VIRTUAL COFFEE DATE | MARCH 2020

In times like these it is good to have routines. But we need to be flexible and find creative solutions so we meet online today and chat from the comfort of our apartments.

craftaliciousme seeking creative life cappuccino with Röststätte logo on marble table for virtual coffee date

If we met for coffee…
of course our topic would be the current pandemic that holds this globe alert. While I am not overly concerned about my (personal) health issues I do worry about a few people around me. Mr. ♡ and I actually have been officially quarantined for 72 hours until his test came back negative. It’s just a regular infect for now. Even more anxious makes me the economic and political aftermath that will follow though. I personally already had almost all jobs canceled due to the situation. I decided to volunteer my time to a small business helping to keep them alive with my online marketing skills I can provide from home. Also I decided to write weekly letters to my godchild to keep them (hopefully) entertained with writing me back. How are you handling the situation so far? Let me hear all your thoughts about it.

Then we decide to move on to more regular topics and try to keep life going as usual. No point in panicking.

If we met for coffee…
I’d admit about my thoughts to only own books that are blue or white and maybe some shade of pinky coral. Ok and grays to black. Is that crazy? But I am always very annoyed by the different covers, the titles being written left to right and right to left on the spine. Who does that? Not even within a series it is the same. Drives me crazy.

If we met for coffee…
I’d tell you about my recent Marie Kondo project. I finally caved in and decided to get some structure in my wardrobe. One Saturday night I threw all my tops in a big pile on my bed and started folding in this special way. While doing so I also tracked every item I owned in an excel sheet for a better overview. It is amazing how many pieces of clothes you own when you believe daily there’s nothing in your closet. Could you pinpoint the number of clothes you own?

If we met for coffee…
we would discuss the following situation. I recently hired a cleaning service before we had some guests coming over. I was happy to squeezed in a couple more hours of work while someone got the apartment in order. When she was done I saw that the bedroom was still very dusty so I asked if she didn’t have time to finish it. She said she cleaned everything. Well after she left and a closer inspection I ended up doing a recleaning for 90 min. But that wasn’t the strangest part. At night when cooking with our guests I was reaching for the avocado I bought the day prior. But I only found one in my fruit basket instead of two. I was doubting myself but I was pretty sure I put two in. My guests said that I might have left it in the store but they came in a net… Oh well, sometimes strange things happen. However the next day when we wanted to make breakfast and I reached for the “Brötchen” (breakfast rolls) one was missing. Again I started to doubt myself but remembered I kept the receipt so I double checked. The right number was right there.
Since I and the cleaning lady were the only people in the house until the guests arrived I have to assume she took them. How crazy?! I mean if you are hungry you could ask. When she arrived I did offer. I am really pissed not because of the value of the stolen things but the audacity. Tell me, am I out of line?

If we met for coffee…
I share with you my Easter egg tutorial. Since we are meeting online it is easy to do so. And now that we might have a bit more time at our hands it might be something to try. I will probably do a few more of those eggs in this wax technique. Do you have a special craft that is very unique to your area or heritage? I would really love to hear about it.

We say our good byes for now and commit to check in with each other next month for sure. Maybe a quick note in between in these times were we all need some extra kind words.

Best for now

Tobia

Anniversary trip to Oslo – travel log

craftaliciousme seeking creative life anniversary trip to Oslo_6

I was pondering back and forth if I should write a little travel post about our anniversary trip to Oslo. I feel like I will not have something new to say about the city and I will probably not be able to give you the best of tips. But then, this is my party and looking back I always regret not writing my travel posts so lets do it. Hope you stick with me to the end.

We flew in Friday morning and out again Monday night leaving us two full days and two half ones. When we arrived on Friday there was still a dust of snow on the ground and we couldn’t be happier. However we could see no 10 meters ahead of us due to heavy mist. We decided to take a walk around the hotel after check-in to get a lay of land. The hotel was build a newer part of town with modern housing on little peninsulas and lost of waterfront. As you know by now our happy place despite the wind and cold weather.

craftaliciousme seeking creative life anniversary trip to Oslo_4

Towards the evening we decided to just find a place to eat and head back to the hotel to relaxe a bit. Unfortunately my shoe broke right there and then and we had to do a little impromptu shopping trip. I didn’t want to spend all Saturday doing that. Luckily I found a shoe right in the first store and so we didn’t waste much time there. After dinner we went relaxed in the room with some reading, talking and crosswords.

On Saturday we had a wonderful relaxed and late breakfast. The snow was all gone, the mist was all gone and so we decided to see as much from Oslo as we could. The forecast didn’t look to promising. We started out by having a look at the opera hose that happened to be right in front of the hotel. It is a modern building modeled after an iceberg in the sea. And the best part is the roof is open to the public and everyone can just clim the iceberg. You could even get up there with strollers and wheelchairs as it was no stairs. Lots of wind though. And a beautiful view of the surrounding city.

