January 7, 2015

Going to Vienna and having no clue

I'll start this brand, spanking New Year by hopping on a plan and travel to Vienna later this month. My list of places, I want to go to, is long. Like a mile and then some. Vienna has been on that list for quite some time, but I made up my mind, that I want to see this beautiful city in Winter.
When I heard that my friend Ania, The New Diplomat's Wife, returned to her old stomping ground for some weeks, I jumped on that chance to spend some time with her and also scratch Vienna of that travel list.

It shouldn't come us a surprise, that I already booked my theatre ticket and I can't hardly contain my excitement about that. I also have extensive plans to eat my way through the Kaffeehäuser there. Cake and desserts galore. But that is about it. Therefore I'm asking you for help.

Have you been to Vienna? Do you have some must do tips for me? Maybe you have written a blog post I can check out? Help a girl out, please.

January 2, 2015

Designing my 2015

Happy New Year! Here's to a wonderful new year filled with health, laughter and lots of love. Lots of it!
Do you recall the scene in the first, and in my opinion the best, Bridget Jones movie, in which she sits on her apartment floor, after a booze filled New Years party and a horrible rendition of "All by myself"? Bridget and I have something in common. Not only are we both horrible singers, but we both started a new calender/diary on New Years Day.
I really love new calenders. It's fun to fill in the birthdays of friends and loved ones first, followed by special events and planed travels. Usually I use a weekly planer. I also have lots of to do list flying around or notes written on post its which stick to my desk or to my computer. But this year, I invested into an "all-in-one". It's not just a calender, but the Day Designer by Whitney English
It's quite a thick, big daily planer, that is something you keep on your desk, rather than your purse. However you can also by a mini version of it. But it is so much more than just a planer. The Day Designer starts with some thought provoking questions that I need to ask myself. About my family, career or financial goals. 
I'm really looking forward to work with the strategic brand plan. I truly believe that if you write things down, they become more real. Sometimes you need to think things through to see where it will lead you. This brand plan does exactly that! You need to think through your ideas, your values as well as your strengths and skills. 
The calender day itself is also different than any other calender I have ever owned. Of course, there is the regular schedule, that starts at 5am. A little early for me. But it also includes space for my to do list, with an opportunity to highlight the top three things that need to get done today. It really feels like you accomplish things, when you get to check these off. Sometimes I write things on my to do list that I have done already, so I can scratch them off! There is also space to plan dinner and to note what is due.
I like that this planer will change over the course of the year. That the more I work with it, the clearer things will become for me and my future on so many levels. At least that is my hope.

December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014. Hello 2015.

Here we go again. A year has past and I can't deny that I get a little melancholic. Mostly about things that I haven't done.
Oh, 2014, you were mediocre. Not great, but not aweful either. The most important things in life, such as health and love stayed pretty much untouched. For the past years I have had the feeling, that I work towards something. That I have to lay the concrete first, in order to built a project on it. It finally feels like the concrete is down and has dried and strong enough to carry projects. Some decisions have been made already and the first steps have been taken. I start this new year with a blank book. I don't feel I carry any unfinished business into 2015. So what could be better than a blank book, with pages to fill?

Maybe I needed 2014 to be mediocre, since 2013 certainly wasn't fun. I haven't had a resolution list in a long time and if I had one things like losing weight (even though I should), doing more sports (I doubt this will happen) or stop smoking ( I never smoked once) would never be on it. But this time there is a small list. I have learnt that I can only change things, when I acknowledge them. I need to stop planing the year in big steps and only from a business stand point. My personal life was kind of neglected, at least it feels like that. I start with the New Year, plan to April/May when The Hive - a gathering of digital storytellers, tastemakers & blogger takes place. Plan to my birthday in August, wait till after the summer and I get going with The Hive again and then it is already the end of the year. Not in 2015! I learned my lessons and I'm ready to do things differently in this new year. Stopping and smelling the flowers will be one of those things.

So, 2015. Let's do this thing, I'm grabbing you by the horns.

This photo below is me as a foreign exchange student in 1994/1995. We celebrated at a roller skating ring. I was 16 years old. I was clearly a fan of hair spray.

Happy New Year!
I wish you good health, lots of luck and even more love.

