Hedwig’s Hundred Household Helpers: coffee grounds make the world go round

A man in a diner calls out to the employee : “Waiter! This coffee tastes like mud!”

Says the waiter: “Why sure! It was only ground this morning.”

https://www.kaffeeform.com/de/  is the site to go to! They take all those leftover coffee grounds, mix them with some kind of special resin or glue and make fabulous-looking as well as good-smelling cups and saucers out of those very coffee grounds. They do cappuccino cups, larger cups and ! new addition ! the Weducer cup for your coffee-to-go cup. I love not only the smell, but more even the idea. (What I don’t really like are those Nespresso- capsule- flowery- recycled- thingies).  I have also tested the Spülmaschinen -festigkeit / dishwasher proof-ness of the cups and they have survived that test quite well.    kaffeeform Kaffeeform UG (haftungsbeschränkt)  Coffee recycling products

Never fear, there are more ways to re-use those coffee grounds: One is to top up your fertilizer for, most of all, geraniums, but also other flowers. If you are not sure, take less or just use leftover cooled down coffee for watering. Most of my shrubs and flowers enjoy the extra douse or filter with grounds (yes, I hand filter. The Danish/ French press kind was too strong to my taste after a few years). You can simply mix it into the soil underneath the shrubs. Best compost!

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Another way to use them is cleaning your stuffed kitchen drain. Two teaspoons of grounds or so just swoosh down a clogged drain and open it up, together with lots of hot water and liquid detergent / Spüli. I was told off by the handiman NOT to use Drano et alia. as it would corrode the pipes (oh my!).

What I have not yet tried is coffee grounds as a dye for Batik or Easter eggs, so far I have tried chamomile tea and also onion peels, which work well.20170509_VIP Lounge.jpg

Hoo hoo! Time for some deliciously aromatic coffee! Savour it!

 

 

Love and Patience

The photo above took me more than half an hour of patience at the Botanischer Garten in Munich.

But I do believe it was worthwhile waiting for the butterfly to settle down. (Oh, I just noticed the alliteration and the pun : www.) The biology expert talking to the visitors explained that these butterflies have about three weeks to procreate and then settle down forever. Naturally, they are ‘flutterier’ (is that a word at all?) than other animals who have a longer average lifespan.

Patience is a prerequisite to a happy life. If any of you has ever read M. Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran (Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt, 2001),  you will know the quote on page 71:  

« La lenteur, c’est ça le secret du bonheur »

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a yellowish-white butterfly on a hot pink flower

If you look mire closely at the wings’ edges of the blue and black butterfly    (oh dear, another one:  bbb), you can tell that some butterflies tear their delicate wings in the netting as they frantically flutter to and fro (fff! can’t help it!).

In our everyday humdrum lives it is not always easy to do or to practice, but one should always try it with patience.  Some Asian cultures have Buddha as a symbol (for complacency also?) or the lotus flower, which Yoga-lovers like imitating when they sit cross-legged on the floor. Some people enjoy cooking in their kitchenette or sailing around the world in a tiny nutshell.  Some love music (farewell, Sir Simon Rattle! what a fantastic concert in Berlin last night) or love dancing, like I do.  Some soft-spoken ones adore the “sound of silence”, like up on the mountain tops or diving to the ocean’s depths or even going to churches at Evensong, like St. Paul’s, London (eternal thanks to Sir Christopher Wren) silently savoring Gregorian-like chants and German hymns (I wonder which colleague of mine asked them to do us that favor?)

Our current Pope Francis, age 81 in 2018, is a fanal for us Christians. If you really believe in the saying “You should practice what you preach“, then you can easily identify with his lectures and precepts. My rule of thumb is, as he says, if you don’t act according to what you profess to believe in, then you are neither trustworthy nor credible. Exactly like “The Boy who cried ‘Wolf!‘ “.  A façade – phenomenon which is actually quite sad. People you cannot trust do not have many friends, that is a fact.

I am sure many of us cheered Melania on when she recently corrected her husband’s course on U.S. immigration policy and splitting up families. In this instance, Melania reminds me  of Catherine Parr: 

It is thought that her actions as regent, together with her strength of character and noted dignity, and later religious convictions, greatly influenced her stepdaughter Lady Elizabeth (the future Elizabeth I of England).[18]

Catherine or ‘Katheryn the Quene KP’  (1512[1] – 7 September 1548)  was the last of Henry VIII ‘s six wives. She was also the one who suggested he become the founder of several Colleges in his old age :

