I WANT TO …

I want to be close to my family – the little I have left

I want to order Kaiser rolls with whichever deli I want

I want to be close to Italy and my favourite city Venice

I want to visit my great-uncle’s theatre plays in Graz

I want to buy yellow and purple toilet paper to go with my yellow and purple towels

I want to buy raclette cheese all year round

I want to buy Kipferl, Zuckerreingerl and Punschkrapfen

I want to eat Schnitzel – a good one – or Cordon bleu or a Schnitzel roll at least once a week

I want to rediscover Vienna, following Inspector Nechyba’s footsteps

I want to breathe good, fresh air … not the weird, sulphuric one or whatever smell drafts into my apartment when the wind is blowing in the wrong direction

I want to live in a city without crazy people wandering the pedestrian streets in the middle of the night yelling unintelligible things

I want to live in a clean city again where people actually know how to use trash cans

I want to live in apartments without those horrid wallpapers everywhere

I want to have snow in winter

I want to go skiing

I want to speak in my dialect without having to adapt to “High German”

I want to use the words I’m used to and not have to think of the German expressions, some of which hardly coming over my lips without shuddering

I want to be close to the last remains of my parents and dead loved ones

I want to enjoy delicious cakes and pastries without the constant addition of heavy cream

I want to swim in real lakes in summer

I want to buy my favourite groceries whenever I want to

I want to go to the furniture store XXXLutz with my aunt and have lunch there, just like we used to in the old days occasionally

I want to go to the movies and not have to endure sweet popcorn, but have the choice of sweet or salty popcorn (salty is the only way to go …)

I want to celebrate Austrian Easter without having tofreeze the meat and sausages for a couple of years, just in case. And buy fresh Easter yeast bread instead of looking for a substitute

I want to be surrounded by my friends, my real social circle

I want to feel safe, knowing that if I need help, I won’t be alone

I want to buy tissue hankies in 100er bulk not just packed in 10 piece packages

I want to know when the traffic light will change from green to orange thanks to the green light blinking a few times

I want to withdraw money from any ATM, not just from the bank conglomerate my bank belongs to

I want to …

I WANT TO GO HOME

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BEST TV SERIES SEEN IN 2022

Well, you should be used to my “Best of” posts by now. And rest assured, there will be other “Best ofs”as well. And since I’m a little short on other, more interesting / more personal scribblings, you will have to suffer through my yearly best and worst of anything I can think of articles. To make it even more boring, my awesome “Best of” list is limited to Netflix. Since A) I don’t have regular TV and B) I also don’t have anything else like Amazon Prime, Sky, Disney, Apple and whatever else is out there … So, here it goes!

1 Gotham: Oh boy, I loved this series. Even though I was sceptical at first because I knew it would be a dark series. Maybe too dark. But I started to enjoy it and its characters very much. Even some of the villains. Penguin is just adorable, no matter what he does. I didn’t like the Joker, though. Too psychotic. Bruce Wayne’s developing nicely and Mr. Pennyworth is just marvellous. Probably my favourite character of all with his British accent, style and awesome (fighting) skills. Jim Gordon is quite complex, trying to do the right thing with buddy Harvey Bullock in contrast. A truly great series.

2 The Arrow / The Flash / Supergirl – Universe: While having watched the Arrow in 2021, I enjoyed the spin-offs very much. Especially since they are “lighter”, funnier, tying in beautifully with each other. I love the crossover episodes most, of course and would have liked to really watch them in a row, jumping from one series to the other.

3 The Lincoln Lawyer: Having read the book ages ago it all came back while watching the series and I enjoyed it very much. What’s more to say about Michael Connelly’s creation? Lawyer Mickey Haller, finally back at work, a thrilling case, LA at its best and hopefully Netflix will adapt the other Haller books as well.

4 The good cop: Sadly, just one season available on Netflix. What’s not to love about Italian crookTony and his stuck-up police son? We all remember Tony Danza on “Who’s the boss?” What fun to watch him walking the tight rope between being a crook and remaining honest.

