What’s on Your Mind?

This is how my template greets me when I log onto wordpress, which is genius, because it’s about as certain to get me talking as the well-tried therapist’s opening question ‚How are you today?‘. It’s a common topos in Science Fiction for the cyber intelligence to ask human beings this question, and as everyone knows who is online more that out in RL, it does the job nicely.

But this is me, actually asking you, dear stitch readers, because I really want to know how you guys are doing and what you’re up to. I hope you rang in the new year with (a) loved one(s), and I wish you all the best for a happy and fulfilling year to come. Despite the highly dubious situation of world politics, I have a good feeling about 2018. I’m not going to brood too much about that, and just enjoy the serenity while it lasts :-).

After a comparatively quiet Christmas, which we spent among our little nuclear family of four (five, if you’re counting the cat, sorry Fritzchen). We didn’t even squabble this time, let alone have any epic fights. Tree was lovely, we didn’t make a big fuss about cooking, and we didn’t celebrate my husband’s 50th birthday _at all_ – because he didn’t feel like it. I did meet his cake request, however, albeit with some trepidation. Therefore I am proud to report I now have a new notch in my baking belt, check it out:
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As you can see, it’s a meringue pie (of the lemon variety), and may I say it was as good as it looked – not always the case when I bake, but you obviously don’t know that because I wouldn’t be showing any shitty looking cakes here, duh.

I also made a couple really really nice salads. IMG_4621Lamb’s lettuce with red beets, radishes, green onions, quail’s eggs and goat cream cheese, dressed with a classical vinaigrette. I made that one twice because we loved it so much :-).

IMG_4671Romaine with green onions, orange fillets, fresh dates, roasted pine nuts and blue cheese, dressed with an orange juice based vinaigrette (guess you could call it an orangette ;-). I made it for New Year’s, with my Egyptian bestie Princess N. in mind.

On the crafts front, I have been sooo busy. I did some knitting for a few people before and over the holidays – notably, these lace knit wrist warmers for my mother in law:

They’re in the knitting book I’m currently working on, a whole book about mittens and gloves and, obviously, wrist warmers, and I simply couldn’t resist wanting to recreate their intricate beauty. I just happened to have a gorgeous skein of baby alpaca/silk/cashmere blend that seemed perfect, and I combined it with a thin off-white merino sock yarn to give it a bit more stability.

I’m not gonna lie, these beauties were a challenge to make indeed. Initially, after a few false starts (my brain had some trouble comprehending the chart) it went relatively smoothly. The first mitten hardly gave me any trouble. But then I didn’t immediately move on to the second – big mistake, as it turned out, because my lizard brain or muscle memory or whichever part of the system must have gotten instant amnesia. I needed to rip up the second one three(!) times, which sucked big time. Had I had any other gift option, I would have thrown in the towel… But with way more stamina and persistence than I usually have, I managed to finish them, and my MIL seems really happy with them. She appreciates my making the effort (as she should, she used to teach crafts in elementary school so she def. knows the drill).

I also made socks, socks and some more socks. Everybody seems to want hand-knit socks this winter, and obviously I always say yes. Here’s the models of the last couple weeks:

Upper left went to my favorite girl in Reykjavík, upper right went to my godson here in town, the wildly colored pattern was obviously for my tiny-footed baby girl, and the elegant purple ones went to my worthy Assistant Children’s Birthday Bash Manager C. for her birthday.

Right now, I’m working on a pair for my son who needs them for the ice skating rink (his home away from home during the winter season). They’re made of a very nice hand-spun and hand-dyed grey sock yarn from my favorite local wool shop, as were the other plain-colored ones.IMG_4730.JPGOne of the wonderful, thoughtful, colorful Christmas gifts I got from my dear friend A. in Frankfurt was this crafts sleeve, complete with notebooks, a pretty ballpoint pen and some really cool utensils – sort of like a Knitter’s Leatherman, you probably know the multi-purpose pocket tool gadgets that my son can’t live without, and this is similarly amazing. IMG_4707So, I don’t know about you people, but in my neck of the woods, we’re experiencing this Exceptionally Dark Winter. I can’t even remember having ever gotten this few hours of sunlight in all the 50 winters I’ve been around. It feels like a small ice age, and I’m hating every day that goes by without my much needed lux fix. Despite that, I’ve made the resolution to take a walk every day this year, come rain or shine, and so far, I’ve been good about it. Some days like today, it was actually a treat, for we did get to see the sun.

