Monday, April 30, 2012

Vibrant kitchen to brighten up your Monday

Image from Keke via Inspired by Tamar.

Hi, everyone!  I hope you had a fantastic weekend.  I did!  We were up north to see Peter's family and I have to say that I couldn't be more lucky with the "in-laws" I have.  They are the kindest, most loving, welcoming and fun people.  I am seriously blessed to have found my way into the family that I have.

We enjoyed the summer-like weather over the weekend, went on some walks, ate a ton and chatted and laughed constantly.  By the end, I was a little exhausted from listening to and speaking German the whole time, but also proud that I was able to talk to everyone and more or less express everything I really wanted or needed to.

Now, it's back to real life but only for a day because we have a public holiday tomorrow.  I plan on spending time by the lake and getting a little sun.


Anyway, I saw this kitchen this morning and immediately fell in love with it--so I wanted to share it with all of you.  It's so colorful and vibrant and the perfect mixture of contemporary and rustic.  The photos are from the blog Keke by Kirra Jamison from Australia. 

I love the old fireplace (now a little pantry cupboard) and mantle. The huge tree branches are a great idea for brining in a little nature and life.  They make me wish I wasn't so allergic to trees so I could try that. The pops of red really bring the little space, which is mostly white, to life.  And what's not to love about the huge picnic-style table and big round mirror?

Can't you just see yourself making a cup of strong tea and a plate of fried eggs in here on a lazy Sunday morning?

Image from Keke.
Image from Keke.

But, how can you get this look yourself and not break the bank?  Here are a couple of ideas.

- bring real tree branches into your kitchen.  You can get them from your yard for free and put them in a sturdy but interesting container. Place them against a blank white wall for impact or in front of a large window.
- paint a small area dark gray or black, like the space behind your stove or the fireplace here.  (Bonus points for juxtaposing it against something made from wood.)
- get a vintage tea kettle and other trinkets from a thrift store.
- place lots of bright flowers all around.  Put them in used tin cans, with the bright labels still on them.
-hang extra shelving around to display some of your fun serving pieces or other fun (or funny) collectables.  You can get them pretty cheap at Ikea or even at a hardware store.
-hang a mirror in your kitchen.  It's unexpected and you almost never see one there.  This round one from Ikea is only 15,99 EURO (and 14.99 Dollars).
-where you can, combine old and new and a lot of real wood and stone with more sleek and modern elements like simple shapes and metal accents (like the hanging lamp).

Friday, April 27, 2012

Food on Friday: let's go bananas

Happy Friday, everyone!  It's a really warm and sunny one here and I am LOVING it.  I have a really quick little Foodie Friday post for you today.  Peter and I are traveling up north tomorrow afternoon to visit his relatives there and attend a confirmation.  We are staying with his aunt and uncle so I decided to make some banana bread this afternoon so that we could take it with.  I thought it would be the perfect thing to take as a host/hostess gift for a busy weekend like this one.  When everyone is busy in the morning getting ready to get to the church, a loaf of banana bread could come in handy as a quick breakfast.  Unfortunately, this one is a little on the sweet side to use as a breakfast, but I am not complaining.  I tend to love sugar in the morning.

Have a fantastic weekend wherever you are! XOXO

Banana Bread
from Betty Crocker

1 1/4
cups sugar
cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2
cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
cup buttermilk
teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2
cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon salt

cup chopped nuts, if desired (I added dried cranberries, too)

  1. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2x4 1/2x2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches.
  2. Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened. Stir in nuts. Pour into pans.
  3. Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 1/4 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.
Makes 2 loaves (12 slices each)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

More fun finds

A new look in the kitchen thanks to all my fun finds: the picture frame (I put the rooster in), the hand-thrown ceramic bowl, the little asian dishes and the pepper mill.  
As you all know, I finally got myself to a flea market at the Bavarian Red Cross this weekend and had so much fun.  It didn't take me long to get myself back to the used goods/thrift store where the flea market was held.  Why I never went sooner is beyond me because I found the coolest treasures.  I spent 10 Euro exactly and left with 3 picture frames, 1 vintage-y poppy picture, a funky 1970s tea light holder, a cool ceramic bowl, a set of asian soy sauce dishes (I think that's what they are), a hobnail glass and a vase.  Pretty awesome, huh? They all have so much character!

