April 20, 2015

Currently Behind The Hedges // April

Despite the blossoming spring our garden still lies in its naked browness as we left it last month. The build of our dream greenhouse has taken up all our time and energy. We are not fussed though. We take it one seed at a time this year and enjoy whatever decides to grow. At the moment we have a few seedlings in the house started off to go into the green house when ready as well as our garlic and some tulips and ranuculus, which make me smile everytime I step into the garden. I cannot wait to bring the bunches inside to spring up the house.

Here is our allotment ABC for April:

Admiring our spring blooms in the form of tulips and ranculus.
Building still our greenhouse.
Digging compost into the ground for outdoor sewings.
Nursing our indoor seedlings until they are ready to go outside.
Planting straight into the ground now.
Transferring some of the seedlings from the windowsill into a cold frame outdoors.
Watering the blossoming flowers, returning strawberries and lasting herbs.

What are you up to these days?

Happy gardening

April 17, 2015

A Beginner Knits: The Ombre Mega Scarf

Alright, alright, I might not get much wear out of this scarf anymore over the coming months, but it was worth finishing the project anyway. Not only for getting the Englishman to take the above pictures (he seriuosly cracks me up), but given that the inspirational bigger sister of this mega “ombre” scarf sat around my shoulders basically every single day since October. A few years back my sister made me a super-big scarf for Christmas and I just fell in love with it. It is part scarf, part poncho, part blanket and it was about time I added a second one (for hygienic reasons as I am not kidding when I say I wore that scarf every single day since October!).

This project is an all knitter again (meaning all knit stitch), so super easy. However a few challenges where thrown in to stretch my skill set: First, I switched from 5mm needles to the big 10mm. Second, I knitted with two strands instead of one and third, given the size of the scarf I had to switch skeins (and colours). Also, I wanted to attempt an ombre look. I couldn’t really find a pattern for this, so I went with what I thought might work.

If I would to do it again I probably switch the white for another, even lighter grey as I think that might enhance the ombre effect. The colour palette that I went with this time is: dark grey, dark grey-light grey, light grey, light grey-white, white. Going with two strands meant I could slowly introduce the next shade and it worked well with the two greys but not exactly as anticipated with the white. However, even though it didn’t exactly pan out, I think it still looks pretty good. It is wonderfully warm and comfy for sure!

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The knitty-gritty details: Ombre Mega Scarf


Ingredients:
5 x skein of dark grey wool, Aran, 50g or 70m like these
6 x skein of light grey wool, Aran, 50g or 70m like these
5 x skein of white wool, Aran, 50g or 70m like these
1 x pair of knitting needles, 10mm like these
1 x knitters needle like this

Instructions:
Cast on 50 stitches with two strands in dark grey and knit stitch for approx. 15 rows or until 15cm (more if needed to switch at the beginning of a row!) of the wool is left. *Make sure to switch at the beginning of a new row. Switch by lining your two new strands next to the old, leaving a tail of around 15cm for all four strands. Hold all four strands tightly together and continue the knit stitch only with the two new strands. Around 6 stitches into the row the new yarn should be secured enough to let go of the strand. Cut the strands down to around 7cm and tie a bow with the two pair of strands for added security. Continue knitting as normal.

Knit another 15 rows and repeat the switch*. Continue knitting until all the skeins are gone.

Once you reached 30 rows with the white colour (or whichever colour you finish with) cast off (also called bind off (BO)). Secure the end by sewing it through the last loop and tie a knot around it. As the finishing touch, weave in all the loose ends where the wool was switched. For this tie a knot with the two pair of strands and then weave the ends in the scarf in opposite directions. Wrap yourself into your new mega scarf and snuggle up on your sofa with a tea and a good book.

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Happy knitting!
Nx

April 15, 2015

Green Cleaning: Vinegar-Water-Mix

The Happy Spring Clean (as well as spring itself I might say) is in full bloom over here. This means for the month of April our house gets cleaner and cleaner by the day. One of my resolutions for this month is to create and curate cleaning supply baskets and I thought I’d take the opportunity to share my favourite cleaner for the bathroom.

I wouldn’t say I am ueber eco-conscious, but I am happy to “go green” wherever possible (and reasonable). A few years back I came across this blog post on cleaning with vinegar. At the time the Englishman and I had just moved into our first house together and I somewhat struggled to find good cleaning products.

It was new country (I moved from Germany to England), new products and I was a little overwhelmed. Not that I had a range of favourite products back in Germany (as I didn’t spent enough thought on them), but I knew what to buy for what reason and they worked. I started testing a few products and generally found that they smelled too chemical for my liking and really didn’t work that well. So I decided to give the vinegar-water-mix a go.

