Art & Craft // Tees

Hey everyone!

I just hit the home stretch of my apprenticeship as a confectioner and am stuck in my studies with exams, papers and presentations up to my chin. What an exciting time! In less than 3 months everything will be over.

Even more exciting is the fact that I will have to decide what to do (and where to go) next. You probably remember me saying that “in 2013 I’ll go back to New Zealand”. Well. It is the year of 2013 now. And I’m reeeeaaallly homesick. And get even more homesick when project like the following remind me of how lovely the Kiwis are.

Look at these lovely shirts:

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They were designed to celebrate the hot and sunny summer of 2012/2013 (which is the reason why Germany/middle-Europe had such a crappy winter, thank you very much!) and only a true Kiwi or a person who knows and understands Kiwi humour can get the message when looking at the “Beehive” popsicle or the bee… I love it!

The first and the second are my favourites. Which one do you like best? Anyway, they totally deserve to be posted in the Art & Craft category, don’t you think?!

I’ve been thinking a lot about New Zealand and about all these things I love about the Kiwis lately (good music, good coffee, awesome personalities…) but sadly it looks as if it’s going to take a little longer than expected before I get back. Hm.

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Springtime visitor

We’ve all been longing eagerly for spring – the sun has hardly been out this year (and it’s April already!).

My dad put up bird houses and feeding places all over the garden and during winter we had a bunch of cute little visitors like sparrows, blackbirds and even doves from time to time. Dad decided to keep feedings the birds through summer as well (he’s a big fan of birds and also tries his best to save endangered species from extinction).

Last week, it looked like waiting for spring and feeding the birds finally paid off. The sun came out and this cute little (well, actually not so little) visitor showed:

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A beautifully coloured woodpecker!

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Isn’t he preicous? With this angle, it might not look quite like it, but I’ve actually taken these pictures from inside as he was sitting right in front of the lounge window, eating away on the fat balls and occassionally peeking inside to where I was sitting. Too cute!

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A beauty, isn’t he!? Only a shame that Luigi wasn’t around to see him. I’m sure he would have liked that. (Luigi doesn’t catch birds, he makes friends with them. I’m not sure whether he is that lazy or just a really strange cat, but he would sit right next to a tiny sparrow and not even attempt to catch it…)

March Wrap-up

You’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been lately. Let me explain.

There are a few reasons for my absence from coffeerocketfairytale. One is the new Bon Jovi record, of course. It came out within the first week of March and I’ve been listening to nothing else since. I love it (even though I have to admit that it takes some time for me to get used to some of the songs – but once I’ve listened to them a couple of times, I’m madly in love. It always goes like this.)

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Next reason – I have been job hunting like mad. I’ve been dying to tell you this and now that it’s somewhat “official” I can finally share the news with you. My final exams start in May and go through till July, which means I’ll have to get myself a new job until August 1. Actually, I could stay at the bakery where I’m currently working – they offered me a job, yay! – but I’m dying to gain new experience and see new places. I would love to work in a hotel so I’m currently running from one job interview to another and I’m quite positive that in the end everything will turn out just right.

Finally, I have even more exciting news for you: I’m currently working on a new project I am really excited about. You’ve probably realised that during the past year, I had more and more recipes of cakes and other sweet things published here on coffeerocketfairytale. I never wanted this to be a food blog, though. Coffeerocketfairytale is my personal blog where I write about everything I like – my hobbies, things I come across and everything I like. No need to change that. But at the same time, the desire to start a food blog – solely about baking – grew and I’m happy to announce that the day has come. As of today, there is a little corner on the internet where you can find all my recipes (soon) all in one place.

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But there is even more to it. You might be surprised to find out that Zimtzauber & Zuckernebel is entirely written in German. I’m currently working on a way to get relevant recipes or articles delivered to you in English (without writing every article in both languages, because I did that before on my aotearoablog and it’s really a pain…). Also, I’m trying out Blogger, as you can see. Simply because I’m curios.

Apart from Nana’s 80th birthday which I haven’t talked about (and which kept me pretty occupied in terms of organisation and all) that’s about it. I don’t think any of the other things that kept me busy (work, school, exams and work again) would be of interest to you. And this wrap-up is long enough, I suppose.

What have you been up to lately?

D.I.Y. // Hearty Pin Cushion & Box

Today I have a little D.I.Y. for you: a pin cushion-box-set.

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My mum had this very old but practical little plastic box/pin cushion-all-in-one set. That kind where you have a little box to store your pins but also a little pin cushion on top, so you can use it for storage as well as work with it. Naturally plastic wears out, so a little while ago the box broke and mum has been looking for a new one for months. In the end, I bought a little wooden box and decided to make one myself. And today I’d like to share with you how I did it.

