Anyway, a busy few weeks, with way too brief daily windows by the lakeshore (still, better than just a park in the city, no contest).IMG_0541So, I may have written about this network I’ve been a member of for more than a decade before. It’s a women only organization, and the members are professional writers, journalists, copywriters, authors, translators, proofreaders or editors. I joined when I was still in advertising, and it’s been an off and on relationship for me. Most of my jobs don’t come from there, but I appreciate being a member nonetheless. If nothing else, I’m learning things I would never have known otherwise, my professional life being sort of narrow. I’ve come to like a number of the ladies, even though I can count the ones I’ve actually met in RL on one hand. There are regular meet-ups and workshop weekends. I usually don’t go, but many of the ladies do, and some have been friends for years. That said, this is not true for all of them. It stands to reason, the network having about 600 members.

Just a few weeks ago, there was an incident I’ve been wanting to write about. One of the authors, who evidently used to suffer from a severe, chronic intestinal condition, posted a recommendation for a person offering alternative medicine who was able to help her with her ailment. So far, so good. Next thing that happened, another author heavily criticized the alternative medicine offering doctor for using medically unsound practices. An astonishingly violent kerfuffle ensued, the ladies had WORDS, and what could have been amicably discussed with a final „agree to disagree“ ended with personal insults, fat-shaming and the original poster leaving the network in a huff, after having been called out by a few members for unacceptable netiquette. She did not apologize.

My personal opinion on alternative medicine notwithstanding, I could see where both parties were coming from. One gleefully sang the praises of what, to her, must have felt like a miracle healing. The other was pointing out the dangers of these types of non-scientifically evidenced methods, having been subjected to terrible and irresponsible treatment for autism as a child. Both posters‘ educational backgrounds are in science.

Both insisted on being right, and since the first poster came from an emotional rather than science-based point of view, her arguments were not factual from the get-go. She was the one who dropped the slurs. The other poster, an expert on suspicious treatment methods, has been on the warpath against quacks who promise healing anything from cancer through autism to homosexuality (yes, this is still considered a treatable condition in some places!) for years. Her personal experience has been a bad one, unlike the first poster’s, who by all appearances, actually got better after getting the treatment.

Forgive this lengthy introduction. I need to give a bit of context, even though it has nothing to do with what actually gave me pause about this. This network is remarkable for the professionalism, the diversity (even if there are no men), and most of all, the overall kind tone of voice. There’s a serious zero bitching policy, and that makes it quite unique, in my opinion, for this is not true for a lot of other platforms! As my new favorite TV character, David Rose from Schitt’s Creek, so eloquently put it „The Internet is a breeding ground for freaks!“

So, long story short, both these ladies were so intent on being right that what could have been an interesting debate resulted in a heap of broken glass. It was the one who resorted to personal insult who chose to leave, btw. She was not even shown the door, that’s how kind this network is.

The question I’ve been asking myself is: What the hell is it that makes being right so important in the first place? Why do people risk friendships, or jobs, or even their lives for being right? Greater minds than mine have probably written Very Smart Things about this, I haven’t done any research. I know people have died for their convictions, Jesus Christ, Galileo Galilei, tons of political activists whose names are long forgotten … this is not the same, though, right. It’s just a simple difference of opinion, for f…’s sake, and frankly, the whole thing left me bewildered.

I’m no stranger to disagreement in my own relationship, Lord knows. But ultimately, there always comes a point where I say: You know what? We’ll just remember it your way, or, let’s just leave it at that, or, let’s agree to disagree. Why some people would rather be alone in their knowledge of being right than co-exist with others who see things differently, is beyond me. Is it really so hard to tolerate a view other than our own?

If you have any insight, I’d appreciate your explanation/s. And thank you for reading this far, if you did :-).

