© 2013 Green Kitchen Stories Autumn_plum_stick_bread_01

Autumn, Plums and Bread on a Stick

I watch her run through the leaves with her warmest sweater on and a fruit basket in her hand. She is laughing a bubbling laugh and tells me to try to catch her. I run after her and she starts screaming of happiness. I think about how life would be if we lived here.

Our friends live a bit away from the city. They have a huge house now. It’s the opposite of fancy, but utterly charming. And a gigantic garden filled with fruit trees, fallen leaves and flowers. You can tell that the garden was beautiful and well taken care of, 40-50 years ago. But during these last decades it has slowly decayed. Our friends have, since they moved in, started to bring the garden back to life. But they are not in a rush, this will take many years.

Elsa runs through the leaves in their garden. We pick fresh plums and apples from the trees. And then we make a fire together. Luise wants to show us how to make Bread-on-a-stick, like she did as a kid. She tells us to find some branches that we can use. I find the perfect branch and trim it thoroughly. Luise looks at it and tells me that it’s too thin: “It won’t be able to hold the bread”. “Of course it will, this is perfect” I reply. She brings out a big bowl of spelt & rye müesli dough that she has prepared, and teaches us how to wrap it around the stick. We all sit there in their garden, with our stick-breads baking over the fire, drinking tea, talking about the advanced science of wrapping the bread so it stays on the stick without making it look like a sausage. I notice that my stick-bread slowly is falling closer to the fire. “Damn, the branch is too thin” I think to myself while looking at Luise. She grins at me with her most devilish I-told-you-so-expression.

We break off hot pieces of bread and dip them deep in the plum marmalade jar. Elsa’s hand is all covered in marmalade. She says “oops”, but it’s completely intentional. She sits in the grass and licks the marmalade off the bread, then off her hand. I think about how life would be if we lived here.

It’s getting darker. We say goodbye to our friends and drive back to our apartment in Stockholm. The day after, we decide to head out for breakfast at a new cafe. On the way there, we run into a samba band; drumming, singing and dancing. I watch Elsa’s eyes glitter as she claps her hands and dances to the music. She talks about the samba all the way to the cafe. We eat a wonderful breakfast. They have fresh juices with ginger, good coffee, rye bread with pickled vegetables and delicious salads. On the way back, we find a new playground with a big tree horse that Elsa immediately starts climbing. Soon she is playing with another kid there and I have to drag her off the horse as it starts raining.

I think about how life would be if we wouldn’t live in the city anymore. No more unexpected samba, great cafes and undiscovered playgrounds filled with friends. And suddenly I don’t think about it anymore. Not for now, anyway. Even though we are a bit of a hippy family, we still have our souls rooted in the city. We love it here. But we sure are glad to have friends with gigantic gardens, fruit trees and bonfires.

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Müesli Bread on a Stick
around 8–10 breads

This is not a rocket science recipe. Feel free to experiment with measurements and ingredients. Try apples instead of carrots, cranberries instead of raisins, etc. If you want to try using a gluten-free flour, we recommend adding some kind of starch to it, otherwise the bread won’t stick to the stick (no pun intended).

1 1/3 cup / 300 ml lukewarm water (40°C/100°F)
3 tsp dry active yeast OR 25 g fresh active yeast
1 tsp good quality honey
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
4 cups / 1 liter / 500 g flour of your choice (we used 2 1/2 cup (300 g) fine spelt flour and 1 1/2 cup (200 g) whole grain rye flour)
2 shredded carrots or apples
1 handful organic raisins
1 handful seeds or nuts of your choice

Pour lukewarm water into a bowl. Add yeast, honey and salt and stir to dissolve. In another bowl, sift the flours together and add carrots, raisins and seeds. Mix to combine. Add about two-thirds of the flour mixture to the yeast and water. Use your hands to knead it into a dough. Gradually add more flour until it is soft and no longer sticks to your hands. Do not over-knead, the gluten in spelt and rye is fragile. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour or until double in bulk.

Meanwhile prepare the campfire (or grill).

