Monday, November 14, 2011

kitchen reno

Okay, so it's time for me to do the update on the massive kitchen make-over. Just to address the major question that crops up from family and friends: yes, we rent and yes, we paid for all of this. But compared with the cost of moving to a place with a kitchen this nice, we've made our money back in ~two years AND we still get to take it with us when we move out (a major point in a city where apartments normally don't have kitchens installed). Anyway, the improvement in living quality makes it well worth while regardless.

Unfortunately, we didn't go with my initial colour scheme wish because it would've been a) too expensive and b) too expensive. Instead, we stuck with IKEA basics for the cabinets. However, we still wanted it to have SOME colour in it, we just couldn't decide what. So, eight months pregnant, standing tired in IKEA at 9pm I suggested we take an option they had on display and use their blue glass cabinet fronts and paint the walls a matching blue. Wow, did that decision make things easier.

But we still had new floor laid, had an electrician in to run new wiring around the room and had to work out the nitty gritty of what would fit where. And when Roxie came early and IKEA delivered late, we wound up spending a fortnight cooking in our hallway.

We called that Fun Times With Newborns or How I Learned to Stop Nesting And Start Wishing This Shit Would Just Be Finished Already.

However now it's MOSTLY done. We've still got to build the table and bench, but the rest has now been in place for a month and still looking pretty. So here you go, some before and after videos complete with scintillating commentary:

Monday, September 12, 2011

and then there were three

She's here, a week old and currently knocked out on milk and breathing heavily into my ear. We did't call her Roxie after all, but for the purposes of blogging I think I'll stick with that pseudonym.

In the end, the whole story ran faster than thought. We knew she was a little baby, and figured she'd probably be late but two weeks ago my doctor determined that the placenta was not doing the expected sterling service and I shouldn't be allowed to go past my due date.

OK. Strike two weeks off our calendar - the kitchen renovation probably won't get finished and maybe we should consider buying a pram.

Three days later, the hospital checked it all out and decided that it should all be a bit earlier even than that. Like the following morning, or latest the morning after.

Right. Dog sitter organised, work informed, bag packed. I even shaved my legs. I mean, I should show some effort in getting prepared for such a big event, right?

The whole labour went way faster than anyone anticipated. Midwives examined me and determined I was at least eight hours away from anything interesting happening. Which explains why, two hours later when I was begging for an epidural and saying I was already getting pushing contractions, they told us to go for a walk and come back in an hour. They were also having the busiest day of the year - lots of babies, lots of emergencies - and I was, apparently, using the wrong word when describing pushing.

Note to expats: in this situation don't use "Druck", use instead "Press". It can be tough trying to use correct vocabulary and grammar in a second language when suffering the worst pain of your life, but it might help get you some drugs.

Anyway, forty minutes later - after trying to walk around outside as suggested; DrH finally making it clear that we were in a serious state; them finally getting me a delivery room; and me having to walk there - she was born. Roughly thirty seconds after entering said delivery room and therefore only thirty seconds away from having been born in the hallway.

To be honest, I was in shock. It went so fast, I wasn't taken seriously, had had no pain medication and - the worst thing - in the delivery room I finally got to see the hot tub that everyone had been talking about. The one that I never got to enjoy. Because, you know, they all though I was a whinging expat.

Ok, now I am whinging a bit. They were ridiculously busy and I was was ridiculously fast. But still - A HOT TUB.

As all the wards were full up, we decided to go home the next day and, sixteen hours old, Roxie enjoyed her first Berlin taxi experience. Now she's a week old, we're getting the hang of things and slowly getting to know her. Well, as much as you can when the primary interaction is her making squawking baby bird faces and then falling unconscious.

But we've got time now. Time to start building a family, loving each other and, of course, screwing our daughter up. DrH and I have already began putting together a medley of songs we will sing in the car, in public and around her friends so that the tween Roxie gets the chance to be just as embarrassed by her parents as every other kid is.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

well sated stars

Ok, I admit DrH and I have a pretty comfortabe lifestyle. We're, at least for the next few weeks, double-income-no-kids in one of the cheapest European capitals. Living costs are low (unbelievably low compared to über-expensive Australia these days) and it means we can afford to go out and spoil ourselves occasionally. So that, combined with my birthday and a reward DrH received recently, meant we spent Friday night in a Michelin star restaurant.

