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Monday
Jul292013

The deck, revisited.

 I thought I´d show you this year´s version of the deck (here it is last year). There have been a few changes... for example, we have upgraded/switched the chairs (these are Ikea, painted a light grey).

Also, we have a railing! Wohoo! The husband built it and it took forever, but I really really like it. We were a bit nervous about it ruining our view when we sit on the rockers, but the deck is raised about 1.5 meters above the ground so it´s not exactly safe without a railing. And I am happy to report that the view is still good.

I like these hanging baskets. Another example of what gems one can find at our tiny local hardware store.

Also there is this giant trunk that we found in one of the abandoned barns in the village. It was green already, I just sealed the wood and painted the hardware white. Love it! 

A little potted garden. 

The End.

Wednesday
Jul242013

Some Housekeeping.

You will have noticed that I started to run some ads on my blog. I know this is a very controversial thing to do, which I have honestly never understood. I love writing this blog, but it is also time consuming and costs quite a bit of money to host, so it doesn´t feel wrong to get something back in return. Also, the way I see it, the more extra money I have, the more things I can do with my house and garden, which will in return provide content for you to enjoy.

Now. There is one static ad for blurb, a company whose services I regularly use and regard highly. If you order a photo book coming via my banner, you´ll get a discount and I´ll get a little reward too. Simples and good for everyone. Then there are two Google ads. Please know that I cannot control the content you get displayed here. Which also means that no, I do not have a personal interest for you to date Asian girls. Seriously though, a few readers have notified me about "questionable ads" and I am sorry about these. I never once got something like this displayed so didn´t realize that this was an issue. Anyway, I recently learned that these "sensible ad categories" can be blocked, and I blocked all of them, so this should be fixed now.

In the long term, I would really like to replace the Google ads with some individual ads promoting things/companies/crafters/designers/artists so if you are interested and think your things/services/crafts/designs/art could be relevant to the readers of this blog, get in touch.

And to all my readers, thank you for coming here. It means a lot to me, and this has nothing to do with extra money.

Sunday
Jul212013

Wildflowers, Nigel Slater and smells.

We have a spell of really, really nice summer weather here. Not too hot, some wind, some clouds, lots of sun. Just right. It feels so nice. I try to soak up the sun as much as I can because I know this won´t last forever, and summer in general won´t last forever, and I am already not so secretly freaking out over this as I still very vividly remember the horror that was last winter. 

Anyway. Remember when I told you that I sowed wildflowers and it wasn´t really a success? I kind of lied. I bought some super expensive organic seeds that I used for a bigger part of the bed, but then I ran out of these so I bought another very cheap decidedly not organic package for this corner. And look how pretty! The yellow ones are perennials of course. (Obviously, the expensive wildflower seeds didn´t do much. Not dissing organic seeds, just stating the fact.)

The garden is feeding us well these days. Plenty of chard and salad and sugar snaps and beets, glorious beets! I made Nigel Slater´s beetroot chocolate cake today and it is seriously so very very good. It is on my life list to one day give this man a hug. I mean, "Tender" is basically my all time favorite cook book (closely followed by "the kitchen diaries"). Well written, great recipes, beautiful photography. If you own a vegetable garden, go get yourself a copy of "Tender", will you?

Ludwig in full speed! 

I know I already told you this, but the smell of the pine woods on a hot day really is something else. It´s the smell of our childhood holidays in Italy, where we always stayed in a hotel right by some lovely pine woods (and after the woods came the beach, of course). You know how smells can transport you right back to the past? There´s a corner in our village where for some reason it smells exactly like that Greek island I stayed forever ago, and sometimes when people are burning wood around here it reminds me of my time in beautiful Siena, Tuscany where I attended language school even longer ago. Smells! Funny stuff.

Oh and Lu said she wanted to be on the blog, too. Have a happy week! 

Monday
Jul152013

Savouring summer.

 
Today it occured to me that it is mid July. How in the world can it be mid July already? Summer always seems to go by in the blink of an eye. I must remember to savour every remaining bit so that I can live on the goodness over winter: The smell of the pine woods on a hot day. The lunch breaks spent swimming in the lake. The fresh salad from the garden come dinnertime. 

It´s Ludwig´s first summer and I think he is thouroughly enjoying it. He is in the garden most of the day, chasing cats and birds and splashing through our little stream and running back and forth until he is completely exhausted. This month has seen a big change in personality... we suddenly have the sweetest, most well-behaved, cuddliest dog ever. Impressive. This can stay. 

 Talking about impressive, we drove through vast fields of sunflowers yesterday. Fields like this never fail to amaze me. Sunflowers are such a cliché, but there´s just something so happy about them. Also, summer pressed in a flower, right? 

Wednesday
Jul102013

Landscaping is hard work.

We have worked on a big project from early spring until recently which I haven´t much talked about since I think it´s a litte boring. However I came across a few old pictures the other day which made me rub my eyes in disbelief, so maybe it´s not that that boring after all? Well, here goes. Above is part of our "garden" around the time we bought the house two years ago. It´s the part that adjoins the walled garden and in the first year we briefly considered to locate the vegetable garden here. Like ever other piece of our land is was overgrown and neglected. So far, so romantic.

However if you take a closer look, you see piles of rubble, sand and other building material peeking out of the weeds. These are partly a legacy of the renovation work the previous owners did and partly the remains of another old barn that once stood here. In our first summer in the house, we did our best to clear the jungle a little bit but not much happened otherwise.

Last year things got interesting. There was progress in that there was a decent path to the house, but see those little mounds left and right? That´s not just weeds, these are heaps of rubble. It turned out that in every inch of that part of the garden, there was rubble and garbage under a thin layer of soil. Not a good foundation for a vegetable garden, so it went elsewhere.

This was the view from one of the windows upstairs. 

This is the view now. We rented a huge dumpster last year in autumn and started to collect all the rubble that was lying around. We then dug up pretty much the entire area and removed as much rubble and garbage as possible (let´s not get into details about the garbage - disgusting). In the process we unearthed interesting things such as parts of an old cast-iron fence and several ancient farming tools. We then added a new thick layer of unspoilt soil and sowed a new lawn. Finally we planted a hedgerow on the border to our neighbor and in front of that, there´s a bed where I dumped a million wildflower seeds (with questionable outcome) but where we will plant perennials eventually. In the corner to the right that you can´t really see there will be the chicken coop which is the next project. The fence is already up.

So much better, if not quite as romantic. 

But despair not, there are still a few romantic corners.

There´s still so much to do in this garden which can feel so overwhelming. This is why it is important to pause and look back at what we´ve achieved in the two years we´ve lived here, even if it´s a little boring... or not!