I love streetart. In fact, the first website I’d ever had was a super basic static one I built from scratch using dreamweaver (with a lot of help from my web designer friend), where I uploaded pictures of streetart I found. This would have been when I was doing my undergrad or just after, maybe about 2004? I cannot for the life of me remember where it was hosted, I definitely didn’t pay for it, but I never shut it down, so it may still out there somewhere. I’ve no idea how I would find it though if it does still exist!
Anyway, this was back in the day when streetart was a big thing, even in Edinburgh which was never a centre for these things, there was lots about. Now though, there’s nothing. These pictures are from Paris and even there things seem to have slowed down a bit. There was still quite a lot of stuff, and they have these corners, particularly in the Marais, which are completely covered, and where presumably it’s legal to put up stuff – some of them are so intricate there is no way that was done covertly. But even so, from the condition some of the things were in, I think they’ve been around for ages. I fact, I recognised some of them from last time we visited 5 years ago. The person that does these ravers with the glitter was new to me though, sadly i wasn’t able to work out their name.
I was quite interested to read this article the other day about how Clacton Council is saying graffiti’s to be welcomed if it’s by banksy, and a crime if it’s by anyone else. I think the fact that lots of the original big street artists are now selling in galleries probably has something to do with streetart being kind of over as a movement. I would be delighted if it made a comeback though!
I love Christmas, but the last couple of years I haven’t been getting into the spirit enough. Two years ago we were hibernating with a newborn, so pretty much ignored it, and while I had all the best intentions last year, I kind of left it quite late, and it was a Luxembourg year so we were leaving early and there didn’t seem that much point in going all out with the decorations (though I did learn to crochet a star chain). But this year I am prepared and have started thinking about it now!
The thing that always puts me in the Christmassy mood most of all is baking, and there’s no better Christmas baking tradition than the German one. So today I thought I’d share with your two classic German Christmas biscuit recipes, that I plan on making soonest!
These are the ones that always get the best feedback when I make them for people! They are crumbly crescent shapes.
They rely heavily on vanilla sugar, which is a staple ingredient in German baking and you can buy all year round in little sachets. Recipes will say something like 2 packets of vanilla sugar, it’s not measured in spoons, which can make it a bit of a pain when you don’t have access to the packets. I think a packet is about a heaped teaspoon. Vanilla sugar isn’t very commonplace in the UK obviously, but a few years ago someone got me a big jar from the M&S Christmas section, not sure they still have it. I still have some German sachets, I complained about not being able to get it here, and asked me mum to send me some. She ended up sending me about 100 sachets, I’m not sure I’ll ever run out! Anyway, it’s easy to make fresh with vanilla pods and sugar, either by sticking some pods in a jar of sugar and letting it infuse for a while, or just scraping out the seeds and mixing them with sugar.
The other ingredient that’s common in German baking that’s difficult to find is ground hazelnuts. I’ve yet to find them anywhere. You could just substitute for almonds, or if you have a food processor you could grind then yourself (you can get whole ones from health food shops). That’s what I do because I love the flavour of hazelnuts!
Anyway, here’ a recipe (translated from here. It makes a big batch, half of everything would work too):
- 560g white flour
- 160g caster sugar
- 400g butter, cut into small squares
- 200g hazelnuts
- 100g sugar for turning in
- 4 packets/teaspoons vanilla sugar
Mix the flour, caster sugar, butter and nuts into a solid dough. Shape into a long roll, wrap in clingfilm and put it in the fridge to cool through (ideally an hour). Cut out small bits, shape into crescents. Bake at 175° on a lower shelf until slightly golden, about 15 Minutes. Mix the remaining sugar and vanilla sugar, and turn each Kipferl in it from all sides straight out of the oven. Leave to cool.
These are my favourites! They’re cinammony and citrusy and a bit chewey and basically amazing! No flour so presumably gluten free (I wouldn’t want to say for sure as there seems to be gluten in just about everything)? And they don’t need any ‘weird’ baking ingredients either.
Here’s a recipe (via here) Again, massive portion:
- 500g ground almonds
- 425g icing sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons amaretto (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
Mix the almonds, 300g icing sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest. Add 2 egg whites and amaretto. Mix and knead into a smooth dough. Roll out 1cm thick and punch out stars with a cookie cutter and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper (it will stick if you don’t use baking paper). Dunk the cookie cutter in icing sugar in between goes. Beat the remaining egg white until very solid, then add the remaining 125g icing sugar slowly. Brush the egg white mixture onto the stars. Bake 10-15 minutes at 150° on the lowest shelf. You are really drying these more than baking them.
photos are clicakble for source
This is what I wore on our full day I Paris (we only stayed two nights). The photos are taken in Montmartre where we went for fabric shopping, but also of course to climb to Sacre Coeur and look over the city which even on a foggy day is pretty awesome. I liked Montmartre better this time round, cos it was less overrun with tourists it not being the summer, plus we had just had lunch, so I gave it a fairer chance – last time we visited, we were really hungry and somehow unable to find anywhere nice to eat. It does feel nicely self contained with its own character. I’m still not sure I’d totally choose to stay there if we visit again though, it is a pain to get to places from there, and even in October there was enough tourists to stop you being able to pretend to live there. Ah well, next time we go, it’ll probs be with Milo anyway and then our airbnb choices will be much more restricted, so we may just have to go with the flow.