Admittedly, a wine bar is probably not the logical choice for a pregnant woman, but Rutz Weinbar is, according to the Michelin guide at least, not a bad place to grab a bite. We've eaten downstairs there once or twice, where the prices are cheaper and the food a tad simpler, but this time we chose the upstairs experience complete with Inspirations, Experiences and a sommelier called Billy.

The menu by chef Marco Müller is divided into Inspirations - which could be a product, place or feeling and we decided to go all out on 4 inspirations, figuring it'll be three courses and a dessert. And we all know how small the courses in top restaurants are. DrH even chose to have the accompanying wines, while I got a series of fruit juices.

What we failed to take into account - although we had understood it, we just failed to think it through - was that each Inspiration has two versions (Experiences) of it and we got both of those. And DrH had two different wines. Which means instead of three courses and a dessert, we had six courses and two desserts. And DrH had eight wines. And then came several different "greetings from the kitchen" which came to eleven courses in all.

Even with small, delicate, delicious servings, this was a little too much for my super-squashed stomach and the four-hour meal lasted till well past my current bedtime. I even had to turn down several of the petit fours.

But, gosh, was it an incredible meal. And the next time we can afford to blow half a months rent on a single meal I'll be doing it again.

Friday, June 17, 2011

loving interactions

Me: Hey, you're not supposed to pick on your wife when she's pregnant.

DrH: That's exactly when I'm meant to pick on her because she can't run as fast.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

no this is not nesting

I've been planning on redoing the kitchen for years. Pretty much, since we moved in here. In Berlin, kitchens in rentals generally come with an oven/stove, a sink and maybe some kind of bench arrangement.

That's it. You rarely have cupboards, or shelves or any kind of inbuilt furniture.

So when we moved in we did it the cheap-arse student-styled way and threw some IKEA shelving up, stuck a freestanding sideboad in there and an old 1930s cupboard that my brother-in-law was going to throw out. Our kitchen is also our laundry, containing the washing machine and a clothes drying rack that we have to manouvre carefully around to get to the sink.

Also our kitchen is tiny, almost triangular, has a curved wall and a servants entrance. It's kooky, kinda cute and highly impractical.

So I've been planning on redoing it for a few years, but now that I'm actually sitting down with it, I'm stumped.

First off - the curved wall. It's, well, curved. It's a quarter circle surrounding the external servants stairwell and it has a door in it. Now, if it came with a servant I wouldn't mind so much, but it doesn't and I'm left with trying to sort out cabinetry there.

Next, the water connection where I have to attach the dishwasher and washing machine is in an awkward spot on the other wall from where I'd like it.

Thirdly, there is one tiny window and no space to put a table. And I'd REALLY like a table in the kitchen because we have an incredibly long hallway and it's quite a trek to the dining table with your tea and toast when you're still half asleep. And having to dodge dog beds and dog and his tennis balls and any books I may have accidentally-sort-of-forgotten to put back in the shelves the previous night.

So, finally, I started with the most important bit which was determining the colour scheme. To this purpose I've dived back again into ColourLovers and have gotten entirely lost in it. What do you think of this colour scheme? Or this one? This?

GAH! How am I meant to go about redesigning an entire kitchen if I can't even decide on a single colour scheme I prefer?!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

home alone

DrH departed this morning for a week of getting down and dirty in New Orleans with a bunch of other scientists. They're totally going to set the place on fire. I mean, I saw the jackets he packed and there ain't no pin stripe in there. There's a bit of check, but no pin stripe. No siree, it's going to be PAR-TY for the geeks in Louisiana this week.

What that means is that I get free reign here for a week and, boy, am I going to put that to good use. Just look at me start today... I slept late, baked scones and finished two novels. I've a bit of derby tonight, but then tomorrow I'm planning on embroidery, cups of tea and cleaning the front hall.

