Almost Back and Ready to Go

Alien abduction, going off-grid in favour of joining a weirdo commune in New Mexico, lots of work and a baby on the way due in November may be some of the reasons that I have been blog AWOL for the past few months. Okay, okay, only the last two are true, but I’m hoping for some understanding here.

First of all, thank you to everyone who has kept checking in, to recent new subscribers (hello!) and to all my old blog friends for sticking around. I have missed blogging an awful lot and am gearing up for a reboot, so stay tuned. Oh, and enjoy a big, boozy summer cocktail on my behalf.

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Christmas Tree & Winter Weather

Xmas Tree December 2012 030I’m feeling pretty smug this year because I finally succumbed to my longstanding wish of getting a fake Christmas tree, in white, not unlike a set piece for Siegfried & Roy’s Christmas special in Vegas. Go fake or go home! That’s how I now roll at Christmas. Xmas Tree December 2012 010No more pine needles all over the floor, no more paying silly prices for a tree that has been chopped down just to sit in my living room for 3 weeks before being dumped on the side of the road in January. The only downside? Poppy, our Siamese Ninja-Cat, didn’t get the memo about this not being a real tree. She doesn’t care, and destroy it she must. That silver tree blanket that is designed to artfully hide the wires and tree base? It’s always scrunched up like a crazed cat has been rolling around on and under it, mainly because that’s exactly what does happen here for most of the day. Those cute little decorations that I don’t have enough of as is to cover my big fake tree? I’m always pulling one out of a cat’s eager paws or our dog’s mouth. No artful Christmas here, folks. Xmas Tree December 2012 018In other amazing news, I finally found a new set of pillows for the livingroom sofa. You didn’t even know I was looking for new pillows, right? I’m so sneaky that way. Imagine my boundless joy at finding a pair of sheepskin beauties in the most lovely taupey-grey at IKEA on Friday…boundless joy. These pillows appear not to be on the website yet, but they’re called ALLEBY and also come in black and white. Who says you can’t do chalet glamour in a terrace? Silly chalet naysayers.Xmas Tree December 2012 011Just like most everybody else in our neighbourhood we have been wrestling with Christmas lights most weekends in an attempt to make things look festive. What would we do without our professional lighting specialists? Xmas Tree December 2012 045Today is the first day of proper, in-your-face snow here in Kassel. Guess it’s too late to source that protective patio furniture cover. Xmas Tree December 2012 039Xmas Tree December 2012 040Have a lovely second advent, everyone.

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New Fence Phase One

After waiting over a month, our fence contractor finally put up our new fence yesterday. There’s only one little panel waiting to be inserted on Monday after the cement foundation for the new gate has set, and then this project is done. Beware–serious November rain tristesse up ahead, not to mention bare muddy bits where some old and straggly things were removed (see previous post here). It’s amazing how quickly a 47-year-old fence can be removed. The workmen arrived at 8:05, and by 8:15 it was gone and loaded onto their truck. We kept a few meters of it, some of which we’re giving to neighbours who want to mend their own fence, and some to plug a gap in the hedge out back that our and our neighbour’s dog like to pop through when it’s least convenient. We opted for a steel fence with protective, rust-proof coating in anthracite grey. Here you can see the gate propped up for setting purposes until tomorrow. Apparently this type of fence requires zero maintenance and is extremely sturdy and long-lasting. Around here it’s used for residential properties and industrial areas both. We’re thinking of training ivy to climb along the fence as an alternative to a view-shielding, but high-maintenance hedge that would rob us of a lot of space.

weltdesgartens.de

Aside from this initial, tentative idea, we’re going to have to spend the winter coming up with a plan for the replanting of the front garden. Any ideas gratefully received!

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Bathroom Furniture: Molger

When we remodeled our bathroom a year ago, none of the bathroom storage furniture available within our budget was to my liking. In fact, not a lot of the bathroom furniture outside of our budget was to my liking. It just seems to date SO fast, faster even than tiles and fittings do, and in a small space it just takes up a lot of actual and visual space. My current approach is to make sure that all our bathroom products (excluding medications) fit into our single upright storage cabinet (originally intended to be a placeholder item), but we just needed something like a bench to pop a change of clothes on. Or for the cats to lounge on as they watch us brush our teeth. Okay, okay, we bought it for the cats. IKEA’s Molger line is one of the few that uses actual wood instead of plyboard, and I’m hoping the Alvar Aalto-style simplicity will outlast a few of my style-related whims for the next few years…

via temporary addorisio

…yeah, I’d prefer the Aalto version too. I have also been ridiculously reluctant to choose a much-needed soap dish and soap dispenser for the bathroom, mainly due to the fact that I don’t see why a soap dish should cost over 20 EUR, but I happen to like a soap dish that costs over 20 EUR. I know. If only you had these problems, right?