December 25, 2014

The Christmas market

Merry Christmas everybody. I'm waking up out of my food coma and with that, I want to share my last Christmas post for this year.
Often, when I meet someone, who isn't German but has visited Germany, I hear just how much they enjoyed the Christmas markets. Especially at this time of the year. And it is true, we are pretty spoilt with them. While Christmas shopping in crowded and overheated stores is certainly not my favorite thing to do, going to the Christmas markets after shopping or instead of shopping surely is. Did you know that the oldest market goes back to 1384? The main market is usually right in the city center, like the one in Hamburg. We didn't have any luck with snow this year. Quite the contrary, as it has been raining all day, every day for the past weeks. Not that this stops us from having some mulled wine though.

And let's not forget the food! I love me some bratwurst, sugar almonds, gingerbread and mushrooms. But also fish, potato fritters, chestnuts and chocolate covered fruits. I'm pretty much eating my way from one end of the market to the other.

As always, the Christmas markets close on December 24th. But I'm already missing the smell of mullet wine and the food. That's a big part of Christmas, no?

December 19, 2014

Writing Holiday cards. An idiots guide.

One would think that writing Holiday cards would be easy pickins and certainly doesn't require a ten step guide. And you would be right. But this is an idiots guide for writing cards and when I say idiot, I'm talking about myself. I really need to remind myself of these steps, when I finally get my act together and send some cards to my loved ones.
Here is my check list:

1. Buy Christmas cards.
It all starts here. Each year I plan to buy some cards. Sometimes I even kid myself and think I could diy some great ones. That never works out. I also go into a store more than once, just to look at the cards and thinking: Yes, these might be it! Which brings me to no. 2.

2. Start early.
The fact that I write this post on Dec. 19th, tells you that I dropped the ball here (again). Usually I have plans to cozy up somewhere nice, with some coffee and write my cards. Every once in a while that "somewhere nice" is actually the post office itself. Last minute. Don't be like me. Start early.

3. Check the pen, you plan to use.
It has happen to me, that the pen I use runs out of ink or smudges. Then you have to use another one and it just doesn't look nice anymore. So what do you do? You rip the card up and need to start over. With one card short now and you are thinking about who won't be getting a card this year.

4. Wash your hands.
Another one of those things that should be clear.  Learn from my mistakes.

5. Check the names.
A little smudge here and there could be overlooked. But nothing is so embarrassing as a misspelled name. Sarah or Sara? Hannah or Hanna? Hailey or Hayley?

6. Holiday card = Holiday stamps.
A regular stamp will do, of course. But if you make it till here, let's go the extra mile.

7. Have the addresses ready.
Having to ask family and friends: "what's your address again?" especially while writing the cards will very likely result in not sending them at all. If you have to wait for an answer finishing them might slip down on your to do list. Or fall off completely. Been there, done that!

8. Keep them clean and dry until no. 10
You finally wrote the cards and now they have to be kept save until you send them off. On the bottom of my handbag you find cookie crumbs, small change and old receipts. I just throw stuff in it. Right on those clean cards. Which won't be clean anymore. I have blamed the post man before for the look. Sorry post man.

9. Don't forget Santa.
There are a bunch of addresses in various countries to where you can send cards and wishlists. We all know, that those are just sub post offices, that collect all the mail and then set it to the secret address of Santa. Of course, his address is secret, he doesn't want people showing up at his door unannounced, naturally.

10. Send them off!
This is the point, where I'm very likely to fall off the wagon. I would be embarrassed to tell you how many times I went through all the points above, just to forget the cards in my handbag or that they are buried somewhere on my desk and never make it into the mailbox. But not this year!

Please tell me, that I'm not the only one that needs a list like this! Please?!

October 27, 2014

Luxemburg, Anne and her book

It's like this: When you start out with blogs, you likely read the big ones with a big following. From there you find your own interests or that match your personal life the best.
It was like that for me. For you, too?
When we founded and organized the very first The Hive, we invited those bloggers that we always wanted to meet. So I invited Anne to The Hive. I can't recall how I stumpled upon her blog and even though I'm far from being a food blogger I came back to her blog time and again. I wrote her a long email in which I told her, that I had been a silent reader for quite some time and that I really enjoyed her blog. I ended my mail with an invitation to come to Berlin in May 2012 and give a food photography workshop. When Anne answered my mail, telling me she would love to come, I jumped up and down in my appartment.
I met her during the pre The Hive meeting with all speakers and we got along just perfectly! Since that day, we have become closer and can truely call each other friends.

