Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmas at last

Real fire? check.
Candles? check.
Warming up again after being out at the Christmas market? check.
Hot piggies on the hearth? check.
Sparkling lights? check.
Christmas feeling? aboslutely!

Friday, 11 December 2009


Our balloons are on the move.

After days of clinging to the ceiling, they have started wandering around the flat which is a bit disconcerting if you don't notice and suddenly one hits your head while you are in another room from where they were resting! One caught the corner of my eye while I was sitting her in from of the Mac and I nearly leapt out of my skin. I mean, they have travelled the whole of the living room, through the door to the hall and then another door into my room. Will they develop evil characters like Chucky? Now that's a nasty thought!

Doo dee, doo dee, doo dee, doo dee...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Where to begin? (Warning: mega post ahead)

I've just had a crazy couple of weeks. It was all systems go here in the Hausmann household with so many birthdays, celebrations, parties, visitors, last minute panics, lack of sleep and the terror of realising that Christmas is a matter of hours away and we have not done ANYTHING!

There was so much in the last days, it might be better just to list what was going on. And sometimes I will need to improvise because as hard as it is to believe, sometimes I seem to have forgotten to take a single photo.

19th November

The Christmas Market season was officially opened. I love the Essen market but the weather has been unfair this year - too warm, too wet. I always get a thrill to see the first day of opening and to get the first smell of Glühwein.

22nd November

Yes, another year older And I don't have a single photo of the night before when we out for a romantic dinner, nor of the day itself. Guess I was just too busy enjoying it!

Jacqui came to visit us and arrived hours late and missing her case. However, she came bearing gifts (recovered from her case the next day although someone had helped themselves to an array of her belongings - hairbrush, trainers, night shirt, bras, costume jewellery etc etc). Having just been to Russia on business, there was a theme going on which was adorable.

Mmmm not sure I will be wearing this very often (maybe I need to get the rest of the outfit??)

And take a look at these lovelies! 10 of these incredible Matryoshkas, all looking serenely gorgeous! I was delighted and they now have pride of place on my dressing table. I can't believe how tiny the smallest one is and yet, she still looks wonderful! Jealous?

25th November

Did I mention last minute panics? Well that would be when I decided to check that the dress I had planned all year to wear at the big event still fitted. Yes, you guessed it... It didn't! We tried everything to squeeze my hefalump status into it but it wasn't budging. So this was the day, and the only day I had, to go and find a suitable dress. I was definitely hyperventilating and generally dissatisfied with my bulk which seems to have appeared overnight (NOT!!!) but within an hour of arriving in Dusseldorf, I had found this sweet party dress. The day or rather, night, was saved although I was still to discover that my outfit was cursed! More later.

** have you noticed that all these photos are rather staged? Evidence of the fact that I didn't take my camera out to take a single photo of the party preparations, me and Jac together or anything to do with my birthday. And so it continues

26th November

The English guests started descending on Recklinghausen which we had been so excited about. Libby and Jon and all the Chance family arrived via Disneyland Paris and when I saw those Minnie Mouse ears, I just couldn't get enough of the little monsters! (Again, no photos. Don't know what sort of black hole had decided to take over my brain at this point!)

But it was so lovely to see them all and it kind of kicked in then that this was it! The party ball was rolling and there was no stopping it! I felt a bit like that scene on the comedy film Airplane where the waitress is hysterical and everyone is queuing up to slap (literally or with baseball bats etc!)  some sense into her. Jac did this to me on a regular basis through the week, although not physically I hasten to add. She kept me firmly on the ground all week and kept giving me doses of reality which helped and in return I was a total control freak which was good for her too.

Although at the end of the day it was only a party, I wanted it to be something rather special as Ralph had given me such a wonderful 40th celebration. He deserved it to be even greater and I was determined to get as much of it right as possible.

At this point I would like to add that Ralph is such a party animal that he was unable to stay awake on the 26th until midnight to welcome in his birthday. I sat there listening to the bells mark 12 and his gentle snoring simultaneously! Who said romance was dead?

27th November - the birthday itself

It is a well known coincidence that Jon and Ralph celebrate the same birthday and therefore we had decided to host a reception for all the English guests at our flat to mark the day for both of them. 25 people in our flat? Gulp! But it worked and I think it was a lovely evening. I was so lovely to see everyone and to welcome them to Germany once again. We hadn't seen some of them since the last party two years ago and some even longer ago, so there was a lot of catching up to do.

