Books

The books I read in May

I got disappointed from the books I was reading during the last two months. I was following an urge to reduce my list of books-to-read, which consists of several random books. I am an active bookcrosser (if you don’t know what this is, check my post about Bookcrossing), so I have accumulated several random books that I got as exchanges or in games over the past years.

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In May I followed this urge, so I read Mortal Remains by Gregory Hall, but I am afraid I can’t recommend it to anybody. According to the presentation of the book, it is a brilliantly plotted story of crime and passion. According to me it is a book that originally looks promising, but then these hopes die. Well, the story is about two siblings, a woman and a man, who came from an important family of the town of Oxfordshire, but with a strange past. Their father disappeared many years ago and they had no clue about him, but he was stained as a spy and a traitor. A body is discovered more than 20 years later and the whole story comes up again with an “exciting” solution.

I really tried to follow the escalation of the story, although it was taking far too long. And in the end the solution was far too complicated. Several crimes combined in order to influence the life of the two main characters. Did the mother plan to kill the father, or was it his lover? And what about her affair too? Was the father’s lover Polish, French or what? Wait, there is also a twin added in the pot, eh sorry story. And drugs and art fraud as well! And more corpses are coming up!

After this book, I lost my patience of reading random books. So I went back to an old classic series I had left behind: Brother Cadfael of Ellis Peters! In May I read two books, of this series:

  1. The Pilgrim Of Hate, nr. 10 of the series
    In general I like Brother Cadfael, but this was not one of the best. Admittedly not all books of a 20-book-series can be really good. This book left me the impression that it was a wrap-up of the story. Cadfael is getting older and so he felt the urge to confine to a friend. Hugh Beringar (the local sheriff, a good friend and the father of Cadfael’s godchild) is the lucky one to learns two of the main secrets of Cadfael. On parallel, there is the story of two pilgrims that arrive in the abbey for the feast of Saint Winifred, but that one is a bit too strange.
  2. An Excellent Mystery, nr. 11 of the series
    This was a story of love, in contrast to the previous one that was a story of hate. And it was a bit of a special book! The mystery itself is not so difficult (I figured out the solution by page 80), but nevertheless the book doesn’t become boring. It is still interesting to see how the secret will be revealed in the best interest of the people involved. This means that even if I knew what they will find out, I was still following the story, so as to see how the young hero discovered the truth and how Ellis Peters brought the revelation, in the best interest of all the people involved.

Admittedly, none of the books I read in May will be remembered for long, but Brother Cadfael is a nice series of books in total!

Bullet journal

Organising house move through bullet journal

In continuation to the post I wrote about a month ago, about organising house seeking through bullet journal and since we decided which house to rent, this month we have to organise the move and once again my bullet journal comes in handy!

To begin with, we decided that we are not going to move the furniture ourselves, but we are going to hire a company. My husband initiated the process of getting offers and I started taking the notes. The result was a page in my journal similar to the one of the houses:

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But the most imporant and fun task of the move is the “decoration”. Even the previous times we moved, my husband and I used the layout of the new house and the current furniture in appropriate scaling, so as to decide where everything will go. It is a funny procedure, but it proves itself to be brilliantly useful and important!

BuJo house plan
Inventory of our furniture and list of things to solve before the “big” day

I could have used my bullet journal for the whole of this procedure, but I have an A5 size notebook (the Filofax Clipbook in a bright red). We wanted to have a bigger sized layout of the new house, so as to be able to play around with the furniture. So the actual plan was done outside my bullet journal, but the inventory of our furniture is now part of my journal. I also note the important questions we have to solve before the moving company comes to collect our things.

For the plan of the house we used the layout we got from the agency and the area the different furniture will occupy. I created the two-dimensional footprint of our furniture by taking into consideration the scale of the layout of the house. And the result was this:

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Isn’t it cute and funny? We can move the furniture around and try them around in the different rooms, so as to check our alternatives already!

 

Books

My introduction to Bookcrossing

I am proud to say that I am a Bookcrosser! And a lot of my friends are too, but you may not have heard about it. This is ok; I am going to explain it shortly.

