My kitchen must-have and acknowledging food privileges

Bloggers, raise your hand if you’ve been in a writing rut lately. Well, that’s been me these days and I’m not enjoying it. Some weeks thoughts and ideas are flowing through my brain faster than I can grab a pen – or access my phone – to write them down and others nothing goes. Ironically, just when I had mentally decided to give in and simply do some random Thinking out loud, one of the points I initially noted got my mind churning again. So I’ll reserve that one for another day but share some other randomness today to avoid falling out of the blogging loop completely.  Let’s get going!

Tell me: how do you – especially those of you in the US – prepare your tea? Or more specifically: how do you heat the water needed for it? A little birdy told me electric kettles aren’t really popular which stumped me because I’d never used anything else. Until now because – cue the tragical music – my kettle just quit its services [read: it broke]. On Sunday of all possible times obviously = no chance to get a new one right then and there .  Thrifty as I am I wasn’t ready to invest in a new one yet so have been relying on cooking water on the stove. I won’t lie in saying it first felt – okay, still feels – like a huge inconvience. But at that it also made me appreciate the daily convience I’m blessed to have every single day; hardly ever acknowledging the whole of it. If it’s between me and you, though, I do feel so priviled every time I just have a glass of tap water without worrying about germs and simply looking at the fact it’s so readily available to me.

Another thing in my kitchen I couldn’t don’t want to live without? Hands down my dishwasher. While I do a few dishes by hand if I want to reuse them again that day, just putting everything into the dishwasher at the end of the day and waking up to clean and dried dishes is amazing. A privilege I’m thankful for every single day.

Speaking of privilege: I stumbled upon this article the other day. It’s about the British chef Ruby Tandoh pointing out that the healthy lifestyle many people – particularly those striving for high protein intake and low-carb – live these days simply isn’t affordable for some. Now I know there are many posts out there sharing great advice on how to eat healthy on a budget and it’s definitely not impossible [but might require more time, knowledge and careful planning than some people have or can bring up]. I encourage you to read the full post to see the points Tandoh makes, though. What I agree with and have noticed myself is – through my own experience as somebody eating lots of fruit and vegetables – that fresh produce can easily make up a good chunk of your grocery bills. For families with multiple children – like Tandoh’s and many of those living on the brink of or in poverty – getting adequate amounts of food in on a budget doesn’t allow for such luxuries. So shaming any foods (think potatoes, white rice, grains in general) is plain wrong and I wish society as a whole did less of it [if at all]. We’re all just trying our best in this world and don’t all have the same chances. Just some food for thought.

Just like the privilege to buy almond butter. Thanks to Jen for the advice of keeping the unopened jar upside down for a day – it makes stirring so much easier. No huge oil spillage like on past occasions here and just a few clumps to smoothen out. Easy.

Something more light-hearted on my currently very heavy/deeper thought-filled mind is seeing my sister and P. again on the weekend. It’s been a few [too many] weeks since the previous time and will be my first time babysitting P. all by myself. I won’t lie in saying I’m a little nervous [and hoping for no necessary diaper changes in those few hours ;)]. Coming up for you on the weekend: more good good links!

For once not turning this into an endlessly wordy post – you’ve had a lot of these coming from me lately – I’ll end this here. Happy Thursday! We’re –this- close to the weekend!

Happiness-inducing today:  My current book and an unexpected smile.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

Share your thoughts on any or all of the above points with me!

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Of nudity, happy mums and small talk aversion

Hi!

Has it really been almost a week since we talked macros? It’s been somewhat of a rough time since. My family experienced a huge loss on the weekend and writing a Week in Review just didn’t happen. I do not want to talk about our loss any more but also couldn’t pretend nothing had happened. Rather than talk about myself, I decided to finally share another post in what I’d planned to be a little series on German life. There are a lot of differences between life here and in the US– we’re talking some juicy facts today ;).

A final note on my posting schedule for the week: As I’ll be traveling and attending the funeral on the other end of the country and won’t be back until – at the earliest – late on Saturday night I’ll try but might not be able to share the good good links on Sunday, either. In that case, be back on Monday for some of my latest favourites.

