Finally, a hobby room

I thought it would never happen! It’s still not 100% (or even 80%, I think), but it’s usable, it doesn’t look awful and I feel I can show it off!

Remember this was a room of disaster. There was a giant ugly nineties built in wardrobe that stank of smoke and used about five times the amount of screws necessary – it was clearly a home construction. Behind that we revealed two alcoves and a whole lot of damp plaster falling off the walls. The floor was smelly ugly carpet and all the wallpaper was incredibly tough to get off. This room really tested our limits!

 

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That wardrobe though…

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About three hours into wardrobe removal

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dramatic…

When the plastering finally was done, we laid new flooring, as getting the original flooring repaired would have been extortionately expensive and taken several months due to broken bits.

But now! Now the room looks like this:

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Upon entering, you see the two desks and the lovely sunny view. The little alcove is now shelving and will probably receive a third little shelf at the top.

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On the left wall is my fabric stash, a chest of drawers full of sewing and crafting materials, some books, all our sheet music and most of our instruments.

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On the right is the computer desk, office materials and pin board.

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This is still the messiest corner. The sofa pulls out into a double guest bed. The incredibly wonky wardrobe is a leftover from previous tenants and currently holds all my LARP costumes, wigs, armour etc. We’lll eventually replace it with a newer, higher wardrobe that doesn’t loom over the sofa like that and which has door that actually close, but it will do for now.

 

We both spend quite a lot of time in here now and I have to say I love it! It gets sunshine (or at least daylight) all day long thanks to facing south-east.

 

The banister and maternity leave

Work had gotten increasingly stressful – as it does – and I was really struggling. Then in the last few days things started to escalate: trouble at parents’ evening, impending inspection and then yesterday pupils actually physically fighting in my classroom. For the first time in my life I reached my limit – shaking, heart racing, sorting out my next class before hiding in the staff room for a short, hysterical cry. Luckily my amazing colleagues clocked on immediately and ordered me to go home. I went to the doctor and have been signed off to start my maternity leave early. While it makes me feel like a failure as an employee and colleague, as a human being I am immensely relieved. I slept better than I have in weeks and am now ready to tackle everything left to do in the house!

When I last updated I said the shoogly banister was finally about to be replaced. Just a reminder of the hideousness that was:

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Just plywood and horror. NOW however…

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How gorgeous is that? And most importantly it is properly anchored in the ground and does not shake precariously when touched. It still needs to be painted, but that’s a small thing. It just opens up the hallway so much and there is much more light in the actual staircase. It still makes me smile every time I see it 🙂

 

 

All and nothing

That’s what it feels like I’m doing at the moment! I only have 23 working days left before my maternity leave, but there is so much still to do at school in those that it will probably be over before I know it. At the same time there is almost nothing happening in the house – when I get home I am so tired I just have dinner and crawl into bed!

Hopefully we’ll be able to give an update on the upstairs landing soon though. The terrible banister we have at the moment *should* get replaced this week. It currently looks like this:

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I never even bothered to paint it because I knew we were going to replace it. All walls were that dusky purple at the bottom and a colour that can really only best be described as dead flesh on the top…

And here is why it’s getting replaced:

Yep, that’s in no way actually fixed into the floor and therefore totally pointless for babygates! Plus it doesn’t actually look very nice at all. So fingers crossed it will all work out this week.

 

Pregnancy away from family

House things are somewhat taking a bit of a back seat, although there is still a long list of things that need to be done before baby gets here. But today I wanted to share my musings on something that is inevitable as an emigrant – pregnancy far away from family.

My closest relatives are my mother’s uncle and aunt, but even they live a three hour drive away and are on holiday a lot. My sister lives in Wales. Everyone else is either in Germany or in the States. My husband’s parents live in Edinburgh, which isn’t too far, but still an hour away. Those are his closest relatives.

I went to boarding school and therefore am pretty used to not being around my family. However, as we get further into this pregnancy, I find myself often wishing some of my family lived closer, particularly my mum. It seems like such a cliche, wanting your mum when you’re pregnant, but she’s – well, mum!

My mother is an amazing woman. She had me and my sister relatively young and then went to university to become a doctor when I started primary school. She has always relentlessly worked for us and supported us, in a wonderful no-nonsense loving way. I value her advice and opinion and I love snuggling with her, even at 28.

