MY LONDON

I’m such a creature of habit. It’s horrible! Every time I’m in London I plan to do something different … just to end up doing what I always do. Occasionally, at times when I’m there for more than two days I actually manage to get some sightseeing or plain relaxing done, doing something I haven’t done before. Or when I’m lucky enough to not be there on my own for a power shopping trip … I actually get to see something new.

But, when I’m on my own, it’s basically always the same. Staying at my cheap hotel very close to the Victoria Station … so close that if you’re lucky enough to have a room facing the back you will hear and feel every single train passing by. 

I usually start my shopping spree right there on my day of arrival and basically right after checking into my B&B style hotel – after all at the station you’ve got Dorothy Perkins, Ann Summers, Whittard, WH Smith and Boots there. Less stuff to carry back from Oxford Street. And, of course I take the opportunity to already get a ticket for one of the next evenings to see the latest musical at the Victoria Theater.

The first full day is devoted to shopping – what else!? Starting as early as possible to enter the first store as soon as it opens. Oxford Circus is one of my favourite haunts with all my favourite shops and department stores in one place. Would you believe me if I told you that I’m running up and down this street all day without rest? No lunch or coffee break required. Oh no! I don’t have time for that! I’m way too busy checking out everything and not breaking down from the weight of my bags. The way back to the hotel is hell, though. I especially loathe to change at Green Park station. Why? Because the way to the Victoria Line seems endless! Bone tired I just take a last stop at Sainsbury’s to get sandwiches, cake, crisps, juice or whatever else I fancy for my evening in front of the TV with my feet stretched out, unable to move another inch.

Day 2: after the usual excellent breakfast consisting of cornflakes, tea and toasted bread with preserves, my second day can start way more relaxed with main shopping done! Covent Garden is a must as well as having burgers at the Hard Rock Café – the first and original one. Every time again. And every time again they remind me that their ice tea is real tea without sugar. With me rolling my eyes and sighing, “I know!” Apart from that? Some strolling around, maybe along the Thames, go to Camden Market or Portobello Market, sitting at Starbucks writing, enjoying London. Maybe buying the one or other small item like food to take with me back home, but other than that? Just me being where I love to be. My London. One of my most favourite cities. Soon, soon, I’ll be back! Coming home!

HAPPY MOMENTS

Sometimes it’s hard to find those moments, those happy moments during those tough Corona times. Even though we’re finally on the way to beating it back through vaccinations. And the more people are vaccinated as quickly as possible, the better. The numbers are slowly going down but we’re still not quite there. Here in Germany, we’ve just started with group 3, the above 60-year-olds (apart from other risk groups). So, being in my mid 40s it will take another … couple of months? … to be among the lucky vaccinated ones. At least I’m already on my MD’s list … and then I hope some kind of normalcy will return to my life. Like shopping and beauty appointments without testing and appointments, having my coffeeshop Saturdays, taking trips, going out with friends, MEETING friends, …

Still, most of the time I’m quite happy. I try to make my life a happy one. To find pleasure in the little everyday things.

