Friday, December 30, 2011

Inspired By the New Year...and...

As 2011 is (way too quickly!) drawing to a close, I'm sure we're all thinking about the same things: what we did in 2011, and what we want to do better in 2012. I'm not a big fan of New Year's Resolutions, mostly because I find them hard to remember (what was it I said I'd do this year...? I always think come mid-spring) and even harder to follow through with. But I do like the idea of looking at the new year as a clean slate, with new goals to set and new adventures to take on. That being said, my last post of the year (eek!) is inspired by the new year--the party, the sparkles, and the plans for the future.

...deliciously creative cocktails with rims that I pretty much want to put on every glass I use in 2012. No, really. White chocolate and edible glitter goes well with water, right?

 Photos and recipe by Fashionably Bombed

...such. cute. greeting cards. that could, quite frankly, work for any occasion. Or no occasion at all. Just thinking of somebody? High-five! Just wanna say you're awesome? Fist bump! And the best part is, you can buy a set or DIY them. If you're on my "you're awesome" list, get ready for lots of paper high-fives in 2012.

Available by Alessandra Mondolfi

...quite possibly the most colorful plate of veggies I've ever seen. In this upcoming year, one of my goals is to cook more and learn to cook better. If I can create anything even remotely as beautiful as this, I'll be cooking everyday.

Photo and recipe by Béatrice Peltre

...another whimsical paint chip project that would be such an awesome background for a party photobooth (or such an awesome statement on my hallway wall! What, too much?). In 2012, I'm definitely flexing my DIY muscles more. And adding a lot more color to the apartment.

Photo by Peter Combe

...a home bar setup that I'm dying to recreate. I was recently rearranging our own makeshift bar area (oh how I long for a vintage-inspired bar cart instead of a standard white shelving unit...) and while searching for inspiration came across this image. I'm smitten. And not only because the awesome map is of my hometown.

Photo by Bethany Nauert

...a clever (and simple!) way to dress up my baked goods. I love love love baking, and finding fun new ways to make my cookies prettier always brings a giant smile to my face. And makes me want to bake a lot more.

Photo by Kirsten Strecker

...lovely words from a lovely lady. Because sometimes we all need to take a step back and look at what's really important. Especially when it's written so prettily.

And now, I'm off. To get some sun (gotta love the Miami weather), start preparing for a giant Italian New Year's Day feast, and make mountains of 2012 To Do lists. I hope your 2011 was filled with wonder and love and I'm wishing you all the best in 2012. We'll see you then!

Image credits: Sparkle-tini by Fashionably Bombed | Hand Gesture greeting cards by Alessandra Mondolfi via ManMade DIY | Roasted Root Vegetables by La Tartine Gourmande pinned by Selina | Pink Interference paint strip art by Peter Combe via You Are My Fave | Home bar setup of Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere via Apartment Therapy | Stamped cookies via Country Living pinned by Selina | Audrey Hepburn quote via Defining Classy pinned by Sydney

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Best Little Christmas Package EVER

Mid-apartment cleaning this morning, I was (quite happily) interrupted by the mailman finally delivering the package from Nicole that I've been waiting for since Thanksgiving. (As I mentioned before, we seem to have a bit of difficulty when it comes to German customs.) So, lucky me, I got to pretend it was Christmas all over again!

The cat joined in (his favorite was the Berlin advent calendar that, hey, I'm still going to open daily if he ever stops using it as a bed) as I admired Nicole's adorable wrapping, fun confetti, and homemade streamers before eagerly tearing everything open. And snacking on the many yummy European chocolates that were included.

She not only did the cutest little wrapping job, but also found the perfect card for me, and wrote fun little post-it notes like these on each gift. 

And like I said, just because the advent season is over doesn't mean I'm not going to hang my sparkly handmade advent calendar on the wall for everyone to admire! (Even if I did tear open all the 24 accompanying presents at once without reading Nicole's instructions first...oops...)

I hope all of your Christmases were just as wonderful and full of sparkles as mine was! And thanks again, Nic, for making my Christmas season last a little bit longer!

All photos by Natalie

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas Weekend

Today I started my slightly-more-than-one-week winter vacation and it really made me realize that I would love to be on vacation all the time... It's just so relaxing and enjoyable. I got some stuff done today (a visit to the Finanzamt and a hair trim), had lunch with Micha and a friend, and rented the only copy of Love, Actually in our video store to watch with breakfast tomorrow morning. I would say our Christmas weekend is off to a good start!

