Who would have thought that time flies by like crazy. It feels like we are skipping the whole winter and head right into spring – at least on my part of the world. Not a single snowflake in sight but oh so many tulips, crocuses and snowdrops. While I love them all I think they could stay in their supposed season. Anyways, since the weather is nice lets get ourself a hot cup of earl grey with a dash of milk and stroll around the park. I also have some Omenakakku to snack on the way.
While sipping tea… I’d tell you about last weekend. It was my anniversary weekend and we spend it in Oslo. I have never been to Norway before and it was a trip I was really looking forward to. Unfortunately the weather was rather sad just below freezing, paring rain and strong winds. One day we were not able to be outside at all. We still made the most of it and had a wonderful weekend. Do you plan something special on anniversaries?
While sipping tea… I would tell you that I had to inject myself for the first time with this new migraine medication. I was a bit hesitant about it and really didn’t want to do it but than you grow with your challenges. And it was rather easy and did not hurt. Now hoping it will be more effective than everything else I had tried. Just the last two days were another struggle.
While sipping tea… we need to chat about books. Obviously. I’ve read so many in January and then picked up “Uncle Toms Cabin” and it is so very very slow. I really want to read it as it has such a historic relevance but I already know it will only be a 3* read. How do you handle such readings?
While sipping tea… I’m wondering if you ever feel so terribly tired. Recently I could just sleep and sleep and sleep. Many days I take a nap in the afternoon and it messes up all the things on my to-do list. I really don’t know why I am always so tired. I usually do sleep 7 hours a night too. What is your wake-up remedy?
While sipping tea… and before going our separate ways I want to hear how life has been treating you. What have you been up to since our last chat? Are you still working on your New Years resolutions?
We have walked the entire park, I showed you my friends the grey heron and climbed the “Bunkerberg” and looked through the barren trees over Berlin. For now it’s time to head back to our to-do lists and errands. I am already looking forward meeting again next months.
It’s this time of year again where we celebrate together and I serve up some Finnish delicacies. Once again I’ve some baked goodies for you. Omenakakku – this Finnish Apple Cake is more like a breakfast cake. It’s dense, it’s rich and with the addition of the rolled oats and herbs it has an interesting flavor. I haven’t come across anything like it yet.
I know you also want to have some dinner choices and I promise one of those days I will get around to it. But not today. Since I am planning of staying married we have a couple more celebrations ahead of us. But let’s not procrastinate any further.
Here is what you need for omenakakku – Finnish Apple Cake.
250g butter, room temperature
200 g sugar (I used 150g regular and 50g brown sugar)
150g rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
300 g finely chopped apples
1 handful cinnamon-basil leaves, chopped
1 handful mint leaves, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. 2. Mix butter and sugar until slightly foamy. 3. Add in eggs and beat. 4. Now add in flour, baking powder, rolled oats and spices. Mix well. 5. Grate apples, chop herbs and combine with dough mixture. 6. Pour dough into baking tin. 7. Bake approx. 30-40 min – it depends on the size of your tin. Make sure to test the dough. I personally like a cake slightly underbaked.
You can serve the omenakakku the true Finnish way with whipped cream and cranberry jam. I had it with a bit of butter. As I said before it feels a bit like a baked breakfast choice. It fills you up pretty good and sustains for quite some while too. You might actually be able to leave out the sugar altogether to make it a bit more healthy. I will give that a shot next time.
I will leave you to your weekend for now. While you read this I will roam the city of Oslo and have a short vacation. If you like of hop over to Instagram to follow along.
One of my most favorite way to spent time is reading. Lucky me has quite a lot of time pockets to fit in a good book too. And as mentioned many times before the ebook reader is my best friend because I always have a library available at my finger tip. While one day I spent fighting of shadows, dragons and dance with magic the next I learn about goal setting or such. But honestly it all keeps blending together and I think that is sad. Often people ask me about the best recent book or what happened where and I have a hard time recollecting. So I will introduce a new monthly topic here and let you in on my monthly book reads. Hope you find some interesting ones to reach for next time you look for a good read. For more book talk you may also come and join me on goodreads.
January started off as a pretty good reading months for me. Honestly the best I ever had as I finished up 11 books in total.
