Needlework Tuesday: Balcony curtains

I’m afraid there is no big progress on my crocheted wrap, at least nothing worth showing. But I have finished another very small project, which is still quite a big thing for me.

I am a total sewing newbie, my sewing machine and I don’t particularly like each other and every time I want to sew something it is a fight. I thought I’d start with something really easy, rectangular and extremely uncomplicated. I made a couple of curtains for our balcony shelves. I have had those scraps of fabric from IKEA for ages and never did anything with them.

So, now I improved the looks of our balcony tremendously in about 30 minutes and I am rather pleased with myself. Matching tablecloth to come.

curtain1 curtain2

Join us for Needlework Tuesday which is hosted by Heather from Books and Quilts. She has made some progress on her mystery quilt. Marie at Daisy’s Book Journal is explaining about cross crochet, something I had never heard of before.


Weekend cooking: Zingerman’s guide to good eating


One of the first weekend cooking posts I read was by Caite where she talked about Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating by Ari Weinzweig. It sounded so good and mouth watering that I had to get it for myself. The subtitle of this book is “How to choose the best bread, cheeses, olive oil, pasta, chocolate and much more”. Who wouldn’t want to know how to do that?


Indeed, the book is a very comprehensive guide to various types of food. It tells you everything about it, where it comes from, how it is grown/produced/made and how to tell the good from the bad. The book is well structured and comes with a lot of background info in neat little boxes and sidebars. I like the whole concept of it.

The foods that are covered are:

  • Oils, olives & vinegars
  • Grains and rice (bread, pasta, polenta, Italian rices, Spanish rices, wild rice)
  • Cheeses (Parmigiano-Reggiano, Cheddar, mountain cheeses, blue cheeses, goat cheeses)
  • Meat and fish (Prosciutto, Serrano ham, salami, smoked salmon)
  • Seasonings (Pepper, sea salt, saffron)
  • Honey, vanilla, chocolate, tea

Every section also provides a number of recipes, some very easy, some more complicated. I am going to share an easy one that still is delicious and great “to go”.


Spanish fried egg “sandwich”


  • 2 tbsp fruity extra virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 slices crusty country bread
  • Fine sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet. They will bubble around the edges, making them crisp. Break the yolks with a wooden spoon and spread them over the whites a little and cook until set, 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the bread and brush it with the remaining olive oil.

Place 1 egg on each slice of bread and sprinkle with salt and plenty of pepper. Serve hot.

Suggestion: Wrap them and take them with you for a brown-bag lunch.


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Caite at A lovely shore breeze


Book beginnings on Friday



Today’s book beginning is from a book I read some weeks ago, “The sun also rises” by Ernest Hemingway. If you would like to see more covers, please have a look at the Comparing Covers post from a few days ago.

Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Do not think I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn. He cared nothing for boxing, in fact he disliked it, but he learned it painfully and thoroughly to counteract the feeling of inferiority and shyness he had felt on being treated as a Jew at Princeton.


Like Clockwork by Bonnie Dee


Victoria’s work with automatons has gained her renown and changed the face of London. But her concern that the clockworks are taking too many jobs away from humans, creating social unrest, is ignored. Given the ugly mood of the underclass, she fears more outbreaks of violence similar to the murder spree of the notorious Southwark Slasher.

Dash, unemployed thanks to the clockworks, has pledged fealty to The Brotherhood, a group determined to bring about the downfall of the automatons by any means necessary. His plan to kidnap Victoria goes awry when the unorthodox scientist pledges her assistance to their cause.

Despite their opposite social classes, a bond grows between them, and Victoria begins to feel emotions she never expected for the passionate Dash. But when the Slasher strikes close to home, Dash and Victoria realize that the boundaries of polite society are far from the only threat to their happiness…

My thoughts: 

If you are a regular reader of my blog you might know that I like Bonnie Dee a lot. When I saw “Like Clockwork” available at Netgalley I requested it quickly for two reasons.  Well, it’s by Bonnie Dee and it has a Steampunk theme.

As it turned out the story is a mixture of Steampunk, romance and mystery with a definite Jack the Ripper flavour (here called “Southwark Slasher”). After the first few pages I got the impression that the society in the story is somewhat like the ancient Romans, lazy, decadent and letting the automatons do all the work. However, the social problems that might come from a flooding of slaves (here: automatons) were solved by trying to get rid of all the poor that were driven out of work.

Victoria is another one of those down to earth heroines with very unconventional ways. Being kidnapped by Dash didn’t make her bat an eyelid; the necessary attraction to him did the rest to make this a very pleasant read. She was ready to acknowledge her feelings, something I always like in a woman, and act on them accordingly. Actually she was the driving force, which is quite unusual.