She had planned to come over near the baby’s due date, but due to various complications it’ll probably be later and maybe not at all. That’s okay, she’s got a job and a life and things that need taking care of. At the same time I really hope it works out. As we start our own family, I want our baby to fit into my existing family, to get to know them and love them. That’s immensely difficult over such long distance. I’m lucky, really: at least it’s all still within Europe and a day’s travel at most for anyone.

The considerations continue when I think ahead to the future. Many of our friends here who have had babies already rely heavily on their family to help out with child care. We won’t be able to do that – my husband’s parents have a variety of health issues that mean they are not mobile enough to help out and they are the closest relatives. What that means is that friends will step up to the plate. We have so many wonderful friends who truly feel like family to me and I know we will be okay. We will go to see family and they’ll come to visit us. And yet there’s a little bit of me that’s just sad I won’t be able to just pop round to my mum’s with the baby, my gran’s with the baby etc etc.

I knew that this is the way it would be, of course. I’ve lived abroad for over ten years now. But the bittersweetness of starting a family without your family was not a reality until now. I’m very glad the internet exists and contact is easy. I suppose this just makes every time I do see them in person that much more special.

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At my wedding

 

 

Happy New Year!

We have survived the Christmas period (the new kitchen was a Godsend) and had a quiet New Year’s Eve with good friends. Now it’s 2017 and only 11 weeks (ish) until baby – aaah! I hope you had a lovely change of year and here’s hoping 2017 is one of excitement and adventure.

Have a picture from our New Year’s Day walk in Mugdock 🙂

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The kitchen now

You might have read about our kitchen disaster. Luckily it all turned out well, although of course it’s only an interim solution.

The new hob and oven arrived on Saturday morning – at 7:45am! I got a call at 7:15 saying they’d be there in half an hour – barely enough time to get dressed! It was good to get an early start to the day though, as I had to nip to IKEA for opening time to get the cheapest possible countertop. I had already picked up a cheap oven cabinet at B&Q during the week. The two together cost us £60, which isn’t too shabby.

It quickly transpired that because of the way things were held together we’d have to take off *all* of the countertops and then fit the whole puzzle back together again. David was helped by our good friend Jon and his trusty jigsaw. I hid out in the living room to soothe my nerves rather than hovering nearby.

During – slight panic on my side.

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Once they were done

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The electrician came on Monday and connected everything. It’s so wonderful to have a modern hob and oven! Things are so much faster and the induction hob is a dream. I have already used the oven’s programmable feature where you can tell it when food is to be ready for and it starts at the correct time. Such a blessing and time saving device!

 

It doesn’t even look too bad for an interim solution. Yes, the countertops have two different colours and one is slightly wider then the other, but meh.

 

 

German Christmas cooking

Christmas in Germany (much like everywhere else) has a huge focus on food. There are a few that are simply a must for me. These include goose instead of turkey, Christmas biscuits and spiced red cabbage. Since the cabbage can be frozen, it’s the ideal thing to make ahead to make Christmas Day easier! This is the recipe I use from Dr. Oetker’s Schulkochbuch, slightly altered.

 

You’ll need:

1kg red cabbage (after the removal of the stem)

3 medium sized sour apples

2 medium sized onions

125ml water or red wine

2 tbsp redcurrant jelly

2 tbsp vinegar

lard

1 bay leaf

3 cloves

2 star anise

sugar

salt

pepper

 

First you chop the cabbage as finely as you can. I like the bits to be quite long, so I do it by hand, but grating it or running it through a Kitchenaid would work too.

Peel, core, quarter and chop up the apples. Dice the onions.

Sweat the onions in the lard for a little bit until they go soft. Add the apples and cabbage and leave to soften for a bit.

Then you add your spices and the water or wine.

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The original recipe calls for juniper berries, but those are hard to come by here, so I’ve substituted star anise for that Christmassy flavour. I usually add more redcurrant jelly too – all depends on how tart the one you get is.

Let everything simmer for an hour and a half or so, then taste and add sugar, salt and pepper to taste. If it’s still quite bland after that a little apple juice can work wonders.

Either serve up or leave to cool! It freezes really well and often is even more delicious when warmed up again. I did twice the amount above this year and it yielded all of this:

3.5kg of spiced red cabbage!

Now that that’s done and with all these decorations up it’s beginning to feel a lot more like Christmas.

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Star Wars snowflakes, wreath and candles outside

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Cosy living room with our little tree

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Even the fridge corner gets to sparkle

 

Let me know how you get on if you make this!