hooray for awards

A little while ago Britni from Antika Moda gave me this award.  She has a wonderful blog and etsy shop full of vintage finds and some wonderful hand knitted goodies.  If you don't know her already I encourage you to check her out.

Okay, some rules for the award:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award
2. Share seven things about you
3. Nominate 15 newly discovered blogs
4. Let your nominees know about the award!

I'm changing it up a bit and listing seven things I wished I knew as a 16 year old that I know now;
7. No one else knows what they're doing either - if they think they do, they're probably just pretending
6. Wearing two bras while playing sport and running is the answer
5. Stay away from turtle necks, they are not your friend 
4. It's okay to say no
3. You will end up living in Berlin - don't stop the German classes
2. Your high school years are not necessarily the best years of your life  
1. You are wonderful just the way you are

Once again, if you're reading this, thank you and I happily give the award to you.  Just leave a comment and I'll be sure to pop by your blog.


tomato relish

I got the idea to make relish recently when I realised that they don't stock any form of chutney or relish in German supermarkets.  I love relish and I'm secretly hoping that this relish, some jam and a few other preserved "tastes" of summer will keep my spirits up this winter when fresh fruit and vegies are reduced to potatoes, onions, apples and pears (I'm exaggerating slightly, but if you don't want the carbon miles of fruit shipped from Brazil, this is just about it).   After trawling the Internet and being promised a "fantastic" recipe from my mum, I ended up using the recipe in Stephanie Alexander's Cooks Companion.   Once again, she didn't disappoint.  My only gripe is that what starts out looking like a monstrous amount of tomatoes ends up being reduced to, well, two 250ml jars.

Oh, and there should be some kind of disclaimer at the beginning that this recipe takes 3 hours to cook and therefore shouldn't be started at 8pm on a 'school night'. 

Kathy's Tomato Relish (from Stephanie Alexander's Cooks Companion) 
- I halved the recipe

1-tablespoon cloves
2 tablespoons whole allspice
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
5kg tomatoes, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
30g salt
600ml wine vinegar
1kg sugar

Tie cloves, allspice and peppercorns in a square of muslin.  Put all ingredients except sugar into a large non-reactive stockpot.  Bring to a boil and boil steadily for 1 hour, stirring from time to time.  Add sugar and continue to boil, stirring every 20 minutes or so, for a further 2 hours.  Remove muslin bag, pressing it well over pot before discarding it.  Pass relish through the coarse disc of a food mill and, using a funnel, bottle at once in hot, dry, sterilised bottles.  Cap and allow to cool before storing.

* I didn't have muslin so I just added it all in and fished out the cloves (but not the peppercorns - they're pretty) at the end.  I also skipped the food mill bit because we don't have one.  Turned out a little more rustic


a poem on thursday: morning

(Love Sonnet XXVVII)

Naked you are simple as one of your hands;
Smooth, earthy, small, transparent, round.
Your moon lines, apple pathways, 
Naked you are slender as a naked grain of wheat.

Naked you are blue as a night in Cuba;
You've vines and stars in your hair.
Naked you are spacious and yellow
As summer in a goldern Church.

Naked you are tiny as one of your nails;
Curved, subtle, rosy, till the day is born.
And you withdraw to the underground world.

As if down a tunnel of clothing and of chores;
Your clear light dims, gets dressed, drops its leaves, 
And becomes a naked hand again.
Pablo Neruda

This week's prompt over at Madeline Bea was "naked" - once again I started with the poem, which led to this mixed-media print.  The photo is mine, the woman is from Mum and Woman’s Body by Pan Yuliang*, texture used is Kim Klassen's 'simple things'.

*Pan Yuliang was one of China's first artists to paint in a western style.  She had an interesting life, some of which you can read about on Wiki.