So I have seen Anne blog evolve into her own brand and I have cheered her on, when she recently travelled Europe to film a new season for her show and create the content for her second cookbook. This cookbook was published in her native Luxemburg last week and I wanted to be there.

In the name of friendship I travelled from Hamburg via Copenhagen to Luxemburg. I'm not that good in geography, but isn't that a silly route to take? If you follow me on Instagram, you know what very small plane took me from Copenhagen to Luxemburg.
Motion sickness has become worse with age and to make a very uncomfortable story short, I haven't been so sick in quite some time.

But Luxemburg people, now that is some fantasy country. The travel route has me convinced. The language does the rest and for me, a royalista, the royal family is the icing on the fantasy cake.

Anne presented her book in the cutest little booth. Pardon the photo quality, I forgot my camera at home and needed to rely on my phone.

Yes, there was sangria. Annes sister and I enjoyed that quite a lot. Topped of with champagne, later with the family, we got quite light headed.
Anne signed for two hours book after book. Some people bought 3-4 books at once. Christmas shopping sorted! Before the signing we walked around a little and Anne was stopped by two older ladies who asked: "Annes's kitchen?". People waited patently in line: young and older folks, kids, dogs, you name it.
It was so great seeing how people love her and are thrilled to see her. I'm not surprised they do, though. If you ever run into Anne, you will see that she is one of the kindest, most welcoming and most positive people you are ever going to meet. There is rarely a moment she doesn't smile. I fall for people, who enjoy the nicer things in life, not only food, and Anne is one of them. That's why she is so successful. I'm so glad that the people of Luxemburg know, what a wonderful gem comes out of their midst. And I'm so glad I have that gem as my friend.

Muah to you, Anne. I will be there for more important days in your life, for sure!

June 24, 2014

This ones for you, Summer!

The first day of summer has come.
One of the few sights of Summer, in my city, is this painted sheet metal above, that is built around a construction site. It screams holidays at the Amalfi coast or somewhere in Greece. I love summer in the city and actually don't have to leave. Not that I say no to a trip. 

Unfortunantelly in my neck of the woods Summer is long overdue. When I take Superdog outside, I'm wearing a scarf these days. A scarf!

During the summer time feet are supposed to be dirty from walking on grass, fingers are sticky from eating watermelons, tan lines on shoulders and shaking sand out of shoes. Getting caught up in summer rain, that passes as quickly as it came and feels oh, so good on bare skin. The sun should have people out of bed early and the long warm evenings, should keep them out of bed until very late at night. The smell of sun tan lotion and grilled food should fill noses. Ice cream should be breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ice cream is considered a snack, too, you know?! Summer also exposes tattoos on arms, backs and calves, even though some should stay hidden. Thanks to the sun, freckles appear on noses, which personally I find charming on people.
Life happens outside during the summertime: in parks, at beaches, in pools. Music blasting out of convertibles at red traffic lights. Flirting is easy, as it should be. During all seasons. All interaction between people has an easieness about it. Lots of smiles. 
Summer is a drive in movie theater, that I so desperatly want to go to. Sitting in the back seat with that special someone as you move closer to one another while a movie, preferably an old one, is enjoyed on the big screen. They are dissapearing and are replaced with movies in the park. Lounging on blankets, while sharing good food and a bottle of wine is a good alternative, though.
Summer means sun glasses. I keep losing mine over and over during the year. So often, that I haven't owned a pair longer than two weeks. 
Summer also means my birthday. My birthday is still some weeks away. However, I would hate to wear jacket and scarf on that day, too!

Summer, I'm ready for you.

May 27, 2014

A different look at The Hive 2014

There was a time when I thought bringing The Hive to Copenhagen must have been one of the silliest ideas I ever had. I'm going to be honest, there was also a time, I thought I just cancel The Hive 2014 all together. But after some cake and chocolate (and I'm not kidding) these thoughts were gone and made room for the "Let's do it" mentality.  

