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Monday
Apr182016

A slow spring.

So far we are having a coolish spring with lots of rain which is good for the garden. We´re still ways behind in the walled garden, but it will catch up soon enough. I love working in the garden at this time of the year when everything is green and fresh and there are no mosquitoes yet that could bother me! I´m done with spring-weeding all my flower beds in the walled garden and beyond and it looks like most plants have survived the winter just fine.

The picture above shows a new border beyond the walled garden. This is prime real estate for plants since it gets a massive amount of sunlight and the drainage is good. Excited to see how it develops!

Have a good week, I promise once all the spring garden work is done I´ll be back here more often!

Monday
Apr042016

Early spring in the garden.

I always get so impatient with the garden around this time, especially when I see pictures of warmer climates. Garden envy! Spring usually comes late around here. My husband returned from a trip to Western Germany three weeks ago and reported that the narcissi were done there already. Haha. My narcissi haven´t even started to bloom yet! 

The walled garden is particularly late with everything because it has its own microclimate. This space has a Northern exposure so it doesn´t get any sun until Mid-March. It´s cold, wet and dark during winter. This all changes in summer though when there´s plenty of sun and all the walls really store the heat. Right now though the only things blooming are pulsatilla, pulmonaria and hellebores. All of them I love dearly, especially hellebores. Sadly they don´t thrive in the walled garden, or not in this soil at all really. Sigh. (I remember that in "my" garden in Vienna hellebores were everywhere around this time. It´s funny how this space has shaped me so much garden-wise).

The hammock is back for another summer, yay! I think we got that hammock in the summer when we bought the house, so it´s almost five years old. Back then I thought I´d get a nicer one at one point but this one is holding up so nicely! It´s from Ikea and while it´s not the prettiest, it´s super sturdy and comfortable and it can even go in the washing machine! So I think we´ll have this one a little while longer.

Fluffy chicken butts because how could I not? I let them roam in their "summer run" for the first time today. Did you know that chickens will destroy any kind of greenery if you let them? They have a large winter run which the three of them managed to bulldoze completely. Chickens! Hysterical sweet nasty lovely creatures.

I´ve worked a lot in the veggie garden lately... all beds are prepared for the season and I´ve already planted some seeds (carrots, salads, herbs) plus onions and garlic. We really need to get the irrigation system up and running next weekend... always so much to do in spring, my list goes to the moon and back. 

Here´s a thing that´s already growing in the veggie garden: The rubarb is looking good!  

Last but not least, here´s my garden "help" Ludwig. He looks a bit sombre here but he was just busy chasing some birds. Oh to be a dog! 

Monday
Mar282016

An Easter update.

Happy Easter! I hope you had a good one. We had a litte feast with friends from Berlin yesterday, thankfully the weather cooperated nicely and we were able to sit outside for the first time this year! I´m really proud of my eggs this year, I always use natural dyes (mostly because I love the subtle colors so much) - red cabbage for the blueish ones, turmeric for yellow and brown onion skins for the red eggs. 

I also made Austrian Easter "Pinzen" for the first time - rich, aniseed-scented yeasted buns. I used to eat tons of those when we were still living in Vienna. I used this recipe and they turned out beautifully.

A little Easter set-up in the dining room. I had completely forgotten that I had those wooden bunnies! 

Today in the evening. If you look closely you can see a swarm of cranes right by the woods. So many cranes around here this spring! I love them and the noises they make. Unfortunately Ludwig "loves" them too, but more in terms of "those would make a nice breakfast", which makes for interesting walks. Also, the garden is slowly waking up... I´ve been busy with spring cleaning, so looking forward to this garden season!

Last but not least, my home is being featured in the current issue of German Home & Style magazine. On 14 pages no less! The pictures are from a series that Berlin photographer Anne-Catherine Scoffoni took of our house and garden last year. It´s fun to see which pictures got picked! Also note to myself, go to the hairdresser before your pictures are being taken!! Cringe. Anyway, have a happy week! Almost April, time flies. 

PS: Thank you for all your comments on the last post! I am thinking of doing a blog series called "moving to the country" which will answer all the questions you might have concerning, well, moving to the country. Would this be of interest to you? And if so, which questions do you have? 

Tuesday
Mar152016

How we found our house. 

The question I get asked the most is "how did you find that house?" In fact it´s hard to believe I never wrote that story down, so here goes: Five years ago around this time we started looking for houses "just for fun". At that time we had lived in Berlin for about six months and were only just getting settled in our apartment. However we thought we would just start looking and figure out if buying a house in Brandenburg would be an option for us at all. To be honest this was a very difficult time for us. Neither of us liked Berlin and we weren´t even sure whether we wanted to stay in the area. However we thought that a bit of snooping around couldn´t hurt. The first house we viewed was an old farmhouse in Eastern Brandenburg, I wrote about it here. It wasn´t right for us for many reasons, but we loved it so, so much. I think after this visit it was clear that this was what we wanted - an old farmhouse in a remote area with lots of space and a large garden. So we kept house hunting on the weekends. 