What else is there to tell? I stumbled upon a few days off the very last week of the summer break, as my client whom I’m translating the cookbook for up and went on vacation. He would have saved me some anxiety had he mentioned this before, and if I ever get hired by this publishing house again, I’ll be sure to discuss both the time-frame and the actual amount of work up front. As it was, I was simply happy to not touch the computer for a few days, and hang out with my husband and kids instead.IMG_1083


IMG_1071IMG_1079 My birthday came and went, and there were no guests other than my sweet niece M. and her boyfriend – which was actually a good thing because I was forced to put up my feet, as I’d pulled a muscle in my calf a few days before and could neither walk nor drive or even stand for longer than a few minutes. F—ing painful, these injuries. IMG_0956.JPGMy gift this year (received a few weeks early) was the pup, and I’m so happy with him being in our lives that it makes him the Best Birthday Gift Ever, hands down.

I had absolutely zero time for crafts this time around, and all I did was whip up a tiny sock, as a voucher for my daughter’s friend’s birthday gift in the car back home.

I took the last pic the night before we came home – and to me it’s the most perfect memory of all the six weeks past. May you have a peaceful start into the new school year, and those of you lucky enough to still have vacations to look forward to, have a beautiful late summer.IMG_1081

Crochet Flowers, Again & Life Choices

IMG_0154These will be a bunch of embellished hair ties once I’m done with them – and I hope they will sell well at the Summer Fayre in June. In case you like the idea and wonder how to make them, can I direct you to this post where I’ve tried to explain how to go about it?

To make the embellished hairties, IIMG_0171– darned in the two threads from the yarn I used for the petals (turquoise) …

IMG_0174– tied the other two securely around a hairtie that seems to fit, made three knots, and then darned in the two leftover threads (navy blue).

IMG_0175Tadah, a nice, summery little flower hairtie made. If you want to go all in, you can additionally put a small blob of hot glue in the back, to further secure the darned in threads and increase the general longevity of the item. As a mom of a notorious hairtie losin‘ li’l lassie, however, I can tell you now you best be Zen about the thing not being around for long anyway, so it may not even be worth the trouble.

When I began making the flowers last Saturday at the school crafternoon, I had a number of enthusiastic helpers, some very young and some my age. Watching excited and inquisitive Charlie while showing the helpers the moves _and_ trying to get some crocheting done myself was challenging to say the least, and I confess I was WIPED afterwards.

It always takes a pound of flesh out of me to deal with groups of people (I’ve said more as to why already). It helped that I didn’t have more than 3 people at my table at a time. But suffice it to say that I am just not cut out to be a teacher, even though people always say I have a knack for explaining. Ultimately, I’m just a very polite person, I guess :-).

Crafts stuff aside, taking in young Charlie has required me to make a few changes. Life has taken a different turn in ways I hadn’t anticipated, and accommodating the pup’s needs has forced me to prioritize, much like I had to when I had my son in the early aughts.

Despite all the endorphins (the dog makes me sooo happy), my resilience is far from infinite. In fact, one night last week, I completely lost it. I was having a bit of a day. I drove my daughter to hockey practice only to learn I wasn’t supposed to bring Charlie to the grounds at all. So we took a long walk around the neighborhood until it started raining and we ended up waiting in the car. I had forgotten to eat, so I was hangry when we came home, and I yelled at the kids for not helping with chores. I felt a surge of guilt because I had literally no time for the kitty anymore because, possessive dog, hello! And then of course I was feeling guilty for snapping at the kids for being lazy sumbitches, because I felt it was me who made them inconsiderate because I spoil them, doing stuff for them all the time. The dog was whining and scratching my bedroom door to get out to where the action was (kitty and my son’s friends watching GoT in the family room). Finally, I was really tired, but not allowed to go to sleep yet because nighttime walk, duh. So, I had a quiet and tearful meltdown. After a while, I called my husband who was a sweetheart and talked me down, and when my sobs had ebbed away, the pup came and licked my face, which made me smile again. But it was clear that something would have to give…

You may not be surprised that the something ended up being the hockey club. It’s no secret I’ve always had mixed feelings towards it – we became members at our daughter’s request, even though it was a bit cumbersome what with shuttling her to practice twice a week. There were jerseys and equipment to be bought, which we did, and parents meets to be attended, which we failed to do. When after a while it became clear that while she enjoyed practice, she didn’t really like the games, I was beginning to feel like a hypocrite trying to get her to be in the weekend tournaments. So after my little episode, we had a heart to heart with her and decided that this membership needed to come to an end. Writing the resignation letters felt like such an enormous relief, I can not even tell you.