Bookcrossing

This is how it all started for me: As I explained in my post Books: The Beginning I have been reading a lot since I was a child. By the time I was finishing university I had accumulated several books that belonged to me and I did not want to keep all of them in my possession. So I started exploring the different options I had of finding a new life for them. Throwing them away was out of the question! And in this search Bookcrossing came up!

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A book I have left in Haarlem, The Netherlands

Bookcrossing means giving a book a unique identity (the Bookcrossing id or BCID) and then letting it travel to find new readers.

Thanks to its BCID, it can always be tracked down and its journey can be registered. You can let it travel by several ways. You can leave it on your favourite bench. You can leave it anywhere you want and hope that it will make somebody happy. Or you can give it to somebody that you know wants to read it or would enjoy it.

The Bookcrossing community is international. It started in 2001 in the USA, but ever since it has expanded to 132 countries. There are currently 1,901,290 Bookcrossers and 12,477,228 books travelling. I have met several nice people through bookcrossing! Bookcrossing is for free to join (there are no fees to be a member) and free to play (we share the books for free).

To more practical matters, if you have a book and want to bookcross it, the steps are easy.

Step 1: You go to www.bookcrossing.com to register your book. You insert the necessary information and the system returns you a number with 11 digits in the following form 123-12345678. This is the BCID for this book. You have to write this number, as well as some basic information about the whole bookcrossing idea, inside the book, so that the finder can understand what it is about. This can be done either by ready labels or just write it down yourself if there is space. The Athens bookcrossers tend to put the labels inside the first cover, because we have noticed that people tear up the page with the label and then sell it as used book 😦

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The book I reading this week was also a bookcrossing book

Step 2: You share the book, or in bookcrossing jargon release it! As I said before you can give it to somebody. If you know the person, this is called “controlled release“, as there is no surprise in its destination. Another option is the “wild release“. This way hides a surprise: the book is left to find its reader itself. In the park,  in the train station or the airport,  in a random free library, anywhere it is possible to be seen. In the photo above I have left a book inside the old stone at the mill De Adriaan, in Haarlem, The Netherlands.

Bookcrossing page
This is what you will see if you go to the website

Step 3: When the new reader finds the book, he can go to www.bookcrossing.com and insert the BCID, which will lead him to the diary of this book. There he can write his impression or anything he wants, even if he is not already a member of the community. The only advantage of being a member is that you can trace back the Bookcrossing books that have passed through your hands.

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Example of the page of a real book I have registered

And since I have explained the basics of Bookcrossing, let me tell you the big and sad truth: Unfortunately not a lot of people find the books and go into the trouble of registering them. Nevertheless, once you do get the message that one of your books is caught and registered, it gives you such an amazing feeling! And some books are having such an amazing trip themselves! I still remember a book I took with me from the Netherlands and released it in Copenhagen, Denmark and it was caught by somebody that took it to Finland!

Well, I have said enough! Have you heard of bookcrossing before? Are you already a Bookcrosser? Or maybe you have found a free book somewhere and you took it but never went to the page?

 

Travelling

Visit to the Goetheanum

We are waiting for our own house to get ready, so for a few weeks we are wandering around in Baselland, the canton we are moving in. In the area we spent this week, there are three towns next to each other: Reinach and Arlesheim that belong to the canton of Baselland and Dornach that belongs to the canton of Soloturn.

This week we are staying with a really nice couple at the border of Reinach with Dornach. And since I have some free time, I visited the main attraction of the area: the Goetheanum.

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The main entrance of Goetheanum

It is an architecturally interesting building, based on a model of Rudolf Steiner from 1924. The First Goetheanum was built in the period 1913 – 1920 and was an impressive wooden building that got destroyed by fire on New Year’s Eve 1922/3 (it took longer to build it than to destroy it!). The current Goetheanum was built in reinforced concrete between 1925 and 1928.

