Thursday, July 31, 2008


...and here's my favourite key piece for the summer

photo source


Funky American retailer Urban Outfitters are opening a store in Hamburg, Germany in August. Finally!
Goody...that's 'only' a three hour drive up north from B-town.

photo source 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Asia Supermarket

If you're an Asian food-lover and you happen to live in these parts - good news!
There's a new shop selling everything from instant noodles (can't live without them), Asian snacks, crabmeat, condiments, frozen dumplings, fresh pak choi, gourd, limes, ginger, lemongrass and the odd Asian gadget, i.e. rice cookers (who can live w/o one?). Also loads of rice, rice noodles, spring rolls -  and a rack full of silk gowns! Okay, so this is odd, but if you're planning an Asian theme party, the dress would come in handy...

It's located on a main road about twenty minutes drive south of B-town. The owner is a very friendly and efficient Vietnamese lady (who speaks German really well). She told me she opened the supermarket a couple of months ago and is keeping her fingers crossed that - apart from me - there are plenty more pot-noodle fans out there.

So...PLEASE give this shop a chance - go visit!!! It's clean, it's organized, and who can beat 500gr. of Jasmin Tea leaves for approx. Euro 4,40?!

Remember, unless you prefer the two hour drive to Cologne, this is the only source for yummy Asian snacks for miles around.

email me for complete address.

Gam Bai!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Scraps of fabric

Here's a little bag I made from left-over scraps of fabric (which I couldn't bear throwing away). Another favourite way to use up scraps is making patchwork cushions or placemats.
I've never done a stuffed fabric doll or cuddly animal before, but that's going to be my next
summer project (as soon as I find the time), so stay tuned!

Tutoring this morning, so I have to go.

Monday, July 28, 2008


It's Monday - need I say more?
I'm currently working on a mini-assignment I brought back from the city, and to cheer myself up I'm wearing my new sparkly earrings (also from the city) ;-)

This afternoon I really need to get some work done in the front garden, because when I came back yesterday I noticed that I almost couldn't reach the door for the overflowing mass of greenery...
Now, I've asked hubby time and time again to plant some easy-care shrubs like boxtree, but for some reason he likes it 'colourful' and we end up with rambling roses, geraniums and lavender and such like.
Hm. Thinking about it, I think WE really need to get some work done on the front garden, as in hubby and me.

Can't wait.


Sunday, July 27, 2008


Hi everyone!

So I'm back early. After two days of crowds, noise and chaos I was relieved when the slow train finally chugged into B-town station (which basically consists of one small house and a tired-looking clerk who dispenses tickets for approx. 3 hours every day) and I stepped out onto the platform and got a good whiff of good ol' country air, i.e. manure.
Aaah, home sweet home.

Anyway, I've started unpacking the clothes I brought along plus a few new items which I really couldn't resist...a thin, tan-coloured belt, a creamy leather wallet with a gold buckle that doubles as a clutch, some fancy dangly earrings...well, you know, just stuff. Besides I haven't been on a shopping spree for ages, okay?
And all of this was at wholesale prices, I mean, what a bargain, right?

I also bumped into quite a few ex-colleagues and they haven't changed much, atleast their personality hasn't. As for their appearance...well, there is such a thing as being too trendy, if you get my drift.

My feet are aching from wearing high heels all day long, so I'm going to put them up now and just relax for the rest of the day.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Smoking Ban

Just a quick post before I leave for the 'fashion capital' of Germany.
As we all know, smoking is now officially prohibited in public places since July 1st. And we also know that fashion people are notorious smokers (except me, of course), so, I'm just wondering how everybody's going to get through the next couple of days and also how lenient restaurant owners are going to be. I heard of one proprietor who put up a tent inside his restaurant, since apparently smoking in a tent is allowed. Go figure...?!

