Kitsch kitchen

And I had no idea that the title of this post is also the name of a Dutch website that sells all sorts of amazing things! Take a look, you won't regret it! Well, maybe you will next month when you have no money left for Christmas presents...

So I thought a good place to start my big return to the blogosphere would be with a little kitchen tour. I have tours planned of the rest of the flat too, but as the kitchen was quite tidy this morning it made life easier for me to start there.

Let me warn you though, this kitchen doesn't rhyme with streamlined or super practical or modern. When we moved in, it featured nothing except the (boring, standard white) sink unit. Apparently it's normal in Alsace to rent properties without built-in kitchens, tenants are expected to provide their own appliances AND furniture. Sooo, I went to my trusty Leboncoin website and found the perfect cupboards to go with the vintage tile and overall very... errrr... quaint... look that the landlady has going on in here.

Nice tile, yes? It's a good job I like vintage things, yes? Besides, anything modern woud have just looked ugly and out of place in here, which is why I went for...

Olive green formica! We got these two units and 3 upper cabinets (one of which is white and doesn't exactly match the others) for 50 Euros, so although we spent about 50 hours scrubbing 50 years worth of other peoples' grime and filth off them, they were well worth it! Also, since they weigh approximately 50 tons each, I plan on leaving them here when we move. They look like they came with the place anyway so I'm hoping the next tenants agree and accept them as a gracious gift.

My favourite feature, which I thought would come in handy all the time (it doesn't) and that I really want to show off is this fancy pull-out counter on wheels. So 70's, yes? Well we use it so infrequently that I forgot about and therefore forgot to take a photo of it and had to delay this post by days and days in order to go back and take one. Blogger problems, people.

So, across from these, we have...

The upper cabinets and a yellow formica table that happened to be in my parents' cellar when they moved into their house. As it matched my beloved yellow chair perfectly and they had no use for it, I claimed it as my own. We rarely sit at this table but as the kitchen is quite far away from the living room and dining room (huge flat problems, I know), it's nice to have a place for potential guests to sit and keep us company while we cook). 
I know the wall is very bare, it's my biggest problem with this place: I'm not supposed to turn the walls into gruyere cheese, i.e. make any holes to hang pictures, so I've tried to use existing holes. There used to be a matching picture next to this one but one day it decided to jump off onto the floor and the glass from the frame shattered into a million pieces (the nail actually just fell out of its hole, don't ask me how or why). I haven't got round to replacing it, but hey, I can't be expected to do practical things like that AND go back to writing blog posts all at once!

Lots of fruit and veg waiting to be eaten, including cherry tomatoes from our own community garden vegetable patch! And salsify, which I'm not entirely sure what to do with but I've heard good things about it. Any recipe recommendations, anyone?

So, next to this little corner is the door (please ignore the horrible carpet squares in the hallway, I'm doing the same and hoping they eventually just go away), and next to the door we have...

... the fridge and the washing machine, and the firebrigade's calendar because no French kitchen would be complete without one of those. The Baeckoffa dish with the typical Alsacian heart design on was a wedding present from our upstairs neighbour.

And now my favourite spot: 

My little shelves! Installed by my husband! With some of my favourite things on them, including presents from some of my favourite people (Hi Suuuz! Hi Claire!)

So that's basically it. Like I said, the sink unit was the only thing in this room when we moved in, but it's quite a big room and we've made it work nicely without spending a fortune on having a kitchen installed.

Notice the two windows? The one on the left opens onto the stairwell, which is why it has a roller blind. I guess the neighbours don't really want to see me with my grumpy face, messy hair and tartan pyjamas when they leave for work in the mornings. I wonder why.


Tying the knot

So... last September, I got married!!! This explains (in part) the long silence. Planning a wedding is time consuming to say the least.

I thought posting a few pictures would be a good way of getting back into the swing of all things blog related.There are lots of little changes around the flat that I really want to show you. Stay tuned, hopefully the next post won't take 10 months!


Merry and bright and short and sweet

Hello and happy new year to you! In order to keep this blog going despite my chronic lack of time, I've decided to keep future posts short and sweet and random. Okay? First off, a very belated post about Christmas things and atmospheric photos.

This is the view of the hotel across the street from our flat. I love how simple yet grand the decorations are. Sadly the hotel will be closing down soon as the couple who run it are retiring and haven't found anyone able to take it over.


Isn't it lovely and cosy looking?

As for the flat, my favourite bit of Christmas decor, as usual: the bauble drinks!

I also convinced the rubber plant to get a bit dressed up for the occasion. What do you think?


Royal bargains

We're slowly settling in and furnishing our gigantic home. It's looking pretty full to be honest. Now I worry about what we will do with all this furniture when we eventually move... some pieces I will definitely keep forever though, like... my new Scandinavian armchairs!! Spotted online, delivered from Reims to Paris by the seller, then delivered from Paris to Munster by our lovely friends who kindly agreed to visit us for the weekend and bring them. Don't worry though, they were rewarded with large quantities of white wine, beer, cheese and other Alsacian delights.

