12thingsfor2012

One point of my list was my aim to write an article and possibly get it published. After talks with my mentor from work (who coincidentally is also in charge of “knowledge management” in my company and hence is used to work on publications) I am happy to announce that I am now working on an idea about how the procurement dept. perceives itself and is perceived by its suppliers. I hope to expand this into an international context, rather than focusing overly on the German market as I feel that the international context raises a whole different set of (cultural) challenges that are associated with the (self-) perception. An added bonus here is that it fits in way better into my former studies, which always we geared towards an international context.

While I am nowhere close to actually starting to write it’s fun to get back to researching a specific topic and as a by-product learning more about the field of work I am in. At work I (still) just tend to go through the motions without really thinking overly about the great picture, developing my article, I am forced to think about the context and the big picture. Hence, right now I am reading all procurement books I can find, added with re-reading my old Operations, Ethics and Global Strategy Books. If any of you has any suggestions on good books I should add to my list, let me know!

Finally the times for my trips to two of my closest friends are 99% decided. There will be one long weekend full of vino, beach, seafood and (hopefully!) hot Portuguese guys in July and another very long weekend full of Swedish hipness, overpriced beer, stockfish (that’s Swedish, isn’t it?!) and (hopefully) hunky Swedish guys. Obviously both trips will be packed with girl talk, gossip and shopping J

As mentioned before I have never been to either of these cities (well, one could argue I have been to Lisbon or rather the airport of Lisbon on a business trip some time back, but that doesn’t really count…) and even though they were on my “list of places I eventually want to see” they didn’t quite make it to the top. Well, since two of my best friends are living there right now, this obviously changes things.

My “Swedish” friend is actually from Cologne (with a detour via Poland) and we survived an awful lot of Latin lessons together. Somehow we were seated next to each other early in High School and remained “bench friends” until she changed school in 12th grade. We kinda lost touch after that but reunited a few years back via a chance encounter in the tube. Since then we have been close again, with her visiting me in the Netherlands and London and me sending her care packages to Stockholm (where she moved to after she married a German guy who happened to have a good job in Stockholm – yeah, that’s life…). She is one of the most easy-going, open and adventurous people I know and often I miss her being in Cologne desperately.

I met my “Portuguese” friend in Dubai when we both were invited to an assessment center for the executive track at Hult. We both passed (as did everybody else), spent a day touring Dubai and then met again when the MBA started. Since pretty much day one we grew really close and shared all the ups and downs of school and more importantly guys throughout our time in London and Boston (and Shanghai in her case). Especially our time together in Boston will always be special since we shared a house there and killed many bottles of wine whining and laughing about our life. She is one of the smartest, driven persons I knew with the most contagious laugh.

As you can see both these girls are really special and I am really looking forward to the coming months when I see them (after separations waaay too long) again!

(pics. courtesy to the internet)

As mentioned already in my last post my grandma passed away. It’s weird really, how little I really tend to know about my grandparents even though I would argue that I spent quite some time with them when they were still alive. I tried to ask them questions about their life, the 3rd Reich (ok, granted, never got any real answers out of them on that one) and everything else that they might have told me. All in all they always told the same stories. Granted, all my grandparents had already been in their 70s or 80s when I came along so I never had those young grandparents that took me on shopping trips or holidays as so many other grandparents of my friends did. Still, I loved them and am lucky to have many fond memories of each of them.

Looking back my grandfathers have always been the greater focus points. Especially my paternal grandfather was such a charming person, you just couldn’t help loving and admiring him and I often wish I were a little bit more like him. Talking to my parents however, it seems that my grandmothers were actually the more courageous people. They both were well-educated businesswomen and certainly ahead of their times in many ways. My grandmother that just died was bitter and really difficult in her last years but in her youth she was quite the successful business woman in Germany, emigrated to the UK, fell in love with my grandfather and became, again, a successful business woman, who actually earned more than my grandfather (might be normal now but I assume this was quite an achievement in the 1950s, especially for a German born female in the UK (remember, the Brits weren’t too find of the Germans after WW2 ;-))). Whilst my grandmother wasn’t the warm and motherly type, she provided financially for her family, survived a major car crash (more bones broken than still intact) and craved out a life for herself outside of the strict boundaries of her home village. While I certainly don’t want to end as bitter and lonely as she was in the end I have to admire her courage and willpower. From her example I strive to learn that nothing is impossible if you put your heart into it.