Tomorrow we're headed to Micha's momma's for the festivities - present-opening day in Germany is the 24th - and next week we'll be headed to Munich and then Austria for some New Year's fun and shenanigans. I wish you and yours a merry merry Christmas and if we don't catch up before then, a "guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr!"

Picture by Natalie

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Inspired By...

...macro shots of snowflake perfection.

Photo by ChaoticMind75

...cute little last-minute printable gift tags to spruce up any present.

Created by Love vs. Design | Created by Amanda Genther for Inspired to Share

...a simple and yet stunning holiday wreath.

...a graphic recipe for my favorite winter treat, Glögg (Swedish Glühwein). We tend to just buy the bottles from Ikea since they're that good, but maybe one day I'll venture out and try to make my own.

Recipe by Johanna Kindvall

...a lovely Christmas card that almost made the cut this year (but was edged out at the last minute by the cuteness of our chosen Rifle Paper Co. card.)

Available at Petite Alma

...a clever alternative to the usual gift bow.

Photo and DIY by Stephanie Elizabeth

Image credits: Snowflake by ChaoticMind75 via Anthology Mag | Left gift tag by Love vs. Design | Right gift tag by Amanda Genther for Inspired to Share | Wreath by Gilbert 13 available at Not On The High Street, pinned by Vesa | Glögg recipe by kokblog | Card by Petite Alma | Gift wrap by Fab You Bliss

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Glitter Wrapping Paper Dilemma

It's not even Christmas Eve and I've already have two holiday fiascoes. I'm not the only one, am I? Please tell me I'm not. Ok, so they're not huge, going-to-ruin-Christmas fiascoes, but there are lessons to be learned from them nonetheless, and I would like to pass my newfound wisdom on.

Holiday Fiasco Lesson #1: When you send holiday cards from two people, say, a couple, remember to actually sign both people's names on the cards. Or else you end up looking like a jackass. Like me. So, uh, yeah, for anyone who gets those cards, the "we" that was written still does apply to Micha and me (we didn't secretly break up, promise!), even though I forgot to give him the cards to sign before hastily bringing them to the post office. He really does wish you a Merry Christmas too, though. Oopsie poodles.

Holiday Fiasco Lesson #2: Glitter wrapping paper is in no way the most awesome wrapping paper you have ever used, despite it being the most awesome wrapping paper you have ever seen.

 Awesome, right? Yeah, not so much.

 I had been eyeing this fabulous gift wrap at Butler's for the last three years now and finally decided to throw down the 5€ it cost for a mere 1.5 meters because, hey, conveniently, it matches our tree ornaments this year, so why not? (Along with the rather gloomily colored snowflake wrap that is not my favorite, but when I pick a color scheme - or have one picked for me - I go all out.)

Here's the issue with the wrap though. I don't care that it sprinkles glitter all over the place (in fact, I kind of like that), but this wrapping paper hates tape. Hates it with a fiery passion.

This is not the ideal amount of tape for one side.

I even tried using double-sided tape on the underside of the wrap thinking that the tape would adhere better there, but no luck. So, after trying out three different tape rolls and using entirely too much of each while yelling obscenities in German at the glitter paper (German really is the ideal language for angry yelling), I let it win. I put a minimum of five pieces of tape where normal wrap only requires one, and then just tied a big ol' bow around the whole thing to detract from the fact that none of the sides stay even remotely stuck down for long.

I think it works though. And hey, we finally have some presents under the tree!

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Weekend in Pictures

Advent calendar goodie 17 will come in very handy for future backpacking adventures!
Papermash knows how to spruce up a package.
Automatic is where it's at.
The gorgeous, but oh-so-crowded Christmas market at Schloss Charlottenburg.
Micha makes the best steak (rare, but of course).
We're not the only ones with a lime green kitchen.
I finally made those sparkly cranberries and they were deeeelish!
Yeah, it's that good.

- I don't really think any of our Christmas cards will actually arrive on time this year (yes, I wrote them this weekend and just sent them out today...) but hey, it's the thought that counts, right?