Next we climbed the castle hill and strolled around there (not too impressive to be honest) but a nice few to the water. Then we wandered into town looking for the old city center. If we ever found it I was not impressed. When I think old I have midivil towns in mind. This was more like bricks and mortar old I guess. I started drizzling right when we came upon the boulevard Karl Johann that leads up to the castle. So we made a stop in one of the coffee places to warm up. Here we had a lovely chat with a local lady.

Later we strolled to the castle and a look but not inside and then walked down the boulevard because I wanted to see the cathedral. As you know I always need to see those as I love the architecture. Unfortunately this one was very disappointing. I think I didn’t even take a photo.

We had our anniversary dinner at an Italian restaurant in a food market. This was a good compromise for us as I was able to have some seafood while Mr. ♡ also had some choices.

Unfortunately on Sunday a big storm hit and it was raining non-stop from morning. So we took our sweet time with another long breakfast. Then we decided to go to some museums. In the end we spend all day in the Nobel Peace Prize Museum reading up on everything and a lot of people. It was nice. Later another coffee break and some relaxing hope the weather would quiet down a bit so we could walk along the marina. No such luck. So we decided to have an early dinner and head back to the hotel.

The next day we had to pack and leave the hotel but not before enjoying another wonderful breakfast. Then we haded to a sculpture park. The artist Gustav Vigeland worked his entire life on filling up and entire park he design with sculptures. Over 200 in total. It was interesting to see even though it wasn’t quite my taste in art. As this was a bit more outside of the city center we took the tram there. This way we also got to see a bit more of Oslo. And at least some of those old wooden houses I was searching for. Unfortunately not much time to wonder around. We stopped at the marina and walked around there for a bit before heading back to the hotel picking up our luggage before heading to the airport.

craftaliciousme seeking creative life anniversary trip to Oslo_65

So much for the anniversary trip to Oslo. Here are a few more facts I gathered.

Things I found interesting

  • Right when you land you realize the Norwegians are more relaxed. The airport felt like a huge lounge area instead of a hectic travel hub.
  • You can rent a tiny little house boat that contains a sauna. Either with friends or a spot in a public house and then just jump in the Oslo Fjord to cool down. We observed some brave people doing so.
  • The most peculiar food we came across is a sort of cheese made of whey called brunost. It is eaten on waffles, crips bread and biscuits. We had a chat about that cheese with our waiter and it was very interesting. The taste however is something to get used to. But I am always interested to try local things.
  • For some reason Thors hammer is present through the city. We have come across a few references and not only because of Netflix releasing a new show.

Travel & Transportation

Boarding a plane from Berlin to Oslo is the fastest way to get there. Specially when only staying for a long weekend. Since bankruptcy of airberlin though it wasn’t that easy to find good flights and in the end we did pay quite a bit. But my mind was so set on Oslo that I didn’t feel like I should rethink the whole thing due to prices. We knew it wouldn’t be the cheapest trip – Scandinavia never is.

craftaliciousme seeking creative life anniversary trip to Oslo_39

After arriving in Oslo you have two options to get into the city. The airport is about 50km outside the city.
There is the flytoget airport express that is a non-stop ride to the city center and takes 19 minutes and costs around 20€
And then there is the Vy service – the national train company with one stop in-between taking a total of 23 minutes costing only half with around 10€.
But be aware: at the airport the ticket machines for the flytoget are omnipresent while vy can not be found. That is why we took the expensive ride into town. It was a relaxed one though since we were all by ourselves in the train.

Within the city you could walk most of the areas you will look at during a weekend trip. If not you can get the app Ruter Billett to buy your ticket and get around the city. There are options for 24, 48 or 72 hours.

Accommodation

We spent the time in the fairly new “Clarion Oslo” hotel. It is a chain within Scandinavia and we picked this one as it was modern and not too expensive compared to others houses. It was located within walking distance to the main station (Oslo S) and the opera house.
Beforehand I wrote a quick note asking for a quite room with some nice view telling them that we are taking an anniversary trip to Oslo. When we entered the room we had a little treat and a handwritten card from the hotel staff wishing us all the best. This was a really nice touch and I never had anything comparable. Also I was really impressed with the breakfast that was served. It was a huge buffet and you have a ton of options from continental to more local choices. And since the hotel has a cultural and art orientation you will be able to admire a real Edvard Munch in the lobby. So I can definitely recommend this hotel.

Now I wonder: have you ever been to Oslo? Is it on your travel bucket list? And where should we go next for our anniversary trip?

Happy traveling

Tobia

This posts contains links to business. I was not paid to mention them but have found them either helpful or could recommend them because of the service they provided.

Becoming a better listener and how I am working towards this goal

Advertising | The copy of this book was provided by the publisher – my thoughts and opinions you read here remain my own.

