Category Archives: House to Home

Balcony ‘garden’!

My small selection of flowers, veggies and herbs are doing quite nicely despite the heat wave we had… In any case I think they enjoyed the soaring temperature more than I did 🙂 I’m very much a novice at growing in pots and on the balcony, as I’ve always owned a garden. However, living in a city now has persuaded me to try my best on the two balconies we have!

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Every morning I’m joined by many buzzing bees while I have my morning tea and yoghurt 🙂

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These chilies seemed to appear in just one very hot day, during which I was concerned that my plants would parish from the heat as there is no shade on the south facing balcony. We are planning on installing an awning at some point, as right now when the sun is at its hottest no-one wants to sit out there!

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The Hungarian peppers made a similar sudden appearance over night – I swear!

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The cat was enjoying a moment of cool temperatures on the east balcony during the early morning before this too over-heated. The oregano, basil and mint planted on the little east balcony have flourished as well. I’ve admittedly been more diligent than usual with my watering schedule during the heat wave.

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This is the first time I’ve grown tomatoes in a pot; I think they are also coming along splendidly.

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The rocket is also flourishing!

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Plum tomatoes are coming along nicely too. Here they are called eier tomate which translates to egg tomatoes 🙂

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Even the small potted gooseberry bush has produced a couple of berries!!

The range cooker has finally arrived and more on my kitchen inspiration (or perhaps I should say indecisiveness)!

My lovely white enamelled Lacanche with brass trims has finally arrived a couple of days ago!! Sadly it’s not yet connected to our mains gas, as the guy we have been recommended for installation cannot come by until Friday. So more pics to follow later…

However, I am quite disappointed with myself for not yet placing my tile order, as I have been struggling with deciding whether to go for the neutral grey-white themed kitchen I had been planning originally, or something more colourful… Below I’ve posted some images I have been collecting on pinterest for inspiration! The first photo below features a white Lacanche oven installed in someone else’s lovely kitchen. My kitchen isn’t huge as it’s in an old flat, where traditionally kitchens were of a modest size, but I hope it will soon be a tranquil and inspiring setting for cooking and baking 🙂

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The above kitchen can be found on http://shannonbowersdesigns.com

white kitchen, light grey and subway tiles

Picture found on www.style-files.com – Kitchen inspirations

grey cubs and white sub walls

This image was found on http://www.adultrunaway.tumblr.com – a break from the day

grey walls marble and white cabs

Above picture from www.curbly.com The Curbly House: Our kitchen revealed!

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This pretty kitchen was in the Guardian’s ‘Kitchen design ideas – in pictures’ article www.theguardian.com

Or perhaps I should go for some french inspired tiles, which wouldn’t be in line with my usual safe scandinavian palette of muted colours!! Having said that, I’m only considering blue and white patterns, not contrasting stronger coloured tiles that I often like in other people’s kitchens, but fear my eyes might become weary of them over time in my own home.

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The above blue and white kitchen can be found on http://www.myparadissi.com

blue white tiles in kitchen

Below are a few example of the tiles I’m considering from – http://www.winchestertiles.com

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I’ve given myself until Friday as my deadline for placing the tile order, as it will take 2 weeks to deliver.  I really want to have my kitchen walls protected when I start cooking more now that I have my range 🙂

Would be interesting to hear/see what kitchen design schemes you have gone for??Also, I wonder if anyone out there knows where to buy traditional cupboard handles/knobs here in Germany? I’ve only found one place where they were selling un-lacquered little brass knobs for about €30 a piece!! Not an option as I need over 25 😦

Historical photo of our building exterior!!