He was an avid gambler and dice player, and excelled at sports, especially jousting, hunting, and real tennis. He was known for his strong defense of conventional Christian piety.[6]  The King was involved in the original construction and improvement of several significant buildings, including Nonsuch PalaceKing’s College Chapel, Cambridge and Westminster Abbey in London.  Many of the existing buildings Henry improved were properties confiscated from Wolsey, such as Christ Church, Oxford; Hampton Court Palace;  the Palace of Whitehall; and  Trinity College, Cambridge. (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_VIII_of_England#Marriage_to_Catherine_Parr, accessed 06/24/2018)

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So, once again, we are remembered by our deeds, those deeds which help others get ahead, by showing patience, courage, love and generosity. Now doesn’t that remind us of another loving wife and philanthropist, Bill Gates’ Melinda? Just look at all those wonderful things they have been doing with the money accrued over his comparatively short business life. Truly amazing and inspiring. Another instance of love and patience.

Patience comes from the Latin word patiens:

1. long-suffering 
    erduldend, ertragend, ausharrend [laborum; doloris; servitutis; vetustatis
2. patient
    ausdauernd, geduldig
Love and patience will save the day, your day, carpe diem!

La bella e la mafia in Italia

When we left home with a plan to see the Blue Grotto of Capri, little did we realize what an adventure it would turn out to be. Our trip down through Italy in the summer of 2009 went over Rovereto to Pisa to Napoli, where we left our car (thanks again guys, ah me with my 10 words of Italian + noleggio!) for the week on car-less Capri (not yet car free, but thanks to all the microbus drivers!) , then up the steep Vesuvio (in open sandals! never again) and down to Pompei and Ercolano (Herculaneum) and other volcanic sites, leaving via Roma’s periphery, up though Perugia and back home.  In other words, in one line down from North to South and then about the same way up till Roma, and then switching to the East side going home.

Bildergebnis für mafia in italiano
http://www.ilfattonisseno.it/2018/01/mafia-per-un-italiano-su-3-e-ancora-piu-forte-di-30-anni-fa/

Then again, the trip itself is not worth commenting much on: the food was always semper buonísimo, the people gentle and pleasant, the sights and the leaning Tower of Pisa and the shoe shops (was that in the right order of importance?) were marvelous, I simply adored the big museum in Napoli, where the guide went out of his way to explain the sunlight beaming in the one corner of the large palace and to move according to the lines on the floor and tell the time and season. Our car park with the noleggio worked out wonderfully for the week on Capri, too.

No, the real story  started in Napoli. We drove along the outskirts on a road parallel to the coastline, where we saw many day laborers, mostly black Africans, awaiting their turn to board trucks taking them to farms to do seasonal jobs like picking fruit. All along the road, the Napoletani had placed their garbage in plastic bags outdoors at the edge of their property, hoping the communal garbage collectors would at some time pick them up. Yes, they were smelly and yes, no one came and yes again, in the heat of the day they would begin to emanate a sort of white nebulous fume, like wisps of smoke, making the bit of wind there rather pestilent. Of course we wondered why the garbage was not being picked up, of course we thought “the communal workers are on strike for better pay.” No, we did not think of the Mafiosi.

When we finally arrived at our pre-booked destination, there were countless men and boys bordering the long winding driveway to the hotel at the top of the hill. AND they started shouting in excited voices, only then they saw the Münchner Kennzeichen/ the Munich license plate and an Audi to boot, with great disappointment in their faces they turned their backs on us to wait some more.

Well? well! the national Soccer Team has their home base in said hotel with their own kickoff grounds and were regular guests. So when one of said soccer guys walked into the dining area as if he were the King of Kreation, one Italian lady sent her reluctant daughter to get an item of clothing for an autograph. We, naturally, did not recognize said King;  boy, did he look mad for a moment! Another soccer player tried to sneak in, dine, and sneak out again, I actually felt sorry for those who do not seek stardom.

Two days later we arrived by ferry on Capri, a lovely, yet really tiny islet. My husband was reverse-daunted by such a teeny-weeny place, but I suggested the Blue Grotto / La Grotta Azzurra first thing the next morning, and he felt a little better. And wonderful it was! As blue as it gets and a very nice gondoliere to explain things.

red round fruit served on clear glass bowl
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com     Caprese

Only the next morning, i.e. Tuesday, all the gondolieri and the Guardia costale and the Carabinieri and just about everybody regarded with dismay all the garbage floating in the water around and within the Grotta. Since I couldn’t quite comprehend the newspaper articles, I asked around till I found a nice person to explain to me in not quite perfect English (but I could piece together the missing parts), that the Mafia was actually blackmailing the communal representatives to give them the job of “cleaning up”. It took the poor people exactly that one week of our stay to clean up, when we left, the very first tourists were being rowed over to the Grotta again.

The way we felt about this occurrence cannot be put into words. How unutterably sad.