[As I have yet to figure out the whole technology issue – hoping to get to it soon, though – the pictures in this post aren’t entirely fitting but I had fun bringing back some  older favourites]

Thinking-Out-Loud

We don’t beat around the bush. Or: small talk wasn’t invented in Germany

Truth is: we like to cut right to the chase. Mailing somebody with business inquiries? There’s no need to ask how they are first. Just let them know what you need in a polite way and that’s it.

When you call somebody, don’t be surprised when they pick up the phone saying just their last name [say, “Maier”]. It’s unusual to say “hello?” upon picking up. If you read my previous post on differences between Germany and the US you might remember how “friendly” – cue the irony – cashiers often are. In that case you won’t be surprised to hear they’re not exactly going to chat you up for a short conversation. Because they want you to leave the store –fast–.  Okay, so we don’t all hate small talk. We’re just unlikely to be the ones initiating it.

Let’s get naked.

Or: Germans aren’t as afraid of nudity. Bare breasts on magazine covers at the supermarket? Check. Beaches that explicitly invite you to show off what you’ve got 😉 [German term: FKK-Strand]? Check. And if your doctor needs you to undress certain body parts for examination there’s neither a paravent nor will he usually leave the room as you strip off your clothes or hand you a paper gown. Ready for an even more ‘shocking’ fact?
 
Work and such

Prostitution is a legal business

Now this one I certainly don’t know from personal experience – I prefer keeping my clothes on at work ;). However, the fact is true. While you won’t exaxctly see prostitutes walking down the streets of your average small town neighbourhood there is in fact a certain ‘house’ – colloquially referred to as a “Puff” – smack dab in the middle of a neighbouring village. And if you’re in a larger city like Hamburg you absolutely can see the ladies strutting down Reeperbahn, waiting for business. Speaking of businesses and work …

Mum’s staying home – and dad might as well

This refers to one of the blessings new parents have over here. An expecting woman can legally – with very few exceptions – not be fired from the moment she gets pregnant until a minimum of two months postpartum. The mum-to-be is also legally granted “Mutterschutz” (pregnancy leave) from six weeks pre-birth until up to three years after birth if she decides to stay home with the baby. Her employer can’t fire her during this time, either, and parents receive “Elterngeld” [think – very simplified- the state paying a compensation for the usual income depending on the latter; at least 300 €/per month, max 1.800 €]. Additionally, the baby’s dad can apply for “Elternzeit”, too. My sister’s husband did this and was on parental leave from his main job [starting his second side business on the leave – with the approval of his boss] for some time, too.

 

Money, money, money

The one topic all Germans can agree on: GEZ

GEZ, short for “Gebühreneinzugszentrale” has to be one of every German’s most disliked institutions. They’re the friendly people who decided that every household has to pay a set monthly fee of €17.98 for TV, radio and New Media and – that’s the clue – regardless of whether you use those or not. Sounds great, right? Not.

Pay now, use later.

If you live in an apartment/house/whatever else and use electricity and the likes this is true for you. Yes, that’s right. You’re paying for the so-called “Nebenkosten” like electricity and gas in advance. If you end up using less than the providing companies assumed you’ll get money back at the end of the year.

Sunday, silent Sunday

Feel like your lawn is more than ready for a cut again? You’d better not plan on mowing it on a Sunday in Germany unless you want to get in contact with the authorites. Yes, mowing your lawn on Sunday is legally prohibited. As you might remember you can’t do your regular weekend shopping on this day, either.

That’s it for now though there are plenty more differences to share another time.

Happy Thursday!

Happiness-inducing today: The brightest sunshine in between all the rain we’ve been getting lately.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

Share your random thoughts with me!

If you’ve ever been to Germany: What’s something else you’ve found odd or was different?

If you’ve never been to Germany but noticed differences between your country and another one you’ve visited: share those! It’s amazing how different cultures are.

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Do you mind your macros [too much]?

Macros, hm? A topic that is constantly present in my life yet not. Not in that I don’t care about my macro split in the least yet present still because macro talk is an everyday given in the media and on all social media platforms, particularly blogs and Instagram.

