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Posts Tagged ‘home’

Room Makeover

With two oversea moves in the span of a year, to say we don’t have a lot of possessions is an understatement!  And although it’s been a great lesson in finding true contentment, Tim and I both realized that the boys’ room was in some serious need of help. Toys were in random bins all over the room, their clothes were in suitcases, and the only light in the space was a table lamp on the floor.  Although five-year-olds rarely complain about a messy room, it was clear to us that the boys weren’t making good use of their bedroom because the spastic mess was overwhelming.

Enter, IKEA.

If you read this blog, you probably know I have a love-hate relationship with IKEA. I want to love it, but I usually just hate it. And yet, in the case of a little boys’ room, IKEA seemed like just the solution.

BEFORE

AFTER

Each boy has their own desk while the center toy bin pulls out.

This storage container on wheels fits perfectly under their bed and houses all their Lego!

A magnetic board holds the boys' post cards from places they've visited around the world. Uncle Ben's impromptu metalworking reminds them that they need to be nice to each other...forever!

While I was at it, I figured the boys would be good guinea pigs for trying my hand at refinishing furniture.

$20 DRESSER -- BEFORE

AFTER

Including the secondhand dresser I bought for $20 and painted for $10, the entire makeover cost $500.  So, in typical “selfless mom” fashion, the boys’ room is now the only one in the house that’s fully furnished!  Of course, if you read my other blog, you know that I clearly chose to buy one of my favorite toys last week instead of any needed furniture…

Priorities, people! Priorities!

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Ghost Child

While searching for a flat in Basel, we scoured the internet for weeks.  Thankfully, there are a few very well-populated websites for online apartment searches and many, if not all, the listings included photos.  Armed with a list in hand, Tim was able to bike around the city looking at the neighborhoods of all the top places we found online.  Sadly, he was also scratching them off one by one as we realized that the photos online were great, but the place in person was not.

At one point, I came across a listing for a 4-room apartment in a great neighborhood.  It appears that it also comes with a Ghost Child in the second bedroom…

Thankfully, Tim came across a fantastic four-room flat with beautiful hardwood, remodeled bathroom and kitchen, and a lovely garden terrace…our home we now live in.  And another great feature? No ghost children included in the rent!

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While growing up, my mother would occasionally suffer from migraines if she didn’t get her coffee.  I remember seeing this and thinking to myself, “Wow, what a stupid habit to get into. Why would anyone want to intentionally consume something that hurts you? I’m never going to drink coffee!”

And then Tim happened.

Our first date ended with a visit to Starbucks for coffee and I ordered a hot chocolate. Flash forward ten years and I can’t get through the day without a hit and I frequently find myself thinking about when it will be “okay” for my next one.

Nothing fuels an addiction like great accessories.  It’s like an alcoholic who finds their old college beer hat.  Not a good scene.

Introducing, the Nespresso Jura. I’m telling you, the best cup of joe you’ve ever had is waiting for you in my kitchen. And I don’t even have to work for it.

Yes, addiction paired with accessibility. Probably not the best idea.

(more…)

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Tim and I planned a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to celebrate our first Canadian holiday as expats.  While most of you were enjoying turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie a week ago, the boys and I were still zombies recovering from the 9-hour time difference.  After a week of adjusting our sleeping patterns, visiting countless grocery stores, specialty food stores and ethnic grocers for the necessary ingredients and up until the wee hours preparing food, we sat down to overloaded plates on Sunday night.

 Tim had to resort to desparate measures for the onion cutting! I was five feet away and still weeping...oh wait, I was crying from laughing so hard!

Tim had to resort to desparate measures for the onion cutting! I was five feet away and still weeping...oh wait, I was crying from laughing so hard!

To join in the festivities, we invited a few friends (okay, we invited our only friends) and set out to provide them with a real Canadian experience.  In total, we had 3 English, 2 Germans, and 5 Canadians crammed in around our IKEA breakfast table jutted up against our friend’s matching IKEA breakfast table (so there is an upside to everyone having the same furniture as you…).

Other furniture coming soon!

Amidst the chaos of making a meal for 10 people, you don't get "before" pictures.

Thanksgiving is of course a holiday commemorating the pilgrims who discovered the Americas and gave thanks for the first harvest, so I knew that Europeans wouldn’t celebrate it. What I wasn’t expecting were the guests who had never tasted pumpkin pie! EVER!  The lack of interest in pumpkin pie means you don’t find the canned stuff in grocery stores here but Tim suggested we boil and puree our own pumpkins…what a great idea! It turned out fantastically and when you think about how easy it is to make pumpkin pie, it’s really not all that much work to make the puree yourself.

