Switchback bento

Switchback bento
Switchback bento

I went a bit switchback mad! Here are some simple cheese wraps, surrounded by a tomato, a cucumber, an apple and a beetroot all done with the switchback method, as found here on bento.com

On our way shopping yesterday we decided to pop in at the Oktoberfest seeing as it was on our way. It was also Family Day which means a lot of the stalls have reduced prices on selected items. We bought some food (fish and chips!) and my little boy went on a ride and we got a stick of fluffy white Candy Floss (cotton candy). We’d already been in a Superdrug type shop (called DM here in Germany) where the kids got free balloons (so that saved about 10 Euros having to buy them at the Oktoberfest ๐Ÿ˜€

I was a Doubting Thomas last week. My Nokia XpressMusic camera phone malfunctioned and had to be sent away for repair. I had very low expectations for any positive news about it being repairable or replaceable. Usually here in Germany as a consumer “No Quibble” certainly does not apply. In fact I once bought a pair of Rubber Gloves from Schlecker and they tore the first time I put them on, but even though I had my receipt they refused to exchange them. Call me petty, but you’d think for a 2 Euro pair of household gloves, it would be a no-brainer. I save my receipts for EVERYTHING in case the item goes wrong within the gurantee period and sometimes if you argue long and hard enough the sales assistant will eventually back down / give in / agree to replace the defective item, seeing as the price of the item (even a 50 Euro electrical item) will pale into insignificance when they realise it would just be easier to issue a cash refund and have done with it.

Since we’ve been living here in Munich, we’ve had disputes with Bauknecht (Dishwasher company), Alice (Telecom / ISP), Postbank, Saturn (electrical goods) and even the British Consulate IN Germany. Rarely has making a formal complaint helped to resolve the issue, but it does make you wonder if nearly every company has some kind of deal with the German version of the Consumer Advice Bureau called the Verbraucherzentrale, because if you PAY the Verbraucherzentrale a fee, they will try and get your dispute reolved by offering a COMPROMISE so that you only have to pay HALF the amount the company is trying to rip you off for. So an 80 euro unwarranted charge from the dishwasher company ended up being settled for 40 Euros PLUS a 10 Euro fee to the consumer advice place. I’m obviously a cynic, and was quite prepared for news that my Nokia phone would be not accepted for free repair due to something I had agreed to when I signed up for the 2 year contract (signed my life away), and that I would be paying for a broken phone for the next 12 months.

End: rant

But credit where it’s due, O2 took care of sending my phone off to Nokia for repair / re-installation of the software / replacement of the touchscreen. I was only without my phone for a few days and now I’ve got it back, I am a very happy bunny boiler. So thanks O2 and Nokia. ๐Ÿ˜€


You can’t organise clutter, you have to get rid of it. I know, I know. But there are tools and gadgets we need on a daily basis that get shoved in drawers, left where they were last used or “put to one side”. You know what I’m talking about!

As I have been doing some SERIOUS decluttering this past week, I have found all sorts of USEFUL CLUTTER. I’ve found cables, adapters, connectors, memory cards, jigsaw pieces, belts, bobbles, nail varnish, lens cleaner, nail varnish remover, remote controls, batteries, covers for the remote controls, magnets, pegs, chess pieces, lego pieces, thingamijigs and whatdyacallits.

About a year ago, I made a list of the top 10 items that we seem to need on a daily basis that we need to lay our hands on and could never find. My husband put a new “special” shelf up – high enough that nosy boys and curious fingers can’t wreck the system hehe ๐Ÿ˜€ and I made labels for the edge of the shelf for each item on my top 10 list.

Here’s my list of items we need regularly but didn’t have a place for:

  • Nail clippers/tweezers
  • Glue
  • Measuring tape
  • Stapler / hole punch
  • Batteries
  • Pens
  • Sticky tape
  • Clips / paperclips
  • Remote controls
  • Keys
  • Scissors

Each item has aย  specially designated, labelled place on the shelf and has its own specially designated, labelled box / container on the correct part of the shelf. So since then, these top 10 items have been a LOT easier to find. This systemย  works best if you put things back straight after you’ve used them. We don’t always put things back straight away because we are not Born Organised. BUT when we are cleaning up (this is the royal “we” of course!) doing FLYLADY 5 min room rescues and stash and dash de-clutters then it is great to have a designated place for the item to call “home”.

