When we were living in Tokyo the duck and I loved to spend evenings with C, one of our favorite Tokyo people and the initiator of the sugar-appreciation-pals, having vivid conversations over some pizza and water at Pizzeria Mar de Napoli at Tokyo Dome City. We mainly had pizza because we wanted to consider ourselves as grown-ups who eat real food before ordering cake. But, really, the cake usually was the nutritive highlight of our late dinners. This photo is from the first time we ordered some. The duck and I got a dense chocolate cake while our friend went with a lighter chocolate cake with chocolate cream that she let us try. 5/5 Ducks for glorious cake and conversations ♥
The duck and I love looking back at our time in Tokyo. We had a lot of fun there and the opportunity to hang out with friends without having to worry about getting anyone sick. We can’t wait to go back to eating overpriced restaurant food and meeting up with all the people we haven’t seen in way too long!
The duck and I have tried to make a delicious cup of hot cocoa countless times. So far, we would only get a guaranteed success by using hot cocoa mix that you simply need to add hot water or milk to. Those cups of hot cocoa tend to taste a bit too sweet and make us feel like complete failures. Whenever we have tried to create our own hot cocoa mix by using baking cocoa and other simple ingredients the result was never fully satisfactory. Until recently, that is, when we created our first cup of hot cocoa that didn’t taste like sadness and regret! Also recently we watched one of our favorite movies again: Hunt for the Wilderpeople which was written and directed by Taika Waititi, one of our preferred directors and vampire impersonators. Since this movie was recommended to us by and first watched with two of our favorite people, J and Al, back when we saw them (too) many years ago – when traveling was only a matter of funds and free time – the duck and I thought that this would be the perfect friend recommendation to accompany our photographic journey to a somewhat decent cup of hot cocoa:
It’s been snowing so often this winter that the duck and I aren’t impressed anymore, not as much as we were when we saw our first snow in Tokyo anyway. If anyone had asked me back then what I’d miss about living in Japan I might have said something along the lines of Konbini, beautiful seasons, awesome snacks, train adventures, travel opportunities or my work. I do. The one thing that I currently miss most profoundly, however, is our Tokyo toilet! I’m not talking about one of those high-end toilets with all those fancy controls that probably require a thorough read through the manual before you can fully appreciate them; our toilet didn’t even have the built-in water recycling washing sink that many toilets in Japanese homes sport. It simply came with a function that I didn’t even know about until one of our house mates had decided to make use of it in the middle of winter and forgot to turn it off: a toilet seat heater! The only heating in the house came from the AC units in each of the bedrooms and the living room (noticeably not the kitchen, hallway, toilet-room or shower room) that provided such a fleeting heat that ten minutes after pressing the ‘off’ button on the remote, it felt as if the room had not been heated in weeks. Leaving the heated area of the house was something the duck and I actively dreaded. This new discovery, fortunately, gave us another room that we didn’t feel the urge to leave asap in fears of ending up as ice sculptures. The tiny toilet room had turned into one of my favorite rooms in the house! Now, whenever I find myself in a cold bathroom, I think back longingly to those days when the toilet seat heater was the #1 thing that made winter in an older Japanese house more bearable (it also provided a toasty resting spot for the duck).
The duck and I still go for little walks whenever we feel like we’ve gotten a bit too lazy (or when the weather is particularly nice). On one of them we walked past our favorite phone box and remembered what it was like when we first came across one of those. In 2021 it’s more common to have a cell phone than a landline and even if you get lost and your phone’s battery is dead, it is more likely that you will find a kind stranger who carries disinfectant phone wipes and will lend you their cell phone to look up your route or call someone to let them know that you’ll be awfully late than it is to find a payphone in the streets (being a spontaneous criminal in Germany who doesn’t have a burner phone must be exhausting these days). Can you imagine the duck and my surprise when we espied a phone box that hadn’t been there the last time we’d walked that route?
The weirdest thing was that this wasn’t even a German phone box, but one of those nice red British telephone booths. I was sure I had never seen those in Germany before. When we came a bit closer, though, we realized what that red booth was actually being used for (no, ‘discount time and space travel’ is not the answer):
After having spent a bit too much time inside in the past few months the duck and I decided that it was time we explore the outside world a bit more (while still keeping our distance to other people and ducks). Usually something warm to wear (at least wearing masks to keep warm is acceptable now) and a podcast is all we need for a successful winter stroll. Sometimes we take our camera friend with us so that we can document what we come across. Here are a few examples: Continue reading
Christmas is over, but it’s still winter. So, the duck and I decided to try this year’s Ritter Sport chocolate winter mix – this time without waiting until the end of the season to look for a box of miniatures. Nevertheless, we still had to conduct our (now) traditional visits to four different stores until we could find a box. When we had finally gotten a hold of one (the last one in the store, it seemed), we took a closer look at the individual chocolate bars for the first time and then realized why they had been so hard to locate even though astronomical winter was less than a month old:
Even though they are called ‘winter edition’, the chocolates are definitely Christmas themed, as is the shiny packaging. Like most other Christmas snacks, those Ritter Sport chocolate varieties disappeared from most grocery store shelves as soon as Christmas was over, with only one box of miniatures waiting to picked up by the duck and me so that they could be tested by two of the most unsuitable taste testers out there:
Last year, when the duck and I were optimistic and oh-so naive, we decided to share our very achievable New Year’s resolutions. Little did we now that not achieving them in 2020 would have been virtually impossible. Let’s have a look at them, shall we?
#1: We will NOT get a gym membership. – We didn’t. And that was good considering that public gyms closed down twice last year and it’s still undetermined when they will reopen. Maybe we should try to take up running/speed-waddling, though, because I wouldn’t be surprised if 2021 turned out to be the year of the zombie apocalypse. Knowing us, we’ll probably fail, though, like all those other times we tried.