I'm telling you, if my twenty-three year old self could only look at the life I'm living.... well, I'm sure she'd roll her eyes in disgust. At somepoint in the last ten years or so it seems I've become middle aged.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


After my wonderful discovery while Down Under that osteopathy does more for fixing up my neck than orthopaedie, physiotherapie and chiropractie (I'm going for the -ie thing here) do, I hunted out one near here. A few weeks ago an osteo listened to my tale of woe, pushed some fingers into my buttcheeks to straighten my hips; poked around my neck; wiggled fingers at the top of my head and on my lower spine; and massaged out an apparently sticky kidney.

For a fortnight, I had no headache.

To most people who are, I assume, normal, I probably need to emphasise that. I HAD NO HEADACHE. Not one. Not a scrap of tension in my neck or head. No pain in my eyes. No clenched jaw. I had the ability to concentrate on something for longer than thirty seven seconds.

I stopped wanting to smash my head through a wall to try and relieve the pain.

I can't believe most of the world manages to get up every morning, go through their day, and go to bed WITHOUT a headache. The idea was preposterous. Ridiculous! No pain? No, that can't be!

But the last two weeks I lived like that and it was heaven. I cannot believe how easy it is to do basic tasks when your frontal lobe isn't trying tunnel its way out through your forehead. With a very blunt spoon.

However, last weekend we were away and that was enough to cause me to screw it all up while asleep. For the last two days, my old enemy has been keeping me company again. So tomorrow lunch I have an appointment with a woman to stick her fingers in my buttcheeks, wiggle around my neck and massage my sticky kidney. I want to feel that no-pain high.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

working title

So this life thing that's started kicking me in quite a freakishly disturbing, not to mention entirely distracting, way is due for a name at some point. Up until last week I had given it the working title of Hieronymous Rex because, well, Hieronymous is just cool and Rex matches with it so well.

Go on, try it out. See? It just rolls off the tongue.

But that went out the window when we found out last week that it is missing certain dangly bits of anatomy. So I've switched to Hieronymous Roxie. Which is nowhere near as cool, and I've a feeling the Hieronymous might be dropped at some point. This greatly disappoints me.

Now, as this piece of life will be getting my surname, DrH has dibs on coming up with her given names. He's currently working on ways to put VW into the name (Veronica Wanda? Vanessa Willow?) and even asking if we could perhaps give it a new surname such as Wie, so it can then be Frau Wie.

That's a joke that only works if you know how VW is pronounced in German. And even then it's a pretty poor one.

Then one of his VW friends suggested that Westphalia would be a pretty nice sounding girls name and he's pushing that agenda at the moment.

Thank goodness I retained veto rights.

Monday, May 16, 2011

giving in

So I've thrown my hands in the air and done it. Given in to one of the two mega-companies in the field BECAUSE PUBLISHERS HAVE LEFT ME NO CHOICE.

Except, y'know, for downloading all their books for free. Which I could do. But which I haven't. Because, y'know, I want to see authors get paid so they put more shit out for me to read.

See that Mr Publisher? I wish to give you money for books EVEN THOUGH I can get most of them for free. What was your reason for DRM again?

But I tell you, I don't think publishers care that much about selling books, considering how mother-fricking-arse-difficult they make it to buy one of their books if you are a) not living in the US of bloody A and b) haven't sold yourself over to one of the two mega-companies in the field.

So I did it. I gave in. I ordered a Kindle. Hopefully, I will now read books again. And hopefully in the future I will continue to be able to access the books I bought even though the company has gone belly-up in the meantime and the hardware and apps no longer exist.

I just wish I didn't feel like I need to take a shower now.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

picket fences and singaporean naps

So a fortnight in Oz and I've said nothing about it. Basically it can be described in two words: KIDS and PROPERTY.

The first because that's what we were surrounded by most of the time and the second because that seems to be the primary topic of conversation. Which probably makes them this years DrJs-Notable-Aussie-Trend-Which-Didn't-Exist-Last-Year, although it is more likely due to the age group I currently find myself in than any culture-wide phenomenon.

So, in fairness I shall instead declare Drinking Ciders That Aren't Strongbow to be the 2011 DNATWDELY (while admitting I saw this last year as well), joining the 2010 winner: Abusing Red Heads With Terms I'd Never Heard Before; and 2008's: Drinking Only New Zealand Sav Blanc Even If Before You Were A Dedicated Red Wine Lover.