5 Wednesday: Awesome. Awesome, awesome, awesome. A brilliant young actress portraying the barely moving a face muscle “Addams family” teenage daughter, being shipped off to a new school of others with powers. Twists and turns wherever you look and I would have never guessed who the “monster” was until the very end. For once, a teenage series that didn’t annoy me thanks to annoying – well – teenagers.

6 Bridgerton: Of course, the Bridgertons are on my “Best” list as well. Again. I was a little disappointed at first that the handsome Duke wouldn’t be part of season 2. But since it revolved around the oldest Bridgerton brother, the other characters were only side charactersanyway. Wonderful settings, wardrobe, style and stories. But, and here is the big BUT, Kate was a bit annoying at times.

7 The Crown: well … what can I say. Well-madeagain, but I preferred the early seasons better. Maybe because the Diana drama is still fresh inmy mind and I suffered with them all when their marriage broke up. Thankfully, not everything evolved around the then Prince and Princess of Wales. The Margaret episode was quite lovely, as tragic as it was when one considers that she was not allowed to marry the love of her life. And the Al Fayed background was quite fascinating. Anyway, I dread the coming season with Diana’s tragic accident …

8 The Green Glove Gang: what a refreshing series from our neighbouring country Poland. Three elderly lady burglars hiding out at a retirement home. Being quite reluctant at first, they start to really care about the other residents, which is being reciprocated manifolds. A truly entertaining series!

9 The IT Crowd: I know, I know! Anything but new! But since I never watched it I took the plunge 16 years later and had quite fun with its British sitcom quirkiness.

10 Of course I also followed up on the new and partly final seasons of The Umbrella Academy, The Witcher, Virgin River, Locke & Key, etc.

 

Oh, by the way? Not on Netflix but old-fashioned DVDs, I immensely enjoyed Rowan Atkinson as “Black Adder”. Brilliantly hilarious! Have a great TV year 2023!

IT ALL STARTED …

… with a book. Of course, it had to start with a book. Not so much the first two “Glück” mystery books taking place at the Wörthersee in Carinthia and in Vienna. But then, when I read the third one, where Martin Glück is solving a murder in Graz in Styria … it hit me. With full force. With memories flooding me. The desire to go home. To move back home before it’s too late.

Thinking of the many times I went to Graz to visit my friend, the wonderful time I always spent there, the many shopping trips … I miss it. I miss Austria. I miss my university town where my parents grew up, I miss my friends, my last remaining family, the food, the culture, the snow, the language … especially it’s the little things I miss. Going to the supermarket deli and ordering a Kaiser roll with whatever I want – with deli meat plus cheese plus pickles or tomato or hard-boiled egg or … an unthinkable concept here in Germany. 

And I miss Vienna, the closeness to Italy, skiing, swimming in lakes, Hutter, Gartenrast and Arkadenhof, everything, just everything. I just miss everything.

And I realized there are only two things keeping me here. My job and my special friend. And I also realized that I can’t remain here for another 20 years until retirement. I couldn’t bear it. 

Not too long ago, when I was on my way back from England, changing planes in Amsterdam to get back to Düsseldorf, the sight of an Austrian Airlines plane literally brought tears to my eyes and it took all my will power to not cry my heart out. And it’s not as if I had been unhappy, having just come back from the wonderful CrimeFest in Bristol. Still, seeing the Austrian Airlines plane … deep down my desire to go home is overwhelming and my thoughts are constantly there.

My greatest wish? Remaining in my job, just working from Austria instead of Germany. Basically, it doesn’t matter whether my home office (we’re still mostly working from home and home office is here to stay for our group) is in Germany or Austria. The problem is the tax issue. Which I had hoped could be solved when the take-over by the new company has happened, since the new company has subsidiaries in Austria. But, well, as it seems right now, this won’t be an option at the moment … maybe in a few months, a couple of years, never. So … I don’t have another but start looking for a new job.