Ok so there are 11 on my list but the last one was borderline so we had to include it, they are still referred to as the Top 10 on the “Top 10 shelf” ๐Ÿ˜€

Well writing about it makes it seem over simplified… I mean, in my kitchen I don’t have labels for the spoons, the forks, the plates etc – everything (everything?! hmm maybe not!) already has its place, and these aren’t labelled. Although thinking about it, I wonder how many cupboards and drawers I could put in good order simply by assigning labels?

I used to have labels on my chest o’ drawers at home as a kid. That way, you could always find a t-shirt or socks. I’m having an epiphany today – I think I might start doing that with my all my drawers and cupboards too, in my bedroom and kitchen!

But first! I will make labels for all these 20 remaining “useful clutter” items, and then let’s see if our home will start to be tidier, AND we will be able to find things more quickly.

“A place for everything and everything in its place” umm, right, ok, lightbulb moment. ๐Ÿ˜€

Funny that, cos I had an epiphany this morning too as I was using my rubber scrubber to brush soggy cornflakes out of the carpet. I could have prevented the cornflakes being scooped out onto the floor if I’d cleared the breakfast pots away from the dining table STRAIGHT AWAY instead of leaving them out to be interfered with. A stitch in time prevents nine. Right, now I geddit LOL ๐Ÿ˜€

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This bento is featured on What’s for Lunch Wednesday

Mushrooms or Toadstools

Mushrooms and Toadstools bento
Mushrooms and Toadstools bento

This is spaghetti in cheesy-tomato sauce or should that be tomato-ey cheese sauce? The grapes are scooped out and balanced on top of sticks of white tinned cheese (TINNED?! CHEESE?!) Yes! Cheese from in a tin, in brine. I was horrified too when I first saw it, but I have come to eat it with fond memories of my honeymoon in Denmark! I don’t know if this is a particularly European kind of cheese though – I haven’t seen this kind in England before, only Greek Feta but that is from sheep’s or goat’s milk, I believe. This cheese is from cow’s milk and it’s quite salty. I got this from a shop that sells mostly Turkish produce and it has Turkish writing on the tin.

The Babybel is balanced up there as well on the cheese sticks and the little round white dots are cut out from the white cheese with a drinking straw.

Weight Loss Scaredy-Cat-Challenge: I have put on a pound since I last posted but I expect that is just from finally re-hydrating myself, so nothing special to report other than it’s back to business as usual with the small portions and being sensible with particularly fatty / greasy food (although I will admit that I found some frozen Indian Paratha’s, which taste like puff pastry and I fried a couple up as a snack. So we know where the extra pound came from don’t we hehe!)
So I need to lose that 1 back and then 1 further pound then I will be halfway towards my goal of losing 26lbs.

We went to see Toy Story 3 at the cinema at the weekend in 3D! I was amazed at the 3D effects. I wasn’t too amazed by the price of the tickets, especially when I thought we’d booked to see it in English and it turned out to be in German, but despite that, a good time was had by all and my 3 yr old managed to sit through the trailers and the whole film without toilet breaks, fidgeting, wandering off, moaning or complaining, so I was amazed. That was our first ever time at the cinema in Germany and the first ever cinema visit for the kids. My 18mth old managed to get to 30 mins before the end before starting to cry so DH had to take him out. Overall I was really glad we went – it was fun and a new experience and nice to spend time together as a family. On top of that, we had a lovely meal afterwards in an Iraqi restaurant / kebab house.

It’s been a busy time recently – my son has been learning to ride a bike (with stabilisers) which was fun and cute, especially where I got him on video saying “I can’t Mama, I can’t, I can’t!” then the next minute – “I DOING it Mamaaaaa!!! I DOING it!”

I have done some online shopping and had deliveries going here, there and everywhere. One of the fragile things I got from Amazon was broken so I had to get a new printer so I could print out the returns paperwork. Total justification for getting a WI-FI printer, scanner, copier all in one, ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a SX510W Epson Stylus all in one. Was impressed with how easy it was to set up the Wi-Fi and my DH can print from his laptop wirelessly as well.ย  Thanks to the kid who put a drill bit in the old one thus rendering it destroyed. All’s well that ends well. ๐Ÿ˜€

Well, it will be if I can replace the broken Amazon item. Uh-Oh, I feel a Scaredy-Cat Challenge coming on…! I’d better psyche myself up to go to the German Post office to ship this package back…

Last time we went to the Post Office it was a complete nightmare – they had a Wendy-house thing made of cardboard – some kind of advert for house insurance or something, and my son kept hiding in it and knocking the chimney off it. It took us hours to get out and ended with me “betraying my cool exterior” and dragging him kicking and screaming out of the Post Office with everyone gasping in disgust, shock and horror! I don’t know if I’m brave enough to go back there!! Can’t I stay here?! Can’t someone else do it?! Maybe if I order a pizza, the delivery guy will take it back with him…. nice excuse to order Pizza LOL and a pretty good way to upsell on the Pizzas… offering a courier / forwarding service! now there’s a neat idea! Seriously!

