Monthly Archives: December 2011

The same procedure as every year

Dear Fiends,

In Germany it’s already 2012 ;P – yay! Now, everyone living on the other sider of the Big Pond (aka The Atlantic Ocean) let me help you pass the time until midnight and the beginning of the new year by introducing you to this very special German New Year’s tradition.

Der 90. Geburtstag oder Dinner for One” (The 90th birthday or Dinner for One) is a short British cabaret sketch from the 1920s with May Warden as Miss Sophie and Freddie Frinton as her butler James. Back in 1963 the NDR recorded it in Hamburg and since 1972 it has been a German tradition to watch this black-and-white English-language sketch on New Year’s Eve.

Unfortunately I couldn’t embed the version recorded by the NDR. The video above is the version recorded by Swiss television and it is a few minutes shorter than the German one. If you wish to watch the NDR version though just click here you will be taken to their official website to view it.

I hope you had fun watching. See you next year ;P

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What you call resolutions

Dear Friends,

2011 is only only a scarce day away from being completed. For me and I’d say for many other’s as well that means it’s time to make up your mind about the dawning year. Many people resolve to make healthy changes Continue reading

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How dare I think that was it

Dear Friends,

The plan for today was to talk a bit about New Year’s resolutions since 2012 will be here shortly. That was before checking the mailbox this morning. Now, just look what I found:

Yes, a Christmas card! Why had I even dared to think that had been it when posting my supposedly ‘last’ Christmas-post on Monday. Life simply had to prove me wrong, I guess. So I will be postponing my New Year’s resolutions to honour this very cute and unexpected Christmas card from Alena.

Alena had sent me this beautiful card from London in October. I loved it and I love this one just as much, mostly because it was such an utter surprise to me. I hadn’t thought that she would feel obliged to send me a card back when I send her a card in response to the one she had sent me through postcrossing. It is so sweet of her and now I feel obliged to get something in the mail for her.

For New Year’s Eve she is going to her family in Russia. She is especially excited to be able to show her grandmother her ten-month-old son. He is her grandmother’s very first grandson!
I wonder if there are any Russian New Year’s traditions… maybe I’ll ask her when writing my response.

Now I hope that this has really been the last bit of Christmas 2011, and that we can begin to really focus on what’s lying ahead of us: The year 2012!


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…and on the second day of Christmas I’ve had ENOUGH!

Dear Friends,

It’s the day after Christmas in the US, The Second Christmas Day here in Germany or Boxing Day as they like to call it in the UK. All the presents have been unwrapped and now I feel it’s time for me to wrap up the Christmas celebrations for this year by sharing the photograph above and the postcard below with you. Since I already had to go back to work today and have to work the morning shift tomorrow I am forced to keep this post short.

This is my 24th sent Postcrossing-card and it’s on its way to Zazka who lives in Russia. As my phrasing implies it hasn’t arrived yet. I am almost certain though that it will arrive on time for Christmas because Russian Christmas is celebrated thirteen days after our Wester Christmas: On January 7th in accordance with the old Julian calendar.

Zazka lives in Russia’s capital city Moscow and loves to receive German Christmas cards all year round : ) So, no matter when my postcard is going to drop into her mailbox it should make her mightily happy.

I hope you had a chance to relish the last few moments of this year’s Christmas today, or, in case you are Russian, will be able to stand another thirteen days of anticipation : )

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…gifts on Christmas Day,…

Dear Friends,

It’s Christmas Day which means even in the US all presents should be unwarpped by now. Lucky me, clebrating Christmas here in Germany, already got to open the goodies brought by Santa aka known as mom and others – but psshh…. don’t tell your kids 😉 – yesterday!

And today I want to share with you what had been hidden behind the jolly Santas, singing Angels, shining stars,  mistletoes and gingerbread men on mostly green and red paper. Continue reading

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Cookies on Christmas Eve,…

Dear Friends,

The photo I posted is -how could it be any different today – showing Christmas cookies. I made them together with a friend earlier this season. They were almost too pretty to eat but in the end they were gone as fast as any other cookies.