What worries me, though? Despite my great desire to go home, how will I ever be able to leave HIM? The guy who has been in my life since 2015. He was there for me during my depression, my search for a partner, my relationship with my now-ex, my move back, rekindling our special friendship. This will be the hardest part … whether there will be a solution for us? I don’t know …

215 BOOKS

I’m disappointed! I’m really disappointed with myself! Compared to 2021 with 309 read books, I only managed 215 books this year. Even though my life has not been that different to 2021, with home office life, more quality time, going to bed early to read … so why, oh why, only so few books? Hm, I guess I have been watching a little more Netflix and DVDs. And often fell asleep early. And I did less after-work afternoon reading. So, there you have it!

However, let me reminisce about some of the English and American authors I read this year – since you won’t be interested in the Austrian and German books I devoured.

1.) Donald Bain: Yep, I’m still working through the Murder, she wrote books I have in my unread book storage. And I still enjoy Jessica Fletcher’s adventures all around the US and the world. Especially with Grand Dame Angela Lansbury’s death in 2022, those novels are even more precious to keep her memory alive. Even though she was a marvel on the stage as well.

2.) S.J. Bennett: The Queen, her Majesty investigates in “The Windsor Knot”. Having bought it a couple of month before the Queen’s demise, I only read it last month and could picture this grand lady residing at Windsor, walking her corgies. My opinion? A compliment to a terrific monarch!

3.) Emily Brightwell: I can hardly believe I only read three of the Mrs Jeffries Victorian mysteries. Where did the year go? Mrs Jeffries, her household and friends helping Inspector Witherspoon solve his cases without him knowing … lovely characters and it was not exactly my intention to only read three in the course of the year. I must still have about 10 of the series left. A joy every time!

4.) Simon Brett and his entertaining series surrounding aristocratic twins Blotto and Twinks(with Twinks being the clever twin). I came across him and his Blotto and Twinks series at CrimeFestand they are hilarious.

5.) Heron Carvic and some more of his quirky brolly-wielding lady Mrs Seeton, who always manages to cause chaos and get the villain in the end, also thanks to her prophetic drawings. What I like least? The time being the 70s. It’s just not my preferred era.

6.) Martin Edwards – who I also met at CrimeFest – and his new series with protagonists Rachel Savernake, heir and Jacob Flint, journalist. A fascinating woman with a fascinating past. I can’t wait for Blackstone Fell and Sepulchre Street to be available.

7.) Tim Glister and his two 60s spy thrillers – also fresh from CrimeFest. I loved them, diving into Cold War London, following Richard Knox. And I just discovered that his third book will be out next May! Yay! It’s already on my booklist, of course it is!

8.) Ann Granger: so many awesome series and I still have the one or other stored in my not-yet-read book shelf, like the Mitchell and Markby series orCampbell and Carter. However, I read most of her Inspector Ben Ross and Lizzie Martin mysteries, back in Victorian times and I love the way she switches writing between Ben’s point of view and Lizzie’s.

9.) T.E. Kinsey: Lady Hardcastle and Flo are on it again. And their latest adventure is already waiting among my Christmas gifts for myself. I also read his two books of his second series featuring the Dizzy Heights – a jazz band – in the 20s, who were introduced in one of the Lady Hardcastle mysteries. They are quite different in style, faster paced. But a great cast of characters and thrilling cases. Sadly, it seems, Tim won’t continue with the Dizzy Heights mysteries. All I can say … I loved reading them as much as I love the Lady Hardcastle mysteries.

10.) Andrea Penrose: Wrexford and Sloane mysteries of Regency London. Apart from the thrilling cases the unusual relationship between Lord Wrexfordand fallen on hard times Charlotte Sloane (and her two “adopted” urchins) with many secrets still to be discovered is quite fascinating and one just wants to read one after another to explore more of them.