The automaton problem was not resolved in the story. I could complain about this, but the story was almost too short as it was, I could hardly expect to see such a complex social problem solved. At least the Slasher was brought to justice, well, sort of anyway. Call me slow, but I had no idea about who it was, even though in retrospect the prologue already should have given me a clue.

The Steampunk angle was quite nice, but apart from the ubiquitous dirigible in the sky and, of course, the automatons themselves, there was not much difference to a historical romance. It seems “clockwork” is THE Steampunk word. I don’t know how many Steampunk titles are out there with “clockwork” in the title, but somehow I get the feeling that that word is being seriously overused.

For lovers of short romance this is definitely worth a try.

You might also be interested in reading this:

What turned me on to robots by Bonnie Dee at Steamed!

Title Like Clockwork
Author Bonnie Dee
Publisher Carina Press
ISBN 9781426890963
Buy link Buy Like Clockwork

Needlework Tuesday: Crochet stole “Farmer’s garden”

After my scarf I finally started my new project, a stole. The pattern is from DROPS Design. The yarn is another one from 100Farbspiele. It is called “Bauerngarten” (farmer’s garden). Unfortunately I haven’t got a picture of it, but there is an image of a finished stole on their blog (not the one I am making though).


The yarn is wonderfully hand dyed with a gradient, so the colors change and the best thing is you never have to start a new skein. I love it, since I am lazy and don’t like to sew up all those little threads. I don’t know whether you can see it in the next picture but the color already started to change a bit. It goes from very dark purple to slightly green now with one thread of dark green in it.


Join us for Needlework Tuesday which is hosted by Heather from Books and Quilts. She is doing some embroidery and working on a quilt which, I am sure, will turn out beautifully. Marie, on the other hand, has dug up two older projects she would like to revive again. Have a look!


Comparing covers: The sun also rises

I read “The sun also rises” by Ernest Hemingway in February and quite liked it. So, it’s time to look at some of its covers. The title of the book when it was published in the UK in 1927 was “Fiesta” and this is what it is still called in Germany.

I couldn’t find a lot of German covers unfortunately, but there are plenty of English ones (and still more than I am showing here).

Fiesta German

Most of the covers focus on the bullfight, not surprising given the book title, but even though the “fiesta” is an important part of the book and there IS a bullfight I think that an image of a bullfight gives the potential reader a wrong impression of the book. Mine is the 6th one, one of the least attractive, but swappers can’t be choosers.

1926 1927 UK fiesta_engl_2

fiesta_engl_3 fiesta_engl_1 fiesta_engl_8


I also found an Italian cover, which I actually like best (in spite of the bull motif).

Fiesta Italian

And yet another one, this time Spanish…

Fiesta Spanish


Which one do you like best?


Weekend cooking: 3-minute-muffin

I am totally excited about this recipe! My husband stumbled upon on it and forwarded the link to me. It is by no means a gourmet recipe, just a very regular muffin, no finesse and certainly no skill is needed to do it. BUT – it is tasty, it is extremely quick, kids love making it and you need no oven and no dishes, bowls, measuring devices, just a table spoon, a mug and a microwave.




  • 4tbs flour
  • 4tbs sugar (possibly a little less sugar if you don’t like it super sweet)
  • 2tbs cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • 3tbs milk
  • 3tbs oil

Mix flour and sugar in the mug. Add cocoa, stir (1). Add egg, stir (2). Add milk and oil, stir. Put mug into microwave and heat up for ca. 3 minutes at max. power (I used 800W, the most my microwave will do). Stop when muffins stops rising (3). Eat with spoon straight out of the mug. Enjoy!

  muffin2 muffin3


You can find the original recipe (or at least the one that we found) here

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Book beginnings on Friday

Wolfgang Borchert


Today’s book beginnings is not really the beginning of a book but of a manifesto against war by Wolfgang Borchert, a German writer who died in 1947 at the age of 26. He wrote this in 1947, but if you think it is outdated in any way you couldn’t be any more wrong. There are various translations available on the net, I linked to them at the bottom of this post.

The manifesto is called “Then there’s only one choice”.

You. Man at the machine in the factory. When they tell you tomorrow to stop making pots and pans and instead make helmets and machine guns, then there’s only one choice:
Say NO!

You. Woman in the store, woman in the office. When they tell you tomorrow to fill grenades and mount telescopic sights on sniper rifles, then there’s only one choice:
Say NO!