What do you think?  Do you prefer old stuff or new stuff?

New frame (and finally a space for the beautiful peacock print from my bestie) and interestingly shaped vase. 
New poppy picture. 
New dishes. 
Super funky avocado green candle holder. 


My personal favorite, an ADORABLE dipped Ikea hack from The Sweet Beast.
Color dipping seems to be the hottest thing for spring.  It's perfect for bringing a little color into your home and it's super easy.  All it requires is the ability to tape in straight lines and paint or, in some cases, literally just dip things into paint.  I am dying to give it a try.

Take a look at a few of these dipping inspirations:

Dipped cooking utensils.  Would make a fun springy hostess gift.  (Image from Pinterest)

Neon dipped vase.  Image from Strange is Pretty.

A cool color-dipped basket, which you could definitely do alone.  Image from Annixen.
And Martha Stewart dip-dying how to, just in case you aren't the best DIYer.
Fun color-dipped bowls.  Image from Black.White.Yellow.

Just please, please, please don't  dip your dog...

Image from YaSaGuRe.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On accepting criticism and ignoring Facebook

The infamous Ikea Family Live Facebook photo.  You can see the original post (and what I am all worked up about) here.
Yesterday, something kind of cool happened.  Or, so I thought. 

Scrolling through my news feed on Facebook, I saw a picture that I thought looked a little familiar.  It was my living room, my couch, my gray walls, my art hanging on the wall.  Strange, I thought, I didn't post that.  And, then I looked at the name above the picture: Ikea Family Live.  I freaked! I called Peter into the office immediately, screeching and screaming that they had chosen my picture to put on their wall yesterday (yeah, I really am a nerd)...

until I saw the comments.  Most of them were fine, neutral and even positive.  But a few of them were critical, negative, harsh or downright mean.  In a moment, my excitement turned to disappointment, self-deprecation and a really strong case of the blues.  I moped into bed, almost with tears in my eyes, and begged for all the hugs I could get. 

And, to tell you the truth, I didn't wake up this morning feeling much better.  It has been bothering me all day.  Every hour or so, it pops into my head and I think, "what an idiot."  Every time I have looked in my living room today--the room that I have never found perfect, but have always at least enjoyed and found cozy--all I have thought is that those mean people on Facebook were right: I do need more color in here and it "isn't cohesive". 


I have always been extremely sensitive to criticism.  I remember once getting a stern "stop it girls" from my second grade teacher and almost bursting into tears right there--just because she told my best friend and me to be quiet.  But this?  This is just pathetic. 

What kind of world do we live in where a snarky comment from someone I don't even know (and who is clearly not that sensitive or nice) makes me doubt myself, put myself down and feel dissatisfied with a space that should bring me comfort and security?  Is this the monster that Facebook is creating? Is this the monster that I am letting Facebook create?  (Because, let's face it, I am going to have to be a little tougher if I am going to survive the Internet and the 21st century.)

Since when do we, as human beings, judge ourselves and assess our worth based on what people say about us (or our decorating skills) on a stupid website?  I know that I am not the only one who does it and I know that I am not the only one who has ever felt bad about myself because of it.  I also know that there are thousands of people out there who deal with much more mean and hurtful digital content than a stupid comment about my living room not being cohesive.  I am not going to pretend that it's easy or that we should all toughen up, because I know that it is harder than it sounds.  What I am going to say is that I think it is a really sad comment on what our society has become that these things weigh so heavily on our minds. 

We are constantly comparing ourselves, all day everyday.  We decide how successful we are based on how many times this friend has gone from being "in a relationship" to "single" in the past year and how many amazing grad schools that one-time acquaintance got into for the fall.  We decided if we should be married by how many of our "friends" have been brides.  We determine whether our life is exciting by how pictures we have of us doing exciting things. 

It's time to stop. 

