oh bali.

Feb 28, 2012
Last year around this time, I have been travelling the magical island that is Bali. After my mom and I went to live in an Ashram in India, I flew on to Indonesia.
I spent a month on the Island of the Gods and is has been one of the best experiences of my life. Most mornings, I woke up before 6am to enjoy an early morning surf session with incredible sunrise views. I basically lived on fresh fruit and vegetables (if I wasn't eating delicious vegan cake; see below), which were available in abundance everywhere. I was river rafting wild waters with new friends, took boats to remote islands and felt earthquakes quivering beneath my feet. I danced barefoot in the wet grass, danced in the moonlight on the beach and lost my camera to the Indian ocean. I met talented artists and inspiring folks from all around the world. It was a time I will never forget and cherish forever.

Until next time Bali.

vanilla mango lassi.

Feb 26, 2012
Yesterday, was the first sunny day in god knows how long. It was warm and bright.The birds were out and about chirping, singing and dancing. It was so lovely to feel the warm sun on my skin again. So lovely indeed, I think spring fever hit me, because I ended up buying a mango at the market. In February.
So instead of baking a Sunday cake, I made sweet Vanilla Mango Lassi. Perfect for glorying in the first warming rays of sunshine, dreaming of soft breezes, flowers and spring.

Vanilla Mango Lassi
serves 4 people

1 vanilla bean
1 ripe mango
300 ml yogurt
500 ml water
agave syrup

Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean and blend together with yogurt, water and mango. Sweeten to taste with agave syrup. Transfer Lassi to a pitcher and put in the scraped out vanilla bean. It will release more flavor. You can also use bananas or oranges instead of mango. Enjoy!
Happy 1st birthday to Sonntagssüß! Have a look at Pinterest and Nina's blog for more. I raise my Mango Lassi glass to another year of sweetness!

salmon spread.

Feb 25, 2012
Yes, I know. Another spread recipe. I have nothing to say for myself other than: I love brunch. I love bread. I love spreads. They all go hand in hand. 
But really, this is so good. And so easy. Just some smoked salmon and horseradish. Whip it up in the morning while the coffee is brewing and slather it on that fresh baguette from the bakery around the corner. Ready for a lazy weekend breakfast? I sure am.

Salmon Spread
serves 4 people

100g smoked salmon
150g horseradish cream cheese
1 squeeze of lemon juice

In a mixing bowl, add smoked salmon, horseradish cream cheese and lemon juice. You can also use regular cream cheese and add freshly grated horseradish. Blend with an immersion blender and serve.

wayfare magazine.

Feb 24, 2012
via poppytalk
Have you seen this yet? Wayfare Magazine is a new online publication about all things travel. I am in love! I read through it with my mouth open. Beautiful photographs, inspiring stories, creative folks. I feel a new case of wanderlust coming up.

how to: make your ikea dresser look pretty

Feb 23, 2012
Before my last move, I bought this dresser from Ikea. I liked the grey color and the fact that it was solid wood. Not the norm there, as you well know. However, I really hated the dark drawer knobs it came with.  
After weeks and weeks spent on the hunt, I finally found the perfect knobs at the Albert Cuyp market in Amsterdam.

I love the mix of white and blue on the grey wood. It finally looks the way I imagnined it and I couldn't be happier. Such a simple makeover. More adorable drawer knobs can be found here.

pen pals.

Feb 21, 2012

Did you have a pen pal as a kid? I still remember writing letters to one of my best childhood  friends, who moved to the north of Germany when I was 10. I would choose the most colorful paper to write on and my favorite stickers to decorate the envelope. Every time a new letter was in the mailbox, I was so happy and giddy and couldn't wait to read it. Well, that was a very long time ago. I had forgotten how lovely it is to receive a handwritten letter filled with magical little things. Not anymore. I have a new pen pal. Yesterday, I opened the first letter and was it ever a beautiful surprise. I couldn't stop smiling all day long. Thank you Julie (say hi on her sweet blog)! You made my day!
Now, it's my turn and I am already excited about it.
Pen pals are the best.

on my way to work.

Feb 20, 2012
On Saturday mornings, when the sun starts rising, I cross three bridges and go to work in the cutest little café. MEA.
I can honestly say that I love working there. I know most customers by name, my boss and co-workers have become good friends and we have the best homemade cakes. It is lovely and feels like my second home.

we met a year ago today...