Find 6 branches from broad-leaved trees, they should be about 3 feet (1 meter) long and the size of your thumb, thicker is better than thinner. Trim the bark back from the tip of the branch. When the fire is ready, take a handful of the bread dough and form into a log with both hands. Start from the tip of the stick and wrap it tightly around until it sits firmly. Hold the wrapped stick over the hot fire (no flames) and slowly rotate to get it evenly baked and golden brown. It can take from 5 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness of your bread and how close you hold it to the fire. Tap to see if it’s done. It should sound hollow and be crispy and brown on the outside. Let cool for a couple of minutes, then carefully loosen it from the stick. Eat as it is or dip in plum marmalade (see recipe below).

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Plum Marmelade
makes 2 cups / 500 ml

20 oz / 550 g plums (around 12), stones removed
1/4 cup / 60 ml water
1/2 cup / 120 ml apple syrup or honey
1 small organic lemon, juice and zest

Wash the plums and remove the stones. Bring plums and water to a boil, lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and add apple syrup or honey, lemon juice and zest and stir to combine. Place back on the heat and cook for 60 more minutes. When done, let cool slightly, then pour into a clean glass jar. Seal and store in the fridge. Keeps for at least a week.

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64 Comments

  1. Posted 24 Sep ’13 at 23:41 | #

    I have never heard of bread on a stick before…but what a fun idea! How great to get to experience the best of the city and the country. Elsa is so adorable…looks like she had so much fun!

    • Bridie
      Posted 30 Sep ’13 at 14:14 | #

      ‘Bread on a stick’ is a traditional Australian cuisine (if you can call it that). It’s called ‘damper’ and used to be a staple for drovers and the like living on simple rations of bread salt and water in the outback. It can be quite yummy with the right jam or butter.
      However this bread on a stick looks and sounds muuuuch more yummy and nutritious!

  2. emily
    Posted 24 Sep ’13 at 23:43 | #

    What a wonderful autumn post!
    I also often dream about moving out of the city but am afraid that I would feel too lonely if I did. Love to have friends and coffee places around the corner.
    Love the photos!

  3. Valeria
    Posted 24 Sep ’13 at 23:46 | #

    I ran into a samba band on Brazil day about a month ago as well :)

    I believe indeed there is a certain charm to living in a city (specially in such a nice one as Stockholm); you feel immersed in so many things (some are planned, some are not, that’s the beauty of it) and always find new interesting/fun/beautiful/charming places.

    The photos are lovely (as usual, ha ha).

    Do you think there’s an alternative for baking that bread in a conventional kitchen (without a bonfire). I’m guessing it’s probably similar to one of the muesli bread recipes you posted a while back, but for this particular recipe any recommendations? (on baking time, or baking method).

    • Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 10:43 | #

      Hi Valeria,
      Thank you for your comment <3

      If baking it in an oven, I would probably roll them into buns and bake them on 200C/400F. I want to point out that I haven’t tried it myself, so I am not sure how they will turn out. I have a hunch that they might be a little more dense then a regular bun (depending on which flours you use), but give it try and let us know :-)

      Best
      Luise

  4. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 00:00 | #

    this has to be one of my favorite post from you guys. So utterly gorgeous and love the writing. I often tell my husband how I would love to live away from the city and he gives me that look which means it just sounds fancy you are not meant for it. I tell him of course I’m. But deep down I think for now city is just fine :)

  5. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 00:12 | #

    This post is so beautiful – thank you for sharing it. I can completely relate to that tension between the country, nature, long grass and tall trees; and the city, with its bustling, energetic atmosphere. I think it’s about satisfying both aspects every now and then, finding time for nature outside and inside the city. These photos practically transport me to that orchard (while simultaneously filling me with jealousy!). And this bread looks rustic and gorgeous – I love that it’s almost half-way between a favourite breakfast (müsli) and a bread.

  6. Elei
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 00:17 | #

    It bring´s me back childhood memorys. Sitting on bonefire in August nights. Potatos rosted in the fire, bread – stick´s over it and a Cricketconcert around us.
    The bread – stick batter sound so creative and good! Thank you for inspiration, maybe to build beloved childhood memorys for my niece. :-)

    Elei

  7. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 01:41 | #

    Yes! I’ve seen this before, but haven’t had a chance to try it. Your bread recipe sounds pretty amazing though!!

