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Pick your own flowers, or Blumen selbst schneiden

Pick your own flowers, or Blumen selbst schneiden

For our first six weeks or so in Germany, we’ve been living in a little town one over from the larger one where we found a flat. That means to get things done, including banking, going to interesting shops, or just little adventures, we tend to head into Heidelberg rather than the sleepy bedroom community where our temporary flat is located. The stretch in between the two towns is full of small farms and pastures.

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We kept passing this one field with rows of flowers right by the road, and a sign advertising Blumen! with ‘selbst schneiden’ underneath. A quick google turned up details about this lovely practice all across Germany. Blumen selbst schneiden or selbst pflücken are like little u-pick fruit fields but for flowers. They are equipped with some knives hung from a post and some twine, and a secure box for leaving your cash.

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I finally had a chance to stop this evening, and there were lovely zinnias and dahlias ready, as well as a huge row of sunflowers. Flowers were priced at a reasonable 30 cents a stem (or so, I think the sunflowers were more), and everything was clearly signposted. But what a lovely idea! This is so common there are websites dedicated to mapping these fields across the country. I’m looking forward to finding more of these around our new home.

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Grilled sprouts with lemon and parmesan

Grilled sprouts with lemon and parmesan

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I have an obsession with the crispy brussel sprouts with lemon, parmesan and capers from the wine bar around the corner from our place. A dish of those, their bone marrow cheese toast, and a glass of Viognier is just perfect in my book.

Anyway.

I have tried to recreate this dish at home, but the deep frying requires equipment I don’t have. I don’t have pots big enough, it uses too much oil, the smoke alarm goes off – you get the idea. But I thought that maybe I could get some of that lovely crispiness from grilling the sprouts. After a useful lesson in making chicken souvlaki from Cooks Illustrated in which you don’t do much to the chicken beforehand, but dump it in an olive oil dressing directly after coming off the grill, I decided to do the same with my brussel sprouts. It doesn’t quite have the same heavenly richness as the Flying Pig version, but that just gives me an excuse to go back…

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Grilled Sprouts with lemon and parmesan

  • A quantity of brussel sprouts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Heat and oil your grill.
  2. Slice off the base of each sprout, then slice in half. Thread them on skewers, with flat halves all facing the same way. You’ll need quite robust skewers for this, my sharp metal ones came in handy here.
  3. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, and salt together in a bowl just big enough to hold your sprouts. Taste, and adjust salt and lemon as needed.
  4. Adjust grill heat to medium. Brush sprouts with oil, place on the grill, turning occasionally. You want grill marks, but they go from nicely marked to decidedly burnt quite quickly. There’s no harm in flipping them often, thankfully.
  5. Remove the sprouts from the grill when just starting to become tender (poke with a knife). Using hot mitts and tongs, remove the sprouts from the skewers directly into the dressing and toss. Sprinkle with parmesan and toss again. Serve immediately.

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The gorgeous bike pannier Indiegogo campaign you need to check out

The gorgeous bike pannier Indiegogo campaign you need to check out

You know me, I am a bit, er, obsessive when it comes to bike panniers that look like lovely bags. I mean, other than super sporty things that look they’re going on a hike afterwards. I am an upright bike riding, wear my regular clothes that I’m going to work in kind of cyclist.

I have lusted after some of the gorgeous accessories from Polish bike shop Bike Belle for several years, and now they have an Indiegogo campaign to fund their new MIRA line of panniers. And you will want to get in there now.

 

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There are still some early bird pricing perks left, so pop over to Indiegogo and support them. I don’t really wear any purple, so the Swing Velvet is out for me, but the Au Lait has had me hovering over the Contribute Now button many times today. I mean really, look:

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I particularly like how they’ve managed the pannier clips, with a zipped cover so they don’t snag your clothes as soon as it comes off the bike. It’s the one downside of the Bobbin Straw Pannier I have now.

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So, which one would you choose? I need a winter bike pannier, right?

 

All images courtesy of Bike Belle

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Where to get nearly bespoke shoes

Where to get nearly bespoke shoes

My thoughts have been turning to autumn shoes. I know, I can hear you clapping your hands over your ears and shouting at me that it’s not even August. But, just, bear with me.

I find myself looking for a very specific pair of boots or shoes these days. I get this picture in my mind, and it drives me crazy when I can’t find it. I have my summer shoe game down (thank you Worishofer and Salt Water) but winter… not quite.

That’s where custom footwear comes in.

It’s hard not to think of beautiful wooden lasts hanging in a panelled cobbler’s shop, all creaky leather ottomans and men in half spectacles and waistcoats when one thinks of bespoke footwear. And if I could afford it, I would be there, in a heartbeat. There is the slightly less expensive version, which are the custom footwear outfits popping up.

No one has your foot moulded and ready to handcraft a pair of shoes, but in this case, you can specify more elements than just your standard shoe size. Multiple calf width for boots, several foot widths, more colour and fabric or leather choices are all hallmarks of custom shoemakers.

Poppy Barley La Hacienda boot / Photo by Ania Boniecka and Tyler Stalman

Photo credit: Poppy Barley/Ania Boniecka and Tyler Stalman

Poppy Barley

A Canadian company that combines fair trade footwear with made-to-measure. They have some truly gorgeous options, and I have been thinking hard over which pair of their boots I’m going to invest in. The beautiful pair above is from their Fall/Winter 2015 line. Poppy Barley

 

DUO Fader biker boot

Photo credit: DUO Boots

Duo

A more affordable option in the made-to-measure game, DUO offers some chunkier options than the sleek Poppy Barley. If you’ve been searching for a biker boot that fits your muscular calves yet narrow feet, this could solve your problem. DUO

 

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Photo credit: Shoes of Prey

Shoes of Prey

I’ve written about Shoes of Prey before here, but I’ll reiterate. More of a custom design shop than made-to-measure, Shoes of Prey has the best selection of heel heights, shoes shapes, and leather choice I’ve seen. That being said, if you have very tiny or very large feet, they can do it: US sizes from 2.5 to 15 are covered. Shoes of Prey

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5 beautiful Apple watch bands

5 beautiful Apple watch bands

I’ve had my Apple Watch for awhile now, because I stayed up until midnight to preorder it. Because I am like that.

I have a space grey 38mm one, with the black sports band. The Apple sports band is very comfortable, and actually much less SPORTS than it looks in pictures. However, it’s hard not to start looking into replacement straps pretty much straight away. Here are my favourite options so far.

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Casetify Make your own band with your own photos, or pick from their selection of patterns. Personally, I am loving this faux marble one.

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Maker Grafix Traditional leather watch bands have their own appeal. Get your initials stamps on the inner side too.

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Cubify Very tactile, these 3D-printed nylon bands come in several colours and a few different textures.

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Leathersy Bespoke leather strap with minimalist single peg closure? Yes please. Vegetable-dyed, and gorgeous.

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Monowear The nylon strap with the multiple loops has a nice utilitarian thing going, a little bit tougher than the sports band.

 

Images courtesy Casetify, Maker Grafix, Cubify, Leathersy, and Monowear, respectively.

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