But, it requires all of us to stop.  It requires us to stop listening to the negative things others have to say and to stop worrying about the negative things others might possibly think.  It requires us to stop taking pictures just because we think they will make us look cool on Facebook and to stop worrying about every little detail about us that our profile conveys.  It requires us to stop trying to build a digital life that impresses and to actually start living the only life that we have here on this earth.  I requires us to forget about the freaking Internet for a while and  just get on with living. 

On the Camino in 2008.  This is possibly the best I have ever felt about myself, but not necessarily for the reasons you think.  I felt good about myself because I was away from the internet and was doing something just for me.  I didn't wear any makeup or attempt to be anything I wasn't.  I just didn't care and it was freeing!
 Just be yourself.  It's enough.  People won't always be kind or praising when they talk to you, on the internet or in real life, but what does it matter?  You have people that love you, people who think you are pretty awesome and people who are willing to give you real, thoughtful and pertinent constructive criticism, when the right time comes.  Isn't that all that counts?  It should be.


I think this is more a letter to myself than anything else.  I need to get over this.  I need to get over Facebook.  But, I wanted to write it here mainly because I think this obsession with our image affects us all on a daily basis. It is something that I really think we all need to change, for one's own sake and for the sake of our fellow human beings.  Can humanity really ever thrive if we are primarily concerned only with how things look to others?  Can we be happy individuals with that as a concern?

We all deserve to be happy.  And we are all worth way more than whatever we think about ourselves when we read about that one chick from college who just got engaged or that other girl from high school who just got home from the "MOST AMAZING HAWAII TRIP EVER &hearts".  We are awesome, regardless of what Facebook seems to imply.  I don't know who gave that freaking website all the power, but it is totally time we took it back.

Let's hold each other to this and encourage each other in the pursuit of all the things that make us happy.  Let's remind each other that what Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site says doesn't matter. 

What matters is that you are happy and that regardless of what you read on your news feed tonight, you can look in the mirror and be proud of the things you have done and the things you will do. 

I am working on this and I hope you are, too.  I have to say, I wasn't sure I wanted to post about this at first.  I thought it (including the mean comments of the people on Facebook) too embarrassing to share at first.  But, I decided that it would be impossible to get over it if I was too embarrassed to even talk about it. 

It's time for me to go to bed and wake up with a fresh outlook on tomorrow.  Let me know if you have faced this or if you've been here yourself.  If you haven't, what are your tricks for being tough and ignoring comparisons? 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Flea market weekend

Flea market finds from the weekend: a teeny-tiny framed picture, a blue stone ring, and a marble pepper mill. 
Well, everyone, here we are's Monday!  I hope yours has been a little nicer than ours, at least weather-wise.  We had quite a downpour today with lots of hail and almost black skies.  At least it was a good last day for soup before summer weather arrives.

This weekend was really busy and went by quickly.  But, I had the luck of finding lots of fun treasures at a tiny little flea market near our house on Saturday.  The flea market was small and simple, in the parking lot of the local Bavarian Red Cross used good store, which is more or less the equivalent of the Goodwill.  I got there right as people were closing up but still managed to score some great pieces.  I spent a total of 10 Euro and got a ring, a marble pepper grinder, a little picture and a side table.  

The side table works perfectly next to Peter's side of the bed and replaces one that I was never happy with.  Plus, it was the best deal at only 3 Euro!! I couldn't believe it when the woman told me how much it was...I think my jaw literally dropped.  Don't tell her, but I was totally ready to pay 10 for it. 

Those types of purchases are the most fun and satisfying.  I know that I got a few new things with character and meaning and I didn't break the bank.  It was the first time I had been to the Bavarian Red Cross used goods store, but I already went back (more on that tomorrow).  I can't believe it took me so long!  

Hope you are having a fantastic Monday! 

