Winter solstice and merry christmas.

Yesterday was my birthday and it was a beautiful day. Even the sun came out! Most people think it´s unfortunate to have a birthday so close to Christmas, but I not-so-secretly love that my birthday is on winter solstice. I think it´s a very special day. Here´s a little blurb why it is so special, not my words obviously but I couldn´t have said it better. 

Here´s a picture of my dining room cupboard, back to the low version (for now) and all prettied up. I made that bough a few days back and I love how it came out. Anyway, Merry Christmas! May your days be merry and bright. 


Random pictures.

So this is a random post without a real focus. Bear with me! First of all, I´m still baking! Christmas cookies this time, or "Plätzchen" as we call them in Southern Germany. I am not an enthusiastic baker of Plätzchen, mostly because I don´t like to eat them all that much (I know!), but I manage to make 2-3 varieties every year - always Vanillekipferl (vanilla crescents) and Brabanzerl (chocolate cookies filled with jam) and today I made sourcream cookies with plum butter for the first time. They turned out real good, and even quite pretty, even though I am usually hopeless at this! My cookies taste fine, but they definitely don´t win a beauty contest. I don´t know how other people do it - you should see my mother´s Plätzchen, they´re basically art!

And a few weeks ago I made fruit bread with dried pears and apples from my garden (or, in case of the pears, from other people gardens)! Also a first. It was a terrible pain to make so I hope it will be good! It will be ready to eat around Christmas. My grandmother always used to make fruit bread and I never really knew how much work goes into one loaf. So Oma, wherever you are, I hope you approve! 

Here´s a picture of me and Ludwig on one of our Sunday walks last week, no make-up and all, because #keepingitreal, right? I am pretty good at getting dressed each day (as in no sweat pants) but I can´t be bothered with make-up on most days. That´s what working from home does to you! 

Last but not least! We played around with the cupboard in our dining room today. It´s made from modules so depending on how large you want your piece of furniture to be you just stack them on top of the other. Since we had another cupbaord like this in our bedroom that isn´t a super great fit there we thought we´d try to extend the one in our dining room. I think I really like it! The upper half would be painted the same dark color of course (Down Pipe from Farrow & Ball). I think the room suddenly looks terribly grown-up. Ha! Thoughts?


Baking bread.

A few years ago I started to bake my own sourdough bread since I literally couldn´t stomach industrial bread any more. For a long while I actually made all the bread we ate. Today that´s not the case any more, but I still enjoy baking bread when I have the time. Baking sourdough bread is often considered complicated and a "science". It´s not really. Certainly there are a couple of rules but I find bread is fairly forgiving and once you get the hang of it it´s quite easy to successfully adapt recipes or make up your own.

This past summer I finally invested in a huge earthenware bowl from my favorite local pottery which makes it possible to handle large quantities of dough. I am super happy with it. It also came in handy last weekend when I made potatoe salad for 40 people at our village christmas party!

Sourdough is a wondrous thing. I always wonder how on earth people figured out that it would be a good idea to use a weird smelling fermented substance in their bread. 

Baking pure sourdough bread takes time, and I love that about it. I like to stretch and fold the dough over hours and it always feels like a small victory when the bread actually does rise! 

The best reward however is a beautiful loaf of bread, still warm from the oven and heavenly smelling. This is a wheat-spelt sourdough bread and the recipe is from this book. I probably don´t have to tell you that it´s really good. 

PS: Completely off-topic, but I´ve watched this spot 20 times and still counting. I love all of Judith Kerr´s creatures. Be sure to watch the Behind The Scenes as well. Happy second advent!


Advent in the house.

I´m not a seasonal decorator, but I do make an exception for christmas. However things need to be subtle and natural; lots of candles and wood and everything that can be re-used from the garden or foraged from the woods. OK well the twinkle lights can´t be foraged from the woods, but I´ll make another exception for these (I used to have such nice ones with a warm glow, not very happy with those in the picture - any leads?). A strange thing about me is that I love wreaths, but I don´t do traditonal advent wreaths any more. I like this more modern (and lazy) version better. Also hi Lutz! You look like you don´t have eyes in this picture! 

But as I said I do love wreath elsewhere in the house, so I made another one on Saturday. I usually get up pretty early on the weekend since I have morning pet/chicken duty, so I got to work after breakfast and the wreath was almost ready by the time my husband emerged. Time well spent I say! The blueish stuff are dried hydrangeas. The wreath is hanging on my kitchen door whis is my favorite door in the house, it´s so unique!

Another thing I like are just a few twigs with rosehips in a vase. I have a wild rose in my garden (wild as in I don´t think anybody planted it there) which produces the prettiest rosehips and thus secures a neverending supply. Those looks especially lovely against the dark wall in my library (sometimes I think I should re-paint this room a lighter shade and then I take a picture like this and think "nah, never"). 

I´ve ordered this simple wooden ornaments from a Dawanda shop years ago and they´ve been a favorite ever since. They always go above our little wood stove in the living room and they make me happy whenever I look at them. Simple and pretty! 

Another favorite is this star-shaped box which I know is borderline kitschy but I think with just a few green twigs and simple white candles it looks just right. Happy advent! 


Winter resolutions.

November is usually a hard month for me - it takes me a while to adjust to the lack of light, and the weather isn´t helping either - but it´s slightly different this year. First we had that wonderful golden autumn and now we have somehow turned the corner already to real, proper winter with snow etc. Totally fine with me! 

Be that as it may, for this winter I have made up some strategies to keep me sane, and one of them is to cook more. Around here there aren´t a lot of options for those long winter evenings, so I tend to collapse on the sofa after work and watch whatever looks good on Netflix (I re-watched the entire series of House M.D. over the last winter. All seasons. I am not terribly proud of it.) (Although it´s really so good and I LOVE House.) 

Anyway I thought if there´s time to pass in the evening, I could do some proper cooking even on weekdays. I bought two new cookbooks which is something I rarely do because everything is on the internet nowadays, but I thought having beautiful books on hand would be motivating... so far it works! Lots of Persian and Indian dishes coming up this winter! 

Oh and by the way, the kitchen will stay as it is. I´ll find another way to store our preserves. Sometimes you need to consider change to realize that things are just the way they are meant to be. Goes for kitchens and life in general. 

Another resolution is to work on a few house-related projects, like a new picture wall in my library. Since this is the room with the best view of the garden I always thought it would be nice to have a wall of nature-related prints. I adore the work of Olga Inoue so I asked her whether she would do a custom order to make that happen; and this Saturday the most beautiful parcel arrived all the way from Russia (will you look at those stamps, oh my!). It will take me a while to get the prints up (I am aiming for my christmas break), so in the meantime go and buy all the things from Olga´s Etsy shop (here), her work is so very lovely (and even with the slow Russian postal service, everything should arrive in time for christmas - just saying!). 

Speaking of christmas, here´s a little wreath I made this weekend for our front door. I am not a professional wreath-maker, I have a very, uhm, creative way to throw them together, but  at least I love how they look so I think we are good. 
Have a happy week!