In a matter of hours, the new stove looked less than new. Fingerprints and smudges and drops of cooking oil. They weren’t quite as noticeable on the old stovetop.

We realized that we don’t actually need to wait for the new kitchen before we buy a new stove. All we needed was the new kitchen design, which gave us the measurements. The best design we came up with was built around the same sized stove as we have today – reducing it to the standard 60 cm wouldn’t give us any benefits.

The best thing with the new stove is that it is not broken, haha. The oven door can be opened and closed without special grips and secret handshakes, and it won’t fall off. As a side benefit we also get a much larger oven. Interestingly, ovens in 70 cm stoves are no larger than ovens in 60 cm stoves – one oven size fits all.

The really modern/trendy approach would have been to buy a separate oven and a stovetop, and the latter would be induction based rather than ceramic. Stoves are gradually going out of fashion. But the induction stovetops all have touch controls rather than knobs you can turn, and for me that is a non-starter. Touch controls don’t work well with my fingers. Our tumble dryer has them and I often have to press three or four times before my touch is registered. We had horrible microwave ovens at work that required sliding to set the time and I hated them with a passion. I found them totally unusable. Imagine doing that every time I am cooking, with spills and hot pans nearby. Nope. Plus the whole induction thing seems somewhat hit and miss. I read enough reports about high-pitched whining noises, rings turning themselves off unpredictably, cases where turning on the largest ring reduces power on all the others, etc, to put me off the idea completely. This relatively old-fashioned but stable and solid solution is good enough for me.

The workmen installing the new stove noted that our kitchen slants, and the two countertops to the left and right of the stove are not of equal height. Now the new stove is level on an absolute scale but not relative to anything else in the house.

The cat doesn’t seem to mind scratchy fir branches at all and has made itself a nest in them. And keeps catching and eating little birds.

A neighbourhood cat has discovered our bird feeder and decided that it would make a great cat feeder. It’s picked a somewhat sheltered spot and sits there, waiting for the birds to come. Then it jumps up and tries to bat them down. We saw it walk away with a dead bird the other day, and if it has taken one then it has probably taken several. Bummer.

I can’t think of a way to raise the feeder higher without making it dangerously unstable – and in fact it was already dangerously unstable in its original configuration and Eric added a wooden support structure to ensure it doesn’t fall over. Maybe we can find some way to make that spot uncomfortable for the cat. I wonder if it would find a carpet of fir branches uncomfortable.

I just realized it’s been a long time since Adrian needed the step stool in the bathroom to reach the sink and the toothbrushes etc. It’s just there because it always has been. The bathroom is going to feel empty without it.

Planning and measuring for the new kitchen. Yes, there will be room to open the dishwasher without hitting the window sill even if we place the dishwasher right next to the wall.

This year we will finally redo our kitchen. It’s ugly, it’s half-finished, and most importantly it is inconvenient in all kinds of ways. Remodelling a kitchen costs a lot money and time, and I’ve been putting off the work of planning that project for a long time. No more! New year, new energy. The time has come.

The current kitchen has innumerable cosmetic problems that will be nice to fix (such as actually finishing the walls and such… and installing a countertop that isn’t cracking and peeling along the edges, and cabinet doors that hang straight) but most of the time I don’t even notice these things. I am so used to them that I filter them out.

I’m really looking forward to functional storage that actually fits our needs and, most of all, a larger working area. Currently I do all my chopping and stirring in that little corner space which is so narrow that I often use it diagonally, facing the corner. It’s hard to even imagine the luxury of having, maybe, like, twice that space!

The bird feeder makes for great mealtime entertainment. It’s kind of like an aquarium but natural and noisy.

This year, like last year, redpolls dominate. Goldfinches, great tits, blue tits, nuthatches, jays, and blackbirds are all regular visitors, but none in such numbers as the redpolls.

When the redpolls come en masse, there are tens and tens of them, such a swarm that they are hard to count. The “restaurant” feeder they like best has 12 “seats”, plus some room on the rim. Those spots are all completely full. More birds hang around nearby, waiting for their turn. And on the ground below, there’s at least as many as up on the feeder – and then yet more birds in the trees and bushes that we can hear but not see.

My aronias go ombre when they change colour: from light orange at the bottom, through dark orange, red, and finally near-black.

When it comes to indoor plants, I’m an indifferent and ignorant gardener. Out in the garden, I know all the species and varieties that I have, and that I don’t have but could have. Indoors, there’s various green things, and I only know the names of some of them. I re-pot them way less often than they deserve, and I’m only diligent about watering the most sensitive ones. The rest all get watered on the same schedule, when Eric thinks its time – no individual attention there.

Therefore it’s a pleasant surprise when some of the plants look like they really thrive.