Planning 2016

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Happy New Year! I hope you all had a lovely start into 2016 and will continue to rock it! My NYE was amazingly peaceful, at home on the couch with a special someone and I for once did not have to worry about pleasing anyone with food recipes, cocktails, outfits or partying. It enabled me to start the new year on a quiet note and gave me the opportunity to actually be productive within the first days of January. This is rather rare as the past years have been a little more hectic, involved parties or definelty much longer nights and as most of you probably, it meant I was dead the next day.

The first weekend of the new year started with me trying to figure out my agenda for 2016. Yes, that is for the full year. Obviously I have not finished it all, but I have a quite good understanding of where I need to be at what times (speaking of family celebrations and round birthdays coming up). Some of my business trips are already sorted out and I think at the end of this month I will have an even better understanding of any larger upcoming trips. This enables me to plan my private time more, as with studies still going on this year and all other things, friends and loved ones can easily fall behind if I don’t plan well. Luckily, I am a huge lover of planning and also spontaneous when the timing matches.

As you might remember I mentioned wanting to plan ahead a bit more in regards to the blog. I’ve done exactly that. No, I have not planned every post for this upcoming year (is that even possible?), but I have already picked out important dates for certain categories and will try and bring a little more structure into it. With all these little dates and plans, I really only hope that I actually manage it all. I tend to trying to be a perfectionist and often get moody if I don’t achieve everything. There goes another resolution: I need to let things flow, take them as they come and not panic if I don’t manage something perfectly in time (given that I have the possibility to be flexible). Next up I want to try and set some dates for vacations this year – I really want to travel more! Any suggestions of what’s a must-see this year?

Whilst trying to plan my 2016, one of my Christmas presents I received from my parents came in perfect timing. I received a new Mont Blanc (Meisterstück), which I must admit – is a heaven to write with. It flows so easily over the paper that it almost becomes fun. In general, I find that writing by hand relaxing from time to time and see that most people do it less and less. I have sworn myself to write Holiday and Birthday cards to all special people in my life – and have done it the past years. Who doesn’t love receiving a card on their special day, or a sweet postcard on a random note? I always get excited when opening the mail and not receiving a bill for once in a while.

With that, I’ll turn to continuing my structuring of 2016 today. I have quite a busy day ahead in the office and need to get quite a bit done before I get my tonsils taken out tomorrow morning. Wohoo – isn’t that exciting! I really wish I had done it earlier and would be done and over with it now. Lessen learnt, I’ll have them removed when I’m younger in my next life! With that, I wish you a wonderful rest of the week. xo

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2016 Layered Cake

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It’s almost the end of 2015 – can anyone actually believe how fast this year has gone by, how much has happened and what’s to come? It’s been an incredible year – I’ve learned so much about myself, went through challenges of my own, achieved several of my goals, met many new people that I feel so blessed to have in my life and travelled to new countries. With the year ending, always come the new resolutions. I used to not believe in new years resolutions – in the end, I feel that if you want something you need to start working for it immediately and not push it to the next year, the upcoming monday or even tomorrow. Unless you have real reasons, there is no need to push back anything you want to achieve.

I think the new year does give some opportunities to set new goals for the year ahead. At work we need to set our own goals we want to achieve during the upcoming year and it’s the perfect way to learn to set goals that are actually achievable and reachable within one year. So the past days I’ve been thinking of what the year has given me so far, what I did not manage (and why) and what I want to move forward with next year. Nex to continuing my studies and keeping the same grade level, I want to manage my time a little more wisely. Spend more time with the people I love, use some of the weekends to make long weekend trips and discover new cities. I’ve also been stuck in a somewhat comfortable routine in regards to my cooking – I find a good recipe and stick to it, sometimes for weeks afterwards. This year I want to try more recipes from all over the world, adjust them for my own allergies and discover new spices. Since I have an Indian supermarket around the corner supplying me with all kinds of herbs and spices, there really is no reason not to try some of them.

One of my kitchen highlights actually happened this past weekend when I made my first fondant cake. I’ve basically wanted to do one for the whole year but never got the chance. I’ve always been on the go, did not find the right occassions, was too busy or too lazy at other times or simply did not want to make it for myself (given that I would have to eat it myself afterwards). This holiday was the perfect time as the family was here, New Years coming up and all reasons matched for me to try myself with a fondant cake. It’s far from looking perfect (I always admire those amazing wedding and other celebration cakes made out of fondant and sugar paste) but it surely boosted my self-esteem in regards to baking. I cannot wait to make another one! So of course I will share the recipe with you. The cake itself is not too sweet, which I like – though the fondant on top does give a little more sweetness to it. The rasberry-butter cream is, well, buttery – a little fruity but not too much either. I actually stole the recipe from here (in German), though adjusted it to make it gluten (GL) and lactose free (LF), as well as a little easier, for me to eat as well. Before I start the recipe, for those not interested or those not reading it all, I wish you all a HAPPY & HEALTHY START INTO THE NEW YEAR with lots of love and luck to come!

