Tag Archives: spring

Happy first day of spring, everybody!

20 Mar

This morning I unwrapped the balcony plants. The tiny apple tree has started growing leaves already, and to my neverending surprise neither the lavender plant nor the verveine have died. The avocado tree hasn’t made it, unfortunately. I do have kind of a brown thumb, to be honest.

Spring manifests in other ways as well – I feel a strong urge to purge our apartment, get rid of all kinds of stuff and downsize resp. redecorate. For some time I have been trying to get rid of one unnecessary item per day, such as old clothes, kitchen utensils we never use or decoration. I am a knick-knack horder, and all our shelves are filled with tiny puppets, poppets and gadgets. Some things are given away to people who will appreciate them, others are donated to good causes, and the rest is thrown out. (Germans are masters of recycling, so don’t worry … we have containers for papers, bottles and old clothing on almost every street corner, and every household separates their trash anyway, it’s mandatory – the only thing I miss is a trash can for biodegradable waste, which is optional and which our landlady won’t order because of the costs (and because many people think that these trash cans are especially disgusting … ah well).) Also I have started some major cleaning endeavors, such as foam-cleaning our matresses and shephearding all kinds of blankets and pillows through the washing machine. It’s kind of scary, and I hope this urge goes back to sleep soon.

And I feel the need to eat tons of green stuff – salads, tiny carrots and tomatoes, all kinds of fruit. You name it, I’ll eat it. In winter I prefer soups and stews and potato-laden dishes that are warming and filling, but now I would rather increase my intake of raw plants. Of course this means I have to get to the grocery store more than once per week, for many things don’t keep that long in an average kitchen. Took a BLT salad with some extra chicken (for yummy protein) to the office for lunch today.

Last Friday we did our first official run of the year as well – a 7.5 kilometer run around a lake in Cologne, with the paths lit by torches and a tiny celebration afterwards. We did not stay long, instead drove home and fell asleep on a heap of blankest spread out across the living room floor. That’s my favorite way to spend the weekend.

What else is new? Oh, I have started translating “School of Fire” for you, the fifth of Helena’s magical adventures behind the mountains. The series is intended to end after the ninth book, and by now I even do know where everything is headed. I am currently writing book six in German and hope to get the English and the German version out at the same time. Translating means an extra editing round, after all.

Makes any sense? No? Ah well, stuff happens. Gotta get back to bread-winning, and later curl up on the sofa (freshly cleaned) with some zucchini in tomato and feta cream, served with smoked trout. This witch knows how to spring-party. ^^

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Last week in pictures

6 May

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Usually I don’t like those picture-laden posts too much, but last week was just so full of goodness that I had to share. It started with this. You see, especially in this area of Germany it is tradition for men to set their ladies a May pole – they go out on April 30, get incredibly drunk and position a decorated birch tree in front of the woman’s window. At the beginning of our relationship I explained that I would rather see those trees growing, and when I came home on Tuesday, this was hanging on my office door.

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And this was standing on my altar. Richard decorated a tiny potted rose and a bonsai tree for me instead of getting a traditional May pole. You can’t see it in the picture, but the bonsai even has tiny flower buds starting to grow. I hope I won’t kill it, bonsais are tricky!

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This is progress on our balcony garden. I planted strawberries, lettuce, nasturtium, bell peppers, tomatoes, Hokaido pumpkin, radish, fennel, scallions and cucumber, and now all we have to do is water and wait. We also relocated the herbs to  the outdoors and added some more – rosemary, lavender, woodruff and verveine. I hope my brown thumb won’t kill too many of them!

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Of course no witch’s garden is complete without sun and moon.

IMG_7757 We put up windchimes and some more LED decoration. At night it looks like a fairy (or hippie) garden). Balcony at night

This is what it looks like at night. (Plus some more glowing butterflies, flowers and birds. We really like glowing decoration).

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A close-up of the apple flowers. I am going to look up their magical use, and hope the tree will bear some more delicious tiny apples.

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Sunday morning, my best friend (who helped with the latest garden work) and me were chilling with some coffee after spending Saturday night at the river, BBQing with some people and watching fireworks. There is a similarly goofy picture of her, but she decided to keep her dignity. Me, on the other hand… after speaking about menstrual fluids and showing you my sewing skills, I think a goofy picture of me is the least of my worries. ^^

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Greebo discovered the comfy chairs. Doesn’t he look relaxed?

