The Playground Diaries Part II

Another Wednesday, another day with Mari. To start off with, it’s her six-months birthday today, and I got to spend it with her. Hurrah!

Made in Berlin

Anyway, my lesson learned from last week was to make time to meet with friends when you’re out and about. So that’s what I did. They weren’t available right away, so I had some time to kill. The obvious thing is to get a nice flat white and enjoy that little bit of sun we got today.

Then I hung out a bit at the playground, which this is obviously all about. I only sat for about 30 minutes, but even in that short amount of time I was well entertained. I just sat there with Mari on my arm curiously looking at what’s happening around her, when a couple of parents came on the playground with their kids who obviously just finished school for the day. Here’s what happened:

  • All parents were busy digging through their kids’ backpacks, looking through their kids books and folders and for notes from their teachers.

  • At the same time they went through their lunch boxes, eating what was left as they went.

  • Apparently there’s either a lice check coming up, or two out of three parents are supposed to check their kids for lice. There was some discussion going on, but no consensus was reached. I left shortly after, though that wasn’t related to the fact that some kids there might’ve lice, which one mum implied jokingly.

  • One kid showed its mom today’s results from writing class, where she wrote the letters o, l and m a dozen times each, having to pick the one she liked best. She showed me the results as well, and I agreed that she’s done good work. Then she asked me if I don’t have any kids going to school myself, showing what seemed to be disappointment, but might’ve been lost interest.

I left the playground to meet up with some of J’s mum friends. I met them before so there were no big surprises, their nice people. We met at a freshly opened cafe specifically targeting parents with babies and toddlers. Dare I say they picked the right audience.

When I arrived a good dozen of prams were standing outside the cafe. It just occurred to me that I forgot the keys to our pram’s lock. So I pushed it to the very end of the windows where I also found our friends sitting inside, so I left it there knowing that I could keep an eye on it.

Inside it was madness. Kids and parents, more kids and more parents. I almost entered the play area with my shoes on, but I realized just in time that you’re not supposed to do that. It’s quite a feat putting shoes on or taking them off with a baby on your arm, but thankfully I managed to pull it off.

Anyway, we had some chit-chat, let the kids play together, each licking a wooden spoon and some toy pans and pots in turn, and talked about what J would bring back home from IKEA, where she went on her day off.

I’m still somewhat in awe about this parents world which has been something of a parallel universe for me until recently. Sure, I spent time with my daughter on the weekend, and when I come home from the office, but being out there with here alone is still a very new experience.

Thankfully I know enough to take care of her on my own, so I don’t embarrass myself in front of the supposably hypercritical parental audience. Phew.

Tune in next week for more tales of interest from the “Playground Diaries.”


Peanut Butter Granola

Peanut Butter Granola

When the Californians visited us, they brought me something so ingenious I just had to try making it myself, after I ran all out. I’m talking about peanut butter granola. It’s so simple, yet it’s so awesome it hurts my teeth.

Good thing there’s this internet thing where you can search for recipes and stuff. Obviously every recipe is different, so I just mixed and matched for my liking and tried making a first batch.

It was only a mild success, since I put the oven on circulation to heat it up, and forgot to turn it off. Now there’s something that’ll burn things before you even notice.

Anyway, it’s frickin simple:

  • 3 cups oats
  • 1/3 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Put butter and peanut butter in a pan, and heat it up until it’s smooth. Add honey, sugar and salt, and keep heated until you get a nice goo. Be careful not to burn it, because it will.

Preheat the oven (not using circulation) to about 175° Celcius or 375° Fahrenheit. Put oats and peanuts in a bowl, cover with the mixture and toss until oats are covered with the stuff. Put it on a baking sheet and in the oven.

Now, the actual toasting time depends on your liking. I left it in for 20 minutes, and I reckon that was too long. 10 minutes might even be enough, I’ll have to play with that. Do stir the granola from time to time so that all sides are toasted nicely.

For me, the three tablespoons of peanut butter might actually not be enough, so I’ll play with that (as in, add a lot more peanut butter) too.

Leave to cool for 30 minutes or so and put them into your favorite granola jar. Enjoy!

Naturey Crap

Let me just go ahead and say it: I like naturey crap. Everyone does. You just have to check Flickr’s Explore to see awesome HDR’d flower macros with some ugly insects and a sunset. Trust me, it’s there, I’m just trying to keep you from hurting your eyes, that’s all. I shot some naturey crap recently, and it made me realize how much fun it is to just shoot some grass.