Feb 19, 2012
and what a beautiful year it has been.

dancing in the dunes




oatmeal spice cookies.

In all honesty, "Procrastination Cookies", would be a much better name for these cookies. 
Last week, when I was supposed to write on my thesis, all I could think of was, well everything except my thesis. So naturally, I ventured into the kitchen and the result were these spicy, chocolaty oatmeal cookies.
The muse called procrastination has kissed me, and oh- does it taste ever so sweet. Really, I wish all my on-a-whim-baking-adventures would turn out like this one. Then I would open a little bakery with my best friends and be happy and round for the rest of my life. For now though, I'll just make these cookies and be happy and round after I eat half a dozen (true story!)

Oatmeal Spice Cookies
makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1 1/2 cups sugar (half white, half raw cane sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
85 g butter
1 cup oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside. With a hand or standing mixer, beat the soft butter with the sugar until light and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until fully incorporated and creamy.
Pour the wet ingredients to the flour and stir until just combined. Add in oats and chocolate chips and incorporate into the dough. I always like to form a big roll of dough and cut evenly round slices to put on the baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 mins. Leave them on the baking sheet for 1 min, before removing them to cool on a wire rack.
I froze half of the dough roll for the next time I want fresh cookies. Just take them out of the freezer, slice them up and pop 'em in the oven. Done!
P.S: The dough also tastes dangerously good straight from the freezer (mmmm, so good!). 

More sweet things on mat& mi's blog and Pinterest.

spice quintet hot chocolate.

Feb 17, 2012

It is still cold here. Really cold, with fresh snow and all.
I can imagine, many people are already dreaming of spring. In my head, I'm back in India reading Jane Austen in a hammock.
In reality, Father Frost still has his icy claws tightly wrapped around me. All I want these days are warm soups, porridge and hot chocolate. But not just any stale, cocoa powder kind. This spicy and super chocolaty homemade version is so much nicer. It has this creamy, rich, not-too-sweet taste, that you only get from using real chocolate. Just stir a heaping tablespoon in some hot milk and cozy up on the couch with a book and blanket.
In the meantime, Father Frost will finish up his business outside.

Spice Quintet Hot Chocolate

Serves 6-10 depending on the size of your mug and chocolate craving

7 ounces (200g) dark or semi sweet chocolate
125 milliliters milk (soy- and rice milk work great as well!)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground chili
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a double boiler, slowly melt the chocolate.
In the meantime, warm up milk and stir in the spices. Do not let the milk boil.
When the chocolate has melted stir in half of the warmed, spiced milk and stir until fully incorporated. Then add the other half and stir until nice and smooth.
Pour chocolate mixture in a glass and let cool.
To serve, take a spoonful of the chocolate and stir in hot milk.

The chocolate keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

cute boy coming to town.

Feb 16, 2012
Today was a great day.
The sun was shining and the temperature above 0°C for the first time in weeks. I got great results for the exams I took this semester. I had the best time interviewing a professor from my university for an article. I dog sat the fluffiest puppy with one of my best friends.

 We had coffee and cookies and went shopping for nail polish and velvet pillowcases in mint green.

More often than not, it's the everyday kind of magic, the small things, that make you feel so happy and giddy. Just like knowing, that the boy with the most amazing smile is going to be here next week. I cannot wait.


Feb 15, 2012
Last weekend, I enjoyed a lovely dinner with my friends at a restaurant called Meier. We drank delicious vinho verde, ate amazing food and laughed til our bellies hurt. It was perfect.

I love the nostalgic look of their business card.

red velvet beet soup.

Feb 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day to all who like it. Happy Tuesday to everyone else.
Nothing wrong with a day dedicated to the people you care about. Here, it’s just never really that big a deal.  I just give out free hugs and kisses to all my friends and family, even if they’re trying to escape my smooches. They’ll thank me later. No romantic dinner with my boyfriend either, since he lives 800 km away and all.
For those of you, who are staying in to cook up a nice (Valentine’s) dinner for yourself, friends, and/or lovers, I got a delicious and fast beet soup recipe for you.
 I really lucked out with this one. It was one of those moments in the kitchen, when you just go with the flow and it actually works.

