changing the way you eat – step by step

Many of you mentioned your interest in a post on my recipe book and how J and I try to change our eating habits. Here it is!
How to change your eating habits. Make your own recipe book. little home by hand blog
How do you approach a change in your eating habits? It comes down to education, motivation and planning.

I educated myself by taking a day off work to do research on what certain foods do to the body to understand why they are harmful.
Motivation comes in lots of forms. For me it’s often an inspiring blog post, a ted talk or a movie. I recently watched the documentary “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and highly recommend it (it’s on Netflix but you can find it on Youtube too).

How to change your eating habits. Green smoothies for breakfast. little home by hand blog

What I struggled with when I already knew what I should be doing and very much wanted to be doing it was how to actually approach it and incorporate a healthy eating routine into daily life. I needed a plan.

Here’s where the recipe book comes in. I had a Pinterest board chock full of recipes and several cook books I never opened – I needed something else.
So I sat down (once again) to a day of serious work and compiled a list of recipes that met the following criteria:

  • Easy to prepare: no hours of slaving in the kitchen, ideally a recipe with very few steps in preparation
  • Few ingredients: I wanted to make shopping easier and have recipes that didn’t call for exotic ingredients that needed to be specially bought only to get shoved to the back of a cupboard and forgotten afterwards
  • Healthy: based on my research this means a meal from scratch including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain spelt flour instead of white flour, healthy grains like quinoa or millet and of course sugar free
  • Seasonal: whenever possible I want to cook in keeping with the seasons using regional produce

I chose both recipes we already knew and liked and new recipes that fit the criteria and which I  wanted to try out.

How to change your eating habits. Make your own recipe book. little home by hand blog

Divided into categories (Veggies, salads, meat, fish, pasta, soup and so on) each section only has about five recipes in it to prevent us getting overwhelmed by choices. Each recipe got its own page (I did it in PowerPoint but you can make a word document as well, whatever you like working with) with the same format and  a picture (because I’m a perfectionist at heart). Our very own recipe book got printed onto cardboard paper and filed away neatly in a folder. We have a mix of german and english language recipes in there (not that much of a perfectionist after all).

Every week before grocery shopping we pull out the book, pick a recipe for each day we need to cook dinner (we usually eat at work during the week so we cook a maximum of three meals – Friday, Saturday, Sunday – each week) and make a shopping list. Having a plan and having all ingredients at hand motivates us to actually cook the recipes and that simple routine forces us to “go through with it”.

So far we’ve added several easy recipes to our repertoire and feel much more empowered and able to cook and eat well. Something we make almost weekly now is a simple dish of oven roasted veggies (usually zucchini, fennel and peppers). I also love this Mexican quinoa pan and this kale quinoa bowl – soo good.

How to change your eating habits. Green smoothies for breakfast. little home by hand blog

Now, why are there pictures of green smoothies all over this post? For one, pictures of just the recipe book would bore you out of your mind (and since most of the photos in there aren’t mine I can’t show them on here anyway).

The much more important reason is that in the last three weeks I have drastically changed my eating habits yet again. It’s all the fault of Joe Cross and his documentary “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead”. I’ve wanted to try green smoothies for a long time and the documentary was the last, determined shove in the right direction.

I am now making a green smoothie every day before work and drink it for breakfast. It tastes suprisingly awesome! Contrary to what I expected I have actually come to crave it each morning – obviously my body’s way of saying ‘give it here, I need it’. I do harbor a small hope that it will help with my back pain too – we’ll see.

Note that I am not doing a reboot or trying to lose weight, I do it solely for health purposes and eat a normal lunch (usually a small plate of warm food and a large salad at work).

How to change your eating habits. Green smoothies for breakfast. little home by hand blog

Recipe? Sure!

Makes about 1 litre (4 cups):

  • 2 cups greens (kale, spinach, salad greens, lamb’s lettuce…)
  • 2 cups water or milk (I use oat milk which is really yummy)
  • 3 cups fruits and berries (I’ve tried apples, bananas, pears, oranges and blueberries so far)
  • Optional: a small teaspoon of pure almond butter and a tablespoon of linseed oil (I add both)

Blend well and drink fresh within a day or two. I use the blender on my ancient food processor and it works just fine. You really don’t need fancy new equipment!

