4 Weeks to Christmas!

How’s everybody’s first Advent Sunday going this year? Just like in past years, I actually don’t have an advent wreath. Maybe I’ll wing something later, but for now, I’m utterly candle- and wreathless. The horror.

Love Actually - 4 weeks to Christmas

Yesterday, I went to an “American Advent Party” at Bielefeld’s art gallery. I’ll admit I didn’t have my hopes up much, and I regret to say I wasn’t positively surprised. Their event description had said something like bright, tacky, overdone decoration (because apparently that’s how the Americans do it … right? I mean, judging from all y’all’s movies and TV shows, I’d say yes, but that’s not exactly the right yard stick, is it?). This turned out to be a white Christmas tree and some glittery reindeer. That’s it. That’s the decoration. My own Christmas parties at home are more colourful, are you kidding me? The staff behind the bar was also exceptionally unimpressed by our mere presence. Geez. Sorry for existing. Just give me my cake and leave me alone then.

Amerikanischer Advent Kunsthalle Bielefeld

At least the free exhibition that came with the event was a bit more interesting. They currently have pieces by Hans Hofmann on display, who was a German-American abstract expressionist painter (hence the “American” Christmas party). I know little about art, even less so about abstraction, so needless to say I felt entirely out of place there. But I guess that’s good – it would be a bit limiting to just surround myself with things I know everything about, right? There’s this thing about jumping out of one’s comfort zone that I should take into account more often.

My instagram feed was absolutely swamped by Christmas baking pictures today. It’s about time to dust off those Christmassy cookie cutters, isn’t it? I can’t wait to do some baking myself … I’ve got lots of ideas lined up! 

 

in Life.

5 weeks to Christmas!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or something! Christmas sweets have been in the shops for two months now, London has switched on its Christmas lights, some cities in NRW have opened their Christmas market and most others are following suit on Monday. 

Love Actually - 5 weeks to Christmas

It’s time to pretend we still get snow in winter instead of sleet that melts into grey slush within an hour, deck the halls with cheap-o plastic decoration and binge-drink mulled wine. Honestly, I’m so pumped!
Well, actually, if Christmas and I were Facebook official (do people still do that these days?), our status would be “it’s complicated”. I love, love, love the season, but the last couple of years it has been marked by depression – which always gets worse in autumn and winter, hellooo, seasonal depression – and some Christmas memories are hard to look back on. I’m not that good at letting go of things.

But fuck that noise, it’s Christmas time, and no depression, horrible weather or Grinches and Scrooges in my immediate surroundings are gonna get me down! Imma bust out my ukulele, dust off my festive cookie cutters, and, well, as mentioned above, throw around lots of tacky decoration and drink kiddy punch by the gallon!

I’m actually thinking about doing Vlogmas again, but I have no idea if I’ll go through with it. It’s a lot of work and destined to be very boring, as I’ve got even less going on in my life than last year and am much more of a recluse. Either way, here’s to five weeks of holiday fun!

in Life.

{health update} Yup, still not doing great.

I’m in the midst of realising that social media and mental health are so, so hard to balance, especially if you’re trying to grow a following (yeah, I know, numbers don’t matter, bla bla). You don’t wanna wallow in self-pity and exhibit defeatist ‘debby downer’ attitudes, but you also don’t want to be dishonest. Or silent. Because, growth. Consistency. Showing up.
I’m not good at any of those things.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve lost my job. Well, I shouldn’t say lost my job, my contract just wasn’t extended, which is a thing that happens sometimes. But I also wasn’t told in the nicest way (or time frame).
Which is bad, because my (former) boss is (was?) my favourite professor, that I’m meant to have classes with this semester (starting next week). And my ex-colleagues are lecturers – that I’m also meant to have classes with this semester. Cue me being paralysed at the thought of facing them. I’m embarrassed and ashamed. Add to that the fact that I’m 25, already in my sixth semester and wahahaaay behind in my studies (which there are plenty of reasons for, as I try to remind myself, but it’s no use), and I am seriously considering dropping my degree. Which would make it the next item in a long list of things I’ve wasted my time on and ended up dropping (a gap year. My first uni. My year abroad. This uni.)

I also don’t know how to get help (I’m currently barred from getting a therapist financed through health care for another year because I’ve “finished” therapy a year ago and am thus officially declared “healthy”) or who to talk to (my friends are aware and somewhat sympathetic, but they also have their own lives to worry about and check in less and less, can’t blame ’em, and I’m also absolutely brilliant in alienating them or involuntarily switching to a happy(-er) mask as soon as someone else is present). I have a lot of options rattling down in my head, but all of them get stuck in some sort of vicious circle where I can’t get help without money, but also can’t get money (i.e. a job) without having help.

