Children’s Poem: Autumn in the Park

October 28th, 2008

The sun stayed up in summer;
we’d been the best of chums.
So why’s he bowing out
as the autumn comes?

Each morning I can’t find
his sunny little face.
And in the early evening,
he goes without a trace.

It’s sad he cannot see
the harvest and the moon.
I guess it’s his own fault
for setting much too soon.

He’s going to miss the leaves
all dress in gowns of gold:
I wonder if the sun
gets scared when it gets cold.

He will not see the squash
or smell the apple pie.
He’ll miss Jack Frost’s fine art
and leaves that flutter by.

I guess he doesn’t care
for changes in the park.
But I can’t see a thing
now that it is so dark.

(Photograph of Berlin and poem by Katie for Making This Home.  As much as I do love to share, all content is copyright protected.  Please do not copy or publish without asking.)

3 Reasons I’m Thinking This May Take a While

October 27th, 2008

I’d been bursting at the seams with the thought of sharing the latest updates of our kitchen rebuild with you.  The 36 workable square feet of space looked like they were going to work without a hitch.  Or at least that’s what we thought.  There’s just one tinsy tiny problem:

We’re not in the United States anymore.  It’s kinda Greek to me.

Dilemma One

For us, the hardest thing about living in a new country isn’t the language, the laws, or the food.  It’s figuring out where to get the things we need just to function day to day.  Where do you shop for lumber in a new country?  How about a decent table saw or file?  Heck, exactly which brands are decent?

In the US, if I needed a bucket of wood putty, I knew exactly where to go.  I generally knew where to find it in the store.  And I also knew exactly what my preferred wood putty container Iooked like.  You could probably say the same about any product you buy from yogurt and plastic bins to a ream of paper.

Here, I didn’t know where to go for any of that.  I didn’t even know if they used wood putty.  A task that would have taken ten minutes in the US suddenly began taking an ENTIRE DAY in Germany.  It was very frustrating to pause at the end of the day and think about what we’d accomplished.  There have been so many days when all we can ever say is:  I bought the little ___ we needed.

Dilemma Two

It isn’t like the US where everyone either

  1. has a huge pickup, SUV, or trailer
  2. knows of somebody who does.  (Remember, gas costs around $9/gallon here.  Trucks aren’t very efficient.)

A lot of people get around without cars here, and the people who do drive cars have really small ones.  No minivans, SUVs, big Subarus.  So then we had to figure out:  how could we get lumber and tools home once we find a store?  I have only seen one pickup in Europe, though I have seen plenty of these parked and stuffed with material at the lumberyard:

With the huge sheets of wood that we’re bringing home, we actually had to rent a big moving van like a U-Haul.  I never thought I’d be saying that.

Dilemma Three

We’re young.  We’re the computer generation.  And the likelihood of us turning on the chop saw at 9:00 at night is a whole lot more likely than 9:00 in the morning.  Except we can’t.

Germany has strict laws about when you’re allowed to make unnecessary noise.  Unnecessary noise includes: vacuming, mowing your lawn, listening to loud music, and running your dishwasher in apartment complexes.  It’s kind of like college dorms except that everyone actually follows the rules.  They aren’t afraid to knock on your door to remind you of the rules, either.

So we are allowed to run power tools from 9:00 to 1:00, then 3:00 to 5:00 six days a week.  We have 36 hours a week to organize all the drilling and hammering that we need to do.  The good thing is that everyone else also has 36 hours to bang around, too.  If I want to watch a movie at night, I can without having to pause for loud noises – you know, assuming I will have a home to relax in one day.


So after several weeks of work, all I have to show you is this one little picture of Martin getting ready to test fit cabinet number one.


(Photographs from jmlyn23 and Making This Home.)

A Peek Inside a 350 Square Foot Prague Home

October 24th, 2008

It’s always exciting to tour a new home.  You open every door, eager to peek into each room.

But what happens when there’s only one door to open?  Welcome to a rare Open House in the Hooked on Houses home tour.  I’d like to show you is a 350 square foot condo in Prague.

Prague is the only Central European capital that wasn’t bombed during the last century’s wars.  There’s amazing Art Nouveau, statues, and spires throughout the city, so it’s easy to see why Old Town Prague is fast becoming one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations.  Who could resist these breathtaking images?

Sunsets over the The City of Spires

Most tourists never end up seeing more than these sights, which is understandable.  Should you decide to wander beyond the tourist track, you’re bound to run into some homes like our featured home.  But before we get there, I’m sure you’d catch a glimpse of buildings like the one below.  These apartment complexes were built during the 40+ year reign of communism with a lot of concrete slabs and few (or no) elevators.  The easiest way to spot them?  They’re ugly.  They were built as fast as possible in attempt to resolve a severe housing shortage, and you can find them throughout the country.

Communist era construction – home to thousands today

Let’s keep stepping a little further from the center of the city where we can see beautiful, modern housing developments like this one that we’re about to walk into.

Prague housing built since the fall of communism

Before I take you inside, you have to promise me one thing.  Promise you’ll say Prague, Czech Republic.  Saying Czechoslovakia is SO 90s because you know what?  Czechoslovakia hasn’t even existed since 1993 –  back when things like jelly shoes and saying “rad” where going out of style.  The former communist country dissolved into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1, 1993.

So you promise to say Czech Republic?  And never, ever Czechoslovakia again?  Yeah!  That makes me so happy.

Okay, then here she is:

Like I said:  a one-door house.

Closet for EVERYTHING on the right there.

Tiny bathroom on the left.

If you can squish a washing machine into the house, this is where it would go – somewhere in that bathroom.  You’d have to dry your clothes on a fold up line.  Maybe in the entry?

The multi-purpose, every-purpose room.

I love how efficient this home is.  The couch turns into a bed at night.  The white box under the window is a hot water heater with a small dial control.  Heat comes from a central system for the entire building, as do hot and cold water.  And isn’t that wood floor beautiful?  How about a view of the other side of the room?  It’s taken from in front of the chair above:

I’m so sorry – I should have made you some tasty kolach here in the kitchen

The stove and oven are behind me on your left.  There is no microwave (where would you put it?!).  The fridge is the cabinet next to all the drawers.  Americans might describe it as dorm-size, but a fridge like that is actually pretty common here in Europe.  (In Berlin where I live, we have to go to the grocery store a little more often than in the US, but stores are in walking distance.  Food is packaged in smaller quantities, too.  It’s easier to carry your groceries that way, and you don’t need space to store huge containers of flour and a gallon of milk.)

This last year, we celebrated Christmas in the traditional Czech way… which included carp for dinner!

If you enjoyed this small apartment tour, you might like Joann’s 20 square foot kitchen and chef and author Mark Bittman’s tiny space.  But you’d better get moving.  It’s getting a bit cramped in here with all of us, and I can’t find any more kitchen chairs.

(Photography by Martin Clemons for Making This Home except communist sample by Jackson.)