Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Sleeping like a baby (-ish)

When we moved last year, I started pushing for new mattresses. We had been on our old ones for 9 years, and they were noticeably squashed.

We decided to put it off because we had a lot of expenses at the time (buying a house comes with expenses? you don't say!), but I still managed to come out worse in the deal because I ended up with John's old mattress on my side of the bed.(1) He's much larger than I am, so you can imagine whose mattress had more wear.

We replaced Hannah's mattress first when we found the cushy, snuggly kind she likes on sale. As far as I am concerned, though, cushy mattresses are a type of torture device. John and I wanted firm mattresses, and we knew we'd have to spend some real money on them, so we put off our shopping a little longer.

Then our city's twice annual large trash pickup rolled around, and we realized that this was our big chance to get rid of our old, saggy mattresses, but that we would also have to suck it up and buy some new ones. To the Internet! (2) We did a little research on (German) consumer reports and managed to find what we were looking for, with free delivery even.

Once again, I (and Hannah) got the short end of the stick when the large trash day came, because John was enjoying himself in Croatia at a conference while Hannah and I schlepped mattresses down this hill to the pickup point near that church tower.

Then I got to sleep on our couch for a week (joined by John at the end of that time) until the mattresses were delivered. That was actually not such a big deal, because it is quite firm, which I like.

Now when I get in bed at night, the mattress doesn't sink down, not even a centimeter. It is great!

(1) Here in Germany, double beds have two single mattresses side by side instead of one large, square mattress like in the US (and France, it turns out).

(2) We're so far out, there aren't any decent furniture stores in the area, and we were going to have to have the mattresses delivered anyway, so this seemed like as good a method of mattress shopping as any.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

All roses up in here

I waited a day too long to pillage more roses from the garden.

The purple one is another freebie out of our garden, but here it is already a bit faded and turning brown on the edges. It only lasted a day in the vase before it dropped all its petals. John and I can't quite put our finger on the scent: air freshener? Hospital hand soap?

This one is one of John's purchases for the slope: Friesinger Morgenröte, I think (=sunrise). It is a beautiful color, but John and I disagree as to which is the better rose, his or the pink one above. I can't tell that it has much smell to it (maybe it, too, was picked too late), but John reports that it is supposed to have a slightly peach-like scent to it.

The garden came with another type of rose, as well. In German they are called Beetrosen (=(flower) bed roses), but I guess in English they are referred to as being "bushy". They put out clusters of itty-bitty roses. I like them because they seem very old fashioned, but John is not impressed.

Last but not least, we have the climbing roses that actually grow up the street side of the house.

Unfortunately, they seem to have some rust or something growing on them. John was advised by a neighbor (who used to be a professional gardener, I believe) that they needed to be cut way back last fall, but John was loathe to at the time. Watching them over the last year, and having a little more experience in the garden, he's realized that even if cutting them back kills them, they can be replaced. And if it doesn't kill them, they'll grow back quickly. So we picked up some reading on how to trim the various kinds of rose bushes, and I guess we'll be whacking away at them in a few weeks.

--Nee in Germany loves her rose pruning gloves--look, Ma, no pokes!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Gotta get outside

If I spend too much time indoors working (like this week, finishing up a big translating job), I start getting antsy. Getting outside, even if just for 10 minutes, really helps me stay even. Luckily, our laundry room is situated such that you have to go out the back door to get to it. So if I run a load or two during the day, I have a ready made excuse to step outside for a bit.

Sometimes I putter around out back, fiddling with my potted plants or pulling grass and dead plants up from various cracks. At this time of year, though, there is one main task: cleaning up after the giant horse chestnut tree behind our house.

Pretty, isn't it? It provides nice shade up there if you want to take a break and sit on the bench behind it, but it also throws shade on our garden (see the grass John planted to the left?). And it drops friggin' chestnuts everywhere. The loud "thunk" of them hitting is very distracting (and a bit unnerving at night).

This is the view after I had already swept and shoveled the terrace completely clean last week. This is probably 1-2 buckets worth of horse chestnuts. They are actually quite pretty, but inedible, so I set some aside to use in fall decorations, but I haven't come across or been able to think of anything good to do with them. I finally just piled some in decorative bowls and put them out in the vacation apartment we rent out. If nothing else, they are supposed to drive spiders away.

--Nee in Germany has got your conker!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

No promises

Rather than go on and on about the blogging or the lack of blogging (boring!), I'm just going to jump right in.

But anaways, when we bought the house and garden and half the hillside beyond the house, we also ended up with a bunch of plants. I'll probably put up some pictures later of the mystery plants from the spring, but here is a photo of one of the types of roses we inherited.

I haven't been able to get up into the garden as much as I would like lately, and it occurred to me that there won't be many more roses to enjoy this fall, so I brought this one inside to put on my desk. Not only is it beautiful, with its ruffled petals and interesting color of yellow blending to striated pink on the edges, but it has a lovely strong smell. I'm outing myself as being totally déclassé here, but the scent is that of the Barbie perfume maker of my youth. (Can't remember if that belonged to Kee alone or if it was a shared toy.)

Now if only roses would cure sore throats. John has been coughing and Hannah sneezing/stuffy for the last few days, but I had managed to dodge the worst of it until I woke up with a sore throat this morning. Not so bad that I had to go back to bed, but still making it hard to concentrate on work, especially since I keep getting up to make more hot drinks. Oh, well, I bet ginger lemon tea will totally cure it this time!