Peter's new bedside table (still working on how to camouflage the cords). 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy birthday to the greatest mama

Happy birthday to the most amazing mom in the whole wide world.  Everyday I think my lucky stars that I was born to her.  She's smart, amazingly caring and beautiful.  She is absolutely hilarious (and even more fun after she's had a beer this size) and has always been the most helpful, patient and giving mother. My sister and I really are lucky to have her.  Have a great day, mommy.  I love you more than anything!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Unexpected treasure

A pretty view from a beer garden in Nuremberg.  
I took a little walk around our city today, intent on discovering something new and interesting.  I meandered through a couple of streets and and was surprised to see that many of them were much more beautiful than I expected and were kind of hidden treasures of the big city.   I noticed many small, beautiful restaurants, cafes and shops that I probably would never have found if I hadn't gone out of my way to 'get lost'. 

I came upon one shop with a beautiful display outside, full of flowers and pretty glass things.  When I saw the beautiful bulbs in the pictures below, I knew I just had to get them.  They came in the most beautiful, multifaceted glass jar.  And they only cost 4 Euro, flowers and all.  

A few weeks ago,  I wrote a post  suggesting using trays as a way to declutter your tabletops.  This inexpensive but beautiful treat to myself looked perfect for the tray I started on my dining table a few days ago.  I had been looking for some sort of potted plant to complete the collection of bird salt and pepper shakers and a candlestick on Peter's grandma's silver tray.  I saw this and immediately knew it was exactly what I had been looking for.  

I am so happy I took that walk today.  It was full of little joys and made our cold, gloomy day seem just a little brighter.  It's amazing the unexpected treasures you can find when you slow down just a bit and make a point of doing something out of the ordinary.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

8 things

Sometimes it really is the little things that make your day.  That's why it is important to surround yourself with things that make you smile.   Lately, these are mine.

1. A sweet bird bookmark that my good friend Viala brought back for me from Taiwan.  I use it in every book I read and every time I see it I feel a burst of happiness; it reminds me of our very beautiful friendship.

2.  I got this tea cup from West Elm while I was home in California.  I still can't get enough of it.

3.  This "Turkish Apple" tea has been my favorite for over a year now.  It is the perfect evening tea, sweet but not too sweet and caffeine free.  It's made by Teekanne here in Germany and is called 'Türkischer Apfel" for those of you who live here and want to try it.

4.  These beautiful and delicate faux-gold earrings I got at Target while in California. They go well with everything and are subtle yet lux.  

5.  My favorite evening dessert is two of these Werther's Eclair caramel chews.  They are decadent and satisfying but not overly indulgent.  Plus, they go really well with my apple-fig tea.

6.  Orange-red nail polish for spring.  It's new and so bright.  It's like poppies in a bottle.

7.  I just started Ken Follett's Fall of Giants and so far I've gotten in to it quickly.  I really like his Kingsbridge books (Pillars of the Earth and World Without End) so I am interested to see how this one is.  It's a thick book, though, so I will let you know in several months!

What's putting a smile on your face today?  Please share!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fun wall art DIY

Image from Young House Love

Hey guys!  Hope you had a lovely weekend.  Here is really fun/easy wall art DIY from Young House Love.  I love this and hope to make one soon.  You could do the same with a letter or an ampersand.  Plus, like he says in the post, it costs only $2 (if you already have the paint and tape).  Not bad. Inspiration for next weekend, I think.

What letter/number/symbol would you use?  Peter and I met on the 9th of June...perhaps a 9?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Here's to hoping...

your weekend is filled with sun and adventure,

quiet moments and shared laughs,

a little spring and a lot of love. 

Have a great weekend everyone!  And because I am feeling particularly sentimental and romantic today, remember to keep your eyes and ears open and to drink in every moment of it!

Food on Friday: dinner for one

As you probably know by now, my wonderful boyfriend does not have the most normal of work schedules.  As a protector of the streets, he works all times of the day on all days of the week and sometimes even misses a holiday or two.  It's a sad fact, but one that I have gotten used to over my two years in Germany.

In fact, I have gotten so used to it that I have actually come to appreciate the occasional evening home alone.  Of course, I could do without the weeks that Peter works and is away most nights.  But, when we have had 4 or 5 nights in the week hanging out at home together and making dinner, I kind of enjoy having an evening to myself.

I don't have to cook anything or clean up.  I don't have to fight to watch Grey's Anatomy on the big tv (or suffer through yet another Miami Heat game).  I have time just to relax and do exactly that I want to do when I want to do it.