Week One was family, involving DrH weasling his way into the nieces and nephews hearts by being "such a good drawerer", winning over five year old girls with ballerinas and fairies and four year old boys with flying robots and sharks. Even I was surprised at his skill with a half-dried-out texta, but then again, I've never really requested such accomplishments from him myself. Mr Cluckyness also attached himself quite firmly to our youngest niece, a fifteen month old with an almost permanent grin, who had him wrapped around her little finger.

Speaking of my other half, when not doting on young 'uns, he spent a vast amount of time hunting out Bulli's to photograph. For those not yet up on the news, we bought a second VW bus last year as restoring the first was going to be too expensive. Of course, this hasn't turned out easy either and he has the whole thing documented on his very own blog. Go on over, it'll make his day.

Meanwhile, Week Two was mostly dedicated to catching up with friends, which required a certain amount of timetabling skill. To those I missed this time, I'm really sorry, but time was tight and I managed to run myself down quite badly as it was. I'm not yet used to getting exhausted this easily.

The flight home was a bastard, with an eight hour wait in Singapore. This time we were smart and parted with $55sin per head to get a slumberette, a shower and a hot breakfast. While I didn't sleep soundly (the paranoid part of my brain worried about missing my flight and woke me up every hour), it was well worth it. Even for just a two-hour layover, a shower for $8 is heaven, and I'm yet to have less than a five-hour wait when returning from Australia through Changi.

Important note: take ear plugs. The slumberettes are in enclosed (but not locked) spaces in a general area. It's quiet, but you do get snoring. Of course, I don't understand how anyone travels anywhere without ear plugs and eye mask and this would be my Travel Tip Number One. Followed closely by Travel Tip Number Two which is: Make sure you travel with a loving partner so you can sprawl as much over their seat as possible as well.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

On the road again

We're off to Oz again, this time for a quick fortnight which hardly makes the journey seem worth it. Especially as I have to wear those bloody awful compression stockings due to my current condition.

And do you think I could get those in red and black stripes? No, I could not. Seriously, medical clothing manufacturers need to hire a new designer. I hear Galliano might be looking.

So we're arriving Saturday evening -yes, this time DrH is joining me, which means I get to use most of TWO airplane seats, because that's just the kind of wife I am. Currently we have very few confirmed meet ups with friends, so if you want to see us send me an email, comment or fb message. Otherwise I shall spend all my time playing with my nieces and nephews and going to the beach.

Yes, I know you guys all think it's FREEZING, but I had a lovely dinner here on the balcony the other night in a t-shirt while it was 18°C. A little perspective is all one needs and the perspective of the end of another bloody German winter is one way to find 23°C and showers bloody heavenly.

Monday, April 11, 2011

This is the news

Dear Everyone,

I am going to have a baby. Should everything go according to plan it will be here and breathing on its own mid-September.

I shall be doing my best to mostly avoid the really annoying facebook entries concerning pregnancy, childbirth and child-raising. I doubt I shall fully succeed but hereby pinkie swear to try.

There will undoubtably be pictures of the child, but hopefully not that many.

I'm not exactly the desperate-to-be-a-mother type, quite the opposite in fact, so it is unlikely that I will be too overbearing with it.

So now everyone is informed. Have a nice day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Because sometimes you need to remember when life was good

With all the horror that's happened in the world in the last few weeks, I found myself on YouTube, watching the theme songs from a variety of cartoons from my youth.

Welcome to my childhood. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

right now there's a solar eclipse

At least that's what the radio told me this morning. I wouldn't know of course because I've spent the last half an hour underground, fighting for a seat on the u-bahn. Which is more crowded than usual because the S-bahn is continuing its fun and games by canceling entire routes and reducing the others to "it'll get there when it gets there".

So I'm down here while the sun is doing fun stuff above ground and my neighbours don't seem to realise that the reason I keep falling into then is because I have a busted ankle and they should bloody well give me their seat rather than the evil eye. Of course it doesn't help that the train driver is an overly aggressive sort and seems to think that braking occurs in binary. It's 0 or 1 only- there will be no gradual slowing down here.

Ahh, almost at the end of the line. Now, do you think the clouds will clear long enough?