Friday 31 December 2010

Happy New Year 2011

... just organised.

Well, it's established now that we still know how to throw a party and my theory about age, lifestyle and timing issues has been put to the test last night.

All the conditions were right, at least for my side: It's the holidays so I am well rested, it was a planned party so I was prepared. Night owl and sleep organised hubby was rested anyway, only our young movie crazed friend didn't have time off work and since she is still maintaining her student lifestyle the good girl had a few dips in her stamina.

Raclette - Letting people cook their own food!
The party started at 7PM and we had planned for a few experiments so it was expected to go on for a while, what I didn't expect was clock showing 5:40 in the morning when I went to bed. I was a very awake happy bunny which could have gone on and on. At one point I was asked by hubby to shut up and let the poor people leave as said dear friend showed severe black rings under her eyes. Whoops!

So preparation does work, and to have a partner in crime makes things more fun. After so many years together hubby and I have developed our roles so intuitively that even the cleaning up is almost done already. And our experiments worked. We made a Feuerzangenbowle. It is a rum drenched, mulled wine flambé which inspired the only German Cult movie that ever existed. It almost has the status of Rocky Horror Picture Show, and hence needed urgent following-up on. Some ten years ago hubby insisted he didn't like mulled wine and hence the device to prepare this spectacle of a drink was left back in Germany, silly us! Who would have thought that taste changes and one would need it again.

 A profane cooking pot with steam inset had to do, the sugar cone was replaced by a pile of sugar cubes, with a bit of luck a 57% rum was secured from an off licence shop - less would not burn -  and topped up by a leftover of 80% Stroh rum which has a wonderful aroma, and the faint recollection of the ancient recipe consisting of oranges, lemon, cinnamon, clove and cardamom was bang on. And so  we held a match to it and it worked! That smell, the blue flames, the burning ladle for adding more rum to keep the sugar burning and caramelising... bliss. Next year we definitely will have the proper gear!

Happy New Year 2010 to all of you!

Wednesday 29 December 2010


I don't know how the English call these days located at the no-man's-land of time, in German they are named 'between years', and I think it describes it perfectly fine. Christmas is still old year, but those few days leading up to New Years Eve don't count for anything really. And that is the reason why I don't particularly like the winter break. It feels like insomnia. One has a wonderful long night of sleep ahead, and one knows that if one could sleep, one would wake up a very happy bunny, but then there are those restless periods, and the thought: If I sleep now I have still 6 hours, that's still good, isn't it? Well, now it's only 5 hours ... I really have to sleep now...

The Christmas holidays are the same. 10 Days! Bliss! I could get heaps of stuff done, especially that we are skipping Christmas - and then it sort of never happens.

Since the dawn of time I have this weird idea of hedgehogging. Hedgehogging is not just hibernation, it is hibernation with curling into a ball and raising all the defenses. I dearly love my family and friends, but I have this dream of not seeing and hearing anything of anybody, with the computer being my only channel to the outside world. Computer is non-intrusive, it doesn't ring and I don't have to respond instantly, hence I am allowed to slow down my brain. To open an email is like opening a parcel to me. I choose the time, I have my cuppa ready, I zoom into the right frame of mind for that person and then I enjoy. Telephone calls: they never come at a convenient time. The rule in the olden days: Don't call before 9AM (breakfast), between 12 and 1PM (lunch) and after 8PM (news at the telly) don't apply for me. I have an irregular lifestyle, I love it when I get an SMS with an appointment request for a phone call which I then may or may not respond to. 

Oh well, I could just not take the call, but then hubby will, passing the phone on while barging into a precious thought which I just tried to note down and which now is fleeing. Another thing are short notice party invitations. Since everybody has time to kill between years all those 'let's get together for a nibble' parties are cropping up. Very dearly meant, but not for the woman whose only thought is hibernation.

I know: Christmas is not a good time to wish for such a thing with everybody trying hard to achieve exactly the opposite, but it is the only time of the year when I can get 10 days off with just three days of annual leave. So I keep trying without being truly successful, yet.

It all starts at Christmas Eve: Shops are closed Christmas day, so let's buy a few things on Christmas eve and tidy the house at least a bit. One day down!

Christmas day... a gazillion telephone calls, writing Christmas emails, fighting of dinner invitations, friend coming over for afternoon tea and some facebook and telly. A good day actually, a lot of human interaction out of the way, that looks promising for the rest of the time. 

Boxing day, self chosen trip to town. Hubby wants to buy his Christmas present and a bit of fresh air doesn't hurt. Three days down. 

27th dinner invitation to a restaurant.

28th eventually a day on my own. Hubby is still chasing his Christmas gift and a few other gadgets, and hence went out... Then, several SMS, emails and phone calls asking for advice, mum calling... crisis, hence fair enough... I lost track of my article and thanks to blogger's auto-save (how I love blogger) at least it was not lost. Altogether not the calm day I had hoped for, but at least sorted the charity money and some wardrobes...
29th, today: Running late but at least got an idea for a good rant. The rest of the day is for planning a dinner party of my own, it's a tradition that we have it on the 30th and it is planned in... if only the other days would be entirely mine...