Fruits and greens I buy at an organic farm once a week and freeze portions of greens for the week. That way it only takes me a few minutes every morning to prepare the smoothie and it’s always fresh and slightly chilled. You could also prepare and freeze all ingredients beforehand! With spring upon us and gardening on my mind I am already looking forward to growing my own greens instead of buying them this summer!

It takes me quite a while to drink the smoothie so I usually take it to work in my beloved Equa bottle (nope, not getting paid to mention it, but hey Equa if you want to send free bottles my way feel free ;) ). We also got a water filter recently so we’ll not ever buy bottled water again. Saving the world one bottle at a time and all that.

Have you tried green smoothies yourself? What are your experiences and recommendations? Have your own recipe books and want to recommend an easy, healthy recipe? Let me know!

the gift of giving – a giveaway and a sneak peek

There is great joy in giving and I find this strange blog world full of kind and generous people. Vibeke from the blog ‘A butterfly in my hair‘ is someone who constantly impresses me with her positivity and determination to find beauty in everyday life. She has a special birthday coming up this month and is hosting a whole month of giving to others in celebration! Head over to her blog to ‘meet’ all of the lovely and talented ladies participating in her month of giving.

The joy of giving.

I was honored to take part and get the chance to reflect on what the greatest gifts in my life have been through a little interview. I encourage you to do the same. Start your day by thinking of gifts you have been given in life and you will find yourself smiling all day.

Read my interview here on Vibeke’s blog and comment on that post for a chance to win a print from my shop. (Please head over to Vibeke’s blog for commenting, comments on this post here don’t count for the giveaway ;) )

Beautiful Scotland - sneak peek. fotografiekoehler.etsy.comBeautiful Scotland - sneak peek. fotografiekoehler.etsy.comBeautiful Scotland - sneak peek.

I couldn’t close this post without adding some more images right?

Hope you like the little sneak peek at new Scotland prints I am working on – to be added to the shop very soon!



exploring germany: luebeck

In February I travelled to the north of Germany to spend two days in the city of Lübeck.
Travelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blogTravelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blog
The main reason for going was to see a specialist for my back problem and I was sufficiently desperate to undertake a 6-hour-trip across the country to see him. I had never been to Lübeck before and had no idea what to expect of the city.
Cue big surprise when I found it to be one of the most charming cities I have ever visited!
Travelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blogTravelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blog
Lübeck is one of those rare cities largely untouched by World War II bombings so most of the buildings and streets are historical, century old reminders of the glorious and prosperous times of the Hanseatic League.
Travelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blogTravelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blogTravelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blog
In between treatments my mom (who had accompanied me) and I strolled the city center and surrounding streets, treated ourselved to delicious marzipan cake at the historical Café Niederegger and marvelled at the majestic and often seriously crooked old housefronts.
Travelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blog
Lübeck charmed us when we didn’t expect it and it reminded me that there is so much of my own country I haven’t yet seen!

What city surprised or captivated you the most? Let me know!

through crunching snow

snowy winter walk. little home by hand blog

This winter has been the real thing with weeks of icy mornings and a mix of rain and snow and slush. In this area of Germany the snow never sticks around for long but surprisingly only an hour’s drive can take you to a different world.

snowy winter walk. little home by hand blogsnowy winter walk. little home by hand blogsnowy winter walk. little home by hand blog

I still try to go hiking every other weekend. It feels good to be outside, to be moving. I can’t do other sports right now and hiking is really my only chance to challenge my body until the breath comes short and the muscles start to protest. It feels good.

We often pick the Eifel National Park – about 1-2 hours drive by car it affords endless walking opportunities (do you call it hiking or walking by the way?).

snowy winter walk. little home by hand blogsnowy winter walk. little home by hand blog

On this particular day we had set out early in the car with not a flake of white in sight. We had picked a 12 km hike (about 7.5 miles) which we estimated would be a comfortable distance to do on a winter day. Imagine our surprise when we arrived in a perfect winter wonderland!

