Saturday, 26 April 2014

Botanical garden

Spring is a good time to visit the botanical garden: So much to see, especially lush green and colourful flowers. Such a peaceful and easy going atmosphere, calm and serene. I really love to go there.
This little greenish pond looks spellbound with the brown curly fern in front.
A pair of mallard ducks, enjoying the people taking pictures of them.
A collage of flower beds and trees I'm very fond of.
And beautiful orchids!
Time is passing fast in the botanical garden. Good to have a sundial at hand.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Spring walk

The next day we did some sightseeing with the family and went to the City's lake. A walk around the lake is 6 km, too much for everyone to walk, so we just visited the north bank. At the balustrade we witnessed the "love locks"-phenomenon which has spread around the world and finally reached our place as well. Affixing padlocks to fences, gates and bridges by lovers should symbolize everlasting love. Cute little tokens of affection.
We went to the nearby town hall and wanted to take the elevator to get to the top of the dome for spectacular view. Unfortunately we would have had to wait almost an hour as it was quite busy. So we decided to wander around the adjoining little parc.
I found an interesting looking tree trunk with a curious hole...

Then we went to the newly rebuilt castle.

It was all white and shiny. Inside are conference facilities and a little museum.
In front of the castle were pretty beds of yellow and red flowers.
First time for me to see yellow hyacinths.
Well worth seeing is the baroque style garden. We lingered from one pretty flower bed to the next water fountain, enjoying the many colours of spring flowers arranged in geometrical order.
Love the pansy violet. Pretty colour for a new blanket....

Happy spring walk with a happy family.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Cozy café

The weekend before Easter we had family over visiting us. So first of all we spent all Friday tidying up, doing grocery shopping and baking a birthday cake. It was Peter's sister, lovely U.'s, birthday. And the first time for her and her daugther to visit us. Saturday morning they arrived together with Peter's parents, and having nice and sunny weather it was decided very quickly to stroll through the city. Well, strolling and shopping makes one to have a rest and stop by at a café. Unfortunately my favourite café in the old town was crowded we couldn't find a place to sit. So we continued walking.... until, all of a sudden, a very inconspicuous little place caught my eye. If there wouldn't have been some people sitting outside drinking coffe I would have never noticed this place. Stepping inside we were greeted by a lush selection of cakes and sweet little somethings. I was immediately enthralled.

The interior of the café was charming too, a mix of vintage and children's furniture, a café combined with home accessories such as porcelain, glass and decorative items and cheerful colorful toys.
 And you can have a coffe right in the middle of all this.
 What I loved very much are the cups of Pip Studio.
 Pretty, pretty, pretty!
 To our great delight, the warm drinks were served in those cups I fell in love with.
Now imagine the name of the café!
It is called "Moments of Happiness". So true indeed!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter Holidays!

Wishing you joyful and peaceful Easter holidays with your loved ones!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Of birds and eggs

The last weekends I was busy crocheting some Easter decoration: some little birds and some eggs.
And interestingly they are almost the same size. The birds are filled half with filling material and half with rice to give it better stability. Instead of safety eyes I used the ones to glue on, but that's not safe for little kids or pets as the eyes tend to fall off when touching.
The pattern for the little birdies including a little story can be found here.
For the eggs I followed this pattern here.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Lunch box, Doshirak or Bento

What to eat for lunch? A question I often ask myself during the week. I usually bring some weekend leftovers for Mondays and Tuesdays to my office and go out eating lunch somewhere for the rest of the week. Usually I eat far too much and irregularly. And a lot of times lunch outside is neither delicious nor nutritious. So when I came across some food blogs I found a very clever way to prepare lunch boxes: So called bentos. Bento is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine, and the equivalent in Korea is called doshirak. There are different styles of bento, food that looks like cute animals or like flower gardens, real food art and for sure very appealing for kids to eat. I was more looking for practical and easy to do lunch inspirations though. Something I can prepare over the weekend, store in the fridge or freezer and use all week long. So I started with something really simple, yet delicious.