#2: We will keep being stingy. – Apart from a few moments of weakness (for our cheap standards – others might call it regular spending), the duck and I remained as stingy as we’ve always been. With restaurants being closed for a while and us mostly too worried to visit them anyway, we probably spent less money on food than we have in years. We also ate more barely edible food than we have in years.
#3: We will read at least ten books. – We did! In addition to reading Miss Dalloway in a day, we also got to finish several books that our lovely friends had recommended and/or gifted us. In 2020 we bought/received almost as many books as we managed to read so that the amount of books-to-be-read in our bookcase has barely changed. But that gives us plenty more adventures to-be-had!
#4: We will be true to ourselves. – By that I meant that we would give in to our laziness. And that we definitely did. We did have a few busy months in 2020, but we made sure to sleep a lot during the less busy ones to make up for all that lost laziness.
Weirdly, the duck and I did manage to keep up a somewhat regular posting schedule. I guess there still is a way to increase our laziness. But we might want to save that for another year (or not – we’ll see).
That shall be all for today. Let’s hope that sticking to our resolutions in 2021 will be more challenging this year than it was in 2020…
Do you have any new New Year’s resolutions? In any case, the duck and I want to wish you a happy and healthy 2021!
2020 is almost over. A lot has happened this year and, at the same time, not much; the duck and I went through our laziest period (no shame!) and also through our most stressful this year. This photo of a Bibim Bowl we ate at HOLY FLAT! earlier this year sums up our 2020 pretty well. I believe that this was the only time the duck and I properly ate out this year; I did eat outside (in the cold) more than I would have liked to, but ingesting my own cold barely edible concoctions doesn’t count as eating out. The Bibim Bowl definitely tasted better than what the duck and I had gotten used to throughout the year and we did get to catch up with someone who actually had been consistently busy this year. But still, subjectively speaking, this definitely wasn’t the best food the duck and I have ever eaten. After the first bite I did regret not having gotten something else, because this bowl was a bit too spicy for my weak taste-buds. Also, the duck and I had been eating lots of quinoa with vegetables and tofu in the weeks leading up to this bowl, which probably took away from our tofu and rice appreciation. It didn’t taste bad, though, and the spiciness gave us plenty of chat-breaks. All in all, this was a weird meal in a weird year, but the chat was good, and the food would probably have been good, as well, if I weren’t so weak. 3/5 ducks for a meal that weirdly summed up our weird 2020: Not too bad, but nothing super special (apart from the world and our taste-buds being on fire).
Do you also have a meal that sums up your 2020? The duck and I ate weirder and MUCH worse for sure this year, but none of our homemade food is as photogenic as this pretty Bibim Bowl (which we still recommend if you ever happen to stop by HOLY FLAT!, are stronger than the duck and me and haven’t eaten lots of tofu beforehand).
Have a happy, healthy and successful 2021!
The duck and I (and our weak taste-buds)
Last year the duck and I assembled our Berlin Baking buddies and baked Christmas cookies to celebrate that we had successfully made it through the ovenless period. This year we are over our oven excitement. So we decided to go back to our tradition of baking Christmas cookies solo (well, duo) which also sounded like the sensible thing to do this year. In the past few years whenever we’d embark on a duo baking adventure the duck and I’d put on a fiction podcast to go on an added adventure in our imagination while we combined ingredients, rolled out dough, cut fun shapes or waited for our creations to be done baking or drying. This year, as we were baking cinnamon cookies, we decided to go back to the origin of our podcast appreciation and caught up on some episodes of Welcome to Night Vale.Back when I lived close to many of my friends, we used to have movie nights that we would not only spend trying to find the perfect silly movie to watch together (we discovered quite a few unexpectedly good movies that way), but also talking about all kinds of (funny, weird, creepy, annoying) things that we had experienced, discovered or read somewhere. One night, while talking about creepy stories, one of my friends mentioned Welcome to Night Vale and recommended we all give it a listen. This has probably been one of the best recommendations I have ever gotten which is why today’s friends’ recommendation post will focus on this wonderfully creepy podcast that began my podcast obsession:
I used to live with a wonderful canine friend. She was quiet and shy. But once she had warmed up to the duck and me we actually became best friends. Another person who wanted to win her friendship was the mailman. Every time he delivered a parcel he would ask for her by her name and give her a treat. Even if she was too scared to come up to him and instead observed the two weird humans standing at the front door from a safe distance, the friendly mailman would leave a treat for her. After a while another dog had moved in, a dog who didn’t hesitate whenever the occasion for a snack arose. The first time the mailman encountered our new housemate he had been planning to give our quiet friend her treat, but she was too shy to come up to him. Instead her new friend ran up to the door (and almost out of it) to snag the treat. As the mailman attempted anew to get a snack to our quiet friend, it went to the wrong dog again. So, instead, he gave me two snacks (how fair!) to give her later, when she’d be alone and could eat them in peace. Sometimes, if he didn’t see our quiet friend because she was taking a nap, the friendly mailman would ask us where she was and leave four snacks behind (two per dog). If I were a dog, it would feel like Christmas each time Santa Claus came to town disguised as a parcel deliverer. The parcels might have been paid for in advance, but the dog treats came out of his personal secret Santa bag. Sure, befriending all the dogs in the neighborhood is a smart move if you are a mailman because that can make your work exponentially easier (if you believe the cliche), but I also think that a lot of pure altruism came into learning the name of every dog that friendly mailman would encounter on his daily route. When I grow up, I want to be just as cool and kind as my favorite mailman!