--Nee in Germany has a legitimate business-related use for those Muppets on her desk, I'm sure

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter's around the corner

...but winter is still hanging in there. On Tuesday, snowflakes were swirling around when I left my office. Urgh!

We haven't been able to do anything outside in our garden, but I did manage to get some seeds into some dirt this past weekend. Amazingly, the hokkaido pumpkin seeds I threw in an empty pot (RIP, poinsettia) have already started coming up gangbusters. After one of the cats (ahem, Eliza) chewed up most of the potted Callas my friend had given me, I realized I needed to protect my fledgling pumpkins, so I brought up the cage Hannah used to keep her mouse in from the cellar and banged it down over the pot. It fits perfectly, with room to spare, so I hope I can keep them alive and uneaten until it is warm enough to get them into the ground.

I had a bit of a shock when I went to plant my geranium seeds, though. Apparently, the farmers are growing them in gold-plated pots and watering them with Evian, because a package of 10 seeds cost me 4.50! I hadn't even noticed in the store when I bought them with a bunch of other stuff. I put them in peat pots in my windowsill greenhouse because I wanted to give them the best possible chance to sprout, so of course the damn peat pots sprouted mold all over. So irritated. Luckily, the mold dried up when I took the clear plastic cover off. The cats haven't made a habit of getting up on that windowsill, so I have my fingers crossed that the open greenhouse remains unmolested. Today I saw that I have about 3 geranium seeds sprouting. Go me! So far that is 3 bucks a plant (since I bought 2 packages of seeds).

On further thought, I'm not going to post a picture of my Easter wreath, because it looks rather crappy. Instead, I'll post a picture of my most successful wreath to date: Halloween!

I think next year I'll stock up on some Easter chocolate and attach it to the wreath like I did with the Halloween chocolate.

If we get out of the house tomorrow, I want to take a picture of the little fountain down the street decorate for Easter. John was going to try to get us reservations to eat Easter fish, but no one answered the phone at lunch.

--Nee in Germany forgot to buy white eggs for dying

Sunday, March 17, 2013

No rest for the wicked

I was planning on just lying around, maybe doing a little cross stitch, but of course my love of puttering put an end to that today.

After going online for a little bit this morning, I balanced our bank account--which meant chasing receipts and bank statements up and down 2 flights of stairs since I couldn't find them all--and paid some bills, including re-upping with the cat-sitting club and the youth hostel association and paying John's speeding ticket. I also went to look at my recently paid off student loan online. I'm hoping I'll get something from my  lender soon indicating that they are aware I don't owe them any money, but I'm not holding my breath.

Hannah informed me when she got up that her bed was broken. It turns out that the frame is just a tad too wide (or has warped) for the [box spring], and when she rolled over in bed this morning, it all shifted just enough to make one side fall through. John got out his drill and some wood screws and got the bed frame tightened, then we got some shadow-box style shelves up on the wall, and finally I dragged an under-used bookcase downstairs for Hannah to put her school stuff in. I put her to work cleaning and straightening her room, and in just a couple of hours, it looks tons better. She's still got 4 or 5 unpacked boxes at one end of the room, but those are items that are either too big to fit in the limited amount of storage space she has in her room, or are stuff she's not willing to part with yet (a big box of dolls, etc.). Last summer, while we were packing in preparation for our move into the house, Hannah was adamant that she did not want to get rid of *any* of her stuff--"don't throw away my childhood!" was her line. *sigh* Needless to say, none of "her childhood" has gotten unpacked or has otherwise been sought after, hence the leftover boxes.

Yesterday I hit the home improvement store and 2 grocery stories, and I had thought I'd be starting some seedlings today, but it was *snowing* when we got up, and I just didn't feel like wandering down to the cellar in the wet snow (too warm to stick) to fetch dirt, seeds, and my window-sill greenhouse. I've got to get out on Monday and Tuesday, though, so maybe I'll fetch that stuff on my way back in.

Since John agreed to make chicken enchiladas with the millions and gillions of corn tortillas the Lauries brought last month, I promised to make a salad, so I guess I better get on it.

Nee in Germany bustles when she walks

Friday, March 15, 2013

Busy busy

It was 5 degrees below freezing when we got up this morning. Oh, Winter, why are you still hanging around?

Freya got spayed on Wednesday and was already able to go up and down the many stairs in our house Thursday morning, and she joined us in bed Thursday night. She seems to be making a speedy recovery.

Still waiting for our bulb flowers to come up, but when it is -5C overnight, I don't blame them for taking their time. I'd like to start messing with the easily accessible part of our garden, but one end of it is full of brush that needs to be broken up into kindling. I got 2 loads (of Ikea bags) done just before Winter returned, and the pile looks just as big as before. John wants to burn the brush that's up on the steep slope, but we need to talk to someone at City Hall about permits and timing and such.

I have so much grading to do. Urgh.

I bought a grapevine wreath (I think?) and have been redecorating it each season. Hannah helped me pick out some cute plastic eggs and papier mache carrots to put on it, and after an extensive search, I managed to find some Easter ribbon I deemed acceptible. I will put up a picture later.

--Nee in Germany made baby steps