  1. My Amazon deliveries: every single one! (Mostly books, as you know by now!) Every time I receive my parcel it’s like birthday and Christmas together … 
  2. My books! Many, many happy moments with my darling books! Expanding my library and having plenty of unread books in store to choose from. It’s like my own little bookstore, with currently 62 books to pick the next one. My great pleasure apart from reading each and every book? Putting them in their right places, either according to colour, series or – reserved for my Austrian books only – the special shelves in my living room. Just looking at my books makes me happy.
  3. The latest speciality burger from McDonald’s or Burger King! Restaurants are still closed … so, whenever I see a new special burger I just have to have it. Recently, it was the Asparagus Sauce Hollandaise Burger. Quite an adventure to devour. I made quite a mess … luckily no one could see me at home!
  4. My balcony garden! Spring is here, my favourite time of the year! Giving me most happy moments! The happiness I feel by making my balcony spring ready, cleaning the furniture, hoovering the grass carpet, planting flowers and veggies. Especially this year, with barely a shop open or testing necessary, it was an exciting and wonderful trip to the garden centre to get soil and plants. For the first time ever I’m also trying my hand on growing potatoes and green beans in planting bags on my balcony. The pleasure when the first sprouts appear.
  5. My balcony … and every single minute I can spend outside in the sun! (Until it’s too hot …) But now it’s just perfect! A cool wind, the sun shining down on me, sometimes so hot I have to use sunscreen and open the umbrella. I love having breakfast outside, when everything is still quiet apart from the birds singing and the sun is just around the corner. I love reading outside, enjoying a glass of iced coffee. Or using my electric BBQ grill on weekends. 
  6. Cooking! Yes, trying a new recipe on the weekends is among my happy moments too! Together with the preparation – starting with choosing the recipe, writing the shopping list, buying the groceries … and looking forward to devouring the new dish. 
  7. Special DVDs evening! I have started to also expand my DVD library with Austrian cabaret and theatre DVDs. Saturdays I then usually enjoy one of those, accompanied with a small glass of egg liquor. After all, it’s special! What I’m going to do when I’ve watched those? I will go back to old classic movie nights to enjoy Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, the Carry on crew or just my favourite series …
  8. Tea or coffee time: especially on weekends I enjoy a slice of cake with Earl Grey – nicely prepared in a tea pot – or Latte Macchiato to go with it. A simple, small “everyday” pleasure which nevertheless makes me happy.
  9. Last but not least whenever my friend has time to stop by for half an hour or hour … very happy moments!
  10. Aaand … whenever my cat makes me laugh. Which is daily, thankfully. Just by being there, interrupting my home office days by bringing me his toy mouse – complaining loudly – to urge me to play with him for a couple of minutes. Or wanting food. Or …

What are your happy moments during those times? Wishing you lots of them! XXX, MJ

OH CRAPPY DAY

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? You have those days as well. Those days where everything seems to go wrong and the tiniest thing annoys you and makes you mad as hell, swearing like a banshee, throwing everyone crossing your path the evil look. And mostly it’s the small everyday occurrences that annoy so much, don’t they? Even though they are not even worth mentioning, let alone getting annoyed in times like these with so many suffering … but you also just can’t help it.

I had one of THOSE days recently. It started out not so badly, actually. Like any other home office day with having Earl Grey at my desk – and no, nothing happened, I didn’t spill the hot liquid and short-circuited my laptop and didn’t drop my precious Demmers Teehaus cup (only to be used for Earl Grey) I inherited from my Mum. My crappy day started late morning with the delivery of my long anticipated small table I had ordered for my balcony. And for the sole purpose to put my electric grill on for summer BBQ. Well, it was wrapped tightly, sealed in its original plastic wrap … and still arrived damaged, with a broken hinge and therefore unusable. Great, just great! I already saw myself lugging the bulky piece to the nearest post office to mail it back at my expense to receive a new one …

Mood sinking, the next annoyance came in form of an email. From Austria. From my Austrian bank, regarding information on my taxes in Germany. Of course, they wanted me to fill out a form, sign it and mail it back together with a copy of my German proof of residence. Mail, as in real mail. No email. So, printing everything and searching for a fitting envelope to stuff the papers in. Since I like to get the annoying things done immediately, I decided to take an office break at 1:45 pm and head to the post office, a 10-minute-walk away from my apartment. And guess what? It was closed! CLOSED! Lunch break until 2:30 pm. Can you believe it? Every shop is open through noon, but the post office is closed!? Bloody post office! I was hopping mad and swearing loudly as I made my way back home with a little detour. Waiting for 30 minutes was not an option since my next teams meeting was waiting.

Next stop – basically to calm my nerves and at least get the weekly grocery shopping done – my favourite discount grocery store. Treating myself to green asparagus for the weekend, chicken, blueberries, yogurt and Snickers ice cream bars (50 cents off from the original price was just too good an offer to pass up). And guess what? There was only one cash desk open and the queue endless. Of course! Of course, this had to happen. Of course, everyone had to go grocery shopping at exactly the same time I was out and about. I was actually considering putting the ice cream back – worrying it might melt before I even reached the end of the line to pay. Impatiently, I counted the minutes and hoped at least the ones before me wouldn’t be of the annoying customer kind who tend to count out the single coins from their wallets …

Finally, having paid and stuffed everything into my tote bag I hurried home … just to discover, that the large yogurt container had split open, spilling its contents lovingly over my asparagus. The rest covered my letter, which I wasn’t able to mail because the post office was on LUNCH BREAK AND CLOSED! Of course, the papers in my letter were soggy as well and I had to print and copy everything again and use the last A6 size envelope I could dig out of my office supplies.

