Dear Friday…

new work mode in the coffee shop

new work mode in the coffee shop – Micro’s actually sleeping, don’t know how, but he is.

Dear Friday I can’t wait for you to start off the weekend! This is my birthday weekend, so it just has to be a good one! Sunshine (hopefully), cuddles from Micro, brunch in the new coffee shop … lots of little nice things to do.

G is giving me the ‘home office renovation’ for my birthday so that I can (again) comfortably work from here with a dog (totally new deal!). It might sound trivial to some ears (read to some eyes?), but for me it’s a big deal. With only a limited amount of energy per day, I have to be careful where to spend it, and I love doing renovation projects  (as everyone knows very well, if they have spent some time with me …. Mom?), and it will be very handy to get my things organised. In case it’s contagious, tell yourself it’s Friday and you need to clean for the weekend anyway.

Heike had a super video about how to organise your printer stuff – it’s in German, but you’ll get the idea even without understanding the language. It almost made me drop everything to start a list straight away last week… (Heike, so sad we missed each other this week while you were here; we’ve got to to plan that coffee next time!)

We will try to achieve something similar to this – there is not much room in these London flats, and it will have to be multi-purpose and look neat – the most difficult task.

And since it’s still a bed room this idea might not be bad.

Maybe we can use the big frame to do something like that as a moderate mood/memory board and make some gold leaf bowls for the daily jewellery/watch

And I have a little porcelain mini elephant family that I could spay paint … hmhm

Is this not super cool – and you can write with it!

On a separate note, I found this  and it totally made me cut my hair off yesterday. Seriously!

And finally dear Friday: dear laundry and dear flat, can you be self-cleaning today, pretty please? Have a fantastic weekend!!

Dear Friday…

old weekend rituals – new coffee place

While commenting on a blog recently I thought how sad it was that there is no Foto Freitag anymore. I used to look forward to it – somehow, this always meant the weekend was near. So I thought, I’ll create my own little Friday ritual and introduce the ‘dear Friday’ post -and I hope we can keep this small ritual up… let’s wait and see. This post should have all sorts of snippets of things I found while cruising the internet over the past week. Some things to look forward to, some that made me think or made me happy:

Other Friday food rituals - totally love this one, and definitely would like to put it into action, don’t you?

Don’t forget to sign if you have a dog, just because oh, well you know…  (and if you are a UK resident)

To stay on the subject of dogs, here is a very stylish water bottle

Heimatpottential has created a new instagram hashtag to make us look for beautiful things this autumn go and check out #halloherbst14 – which reminds me that we still haven’t been to see Tiger and Turtle

Autumn makes me crave a new blanket to snuggle

Did you know this existed?

This makes me really want to cut my hair short. What do you think?

Don’t you think this would be a great gift for a baby/toddler – only three months left until Christmas, got to keep that in mind…

And just like that it’s back to do some work – I had some really (irony on) wonderful migraines (irony off) this past week, and I’m really behind on my schedule. Got to get something done today, but it’s Friday, so let’s get some coffee/tea/water (after all it’s not quite yet time for the cocktail) and make this a happy day. How about you? I hope you have a fabulous Friday and a great weekend!

August Snippets

OMG it’s September alreaday?! Where did August go? Wasn’t it yesterday that I was lamenting for summer to hurry up and arrive? And just like that it’s time to pack summer clothes away – although technically I never really pack them away with the weather here,  just develop creative ways to wear them in bad weather… The nice thing is that everyone is coming back to town and that Micro is finding all his friends, back again at the dog park – and I get more people to talk to while he plays.

When I wasn’t standing around in the dog park, or working (yes, I sometimes do work….), I followed the Kitchn Fall Cure as you can see above with G’s lovely inherited china – I postponed a couple of assignments as I wanted to buy a couple of extra boards for the shelves and some insulation foam (make it mouse safe, while you can!). I also feel a trip to the big blue and yellow Shop in Wembley coming up to get some plastic boxes (no more rattan boxes, the mice luurrve them). G insisted that it would be better to take weekends to rest rather than popping pain medication and ploughing through everything until a total crash follows – interesting concept, must think about it…

I am trying to get used to doing things one-armed again as Micro is having flashbacks and suffers from panic attacks quite badly at times. He is fine in the dog park with other dogs, but is rather clingy in the house. And yes, you see, we own a blanket that looks like a giraffe… go, London Zoo!

