I Reupholstered Our Dining Chairs

This week I finished reupholstering our dining chairs.  I had purchased these at a thrift store here in Germany. I was immediately impressed by their hard-wood, Chippendales style appearance. No, they are not real Chippendales, but I was told that they were made to “look like that style”.

I negotiated the price down to 80 euros for the four of them. Never accept a price that is even “just slightly too high” as you can always find something in your price range at a thrift store. This was my first time to use a staple gun and have fun with fabric. I’m a bit sloppy–but nobody can see the underside of the cushion, so no worries, right?

The worst part about reupholstering chairs/sofas? Removing the old staples! This is a very laborious task.

Here is a “before shot” of the chairs. I still need to sand down the wood and varnish them.

 

Malta Trip May 2016 003

 

Hard part of the process: Remove the seat cushion from the chair and yank out all the old staples to remove the old, cigarette smoke infused fabric.

 

All done! 4 chair cushions reupholstered with a manual staple gun.

 

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MALTA TRIP~ May 2016!

MALTA TRIP~ May 2016!

Last week we went on a trip to Malta. If you ever want to feel fat and hideous, I highly recommend a vacation to Malta—everyone you walk by looks perfect and thin—and often with a pair of stilettos. People dress like they just stepped off the runway in Milan—no pressure at all. You will find that your envy quickly melts and then you are left with a general feeling of awe. People take their aesthetics quite seriously in Europe. This is the place of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, after all. 

 Our trips are always so busy and packed. With a baby added to the mix things felt a bit chaotic—with diaper changing and breast feeding in random places and lots of crying, holding and consoling, but we managed to make it work. Everyday we were off doing something—like visiting ancient Temples, going into medieval cathedrals or seeing artwork by Caravaggio.

The food was good! I highly recommend McDonald’s breakfast (as 22 Euro per person at the Hilton is MUCH too expensive, and frankly, fiscally stupid). Our hotel was situated along the crystal blue sea. The Mediterranean Sea, itself, is a sight to behold; it transitions from aquamarine to cobalt blue the further out you look.  Our hotel was unduly luxurious. The bed in our room made me feel like I was sinking into a heavenly cloud.

 

The highlights of our trip were scuba diving in the Mediterranean (our first time!), visiting Gozo Island and seeing an ancient temple–Ggantija (3,600 BC—the oldest above ground religious structure on Earth) and also the Azure Window (used as a scene in Game of Thrones). We also went to a really cool Aquarium on the main island of Malta. Our baby just loved the Aquarium.

We enjoyed plenty of strolls along a promenade that flanked the Mediterranean Sea. We spent a half a day in Valletta, the capital city of Malta. Valletta took us for surprise. You walk through the entrance of this walled city and are immediately stunned by the baroque motifs on every building. This city is, quite possibly, the most beautiful, baroque city in the world. It is my favorite city in Europe (so far). It is a very compact city with lots of tight streets, ornate architecture, boutique fashion shops and a garden that overlooks the sea as well as three other picturesque cities

 

Malta is my favorite country that I have been to in Europe. It has an almost 3rd world feel to it, but, for the population density, it is kept clean and they recycle there.

My husband and I can’t stop raving about our scuba diving experience into the Mediterranean Sea. At first it was daunting–I felt like I was suffocating under water until I began reminding myself to just breathe. Eventually I was able to calm myself down and we were able to spend a good 30 minutes under water. Breathing air from an oxygen tank deep in the ocean isn’t as satisfying as ambient air. This said, scuba diving was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. We were so thrilled that my husband will be getting his certification in Scuba Diving over the summer and we plan to go on more scuba diving adventures in the near future.

My list of favorite European cities at this point: 1. Valletta, Malta 2. Taormina, Sicily 3. Krakow, Poland 4. Rome, Italy, 5. Prague, Czech Republic, 6. Salzburg, Austria 7. Bergen, Norway. (In case you were curious). Of course, I just LOVE Paris and Amsterdam too!

 

 

 

Bend Oregon Trip April 2016! WHITEST PLACE EVER!

Bend Oregon Trip April 2016!  WHITEST PLACE EVER!

Pictures are of Smith Rock

You may have heard of White Flight. White flight is the phenomenon when White people in a neighborhood tend to move out of a neighborhood as more ethnic minorities move in. This is a well established phenomenon. There tend to be VERY few neighborhoods in the US where there are equivalent proportions of Whites and Ethnic minorities within their boundaries. Instead, neighborhoods in America tend to be predominantly one race or another—either White, or a mixture of ethnic minorities.

Bend Oregon has experienced the opposite of White Flight. Bend has what I like to call “Caucasian Invasion”. In my many travels, Bend has got to be one of the whiter places in the World, and I’m not referring to the Cascade Mountains or the ample snowfall there in the winter.

In April 2016 our family was able to fly back to the United States. We had the opportunity—thanks to a professional connection—to spend some time in Bend, Oregon. While there I was able to validate the sheer whiteness of the place. We also spent some time in New York City, which isn’t quite so white. After living in Europe for a year, it was a nice break to vacation in America. I deeply missed America, especially the delicious food.

I had faded memories of a trip to Bend with my church youth group in the mid-1990’s. I remember going into the caves in that region and also hiking to the top of Smith Rock. This time, we had another agenda—a professional one for my husband and a personal one for me— we  got to see my parents.

Central Oregon appears to be a dusty dessert with sagebrush and evergreen trees. I could have sworn I saw mirages with cowboy riding in the distance. The days unfold, initially very cold; and then, when the sun comes up, the entire place bursts into golden warmth and glory. The sun beams feel especially piercing here, like daggers to the flesh. There are so many outdoors activities in Bend: fishing, hiking, skiing. The crime rate is fairly low in Bend and the public schools are decent. Diversity is almost non-existent.

Bend has a tightly knit downtown that cozies up to the Deschutes River. If you enjoy microwbrews, Bend is the place to go. It boasts more breweries per capita than any other city in the world. Bend is also the dog city. Dogs are everywhere imaginable…everyone has a couple dogs or three or four. We made sure to hit the famous Deschutes Brewery.I had a Black Butte Porter—the burgers there are also divine!

We learned a lot about the Real Estate Market in Bend. It is a boom and bust cycle. The house prices in Bend are some of the highest in the nation due to wealthy Californians moving in and “getting more for their money than they would in California”. Thus, with an increased demand for homes in this beautiful region, home prices are pushed to heightened levels. This creates the housing bubble there. I assume a consequence of the high prices for real estate in Bend pushes out the riff-raff–so it is a very safe place to live (according to all the locals we spoke to).

After visiting Bend, I can see why people there just LOVE it.