Ok, some people might think there’s nothing more unattractive than beet root. And honestly, until recently, I did too. Bad childhood memories of stinky vegetable stews come to mind. It takes a special kind of magic, to win over a true beet root infidel. This recipe contains all the magic you need to charm the skeptics. Easily prepared, pretty, tasty and light enough for all kinds of (Valentine’s) shenanigans afterwards.

Red Velvet Beet Soup

1 tbsp butter
1 splash olive oil
2 small red onions
1 piece of ginger, thumb sized
1 pack preboiled beets (4-5 beets) if you aren’t in luck, and your grocery store doesn’t carry organic, preboiled, vacuum-packed beets, you have to cook the beets beforehand, or let them simmer in the broth substantially longer, until tender)
1 splash of raspberry vinegar (or any kind of sweet vinegar)
1 bay leaf
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried cilantro (coriander)
vegetable broth 
Crème fraiche and mint to garnish

Ready in 20 min

In a medium-sized sauce pan, put in butter and olive oil to sauté the chopped onions, about 3 minutes, then add the chopped ginger. Add the roughly cubed beets and after a minute deglaze with a splash of sweet vinegar. Put in enough broth, that the beets are well covered. If you need, you can always add more broth later on. Put in the bay leaf, cilantro and cayenne and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Take out the bay leaf, before blending the soup to a nice creamy consistency. Garnish with crème fraiche and few mint leafs.

a year ago today.

Feb 13, 2012
Last year, on this day, I took my mom by the hand and we left behind the darkest winter of our lives.
When we stepped on that plane, all I wanted was to forget the worries, the sadness, the apathy. Who knew what was going to happen? But it could only get better. The one thing I knew, upon arriving at our destination at 4 in the morning: despite the late hour, Chennai was bustling with people of all ages. And it was hot.
A 3 hour taxi ride later, we arrived at, what would be our home for the next couple of weeks; an ashram near Puducherry in southeast India. 
I spent my first days becoming familiar with the new surroundings and the people living there. I read. I talked to the kindest people. I ate delicious food. 
Soon, my days started with an hour of yoga on the rooftop at 6 am, with sounds from the nearby jungle in the background. Often it would drizzle.
I walked, dreamt in the hammock in the cashew forest, had moonlight picnics on the beach. I drove my bike through the village, went to the little café at the beach and ate beautiful fruit salads. There of all places, in that tiny café at the beach, I met someone, who would become one of the most important people in my life.
And the sun. The hot, glowing, yellow sun. 
My time in India didn't change who I was. Much more, it helped me find my old self again. The one, that had been lost in the fog. The one, that had lost its way. The one, that had lost the best Papa possible.
My time in India, put me back on my feet. It put the smile back on my face and the happiness back in my heart.
And I am so grateful for it.
I cannot but be nostalgic about this date, and a big part of me wishes to get on a plane right now.
But things are good here. Really good. Yes, I hate the cold and shamefully, my thesis doesn't write itself. But my family and friends are here and that makes me happier than anything.
I miss him, everyday. But that's ok.

homemade chocolate aka chocolate almond bark.

Feb 12, 2012

This recipe is fabulous, if you need a last minute Valentine's gift for the chocolate lovers in your life (that includes yourself, of course).
I tried to find the English term for "Bruchschokolade" on Google. All it came up with was "broken chocolate", which sounds a bit odd, don't you think? So, for the remainder of the post, I'll go ahead and call it homemade chocolate.
I just love the rustic look of homemade chocolate, broken into big chunks. Besides, it only takes ten minutes to make. That's a winner in my book. Even better, you can go completely nuts with toppings and let your chocolate-creativity run free. You can make your own chocolaterie-display-worthy deliciousness,  for a fraction of the price. Convinced yet? Ok!

Homemade (Broken) Chocolate

200 g of good quality chocolate  (I often use the leftovers from my baking adventures. Great way to use them up!)
Add ins of your choice; think: nuts, dried fruit, coconut flakes, puffed rice...

