Fun with Fotor: Black & White

I’m busy sorting out a new series, so in the meantime I thought I’d share some of my photos from my travels. I love playing around with filters and effects. My favourite free website for this is Fotor. I initially used it to create collages, but it also allows you to add text as well as filters and other effects to your photos.

The photos below have a polaroid frame, with various filters. I’ve also added text. I hope you enjoy!

B&WGarden

B&WDubrovnik

B&WDubrovnik2

B&WFlorence

B&WPisa

B&WNottingHill

B&WTS

xx BHF

Beer Bottle Vase DIY – Take 2!

bearvaseAfter yesterday’s post regarding toilet matters, I figured I should balance it out with something pretty and girly and unfortunately far less humorous for today. So this post will include lots of photos of gorgeous Spring flowers (and will contain nothing about p**p).

I didn’t write about this in my entry yesterday, but when Martin and I visited the DIY/garden/craft store for our unclogging supplies, I was totally distracted by all the other cool things. After getting over the shock that there had been a DIY/garden/craft store right under my nose for the past three months, I quickly got to work making a mental list of all the things we NEEDED: a new shower curtain! A new shower head! A new doormat! A new toilet brush! A new rubbish bin! A mini barbeque! Craft paper! SPARKLE PAINT!

Martin quickly dashed my dreams by reminding me about the ridiculous plumbing bill that would probably be coming our way, so we left the store with only our toilet unblocking supplies. But, like the sneaky Hausfrau I am, I went back to the store the next day while Martin was at work and purchased some gold paint and a sponge paint brush. It wasn’t really my fault. I walked past a guy selling purple lilacs in the flower market and the bright purple flowers screamed at me to paint some beer bottles gold.

I’m kind of weird and obsessive when it comes to certain things and painting beer bottles will probably be my go-to craft thing for the next 2o years.  I recycled two of my previously spray painted bottles as well as a new one supplied by Martin. Painting the bottles was a more enjoyable experience than spray painting. I was able to paint them inside the apartment, which meant I could watch my Real Housewives of New Jersey at the same time. It was a good day. It took three coats of paint to create the final effect below. Like with spray painting, you need to wait for each layer to dry before starting a new one.

I didn’t want to buy the lilacs until the bottles were ready, but when I went back to the market a couple days later, the lilacs were looking a little bit droopy and paying 12 CHF for droopy lilacs just didn’t fly with me, so I bought some red ranunculus instead. For the record, our apartment building is surrounded by no less than five lilac trees, but I didn’t have it in me to knick some branches. How annoying would that be if you had a lilac tree and someone kept stealing your flowers?! I did find some perky lilacs at the market a week later (I paid 7 CHF for three branches). I’ve included some photos of those as well since they were the inspiration for painting the bottles gold in the first place.

Fotor0429230130

Fotor0429225824

Fotor0430101429

 

xx BHF

A Cautionary Tale.

ToiletproblemsYup. That’s our toilet. To the right is a plunger. Those green things are rubber gloves. And that long metal thingy with a spring on the end? Well, the only way I can describe it is that it’s kind of like a large, bendy pickle picker. You probably didn’t even think a pickle picker was a real thing. But it is. Some people need pickles and they need them FAST. They ain’t got no time to fish around for one with a fork. No, they have a pickle picker, for when they need that pickle, like, yesterday. Pickles are serious business (for some).

Anyway, pickles were not what I was trying to pick from that toilet. Nope. In case you are feeling horrified right now that I’m going to start talking about brown pickles  poop, I’m not. I don’t have a problem with talking about poop, but this story doesn’t start with poop or even end with poop (there may be some poop in the middle though – I’m not gonna lie). No, this story starts with me trying to keep my toilet clean and smelling FRESH. Because I’m a Hausfrau now and keeping my toilet clean and smelling FRESH is my job (not my only job, but about 5% of my job).

My husband wanted to help out with this so he picked up one of these. Except it wasn’t a Lysol brand one. I can’t find a photo of the one we used, but the Lysol one is basically the same thing and just as dangerous as far as I can tell. Sorry Lysol.

My spidey senses tingled when I hooked this FRESH device to the rim of the toilet. Part of me was like, this doesn’t seem quite safe? It’s not that secure and probably wouldn’t take much toilet seat dancing (what?! You don’t toilet seat dance? Weirdo.) to dislodge it and then *gasp* accidentally flush it. But the other part of me was like: FRESH. So I clipped it on and forgot about it. Except two weeks later I looked down and…

IT. WAS. NOT. THERE.

I was pretty calm, thinking maybe Martin moved it. Maybe it wasn’t lodged in the U-bend waiting for me to poop (sorry),  causing a massive clog and  forcing the water to backflow and spill over the rim. Oh, the horror! But I was calm and waited for Martin to come home from work. When he did, he informed me that he hadn’t moved it, which confirmed my fear that it had indeed dropped into the toilet bowl where it was unknowingly flushed out of sight. But, who was the flusher? For the next few hours we looked at each other suspiciously, each secretively blaming the other for this unforgivable and careless act. I blamed him for buying it. He blamed me for using it. Except, it didn’t really matter whose fault it was. What mattered now was that we potentially had a massive blocked toilet issue. Martin contacted the landlord, who contacted the building manager and, long story short, we were informed that an emergency visit from a plumber would cost upwards of 400 CHF. For my international readers, that’s 500 CAD, 455 USD,  328 EUR and 270 GBP. So yeah, 400 CHF. Scheiße!

