Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Rest of Summer

This summer, well most of it has been a wash out. If it hasn't been raining, it has been overcast and if it hasn't been overcast, it was at least as cold as to warrant a jumper (if not a coat). Everyone I know is sick of me moaning about it. Reading about in the blog world, I seem to follow people who have had wonderfully hot summers. Well not here. However, we are having a spell where the mercury in the thermometer has stayed above 20° C for a while. Today is sunny and if the humidity would just go down, I'd be over the moon. 

Now having had that grump at you, I'll tell you what I have decided.... that irrelevant of the weather, it is time to get into the summer swing. If I don't do it now, I never will and then it'll be November and gloomy before I get into the swing of it. So NO more moaning for me. It is summer, I mean just look outside and you'll see. 

Oh and for those of you who are wondernig about my crafting  mojo.... those boys' Pjs are finished. No pictures yet, I decided to wait for Xmas (when they will be given) to put the elastic in. Nothing worse than having to unpick them as they are too big/small. They look so funny, one pair in 110 and one in 62. One looks so long and one so short. Better get used to that difference.... it is coming along very shortly. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Reuse, recycle and get back on track!

I have finally got my sewing machine set up in the new place! Yeah.... no news for a very long time. My excuse is manifold (I love that word!): boxes, boxes and more boxes that needed emptying, a job, a family, no photography or crafting mojo, a garden that needed some serious sorting out and a seriously low energy level.

But we rearranged some stuff recently and put up a table (made by my Dad) and the sewing machine on it. I have promised myself, no new projects until the unfinished projects box is empty! Well.... tomorrow I'll post a picture of the unfinished projects box and maybe even some of the contents. Nothing like a bit of self induced pressure to get things done. These were the first things to be "finished". They used to be pjs. But sadly although I really like the pattern, the quality wasn't good and for some reason they shrank a lot. Non-fitting pjs are not the way to go in my book. They were turned into dusters in short shrift. Not exactly a challenging project, but a good way to start and useful too.

Next up, more pjs... mummy ones to boys' ones. But more about them next time.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back Again

Just a little note to say that I am back again. Since last time I blogged, we've moved house, been on holiday and survived other changes. As slowly the new place is coming together, I intend to have more energy and time to put into showing you what we're up to. Until then here is a little picture from our beautiful holidays in the North of England.
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Thursday, March 31, 2011

On Top of the World (2)

Happy Wednesday

Hope the week is treating you nicely so far. In Germany some call Wednesday "Bergfest". It means you got half way there already (half way up the mountain, now you just have to get home again). The weekend is approaching. I am quite excited about this weekend as we get the keys to the new place on Saturday. Yipee! Don't know what I am more excited about: having much more room or a garden. Luckily I don't really have to decide, just enjoy (after all the moving work is done). 

(P.S Please excuse the Thursday posting of this Wednesday post. For some reason it didn't upload and I am still trying to work out why)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On Top of The World

We've just returned from yet another "most beautiful place in the world". I have a few of them. They are all characterised by their remoteness and by the lack of other people there. We spent the last week in Engadine. You can see the beauty from these webcams. Some might say that it is not empty here. There are thousands on the slopes.

If you walk these mountains there aren't many and if you go to places other than skilifts and ski place, the silence is so engulfing, you can hear the words uttered by the people over half a kilometer away. Standing on top of the Corvatsch, looking out over the valley I had "Top of the World" by James playing in my mind (sadly, there is no good version on youtube). Lying in in my own bed on Sunday morning, keeping my eyes shut and pretending I wasn't back in this crowded and dirty city, I realised two things. I am most sincerely not a city girl at heart, and Engadine is a somewhere that can be brought home as a feeling. 

I'd like to thank the friends that took us with them (again....and we are always up for this trip) and shared their holidays with us. We had great fun and enjoyed ourselves magnificiently. 

AND I'd like to apologise for the lack of photo. I am having computer problems...... so far unexplainable ones. There is a gremlin in my computer and he is refusing to leave. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011


This weekend my folks are coming. Yipee! I don't see them often as they live soooo far away. Apart from looking forward to a great weekend, I am looking forward to continuing with this started project. My lovely knitting teacher (you know who you are... :-)) took me to one of her favourite haunts and where she teaches. After dithering for about ten hours at the very least, I treated myself to this box of the softest most beautiful wool. She helped me choose a pattern and off I started. Well one ball half knitted and I realised I'd made a mistake. Having so far only knitted scarves and hats (lots of pictures to come), I wasn't used to paying much attention to what I was doing. Knitting in the train home with one eye on a dog, or whilst chatting or watching TV is not the way to go as a beginner if it involves more than just knitting around and around. A small amount of concentration would have done me good. Anyway the wool is so precious (no I won't tell you what the shopkeeper was happy to take out of my hand for this softness) that I daredent rip it out by myself. My mum is going to oversee this ripping and Mrs. T (haha... it works for both of these knitting ladies) will be most surprised to see what I show you next time I see you.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Perfectly Quiet Day

