A touristy day in Heidelberg

Last month, I mentioned that the duck and I took our new camera on a cinematic adventure after testing its photographic abilities at our raw cake munching session. Our chosen location: the romantic city of Heidelberg. Even though it’s a popular tourist destination and had been recommended to us as a fun place to explore by several people, the duck and I had never been. When our friend T suggested we accompany her on a day trip, we instantly accepted. She had planned to meet an old friend who’s also a semi-local and thus would double as our tour guide. While we all reminisced about the good old days and updated each other on what our shared friends and acquaintances were up to, the duck and I also made it a personal challenge to be perfect tourists and see as many famous Heidelberg sights as we could in our limited time in this picturesque city. Here’s how that (and our first outing with our new camera) went:

Working with slightly more stable video from our new camera was much more relaxing than trying to turn the shaky footage from our UK visit, taken by our non-stabilized mini camera, into something somewhat presentable. Now we only have to learn how to capture better video and audio. And familiarize ourselves some more with our editing software and learn how to use more of its tools. Maybe we should edit more videos… Later! At this moment, the duck and I need some well-deserved lazy time after spending way too many hours/days on a video that doesn’t look like we did… once again (and rushing to finish it as long as it was still winter for us because we don’t want to lie). And be glad we finally visited Heidelberg with our friend and have something to show for it.*

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Snacks: Coffee & cornflakes chocolate

Last winter, the duck and I reviewed Milka‘s limited-edition coffee and cookie-flavored chocolate. When we spotted another novel coffee-flavored chocolate bar one year later, the duck and I took it as a sign. Our discovery is part of this year’s Ritter Sport winter range. Kaffee Knusper DuckThe other flavors are “Gebrannte Mandel,” roasted almond, which we tried two years ago. And there’s “Weiße Zimt Crisp,” white cinnamon crisp, a flavor also featured in the Schogetten winter lineup we wrote about earlier this year. Clearly, “Kaffee Knusper,” coffee crunch, was the most enticing of the three. And it was a sign. So, we procured a bar before it would be too late and got ready to turn it into our newest super subjective chocolate review (each time I think it’s time to go back to also considering non-chocolate snacks, the duck and I discover another intriguing chocolate flavor to try):

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It comes down to a simple choice, really.

“Get busy living or get busy dying.”
The duck recited this quote from the 1994 drama The Shawshank Redemption perfectly when I suggested taking one more walking break within an already painfully slow jog. In the past few weeks, the duck’s forceful nudges have decreased and given way to a new kind of behavior. Disappointed by my lack of fitness, the duck began acting as my “very motivational” fitness instructor. So that I, too, “can one day feel like Andy Dufresne after – SPOILER ALERT! – he finally makes his escape from prison.” When I asked, “how?” the duck jumped into the shower, ready to recreate the infamous rain scene. Before the duck could create a splashy mess, I offered to convert what I anticipated the duck’s re-enactment to look like into a digital – and dry! – movie still duckification, instead. The duck reluctantly agreed.

The more I look at this drawing, the more I think I averted a calamitous, likely costly, situation. The duck disagrees. Either way, since it takes Andy Dufresne – MINI SPOILER – 19 years to escape, doesn’t this mean I have 19 years to become fit? And by that time, the targets for an age-appropriate fitness level will be more attainable (I learned recently that my jog times are like those of an average 64-99-year-old woman. So, if I can’t improve, I only have to persevere, and time will do its magic).

What are your favorite movie scenes to imagine yourself in? Do you know someone (maybe a friend?) who has escaped from prison, literal or metaphorical?


Mango Matcha Brownie ♡ #cozycafe #rawvegantreats #funfriendlyeats #measurematchaintbspalready #TBT

As promised, the duck and I proudly share a photo celebrating a snack we ate outside our home:

Our friend T had wanted to visit Plants and Cakes, a cafe in Frankfurt that offers plant-based, gluten- and (refined) sugar-free treats, for a while. Almost two years later, we finally had our cake and ate it too. After a quick examination of the display case, the duck and I predictably ordered the one matcha treat we could find: A raw Mango Matcha Brownie. Its flavor was a bit too mild for our tastes – the hint of matcha, mixed with the fruitiness of the mango, couldn’t satisfy our matcha cravings. We also got a Peanut Choc Raw Cake Pod with oats to share with T and her travel friend, which was divine! Our considerate cake companions kindly let us try their raw mini cakes too. So we also got to taste passionfruit with berries, I think, and something with white chocolate and peanut, maybe? All told, we had a lovely, flavorful afternoon. 4/5 tea leaves for our culinary satisfaction (as matcha snobs), 5/5 plants and cakes for the convivial company, and an appealing ambiance. ・🪴♡🍰・

This was also the perfect opportunity to test the photographic abilities of our compact new camera friend before we went on a cinematographic adventure the next day. More on that some other time.