A Balcony Garden

Our little balcony garden has grown so much since this photo was taken two months ago.  Look at it now.
Basil, sour lettuce, peppermint, rosemary and olives and over in the another corner we have figs and tomatoes.
It's been so exciting watching everything grow over the summer.  We've been picking the rosemary for ages and adding the sour lettuce to salads every now and then, but I hadn't had any of the basil until last week.  Mmmm so good. Never let it be said that you can't grow vegies on a balcony!

Slightly related, although on another scale altogether, here are some photos from one of the most amazing gardens I've visited in a little while. The recovery breakfast for the wedding last week was at Kristine's parents house in a small village outside of Roskilde.  Kristine's mum is the chief gardner and I'm a little jealous of her green thumb.  I spent a good little while wandering around the cottage garden, nibbling on the strawberries and rapsberries and making friends with the little bottle-lamb.
I fear that the lamb is destined for a lovely autumn feast, but at least he gets to enjoy a pampered life for a little while.



I really love Berlin's architecture.  Especially the some of the newer parts that were built post-1989 when the wall came down.  One of my favourite buildings, in particular, is the Hauptbahnhof (main train station).      It's one of the busiest train stations in europe with trains arriving on 4 levels at all times of the day.  It's an exciting place to wander around, especially at the moment with hundreds of travellers leaving/arriving on summer holidays.  This is where our Photowalk started on Saturday - I captured the photo above just as we were leaving.  It's my entry for this week's theme "urban" over at 'in a yellow house'.


Worldwide Photowalk

On Saturday I took part in the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk.  It was a bit of a last minute decision  (I registered at 10pm on Friday night).  I umm'ed and ahh'ed about the whole thing and nearly backed out but I'm really glad that I ended up going.  I learnt some new tricks, met some photo-people who live around Berlin and the best part was that I managed to navigate the whole day almost completely in German.  Woo-hoo!  I've hit a bit of a rut in the whole learning German department.  It's hard and lately I've been feeling like I'm going backwards and not forwards.  This isn't really helped by the fact that a woman at work has decided that 6 months is long enough for me to have become fluent in the language and she will now communicate 'at me' in German spoken incredibly fast and with a healthy Berlin mumble.  Charming right?  But I digress.  On the photowalk I discovered that I can speak German as long as people take the time to listen, help, prompt, smile and encourage.  And I got to take some photos too.  Wins all round.

The Photowalk was hosted by Scott Kelby and sponsored by Photoshop and Adobe - they're a prizes for the best photos, which looking at last years selections I have absolutely no chance of winning, but is was a great feeling to be participating in something so big.  If you're interested you can check out last years winners here.  
While we were on our walk we were luckily enough to stumble across the Youth Olympic Games torch being carried through Berlin.  Not sure where the next stop is, but the Youth Olympics is being held in the second two weeks of August in Singapore and it will be the first Youth games ever.


mango slaw

I'm still searching for the perfect summer salad that requires minimal cooking for hot summer nights.  Last week I think I came close.  It's this - Mango slaw.  I'm not much of a "slaw" person - but this one is good.  The cabbage is crunchy, the mango sweet and the onion gives the whole salad balance.  Next time I think I'll go for slightly firmer mangoes which keep their shape once cut.  When I made this I ended up substituting finely sliced fresh chiilis instead of chilli flakes which went down a treat.  The salad was spicey, sweet and salty awesome-ness.   Oh, and I couldn't find mint so I used basil and ended up using peanuts and not cashews because I picked up the wrong packet in the supermarket.  And that's the other reason that I love this meal - it's flexible enough that even when my head is completely frazzled, I can go to the supermarket, pick up the wrong ingredients and still make something that tastes delicious.  It's a winner in my book!

As with many recipes, I found this at smitten kitchen, one of my all-time favourite food-blogs around.


you capture : black and white

One more photo from the weekend in Copenhagen.  This week's theme for You Capture was black and white.  I took this photo of Nyhavn from a watertaxi on our way to Halvandet.   Nyhavn was one of the last ports in central Copenhagen to be gentrified in the 1970s.  It's now pretty much over -run with touristy restaurants, but if you squint your eyes (or turn your photo into B&W) it's as if time stood still.

