Monday, 24 November 2008

Extra giant flower turnover

After having bought all the various kit for the apartment we knew that there would still be some upkeep and regular spends to be made. For instance, I like to have a good flower display at the window and fresh flowers in the apartment when people arrive. I think it's the sort of detail that shows that we really do want people to feel at home and have a great stay with us in Paris. We love the city and we want people to get the best from it.

So, changing plants from time to time, OK. However, I didn't realise that they would need replacing almost every week. I mean I have this weird relationship with plants where I love 'em, buy 'em and then mercilessly water them to death. At the apartment, I'm not there to do that all the time, so I thought they might survive at least a little while. I was wrong.

During an unseasonal warm spell in October, many of the plants wilted and fell by the wayside. Later, the lavender I bought started (heavily) wilting from too much water. The veronica stopped flowering and went a ghostly yellow. Then the other week there was a small fire in the communal cellar. One of the smoke vents is just below the window box and tow of the plants decided it was a good excuse to wither and die. The tow succulents in the bathroom went all weedy and limp. This is not good.

So, once again, I've been down to the Quai de la Mégisserie (admittedly not far) and tried to choose between the multitude of shops and plants available. Here's the latest batch...

The bathroom's got hyacinths because they smell lovely and cost peanuts. Downside: they don't last long. Upside: means I won't have time to kill them..

Fern-type affair. Even I would be hard-pressed to overwater this baby. However the one I bought the week before looks a little ropey because I haven't been drowning it every other day (poor baby).

Hyacinths outside too because it's the season and, er, see above.

Add to this fantastic selection a luminous green pointy thing that I wasn't very keen on but some people seem to equate with posh. Each to his own...

And finally, the most expensive of them all but-I-love-it-to-bits, a mini arum lily. I once had one that lasted over a year, something of a personal record. Let's see how well this one will do...

As for the cut flowers at the top of this post, don't ask me what they are. I haven't the slightest idea. However, I do have a rock solid excuse for them expiring next week.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Getting upstairs (otherwise known as "you say tomato, I say tomahto")

I always worry when I tell people that our place is on the first floor. It's an anglo-american thing. The English half of me wants to say that it's a flat on the first floor. The (hypothetical) American half of me is trying to get used to saying that it's an apartment on the second floor. Get what I mean?

Either way, the chronically lazy awfully tired amongst you will be glad to hear that if one flight of stairs is too challenging, the building has a brand new lift. I mean an elevator. Oh forget it.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

I suck at Photoshop

Yes, I am very sucky at Photoshop. Luckily, the program has some automatic functions for the graphically-challenged like me, and one of them is Photomerge. It is, to cut 'n' paste the Adobe site, a "feature for creating a single composite image from multiple source images."

Sounds like exactly what I needed for taking a shot of the living room of the apartment. I don't have a wide angle lens, so I couldn't get the lovely sofa and the lovely wallpaper into one single photo. Enter - ta-dah! - Photomerge. I stood in one corner of the room, took about twenty photos, thrust them into Photoshop and it spat out this beauty:

You can sort of see it's a cheat because the wall's a bit curvy. I do clearly state on the Flickr page that it's a photomerge, and that our living room is not a panoramic ballroom of epic proportions. I do however love the result. Pretty seamless (apart from something dodgy going on at the window).

And it inspired me to go further. I wanted to get a big shot of the kitchen, which happens to be ⅓ the size of the living room. To make sure the photo stitching would be absolutely perfect I took a lot more photos, many many more, 119 in fact! Trembling, I fed them into Photoshop, expecting a beautiful sweeping vista to be produced. Photoshop coughed and whizzed, and five minutes later it pooped out this:

What the...? That's not the kitchen. That's what the kitchen would look like IF I HAD A MIGRAINE AND TOOK LSD.

So, computers are great, Photoshop is pretty cool, but it's comforting to know that sometimes a simple point and click is the best solution.

More (better) photos coming soon, thank goodness.