Back on Monday. Keep tuned.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Café Solo

Yesterday I had a meeting with a potential new client in a town about half-an-hours drive from here. Since I was only offered weak tea and a single, plain biscuit I was ravenous by the time we finished.
I was walking along the main pedestrian area when I spotted Café Solo, which instantly reminded me of all the hip cafés I used to frequent in Amsterdam/London/Berlin. I went inside and was pleasantly surprised that they had a large non-smoking section. The interior was all bleached wood with squashy leather seats and a sofa corner, nice warm lighting (which the sharply dressed waitress later told me changed according to the time of day), and stylish touches here and there. The menu is quite varied for a café. Not only do they serve snacks such as 'panini' and 'crostini' with delectable toppings, they do Asian food too! And the cake selection is simply scrumptious. There's everything from traditional apple cake to healthy yoghurt-cherry cake to crunchy apricot-streusel tart. Yummy!
I wanted savoury on this occasion, so I selected the panini italiano, expecting two small slices of toasted bread with a bit of tomato and cheese on top. Instead I was served two HUGE slices of soft, doughy bread topped with juicy tomato sugo and cheese that had been lightly browned in the oven plus a fresh and healthy side salad with a lightly herbed yoghurt dressing. I got real tea, too (not the tea-bags). Wow, I thought... and all this for just 5 Euros.

And they have nice mellow music in the background, too.

I'll definitely be back and I'm going to take my friends along. They seat about 120 indoors and (when it's not raining) they have additional 100 seats on the terrace facing the historic public square.

I'm always happy when I get to add a new place to my 'where-to-go-for-coffee' list.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New Season Looks

Funny, now that the summer season is in full swing I'm being bombarded with shiny, new mail-order catalogues almost on a daily basis. And we're talking Fall/Winter 08/09!!!
And next week I'm off to D-dorf for the Collection Premiere showing Summer 2009!

Yes, trying to keep abreast of what's hot & what's not needs an organized mind...
So, for the benefit of the confused - here's the gist of it: 

Summer 08 - strong colours are still in, as are animal prints, floaty dresses and gold accessories.
Winter 08/09 - Grey is the new black; team up with deep purple and silver accessories.
Summer 09 - more animal prints, floral prints, new pant shapes, tunics in bold colours, more ethnic & safari-styles, lots of floaty scarves.

Not that this has any impact on local women. They remain completely unmoved by the seasonal madness called fashion, and steadfastly stick to their own 'brand' of styling, i.e. blue jeans, child-friendly sweaters in solid colours, hoodies for the younger set, and thick-soled boots.
If the temperature does occasionally rise above 20°C, exchange the jeans for turn-up jeans, the sweaters for oversized T-shirts and the boots for Birkenstocks.
You get the picture...

Friday, July 18, 2008


I love browsing round fabric stores, and recently I came upon an new store about half an hour drive by car from here. It's tucked away in a little side street so is easy to miss, but like a dog finding his long lost bone I tend to 'find' these quirky fabric stores!
I'm especially fond of unusual fabrics, i.e. interesting structures, funny prints, ethereal colours etc.

Of course I fell head over heels in love with the 'Sushi' fabric I found the other day and I just had to make a handbag immediately. It's a real eye-catcher.
Judge for yourself...

mata ai masho!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The *bofrost man never rings twice

When the doorbell rang this afternoon I was expecting a pupil, so I was mildly irritated by the presence of a middle-aged, rugged-looking fella leaning up against my doorjamb. I noticed he was wearing a blue cap low on his forehead with the *bofrost logo smack in the middle, and my heart sank.
At this point I better tell you that *bofrost is one of Germany's leading frozen food delivery services.
Anyway, I smile uncertainly - but then my ears prick up as he starts mumbling something about his daughter needing tutoring (I have a sign on the door). Immediately I switch to suave business mode and hand him my card. So far, so good.
Now comes the down part.
Out of nowhere he produces a *bofrost catalogue and quickly presses it in my still outstretched hand...I step back in alarm, but he's already got one foot in the door before I had a chance close it.

So then he starts rattling off the specials at high speed, and although I've never really been keen on frozen stuff & seeing as we've got plenty of fresh produce in our own garden, I find myself agreeing to 'test buy' (whatever that means) a few items. Maybe because I stupidly thought he'll return the favour by bringing round his educationally-challenged daughter next time!

Next thing I know he's dumping the bags of frozen food in my hallway and while I'm counting out the cash a funny feeling washes over me...kind of like I'm being duped big-time. So, just to make sure I tap my sign on the door for emphasis and tell him his daughter can ring me any time.

At this he pockets the money, moves off toward his van (smiling triumphantly, I think) and calls back something along the lines of 'yeah, sure', at which point my blood pressure rises.
Damn. And I didn't even catch his name...

