May Favorites :: a beautiful new place in town, a rhubarb cake challenge & a few more

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Lately, I keep hearing rumors that we are facing the last days of the blogosphere. Seems a bit like a conspiracy, but I have to say, I believe it somehow. I am reading blogs and watching vlogs for almost ten years now. I like that, just as I like to read a good magazine or book. Over the years I created a small collection of selected online media regarding the things I am interested in (minimalism and similar lifestyle topics). But even these “high end” blogs and vlogs kinda like have reached their limit already. To me it seems like the majority of the posts is written in a hurry and it’s not rare that I find recurring topics, only discussed from a different perspective. It’s all about followers and all about “getting things out there”, and all about money. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame any blogger who wants to make a living with his blog. But I am glad I decided not to a couple of years ago. I want topa to be unique and I want it exclusively to represent the things I explore, things I think that need to be mentioned because they are special and because they make the world (or starting with LEipzig) a better place – at least a little bit and at least in my opinion. So topa always was, still is and will be a non-profit outlet. It will never win any ranking or support some major company and their greed for profit. It’s for the small entrepreneurs in design and sustainability, for unknown or indie artists, and it’s here to support the Lakota people. So for the latter and in case you like the idea behind topa, enjoyed a single post and maybe want to give something back, topa is now open for donations that will used directly to support the Lakota people.

#foryoursoul: Since rhubarb season started a couple of weeks ago, Ro and I had rhubarb nearly consistently. Besides rhubarb lemonade and rhubarb pudding, Ro created a super delicious rhubarb seltzer cake with almonds (following a secret recipe – sorry, can’t share) and I made a meringue-covered rhubarb cake following my grandma’s apple pie recipe. If you call it a challenge – well, we both won. ;-)

#foryourears: This is Ro’s latest podcast for Adventurous Music called “Expecting Miracles”. It’s beautiful ambient music, the perfect sound for a chilly summer evening. I am always surprised where he finds cool music and his sets always are such a great inspiration and perfect to listen to while working on a script.

#foryoureyes: In case you are wondering where we got such beautiful pottery – well, we made them by ourselves! Well, not completely, but we chose the design and colors and painted the matching bowls – right in our neighborhood, at Lieblingswerk. Hands down, this is the most beautiful place I know of for handcrafted design in LEipzig. So if you are looking for some chilly and creative time (and some hot or cold drinks too), or a place to get a unique and special gift, this is the right one. You’re gonna be amazed. Ro and I had a great and fun time there and I am sure you will, too. Trust me! ;-)

#foryourmind: As you guys probably know, I am studying all things Lakota since like ever. Usually I am using old-school techniques. Like reading and watching movies and documentaries. But then the late starter in me discovered lessons on Lakota on YouTube. I mean real classroom-style lessons. My whole world changed (almost) and I was hooked. And then one of the teachers recommended this book by Luther Standing Bear “Land of the Spotted Eagle”. And here we go again, back to old-school studying. I’ve read this book in such a short time and I marked so many phrases and passages, I actually underlined almost the whole book. Until today, I haven’t read any book on Lakota culture that is as good as this one. I could quote and quote and find no end. It holds so much valuable information, not only interesting from a cultural point of view. It teaches a lot of meaningful things on how to respect each other and how to maintain a healthy environment that although it’s from 1933, it’s more relevant than ever today. I think everyone with big worries about the future should read and definitely learn from it.

Well, enjoy June and have a great time! :-)

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April Favorites :: amazing noise music, incredible artwork & a few more

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Happy Birthday to this blog! It’s been four years now and you, topa, still enjoy working with me! ;-) Well, at the beginning of this month Ro and I also celebrated a bit myself working as an editor/writer for eight years now (time flies!) and the formation of a new joint project called finetexts that basically combines the things Ro and I love to do: creating books and teaching. We were working on finetexts for several months already and are very proud of the now existing collaborations and the books we helped to publish yet. So in addition to our own creative outcome, here are a few things that inspired me the most this April.

#foryoursoul: Most of the time I cook from scratch. Most of the time I don’t even use a recipe at all. And most of the time I cook the veggies that come with my weekly organic crate. But then my friend Marta gave me two artichokes. And so I first needed to search the web for instructions and second I developed a new craving. Well, these ones in the picture are “just” peeled artichokes, covered in flour, egg, salt/pepper and breadcrumbs, and fried in olive oil. The dip is homemade ketchup. So these fried artichokes with dip are hot and cold, creamy and crispy, fried and fresh, hearty and sour/sweet. I can recommend them because they serve as a whole dish which is perfect for chilly spring evenings on the balcony. ;-)

#foryoureares: The podcast “The Trees As They Reverse Their Breathing” by Adventurous Music features dark electronica sounds by Grebenstein and really really brought my noise-loving ears and heart back to life. It is noisy ambient and rhythmic electronica in such a perfect combination that I really got the I-wanna-DJ-again-and-play-these-tunes-out-loud-itch. I listend to this podcast many times the last couple of days and I am a huge fan of this artist already. In fact, I am more than happy that Grebenstein is gonna play in LEipzig at UT Connewitz at the end of May and I cannot wait to see the show!