  8. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 02:38 | #

    This is so unique and fun!! Love this idea!

  9. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 02:52 | #

    Love this!! Such a fun idea. Especially with the jam :)

  10. Carmen
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 04:40 | #

    How nice to read your post! Spring is just beginning here in Chile, so the bread around the fire is exactly what I will begin to enjoy thanks to you and your wonderful recipe. :))

  11. Annina
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 08:28 | #

    beautiful! haha elsas chubby fingers <3

  12. Antje
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 09:27 | #

    Guys, I love you!
    This time for your perfect timing. We’re planning to have a fire and “Knüppelkuchen” for my daughter’s fourth birthday but all the recipes we tried for bread on a stick were not that exciting/healthy at all.
    Plus last weekend I collected a whole bunch of plums in the countryside. Guess what will be cooking in my kitchen tonight :)
    Thanks and lotsa love from berlin!

  13. Caroline
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 09:33 | #

    I really like your take on the traditional danish classic! I’m defiantly making these tonight! Maybe with some falafel’s or something!

  14. Kristina
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 10:26 | #

    Have been waiting for a recipe with plums! Our ones really need to be taken care of now so perfect timing! :) beautiful photos!

  15. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 10:26 | #

    Beautiful story, makes me want to live there too!

  16. Aleksandra
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 11:14 | #

    Your new creative energy is very evident. Your writing has something playful and poetic about it. You are living the best of both worlds. I know how you feel. Inevitably when you are connected to food in the way you guys are it is difficult not to love a garden or the countryside. On the other hand the City offers so much and is so Vibrant. I can’t say I would be ready to live in the Country. Enjoy your time just as you are and everything will come naturally. I can’t make a bonfire but I will try the bread recipe. Coincidentally, I made plum jam last week(my Kids kept on digging their fingers in the jar just like Elsa).It didn’t last long! Thanks for this lovely post and much love from Vienna!

  17. helen
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 11:31 | #

    brilliant idea with the BBQ – always wanted to try it with the Kids – but didn’t want to build a bonfire in the garden!!

  18. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 11:58 | #

    What a wonderful post – so beautifully written. I can understand your city v country living inner debate. We too live is a lovely vibrant city by the sea (Hove on the south coast of the UK) but when we drive 20 mins north into the beautiful South Down there is such peace, simplicity and you can’t help but feel at one with nature. I too watch my kids run free in the fields, enjoying the natural surroundings. But could I really give up the city (and the sea on my doorstep) – If I’m honest, probably not.

    Love the bread on sticks – I actually tore a similar recipe out of a magazine some months back and vowed to make it with my son. He is only four but says he wants to be a chef when he grows up. He is also completely obsessed with sticks. So it’s a win-win recipe really. Thanks for the prompt – will be doing bread on sticks in the coming weeks :)

  19. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 13:10 | #

    What a wonderful garden for children (and adults!) to explore. I love your gorgeous photos. So great to find a plum preserve recipe that isn’t crazily full of sugar too, lovely!

  20. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 15:02 | #

    I absolutely love the idea of bread on a stick. Cooked over a flame too. And plums are such a great late summer/early fall treat. I love that this recipe is more of an activity. Something fun to do with te ones you love. Thank you for this!

  21. Kirstin
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 15:08 | #

    I love this post – it reminds me of my days as girl scout when we made bread on sticks at the bonfire :-)
    And I love plum marmelade! One thing came to my mind when I read the recipe: if you want to store a jar of marmelade or jelly a little longer you should put the jars and lids into boiling water for a couple of minutes. Place them upside down on a clean towel until the marmelade is ready. Put the still boiling hot marmelade into the jars, filling them up as much as possible, then put on the lids immediately and turn the jars upside down for a while. This way you should have created a vacuum inside the jars and the marmelade will keep for a while. My grandmother used to make marmelade like this and as she sometimes forgot some of the jars in the back of her shelves we found out that we could still eat the marmelade two years after it was made ;-) Probably you shouldn’t try it as long with a marmelade that doesn’t contain sugar but I’m sure you could keep the still closed jars for at least six months like this…

  22. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 15:19 | #

    Is it silly that your post made me tear up? We live in Brooklyn but I moved here from an organic farm, when I was pregnant. I often think about how my toddler’s life would be so different in that setting. I hope one day we can have the best of both worlds.