I returned to work, with a cup of chocolate vanilla cappuccino to enjoy its hot sweetness and tried not to bitch too much at my colleagues, when they dared calling me via MS Teams.

You think my annoying day was over? Nooo, stupid as I am, I headed back to the post office to finally post the letter and scratch another “To Do” item off my list. And nearly jumped at the post-office-guy-who-thinks-he-is-so-funny when he announced I had to pay 3,70€ for a measly letter to Austria. As I was laughing out sarcastically, he meant, I should have used a smaller envelope, then it would only have been 1,70€. And that at least the receipt – which I always request everywhere – is free of charge. Boy, if I weren’t so well-mannered … 

The German post office in general is a red flag for me. Don’t get me started … not to mention, that my general mood as soon as I step one foot outside my apartment usually is in the dumps nowadays. I hate those bloody medicinal masks I have to put on as soon as going outside (the disadvantage of living in a pedestrian street). I didn’t much care about the cloth masks, they fit snuggly under my glasses and didn’t fog them. But those light blue medicinal masks which the ridiculous German politicians decided we have to wear from now on with their piece of wire inside … they never fit and I’m running around not seeing anything. I hate them so much I barely leave my apartment to avoid this ordeal. Hoping that soon I too will be vaccinated and some kind of normalcy will come back into my life.

Well, apart from that … most days are happy days. I try to make them happy days by enjoying the little things. A new book, sitting outside on the balcony in the sun with a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, reading (of course), having DVD theatre nights, cooking something special on weekends, chatting with friends on the phone … and planning the post-Corona-vaccinated-and-travelling-again-time. So, don’t worry about YOUR crappy days, they will pass … and the next day will look bright again!

By the way, my little side table for the balcony was replaced immediately and I could trash the damaged one. And clever me discovered a way to make those bloody blue masks fit better … I just remove the wire now … (why didn’t I think of that before?) As for my issue with the German post office and it’s officials … they will remain an annoyance for me forever!

ONE WEEK OF LIVING CHEAPLY

OR: How to plan a week of great and affordable food!

Your first task: check your storage cupboards! 

Essentials you should always have at home: pasta, rice, pureed tomatoes, canned tomatoes, beans and corn, onions, mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce, olive oil.

Essentials you should always have in your freezer: shredded cheese, herb butter, value packs of veggies, meat (whichever you like), bread.

Well, living cheaply is quite easy, if A) you are single, B) you are not very demanding and C) are willing to actually cook.

Potato week: since potatoes tend to wrinkle up and sprout if you don’t use them in a certain amount of time, a potato week is ideal. My suggestions for quick and simple meals:

  1. Mashed potatoes with franks (or any other sausage you like)
  2. Mashed potatoes with green beans and grilled chicken
  3. Microwaved potatoes cut into slices and fried with some butter and salt – for variations add onion, slices of sausage, veggies, or just make a dip
  4. Microwave potatoes, cut them into slices, cover with ham and cheese and microwave again. Serve with cranberry jam or ketchup (or both)
  5. Potato goulash with spicy sausage – cook more to freeze or reheat. It tastes even better reheated.
  6. Microwaved potatoes with ground meat sauce. For the meat sauce just fry an onion, add mushrooms, tomatoes and pepper bells, if you want to, then the meat, season with salt, pepper, some sugar, mustard, ketchup and BBQ sauce, or a variation of it and voila. Quick and easy.
  7. Raclette. One of my favourite Sunday dishes. All you need is cooked potatoes and sharp cheese to melt. For the luxury version enjoy it with pickles and melting the cheese on the Raclette grill, for the cheap version just microwave your potatoes, slice them, cover with cheese and microwave again. (In my “Raclette grill” days, we used to layer potato slices and cheese in a fireproof dish and bake it in the oven!)