Beat you to it fellas, it’s BBQ season!

Hot fellas, HOT! That’s the way to do it, uh-huh. “Mütter können  nicht ständig die Welt retten, sie müssen auch noch kochen.” – “Mothers cannot constantly save the world, they have to cook as well”. Or, as I once read in a diner’s in the Mojave desert: “What took me two hours to cook, should take you at least ten minutes to eat”.

Which is why it is sooo much fun getting the guys to do the cooking instead! What male can resist the glow of hot coals and firewood? The pleasure of popping sounds when the ignition fluids start burning? The joy of wearing a long apron round that pot belly proclaiming Himself  the King of Kooks? ah, cooks, ahem.

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Meanwhile the helping housewife will have marinated the steaks in pineapple juice, pepper corns and sunflower oil over night.

She will also have fixed up some tasty SIDE dishes (and not overwhelming Himself’s sense of Heroism, such as

noodle salad (4 p.)

300 g pasta (I like Pfiffli the best) cooked al dente, about 10″, cooled

1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced

1/2 each yellow and red bell peppers, sliced and diced

1 onion or spring onions, chopped

4 pickles with curcuma, chopped

some spoonfuls of fresh/ frozen corn

(1/2 a round of Lyoner (or mortadella) chopped; only if not so much meat available)

some spoonfuls of mayonnaise  ( > Mahón, capital of Menorca)

1 cup of yoghurt, plain

salt, pepper, curcuma, pickle marinade to taste

Blend all ingredients and toss well, cool before serving. You can leave out the Lyoner if you’re having steaks and other meats.

Another delight is the salad Caprese: Tomatoes and Mozzarella with olive oil and lemon and fresh basilic leaves.

Do not forget the 5 l Barrel of beer, the crusty breads and Brezel, the ketchups and sauces and mustards (ah, that mustard joke!), the Smores for the kids and Big Kids after the BBQ is over, the fresh fruit salad and of course some homemade cake.

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Mustard in French:  moutarde de Dijon:

Two men happen to meet after having been in Africa for many years and agree to go to a restaurant together. As neither has been in France for a very long time, they begin to notice other people asking for a yellow paste which is spread thinly on the steak-frites. Since he is now well-off, the man on the left asks for a pot of this “moutarde”, dips in his spoon and puts a spoonful into his mouth.

His eyes begin to water, but he swallows the whole spoonful heroically. The second man asks, “Why are you crying all of a sudden?” The first replies, “Oh, it is nothing. I just happened to think of my poor father who was almost eaten by African cannibals.”

The other, encouraged, also dips his spoon into the moutarde pot and attempts to swallow. He, too, suddenly has teary eyes. Asks the first man, “Why are you crying now? Is the moutarde too spicy?”

Says the second, “Ah no, I was thinking of your father, you know, and wishing he had been eaten by those African cannibals!”

 

 

Caipirinha y Cuba, mi amor!

Ah Cuba! My old love… no longer the same after Fidel’s death, still not up to par due to the U.S. embargo, still imbued with morbid magnificence and awesome Oldsmobiles.

Never shall I forget what Cuba was like in the late fifties, when my daddy visited the place ante quem or in 2004 when we embarked on one of our most adventurous trips through La Habana, Trinidad and Cienfuegos.

Our guide was a mathematics teacher forced to do tourist jobs for US $$$ to buy goods at the ‘black market’.

Our midday musicians: four men with the most beautiful son selling their DIY – CDs for the ridiculaour amount of € 10,- while walking past the tables and serenading the foreign-born guests. Btw, recording is for free and after that they are on their own. If you can still find a copy of these old CDs, please write.

Granma lying in the shade of a building not far from the Best Ballet Theater by far built on the model of European buildings. Trucks falling apart on the pot-hole-ridden streets (?!?) until they are reassembled and repaired by ripping apart another old Soviet truck. Men and women rolling the precious and aromatic tobacco leaves so very carefully, all the while listening to the lectora de tabaquería, considered meanwhile intangible cultural heritage. Boy do I love those cigars. I am not even a smoker, never have been.

Museum guards that ask visitors for a simple bar of soap or shampoo  –  however, we were forced to leave our bags in a safe at the front desk. Postcards that cost $2,-  and even more for postage – I sent them in August and they arrived on St. Nicholas, December 6 (!).

Our gardeners at the hotel on Varadero who were former civil engineers,who knew no English nor German. Our waiter who whispered about tons of food, like the French butter and the Spanish ketchup packs being thrown away, because Castrismo at that time meant ‘All for one and not much for all‘. The ration cards for beans, sugar and rice allotted to each family dealt out in tiny, hardly noticeable shops at the corner. The first ‘Bed & Breakfast places’, clandestinos.