The other day, I saw a girl, no, woman state her insecurity about eating at work. Knowing her colleagues might comment on her choices [plenty of grain-based meals aka ‘carbs’] like they had in the past. So for fear of comments this grown-up woman and mum of a little one went through her work day not eating a single bite until she got home in the afternoon. Luckily, in her post she was opening up about these struggles and making the resolution to start bringing food to work again – a small success . What is making me very sad, though, is knowing she’s no exception.

Just a short time browsing blogs, not only WIAW posts, is enough to spy a lot of macronutrient-embracing language or ‘excuses’ for cosuming ‘too much’ of a particular macros..

“I love carbs!”

“Give me alllll the carbs!” vs. “Give me allll the fats!”

and on the guilty side

“Wow, I ate a lot of carbs today. Not enough protein in there.”

“Carbs on carbs on carbs – at least I had some vegetables on the side!”

*Protein never seems to require any further explanations because it’s the one ‘good guy’ everyone seems to agree on. Which is funny as it’s the one macronutrient that – when consumed in excess – may potentially lead to kidney diseases of some individuals so it’s not  a one-fits-all recommendation.

Onto the first category: Macro-embracing so: what’s wrong with that you ask? Nothing in general and I want to stress that I am not judging you or anybody who’s using this language. What I’m curious about is the reasoning behind these statements. Why do we feel the need to enthusiastically show our fondness of certain macronutrients? What I assume is that we – collectively as a generation; our grandparents sure didn’t count macros  – want to shout from the rooftops how unafraid of the ‘big bad’ carbs/fat we are. In some cases there’s what seems to be an added justification  [“eating all the carbs because: leg day!”].  Actually a sad fact. We should not be afraid because for heaven’s sake it’s all just food. Carbohydrates. Fats. Protein. Food. We do not need to earn food or explain our choices to anybody. Period.

Yes, by now the example is way overused but: look at the way children eat. Have you ever seen a toddler call for ‘more protein, hold the bread, please!”? Carefully shove aside the rice on his plate, eating only vegetables and protein? We’re not much different from toddlers when it comes to food. Grown-up, yes. Yet our minds have been manipulated by food companies, magazines and the likes to return to an almost infant-like state. Absorbing information that more confuses than empowers us or strengthens our intuitive knowledge of what’s good for us. The more often we’re told protein was key for saturation and carbs made us sluggish, the more likely we are to accept these statements as truths; no matter if they actually are for us personally.

A car isn’t proud to tout the fact it’s slurping up allll the gas. We know the fact of the latter being its prime [or in the machine’s case: only] source of fuel much like ours/our brain’s are carbohydrates [side note: yes, I’ve heard of the keto diet but don’t agree with its idea of ‘forcing’ our organism to use fat as its main fuel]. No need to explain, much less defend a natural inclination to eat these wonderful nutrients and plenty of them.

Nut butter drizzle

The average healthy person should give a flying fudge* about macronutrient amounts. Especially since no day is different – and no, this is not related to whatever kind of workout we do or don’t do – needs for certain macros vary. Trying to preplan and manage macros is a waste of time and revelry against our bodies’ intuitive wisdom.  Whether you are keen on carbs, fancying fat or partial to protein: it doesn’t change my view or opinion of you in the very least. In fact, an inclination to eat more of one macronutrient might very well be genetically predisposed. Trying to modify our genetic preferences a) doesn’t work, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves and b) ultimately leaves us constantly feeling unsatisifed. Athletes altering their macro intake for perfomance are an entirely different topic that would justify a post on its own so I didn’t include it here.

Quark_protein

I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about food. Please, I’m a blogger after all, too. But I wish we would change the way we talk about food. Not seeing it as its macronutrients but: Colours. Visual appeal. Taste! We as a society are [mostly] in the lucky situation – different from our grandparents’ generation or the populations of other countries – to see food as far more than fuel [aka: macros or energy]. We eat for taste, pleasure, fun and all these require no explanation, no defenses. Just appreciation for good food.

*purty expression borrowed from a British friend of mine

Happiness-inducing today: A client bringing in a little food gift for me specifically in addition to cake for the whole team [which has become a regular whenever she visits]. It wasn’t so much about the food but the thoughtfulness and unexpected appreciation.

