Happy Friday

So happy it’s nearly the weekend! Currently I’m sitting on the observation post sofa with little doggie curled up on my lap in order not to miss a delivery that I’ve expected to arrive from home (the other home) since last Monday already! Between Deutsche Post and Royal Mail they manage to not find me here at home (well, no idea where they were, but not here: they didn’t even post a missed-you-will-deliver-again-card, I conclude: they weren’t at my place) and then professed that my address didn’t exist…. We will see if DHL will come through – at least they text in advance…

This also means that my Friday cleaning schedule is somehow off, since there is no point in steaming (or even, God forbid, hoovering). Also, no point in working since this requires headphones, and I know that I won’t hear anything else around me once I start this. On the upside, I’m upgrading my knowlegde about how to get rid of secondary smoke (or better insulate the apartment) thanks to this great post on apartment therapy. Some really cool stuff, like this door draft excluder (which would also work against the mice – must keep that list updated too!). The shop also sells sash window gap seal (aaaahh, yes!!) and a floorboard gap seal. OMG! How I wish, we had that when we were still living in the house (no more snails in the kitchen, J!)! Now I know! Still need to figure out how to insulate the electrical outlet. Is it safe to use spray foam? Any ideas?

The weekend to-do list foresees a lot of sewing. I have already finished the nursing cover (though not totally happy with the tension the machine gave me for the finishing seams, need to work on that one) and a travel document holder for little doggie (it’s more like having a little child….document-wise). We still need the plastic bag holder chicken, the matching big bro/little bro t-shirts/onesies and perhaps new passport covers for us (the privacy insulation cover is very effective, but just plain ugly). There is one more very important point on the list: sample the new coffee (which also should be delivered today) tomorrow morning, together with blueberry pancakes. (With our dog you can forget about sleeping in – you need the coffee! – although he does occasionally sleep until 8:30, which is way longer than my sister gets with her three year old son). In the absence of a waffle iron, which died after the last event of ‘beautiful failures’ when the dough stuck (or fused) to the waffle iron, it’s pancakes instead of waffles, but hey, they still taste great – and we should not forget the bacon to go with it! Hope you have a happy Friday and a great weekend!

Spring A-Z

Hello spring, how much I missed you! Is it safe to say you’ve arrived in London without jinxing it…??  I really hope so! Getting to enjoy the sunshine, eating ice cream, watching the little green leaves grow….  these are my a-z things I would like to do:

A – affogato – people, it’s time for ice cream again!

B – babies  – or rather visiting babies (+ my own little new nephew; ETA: next month and current code name: Minimum – that’s what favourite nephew no. 1 calls his new brother…)

C – coffee – we get it delivered every 2 weeks now by pact coffee – best coffee we have had. We choose to get a different one every time, keeps it fresh (and no, this is not a sponsored thing; they have no idea that I’m writing this)

D – daylight, we see much more of you!

E – eau de parfum, I’ll need to choose a new one – difficult task.

F – family, we’ll see you for Easter!

G – Germany (see road-trip/family) going home so that everyone can get to know the dog, the dog gets to see deer (not sure that is a great thing, but they live in the woods around my parents’ place, so we’ll have to live with it…), going to the zoo (and yes, doggie can come with us, just not into the open cages – and since he’s mellow enough, we might try that), throwing my sister (or better my favourite nephew no. 1) a ‘you’re going to be a big brother’ party

H – hope. Always in spring: hope in general and hope for a small garden, preferably not too far from town, alternatively for a stunning balcony – which has to wait since the house will be painted this month.

I – ideas. We have lots of ideas and new projects, I would really love to see some of them coming through.

J – jam, make some jam for breakfast, we have saved so many jars, it should be possible.

K – knit and finish this jumper – before it’s too warm to wear it.

L – live, rather than exist, which I have done the past 8 months and I didn’t like it at all. It felt like my life and my health were slipping though my fingers, and quickly. This month marks my 18th anniversary in my second life: 18 years that I should not have seen, time to remember not to waste it.

M – meet people, old friends, make new friends.

N – nuts, make more granola and enjoy the smell of drying nuts sifting through the flat (and have something lovely for breakfast)

O – organise or stay organised – this would help in case of a new mouse invasion… with this in mind I upgraded our ‘cleaning park’ and bought a steam cleaner – after my Dad pragmatically said, if you rent the steam cleaner more than twice you might as well buy it… well, what can I say? He’s right.

P- pancakes for weekend breakfasts – need more of them (and weekends, they are gone too fast)  the blueberry pancakes go very well together with bacon as I discovered. Try it, you’ll see.

Q – quince, figure out a way how to do quince jelly without using preserving sugar… it’s not the season right now, but it might be a good time to investigate that.