You can read the full text and also the original German here. Other translations you can find here and here, but I personally prefer the first one.


Thursday 13: Breakfast quotes

Today I am looking at quotes about breakfast. I am not a big breakfast lover, so you should not bebreakfast surprised that most of the quotes give it a somewhat negative spin. 

Still, enjoy!

  • A kiss and a drink of water make but a wersh breakfast. ~Scottish proverb
  • O lovers! Be careful in those dangerous first days! Once you’ve brought breakfast in bed you’ll have to bring it forever, unless you want to be accused of lovelessness and betrayal. ~Milan Kundera
  • My wife and I tried two or three times in the last forty years to have breakfast together, but it was so disagreeable we had to stop.  ~Winston Churchill
  • There is a vast difference between the savage and the civilised man, but it is never apparent to their wives until after breakfast. ~Helen Rowland
  • In England people actually try to be brilliant at breakfast. That is so dreadful of them! Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast. ~Oscar Wilde
  • Laugh before breakfast, you’ll cry before supper. ~English proverb
  • Breakfast is a notoriously difficult meal to serve with a flourish. ~Clement Freud
  • People who insist on telling their dreams are among the terrors of the breakfast table. ~Max Beerbohm
  • Never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first. ~Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw)
  • I never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast. ~W. C. Fields

  • The difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘commitment’ is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast: the chicken was ‘involved’ – the pig was ‘committed’. ~Unknown

  • All the older people who are thriving have stayed physically active — there are exceptions, and everyone knows someone who smoked two packs a day and had a few social beers with breakfast every morning who lived to be 85, but you have to assume that this won’t be you, … ~Anne Lamott

  • DEJEUNER, n. The breakfast of an American who has been in Paris. Variously pronounced. ~Ambrose Bierce

To see what other Thursday 13ers write about today, visit Thursday 13.

Image of breakfast table by Pinot & Dita at 


Fantasy cast for the BDB brothers

Through a twitter post by Suzanne Johnson I came across a fantasy cast for the Black Dagger Brotherhood brothers at Heroes & Heartbreakers. I haven’t talked about the BDB series for quite a long while, since I lost interest after book six as it was a big disappointment. The Insiders Guide was not meeting my expectations either, so I gave up reading it altogether.

Now some girls (I assume) have put together a list of possible actors for the various parts. Definitely nice to look at, however, once more I need to comment on V. That poor guy always seems to pull the short straw.

What on Earth did they think picking Owain Yeoman for V? Inside qualities are nice and good, but the image of him is a turn-off. Besides, doesn’t V have a goatee? I can’t imagine that guy having one, sorry. Unfortunately I have no alternative suggestion either. But I do know what he looks like when I see him. Owain Yeoman is not it.

Of the other guys the choices for Rhage and Butch make sense, but who does stand out of the crowd is Wentworth Miller. This is not the first time I have heard talk about him as a potential cast for Z and it is obvious that he should when you look at this picture of him in the German GQ. Perfect, or what?


Join the new World literature tour to Germany

The Guardian is going on a new World literature tour and the first stop will be Germany, “land of skill and steel, of tradition and technology”.

Everybody can submit their favourite reads by German authors or about Germany, “which shed some light on the country of Sturm und Drang”.

Read more about the new World literature tour at the Guardian’s website and submit your favourite read!


Is bookmooch worth it?

book_mooch Some time ago I became a member of Bookmooch. So far I swapped all my books on a German swap site called Tauschticket and was happy with it. I was able to find lots of English books there, sooner or later most of the books on my wishlist turned up. They changed their terms and conditions recently and since then the books on offer have decreased a bit, so I thought I’d have a look what else is out there.

Bookmooch seemed a good choice since most of the books on offer are in English. I put five books up there, all available for international destinations, and, wow, all five books were requested within a couple of days. I was pleased, even though the postage money was quite a bit.

However, now my spirit has been dampened considerably. Really, NONE of the books I am interested in are available at all, let alone for international shipping (and I am NOT looking for possibly offensive or out of the ordinary books).

I know that Judith has found at least one book there (possibly more) that was shipped to her country, the Netherlands, but how successful in “mooching” books are Europeans in general? I am wondering whether Bookmooch is worth the trouble at all. 


Weekend cooking: Imam bayildi Greek style

Greek Cookery: 300 Traditional Recipes ” looks like the cookbook that they produce for tourists and sell in every tourist shop in Greece. It is published by a company called Greco Card Ltd. that also publishes postcards, calendars, posters and other tourist items. The cover photo looks a lot like a stage rather than a real restaurant. greek_cookeryHowever, the book is nicely done and covers many recipes, a lot of them vegetarian. Very helpful, not only for the recipes in this book, is a little chart with oven temperatures in Celsius, Fahrenheit and gas mark.