30th, I will like it as I like cooking, laying tables and so on. So, no hibernation but a day played by my rules.

31st, tidying house. 7 days down!

That leaves me with a prospect of three days to get everything done that I wanted to do. Like cleaning the fish tank and the aviary, preparing my book for publishing, planning for a photo shoot for illustrations, doing a few illustrations already, cut music for my posing routine, probably start practising a bit, shooting a 'Jeans Tutorial' for ILP. Well, that's possible in 10 days but not in three, and now I am getting into this insomnia-like state of: If I would do that now, then I would at least, but then I haven't..., should I rather..., no probably not a good idea,... sh... getting a headache now...

Well, it at least it only cost me three days of leave! Let's look forward to a break around Easter... Argh...

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Everything Out!

... that doesn't pay rent.

During the latest Christmas dinner a friend, infamously known for his provocative questions, asked me: 'How do you fight?' Hubby, sitting next to me spontaneously answered 'Yes' while I, as spontaneously, answered 'We don't!'.

Given the slight grammatical slip in the response, I have to add that hubby never was able to filter important information out of the noise as it occurs when many people chatter like geese. Nevertheless, I was a bit concerned about the state of our marriage given the discrepancy of response to such an important question. So very gently, as if reminding a family member with a degenerative brain disease, I said: But darling, we never fight...?!

He looked at me like waking up and as spontaneously as before he said: 'Oh, thought he said "fart". We do that!' Heavily nodding his head.

Again, I was a bit concerned about the state of our marriage, but at least the conversation had moved on to a different subject which however turned out to be as interesting for said friend as the previous one. So now we are entering a somewhat dangerous terrain of  perception, reality, and possible embarrassment. The friend claims that for a long time he truly believed that women were not capable of farting.... how sweet, he thought we were like angels! But believe you me, we are very airy creatures of a different kind. We are just a bit more subtle then the usual male, and we usually have better fine motor skills - let's not get side tracked by the question why that might be - and move on to revealing my very personal view on the matter.

Yes, I admit it: I used to be sneaky. One still has to choose locations carefully, though. Crowds are better than small numbers of people, especially when one can move about a bit. In the gym one either needs to be alone on a machine and looking very grim when working out so nobody dares approaching, or one should position oneself close to a group of big blokes, nobody will ever suspect the lady. But the ultimate fart location is the elevator, don't need to explain that, do I?

Noise control however is a must and I had gained mastership. My mum never managed to keep silent and used to jump up and run out of the room ever so often. So the incentive was high to get the hang of it. Imagine my surprise when I operated my finest moves in public and all of a sudden ... Pheeet! Whoops! How? What? Why? I felt like our dog at home who left a fart while sleeping and jumped out of his bed like bitten by a tarantula, eyes wide open of fear of the strange invisible thing in his bed that makes noises. This public incident was the end of my sneaky career. I don't know what happened, but there was no going back.

This new situation needed an entirely new approach. Whereas I used to hate loud music in the gym I now am rather appreciative, and the favourite fart spot has become close to a loud speaker, preferably with big blokes around. And negotiations with the husband became necessary. Previously we were rather considerate to each other,  but there is nothing worse than stomach cramps from those bloody healthy veggie meals. Options are to interrupt the movie, leave the comfy arm chair and blanket behind to visit the only room truly appropriate for the task, or to just let go. You now know the outcome of those negotiations, which brings me back to the state of my marriage: Bloody brilliant, actually! And No! We really do not fight!

Thursday 16 December 2010

Is it Murphy?

Oh my goodness, Murphy's law even has its own website. For about half a year now I have my own version of it:

Since I decided to do the Bodybuilding competition I had more restaurant invitations and food temptations than in the past 5 years together. 

It is truly incredible. We used to very rarely go out for meals - couch potato would be the appropriate term. Once I decided to do something that would give me the figure of a young woman - how wonderful! - and that would need all the determination possible in regard to food control - how frightening! - we all of a sudden started to travel and to develop a social life, including all the associated restaurant visits and food challenges.

Now, that half of the time until due date has passed and only 29 weeks are left over to reach my goal, I find myself in the worst week of all. Two Christmas lunches, a night out with friends, and a Christmas cake party all in one week.

So the thought jumped my mind that I might as well get something good out of it and to promote my blogs. After all I am meeting a lot of people on those occasions,  and now that I got my new business cards... and then I forgot to take them with me. Hmmm! So I at least tried to show off vocally and bragged exhaustively about my 12 blogs when one guy asked... Why are you running "12!" blogs, and before I even could think about it another one said: To avoid the unlucky 13!

Ha, see! Murphy won't get me in this one!

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Advantages of X-mas lunch

... over X-mas dinner, or 'When is a gathering a meeting?'