11.) G.D. Sanders and his two novels surrounding DI Edina Ogborne, having been transferred to Canterbury Police. I enjoyed them very much – despite not being historical mysteries. Ed is a complex character and apart from her thrilling cases running against time, one likes to be part of her new life and how she will cope. I really hope more Ed books will follow.

12.) MJ Trow: one of the surprises this year. Lestrade– the inspector from the Sherlock Holmes stories – is the main character of this great series. I’ve only read one so far but I liked it very much and had to laugh out loud at times. The next ones are already on my wishlist for future purchases.

 

Of course, with 215 books under my belt this year, there were many other authors I enjoyed immensely: like Mick Finlay and his Victorian Arrowood character, Mark Ellis and DCI Frank Merlin in 40s London (both of whom I also met at CrimeFest), Carola Dunn and Daisy Dalrymple, Carole Lawrence, Lawrence Block, Amy Myers, Dorothy L. Sayers, P.G. Wodehouse, Bob Woodward, … not to mention many Austrian authors – mysteries, non-fiction and biographies.

Many, many books are still waiting for me to be read and every time I have to choose which one to read next is exciting in itself. What will 2023 bring? Which authors will dominate? Apart from the usual suspects? I will have to wait and see! Happy reading, you all!

2022 IS OVER

Where did the year go? I really can’t say! It seems like yesterday as the desire hit me in January to go back to Austria – as soon as possible with the support of my company. And now the year is over and my plans are only moving forward slowly.

Looking back to the past year, it was gone in a flash. With Corona still an issue, home office having become the rule, two great vacations … and lots of waiting. Waiting for our company being taken over and hoping that in the course of this a move back would become easier, doing what I’m doing now, just not from Germany but from Austria. Patience, that was and is required from me. In my heart, I’m already home … with the move and everything involved having been planned in detail, the first furniture having been sold on ebay and lots and lots of banana boxes packed and stacked in closets.

How will I spend this last day of 2022? Comfortably at home, doing what I love to do on the last day of the year. Doing my yearly personal accounting, preparing my lists and folders for the new year, write birthdays and other important dates into my new kitchen calendar – which is always from the same design every year – and as has become a tradition as well, having Raclette in the evening. Classic raclettewith just the Swiss cheese, potatoes and pickles. However, I plan on having “Raclette without Raclette” on the first day of the year. A trial run ofthe way Germans do it. They use everything apart from the Swiss cheese. And for this culinary adventure I bought mozzarella and tomatoes, Dolce Latte (blue cheese) and banana, Cheddar and a hearty soft cheese.

Compared to the other years, however, I have been invited to a classical concert and even though I was a bit reluctant to go at first, I’m looking forward to it now. Especially since it already starts at 4 p.m., leaving the evening to myself – for Raclette and Austrian DVD entertainment. 

Midnight, I will open the mini bottle of sparkling wine, listening to the Stefansdom Pummerin bell thanks toAustrian online radio and the Viennese Danube waltz. Getting a little emotional, hoping and wishing that 2023/2024 I will already be back home! Happy new year!

SILENT NIGHT …

… holy night … and a very merry Christmas to all of you! As usual, I’ve tried to avoid listening to this famous Austrian Christmas song as best I could, even covering my ears with my hands when it was played somewhere. Like the incapable brass players right in front of my bedroom window in early November – yes, early November! Once again, I had to endure some of those horrible wanna-be musicians just because I’m living in a pedestrian street. It seems the worst musicians are assembled in the town I reside in. Like this one guy who is hollering Sinatra’s “New York, New York” ten times in a row. Or the weird Muslim woman screeching whining stuff … euw. Oops, that’s not the topic here, right?

So why? I mean, why do I avoid this song? It’s another family tradition. My mum didn’t want to hear it until Christmas Eve when we were all assembled in front of our Christmas tree and Dad hit PLAY at the cassette deck for it to start. (Yep, later we did have CDs too!) And, as usual, we always became emotional … once, we celebrated in Styria with my aunt, uncle, granny and Aunt Do, my uncle had prepared the wrong side of the cassette and we had to wait until it had been rewound to the correct side … which was quite hilarious and lightened the mood consideringly, since usually some melancholy was not far away.