And where did this mentality lead me to? To the best The Hive ever! That's where!

The Scandic Sydhavnen has been the most perfect location for us. Offering a conference wing, where we wouldn't disturb the other hotel guests, setting up everything the way we wanted to and most importantly having all conference rooms on the same floor, without having to run all over the place in order to find the right speaker.
Together with great food (hello Jamie Oliver!) and a helpful team of Scandic employees and my volonteers made for very smooth sailing. I couldn't have asked for more.
As a matter of fact I was waiting for the storm on Saturday. But that one never came. All the hard work of so many people came together and the puzzle was complete.
Don't get me wrong, there is always room for improvement, but if you had been at The Hive last year, you know exactly what I'm speaking about.

I like to believe The Hive is different than other conferences. It is about making the blogger better and in turn make the blog better. That is why we also offer workshops like calligraphy!  Jump starting thoughts, challening to try new things, networking and meeting so many bloggers offline, that you had followed on various online channels or being honest, that's what The Hive should be all about.
You can also hear that in the wonderful presentations we had this year. It was all about being open, honest, vulnerable. Not the touchy-feely kind of conference, but also not the kind where we are judgemental.

"I was actually very nervous about coming to The Hive this year. It took a whole day for me to relax enough to enjoy the conference after being at The Hive last year in Berlin".
Those were the words of a German attendee at this years The Hive in Copenhagen.
And I know exactly what she was taking about. This year has been a lot like the first The Hive in 2012. People were curious, open, kind, asked questions and were interested.

Last year was a different story. People were judgemental, looking up and down on people with a smaller following, very clique-y (as someone put it), but most importantly not kind. These people were a reason not to travel to Copenhagen this year. The attendees who had this happening told me that.
The atmosphere was everything but relaxed. I will work very hard in this year to make sure a the same wonderful, thriving and encouraging atmosphere will be in Berlin 2015.

Organizing The Hive this year in Copenhagen has been the most difficult project, but also the most rewarding one. My friends had to listening to my concerns more than once.
The fact that The Hive 2013 in Berlin didn't go down as smooth as I wanted it, which isn't a secret, also added to my nervousness. There had been last minute cancellations, which I had to cover, combined with some other worries. Personally and professionally.
But there have also been so many people who have been a neverending source of ideas, input and also a lot of help. These wonderful people got me in contact with other people, picked things up, shared their thoughts, jumped in when a speaker had cancelled on very short notice (I'm talking 72 hours short notice) or simply listened to me. 

I said it once. I say it again. Thank you each and every one of you! For helping, for networking, for speaking and for coming. 

Will I see you in 2015 in Berlin? 

March 17, 2014

And then there was the French guy who kissed my hair {in Paris}

There is hardly a trip I have been on, without some kind of outrages, funny story that make my friends shake their head. But when I told people, what had happened to me in Paris with Philippe, they were staring at me with open mouths and then rolled on the floor laughing.

So who is Philippe, you ask? While I walked through Jardin des Tuileries a man came up next to me and spoke French. Now, my French is so aweful and I was so suprised that I didn't understand a word he said to me. He was quick in switching over to English. We started chatting and he walked with me through the beautiful gardens. We were quick in exchanging names and I also mentioned that this is my first time in Paris and I'm only staying a few days. I talk a lot. 

In one part of the Tuileries you find concrete blocks with hands on them. In various sizes and shapes. On one block is a tiny baby hand, which I find quite disturbing, to be honest. After hearing I had never seen these hands before, Philippe directed me to them. I asked him some questions, why these hands were displayed. He didn't know, he said. I asked him, to make something up. He did comply with my request and I regretted ever asking him. 
Not only did he make up a story to each set of hands, but he reenacted the scene by holding on to mine. That was as weird as it sounds. I was a little uncomfortable about this, but I also thought to myself: let's roll with it.
Our conversation had been pleasant up to this point, which was a reason I didn't run for the hills, when he held onto my hands just a tad to long.