See, at work we have these Christmas outings with our teams and until last year I was having dinners. Dinner sounds important and sophisticated, lunch is merely a quick bite, or so I thought. There are three advantages of lunches which jump to mind instantly. Firstly, the organisers of a lunch will avoid the discussion of whether or not spouses are invited, secondly, one doesn't have to see for a babysitter and thirdly, one actually gets the benefit of a half day off if the meal is booked for the end of the lunch serving period, stretched nicely with coffee and chat, to then be moved seamlessly into the pub.

The new team with which I went yesterday have researched the matter for a few years now and have developed it's execution to perfection. The location was Salthouse Harbour Hotel in Ipswich, where the atmosphere is beautiful, the food is delicious and the wifi for free. No, I of course didn't use it during dinner, but they have this lovely coffee place with plain view of the waterfront where I like to take my coffee breaks from the heavy work of shopping and which was the place where I did my first flight into the internet cloud. This is the perfect place to wait for the rest of the party to arrive.

Feeling nicely fed after a pleasant lunch I was prepared to go home and to work a bit more... and then we turned right... the car park is left... and then we walked a little bit... and then we turned right again, up the stairs and found ourselves in front of the bar of Isaacs. Did I say half a day off? What followed was about six hours of hard work! I learned about weird feet and hands of my colleagues, which bones were once broken, revealed that for the bodybuilding competition I will have to wear a tiny bikini, and we of course briefed each other some work related stuff. Great thing about Isaacs is that it has secluded corners. Eventually we had an entire room for ourselves which was actually big enough to fit us all in. Tomorrow we will be back to the boss's little office, cold and without drinks served and we will discuss the same all over again - the work stuff, not the feet, only then it will be called a meeting.

Unusually enough I arrived back home later then hubby who was at the movies, and hence I will cut it short now, I have a few chores to attend to which were scheduled for yesterday afternoon, and then work is calling...

Friday 10 December 2010

A gap in the flow

I need a butler, or one of those boxes which didn't make it as an invention at the 'Lion's Den'. It's a box which is to be positioned in front of the house so that the postman can get to it, which is big enough to receive rather big parcels, and which has a lock that only the postman and oneself can open. Come to think of it: Neither the floor lamps nor the protein powder would fit into any box... it would have to be the butler.

Oh.... it's horrible! I love Internet shopping and as soon as I press the button I am starting to get nervous. Tracking the order, remembering which company is using which delivery service, estimating when they might be coming round to our house. Some are bothering my neighbour who is so kind to substitute for a butler, some just shove it through the cat flap, while others are very strict and only leave parcels in a specified place on demand.

What am I going to do? Most of the depots are at the other end of town, it would have been nicer to go TO town for shopping, meeting girl friend for a coffee and having a good time meanwhile. Trouble is that most of the stuff is not available in town, and rather heavy to carry.

There is a new business idea! We need local networks of homeworkers. People who are chained to their houses for a good reason and who have a big garage... a big empty garage - that could be the crux of the project, I don't know anybody with an empty garage... oh well, they could make a bit of extra money from taking on the parcels of us buzzing around types, and even could charge a bit extra for out of hour retrieval of the goodies. I would be happy to pay for it, it's still cheaper than a butler.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Not a Cosmopolitan Gal

The other day I had one of my afternoons off. Not just off work, but off everything. For me that means an afternoon out in town, not talking to anyone, magazine, coffee place, and since a few weeks, my little netbook as well. The woman never knows when inspiration might strike and an article wants to get out; and since I have gained a new freedom in that respect, my handbag got bigger to accommodate this technical little gadget.

On arrival at the coffee place however genius hadn't struck yet so a decision was made in favour of the purchase of a magazine. Easier said than done: I would love to carry the label 'Cosmopolitan Girl' - it sounds so posh, I like the drink... but the magazine is rather, well... I think it's crap. Everything is about relationship advice and silly multiple choice tests. I rather like InStyle magazine which has a focus on fashion. This is more my kind of research, but... was sold out. So in the end it was a Vogue, which is sort of 'one level up'. Everything in there is a bit more on the pricey end and the fashion is nice to look at but often not very wearable. Well, for an afternoon out, it should be just fine.

And now, please! Can anybody please tell me why women with a gap between their teeth are supposedly pretty? There seems to be a new supermodel on the loose, who looks like a pouting rabbit in a wig. Since I saw her on the front cover of the Vogue - and woohoo, that is something - I realise that she is everywhere now. Please guys, tell me that this is not what turns you on!

And others seem to follow. When I eventually got hold of my InStyle magazine I found gaps in the middle, gaps at the side, massive canines, and the overly full pout seems to be in fashion anyway. The girls look a bit like having fallen into a silicone syringe while parents could have saved themselves a lot of money for braces and given the child the opportunity to become a millionaires... although, if curviness runns in your family you might as well have her teeth fixed.

"Bed hair, a gorgeous gap-toothed smile and lots of red lipstick..."