And of course, I prettied up the flat for everyone (well, basically pretty much for me but I used our guests as an excuse to get out the decs!)

R mixed cocktails, I got confused speaking English the whole time, and the noise level indicated that everyone was relaxing. There was a cake for the two birthday boys and I might even have instigated a round of "Happy Birthday" too - not sure about that.

Cam and Maddie conked out on my bed in a way that only children can and I didn't get a photo which I regret - anyone out there take one? And Isabella just kept going and going and going! She had more energy than all of us put together. Libby posted this photo on her blog today and I love it so I have pinched it for here:

28th November - the party

The party was a great success. The venue was wonderful, the staff were great, the food was delicious, the music was suitably funky (although some of the Germans were disappointed that there was no German folk music for them to dance to!!!), the karaoke was rocking and everyone danced, drank, ate, chatted, sang and generally partied on. Who can ask for more?

I made a short speech which didn't come out exactly as I had planned - partly because I had a huge lump in my throat trying to say lovely things about R but everyone seemed to understand the general message I wanted to express! It's not so easy in two languages. I was so confused all evening and kept getting the language muddled up, speaking German to the English and vice versa.

29th November

We got back to the hotel at 4.30 and after only a few minutes sleep, the whole farewell process started which made me sad. Such a long build up to the big event and then it was all over and people were leaving already! It was so lovely to see everyone, even if for just a short time and we are so thankful that everyone made such an effort.

1st December

Ok, now the panic really started as I realised that this is it - party over, Christmas just down the road and not a single present bought or card made. (And as I write this, I can confirm that no progress has been made in this area - AT ALL!)

3rd November

I finally managed to drag Ralph to the Essen Christmas Market with the intention of partaking in the deliciousness of Glühwein, Reibeküchen and some good old Bratwürst when it started raining and an already grumpy R insisted we went home... (oh well, there's always next year...)

5th December

We collected our leftover decorations from the party venue and this happened...

An upside down sea of balloons - don't you just love them?!?

6th December

St Nikolaus. Ok so not such a big event for us this year because we haven't done presents at all, but still a day that needs to be marked. We had a lovely festive advent dinner at Helga's and it was nice to slow down bit and just take some time to pay attention to the time of year.

8th December

Finally sat down to write my blog post - long overdue and probably way too long! And got some happy post to bring a smile to my lips. My Shimelle Christmas kit - scrumptious! Way too nice to use. Now I am just waiting for my very first yellow box to arrive sometime next week! Yikes - I'm so excited!

And to round off, I made a mention of my cursed outfit earlier. These lovely shoes were also bought at the last minute to go with the last minute dress...

And nearly two weeks later, my piggies are still in pain. Now there is suffering for my vanity for you.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Random thoughts from a train

Just wanted to start off this post with a wonderful November photo - taken today. I am learning to love November (contrary to popular thought) and find pictures like this spectacular. There is a lot of beauty around us this month - you just have to look for it.

I know that Libby, in particular, dislikes the overuse of the word "random" that seems to be rather popular at the moment. But here I am with time to reflect and you know how your brain starts to wander in situations like this - random right?

1. Thinking about the new "one little word" for next year. I have a need to move into a more stuctured, organised way of living and am trying to find the right word that is short yet description and which sums up everything I mean with that. Suggestions welcome.

Just some of the reasons why:

a) I remember birthdays but don't seem to get even a card into the post (sorry to all of those missed birthdays this year - Geraldine, Wendy, Lisa etc etc - you all know who you are).
b) I have lists of things to do in my mind but never get to write them down and often forget half of them.
c) I am full of inspiration but find it hard to know where to start.
d) I only work part-time, but never seem to have *time* to do the things that I want or even need to get done.
e) I am bored by my own cooking.
f) I never seem to be on top of the housework or especially, the ironing.
g) I am constantly tired. This can't be normal. (mothers? how do you manage?)
h) I start projects and find them months (or sometimes years) later, abandoned and unfinished.

2. I want to update the blog. Trying to think how. Trying to think of a new name. It needs a face lift.

3. Travelling through really beautiful countryside right now along the banks of the Rhine travelling south. This is Schloss (castle) country and it's fantastic to see these castles and ruins sitting high on the hills either site of the river. Must have been perfect fortress positioning in the days. There are some pretty impressive sights but it's a grey, misty, wet, dreary day with limited visibility. Worth taking a photo? Not really but it really adds great atmosphere to the view from the train window.