Stay in touch!
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

It might not surprise you when I say I could have gone on and on about the topic. Yet this post is long enough as is already and I only spontaneously decided to join Amanda’s Thursday thinking party so I’ll hand the mic over to you. Let me know your thoughts in the comments! If you have talked about macros in similar ways as mentoned here: was there a reason? I might be wrong with my assumptions on the ‘why’ and would happily find out people’s reasons.

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Letting my mind run wild and free [ToL]

… and then there was no Week in Review. Breaking from my usual blogging schedule felt both weird and very freeing. The decision was not entirely spontaneous but my heart just nudged me into the decision-making on Saturday. The sun was out, my mind telling me I’d better start drafting Monday’s post early and me ultimately neglecting my to-do list for the Moment and heading out for a longer walk instead. One of the sort that clears your head and heart, connects you to nature and makes you feel incredibly light and free. A twinge of guilt found its way into my brain again yesterday night but I reminded myself of my intuitive blogging premise. Instead deciding for less screen time on the weekend and returning with some ramdom thoughts today [a few days early as i might have another post coming later this week].. Ready, set, random!

Thinking-Out-Loud

Can we talk about changing taste buds? Because I’m not sure what happened to mine. If you’d asked me not too long ago I would have told you I had a major sweet tooth. Now? I can’t exactly say that anymore. The majority of my meals and snacks are savoury. Some days, I eat way less chocolate than I used to. Edited to add: the joke’s on me here. The very day I write about craving chocolate less what hits me big time? Yes, you guessed it. The intensity is almost crazy.

When I’m reading a really good book the word ‘read’ is actually inaccurate. Rather, I savour books. Which means I assign a certain time/setting to when I will read in every single one currently on my nightstand [i.e. morning/after work/weekends] and slow myself down a bit. Yes, I’m aware that will seem odd but my overworrying as well as money-saving tendencies are at play here. Worrying about not finding a follow-up book that’s just as amazing and saving-savvy in that we all know my struggle of treating myself to anything outside the necessary things by now, I guess. I’d call the fact I semi-decided on a small monthly book budget starting in March a first step of improvement, though. Because nourishing the mind with words and screen-free time is just as important as buying food, right?!

Absence truly makes the heart grow fonder in every area of life. Proof? You might not even remember me mentioning the first time I didn’t put my ear plugs in on a walk. Well, they hardly made an appearance anymore since. Quiet walks are my most creative time. The other day, though, I felt like listening to some music again and it felt so good. I still took in my environment, not letting the lyrics distract me. If anything, my heightened mood made me appreciate the beauty of nature even more.

flower_nature

Speaking of music I’m a classic ‘victim’ of the “mere exposure effect”. When I first heard Coldplay’s new song it didn’t feel up my alley. Being exposed to it during my daily commute, though, I’m suddenly a huge fan and added it to my Spotify. Well played, radio stations, well played. Literally.

Not so well [played] are the glitches my electronics have been going through lately. If you’ve been waiting for all the recipes I promised to share in recent posts I owe you an explanation and here’s why. I’ve been experiencing an unlucky juxtaposition of electric devices and platforms letting me down. My laptop has been on its last legs for well over a year already. Now it’s definitely time to say goodbye after about 7 (8?) years as it’s no longer working properly in regards to uploading pictures from my camera and constantly crashing when I’m online. Additionally, WordPress has been kindly reminding me that my data volume is close to used up meaning new pictures are scarce on here. I know that buying a new laptop is inevitable but any ideas on a quick and easy solution for the WordPress issue? I’m scared of [the cost and technological knowledge involved in] going self-hosted.

Something that never lets me down? Opening a fresh jar of white almond butter. Granted, I’m not a fan of the inavoidable oil spillage but the naturally sweet flavour – way different from the dark kind – and creaminess on top of my oat bran all but make up for it. Not that I’d be opposed to having one of these ingenious tools at hand but – you guessed it – they’re not available over here. So I keep getting those nut butter stirring arm workouts in.

Work’s been insane already again today so I’ll end this here and try not to hit the pillow too late. Fingers crossed and happy Tuesday to you!

Happiness-inducing today: My current [afternoon] book as well as – it never gets old – sunshine.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

Share your random thoughts with me!

