Friday, 25 October 2013

Work Life Balance - Ain't noboy got time for that??

During my studies at university I often came across the term „Work Life Balance“, mainly because the Japanese people seem to have problems with finding the right amount of work and freetime. They work long hours every day to return to their homes in the evenings, get up early in the morning and restart the same process.
The obvious problem seems to be that the Japanese struggle with finding their „Work Life Balance“, because there is too much work in the way.

Well, some people struggle because there is too much life.

It might come as a surprise to you, but I am one of those people and every semester after two months of vacation getting back on track with uni is a horrible process.
Of course, it is hard to study again after two months of doing nothing, but working and apart from that doing everything you like. Everything except for studying.

Sadly I tend to forget basically everything I had learned during the term with the result that I have to start from scratch. Always.

Maybe everything could be easier if I sat down and made a plan. Just like I organize my appointments and meetings, I should plan my university life. A few little tasks every day, so that the stuff to does not pile up over weeks of procrastinating, leaving me in the desperate mood to jump out of the window.

Why this sudden moment of enlightment after 3 years of repeating the vicious procastinating circle?

Well, now that I started my masters degree a week ago, I noticed that there is more work to do than ever. It is not just learning vocabulary and grammar from time to time and preparing maybe 2 presentations.
No, there is way too much reading to do, 5 presentations to prepare and about ten pages to translate every week and finally a part time job.

To sum up: Work is taking over my life.

My precious little life of staying up late and playing video games, reading, wasting my time in front of the computer and meeting my friends.

Of course it could be destinys' revenge for these 3 years of slacking off.
It most certainly is.

So, now I made a (for me) very serious decision:
I want to grow up.
At least a little bit and organize my work and my life to a healthy balanced unit.

But honestly?
People make so many plans in life and so do I.
In the end we often screw it up.
I screw it up.

I mean, ain't nobody got time for that??

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Secret Single Behaviour

I have been ill this whole damn week and sometimes there is nothing else to do, than call your workplace and
stay at home to just relax and let your immune system do its' work.
That is what I had to do this Wednesday.
So, I spent the entire day laying on the sofa, drinking tea and watching films. Finally I ended up watching one of my favourite TV shows of all time: Sex and the City.

At one point Carrie talks about the so called „Secret Single Behaviour“ (SSB). While Charlotte claims to enjoy examining her pores in a magnifying mirror for hours, Carrie likes to read fashion magazines in the kitchen. Standing. Why? Because she can.
Naturally everyone has got these little pleasures. These little things in life, which only belong to you. People neither have to know about them, nor do they have to participate. It is something you can enjoy when you are just by yourself.

I think it is now time to admit, that I have spent most of my life alone so far. Being 22 years old, I have barely spent 3 months in a relationship. Hence I had a lot of time to develop my own Secret Single Behaviour(s).

One of them might be a bit inappropriate to talk about, but honestly? I can not be the only one who does it.
Next to my toilet in my teeny tiny bathroom usually lies a pile of fashion magazines and books. The books are never real novels, just easy reads with short passages. You can open these books at any page, read a few paragraphes and then put it back. I think you already guessed the purpose of my little reading collection and yes, I like to keep myself entertained while.. you know, doing my thing. And by thing I do not mean washing my hair of brushing my teeth.
Because of that I often spend more time than necessary in the bathroom, but who cares? There is no one, who will knock at the door and shout something like:

„Come out already! The chili is killing me!“

Just on a side note: I do not even have to shut the door.

Another SSB of mine is more ordinary. I love to sing. In the car. Loudly. And if I say loudly, I mean it. That is why I prefer driving alone. This is my chance to basically let everything out, no matter what my voice sounds like. It is just me having fun with my favourite songs. Nobody can interrupt me or intimidate me (because sometimes it can be pain in the ass to have friends, who have awesome singing voices).

Let everything loose!

I think this is, what SSBs are all about. They are your little islands of comfort where you can be yourself and do whatever comes into your head. They do not have to have a certain purpose, because nobody will question them. If it makes you feel good about yourself, go for it!
Sometimes I like to do a little bit of yoga in the middle of the night and why the hell should I not do it? If my body and mind tell me, that it will be good for me, I have to follow, do I not?