We have been working on getting our ducks in a row on how to organise the rest of the year. I love the picture that this creates in my head: it’s like shepherding lots of ducks to walk in a row, how cute!

So there are lots of lists and planning going on and I fell in love with my calender all over again – I must have the same one for next year! It really helps to track stuff, and once you think outside of the box and start using the days for tasks as well as appointments it helps to get everything structured – it still doesn’t stop me from overloading it with stuff, but hey, that’s me I guess…

Well then, hello September I hope you bring a lot of sunshine – you’d better! It’s my birthday month and I take it personally if there’s rain! I will try to better organise our posts on the blog – ha, famous lasts words, but it is part of the ‘ducks in the row’ thing. It might take a while though. As a fun thing we’ll try out lots of the new recipes from Danielle’s Meals Made Simple. I see carrot cupcakes in my very near future.

Above are our version of the cranberry muffin from her first cookbook, which we love and use quite a lot. The book has now been translated to German, just in case you’re interested in this sort of food and find yourself struggling with English, or simply prefer to be able to quickly read your cookbook, rather than having to translate first. Note on the side: Do you have cookbooks stacked on the bedside table as well, and isn’t it sooo relaxing to read them?

©weheart.co.uk via pinterest

Oh, and we will be going back to our new dog-friendly neighbourhood coffee shop, not only because Micro is welcome, but also because they do amazing coffee!! What will do you? Hope you have a fantastic month!

 

Roadtrip and summer break

breakfast with a view

Oh, how I wished I could have this view every morning! Don’t you? It’s so lovely to have a view of the sea and blue sky. We even sat in this spot in cooler weather … note: this would have been  about 22°C, something we consider warm back here in the UK, haha! We had wonderful relaxing holidays: dog, parents and all – well, maybe not the mosquitoes, but hey, after getting bitten 8 times in 2 minutes while making fish cakes in the kitchen, who keeps counting?

We took off from our flat in London in the middle of the night (according to A, who stayed at our place and got up to say good-bye) after only 3 hours of sleep (eek!), which was definitely not enough for the epic road-trip. I managed to keep G awake up to the Eurotunnel and then it was 35 minutes of sleep with Micro on her lap.

Sleeping through the Eurotunnel

Sleeping through the Eurotunnel

Micro had his first walk on the beach shortly after in  France – he got super exited, jumped up and down like a rubber ball, and even found a buddy to run with. That made his day – he happily curled up in the car and slept for hours. About midday we gave in, found an aire and slept as well for an hour or so… We had reserved a room with a Campanile Hotel a bit more than half way towards our destination, which allows dogs. And in case you go there this Campanile in Clermont-Ferrand is not at the exit Clermont-Ferrand Sud as it says on the website, but rather Issoire – which is about 12 exits  (30 km or 20 minutes, about 3 nervous breakdowns and a lot of inward cursing) further South. We had booked a room with a lovely B&B for the way back – and the people forgot to check their mails and had no idea that we were coming… but gave us a bed anyway. And the lesson: probably don’t book by email next time…

We had a very happy dog on the beach (a couple of times he even got to play with other dogs) and on our walks in the woods, and he got loads of attention/cuddles from everyone there. There is a great vet pretty close by (even a 24 hour emergency, thankfully not needed!)

Our little red Nightbus  (looks really small from the outside, but man, it has storage space like a van) took us everywhere we wanted to go. We’re so looking forward to going there again next year! And totally recommend the area, if you want to go with your furry friend. I’ve read a lot of negative things about Spain and dogs, but we didn’t get treated differently to here, maybe Catalunya is different to the rest of Spain (they certainly think so – in a good way). Taking public transport is something different, though, and the dog would have to be in a bag or have wear a muzzle: you’ll need to look it up if you don’t plan to take your own transport. Since we had a car it didn’t apply to us, but I read about people hitch-hiking with their dog through Spain (and that was a Malamute cross, not a small dog) and even doing the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela with their dog. In the end some people like dogs, some don’t, and that’s just it. We just figured, we might need to brush up on our Spanish to be able to speak to people next time, when we hope to make lots of new friends on two and four legs :-)

