the kitchen update

[This is a bit overdue. I’ve been busy.]


It’s almost done.

I took some unexpected time off of work this week and got A LOT of stuff done. Granted, it wasn’t necessarily the most efficient method (we did a lot of running around chasing equipment), but we did OK and we’re both pleased with the results.

We got all our stuff from IKEA (where else?) via a rental minivan on Monday. We started putting the big countertop/drawer unit together on Tuesday and got it done after about 6 hours (including a short lunch break). We were pretty happy with the way it looked but tired from all the driving of screws and such. We were gathering our equipment up for the exciting next day of drilling screws through plaster into…who knows what… for the purpose of mounting shelves when I noticed our screws and wall anchors (Dübel, auf Deutsch) required an 8mm drill bit, and I don’t didn’t have one of those.

So we marched off to the hardware store bright and early this morning and got a suitable one. Came home, measured carefully, incorporated all the tips from all the more experienced home improvers in my social circle, and proudly mounted one shelf quite nicely. And then we checked our screw inventory only to find we could support only one half of another shelf with our current supply. So…another trip out on the bus…this time to a different hardware store, with bus service more than once per hour. Of course we wanted the exact same kind and size of screw and wall anchor set — specifically the brand recommended to me by people who’ve used them, but they didn’t have the right size-kind-brand combination at the 2nd hardware store. We opted for the right size and kind, but wrong brand. And, these screws have those wacky 6-pointed star heads. Good luck getting those suckers out. Heheh.

English Muffins! Dampfnudeln! SketchUp!

I’m glad I’m not working this week — I might not have had the pleasure of these several experiences  In reverse chronological order:

Thanks, Wikipedia!
Thanks, Wikipedia!
  1. I stumbled upon English Muffins at Edeka this afternoon! I’ve been looking for these puppies for like five years now. Maybe they were there the whole time and I’m just not a good finder (ask Sarah), but I prefer to believe that they’re new to the market (at least around here). Stocked up this afternoon, tried ’em out this evening with a little lemon curd spread over them and…yum!
  2. Dampfnudel Uli is one of those places I’ve been walking or biking past for about five years now and haven’t ever tried — though locals have recommended it to me on occasion. It’s literally a hole in the wall around the corner from L’Osteria tucked back in one of those Altstadt streets which are almost too narrow for my bike. Besides Dampfnudeln, they specialize in kitsch*. We should have figured this out from their odd hours: 10:01 to 15:01 weekdays (and they’re closed Sundays and Mondays). Sarah and I ducked in there on a whim today for dessert after a combined meter of sausage on this, the Weihnachtsmarkt’s final day. Results: mixed.
    • The coffee was dreadful.
    • The special of the day was OK, if a little weird. It was beer-battered Apfelkücherl in a Weißwein-Vanillesoße. I’m not sure how I felt about the vanilla pudding with a white wine aftertaste.
    • The Dampfnudeln in their own non-boozy Vanillasoße (on sale every day) were excellent.

    Just goes to show: go with what you know.

  3. Google SketchUp looked neat as all get out for 3D-diagramming — especially in the training videos. I’d heard Tammy was happy with Google SketchUp for layouting their furniture in their new apartment. Unfortunately, for diagramming ours, it’s not working out at all. Of course I looked for a Linux version first. No dice there. Then I tried installing it on the Windows machine at my disposal. It appears to install OK, but quickly crashes as soon as I try to launch the application. I got it installed easily on our Mac, but it’s a real pig to use (even after watching the nifty tutorials). It’s slow and jerky and every action (adding a new polygon, erasing an existing one) invokes the pinwheel and 10-15 seconds of waiting. Yuck. I know my Mac is weak*, but c’mon.

    Has anyone managed to get it to work?


Yesterday we got to meet (most of) our neighbors for the first time. After having lived here for 3+ years, that sounds weird, doesn’t it?

We still don’t know who organized it, but we are glad they did. Over the past two weeks, a notice has hung on the wall in our building’s entry way encouraging people to commit to attending and bringing a dish to pass. We brought home-made salsa and chips (OK, the chips were from Kaufland) and Sarah’s ever-famouser enchiladas.

There was way too much food there in general, but it was all good. We got a good turnout and despite sitting out in the Hof next to the composters, it didn’t stink. The only bummer was the rain that rolled in late, but even that was surmountable — we just moved upstairs to Hausmeister Wolfgang and Trini’s kitchen.

It was a very nice evening.

we survived the birfday dinner

Whew, what a weekend.

We spent all day Saturday shopping for and cooking wonderful-smelling things (see this post for a hint) including a return to an old favorite, pineapple upside-down cake. Then we put all the perishables into big ol’ bowls and parked them outside on our dwarf balcony (I guess it’s good for something after all, for part of the year at least) until Sunday.

Sunday was a whirlwind of clean-up and prep actitivity. We’d never done dinner for seven (Natasha, Tommy, Michael, Tammy, Matthias, and us) before, so we had to figure out the logistics of the Cobaugh dinner table within the space of our dining room. It worked out OK, I guess, but I think that seven diners is a stretch. We really need a bigger table if we’re going to do dinner for seven again. Six would be OK though.

To top it off, for the first time ever, we had a reasonable place for our guests to hang their coats and hats and scarves and gloves and stuff:

our magical coat hook

Sarah and I bought that rack of hooks over a year ago and then never installed it. So we took 15 minutes on Sunday afternoon and just did it. We really should have done that a long time ago.

I think Sarah and I were really we impressed that we pulled off the whole meal:

  1. salad
  2. garlic bread
  3. pasta and the sauce
  4. several kinds of red wine (thanks to Tommy and Natasha for bringing a bottle along)
  5. pineapple upside-down cake
  6. [*Eiswein*]( “What’s that?”) (from Aldi)
  7. coffee (French-pressed espresso beans and 12% fat coffee cream make for unusually rich coffee)

It was a ton of work, but it was very satisfying at the end of it all. Maybe there’s hope for us yet. ;-)

I guess we took a bath on this one…

…literally. We’ve been having a very occasional drip problem from the shower down into the master bedroom below. We could never force it to happen, though – it has always been at inopportune times. To date, it has only happened twice. I finally found some cracks in the grout in our shower and showed them to our landlady. She is certain that those are the source of the drips and wants to repair the grout. *A week from tomorrow.*

This might be more than you wanted to know about us, but then again probably not a big surprise. We are every-day showerers. I get the impression that that is not the case for most of the natives here — come visit some warm summer day and take a big whiff of the random person next to you on the bus or at the shopping mall.

Fortunately, we have a large bathtub in our bathroom for use during that time. I say this as though it’s a new development, but it’s been there the whole time we’ve lived here. I think Sarah’s used it twice since we moved here and I am sure I never have. We mostly use it as a laundry hamper or a place for storing the potted plants that were gifts from people who didn’t know that we can’t keep anything green alive for very long. So now for at least the next week, we are going to be bath people, or smelly people.

I guess I’d take a bath over grossing myself out, but just barely. How can anyone (and these people exist, we’ve done some checking) actually *prefer* to take a bath over shower? Or soak and scrub in the tub and then not rinse the “you stew” off under the shower? Maybe the hassle of taking a bath combined with the new-fangledness of showering is the reason that there seem to be a lot more people here who are oblivious to their own funk.