New York Through a Fashion Eye by Megan Hess

I spent part of my childhood in New York City and I would love to go again one day. I don’t know if it will happen in quite the style pictured and described in New York Through a Fashion Eye by the amazing Megan Hess. But this is another box-of-chocolates book that I loved perusing. The sense of fun and excitement hopefully anyone has when visiting New York leaps off the pages and the book is essentially a result of what most of us would do (albeit with a different budget and other goals) when going on a trip: make an itinerary.

There are plenty of fantastic places mentioned I’m itching to see myself: the New York Public Library (memories), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, High Line. And if I do receive a sudden cash windfall that makes me curious about all the designer shops listed in the book, at least I’m prepared. Until then, I’ll enjoy the fun illustrations and reminisce about some happy years.

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You Can Tell It’s Spring in Hamburg When…

Your favourite park doesn’t look like it’s sleeping anymore even if the trees are still bare, but they are not actually bare anymore, they are clearly waiting.

People are walking around with those tell-tale, increasingly ubiquitous regardless of the season stretches of bare ankle between low sneakers/ Chucks/ loafers and cropped jeans or chinos.

Jackets and coats are FLUNG open. Scarves flap in the light breeze or are discarded completely. Those daring enough sit without coats on in patches of direct sunlight. Sunglasses are worn like we do it every day.

Cafes start setting up tables outside, though with blankets discreetly draped over chairs.

There are crowds of people walking anywhere by the water, which definitely means the Au├čenalster (bigger Alster lake), the Elbe and the Port of Hamburg. No one will be going away for the weekend.

The sky was so blue and virtually cloudless (we always notice that here) during the day that in the evening, once it starts getting dark, the blue just deepens and you can see the almost full moon as clearly as if you painted it up there yourself.

Oh, and there was that little fact of it being 14 WHOLE DEGREES today. Let it be noted down in history that the first day of spring in Hamburg in 2019 was February 16 and it has so far lasted beyond the weekend. We’ll see what happens.

Iconic: The Masters of Italian Fashion by Megan Hess

Another gorgeous book by the talented Megan Hess, the next one I read after The Dress: 100 Iconic Moments in Fashion. It is about fashion I will most likely never be able to afford, nor need to afford, but it is beautifully, captivatingly illustrated, and written with attention to detail, while still being absorbing and amusing at the same time.

Once again, the illustrations remove some of the sense of unattainability and aloofness when you see photos or videos of the designs, instead bringing to life that which is actually inspiring or entertaining: colours, lines, shapes, humour, combinations, prints. They can also be looked at again and again, whenever and whereever you like, no networking or money spending required.

Italian fashion gives you permission to play, to fall in love and to dress as if life were always utterly glamorous.

A good motto regardles of what you wear.

My Top Ten Gifs for (Describing) Any Situation

The glorious emphasis of a gif, quotes and acting all rolled into one, changing texting, chatting and blogging forever…

Credit for the idea for this blog post goes to my sister.

For me, the gifs below just keep on gifing. I know, but I had to go there. This is a general list, but it already got me thinking about gifs by occasion or category…Thanks goes to the bottomless and wonderful Giphy.com, which probably makes up 75 percent of the links on this blog since its inception. So here we go! In no particular order. Obviously each gif is not limited to the occasions and emotions mentioned.

If you want to go beyond the hugging emoji, express sympathy, congratulations, joy, thanks, make someone laugh or just like monkeys:

Feeling like a flirty geek, talking about hair stuff, being at the beach, getting ready to go out, trying to fit in:

Anything related to the joys of reading and dreaming about your own library room at home:

Anything, just let it go (I know, but I can’t not):

Jubilation, cheering, any kind of exaggerated happiness, frenzied applause that you can’t do out loud in the moment, adoration, mocking:

What??

This is one of my most used. Enthusiasm, anticipation, fangirling of any kind, sarcasm:

Full House was part of my youth, and after watching all the seasons again recently, I have to conclude that Michelle’s catchphrases are as relevant as ever, so if you want to add a little pop culture to your “Will do” or “Of course”:

Fireworks are lovely, great gif to send someone on their birthday before you actually meet them to give them their real present:

And finally, the always cute pick-me-up after all this excitement:

Things People Say to You When You’re a Redhead

And that you STILL hear even as a fully-fledged adult.

I’m not the first, and I won’t be the last, but oh, the topic is current. How to be a Redhead‘s Instagram page provides regular relief in the form of witty, saracastic, to-the-point memes, and, of course, there’s always a gif or two out there.

I’ve never been teased because of freckles, or my hair colour, but I was bullied plenty for other things, so the sensation is not unfamiliar. However, to this day I don’t expect comments related to my red-haired existence in particular. Is it confidence? Healthy self-awareness? Reasonable disinterest for other people’s thoughts? No time? Occupied with my own thoughts?