Tuesday Naturey Crap

I’m mostly talking about grass, to be honest. It’s the synonym for naturey crap, at least for me. A lone tree from time to time doesn’t hurt too, the loner the better.

tuesday naturey crap

That’s the kind of nature I like. I hate the other kind, to tell you the truth. Looking at Explore hurts my eyes, because some flower macros really bores me. But that’s just me, I need spectacular depth of field together with my naturey crap. Get close, open up the aperture, no, not to 4.0, all the way, and shoot some crap. It’s seriously awesome, and quite rewarding too, when you managed to get that one blade of grass in focus.

friday naturey crap

Of course throwing in a couple of mountains doesn’t hurt either, right?

friday naturey crap

Canada has an insane amount of naturey crap. It’s mind-boggling really. I went buck wild with all my cameras over there. Because how can you not? Look to your left, mountains covered in naturey crap. To your right, a moose hiding behind naturey crap. Right in front of you, a giant field of grass, canola or wheat with a barn somewhere in it. Boom, amazing!

thursday naturey crap

Have you shot some naturey crap lately? I think you should, before winter gets here and takes it all away. Then you’ll have to wait until spring before you can take a fresh picture of crap in nature. Unless of course, you’re living down under. Those guys have all the naturey crap you can think of ahead of them. I’m not jealous, no, not at all.

Forgive me for this cliché sunset shot, it was just so meant to be. It’s not HDR if that’s any consolation.

Thursday Naturey Crap

Naturey crap is what I love about being somewhere in the country. There’s just an abundance of it. I’m pretty convinced Mari’s first words will either include naturey or crap, maybe even both.

Holga Wallpaper

Don’t you just love the focussing symbols on the Holga’s lens? I sure do. In fact, I love their simplicity so much, I used them in a recent presentation. I didn’t find a really reasonable base to work with, so I used one that was close enough to what I wanted, one that Greg Lawler made to offer t-shirts. You should totally buy one.

I didn’t stop there, but made a very simple wallpaper out of it, so I thought I’d spread the joy.

Screen shot 2009-09-28 at 21.07.37

It’s a really simple one, but I like simple wallpapers that don’t distract too much. So here you go. The resolution is 1920×1200 but you can stretch or scale it up and down however you want, I’m sure. Should you need a different resolution, let me know. Credits to Greg for making the turning the figures into something I could use.

Enjoy! Who said I’m not crafty, eh?

Inspiration: Airports

Okay, so I’m sure you’re wondering, what on earth is inspiring about airports? The usual stuff you get to see is just downright boring, I won’t disagree with you here. There’s nothing more boring and mundane than security, checkin, and finding your way around an airport, especially when security is constantly eyeing your vintage cameras with much skepticism.

Airport buildings tend to be quite ugly, personnel usually isn’t very interesting, waiting for boarding is quite boring, and watching people rush to the door when boarding finally opens is pretty dull.

But it’s a totally different story about what’s happening outside, that’s where it starts to get interesting. I remember my first long layover on my first trip to Sydney. It wasn’t great, but I watched in awe the planes taking off and landing with only a couple of minutes in between. Planes being prepared for lift-off, being loaded off after arrival.


There’s still some magic about flying, if only it is to watch the giant birds getting ready for take-off, or watching clouds and life below pass by when you’re in the air. As you’ll no doubt agree, my friend Ann-Kathrin is the master of airport photos.


Every time I head to an airport I’m looking forward to the part where a photo is in order. Now, Berlin’s airports aren’t exactly great for that, but there’ll always be an airport waiting on the other end of the flight.


I definitely enjoy looking out on the runway, watching the big planes, and taking pictures of them. If you’re lucky you even get a sunrise or a sunset for free, of course the former only if you’re a fan of getting up really early. Which I’m not, by the way. Brace yourself, this shot’s a digital.

frankfurt airport, 9:30 pm

Of course getting to an airport means you have to fly somewhere, but it even works nice when you’re picking up someone. Airports in Berlin have visitor decks, Tegel even has one where you can walk around on the roof of the whole building, watching the big birds from above. Well worth the money, but not exactly always driving out to the airport obviously. Next time you’re picking someone up, look out for a deck where you can take your camera for a spin.


Obviously in-flight inspiration is a whole different story, and we’ll get to that shortly. For me, there’s always some fun in an airport, despite of everything that’s boring about them. There’s always a certain fascination about flying, even when you’re still on the ground having just stepped off a plane or waiting to enter one. That fascination is the one I still like capturing every time, even if it’s just myself brushing my teeth.

damn hell brushing my teeth in a singapore airport bathroom