Today, I will spend the day just like the past two years. Starting the day with a nice breakfast, taking care of the few preparations for my evening fondue and hoping for my special friend to find a few minutes to see me. And just like the past two years I started collecting my Amazon orders early on, so I will be busy with my gifts to myself after my Fondue feast, the crying to “Silent night, holy night” and looking at the real burning candles on my fake tree with my cat. I will probably watch one of the 50s Sisi movies with Romy Schneider while enjoying my gifts and talk to my family on the phone in between. Of course, my tomcat will also receive gifts. From myself and my aunt also ordered me to get something for him, especially wiring money for my cat’s Christmas gift. Which I then immediately ordered from Amazon.

Christmas gifts for my cat? Crazy? Maybe! But that’s another family tradition. Our beloved pets in the family – beagle Xavi (Xavier in his certificate) and cat Schlappi (as a kitten his ears were drooping) – always received gifts at Christmas, Easter and also when we came to visit. Mostly dog and cat treats, and at special occasions they were wrapped just like the gifts for the rest of us. Oh … those happy memories of past Christmases with my family. All gone apart from my mother’s sister … luckily, I still have her and a few other relatives, scattered across Austria. 

Anyway, I intend to enjoy my Christmas holidays and wish you all a great Christmas time!

TWO ROADS DIVERGED IN A WOOD …

… and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. (No, not by me, by great poet Robert Frost!)

I first came across those couple of lines at an English test, where we had to write an essay about what those words could mean. Those words by Robert Frost impressed me so much and described my life so well, even then, in my young adult years, that they stayed with me all those years.

Let’s briefly dissect the lines, shall we? “The road less travelled by”. To me, it represents the more difficult path to take, a life more unusual than the common “married in your twenties, two kids, a dog, a house, two cars”. “And that has made all the difference” … well, of course this could be seen either in a positive or negative way. In my case … it’s both. It made me who I am.

Thinking back to my less than normal life, it probably all started in my middle school days. I just didn’t quite fit in. One example? I didn’t care about the latest fashion – which were to possess ripped jeans and Levis 501s were a must. I never submitted to peer pressure, I wore what I liked and it didn’t matter whether those jeans were no-names or Levis. (And believe me, my parents had enough money to buy me a couple of Levis jeans as well!) And even at that age I already knew very well what’s right or wrong, that one asks for things and not just takes them. Which the girl sitting next to me – when pointing this out to her since she just took whatever she wanted from my pencil case to use – took so badly, that I was subjected to more than 3 years of mobbing. Yeah, school definitely sucked! Luckily, I could soon escape to Styria where my weekend life took place. Going out with friends, having dancing classes … and literally being with people who were already university students and not as silly as my classmates anymore. So, not the usual way to spend one’s teen years.

University … oh boy, I certainly took the difficult path there. Instead of studying something more girl-like, like economics, languages or anything else to become a teacher … I decided to become an engineer. At a university which already had the reputation of hardly being manageable in the minimum study duration. Of course, I didn’t either. It was a difficult time and I came THIS close to giving up … but I didn’t. I fought my way through, studying for horrible subjects with lots of mathematics (so not my thing), very often all alone, because my friends were ahead or behind. My life revolved around my studies and working. Tutoring children. And at the end of the day I was just so happy to be home that I barely went out. And large student parties were not my thing anyway. So, my student years – apart from the very first ones, before I had to earn my living – were not like everyone’s else either. My free time I rather spent with my beloved Aunt Do instead of with fellow students. And I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Well, moving to another country in my mid 30s, alone, to start a new job and life, was not the easiest path either. I could have stayed at university, in the same rut, teaching other students … but I didn’t want that. I wanted to have a real job, earn money and finally enjoy my life without pinching pennies (or cents). And since I had already lost my parents, my home, nothing held me back. So, not common either. Being an orphan at my age, unmarried, single, without kids.