RIP Gramma, you shall be missed but may your legacy live on!

Two weeks ago I had the unpleasant task of organizing my grandmas funeral. While the passing of a close person always sucks (please excuse my language, but it truly does, doesn’t it?), it in many ways is even worse when you have to deal with the aftermath i.e. the funeral. Since my parents were on holidays, my sister in London and my uncle and his family in Stuttgart I took on the task of organizing the funeral. Whilst everyone would have come to Cologne to support me, I decided that there was no point in them doing so, since it really only takes one person to organize it all and I was able to call upon them via phone or mail.

So, for all those of you, who never had to organize a funeral, here a short list of things that need to be done:

  1. Get a doctor declare the deceased dead (you need to provide the passport/ ID of that person)
  2. Decide on the clothes the deceased will be wearing and put them out for the undertaker to take with them
  3. Decide on an undertaker, contact them, instruct them (and already mention you preferred date for the funeral!)
  4. Together with the undertaker decide on a coffin, the grave (if you don’t have one already), the amount of candles, whether or not you want a pries & a mass, how many dead certificates and whether or not there shall be cushions in the coffin, etc. The undertaker will also cancel the pension, health insurance, etc if you give them the details
  5. If you decided on a priest, talk to him so he knows a little bit about the deceased if that person wasn’t a terribly active member in the church community
  6. If you have a grave already, remove all the flowers, the light, etc so the grave can be opened. You can also order a company to do that for you if you are not able to do it on your own
  7. Order flowers (don’t forget the flowers that will be thrown onto the coffin)
  8. Order food for after the funeral (in Germany there is usually some lunch/ coffee & cake provided in a nearby restaurant or hotel immediately after the funeral so you can catch up with all the family & friends that are assembled)

I know that this topic isn’t a terribly popular one but I assume that everybody who doesn’t feel comfy has already skipped this post J Anyhow, I think it is important to know these things. While organizing this funeral I spoke with many friends and colleagues and realized that nobody (me included) really had an idea what all needs to be done. In many ways this is a scary thought given that, as much as we all wish otherwise, there is a high likelihood that all of us will be faced with such a task at one point in our life.

Girls and diets probably go back as far as Adam and Eve. I can’t really recall a time I didn’t feel self-conscious about my weight. When it came to dieting, however, I have always been a slacker. Apart from one diet (where I lost about 15kg in 5 months) I was always way too lazy about dieting and way too fond about chocolate to really “do the diet thing”, preferring to enjoy life and feel a little bit self-conscious. However, 2 years A.D. (after diet) it’s time to go back into the dieting world. A year of school and 6 months of consulting (aka no time for sport and a solid 3 big meals a day) have added 7kg which need to go again. Also, now I have the chance of jumping the bandwagon since a couple of my colleagues entered a dieting contest. While I am not fond of contests (you loose a lot very fast but losing is one and keeping the weight off an entirely different thing), I intend to swim on the wave of weight loss and keep the weight off long-term.

Whilst I don’t intend to share my weight with anyone, I will share my thoughts, acts, successes and failures with you in the coming weeks.

Obviously, I haven’t started to diet just today but it has been growing over the last couple of weeks (fuelled also by the fact that some of my summer clothes don’t properly fit anymore). So, what have I done so far:

  1. Bought a pink scale (oh my gosh, am not a big fan of weighting myself, it always tells truths I don’t really want to know). But then, it’s pink 🙂
  2. Decreased my coffee intake. Whilst coffee isn’t a bad thing, I tend to drink it with plenty of milk (or even worse cream) and often also with flavor – hello there calories, lovely to see you again! I am trying to swap to green tea for most of the coffees, though there are a few coffees I can’t and won’t replace: Monday morning (getting up at 4.45am to catch my flight to Dresden, no way I make that day completely sans coffee!) and Friday morning (at the train station, a great start to the last working day of the week).
  3. Replaced sweets by fruits. Well, obviously I still have the odd piece of chocolate or some ice cream but I try to eat fruits whenever I feel like chocolate.
  4. Portion size. One of my biggest problems has always been portion size. I am one of those people whose eyes are bigger than their stomach and since I spent quite a lot of time with my grandparents when growing up that tendency is mixed with the urge to “always clear my plate”. I am actively working on both these tendencies since I’d generally say that I am eating healthy but just too much in many cases.