I've cooled off a bit as I'm writing this, but still. Yup, guys and girls, there's a lesson to be learnt here somewhere...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's raining again...

...and I'm not referring to Supertramp's song.

Just when I thought I could pack away my cable-knit cardigan, the thermometer drops to 16°C this I'm sitting at my desk with a stripy scarf wrapped round my neck once again.
You know, I used to like this kind of weather back in the city, because it meant I could sneak out to the corner coffee shop and indulge in a cup of piping hot coffee and a chocolate croissant without feeling guilty - because as everyone knows, you need to eat in order to keep warm, right?
I also used to love sitting by the window and watching my fellow pedestrians struggle against the wind and rain with their wonky umbrellas, while meditatively sipping my coffee.
There's not much point going outside nowadays, since 1. there's no people watching here and 2. it's just too much of a hassle to trudge along the main street that leads to the town centre for a mediocre cup of instant coffee granules!
Besides, I'm only a few steps away from our high-tech 'Dolce Gusto' by Krups taking centre stage on the kitchen counter ;-)
On a happier note - I just received a new translating assignment, which always perks me up no matter what the weather!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Kitty Cat Shopping Bag

I made this shopping bag on a rainy weekend. It's ca. 30x25cm, but you can adjust the size. Basically it's a rectangle shape which I cut from the fabric twice (same for the lining) and sewn together right sides facing. Leave an opening in the lining for turning. Don't forget to add two 50cm straps about 2,5cm wide on front and back side. Sew up the opening and stuff inside the bag before
ironing. If you want you can add two snap buttons each end to 'keep it together' or you can just leave open.

ps - I added a layer of fusible webbing on the left side of fabric to make it sturdier.

going to make my second cup of tea and get some work done!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Supermarket Surplus

For a town this small there are an awful lot of supermarkets, and they come in three distinct categories:

1. discounters with short, catchy names like Plus or Aldi or Lidl
    now, this is where 80% of this town's population shop. Everything comes in bulk at economy     prices. Of course, something's got to give and it's usually the quality...

2. Farmshops / healthfood shops
    these are 'green grocers' in the literal sense. Insiders go there; the quality's top notch - so are
    the prices! They have a steady following: 30somethings and the eco-brigade.

3. Last but not least there's Wilger - rated among the top10 best supermarkets in the
    country! It's huge, the staff is well-trained, they carry 'exotic' fruit like mangosteen and     physallis, they have a well-stocked fresh cheese counter and superb meat. There're two aisles     of breakfast cereal and loads and loads of canned/frozen food. I could spend half a day here    and probably spend half a fortune ;-)

And who do you think frequents the last one? Banker types? Dinks? No way! Last time I was
there (I only bought a packet of dried apricots) the place was swarming with pensioners!!!
Just goes to show, huh?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Shortbread, scones & homemade jam


I've just started reading the above book; a hilarious read about life in the country (sounds familiar to me), but what I really like about this book are the amazing descriptions of buttery shortbread made from scratch, homemade jams and other delicacies. Just reading about them made me hungry and my fingers are just itching to make some biscuits this afternoon. Nothing beats chunky homemade almond-choc-chip-biscuits straight from the oven with a nice cup of smooth coffee made from freshly ground Arabica coffee beans, right?

Hmmm. Yummy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summer Rain

It's depressing.
I couldn't sleep last night, because of the incessant patter of rain on the bedroom window. This morning I looked outside and it's still raining, thick clouds covering the sky like a blanket.
Everything looks grey - even people's faces ;-)
I can relate though.
I spent two years in sunny Indonesia and no matter what, people were always friendly and smiling. I guess it really has to do with the sun shining brightly for most of the year...
One positive aspect is that I seem to get a lot more work done, even though I've only had a few hours sleep.
I'm developing worksheets at the moment for the pupils who are taking my summer course.
Later this month I'll be heading up to Duesseldorf (the fashion capital of Germany) for a couple of days during the CPD. That's the international Fashion Trade Show. Okay, so I'm not officially part of this bi-annual event, but sometimes I just need to feel the buzz for old times sake ;-) , catch up with ex-colleagues and (sometimes acquire a new translating assignment) hehe.

Bye for now.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oops. Sorry forgot to tell you guys where it is:

Hotel-Café am Schloss Raesfeld

Tip - look out for the painted mushrooms on top of the
two gate posts.



