2016 in pictures.

Happy new year! Let´s take a look back at 2016 before we move on, shall we? In January, we went on a wonderful trip to the Baltic Sea and not only Ludwig enjoyed the snow and the sea. This year for our annual wedding anniversary we´re going skiing in the Czech Republic! Well Ludwig and I don´t ski, we´ll just get cozy in our hotel while my husband skis, but, you know. It just sounded better that way.

In February my house looked very much like advanced spring apparently. Nothing wrong with that.

In March we installed new shelves in the kitchen, again. These are here to stay although their tilt is getting worse by the day. We´ll have to do something about that, but otherwise very happy with this particular change.

It seems I was very busy in April and took very few pictures, but this one is my favorite from this month.

The walled garden looking pretty in May.

In June I finally shared pictures of the dark-painted library. I still love the result and sort of want to paint everything dark in my house.

In July I took my favorite picture of 2017. I´ve talked about my "cutting garden" throughout the year and I think it´s caused a bit of confusion. Basically what I did differently last year is to save some space in the veggie garden for cutting flowers, like this space in our large raised bed. So the cutting garden isn´t actually a garden in itself. I loved the look of it though and will do the same this year. And I just love this picture so much, especially with Lutz in the background!

In August I took a pretty pictures of my homegrown tomatoes. A bit deceiving since it was the worst tomato year ever. We´re planning some changes in the veggie garden which will hopefully improve things this season.

A riot of asters greeted us when we got back from our vacation in September.

Taken in October, another favorite picture, my dahlias - one more example for last year´s "cutting garden".

Freezing temperatures in November, which resulted in this pretty picture.

And last but not least, Emma contemplating over the advent wreath in December.

I was going to include a little personal summary of 2016 here but frankly I am more and more struggling to share personal things here. And then yesterday I read this post by the wonderful Cara of Peonies and Polaroids and I loved her words so much that I am just going to quote her here:

"I know that on a global scale 2016 has been a bit of a shit but if anything maybe it can remind us to hold on to the beautiful moments ahead, because however fast our journey in that handcart may be the moments of mundane magic, of everyday miracles, of the golden light will be there too."

Amen. May your 2017 be filled with golden light!


And so this is Christmas.

... and I am signing off for this year. May your days be merry and bright! And as always, thank you for reading.


A midwinter baking day.

We have an old functional bake house in the village that gets used maybe twice a year (it has already made an appearance here). It has become a small tradition to do a gathering there shortly before Christmas - last year we didn´t attend for some reason I can´t think of anymore, but this year we did and I spent all Saturday morning preparing some goods that I wanted to bake in the brick oven. Above are Hungarian "Kipferl" made with a wheat sourdough and soured milk - recipe is here

Here´s the bakehouse. Basically what you do is burn a whole lot of logs in that oven over the course of one whole day so that the brick gets really hot. Once you want to bake the embers are being removed and the oven gets a rough cleaning with a very wet cloth and then the bread goes in. Sounds simple but of course it´s not because you can´t control the heat like in a conventional oven. But more on that in a minute.

My husband made mulled wine which we warmed over that bonfire. I got him that tripod/kettle thingy as a birthday gift a few years ago. Thank god for gatherings like these or otherwise we wouldn´t use it ever. 

Besides the Kipferl I prepared this sourdough bread with shredded rye (this recipe). It was a bit worried how it would turn out since we were running late - baking bread requires impeccable timing but at the agreed time the oven just wasn´t ready - not much to do about it. So my bread was way overproof by the time it finally went into the oven (meaning it had risen too much/was baked too late) but I think the cold prevented the worst. 

Here´s the result. It turned out really good I have to say. It´s a rustic bread so I figured it would do well in the hot oven, and I was right. It has a lovely crust and a flavor that you can only achieve in that kind of oven.

The Kipferl turned out fine too. The oven was still too hot for them so they got charred a bit but they tasted wonderful. One of the neighborhood kids polished off five Kipferl in one go and not a single one got left over so I assume I did well. 

Bonus picture that has nothing to do with baking bread but is too cute to not share it here. Happy 4th advent from Emma who sits on what will be a wreath some day. Always helpful!


New sofa covers.

A tiny little post on our new sofa covers because they are making me happy. In our living room we have an Ikea "Kivik" sectional that we dearly love. It was one of the first things that we bought for the house and I still think it is a great fit. However after more than five years of wear and tear, the covers were filthy. I did wash them twice a year but lately it didn´t really improve things anymore. I guess with twenty paws in the house this isn´t actually surprising.

However I didn´t realize how filthy the sofa was until we got our new pale grey covers and they were basically the same color as our old, originally white ones. Ha. The new covers are from Bemz - you can get replacement covers from Ikea but I didn´t like their fabric choices. Plus Bemz had a huge sale in November so we just went for it. And I am so glad we did, I love the new covers! So clean! For maybe two seconds until Ludwig first drooled on it. Oh well. 

I was a bit worried things would be too matchy-matchy in here since the covers are now almost the same color as the walls. I didn´t really mind though because I was planning to go darker in here with new paint. That might still happen, but I don´t think it´s terrible as it is. But maybe definitely some new cushion covers? Time will tell.


Christmas baking.

Christmas baking is kind of a big deal in Germany (if you´re outside of Germany and curious about it you should probably get this book by the lovely Luisa). I know people who bake 10 different varieties of "Plätzchen" (christmas cookies) before Advent even starts. I am not one of these people (making Plätzchen mostly stresses me out) but I try to do some christmas baking each year. 

In 2015 I started the tradition of making fruit/pear bread. Last year´s recipe - based on a yeasted dough - was very dry and not exactly what I was looking for. So this year I searched high and low for the perfect recipe that fit all my criteria (no added sugar, no candied orange/citron peel, a high percentage of dried fruit and nuts) and randomly came across this one (sorry in German only) that sounded promising. 

It´s based on a rye sourdough and I think it´s pretty much perfect - moist and not too sweet. Very happy how this one turned out! If you ever make this be sure to eat it with lots of butter.

I also made Elisenlebkuchen (gingerbread with a very low percentage of flour) after this recipe (sorry again in German only). I have a very precise idea how the perfect Lebkuchen should taste and I must say that these come very very close. Very moist, not too sweet, and yes there might be a pattern. I, for one, can´t stop eating them. (Note for German readers: I actually bought this thing which was very helpful). 

Next up are a few Plätzchen this weekend and shortly before Christmas I´ll try to make this rather crazy recipe for Panettone with a sweet sourdough starter (yep). I know it will most probably end in a desaster but I´m still excited about it! I´ve already bought the necessary paper molds and everything! This is my kind of adventure. I´ll report back.