Smoke & Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor | ★★★★★
What’s it about: An art student being raised by monsters living in Prague and getting a glimpse of the world beyond. Later on the adventure takes of and takes her places she could have never imagined but always had an inkling. What I thought: This is a wonderful world you will dive in. It’s not black and white and monsters might not be the evil nemesis while angels are not so innocent. Love that crosses lifetimes, friendship that spans universes and humor crossing races. Its a wild ride and oh so fun. It’s a modern story with fresh aspects and peppered with wit and strong characters. Language: English (also available in German) Recommend to: Everyone loving a good fantasy epos.
Big Dreams, Daily Joys by Elise Blaha Cripe | ★★★★⭐︎
What’s it about: A lot of compact information on goal setting, prioritizing and list making. It’s structured in five chapters with different focus on the project and goal setting stages. It contains quick exercises and hands-on approaches to get started right away for people with to many ideas or people who need to find the one idea first. What I thought: It’s a handy guide if you need a kick in the butt, if you never tackled a big project or if you just need to fresh up on a few skills. I loved every advice, it was well written, fun to read and very authentic when you follow Elise online. I was waiting for the big epiphany to hit me. I consider myself pretty good in project management so it wasn’t all new to me however there is a ton of value here. And sometimes you just gotta hear things you already know. Language: English (also available in Russian soon) Recommend to: Everyone needing to pick up on some goal setting skills.
Die schönsten Wintermärchen by Gesine Damell | ★★★★⭐︎
What’s it about: A beautiful collection of known and less known fairy tales and short stories. All center around winter, snow, ice and darker season. Feelings and traditions that occur this time of year. What I thought: When I bought this book I thought it was a bit more christmassy but it was actually not at all. In hindsight I like it this way. I am especially in love with the cover. Language: German Recommend to: everyone loving the winter season, liking to sit by the fire reading a nice story maybe reading it to loved ones
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B Rosenberg | ★★★★⭐︎
What’s it about: It THE book about how to communicate in a peaceful and respective way. Rosenberg developed a concept to engage conflicted parties and tested it in diplomatic crises, in gang related fights, in prison, schools and personal relationships. It contains a lot of helpful insight in his yearlong studies and expertise. The chapters are easy enough to read even though scientific based and are lined with examples from his practice. At the end of a chapter you will find a summery and exercises to review the learnings. What I thought: I see the value of the theory and can see why it had a ripple effect in the academia. However there were a few times where I was left with an uneasy feeling when reading. If I would follow my conversations exactly as described it would leave me rather frustrated and too questioned. It sometimes had a bit of an esoteric feel to it. I am not sure if it was the way it was written, the way and state I read it in or just the way it was supposed to be. Would be curious how you see that. Nevertheless I took a lot of thought and value from it hence my 4 stars. Language: English (also available in German) Recommend to: Everyone interested in learning more about communication, interacting with one another, living in a peaceful and more harmonic world.
Die ferne Hoffnung by Ellin Carsta | ★★★⭐︎⭐︎
What’s it about: Historic fiction about a family in Hamburg trading with coffee. After bad investment of the father and his sudden death the three sons have to take over and struggle to bring it back out of bankruptcy. The new colonies in Africa bring hope by branding out and so part of the family is embracing an adventure. What I thought: It was a quick and joyful read with a few interesting details about German colonialism and Africa around the 19th century. At times I thought it was a bit predictable where the particular storylines were heading but it was still enjoyable. I will probably read the following books. Language: German (also available in English) Recommend to: Everyone loving some historic fiction, a good family drama and doesn’t mind reading lots about coffee, cocoa, trade and Vienna coffee culture.
Lucia im Netz der Lügen by Carola Schierz | ★★★⭐︎⭐︎
What’s it about: Fairy tale about a father and daughter who struggle to do the right thing in a time when all around them people choose the easy and financial lucrative way. What I thought: Compared to other tales written by this author I thought it fell a bit flat. However it might have been because I am not so fond of this whole upper class and downtown abbey kinda setting. And I didn’t feel much connection and fondness towards the main character. Other than that it was well written and easy read. Language: German Recommend to: Everyone liking a fairy tale set in a noble household and people who fight for righteousness.