That being said, I have gotten pretty good at mastering the art of the (almost) no-cook dinner for one.  Usually it is soup or salad, but sometimes I get really adventurous and make myself...eggs! Since college, omelettes have been my favorite go-to dinner.  They are quick, easy and totally healthy.  I generally like mine simple but the best thing about this delicious egg dish is that you can put almost anything you want into them!  Plus, there is very little cooking involved--it takes maybe 10 minutes to make one--and almost no clean up.


Here are some tips for making yours easy and healthy:

1. Pre-cut your veggies at the beginning of the week so that you never have to cut them when you are cooking.  Store them in glass jars in the fridge and just grab a handful when you need them.

2.  This probably isn't gourmet, but I always saute my veggies in the pan first and then add the egg right on top of them.  It incorporates the ingredients into the egg itself (instead of being in the "pocket" of the omelette) but it totally reduces the amount of dishes you have to do.

3.  Go for a pungent or flavorful cheese.  I read this great tip in Self Magazine once (and they say this is especially effective if you are trying to lose weight).  Spend your money only on good cheese.  The quality and flavor will be better and you will, therefore, be able to use less.  You'll eat less (and be healthier) but you will be more satisfied.

4.  Add spinach!  It will add a ton of vitamins and is really good with eggs.

5.  Have a garnish.  I like to add roasted tomatoes with salt, pepper and a little Parmesan or avocado and salsa on mine.  It punches the omelette up just a bit but doesn't require a lot of work.  


My favorite combos:

1.  Spinach, parmesan and tomato (shown above)

2.  Onion, spinach and feta (made this all the time in college!)

3.  Mushroom, black olive, bell pepper and cheddar

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gemütlichkeit is: tradition

Every year when I was a kid, as soon as school let out for spring break, my mom and dad would pack us girls (and our dog Whiskers) in the car and take a road trip down to L.A.  My sister and I would take our Walkmans and we would get to stop at Taco Bell for lunch.  We'd hold our noses as we drove down highway 5 and past Harris Ranch.  We'd stop about 6 times in 6 hours to pee.  And, we'd bicker at least half the way.  When we finally arrived in Los Angeles, my dad's huge family would greet us in Encino at my grandparents' house and we would spend the entire break swimming in their pool, going to the beach and playing dress up games with our cousins.  

On Easter, my mom would dress us up in our floral dresses and sometimes let us wear lipstick.  We'd go to church in grandpa's Cadillac and later have an Easter egg hunt in my grandparents' sprawling yard.  My grandma, though, had the most memorable job of all.  She would make the lamb cake.  Smothered in frosting and coconut (to make it look like it had wool), with two raisins for eyes and a clove for a nose, it was always adorable and a perfect Easter treat.  

When my grandmother died, I decided that I wanted to carry on the tradition (which happens to be very German).  We searched my grandparents' things top to bottom to find the heavy, vintage mold she used to make the cake.  But, the search came up empty and we quickly realized that a family heirloom was lost forever.  Always big on tradition, I nevertheless was determined to find something that matched the lost mold.  I found a couple of things that came close, but nothing that was exactly the same.  For several years, I made cartoonish lamb cakes that were a far cry from the gentle sweet creature my grandmother used to make.  

In those years after her death, as the quality of the lamb cakes deteriorated, so too did Easter.  The epic trips to L.A. became short weekends, with unexciting flights between Sacramento and Burbank.  Grandma and grandpa's extra twin bedroom and 70s shag carpeting was replaced by a Hyatt hotel.  There was no more swimming in the pool or going to the beach.  And, eventually, Easter trips to L.A. stopped all together. 

Then, several years later, while browsing an antique fair in Auburn, my mom was hit with a moment of inspiration, a flash of memory, a guiding hand, perhaps.  "This would be a great place to look for a lamb cake mold!" she thought.  Feeling a kind of sense of urgency, she started looking around a bit and, to her surprise, noticed that not 10 feet away from her was a lamb baking form, in the exact size and shape of my grandma's lost mold. 