I just thought I’d pop by on this sunny day to quickly post a picture I recently received from one of our neighbours. Below you can see a photo of our Art Nouveau house from back in 1912 (complete with traditionally attired little boys from the era)!! I think it’s charming, but sadly the house facade has not been maintained as regularly as it should have been. This building was owned completely by someone who currently occupies just one flat. He used to rent out all of the apartments in this building, now he only has a couple of smaller flats that he rents out. Before we moved in the people who owned our apartment were unfortunately not interested in renovating the facade of the building (or perhaps could not afford it). Now that we have moved into the building and being fanatic period property lovers, it appears that the majority of the owners in this building are keen to see sympathetic repairs carried out. We are slowly getting building companies to come in to give quotes, so we can hopefully make some progress on this front very soon 🙂

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Kitchen tile decisions and Finnish traditional food…

The past few weeks I’ve been desperately trying to hunt for the style of traditional wall tiles I’m after in the local shops to no avail. Until I finally stumbled across a little place in Bad Homburg that imports the type I’m after. I have been very surprised not to find something more classical that is made in Germany apart from Via Platten, which is a factory producing beautifully made traditional art nouveau style tiles, but only for floors!! Whilst they’re beautiful, they are just too thick for walls and the designs are also more suitable for a large surface rather than narrower splash backs. (I’m keeping them in mind for an eventual bathroom renovation though!)

The classical and timeless tiles that I like always seem to be from France, UK, or Italy. The two most likely candidates are slightly off-white weathered looking and crackled Italian subway tiles and a series of UK produced but French influenced blue and white tiles. Image

Here’s the simple and classically elegant subway tile.

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and here are the French style tiles, which would definitely be more of a statement (and are much more expensive!), but could be interesting in an all white painted wooden kitchen, which will soon be joined by a white enamelled French range cooker!!

Here are two pictures of one side of my still unfinished kitchen missing all pelmets, cornices and handles, but I finally have a functioning sink, tap and dish-washer – progress, albeit slow!!!

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Not sure which tiles to go for yet, as I usually play it safe with whites and creams, as I can always add colour with kitchen accessories and textiles. Some how though the blue and white eclectic mix is appealing to me and they are traditional/classic in a different way!

Luckily, regardless of my frustrations with the slow progress of our renovations and a couple of cultural clashes that I have been struggling with, we’ve had lovely balmy weather. Today it was 26 in the shade and the breeze was fragrant with flowers!! I’ve also made an effort to cook some of my favourite foods this week, as that always lifts my spirits  🙂 Image

Evening sunshine from my study window sill today looking out onto the balcony – still very warm 🙂

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Traditional Finnish style early summer lunch of pickled herring, gravad lax, and new potatoes with a typical light créme fraiche, egg and fresh herb dressing!

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Another comforting home cooked meal of Finnish meatballs with gravy and lingon berry sauce from a couple of days ago! Home-made meatballs are SOOooo much better (and healthier) than the rubbery bouncy balls you get from Ikea 😉

 

Good morning!

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Thought I’d just pop on to say hello, as I’ve now discovered that my wifi works on both my balconies very well!! So now I can not only write on my blog here, but I can also do some of my work related admin in the fresh air! Today seems to be a good day, even though yesterday I was struggling with some homesickness (where is home…? I wonder sometimes). Although I’m unaccustomed to city life, I at least have my own little sanctuary above the bustling road. The house may be a mess of boxes, because we are trying to empty our un-renovated future bedroom in preparation for redecoration, but at least the little balcony and kitchen are getting there and offer some respite from the general chaos 🙂 Now I just need to get things moving along on the big balcony and our bedroom!! (Now that I’ve photographed the little balcony again, it’s served as a reminder that we need to get rid of the rust on the original rails and repaint – all eventually.)

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Yesterday was a non-clinic day so I enjoyed lunch outside… I made Pasta di Salsiccia with homemade spicy sausage from a fabulous Italian deli in nearby Mainz (herbs from my balcony).

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…and yesterday I also sat out there contemplating which Farrow and Ball colours will go onto the bedroom and kitchen walls. Of course I had to indulge in a blueberry cupcake with my tea, bought from Dale’s bakery which is American (USA) owned, thus produce genuinely delicious American baked goods! I miss baking things myself though and really hope my cooker is delivered soon, as am quite fed-up with the hot-plate.

