In Bloom

Other people have garden gnomes, we’ve got a T-Rex. T-Rex is a leftover specimen from my childhood obsession with dinosaurs, and while for the past two decades he’s been content to hang out in various flower pots, he’s now on the loose and roaming free in our garden. I may have to find him a mate. After weeks of cold and rain, we had amazing summer weather on Saturday & Sunday and the plants are happily responding. Unfortunately, we spent much of the weekend washing, hemming, and hanging bedroom curtains (pics to follow) and being sick with a tenacious and grotty cold. We really need to get our act together on the planting front, especially if we want to harvest any of the vegetables on our list before the season’s out… There are so many small to intermediate tasks to complete on the exterior of the house & garden that procrastination seems the only answer at the moment. Happy remaining Sunday!

Posted in Gardening | 3 Comments

Wilhelm Wagenfeld: Salt & Pepper Shakers

These perfect salt and pepper shakers…


…were designed by this serious-looking gentleman in the 1950s and became household staples in many a German home, often called “Max & Moritz” in a humorous nod to the traditional German children’s tale . Now they’re back, produced according to Wagenfeld’s original designs by WMF. Wilhelm Wagenfeld (1900-1990) was an instructor at the Bauhaus in the 1920s and went on to design many iconic objects, including this famous lamp

via kulturtipberlin

I can’t tell you how many gimmicky salt and pepper shakers we’ve gone through in the last few years that either broke or were so poorly designed that they simply caused annoyance, so now it’s back to solid and logically designed basics for us, thank you very much. Best of all, these little guys retail for a reasonable 20 EUR in Germany (they seem to be available via the MoMA store in the States), so introducing a little Bauhaus style into your home isn’t prohibitively expensive for once. Oh, and if you want to score a vintage set for even less money, hit German ebay!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Chalkboard Paint Project: Kitchen Door

Finally, a handy place to keep track of our grocery list. Whaddya think? Here are some befores and durings… I still have quite a bit of paint left. Whatever will I give the chalkboard treatment to next?? Must…chalkboard…every…surface…if not the world.

Posted in Projects | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

West-German Pottery Finds

Last weekend was cold and rainy, so the various Easter fleamarkets going on in our area were a bit of a literal washout. We did manage to find a few cool things, the above wall vase being my husband’s find. He pulled it out of a cardboard box full of things priced at 1 EUR… it’s in perfect condition and has that cavewall-like textured surface and the natural colours that were so popular in the 70s. I think it might be Scheurich but am not at all sure. This colourful jug is a Scheurich piece and simply demanded to be rescued and allowed to glow among its friends in our living room. The darling bud vase on the left has a pristine lemon yellow interior and is probably by Jasba. That white, crackly looking glaze is called “Schrumpflasur” in German-“shrunken” glaze. The vase in the middle is yet another Scheurich in what must have been a very popular colour combination, since I already own its twin. Here’s hoping for better spring weather and fleamarketing soon!

Posted in West German Ceramics (Fat Lava) | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Patio Furniture Update

First of all, Happy Easter! This was the extent of my spring decorating this season… Yeah, let’s not dwell. I’m no Martha. We did finally settle on patio furniture though, and even dragged ourselves out to get it during the long Easter weekend. After many price comparisons and multiple visits to multiple stores, we surmised that IKEA has the best value for money outdoor furniture by a long shot. Their current range features several handsome tables and chairs, but unfortunately many were simply too massive for our small patio. The ENHOLMEN I pictured in my last post ended up having a slightly underwhelming tabletop finish in real life. My second favourite, the FALSTER , looked great to me in person (easy to clean and maintain, no oiling) but didn’t appeal to my hubby at all (it was the faux wood finish he objected to), and was also too monstrous for our outdoor space. In the end, we chose an acacia wood table with drop leaf sides to allow for extension, the NORDANÖ. It seats 6-8 people and doesn’t overwhelm our little terrace. Here it is extended: I was adamant about finding truly comfortable, stackable, non-wooden chairs, and found exactly what I was looking for in the VÄSMAN. These are sublimely comfy. They also have a bit of a retro feel and go well with the house. A lot of little things still need to be sorted out to make everything look truly good out here, but things are slowly coming together. I wish more outdoor furniture on offer was as functional as this table and these chairs promise to be; there was really very little choice in that respect. In other news, On Life and Lava was one of the blogs nominated for a Versatile Blogger award by the always fantastic, West-German-pottery-and-all-things-vintage haven Little Owl Ski. Many thanks!