And now it’s already Christmas Eve and I hope you are all ready for the final stages of this year’s celebrations : ) Since there is not really a lot you can say about this holiday that hasn’t been said before I am going to keep it simple:

I wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS and FROHE WEIHNACHTEN! Enjoy the time with your family and really take it; there was enough rushing in the weeks before, now you can RELAX!

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SENT CARD #9: Reading Women

Dear Friends,

Work, the yearly Christmas craziness and the book I am currently reading have kept me from posting for the past three(!) days – SHAME ON ME – but I’ve dragged my sorry-self away from it all to write this post for you. I haven’t done much all day besides devouring page after page of my book and there are only 26 pages of 718 left… A Discovery of Witches is screaming for me, begging me to finish it. It’s the first book of the ALL SOULS TRILOGY written by Deborah Harkness. I won’t give in to it’s lure though until I’ve finished and(!) published this post for you to read and hopefully enjoy :).

Since I can’t seem to focus on anything but books today – there were only books on my Christmas wishlist by the way – I’ve decided to skip SENT CARD #5 for now and share SENT CARD #6 featuring the image of a reading woman ;P, with you instead.

I’ve sent this card to Riky, living in a small village in the Netherlands. She collects postcards showing reading women and obviously prefers to receive these kind of cards. The one I chose, or more acurately printed for her, since they didn’t have any postcards which would’ve qualified at the stores in town, shows an oil-painting done by Delphin Enjolras, a French artist of the late 19th and early 20th century. The painting featured on the postcard’s front is called Jeune femme lisant à côté de la fenêtre or Young woman reading by a window and is probably Enjolras’ most famous work. It’s a very beautiful painting and among my sent postcards it is the one most often favourited too.

Of course, reading is also one of Riky’s hobbies, among cycling, gardening and yoga. She received the postcard on September 23rd after it had travelled 193 miles (300km) in 5 days.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Now I will be returing to my beloved book  —> —>

Is there a book whose story has gripped you for hours or even days?

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White Wet Christmas

Dear Friends,

It’s six days ’til Christmas Eve and there’s only a 5% chance of seeing a White Christmas this year! Here are two Haikus I wrote about this looming weather calamity…

I am dreaming of
many sparkling white snowflakes
my boots stuck in mud.


White Christmas is a
hopeless dream when you’re lugging
presents through the rain.

But maybe – if we all keep our fingers crossed – there’ll be snow blanketing the world in white on Christmas, becuase…

If the snow glistens
on which the sleigh glides along
Santa’s bound to smile.


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RECEIVED CARD #4 – Escaping a wolf,…

Dear Friends,

I knew I would come across the topic languages again, as Postcrossing attracts many people not onyl interested in different cultures but different languages as well, but I hadn’t though it to be so soon. The fourth postcard I received was written in German! It was send to me by Helka-Maija, a teacher in a small Finnish town called Varkaus. Besides Finnish, English and German she also speaks Swedish and Russian.

All this writing about foreign languages and language learning had me thinking. What are the top 3 languages I want to learn before I die? It came down to…

… (1) Italian,
… (2) Romanian,
…and (3) Japanese.

The explanation for my choices is pretty simple because Italy, Romania and Japanese are countries I’d like to visit one day (I’ll tell you more about my travelling plans some other time…) and when I travel to a certain country rather than soley relying on English, I prefer to converse with people in their native tongue. I think it somewhat removes the glaring tourist-tag, is more polite and the natives are more inclined to show you the tracks off the beaten path. You get so much more out of your stay if you at least try to use the country’s native language! As I’ve said before: Language reveals a great deal about the people who speak it and the country they live in.
I’ve also done some research concerning language-learning-methods and stumbled upon this great post by Timm Ferriss: How To Learn (But Not Master) Any Language In 1 HourHis way of approaching and evaluating the new language you decided to learn is mind-bogglingly easy and logical. Just check it out yourself.
And then I came across a website offering the most common phrases for postcrossers translated into many different languages: Dictionaries for Postcrossers.