Zitronenhimmel by Monika Detering | ★★★⭐︎⭐︎
What’s it about: A 67 year old widow that decided to move to the Baltic Sea in her camper and start over in life. Her family is not too happy about it. She starts a penpal-ship with her grandchild having deep conversations about death and afterlife while she experiences freedom and new adventures in her new place. What I thought: I have a tendency to pick up books that don’t shy away from talking about death and sickness and this was a very interesting pick. It was interestingly written and opened my mind to the view of the older generations it was from the point of view of a retired person and the worries and hopes this generation has for their life. It made me think twice about interacting and maybe not dismissing certain things as fast. Language: German Recommend to: Everyone wanting to hear another point of view, loving to read about books in books and not afraid to approach the topic of death.
Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger | ★★⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎
What’s it about: Angela is born in a girls body but it never felt quite right. Inside she always knew she was a boy and was more interested in boys things too. Gradually she changes her looks in a more masculine way until she declares she will go by the name “Grady” now. That is were we start the story approximately and we will follow along how family, friends, society and system is reacting to that. What I thought: I was looking forward reading something I have no points of contact with and learn more about thoughts and struggles about life as a transgender person. Unfortunately I think this is the wrong book for that. While the book it self was written well and easy enough to read I thought the whole story fell rather flat. The emotions certain reactions provoked could have been more explored. I hated that it was rather stereotypical most times. I am sorry to say but it felt like the author picked a trend topic to sell books but had no genuine interest in it and did just enough research to get by. Language: English Recommend to: I am not sure I would. There are probably better out there to get acquainted with this topic.
Tangled in Blue by Marion Castella | ★★⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎
What’s it about: A teenage boy and his first love. Discovering how it feels to fall in love, be disappointed and hurt. And coming out as a gay. What I thought: It could have been a really sweet story about falling in love and meeting your first love. Unfortunately the author ruined it by adding a crime story, a celebrity story, Atome addiction and divorce issue. It was all over the place and hence terrible. The positive thing (for me) is that I never really realized it’s a story about a gay couple. Either the author perfectly described that without any weirdness or I just don’t have an issue with it. Language: English Recommend to: If you need a quick mindless beach read and there is nothing else it might do.
Now that the year started of this great and I was able to check of a few of books of my reading goals this year already I might up my total a little bit. What books should I add to my list? Let me know in the comments what you favorite read was.
I can not believe this first months of the year has already passed us by. It feels like so much has already happened and then at the same time motivation is a bit tough to get rolling. So I am more than happy that we sit down again for our monthly coffee date Lecy is hosting and chat a little of what has been going on.
If you and I had coffee… first off I’d like to know how you start into the new year has been like. How have you celebrated the holidays and how did you welcome 2020? I am not a big fan of New Years Eve so as always we have holed up in the apartment and watched some movies, read, played games and I made a meat loaf for dinner. Around midnight we peeked out the window and listened to a bit of music and then I went to bed.
If you and I had coffee… I would have to share the story of our stolen tires right before Christmas. I was almost on my way to get a tree (December 23rd) when the police rang at our door to let us know that our car was stripped of all tires. Really not what you want right before leaving for the holidays. It took us all day and Christmas Eve morning to do calls, paper work and handling tow trucks and garage services but then we had the car off the street, a rental care and were off on our way to spend the holidays with my parents. It wasn’t the relaxed start we’d hope for.
If you and I had coffee… I wondered if you have set yourself a reading goal? I can proudly say I have done it again and I am quite motivated. It’s the highest goal I’ve ever set (53 books) but I am confident to achieve it. I also wrote another list of books I want to read in 2020.
If you and I had coffee… I’d ask if you have a favorite actor. I don’t really have one but I really like Will Smith. So it comes as no surprise that I was actually planning on seeing Bad Boys III right when it came out. I haven’t been to the movie theater in years. It’s usually so much more comfortable just watching through Netflix but it was a date night and it was fun doing something and being out together. And the movie was good too. Did you see it?
If you and I had coffee… want to hear if you ever went on a blind date with someone you met online. And I don’t really mean a romantic date. More like a coffee date with friends you made online? I recently have developed more courage to just reach out in conversation letting people know I’d be happy to meet up for coffee and it really is fun. Just this week I met another girl I met through Instagram and we had tea and matcha cake and we talked for almost three hours. And Hopefully next week I meet up with a Silvie again for another photo outing around the neighborhood. If you have never done anything like it I can only encourage. Maybe you might also like to check out this post about “networking” there might be some helpful tips.
