Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What to do with creativity?

Lately, I have been feeling super creative.  In fact, it's driving me a bit crazy because I have so much pent up creative energy that I feel like it is just going to pour out of me at any moment.  It's not something that can be remedied by normal arts and crafts type projects like painting a dresser or making a tote bag.  This energy is bigger.  It feels important and begging to be listened to.  It's like a force driving me to something.  Problem is, I just don't know what and I don't know where to go from here. 

How do you deal with your creative energy?  Do you have any suggestions or tips for harnessing this energy that you can share with me?  Do you ever have the feeling that you have a lot of it and you don't know what to do with it or where to put it?  How do you cope?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and advice.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sweet potato and chickpea patties with dilly cucumbers

Although it is Monday and nowhere near time for a food post, I am here with one.  I meant to post this on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but never found the time.  Last night, Peter got home from his trip in Slovenia and the last thing I wanted to do was turn on my computer.  

This is a simple recipe, perfect for summer and for picnics by the lake.  In fact, that is exactly what I made these for last week.  They're simple, vegan and fit into a whole foods diet, but they are extremely tasty.  I am not a huge cucumber fan but I adored the delicious dilly ones in this recipe.    

Enjoy these light and healthy summer patties somewhere beautiful with great company and you are sure to have a happy tummy and a happy heart.

Sweet potato and chickpea patties with dilly cucumbers 


  • 1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas 
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • In a bowl, soak chickpeas in 4 cups water for at least 12 hours and up to 24; drain well. Heat oven to 375°. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. In a food processor, process chickpeas, tahini, black pepper, baking powder and 3/4 tsp salt, scraping down sides as necessary, until mixture holds together when pinched, 2 minutes; transfer to a bowl. Stir in sweet potato. In a second bowl, combine cucumber, onion, dill, vinegar and remaining 1/4 tsp salt; set aside. Form chickpea–sweet potato mixture into 4 burgers; place on baking sheet; cover tightly with foil; bake 20 minutes. Remove foil; coat burgers with spray; bake until crisp and golden underneath, 20 to 25 minutes. Flip burgers; coat with cooking spray; bake until crisp on other side, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve burgers with dilly cucumbers.
These guys joined us for a picnic.

And the sunset was gorgeous! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July thrift store finds

I got great nestle tables (there are three, one's not in the pictures), two teapots, metallic cups to make candles in, and two awesome ceramic bowls! So exciting! I love getting cute stuff for cheap!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

At the lake house

Via Pinterest.
AS some of you may have noticed, I am totally in love with my family's lake house in Michigan.  It was built when I was a newborn and has been my family's summer retreat since 1987, when I was 9 months old.  The lake itself has been my family's summer vacation spot since 1932, when my grandfather was just a young boy.  

His sister, who was much older, was seeing a man whose family spent summers at the lake.  After their marriage, my grandfather's family started to go and rented old cottages or camped.  My grandfather loved the lake and even took my grandmother there when they first started dating.  (In a story that no one will ever forget, she famously fell into the lake in her Easter dress during a row boat trip with my grandpa.  She married him anyway:-)  

Later, when they had children of their own, they bought a cottage on the lake so that their daughters could grow up having the same simple summer experiences.  My mother, too, has spent almost every summer of her life there.  After moving to California in the 70s, my grandparents sold their cottage on the lake and spent several summers renting.  Until I came along, that is.  That year, they built the cottage that we stay in now.  

Every single summer since, except one--last year and I was miserable and will never do it again--I have been to our lake house in Michigan.  It is my favorite place in the whole world, the one spot where I feel like I am complete.   It is a trip I require every year to get in touch with myself, who I am, where I am and where I want to go.  

Via S.F. Girl by Bay

I leave for my trip this year in 18 days and I have Michigan on my mind.  Perhaps that's why everything I am being drawn to in the way of interiors lately has been lake-house themed.  

I am loving the rustic and the cottagey lately, the simple looks of summer:  bare feet, peaches, fireflies, hot nights, thunderstorms,  piers and fireworks.  That's what all these looks embody to me. 

I think there are a few things to keep in mind these days when decorating in a "cottage" or "cabin" style.  Both styles can be really hard to pull off without looking right out of a very bad 1990s decorating show.  The trick is not to stick too faithfully to the "cottage" or "cabin" theme.  Variation is key.  

Go for a bit of a minimalist look.  Mix old and new.  Add some elements that don't belong.  Do something unexpected or be dramatic.  Mix bright floral wallpaper with crisp white bedding.  Add some mid-century or modern pieces to an otherwise rustic room.  Keep things simple and clutter-free. Most importantly, don't compete with the nature around the space.  The focus should be on blending in and accentuating it, not taking away from it.  

So, I'll get back to dreaming of my week in Michigan now...