I had a chuckle at the English guests telling me that my Brussels Sprouts with Pecan Brown Butter were “simply brilliant”. It just sounded so praiseful with their sophisticated accents and all.  And speaking of brilliant, Tim did an incredible job of his first turkey!  I think the opening line of the recipe directions pretty much sums it up: “2 to 3 days before roasting:”. Say WHAT?! Yeah, you read that right…he started working on preparations for the bird 2 days before dinner!  In fact, it goes further back than that because he had to first find a butcher who could order him a turkey.  After a fair bit of charades and basic German communication, the butcher got on the phone and called a local farmer, secured a turkey of our size and ordered it right there! Now that’s local.

The only other cultural oddity was the comments about my gravy looking “real”. I was perplexed. I’ve never heard of “fake” gravy.  Everyone in my family knows that I take gravy very seriously. The gravy is MY deal. As it turns out, the Swiss don’t even know what gravy is (I mean, who needs gravy when you have melted cheese slathered over everything?) but they typically have what’s called “brown sauce”…an imitation gravy made from a…(GASP!)…package! My mom might be having a panic attack right this very minute.  But it begs the question, if we balk at the brown sauce, I wonder what types of horrific culinary crimes WE North Americans committ?

Tim: How about slices of processed “cheese”?!

Hmmm…good one hun. The Swiss would surely frown upon one-ingredient-from-plastic-American-cheese.  Geesh, there’s only one deli in all of Basel that even sells bonafide Cheddar Cheese!

DRISDELLE THANKSGIVING DINNER MENU

Roast Turkey with Apple Cinnamon Aromatics

Hazelnut Bread Stuffing

Maple Ginger-Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Simple Mashed Potatoes

Brussels Sprouts with Pecan Brown Butter

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

“Real” Roast Turkey Gravy

Fresh Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream & Toasted Pumpkin Seeds


All in all, it was a hugely successful Thanksgiving Dinner with great food and fantastic company.  Once we retired for the evening (after hanging out with the English folks, I’m allowed to say words like “retired”, it’s great!), Tim and I reflected on what worked and what we can change for next year when we realized that we forgot to go around the table and share what we’re thankful for! Well, had we remembered, I would have announced that I am thankful for all the support these dear friends have given Tim and I as we make this huge life change. Thank you Martin & Anne, Joel & Sina, and our newest friends, Stephen & Ruth! We appreciate you all.

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Home Sweet Home

There is one less item on my To-Do list.

That’s right, I’ve secured a new home.

Ground floor flat.

Ground floor flat.

Master bedroom, doors to balcony and bathroom

Master bedroom, doors to balcony and bathroom

Twins' room - big enough for a bunk bed

Twins' room - big enough for a bunk bed

Awesome bathroom, separate "water closet"

Awesome bathroom, separate "water closet"

New kitchen, marble tops, great appliances

New kitchen, marble tops, great appliances

Living room (and dining?)

Living room (and dining?)

Studio and playroom, door to balcony

Studio and playroom, door to balcony

Looking from studio to living room

Looking from studio to living room

The owner, Henri, was decidedly “un-Swiss”. He doesn’t speak English, so we communicate in French. He’s away on holidays next week, so he’s going to meet me on Friday to just “give me the keys, and we’ll sort out the deposit and paperwork later”.

Things are really coming together for us!

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On the weekend, we (Martin, Anne, Michael the Irishman, and myself) went to Freiburg to visit Joel and his girlfriend Sina.

Joel is an old friend of mine from Victoria. He moved to Basel more than five years ago. He’s partly to blame for me being here now. When he heard I was moving to Basel, he promptly decided to leave the country. He now commutes in from Freiburg (Germany) every day. Not too shabby, considering that the cost of living in Deutchland is much more affordable than in Schweiz.

Anyways, so we went over on the weekend to go “scootering”. That’s all they told me. I had NO idea what it was (nor did Martin!), but I was up for an adventure.

Riding up the mountainside with Joel and Sina

Riding up the mountainside with Joel and Sina

Eh? Never know what you're going to see on a sign here...

Eh? Never know what you're going to see on a sign here...

Every good adventure begins with pints of beer and shots of honey liquor

Every good adventure begins with pints of beer and shots of honey liquor

View of Freiburg

View of Freiburg

Instructions in German? Pffft. How hard can it be?

Instructions in German? Pffft. How hard can it be?

Downhill scootering!

Downhill scootering!

Well, that was a treat! An 8km downhill trail on push-scooters with mountain-bike-sized wheels! Fricken awesome.

Foreign music?

In other news, I was grocery shopping the other night in Switzerland and I heard a song of questionable content playing on the speakers while I sifted through aisles of cheese. I think that I snort-laughed.

With English lyrics, I bet that most people in the store figure that it’s just a nice foreign dance song with a cool beat. The next time you are shopping and you hear foreign lyrics – beware!

Home?

So I viewed my first “flat” tonight. I think it’s a keeper! But I won’t make any decisions until I view at least a few more. This ground-floor flat (they start counting the first floor on what North Americans call the second floor!) is super sweet. I would show you pics… but the listing doesn’t have any, and I forgot my camera. FAIL!

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