A Guide To Being Hungover

As you might be able to guess from the title, this is going to be a post about being hungover, because frankly, I am just very very hungover on this wonderful morning.

Usually when this happens I just sink into bed and sleep for a day or two. Unfortunately I have a driving lesson today (in about three hours…), so that is not really an option. On the other hand, I have had some very very productive days after nights of very very heavy drinking.

So, today, I will have to create that atmosphere of wellbeing and sunshine and lollipops. Please feel welcomed to accompany me on this journey.

Let’s first recount the events of last night and the events that are meant to be happening today: I have that sometimes quite comforting habit of memory loss. As soon as I have more than two glasses of wine, I can’t count on being able to remember anything that happens afterwards. Bad choices, therefore, are often just forgotten. On the other hand, it can be quite unnerving. Today it proved to be the latter. My memory skips about five hours and continues with me walking in the middle of nowhere, whilst crying “I just want to go home”.

Getting home, then, proved a full-grown odyssey. I had no idea where I was, the battery of my phone was dying and I was so, so cold. I finally fell into bed at 7 am after a series of walking in circles, taking busses that took me even further away and smoking as a way to guard me against the cold (it does not work, believe me).

Now, let’s face today. I’ll have to get through my driving lesson alive. Also, I have no idea where my bike is. Gonna have to do a bit of a search. I just hope it is still somewhere near a place that I can remember being at. Given how far away I found myself when I regained consciousness (that’s probably not the right word), I might have to face the fact that my beloved bicycle is infinitely lost.

Oh, and (last but definitely not least), I have a Skype interview at seven tonight. As a lovely add-on, my internet is once again not working, so I’ll have to go find a quit secluded spot at the library to skype at. Ugh.

Now, here are my seven steps to sobering up and dealing the next few hours:

  1. Drink 3 litres of tea. Drink it hot and drink it fast. As I’m sure you know, symptoms of a hangover are usually related to dehydration. The best choice of tea is German, of course, as all the things connected to what you do before, while and after drinking very very much: Ostfriesen-Tea. It’s a really strong black tea and, handily, you can buy teabags that make a whole litre of tea. After these three litres, other drinks might be considered: Hot chocolate, coffee, you name it. If you’re not much of a tea person, I recommend drinking 3 litres of iced water.
  2. I recommend a traditional Northern German dish: Labskaus. I will not elaborate on what this is (google it if you must), because it is one of those dishes like taramasalata: So yum, but better if you don’t think too much about what it is in particular. Otherwise, of course, any other hearty, easy to make and easy to eat meal is fine (soup is the logical choice).
  3. There is nothing better to distract you from how everything is spinning and the disgusting taste in your mouth than well-beloved comedy. The better you know it, the better a choice it is. Make sure you always have a boxset around.
  4. Check your phone. After a period of charging, it is the time to set your affairs straight. If you have the habit of drunk-texting, now is the time to send those awkward but necessary follow-up messages, any apologies should be made as soon as possible. Also, I usually have friends with better memories that can help me re-establish the previous night.
  5. Search for things. The sooner you find them the better: you won’t have to worry anymore and the longer the wait, the higher the risk you will find your possessions damaged or not at all. This is especially true for contact lenses.
  6. Brush your teeth, have a shower, clean up vomit if necessary.
  7. Go for a walk. Well, right now I can’t really walk because I dragged myself through the landscape last night, but if I could, I’d go for a walk. Fresh air is a miracle when it comes to the consequences of extensive liquor consumption.

I gotta be off then, people, I’ll get started on that third litre of tea.

B x

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Leon, oh Leon…

Featuring today: The best ever cookbook(s) I have come across so far in my life. Woohoo!

We all eat. It is a necessity, yet it can also be a source of a lot of problems and issues. We eat too much or too little, we spend too much money on food, we don’t eat healthy enough, we don’t know how to cook, we never have the time and energy to cook, and then if we cook we always cook too much and don’t know what to do with the leftovers, … the list is bloody long. And we haven’t even started on actual eating issues.

Of course, now to expect a cookbook to solve all these problems would be foolish, but it can certainly help. More with the problems I mentioned earlier, but if you consider yourself to have eating issues and you consider to buy a cookbook, you’re certainly on a good way (or not, who knows). Anyway, I have found the ideal cookbook for myself, which helped (and continues to help) me out significantly in my day-to-day life.

Now maybe if I describe to you how and why this is true, you’ll also get to know some of the features of the book(s). As you have already established from the plural in brackets, there is more than one book. Basically, these books are written by some people who run a small chain of fast food restaurants in London. Their business idea was to make and sell fresh and healthy fast food that tastes delicious. So when they were successful with that, they decided to publish some of their tried and tested recipes in a book. And then another. And then another.

So, you now already know that these books help me solve some of my food-related problems: It is fast, fresh, (more or less) healthy and delicious. More importantly though: generally, the books feature quite simple meals. Simple not only in terms of making them, but also in terms of their style. For someone like me, who has the taste buds of a child, a lot of cookbooks are useless, because the meals they feature are waaay to fancy. Especially when people think that they should combine fruit with a savoury meal, they have lost me entirely. And this doesn’t mean I don’t love food, oh, believe me, I do. And my taste is very varied: I love classic dishes at home, Greek food, Italian food, Asian food, all of that. But rather rustic, please.