I had planed to walk through the gardens, over Champs-Élysées and up to Arc de Triomphe which you can see in the distance while the Louvre is right behind you. Every major sight is in walking distance in Paris. Philippe walked with me some more. We talked some more. 
I got to hear I have beautiful eyes and that I neither sound nor look German. Whatever that means. He also told me he wants to see me again and if I had some time for coffee in the next days. During our walk he had tried to take my hands again or linked his arms with me. When we arrived up at the Arc de Triomphe, my French companion, informed me that he would need to take the metro to go home. Which was just fine with me. He assured me one more time, that he really wanted to see me again and handed me his phone number. 

He leaned in and I thought he would say his good byes the French way. Well, I was in for a surprise. Philippe was a head an a half taller than me. Instead of giving me small pecks on my cheeks, he gave me a hug and didn't let go again. Quite the contrary, he kissed my hair over and over, while mumbleing something to the tune of: you give what you can, I give you what I can. Less than two hours after we met! Ahm, no thank you!
He finally let go of me and walked to the metro. I was left puzzled right there on Champs-Élysées. Thinking, I would never see this guy again.

But the story is not over just yet. Bear with me here. 

The next afternoon I made my way to the Louvre and walked again through the Tuileries. Who, do you think, was standing pretty much at the same spot, where he chatted me up the day before?
You guessed it!
I proceeded to walk quickly towards the Louvre, but Philippe started one more attempt and asked me to slow down. I told him that my friends were waiting for me and that I was late and needed to hurry up. Needless to say, I don' have any plans to contact him.
I have to believe that this guy spends his day walking up and down the garden, hoping to get lucky.

There you have it. My Paris story about a French guy who kissed my hair on Champs-Élysées. 

March 11, 2014

I fell in love {with Paris} Part 1

My very close and dear friend S. has been to Paris more than once and she kept telling me that this is her favorite European city. That Paris was so beautiful and she wants to return over and over again. 
I usually nodded and told her inattentively "yes, you might be right, Stockholm is nice too or Vienna" or I said "One day I might make it to Paris".

One day came a few weeks ago. I had to work in Paris, but mostly went there to play. I had some appointments to keep, but my days were spend just wandering through this city.
I only had three days and since this was my first time there I stuck with the classic sightseeing.

Love is all around in Paris. Maybe it is a clichée, that I wanted to read into this place, maybe it was all the loved up couples. But the signs of love are all over Paris. 
I assumed that there would be bridges with love locks. These can be found in all major cities and close to major sights, it seems. I had no idea just how many would be on the bridges right next to Notre Dame. Rows and rows of locks from all over the world. Some people obviously came prepared, knowing well they would attach a lock onto the bridge to make their love visible. Their locks were engraved with names and/or dates. Others probably bought a lock from one of the many vendors, that can be found on the bridges that sell them overpriced. Not to mention that the permanent maker is available too, equally overpriced. 

I can't imagine that, once you have attached your lock, you will ever find it again. But it is the thought that counts, no?

But there are more love signs in Paris. Did you know about the "Love Wall"? 
It is a wall in Montmatre at the Place des Abbesses. On it you can find "I love you" written in many languages. Even in sign language. 

After a meeting with some time to kill untill dinner with bloggers, I decided to go up to Montmatre and look around there. The weather was glorious. After climbing many, many, many stairs and finally getting my breath back, realizing that I really got to do something about my shape, I found myself on the stair of Sacre Coer overlooking Paris. 

And it was while sitting on the stairs of Sacre Coer and soaking up the sights and sounds around me, that I texted my dear friend S. appologizing to her for not taken her words seriously. Because she was right all along. She also said I should try eating clams. I did stay away from that, though. I'm sorry for ever doubting you, S.! I'll never do it again. 

Paris is so wonderful and gorgeous. It just does things to you. You walk around this city like a smiling idiot. You order cafe au lait and eat macarons. Actually you eat your way through all the various baked goods. You convince yourself that your French is nearly perfect, just because you remembered some words from your school days, that are more than a decade ago. Your daydreams even go so far, that you have visions of an appartment with wood floors and shutters. You open them each day to the sight of the very impressive Eiffel Tower while sipping more cafe au lait and the smell of freshly baked bread, from the bakery on the ground floor, comes through the open windows.
Oh, yes, I did it all.