Checking out now with some pics I took on January 1st by the lake. Sometimes all you need to get lucky is to have a camera on you and randomly press the release button :-).

Wishing you a great start into a happy New Year 2018!

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An Advent Post

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See this little fellow? At the Waldorf school, it’s called a snowflake, and they’re one of our staples that sell like hotcakes at the annual Winter Fayre ;-). We made a new batch this last fall, and now they’re all gone!

Luckily, they’re really easy to make: crochet a little white cap, hot-glue it to the top of a wooden pearl, hot-glue a white feather in the bottom, attach a white thread to the cap, and you’re done. I enjoy these simple crafts things, Lord knows I’m not good at many of them, but these I can actually handle. Aren’t they beautiful?

So, how are you coping with the pre-Christmas madness? This year, it took some doing to get me in the mood. I went through the motions: IMG_4458

Made an advent wreath …

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… filled the kids‘ advent calendar with sweets in time before December 1st …

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… baked the first batch of cookies (not even for our own benefit but for the elementary school’s bazaar) …

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… attended the annual decorating of the Christmas tree at the little park next to the elementary school.

But it wasn’t until the night before St. Nick’s day that I was actually beginning to feel festive. So we have this tradition on December 5th. We shine our shoes and set out a little savory snack (we figure the poor guy must be sick and tired of chocolates and cookies, so we give him pickles, cheese cubes and a glass of wine, or a little sandwich and a glass of milk, and this year he got Granny’s homemade cheese biscuits, cocktail tomatoes and some Scotch ;-)). In the morning, the plate is usually cleared, everyone’s shoes are filled with goodies, and he always leaves a note for the kids.

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Usually, after stuffing the shoes, I have little trouble sitting down and writing in the stern but benign tone of voice ‚he‘ always uses. But truthfully, it took the whole glass of whisky to get me there this year… In the end, feeling a bit buzzed and a lot tired, I was basically channeling my own exhaustion mixed with my great love for the kids. I’d say it was the most authentic letter ‚he‘ ever left (saying the kids were one of the sweetest brother and sister ‚he‘ knew, and to not forget to practice their grammar ;-), and confessing ‚he‘ was almost ready to call it a night … And what do you know, all of a sudden, my Christmas Spirit was back, good as new.

Recent events at the elementary school made a bit of a dent in my good mood – actually that’s a whole other post on human rights – but I’m determined to keep the ugly stuff out and preserve my little bubble of happy wintry pre-holiday things.

Last weekend, I started our annual Christmas Cookie Extravaganza by making melt-in-mouth Almond Hearts, the basic recipe for which was stolen from Berlinmittemom’s blog. I recommend that blog for reading about all things urban, stylish, responsible moms with a bit of extra time on their hands might be interested in. Ana Luz is a talented, professional writer – and recipes are actually one of the least frequent occurrences on her blog.

Anyway, I appropriated that recipe a couple years ago, and I’ve been experimenting a bit with it ever since. I’ve added freshly grated nutmeg one year (very nice), two teaspoons of powdered ginger (very British), I’ve loaded the dough with vanilla (classic), and added grated orange or lemon zest (dangerously yummy). It’s a very adaptable recipe! This year, I just added my usual pinch of Fleur de Sel, and lathered the cookies with a bright red, orange juice flavored icing. img_4517.jpg

Other strategies for counteracting the gloomy grey skies out there: I light lots of candles. I cook lots of soups. I make the kids hot chocolate after school. I drink pot after pot of hot tea. And I play music, not while I work, because it messes up my concentration, but in the late afternoons and at night. Listen to this piece and feel thankful with me that there’s people in the world capable of producing such pure beauty:

Parce Mihi Domine by Jan Garbarek & the Hilliard Ensemble from the album Officium

Happy last weeks before Christmas, everyone!