The snow was ankle deep and untouched, sparkling under blue skies. It smelled clean and frosty like open spaces filled with snow always smell.

So much for poetry. After the first quarter hour of laboriously tromping through the hard, shiny mass we realized that those 12 km would maybe be a little more challenging than we had anticipated.

snowy winter walk. little home by hand blogsnowy winter walk. little home by hand blogsnowy winter walk. little home by hand blog

It was one of those hikes where perfect beauty matches perfect exhaustion – we lost our way and ended up making a detour thus bringing our total up to 15 km and four hours with no opportunity for a real break. One of those times when you find your limit and push past it out of necessity, feeling ridiculously proud afterwards as you nurse your aching limbs. One of those days where a hot shower and a comfortable evening on the couch wrapped in blankets at the end of it has never felt so good.

I love those days.

working on it

Between some travelling, some hiking and some early nights (hey, it’s still winter which means it’s a good day if I manage to stay up for an hour or two after getting home from work) I have still been eeking out a few minutes here and there for creative time.
As this is meant to be a creative blog I figured I better show you what I’ve been working on.
knitting. little home by hand blog
The Alpenglühen cardigan has been on my needles for a while. Getting the body done and doing cables for the first time went really well but then I got stuck a little and have been waiting for motivation to strike to pick it back up again. I love the deep rich red of the yarn and I’m sure whenever this gets done it will be worn a lot!
knitting. little home by hand blog
knitting. little home by hand blog
For mindless evening knitting while watching a series I’ve picked up a pair of socks again that has been lying in wait for months. I think I might actually finish them this year. I love knitting socks but it usually takes me months to complete a pair in between other projects.

Speaking of other projects, have you seen Liesl‘s new pattern, the Henny Hat? Liesl has been one of my favorite blog people for a long time and I’m thrilled that she is starting to sell her own yarn and patterns! I already started my Henny Hat, so that makes three projects on the needles now – I’ve officially become one of those knitters with an overflowing project basket and no idea what to turn to next. Sigh.
meal planning. little home by hand blog
You might remember the healthy eating series I started a while back? Well, I’ve been working on eating better for a long time now and progress is being made, slowly but surely! The fact remains that neither J nor I have a knack for cooking so I needed to approach this systematically.
I took a day off to figure out what kind of food I wanted to be able to prepare (easy, healthy, quick, few and readily available ingredients) and picked out a few choice recipes for us. These were printed on heavy cardstock and I made up our very own recipe book which we consult every week before going shopping. So far this is working really well for us! Having a plan has resulted in more focussed food shopping and a sense of obligation to actually cook at the weekend.

Two new favorite recipes of ours are roasted veggies of any kind and this yummy kale quinoa bowl. I’ve compiled all my recipe research on Pinterest though not all of those recipes actually made it in ‘our’ book.
meal planning. little home by hand blog
I have much more to say on this subject but for the sake of actually getting this post done before work I’ll stop here and write a more detailed post on request. Let me know if you’re interested!
learning tin whistle. little home by hand blog
Last but not least I have a new hobby (as if I needed another one, right?) – for years I’ve been thinking of picking up the Irish Tin Whistle again and learning to play it. Having lived in Ireland for a year as a teenager this has always been a dream of mine. I played the recorder as a kid (who didn’t?) and there were actually several tin whistles I bought in my teens lurking in my mom’s basement.

As soon as I picked it up again I remembered how much fun it is and this time I mean to go through with it. Getting started with a few online lessons and this Lord of the Rings tutorial I am now on my way through a few simple tunes. The hardest part is getting the fingers up to speed but maybe by next Christmas my brother (who teaches himself piano) and I will be able to provide some family entertainment.

Any of you play a musical instrument? Are you a natural cook or did you have to learn it the hard way like me?

I have more hiking and travelling posts lined up. If you want to be really up to date and see my mobile photography be sure to follow me on Instagram or Twitter for daily peeks :)

The light is coming back, slowly but surely.
winter walk in germany. little home by hand blog.
winter walk in germany. little home by hand blog.
winter walk in germany. little home by hand blog.
After a month of little opportunity for outdoor time J and I took a 12km walk in the nearby Eifel National Park last weekend. The forest smelled of snow and freshly cut wood and we enjoyed stretching our legs in the squeaky mud of not-yet frozen dirt trails.