Posted in Our House | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Garden Progress, Borders and the Hunt for Patio Furniture

I apologise about the gardeny nature of recent posts, but we’re trying to make the most of any time off we have in order to get the garden in, well, order. Having basically zilch experience means we’re naive enough to cart 3 bags of mulch home in our tiny car to fix up the gross area under the rhododendrons I showed you in my last post thinking it was enough. Ha! No. But the results of my crawling around in spider terrain dragging bags of mulch behind me on hands and knees are worth it: At the very least, it makes things look a little more loved and maintained than before. My next project (I know you were waiting impatiently for this announcement) is to put some kind of rock border in place to prevent erosion of the soil around the plants and add some visual interest. As per usual, I’m having a hell of a time deciding what should go there. Planter stones such as this one are very popular in Germany at the moment and come in lots of colours and variations:


One advantage is that you can, um, plant more stuff in them, arrange them in all kinds of cool ways, even build entire walls with them.

via klb-klimaleichtblock-de



The trouble is that I can’t decide whether I find their industrial look cool or too ubiquitous and reminiscent of public spaces. Like ALDI parking lots. We could do something like this, but I think it’s too twee and, frankly, I’m not sure I can be bothered digging holes in the ground in order to anchor them… I know. It’s our first home and no toil should be too burdensome to make it pretty, but I’m so damn lazy when it comes to such things. Results! Now! No effort! I think rude awakenings are in my future. I did switch out the grotesque mass of old flowers and weeds growing in the cement planter that all of the townhouses in our neighbourhood sport on their garbage hutches (a term I just coined) for some heather… So sad, right? And yes, the metal door desperately needs to be repainted, as does our fence. But here’s a bit of improvement…The next serious issue that must be tackled before it gets nice enough to drink caipirinhas on the patio is what kind of furniture to put out there. Our current set is tiny, partly mismatched, and about ready to be relegated to the balcony. I don’t want anything made of wood that requires coats of sealant to make it look decent and I don’t want this furniture to cost more than all our living room furniture combined. It seems the combination of these factors make finding the perfect patio furniture about as likely as encountering a unicorn in the Habichtswald. We both know where this is going.

What do you think about the ENHOLMEN? It’s made of rust-resistant aluminium and kind of works with the look of the house and our other stuff.

Posted in Our House, Projects | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Gardening Madness Has Begun

Things don’t look like much in the garden yet, but spring has most definitely sprung ’round here. I told myself I wasn’t going to turn into someone who falls for cheesy garden ornaments, but then I did! Oh yes. Behold the fashionably rusty sun pole with a koru-like swirl in the center: We have a lot of gardening projects on our list this year: plant a hedge, grow veggies and herbs in my husband’s self-built raised planters, clear up the undergrowth around the perimeter of the garden, put down new soil under our rhododendrons and lay down some pebbles to create a bit of curb appeal….This is what I spent all afternoon grubbing around in with a rake in order to clear the ground of years of dead leaves and debris… …there’s still a way to go.