Pasta week: everyone loves pasta, I could eat it every day. Spaghetti, fusilli, rigatoni, tortellini … and my new favourite: green Spinach pasta. For the cheap pasta week I would stick with spaghetti and fusilli, the common semolina type pasta which is most affordable.

  1. Pasta with butter and breadcrumbs – brown the breadcrumbs in butter, toss in the pasta with some pasta water, delicious!
  2. Pasta with tomato sauce – all you need is onion, pomodori passati or canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, some sugar, I also like to put in some BBQ sauce for this smoky flavour, and cheese. If you want to spruce it up – add shredded veggies like carrots and zucchini, ground meat and for the luxury version, add red wine!
  3. Pasta with pesto! This is one of the few ready-made sauces I actually buy. My favourite on is only about 1€ – and I get 3 portions out of it.
  4. Pasta with onion and cream cheese – variations by adding ham, veggies, meat. Just use whatever you have at home.
  5. Pasta with … the list is endless, guys! If you are creative, just use whatever’s at home. From eggs to plain sour cream. Every day something new and affordable!

Rice week:

  1. Rice with any kind of sauce you can think of
  2. Rice cooked with any kind of veggies
  3. Rice with peas, parsley and parmiggiano
  4. Rice with leftover meats
  5. Rice with … again, whatever you have in your fridge!

White / red cabbage week: since you usually can only buy whole cabbage heads – at least here in Germany – I have to find ways to use it up in a week.

  1. Make red cabbage and freeze to serve with dumplings, meat, sausages, …
  2. Pasta with red / white cabbage. Cook pasta, fry the cabbage with some onion, salt, pepper and sugar and that’s it. In Austria, we call this dish with white cabbage “Krautfleckerl”. It also works with red cabbage (add red wine, you will love the taste). And if you don’t mind the changing colour of the pasta due to the red cabbage – you will enjoy it as much as I do.
  3. White / red cabbage with fried ground meat, add pasta if you want to
  4. Coleslaw (I bet you know at least a dozen more recipes than I do). I simply use yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, salt and sugar. To be enjoyed with BBQ, potatoes or plain.
  5. If you’ve still got cabbage left, I discovered that you can also freeze it raw. Shred it, freeze and use for a fried dish as described above.

I hope I gave you some inspiration for your own “cheap” cooking – you will discover that it’s much cheaper to cook fresh and in bulk to freeze instead of stocking up on ready-made meals. (Even though, I have to admit, I do love frozen ready-made pizza and occasionally have a pack at home too. But always just the Margherita style pizza, which is A) cheaper and B) I add ham, pepper, corn and extra cheese or whatever I want!)

So, happy cooking! Let me know how it worked out for you!

I REALLY NEEDED A PSYCHIATRIST

Remember I once told you the day would come I would tell you about my real-life experiences? It’s time to write about them! Not too long ago I reached a point in my life where I just couldn’t go on. And no matter what your friends and family tell you … in the end you need to make the decision yourself, do it your own way and take the final step.

Everything started … well, it’s difficult to say … there have been very bad times. Disappointments, setbacks, grieving. I dealt with everything on my own for many, many years. Writing was my therapy then and it still is to a certain point. Thinking back, I think I still dragged everything with me, no matter what. Those years, stuff just kept piling up. Privately and professionally. In terms of betrayal, money matters, insecurity job-wise, loneliness. And that’s what hit me the most: the loneliness. Moving to a new country, alone, at the age of nearly 40, where most of my colleagues (male nonetheless) have their normal lives in terms of family and relationships … a single girl like me just didn’t fit in. Finding friends and building up some kind of social network was hard. And all in all, I have four people around me in the closer vicinity who I am happy to call close friends now and who I can trust completely. With everyone else far away. 

I was lucky to have them by my side, either through phone calls or text messages or the one or other hug during my really bad times, where my moods changed hourly and I had crying fits. Displaying every single symptom of nervous breakdowns. And they didn’t give up on me. All those long months, they didn’t give up on me. But in the end, I still was alone. Coming home after a bad day, I still was alone. With my thoughts and worries. 