Via The Little House in the City.   A mix of old and new. 
Via The Little House in the City.  Chic and rustic.
Via Pinterest.  Super simple, to best enjoy nature.  Would love to sleep here.
Via Pinterest.  What I am dreaming of.
Via Pinterest.  This is great and simple, like summer camp.  Nature takes center stage. 
Via Nest Pretty Things.  Love the unexpected look of the crystal chandelier. 
Via Dust Jacket Attic.  Simple yet cottage-y. 
Via Dust Jacket Attic.
Via Pinterest.  Rustic sleeping porch with some mid-century touches.
Via Design Sponge.  Love the driftwood and rustic coffee table with the sleek couch.
Via Design Sponge.  A quiet space with a rustic yet modern table. 
Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest.  Simple.
Via Inspired by Tamar.  Pretty wallpaper but not too much else. 
Via Pinterest.  Bright colors against a white wall.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gemütlichkeit is: occasionally being alone

With Peter gone (in the woods) this week, I have the house to myself. The weather has finally gotten itself out of the rainy slump it had been in and everyone is cheery.

Although I'm missing Peter a ton (and find myself worrying about him a lot--he has no way of contacting me and I've seen the movie 127 Hours), I'm quite enjoying having a bit of time to do what I want to do. Tonight, on my way home from work, I got an ice cream cone (snickers and pistachio ice cream) and walked home slowly through the city and along the river. Since I got home, I've been lying in bed reading and I don't even have to use my book light.

I wouldn't want it to be this way all the time, but every once and a while, it's quite nice. It gives me the chance to remember who I am with out my other half and to indulge in whatever it was I want to indulge in. It's cozy, happy time just for me.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Snippets from the weekend

I have a confession....

I am kind of addicted to Instagram.   I know, I know, social networks are bad and people are losing the ability to actually communicate with each other.  It's sad and I of all people understand why we would probably be better off without them.  Nevertheless, there is something about Instagram that I just can't get away from...

It allows me to take pretty pictures of what inspires me and what makes me feel "gemütlich."  Taking those pictures forces me to stop briefly in my day to contemplate some little thing that makes me happy.  And taking the time to do that generally allows me to be a happier, more appreciative and more creatively fulfilled person.  It's silly, I know, but I find that it's true.  Plus, I get to see what inspires other people, so it's like a superdose of goodness.  

I usually capture the little things: a simple breakfast, the way pink berries contrast with a blue striped tea towel, a full cup of tea, a sight around the city.  At the end of the day, I have a little record of all the things I loved about my day and am thankful for.  What could be better than that?

Here are a few snapshots that I took this weekend.  It was a busy one! I helped Peter get ready for his backpacking trip through the mountains of Slovenia (top right) and then went out for a romantic dinner with him.  He left this morning at 6 am and I already miss him a ton.  We visited our old German hometown of Coburg to visit Peter's family and were reminded of the beauty there.  Isn't it breathtaking?  (Middle row, far right and bottom row, right and left.)  It made me really nostalgic to be there once again.

It was a fantastic weekend.  How was yours?  I hope you had a chance to slow down and appreciate it, no matter how you choose to do that!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Food on Friday: Sundae Cupcakes

If the title of this post makes you want to drop everything you're doing (who needs work anyway?) and spend the next hour making and eating (6 of) these, you are totally justified.  If just looking at these makes you feel completely gluttonous and indulgent, I certainly don't blame you.  Sundae cupcakes, my friends, might just be the most ridiculous thing ever invented...if, of course, ridiculous means so good that you think you could die of pleasure eating one.  

Yes, this recipe combines the two most important food groups: sundaes and cupcakes.  Yes, it also includes peanut butter and regular butter.  And, no, you should probably not make and/or eat these often.  But every once and awhile, for a special occasion, they are the most wonderfully decadent form of dessert you could imagine.  You won't be sorry if you try one. 

Here's the deal: the crust is made of graham cracker and peanut butter, while the upper part is ice cream and fudge or toffee sauce.  The most important ingredient is one of the new ice cream sauces from Elaine's Toffee Company*.  They come in Toffee and Fudge flavors and are also really delicious on their own, without the extra (awesome) insanity of the graham cracker cups. 

These would make a great treat at a birthday gathering or would be delicious at the end of an outdoor dinner party on a warm summer evening.  Anyway you choose to serve them, they will blow you away.  

Here's how....

The raw graham cracker cups before going into the oven.
Sundae Cupcakes
serves 6

For the ice cream cups 
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (or biscuit/butter cookies/butterkekse in Europe)
1/3 cup almond meal
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon Agave nectar or honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (170 degrees Celsius).  Grease 6 slots of a muffin tin.   Mix together dry ingredients.  Add butter, peanut butter and agave.  Mix until well combined.  Using the back side of a spoon, press the mixture into 6 muffin forms, leaving a depression in the middle.

Bake for 15-25 minutes or until golden brown (watch carefully).

Let cool completely.