This is what I did today. I sat down and started to read for my thesis. Started, I hear you ask. Well for the first time properly. Flow for the first time. I was beginning to worry it would never happen. There is no way tthat I'll get a thesis done, if I never get to the flow point. I have stopped worrying. So thank you to the train drivers who striked today so that actually going into work would have been such a hassle. I stayed home instead and had a wonderfully productive and really very quiet day. All that looking into a sunny park.
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Monday, February 21, 2011

The Town Where Everyone Drives Hire Cars

A couple of weekends ago, we went to visit friends in the town where everyone drives hire cars. What? I hear you ask. Well that is what it feels as you drive into the city. For everyone ouside Germany, you have to know that most hire cars here are registered in Hamburg (HH) and then always have a great big "D" sticker on the back. So as you drive in you wonder for a couple of minutes about the amount of hire cars in the place. Hire  cars are registered in Hamburg and many company lease car schemes are registered in Munich. I personally believe it might have something to do with these two cities trying to convince the rest of the republic that they are actually bigger than they are.

Well enough about cars, we had a lovely weekend. Thanks, guys! And despite the rain we did get out. If it is throwing it down outside, what do you do? Of course, you go to an aquarium. Hamburg is home to Hagenbeck Aquarium. It is great and despite the fact the place was packed we weren't pushed and shoved like you can be sometimes. The animals and fish looked like they had as realistically natural setting as you could achieve in such a place. We saw the biggest snakes ever and they were actually moving so you could see just how long they really were.

The big tank with the rays and sharks is always the best though and we did sit there on the floor and watch the sea life glide past for about half an hour. So relaxing. 

Just around the corner from the friends we were visiting is this shop window. Sadly they weren't open when I walked past the first time or the second time when I specifically went there (hrmph... opening times on the website aren't the same as the ones in real life. But then again it really was throwing it down with rain, the whole area was deserted and all the other shops had shut too). I suppose I shall just be glad about the non-consumer moment I had (that is for you, Yramesmor!). But still look at all those beautiful spools..........Hopefully they'll be open next time.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Outside my window... the sun is shining
I am thinking...about how to rectify an installationn problem on my computer and how to balance the upcoming move in terms of ease, cost and environmental impact
I am thankful for...the sunshine and the promise of a garden this summer
From the learning rooms...(if this applies).....logistics clusters, ArcGIS 10
From the kitchen...fresh bread and a wonderful cheese and ham collection waiting to be devoured this evening
I am wearing...too little for the temperature in my office
I am creating...a very pink cowl (the wool came from here)
I am going...to look at kitchens over the weekend
I am reading...The End of Mr Y.
I am hoping...I am
I am hearing...the builders in the neighbouring street giving a house a new rood
Around the house...filled boxes, empty boxes, piles
One of my favorite things....good coffee in the morning, made by my great husband
A few plans for the rest of the week: work, work, work, measuring up and making plans (and brunch with our favourite neighbours)

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Inspired by http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Little did I know when I shot this a few weeks ago that I'd be able to use it to announce our move into a place with a garden. Yep, a garden and a live-in kitchen. Oh my, am I excited! I am thinking through furniture arrangement, curtains and picture hanging as well as what we can plant in the garden. The timing is perfect, my parents are coming soon and my mum has very kindly offered to help me on that score. We'll now be reducing the size of those monster green and yellow ones and digging some old but beautiful curtains out too. As to the garden, Y has already suggested peas and beans and flowers. Pretty good going I reckon. Just have to keep that dog under control otherwise all we'll have are worms!

The first thing that we need is a new kitchen. Anyone reading this from outside Germany probably won't be familiar with the crazy system they have here. Many people rent places but own their own kitchen. You move and take your fitted kitchen with you. Mad! Anyway, our kitchen is now in it's last flat. I really like it and it looks good where it is right now, but it will not take another move. So now we are looking to leave our kitchen in this flat and get a new one. Or even a new to us one. The choice is now red or white?  What do you reckon? The room itself is narrow but theoretically could have up to over 4 meters of tops once you have made allowance for the hob, sink and fridge. That is a lot of kitchen!