Aims for the next 2 weeks:

  1. Be more diligent with counting calories. I lost my weight last time with this method and I assume that with my type of personality (uhm, control freak?) that is the way to go forward again. I am already entering now and then but I need to get more diligent again.
  2. Sport, sport, sport. Right now my running shoes are torn and I am having a nasty cough so running was out of the question for this weekend. Next however I need to buy new shoes (I know, great sacrifice to buy shoes) and get back on track. Also, I intend to check out a few Pilates places in Cologne (an maybe even get my health insurance pay some of it, that’d be sweet!) to build up some muscles.
  3. Lose my first kg.

I will check in back again soon, to let you know how my first 2 weeks worked out and whether of not I stuck to my plans.

If any of you has any good weight loss tips, let me know!!!

I know, this post is way overdue and I apologize for this.

So, here goes the tale: After an alcohol drenched evening one friend gave me a voucher to help paint my flat. Unfortunately this friend lives in a far away country and was not able to make the long trip when the time came to paint. Still, that voucher was not forgotten and always held a special place on my fridge… When said friend came back on one of her too short infrequent trips, time had come to cash in that voucher. After another alcohol drenched evening (I guess you get the hang of it now…) we met the day after, bright & early, only slightly hung-over to paint one of my shelves in a lovely shade of purple. Yes, purple… I inherited a lot of dark brown furniture but also have a lot of red and pink décor items, purple fits quite nicely in here.

So we painted and painted and painted. Surprisingly we managed to only get the shelf painted and not the floor or anything else.

While waiting for the paint to dry off, we also hung pictures to my beloved picture wall, replanted my carrots (yep, carrots, but that’s worth another blog post on its own) and just had a fun time hanging out (with, surprise!, a sip of alcohol).

I hope you enjoy the pictures, given they probably show more about what we did than I could ever do 🙂

Crappy, crappy weather! Today was supposed to be THE day for the city tour of Cologne. Doing a city tour shouldn’t be a tough thing to do one might think. Well, it actually is when there is torrential rain pouring down heavens gates since last evening. While in theory I could still board a bus and see the city, I actually want to enjoy it and not get soaking wet. Hence, I will try again next weekend and just hope for better weather.

However, I don’t want to leave you without at least a first glimpse of my hometown (pics are from last summer, but the city pretty much still looks the same):

To not waste the day, I at least make good on my intention to keep on blogging. So far I have lined up 3 posts (in addition to this one!) already with intentions to do another two or three so you will be entertained until I find time again to sit down and “blog my heart out” 🙂

With that, I hope you are having better weather wherever around the globe you are!

Since I have updated on the flat and the garden I figured I give shorter updates on the other endeavors I have been working so far:

 

1. India

 

Flights are booked! I will be off to India the last 2 weeks of November. Together with my sis I will first head to Mumbai to visit the lovely Nausheen, do some sightseeing and just experience incredible India. From Mumbai we will head up to Delhi to see Rashi get married and hopefully see lots of the “Indians” (guys, you better be there!). So far it sounds like a small Hult reunion is coming up! Gosh, am counting down the days!

 

2. Volunteering

Nothing new really – the agency never called back so I need to develop a new strategy to find something I might enjoy volunteering for.

 

3. Writing an article

Am working together with my work mentor on an idea. More on that later 🙂

 

4. Stockholm

Still working on dates and flights that work. Definitely the next flight I will book!

 

5. City Tour of Cologne

Originally planned to do it this weekend but with the abysmal weather this weekend I had to postpone it. Come the next nice weekend I soooo will be in this bus and learn all there is to know about my hometown!

 

Until then!

Some people have a gift with plants. Whatever they plant grows and flourishes. I am not one of those people. My thumb is grey and was usually a safe way to kill off any plant that had the “pleasure” to come across it.