    The bread sounds good too :)

  23. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 15:48 | #

    How much fun. This reminds me of spending the summers in Greece with my Grandmother and making bread in the brick oven. It was outside in the garden on the porch. Those are some of my fondest memories. You’re making beautiful bread & memories.

  24. Julia
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 16:06 | #

    your photographs look sooo beautiful! I want to make this immediately… but at the moment i´m tied to my computer to study for an exam on friday. Thanks for making me dreaming about being outside having bread on sticks and jummy marmalade :)

  25. Kamille Løje
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 17:43 | #

    Nice post! I too love the “hygge” that comes with a bonfire and bread on sticks. A favorite in our family is spreading the dough out (in your hand for instance), sprinkle it with cinnamon-sugar (or cinnamon-honey), pinching it together to form a filled dough-sausage and then twist it around the stick just like the normal one. It’s TOO yummi – like a cinnamon roll without all the butter :) But your müsli ones look really tasty too!

  26. Sophie
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 18:38 | #

    What lovely recipes! I`ve seen a lot of bread on sticks already, but most of them were boring, White and somewhat without a lot of flavour… but these look so delicious! Just the same with the plum jam, which usually tastes just like sugar and nothing else.
    By the way, I really admire Elsa. She is absolutely the most cute little girl I ever saw in my entire life. Well, I am just 18 years old, so this might not be something special yet. Anyway, I cannot stop wondering why anybody would think there could be a better way of rising a child than yours. It isn`t possible to imagine any child looking healthier or happier than Elsa! If I should be a mother one day, I would try rise my child just like you do. Your blog is deeply inspiring and every new entry is a beautiful piece of art.
    Love, Sophie

  27. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 19:08 | #

    This is one of your most beautiful postings–the photos and the feeling evoked in your writing. We live in San Francisco, and constantly struggle with our decision to live urban over rural.

  28. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 19:25 | #

    Plums look really delicious. Never tried bread on a stick, but it sounds like a brilliant idea. Especially on live charcoal. I am also glad that the recipe is amenable to tweaks because I always think real magic in kitchen comes from the trying random things and somehow in measurement cups something gets lost. Not with this recipe though! Thank you! =)

  29. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 21:05 | #

    What a beautiful post. We have found the best of both worlds living in a small city on a largish property with fruit trees and gardens but still within walking distance to town. I can’t imagine life any other way but several years ago I would have yearned for the more bustling city life. Funny how children slow you down and speed life up at the same time.

  30. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 21:07 | #

    It’s very nice to read your thoughts. Elsa is such a beauty! I would love to go back to living in the countryside, but unfortunately I don’t see this in my near future. I miss it every day..

  31. ce.leb
    Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 21:19 | #

    funny that you pick up that topic.. it has been on my mind for two weeks. we’ve been out of town to visit a relative. she has a big house and garden. Its always the same: I imagine myself in this garden, with its beatiful walnuttrees, plumtrees and so much space.. In my head, its wonderland (think of all the vegetables you could grow there!).
    later the same day we drove to the house of her daughter.. out there, its afordable, but here in the city I can only dream of a big house with a big garden.. its to expensive. so, for now i will stay here, because of all those thing: running in someone you know on the street. having the opportunity to go to the cinema every night, every time (and if I want to, watching ten different movies in ten different cinemas). seeing all those selfconfident people at the pride. diversity: thats citylife. and its wonderful!

  32. Posted 25 Sep ’13 at 21:24 | #

    What a wonderful,love-filled post. Thank you for sharing this :) I recently moved to stockholm from Honolulu, and though I’m living in the city I work out “på landet.” I feel the same every day as I come home from the nature and wonder, “Oh, how lovely it would it be if I had those apple and plum trees in my garden…?” Your blog has inspired me long before I moved here and I feel so much closer to you and your delightful creations and experiences now that I’m in the same city. Thanks for being here!