From that day to the present, not a year has gone by that I have not made a lamb cake in honor of my grandmother.  And, while it hasn't changed the fact that the family does not often see each other on Easter anymore, it has brought us all together--emotionally--to honor the woman that shaped all our lives.  

With the mold safely waiting for me in California--I would never trust the U.S. Postal Service with it--I have sometimes resorted to help from German bakeries to carry out my (our) yearly tradition.  Seeing as the tradition most likely came from my grandmother's German heritage, I think it is an appropriate tribute.  Plus, I know that that serendipitous find will remain safe and sound for me to pass down to my children or grandchildren someday.    

So, grandma, grandpa and family, once again I have made you a cake.  It's got coconut fur, two raisins for eyes and a clove for a nose.   It contains all my love and memories, just as grandma's used to. And I hope that this picture allows that love and those memories to travel across the seas and heavens and into your hearts.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Easter

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a great holiday if you celebrate it! (Happy Passover to all my Jewish friends.) What are you doing?  I hope the weather is better where you are than it is here.  We actually have a possibility of snow!

Our weekend will be pretty low-key but we will visit Peter's family on Easter Monday (a holiday here in Germany).  I'll be back on Tuesday of next week.  Until then, enjoy the weekend and have fun!

Food on Friday: One week of breakies

There hasn't been a lot of baking or delicious, indulgent cooking around here lately.  We've been trying to keep it light, fresh and healthy.  That means, that there haven't been too many kitchen experiments that I can report on.  (Although, we did try this spinach pasta and adored it so much we are dying to make it for ourselves and everyone we know again.)

With the lack of even-a-dummy-could-do-it recipes to share with you these days, I thought I would give you a peak into what I eat for breakfast.  So, I chronicled a whole week's worth.

Basically, I am obsessed with breakfast.  For me, it is not only the most important meal of the day, but also my favorite.  A good breakfast--with plenty of peaceful time to eat it--just starts your day off on the right foot.  I wish I could always see what others eat for breakfast (it says so much about a person, doesn't it?) but, alas, breakfast is totally underrated and usually isn't given enough attention.

So, here is to bringing breakie back!  You deserve a good one this weekend!

Inspiration incase you need/want it:

SATURDAY: Scrambled eggs with spinach and salami, half of a grapefruit, whole-wheat toast, coffee. 

SUNDAY: German breakie with soft/hard boiled egg, whole-grain rolls, fruits, various meats and cheeses, jam, honey, etc and coffee.  (This is usually eaten in a group or as a family.  Peter and I usually eat this together on Sundays.)

MONDAY: Toast with all natural peanut butter, banana and honey.  Coffee.

TUESDAY: Whole-grain cereal mixed with oats, fruit and coffee. 

WEDNESDAY: Whole-wheat french toast with banana, almond, maple syrup and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.  A kiwi and coffee. 

THURSDAY: Plain yogurt with blueberries and almonds, half of a grapefruit and coffee. 

FRIDAY: Jamie Oliver's breakfast burritos* with tomato bean sauce, eggs, guacamole and cheese, fruit and coffee.  (Today is a holiday in Germany and Peter was home, so we took the opportunity to cook a late breakfast.)  

*The recipe is from the Jamie Oliver 20-Minute Meals app.  I can't find the recipe online and ours is in German, so I give it to you in a gist.  Saute one clove thinly diced garlic and one dried chili in olive oil in a pot.  When the garlic is golden, add 1/2 a can cannellini beans.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Heat tortillas.  Make guacamole.  Scramble and cook 4 eggs.  Assemble ingredients in tortilla and add grated cheddar.  Top with sour cream.  

Small changes, big difference (PART 1)

Image from Interiors Porn.
Allergies are killing me today--really making me want to scratch my face off and then plunge what is left of it in ice cold water.  I can't stop scratching my eyes and rubbing my nose.  I've sneezed about 100 times.

But...I had a great day.  Despite the clouds, despite the rain and despite the sneezes, it was full of wonderful little moments.  To top it all off, I am in my pjs with a cup of tea and a little Sex and the City.  But enough about me...