There'll be more pictures coming up soon. And to those have asked, of the house too. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Year of Change

The other one of the two blogs I regularly follow has created "A Year of Change". If you read her post for today and you know why I blog, you'll get the fact that this is right up my street. Can you feel my virtual smile?  Why wallow when you can enjoy, when although life isn't going as you would like or had planned, you could be worse off? And anyway wallowing only helps for the shortest amount of time ever. And then you have to deal with what life threw at you and get on with it. Okay, there are a few situations where wallowing is the right therapy for a good long while, but those are exceptions and I don't even want to go down that street. This challenge fits  so well with the developments in my life that have come about over the past week. Developments that include some trees, a room of my own and a patio door. Exciting times....

Oh and the release from finishing these curtains!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Waking Ned Devine, A Poignant Reminder

On Sunday a great guy I know invited his friends to his annual film showing. Once a year, this couple invite all their friends, their families and their children's friends to a film of their choice. Held in the Lichtburg in Essen it is lovely opportunity not only to go to a proper cinema, but also to meet people you haven't seen since last year (and promise to really meet up soon again!). The Lichtburg describes itself as a film palace. It is true. With a balcony, proper red carpet, a cloakroom, marble floors it just exudes a celebration of film. The other great thing about this event is the film itself. This year it was Waking Ned Devine. If you haven't seen this movie, go find it and watch it. Wonderful celebration of life, friendship and funny, very funny.

The film not is a wonderful film in itself, it also touches me in two other ways. It starts with a tune by a band who's music touches me everytime I hear it. The Waterboys. Irrelevant of which of their tunes I hear, they evoke the same nostalgic feeling as long evenings in summer do. They make me think back to being a teen (and feeling the same thing) and how much those friends meant to me. And about that special place in my heart they still occupy, even the ones I have lost contact with. I love my friends now, but there is something about those teenage friends (you know who you are) that fill a spot that somehow noone else ever can. Or is it not the years we shared, but the music we share(d)? This really would explain one subsequent friendship that has that special "teenage" or should I say JYF depth? 

The other thing this film does is remind me of home. No, I don't come from Ireland. But that landscape pulls the same strings as the Welsh landscape does. It reminds me that there is a part of me, a significant part, that belongs somewhere else. Somewhere I don't live right now. Somewhere that nourishes a part of me that this country of choice doesn't. A place with less trees, with wilder open spaces, with cold beaches, with small cottages, with less roads and with sheep. Where a Landrover is not a status symbol, where green wellies and a waxed jacket are accompanied by a collie and are work clothes, not a fashion statement. Time for a trip home.

PS. Whilst looking for a very particular Welsh picture, I have discovered that my external hard drive isn't working..... oh all my older pictures..... let's hope it is just my power supply

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just Something to Cheer you up on a Grey January Day


When I make calendars (which I do every year) I always wonder whether I should put sunny and green pictures on the winter months. If the winter is grey, dark and long, the last thing I want on my walls are pcitures of what I experience all day every day. Maybe others think the same. These tulips today are a hommage to that reoccuring thought.

As to the darkness and general gloom that normally takes over in winter, it has been kept at bay this year. I think I know why....

walks with this guy mean that I get a lot more rays than I have done in the past. Yes, I have previously made an effort to go for a walk at lunch time. But honestly, if it is raining, damp or drizzly, I never did. If you manage this, you are a stronger person than I.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Lessons of Curtains

There are some monsters in my house. They are huge yellow, green and white curtains. Originally made by my mum for my place in Brighton, then remade to fit windows in France and now they are in Yorck's room. Despite being huge, they are too small for his windows (floor to ceiling, wall to wall windows). There was some material left over when my mum made them, so I have been intending to lengthen and widen them for over a year. The poor boy had curtains that hungs somewhere halfway down the window and didn't cover them either. Looked a little strange. Well we bought track, hung it and then hung the curtains provisionally. Provisionally in my house tends to indicate it'll never get done, well at least not in this place. On a mission to finally rid myself of all the unfinished projects hanging around, I attacked them a couple of weeks ago. Who would have thought it would take so long to unpick some seams and match those stripes? I certainly didn't. I am thinking about working out how long it has taken so far and paying myself. These monsters are over three and half meters wide and two and half meters long. Handling them is not easy. Add a cat who loves to run under them, a dog who wants to sit on them and a child who thinks the whole thing is boring into that. Yes, you get the point. But I now have some pressure to get them done. My mum is coming soon and she has put the heading in the post already. That means I have to have them done before she arrives. Nothing like a bit of self-pressure to get things done.