4. I have a rather odd man sitting next to me here who keeps looking over at what I am typing. I understand that when you have paid for your reserved seat on the train, you want to use it and feel like you have got your money's worth but the carriage is practically empty. And he's sitting here. Next to me. Invading my space. Why?

5. About 90 mins ago, a building caught my eye next to the rails. Just a normal building with an advert painted on the side but it just grabbed my attention. I was a little puzzled for a moment until I realised I was travelling past the Daimler Sprinter factory where I used to teach - memories flooded back. I still miss those lessons!
    6. 2009 is almost over. 2010 is at the door. What happened to the first decade of this new century?

    7. There are only 5 shopping weekends left until Christmas (insert silent scream here).

    8. I haven't done any scrapping at all for a month, yet I have lots and lots of new products. This is very, very wrong...

    9. Remember this from the January Bellaboo kit (featured here)?

    Can you see how cleverly I have disguised the fact that this is a project that never got finished off (please refer back to point 1 in this list!) and have updated it? Sneaky, aren't I??

    What is going through your head today?

    Monday, 9 November 2009

    The sights...

    Just a few of the hundred or so photos we have taken this weekend. Again, all SOTC so not brilliant and some could do with a bit of straightening or cropping but overall, I think they are quite nice.

    Mmm, now what could this one be?

    And another rather unknown little Parisian gem...

    We had dinner again at this restaurant, Bofinger, last night. A wonderful art deco place specialising in seafood and just around the corner from La Bastille. Very romantic!

    I worked out that this is pobably the 10th time I have been to this wonderful city and yet, this was the first time I found the time and energy to visit Le Louvre. You really need several days to see everything there is to see, but we managed to get around the highlights according to my guidebook.

    I know this is a really geeky thing to say, but when we stood under the glass pyramid and then walked along to the inverted pyramid, it made me think of the Da Vinci Code and what hidden secrets this place is hiding - see, told you it was geeky!

    Our lovely retro boutique style hotel just around the corner from the Champs Elysee, L'Hotel De Sers. Very chic...

    Not much sign of Christmas yet. But these lights on the outside of Galeries Lafayette were really spectacular!

    And this was one of the super motives in the windows - only in Paris I think!

    We were too lazy and stuffed full of food to go all the way across town to take night shots of all the best sights, but the Opera caught my eye as something pretty spectacular.

    A city with so much to see and so much to discover...

    Saturday, 7 November 2009

    Time away to recharge

    It's official. The Hausmann household has officially entered "crazy season". It begins with Halloween and goes through to the New Year.

    Without any extra activities, we can total 8 birthdays, 2 wedding anniversaries, Halloween, Advent, St Nicholas, Christmas and New Year before we even think about any other events, arrangements or pre-Christmas get togethers or activities. We celebrate both our birthdays within 5 days of each other and each consists of at least one event celebrating with one or other part of the family. Even on a quiet year, it can become a bit overwhelming!

    This year, we can throw in three concerts within 3 weeks of each other, a 40th birthday celebration with more than 20 guests travelling over from the UK, a long weekend away, a boys evening, a business trip and then we are trying to fit in all four families in two countries over Christmas! Phew - makes me tired to think about it!

    However, did I tell you that I am married to the most wonderful man IN THE WORLD? Realising how upset I was that I had missed Tom Jones in concert in Germany, he booked us a long weekend away to romantic Paris to see him live and to spend a few quiet days together before the busiest time kicks in! Boy, am I a lucky girl.

    And let me tell you, Tom Jones last night was one of the best concerts I have EVER seen! This was one of my favourites of the evening but I tell you, Delilah and It's Not Unusual brought the whole of the concert hall to their feet - totally brilliant. He certainly knows how to rock. Fantastic.

    The weather forecast was bad so we have been really lucky to have two days with blue skies and a bright, shining sun.

    Today, we wandered around Galeries Lafayette with its incredible stained glass domed ceiling and an enormous Christmas tree covered in pink -my favourite! I was obviously ahead of my time with my pink decorated tree last year! I mean, if it's the colour in Paris, I can't be far off can I?

    I don't have any photo editing software on my netbook so these photos are SOTC and I hope to be able to put some more photos up when i get home but just to finish off this post, we also found time to visit the Musée de l'Orangerie to gaze longingly at the Monet water lily paintings, Nymphéas. Just wonderful.