What you need for the cake

3 eggs
130g sugar
180g GL flour
40g GL cacao
12g GF backing powder
130g oil (I used peanut oil)
1 pack vanilla sugar
150g LF milk
a hint of salt

What you need for the rasberry-butter-cream

3 egg whites
250g LF butter
175g rasberries (or any other berry – can be frozen, though let it sit at room temperature before)
175g sugar (I used brown sugar)

What you need for decorations

fondant (I used pre-rolled-out white fondant)
sugar paste for letters & numbers (I used black sugar paste)

What to do

1) heat up the oven to 180°C and separately grease your round baking pan with butter (I used a 18cm diameter one)
2) Start by mixing all liquids, the eggs and sugar until you have a sugary paste
3) add all other ingredients for the dough and mix it well for a couple of minutes
4) the dough will seem a little liquidy, though that is perfect – now fill it into the backing pan and place it into the oven
5) after 45 min the cake should have risen and be done, now take it out and let it cool fully
6) After about 20 min you can cut the cake into three approximately same height pieces for you to later layer up again
7) Whilst the 3 pieces are further cooling, start the rasberry-butter cream
8) Place the egg whites and sugar into a bowl and place it into a water bath
9) stir the eggs until all the sugar has disappeared – you can check using your fingers whether you feel any sugar (though this shouldn’t take longer than 10 min)
10) once the sugar is melted, let it cool down before you whip it – it should become a more or less stiff white mixture, though it won’t be as stiff as cream would get
11) add the sugar and whip it again until you have your buttery-cream – now add the rasberries and repeat
12) once you have your cream, you can place it on the first layer, add the second cake piece, another layer of cream, and the third one piece – for each layer use about ¼ of the cream you made
13) the rest of the rasberry-butter cream should now be used to cover the whole cake
14) once you covered everything, roll out the fondant (if it is not pre-rolled-out) and carefully place it over the cake
15) if you have never done it before, I recommend watching a short youtube video about covering a fondant cake – it really helps! Now you can go all out with decorations – I used the black sugar paste to cut out 2016 and make a bow for the side of the cake

Now you can

1) serve the cake immediately, or
2) let it sit in the fridge – I did to let the sugar paste harden and kept it in over night

The cake should be good up to 3 days after making it, though it surely did not last that long here. My family and I each had a piece the next day and finished about half of the cake. The other half went to one of my working colleagues and his family, whom only live a couple of minutes away. That way I made sure we all had our treat though wouldn’t roll into New Years through gaining any weight :)

With that, again, I wish you all the best for the New Year, a fantastic start into it (mine will thankfully be calm this year), and that all your 2016 resolutions will be reached! xo

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Goodbye 2014; Welcome 2015

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Happy New Year everyone! It’s amazing how fast time passes – 2014 is officially over and 2015 has started. I love the saying ‘you’ve got an empty book of 365 pages ahead of you (well, 364 now) and it’s in your hands to write the story.’ If you think about it, it really is us – we are the ones writing our own books, creating paths we want to follow and living the life we want to. At least, that is what I try on a daily basis.

If I look back to the beginning of 2014, 12 months ago, it seems that the year has ended too fast. On the other hand, so much has happened and I have enjoyed almost all of it. Yes, there have been little ups and downs but really, it’s been a great year. I have moved from Hamburg to Zurich, went from an internship position to a full-time job, started StylePhantom, met some amazing people, people that I will surely keep in my heart forever, have travelled and seen different places. 2014 has been a good year for me and I am keen on making 2015 an even more prosperous, an even more exciting, and more fulfilling year than 2014 has been.

I have so many little plans for this upcoming year, so many larger, great ones too. I want to travel, I have picked out places already, I have personal projects, I have plans for changing my apartment a little and I am so excited to making all these things happen – to sharing them.

Then, of course, there is so much I do not know. I don’t know what exactly will happen in 2015, I don’t know who I’ll be meeting next, what other projects I’ll be starting and what projects I’ll be finishing. I have no clue for so many things and the great thing is, I am so happy to be in the unknown sometimes. I love waking up and planning ahead of time and then having to throw over all my plans for something else. I love discovering each day by the day, each hour by the hour!

I am absolutely looking forward to this year and I surely will be writing my own little book – excited to fill in the next 364 days. And, obviously – wishing you the most prosperous year with the most breath-taking moments. xo

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(These pictures are from the Amsterdam trip at the ‘Die Port van Cleve’ Hotel)