The following recipe is for a rather famous Turkish dish called “Imam bayildi” (“The imam fainted” – I assume from sheer delight) Greek style. There must be hundreds of different recipes for it out there, this is a fairly simple one.

Melitzanes Imam bayildi


  • 1.5 kg aubergines / eggplants (long and narrow type)
  • olive oil for frying
  • 6 ripe tomatoes
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 0.5 cup olive oil
  • 500g onions, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley, finely chopped
  • pinch of sugar

Clean and wash the aubergines and make cross-shaped incisions on them. Lightly fry the whole aubergines. Heat the oil in a pot and sauté the onions. Add tomatoes, peeled and put through a food mill, the garlic, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes. Stuff the aubergines with the onion mixture. Place them in an ovenproof dish and pour the remaining sauce over them, adding a little water. Bake them in a moderate oven (according to the chart 180-190 C or 350-375 F) for approx. one hour. This is a dish usually served cold.


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


Awesome’s Magic Bundles


Awesome Books are having a magic bundle sale at the moment. This sounds like an “awesome” deal, the used three-book-bundles are 4.99£ including postage to the UK, Europe and North America, so you can’t go wrong here. The bundles are pre-packed and either sorted by category or author. So, let’s have a closer look at some of them:

The Reference category bundles not-to-be-missed books like

  • “Angelina Ballerina’s Christmas Crafts”, “Angler’s Mail, A-Z Encyclopedia of Fishing in the British Isles” and “Antiques Roadshow, A-Z of Antiques Hunting”


  • "Daily Mail" Guide to Employment Law 1993, "Daily Mail" Tax Guide 2004/2005 and "Daily Telegraph" Book of Motoring Answers 2000-2001

Who would want to give those a pass?

The Health, Family and Lifestyle category offers among others the following bundle:

  • "Cosmopolitan’s" A-Z of Sex: Satisfaction from Aaaah! to Zzzz (is that humourous or what?), "Cosmopolitan": Love Letters – How to Analyse Your Lover’s Handwriting and (for people who want to clean up properly after getting dirty) the "Daily Mail" Book of Household Hints and Tips.

Neat, indeed!

They also have an extensive author’s list to choose from. Even if my eclectic choice from above sounds like the wrong thing to you, check the sales out! You might get lucky!


Bag organizer

Some time ago I realized there were all sorts of organizers for handbags out there. A great idea, I never find things in my purse, possibly because I carry half my household around. There are organizers you just lift out and put in, like a bag in a bag, or organizers that are long and roll up, so you can adapt them to any bag size.

Instead of just buying one I asked my friend Lilach whether she would consider making me one and then even maybe offer them in her Etsy shop as well. So, to make a long story short, she agreed and created the most wonderful organizer for me. It is sturdy, has tons of small compartments for all sorts of items, comes with a key ring and just looks awesome all around.


I snagged this picture from Lilach since it shows the organizer so well.

And here it is in action in one of my handbags.


Thanks, Lilach, you did a great job! I love my new organizer.


Book beginnings on Friday


My book beginning today is connected to the comparing covers post from a few days ago. I am reading "The Magic Mountain" by Thomas Mann. The beginning of the book goes medias in res, but is still rather uneventful.


An ordinary young man was on his way from his hometown of Hamburg to Davos-Platz in the canton of Graubünden. It was the height of summer, and he planned to stay for three weeks.
It is a long trip, however, from Hamburg to those elevations – too long, really, for so short a visit.

Don’t those few sentences already give us a premonition that the stay of the young man will not be over after a mere three weeks?


Thursday 13: Quotes by George Sand

george_sand Her name probably popped into my head because of that book I started some time ago but never finished because it just couldn’t hold my attention – “Becoming George Sand”. Besides, two days ago it was International Women’s Day and George Sand was a woman after my own heart, non-conformist and with views rather unusual for her time.