Yeah, I guess I tend to take the path less travelled by all the time. And as difficult as everything is at times … my past and my decisions made me the way I am and I’m glad I’m not one of those boring people stuck in their boring 08/15 lives …

MY FAVOURITE SEASONS

I know what you are saying now: Every season has its perks and beauty. And I agree. But still, there are always seasons one prefers to the others.

Spring: Definitely my favourite one. When the days become longer, everything starts to grow and bloom again, desperate for sprucing up the balcony. Fresh plants, sowing salad and radishes and tomatoes, watching the sprouts become larger day by day. And sitting in the spring sun again as soon as it’s getting warm enough, reading, having coffee or tea and enjoying spring.

Summer: Hate the heat and the humidity. But I immensely enjoy weekend mornings on my balcony, having a leisurely breakfast outside, later enjoying some sun before shutting myself into my apartment, leaving the heat outside … and, of course, harvesting my own produce from my little balcony garden.

I remember being a young girl, the summer days spent at the lake or weekends at our mountain retreat apartment, where we used to barbecue regularly and light a fire in the little oven in the evenings. Haunting the surrounding woods, collecting wood and picking flowers. Summer to me now are those two months after my birthday when I’m one of those working – due to not having kids – hoping for not too high temperatures and enjoying the one or other ice cream sundae outing.

Fall: Oh, I love fall! I love the cooler evenings and the still sunny and warm days. The autumn colours. Still being able to sit outside on the balcony to soak up some sun and have at least coffee or tea, even though it’s already too cold for breakfasts. Fall is also the time I usually take my two-week vacation. Mostly in September, in the hope of still nice weather. October is my “orange” month, putting upsome fall and Halloween decoration. Slowly getting prepared for rainy and foggy November with afternoon teas and my murder mysteries until …

Winter: Snow, I love snow, I love driving in fresh snow, I love skiing. I love the fresh, crisp air. What I don’t love? The short days, needing artificial lights until the late morning, the cold apartment, wondering how long I manage not to switch on the heating. But then … Christmas time is coming and I very much enjoy the festive season, the Christmas markets, the advent Sundays, not in the least stressful for me. January is probably the worst, dull and long. With February and March being happy about the days becoming longer again.

It’s December now, only a couple of weeks away from Christmas and I’m grateful that I’m able to enjoy this season again, because a few years back it was the worst season for me and I hope I will never have to go through that again.

WHY I SPEND EVERY FREE MINUTE READING

It’s an obsession! Always has been! Even though I too had times in my life in which I didn’t devour one book a day …

But my obsession with books and reading is back. For a very simple reason. It distracts me, giving me an escape to another time and place and makes me not think too much. To think about my life and the things I have lost. To think about disappointments. Friends who turn out to not be friends after all. Out of sight, out of their lives. 

Recently I had to deal with a heavy hit and it took me some time to get over it, coming very close to ending this 19-year-long friendship (2003). Just like other friendships I had to end because what’s the point of a friendship if you are the only one taking the effort and making sure the contact remains even though you are far away? When it’s always YOU sending messages or calling? If you ask for help and just receive a derogatory response instead? At one point,you just have to cut your losses and get rid of those people who are not doing you any good anymore. They don’t care anyway. And as sad as it is, giving up year-long and close friendships … especially if times are tough and you are filled with worries, you will realize who your real friends are. Those who won’t drop you!

Reading distracts me from my annoyance about myself when it comes to my former relationship and my being too nice, too generous, too compliant! And I guess it will take some time until my angerdissipates and I will forgive myself for being so stupid. Learning from mistakes is part of life!

Reading also makes me not think about “my first cat” Tristan too much. It’s breaking my heart to know that he was ignored more than being loved and cuddled. Left alone for days, because he’s a “cat”, can go outside and has the bathroom to retreat to … with some food being provided. I dare not think about all that, the way he bumped my head, cuddled up to me… it hurts too much and makes me despise HIM more than I can say. Which is not good for me.