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And a slightly sadder picture – this morning Richard had to leave for a new work-related project, and Ronja clearly did not want him to leave. (I will miss him almost as much, but at least I know he will be back soon.)

So, now you know some of what I have been up to. I may get some more pictures from Richard, of the witches’ dance we went to on Tuesday and the fireworks/BBQ event, and will share them later. And then it will once again be words, words and more words. ^^

On work, gardening and general weirdness

19 Apr

I thought I’d share some general updates with you.

* I have invented a new game at the office. See, you probably know already that I work for an Arab Embassy, as a translator. Hence we always had to dress on the modest side – no visible shoulders, no cleavage, no leg above the knees. That was the deal when I signed my contract, and I was fine with that. In fact, business attire rather suits my curves. But then we got a new boss, and the rules slowly became stricter. And it is not that he wrote a new dress code and had it shown to everybody – no, if you dress in something he consideres unacceptable, he will let you know via his personal secretary, who has to tell you, “You know, your skirt is just a tad too short, he did not like it” or “Could you maybe show a little less skin tomorrow?” – or, his latest idea (concerning a conservative Muslima’s head scarf with silver applications), “I don’t like the sparkly design. Don’t wear it again.”

You want to know the game I invented? It’s called PISS OFF THE BOSS WITHOUT BREAKING THE DRESS CODE. I make sure I adhere by all the rules – long skirts, no tight pants, no cleavage, no shoulders – and make sure there is always at least one detail that will probably annoy him. My latest cou: I sewed myself a skirt.

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Pretty, right? Here’s a close-up of the pattern:

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Today I am wearing it with a simple black T-shirt with a high collar (and have an emergency skirt in my purse, in case I did not sew as well as I hope I did). I also bought a long flowery dress to be worn with a blouse or jacket andmake sure to have a good deal of colors about me most of the time – embroidered giant red flowers on the backside of my black dress and such. Call me petty or childish, but unless he gives us an offical (written) dress code, I am continuing with this game. Boosts my creativity, you know. ^^

Do you have any dress codes at work or other restrictions as to what you may/must do? How do you deal with it?

* Richard’s next project will most likely force him to stay away from home for five days per week, for a period of six weeks at last. We always knew that as a consultant he would have to travel at least some, but this will be the first time for us to be apart from each other for so long. One one hand I am looking forward to it – I get to make all the dinners he really does not like (such as lentils, or broccoli buttermilk soup) and can leave the TV switched off in the evening, I get to sleep and write when I want and can blast my music as loud as I want (or as loud as the neighbors will let me), but on the other hand… sleeping alone in the big bed, no one to talk to at the breakfast table, no one to snuggle with in the evening… we will most likely do skype and such, but it is not the same. Right now my plans include getting the household ready in time for the weekend, so we won’t have to waste time cleaning and grocery-ing on our two days spent together.

Anyone else out there living like this? Any suggestions or don’ts?

* Our balcony garden is coming along fine. Frosts have finally stopped, so this weekend I hope to put our plants outside. But first we need to do a quick trip to the store to get some more potting soil and growing support for the tomatoes. By now I know that I am a good gardener for tomatoes, bell peppers and radish, but the spring onions most likely won’t survive my care. The strawberries have not made up their mind yet, and the herbs have died, as usual. Lettuce worked fine last year, so I don’t worry too much about it (will start planting this weekend), and cucumbers and hokkaido – well, we need some adventures in our lives, right? Still not sure whether I really want to spend the money on a second tiny tree – the apple tree has returned and looks eager to grow some more, but I am not sure whether I want a columnar apple tree or a tiny cherry. Okay, probably a cherry tree, but not sure where to put it… questions on top of questions, you know. At least I know I will get some ready-grown herbs and try not to kill those.

What are your gardening projects doing? Anyone else with a brown thumb out there?

Happy belated spring equinox!

1 Apr

Or Ostara.

Or Eostre.

Or whatever. As long as there is cake, I don’t care. And this is the mother of all cakes. A lemon biscuit, lemon buttercream cake with lemon curd and meringues. From what I recall, it containes 16 eggs, more than a pound of butter and the same amount of sugar (if you are not scared, go here to read the complete recipe). Isn’t it pretty? I am planning on taking it with me this afternoon when we visit Richard’s family to give all of us a major case of diabetes. ^^

Some detail. I think the two-colored meringues are pretty, and they are extremely easy to make! OF course I could have done a better job smoothing the cake, but I have extremely sore butt muscles (take your minds out f the gutter! ^^ ) and avoid standing for longer periods. Also I ran out of yellow color before the cream had the intended color, but I think that won’t keep us from enjoying every last bite!

