Update your bookmarks!

I have very happily returned to self-hosting my blog. It means so much more freedom and possibilities, and I’ve missed messing around with HTML/CSS. So Thoughts & Things can be found at thnth.com from now on. It would be fantastic if you could update your bookmarks, blogrolls and feed readers to keep following along. Hope to see you over there!


Back to the real world

My first day at the new old job was last Friday. So far it’s been a happy start. I’m glad I’m easing back into things with only half a week’s worth of working hours. I’m glad I’m finally going to have an income that – while way below what someone with a university degree should earn, in my opinion – frees my parents of having to financially support me. That is big, you guys. I will barely make it each month; with student loans and health insurance eating up most of my salary, I won’t be able to put anything into savings or splurge on stuff for fun. But I will be off government welfare and off my parents’ backs. I’m working a grown-up job and supporting myself, and it was about time I made it here.

One of my first projects was to write copy for an ad campaign for one of the company’s partners, Deutsche Bahn (Germany’s railway). The ads will be placed on bus and subway stops in Germany’s major cities so I’ll likely be able to see my work realized right here in Cologne soon. I’m grateful that my supervisors have enough confidence in my work to let me dive right back in literally on my first day back. It’s exciting to work on projects like this behind a desk and then to get to see the results out in the world when you leave the office.

Downtown Cologne has me back. The office is just off of the city’s main square. I’ve missed being in the midst of all the noise and the people and the colors; the tourists, the traffic, the neon signs.

The subway has me back. Morning rush hour has me back. Downtown’s lunch places have me back.

The past six months have been such a colossal waste of time that I try not to think about it. I am exactly where I could’ve been last July, and yet I suppose I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.

The first snow of the year

The thing with snow in this part of Germany is that it’s usually short-lived so it is actually extremely stressful for people like me who love snow more than anything. As soon as it starts and the temperature is just below zero and some gorgeous white begins to blanket everything – even here in the city – I’m like: OH GOD THIS COULD BE IT. This might be the only day of snow we get this season. Cancel all plans. You CANNOT miss this. Ohmygodohmygod. Get gloves and a scarf. Where is a good place to enjoy this? I don’t know I don’t know. It might stop any minute now. I need a thicker coat because I’mma stay outside until it stops. WHERE IS THE CAMERA. I DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT SHOES FOR THIS. I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS SINCE LAST MAY. WHY HAVE I NOT BEEN PREPARING. PLEASE LET IT STILL BE SNOWING WHEN I’M DRESSED AND AT THE PARK. OK I’M OFFICIALLY PANICKING. OH GOD.

— And then I got to the park, and it was perfect. Just all white and quiet and peaceful, and soft and cold and lovely. A few people were walking their dogs. Cars’ headlights made the freshly fallen snow sparkle. And I was just wandering along, smiling like a lunatic, caught between the joy of the moment and the lingering fear that it might be over by the next day. I looked up at the planes coming in from Barcelona and Casablanca, dipping through the thick clouds, and I imagined the pilots announcing: “We’ll be landing at Cologne airport in approximately 10 minutes. Local temperatures are below zero and it is snowing heavily. Thank you for flying with us and have a great day.” And I could just hear the passengers groan about how much they missed the sun and the heat already, and I thought: YOU IDIOTS, you got this so wrong.

Snow turns the world into such a magical, beautiful place. How can you not want this every day?

Wordpress tip: Elma Studio

I had a self-hosted WordPress blog for five years, until early 2012. WordPress taught me (almost) everything I know about HTML and CSS and enabled me to work with (and bemoan) any other content management systems in my professional life. This blog is hosted at wordpress.com, so customization is limited and I cannot code my own themes from scratch, nor use downloadable free or premium themes. This is the only downside of wordpress.com for me; otherwise it’s very user-friendly and I have not missed my self-hosted blog.

However, coming across the fantastic themes over at Elma Studio I briefly considered going back to being self-hosted just to be able to use them!

I love that the themes are so simple and clearly structured, as well as the font and color choices. My favorites are definitely their two latest themes but any one of them costs just 12 Euros (or about $16) to download.

I have not yet used any of the Elma Studio themes that are available for purchase. I am, however, using their theme “Yoko” which is freely available to wordpress.com users and I love it. Again: everything is clean and simple, and there are none of the ugly surprises that are so common in free themes like comment fields that don’t match the rest of the design or off-center images.

Elma Studio is Hellen and Manuel, a German web design team. Naturally, the website and all themes are available in English – but I’m all the happier to promote some excellent WordPress work from my home country.

Were I to make the switch back to a self-hosted blog, I would most definitely make use of their special bundle offer which gets you access to all ten themes currently displayed on their website as well as all new themes that will be released within one year after purchase (at least six). The bundle costs 36 Euros (or about $48).

Visit Elma Studio here!

PS – I am not in any way paid for writing this post. Elma Studio have never heard of me.

Hometown art

I found these two Cologne themed postcards in a bookstore a few weeks ago. Aren’t they lovely? I especially like the bottom one with all the different icons representing everything Cologne – or Köln, in German – is known for: Carnival, the locally brewed beer, its shopping streets, the Kranhäuser, the riverboats, its football club, the cathedral, the vast green areas, its zoo, Old Town.

I plan on framing these and putting them somewhere in my room, or maybe the kitchen.

(Postcards by: cityproducts.de)