Sunday, September 14, 2014

Something new.

Friday morning, I volunteered in an old peoples home.

I´m the local story teling lady, but usually, I read for kids, teens, and, sometimes, adults. I´ve never read for people with dementia.

A friend of mine works in an old peoples home, so she asked me whether I´d like to read to her folks, and sure, why not? When I´m old, and my eyes are to weak to read by myself, I sure want someone to come and read me my Stephen King. But at first, I wanted to get to know them, so I could choose the literature appropriate - what would they like to hear, what would be interesting, but not too challenging, how long is their attention span, those were questions I wanted to explore first. So my friend suggested I come first to volunteer, to get to know my audience, which I then did :)

My audience is in severe need of some upcheering. We made plum cake together, and most of them are really, really far gone and need a lot of assistance, or very, very depressed, or both. Unlike a school, an old peoples home is, despite all the efforts of the great staff, still a depressing place, let´s not pretend otherwise.

So I´m coming back, next month, to start telling some good old german fairy tales. Stuff they know from their childhood. And I won´t be just reading. We´re making a show out of it, bringing requisites to touch and taste, and we´re going for a very interactive reading, and I´m excited for that.

Then, Friday afternoon, Miro won the fourth price in a baking contest.

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His cake looked like the earth, and he made it all by himself, decorating and and baking and all - he even burned himself in the process. His price was a 20 Euro voucher for the local restaurant, and he is very, very proud.

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I made a cake, too - I was reading that day anyway, so I decided to bake the book I would be reading.

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Our local library held the baking contest, and I was reading there, anyway,and I love love love playing with fondant and marzipan. I also loved to take this baking contest as an excuse to finally get myself these food-coloring sharpies I´d always wanted to try :)

See? I told you I wanted to celebrate my housewifey-ness. Is that a word? 

Saturday morning, we went off to a horse racing track.

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Again, something I´ve never done before, and something that never really was on my radar - neither am I much of a horse lover, nor a sports fan. I do like trying new things, though, so when Tim suggested it, I was excited - what an awesome, creative idea for a weekend outing!

We rode all the way by bike - 34 kilometres all together. I had expected to see a lot more crazy hats, but they were non - not on heads, though you could buy some. 
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Tim even placed some bets - for the exorbitant sum of one Euro for each child - and Mehmet won 60 cents to reinvest in sweets. He also got a horseshoe, which he´s keeping for the day he´ll open his farm. 

And then, Saturday, night, I served some wine.
South African Chardonay and Shiraz.

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Actually, I never, ever drink any alcohol at all, but my best friend had decided to throw a house concert with a wine tasting, and I loved helping her out. I walked through the room and chatted with everybody and refilled their glasses, while telling them about cinnamon and honey like flavour - though I acknowledged that I didn´t taste the stuff myself - but I had thoroughly read the description :)

The house concert itself was sweet, as well - a group of five ladies singing really great accappella.

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Their humor wasn´t for me, but I loved the idea of hosting a house concert, and I´m pondering about how to organize that.

So that was my very busy weekend with lots of firsts, and lots of new experiences.

Now I deserve to sit on the sofa and treating myself with some warm, lovely, very September-like potato-pumpkin soup.
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Music:


The girls from my friend´s living room :)

Friday, September 12, 2014

My gorgeous

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Eva and her best friend recently did a photoshoot, and I´m loving the results!

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Eva found an advertisment on the door of a public toilet - seriously. Exchange your toilet coupon for a free photoshooting - one photo for free, the rest you have to buy. And of course she was eager to do it, and I agreed, because the photographer seemed nice and I liked her unusual approach on gaining new customers. I also liked that Eva decided to do it together with her best friend - I still have pictures of those two with matching permanent marker smears on their 3 year old faces. And I loved how they did each others make up - again and again - and picked clothes and giggled. Very sweet :)

Music:


Since this is an Eva-post - let´s go with this one :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dehydrating food.

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I´ve been pondering about this ever since I began my juice/jam experiments. You can dehydrate fruits by putting them into the oven, at low temperature, and I did try that. The downsides are a) you need to turn the food over, so it dries from both sides evenly, and I never liked having my oven running for several hours - what a waste of energy.

If you live in a nice and warm and sunny area, you can apparently dehydrate food in your car. I´ve read several instructions on that. Only, neither do we have much sun, nor a car, and somehow, I feel strange putting trays with apples and bananas into a rental car. We might transport our chicken coop in it, but using it as a dehydrateer would be a bit over the top, wouldn´t it?