I would also like to introduce... my massive living room lamp that came with a hideous lampshade I forgot to take pictures of.

Well, actually...

I DO have a picture of it. Just not in its original context. Anyway, moving on...

The chairs look as good from the back as they do from the front. I had originally planned to leave the sofa where it was against the wall and to place these directly across from it, so you could see their backs from the dining room. The fact that the seller threw a footstool (that I really love using now that I'm an old lady) in for free has confused me to no end and I'm really not sure about this setup but I've decided to live with it for a while and see.

Prettyyyyyyyy... I'm not a huge fan of the covers though and I'm planning on recovering them as soon as h̶e̶l̶l̶ ̶f̶r̶e̶e̶z̶e̶s̶ ̶o̶v̶e̶r̶ I get round to it. Any colour suggestions? Something with a pattern? Something dark? Something light? I'm very new at choosing that kind of thing and don't know where to start.

Please ignore the hideous coffee table and picture something with white marble and a modern vibe. I know exactly what it should look like, I just can't find it for sale anywhere. Marble is having a bit of a moment though, so hopefully soon!

I still love my little cabinet and it's currently housing some Japanese finds from our stop in San Francisco, along with other little treasures and some pretty plates/bowls/cups that were given to me as christening presents when I was a baby! So random! The plant had a close call recently after a red spider invasion, but after several days of worrying and spraying and more spraying and more worrying, I think it's safe to say it's on the mend.

The many other plants are happy and thriving, thank you light! I missed you so much!

On the bedroom front, I found some nice marble-topped nightstands for a steal (all this "new" furniture is from houses in town that are being emptied to be put on the market. I think the more stuff you've inherited, the less you're interested in getting loads of money for it and there are some serious bargains to be had). Then I saw this idea on Pinterest and though, well why not?

I love this bedroom. It's a shame we can't really use it as it's very very noisy. The road that goes past our flat is one of only two that lead out of the Munster valley, where there are lots of touristy things to do (skiing, hiking, riding loud motorbikes and quad bikes) as well as a few factories. The lorries that rumble past (on the cobbles, naturally) at 4AM every morning actually make the bed tremble. I've always been a light sleeper and I initially thought this was my chance at getting used to noise. After 4 months though, I can't even get a proper night's sleep in the guest bedroom next door to this one, even though it's much quieter. I do like to come in here and pretend to be royalty sometimes though.

Aaaaand, as of yesterday, it's the official home of our €40 solid wook (oak?) wardrobe!

Also bought off the lady who sold us the big lamp. She gave us the matching nightstands too, but while cleaning them Boyfriend realised they were FULL of woodworm. The wardrobe has a few holes in the base so he treated it before we installed it, but the nightstands are too far gone to be used safely. They're now in the cellar waiting to be taken to... the tip? I don't know what to do with them! I don't think donating them is a good idea. They look great from the front but the backs are like Swiss cheese.

Anyway. I love my sixties wardrobe, even though we did let the big middle door crash to the floor while assembling it, shattering the mirror inside it and denting the floor...

So that's about it really. 
Next up: the kitchen!

One of these days you might get a full house tour too, but for that to happen I would have to tidy all the other rooms and run out of work, which hasn't happened since before the move. I'm not complaining though, more money to buy our dream-house with !



On settling

Hello bunnies! Long time no see. 
Sorry, the last couple of months have been busy to say the least. You'll be happy to hear we're settling into our new home very nicely. After a rocky week following my last post, we actually really lucked out and found an amazing flat in Munster. I'm going to try not to use too many superlatives here, but god, it's the biggest and prettiest and brightest and at the moment, hottest place I've ever lived! Before I bore you with the story of just how lucky we were to end up here, some pictures of our humble abode. They're not the best pictures but I couldn't wait any longer to show you!

Some of the furniture and a lot of the layout is temporary. Please ignore the coffee table and the too-small rug and the lack of things on the wall. We're definitely still settling in.

However I have already found an addition to my collection of 50's furniture: this pretty little cabinet that cost me €20 and is in mint condition! Perfect for displaying my Japanese ceramics from San Francisco. Oh yes, one of these days I will start posting about our trip to America! So much to say, so many photos to edit... but I've started! So stay tuned...

Recognise the cabinet? The ceilings are so high here it's a little bit intimidating, but handy for storing pictures that seem to have lost their hanging wire at some point.