Crocheting a Lampshade

Well, not from scratch, that sounded a bit misleading. I’m not saying it can’t be done, mind you  – considering that people crochet complete coral reefs and underwater worlds, I guess anything is possible.

But no, this is just a little up-cycling project. It was some time last year when I found this beauty (in the eye of the beholder, I know) down by the trash cans in the back yard, obviously discarded by someone who didn’t love it anymore:

IMG_4412.jpgI brought it home, put in a light-bulb, and it even worked! So there I was, getting all nostalgic, thinking what an adorably wonky little old lady lamp, awesome, where should we put it … and then my husband came home and hated on it, being all oh look what the cat dragged in, where even did you find this piece of crap, or something unflattering like that, and threatened right away to toss it back where it came from. Unless, he said, and this is why you gotta love my husband, unless you crochet it a different lampshade, maybe.

We kind of left it at that for a while. A lot happens over the course of a year. Good things, bad things, people get married, you travel, friends move away, lots of work, two kids in school, you know how it is. I’m not even sure when, but at some point the lamp ended up in the storage room, a place of unbelievable chaos, disorganization and confusion. When my husband heroically set about restoring order in there a few weeks ago, he unearthed the lamp and threatened to get rid of it if I didn’t start with that project right away.

At first, I wasn’t really sure how to go about it. I wanted to crochet something, but I’m not very experienced when it comes to crocheting in the round, not larger projects anyway. When browsing, I got lucky once again on fabulous British crochet master Lucy’s website, attic24.  I read through her tutorial, which seemed straightforward enough, got out all my leftover yarn and jumped right in:

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Granny clusters are a very forgiving pattern, and since this lampshade cover will be a snug fit, that is a good thing. I probably could have chosen less vibrant coloring, but it has been so dark and gloomy here in our neck of the woods lately that I relished the bright colors. This is as far as I’ve gotten:

IMG_4414.JPGA few more rounds, and then a red and orange border, I think, and maybe some pompoms like the ones I made for my beloved friend A.’s blanket 2 years ago:

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I’ll be able to show the finished lamp in the next couple days – can’t wait for it to be done. I may have to hit the flea market on Sunday, to find another lamp and do another!

Signing off today with some sweets: My tenth-grader teenage squad gathered in our kitchen yesterday to make jams for the upcoming Winter Fayre at the Waldorf school – all vegan, because of the commendably increasing vegans ratio among the young. Did you know that both regular and really good vegan lemon curd are astonishingly easy to make? For the vegan variety, you obviously use neither eggs nor butter but margarine, coconut milk and cornstarch instead. Check it out: I’ll bet you won’t even be able to tell the difference from looking at it, and although the vegan spread obviously doesn’t have a buttery flavor, it’s yummy, tart and sweet all the same, just as you like your lemon curd.

Wish me luck! The next two days are going to be really busy, and I hope we’ll sell tons of waffles with homemade jam…

 

Summer Break

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I’m sensing a pattern here: Total exhaustion before any summer vacation, and long time no post here in blogland. It’s certainly challenging to be a parent representative in 2 schools, especially right at the end of term. Teachers to see off, presents and speeches to be given (not my favorite part of that job, as a true introvert), last minute teacher-parent problems to be dealt with, summer fayre at my son’s school to be pulled off, summer party at my daughter’s school to be attended, farewell parties for 2 teachers at 2 schools – and always, always baking for all of these events. I swear I’m sick of cinnamon buns now :-(((.

The pic above is what we have to look forward to this summer, and I really can’t wait. It’s a sleepy little port in Brittany, and we’re renting a gorgeous apartment on an old property run by friends of friends.