This photo also got a bit of a sprucing up with a vintage texture freebie from Paint the Moon


a poem on thursday: high summer

This week Madeline Bea's prompt was traditional.  Keeping with "my tradition" albeit short-lived, I started with a poem - a traditional sonnet.  My mind immediately wandered to "shall I compare thee to a summer's day", but since this is supposed to be about me exploring unknown poets and poetry I kept searching.  Ebenezer Jones' High Summer was the answer.

No mixed-media image this week.  The creative juices weren't up to the challenge, so some pretty pictures instead.

High Summer

by Ebenezer Jones

I never wholly feel that summer is high,

However green the trees, or loud the birds,

However movelessly eye-winking herds

Stand in field ponds, or under large trees lied

Till I do climb all cultured pastures by,

That hedged by hedgerows studiously fretted trim,

Smile like a lady's face with lace laced prim,

And on some moor or hill that seeks the sky

Lonely and nakedly,--utterly lie down,

And feel the sunshine throbbing on body and limb,
My drowsy brain in pleasant drunkenness swim,

Each rising thought sink back and dreamily drowns

Smiles creep o'er my face, and smother my lips, and cloy,

Each muscle sink to itself, and separately enjoy.


this is who I am : celebrate emotions

I might have been slightly misleading about there being no photos of me from the wedding on the weekend.  There were a couple but the only one deemed blog-worthy was this one and I was saving it for Divas and Dreams Creative Workshop challenge.  Week three is all about celebrating your emotions.  The task was to think of the one emotion that takes up most space inside you, which feeling is the most dominant one? 
Perhaps it's a combination of summer heat and weddings but I'm feeling very sentimental and romantic this week.   Six months after moving to Berlin to live with Matthias I am beginning to feel like this is our home, not just an apartment where we live.  Moving was a bit of a gamble requiring a healthy dose of trust and a sprinkle of faith.  Well, I think the gamble paid off.  Six months on I still feel very much loved and in love.


Copenhagen Wedding

Photos from the wedding as promised.  The ceremony started at 3pm, dinner bagan at six (four courses and seventeen speeches!) and by midnight we were dancing in the old barn to a fantastic band from Copenhagen.  Supper was served at 3am (!) and although I didn't make it to the end, there was apparently a soccer game at 6am just before the last revellers turned in for a few hours shut-eye before brunch at 10am the next morning.  My only regret is that I wish I had remembered to take a photo of me!

K&K's wedding

This is the photo that Kim edited as part of Stay-Cation this week.  Thought it was only appropriate for it to start off my sneak-peek of K&K's wedding.  Even more so as it was taken in April when I was at another friend's wedding in Tuscany.  Pop over to Kim's blog to see a before and after of the image.  Kim is an incredibly inspiring blogger, artist and photographer - her blog was one of the first photography blogs that I came across and I love seeing how she manages to transform her photos into dreamy and romantic artworks.

And, before I go a photo of last weekend's happy couple.  More to come later.


lovely copenhagen

Just back and ready for bed, but before I go a few photos from the weekend.  Copenhagen was wonderful.  Perfect weather, a wonderful wedding and a chance to catch up with friends I haven't seen for over a year.  There was plenty of drinking, gossiping, eating and general merriment - so much so that looking back at my photos from the weekend there's a lot of happy snaps of people mid-sentence, mid-drink, mid-mouthful and not much else.  Oops! 
These photos are a case in point.  But I love them anyway.  A Bostonian, a Berliner and a Londoner all chilling-out, catching up and soaking up the summer sunshine at Halvandet, possibly the coolest beachbar Copenhagen has to offer.  
I'll be back tomorrow with a sneak-peek of the wedding plus a look at a photo Kim Klassen has edited for me using one of her wonderful textures.