Dear Friday

richmond park

Richmond Park

No dear Friday last week, thanks to a really stressful week (and a September favourites post instead), but today we are prepared, even though we will be driving through the French countryside when this goes up.

Dear stray dogs, don’t be invisible any longer

And, staying with dogs: love this lost and found video

Looking to secure the front wheel of your bike – how about this?

Looking for a new poster for your kitchen? Maybe Julia Childs can help

Dear people with problems figuring out what to have for breakfast… This blog will change the problems to ‘what will I have first’. I know for G it’s the Avocado toast and I would prefer the apple omelette (minus the cheese though).

The new Against all grain Meals Made Simple cookbook has a fantastic pancake dry mix recipe (pretty much the dry ingredients from the Paleo biscuits with a bit of a twist) –  a real life saver these last two weeks for my lunch – if you are new to Paleo, her cookbooks are totally worth checking out.

How about some temporary food tattoo – to show off on your arms/ankles in the golden October weather …

Last, but not least, looking for a solution for this dear flat of yours to self-clean before the holidays? Maybe the Style Cure is a solution for you.

We are probably still on our birthday roadtrip home, working out what to do first when we arrive. Have a great weekend yourselves!

Season of change

Autumn leaves…. (Picture: © Sanctified Rant)

As the seasons change and the last traces of summer are making room for autumn, there is change in the air on all sides…. I usually love this season, especially when October turns out to be golden, and when the leaves turn all colours under the sun! Crisp walks through woods and parks, late afternoons on weekends snuggled in with a tea and chatting to good friends, even sitting inside in the warm while it’s windy and wet outside (reminder: we have to buy those Hunter boots!!).

There is also lots of change looking a little closer: M is working on re-visiting the foundations of her research work, looking at some steps in new directions,  Micro is growing up and discovering life after having been the smallest puppy in the dog park (he has already discovered that he can pass on some annoying habits to admiring smaller puppies… oh my!), and I am about to embark on my own small adventure, changing jobs just as I am about to hit another Zero-birthday (oh, 20 again…. and again…. or something like that).

Change is exciting and there is a fair amount of adrenaline coursing through my system at times. What I love best about this time of change, however, is spending it with good friends and family. I am so very fortunate!!

September Favourites

Coffee with friends, little M and Micro some of the highlights

Eek, is this October already? Oh, well, come in then and lets have fun! How about a golden October, what do you say, hm? What did we do last month?

Important steps to prepare for the winter (and everybody thinks this is going to be a really cold one, as the last one was just wet and mild) – we have started to mouse proof the place. And my first and absolute favourite: Insulation foam (also known as Bauschaum at home, and while you could spay this into your sockets here, don’t try this at home, it is forbidden!) One can of foam went into the holes in the kitchen alone (don’t ask!). Also all other possible mouse-entries were sealed with steel wool (like under the stove and towards the fridge). Basically, the place is perfectly accessible for the little beasts without ever having to show up on the surface – grrrreat! The one and only place we haven’t touched yet is the little built-in cupboard for the boiler (with non-fitted holes around the pipes, what..?), which might get done this month thanks to power dough from Pattex  – I have to say all tips and tricks came from our good friend A – and seriously, we should give her a regular house tips and tricks column here, she is full of fantastic ideas for the xxxx (censored) building structure here.

And then, we have been squirrelling away on something that is absolutely censored right now, as it’s stuff for G’s mom and it’s her birthday very, very soon – no, chance I.,I’m not going to spill the beans here, but we will be there dog and all on your birthday! Lots of favourites, though. Now you can wonder what we have for you :-)

What else? Oh, yes, my birthday present home-office renovation (the dog edition), which was/is on hold until we come back from the birthday trip for G’s mom – too much to do and not enough time during the weekend to do it all. We did buy a 2,30m long wooden kitchen counter top and put it over the two Malm dressers in the bedroom – already looks much better.  Favourite thing: our awesome mini-car, in which we manage to fit that thing! We threw away about 8 bags full of paper stuff (and there is more to go through), shlepped one shelf up into the living room and one down from the living room into the bedroom – and, in the process, because of a very narrow hallway, had to get the one from the hallway temporarily into the living room. Yep, you can see, it was a heavy lifting weekend, so grateful G’s here and always up for doing these crazy things with me.

Micro and I are back into our in the coffeeshop-working-mode again, so I can go through my papers/emails that I don’t want to touch/do at home. The little bookshop (which is not directly around the corner and is definitely not called like that, but is an independent bookshop) allows Micro come in and sleep (or rather crash) under the table, as I usually come after he has played his little heard out at the dog park. He’s made plenty of new puppy friends, which makes me very happy, as he was almost the youngest one when we started. He is the smallest one that comes regularly. His friend Banjo – a Chihuahua/Jack Russel mix, who is definitely smaller, is not there that often – and all the other ones have really grown and are (more than) twice as heavy as he is now. Not that this would discourage him – oh, nooooh! Favourites here: the bookshop (including very friendly staff, great coffee and fruit loops to share with Micro) and new dogs and owners at the dog park.

What else? We met up with old and new friends and conclude that having a dog (and a car) really added to our quality of life this summer. Now, it’s for you October to show your best side. I’m so much looking forward to our birthday road trip next week! And please don’t be a rainy month  – remember, I have to take the dog out!

 

Dear Friday…

The first (official) autumn weekend is waiting right outside the door (starting after 5:30 or 6pm or whenever your weekend starts). It’s really beginning to be cool now in the mornings  (of course the weather is changing: if I was still wondering whether that would be the case, I only have to look at our dog, who is shedding like mad!)- mental note: knit faster this weekend to finish jumper! Hmm, maybe I can sneak in some time over lunch to finish the last row of the body… what do you think?  The home-office renovation is still in full swing, we are sorting through tons of files – paper everywhere on higher (Micro-secure) surfaces – he loves to shred paper, and he’s actually quite good at it. Some more ideas for the weekend:

Business card holder diy yay or nay?

Staying with diy - sew your own waxed jacket (including the waxing process) too much to do or worth the effort?

And (finally) Heike’s organising files video – great ideas! Thanks for posting them! I’m so going to order one hanging file – I can pick it up when we go home next month, seriously less postage charges!

Joyce DiDonato’s new CD – great repertoire and very lovely cover picture

Beautiful video about how balerinas prepare their shoes- my friend used to squeeze them in the door and them bang the door – always made me sad that we don’t have a similar thing as singers; it’s such a great ritual to ease you into concentrating onto your job.

Really? iPhone 6 bends under pressure? #bendgate

Apparently still worth the money and coming first in the taste test: the real parmeggiano

And staying with food and the autumn theme: time for the Fee’s sweet & spicy pumpkin/squash soup with pears (scroll down to the end for an English translation of the recipe) – I have a feeling I’m going to make this for tonight and catch up on the new season of some of our tv series – that should help with the knitting! What are your plans for the weekend? Going for a walk, hanging out with friends and/or family or having time for a coffee (without taking some work with you)? Hope you have a great one!

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!

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