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

chateau tiles

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 😉

 

A list of my 10 favourite things about where I live in Germany to overcome a bout of homesickness…

I woke up the other morning missing the sea and feeling a bit more homesick than usual… I’ve always lived a maximum of 15 mins from the seaside! Obviously in Cornwall it was actually difficult to get very far from the sea as we were surrounded by it. Whereas, in Finland we lived in the Turku area, then for a short while in Kemi and Vaasa, which are all on the coastline of Finland. Even when I lived in the US, our home was only a few minutes away from Lake Michigan, which is HUGE and doesn’t really feel like a lake at all. So apart from a year when I lived in Santa Fe (New Mexico is beautiful in it’s own way), I’ve always resided near a large body of water! So life here in beautiful but land-locked Wiesbaden differs a lot from what I’m accustomed to, as the only way to get a dose of waterside surrounds are to walk/cycle along the Rhine. This in itself is also really pleasant, but not quite the same thing as a beach.

So homesickness motivated me to continue with my theme (inspired by the everyday life challenge) of taking notice and being grateful for what I have. So I decided that rather than complaining about what I’m lacking, I’ll create a list of ten things I really like about Germany and where I live! It actually did make me feel much happier 🙂

1)   Even though I live in a city with a population of 273,000 (plus approximately 19,000 US citizens due to the military base) everything is really clean & tidy and I feel the buildings in Wiesbaden are especially well maintained. I am aware that larger cities like Berlin and Cologne are not quite as super clean as Wiesbaden, but they still aren’t too bad in my opinion. I think Germans just generally appreciate orderliness!

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2)   Healthcare here in Germany is generally very good and so it should be, as the national health insurance contributions are much higher than in the UK. I’ve worked in the NHS for many years and I’m sad to say that no matter how much internal ‘tightening-up’ of budgets takes place, the funding shortage is not going to be resolved. I think the only way England can hope to realistically improve the NHS is by increasing NI contributions or directing more tax money towards healthcare rather than other things.

3)   The forests here are substantial and not just little woods! In Cornwall I used to miss the forests of Finland very badly at times. (I’m trying to remind myself about this each time I miss the sea 😉 ) I find walking in the woods not just enjoyable, but therapeutic and de-stressing. There’s quite a lot of research out there now evidencing how important it is to be in nature, as regularly as possible. This of course doesn’t need to be the woods it can be the seaside, fields & meadows, a park or a garden! Forests just played a big role in my life when growing up; even as a teenager when I was struggling emotionally with something I’d go for a walk in the woods near my house and usually came back feeling better.Image

4)   This may sound silly, but I’m so excited about having wild blueberries and mushrooms again. These were a regular part of our diet in Finland and I often craved them when I lived in the UK! Now in the autumn I can treat myself to many delicious meals with porcinis, chanterelles, truffles etc. and I also freeze berries and mushrooms to eat outside of their season.

5)   This part of Germany has an amazing wine culture. In fact Wiesbaden has the largest Wine festival in all of Germany every summer 🙂 It only takes 10-15 minutes to drive to the closest vineyards from Wiesbaden, where you can take walks surrounded by vines overlooking the Rhein river!!ImageThis is the nearby Schloss Vollrads vineyard and country estate.

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6)   Delicious food and and great cultural experiences! I think many people elsewhere in Europe underestimate the German food experience. I adore the traditional farmers markets most cities have 2-3 times a week. The fruit and vegetables are wonderfully fresh and Germans are very clued up on seasonal eating. Some of the best berries I’ve ever tasted have been here in Germany (can’t wait for strawberry season to kick into full swing)! Also, Germans really know how to prepare their meat properly and portions are usually generous. Furthermore, this region has some fantastic restaurants from various other food cultures, which I’m gradually exploring. See more about eateries and food at http://www.eatingwiesbaden.com – a great food blog run by a British expat! Further cultural delights can be enjoyed by taking walks on the leafy streets of Wiesbaden, lined with lovely buildings and villas. I love the Art Neouveau architecture of this town, as I’ve almost always lived in historical houses, so I feel more at home in this town than I might somewhere completely post-war/postmodern! I should also add that this town has a fantastic theatre, orchestra and ballet.ImageImage

7)   The climate is amazing in comparison to what we usually had in Cornwall and it’s better than Finland as well! OK so Cornwall may be more moderate on average, whereas Hessen (the county where I now live) fluctuates much more, however, it’s fabulous to have a long warm summer and cold enough winters to sometimes get snow. I know many Americans living here may disagree, as some are from the permanently warm southern states. I, however, love the clearly defined change of seasons. It’s what I’m accustomed to while I grew up in Finland and as a little girl in Wisconsin. However, it’s also a blessing that it never gets as unbearably cold here as it does in Finland during winters!