What’s a song you only got hooked on upo nhearing it multiple times?

Blogging advice?

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Cars, cooking, cash – differences between Germany and the US

First things first: Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the US! I hope you’ll have a wonderful day with family, friends or whoever you choose to spend it with.

It’s been a hot minute since I previously joined Amanda on her venture of leisurely letting thoughts wander aka Thinking out loud. I’m not entirely sure how much of the blog world will really be around today so I opted for a non-heavy topic fitting whichever day you read it: Differences between the US and Germany. While I’ve yet to visit the US myself being part of the blog world for a long time – far longer than I’ve been blogging for myself – I did notice things here and there all the time.

Ready, set,: thoughts out loud!

Thinking-Out-Loud

 

 

Going places

Say hi to Deutsche Bahn!
A lot of Germans travel via train evidence of which can be found multiple times on my blog. It’s convenient, cheaper and more accessible than flying. And if you like surprises  [beware of upcoming sarcasm] Deutsche Bahn – the main trailway company – regularly has you in for those with delays, broken air conditioning in the summer heat and else. We make it sound more awful than it is, obviously. Well, unless we remember that time your connecting train on a long distance journey was cancelled, you spent an hour standing on a crowded platform in cold wind and seriously questioning if we were going to make it home that day still, all while being sick. Thanks for nothing, Deutsche Bahn.
But hey, we accept that for long distance travels because …

Berlin

Gas is way more expensive than in the US
Last time I checked the gas my dad’s car needs was 1,35 € [around $1,42] – and that’s per litre, not gallon. That’s why won’t see any trucks or similarly big cars on the streets often here. Big hooray for public transport.

Restaurants, supermarkets and home

Running to the store on Sunday? No way.
You guessed that right: stores are closed on Sundays. Exception to this rules can be found in some bigger cities, usually stores located in central stations. And if you run out of snacks at night you might be out of luck, too. Most supermarkets close at 8 PM. Again, cities can be the exception with certain ones not closing until 10 or at the very latest – and I’ve only seen this twice before – midnight.

Just like your car you’d better not be super thirsty.

Because there are no free refills in Germany. In fact, some restaurant owners make the majority of their profit through beverages,  not food. The only exception being IKEA – thank you for introducing me to this novelty as a child, Sweden – where you can drink to your heart’s content.

Got cash?

If you plan on visiting Germany: a) let me know [duh!] and b) bring some cash. Well, you might have to do that in anyway because of the different currency but really: we like to pay in cash. Sure, I keep my bank card in my wallet at all times but only really use it to pay if I’m making big purchases. Some stores even have a minimum amount of spendings you need to reach before they let you use your debit card. And once you’ve paid …

Hurry up!

Because cashiers want you out as soon as possible. This is one thing that seriously annoys me. At best, you’d have your purchases stashed away and be on your way out right after you finished paying. I’m not entirely sure of the situation in the US but a friend from the UK told me you could take a lot more time to pack over there. There’s also no employee to help you bag up your stuff because hey, that could make you feel entirely too welcome at the checkout.

Take your shoes off, please
… and grab a pair of slippers. We do not wear shoes other than the latter in the house. I was surprised to hear people apparently walk around in their outdoor shoes at home in the US. Is that true? Sexier than the Birkenstock-like sandals I’m wearing as I type this for sure ;).

Cooking and baking

Let’s do the math!
… or just break out the kitchen scales. You might have already known that we do not measure in cups over here. Honestly, cup measurements used to seriously confuse me when I started reading blogs and trying US recipes. How many potatoes are you supposed to buy when a dish calls for two cups, diced? By now, I’m way better at this yet still prefer using scales. So much more accurate. [Completely subjective opinon of course]

kabocha!

You’re putting what into your dessert pie?!

Seasonal fact:pumpkin is not eaten the sweet way in Germany. We go savoury. Actually, you won’t find canned pumpkin on the shelves of any store, either. It’s only through social media and also very very slowly that some people – usually inspired by Instagram – start making their own pumpkin puree to use in sweet dishes.

Wrapping it up here even though I could come up with way more examples. But over to you and your experiences in other countries  – let me know about them in the comments!