108 books, that’s the whopping number I counted for 2020 – as much as I could retrace the Kindle and Paperback books I read. I suspect it was a bit more. (Which is why I started an extra list for 2021 to get an exact number for the next years to come. Why haven’t I thought about that much earlier? Well, I once had a list which displayed not only the author and title but also where I bought it, the colour of the spine, start and end reading date, … that WAS a bit over the top, I guess …) 108 books in 2020! 309 books in 2021! Whew! But not all too surprising either, I suspect book consumption of most people went up in the past two years. After all, not much could be done during the Corona Pandemic with “staying home” becoming a new way of life. So, yes, I too spent a lot of time at home and enjoyed my escapes into many, many books. Escaping to the Victorian and Edwardian times, 20s and 30s, trying to deduct and guess the murderers in my mysteries.(Which I very rarely manage to do until the very end!) What 2023 will bring? More glorious books to read! More escapes and joy whenever I have finished a book and add them to my constantly expandinglibrary!

Happy reading, you all! Everyone deserves to forget his worries for a few hours!

FIRST ADVENT

Yes, I admit it! I did get gingerbread cookies and “Spekulatius” (gingery almond cookies) way too early. October 1st, to be exact. It was a rainy day and it hit me like a hammer that I wanted to have gingerbread and Spekulatius RIGHT THEN. With a cup of Earl Grey or Rooibush tea. So, weak as I was, I headed to my favourite discount grocery store right away and stocked up on pre-Christmas time delicacies.

And now, the first advent is here again. At first, I had planned to skip the baking this year. Since I have plenty of store-bought Christmas style cookies, stollen and gingerbread at home. But then, suddenly, one week ago, the urge to at least bake simple butter cookies hit me. So, I got the missing ingredients and did some baking on Saturday. May I say, they turned out quite well? I had to try at least one freshly baked cookie, of course. But the rest will keep for advent Sundays.

My other preparations for advent? Redecorating, of course. With red, green and dark blue dominating. Red and green pillow cases, red and dark blue throws, red candles, my advent wreath, dark green and red bed linens, towels and table runners. Some knick-knacks, fir branches and my childhood advent calendar I filled myself. Well, not much different to the past two years. And still, I’m looking forward to these four weeks very much. Tea and cookies on advent Sunday afternoons, lighting the advent candle and listening to Christmas songs. Just like we did at home when I was a child. And even though adventand advent Sundays won’t be much different than the rest of the year, I enjoy the peace and quiet, not having to rush around from one Christmas party to another, stress myself out with gift shopping (gift buying and sending is already done) or – horrors of all horrors – having to bake and cook and prepare everything for hordes of relatives falling in. 

How are the rising costs and especially energy costsinfluencing my advent? Well, actually not all toomuch compared to previous winters. However, I’m avoiding heating even more than usual and my beloved soaks in the bathtub are reduced to once or every other week, quick showers just have to do, even though they are less enjoyable than my soaks. I neither have electric Christmas decoration nor tree lights, so … no changes there. And since my Christmas market visits are close to non-existent – not a big fan of “cheap” but expensive mulled wine – once with my colleagues, once with a friend holding onto one non-alcoholic hot punch for the entire evening – it won’t really affect me either. So, all in all, it’s kind of a month like any other and I really, really consider myself lucky that I only have to take care of myself and my beloved cat (who is a bit picky when it comes to his food and has to be spoilt with tuna occasionally), being able to live frugally if I have to. Doing what probably everyone is doing in those uncertain times: save as much money as possible. 

On these less happy thoughts and worries concerning the coming winter and economy, wondering what the future will bring, I nevertheless wish all of you a wonderful advent time. Try to enjoy it as much as possible, sometimes it’s the little things that count. Spending time with loved ones, even though it might just be a phone call, a little spoiling by hot chocolate and a good book or a bath soak, whatever gives you a little pleasure and make you forget … all the best!!!