That is why I encourage everyone out there to treasure and cultivate your SSBs.
Even if you are not single anymore, it does not matter. You might appreciate them even more, than the forever-alone-single-ladies like me who can indulge in them every day.
Sometimes when you are alone, a thick layer of handcreme, a pair of gloves and infomercials are everything you need.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The motion picture in my head

Yesterday I watched the film „500 days of Summer“ with Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt for the first time. Apart from the fact that this whole film was so beautiful to watch, there was one scene in particular, which stayed in my mind:

Towards the end of the film Summer invites Tom to party at her appartment. You can see a split screen, one half showing Tom's expectations and hopes for this evening and the other one showing the reality. Of course in Tom's fantasy everything goes smoothly and you feel instantly happy for him.
However, as soon as you look at the other part of the screen, you start shivering.
This feeling of happiness instantly fades away. What stays is a disillusionment.
Life is not 'la vie en rose'.

There are only a few, small differences between the screens:
A hug, a glance, a few words
But these small changes make the gap between the two screens even bigger, leaving you with discomfort.

Why this scene affected me so much?
Well, the thing is that I am a great daydreamer, like probably most of us are.
Before I meet 'someone' (and by 'someone' I mean the person I like), I imagine the whole situation in my head.
It becomes my own little, perfect motion picture:

„Ladies and Gentleman, enjoy this romantic comedy full of exciting twists and a charming couple, that will take your heart by storm!“

Everything is perfect:
The hug at the beginning, the shy glances and some ambiguous remarks in between and at the end there is a hollywood kiss.

In reality this whole affair is completely different:
A hug? Yes, but it feels a bit stiff.
There is no romantic sizzling in the air and certainly there is no kiss at the end.

Of course, I prefer the version in my head, but like every film, the realisation is quite an obstacle. You need a proper setting and a good timing and both of which are a hassle to organize.

Until then I will just stick with the motion pictures in my head and pretend that life is indeed 'la vie en rose'.
At least until reality strikes again.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Delicious hot plum dessert with a crisp

This recipe is perfect for those cold and uncomfortable sundays, when you just want to curl up on your sofa and enjoy a bit of heavenly sweetness.
It is actually inspired by the wonderful cinnamon oatmeal cookie recipe from „bite these goodies“ (which, by 
the way, an amazing source for easy, but tasty meals):

I used this recipe as a basis to create something crispy to go with the smooth texture of the plums.
Please note, that the information on the ingredients is not very precise, since this was just an experiment and I did not expect it to turn out that well. So, you might have to try a bit around, too, but actually this whole process is quite easy.

But now on to the ingredients!

For the plum dessert (1 person, 2 servings):

- plums (I used about 15 damson plums)
- water (enough to nearly cover the plums in the pot)
- cinnamon and brown sugar according to your liking

crispy topping:

- oatmeal
- butter
- brown sugar
- a bit of flour
- cinnamon

We are going to start with the topping, because this is slightly more difficult, but in the end it does not matter, if you start with the dessert first.

1. Put some butter into a mixing bowl and whisk it with some brown sugar until it is nicely blended. Note: I used about 50-60 grams of butter.

2. Once butter and sugar are combined, dust it with some flour and add about half a teaspoon of cinnamon. => Mix again.

3. Now it is time to add the oatmeal, about 50 grams. The texture of the dough should be very grainy and thick and not as creamy as the actual cookie dough.

4. Finally, spread the dough as an even, not too thick line, on a baking sheet.
Bake it for ca. 13-15 minutes on 180°C. This is what it should look like when it comes out:

According to our oven it might take a bit longer or less, but when you take it out, the edges should have browned. Once the topping has cooled down it should be crispy and easy to break it into small pieces. 

Next the plum dessert:

1. First of all you have to cut the plums into quarters, before they go into the pot.
Then add some water until the plums almost entirely covered. Heat the stove in order to boil down the plums. Do not forget to stir it from time to time. You do not want it to stick to the bottom and burn.

2. Once this mixture starts to thicken, add some brown sugar and cinnamon according to your liking. The plums give the mix a slight sourness, while still being fruity and sweet.
Soon your whole kitchen is going to smell like christmas!
When the mixture is nice and thick, turn down the stove. 

3. Pour some of your dessert into a bowl and top it off with your oatmeal crisps.
Then there is nothing left to do, but enjoy this belly and heart warming, little dish.

I am truly sorry, that I am not very elaborate, when it comes to descibing recipes, but I hope, that this was at least enough to inspire you.
Also, I would like to thank „bite these goodies“ for the amazing cookie recipe. I made these cookies already three times and they never failed.
AND if my recipe is too confusing, you have to try at least the cinnamon oatmeal cookies!

That's an order! :)