Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rock & Royalty with a royal Rock (*)

Each year, my esteemed employer comes up with creative themes for the annual christmas party. While the past years were relatively easy ("White Christmas", 50s, beach), this year's event will be all about Marie-Antoinette-goes-Punk. Good thing I studied cultural history! I thought back to my university days, meditated a bit on how to stay on the right side of that fine line between historically accurate 18th century punk and modern-day goth (dangerous territory, blurry borders), decided that throwing in colour would tip it in the right direction, and then spotted the opportunity: I could also make my own tutu! Just to find out if I can. And also because renting or buying a dress would have been at least €300 (and lacking in the punk/rock aspect). So I added my own challenge to put together an outfit for under €50, because the theme does not sound like something I'll ever wear again.

Googling "tutu" got me some mildly amusing juxtapositions in Google image search results:
but by refining that search a bit, led me to some pretty good inspiration on how to go about it.
And so, spending less than €10 on material, I sat down and made friends with a lot of tulle. (I have started to measure craft projects in movie lengths: This took a bit over two films on Netflix. But then, I did occasionally get distracted by the plot.)

It has only four layers of tulle and is thus rather transparent - but I remembered a bright orange skirt I sewed a few years ago in Berlin (i.e., when I still lived in a country that has summers) and that fits perfectly over it, plus adds a degothifying bit of colour.


I'm still wondering about the hair, and have experimented a bit with fauxhawks:
18th century punk rock chic - nearly there.

(*) This title makes most sense if you speak German. Haha! Pun intended!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hibernian hibernation

At this point, Ireland owes me three summers. As you can see in the eloquence of the WhatsApp message there, the sudden onset of wintery conditions hinders my ability to speak (or write), forcing me to communicate solely in emoticons and interpunction.
It has warmed up a bit since last week so that I feel more talkative again, but in the meantime, viruses decided to make a home of my respiratory system. I've spent a few days extremely bored, lying around at home and feeling a wee bit sorry for myself.
Especially because only the first season of Downton Abbey is on Netflix, and I finished watching it, and so I was suddenly left with cliffhangers and quite a bit of my sweater left to knit.
The sweater, slowly taking shape
I've been feeling very Irish about my choice of Donegal Tweed yarn and cabled pattern. I might even make some progress before it is summer again (well, "summer"). I do hope that it's not too baggy - should this end up looking like a sack, I'm not sure I'll feel motivated to re-knit it in a smaller size.

What else?
  • I have the German theme song of Doctor Snuggles stuck in my head, for unknown reasons - I'm not sure I've watched this show since the 80s.
  • I wonder why I always feel totally excited about the idea of taking up running when I'm in bed sick (maybe because that's a safe moment to consider it: no danger of having to act on those brilliant intentions).
  • I want to play around with Instagram photos and make them into neat printed products.
  • I've drunk about 4 liters of red chili, fresh ginger, lemon juice and honey in hot water. Good for sore throats, more interesting than hot lemon.
  • I've also tried to make a brownie in a mug in the microwave. Hm. It turned out edible but not entirely convincing - it was a bit overcooked, and olive oil may be a bit too strong for this, but considering it does make some chocolatey goo in only 1 minute in the microwave (1:30 was too long!), it's still quite okay.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Outrunning the rain

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I've lived in Ireland for nearly three years now, and one thing seems suprisingly consistent: Saturday mornings tend to be sunny, and then, at some point in the afternoon, the rain has enough of all that weekend rest and resumes work. If you're from the continent (...and I guess it shows I've been here a while if I call it that...), you may be used to starting your sunny weekends slowly: A slow, late breakfast, finishing that book, maybe a bit of laundry before you head outside? WRONG, I tell you, if you reside on this island, where the weather is even less reliable than you might ever think. If it's sunny, GET OUT. So on this particular weekend, we were smarter than the lurking clouds, decided to move our brunch to the coast, and hopped onto the DART train to Dun Laoghaire. Great food at White Tea (a bit Avoca-ish, but less overpriced), and then a stroll around the harbor in the sunshine (warm enough for ice cream!). The clouds slowly moved in from the North and gave us some pretty rainbows to pass the time on the DART ride home, but we made it to our house a few minutes before they arrived over Ballsbridge. Perfect! (And then, off to bed with something flu-ish. But it can't be for the lack of fresh air!)