8)   Germany not only has beautiful forests, but also proper mountains for skiing and other winter sport and as a bonus the Swiss Alps are not much further if higher altitudes are required!! I don’t live in the mountainous area of Germany, but it’s not a long drive! We are not lacking in gorgeous scenary here either though, as we have the rivers and lot’s of scenic areas of hills and valleys. In fact I can see the Taunus hills from my windows!

ImageThese photos were, however, taken near Zürich which is only about 4 hours by car from us. This is quicker than it used to take us to drive from Cornwall to London!!

Image9)   Christmas markets and Christmas in general is fantastic in Germany! Even when we still lived in the UK, my daughter and I accompanied B. on his business travels here several times during Christmas market season. They are just so atmospheric with lovely crafts and food to buy, as well as Glühwein of course!!

ImageImage10) Last but not least, the location of Wiesbaden is very handy for travelling to many other European countries. So visit’s to France, Switzerland or Italy only take a few hours by car! It used to take me just as long to drive from Truro in Cornwall to my daughter’s university in Sussex, as it does to drive for a holiday to Lake Como in Northern Italy from Wiesbaden 🙂

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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!

May Day…

DAY 5: The final day of the everyday life photo documentary challenge I was set by a Finnish friend on Facebook!! This post is a day late, as I’ve been very busy with work.

Today is May Day and I had full clinics all day and sadly yesterday’s sunshine has vanished, as I woke up to drizzle. I was also a bit jealous of my husband who had the day off like everyone else in Germany & Finland (he works for a Finnish company in Germany), but I unfortunately didn’t as I work for a UK company and they have their bank holiday on Monday. After finishing work today, in between spells of drizzle, I repotted the chives the previous residents of this flat had kindly left me. Then I fertilised my indoor succulents, as didn’t fancy staying out in the rain. Ginny watched me lazily in my bed.  As the weather wasn’t conducive for much else this afternoon, I started unpacking hundreds of books and arranging them whilst watching/listening to a TED talk about the redefinition of success and gross national happiness vs. gross domestic product. Very inspiring and in line with mindfulness.  It struck a cord with me. I had a lovely French Rooibos tea whilst organising! Now the sun has come out again through the mist and I’m about to cook the simplest of comfort foods: uova in purgatorio, or as Nigella calls them – Eggs in Purgatory. I forgot today is bank holiday in Germany, hence the shops are closed; at least I have tomatoes, herbs, fresh chillies, eggs and crusty bread – so we are sorted for dinner!Image

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Ginny looking totally fed-up of my interference with the camera. Go away, I need my sleep!

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Really gorgeous Rooibos From a French Patisserie in town – I’ll be buying this again!

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View from my South balcony towards the hills, over the glistening treetops fresh from the rain.

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This picture is from Nigella Lawson, as I had not yet cooked it and doubt I could have gotten a good pic, as my kitchen lighting is not yet finished properly.

The Eve of May day…

DAY 4 of my challenge to document everyday life by posting pictures for 5 consecutive days! I am a day late with posting this, as it was just too late last night after we walked back home through the woods (with no flash light!).Totally routine first part of the day i.e. breakfast on the sunny balcony with Ginny cat, then more than 8 hours at my computer working. Luckily the beautiful sunny day lasted into the evening, so we decided to go for a walk in the woods nearby. It was lovely and green, smelt gorgeously of pine and also leafy trees like birch, which always reminds me of Finland.  It was the Eve of May day (obviously), which is a massive celebration in Finland called ‘Vappu’ and seems to be celebrated here in Germany too (although with less excess). Bjorn discovered a restaurant called Villa im Tal in the forest during one of his jogs, so we walked there to have our little celebration. Really lovely and atmospheric with delicious food and a seasonal spring menu of white asparagus, so that’s what I had with veal Schnitzel and Hollandaise! Again my food picture is not with the DSLR so isn’t the best quality, as I fear I will draw too much attention from staff and they might think I’m a food critique – mobiles are more discreet!
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Natural yoghurt with berries including wild bilberries, which I haven’t had easy access to since I lived in Finland!
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My favourite Moomin cup started the day cheerfully 🙂
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Ginny would love to share my breakfast – she’s mad about yoghurt.
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No, I don’t need 3 lamps at my desk, but they await safely in the study until other rooms are finished.
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Our pretty neighbourhood basking in the evening sunshine when we set off for our walk.
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Woodland road sprinkled with chestnut tree blossoms – just gorgeous!!
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The woods are only 5 mins walk from our flat even though we live in the town!
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Villa im Tal restaurant in the woods  http://www.villaimtal.com
 
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I was initially suspicious of the white asparagus, but they are actually very yummy although different tasting to the green ones.