I’m still undecided what fascinates me more, the open rudeness of some of what comes my way, or the fact alone that people insist on spending their time pressing what they think is an issue or an excuse for a chat.

Whenever the comments do come, it’s always a bit of a surprise. Sometimes I leave them be, but sometimes the person commenting is demanding. They repeat the comment. They can’t let it go, like Elsa, but I don’t have time to recommend they watch Frozen. And that’s when I employ one of the following kick-ass responses (or inner reactions).

Comment Category Number 1: Hair

Did you do something to your hair? – No.

Really? Seriously, did you do something to it? It looks different. Why does it look different? – I washed it.

Was this always your hair colour? – Yes.

You didn’t dye it? – No.

You sure? – …

Category Number 2: Skin

You’re so pale. – Actually, I’m fair.

Well, that’s what I mean, I guess, but are you feeling OK? – …

Do you tan? – Not really.

What, not at all?

Comment Category Number Three: Style (Sort Of)

Wow, you wear red? With your hair? – Yes. I did it so you would ask.

Pale people like us can’t wear those colours. – * Shrug *

You want those shoes? But you’re so tall! – Oh, wait, that’s another blog post.

And let’s not forget the crowning glory of all those comments:

“You’re not a redhead! Your hair is brown.”

Chocolate Frosting Fun

Maybe glaze is the more appropriate term. Or icing. Maybe there’s more than one option. I already told you, I’m not a recreational cook.
The cake I had planned some time ago did not turn out the way the recipe promised, but the chocolate frosting for it was a total success! Which means I felt excited enough to try it again and obviously it can be used for a variety of desserts, for example, a yogurt cake.
If you read in German, there’s a bunch of recipes for chocolate frosting here, or the one I’m about to explain is included here, OR there’s loads right here too. Just to list a few examples.
For the frosting I picked, I liked that it didn’t include tons of butter or sugar. What you will need is:
100 g of what in German is called Schlagsahne, and the dictionary tells me is whipped cream or meringue chantilly in English. Isn’t it fun to decipher all this between languages, dairy products in particular?
1 tsp butter or coconut butter.
The recipe says a whole bar of plain dark chocolate, but I think it’s a bit much based on my first try. Half a bar or a few pieces if it’s a thicker one will do just as well. It’s also fine if it has an additional flavour, like oranges, and I would guess that using milk chocolate would work too.
You pour the cream in to a small pot, break up the chocolate in to small pieces, add those and the butter, then stir everything on low heat until it all melts together. It looks like cocoa first, then darkens and thickens after 20 minutes or so.
Experience shows that there’s more than enough frosting for a bigger cake, so let your baking flag fly.

Confessions of a Sentimental Baker

I’m not a recreational cook. I prepare food to eat it, though I discovered that I enjoy a simple cooking process or also putting together a meal with my family or a group of friends. While the end goal is always to eat, for anyone, with time I’ve grown into my own understanding of the special moments of eating and cooking together.

My mother comes from a family with lengthy branches of extended relatives on either side, with multiple family units, and she inherited the gift for efficiently prepared and delicious meals. Not to mention sharing this gift again and again, to this day, with her own big family. Scheduling, time-saving measures, a fair amount of multi-tasking among mothers and grandmothers, gatherings around a kitchen table that would inevitably lead the way to jokes and stories that were passed on in the future – all this, together with and around the process of cooking, contributed to the fundamental base of home and family. Many of those mothers, grandmothers and aunts also developed their own recipes.

My father, being a scientist with an eye for taking things apart and seeing how individual components relate to each other to create a whole, is adept at following a complicated recipe that might involve several hours of labour. It was a treat when he had time to do this and I remember how, as children, we were entranced by one dish where the pieces of spiced meat were carefully wrapped up in foil (so shiny) and stuck in the oven. He was also always willing to lend his strength (and patience) to mixing or rolling out dough to the necessary thinness, also for layers that had to be put in the freezer first – my sister and I were very keen on puff pastry for a while.

Baking stands out to me because of childhood memories of spending time with my mother and, of course, knowing that I would get a treat. I remember my sense of importance when we were allowed to shape dough into anything we liked or use cookie cutters. My mother would regularly bake in the evenings as well for the week ahead. When we were older, sometimes we would come to the kitchen after already having gone to bed, drawn in by the aroma of baking cinnamon buns.

My sisters are both good at understanding more intricate baking recipes and proceed with focused confidence once they start. There was a Betty Crocker cookbook from the 1980s in our house that had amazing photographs. My sister and I spent a large share of our early teens trying out various recipes and sitting in front of the oven, watching a cake take shape.

I’ve come back to baking at home this year, after I realized I missed it. Tonight’s cake didn’t turn out like expected, namely it crumbles easily, but it’s still perfectly edible, and thanks to the chocolate frosting (which turned out amazing) the apartment smells lovely.