Mmh, sawdust and resin – high up on the list of best smells in the world.
winter walk in germany. little home by hand blog.
winter walk in germany. little home by hand blog.
winter walk in germany. little home by hand blog.
January was meh. It started with me crashing my car on the Autobahn after slipping on a patch of ice – first major car crash in my life and it really shook me up. In the same freezing, snowy, icy conditions I’ve braved driving day after day and while of course it’s best to get back into it immediately this business of confronting your fears is exhausting. Adding in a cold and lots of dealing with insurance stuff there wasn’t much time for blogworthy activities in January. So, not sad at all that February is here and the light is coming back, a little bit more every day.
winter walk in germany. little home by hand blog.
winter walk in germany. little home by hand blog.
winter walk in germany. little home by hand blog.
How are your New Year’s resolutions going? I unfortunately had to give up the daily yoga (it made my back much worse) but I’ve taken up a plank challenge instead. I try to do 10 seconds longer each day and am up to 2.5 minutes already.

welcome 2015

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s!

I’ve had a quiet few days, spent mainly resting and reading and knitting and watching Gilmore Girls. The last weeks before Christmas were a rush and I was plain exhausted when the holidays rolled around. Lots of decorating plans didn’t happen due to that but I did manage to bake a late batch of german Christmas ‘Plätzchen’ on the 24th.

christmas 2014christmas 2014We went hiking nearby on the rare dry days, to stretch our legs and try out the hiking guides my mom had given me for Christmas.

christmas 2014christmas 2014christmas 2014I desperately needed those days off. At first I didn’t even think I was going to do a “hello new year, let’s recap and hear the resolutions” post this year, feeling somehow drained and uninspired. After a bit of rest I can manage a little reflection and goal setting though.

2014 wasn’t an easy year, even though there were a number of wonderful experiences (a three week road trip in Canada and a wonderful few days in Scotland to name just a few).  Still, I struggled with my own expectations and limitations. Something I haven’t written about on this blog before is that I’ve been battling a chronic pain issue in my lower back for 1.5 years now. I don’t want to go into this in detail, I’ll just say that anyone who has ever dealt with chronic pain knows that it gets to you in a very nasty sort of way and keeping that at bay is hard and humbling.

That said, I am glad to see 2014 safely behind and I’m much looking forward to 2015. I have some plans for the year, including a bit of travelling that I am very excited about. Looking back at last year’s resolutions I think I didn’t do too badly in 2014. I made progress on the healthy eating front and spent more time outside. I did blog a bit more and grew my business (both the portrait business and the shop). Some things didn’t work out – I definitely need to work on less online time and less comparing myself to others again in 2015 – and there were times when I just had to sit back and accept the fact that I had heaped my plate too high and needed to let go of some things for a while.

In 2015 my main goal will be balance, both physical and mental. I need to listen to my body and accept the limitations it sets me while at the same time pushing myself just hard enough and getting back into exercising regularly, knowing it’s good for me in the longterm although it may be hard and sometimes painful. Not an easy balance to strike.

If you are looking for motivation to exercise, here are three great projects I have come across in the last few days:

  • 30 days of Yoga with Adriene (thanks to Sherrie for the tip!), a free Yoga course on Youtube. You can sign up here.
  • My Peak Challenge with Sam Heughan (yeah, the hot guy from ‘Outlander’). Set your own challenge and support cancer research at the same time.
  • 30 day plank challenge. If you have just a few minutes a day this is a great, fast way to strengthen the body!

I will definitely try to do the 30 days of yoga (but will have to see if it’s possible to stay with it, depending how my back reacts to it) and I am thinking of joining the Peak challenge as well. My Peak this year will be an actual one – I dream of hiking up Ben Nevis on a new visit to Scotland in the summer. In the meantime I will train by going on regular hikes here at home.

As for other goals – healthy eating is a continual one and slowly, one step at a time, I am getting better at it and hope to settle even more into a routine in 2015. I need to be creative to be happy so carving out time for knitting, sewing and other crafts is important to me. Business wise I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge in photography (there is no end to learning, ever!) and focusing more on what I really love doing.

