The sun, the sea... and quinces.

So we went on another holiday, this time to Portugal. Back in spring friends offered to to house-sit during their kids´autumn break (thank you!!) and since they even felt comfortable taking care of Ludwig - which is no small task - we jumped on the chance and booked flights. And I am so glad we did, this time away was exactly what we needed.

We didn´t really expect a proper summer holiday but we got super lucky with the weather - it was warm enough to spend time on the beach and even swim in the sea! I was so very happy which is probably evident in the picture. 

The area where we stayed - Albuefeira - is truly gorgeous. Lovely beaches, cristal clear water and even somewhat green landscapes. I can imagine it gets very touristy during peak season but it was just right in October; sometimes we had the beach literally for ourselves but restaurants etc. were still open. 

Our last day was cloudy and coolish so we took a tour of the mountainy backcountry. 

We stopped at this place where they grew eucalyptus trees on the one side and cork trees on the other. It was so pretty and smelled heavenly. 

We couldn´t get over the bright green of the young cork trees! 

At one point I catched a glimpse of a little bush with yellowish fruit by the road and told my husband to turn around stat... because yes indeed, quinces! I´d never seen them growing wild anywhere. I took three of them home as a souvenir. It´s not like I don´t have a quince tree in my garden, but, you know. Never enough quinces. 

Back at the coast we came across some kind of fruit farm - also unlike anything I´ve ever seen. They had acres of oranges, sadly still green (I would love to do a photo session in here when the oranges are ripe). Also, pomegranates!

Aaand, quinces! A whole field of quinces! At this point I was basically jumping up and down with joy. Don´t you worry, I didn´t take any, I was just so happy that something like this exists. Paradise!

Bonus picture, because I like that tree growing out of that house so much (seriously though, how is that possible?). Anyway, such a good trip. But also happy to be reunited with my home and ready for autumn! 


Hello October.

Yesterday night the temperatures dropped to two degrees. Yikes. After the wonderful late summer we´ve had it is somehow hard to accept that it will be autumn eventually. So I thought before the first frost hits I´d take a few pictures of my wonderful dahlias... I am so in love with them and am planning a massive dahlia border in my garden next year. Someone please remind me to make it happen in spring? 

I also harvested our pumpkins today and tons of basil (freezer is stocked with pesto again!). And yes, I sort of regret to not have taken those pumpkins out of our dirty wheelbarrow for the picture, but sometimes reality has to be good enough. 

There´s this dreamy light again. Also I can´t wait for my hydrangea hedge to fill in. It´s been looking so lovely already this year, why did I wait so long to plant them? (Answer: First I couldn´t decide and then it wasn´t in the budget. Story of my life.)

The chickens send greetings too. I love how Florentine (the grey hen) looks in this picture. We lost our white hen last month to a mistery illness. Heartbreak. It´s funny how chickens are such silly creatures and still I care for them so much. Anyway. Happy October to all of you! 
PS: It´s German Unity Day today so as usual I´m linking back to this post. Love you, Eastern Germany!


Asters galore.

I have a love-hate relationship with the asters in the walled garden. They´re terribly invasive and I basically curse them the whole season and every year I swear that I´ll be ripping them all out next year. But then September comes and the asters are blooming and it´s like the last hurrah of summer and all is forgiven. I really really need to do something about them next spring though, the situation is clearly getting out of hand. 

Anyway until I do let´s just enjoy them, right? So pretty.
Happy almost-weekend! 


Back in Vienna.

We just returned from a little holiday which we spent in my hometown Munich and in Vienna where we lived for 5 years from 2005-2010. We hadn´t managed to visit Vienna since our move and it was so good to be back. I really don´t know what took us so long. We need to make it a priority to visit once a year.

If you´ve read this blog for any given time, it´s really not a surprise that my most favorite place in Vienna... is actually not in Vienna, or at least not within the city limits. The pictures above were taken near the Sophienalpe, a beautiful spot in the "Wienerwald" where we used to hike all the time when we lived in our little house by the woods. This place, for me, is pure magic.

Having said that, I do love Vienna, as in the city. Here´s a (not-so-secret) secret: I have never managed to even like Berlin, no matter the hype. But I´ve always adored Vienna, with its perfect combination of historical beauty and Eastern-European roughness. Since we had Ludwig with us who gets overwhelmed/scared when faced with crowds we limited our city excursions to one afternoon in the 7th district, but it was just enough to confirm that yep, Vienna is still my favorite city.

Ludwig, by the way, was such a trooper throughout the whole trip. He has become a real good traveler and was so happy about all the new acquaintances, both human and canine. The pictures above are from a little Setter meeting which happened on our favorite meadow in Vienna - another one of my happy places (it even had its own Flickr set back in the day!).

Now who wants to sell us a holiday house in Vienna for, like, super cheap? Pretty please?

By the way, we stayed in this holiday home wich had a perfect location and was great for Ludwig (it makes all of our lives so much easier when he has a garden to roam in). Big recommendation!


From apples to juice.

Last weekend I harvested every single apple in my garden and then we went and had them all juiced! 

We weren´t sure whether we had the minimum quantity of 100 kg of apples so we joined forces with a neighbor/friend who, as a plus, has the cutest yellow (!) pick-up truck. We needn´t have worried because we actually had a little over 100 kgs ourselves, but it was a lovely little excursion this way. 

The place where we had the apples juiced was new to all of us (this place) and we were really happy with the experience. This is the juicing machine which apparently was developed by the owner. Juicing apples is a side business for them and the whole family is helping out.   

The apples are sorted, washed...

... shredded and pressed. 

What remains. 

The juice is pasteurized (i.e. heated for a short amount of time) and then filled into those plastic bags which get to live in cardboard boxes for stability. Honestly I´d have preferred bottles (because pretty) but nobody does bottles anymore in our region and actually I can see the appeal of those boxes. 5 litres in one box, easy to store, nothing to break. The cardboard boxes can be re-used. All in all a pretty good solution I think!

So in the end, we got 75 litres of apple juice! I am delighted. It´s not super cheap but still at least half the price of what you´d pay for a decent organic apple juice. And it´s such a good way to use all those apples which would otherwise go to waste. Since the juicing machine is mobile and can be "rented", we´re already planning a big apple juicing party in our village next year! No more sad abandoned apples in this village´s garden! Yay.