  • He who draws noble delights from sentiments of poetry is a true poet, though he has never written a line in all his life.
  • I have no enthusiasm for nature which the slightest chill will not instantly destroy.
  • I regard as a mortal sin not only the lying of the senses in matters of love, but also the illusion which the senses seek to create where love is only partial. I say, I believe, that one must love with all of one’s being, or else live, come what may, a life of complete chastity.
  • Admiration and familiarity are strangers.
  • I ask the support of no one, neither to kill someone for me, gather a bouquet, correct a proof, nor to go with me to the theater. I go there on my own, as a man, by choice; and when I want flowers, I go on foot, by myself, to the Alps.
  • My profession is to be free.
  • Nothing resembles selfishness more closely than self-respect.
  • The capacity of passion is both cruel and divine.
  • The beauty that addresses itself to the eyes is only the spell of the moment; the eye of the body is not always that of the soul.
  • Masterpieces are only lucky attempts.
  • All of us who have time and money to spare, travel — that is to say, we flee; since surely it is not so much a question of travelling as of getting away? Which of us has not some sorrow to dull, or some yoke to cast off?
  • We cannot tear a single page from our life, but we can throw the whole book into the fire.
  • The truth is too simple: one must always get there by a complicated route.

To see what other Thursday 13ers write about today, visit Thursday 13.


My reading list for March


In January I already said that my ability to stick to lists is not the best, in Februaray it got even worse. Not only did I not read any of the January books, I also forgot the list altogether. I think the YA novel “The summer of skinny dipping” will end up as a DNF. “Horns” will go on the back burner, I’m not in the mood for it. The same goes for the Steampunk anthology.
So, I am now wiping the slate clean and start afresh.

In February – apart from precious_boy – I only read

  • The sun also rises by Ernest Hemingway

I still have to talk about this one…


My reading list for March:

I still need to finish a few review books, but I want to squeeze them in when I am in the right mood. So no point in adding them to the list. Thank God for Goodreads, at least I can keep track of everything there.


Release of The Inventor’s Companion

Ariel, who is a participant of the Steampunk Challenge, has finished her GLBT Steampunk novel called “An Inventor’s Companion”. Definitely different from her previous stories, but I am sure it will be just as good. Read the blurb at Dreamspinner Press and become a member of her new Goodreads group “A chat with Ariel” to win a free e-book copy of it.

The book will be released on March, 11. Make sure you check it out!


Comparing covers: The Magic Mountain

The reason I have been a bit quiet here lately is that I started reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. For once I am reading the book in the original language, but everything else wouldn’t have made much sense, would it?

Time for another cover comparison…

zauberberg1 zauberberg2 zauberberg3

The left photograph looks very much like I imagine the sanatorium to look like. Obviously they just took that image and turned it into an illustration in the third cover. The snow in the second one is quite nice to look at, and makes sense, seeing that it even snows in August up there where the sanatorium is located.


mountain1 mountain2 mountain3

I like the photograph on the left with the view through the window. Even though it gives the story a more positive spin than it should have. Actually there should be a thunderstorm outside. It’s not that a lot of patients seem to leave the sanatorium in good health. The third cover, not sure, the place rather looks like an abbey to me. The second one – plain boring. I don’t like it.

What is your favourite?


Weekend Cooking: Lentil-Vegetable-Pie

I finally got over my weekend cooking slump. Here is a recipe I found in a German food magazine. It sounded so delicious and looked so great that I had to try it out immediately.

It is called lentil – vegetable – pie and is perfect for vegetarians.  




Lentil – Vegetable – Pie


  • 500g mixed root vegetable (e.g. carrots, celery)
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp demerara sugar
  • 125ml red wine
  • 150g lentils (the recipe calls for Tellerlinsen, no idea what that is in English; I used red lentils)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml vegetable broth
  • 300g potatoes
  • 500g sweet potatoes
  • salt
  • thyme
  • 4 eggs
  • pepper
  • 50g Cheddar cheese
  • 2 egg yolks


1. Peel vegetable and cut into 1 cm large cubes. Cut onions into 0.5cm wide half rings. Chop garlic. Heat oil. Steam onions in medium heat. Add vegetable and cook for 5 minutes while stirring. Add garlic, tomato puree and sugar. Cook for a little while. Deglaze with wine and let it reduce almost completely. Add lentils, tomatoes and broth. Let it boil up and then simmer for 45 minutes at small heat.

2. Peel potatoes and sweet potatoes and cut into cubes. Boil potatoes in salt water for 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and boil for another 15 minutes.

3. Add thyme leaves to the lentils after half of the cooking time. Boil eggs for 10 minutes and peel them. Cut them in halves.

4. Season lentils with salt and pepper and put evenly into a baking pan. Distribute eggs on top evenly. Drain potatoes and let them cool down a bit. Press them through a potato ricer. Add cheddar, then egg yolk. Salt slightly. Put on top of lentils and even out with a spoon.

5. Bake at 220C in the middle of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool down for 10 minutes before serving.


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads