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 ;)

fall knitting – magnolia hat

I’ve been knitting away like crazy in the past few weeks, finishing a new cardigan (to be blogged soon) and a hat. When it comes to knitting I’m strictly a “1-project-at-a-time” maker. Having multiple knitting projects underway makes me nervous.

Except for socks. There will be socks in various finishing stages hanging around at any given time.

magnolia hat. little home by hand blog.Anyway, while travelling in Scotland a few weeks ago I picked up a few skeins of Shilasdair yarn on Skye, among these a single skein of white Aran yarn. I knew right away this needed to be a hat. I don’t usually wear hats, having very fine hair that gets flattened by a hat so awfully that I’d rather brave the cold. However, since taking up hiking as a hobby I knew I would need one for winter. I settled on the Magnolia hat pattern which seemed both a nice challenge and exactly the look I was going for.

magnolia hat. little home by hand blog.Notice my new favourite knitting accessory, a beautiful project bag by Windwardmade!

I used size 4 needles which is two sizes smaller than recommended in the pattern. I have a very small head though and knew I had to go smaller to get a good fit (true story: when my mom was in labour with me and you could see the head, the doctor says “oh, the head is really small, the child will likely be disabled”. After I graduated from university with top grades I always wished I could find that guy and shove my diploma in his face).

Surprisingly I found the pattern quite easy, despite it being my first time knitting off a chart. I did wonder if I should do an extra repeat of the pattern to counter the small needle size but in the end I just did the pattern exactly as it was written and the fit is great.

magnolia hat. little home by hand blog.I wore it already on a hiking trip last weekend. Definitely a hit.

Now, what next? Do I finish one of the unfinished pairs of socks? A shawl? A sweater? Too many decisions!

 

 

walking in the woods

Fall smells so good. The rich, earthy smell of wet leaves and colder nights, mingled with the comforting scent of woodsmoke from a chimney being used for the first time in months.

I feel the urge to be outside and in motion in the crisp air, to walk and climb until I am pleasantly warm and breathless.

hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.The woods around here are exploding with color and I treasure every minute of this season. I could spend all day outside, hiking, leaving civilization behind (and it never really is far behind in this densely populated part of Germany).

hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.Given the choice I would hop on a plane to Scotland right now or drive down all the way to the Alps. As it is, I try to make time to explore areas within an hour’s drive. These photos were taken two weeks ago on a day trip. We hiked from the Müngstener bridge up to Schloss Burg.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my phone photos from the day already. These days I seem to shoot as much with my phone as with my ‘real’ camera.

M6hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.With the daylight hours spent like this and the dark time in the evening used knitting by candle light, that is one perfect day.

What’s your perfect day? Similar to mine or completely different?