One day I realized I couldn’t go on without destroying myself and my health. That basically I was sick. And this realization needs to come from yourself. And yourself alone. It’s like with everything else: alcoholism, drug abuse, obesity, any kind of addiction. One needs to admit something is wrong, that you need help and want to get better.

For me, someone who considered herself strong and being able to deal with everything on her own for so many years, managing huge things alone … it was hard admitting that my friends were not enough anymore to get me out of it. But … it took me more than a year to take this step.

You wonder what I felt like? Broken. Plain and simple. Broken. My hard “cancer girl” shell dented and damaged. Little things making me cry or angry. Emotional ups and downs. Tired and exhausted. Worried all the time. And grieving. Grieving about the past and what I had lost, grieving about the present and my loneliness, grieving about the future. And this deep despair at times …

You wonder why I’m writing about this openly? Do I wonder whether it might affect my career if my company found out? It doesn’t matter. Not really. No one should be ashamed to seek help in order to get better and well again. Times have changed, there’s more pressure, more loneliness. And sometimes … bad things just happen. One after another and they don’t stop coming. And if you can’t compensate these bad times through some other parts of your life … find a balance … then … professional help is what you need to find back to yourself. And remember … you are not alone in this. You are never alone. There are millions of other people in similar situations!

How am I right now? Nearly as good as new, I took some mild medication for a while which helped taking the edge off and had been looking forward to my psychiatrist appointment, which came at a point in my life where I was moving away and didn’t need it anymore. What really annoyed me, though? I was promised an appointment in the course of 5 months – it took them 8 months to get back to me! Let’s just hope real hard cases are treated better! 

HOW (NOT) TO BUY A CAR …!?

Buying a new car is one of the most exciting things. In every possible way. First of all, the big decision which car it’s gonna be. Brand, colour, power, fuel, automatic or stick shift, price. Of course, price might be an issue as well. In my case, my priorities – apart from the car model itself – was plain and simple. White, automatic, diesel. (To the utter amusement of my colleagues who felt responsible for giving me advice on THEIR favourite cars!) Basically, buying a car is quite easy if you keep in mind MY exceptionally good advice:

  1. Trust your car salesmen! Always! They are the most honest people around! Really! I totally and absolutely mean it! They are sooo nice and would be the worst poker players ever! Truth is their second middle name!
  2. Don’t buy your car in your home town! The farther away the better! After all you don’t want to annoy your poor car dealer every time something is wrong with your car. They certainly don’t deserve your anger because your newly acquired car breaks down on the way home. Or you find out that the promised maintenance hadn’t been done at all. Because your car is screaming a few hundred kilometres later that it needs it. Badly.
  3. Forget checking the described equipment and technical features! The online ad description is proof enough. Especially if it’s in German AND English language. One can’t be wrong in two languages, can one? Definitely not!
  4. Please don’t haggle over the price. Your car is worth so much more than it is sold to you for. It’s in pristine condition, polished, smells lovely and looks brand new – until you have it washed for the first time. But who cares about those tiny scratches no one can see anyway? 
  5. Car maintenance is sooo overrated! Who cares whether the oil has been changed. Or filters checked. Or anything else. So, there’s no point at all, checking the maintenance schedule and history of your car. You can trust that the previous owners took as good care of your car as you yourself would. After all, your car is beautiful! Perfect! 
  6. Leasing cars are the best! Everyone knows that one drives extra carefully with a leased car. Barely using the brakes, driving anything but aggressively, why worry about a bumper accident or lost keys? Insurance will handle it and it’s like brand new. 
  7. A painted car hood only means someone scratched it! NOT that the previous owner had a little accident where all the important front parts like cooling system and lights had to be exchanged. What are you thinking? Your car sales man wouldn’t lie to you! After all he wouldn’t want to be sued, would he?
  8. Show how much you want the car! Your car sales man will emphasize even more, trying to give his best to make the best price just for you! AND …
  9. NEVER take anyone with you when buying your car! You don’t need a sensible voice negotiating for every little thing! You are an intelligent woman and don’t need your man / best friend / colleague / lawyer to accompany you just to buy a car. For checking every screw and bolt, searching for damages, asking questions you don’t need to ask … 

So, since I have followed ALL this advice myself, buying my lovely Rangey all by myself … well, good luck to you!