Back to Hilka’s postcard. If it weren’t already amazing enough that she send me a card written in German, she also added this great Finnish quote…

Kun menee sutta pakoon, tulee karhu vastan.
Wenn man vor dem Wolf flieht kommt einem der Bär entgegen.
When escaping a wolf, one will run into a bear.

…and picked a card with a beautiful art printing, showing an olipaniting by the Finnish artist Pekka Halonen. Hilka-Maija wrote that he is most famous for his winter landscapes but she likes the colorful paintings better. I think they are all wonderful. Just look at those two: “Ensilumi” (First Snow) from 1931 and “Talvinen Iltarusko” (Winter Sunset) from 1899.

Hilka-Maija’s postcard travelled 925 miles (1489 km) in 6 days until it reached its destination: My mailbox 🙂

So, what languages do you want to learn?

Bye! Tschüß! Näkemiin! Ciao! La revedere! さようなら!

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SENT CARD #4 – The limits of my universe

Dear Friends,

My fourth sent postcard (DE-1034284) went to Taiwan. It went to the eager language student Kai-Shun (Satimia). He’s studying French and German at university and is very interested in foreign languages. So when I wrote my postcard to him I first wrote it in German and then added the English translation. I’ve been able to fit about 200 words onto the card!

The Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said:

Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt.
The limits of my language are the limits of my universe.

I think he mostly refers to the limits within one language but I also think you can very well apply it to language-learning as well. With every new language you learn the limits to your universe get fewer and your life becomes more colorful.
Anyone who has learned a new language should have noticed that learning a foreign language doesn’t only give you a new way to communicate with others but tells you many things about the native speakers’ culture and their country’s history. Learning foreign languages means exploring foreign cultures. Just take a look at idioms and you’ll know what I mean.

The card I sent to Kai-Shun covered a distance of 5706 miles (9183 km) in 11 days before it dropped into his mailbox on September 16th. The image on the card is – once again – featuring a beautiful view of the Lüneburger Heide.

Speaking about German speaking postcrossing members:
Besides Kai-Shun I’ve also got to know Andrea from Chile who asked me for a direct exchange of postcards a couple weeks later. She’s studied German for more than 20 years now and has also spent some time in Germany as a student. At home in Chile she doesn’t get the chance to practice it very often so she asked me to send her a postcard in German.
Learning a foreign language is a tough task and to master it you need invest a lot of time, but keeping your once acquired skills is even tougher: It’s a use it or lose it situation.

The card I sent to Andrea is one of my self-made cards, featuring another great quote about languages:

Mit jeder neu gelernten Sprache erwirbst du eine neue Seele.
With every newly learned language you acquire a new soul.

I had a lot of fun creating the card and really hope Andrea likes it as much as I do. If you like this card as well and would like to receive it too, you can contact me by way of the contact form on my contacts page or via personal message on postcrossing. I am sure we can arrange for somthing. You can also contact me if you’d like to receive one of the postcards I’ve shopped.

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Christmas Mail Art :)

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Dear Friends,

In my last post I showed you the delightful Christmas MailArt I received from Viviana and this is the Christmas MailArt I made for her and will be mailing on Monday.

At first I didn’t really know what I wanted the card to look like and simply started a collage by gluing scraps of Christmas wrapping paper together. Then I added some spangles and voilà  there I had a bight and colorful Christmas card. Because of that I didn’t do to much with the envelope and I hope Viviana will like it all.

Do you think she will like it?
Have you already created some Christmas MailArt this year too? If yes, please tell me about it!

