Basel by night

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of ours who is a successful local author and historian (and looks rather like Santa Claus) took us on a guided tour of the city of Basel in Switzerland. It was beautiful but bitterly cold so I didn't work up the courage to get my camera out until we'd almost finished the tour and night was falling. Basel is located right on the Rhein and has lots of pretty bridges.

To warm up, we ended the afternoon with a visit to two of the Christmas markets for some hot chocolate (in a collector's mug, thank you very much, not a horrid plastic cup. I'm looking at you, France!!!). The markets were so different from the French ones and reminded me of the German ones I discovered as a 9-year old. There's some proper Christmas magic going on here. The lights and decorations are tasteful, all the food looks delicious and there's even a market dedicated to the children with lots of activites (candle-making, woodworking, etc.) and a little train you can ride on (even if you're an adult. Not that we did. I swear).

Lots of beautiful things to see in Basel and it's always nice to have your own private tour guide who knows lots of interesting stories. As much as I like reading guidebooks when preparing a trip, I can never be bothered to get them out once I get to wherever I'm going so I usually end up forgetting half of what there is to see. Anyone else?

This is the town hall. You can't see them very well here but there are brightly painted ceilings inside  the building. Magical stuff, I tell you!

Of course it has the mandatory massive Christmas tree in the courtyard so you can take your mandatory selfie and ruin everyone else's picture.

Where is this ceiling? Oh, nowhere special, it's just the local post office ceiling. 

The second Christmas market was bigger and quite busy and maybe not as charming as the first, but it was still a lot nicer than your average Colmar Christmas market. Also loads more expensive, but that's Switzerland for you! They have the salaries to go with the high prices. In fact, if anyone knows of any job vacancies over there, I'm all ears...

I hope you're enjoying the holidays and ready for a new year to begin! By the way, have you ever heard of the 12 days of Christmas weather forecast? Apparently from the day after Christmas until the 6th of January, people used to study the weather closely and use it to forecast what each month of the coming year would be like. I've found lots of different explanations on various websites, this is really a thing! (and someone told us today that it's pretty reliable too) My mind is blown. I feel like I'm all set for 2017 now that I have this new superpower. No more meteofrance.fr for me!!!


Deck the stairs !

One thing I love about our building is that our neighbours across the landing are very committed to making it look nice. Which makes sense as the building has been in their family for several generations. They used to run the shops downstairs (expensive lingerie and clothes on one side and a very large "everything home related, oh and lots of old-fashioned cleaning things, random food such as organic pizza dough and a few souvenirs of Munster for good measure" type shop on the other side), which are now run by their two daughters (one of them is our landlady). Anyway, it sounds complicated but it's actually very simple: this building is very important to the family and therefore, the communal areas get nicely decorated for Christmas every year!

 Above is my slightly ridiculous contribution...

...and all this is theirs!

Of course it inspired me to get our good old decorations out of their box and put them up around the house. Long-time readers will recognise most of them but there are some new additions:

This cute little star is made of porcelain and was a present from Snug in Hebden Bridge.

Repurposing string lights from your wedding decor to disguise your rubber tree for the season #queenofmultipurposing I love this pic because the lit-up window you can see across the street is the living room of some nice friends we've made here over the last year. Sadly they'll be moving soon (only 5 minutes away, but still!), but we've enjoyed waving at each other lots and inviting each other over for drinks and all the local gossip.

I've had this set of repositionnable window stickers for years but never used them as I thought they might be a pain to put up (spoiler alert: they were). They look just perfect here though. I might even leave them up all year!

And here come the classics... gingerbread girl and a display of boozy baubles.

And a rabbit, naturally. 

Well, that's it from me for 2016, unless I manage to squeeze in a post about our recent tour of Basel and its magical Christmas market within the next couple of days! In the meantime, please remember to sit back, relax and enjoy the fact that the days will be getting longer and longer for the next six months. Yay!

Wishing you peace, joy and fuzziness all around!


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?