OH, TWO SOULS LIVE IN MY CHEST #2

Argh, the title still doesn’t sound any better … guess, my brilliant idea was not that brilliant after all. It just sounded so great in my head, in German at least. Well, you’ll just have to live with it now! As do I! After part 1, where I bored you with my extreme saving measures, I owe you the more fun part of my soul: The extreme spendthrift me!

My latest example? While doing some extreme saving on groceries this month, I threw out a whopping 155€ just like that with a mouse click. (Alright, alright, I didn’t use my mouse but simply my iPhone to quick-order on Amazon!) What for? Bloody DVDs! (Austrian cabaret DVDs, how dull is that?) I know, I know, DVDs are sooo yesterday …  My first excuse? It was one box away from being out of stock. My second excuse? Receiving a return payment from my additional living costs because I was shivering in my apartment at a mere 19°C instead of the common 22°C. Rather wearing a sweatshirt and double socks than running around in a T-Shirt in winter. (There it is again, the saving Me!) My third excuse? An early birthday present to myself! (Which is why it’s still packed up in its delivery box until being opened in a couple of months!) My fourth excuse? There is none! I wanted it, I bought it!

Do I have limits? Yes, of course, I do! Even though I took out a small loan for my Queen Mary 2 trip six years ago – after all apart from the trip I also had to stock up on my wardrobe with three evening gowns and knew I would do some big shopping in the Big Apple – I never was in any danger of not being able to cover my regular living costs and more despite the loan. My credit card is always balanced. I would go mad if it weren’t. Dragging debts from one month to another, increasing the debts even more. I do realize, that I’m lucky and one never knows what will happen in the years to come, which situations I will have to deal with financially like so many others who just don’t have any other choice, who are not able to put away money for household repairs or luxuries. Or even enough food. Maybe that’s why I’m so desperate to have a nest egg to fall back to. Oh, darn, here I am again writing a serious article with “saving” on my mind!

So, back to the ME, who doesn’t care whether it costs 10 or 50 bucks when I’m A) in spending mode, B) in shopping mood or C) on vacation. And when it comes to vacations … oh boy, I do like to spend money even more. Starting with nice hotels, always at good locations either in the middle of the city or right at the beach. (Which is a running joke between one of my best friends and me: location, location, location is all that matters!) Then, of course, the shopping! Especially when abroad! Enjoying different store chains, different stores altogether … and I always need to bring back local groceries back home. Food? Alternating between the expensive steakhouse and the cheap sandwich from around the corner … 

Ah, well, I guess it could be worse! My spouts of big spending and throwing money around! After all, it’s not as if I decided to buy an expensive car from one day to another … oh, wait, I did that! Let’s just put that one under “midlife crisis”, shall we?

So, just enjoy your life, balancing both of your inner souls! And even if it’s just small luxuries to make you feel good! It might be a bunch of fresh flowers, a nice restaurant dinner, the designer piece you’ve always wanted or a weekend getaway. You know now how to save a few bucks to afford YOUR luxuries! I definitely will just keep doing what I’m doing! Being the saving me in order to afford the spending me! Happy saving and spending!

OH, TWO SOULS LIVE IN MY CHEST #1

Oh boy, for once the English translation doesn’t sound that hot. And anything but poetic compared to the original Faust exclamation “Zwei Seelen wohnen ach in meiner Brust” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Don’t worry, this won’t be a lecture on one of the greatest literary pieces that has ever existed. It’s about ME. Of course, it’s about me! (Who else!?) It’s about me living two extremes. 1.) The extreme saving me and 2.) The extreme spendthrifty me.

Well, maybe those two extremes are not so unusual after all, harmonizing with each other. After all, I couldn’t throw my money out if I weren’t also an expert saver, could I? How I do it? I’m not reusing tea bags, if you worry about that. Or live on instant soup for weeks. Or … At some point, I do have to draw a line. I do have living standards and one shouldn’t prohibit oneself everything. Unless one absolutely has to because money is that tight. After all, you only have one life and should live it to the fullest. The saving issue – or trying to spend as little as possible a month, especially on groceries – is more like a game to me. 