For now, kids and cat and me arrived at our cottage Friday night last week. The weekend was gorgeous and we got to swim in the lake, kids got to spend a lot of time outside, and I got to find mushrooms, always such a treat for my scavenger’s heart.

IMG_2903Few things make me as happy as mushroom picking. It reminds me of my childhood (the good parts), and it’s deeply gratifying to me, walking in the forest and finding delicious food there to boot. Today, my sweet friend N. and I went to the chanterelles spot (they don’t grow just anywhere), for my daughter is a bit of a ‘shroom snob and will only eat those (they’re the little yellow ones in the basket).IMG_2956.JPGThat’s the upside of this unusually rainy summer, I guess – mushrooms go crazy, as do the plants in my husband’s vegetable patch:

My birthday’s coming up this weekend, and I _had_ planned a nice summer bash on the lawn in front of the cottage – but unfortunately, the weather forecast is telling a different story. Looks like my fiftieth will have to take the proverbial rain check. Maybe I’ll celebrate after the summer break so everyone can show off their tans, or I’ll just throw my sweet husband a party in December so we can be a hundred together :-).

In work news, I’m done with The Cookbook now, and it was not easy to let it go after so many months. It felt really good to be part of a project I was completely behind. Usually, I’m working by myself, and I’m fine with that. But it’s also very cool to be able to talk about work with someone who gets it, and not just in general but because they’re also really invested in the same thing. Those who get to work like that all the time are to be envied. And – a thing to keep in mind for choosing future projects.

The next book is going to be a collaboration also – and I’m again fortunate enough to work with a friend on a thing we both enjoy – knitting cables. The book is lovely, and the patterns seem complex and beautiful – and yet again, we’ll sort of establish a new linguistic code as we assign a new set of abbreviations that make sense to knitters. It’s out of necessity rather than anything else – the book’s a bit small for all the info it contains, and the pages are crammed even in English. So for the users‘ reading comfort, we’ll try and give them a set of technical terms that are intuitive and make sense. We have to try and stay within the given layout of the source text, which is a challenge because German texts are _always_ a bit longer than their English counterparts, and we still want people not to have to use a damn lens to read their patterns, so we’re trying to stay with the given font size.

I’ll bet you never really thought about things like that before, have you? Well, that’s what you have us translators for, among other things. Look forward to that book if you’re a knitter – it’s going to be a good one, I promise.

IMG_2955In the meantime, I’m well into my first week of vacation, and it’s starting to sink in that I actually have time off. This morning was the first I actually managed to sleep in, and it felt really nice. It was a rainy day yet again. I cooked for the kids, played backgammon with my son, went mushroom picking with my friend, gave a quote and wrote an invoice, did some minor corrections, and now I’m blogging the night away as my daughter is asleep and my son is busy mainlining The Mentalist of all things.

IMG_2897Check out the wildlife – this stag beetle was leisurely strolling by the other morning just as we were finishing breakfast. It was about 8 cm long (including the antlers if you call them that on insects), and scary as all hell to me. My son was brave enough to make it walk into a tall water glass, slap a postcard on and carry it across the street into the woods. I was not sorry to see it go. May it have a good life on the other side.

Oh, crafts? Well, I’ve been playing with the Dotty Blanket again. I saw a project that uses a different squares pattern that the Granny I started working with, IMG_2810

on Little Woolie’s Instagram account. It’s there on her blog too, you can go check it out. She’s an Australian crafts artist I follow, and she has done a really amazing job with her Wheels within Wheels blanket on a heather grey backdrop. I liked that, and tried with the single crochet squares, but it ended up eating so much yarn, not to mention time, that I lost faith again and returned to my Granny Square style. I made little piles of the different colored dots to see how many I already had and how many more I’d need … and as you can probably guess, I’ve got my work cut out for me. This is not a quickly made blanket … but anything for the little lady, and I have a couple more weeks of vacation to go, so one day at a time.

Here’s the last very cool thing I saw in town before we left – once again, by an unknown graffiti artist – and I think whoever did this really rocks:

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Have a good summer, 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!

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. Anything 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!