    I am one happy bunny!

    Wednesday, 28 October 2009

    In the bat of an eye

    And then October was gone! Wow, how did that happen? I have no idea but it is well and truly gone.

    I can't even profess to have been wildly busy with work and creativity making the days fly by. I have been rather uncreative if the truth be known and work was decidedly quiet. There were two weeks of school holidays here and that makes lessons few and far between because everyone seems to be away (insert jealous feelings here...) and out of the office.

    There haven't been many high points to the month (an Elton John concert

    and a trip to my *local* scrapbook shop but not much else) and luckily no low points (in contrast to Libby and my mum - poor things). So I can't really complain, apart from the fact that I do, in fact, complain all the time! LOL! Too busy? Moan. Too quiet? Moan, moan.

    It's been a hard month for me with regard to my words of the year from 2007 and this year - POSITIVE and CALM respectively. I have had to remind myself of them over and over again. I guess it is very much a work in progress.

    Must. Stop. Moaning.

    Must. Start. Smiling.

    Must. Control. Temper.

    Must. Count. Blessings.

    However, it's not all doom and gloom and I really am smiling here. I know how I am and I know what I have to work on. You have to take it with a pinch of salt, don't you!

    I really haven't done much creating which on the one hand is a bit of a shame, but I have been busy organising some details for R's birthday party which is actually quite a lot of fun. It's reaching the final stages of the planning and it's all very exciting. So many wonderful people are coming over from the UK to see us. It is very humbling to know that people want to come and help us celebrate our milestone and when I stop and think about the fact that more than 20 people are planning to come over (Jac is even planning to come from Dubai!), I get a lump in my throat.

    It means such a lot to us and I want to make sure the party is a success. I am so looking forward to seeing everyone, and am really excited to see the little ones! They are growing and growing and growing and it seems like a LIFETIME since I last saw them even though it will actually only be 5 months compared to the 14 months for R. Let's face it, that is an eternity when kiddies are growing up.

    Anyway, I did actually manage to remember and complete my 12 on 12 (finished the layout on the 13th, can you believe it?). I think this is probably my least favourite layout of the series so far due to my choice of papers even if the photos were still fun for me. I have to find a better way, though, of getting a self-portrait. From month to month, they are getting worse! I guess in 10 years, I will look at them and have a different view of myself 10 years younger but right now, they have to improve. I ought to get the big DSLR out and work out how to use it!

    Ooo, just noticed a real hightlight of October there on the layout - our fireplace! It's so wonderful and we totally love it. We light it almost every night and so far, we haven't needed to use the (fantastically cosy) unfloor heating at all, apart from a little in my room. The fireplace kicks out a sensational amount of heat and we both love it. I guess that is a layout for another day. And romantic? Yes. And soothing? Most definitely! Although I still miss living in the city centre of Re, this fireplace more than makes up for it. I need to get myself a little reading light so that I can sit next to the fire and just absorb the beauty and the warmth. Mmmmmm.

    Anway, this year we are celebrating Halloween again. And I decided it was time to change up the decorations. Then I saw this wonderful project (here) on the Bella Blvd website designed by Jessica Ball and I just knew that I had to lift this idea and create my own spooky wreath. (And yes, I will be repeating this for Christmas!) Oh my, this project was just gorgeous and I loved the fact that it was really quite a simple concept. It was fantastic and I fell in love instantly. Check out the designer's blog here. Her stuff is lovely.

    Ok, so my project is not perfect but I love it, even if I say it myself. I collected all sorts of silly Halloweeen stuff together and got busy with the glitter (glittering the whole flat in the process). Such fun! Such a fab project and it's not going to die while still hanging on the door. I used some of the new BG Eerie collection that I just picked up the week before which made me feel all kind of virtuous.

    I was on a roll, so I fished out the CC lacing cards I had lying around and produced this cute little banner that is now hanging on the wall. It was great to use up some of the huge amount of Halloweeen papers and embellies that I have and here I used CC Haunted, some Heidi Swapp bits and pieces and some Doodlebug ribbons as well as other bits and bobs. I always forget how good it is to use up product and be able to see it out in the open.

    (Photos are not so good - I need to find a better way of taking pictures of my projects now that the light has changed and the hours of daylight are limited)

    Of course, my little Bellaboo banner from one of the first Bellaboo mini kits, Frighteningly Fabulous is also out and enjoying a bit of a comeback! Can't believe it's now two years since Libby created this kit and I got to work with it! Good times...

