Favourite Friday: things I like to do the old fashioned way

The Favourite Friday series is back!

Modern technology is cool and everything, but some things I still I like to be done in an old fashioned way. Definition of old fashioned used very loosely here.

I don’t put our laundry in a tumble dryer after washing, but hang to dry.

Very few people still write letters or send postcards, which is very sad. I love getting postcards for my birthday, and I’d be happier about a few letters per year than I’d be about a ton of e-mails. Also, if you don’t like paper, a text message is still better than birthday greetings on facebook. I ask people to send me postcards when they go on holidays, and cherish these cards more than your travels blogs (which are totally fine and interesting nevertheless) because they are personal.

We switched to soap bars a while ago and I like them better than liquid soap. Liquid soap is a waste of packaging and full of weird chemicals these days.

In class at university I take notes by hand, despite my bad handwriting (sometimes I can’t read my scrawl myself), and I carry around a small note book (as in paper) and a timer instead of using a smartphone or my computer for putting down important stuff. It’s just easier for me to concentrate on real paper. That’s why I prefer to print out at least the most important papers I have to read, because to truly get to the bottom of a complicated topic I need to sit in a comfortable position and cover the paper in highlighter and side notes.

I buy physical CDs if I want to listen to something more often, and I like using them in my old CD player. Sometimes I sit at my computer, but the music is coming from the CD player or radio next to my table. All-in-one devices are cool, but most of the time I feel more relaxed when there are different devices for different purposes. When just the radio is on while I read a book I don’t feel the urge to check my e-mails all the time, because it would mean having to boot the computer first. And it would be very confusing if music came out of my camera while taking pictures.

I don’t own a smartphone. When I need to go somewhere new I look at a map (okay, I cheat and use googlemaps to draw myself a small sketchy map to take with me), and I ask people for directions. When I need to catch a bus on the way home I either look up the times before or I ask someone who knows them or can look them up. Sometimes a smartphone can be really useful, but in many situations I prefer talking to actual people. On the train I read books most of the time.

Some things I don’t do all the time I but find comforting once in while are making food stuff from scratch – bread, pizza, candy, smoothie, lemonade, iced tea – and growing my own vegetables (though I’m not very successful at this).

In the kitchen I use simple devices most of the time – whisk instead of electronic mixer, simple manual juice squeezer instead of a big machine, mixing bowl with measuring marks instead of a scale. Less complicated to clean, and it just feels more natural.

And just this week I hang up some herbs to dry in the warm summer air.

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The next two weeks I’ll tell you a bit more about random things I like to do in my free time.

automatic world and a lack of stars


Some days ago I heard this song for the first time. It touched something deep inside of me. I miss a simpler world, less hectic, less abstract. I long for nights with more than just a few stars visible against the light pollution of the city. By making our world automatic and being oh so advanced (or so we think) we robbed ourselves of so much beauty.

I wish there were more people who’d write me letters or postcards. And if I found a way to live in a more rural area and still do academic work I’d be a really happy person; I’d even give up university if I knew for certain it was the right way.

I’ll write more about stars, space, simple living, and other dreams on another day. There’s something about it, something inside me. Something that won’t stay quiet.

Upcycling a chopstick

Today I tried for the first time in many weeks if my hair is long enough now for a bun held by a single, long hairpin. Victory! Finally I managed to do this bun: http://kupferzopf.com/dutts/wickeldutt.html (the page is in German, but the pictures should be explanation enough) … held by a chopstick. Because I have no long hairpins as I’ve been wearing a braid held by two small hair ties for many months now.

Well, after half a day of running around on campus with a chopstick on the back of my head and getting stuck in my scarf and the hood of my jacket all the time I decided to make myself a shorter and nicer hairpin from this annoying stick.

I really like it now, so I decided to show you how to upcycle a random chopstick with nothing but sandpaper.

First of all you need a chopstick, needless to say. I used on of those you get for free with Asian take-out here.