Posted in Gardening, Our House | Leave a comment


I have wanted a vintage sunburst mirror for years, and now that the trend for them has faded somewhat, I finally got lucky on ebay and snagged a wooden one in a heated bidding war for under 20 EUR. It was listed as Art Deco style 1920s-1940s, which is fair enough, but I’m quite certain that it is a nicely executed repro. No matter, it was a bargain and it’s cute as heck. Only problem: I meant for it to replace the ghetto mirror in the guest bathroom downstairs, but…the mirror surface isn’t wide enough to be much use. Thus, Sunburst is now doing his best to inject a shot of much-needed glamour in a corner of the master bedroom that currently houses a low BILLY shelf that has seen better days. This may not be its final location, but I do like how it reflects the trees outside and bounces some light around the room.

Posted in Vintage bits and bobs | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Sunday Fleamarket Finds

Hoorah! Fleamarket season has tentatively begun in overcast, chilly Kassel. Let me begin by working through a (small) backlog of West-German pottery finds first though: I picked up this deep blue Bay Keramik vase last weekend for 50 cents. Don’t be fooled by my photo though, it’s actually quite small (14 cm.) A recent trip to Berlin yielded this Scheurich find… I well and truly regret having ignored the all-white West-German pottery glazes in my time of collecting because I now find them incredibly stylish and current-looking. I remember in particular a pristine set of pure white Scheurich floor vases I passed up at a fleamarket last spring only to find identical ones gracing a featured California living room in Germany’s interiors magazine Schöner Wohnen one month later. Argh! I’m making up for lost time now. Here’s the loot I came home with today: You’ll have spotted the second white Scheurich beauty in a jug shape……it looks very much at home chilling with its buddy on our living room windowsill, or anywhere, really. I think these white glazes would be the perfect acquisition for somebody interested in integrating West-German pottery into their home without committing to full-on rainbow hues. These vases would look just as good amongst antiques as they do in a modern interior. I know I said I was self-imposing a ban on brown pottery a while back, but I think I need to face up to the fact that I like brown pottery. A lot. I think this stunner with the crusty zig-zag lava band is a Scheurich as well: I believe this Jasba vase is a 50s piece, or at the very least it was manufactured pre-divided Germany as the “West” or “W” is missing from the marking on its base. It needs a good scrub, but for 30 cents that’s not really much of a hardship. My final find of the day is this adorably dinky bud vase, pictured next to our phone for scale… …at just 9 cm it is the smallest piece of West-German pottery I own. Did you pick up any fleamarket/car boot or other finds this weekend?

Posted in Fleamarket, West German Ceramics (Fat Lava) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Re-grouting the Kitchen Tiles

While the kitchen cabinets in our 1965-build German townhouse were updated at some point in the late 80s (maybe even very early 90s), the tiles are original to the house. This wouldn’t be a bad thing as they aren’t shockingly ugly or anything, but where two tiles broke at some point no effort was made to find replacements (instead some particle board type covering was installed…) and the grouting between tiles was never freshened up. Ever. Years of cooking grease buildup had rendered the grout a fetching shade of dirt. It bothered me every time I walked into the kitchen. “I know!” I thought to myself, “I’ll re-grout the kitchen this Saturday. The kitchen’s tiny, how long can it possibly take…a couple of hours?” Ha! Hahahahahahaha! It took most of last weekend, including an afternoon of doing touch-ups on Wednesday. Turns out 46-year-old grout has a pretty tough surface that new grout has trouble sticking to on the first, second, third tries. Here’s what I worked with: “Frische Fuge” translates as “fresh grout”. As you can see, it comes in a tube along with a completely unspectacular sponge. You squeeze the paste over the old grout, allow it to dry for 30 minutes (let it dry longer than that, trust me) and then remove the excess with a damp sponge, using circular or diagonal movements (as modelled by my husband’s man hand:) The whole process makes a pretty annoying mess, and if you’re really lucky, you have to do the whole thing several times because bits of the new grout keep coming off during the above step. Was it worth it? You be the judge. I think it looks a bit cleaner, certainly lighter. Should any of my German readers want to put themselves through similar fun with their old kitchen grout, the shade of Cerasit product I used is a light grey called “Manhattan”. Happy Friday, everyone!

Posted in Our House, Projects | Tagged , | 1 Comment