R – road-trips – love them, try to do more of them and visit places, take the dog for a ride, go to the sea (see: vacation)

S – sew – sit. down. and. sew! Use the high from the sewing bee series to sew more again. Just do it! (Hmm, sounds a bit like the Nike slogan…)

T – twigs, get some in the house, hang some Easter egg on it, see the flowers coming out.

U – unpack summer clothes (hello, good-weather-shoes!)

V – vacations (see road-trip) go to France and pick up all the things we love and can’t get here (or only overpriced) in supermarkets and pharmacies. Go back home and do the same. Do things for fun (novel concept…)

W – write more regularly

X – xylophone – avoid! Go for bird song instead (do you have any idea how many words with x exist… not much choice here)

Y – Yoghurt – use the yoghurt maker – much – more!

Z – za’atar try to find more recipes to use this in the kitchen,  so far we only have the amazing chickpea salad – there must be more.

That’s my list for spring. What are you going to do?

 

Welcoming the new Glossybox

If I needed any proof at all that I am constantly running behind, this blogpost is further proof: almost two weeks after the event, I am finally getting to blog… so lean back, grab a cup of coffee and take a minute for a little smile (or smirk):

15th February, and the new Glossybox has arrived! Micro was (at least) as excited as we were: some lovely things to play with. And while he helped us to unpack the box, I think he might just have been a little more excited about the box than we were about the contents… Do you know the feeling of popping bubble wrap bubbles? If you get into it, it’s really quite addictive – and once started, you will not stop (and definitely not have any ‘emergency’ bubble wrap for posting emergencies…). Well, Micro’s bubble wrap is a cardboard box. He is in love…

Micro is at least as excited about the arrival of the Glossybox as we are….

… and the box was expertly dis-assembled as he proceeded to “help”…

… until it was finished to complete satisfaction.

 

Anyway, M, Micro and I wish you a happy Friday!

Meet Micro

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. Whilst the war against our very own terror (read: mouse infestation) was still raging, it's been a time of endings and new beginnings at what feels like lightening speed. I'll let M write about endings – as the saying goes: 'Besser ein Ende mit Schrecken as ein Schrecken ohne Ende'…. translates something like 'Better to have a dreadful end than dread without end'.

One of our 'new beginnings' is called Micro (short for 'Microbus' or a small French bus) and officially became part of our family a couple of weeks ago! We are the proudest, most happy, and slightly over-tired adoptive 'parents'. Ever since I ventured out after finishing high school – and I won't tell just how long that's been – I have been dreaming of having a dog again one day. There were many good reasons not to, with extensive travel and long working hours amongst the most pertinent ones. M and I have been sharing a home for over 11 years now, and the plan was to have a cat and a dog when we had settled somewhere (likely not in the UK) with a nice – slightly larger (!!) – home and a garden. But with everything that has been going on over the past year – the relationship ups and downs, professional challenges (to say the least), and health struggles, M put the question out there: 'what are we waiting for? Why aren't we looking into what it would take to adopt a rescue dog?'.

Well, we asked our landlady for permission, which was gladly granted, and started doing our research, looking at rescue centres and RSPCA websites, etc….. Two weeks after meeting Micro at the RSPCA kennel, he came home with us, and we haven't looked back :-)

He is quickly learning new tricks, loves to cuddle and use us as human sleeping cushions, and has made friends with staff and owner of our favourite cafe (see above), which is perfectly located half way to the park. I (almost) don't mind that he wanted to go for a walk and a wee at 5am this morning…..

Anyway, got to go…. Micro has woken up and it's time to head into the park for the second half of our Sunday walk. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!! And let us know if you can think of good games to play and tricks to teach.

Proofing the flat or discovering the horror

New Year, new game. When I wrote: change will come in January, this one wasn’t one I had in mind! Let me set the scene for why we are not dog-, but mouse-proofing our flat…. it all started out when we came home last week (in a movie this would be the time for rain and scary music, but in real life there was jazz music playing and the sun was shining, well, I guess that’s life contra movie, but if you want to, you can switch on scary music while you continue on to read this).