So I found this nice dehydrater in a Croatian supermarket, for a fracture of the price you´d pay in Germany, and happily took it home.

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It consists of several plastic trays which you load with fruit...

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...and then you plug the baby in and see what happens.

The results: 
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The strawberries are nice and crisp, and they taste like they would be awesome in a muesli - if they´d last that long. 

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My favourites were the figs, because they are crispy and remind me of croatia :)

And the bananas are sweet and delicious, a lot sweeter than fresh ones, and I love them!

As for the energy loss - I can´t really tell, but at least you can dry a far larger amount on much less space with this baby, and that must count for something. 

Music:



The first time I heard Taylors new single, I wasn´t too enthusiastic.  Then I found myself humming it, against my will, and Eva loves her Talor, anyway. And then this cute Tyler Ward cover popped up on my youtube feed last week, and I was pretty much sold :)


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Beeswax Lipbalm, homemade.

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Looks pretty awesome for homemade, doesn´t it?

The recipe is super simple.

You need 30 % beeswax (which you can buy in pellets or, if you´ve got honeybees, harvest from your own tribes :)), and
70 % oil. I took olive oil, because I had it and it was suggested in the recipe, but I also made another version with linseed oil, and I imagine the almond oil we used for our handbalm to work even better.

You melt it both until you´ve got a homogeneus, golden liquid, and then pour it into the sticks.
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I got them on amazon and they are 15 cents, each. I also still had the little crucibles left, I think their intended use is to store nail glitter in them, but I always thought I could find some sensible use for them. So, when I still had some of the oil-beeswax mixture left, I poured it into those.

As for the pouring, I still need to look for a method not to make such a mess, but over all, it worked just fine - you can wipe the excess off with a paper towel.

And that´s basically it - the secret to super cool homemade beeswax lipbalm.

The labels are what gives them this extra touch, I think - I loved labelling them. I used picmonkey for it.

I gave most of them away, to friends, but Tim actually sold some at work, along with my homemade handbalm and that made me kind of proud :)

Music for the day:

This is a nice one :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Meanwhile...

...I´d like to apologize for my prolongued abscense of this blog.

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I´ve been celebrating being a housewife.

Since I quit my job, I´ve been able to pick up my sons early from school, and be home when my daughters get back. I write letters to the boys, so they get to practice their writing when they answer me, and I´ve been reading to them - a lot. I love to see how they begin to read for themselves, especially Mehmet.

I´ve been indulging in being a housewife, and in doing housewifey things with purpose and very consciously, just because I couldn´t this whole last year, and now I can, again. Finally.

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I deeply enjoy cooking beautiful meals and arranging beautiful dinners - even more than I did before I worked, because during this year, I learned how preciuos that is.

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I´m participating in a baking contest next week, just because, (and I´ll post a picture of my hopefully awesome cake...), and I bleached the laundry, something I think I´ve never done in my whole live, but it worked nicely, and while doing it, I felt a nice connection to generations of women everywhere in the world who´ve done that before me. It did show nice results.

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I even painted my kitchen. I´m pretty sure this kind of enthusiasm won´t hold forever, but right now, I feel like I´ve got wings, and I feel like I can finally do all the things I´ve wanted to do all year long, fix all the things I wanted to fix but always was to tired to.

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And we´ve been riding our bikes, of course.

I still do some volunteer work in school, but instead of spending 30+ hours for very little money there, I come for 2-4 hours a week, and I only come when it makes me happy, and play a few songs on my guitar, help some kids who really need it, and then I hapily go. I also volunteer in Eva and Ronja´s schoolcafeteria:
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That´s so cool! I love working there, one morning ´o week, because I like the rush when all the kids come during break time, and the feeling of actually working with my hands, preparing hundreds of sandwiches and salads and being fast. Once a week, I love doing that. The girls I work with are awesome, and my daughters enjoy having me there and are not one bit embarresed, but love seeing me there. Oh, and I´m proud of my blue apron :)

And I´m catching up on my social contacts. That as well. And I´m watching intellectual debates about the death penalty and refugees and religion on youtube, because while I worked, I felt like my brain was drying out with boredom of the ever-same repetetive tasks, and now I need to catch up a little.

I´ve also been sewing quite a lot, and I worked on several cool projects, which I´ll show you over the course of the next week - promise with pinky-swear.