There’s no uplifting or educational moral to this story. I’ve had bad experience with sharing my mental health struggles openly online in the past, but I’ve obviously not learnt my lesson, eh! I’d love to say that things may be shit right now, but I’m confident they’ll get better, if I only work hard and keep at it. But I can’t, because that’d be a lie.

Three Months in Book Reviews: Quarterly Recap 3/2016

Book Reviews Summer 2016 - daneesaur.co.ukI’m currently reading six books at once. Six. Granted, some of those are ones I haven’t actually touched in weeks, but when I do pick them up again, I won’t start at the beginning. And I’ll be honest, although sometimes it makes be a bit anxious to have that big number S I X staring at me on my Goodreads profile, I quite enjoy having something to fall back on when the book I’m reading can’t hold my attention. I’m kind of living after Sanne‘s example here, I guess. And I definitely feel that her tip to read at least 50 pages of a book before moving on to another one certainly helps.

This quarter is the one where I managed to complete my Goobadge-home-completed-1736dedbcd3c31946d5b98bb506c1051dreads Reading Challenge 2016! And the year’s not over yet! I’m happy — last year I’d only read 16 books the entire year, which now feels such a tiny, insignificant number. I feel like the world of books has welcomed me back at last! Maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a crack at the 50 books challenge in 2017. Whew.

For the first time in a long time, I also finished a book in one sitting. Two books, actually. Or one and a half sittings, I should say — I did dare to sleep in between. I started both Everything, Everything and Eleanor & Park late-ish at night, went to bed, woke up and immediately started reading again, not stopping until I’d finished. I think the last time I properly did this was still in Harry Potter days?

To jump quickly to a specific book, here’s a helpful list:
Tanea: Am Großen Fluss | Tanea: Der Clan der Wölfe | Outlander | FangirlEverything, Everything | The Last Star | Eleanor & Park | Landline | More Than This | Room | Attachments

Tanea: Am Großen Fluss | ★★★★☆ 4/5

Tanea am Großen Fluss - Book review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Isolde Heyne
Publisher: Loewe
Pages: 185
Published: 1994
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Goodreads

Tanea, daughter of wolves, doesn’t want to go the bear clan at the Great River. But her foster-father Ezuk wants to leave her in the hands of her mother, the healer of the clan. The people at the river are wary of her – apart from Henek, the son of Ezuk’s enemy. But will the love between Tanea and Henek have a future? (translated blurb)

I was scouring my old bookshelf at my mum’s place, looking for something my nephew could read, and came across one of my favourites from my childhood. It’s about an 11-year-old girl in the Stone Age and her journey towards becoming a healer and a woman. It’s actually the second part of a trilogy, but I found this and the next volume in a sale and, to this day, haven’t got my hands on the first part. Might hunt it down online though! Reading the story back now, it makes me hugely uncomfortable that she’s just an eleven year old kid and so many horrible things happen to her that are just glossed over. But that’s what you get for reading about a primitive age, right? Right? I think this was the first book that spiked my interest in botany and prehistoric times, and, like many other things, that interest kind of fizzled out again over the years, only to resurface during the last couple of months. It certainly holds a very special place in my heart.

Tanea: Der Clan der Wölfe| ★★★★☆ 4/5

Tanea - Der Clan der Wölfe - book review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Isolde Heyne
Publisher: Loewe
Pages: 184
Published: 1995
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Goodreads

Tanea has finally found the wolf clan. But there’s a bad surprise waiting for her: Jaka, her nemesis, has become the leader of the clan. And we will not allow her to undermine his authority. But Tanea is not only self-confident and fearless, she is also a healer. And someone like that is desperately needed by the people of the wolf clan … (translated blurb)

Having read the other Tanea book, I immediately continued with the next one. Out of the two, this had always been my favourite when I was a kid, and that feeling carried through to today. More botany, more healing, more prehistoric peculiarities. … more creepy events that should never happen to an eleven or twelve-year-old kid, Stone Age or not. I remember that I was actually kind of creeped out by it as a kid already, so yay me, perhaps? Still, love these books. They’re now sitting on my nephew’s shelf, waiting to be read.