- Saturday was date night, so we spent a couple hours at the lovely Christmas market at Schloss Charlottenburg, enjoying Glühwein and filling up on Pierogis, then headed to Dussman's, our favorite bookstore, to to stock up on some new reads and revel in the great holiday atmosphere they have. It's one of my favorite new holiday traditions of ours.

-Sunday was our big cookie baking day with good friends - in their lime green kitchen, might I add, felt just like home! - and I remembered once again that a day full of cookie baking really is the best way to ring in the holiday season. But we have so. many. cookies! Especially a lot of dachsund sugar cookies from a  set of Bavarian cookie cutters Emily gave me a while ago and I finally got around to using (that's Christmas-y, right?). We also made some chai spice girls, as promised, in the shape of Ampelmänner, and jam thumbprints with red currant jelly.

-Sara and I had been wearing our jinglebell reindeer antlers all day while baking to ramp up the holiday spirit. Towards the end, and after a few glasses of glühwein and few more beers, Christoph turns to her and says, "I think all girls should have real reindeer-style ears and antlers. They're quite sexy." (Take note, ladies.)

-The Hunger Games, people. The Hunger Games. I know I'm way late to the game but Natalie was right, it is completely enthralling and I've barely put it down since Saturday.

On a total side note, why don't Europeans just start driving only automatic cars already? We Americans learned many years ago that it's just plain better and this weekend I confirmed that it IS. I went for my first solo drive with DriveNow (following Micha's car) in an automatic BMW and immediately felt more at ease behind the wheel. Sigh, Europe. Sigh.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Weekend

I'm having one of those weeks that's just determined not to be mine. Do you know what I mean? A week where everything you try to accomplish gets thwarted, everyone you ask for helps gets snappy (what happened to the holiday spirit?!), and you're left frustrated and with an ever-expanding To Do list. After a bit of a mid-afternoon pity party, I've decided to just let it be and get back on track next week. And thanks to Nicole, my week will at least end well, as she showed me these delicious treats that I plan on making after work tonight! (We always have margarita supplies on hand in Florida ;)

I hope you all have a happy holiday weekend!

P.S. On days like this when I was back in New York, I'd end up crying on the street more often than not because it's never convenient to just run home and cry in that city. This article made me feel so much better about that! (via A Cup of Jo)

Photo and recipe by Rebecca Crump of Ezra Pound Cake

Christmas Gift Wrap, with Some Personal Flair

Yesterday I finally started getting in the holiday spirit by wrapping my first round of Christmas presents. (You see, we don't have a tree yet--I'm living with Mr. Grinch at the moment, and losing the Christmas decorating battle. I think a surprise explosion of sparkles may just be in order this weekend...) While the gifts are actually Nicole's that she bought for Micha (she's in a never-ending losing battle with German customs, it seems), my US mailing address means I get to repackage and ship them overseas, so I figured why not go all out and Christmas wrap them as well. I bought some fun colorful wrapping paper (I can't help myself, I love silly gift wrap!), but wanted to add a personal touch to the gifts as well. And since I'm mailing these overseas, a giant festive bow was out of the question. Instead, I found some of the silliest pictures of Nicole, Micha, and me that I could dig up on my computer (I slipped a gift for Nicole in there, as well) and printed them out in black-and-white to use as gift tags / focal pieces on the presents!

Here's all you need: wrapping paper, kraft paper, black-and-white printed photos (I printed them out on basic white paper), scissors, scotch tape, a glue stick, and some sparkly pens (okay, they don't have to be sparkly, but why wouldn't they be?).

First, I wrapped the gifts in my very sophisticated owls & stockings wrapping paper. Then I printed the photos (the sillier the better, in my humble opinion)--for the gift recipient, I printed a 4x6 image. And for the gift giver, I printed a contact sheet size image (about 1x2). I glued the photos onto kraft paper, leaving a border with enough room to write on at least one side, then glued the mounted photos directly to the wrapped gifts. Lastly, I completed the gift tags by writing a festive sparkly "to" on the recipient's photo and "from" on the gift giver's. And voila! A fun, custom, and completely mail-able Christmas gift, sure to put a smile on your gift recipient's face.