I recently learnt that a person reads about 2.000 books in a lifetime. My first initial thought was that’s not much. Than I thought I’d like to think I read more. I told my husband and he started immediately calculating. Well… you need to read 50 books for 40 years straight to manage 2.000 book. This might be tough. No, screw that it makes me anxious. Now I start second guessing if it’s really smart to pick up the cheesy romance and third class crime novels if I can only manage so many books in a lifetime.
To make the most of it here are my reading goals for 2020:
Catching up on classics and world literature
There are so many books that won prizes, from renowned authors everyone talks about, classics of world literature I never looked at. Time to cross a few more off of that list and see what it is all about.
Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wild – this will be my first book of this author.
Uncle Toms Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe – time to close a gap in literary blindness.
Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann – I tried Mann many many years ago and always fell asleep after a couple pages. Last chance dear friend.
Amerika by Franz Kafka – I guess it can not hurt to have read one Kafka.
Deutschstunde by Siegfried Lenz – I’ve stumble across this one since I can read. Time to pick it up.
Tackling my physical TBR list
I currently own close to 50 unread books. I am sure I forgot to count a couple. Time to read a few of them in 2020.
The Rabbi by Noah Gordon – I have read a few of his books and was never disappointed. So I look forward to this one.
Small Great Things by Jody Picoult – lets’s see what all the fuzz is about. The story does sound interesting too.
Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger – a book I received through a book swap and it seems a bit out of my usual reading genre but I feel like it’s time to read a story like that. ✔️ January 2020
Wir sind eure Töchter nicht eure Ehre by Seraph Çilili – I have no idea how this book came to be on my shelf or if I actually already read it. However it sounds interesting so I want to know more.
In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts by Eugen Ruge – this was my book for Christmas and it’s won many book prizes. And it’s been hyped as the modern Buddenbrook so it would be good to read them both in one year.
Pleasure reads, fantasy, favorites
Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor – After last years good experience with this author I really look forward to reading those books. ✔️ Book I, II & III – January 2020
A Darker Shade of Magic Trilogy by V.E. Schwab – I’ve come across this trilogy quite a bit recently and I am rather curious to read it now.
The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gardner – a re-read of one of my most favorite books by one of my favorite authors ever. Do you know it?
A book by Madeline Miller – I hear great things and I would like to read either Circe or The Song of Achilles.
Die ferne Hoffnung by Ellin Carsta – I love a good historic novel and this one sounds like a good journey. ✔️ January 2020
A Christmas Book – not sure which one, recommendations welcome
Challenging books, non-fiction & guidance
Besides lovely stories, epic fantasy worlds and romance novels I like to keep my mind fresh by throwing in a few books that are a bit harder and challenging to read for me. Those usually take a lot of time, I can not read them in a short span of time and I often really have to work through them. Those books are also the ones I prefer to hold in my hand, to leave through, go back and maybe even scribble in the margin.
The Creative Habit: Learn stand use it for Life, Twyla Tharp – I have not been able to finish as planned in 2019. I will tackle this longtime reading project in 2020.
A Brief History of Time, Stephan Hawkins – I am interested in this topic but at the same time a bit scared it might be too intellectual for me. But I will only know if I read it. That is why it is on the reading list for the second year in the row.
Big Dreams, Daily Joy by Elise Blaha Cripe – I love her vibe and her everything so I bought the book just to support. I am curious how much I can still pick up after following for so long. ✔️ January 2020
Quran – after reading the Bible in 2019 I move on and will be diving into Islam and it’s culture.
The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama – you can never not learn about happiness.
Overall I am aiming to read 53 books throughout the year. This is my highest goal I’ve set yet. However I have read 62 in 2019 so I know it’s possible. This reading list only includes 25 books. That leaves room to wiggle and be spontaneous. However my plan is to read lots of books I already own and swap many of those I won’t want to read again.
If you also like to keep track of your reading and love a good recommendation come join me on Goodreads. But be warned as you might find more books than you will ever be able to look at in a lifetime.