via Candana

Alessi’s Birillo line seems like a nice, unobtrusive match for our bathroom (and the soap dish has a little draining grid, hooray.) As for some much-needed interest on the walls, maybe a bit of colourful art somewhere, anything? I got nuthin. What’s your bathroom storage and decorating approach? As minimal as possible, ornate, functional or cluttered?

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Fence Prep

Where’d October go? It appears to have been eaten up by the Partial Hedge of Doom (and its many tangled friends):

This is what a hedge looks like after years of neglect. Scary. We probably would have neglected it for a bit longer ourselves, were it not for the fact that we want to replace the ugly ineffective little joke existing fence with a new one, requiring us to cut everything along our property line way back. It was our chance to get rid of this corner of hedge to free up space for new planting projects that will hopefully make our garden look a bit more loved, maintained, purposeful. Luckily we now have a very helpful landscaping artist on our team.  We’re switching out what the Germans call a “Jägerzaun” (literally “hunter’s” fence, and yes, Jägermeister helps this style of fence appear more attractive)…

obra.at

…and replacing with something not at all rustic, somewhat industrial, but most importantly–no maintenance.

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Quick Sunday Brunch

I’m not really a brunch person. Why spend ages faffing around to prepare a meal that leaves you starving beyond breakfast and hungry again way before it’s feasible to eat dinner? So if I’m going to go through with brunch, the food has to be really nice. And this combination of mini Yorkshire puddings and smoked trout pate from the current issue of Jamie magazine really is; not only that–it’s super easy and quick to throw together. In a surreal twist, I’m translating Jamie’s recipe from the German magazine translation back into English (I live in Germany, after all):

Ingredients:

  • 125g cream cheese
  • 2-3 heaped tsps hot horseradish
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of half a lemon
  • some chives, finely chopped
  • some dill, finely chopped
  • 125g skinless smoked trout
  • rapeseed oil for drizzling
  • 1 small punnet of salad cress, cut

Mini Yorkshire Puds:

  • 50 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g flour
  • 100ml milk
  • lemon wedges for serving

Mix cream cheese, horseradish, lemon zest and juice in a bowl. Mix in the majority of the chives and dill, add salt and pepper to taste. Pull apart the trout fillets and remove any bones, mix into the cream cheese mixture carefully. The mixture should be spicy/salty. If necessary, add more horseradish or lemon juice.

Drizzle mixture with a bit of rapeseed oil and sprinkle with the rest of the chives and dill. Cover and chill.

Shortly before serving, preheat oven to highest temperature and prepare the Yorkshire pudding dough. Cover muffin tin moulds (for ca. 16 mini muffins) in a thin layer of vegetable oil. Heat tin on highest rack for 10-15 minutes until oil begins to smoke. Meanwhile mix eggs, flour, milk, a pinch of salt and pepper into a smooth paste. Transfer dough into a pitcher.

Remove muffin tin from oven. Evenly distribute the dough into the muffin moulds. Bake on highest rack for 10-15 minutes until the puddings are golden brown and fluffy/puffed up. Don’t open the oven door until they’re done! Serve with trout pate, cress sprinkled on top, and lemon wedges.

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Meet Winnie

This is one of the happier reasons I haven’t been posting so much this past month: our new English bulldog puppy, Winnie. English bulldogs look grumpy but are some of the sweetest, most affectionate dog breeds out there. This isn’t to say that they’re not also some of the most stubborn dog breeds out there…”who says I can’t sit on the sofa? Oh, you did, 345 times in the last twenty minutes? Whatever, I’m going to try again!” This pretty much encapsulates Winnie’s mentality. Poppy and Winnie are now partners in crime. They also insist on squeezing into one tiny corner of what is a huge dog bed together. These cute faces belie the fact that Winnie tried to eat an umbrella yesterday and Poppy has been trying to steal the dog’s kibble out of the 12 kg bag in the basement. Those of you with critters, how do you store large amounts of pet food?

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