As for the how exactly we did it, I´m afraid we didn´t do anything special. We just browsed the regular real estate websites. However if we were to do it again, I´d  approach the house hunt differently. I´d roughly define in which area I´d like to be and then take daytrips and explore the villages. Most of the vacant houses here in the country are not even listed for various reasons, so it totally makes sense to peek over fences and talk to locals you come across. I know of a few people who scored great houses for very little money this way. 

In early May we came across the house that would become ours. However we almost cancelled the first viewing! At that time we had already found another house that we liked a lot. We had viewed it several times and we thought it was the one. However I had already arranged the viewing for "our" house and since the weather was supposed to be nice we thought we´d just make a day trip of it.... and the rest is history. I remember calling my mother that evening and telling her we found a village out of a Astrid Lindgren book. A few weeks later we signed the contract. (If this sounds like smooth sailing, it wasn´t. I not so fondly remember a hysterical realtor, a non-communicating seller, a worthless house inspector and all the nerve-wracking confusion that comes with applying for a mortgage).

People often remark that there must have been lots of potential buyers for our house. Not so. It had only been on the market for a few months but I think the realtor mentioned that before us, he had two more viewings. So people weren´t exactly queueing up to buy the house which helped in the negotiations. I think there were two main reasons for this: One, the listing for the house was really quite awful. At that time, every single room had a different offending color (a little insight is here) and the pictures were just screaming at you. When I first sent the listing to my husband he answered "nice, but only if we keep the paint colors." Haha! No way. The second reason for the house not-being-so-popular was the listing price which was high for the area. The sellers had invested a ton of money so it was actually justified, but it was still a lot. (For the area. A friend of mine bought a 1-bedroom apartment in Munich at the same time and it cost about the same as our house).

In the end, it took us not even two months to find our house. While this surprised us as well, I frankly don´t understand how people go on hundreds of viewings when house hunting. Before we even started to look at houses, we made a comprehensive list with things we wanted/needed in a house. (I still have this list). This, combined with the things you can find out on the internet these days by just googling village/street names and looking up locations on Google Maps, will narrow the search results down quite a bit. 

EDIT: A commenter asked how we knew that the village was a good fit for us people-wise. Well we didn´t. Our realtor gave us the phone number of one of our potential neigbhbors and my husband had a little chat with him that was very positive and reassuring, but at the end that was only a glimpse. We were just super lucky with our village, and I am thankful for that every day.

Phew! You still there? Anyway that is the story of how the house become ours. I promise a post with more pictures and less words for next time! 

Sunday
Mar062016

Changes in the kitchen.

Hello! I´m sorry I went missing for so long. But! I´ve been busy with some house projects and I finally have a few pictures to share. Back story for those who haven´t reading for long: We got a new kitchen three years back, and I am still very happy with it. But the shelf situation wasn´t quite right, so last year we installed new shelves. It was an improvement but I never really loved them. I can be a bit obsessive about these things (understatement of the year) so in January I ordered new shelves on a whim. I had come across old kitchen pictures and realized that I really loved the single long shelf, and that without the questionable brackets this could indeed be the solution I was looking for all the time. Previously I had dismissed floating shelves as too modern for this house, but I figured I´d give it a try anyway.

At the same time, the kitchen was long overdue for a new paint job (dirty walls are one of my pet peeves, and with all the animals our walls get grimy real quick). Since I had ordered massive oak shelves that would basically disappear with the dark wall, I decided to dismiss it entirely and paint the whole kitchen the same color. That was kind of hard because I loved the shade on this wall (Charleston Gray by Farrow & Ball), but at the same time I am kind of over feature walls and I was ready for a change.

The kitchen is now painted Strong White from Farrow & Ball which is, well, a strong white. It reads white but it´s really a soft, warmish grey. I love it. I had considered some of their warmer, darker greys (Shadow White, Slipper Satin) but these read too beige/yellow for me. Anyway, really happy with the paint choice. Also very happy with the shelves, although their installation nearly caused a divorce. I still don´t know why but when we first installed these, there was a definite tilt. It took some serious tweaking to get it right which is not something I expect with custom-made, not-so-inexpensive shelfing. The massive wood is beautiful though and I don´t think it looks too modern, just clean and simple, which is right up my alley. So mixed reviews with a happy ending (the shelves are from here, for those who do not fear for their marriage).

For those who wonder where all the stuff from the old shelves went - I did some serious re-organisation and purging at the beginning of the year and suddenly I had lots of free space in my kitchen! Miraculous. So most of it is now stored away but there is still enough space to display my little ceramics collection. Priorities! 

Have a good week and see you soon with pictures from another painting project that I´ve finished today! I am a painting machine these days.