And while we are preparing for spring…

11 Mar

… this is the perfect opportunity for a green smoothie spring cleanse/detox. I did one of those last year, and it felt good. So I decided that I was going to try it again this year.

The circumstances are slightly different – mostly longer working hours, and just this morning winter decided to reintroduce. I have planned to live on purreed vegetables and fruit (and lots of tea and water) for two weeks max.

Things to consider:

  1. How will you get your smoothies to work with you? – I use my 0.7l glass bottle for one giant smoothie portion and also take two portions of vegan vegetable-based soup with me. Hey, soups are basically warm smoothies, right?
  2. Where to get all your nutrition? Fruit and vegetable are great for vitamins and some minerals, but where will you get all the other necessary ingredients? For proteins, try adding either protein powder (there are even vegan options) or nut butters. Nut butters are also great for fat, which some vitamins need to do their job. Or you could add vegetable oils, e.g. canola oil, coconut butter or simple olive oil. Coconut milk is also nice.
  3. What will go into your smoothie? A typical green smoothie does not necessarily have to be green, but it should contain up to 40% vegetables. So far I have had positive experience with spinach, broccoli, cucumber, all kinds of herbs (basil goes great with melon), avocado, and I would love to try a red green smoothie based on beets. We will see. Add 60+% fruit (they also take care of your need for energy, in the sense of sugars): Bananas, berries, apples, pears, nectarines, peaches, kiwi, melon, papaya, pineapple, whatever. Then you have got the aforementioned sources for fats and proteins, and some more… flax seed, bran, dairy products such as yogurt or kefir (if you want to – I am aiming for vegan, but the protein powder I have left contains dairy), fruit juice, water, tea, honey … Oh, and I totally want to add some white beans or chickpeas to my smoothies this time. And spices such as cinnamon.
  4. What to avoid? Easy. Everything that is generally considered unhealthy, such as excess salt, saturated fats, alcohol, refined sugar. I have decided to also skip coffee for this period of time, but am still drinking green tea.
  5. How to prepare? I did the stupid thing and had one last excessive night with Richard, with booze and unhealthy snacks. Yeah, you really should not do that. Drink enough, make sure you get enough sleep and plan your cleanse so you won’t be under great pressure during that time, have important social events that cannot be accommodated (I am meeting vegetarian friends for a seed swap tomorrow and have asked whether they could serve soup because it fits into my plans) or strenuous tasks to perform. Make it easy on your body, detoxing is difficult all on its own.

Two things to remember:

  1. This is not some kind of crash diet. Losing weight quickly (and I am talking fat) can release fat-stored toxins into your blood, and your body is already under pressure from the general detox. It is possible and even likely to lose some weight like this, but make sure to eat and drink enough to fuel your body. (This is also where the nut butters and bananas come into play.)
  2. Listen to your body. Does doing this feel good for you? Or does your body react rather weirdly to all these raw foods? How much do you need to eat and drink? Do you feel like exercising? Don’t do something simply because someone tells you it is healthy – not even if that someone is me. ^^ Following a smoothie detox would, for example, be rather toxic for my niece, who is fructose-intolerant. Some people need more carbs in their diet and might consider adding oats or such. Others need more protein and may be generally unhappy with this program. If you are not certain, give your body a few days to adapt. It will let you know whether it is unhappy or not.

Anyone else doing weird things as spring cleanse?

I feel spring in the air!!

1 Mar

The beginning of spring is, as opposed to Imbolc, an occasion that is hard for me to miss. Yesterday, all of a sudden, I felt the need to prepare. You know, it’s only three weeks. ^^ So I decided to pretty up my every-day life to preserve the mood.

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I got me some pretty nailpolish. The tomcat wanted his claws done, too, but I refused. Can’t let the other cats make fun of him.

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My spring stationary. Enough to last me at least through Beltane.

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Our front door. I’ll add some more color and flowers and lambs, but for the moment it will have to do.

When you look out at the forest around the corner, you see the first glow of spring, and I heard the geese return… can’t ignore it, spring is on its way!

Today we’ll go on a trip up north to reclaim our zombie car, and I cannot wait! The last few weeks were so tough… more on that once we’re back safely.