    One last thing before I bore you to death here with a blog entry that is trying to make up for the fact that I have not writen a word for the last almost four weeks...

    I saw this picture on Stacy Julian's new website, on her I Love Colour section and also fell in love. I need this colour combination somewhere in my flat. Isn't is gorgeous? It just fills me with inspiration and an overwhelming need to go out and find something in this gorgeous blue...

    (Image from

    I feel a little un-blog-inspired. What to write about in the future? Any ideas?

    Sunday, 4 October 2009

    Slow weekend

    We have been totally lazy this weekend.

    Yesterday, Saturday, was a Bank Holiday here in Germany (Reunification Day) and that means that it's a REAL Bank Holiday. No shops are open. Nothing happens. Hardly anyone is on the streets. It doesn't matter that it's a Saturday.

    Usually, Saturday Bank Holidays drive me a bit crazy but not this one. We decided that it was going to be sloooooow. We would get up late. Sit around. Be lazy. Do nothing. Watch crappy daytime TV. And that is exactly what we did!

    I won't even tell you how late we got up! Let's just say it was not single digits. And the same today. A lovely, relaxed day.

    We went out to dinner last night to celebrate 11 years since we met (can it really be so long?!?) and mmmm, it was delicious. Here's my layout to recognise this milestone.

    And then late last night I read this entry on Libby's blog. I got quite emotional. Her words were sweet and stuck a chord.

    What did I do before scrapbooking?
    • I took a lot of photos but didn't know what to do with them. 
    • I kept piles of memorabilia but could hardly remember what bits represented what memory. 
    • I collected pens and papers but they were not pretty and were rarely used up. 
    • I knew that I wanted to capture those past memories and my innermost thoughts, but didn't know how. 
    When I discovered scrapbooking, I knew that this was something for me, but I was afraid to jump in. Honestly, I read loads about it online and thought about it all the time. I know that this could be the answer to my dilemmas but didn't really know where or how to start. And then I mentioned this to Libby and dragged her over to a shop I had seen advertised as stocking scrapbooking supplies. We both knew instantly that this was it! We had found it. I bought a whole load of random products and had no idea whatsoever about how I was going to actually create a page. In those days, we were both feeling our way around - it was really funny! And look at us now. This hobby of ours has most definitely taken over. It fills many, many of my waking moments and even when I am not actually sitting here creating, I am thinking about it.

    I love living here. I don't really get homesick any more (well, rarely anyway). But when I hear about Libby's crops, I really feel it. I wish I was there more often. I love it every time I go and I love to see the girls, to spend all my time giggling and being unproductibe and I love every minute! So guys, you know that I would be there more often if I could! But I'm always there in spirit!

    Oh, and I almost forgot - Happy Anniversary Libby and Jon. We wish you all the happiness in the world.

    Tuesday, 29 September 2009

    Is there no stopping me?

    I'm enjoying this so much. This rush of inspiration. This feel good feeling about using up the stash. The thrill I get from looking at my growing pile of finished layouts that are sitting there on my desk.

    Better than Cadbury's chocolate?

    Now let's not get carried away...

    But better than an ice-cream sundae maybe.

    Using up the Bellaboo June kit that seems to go on forever (looking forward to seeing the October kit!) and is still lovely and fresh, as well as many other papers.

    I still have not managed to break into my BasicGrey papers but that's OK. I'm working through the scrap box and all the other papers in my storage, some of which are REALLY old. I think some of them are among the first I bought, way back when.

    You know what I find hardest (after the precious BG) to break into and use up? Alphabets! I find it so hard to open up a new pack and then to actually USE vowels that I will probably need on another layout! And I'm rubbish at coming up with titles that use the letters I have. I was never any good at Countdown and now this is coming back to bite me!

    I've been stalking Libby's blog too, as she has had a fabulous burst of creativity over the last few days. And that kit she's been using - the Scrapagogo August kit. It looks totally adorable and even though I have so much here, I am positively green with envy. Look at those layouts ( here and here) - aren't they gorgeous? And to think she is getting the new kit soon too. I am in a bit of a dilemma. Should I subscribe? Or should I continue on my challenge?

    Difficult. I have no self-control whatsoever. Must. Not. Click. Subscribe...

    I think that maybe I will start my new Challenge 50 soon, but not just yet. I can feel a bit of an online shopping trip coming on.


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