Put chopped chocolate in the top part of a double broiler and let melt slowly. Around christmas, I love to add some cinnamon and chili at this point. Pour melted chocolate on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Now comes the fun part. Put your favourite nuts, seeds or dried fruit on top. Anything goes!
For this recipe, I used roasted almonds and coarse sea salt.
Let your creation dry on the baking sheet, then roughly brake into smaller pieces. Done!

More Sunday Sweetness over at Katrin's and Pinterest!

dried tomato spread.

Feb 11, 2012
So, for those of you who didn't know, I'm German. More specifically, Bavarian. Even so, most of the German stereotypes do not apply to me...at all.
I'm not very disciplined, I'm almost always late (sorry, lovely friends+family!) and I don't have a thing for cars.
There is one thing about me however, that I consider to be typically German. I LOVE BREAD. And by bread, I mean all of it. Baguettes, white rolls, Pumpernickel, dark rye bread, rice bread, Brezen (=Pretzels), Kipferl, Croissants, potato bread, farmhouse bread...you get the picture.
The good thing is, living in Bavaria you can have all of the above and more, in a matter of minutes. Even the tiny hole-in-the-wall bakery around the corner, carries a great variety of the beast quality. When I lived in England, after 3 weeks I couldn't stand the sight of all that white, texture-less toast. Same thing happened during my year in Chicago. Of course, after some time I scooped out substitutes I was reasonably happy with, but it just couldn't compare. So, I admit it. I'm a bit of a bread snob. Anyway...
Even though I love a simple slice with nothing but a little butter, sometimes it's nice to mix things up. Enter homemade spreads. Just like last week's spread, this recipe is the epitome of fast and easy. It makes for the perfect brunch addition. You can also serve it as a dip at your next party, with some bread sticks and sliced baguette.

Dried Tomato Spread
150 g dried tomatoes
200 g cream cheese
1 tbsp oil from the dried tomatoes
1 small clove garlic, pressed (optional)
50 g Feta cheese (optional)

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl, and blend together with an immersion blender (or food processor). Garnish with fresh parsley or Basil. Done!


how to: make a huge pinboard.*

Feb 10, 2012
In my cave (that's what I lovingly call my mini studio apartment), I don't have too much space. I do however have too many clothes. I keep them in two different wardrobes, and use one of them as a room divider. Now the problem with that, was having to look at the ugly backside of an IKEA PAX 24/7. Yeah, it wasn't pretty.
So, I went to the hardware store and got all the supplies needed for building my own huuuge pinboard. Not only is it pretty and covers the brown backside of the wardrobe, but oh so useful. I put up pictures, poems, little gifts, inspirational photos I rip out of magazines and much more. 

Wanna make your own? Here is how:

You need: 
  •  MDF board (medium-density fiberboard...who knew?), 3mm thick
  • styrofoam
  • fabric of choice
  • styrofoam (stucco) frames
  • paint for the frame
  • glue
  • stapler
Take the measurements of the wardrobe you want to cover. Or choose any size you wish, if you want to hang it on the wall.
Let the nice man in the hardware store, cut a 3mm thin MDF board into your desired shape and size.
Get your styrofoam. I bought for pieces in the same size, each 1cm thick, to completely cover the MDF board.
Superglue the styrofoam pieces on the board and press down.
Let the glue dry, before covering with fabric.
While the glue is drying, measure the frames and cut them, so they fit on the board.
Paint the frames in the colour of your choice. I used a shiny silver paint, that I still had on hand from a table makeover.
Let the frames dry.
Put the fabric over the board and carefully turn it around. The fabric should be big enough, so you can pull it tight on the backside of the board and staple it into place. I used an IKEA bed cover, because a) I loved the print and b) it was big enough to cover the 2m long pinboard. Don't skimp on the staples and make sure it doesn't have any wrinkles in the front.
Superglue the frames on the fabric-covered pinboard and carefully press down. Additionally, you can use thin nails to secure the frame.
Hang up pinboard.
Cover pinboard with favorite letters, cards and pictures.
Admire finished pinboard.

Once you have all your supplies ready, the whole project only takes an afternoon to finish. Less, if you want a smaller pinboard. So I should actually say, huge overhead pinboards take an afternoon to finish.

Let me know, if you have any questions at all.
Happy weekend!

* Sorry for the less than stellar pics. The lighting situation in the cave is really, well cave-like, so a flash was in order.