Outlander (Outlander #1) | ★★★★☆ 4/5

Outlander - book review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Dell Publishing Company
Pages: 896
Published: June 1st, 1991
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Goodreads | Bookdepository

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives. (Goodreads)

I saw the adaptation of this suggested to me on Netflix, remembered seeing it reblogged onto my Tumblr dash, gave it a go … and fell in love. I also remembered that my sister-in-law is utterly obsessed with it, and that my mum owns all volumes. After watching the first season back three times, I gave the original a go. And I have to say … some things, especially in the domestic violence department, made me so angry in the book. I think the show handled those topics much better, which may be helped by the fact that it’s being produced 23 years after the novel. Y’know, fair enough. Other than that, despite Outlander-the-show being astoundingly close to the book, of course the characters are a lot more fleshed out in the book, especially Claire, whose struggle to adapt to 18th century medicine is much more believable here. And she’s a lot less whiny/dramatic and much more sassy. Which is exactly how I like her. Good job, Ms Gabaldon, I really like your writing style!

Fangirl | ★★★★☆ 4/5

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - - book review at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 461
Published: September 10th, 2013 
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life. Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible … (Goodreads)

Oh Cath. Cath Cath Cath. I’ve wanted to read this book ever since Leena said that it’s the book that made her understand fangirls. I’m involved in fandom culture, and aeons ago I have actually written my own really, really bad self-insert fanfiction that will never see the light of day, but nowadays I hardly read any. So in a way, I’m halfway between Leena’s approach and, say, my friend Anna’s approach to Fangirl and Cath as a character. Cath writes fanfiction about “Simon Snow”, the Harry Potter of their universe (no, really, down to the wizarding school, the Chosen One who gets mentored by the headteacher and has an intelligent best friend and a fairly stuck-up nemesis, etc etc).  I must say, in a way, this is a very generic young adult book; it doesn’t really get social anxiety right (probably because socially anxious people who are actually incapable of making friends and not having anyone gently forcing their friendship onto them is not really entertaining to read about), but it gets close; the romance is super predictable (as in, I called it the first time the character shows up in the novel). That being said, “generic” as it may be, the formula works, and in this instance, it does so so very, very well. I’ve read Carry On before this one and already loved Rainbow’s writing style, and this book just furthered that impression. I’d have given this 4.5 stars on Goodreads if I could have, because I loved it and it almost completely hit the mark for me. One thing that really threw me off, though, is that apparently, Harry Potter exists in this universe as well. I can’t possible imagine how the Harry Potter and Simon Snow franchises can exist alongside each other.

Continue reading

The Good Hood, Bielefeld

the good hood bielefeld at daneesaur.co.uk
the good hood bielefeld at daneesaur.co.uk
the good hood bielefeld at daneesaur.co.uk

This lovely little place, the good hood, is a new restaurant that has opened in central Bielefeld. There are a lot of areas in town that are dull and grey, where you’re convinced nothing interesting will happen. And suddenly stuff changes. One such place is a former electronics shop not far from the train station, wedged between the railway and an overpass. It’s been abandoned since before I’ve moved here, and then suddenly: construction! Then: tables! Chairs! A new restaurant!

New places to eat are always exciting, especially since my former watering hole and safe space closed down a couple of months ago (which, by the way, I still haven’t found an adequate replacement for. Yes, I’m gutted. I don’t want to talk about it.)

It has apparently turned into a mixture of a restaurant and a club; I’m not too fond of clubbing (plus according a friend, they “don’t play any good techno”), but I did venture out with my mama for some good ol’ grub.

the good hood bielefeld at daneesaur.co.ukThe food they serve is freshly homemade — because I am me, I ordered the veggie burger, made with a tempeh patty, corn salad, cucumber, tomato, bbq sauce, and wasabi mayo (well, I subbed it for a lime-ginger one). Plus a side of sweet potato fries and a peanut dip. The burger was smaller than I’d expected, but all of that did only cost €8.50, soo I’m not complaining.

The chai I had was a bit more expensive than the average in town, but only by maybe 30 ct. And there’s not much to say about it; as far as I can tell, it’s the same kind of powder mix you get in most cafés (i.e. David Rio chai), and I don’t mind it at all. It was as good as anywhere else. They do charge more for dairy-free milk, which is a drag.

One thing that is definitely missing from the menu so far is any kind of dessert. Seriously. There’s nothing. All the small dishes that you might want to have if you just nip in for a coffee or so are savoury. They definitely need some sweet stuff. Plus, it says nowhere on the menu that they’re only serving the burgers from 5:00pm, which is a bit of an oversight as well.

What I adore about this place though is the decoration; there are flamingos everywhere. Well, flamingos are all over the shops at the moment as well, but I don’t mind that at all, I like them. There are a lot of cozy seats tucked into corners, some tables outside (and although it’s right by two noisy streets, it’s actually quite nice) and nice big windows.

All in all I’m excited about the good hood, and can’t wait to order my way through their menu. The curry sounds enticing. And if they actually decide to do some cakes and stuff, I will definitely come back.

in Food.