So now for the story of the flat: months ago when I announced our intention to move to Munster on facebook, one of my friends and former colleague virtually introduced me to one of her friends who lived in Munster. We had a little chat and said how nice it would be to go for coffees and to know someone in our new town even before living there.
After the preemption incident I posted a little ran on facebook (like you do), to vent my anger and frustration. The same day, this lovely girl got in touch, saying she was in the middle of moving out of a flat in Munster and would she like me to have a word with her landlady. After seeing a few pictures of the flat (I'm looking at you, chevron floors), I was pretty much sold. To top it off, our landlady is the sweetest (oops, another superlative) and didn't question our (financial) situation for one second. She didn't even want a bond, but we gave her one anyway. She went out of her way to make the move as smooth as possible for us and as she runs the shop downstairs, we see her all the time and get little discounts on all sorts of cute stuff. Also, her parents (who used to run the shops and own the building) live across the hall from us and have already given us a melon from the South of France (when they got back from holiday), a huge courgette from their garden, and a jar of home made quetsche jam. I almost forgot to mention that the rent is extremely reasonable and that for the first time ever, I don't even feel frustrated that I don't own a home. So the little bank incident was quite definitely a blessing in disguise. We're now taking our time and looking at all our options before we make a move towards buying a property.

Can you tell I'm slightly in love with my new rubber plant? The leaves are going brown though, I'm hoping they stop soon because apart from not watering it (apparently I overdid it) and putting it right by the French doors, I don't know what to do

Although we're on a very busy street, we do have a georgous balcony for growing plants on. With the heat wave we've been having, they're doing extremely well and I'm feeling like an accomplished gardner.  

Lots more pics to come, of our (3! Three!! As in 2 and then another one) bedrooms, formica-infused kitchen and lots of other bits. Oh and the lake that you go swimming in when it's too hot. So basically as they say in French, we're like a fish in water and pretty thrilled with our new life in the land of cheese (so many cheeses! so good!)


Falling flat on our faces

Well, we just lost our dream flat, 3 days before closing, 3 weeks before moving (across the channel). Movers booked, workers booked, paint colours chosen, ferry booked, furniture sold, French car bought and insured... and now the bank downstairs from the flat (I can't say OUR flat anymore) preempts us and buys it! And not even for banking purposes! Just so that the bank manager's mistress can have a convenient place to wash her hair and shave her skinny legs (that's what we've decided anyway). It's all perfectly legal and there's nothing we can do and no, we're not entitled to compensation.

I'm still in denial, partly. The other, more pragmatic part of me is frantically searching for a place to rent so that we can go ahead with the move. An unexciting, emergency, take-what-you-get place to rent. For how long? Who knows. Bargains like that one don't come up very often. 

So we're back to renting. I'm trying hard not to think about the money and hours spent working on this. I have to deconstruct all the things I constructed in my head. Where the sofa was going to go (how GOOD it would have looked!), what colour the kitchen was going to be. How much it cost us to fly to France and back to sign the contract that ended up in the shredder. How much of other people's time was wasted.

The bottom line is... a four letter word which I won't say on here. However, I'm very much aware of the fact that this a rich person's problem. Worse things happen. We're not homeless, we're not pennyless, and we have options. And a bottle of rosé in the fridge. The world is packed with beautiful homes. After 2 days of searching, I'm reminded that it also has its fair share of incredibly ugly ones. Let's see what we end up with this time...


Moving forward

...through treacle. At least that's what it feels like at the moment. 
On my long list of things-that-are-this-close-to-being-sorted-out-but-not-quite-yet-because..., we have: 

- booking the move to France, 
- sorting out a loan (how much? what kind? what %? why is our current bank so useless? will it all happen in time?), 
- pestering the sollicitor to actually give us a date for the final contract to be signed, 
- accepting quotes for painters and parquet floor renovators, debating over crown molding (the most fun part! but even that isn't fun because it's surrounded by non-fun tasks), 
- trying to sell our car and find a decent left hand drive one over here that will be big enough for all our junk (read: guitars, amps, houseplants),
- booking our ferry back to France 
- ordering/finding/packing a gazillion removal boxes
- getting rid of half our stuff to make up for the fact that I'm determined to keep at least some of the gorgeous furniture we bought over here (I'm looking at you, Chesterfield sofa!).
- finding more work because I've suddenly stopped getting any, and yes of course it's the worst possible time for this to happen.

Oh yes, and in the middle of all this, our honeymoon/non-honeymoon to America! A 1-month road trip across 13 States that will involve lots of historic places and forlorn little villages, good food, fancy cocktails and hopefully many memories.

Lots of posts coming your way then, when I eventually get out of this puddle of treacle.

In the meantime, here is a picture of our floors!! Not too bad, yes? I can't wait to see them after a bit of sanding and 3 coats of varnish.

Temporary unemployment has sent me on a pinning frenzy, so if you want to see exactly what our future home might look like if we had unlimited supplies of money, head over to my Pinterest board dedicated to this very matter.

Oh, and one more thing: Happy Easter, Bunnies!!!

I will be feasting on all the leftover chocolates next week as I'm currently doing this diet. Don't worry, it looks scarier than it is. I'm on day 32 out of 40 and feeling better than ever!