Meanwhile, I’ve written to a dog trainer who seems nice, and hope she can pencil us in before the summer break. Leaving here today with a few pics that show I’m not the only person who loves this little dog :-).

A Dog Post

IMG_9960Here’s a survey for you: Are you a cat or a dog person? And do you feel liking one or the other is mutually exclusive? Apparently, that’s a thing, and I’m asking for science.

As you can see, we’ve gone and done it – as of Friday last week, Charlie has officially moved in. I’m completely smitten, as is my daughter, my son loves him despite himself (he was adamant his loyalties were always going to be with Her Majesty Fritzchen the Kitty, but even he has succumbed to those eyes). My husband is not quite as invested in Charlie yet, but I’m sure he’ll win him over, eventually. Not sure whether the kitty will ever really like him, but so far they haven’t killed each other yet, which I call a win, and I’m hoping the vet is right and they will reach a sort of an armistice at some point.

I had many thoughts and feelings before we went to get the pup. Mostly, I was afraid he wasn’t going to be happy with us, that he’d miss his folks and the other dogs he lived with, that he’d hate living in the city. Interestingly, none of those things have come to pass.

Instead of crying for his old family, he immediately latched on to me like a touch-starved little baby sloth. I was reminded of Armie Hammer’s impersonation of a lovesick puppy in ‚Mirror, Mirror‘, after Julia Roberts (aka Evil Queen) accidentally feeds him the wrong kind of love potion (puppy love, duh) instead of the one that was supposed to make him fall madly in love with her, as his own true self. Check it out, it’s on YouTube, it’s hilarious, and eerily accurate. It feels a bit like that (and yes, I realize Armie Hammer’s prob 20 times the size of my mini Wiener dog). My point is, Charlie looks at me like I hung the moon, he insists on coming with me everywhere I go (bathroom included) and he’s basically happiest when he can lie, or sit, on some part of me. I must confess we let him sleep in our bed the first night because we felt sorry for him, and that kind of was that. Smart dog burrowed under my husband’s covers first (flattery will get you everywhere, right?) before moving under mine, and staying there.

Taking walks 5 times a day is nice, even though I have to say that the late night pee trip to that one apparently enchanted tree on the street corner is not much fun when I’m already exhausted by ten p.m. – but the alternative is a smelly mess early in the morning, can’t have that. So, instead of my usual routine of working until I get tired and then going to bed, I’ve started watching ‚Brooklyn 99‘ in the evenings to pass the time – thank God for Netflix!

So, conclusion after the first week: I have a dog now, and I couldn’t be happier :-).

Those of you who live in town – come take walks with us :-).

Knit, Frog, Repeat

IMG_9193Have any of you ever unraveled mohair yarn? It’s a b…, let me tell you. It had to be done, though, because I was dead set to use up yarn from my yarn stash, and there was this random back piece I had knitted ages ago, that had the most hideous armholes you can imagine, also it was ribbed and frankly I don’t even remember what the heck I had in mind when I made it. It needed to go.

Slow progress doesn’t begin to describe the frustrating hours that followed, and had it not been for the fact I got to re-watch Moana with my little squirrel while I was frogging, I might have thrown out the whole thing. First world problem you say? How exactly is my recycling yarn not sustainable? It’s the very definition of being mindful with my stuff, and _not_ toss anything I’m tired of right away.

IMG_9334After I was done unraveling, getting started on my stripy sweater was my reward. So I did, and in the meantime, I have figured out, with the help of my lovely mathematician friend P., the raglan sleeve, and finished the front piece:

IMG_9333.JPGMy daughter named it the bee sweater – and she has a point, it’s exactly what it looks like. Unfortunately, the longer I look at it, the more I feel I got the proportions wrong, sigh. It needs to be less wide, and the rib at the bottom needs to be longer. If it weren’t for the rib, I could live with the sweater being a little baggy. But that rib needs a few more centimeters, and if I pick up the stitches at the bottom, you’d see it. I’ll either have to live with imperfection or buckle down and unravel once again – not sure what I’ll do yet.

Knitting aside, I had a busy beginning of the year. I translated a cookbook, which was fun and lovely. I helped a bit with my son’s school workload.