Before our first breakfast back here (and can someone please explain, why I always find these things before breakfast??) we discovered that unbekownst to us, we apparently ‘sub-let’ the flat to what now feels like a cohort of mice (going back to Roman times: a cohort is 1/10 of a legion, which was about a 4,000 men – means a cohort is about 400).  That first day (that Sunday, before breakfast) all we had to throw away were our (still unopened) bags of ground almonds (Waitrose: your brand of ground almonds are no challenge to the teeth of mice, let me tell you), the IKEA Branäs baskets – apparently willow and acrylic paint are on the mouse menu as well as our loose tea (still unopened bags as well). Not sure what they did with the tea, but it looked like the Boston tea party in the baskets. All the rest of the food (i.e. unopened bags of nuts, etc that hadn’t been attacked or discovered by the mice) was stored in the fridge or in glass/hard plastic containers. We thought (naive as we were) we had managed to keep them away. Not really… Next day the two other Branäs baskets were chewed and some signs of mouse presence were unmistakingly left there and on the carpet (eeeeeeeek!). G casually mentioned we needed to check behind the sofa as well…and I was still thinking, no way they were going there as well, and forgot about it…until Friday, when I looked behind the sofa for the toolbox, in preparation for the weekend January Cure chores. I quickly got the picture that I was completely wrong and mice had had a party behind the sofa- they also read (or shredded) a couple of old editions of Die Zeit (the German newspaper), which I had kept under the sofa in case I needed paper for protection (e.g. painting projects). The Brigitte magazine, however, hadn’t been touched – should we now conclude that these were male mice (Brigitte is targeted for women) or that Brigitte uses mouse repellent paper/colour print…? Working my way around the sofa, I found a (suicidal?) mouse that passed away in a our large glass vase.  At this point, I lost it (completely) and made G come back home from work to help clean up – which is what you see in the picture. Some time spent on the beloved internet search machine told us that mice will eat –  wait for it – EVERYTHING and (German) pest control sites advised to store everything in glass or plastic containers. This includes (but is not limited to) clothes and shoes. We also learned that gap from about 0.5cm upwards is not a challenge for a mouse to squeeze through. Happy times! Thankfully, all our wool and fabric stash was stored away safely in hard plastic boxes, but as I found out yesterday, the private letters in my chest of drawers were not so lucky. They will all have to go, too. To give you an idea of what I have to part with: a card from my first boyfriend (when I was 17) and a cheer-up letter from my sister from the time I was really ill.  Things that I kept with me even when moving here, because they meant so much to me. Heartbroken! But I can’t keep chewed, peed and xxx (hm, censured) on things at home, especially not, when there is a warning about a growing risk of the hanta virus in mice sh… hmm, legacy. I am not sure what to do if they go into our books and the sheet music…

In Germany it is the landlord’s task to make sure that no pests (that includes mice) are in the property, and rent can be withheld up to 100% if this isn’t done, but apparently here that’s not the case – so we deal with it step by step. We can get the pest control in, but because of the layout of our flat it wouldn’t make sense to just do our flat and not the one above and below (and, no, funnily I don’t want to pay for those, too).  We are still completely baffled why we had what feels like a cohort of mice in the first place. We left no food lying around while we were away, except for unopened bags (like the ground almonds), but we have done this here, as well as in other places, many times and there was never a mouse in sight.  Did you have similar experiences? Did you find anything that helped? If you have any tips for us, please leave a comment!

Hallo 2014!

How are you and how is 2014 treating you so far? Did you do lists for your resolutions, goals, intentions…? We have – well, sort of. We have – or I should say I made us  join The January Cure (again, like last year) – only this time with the special intention of creating some space for being able to adopt a dog… a dog?? Yes, yes, I know a dog and not a cat, and how could I, I as a cat person, thinking about a dog…my mother had all the arguments out there first, believe me. :-) But with the layout of our flat, plus about 10 cats already here and a good assortment of foxes (if we can go by the acoustics of the last few days) and our landlord being a dog lover… it seemed to make sense.  We have set up a meeting at a shelter for Saturday, but it seems that the dog we were hoping to meet is taken off the website now (or already found a home) … so we will see. It seems that it’s not an easy or fast process, but that’s ok (with me… G had a dog for almost all her childhood and cannot wait to have one again).  I have had several cats and I know how to work with them: if they are fiercely independent or an absolute chicken, if they love Richard Strauss and hate Richard Wagner, if you need to hold their paws during birth or feed them with a straw when they are ill. But a dog? I have been a dog sitter to my friend’s dog (a cream labrador called Microbus – how’s that for a name?), but she was so well trained you hardly could do anything wrong with her – except for wearing black clothes.

Hmm, so we will see. It seems that 2014 will be a year of changes, so I’d better face them head on as it looks like they are coming anyway.  I will keep you up-to-date with all the changes happening here, for now it’s just the search for a new four-legged furry friend. What are your plans and resolutions for 2014? Will you get a pet, go on a diet, start jogging, get married, take more road trips or ditch all those lists and just make 2014 a happy year? Let us know!

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year

Is someone out there still ready this after this long, unplanned blog hiatus? So many things didn't go according to plan and it looks like 2014 will bring some change – hopefully for the best.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a great year 2014!