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Ireland in a nutshell #2

Ireland3 One fundamental difference between German and Irish culture is in the choice of clothes. In Germany, people feel embarrassed when they think they might be overdressed. In Ireland, not being sufficiently dressed up would be a far bigger concern.(*)

Fashion values also differ greatly: A German woman is likelier to think "Oh! My outfit today is wonderfully practical!" - something that might make the average Irish lady shudder. It does explain, however, why you can always pick out German tourists in the crowd because even during city trips, they are ready to face the great outdoors at any time. Their jackets will resist any weather condition, and boast astounding vapor permeability of the material so the wearer won't break a sweat even in the heaviest rain. In the extreme form, Germans carry walking sticks (and no, Dublin isn't known for its mountainous cityscape) and two liter water bottles in the mesh side pockets of their hiking backpack (because shops with beverages might be a rare luxury in a European capital) - unless their backpack has an integrated drinking system: Dehydration will be no reason for worry during their leisurely stroll around Trinity college.

There is a variation on the German outdoor tourist look: There is also a certain kind of Ireland tourist who is less interested in preparing for (urban) nature than in a fuzzy idea of ancient, mysterious, profound Celtic culture. This group is likelier to wear clothes that look mildly medieval, fairly traded and hand-woven, karma-free and felted by moonlight to the tune of a pan flute. They may come with an attitude of more-Irish-than-thou, or may just wander about mumbling about shamrocks and fairies.

In contrast to both, Irish women, when pleased with their attire, will think more in terms of "I look absolutely fabulous!" - shoes will be high-heeled, not comfortable, and dresses as short as possible. During the day, "comfortable" wear may consist of a candy-coloured tracksuit combined with big hair and eyeliner. (German tracksuit wearers are less common, and far less likely to match top and bottom. Irish fashion usually demands wearing the suit as an ensemble.)
At night, all unnecessary material will be dropped to reveal as much fake tan as possible. The picture above is a selection of average evening wear for a regular night of drinks with friends - and it is not, as the sensibly shoed German may assume, a shop that specializes in circus artist attire. There is also no direct connection between body shape and weight and choice of dress: Tight is good. Short is good. For everyone. (As a rule of thumb, every German lady who hears that she looks "fabulous!" will turn around and run to cover herself up.)


(*) Except when going to the supermarket in the morning. I can't imagine many Germans would go buy their milk in their pyjamas.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ireland in a nutshell #1

Ireland 2
2.5 years in this country, not enough blog posts. That needs to change! Right now:

One of the first things I noticed here is a job that is immensely popular in Irish shopping streets but that I had never seen elsewhere: Holding up signs. 

It's a bit unusual that this guy has a multi-purpose sign for three shops - a symptom of the crisis, maybe? - because usually, it is one person per sign and one sign per shop. And usually they stand around in groups, blocking pedestrian traffic and chatting with other sign holders - because their job is just to make sure the sign is upright. Their job description does not include encouraging people to visit the shops. Because that's the sign's job. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

From autumn, with love

If you were to say: "Hey! You haven't updated in a year!", then I would still be in a position to disagree... for two more days. Maybe autumn makes me chattier. (Maybe I'm trying to talk the leaves back up on the trees.) Last year, I found the first ripe chestnut well before the end of August - this year has been more traditional: The first ones appeared this weekend, but then, after a bright and summery Saturday and still-okay Sunday, autumn decided it was now time to step in. Temperatures have dropped, and so has foliage. Howth
Howth still looked like that on Sunday. One of the best things about Dublin is that when it's sunny, you can take public transportation for 30 minutes and end up somewhere like that. (In fact, I read recently that some Thai beach resorts stole pictures of the Scottish and Irish coast and used it to advertise their own beaches.) (Obviously, public transportation also runs on rainy days. But the view just isn't quite the same.) (It should be sunny much more often.) And then yesterday, Ireland remembered its core strength and brought on the gloom and the rain.

B√ľndchen fertig (Gentle Teresa)So I guess there was only one reasonable thing to do: Take some Donegal tweed yarn, and work on a sweater. I still find it surprising that there are so few yarn shops in a country with such a high sheep to human ratio. Where does all this wool go? It can't all end up in touristy Aran sweater shops?