And, with somewhat mixed feelings, I just submitted the translation of a mediocre romance novel that the author tried, imho, to stuff way too many things into (love story, middle agers, teenagers, murder mystery, genre picture and gender). She’s also introducing too many characters, she has a knack for using weird metaphors, and the love scenes seem a bit generic, carefully scripted to tick off the usual tropes. Kiss, check. Hand job, check. Oral, check. Full-on penetrative, check. True love happening somewhere along the line.

I know that the art of romance writing is to make every story that meanders from meet-cute across some sort of conflict towards the happily ever after captivating, and I’m sure it can’t be easy for writers to stay away from the clichés. That said, I can name a good many examples (not to bore you, but I really could ;-)) for stories that pull this off, excelling at it even. Let’s just say that this wasn’t one of them. As a translator, you can only do so much – if the story sucks in the first place, it will suck after translation, and try as you might, you can’t really help that. I won’t be getting a lot of favorable mentions for this one, that’s for sure.

Moving on, I next get to translate a few chapters of a book on micro-brewery. Not that I even like beer, but what I’ve read of the book so far sounds fun. Also I’m dipping a careful toe into copywriting again; an old client whom I have a lot of respect and affection for asked me, so how could I say no? It’ll be a change of pace, and that is a good thing, always.

It’s almost mid March now, and we’ve had a few spring days already. Of course, in our neck of the woods, this means nothing. Temperatures dropped again, we’ve had a doozy of a storm over the weekend, and it even snowed a little last Sunday. But the days are getting longer, and being on the third floor, we do get our share of sunlight. IMG_9189.jpgThis was the other morning when we were getting ready for school. A good way to start the day – I find myself being highly susceptible to lux as I get older.

To top off this post, I’d like to mention a recipe I’ve been honing for a few years – it’s a classic cheesecake, which may sound a bit boring, but I assure you, it’s anything but. If things go well, this is what happens when I make it:

IMG_9098.JPGIt’s a creamy, fluffy heap of gorgeousness with a hint of vanilla and distinct lemon flavor – think of a soufflé rather than of your regular American cheesecake (no disrespect to the spectacular New York cheesecakes I’ve had, but this is just more my bag).

In my baking book, the caption literally says: This is a cake you get proposed for. I only discovered this way after I’d gotten married, so I can’t confirm or deny. What I can tell you is that my son has been asked for his mom’s cheesecake recipe :-), so high praise from the teenage front.

Cheesecake for Champions

For the crust

50 g sugar

100 g butter

150 g flour

1 yolk

pinch of salt

Make a shortcrust, wrap in foil and put in the freezer for 30 minutes to rest (if you’re not in a rush, you can put it in the fridge for 1 hour or longer). Take out and carefully roll out the dough to 3-4 mm thickness. Place in a spring-form pan lined with baking parchment and bake for a few minutes. Whether you want the crust to come up to the sides is up to you. If you want to be anal about this (I’m not), place a second piece of parchment on top of the dough, add a handful of dried beans or peas and bake in the oven at 160 °C for 15 minutes. Let cool for a bit and start on the filling in the meantime.

For the filling

500 g full fat Quark (could be substituted with cream cheese, but you should add 1 egg white if you do, as it’s heavier than our German variety)

150 g sugar

1 p vanilla sugar

2 lemons, peel grated

1 tbsp flour

1 tbsp cornstarch

7 eggs, separated in yolks and egg whites

50 g sugar

pinch of salt

Place Quark, 150 g sugar, lemon peel, vanilla, flour and cornstarch, egg yolks and salt in a large bowl, and I mean large. With an electric mixer, beat to a smooth paste. Carefully clean the whisks before moving on to beating the egg whites with a pinch of salt and 50 g sugar very, very stiff. Then place on top of the Quark mixture and gingerly fold in with a spatula. You don’t want any more air bubbles to escape than is absolutely inevitable, so please be gentle.

Spoon the mixture onto the cooled crust and immediately place the cake in the oven for about 40 minutes. Do not open the oven as your soufflé-like cake may collapse if you do.

Serve warm. If you want to be really fancy, serve with fruit puree – strawberry, raspberry, or mango.

It should make an impression.