  33. Posted 26 Sep ’13 at 01:49 | #

    I started reading from your oldest post to here and now, I saw how big Elsa has become. I commented when you traveled with her around the world and you were still carrying her. Now, she is running and so bubbly.

  34. Posted 26 Sep ’13 at 10:00 | #

    Does sound yummy!

  35. Bea
    Posted 26 Sep ’13 at 12:51 | #

    hei

    takk for en nydelig post. denne gangen også.
    har dere oversikt over hvor lang tid det tar å steke pinnebrødet på åpent bål?

    • Posted 26 Sep ’13 at 15:43 | #

      Hej Bea, det tager mellem 5 -15 minutter pr. brød, afhængig af brødets tykkelse.
      God fornøjelse
      Luise

  36. Teti Konstantinidou
    Posted 26 Sep ’13 at 14:35 | #

    You were a very good storyteller already but now you sound like a poet.

  37. Posted 26 Sep ’13 at 16:36 | #

    What a beautiful post. I’m sure wherever you chose to live you would lead a charmed life. Elsa is adorable, and usually I don’t really feel very drawn to children!

  38. Posted 26 Sep ’13 at 16:38 | #

    Also, how funny that you have so many commenters called Julia!

  39. Posted 27 Sep ’13 at 06:13 | #

    You know what, I never thought I’d say this as I live in the tropics now, but I miss Autumn and everything about it. I started to tear up a bit :)

  40. Posted 27 Sep ’13 at 06:15 | #

    Love the idea of bread on sticks.. Awesome clicks..

  41. Posted 27 Sep ’13 at 11:58 | #

    Beautiful photos, as always! Elsa looks so happy and adorable- seeing these pictures makes me really want to return to my childhood again :)

    The next time I go to a bonfire or barbecue I’ll be making bread on a stick! Yum.

  42. Posted 27 Sep ’13 at 15:53 | #

    Honestly I wasn’t for sure what was going on with the bread on the stick but the end result looks amazing! Especially with the marmalade, whoo boy that looks great.

  43. Darby
    Posted 27 Sep ’13 at 22:06 | #

    what a beautiful post! just lovely.I also have similar feelings. I get to spend some time at a small seaside community off the coast of Virginia. when I’m there I want to move there. but then I return home to my vibrant and diverse community in the New York metropolitan area and can’t imagine living anywhere else. Just lucky to have the beat of both worlds.

  44. Posted 28 Sep ’13 at 10:17 | #

    Beautifully written,thankyou so much. We used to make bread on a stick over a fire when we were kids, but we call it ‘damper’ (I think it was a staple of early white Australians). I have the fondest memories of removing it from the stick, hands burning, while someone poured butter maple syrup into the centre where the stick had been. The trick was always to wrap it so there were no gaps were the maple syrup could escape. So much fun! Thankyou again, as always xxx

    • Posted 30 Sep ’13 at 22:30 | #

      wooden spoon, if you can remember, I’d love to see that recipe too!

  45. Laura
    Posted 29 Sep ’13 at 10:39 | #

    What an amazing story, once again. You always get me positively ‘jealous’ with the will to do what it takes to get to that place of gratitude, ease and, almost naive look on life. Your stories make me pause and take a big fresh breath.

    What definitively makes me jealous is that plum jam. I have iniciated the I Quit Sugar program have you heard about it? If so, I would be very pleased to know what your thoughts are on it..?

    Congratulations on Elsa she is prettier everytime we get to see her photos!!

  46. Posted 29 Sep ’13 at 10:42 | #

    This is the best GKS-post I have ever read, and I’ve been reading your blog for years.

  47. Posted 29 Sep ’13 at 10:56 | #

    very cool concept!

  48. Kristen J
    Posted 29 Sep ’13 at 19:48 | #

    Such a beautifully written post. The writing and the photos made me feel as if I had experienced those few days right along side you. It’s a crisp fall day here and I now have an urge to fire up the BBQ just to make that bread…I also have plums…
    Once again, thank you for the inspiration.