So you can see I’m making good use of my little outdoor space and will most definitely try to get some tomatoes, rocket, lettuce and berries growing on the big balcony soon I hope!

We have moved in but still loads to do!

We’ve actually been in our new flat for over 2 weeks now! I just haven’t had time to update, as we’re still surrounded by boxes and have lots of renovation to complete.  For the past couple of weekends we have been working on our kitchen. We’ve finally installed our painted wooden cabinetry, oak worktops and sink. This is major progress although still very far from complete! We are waiting for our range cooker to be delivered, I still need to source the tiles and nothing is yet plumbed! Getting a ‘proper’ range is surprisingly challenging in Germany as they don’t really go for that kind of thing as they seem to prefer their high-tech built-ins. Nothing wrong with built-in cookers, but I’ve always had free-standing range cookers in the past so am used to them. I would have happily bought German quality brands like Miele or Gaggenau, but sadly I’ve discovered that they do not make ranges. So my only options have been to get something shipped over from either the UK, France or Italy but more on that story later! 

Here’s a picture of the right wall upon entering the kitchen. It’s still missing many things such as plinths, handles, worktop lighting, tiles etc. But regardless of the unfinished state, I think it’s quite an improvement to the old dated kitchen! (notice: my tiny and sad little hotplate for cooking currently!)

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Here’s a reminder of the old kitchen!

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and here’s some photos I snapped whilst we were working on the opposite wall of the kitchen (left upon entry)…

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I plan to eventually have just open shelving above the worktop on this side, as I don’t want to block any of the light coming in from our balcony doors. Hence the double height upper cabinets on the opposite wall!!

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I’m hoping that this new layout will enable us to enjoy the morning sun from our breakfast table with uninterrupted views to the little kitchen balcony and lush treetops beyond! (I’m starting a little herb container garden – nothing like the kitchen gardens I was accustomed to in our previous two houses in England, but I’ll try my best and luckily I have another larger south facing balcony.)

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Here’s another reminder of how horribly dark the units were and how much light was blocked by the bulky and poorly positioned cupboards.

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When my new French range arrives it will be placed where the old pine chest is temporarily residing in front of the horrid orange tiles (they were revealed after removing two other layers of tiles and will be banished). For now I’ve been learning to cook quite successfully on a tiny hot plate and washing up dishes by hand in the bathroom. We had Chicken and mushroom goulash tonight!!

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A little update on our big project…

Ok, so my decision to start blogging regularly hasn’t worked out quite like I’d planned!! I really want to try to be more consistent but in addition to being very busy with clinical work, I’ve been juggling renovations with designing/planning the kitchen (plus other rooms) and sourcing materials etc., so I haven’t had much time to spare. I dread to even think about our looming deadline to move out of our rental into what will most probably still be quite a building site… and this will happen in less than 2 weeks!

I also recognise that it is likely to be boring for other people out there to follow our very slow renovation progress in detail. In fact it’s even quite tedious for us at times. However, I’m posting a few photos taken of our newly sanded original oak floors just before they were covered again to protect them from paint splatters, as the ceilings and walls are next. Also, the walls are now mostly beautifully smooth and re-plastered with no horrific textured wallpaper – this makes me very happy. Image

In the picture below you can see there is a patch of wall that needed to be demolished all the way to the underlying brick, as it’s damp from cracks in the external facade and needs to dry out and be re-plastered later.

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By the way, ignore the peeling skirting boards as they will eventually get sanded and repainted as well… after we’ve move in though.

 

 

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I think the floors turned out really lovely even though they are not perfect, as they’re original vintage floors I’m more than happy to accept some imperfections here and there. For me that kind of thing adds character. It really suprised me when we asked for some quotes for renovation work we had a couple of builders suggest that it’s probably time to consider replacing the floor!! I guess it reflects the German tendency to aim for perfection even within a historical property. Well, in my mind it was obvious that I would turn down such suggestions, as the floors are really thick good quality oak. Sure some of the cracks between the oak blocks are wider than ideal, but that isn’t enough of a reason to convince me to throw away perfectly good oak!!