Not in England though because the Post Offices are becoming extinct and “communities” need them so they can buyย  tokens for British Gas’s abominable Pre-Pay system, collect the “Giro” and get the DVLA tax disc for the car windscreen…. or the mobility scooter if it goes more than 4mph!!!.ย  Oh and don’t forget the bottle of bubbles with a little maze on the lid.ย  Not stamps, because no-one sends letters any more do they?!ย  I worked at a place once where I actually bought a franking machine with the company’s money to save us having to trudge to the Post Office and stand there waiting for the boxes to be weighed and labelled up. Shudder. So I admit I am guilty of playing my part in helping to get them extinctified.

Check out a new FLYlady-style game I blogged about here: Clock Patience Housework and a variation of the game here.

Happy Anti Procrastination Day!

Oktoberfest heart bento

oktoberfest heart bento
Oktoberfest Heart Bento

Yesterday I mentioned Oktoberfest and how I love the colourful gingerbread hearts (Lebkuchenherzen) which gave me an idea for today’s bento! Of course this one is not made of gingerbread; it is a meat sandwich on brown bread cut into a heart shape and decorated with coloured cheese hearts, flowers, leaves and a bow. The swirly lace / icing and white writing is actually mayonnaise (Thanks Diane for your suggestion!) I put a couple of spoonfuls into a homemade piping bag and squished and squeezed away, finally adding a drop of blue colouring for the extra layer of swirly “icing” for the edge.

“i mog di” is Bavarian for “I love you”!

Rubiks Cube Bento

Rubiks Cube Bento Food Art
Rubiks Cube Bento

As featured on Whats for Lunch Wednesday

Hello! Long time no see! Here is one I have been wanting to make for ages, but never got round to it until now, due to not having any food colouring left!

Not having lettuce in is another excuse but I think maybe my perfectionism was trying to get the better of me so I got some new colours and finally just jumped in!

This is a “musubi” type bento – inside the cube is tightly pressed boiled rice and in the centre of the rice is some chopped meat, cucumber and remoulade sauce. The cube of rice is then covered with nori seaweed sheets and decorated with coloured cheese squares. Surrounding the centrepiece are grapes, orange segments, tomatoes and cucumber slices.

Did you know I am a big fan of the Rubiks cube? I have the 3x3x3, the 4x4x4 and the 5x5x5 ! I learned how to solve the 3x3x3 from Dan Brown on his YouTube Channel (user name PogoBat)

I have not forgotten about my Scaredy Cat Challenges! I have given up smoking Praise God! And I have been able to colour in 10 little squares from my weight loss chart – yes each square is worth 1 lb in weight! So gradually very gradually the weight is coming off!

We are currently fasting for the muslim holy month of Ramadan from dawn until sunset.ย  I am trying not to over eat when we break the fast and drinking plenty of water, and although this has helped me to be able to colour in 3 more squares off my chart, I must expect that my weight will go back up slightly after the fasting is over, unless I seriously start to do more exercise. God willing, in October my son is starting Kindergarten so that will be at least 30 mins of exercise per day walking him there and back every day!

For more Scaredy Cat Challenges visit DianeDenmark.com. Diane blogs about life in Denmark, the good things in life and the FlyLady system.ย  She’s currently planning ahead for Christmas, using Flylady’s techniques.ย  I have already started making a list of people who I want to buy presents for, for Eid, birthdays and Christmas.ย  Yes, me! It’s not like me to be this organised LOL (BTW if you ever wondered why there are a lot of birthdays in November, it’s because Valentine’s day is in February!) I have even placed a couple of online orders with Ebay and Tesco. Tesco have already got the huge tins of Roses and Quality Streets in on a Buy One Get One Free!

Oktoberfest is starting here in Munich on the 18th September. The gingerbread hearts are so cute. I think it’s just given me an idea for some more food / cheese art – Watch this space! (Though I don’t know how I would do the white writing – so let me have a think about it!)oktoberfest gingerbread hearts

Another Scaredy Cat Challenge that I have set for myself is to get a YouTube video done. This means finding the battery charger for the camera and learning how to use video-editing software, and sorting out the lighting. I might be able to use my phone but I think the image will be grainy and not up to much. God Willing, I’ll be able to get something sorted out and achieve another Scaredy Cat Challenge Goal!

How have you been? ๐Ÿ™‚