P1280197Put it in your bun and decide how long you want it to be in the end. Then remove the excess of chopstick. I just stood on the tip of the stick and snapped it  carefully, but you could use a knife, a saw, or whatever of course. Take the part you want to use and smooth the new tip with sandpaper. I used very rough sandpaper I had around, but anything medium should work as well. Make sure you get something like a blunt but still pointed tip, or you won’t be able to shove it through your bun easily (I tried before using sandpaper, and it was not funny, I can tell you.) I decided to flatten it a little as well. It should look somewhat like this in the end:

P1280200Put it in your bun and wear it with pride :)

P1280192(Please ignore the heap of boxes, my family came over last weekend and we put all the random stuff lying around in the living room on darling’s desk. We really need to organize the wires and soldering station and all.)

I’m thinking about adding some colour at a later point – after sanding the whole thing down a little it should be possible to use the acrylics and the simple water based varnish already in my craft cupboard. Of course one could add ornaments by glueing things to the thicker end to make it look more elegant, but for the time being I like the simplicity of my version. Although I might shorten it a little more.

simple broccoli-and-pasta casserole

This is not going to turn into a home-making blog, I promise!

But I hope you’ll like my super simple recipe for a quick, tasty, and at least somewhat healthy casserole. And the best thing is, there are so little utensils and basic ingredients needed that it can be made even by poor students without a huge army of cooking pots ;)



  • cooking pot which should hold enough water for the first three ingedients, lid is optional
  • ovenproof dish (I use glass casserole dishes)
  • colander (or whatever you want to call it, strainer, sieve … just make sure it has holes which are small enough to keep the pasta in!); this can be omitted if you use a lid on your pot and know how to strain water by tilting it.
  • a wooden spatula or a spoon will be helpful it you want to bake the casserole immediately after cooking the ingredients!
  • sharp knife, cutting mat or plate, optional: cheese grater
  • cooking plate and oven

Ingredients (for about 4 servings)

  • 500 g of pasta of your choice
  • 2/3 or a whole broccoli head
  • 1/2 to 2 carrots, depending on your liking for them
  • some salt, whatever spices you want
  • cheese of your choice and amount
  • recommended: butter (or other kind of edible grease) for the dish
  • optional: tomato, second kind of cheese (e.g. cream cheese), diced bacon


If you grate the cheese yourself, you might want to do this first of all.  Pre-packed grated cheese would be another option. Usually I just cut the cheese into small pieces while the other stuff is boiling, because grating young Gouda is no fun.

Put pot with water on the cooking plate. While the water heats, wash carrot and broccoli. Peel the carrot and cut it into small pieces (I prefer half slices), then separate the broccoli into small florets. When the water boils, put in pasta, carrot pieces, and broccoli (yes, I boil them all together in one pot, it really works), add a little salt. Wait until it all boils well, then lower the heat a little and let it all cook for about 10 minutes. (If the instructions on your bag of pasta instead says 12 or 15 minutes, you should follow that instruction, of course.)

For easier cleaning afterwards, cover the inside of your casserole dish with a thin layer of butter (I just take the butter and rub it over the glass, works best when the dish is slightly warm). If you cut your cheese by hand, you might want to do it now. In case you want to top your casserole with tomato slices, slice your tomato now.

After boiling pasta and vegetables, strain it all in a colander. Mix with spatula. If you’re a passionate carnivore, you can add some diced bacon as well. Put the first layer of your mixture into the dish, then cover with some of the cheese. Repeat until you have some nice layers. If you want to, you can put your tomato slices on the last pasta-and-vegetable-layer before you finish it all off with an extra thick layer of cheese.

Put in the oven, bake for approximately 25 minutes at about 200°C.

Tadaa, some yummy casserole :)

Favourite Friday: Words and Colours

Sometimes I have no clue what to write about. So I got the idea to do something weekly like many other bloggers do. It will be about things I cherish and enjoy. Favourite things. Simple things. And I invite all of you to comment a lot and tell me what about your favourites in the weekly category/categories!

Let’s start with words and colours!

Favourite (English) words: serendipity, lush, and cerulean (favourite words in other languages are another issue … for Swahili I’m considering shaghala-baghala “chaos”, mjinga “uneducated idiot” (yep, I use this a lot …), kabisa “completely”, and matatizo “troubles”; in French maybe papillon “butterfly”, and in German it would be some funny, randomly made up composite word … )

Favourite colours: current favourite is cerulean blue (which inspired me to start this stuff), and indigo, but what really is my favourite colour keeps changing depending on season and mood. Mostly natural, not too bright ones. And I like colours with pretty names, obviously :)