This little project is one I like for various reasons: it’s cheap (I went under €5, especially because it includes things you will find in most households anyway), it’s easy (suuuuper-easy, believe me), it’s quickly done (because it’s so easy) and there are thousands of possibilities in terms of colours, size and looks. I used a heart in a different colour to be in the centre of the pin cushion, but in fact you can use any shape you want, a star, a rainbow, even a unicorn I guess (given the fact you can cut out a unicorn free-hand – I couldn’t). And above all, it looks cute.

First, I spray-painted the little box gold (mainly because I still have so much spray-paint left-over and because I really like using it). Then I collected all material I wanted to use: two different colours of felting (you can go with only one colour or with even more, if you like), a needle and matching thread (I used pink, but blue would have looked great, too), a pair of scissors, darning wool, a few safety pins and some mod podge(1). 

I used a plain sqaure of 13×13 cm in pink (the box is about 5 cm in diameter), folded it in half and cut out half a heart in the centre of the felting (2).

Bild 2I cut out a smaller square of blue felting (the size depends on the size of the heart, it should be slightly bigger than the cut-out heart) and attached it on the back (3), handstitching along the edges of the heart (4).

I put a small fist-full of darning wool in the centre of the square (still on the back where you can only see the blue square obviously), brought the four corners together and used a few wild stitches and two safety pins to bring the edges together and turn it all into a little round-ish package. As you can see in the picture below, my stitches are really wild and this looks rather unprofessional – but the safety pins (from which you can only see one, because the other one is covered by two or three layers of felting) are really helpful, especially if you are using a really thin thread like I did. 

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Eventually, I applied some mod podge to the lid of the little golden box and put the pin cushion on top. It took about 12 hours to dry but now you can’t even see the safety pins. I put in some pins and also stuck some into the pin cushion and voilà – the gift was ready to be presented to my mum (who, by the way, is really happy to finally have that old, broken plastic box replaced). 

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Art & Craft // 13.2 | WEEKEND WIND UP #72

1 // This: 

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{via: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m08eohhSGa1r5czf5o1_500.jpg – artist unknown – let me know if you know anything!}

2 // The art works of Hossam Hassan. This one reminds me of India for some reason (and of two of my Kiwi friends who currently spend a few months there): 

3 // Another amazing collage called “Dove”. So amazing: 

Ich bin ein Berliner… or something like that!

Have you ever tried a “German doughnut”, a Berliner, a Krapfen or a Fastnachtsküchle? No? Oh, dear. You missed out big time, I’m afraid.

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Today is what we call “Rosenmontag“, Carnival Monday, the highlight of German carnival, the day of raving carnival parades, crazy costumes and one endless party. To be honest, I hate it. The disguises, the craziness, the drunk people out on the streets, the roadside breath tests every few kilometres… but there is one thing I really apreciate this time of the year – the Berliner.

It’s made of a sweet yeast dough, fried in hot oil and has a jam- or creme- (vanilla, Baileys, eggnogg, Nutella, whatever flavour you could possibly imagine) filled centre. It’s covered in cinnamon and powdered sugar and taking your first bite feels like an epiphany. I spent the better half of today making Berliner and a similar type of doughnuts (made with baking powder instead of yeast) called “Quarkbällchen”.

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If you want to try to make your own Berliner and Quarkbällchen and get a taste of German carnival, here are the recipes for you.

Quarkbällchen (super-easy, perfect for beginners!)
- makes about 20 -

In a mixer with paddle attachement mix for 3-5 minutes

250 g plain flour
80 g sugar
2 g salt
12 g baking powder
300 g quark
13 g cooking oil
100 g butter (liquid)
3 eggs
1 egg yolk

Let sit for about 30-45 minutes. Heat about 2 l of cooking oil (or deep-frying fat) in a pot (or use a deep fryer), use an ice-cream scoop to drop portions of dough into the hot oil and deep-fry at 180°C for 5-10 minutes until golden brown (make sure to turn them around from time to time). Use a slotted spoon to take the Quarkbällchen out and roll them in either white sugar or a mix of white sugar and cinnamon powder. Enjoy.

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Berliner (a bit trickier, but if you follow the instructions, it shouldn’t be too complicated)
- makes about 17 -

Using a mixer with dough hook, mix

250 g flour
250 g milk
21 g yeast

After 3-5 minutes add

300 g flour
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
75 g butter (liquid)
40 g sugar
1 pinch of salt

Knead for about 10 minutes on low speed and another 4-5 minutes on high speed. Let the dough prove for about 30 minutes in a warm place (kitchen counter, for instance). Cut pieces of 50-60 g each and roll them either on the counter or in your hands to form little balls. Let them sit on the counter (or on a baking tray, covered with a teatowel) until their twice their original size (this might take a while, be patient!).IMG_8351.JPG

Then put them upside down into the cooking oil (again at 180°C), cover the pot with a lid and let them cook for 3 minutes (placing the lid on top of the pot is very important as it keeps the steam inside the pot and enhances the volume of your Berliner). Use a slotted spoon to turn them upside down and let them cook for another 3 minutes. Take out and dip them in a mix of white sugar and cinnamon. (By the way, the white stripe around the middle is characteristic for this type of baked good and it’s a sign of high quality and the right method of cooking!)