Good resolutions…

peonies

…to post more …. Ehm…!! And I really wanted to take you all on the road to how we went about plannig our summer holidays and leave the island without a car, but with a dog.  This was pretty much our main point of focus over the past months. Let me say this much: you’ve got to be a good researcher and/or be persistent or both – or have money, which – as we all know – solves a lot of problems.  Micro is not going to travel as far as one of his girlfriends, Grace this summer (well, he only has two girlfriends, probably in case one is not at the dog park… ) otherwise he loves a (tennis) ball best of all. Anyway, Grace will spend her summer with her family in the States (can a dog have a frequent flyer pass?), and Micro is coming with us to Spain – and since we can’t disguise him as our hairy cousin Fred to take him into the Eurostar (no animals allowed), we needed some other options.

First of all avoid under all circumstances (unless you want to pay a lot of money) renting a car and leaving the UK with it. Because of driving on the other side of the road, the breakdown cover cost will turn your hair white. So leave the island and rent a car on the other side:

Solution (1) There is one ferry that takes dogs in kennels on the boat, so you don’t need a car: LD line ferries Newhaven to Dieppe or Portsmouth to Le Havre.This is, if you want the South of France, Spain or Portugal, like we do.

Solution (2) for those who want The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland or some other country in that part of the world, you can go from Harwich to Hoek van Holland, Amsterdam or Rotterdam.

Solution (3) You can pay a cab in Folkstone to drive you (and your furry friend) onto the train and through the channel tunnel.

Solution (4) There are numerous agencies (no, really lots and lots of them) that take your pet and drive it to its destination all over Europe. But unless you’re moving and selling your car, what’s the point? Travelling together is much more fun (hopefully).

This website is an absolutely amazing resource in case you want to know more. I’ve also done a lot of reading on the German side of the dogforum – why is the UK side not nearly as active? – to find out what sorts of things we need to buy/ask the vet before we go. Thankfully, people at the dog place have been amazing with tips and tricks on what to do and what to buy and what to avoid. If you leave me a comment or question, I’ll let you know what we thought would be useful to have for Micro.

And after carefully listing all the options/solutions and costs … we went for solution (5) and signed the contract on a car lease. Micro has since learned that he is the owner of a small car that takes him to fun places like Richmond Park or (probably even better) Wimbledon Common, where he had a play date with two other dogs. It does make you feel like arranging play dates for little kids, though… :-) We also had to learn that our landlord carefully withheld the information that this flat wasn’t going to get a parking permit (so that you can park the car on the street, without paying a fortune or not at all in some areas), even though we asked the agency about that when we moved it. This confronted us with a complete new set of problems, and (in my case) sleepless nights. It gives you that nice special feeling of stupidity, when you go up to the person at the counter in the council office asking for a parking permit and they tell you that you live in a no-car-flat… which should technically be in the contract you signed. But this being the island and not Germany, where we would certainly have called the Mieterschutzbund the same day, you’re left to fend for yourself. After the mouse infestation in January, more than 2 months of building works, letting people go into our flat without giving us the tiniest notice before, accusing our dog of soiling the communal hallway, which he has not done ( and which, btw I’m the only one to clean, not only regularly, but at all) –  for the first time in my life I did understand tenants that trash a place. It shouldn’t be like that. Anyway, you live and learn. Now we can sit back and figure out which way we will be driving down to Spain, so that we can stop for little doggie and some walks on the way. We have a lovely walk through a pine wood in Spain and I’ve also found that there is a dog beach (squeeek!) super close by. Although we can only take him in the morning or evenings so he will not burn his little paws.

Now you know what we’ve been up to over the past weeks. Hope your weeks were more full of ups rather than downs.

 

Rain and sunshine

microthedogThis week might have been shorter, but it surely felt like it had 3 Wednesdays or so, and the on-and-off rain didn’t help. Hiding at home with a dog is not an option as you will know if you have one. Why, why can’t he keep himself busy like a cat? Oh, yes, he’s still a young dog…. (sigh). If it rains, he’s not going outside (he’ll give you the my-fur-is-going-to-be-wet-you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me look), but he will happily sprint into the little pond in Richmond Park to go for a swim…go figure.  The weather app has never been so useful! Right now doggy pretends to be sleeping by snoring loudly… how is anyone getting any work done with such a funny dog?