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Goetheanum from the south side

Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) is famous for establishing the Anthroposophical Society, whose role is to understand that the world will be the way we think it. Anthroposophy means awareness of our humanity, and encourages individuals to develop an independent spiritual orientation, so as to avoid being swept along by all that the material world has to offer. Rudolf Steiner achieved to develop a method for gaining insight into the reality of the spiritual world. And this is what is housed in the Goetheanum, besides theatrical stages for performances, an auditorium, a library, a bookstore and many other.

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Map of the area around the Goetheanum

The idea of anthroposophy is interesting, but what was really impressive is the architecture of all the buildings around! The Goetheanum (nr.1 on the map) is located on the top of a hill and all around the area are architecturally interesting buildings belonging to the wider complex of the Goetheanum, but not only. Have a look at the amazing buildings!

Transformatorenhaus, built in 1921 for public electricity supply transformers (nr.45 on the map)

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Transformatorenhaus

Haus de Jaager, built in 1921, as a studio in memory of sculptor Jacques de Jaager. It is now a museum and residential house. (nr.5 on the map)

 

Glashaus, built in 1914, for cutting the glass windows in the first Goetheanum. Nowadays it is home of the Science and Agriculture sections. (nr.15)

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Glashaus on the left and Heizhaus on the right

Heizhaus, built in 1914, to house the heating system for some of the buildings in the area (nr.13). In 1991, the original coal-burning boilers were replaced by a gas-fired system. It was the most impressive building around!

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Detail from the Heizhaus

Haus Duldeck, built in 1915 as residency for Nelly and Emil Grosheintz, donors of the land on which the Goetheanum was built. It now houses the Rudolf Steiner Archives. (nr.19)

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Rudolf Steiner Halde, built in 1924, with a eurythmy practice room and studio. Eurythmy is an expressive movement art. It now houses the Literary Arts and Humanities Section, puppet theater and finance and personnel departments. (nr.17)

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Verlagshaus, built in 1924, as stockroom for the Philosophical – Anthroposophical Publishing Company. It is now stockroom for the Archives. (nr.14) And in the back a glimpse of Schloss Birseck, that is added in our list of things to-do in Baselland.

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All of the above mentioned buildings are considered historical buildings and are based on designs by Rudolf Steiner. But they are not the only architecturally interesting ones around. The whole area is full of strange, unusual and innovative designs of architecture.

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The cute Gärtnerei of the Goetheanum

And before I forget, if you walk up the hill and reach the main entrance of the Goetheanum, you are greeted by a couple of these nice cows!

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I really enjoyed discovering these new ideas and walking around noticing beautiful buildings. In addition, the graffiti that I saw already the first day at the train station now made sense:

Train station graffiti_1

 

 

 

Cooking

Making rhubarb – banana jam

Well spring is continuing and I am in the mood of creating homemade delicacies with the products that are in abundance this season! After elderberry syrup and jam, this time it was rhubarb that I got interested in!

Rhubarb is a strange plant: it is really a vegetable, but it is used as a fruit. It grows mostly in this season (April/May) and it is just long stalks green to red in colour. Its taste is distinctive: not so sweet but rather a bit sour.

Since it has been around for a while in the market, we have tried several things with it, such as panacotta with rhubarb sauce or a really nice rhubarb cheese cake (that was so nice I am going to try it with other fruits too!).

But it is common to find rhubarb flavoured yogurts and jams (it is used as a fruit as I said). To be honest I have never seen a rhubarb only jam; it is always with some other fruit, usually strawberry or apple. This time I found a combination of rhubarb with banana!

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For the jam we used 1kg rhubarb, 5 bananas, 5 spoons lemon-juice, 3 sticks of vanilla and 1 kg sugar.

I peeled the rhubarb and then cut it in small pieces together with the bananas. I extracted the vanilla from the sticks and then added all the ingredients in a pot and let them boil, while mixing, until it becomes a kind of gel.

 

 

 

Once the mixture was thick enough, the only thing left was to fill in the jars, let them cool and make their labels! And we have another homemade jam for the rest of the year!

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