First I cooked some white rice with soy beans, filled two halfes of two  containers and stored the rest in the freezer in little portions for later occasions. I fried some tofu, cut into bite size pieces and seasoned with soy sauce (very yummy recipe found here). I think the tofu, which is almost invisible in the picture below (unterneath the parsley), is best to eat when just fried. It got quite dry on the second day. I peeled and chopped some cucumber, carrots and radish, added a mini tomato and some flat-leaved parsley. I also prepared some soy sauce-sesame oil dip in a separate mini container for the veggies. Voilà, my first lunch box:
It was very delicious and to my surprise quite filling as I used a small plastic container with only 400 ml capacity. And it saved so much time. I really enjoyed my first bento/ doshirak experience and had almost the same combination for two more days. (I did a variation on the sauce)
From last weekend's leftovers I packed a smoked salmon lunch box with hash browns, tomatoes, olives, some corn salad. Yet another tasty lunch!
I think I will continue making those lunch boxes more often. Sooo many inspiring blogs out there, so much to try out! And so simple too. All you need is a food container with a lid for safe transport. Fill half or two-thirds of your lunch box with carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, noodles ect., and the remaining space half with vegetables and proteins like meat, fish, egg, tofu etc.. Close the lid only when the food has cooled down. Use separate containers for food you will heat up in the microwave or for dressings/ sauce/ dips. The lunch box content should be colourful, well balanced and attractive for  you to eat. Try it out!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Spring activities

Last weekend we went out flying. Yes, flying with a quadcopter, a model aircraft Peter bought for work. The quadcopter is equipped with a camera and is going to be employed to fly over fields to give an overview of crops. First we spent the morning at home searching the net for instructions, and thanks to Youtube we found really good videos how to get the software working and the aircraft started. Then we drove outside town to a field far away from buildings.
Our first flight was a bit of an adventure as you cannot see the little white quadcopter well against the bright sky when reaching 50 meters of hight. I'm also not used to estimate distances of flying objects, our little fellow always seemed to be too far away from us. The camera which is mounted underneath the body of the quadcopter was connected to our tablet. We could see the hight, distance and battery status and of course the field it was flying over. We trained starts and (soft) landings and how to use all the control instruments. It was such fun, and I'm sure the people who are going to work with the quadcopter will love it too.
Coming back home I admired our spring basket with the pink hyacinth. It grew every day a few centimeters and got heavier too with all flowers opening almost at once. I tied it to the basket handle as the flowers touched the wall already.
My mixed stripy blanket is growing too. I tried to balance the colours as I found the combinations so far a bit too much. Via ravelry I found out about random stripes and colour generators like this one here and even one for squares here. Amazing what is out there in the net! I have not used the generators though, but bookmarked them for future use.
I visited a tea house the other day with my lovely friend U. It is a small shop where they sell tea and cakes. In a little room at the back of the shop you can also drink tea and eat yummy curries. It's been a long time since I sat in a tea house (in Frankfurt there used to be one a few years ago). In our region I didn't know any, and I was very surprised and pleased to find out about that place. Have to go there more often!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Planting progress

Remember the tiny diy greenhouse? First leafy greens are visible!
As I planted three different types of herbs I wonder if this little green somethings are really two different types as they all look the same. Concerning number three, the perilla, I'm afraid they will not sprout (right side with yellow markers). We will see...
Planted some daffodil bulbs in our "spring basket" two weeks ago. (I bought the bulbs with green leaves and planted them into the basket).
Unfortunately they all withered already. So I replaced the daffodils with a hyacinth, "Kalanchoe blossfeldiana" and mini Chrysanthemums. Hope they will survive a bit longer.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Mixed pattern, stripy blanket

I started to crochet a new blanket a few weeks ago. My second blanket in fact. It's a fun project to play with lots of colour combinations and to learn new patterns! Actually I first planned to follow just one blanket crochet along. Then I figured it would be a good opportunity to try out more patterns. The blanket is going to be large enough to have a variety of patterns. And the list of websites I'm gathering patterns from is growing:

1. Hannah's from "Not your average crochet" (Pdf-document, easy to follow!)
2. Jules' from "Little woolie" and
3. Carina's + Jessica's from "" (Very instructional pictures, written in German)
4. Ana Contreras' from "Lanas de Ana"
5. I'm going to try some hearts-in-a-row from here "Annie's crochet world"

Here is the beginning, the first 18 rows: Besides single crochet, half double crochet and double crochet, I used the Granny Stripe, Catherine Wheel and Star Stitch.
Followed by Bobbles and Chevron-Ripples:

Then Waves and Tulips:

Here are outlined clusters (actually trying to make it look like hearts, but I will try another pattern for that), Granny Stripes and Catherine Wheel again.