The great event this week, however, was that I have become an auntie for the second time. Favourite nephew no.2 made his entrance on Wednesday morning at 2am: excellent date: he shares his birthday with Johannes Brahms, Peter I. Tchaikovsky and Gary Cooper – great music and good looks day :-) He is very long and thin like his brother was, and my sister and BIL are still pondering names, so currently he’s still #Minimum. I haven’t spoken to anyone yet (I was on the phone with my sister until about 3 hours before she gave birth, though….which meant I didn’t sleep much either that night, but, hey, these things don’t happen every day, so what!). My sister sent texts and everyone emailed tons of pictures. My parents drove over literally in the middle of the night to be there when little A woke up (who was in the care of the landlords/neighbours who adore him). A little sad that we live too far away to just go over, but very happy that everything went well and everyone is healthy! Welcome to the world little man!

Long weekend ahead

Technically, this is a birthday weekend (my mom and sister), but since we are already back on the island, we’re going to celebrate them (and tea) from our living room. (On this note: G discovered a Mariage Frères counter in Selfridges, how cool is that! And, I guess we’re probably the last ones to find that out!)

What’s on the list for this weekend? Hmm, we will be attempting to put out new plants on the balcony.  Weather and paint on balcony permitting (please put down that second coat of paint, so that we can get rid of the plant pots from the living room table!). This time we’ll purchase expanded clay (or similar) with the new compost/potting soil. Almost all the plants drowned this winter, because the soil was soaking wet. I also would like to buy scented pelagonium(s) – I wanted some for years, no idea why I completely lost that thought and here is the place to get them. What exactly am I waiting for…? New lavender and rosemary (which had some weird black bugs in their roots killing them off), maybe some sempervivum (or sempervivi rather, one by itself looks a bit forlorn). The Latin name is prettier than the German Dachwurz or Hauswurz (not easy words to pronounce for English speakers…but, I digress), although G’s not terribly fond of them. Maybe some Bamboo or medium high grass, definitely some chicken wire (or similar) to prevent Micro from having an accident by squeezing his head through the balcony bars….

And then obviously, depending on the weather, reading, knitting or sewing or going on walks with Micro – and with rain on the radar again, maybe we should really invest in rain boots…? Well, that sounds like a lot to look forward to. What are your plans? Hope you’re having a fantastic weekend!

Easter Roadtrip 2014

roadtrip2014

Roadtrip 2014 – about to leave the island

We had been planning to go home for a while and show Micro to our families – somehow it felt really weird that they only saw the dog on pictures or via skype while he became such a big part of our lives. BUT (sorry for shouting, it HAS to spelled with capital letters) leaving or retuning to the island (as we call it) with a pet is not an easy task. The options if you don’t own a car are:

1) By plane. Should be ok, with the exception that no one knows if the dog is traumatised by the loud noise. Going to Germany would be fine, Lufthansa allows dogs up to 8kg (including carrier) in the main cabin, but coming back – that is a whole other story. Pets only travel as cargo to the UK and can only be transported by specialised firms (cost: about £800 each way for a small dog such as ours) and you can’t travel from every airport. For us that would have meant travelling down to Frankfort to be able to fly back. Plus, you need to be there 4 hours before the flight (or something like it). Not an option, then.

2) By train. One would think this an easy choice, however, while pets travel for free on trains in almost all European countries (depending on the dog’s size, you might need a children’s ticket), there are no pets accepted on the Eurostar (service dogs, of course, excluded). This is currently the only option to leave the island by train. Deutsche Bahn is going to offer direct trains, but despite having been granted permission and having run a trial in 2010, this is only pencilled into the diary for 2016. So for now, that’s a no, too.

3) Sharing a ride (e.g. via blabla car), a good option, however, with two people and a dog in a crate travelling together, plus luggage, it’s not easy to find a person which that much space, and of course you never know if you agree with how the other person is driving or if the driver’s going to be annoyed if the dog needs a lot of bathrooms breaks (which is difficult to predict with a young dog)… suboptimal solution, but possible.