Happiness-inducing today: More of that glorious autumn sunshine I mentioned in my previous post.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

Did you know about any of these differences between Germany and the US?

What are some differences between other countries you visited and your homecountry?

… and whichever random thoughts come to your mind here.

 

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Running [out of space], my fall must-have + pizza craziness

What do you do when a) Thursday arrives before you actually got acquainted with the new [or not so new anymore] week and b) your brain is technically not out of post ideas but rather jumping from one to another, leaving you with about half a dozen semi-written posts? Well, you thank Amanda for inventing Thinking out loud Thursdays and make lemonade from life’s lemons. Or just a post from random thoughts.

Thinking-Out-Loud

  1. Rather than running with spoons I have been running out of space lately. Everywhere. On my blog [hello, limited data]. On my laptop  [that state has been a ‘current’ for, ahem, months] and my phone. The latter issue will hopefully find a good end soon with the memory card I ordered earlier today. The laptop situation? Trickier yet. Not because I wasn’t ready to buy a new one after having this one for about seven years. It’s my incredible indecisiveness causing the biggest trouble. If you have any awesome laptop recommendations [think: fast, neither too huge nor so small it makes typing for longer a pain and (!) a good battery duration]. The blog situation is a story for another day, really, but at least my phone will hopefully be running smoothy again soon.

Tone-in-tone_phone

2. As I only thought to add it very last minute I didn’t say much at all about the song I included in Monday’s post. What I did mention, though, was that it’s not my usual taste of music. It was only this past weekend when it played on the radio while I was driving that I started to like it. Actually, I probably wouldn’t have had it not been for the moderator introducing it as a song about mobbing and using the hatred of your ‘adversaries’ if you will as fuel to the fire that is your strength. Or at least that’s how I interpreted his words. That made me give the song a chance and yes, it’s been on repeat since.
This also rings true regarding other songs for me. Many times I won’t like a song upon first hearing it but only after finding out the story or deeper meaning behind them. Or when I can connect a memory to a certain tune. Love takes over by Kelly Rowland? I thought it was terrible and would quickly switch radio stations when it came on. Until I made that one memory of what Meg would possibly paraphrase with ‘wink, wink, nudge, nudge’ that I happily recall. Do you have any songs that you only started enjoying at second ‘look’/listen?

3. It’s the season again! So I’m one of – so it seems – the few bloggers that aren’t super excited about the start of fall [or autumn as I prefer]. The daylight fading way sooner? Not a fan. Cozy sweaters? Sound nice in theory but in reality I  feel about them the same way I do about pants. Yes. What I do like a LOT, though? Scented candles! Granted, I’ve been lighting one every now and then in summer, too. Yet it’s only now they’re a daily necessity and coming to their full coziness potential.y favourite? Since I’ve yet to find the famed Yankee candles I’m still fond of my lovely – and reasonably priced! – IKEA vanilla ice cream ones. Honestly, they’re so good!

Vanilla candle IKEA

4. While everybody in the US is running to the stores to stock up on canned pumpkin – which you will not find over here at all – vegans here are currently searching high and low for this pizza.

Lidl released the first ever grocery store brand and very affordable – think: less than 1.50 $ – vegan pizza a while ago, sold out immediately  or even the day before offical sales started in most stores, causing uproar among vegans. Hence the store bringing it back once again. Me? Not buying it. For one, I just enjoy cooking myself  too much and then I also rarely buy limited time only items for fear of liking them too much. Yes, I mean that. Feel free to laugh – I know I have my quirks.

5. If I usually comment on your blog and haven’t in a while: the WordPress spell continues. I’m still unable to comment on the majority of blogs out there – including Amanda’s –  and it’s not cool.

6. Okay., not ending on a bad note here. In good news my sister and the little one visiting us again this weekend. The ‘bad’ part is that she expects me to have some new delicious goods at hand and my mum has been demanding another batch of her new favourite cookies. Which might just mean I’m in for quite some baking today. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to leave work in time/earlier today!

Happy Thursday!

Happiness-inducing today: A calmer day after the week started out rather stressfully.

Stay in touch!
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

That’s it from me today. Tell me your random thoughts on music preferences, candles or whatever comes to your mind!

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