Because basically, you can only save when it comes to groceries. Fixed costs are just there, and even though you might save a few bucks by changing your cell phone providers and insurances, use your car less or cut back on restaurant food, when it comes to a monthly basis, there’s mainly just groceries you can save on. (Of course, you should also rethink your daily coffee-to-go and ready-made meal!) But now, in these home office times, it’s much easier to not being tempted that much! And of course, being single is an advantage in these regards as well.

My greatest treasure is my large freezer – not only indispensable for the groceries I bring back from Austria, but also for homemade pre-cooked food and sauces, value packs of veggies and meat. I’m sure you will start laughing out loud now when I tell you that I’m actually thinking of replacing my 5-drawer freezer with an even larger one. The largest I can fit into my little niche. As with everything else, I love to have a big choice for my lunches / dinner. Freezing my homemade sauerkraut, red cabbage, potato goulash, vegetable soup, zucchini soup, lasagna, dumplings, various pasta sauces, roasts and so much more. As it is now, one drawer is filled with veggies, one with homemade meals, one with meats, one with cake and one with my Austrian supplies. And there’s just not enough space, never enough space … because … whenever I see chicken / BBQ meat / ground meat 30% off because they have to be used up by the next day, I’m your girl! Carrying the packages home and freezing them to use at a later date. And just like every girl, I love the feeling of having made a bargain … Which is why I love, love, love browsing the weekly ads from my favourite grocery stores and make a list of what to buy. Speaking of which, I have also started to plan the week ahead when it comes to cooking and what I might need. That way I don’t buy food I then have to throw away because it spoils. And thanks to my freezer and my weekend cooking, I also always have food I can just take out. Would you believe there are months I only have to go grocery shopping once in a fortnight? Just to get some fresh fruit and veggies at the most? (Home office and the still ongoing lockdown, the annoying masks to put on whenever leaving the house, is definitely an advantage when it comes to my shopping habits – as in trying NOT to go shopping as much!) 

Without home office? I treated myself to one day a week going to lunch with my colleagues and taking lunch from home for the rest of the days. Ever calculated what you can save on that alone? You’d be surprised …

Not smoking or drinking alcohol, or even juice or soft drinks, is another thing I save on. You don’t like water all that much as I do, because it’s so dull? (And if, it needs to be straight from the fridge, I can’t bear lukewarm water!) But luckily, there’s been the invention of tea bags to be made with cold water, which is a great way to spruce up the boring water. Voilà, soft drinks and juices not necessary anymore.

And when it comes to other stuff? Well, it’s really easy right now. The shops are mainly closed anyway and my only obsession are my books … but, well, everyone needs a hobby.

Apart from that, it’s nice to see one’s savings increase, for the bad times, for old age … or just for a better time to come to being able to throw it out again for stuff you don’t really need. Or travels.

GUILTY AS CHARGED II

Good morning! I bet you can hardly wait for part 2 of the best dumbest laws I could find. This time some other parts of California and New York are on my list and I hope I won’t disappoint you.