#foryoureyes: A couple of weeks ago Ro and I went to The Millionaire’s Club, an annual LEipzig comic book festival. Besides the fact, that I haven’t seen the neighborhood Kolonnadenstraße so much packed with cool and alternative creative people ever before, I was stunned when I discoverd the works of Noise Armada and Brookesia Studio. I very much love their artwork which – in my opinion – is like contemporary dark and industrial Art Nouveau.

#foryourmind: This Individual Coloring Book is the latest book Ro and I created. We basically made it for our little nieces (3 and 4 years old) so that they can learn more about their huge family. It contains a portrait of each family member and explains a bit what they love to do the most in a funny and entertaining way. The drawings are in various difficulty levels so the girls can improve their skills in coloring. Since Ro and I enjoyed very much the creating of this book and are very happy with what the printed version looks like, we were thinking to offer such an Individual Coloring Book to everyone looking for a lovely memento or unique and enjoyable gift (it’s not kids only and various styles are possible). Just let us know!

Well, I hope you enjoyed the little trip into my world! Have a wonderful time and enjoy all of the (German) holidays this upcoming May! :-)

March Favorites :: an unexpected release, a cool invitation & a few more

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Hello spring! So today I am gonna share a couple of really cool and pretty things that helped me going through the last grey days of winter.

#foryoursoul: I invented pancake burgers, yeah! Well, I am not sure if this is true, but I certainly know that I came up with this idea spontaneously when friends announced a visit and I wasn’t in the mood to bake or buy a cake. Plus: My friend M is lactose intolerant, my friend C loves Nutella (and me too) and Ro can never get enough of burgers. All things the bakery around the corner can’t satisfy anyway. So I made pancakes just as usual except for using soy milk instead of cow milk. When all the pancakes were fried, I used my smallest serving ring to cut them into tiny round pieces. I buttered the layers with Nutella and raspberry jam and a few also with cream cheese (for the milk guys of us and to add a bit of sourness which goes so well with nougat creme). In the end I sprinkled them with Ovomaltine (the malty cacoa from Switzerland) and put a frozen raspberry on top of the toothpick that was melted right in time! So, so yummy!

#foryourears: One day a couple of weeks ago social media (!!!) and no one else (!!!) informed me that the one I live and share my life with for almost two decades, has quiet and secretly released his long-awaited EP! It is also the first release by Signalstoerung for Adventurous Music, our joint audiovisual project. So this EP called UU Series contains two tracks of wonderful and chilled ambient electronica.

#foryoureyes: On March 7th, my relationship with the KOSMOS house, a beautiful building in my very neighborhood, came full circle. In February I got an invitation for the first blogger event called Culinary Side Inspection from Maria, the sales manager at the new place to stay, the hotel Innside by Melià. I decided to join the event, since I was pretty excited how the renovation of this huge building had turned out. Plus: I have known this place for pretty much all of my life. When I was a little kid, it was our neighborhood post office where I went to many times to get packages from family members living far away. After the wall came down in 1989, the post office was closed and a cafè/bar called Letterman moved in. This was such a wonderful place to hang out! Later on Ro and I made good and unforgettable memories in the Cosmopolitan, a club that was also there, and obeyed curiously the renovation more than a decade later. So loaded with tons of good vibrations Ro and I went to the blogger event where we were promised to get the best of literally everything: a welcoming drink of homemade smoothies, a guided tour trough the whole house, a beautiful view and aperitif on the rooftop terrace, a delicious snack in the kitchen, a three course menu, fine cocktails, gifts and a brunch voucher. We bloggers got to connect with each other and this place and the very welcoming atmosphere really was beyond any expectation. Besides that – and this was the biggest surprise for me – it wasn’t just a culinary event. It was an unexpected art walk too! What I didn’t know was that this hotel partnered with a local artist I really like for his pattern-like quirky hidden pictures that hold thousands of things to explore: Michael Fischer Art. What I also didn’t know was that this artist also creates black and white and popart paintings and sculptures. So with all of my personal background regarding this place the Karl Marx sculpture really made me smile when I spotted it in a corner of the huge suite and I knew this place is one to return to. Which I did already. Last Sunday. For brunch. And again, I was thrilled by the exclusive food, friendly service and fun ideas because this brunch is different than any other brunches I know. It starts right before noon, lasts until 3 pm and besides all the typical cold breakfast dishes you can order different types of lunch in reasonable amounts via little dish cards. These you put into a holder on your table so the waitress can get them quietly without interrupting your conversation. I really like that idea and our friends and us enjoyed choosing one card after another and were amazed by the fast service. Since that was another cool time there, we decided to make plans coming back this summer – first to try out Beats and Bacon (DJ and breakfast on Saturday mornings) and secondly to have another big time at the rooftop terrace once it is finished. Can’t wait for that! Ah, I almost forgot, Ro want’s to try out Thursday Hangout as well… See, it’s a place to be! ;-)