I don't usually leave my desk during the week very often (except for making endless cups of tea and cooking lunch), but a friend of mine managed to persuade me to join her for coffee at this new café she heard about...
I immediately surmised that she didn't want to test it alone in case it turned out to be another one of those dusty coffee shops with plastic tablecloths favoured by curly-haired grannies!

Anyway, she picked me up in the afternoon and we drove for about twenty minutes along the country road when we came upon this charming half-timbered house covered in ivy. Too idyllic for words!

It turns out the owner (a therapist) opened up this café as a 'hobby' - but the people kept coming in droves, and when we arrived it was already buzzing. So now she gets up pretty early each day to bake a couple of fabulous cakes along with a few tasty savoury snacks. They serve delicious coffee and the tea comes in these enormous white mugs. Best of all - it's affordable. Her husband helps her out, too. It seems she's spending more & more time at the café than in her office.

The clientele is mixed. Thirty-something couples, tour groups and yes, the ubiquitious grannies I mentioned earlier. But all in all, the atmosphere was lively, friendly and no one pressured us to shift our bottoms - even after we sat there for almost two hours ;-)

Yup. I can definitely recommend it to visitors. It's also child-friendly with kids books to keep them entertained.
In summer they do BBQ out on the terrace. In winter they make a cosy fire indoors. Hey - and
if you still feel depressed after stuffing yourself with apple cake, cream and cappuccino you can still go and book a session next door...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Roller Bag

I made this cute drawstring bag you see in the photo for my assortment of rollers. It's easy to make and you can make them in all sorts of sizes. They make great gift bags too!
I added the print via my computer and ink jet printer. Make sure the lettering is in reverse before you print it on the transfer paper, since you're going to iron it 'upside down' on the fabric.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Vitamin E


I've been using the wonderful products from The Body Shop ( for ages, especially their Vitamin E series. I just love the new serum. Try this: leave the serum in the fridge for half an hour, then lightly pat a drop of serum around eyes. Wonderfully cooling, especially during the summer months.
All their products are made with natural ingredients and they're against animal testing, which I fully support.
I'm really lucky in that a dear friend of mine works there and sends me my fave products every couple of months, since as you may well know by now, we haven't got a local branch of the Body Shop.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, July 4, 2008


They've been around for ages and are firmly entrenched in tradition. I'm talking about the shooting matches that are taking place in these parts at this time of year. I confess I've only ever observed the goings on, never really participated, but to me it seems the sole reason for having them is so the men can get stoned on cheap booze without feeling guilty and the women can dress up in sparkly evening gowns and maybe get their picture taken for the local rag.

These people really are a barrel of fun, aren't they?!

By the way, my camera suddenly conked out yesterday. This means all my lovely pics are stuck in it, and right now I'm trying to figure out what's wrong with it, because I really need to get them transferred to my PC.
(no pun intended)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Power Yoga for one

What I really miss most about not living in the big cities are my yoga classes. I've been keeping up at home, but it's just not the same. The local community centre does offer a course. I went for a test class and came back home depressed instead of re-energized and spiritually enlightened.
The group consisted only of women, and they were all frumpy looking. I mean, did they all have to show up wearing old jogging pants, all slouchy bottoms and saddle-bags. Jeez. 
Needless to say, I never went back.
There's a yoga convention on at the moment till Sunday in Hong Kong. All the top yoga instructors from around the world are attending. If you're interested click on the link:


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Does it ever end?

Right. I've just finished reading Ken Follett's one thousand plus page tome 'World without End' and for some reason it's left me feeling uneasy. It's not the writing itself, which is of course of excellent quality and in the same vein as its prequel 'Pillars of the Earth', however I wasn't immediately hooked like I usually am with KF books. It only got marginally interesting after the first three hundred pages or so...
Basically I was missing cohesion; the main characters seemed to be stumbling from one more or less dramatic disaster to the next, and the endless succession of sexual assaults on the female characters I found irritating in its repetition.
I dearly hope KF will return to writing modern thrillers, as I feel he's really exhausted this topic (middle ages). Well, not wanting to end this post on a sour note, the story line does pick up in speed later on and there are a few unexpected twists and turns to keep everyone on their toes, plus it's really well researched, giving the reader insight to surprising facts about medieval life.
Anyway, for fans it's worth a read. Buy in when it comes out in paperback!