As luck would have it, together with the flat I got a garden. Yay for BBQ (the nice Easter bunny even brought me a cute pink BBQ!) and soaking up the sun in the summer. Not so much yay for the plants.

Since this gardening thing of mine will certainly be a “first” that I have to face this year, I decided to add this to the list.

Below a pic of how the garden “really” looks like right now… You can see – still lots of work ahead of me!

Well, with the unwavering aid and support of my parents I am now spending some time each weekend gardening. I have planted plants, cut back a tree and am currently growing carrots and flowers in my kitchen (due to some evil snail infestation I can’t “Start them off” in the garden itself but need to get them big and strong in safety first (yeah, whatever safety under my thumb means…). In the coming weeks raspberries, tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, chilies etc will be added so that I will actually be able to harvest some yummie food later this year.

But until then I leave you with a few more impressions of my garden (in the rain… been raining nonstop today and I really want this post to get published today…).

A special thanks here, again, to Adrian for the birdhouse, it really is a center point in the garden!

Sooo, I finally found my camera and hence there are no more excuses for me not to post J

After long, long hours of renovating, countless trips to IKEA, decoration stores and the German version of home depot I managed to move into my new flat in late February. Though the flat, of course, is still not 100% done, it feels more and more homely week by week.

Well, let’s work our way room by room:

 

Entryway

When you walk in that’s what you see:

Before

I decided to keep the furniture, as the wardrobe is really beautiful and provides sufficient storage space for all my coats, jackets, bags, shoes (ok, probably won’t be sufficient, still it’s already quite full and not all my stuff has moved “down” yet.). But still, it’s pretty. Same goes for the shoecupoard, which is pretty useless for storing shoes but makes a nice desk for my lava lamp. The pics of course got changed and give the whole space a funkier atmosphere (if I say so myself), obviously the lava lamp helps here, too.

After

Kitchen

Before

From the entryway you head straight into the kitchen. A side board was added above the stove and my cupcake hangers and the vintage clock fit just right in. The eating space got redone with a picture wall (to be continued, still hunting for more frames!) and new rose chairs replace the worn down chairs.

From the kitchen you can get into the garden, but this will be a post all of its own J

After

 

Living room

Before

The couch/TV-area and the “formal dining room” switched places so that I have a little bit more light when hanging at the couch and less when formal dining. Frankly, works for me as I definitely spend more time on the couch than at the dinner table. A couch-table and some other antiques I inherited now complement my old white couch. I am planning to re-paint some of the antiques, but am not quite settled yet on the colors and frankly, it might be a shame painting them… Still need to make my mind up here…

The “dining” area holds all my books, porcelain and crystal cups (trust me, there are a lot of them – my two grans seemed to have a fable for porcelain and well, seems I inherited it J If however someone has a hint as to where I might be able to sell “mothers days plates” I will be eternally grateful!

After

Bath

The bath was renovated only a few years ago, so apart from some paint and adding a chandelier (yep, you read correctly!) nothing much was to do (plus it’s so tiny, there wasn’t really a lot of space to make any changes to begin with).

After

Bedroom

Before

The bedroom got a pinkish wall to contrast the white toilet table. A new bed was added and tada we have a new bedroom. I decided to keep the old wardrobe – a new might be added at some point of time, but for now it works allright.

 After

So, there you have it. That’s how I live right now. Hope you enjoyed the little tour!

The List

1. Learn how to keep a garden alive - IN PROGRESS
2. Write an article (and possibly publish it if I am able to) - IN PROGRESS
3. Do volunteering I: Read stories on a regular basis to little kids
4. Do volunteering II: Not sure what yet, maybe soup kitchen?
5. Visit Stockholm - IN PROGRESS
6. Visit India - IN PROGRESS
7. Visit Lisbon - IN PROGRESS
8. Do a Sightseeing-tour of Cologne - DONE!
9. Sew a skirt
10. Run a half-marathon
11. Renovate (or at least assist) a flat - DONE!
12. Actually stick to writing this blog - IN PROGRESS

Get a perm - FAIL

Completed: 2/12
In Progress: 6/12
Pending: 4/12