#foryourmind: Carsten Nicolai is one of Ro’s and mine favorite artists. So visiting his audiovisual work called unicolor was on our to do list for March – and it should be on yours if you are in town these days and looking for some cool multimedia art. The installation shows different series of composite colors that change in different modes and rates. Sometimes it alters so fast that the reception your brain creates is a mix of all these various colors that turns out grey-ish/white. Pretty cool. On the sides of the color screen are mirrors reflecting the color movements which creates the impact of standing in a never ending tunnel – something my brain can’t process somehow which makes me wanna stay and gaze endlessly. Unfortunately, the gallery was really crowed when we were there last Saturday afternoon. So when you go to the Eigen + Art gallery (the exhibition is until April 8th) make sure to go on weekday mornings to get the whole audio-visual experience.

Well, I hope you are enjoying spring time as well as I do. Have a good time and talk to you soon!

February Favorites :: chocolate tarte, building site crane & a few more

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I don’t know about you, but this year I feel like time flies as fast as possible. It’s March in a couple of days already and I am looking forward to a bit more sun shine on the LEipzig horizon. I spent the first months of 2017 almost working non-stop tied down at my desk, so the following things have been a welcoming alternative to my everyday reading/writing routine.

#foryoursoul: Last year, my man was given a baking book. Since we are not big in baking, we were thinking to give it away. But since it was beautifully illustrated, I kinda last minute took the time one day, sat down and … read the book. I loved it so much that a couple of weeks later I created my first chocolate tarte – which turned out as the very best one I ever ate. The book is called “Orientalische Orange” (“Oriental Orange”) and the author and illustrator, Aviv Koriat, is the owner of two bakeries, one in Berlin and one in Weimar.

#foryourears: Yes, I know, Kate Tempest… You probably already know her, since she is played on the radio many times a day and it seems like she is really popular right now. I very much like her voice, her attitude and the variety of her hip-hop-ish/break-ish/dub-ish sounds. Not to forget the message of her songs – very powerful. My favorite song from her latest album “Let Them Eat Chaos” is “Whoops”.

#foryoureyes: If you are living in or have been visiting LEipzig the last couple of month, you might have come across many huge building sites. One of those is in my neighborhood Waldstraßenviertel, in fact, it is right in front of my house. For a couple of weeks now I live with a huge crane operating in front of my window, a place huge maple, chestnut and cottonwood trees once called their home. What’s happening here is (Native Americans would call it raping Mother Earth and I agree) the re-opening of the Elstermühlgraben, a millrace that was covered up almost 60 years ago because of its with chemical waste contaminated water. Since the condition of the water is supposed to be better now (and since LEipzig needs more generous tourists to pay off its debts), the millrace is being re-opened for boat traffic. So since the beginning of the year I enjoy the company of excavators and cranes, which is, in the latter case, pretty weird and scary. Living on the third floor watching a 20 meter crane moving and shaking in only a few meters distance and bringing my very house to quake sometimes feels as terrifying as watching Godzilla walking the streets of New York City (no kidding, even the noises are similar).

#foryourmind: Remember introducing Greta Taubert a few months ago? Well, I’ve read her two books “Apokalypse Jetzt!” (“Apocalypse Now!”) and “Im Club der Zeitmillionäre” (“At The Club of Time Millionaires”) in the meantime and I can highly recommend them! For both books the author, who is a journalist, took time off to research how life in LEipzig and Germany (or Europe) could be after some kind of apocalypse and/or without having the need or chance to work and earn money. Both topics are on my mind for quite a while too, so reading her books literally answered a lot of my questions regarding alternative incomes, minimizing the need of material things, self-containment and autonomy/autarky. Through reading, I also got introduced to many interesting people and communities and her quirky style of writing made absorbing the interesting subject pretty entertaining. One of my favorite quotes from “Im Club der Zeitmillionäre” is: “Warum darf man die Ressourcen der Welt verschwenden, aber nicht sich selbst?” (“Why is it allowed to waste the resources of the world, but not yourself?”).

Well, so far from my little niche of the world. If there is anything you would like to recommend yourself or would like to share regarding my tips, please feel free to leave a comment. Have a good time and see you around! :-)