And in the evening the cabaret show at Tropicana, which probably has not changed much since the day of the Bahía de los cochinos long, lascivious women’s legs, fat odorous tan puros, dimmed lights, sensually swaying hips, lavish costumes (at least on the top of their heads, not so much around the middle, ouh là là!), finally, ron de Bacardí, humidity, hot kisses …

Ah qué sueño más feliz!

La vida es sueño, y los sueños, sueños son...

(Calderón de la Barca, 1600-1681, contemporary of Shakespeare)

 

Caipirinha  – Put together:

some fresh limes

a teaspoon or so of brown cane sugar

Bacardí rum (or Pitú) – do not be too generous!  –   drink responsibly

a pestle for crushing the limes

ice cubes

BFF – fresh fruit and cake

BFF – fresh fruit and cake

BFF –  Best Friends Forever! Fresh fruit of the season combined with a simple cake recipe that goes a long way, because adaptable to your needs. If you have guests, you can just up the recipe to 250 g each or downsize to 150 g each ingredient. 

Preheat your oven to 200° (360° F)

You need:

200 g butter / margarine (1 cup = 250 g)

200 g sugar, white refined or cane sugar

2 – 3 eggs

Schnapps or vanilla or butternut aroma (a dash)

200 g flour

2 tsps. baking powder / soda

about 2 cups / 500 g fresh fruit: apples, rhubarb,  red currants, plums (or mix!)

nuts for topping if you like

lots of cinnamon on top of the apples or quinces or plums or pears

a bit of extra sugar for sour berries

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Whip the butter and sugar till creamy, add in eggs one by one and beat till frothy. Add in the flavoring / aroma and beat some more, till the sugar is dissolved.

Put in the flour with the baking soda and stir in carefully. Add nuts and / or raisins if desired.

Spoon the batter into a cake form (mine is 26 cm) lined with baking paper at the bottom. Spread evenly. Top on the fruit and press into the batter delicately.  The fruit will sink in while baking. Bake approx. 35 min. on the 2nd bottom-most rack or until a toothpick inserted will come out clean again.

The above photo shows my currants while ripening from green to a brilliant red as of end of July, as well as plums, pears, and gooseberries. Yes, I am busy. But then again, straight from Mother Nature’s abundance into my mouth, yumyum! Enjoy!

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly
Lavender’s green
When I am king, dilly dilly
You shall be queen
Call up your men, dilly, dilly
Set them to work
Some to the plow, dilly dilly
Some to the cart
Some to make hay, dilly dilly
Some to cut corn
While you and I, dilly dilly
Keep ourselves warm
woman in blue and white skated dress
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com               
adults beach couple enjoyment
Photo by Adam Kontor on Pexels.com
Lavender’s green, dilly dilly
Lavender’s blue
If you love me, dilly dilly
I will love you

So goes the song and so must every garden have a few lavender shrubs to chase away bugs from the rose bushes.  I prefer the kind of lavender with the long stalks so I can make pretty braids and or cut the tips short to fill up my sachets with fresh lavender and place them inside the closets and wardrobes.

The braids are easy to make. You take a bunch of fresh cut stalks and bind them tight towards the cut ends. Then fold them upside down to hide the ends on the inside. Braid the stalks like a thick braid of hair and finish with a nice satin ribbon in your favorite color to hang wherever you please. The smell is hypnotizing, the only one like it is Aqua Lavanda Puig which I buy in Spain.

The most common use of lavender, if not in the perfume and olfactory business, is the sachet (tiny bag)  of lavender flowers to perfume your linen closet, keeping out moths and making everything hanging inside smell delectable.

For the sachets you take a pretty  length of cotton cloth about 18 cm x 6 cm, stitch up the sides and run a wide band around the top to put in a drawstring. The flowers are culled, sewn into a tiny bag of mesh and covered by a cotton bag with embroidery or the like, then tied with a length of satin ribbon.

If possible, construe the outer bag so the inside one can be replaced each year. Fill the sachet with the mesh bag of lavender blossoms and pull the string tight. The flowers need replacing every year since the aromatic oils evaporate after a short while.20180723_sachet lav.jpg

For those who wish to use lavender in soap, there are the fantastic Savon de Marseille blocks. There are several shops in Marseille that offer a private visit in their factory at the back. Pure savon de Marseile is made of nothing but soda and olive oil and lavender oil. One can buy them in a fish form or as blocks and in various other combinations.

grey and yellow salt fish
Photo by Uncoated on Pexels.com

I myself am a Pisces, so naturally, I bought fish soaps to give to my friends and family. Sniffi sniffidee snuff, now it is enough!