Sunday, 23 February 2014

Brewing monks

We are spending a long weekend in Tallinn with my sister and brother-in-law. Today, there are plenty of nice restaurants in the medieval old town. Last night we dined at one of the rustic ones called Munga kelder or the Monk’s Cellar. The place is decorated with rather elegant reminders of the times when monasteries were grand producers of wine and beer.

The joyous colourful stained-glass monks with their mugs and cups and bottles cheered us greatly. These friars distinctly come from an order that not only embraces the brewing but also consuming of their noble produce. Franciscan perhaps or maybe Benedictine.

The small glassworks that are lighted from behind give a pleasant window-like effect to the completely windowless space.

And what did we have? Chicken breast with pepper sauce for the ladies and turkey breast with cheese sauce for the gentlemen, which were very good. The service, in turn, was slightly on the ‘do-not-disturb-me’ side so we decided to skip the desserts of this establishment. In fact, we were not even offered any but we forgave that because of the happy monks.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Great packaging

I finally have a new computer. I’m such a lousy decision maker in these kinds of things as I’m always searching for the optimal solution. An annoying quality I agree, but how could I choose when it comes to things I know practically nothing about? So I went for the one he had kind of picked out for me.

It is a light and slim 13.3” hybrid device with a 360-degree flip-and-fold design that can be used in both laptop and tablet mode, and also in tent mode (the photo above). We are not planning to buy a tablet any time soon and thought such a versatile device would be handy when travelling. However, that is not what I wanted to post about but the delightful package it came in. That was a pleasure to look at, a pleasure to disclose.

A designer has clearly been in charge of this packaging project. Everything is very well thought out; simple, stylish and consistent, starting from the colour palette. When the box is black the padding is black, naturally.

So is the non-woven fabric protecting the cover of the device.

The product box itself is like a gift box of any luxury item. I will definitely find some use for that.

Every additional item inside the gift box is in a light box of its own with a simple drawing indicating the contents. Note the semi-circular finger holes facilitating unloading. All in all, the packaging is a delightful experience bound to increase customer satisfaction.

Now I only have to figure out how to make Windows 8.1 work properly with the Google products. All the ones I have tried so far look a bit blurred on the new computer, almost as if Microsoft had deliberately wanted them to be so. I am sure Google provided a fix as soon as the problems were discovered but it is irritating to see something that feels like an attempt to pressure the masses of amateur users to ‘choose sides’.

Of course, a Mac device would be perfect for someone who is blogging and trying to learn to mess with photos. But I wouldn’t be prepared to digest Apple’s money-making policies even if I could afford it. A standard laptop, or in this case a Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 Convertible Ultrabook, will be quite enough for my modest needs. As soon as I’ve upgraded the memory it had better be optimal for me.

PS added some 15 hours later: Now I could spare a moment and found a solution on Google’s product forum. You need to disable display scaling. For example for Chrome go to PC > C drive > Program Files > Google > Chrome > Application; then right click on Chrome and go to Properties > Compatibility > Disable display scaling.

More about our computer adventures here.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

HT 7: Framed cross stitch fish

It looks like we might be lucky enough to skip a couple of months this winter: the little snow we had is now almost gone. It has been wet and dark so I am finally continuing my Handmade treasures series with a very fitting item.

When I saw this cross stitch ‘aquarium’ in a thrift shop a few years ago I instantly knew it would be ideal on the wall under the roof window of our upstairs hall. You see, although my photos do not reveal it the sofa against the pitched ceiling is purple underneath the bedspread. I’m keeping a spread there because of our Jack as well as my daughter’s cats who visit us every now and then. The colour of the sofa is rather close to the darkest hue of violet in the cross stitch piece.

A couple of years ago when we had the roof replaced (more about that here) we also had the roof window replaced. I find the little framed fish very charming against the present off-white trim he was clever enough to build out of plywood around the new window. Quite an accomplishment in an old house like ours where no two corners are identical.

The sofa nook is one of the places for his afternoon nap. It is also the spot for my late-night or rather early morning knitting by the digital TV recorder. I have neglected both my handicrafts and recordings this season. I should put on a spurt with both as the device’s huge capacity will soon be pushed to its limits. Well, there is always the option of deleting some of the recorded files...

Now that I have finally revived the series I am hoping to show more of my handmade treasures soon.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Hi there!

Hi there, everybody. I hope your day included many lovely moments with many special people. I was busy (which is the reason for this late post) but not too busy to think about all the precious ones who bring meaning to my existence. Life surely would be empty and kind of grey without family and friends.

The photos show the outcome of two student painting workshops on the wall surrounding the vocational institute IPSIA (Istituto Professionale di Stato per l’Industria e l’Artigianato ‘Edmondo De Amicis’) in Testaccio, Rome.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

A blind eye

It is shocking, almost frightening to learn how easy it is to become unaware of your domestic surroundings. How you can turn completely blind to things that are in front of your very eyes day after day but you just don’t see them because of their utter familiarity.

I had two amaryllises for Christmas. The other one pushed its third stem recently but it was such a tall one it fell down as soon as the buds started to open. So I needed the tallest of my thin vases for it.

I knew it would be in the living room as I’ve had some dried columbines (Aquilegia) plus a single cattail (Typha) in it since autumn. This is what I found.

The ‘cigar head’ had ripened and burst releasing a nasty-looking ball of seeds. I had no idea when this had happened. Certainly not on the day I made the discovery nor on the day before.  To my great relief, my photos proved the spike had been intact around Christmas so it must have been some time in January.

When I removed the first fluffy handful pretty little spirals were revealed. A cattail spike contains at least 100,000 – according to some sources a million – seeds each attached to a fine hair. No matter how carefully I tried to remove the fluff probably tens of thousands of seeds were dispersed in the air. I bet we will see them floating around for months.

I had better take a tour in the house to inspect what kind of horrors I’d find if I actually opened my eyes at home for a moment.

Painting by Sebastian Sandelin.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Wintry garden

All through the latter half of January, our place was such a lovely sight I couldn’t help stepping outside every few days just to admire our snow-covered garden in sunshine. Quite an accomplishment for someone who just can’t stand the cold. So I’m posting another set of wintry photos before the sleet they mentioned in the weather forecast reaches our corner of the world.

In the previous post, I declared my love for the birch. The cherry plum also looked rather nice. And so did the Amur maple by the barn.

The old maple, my summertime favourite, wasn’t bad either with the delicate icing of snow.

I observed not only the snowy birch but also some other plants, when under a light layer of snow, very much resembled their blooming versions. 

In black-and-white, the above mock-orange (jasmike) and white spirea (Grefsheim) (Norjanangervo) could be mistaken to be in blossom.

At the moment, we have only some 10cm of snow, which would be just fine for me for the rest of the winter, and all winters to come for that matter. I do hate it when you can’t walk in your own garden freely throughout the year, which is the case by us most of the winters. Just have a look here.