Cashless considerations

After years of cheerfully p(l)aying with physical money, the duck and I switched to using our debit card instead. Shopping has felt slightly less exciting since – even as a child, I would opt for coins to pay for my pretend shop. The duck was always happy helping out in the filling-our-shopping-basket-to-the-brim part of our shop and then sitting back and watching while I paid for our groceries. Clearly, the switch has been easier for the duck.

So, to return the favor from two months ago, the duck accumulated some local grocery store flyers for me to study – I hadn’t assembled applicable offers for our detailed shopping list for the week yet. Then, the duck asked for some paper and a pen from our neverending stash and collected bullet points for a list of advantages of paying by card. After finalizing the shopping list, I would get to compose one more list together with the duck – what a wonderful late new year’s present! Because it was so much fun, the duck suggested I share the outcome (of the latter). Voilà:

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A Shopping Basket Mystery

When I shop, I consistently choose shopping baskets over shopping carts. If there are no baskets, a shopping bag from the stash inside my backpack will have to do. But I prefer baskets. Can you imagine my disappointment when one of the few local basket-carrying grocery stores had seemingly run out? It was mild but memorable.
During another shop, I overheard an exchange between the cashier and an acquaintance of his, presumably a civilian-clothed (former) coworker. It went roughly like this:
Civilian: “Where did all the baskets go?”
Cashier: “They were (getting) stolen!”
Then, a shared knowing look and a chuckle (I might owe an embellishment credit to my memory for this part).
I wish I could recall the exact wording of the cashier’s statement, as there is a difference between: “All the baskets were stolen. There aren’t any left,” and “The basket supply was dwindling. We removed the remaining few”. The former sounds more exciting, though I suspect the latter to be true.
A few weeks later, when I entered the store, shopping bag ready, I was shocked to see the baskets had returned. I had expected their removal to be a permanent solution, especially after the overheard exchange. Then, I wondered: Had the baskets been removed to install anti-burglary chips? Had they been held hostage until a decision about their future was made? Maybe the no-basket period was simply a parenting tactic to teach the criminal neighborhood a lesson on appreciating the things it takes for granted? The more I thought about it, the more I believed in this sequence of events: The cashier and his friend, fed up with the regular disappearance of shopping baskets, had planned this stunt well in advance. FDucktective basketirst, they would hide all baskets. Then, they would stage several performances of the shopping basket conversation to ensure most patrons would witness it. Maybe, they multi-cast the role of “Civilian” to reduce suspicion. Either way, they must have done extensive purchase behavior studies beforehand so they wouldn’t hit the same clientele twice. Perhaps management was in on it? Maybe they hired professional actors? Possibly, this has the potential to become a new ducktective case. Probably, I’m overthinking this. Obviously, I need to know.
Asking outright would be too embarrassing. Maybe I could hire the duck to infiltrate the store and investigate the staff through some offhand new coworker questions? What do you think?

Grocery shopping has changed, man!

It’s been a while since the duck and I last professed our undying love for grocery shopping. Since then, there have been a few changes. Let’s start with the obvious one: In the last three years, various rules concerning store capacity, face visibility, and personal space were introduced and adapted. However, the biggest one for the duck and me was paying for our shop – we finally learned about checkouts and ceased walking out of the store, bags almost bursting with free groceries- ouch! The duck’s bad joke nudges have become more forceful. I should probably look into limiting the duck’s regular yoga master drills to five per day.
Bad jokes aside, I used to love playing store with miniature groceries, plastic money, and cash register sound effects. The only reason I stopped was a halt in playdate invitations. Fortunately, real grocery shopping turned out to be nearly as fun. Can you imagine my delight when I get to use self-service checkout machines? Even at a regular register, paying for my purchases in cash, ideally with exact change, was fun. As a bonus, I always precisely remembered how much I had spent on my shopping trips.