Followed by another row of Bobbles, Shell Stitch and Star Stitch:

This is what it looks like so far:
Yes, very colourful, very stripy, jumping right into your eyes! When planning this blanket it was cold and grey outside and I felt a need for cheery colours. Hope I will like them in summer as well.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Making scratchy yarn soft

Last year I crocheted the Japanese flower scarf inspired by Lucy's blogpost. I ordered my first ever Japanese crochet book from Japan in Japanese and surprised myself in being able to follow the stitch pattern. It was quick and easy going and such a joy. I used the beautiful yarn Lucy recommended: Debbie Bliss Andes, which consists of 65% baby Alpaca and 35% mulberry silk. Very soft and fluffy yarn. What I least expected of this yarn was that it was scratchy to my skin. What a disappointment! Still I loved the scarf very much and only used it when wearing a polo-neck jumper. Then I came across Kat's blogpost about how to make yarn less scratchy. It sounded quite simple and worth a try. You just need a teaspoon of lanolin, a teaspoon of dish detergent and some hot water. Stir lanolin with dish detergent in a container with hot water until lanolin has dissolved, let the soapy water cool down a bit and add your wooly item. Fill in some more water until wooly item is covered and let soak for a few hours. I let my scarf soak for six hours and rolled it into a big towl to drain. (No rinse with clear water) Then I let the scarf dry flatly on a towel.
And miraculously the scarf was less scratchy afterwards! In the tutorial it is recommended to repeat this treatment until the wooly item is soft enough. Well, for me it was already an improvement even though it is still a tiny bit scratchy.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Tiny indoor greenhouse - diy

As spring seems to be beginning soon I thought it would be a good time to plant herbs. I love fresh herbs in my cooking, it gives meals a special flavour, fresh and full of taste. So I usually have frozen herbs in the freezer and a pot of basil on our kitchen window sill. Most herb plants in a pot I bought in the supermarket though don't survive, so the idea of cultivating herbs myself came into my mind. There is also a plant which is used in Korean dishes, called perilla leafs (sesame leafs), that I really love but cannot buy freshly here. I would love to grow this plant myself and got some perilla seeds to try it out. As I have no experience as a gardener I was not sure which way would be best to start growing plants from seeds. So I surfed the net and found an easy and simple idea to build a tiny indoor greenhouse here.
All you need are eggshells, an egg container, some soil and a plastic bag. Well, why not trying it out?
Just fill the eggshells with a little soil and scatter the seeds on top, fill it up with a little more soil and pour some water. Additionally to the perilla seeds I did some eggshells with oregano and thyme seeds. Those herb seeds are sooooo tiny it was impossible to scatter them evenly. If they would all germinate it will get very crowded in the eggshell.
Then place the filled eggshell into the egg container and cover it with a plastic bag with some holes for air. I placed my mini greenhouse on the window sill and hope that I will see plants growing.
When they have developped leaves and roots they can be repotted into a bigger container, the eggshell can be broken softly without damaging the delicate roots. Well, this is theory right now.
I tried to grow perilla last year in a little glass jar with kitchen tissue as underground. They germinated and developped tiny leaves and roots but when repotting them into soil I damaged the roots that got stuck in the kitchen tissue. I planted them with kitchen tissue still on the roots into soil but the tissue would never dissolve and the roots did not grow further. So that was the first planting experience disaster. Hope this one will work out better!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

This our chocolaty chocolate cake with red sugar hearts we had for breakfast this morning. Well, not the whole cake but the slice that is missing in the picture. It's a very soft and moist chocolate cake that we love a lot. So today was the right occasion. I will share the recipe in a later post.
And a bunch of red tulips to make it a perfect Valentine's breakfast. Happy Valentine's Day for you too!