These Laura Ashley curtains have taught me several things. One, curtains that are terrible in one room can be perfect in another. When they hung in Brighton, they dominated the living room. I could not look at anyone sitting on the sofa that was in front of them for longer than two minutes. We regularly moved around whilst talking so no-one had to look at them at such close range for long. They strobed after about five minutes. In Yorck's room they are just great. They are sunny and light. Two, even curtains that are too small keep a lot of heat in. Despite the lack of material in front of the draughtiest bit of the big windows, I have really noticed how much colder it is in that room since taking them down to make them exclude even more draughts. Three, Laura Ashley isn't only frills and flounces and flowers. Four, I really don't like sewing curtains.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Yipee! A Finished Project

Yes, it's a finished project. No, not quite on time, but I still hope that the now 4 year old who recieved like these pjamas (I can put this online now as I know her mum won't be seeing this before we meet in a couple of hours). The sewing around the C was deliberately loose. But I don't think I'll do it like that again. It looks kind of shabbily done. That was the look, I was going for, but I think I prefer neat. That is just me. Frau Otten, do you recognise the materials? I think they are really pretty, specially together. The t-shirt is organic and from H&M and soooo soft. I could spend all day decorating their t-shirts. 

We had some fun doing this kind of stuff with freezer paper over Christmas with Yorck and Em. I'll show you those another day. Groovy cars chosen by Em

Space for Creativity


We are moving buildings at work so there is a lot of clearing out and throwing out being done. This pristine vintage box of good Pelikan chalk and roll of brown paper were off to the big rubbish dump before a collegue of mine asked if I would like them for my little man. Well here is the thank you. A totally absorbed child drawing for hours (this wasnt the only picture) delighted with lovely materials and so much space. We'll definitely be repeating this. And it does go to show that quality art supplies improves the experience. The Ikea chalk I bought a while ago (before I swore never, never to go there again) doesn't even always make a mark when put to paper.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dreaming of an Aga

I read this lady's blog faithfully. Probably because she leads a life I dream I'd like to lead. In the country, a stack of kids, lots of animals and home crafted things. Ok, I spend quite a lot of time in the country, but somehow the German Eifel is not quite Maine, a son, a cat and a dog, however demanding I find them are not four kids (and one to come) and a farm and I craft more than I probably should but not as much as I'd like to. But then again, I am very grateful for what I have and I probably wouldn't really want to live in the country as much as I think I would. Nipping on the tram to see my friends at a whim is not really an option then AND we'd need another car, which I am happy that we don't have. But Amanda Soule and I do have one thing in common we dream of an Aga at the heart of our homes.

Picture from www.aga-ranges.com

An Aga isn't just a cooker or a way to heat your house, it is a way of life. It is the best way to bake, especially Lasange. Nothing quite beats coming in out of the rain and leaning against one. How many induction cookers can you lean against to warm yourself whilst you sip your tea or chat with the family? Yes I dream about one. One day, when we live in a house (with props in the cellar to stop the beast from crashing through the floor!).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Special Visit

Over Christmas some good friends (www.elasticpeople.net) came over from Beijing. We had a wonderful time catching up, spending hours chatting and the kids playing. It is incredible to see how one person can get a whole lot of overworked busy mums together to finally get their acts together, meet up and even go out for drinks a couple of nights. Yup Alex, you pulled us together to start with and back together again over Christmas. Thank you! This is the first time in ages that we've met up. There have been many mails though. Jobs and more kids have basically filled up our lives to bursting point and as mums tend to do, the meetings, which to be honest were about us as much as them, seem to have been put on to a back burner. We have vowed to change that though, so Mondays here we come.  There are three other kids who aren't on this picture, two because they didn't want to be and one 'cos her Mummy is very pregnant and  the amount of ice and snow outside when this was taken meant it wouldn't really have been very sensible to be travelling about town. Yup Sienna, Susan and Bryanna, we love you too. Even if you didn't want to join the photo.

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 - A New Year

I've been a little less than present here for quite a while now. I spontanoeusly decided to spend Christmas and New Year completely in the virtual world. I only checked my mails a couple of times and that was it. UNbelievable but soo refreshing. My camera was very active, so there will be some pictures popping up here soon. I really enjoyed the festive days without my computer, trying to remain present all the time and soak up the lovely time with friends and family. There were lots of kids around. The noise level couldn't be called peaceful or relaxing but it was fun (most of the time!!).

I'd like to wish you all a peaceful and wonderful 2011. May it bring you fulfilled dreams and happy days.