For the topping
ice cream
Elaine's Toffee Company Sauces in Toffee and Fudge*
chopped almonds or your favorite nuts

When ice cream cups have cooled, fill the forms with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Drizzle with sauce and top with nuts.  Serve immediately or put back in the freezer to eat at a later time.

Golden graham cracker cups after coming out of the oven. 
All the ingredients for amazingness.  
You kind of really, really want one, or?  
A great treat for a party!
The delicious sauces.  
Perfect for a birthday party. 
The new E.T.C. ice cream sauces* in Toffee and Fudge.  
*Unfortunately, E.T.C. ice cream sauces and products are not currently available in Europe.  Sad?  Let them know how you feel and--who knows--maybe they'll just start selling internationally.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Inspiration now...

Breakfasts like this-- Quark on whole-grain sunflower seed bread with homemade jam and nuts, a juicy nectarine.
Whole Living and it's excellent advice/recipes. 
Southern Living and it's drink your julep, live life to the fullest and enjoy every sun-soaked moment on the porch attitude.  
Americana... a trend which had decreased in popularity is back big time this season.  (All images from Southern Living magazine July 2012)
Day dreaming of this place.  (Via Vintage Travel Postcards)
And evening time there! (Image via Pinterest)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Food on Friday: (almost) healthy blueberry pancakes

Blueberries are one of the highlights of summer for me.  They are juicy and a sweet with a hint of sourness and are a gorgeous shade of navy blue that only the warm summer sun can produce.  Popping a handful in my mouth feels both like a luxurious indulgence and a great way to treat my body.

From late June to August, I try to put blueberries into almost every dish.  So far, I have come up with some delicious dishes.  I particularly love slightly cooked blueberries because of their extra little tang.  Adding them into breakfast is a must.  

It's not something I have mentioned on the blog much so far, but after my mom left (and we had indulged in constant eating and drinking for 10 days straight) I decided it was time to buckle down and treat my body right.  I gave up sugar, refined carbs and processed foods and started eating a diet purely of fruits, veggies, a little protein here and there and whole grains.  I have seen a huge difference in my body and the way I feel and so far I am loving it.  

This is the reason for the number of recent recipes including things like quinoa, oats, honey and fresh fruits and vegetables.  Additionally, it's the reason that many of the recent food posts have been "adapted" from other recipes.  

Peter loves pancakes (and French Toast, and generally all American-style breakfasts), so it didn't take long before he began to beg for them, despite my recent lifestyle change.  In fact, I too craved a little rich fluffiness on a Sunday morning.  Plus, I had a basket of blueberries sitting around that looked particularly lonely.  A union of the breakfast treat and those blueberries seemed like the perfect solution to all our problems.   

So, I whipped up these little babies and haven't looked back since.  Peter and I have both declared them our favorite pancake recipe we've ever made.  And, while pancakes are rarely considered a balanced meal, these are as close as you can get and, with their mix of oat bran, whole grain flour and almond meal they definitely aren't that bad and even contain some nutrients.  

And the secret to excellent pancakes every time, I recently learned?  Don't over mix the batter!  I never knew this, but mixing too long causes the pancakes to be tough and chewy instead of light and fluffy.  Mix just until all ingredients are barely combined and then leave them alone.

Here's the recipe
(adapted from Southern Food at About.com


1 1/2 cup oat bran
1/4 cup whole grain flour (I have used whole wheat and spelt) 
1/4 cup ground almond meal
2 1/1 teaspoons baking powder
2-3 tablespoons raw sugar or honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs 
1 1/2 cups milk (regular or almond or whatever you prefer)
a dash of cinnamon 
a dash of ginger
1 cup blue berries

In a bowl, mix dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix only until smooth.  If mix looks a little think, add in more milk, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved.  Do not put blueberries in yet.

Grease a frying pan or griddle over medium heat with yogurt butter.  Spoon in about a 1/4 cup mixture for each pancake and grab a handful of blueberries to sprinkle on top.  When the pancake is bubbly and a bit dry around the edges, flip it.  Repeat until you have cooked all pancakes.  (I like to keep the ones I have already made in a warm oven while I finish the rest.)  Enjoy! 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summery interiors

From Pinterest, originally from media.tantjohanna.se.  LOVE the simplicity of the beds with the busy wallpaper.   Really would love to do this in my room in Michigan!

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you had a fantastic weekend.

I thought I would share with you a few of the summery interiors (and exterior) that have been inspiring me this week.

So, read on and slip away into a summer day dream...

A great sleeping porch with lots of color from Apartment Therapy via Pinterest.  How much do you want to wake up there on a lazy Saturday morning in July? 
Midwest Living via Pinterest.  Want to breakfast there!

From Casa Diez via Pinterest.
I have been lusting after this bedroom for some time now.  From Pinterest, originally from kcandcoblog.blogspot.com.

(P.S.  Pink--it's seriously hot this summer.  Embrace it.)