Then, the other major problem I have with cooking and eating is the effort. It just takes so much time till something is ready and so little time for me to eat is once it is ready, so why bother. Well, these books are beautiful. Like truly beautiful. And you don’t even have to be a bibliophile to notice it. Every recipe is elaborately illustrated, the entire book benefits from the ingenious graphic design and it is nice to look, even nice to touch. It all looks so delicious and easy to make that walking to the supermarket over the road and preparing a fresh meal feels like so much less of a hassle.

Now, I almost forgot mentioning the name, although you might have gotten that from the title. They are called LEON and so far five big books (one for vegetarian cooking, one for baking, etc., cost about £20 each) and several smaller books (for things like soups, breakfast and stuff, cost about £6 each – also make great presents!) have been published. This is the website, there are also recipes and videos online. I also know that some of the books have been translated into German, so chances are good they will be available in your language too (which might be more convenient with the measurements).

Please go to the bookshop closest too you and look at it yourself, this is not the kind of book you can check out on Amazon (unless you are absolutely certain that you want it and the purchase is just an annoying formality), you have to hold it in your hands.

Also, do share any cookbooks that lighten up your life day after day.

B x

The Miracle That Is Miranda Hart

Today we are completely and utterly off topic. And that has a reason. Yes, of course it is the last day of the year 2014 and we can all reflect and make resolutions and kiss the ones we love at midnight. But that is besides the point. There is a last day of the year every year, there has always been and will always be. Nothing to get too emotional about (although, of course, it is a lovely occasion to get teary and melancholy, but all within reason).

What I am talking about today is much bigger. It is the end of an era. And what an era! It was so filled with joy and fun and embarrassments. Today, my chums (you’ll get this soon, I hope), is the day that the final ever episode of Miranda will air. Now of course, you might not know what ‘Miranda’ is exactly, but you have gathered that it must be some kind of show on TV or the radio. Most likely, you will think “oh no, another one of these crazy TV fanatics, go get a life”, and usually I would wholeheartedly agree with you. Not today though.

Those of you who know the sitcom will know what I mean. It is hardly just a show. It is a lifestyle, and what a lifestyle. Tho those of you who have not seen or heard of such a thing ever: Do not (I repeat – DO NOT) go on YouTube and look for a trailer or a funniest bits kind of thing. Please, gain full access to the first season (maybe stream it online illegally, download it from some kind of cloud, buy/loan/steal the DVD, rent it – how would I know how you roll with these kind of things?) and start watching the first episode.

Now you will likely also end up watching the next episode and the next, but no worries, the worst-case scenario is you watching 14 episodes with a length of 30 minutes, which is a mere 7 hours of your life.

I have found someone who shares my enthusiasm for this British splurge on the distant shores: A lady called Carmen Croghan. She describes very well the appeal of the show, but watch out newbies, there are some huge spoilers. Also interesting: You can watch Miranda on hulu and Acorn TV (whatever that may be – rhyme!!).

So the question still open is ‘Who the f*** is Miranda?’. Well, ‘Miranda’ is the central character, a quirky unique and extremely lovable woman in her thirties dealing with the struggles of everyday life and social awkwardness. ‘Miranda’ is also the first name of Miranda Hart, a hilarious 6ft 1in British comedienne and actress, who, incidentally, portrays Miranda in the show and is also the writer and creator.

So although we will be able to enjoy Miranda Hart and her genius mind frequently in the future (she’s doing stand-up, will be hosting a new edition of the Generation Game plus she landed a role in a Hollywood production starring Jude Law and Melissa McCarthy), this sitcom, which is the perfection of her stage persona and so so funny, entertaining, relateable and so so good, will come to an end after today’s episode (there were three seasons – 6 ingenious episodes each, plus one episode on Christmas day, which left us with an incredible cliffhanger). Such sad times. And such NOT fun. But everything must come to an end (although I prefer Brian May’s stance ‘show must go on’…).

I sincerely hope you will share my love for this microcosm of odd habits and I with you all the best for the next year!

B x

Christmas, Poetry And A Teary Me

Many of you will be celebrating Christmas today or will at least be enjoying the holiday and the free time that comes with it. And as I really don’t want you guys sitting in front of the screen all day (read! eat! spend time with your family! maybe even sing?), this will be my shortest post to date (well, we’ll see about that…).

It also contains my present to you! A poem! YAY (at least this should be your reaction)! I know that people have very different opinions on poetry, but I think it’s like music: you’ll like some, some not, and it is entirely up to you what kind of role it plays in your life. For example, although I do appreciate it, personally I do not read poetry on a regular basis because it makes me feel melancholy and often it makes me cry. Not in a bad way, but it does include tears rolling down my cheeks. Which is a tiny bit annoying, especially if you’re on the bus or in a cafe. But whenever I feel melancholy anyways and I seek the sensation of drops of salty water crisscrossing my face, I grab a book and read some poems (Spanish poetry especially cracks me up, can’t say why).