4) Multiple trains and ferry to avoid the Eurostar – a lot of stress for everyone involved, not to mention that carrying the dog in the crate is not an easy task in itself. Suboptimal solution.

5) Book a rental car. Doable – except for the extra fee that you need to pay, because one does drive on the wrong side of the road (here or in the rest of Europe, depending on how you see it) which means that you cannot leave the car at any other rental point, but instead have to have special off-the-island roadside cover. Hertz offered us a good deal with no extra cost… until we arrived at the rental station and got forced to pay an extra £105, despite having a paper that said ‘price guaranteed’ and having being upfront when renting over the phone, that the purpose of renting a car was taking it our of the country … according to the person working at the Heathrow rental station, one needs a piece of paper authorising the person who rents the car to leave the country with said car – or one would be send back at the border. (Am I the only one who every so often gets the feeling of being lied to at these rental stations?) Bottom line: no one wanted to see this piece of paper when we left and re-entered the country, which was supposedly oh-so-important to have…. we’re working the small issue of wanting reimbursement for Hertz either mis-selling or outright lying to us – whichever it may be.

So, our road-trip started off a little tense, but as soon as we were on the ferry (despite being slightly worried to leave Micro all alone in the crate in the car) we enjoyed watching the sun bouncing off the water while happily chatting away.

Micro did great on his very first long road trip, managed to cope with being in a crate, going for small walks and eating on service areas or being driven around in his very own doggy buggy at the outlet centre.

VID – Very Important Dog

In Germany, we threw a very small ‘big brother – little brother party’ for little A, which basically consisted of him unpacking presents over a longer breakfast. We had bought him a book and I designed a poster for his big boy room (see here for my inspiration). The heading was ‘Dragon Boy Found’, since this was his costume for carnival. He was also allowed to unpack the presents we had made for his little brother (onesies) and the nursing cover sewn for my sister.

big brother – little brother

We had sewn a onesie and a t-shirt and designed a matching dragon/dinosaur logo (first time ever working with freeze paper, G did an amazing job cutting it all out!). Becoming a big brother is definitely something that occupies little A’s mind and I got all sorts of questions at random times about what a big brother had to do (I’m the big sister), like would he have to look after his little brother. He would then wander off and ponder the answer in his little head. It must feel a bit surreal, since he can see his mother getting bigger, but he can’t see the ‘final product’ (if you want) just yet, though he knows babies and is generally good with them. Helping to get his future brother dressed in matching shirts was definitely something that he was looking forward to – one down, loads more to conquer, I guess….

G drove off to see her parents for a couple of days and took Micro with her, so they got to meet him as well and he got to play with their dog, Balou.  He learned how to settle down by himself if he is tired, and generally gained a little more confidence. It was definitely weird being dog-free, since I’m the one who is usually around Micro all the time!

Now we’re back here (and in the midst of a tube strike) waiting for the first May bank holiday. Lots more road-trips to plan!

Squeek

via hellopetersen.com

…isn’t he cute? I wish I would feel half as lively as this little fellow today! We’re back from our trip back home, very happy but slightly exhausted: two late birthdays, one big brother shower and two birthday preps, everyone cuddling with Micro (maybe not G’s parents’ dog, but the two of them did play together),  little A experiencing what it means to have a dog (going on walks with A holding the end of the leash and Micro connected to the other end of the leash makes one feel like a circus director in the middle… lots of fun), still waiting for ‘Minimum’ to be born (although there were moments we thought it would happen right there) and therefore lots of back-rubs for my sister, starting the grilling season in my parents’ garden and trying to buy a basket for the bike (and huge thanks to my favourite bike shop Hanssen for cutting out all the crap we heard in the pet shop and giving us clear advice, like always, even though this time we couldn’t buy anything- you guys rock!). This gives you a glimpse of what we squeezed into last week.

If you follow us on instagram you’ll have seen that we posted some pictures. I’m trying to write a longer blog post, but the flat needs cleaning … the house is being painted…and this is all I’m going to say about it – this time.  If it doesn’t rain we’ll try to take Micro to Richmond Park (now that we have a 10-metre leash and a Frisbee) on the weekend, and there will be new coffee (and I have a feeling there could be blueberry waffles as well) – have a wonderful weekend!

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!

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