  49. Posted 30 Sep ’13 at 03:32 | #

    Lovely post. Really makes me appreciate country life. How amazing do those freshly picked plums look in your first photo? Yum.

  50. Posted 30 Sep ’13 at 04:00 | #

    I truly enjoyed this beautiful post David, you are certainly in the creative flow! I can feel the love for your “girls” and life because it is shining through your poetic words. It is making me smile as today we just celebrated our little girl 5th Birthday at the park on a gorgeous Autumn afternoon and seeing her running around with her little friends in their tutus or capes and laughing out loud was just the most precious gift ever!
    We’ll have to try your bread on the stick soon, which sure will be a lot easier than the long rising and baking in the oven for the past artisan bread classes I have been teaching this month. I bet this recipe will be a hit at our next bonfire or camping trip.
    Thank you for inspiring us all as always, keep the good work!!!

  51. Inés
    Posted 30 Sep ’13 at 16:17 | #

    I tried this recipe of yours today in my oven – no campfire at hand ;-)
    As forms I made small bread rolls (80 g each) instead of twirling it round a stick after letting the dough rise overnight with less yeast. Next time I’d add a bit more salt, though, but the combination of raisins, nuts and carrots was lovely!
    I really like your photographs too! They are usually what makes me want to try a recipe and yours always look kind of warm and full of life – which I like =) Thank you!

  52. Posted 30 Sep ’13 at 22:26 | #

    I made the plum jam- super easy and very tasty! Thanks for the instructions. Hoping I’ll get to try your bread sticks whilst camping this weekend!

  53. Posted 1 Oct ’13 at 06:19 | #

    What a simple and quite beautiful post, I loved it. Bread on a stick brings back memories of camping as a kid in the bus in Australia. And I love plums, I can’t wait to plant a couple in my new garden. We’ve just made the move from the city to the country after many years of thinking about it. We don’t have loads of land, but we will have a big enough garden to grow our own vegetables and some fruit, lemons, limes, pears, apples, and of course plums.

  54. Posted 1 Oct ’13 at 15:20 | #

    wow, your blog is so amazing!
    photos are gorgeous and so romantic!
    Chiara
    ♡EFFENSHION

  55. Posted 1 Oct ’13 at 23:11 | #

    I love the words in this post and the pictures are beautiful as always. I share the feeling you’ve captured; going home to my parents house with that big garden full of fruits and greens is wonderful. then again so is having breakfast at the café just around the corner from my apartment in Vasastan. I’ll have to keep those friends and family with big gardens close and not forget to visit from time to time.
    /S

  56. Posted 14 Oct ’13 at 15:30 | #

    beautiful post.. lovely photos. i made both the bread and the plum marmalade and they were both amazing! i live smack in the middle of a huge city (Toronto,Canada), and so needless to say, i didn’t cook the bread over a beautiful fire. i shaped them into rolls and baked them at 350 for about 15-20 minutes and they came out wonderful — not too dense. thanks for the inspiration!

  57. Posted 21 Oct ’13 at 18:26 | #

    This is so cool! I love this post and the photos are beautiful.

  58. Posted 26 Oct ’13 at 13:40 | #

    A very big thank you is due here. Your recipe inspired this post on a new, whole foods/clean eating/earth friendly blog: http://www.gastropermaculture.com/blog/20/10/2013/the-bread-that-wasnt
    Cheers!

  59. Mel
    Posted 8 Nov ’13 at 17:25 | #

    I grew up on a little farm and I recently moved back with my 4 yr old daughter. I loved inner city Sydney, bondi, redfern, surry hills, but having a yard, my own huge paperbark tree and vegie garden, chooks, rabbits and more has just brought a new peace and inspiration. Definantly a busier life than the city weirdly. All these things you can have in a small yard. I guess for me even though I loved the city I knew my heart was always in a small town surrounded by the a beach and an aqua blue lake.

  60. Posted 29 Jul ’14 at 19:18 | #

    With me it is the opposite: I love living in the country – AND i love having friends in the city, i can visit.
    Bread on a stick is great, we have it here too and call it “Stockbrot”.

    Best,
    Franziska

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