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You can fill them with anything you like, using a thin nozzle on your pastry bag and your favourite marmalade, jam or pudding. I used vanilla pudding mixed with eggnogg but this also works with Baileys or any other liquor you like. Some people also cut them open like you would a bun, and spread Nutella on one half before putting the two halves back together. Get creative! Once you have them filled, dust them with powdered sugar and impress your guests (or your family or simply yourself) with traditional German Berliner/Krapfen. Enjoy!

P.S.: No, Kennedy wasn’t talking about these delicious things when he famously said “Ich bin ein Berliner!“. He really meant “I am a person from Berlin”, not “I am a German carnival doughnut”. Famous words…

2012 in books

When the world didn’t come to an end (12/12/12, remember?), I made a promise to you guys to show you my favourite reads of the past year.

And, quick look on the calendar – EEK! It’s February already and I still haven’t shared my favourite books with you. That’s shoking!

So without any further a-do, here they are: my five favourite reads of 2012.

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I read soooo many good books in 2012, so naturally, picking the five best books wasn’t an easy choice. Also, if I had to decide on  THE best, I wouldn’t be able to tell you which one it was. They were all really good, each in it’s very unique way, all 3475 of them. (Just kidding, I made that one up. Honestly, I didn’t count, but there was always something good to read…)

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This one, “Traumsplitter” is actually written by a German author, Tanja Heitmann, and unfortunately I’m not sure if translations into English or other languages actually exist, but if you speak German, I can strongly recommend this one to you. It’s the story of a young woman who has lived in Australia most of her life. When she turns 23 she decides to go back to the little village in North Germany, where the family originated from. She wants to refurbish her auntie’s mansion and gets help from a rather good-looking guy she is immediately attracted to. What she doesn’t know is that he has the ability to infiltrate her dreams. He walks right into her dreams at night – and this is when the story developes into a fast-paced mystery thriller.

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“Tote Paten küssen besser” or “Don of the Dead” by Casey Daniels is another book that plays with mysterious, paranormal elements, when Pepper Martin – an ex-rich girl with no work experience whatsoever – is forced to take on a job as a tour guide on the local cementery where she bumps into the ghost of a mafia boss who died thirty-odd years ago. Get ready for a turbulent, funny and surprising story.

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“Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares” – in German “Dash & Lilys Winterwunder” (which translates into “Dash & Lily’s winter wonder” which is also quite suitable, actually) – is my all-time favourite Christmas book. I never enjoyed seasonal-themed books much because I usually want to read the storys all year round and then get annoyed when lying at the pool, reading about snow and ice in December. But this book by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan changed everything. It’s about a girl (Lily) who leaves a notebook with instructions to the finder at her favourite bookstore. A boy (Dash) finds the book, follows the instructions and decided to start a game, writing down his instructions to Lily. The book goes back and forth between the two of them and every time the book changes it location, the main characters explore another part of New York City at Christmas time. Amazing. Simply amazing.

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This might as well be one of the very best books I have read in a while. Top of the range. The icing on the cake, the cherry on top of the cupcake, the edible gold glitter on top of the torte. “Nachricht von dir” (original: “L‘appel de l‘ange”; englisch: “Call by an angel”) by French author Guillaume Musso is the best deal you can get, so to speak. It has everything. An intriguing start when two people (who don’t seem to like each other when they first meet) accidentally swap their cellphones when bumping into each other at a busy airport. Madeline is back in Paris, France, Jonathan at home in San Francisco, US, when they realise what happened. And this is when the story quickly turns from what could be a really cheesy love story into a breath-taking, suspense-packed criminal novel. Think about this: what if a stranger gains insight into your best-kept secrets? What if he/she gains access to your best-hidden documents? One word: brilliant.

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This little beauty – a signed copy of “Cut & Run” – is one I manage to get my hands on at the Frankfurt Book Fair in autumn last year. Alix Bosco is actually the pseudonym of Kiwi writer Greg McGee – just in case you wondered about the two autographs. This is another great criminal novel (you know, I just love thrilling reads). To be honest, even if it were a shitty book I’d probably love it, simply for the fact that the story is set in New Zealand. Luckily, it has not only a beautiful setting, but also a brilliant story line, so if you’re looking for another extraordinary novel, this could be it.

Well, I guess those were my five favourite reads of 2012 and I hope you enjoyed the brief over-view I tried to give you. I realise these were no proper reviews but writing reviews wasn’t what I had planned anyway because reviews only make sense to me if you’re talking about a brand-new book. Anway, I always look for new reading material and I would love to read about some of your favourite books (of the last year, the last month, the last weekend…) below!