On a completely unrelated note, you know how sometimes people give advice to take outfit photos from below to make yourself seem taller? I can reliably report that this is not a good idea if you have chunky legs!
* dress – asos * shoes – clarks * necklace – my mums * gap trench – charity shop * bag – scaramanga *
We finally went and got Milo’s hair cut yesterday. I can’t say it was particularly enjoyable, but at least not as bad as expected, he only actually cried while the hairdresser was cutting the fringe, although he did squirm all the way through. Thank goodness for specialist kid’s hairdressers! Anyway, afterwards we let him run free in Bruntsfield links and he was delighted!
A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2014
While we were in Luxembourg at my parents we had a sneaky two days in Paris without the microbee. We were really worried about leaving Milo, as he’s never been away from us for longer than an evening, which is why we only stayed away for two nights and made sure we were back well before bed time on the day we returned. In the end, it was totally fine! He apparently did not cry or have tantrums at all, which is nothing short of a miracle!
Anyway, it was good we only went for two days because we completely knackered ourselves out walking about all day. We hardly got the metro at all and our legs felt so tight by the end of it we were ready to collapse onto the train.
We have a very specific way of discovering a city actually, which I’m not sure anyone else does, but works for us. Pretty much all our holidays are to European cities, and what we do is research them lots in guides (we always get time out if there is one), websites and blogs and find some hidden gems. Which sometimes turn out not to exist any more, or not be so gem-like after all, but doesn’t matter because the most important thing is that once we’ve picked them we walk between them. And in the process see the city.
On our full day the things we had looked up were a secret toy shop, a street of antiques shops focusing on mid century stuff and an arcade. In the end, the toy shop was either closed down or in renovation (it’s courtyard was a building site) and the antiques street turned out not to be particularly mid century based after all (the arcade was ace and I will blog it soon), but in the process we walked from Pere Lachaise, to Bastille roundabout, to Notre Dame, Saint Germain du Pres, the Louvre and all the bits round Opera and les Halles. We’d planned to get the metro to a restaurant we’d picked in Pigalle before fabric shopping in Montmartre but in the end there wasn’t a convenient connection so we ended up just walking there too.
I really recommend this approach to exploring a city, it gives you something to focus on so you don’t just wander about randomly, but it does have an element of chance to it depending on what connecting street you end up taking and you’ll stumble across lots of fun things you’d never otherwise have noticed!
And that’s all for today! I’ve got a few Paris-themed posts planned over the next few weeks, so more soon!
While we were in Luxembourg we went to the butterfly park in Grevenmacher near the German border for a small trip. Milo wasn’t that interested in the butterflies, I think they were too high up and too fast moving for him but he loved the birds, fish and lizards. I went a bit crazy with taking photos, there was just so many photogenic things and I don’t know how to edit them down!
I’m not actually autumn’s biggest fan, seeing as in Scotland it means constant rain and the stealthy onset of below zero temperatures at night, but I’ll take it if it means sunny beautiful orange toned gardens, as it did at my parents!
The skirt is my second Deer and Doe Chardon. I felt a bit guilty not actually showing what it looked like round the waist, so here it is with something tucked in. I’m actually not 100% sure it’s a good idea to tuck this tshirt in, it bunches around the belly. Oh well, add it to the list of not quite rights about this outfit! The fabric choice was definitely not ideal, I ironed this about 15 minutes before taking the pictures and it’s already completely crumpled. Can’t win them all!
Also wearing new shoes here. They are the same style from clarks as the white ones I got at the beginning of the year and have worn constantly since then. They were my finishing studying treat. I really needed some canvas shoes more as my cons are completely walked through to the point the canvas is showing on the sole and water is getting in, but it’s getting cold anyway so I won’t be needing those much until the spring, and I wanted these more. I am so into brogues! The white looks great but it’s a pain to keep clean whereas the black I can just cover it up with polish if it ever gets scratched.
* top – orla keily for uniqlo * skirt – I made it * necklace – tatty devine, gift * shoes – clarks
We’ve discovered a new game. Well the game’s not really new, it’s just running around, but Milo has, on his own accord, started saying ‘Steady, GO!’ (I guess they must have taught him this at nursery. As they must have taught him that horses are called horseys, sheep baa baas and trains choo choos. Because they are not phrases we ever used to him ourselves until he started using them himself.) So now we play ‘Ready, Steady, Go’ which is basically him crouching down and then everyone running off at go.
A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2014
P.s. Dave disagreed with my photo choice this week. Of course he was overruled because while I value his views (Hi skat!) I’m the boss of this blog. But in case anyone would like to see a less dynamic, but more smiley picture of Milo in ready steady go mode, this is his favourite.