I have now been cleaning our bathroom with this mixture for over 2 years and I am really happy with it. It is my go-to cleaner for the bathroom and works wonderful on all the grime around our tabs, toilette, glass panels and mirrors. It is in fact the only cleaner that makes it easy to rub of that lime residue you often have left on the shower panel.

The view on cleaning with vinegar is mixed on the internet, I know. I wouldn’t (in fact I couldn’t as I haven’t tested it myself) recommend vinegar as an all-purpose-cleaner. However, I think it makes a great disinfector and cleaner for the bathroom, getting rid of the scale and mold that appears in the wet areas and around the toilet. And it’s cheap too! You can pick up a bottle of white vinegar for as little as 70p. What’s not to like, ey? Well, the smell maybe. The Englishman really doesn’t like the smell of vinegar. But I just make sure that I air the bathroom while cleaning and maybe light a nicer smelling candle afterwards. Green clean for the win!

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Vinegar-Water-Mix

Ingredients:
Spray Bottle like this
1 part white vinegar
1 part filtered water

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Happy Spring Clean continued...
Nx

April 13, 2015

Bus Reads // 001

Easter Holidays are over. Not only am I back from my little blogging-break, I am also back it the saddle of my morning bus ride to work. Although I try to keep my work commute as short as possible, I do enjoy some travel time with public transport each morning. It's a great excuse to sit back, relax and read a book. Really something, I do nowhere near as enough as I would like to (same goes for exercise I guess).

Recently I started volunteering in our local library and my favourite part turns out is talk books and give recommendations to others. So I thought I extend that to the blog and share with you my latest bus reads every once in a while.

Currently I am totally into non-fiction books that challenge my thinking. I enjoy learning about psychology, economy and all that stuff, especially when it’s well researched and presented through real life stories. If you are into these kinds of books too, have a look at my latest reads below.

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Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
I must have hid behind a really big rock to miss the appearance of Malcolm Gladwell, but it happened. Outlier is already his third book, published in 2008, and I only discovered it last month. I read through the 304 pages within a few days and it became basically my only conversation point for a while. I loved it so much. I felt every page was a revelation for me. I have always had a huge interest in what makes people learn and succeed, mainly to improve my approach as a teacher, but Outlier was at times eye opening on a whole different level. It showed me how much impact I can and actually can’t have as a teacher. I found that immensely interesting.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnemann
I have a soft spot for psychology, so much that if I would to study again I would probably major in it. This is, I think, why this book was gifted to me as a birthday present three years ago. I only finished it now, but this is no indication of my dislike. Quite the contrary, I think the book is fantastic! It is educational, well written and, despite the deep scientific roots, easy to understand. It just took me that long, because it is printed really small so despite it being 499 pages it feels more like a thousand and also because it is so chock-full with information that I sometimes needed to digest them over a few days before I could continue reading. Kahnemann, a Nobel Prize winner, summarizes his life-long research on the human thinking process in this book and his findings are sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing, but mainly deliberating: We are prone to make mistakes; it’s in our systems and its ok!

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
I re-read this book again after I picked up her sequel Happier At Home and I still liked it the second time round. It is classified as a self-help book, but it is far from the classic accumulation of motivational phrases that sound good but probably lead nowhere. Rubin is probably as type-A as one can be and developed a charming chart of very actionable resolutions in hopes to prosper her own happiness. The book is her account on how it went with the resolutions, backed with all her research wisdom she gained along the way.

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
What’s even more interesting than a life changing project? The follow-up! Happier at home is Rubin’s second attempt at a happiness project and this time centres on her home: apartment, marriage, relationship with children and herself all get attention for a month to explore how Rubin could infuse more happiness into them. It’s fun to recap with her on old truths about happiness from the first book and see what actionable ideas could help implement them more into everyday life. It is not as full on as the first book, but I think that’s a good thing and at the least it inspired me to start my own Happy Spring Clean Project – which for sure made me a little happier this month.

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If you haven’t read any of them, I highly recommend giving them a go and if you have, well, tell me what you think or share your thoughts on what to read next.

Happy reading!
Nx

PS: Links are affiliate. That means if you purchase through them I'll get a small comission. Thank you for your support!

April 06, 2015

Happy Easter!

I am taking the week off from blogging, but before I go: I wish you all a wonderful time with friends and family and hope you (or the hidden chocolate eggs) are not getting blown away in this stormy weather. Enjoy the hunt, indulge in the chocolate, laugh a lot and generally have a good time. Myself and the Englishman are going to stuff our faces with the biggest brunch ever and then just try to walk it all off, strolling through the parks.

Happy hunting and chocolate egg eating!
Nx