But for now, I´m leaving you with an appropriate song:

Back to the roots :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

One last Dubrovnik post

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We´re back home allready - the kid´s school starts next week, unfortunately - but before I go back to regular posting, I allow myself one or two more vacation-related posts - I figured I love reading my old vacations myself, and over the years, I figured this is the nicest photo diary I´ve got. So bear with me :)

The picture above, by the way, was really hard taking - I wanted, wanted wanted a picture of the old town from above, and there´s a costal serpentine road from which you´ve got this breathtaking view.
Unfortunately, it´s really tough stopping the car for a photo - there is no, and I mean no place where you could stop your car. It´s all bendy and crowded. So I was really thrilled when Tim found an opportunity for a couple of minutes in the evening hours :)

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I found a streetmusician with a lijerica who let me play! It´s really easy! Also, I found it quite interesting you didn´t push the strings down from above, as you´d do with a violin or a guitar, but push your fingers against the side of the string to change the tone. I´ve never seen that before.

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I checked two music stores and several souvenir stores to find a lijerica for myself, but without success.

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What I found fascinating to experience was how a country can get back on it´s feet.

The war on the Balkan was pretty much the first war I consciuosly took note of as a child - it also was the first war a german army participated in after WW2, and I remember the first refugee kids in our village. And many stayed - Eva´s got a good friend whose mom came over as such a refugee child, and I know plenty of kids in school who still speak Serbian or Croatian - which is pretty much the same language by the way.

Of course you do still see traces of the war, suddenly popping up in between the very European beach promenades.
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Former fancy restaurants, hotels, stores, that now look like hollow teeth and have trees growing in the rubble, and you wonder how they might have looked 30 years ago, before the war, and how it came they were abandoned. And then you walk around the corner, and there´s a shiny beach bar where you get an awesome chocolate frappĂ©.

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And I felt like this was a gigantic exclamationmark of hope - a country that had been shattered by war, now blossoming. And the boarder to Bosnia is casually passed by thousands everyday back and forth, and nobody seems to mind. I really liked that.

And one last thing I want to keep of Croatia - after the view of Dubrovnik, the sound of the lijerica, the feeling of hope is...
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...the taste of fresh figs. I mean, fresh from the tree, ultra sweet and crispy and delicious like you can buy nowhere and only get in Nikolina´s garden :)
 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Boats and Islands.

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The coastline here is pretty much sprinkled with small islands, so when it comes to the "What to do around Dubrovnik" tips you find in books and on the internet, it usually involves boats.

We booked a small boattrip around Lokrum. On Lokrum, there´s almost nothing, except for pine trees, lots of pine trees, and a small monastry.
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This is a text from 1151, from a bishop about the ownership of the island, and I loved to be in the same room as a piece of script that´s almost 1000 years old.

And there are caves, and people jumping off cliffs.
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I liked how the boat looked.
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And I liked how my girls looked:
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They also rent pedal boats with a slide on top over here, and we used it to bribe our kids into not fighting when cleaning the table, so we´d rent one if they behaved nicely.
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It gave me nightmares, though. The idea is - you pedal out really far, and then slide off into the water. My girls are superb swimmers, and I let them do whatever they want when it comes to water, because not only can they swim, but they are responsible judges of their own abilities. I can trust them to be save.

Which can not be said about my boys. They can swim... sort of.
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And they always believe they can swim to... yeah, that island is not really far away, is it?
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See those two small dots?

That´s Tim and Miro. Tim swam with him, but it still made me nervous.

Also, I was scared the whole time one would end up under the boat while I was watching the other, so I guess I spoiled their super cool slidey-boat trip for them. But I felt a lot better when I had them back on solid ground. And the girls enjoyed it, at least.

Music: 

Late last night, I heard some music through my window. I silently tapped on Eva´s door, we quickly threw on our dresses and snuck out the door. The house we´re staying in is close to the local fire brigade, and the people from this village use the house for their Thursday night dancing gatherings. They did, actually, practice traditional folk dancing. Not with costumes, the touristy stuff, but for fun, the youngest dancers being around Eva´s age, the oldest with grey hair. And the music I had heard (and thought it came from a tape) came from a Lijerica, a traditional croation instrument with three strings. The guy who played it told me the strings were made from a tennis racket :) So I thought I´d give you an example of the Lijerica for today :)