UPDATE Jan-13-2012: Viviana has finally received my Christmas MailArt yesterday (Jan-12-2012) and even featured it on her blog. YAY! Go and see for yourself : )

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Now it’s really Christmas

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Dear Friends,

Today I received my first Christmas Mail Art! It was such a nice surprise to find this in my mailbox. It was sent to me by Viviana from Argentina and she has her own Mail Art blog over at “Arte Correo Para el Mundo”  (Mail-Art for the World).
So now it’s really Christmas for me!

I am going to make some pretty Christmas Mail Art for Viviana now. Why don’t you join me? Get creative, make some Christmas Mail Art, send some love out into the world and then don’t forget to tell me about it!

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Blueberries + Zucchini = Very tasty bread!

Dear Friends,

Today – as promised – I’m sharing the recipe that has been sent to me by the Hayashi Cousins’s in response to my third sent-postcrossing-postcard: A recipe for “Blueberry Zucchini Bread”.

This past Sunday I finally had the time to try it and was really surprised how good it tastes! – Yes, blueberries and zucchinis definately go together! Of course I documented my whole cooking-/baking-adventure for you and here you are…

The Hayashi Cousin’s

Equipment: A large bowl, a wooden spoon, a fork, a chopping board and knife, a cooling rack, a scale, a measuring cup, a blender and a bread-loaf pan (or two medium sized loaf pans or four mini-loaf pans)

Ingredients: 3 eggs (lightly beaten), 240ml vegetable oil, 15ml vanilla extract, 350g (450g) sugar, 360g all-purpose flour, 350g zucchini (shredded), 10g salt, 5g baking powder, 1g baking soda, 2,5g cinnamon, 1 pint fresh blueberries

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Dear Friends,

Today I’d like to share another of my photographs with you and speak of something I wonder about everytime I’m in a larger city: Where do all these abandoned bicycles come from?

I mean, it can’t be that people hop on their bikes, go some place, take the time to even lock it and then leave to never return again. But apparently that is exactly what is happening. The bicycle in my photograph is one of Berlin’s Fahrradleichen (engl. bicycle-corpses) as we like to call them. It’s supposed to be the city with the most abanoed bikes in Germany.
But Berlin is not the only city littered with forgotten bicycles, Joe Schumacher has created an album showing all the different bicycle-corpses he has come across in New York City: The Abandoned Bicycles of New York.

I really wonder where all the bikes come from. Is it possible for so many people to simply forget that they had a bike? If you have an answer to my question please enlighten my clueless self on this and leave me a comment. You are welcome to leave your theories on this or simply join me in my cluelessness.

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RECEIVED CARD #3.2 – No pumpkin please!

Dear Friends,

Are you in love right know? Do you want to marry one day?

Martyn, my littel fictious Ukranian from a small 19th century village in the Portava region, would answer both questions with “Yes”.
Today he’s gathered all his courage to propose to his love Lubya and it’s time for her to give him the answer:

All eyes were on Lyuba. She stood at the large wooden table looking at the two items in front of her: A pumpkin and a beautifully embroidered linen towel.  Turning her head to look at him she pursed her lips and picked up the pumpkin. Feeling it’s weight, considering it – considering Martyn.

Lyuba was making a game out of this, enjoying his state of unease and relishing the power she was holding over him in this moment. Martyn hadn’t even taken the precaution to come at night. Everyone in town would know. Please God, not the pumpkin, he silently pleaded.

In his head he was already mapping out the least crowded route to his home, when she put the pumpkin back on the table. The tension in him eased a bit but her fingers still caressing it, she smiled at Martyn. Just a little mischievous smile that made his heart skip a beat again. She couldn’t do this to him. She simply wouldn’t. Or would she?

Then Lyuba came up to him. 

Hands behind her back, holding on to the towel she had embroidered as a girl for this very occasion, she now stood right in front of him. Not giving it a second thought, she slung the towl around his neck and pulled him down by the ends of it. Forgetting all about tradition, she planted a kiss right onto the surprised man’s lips. He was hers now, her husband-to-be! 

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