Today I have a few great tips for making small changes (with big impact) in your home.  While I was home in March, I found many of my mom's old magazines.  She seems to keep them forever, so believe it or not, these tips come from House Beautiful of February 2008.  I didn't know Peter and I certainly didn't live in Germany.  Heck, I don't even know if I knew what a blog was back then.

Nonetheless, many of the tips are great and are as useful and timely now as they were in 2008.  They are simple fixes that you can use to spruce things up.  Where possible, they are free or cost very little.  Most can be achieved simply by going to the thrift store and/or the hardware store or by re-purposing unloved pieces that you already have.

For the next few weeks, I will be sharing a few tips* with you over a series of posts titled "Small changes, big difference."

Here are the first 6:

1. If you have a modern room, make yourself buy (or find or thrift) one traditional thing.

2.  If you have a traditional room, make yourself buy (or find or thrift) one modern thing.

Perfect mix of traditional and modern.  Image by sfgirlbybay from Houzz via Pinterest.

3. Wallpaper the inside of your bedroom closet (or wardrobe or coat closet or china cabinet).

Image from Project Nursery.  (Okay, this isn't your closet, but it was too sweet not to show you!)
 4. Find an old brass chandelier at a thrift shop.  Spray paint it white or a color (bright yellow is HOT right now) if you dare. (You can find great how-to's by searching "painted chandelier" on

Image from MStetson Design.
 5.  Find or thrift a pretty tray and arrange all the things from your coffee table on it.  It will look more pulled together (and will make it easier to remove things when you need space for pizza and a movie night).

Image from Baer Home Design.
6. Buy or pick flowers for your bedside table (instead of your living room).  They're just for you!

Image from Hot Tea and Milk Chocolate.

*All tips are from a February 2008 House Beautiful article titled: "101 Decorating Makeovers."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Gemütlichkeit is: in the details

On the coffee table: my favorite flower in my current favorite color; 3 pearl-pink votives; an amazing box of matches from a family friend that I just can't stop looking at.  Très chic.
This week, it is the little things that are inspiring me, the details that make my house a home.  These are the small things that personalize my space and represent who I am and what I like.  Mostly, they are pretty or interesting, meant to get me thinking and creating.  Sometimes, they are simply functional. And other times, they are both.

I don't like things too cluttered, but I don't like them too sleek or clean either.  I like to know that someone lives in a space and see what makes them who they are.  And often, it is the small things that give you the best impression of what makes someone tick.

Here are mine.

Details of my dresser: pretty necklaces and little jewelry holders; perfume, lotion and nail polish; a picture of my friends and I on graduation day; a paper lantern; my favorite flower, a ranunculus.

The bedside table: things I am reading or have read; a floral-scented candle; a homemade paper flower; a picture to give me sweet dreams.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

And, another happy Monday it is...

Hi my dears!  Hope it's going to be a bright and happy Monday for you all.  I've had quite the relaxing weekend and am looking forward to facing the week with a positive outlook.  I love those kind of weekends, however rare they seem to be.

Mine was great because it was just busy enough to be fun and fulfilling but not so busy that I didn't get my time to sleep in, sit down and enjoy the simple moments.  On Sunday, the sun came out again after a few days of rain and Peter and I took a walk around the lake near our house. I snapped a few picks of spring starting to show it's little face and then we headed home for some cake and coffee.

I also snapped some pictures for my family's toffee company, called Elaine's Toffee (bottom right pic).  The toffee is seriously amazing (and I am not just saying that because I am biased) and even Peter, who isn't a big fan of chocolate, is a fiend for it.  Check out the Elaine's Toffee Facebook page for some of the pictures.

Then, last night, we watched a movie called Our Idiot Brother.  It's with Paul Rudd, who I just love.  Have you seen it?  Paul Rudd plays a guy who's so nice and kind-hearted that it's almost painful and is constantly getting him into trouble.  It's such a cute movie and makes you want to open yourself up and give everyone you see the benefit of the doubt (and a big hug).

How was your weekend and what did you do?  Any cozy moments to share?  Have a fantastic week and enjoy the first few days of April!  Yay!