I stumbled upon this poem randomly (it was featured as the Guardian poem of the week, you can read more about it here) and I liked it. Also it didn’t make me feel too teary.

Louise Glück

A Work of Fiction

As I turned over the last page, after many nights, a wave of sorrow envel-
oped me. Where had they all gone, these people who had seemed so real?
To distract myself, I walked out into the night; instinctively, I lit a cigarette.
In the dark, the cigarette glowed, like a fire lit by a survivor. But who would
see this light, this small dot among the infinite stars? I stood a while in the
dark, the cigarette glowing and growing small, each breath patiently de-
stroying me. How small it was, how brief. Brief, brief, but inside me now,
which the stars could never be.

Hope you like it too, and Merry Christmas and all that!

B x

Why Christmas In Germany Is The Best

As you might or might not know, the main Christmas celebrations in Germany are on Christmas Eve, the 24th aka today. This means that you don’t have to wait as long (perk #1), but even better, it means that Christmas lasts three whole days (perk #2): Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day (which is called Christmas Day II here, which I personally find very amusing). The only downside is that advent calendars here only have 24 little doors, but who wouldn’t happily give up a tiny piece of chocolate for a whole day of presents and food.

So we have now established the theme (which you have already derived from the title…): Christmas in Germany and why it is so good.

Where do I start… Well, I guess what I like so much about the season is that it starts even before December begins. From the end of August onward the supermarkets pile up various Christmas-related treats. My favourite: spekulatius biscuits. They’re amazing and ideal to have with tea or coffee.

Then, as soon as December starts (and sometimes earlier) Christmas time begins. Traditionally you have an advent wrath with four candles, one for each Sunday leading up to Christmas, and you light them one after the other (which means that they are all different lengths by the time it’s Christmas, which is VERY annoying and impractical, but I guess it’s a nice tradition).

Then, on the 6th, it’s St. Nicks and no matter what age you are, you leave small treats in the shoes of those you live with. Which I guess falls under the category “show others how much you appreciate them at Christmas time”. There are various other ways to do that: You can give an advent calendar to your boyfriend/girlfriend, give little parcels of homemade biscuits to your neighbours and, of course, buy or make presents for your friends and family. Also, I always find that writing Christmas cards is a great way to stay in contact with those who don’t live close by.

The bestest thing about Christmas in Germany, though, are the markets. Not only are they extremely festive and pretty and nice, but there is nothing better than drinking hot Glühwein (mulled wine) with a few friends outside in the cold.

Merry Christmas!

B x

P. S. Another thing Germany deserves credit for is the Christmas tree. Yes, this tradition started here and then spread across the globe. Fun fact: It was introduced to the English-speaking world by Queen Victoria’s German spouse.

Mirroring Resolutions, Things I Like And Blogging Over Christmas

My Happiness Project is only about a week old, and yet somehow I have managed to fail every one of my resolutions at least once. I’ve completed the circle yesterday when I broke my promise to blog daily by – you’ve guessed it – not blogging. Oh well. This was pretty much predictable. It’s not like this hurts anyone. But if you’ve thought that I can be distracted from my ambitions this quickly, you’re wrong: I’ll make all of this work somehow.

A major helper is an aspect of wordpress.com that I only discovered today (I’m new, okay, cut me some slag!): Scheduling posts. This simple feature will go a long way for me trying to keep my promises to myself. I can simply write posts in advance. Especially at this time of year this is extremely useful: Now that I’m at home over Christmas, I don’t have the time to write daily and it will probably be that way until the 6th or 7th of January, when I return to university.

So what I have thought of was this: For this time, I will have two feature categories supplying you with posts. The first one is related to my Happiness Project.  As you might know from this post, I have come up with seven aims of my own. However, as I was reading Rubin’s book, I constantly felt that I should make a not, that I might be missing something essential, like the resolutions that could bring me happiness were just slipping through my fingers (like the ABBA song but in a different context). So I’ve gone back through her aims and resolutions (there are so many!) and I’ve chosen seven that also make sense for me to adapt. Of course, that means that I now have 14 resolutions to think about and keep track of, so I’ll have to make a new track sheet… Which I’ll do right after writing this post, I promise.

That’s that. But if you’re a careful reader you’ll recall that I was talking about two new categories, and indeed I was. The second one is remotely connected to the idea of Christmas. I am not religious, but I love Christmas. What I like most is the idea of sharing. You share your precious time with the other members of your family, no matter how annoying they might be. You share presents of course, and loads of food. This is also the time of year when many people that are otherwise absorbed in their own worries remember to share with those who aren’t as lucky as they are. I don’t have a lot of money to give to charities and I don’t cook very well, but giving presents is a passion of mine. I love to share things that I love. And this is going to be the second category: Me sharing things with you, whoever you might be.

There we are: Enjoy the posts, Merry Christmas, and I’ll return to live-blogging at the beginning of the next year!

B x