How do you reach goals? I can only speak for myself but I find I need to get very specific about them, setting time apart each week to work on them. I find scheduling this pretty easy, the sticking with it no matter what is the hard part (no surprise there).

What are your goals for 2015?



ramona cardigan

There’s something about knitting a cardigan or sweater that is just intensely gratifying and comforting. Maybe it’s working with wool in general, maybe it’s the fact that so SO many hours of work go into it and maybe it’s sheer amazement that you made something so intricate and it actually turned out looking good.

handknit cardigan. little home by hand blog.handknit cardigan. little home by hand blog.Either way, I am seriously in love with knitting cardigans this year and the Ramona cardigan in particular. I wanted a basic, neutral cardi that would go with everything and the classic shape of the Ramona pattern seemed a good fit.

The yarn is Cascade Ecological Wool in a color mix of oatmeal and cream which gives it a nice subtly marbled look. The Cascade yarn is another new favorite, it was a dream to work with and the whole cardigan only took 1.5 skeins.

handknit cardigan. little home by hand blog.handknit cardigan. little home by hand blog.The pattern is pretty straightforward and came together easily. I added a bit of length but it still is just a tiny bit short and I especially wish the sleeves were longer. I haven’t decided yet whether to frog and redo the last bit of sleeve but I probably will.

The buttons were a tough decision, I actually spent an hour picking them out, deciding in the end on some rather unusual wood buttons that go well with the oatmeal of the yarn. To add a tiny bit of color I sewed the second last one on with red thread instead of white.

handknit cardigan. little home by hand blog.I’ve already worn the cardigan a lot since it was finished. I’m constantly trying to downsize my wardrobe to a few favorite pieces that go well together and this cardigan will definitely be a staple. Plus real wool is just incredibly warm, always a good thing for me as I am cold pretty much all the time in winter.

Already planning my next cardigan! Does it ever stop, the wanting… (ok, ok, enough with the ‘Outlander‘ references already…). For more info on pattern and yarn, visit my Ravelry project page.

hiking in germany : eifel

The fourth advent calender door is open and today I am giving away a print of mine on my Facebook page. Have a look and participate for a chance to win!


Hiking has become an outlet for me, a way to get back in touch with nature after being cooped up inside all week. Especially in winter I feel the urge to get out, to get moving and warm in the fresh air and sunshine.

hiking in germany. little home by hand bloghiking in germany. little home by hand bloghiking in germany. little home by hand blog

Of course, the sunlight hours are few and few in between at the moment. Often the days start out foggy and wet like on this trip. We were lucky, the sun fought its way through and we enjoyed our little trail (the Bergheidenweg in Germany’s low mountain range ‘Eifel) very much.

hiking in germany. little home by hand bloghiking in germany. little home by hand bloghiking in germany. little home by hand bloghiking in germany. little home by hand bloghiking in germany. little home by hand blog

A small hike of 10km this trail still offered a variety of beautiful landscapes. Being away from the noises of the city, with just the rustling leaves under my feet and the odd animal sound in the air I could literally feel stress and worry fall away.

hiking in germany. little home by hand bloghiking in germany. little home by hand bloghiking in germany. little home by hand bloghiking in germany. little home by hand bloghiking in germany. little home by hand bloghiking in germany. little home by hand blog

I’m looking forward to taking more hiking trips this winter and I hope you enjoy these little photo documentations!

tea time and an etsy advent calender

December is tea time (well technically it’s tea time year round for me but in December the amount of tea I consume daily increases exponentially).

I’m talking about my love for tea on Vibeke’s blog in a little interview so fellow tea lovers head over there and have a look.

tea time

The waiting for Christmas has officially started and I am trying to preserve a bit of the season’s magic among the daily rush that seems to intensify in the streets at this time of year.

The Etsy Germany team has decided to sweeten the wait with an online advent calender this year and every day a new door opens on a giveaway on their Facebook page.

Pssst, my shop is participating too so keep a close look on both the Etsy Germany Page as well as my own Facebook page this week ;)