When shoppers were asked to kindly pay cashless in 2020, I acquiesced. At first, I used the chip readers and was called back to fetch my card several times. Once, I left it at a self-service checkout. When I returned the next day to retrieve it, I was scolded by the employee as he returned my card.
I have since progressed to touch-to-pay. Fortunately, I’m naturally frugal (which is what I should call my stinginess from now on), so I’m never severely surprised by the total on my receipt. But that’s because I already am when I see the price tags in-store and internally exclaim: “I remember a time when bread was basically free… because I was a freeloading child-” ouch! When we saw that most of our staples were spared from intense price hikes, the duck and I boldly declared our fortunateness. Unsurprisingly, inflation caught up with us. Now we cry whenever we buy oatmeal at a 40% higher price than before. We’re still shopping cheaper and healthier than in Japan, so we shouldn’t complain.

What’s your stance on grocery shopping? Do you have a preferred way to pay? What is your favorite country/city/store to shop in?


First Frost

When the duck and I woke up to sunshine and this meteorological winter’s first frost a few weeks ago, we knew we’d regret not attempting to preserve it photographically. The combination of bright sunlight after weeks of dark grey skies and a thin layer of glittering frost over everything was thrilling to behold. Fueled by our morning cup of coffee, the duck and I grabbed our trusty camera friend and our coats, hats, scarves, and gloves, eager to capture the icy beauty before it disappeared. It was freezing out – obviously. But the pretty sights and Pluto, our new canine acquaintance who excitedly ran toward my hunched figure (in accidental outdoor yoga terms: “crouching crow observing perching crow”) to have an animated chat with the duck, were a great distraction. Still, for a brief moment, the duck and I shared a wistful daydream about last summer’s heat waves– until we discovered our next photo subject. Here’s a selection of our (partly overexposed) spoils from that marvelous – but biting – morning:

Despite the lingering fear that my hands would be too numb to turn the front door key (which has happened before) that day, the duck and I love reminiscing about our fresh frost photo stroll… with a cup of warm tea nearby.
Do you (already) have a favorite memory from this season?

Snacks: Very limited winter edition Schogetten

The duck and I have a history of trying to buy seasonal chocolate too late (which, in Germany, equals about a month into the respective season). So, when we discovered an image of limited edition pumpkin spice Schogetten online in early autumn, the duck spent every grocery shop scanning the chocolate aisle. To no avail. Instead, we found Christmas-themed Veganz chocolate. Upon further inspection of the bookmarked image, we realized that, though we consider pumpkin spice an autumn flavor, these Schogetten Winter Schogetten duckwere part of a limited winter edition trio – together with a white cinnamon- and a dark mint candy cane variety. We love cinnamon. And after last summer’s lemon cupcake debacle, we decided to also give the dark variety a chance to help us trust Schogetten again (you never know). The more chocolate we try, the better the chances of finding one we love, right? We still had to find these limited-edition chocolates. And it took us months to locate a store that carried all three. At least we got to buy them on sale. After searching for so long, the duck and I were thrilled to finally hold these chocolate cubes in pretty boxes in our wings and hands. Now we only had to try them – for this year’s first super-specific taste test:

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A wizard is never late,

“…Froduck Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to,” the duck recounted before announcing the first cookie break in the 4-hour-long retelling of a recent dream. I was extremely relieved when I realized the duck had dreamed of having friendly conversations with Gandalf, one of the safer fictional friend options. In fact, I was so relieved that I decided to base my next movie still duckification on the duck’s shot-by-shot retelling of Peter Jackson’s 2001 adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, “but with a protagonist with the right amount of feathers.”

This was initially meant to be a quick sketch to base the duckification on (hence the weird anatomy). Then, I realized the sketch had magically become the picture (and the anatomy an “abstract choice”).
Besides the slight divergence in plumage, there’s another crucial difference between a standard hobbit and a cheeky duck: fingers. The duck has none. Therefore, in the “clearly superior version” of the story about “leaving home to kick butt, featuring a true protagonist with a neat ring,” said ring actually needs to be held tight with a wing-palm to work. According to the duck, “that whole thing about rings going on fingers was just a mistranslation of the instructions booklet that came with the first ring ever made by Sir Ringleton Duck III, one of my many distinguished ancestors. Thence, I should know!”
So, yeah, I’ll leave it at that. I’m just glad the duck seems to have obtained a massive confidence boost after that whole letter-writing debacle.
Also, I think the quote at the beginning of this post would be a perfect point to add to any New Year’s Resolutions list. In fact, we’re still working on our punctuality streakone slow jog at a time.