Imagine a 79 acre park with more than 7 million flower bulbs. Sound too good to be true? It’s not! That park is Keukenhof in the Netherlands and it is one of the world’s largest flower gardens. Every year, the park opens in late March for two months. Visitors flock to see these spectacular flowers. As a tulip lover, a visit to Keukenhof is undoubtedly on my travel bucket list.
How beautiful are these tulips that my husband gave me for Valentine’s Day? However, you might notice that those aren’t cut flowers. They’re tulips with bulbs still intact and sitting in water! These tulips are hydroponic.
After my marveling over the air-grown, substrate-less epiphyte orchids at Longwood Gardens, it’s probably not too surprising that I’m a fan of hydroponic plants, too. Years ago, my husband and I used styrofoam coolers to try and grow hydroponic lettuce. We weren’t terribly successful but it’s a method of growing that has continued to intrigue me.
These tulips, from a company called Bloomaker, seem pretty ordinary. You can purchase them from the grocery store. But the bulbs are specially prepared for hydroponic growth. That means the bulbs must be very high quality and disease-free for dirtless growing.
This year I made a concerted effort to read more. I wanted to read more. Period. If a book was in English or in German, it did not matter quite so much to me. And I found I put down several German language books that I was getting frustrated with. The struggle with a foreign language is real. But in an attempt to keep my motivation and not diminish my confidence, I was less reluctant to simply move on to another book.
This year I also had a chance to explore more cookbooks. There is a certain level of entertainment and unadulterated fun in paging through a new cookbook. I love exploring the new recipes and reading the notes from the author. I also enjoy eyeing the photographs, knowing that no matter how hard I try my results will never look so picture perfect.
It seemed for a while like Mother Nature had forgotten that it was winter. It’s been so mild here! Even at the end of fall, when we’d normally see at the very least a dusting of snow, we saw next to nothing. Well maybe Mother Nature finally checked her calendar. The past week has been cold. Really cold. It’s colder here than in Stockholm, Sweden. (I checked.) The creek that runs next to our house is almost completely frozen over and has a light coating of fresh snow on it from this morning. And we had a few inches of snow fall earlier in the week. I made sure to snap a photo of the sun trying to peek out as the snow flakes came gently down. It sure is pretty.
After last year when I read a measly two books, I knew I had to do better this year. Taking on one of those 50 books in a year challenges certainly isn’t for me. But for 2014 I had a specific strategy: take a bit of a break from German books. I read several English language books — including a couple by I’ll-read-anything-he-writes Irvine Welsh and one by my one-time English teacher John Dixon — that I really enjoyed. Then it was right back to the German practice. Admittedly I haven’t quite finished Christian Kracht’s 1979 — I’ve got about a quarter of the book left — but as long as it’s read before the ball drop on New Year’s Eve it counts, right? Continue reading →
While I’m not sure I believe in having my own bucket lists or setting New Year’s resolution for myself I realized recently that I have been falling off. I have been neglecting certain things that are important to me and it is time to recommit. Believe me, I’m the least likely person to go looking for personal inspiration. But it’s so easy to fall into a lull or think my actions aren’t making a difference. So recharge, reinvest and recommit! Continue reading →
Quite frankly I’m horrified by my reading list for 2013. I only read two books this year?! That’s just embarrassing. Part of the reason is I took German lessons again. Part of the reason is a bit of reading burn out. Part was being busy starting up a new business. Part of the reason is just plain laziness. Part of the reason is that Sieben Jahre in Tibet has just been a slow read for me.
While I don’t generally believe in New Year’s Resolutions, I think reading more is definitely my 2014 resolution. And it only takes a quick look at the unread books on the shelf to know I have some good reads ahead! Continue reading →
Let’s be honest. You’re either a blanket-hogger or you sleep with a blanket-hogger. Or, maybe you fall into both categories. Either way, it can be kind of a pain. Plus if it is winter, it can be awful cold in addition to being annoying. Some European cultures seem to have this problem figured out. They put two twin-sized duvets on a bed, one for each person. For the record, I fall into the previous category. …most of the time. (At least that is my story and I am sticking to it!)
My husband who doesn’t drink has been drinking a beer a day for the last month or so. He swears the health benefits of the brewed beverage. He’s been sticking near exclusively with German beer — more specifically Bavarian beers — so I certainly can’t complain…but it doesn’t mean I’ll be joining him anytime soon. I’d rather eat my bread than drink it.
But I have really been enjoying examining the bottles. It is a disappointment that the labels have little to no German on them as they’re bottled exclusively for international export. But the labels still have some nice packaging, colorful artwork and sometimes a special design on the bottle cap. One variety even came with a small plastic trinket hanging around the neck of the bottle from a red string. Yes, I have to admit, I’ve been enjoying — in a somewhat guilty fashion — the German beer bottles. Continue reading →
Have you heard of love locks? I’m not sure the first time I encountered them but I’m pretty sure it was during our trip to Berlin. During our trip to Munich, as we trekked out of the U-Bahn towards the zoo, we crossed over the Spree and the bridge was covered in them. Continue reading →
Although we’ve been moving at what seems like a snail’s pace in the home DIY department we made another inch forward this week. We ordered wallpaper!
Wallpaper seems to be a divisive topic. Either you love it or you hate it. And after buying a home covered in wallpaper that was then painted over in some spots, it certainly isn’t my favorite thing in the world. Oh how many hours have we spent removing the darned stuff?! But we’re going to give it a shot and do an accent wall in the room we’re making the library. Continue reading →