I’m struggling with not being patient enough to listening closely what people have to tell me for a long time. And it’s been on my resolution lists not once but a few times to become a better listener. I know it’s important to hear other peoples voices, don’t interrupt them and hear what is said. So it’s no wonder it made it on my 101 goals list as well. I was more than happy when I saw this book “Die Macht des Zuhörens” by Dr. Michael P. Nichols hoping to give more insights on how to actually achieve it. Even more happy when I received it as a copy by the publisher for review.

The Lost Art of Listening – What this book is about

Goodreads summery: Why do we often feel cut off when speaking to the people closest to us family members, friends, or colleagues? What is it that keeps so many of us from really listening? Michael P. Nichols answers these questions and more in this thoughtful, witty, and helpful look at the reasons people don’t hear one another. His book, a guide to the secrets of listening and being listened to, is filled with vivid examples that clearly demonstrate easy-to-learn techniques for becoming a better listener. He also illustrates how empathic listening enables us to break through misunderstandings and conflict and to transform our personal and professional relationships. 

The book is structured in four main parts:

  1. Yearning to be Understood → Der Wunsch, verstanden zu werden
  2. The Real Reason People Don’t Listen → Die wahren Gründe für das Nicht-Zuhören
  3. Getting Through To Each Other → Zueinander Durchdringen
  4. Listening in Context → Zuhören im Kontext

Dr. Michael P. Nichols includes a lot of examples from is work as a therapist in this book. This often helps making a point or illustrating a situation. Every once in a while he plays out the same situation from both perspectives giving the reader an example of what it means to “put yourself in the other person s shoes”. I found this concept very helpful. Throughout the whole book it is never to promote his own (perfect) handling of certain situations. (And I have come across other books where the same concept had exactly that feel.) Instead he induces here and there some charm and wit to his writing maybe even some sarcasm when he writes “of course I never fell into that trap, I am a therapist after all”.

A beautiful inside helps on the way to becoming a better listener

Even though this book is a scientific textbook it reads easy enough but not superficial. I read comparable books and they seemed to not getting it right in explaining complex ideas or situations without loosing some of the authority. They somehow tried too much to be easy to read and hence seemed to me superficial. Does that make sense? Not this one fortunately.

Each chapter was about 20-30 pages long. I read approximately one in a sitting and I recommend that. At the end of every chapter there were really approachable and doable exercises. I have only read through them as I didn’t have the patience to wait until I finished them (sometimes it says within the next week…, over the course of the next interaction with family members, etc.). However I think now that I have read the book cover to cover I will take another approach and look at it more as a work-book and do those exercises.

A thing I really enjoyed is the layout of the book. I recently read that the old style of textbooks where you only have chapters divided by paragraphs do not work in our low-attention-spanned society anymore. Books need to read more like social media snippets. And this book really gives you all this. It has a ton of really cool (tweetable) quotes and short summaries braking up the texts. Best about it: the author didn’t just pick a sentences from the previous text and have it set in a different type and font. No it is actually a condensed sentence of the idea or thought previously discussed. Additionally there are text passage with grey background for in depths info making the book even less monotonous.

Becoming a better listener is hard work

Now you might wonder if it is worth reading 300+ pages in a textbook to work on yourself. I’d say yes. This book has given me a better understanding and guideline as “Nonviolent Communications” even though a lot of principals are similar. Michael P Nichols never says it is an easy task to become a good listener though. It is hard work that in the end pays off – in all of life relationships. To convince you to have a look at this book I share some of the underlined text snippets in my copy with you:

  • Most problems of understanding don’t correlate with egoism or bad intentions but the need to say something. We concentrate on what we will reply instead of listening what is said.
  • It needs two people to share a feeling– one who is speaking, one who is listening.
  • When we detect sadness or depression in a person we often assume that something is wrong, something has happened. Maybe the “something” is that no-one is listening to that person.
  • When people don’t listen to us we we automatically look to blame them: They are egoistic and disrespectful. (When we are not listening it is because we are tired or bored or the other person was disrespectful with us.)
  • To show real interest in other people we need to set aside our interest.
  • Real listening is a strenuous and silent process.
  • Our own prejudices are functioning as a filter of what we are hearing and how we react to it.
  • People who have learnt in their childhood to show themself dignity are better listeners.

This is just a few snippets of wisdom. I am sure onces I read through the book again I will mark different passages.

The book in German translation “Die Macht des Zuhörens – Wie man richtiges Zuhören lernt und Beziehungen stärkt” has been published through Narayana Verlag. The original titel is “The Lost Art of Listening – How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships” written by Michael P. Nichols.

VIRTUAL COFFEE DATE | FEBRUARY 2020

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.

seeking creative life coffee date with friends

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.

Happy day

Tobia

Books I read in January

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’s 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.

Happy reading

Tobia