FFF 20.09

Vienna

Hotel Sacher, Vienna

It’s Stephi’s Friday question time again (already ??). How has your week been?  Did you get some late summer sun, did you start to smell autumn? It’s getting dark at 7:00pm already now. Sigh. Our week felt like 2 weeks compressed into one, but it was mostly very good: G’s finding her feet in the new job, and we had A over from Hanover for the week. This (obviously) meant (girls) talk until late at night, going out for coffee(s), some amazing cooking (Mexican this time), ranting over our studies, getting new ideas (I have 2 MB of new stuff to try out…) – a great time, which helped put my problems into perspective (I need more of this!). Before we hit the Open House London weekend (actually it starts already today – and we still have to figure out what we want to do) Stephi wanted to know 5 things we’re going to be watching on TV this autumn. Well, we confess: we don’t own a TV anymore, but we use the computer – this way we can also watch some programmes from home. So what will we watch…

  1. The Third Man – because we did the tour in Vienna and couldn’t remember much of the movie… some people came really prepared (gulp), but fortunately the guide was prepared as well and had a folder with pictures from the movie to show us. Great tour, I wish our brains would have been more receptive, they were a bit over-challenged after the third day of conference presentations
  2. The West Wing – because we can never know too many clever ways of worming our way out of tight spots
  3. The Good Wife – because (let’s face it) everyone needs at least one not too challenging series
  4. Saturday Kitchen  – cooking ideas for the week
  5. Some selected TED Talks – for ideas on how to present your ideas for my upcoming upgrade presentation

Sorry, not many pretty pictures today, but I’m writing this from college in between meetings. I’m looking forward to seeing all of your ideas. Today is a special day, because it’s my birthday (yey!) and I will try not to work like a maniac. :-) I hope all of you will have a fantastic Friday (because it’s part of my birthday wish) and a great weekend.

FFF 13.09

new office

Think I found my new coffee shop office :-)

Eeek… a week has passed and I realise, I still haven’t published the holiday post… It feels a bit like walking on quick sand: G started her new job and had a fantabulous send-off from the old one! It was sooo nice to see that almost the entire office came to the farewell party (plus, she got some amazing gifts, but that would be a post for her to write…. hint, hint…) I am writing like a maniac – this time for the upgrade – nothing new here, but I got a perfect outfit for the presentation, yep a girl has to set priorities! :-)

So, now time for Stephis FFF before I have to work on the correction for the upgrade proposal. Stephi wanted to know 5 of our beloved books – ooh this is so difficult! Currently my most ‘beloved’ (read: most read/used) book is a scientific book about pain and pain perception – somehow I don’t think that counts.

1. Ottolenghi ‘The Cookbook’: because you will always find a recipe and something that you haven’t tried yet

2. Antonio Damasio ‘Descartes Error‘ : because we always need new perspectives

3. Susan Wiggs ‘The Ocean Between Us‘ not only because it was on a New York Times best-seller, but because we need good novels (preferably with a happy end), even though it took me a while to get into it. (I’m sure there is a German version of it, but I couldn’t quite find it.)

4. Kathryn Stockett ‘ The Help’, (see above) after I finished the book I felt like I had just said goodbye to good friends

5. Elizabeth Peters ‘ Crocodile on the Sandbank’ (preferably as an audiobook read by Barbra Rosenblatt) because when you have insomnia you need something fun and exciting to listen to

I have mostly linked the German version of these books (you can find the originals quite easily as well).

booksI hope I can catch up with what you guys read, I’m always in need for good books! Hope you have a fantastic weekend!!

FFF 06.09

holidays

Aaand we’re back! This is the first FFF September version – which is a great month because my birthday is in it :-) I drafted a summer post, but G still needs to edit it, so FFF come first. Stephi had a condensed version of her 5 questions this week: 5 wonderful things we plan to do this weekend, so here we go:

1. ListslistsBoth G and I love looking up new recipes and with G starting a new job on Monday and our friend A coming over to stay next week, some structure will be good. Also, technically, G doesn’t need to worry about lunches any longer as her new job has an in-house restaurant (sigh), but if I don’t know what I’m going to eat for lunch, I won’t eat… I know, I know, not good, but I simply forget and then I ask myself why I feel funny in the afternoon….

2. Meeting friends for coffee and exploring new coffee shops (if you’re coming here and love good coffee I recommend the “London’s best Coffee” app – totally worth it for finding lovely coffee shops all over London)meeting friends

3. Sunday breakfast with pancakes (do I have to say more?)

Sunday breakfast

4 and 5 are not necessarily wonderful but it will be wonderful once they are done :-)

4. Finding an answer to some of my questions for my study

answer

5. Cleaning up and finding a calm a peaceful place (also making some space for A, otherwise she has to fall over the mountains of clothes in the living room waiting for the washing machine)

cleaning up

Ok, after having written this (and seeing what you guys are doing over the weekend) is it time for the weekend now??? Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

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