  1. In LA it is a crime for dogs to mate within 500 yards of a church. Breaking this law is punishable by a fine of $500 and/or six months in prison.The question is: Who is paying the fine and who is going to prison? The dog? After all a dog is responsible for his actions! And of course it’s even more intriguing to mate within 500 yards of a church than 501. Where would be the fun in that?
  2. It is illegal for a secretary to be alone in a room with her boss in Pasadena.For women whose husbands have secretaries these are really good news. But just for those in Pasadena. If you live in Burbank … just bad luck! Maybe all offices should move to Pasadena. Plus most of the lawyers cause I’m expecting a lot of lawsuits.
  3. It is illegal to pile horse manure more than six feet high on a street corner in San Francisco.Darn, I really have to remember that the next time I’m riding my horse up and down the streets in San Francisco. One should always be careful to distribute the manure equally to several street corners! Don’t you just miss the good old Wild West?
  4. In New York the penalty for jumping off a building is death!Yes, you’ve read correctly. If you aren’t already dead, the rescuers and doctors will just keep you lying there, waiting until you’ve turned up your toes. Under no circumstances they are to help you! That would be a big offense! I wonder who had this brilliant idea!
  5. A person may not walk around on Sundays with an ice cream cone in his/her pocket in New York. Is that an ice cream cone in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? (This one was obvious, wasn’t it?) And why only on Sundays? What happens Monday till Saturday? Won’t the ice cream melt as quickly on weekdays and make the front of your pants look as if you’ve had an accident?
  6. In Carmel, New York, a man can’t go outside while wearing a jacket and pants that do not match.Yeah, that’s a big crime indeed, to be punished with execution immediately! I absolutely agree! What would all those five tourists say if they saw a guy wearing a striped pink jacket and frog green dotted pants? What a disgrace!
  7. In New York, women may go topless in public providing it is not being used as a business.Hey, hey! How generous and unusually open minded! Just imagine all the women would go topless all of a sudden, just when another law states that it is illegal for a woman to be on the street wearing “body hugging clothing”. Contradiction my ass!!! 
  8. Also in the state of New York a license must be purchased before hanging clothes on a clothesline.What an ingenious way to bring back money into the empty cash-boxes of a bankrupt state. And … I was just wondering … would you really want your laundry to smell like exhaust gases?

Well, for those of you who want to check out more dumb laws, here you can find them: www.dumblaws.com. Have fun and don’t break any laws! Or are you already crying because of all the laws you are breaking? Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone!

GUILTY AS CHARGED I

Being incredibly bored one of these days I spent a few hours on the World Wide Web, looking for nothing in particular really. And came across a page that made me laugh out loud. I knew I couldn’t keep the best dumb American laws from you. Since my US travels so far have mainly led me to California and New York, those states obviously mostly attracted my attention. Have fun!

  1. No vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour in California!Well, considering the fact that you’re already deliriously happy when you manage to even reach 60 mph on LA’s streets and highways or are in no danger at all of breaking that law if you are the lucky owner of K.I.T.T. … or one of those new Teslas which regularly drive you off the cliffs. Another option, of course, would be your son’s tuned up remote control car. The law also doesn’t claim whether animals count as drivers or not. I bet you could train monkeys to not take the wheel at your Tesla car.
  2. Many animals are illegal to own as pets, including snails, sloths and elephants in California.Hm, let me think! I’m convinced no one would like to have snails as pets. They’re just boring. They are so slow you get bored by just looking at them. On the other hand, you’d have no problem catching them. Elephants? Oh my God! I’d love to have an elephant on my terrace, crapping it up, trampling my non-existent balcony flowers and eating whatever elephants eat. But at least my non-existent kids can have fun riding them. Do miniature elephants count too?
  3. In Baldwin Park, California, nobody is allowed to ride a bicycle in a swimming pool.Apart from the question how one ever manages to do that … shouldn’t everyone be allowed to do what he wants in HIS own swimming pool? So, guys, keep cycling in YOUR swimming pools, I won’t tell anyone!!!
  4. In Chico, California, detonating a nuclear device within the city limits results in a $500 fine.Well, tell that to the terrorists! I bet that would scare them to death, having to pay $500 bucks. And for everyone else who considers detonating a nuclear device … forget that! There won’t be anyone left to collect the fine if you detonate a nuclear bomb. And you will be neither! Unless you have one of these 60s bunkers, stocked for the next 20 or so years! By then 500 bucks will probably be worth 50 cents.
  5. It is illegal to drive more than 2000 sheep down Hollywood Boulevard at one time.Sheep? Why sheep? What about cows? Or chickens? Or ducks? 2000 are ok? What if you have 2001 sheep? Will you have to leave one behind? Have I missed some farming industry in Hollywood? Well, I guess we have to consider that this law is actually from a few years back where Hollywood Boulevard probably wasn’t more than a large dirt road. But I still like the image of today’s Hollywood Boulevard with 2000 sheep bleating and trotting along …

Well, enough for laughter for today! But don’t worry! Look forward to dumb New York laws next week! Yours dumbly, M