Luckily, it wasn’t really an “emergency”. The toilet was still technically flushing without overflowing so I implemented a “no flushing solids” rule, that’s no TP and no…um, you know, poop. Martin used the facilities at work and I used the facilities at our local Migros. We took a trip to our local DIY shop where we picked up the plunger, rubber gloves and the big, bendy pickle picker. While we were there I realised that we had very different experiences with blocked toilets. Whereas I had a long history with plungers and Ack!TheToiletIsOverflowing!Quick!GetATowel!, Martin had none. Yeah, NONE! I Skyped with my parents later that evening and my mom was like, yeah, the difference is Martin’s family didn’t have YOUR DAD. Well, we can’t blame dad for all of the blockages as I distinctly remember shoving an action figure down the toilet because he was banished to the waterfall of DOOM! “Nooooo! Not the waterfall of DOOOOOM! Aaaaaah….gurgle, gurgle, glug, glug,…purp!…fsssssss..Ack!TheToiletIsOverflowing!Quick!GetATowel!”

Moving on.

The plunger was absolutely useless as it turned out to be a sink plunger and not a toilet one. There is apparently a big difference (thanks, Internet!). The pickle picker helped a little, but it was obvious that the FRESH maker was still not dislodged. So six days after I implemented the  “no flushing solids” rule, we bit the bullet and asked our landlord to arrange a visit from the plumber, but stressed that is was definitely NOT an emergency.

Yesterday afternoon the plumber arrived. He didn’t speak any English, but seemed to be briefed well on the situation by our landlord and got straight to work. After 30 minutes he came out of the bathroom with (tadaaaah!) the empty FRESH maker dangling from his finger. Shocked,  I blabbed on in English about how I thought I’d never see that stupid thing again and he blabbed on in German about something I did not understand (I’m guessing it was along the lines of: “you silly Hausfrau! You’re NEVER supposed to put anything near or in the toilet like this. Dies ist verboten! So many Hausfrau’s make this very silly mistake, which is okay because I charge a super ridiculous call-out fee”…or something along those lines. If you did not already, you must read it again but with a German accent, ja?!). And after a week of inconvenienced toilet usage, his invoice of 227.05 CHF didn’t seem that bad. Except, 227.05 CHF! Scheiße!

That first flush after the plumber left was glorious (no, really! I could hear angels singing “Gloria” as the water effortlessly emptied from the tank and was quickly sucked out of the bowl by the siphon and refilled without an odd little burping/sucking sound). It was also very FRESH.

From now on, I will not be a lazy Hausfrau and will listen to my spidey senses. I went to Migros this afternoon to do my grocery shopping (not to use the toilet, canIgetahighfive!) and when I saw a pack of these exact FRESH makers on offer I was like, NEIN!

xx BHF

 

 

 

 

Bringing Spring Indoors

cherry blossoms

My favourite seasons are the transitional ones, Spring and Fall (Autumn). The weather isn’t  too hot or too cold and the vegetation seems to come alive. The reds, oranges and yellows of Fall could only ever be rivalled by the pastel pinks, purples and yellows of Spring.

I love bringing home bouquets of freshly cut flowers. At the moment, there are three pink peony’s on my kitchen table. Before these, cherry blossom stems stood in their vases. Cherry blossoms, to me, just epitomise Spring. They bloomed within 24 hours and lasted a week. They smelled gorgeous and made me smile, even on the days when the clouds refused to part.

cherry blossoms 002

cherry blossoms 005

cherry blossoms 001

xx BHF

Grazie Mille

Card

A couple weeks ago, my whole family met up in Sorrento, Italy to celebrate my mom and dad turning 60. My parents have been married for almost 40 years and were born exactly a week apart in 1954. I have two sisters and we all live in different countries, so getting all of us together in the same place at the same time is a very special event. The last time we were all together was at my wedding in 2012, so we were definitely due for a reunion. My parents very generously booked and paid for all of our accommodation, so I wanted to send them a special thank-you. I love creating things for the special people in my life, so I put together a thank-you card.

I drew a map of Italy on the front and highlighted the places we visited: Capri, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast and Sorrento. After a couple attempts to trace the map using the iPad and failing due to the sensitive touch screen, I pulled up the same map on my laptop and this worked a treat. I could have tried to draw the map free-hand, but that seemed like too much hard work. I used some decorative twine to attach the paper insert, which I wrote my message on. I’ll be posting it today and it should hopefully reach my parents in a couple of weeks.

Thank-you Card 010

Thank-you Card 037

Thank-you Card 042

 

xx BHF