I pretty much can't wait to buy and wrap more gifts now. So be warned, if you're getting a gift from me this year, you can expect a ridiculous picture of yourself to be on it front-and-center. You're welcome.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Cookie Roundup

Some friends invited us over to their house this Sunday for a big, cookie-baking day of fun and asked everyone to bring a recipe or two. Since all the other folks coming are German and will be likely bringing traditional German cookie recipes with, it falls on me to make sure that some yummy American-style cookies are represented as well. Trouble is, I am having the absolute hardest time narrowing down which cookies to make. (I know, it's a rough life.)

Here are a bunch of deeelicious-looking recipes, some of which I've made before and some of which I've never tried. I have three days to choose the best ones and only two days to get the ingredients. Ready to help? Get set...Go!

1. Eggnog-frosted nutmeg sugar cookies, 2. Petite peppermint sandwiches, both by 3. Stained glass snowmen, 4. Sugar cookies, both by Martha Stewart 5. Jam thumbprints by Real Simple

The first bunch are all varieties of the traditional sugar cookie, so I could technically make a double batch of dough and then go wild and make all five. But I'm not so sure that my practical-thinking German friends will go for that...For now, I'm leaning towards the jam thumbprint cookies, stained glass snowmen, and traditional sugar cookies with fun frosting and decorations.

6. Almond cinnamon cookies by 7. Gingerbread people by Martha Stewart 8. Chocolate pistachio slice-and-bake cookies by Real Simple 9. Cran-pistachio cookies by The Girl Who Ate Everything 10. Chai Spice Girls by BHG 11. Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies from allrecipes via Creature Comforts

Then there are all these other, less traditional options. I am 100% set on making those chai spice girls because who can resist that name?! (I wonder if my friends wouldn't mind a indulging my cheesy side and listening to some Spice Girls music while we mix those...) Micha really loves pistachios so I'll have to pick one of the pistachio varieties (chocolate or cranberries? not-so-pretty or super holiday spirity pretty?). And after that, well, my cookie-loving mind is just starting to go into overload. They all look sooooo goooooood. Who wants to decide for me?

p.s. This wouldn't be a problem at all if Natalie lived in Berlin with me and we could just continue on her tradition of the 1000 Cookie Party and make them all! One day...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Inspired By...

After all that talk of glittery goodness yesterday, I'm not at all surprised to see that half of the images inspiring me this week sparkle a little bit themselves.

...a holiday banner that could bring holiday cheer to even the blankest wall. (Bonus: my favorite craft store sells glitter paper, so no messy glitter gluing necessary! Cue a sigh of relief from Micha.)

...mmmmm, Weihnachtsplätzchen. We're doing a do-over-Christmas-cookie-baking session this Sunday, this time with all the ingredients, plus some friends, warm drinks, and plenty of holiday music. Yippeee!

 Photo by Twins' Garden

...a shower curtain that seems to sparkle. It'd fit perfectly in my future apartment-to-escape-the-real-world-for-a-bit a là Carrie Bradshaw.

Availalbe at Anthropologie

...a banner to hang up at my occassional pity parties. Life's too short to wallow in grumpiness, so why not find a silly way to perk yourself back up.

Banner and photo by Megan Galante

...precious little trees made of fringey crepe paper, my favorite.

 Photo and DIY by The House That Lars Built

...a perfectly wrapped package. Someone find me some glittery ribbon stat.

Photo and DIY by Brunch at Saks

Image credits: Glitter banner by Katie's Pencil Box via Creature Comforts | Cookies  by Twins' Garden | Shower curtain by Anthropologie | Worst day banner by Megan Galante via Hello, I'm Tiger | Paper trees by The House That Lars Built | Pretty package by Brunch at Saks, pinned by Ez

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

More Sparkly Holiday Goodies

I'm all about adding sparkly and glittery goodness to the apartment whenever I can, and I like to think that Christmas is one of the sparklier holidays (New Year's being the main one, of course). So last year, for my holiday Das Perfekte Dinner decorations, I decided on a big old glittery centerpiece because really, you can always impress with glitter. (Micha ended up absolutely hating these things because we found glitter in the aparment for months afterwards but hey, the dinner was for ladies only, so he wasn't allowed to object. :)


I got these great cardboard letters from Idee, a giant pack of gold glitter, and then just used modgepodge to bring the two together. In hindsight, I should have used some finishing paint of sorts over the glitter to stop it from falling off (really, I still could...) but for now I kind of like find sparkly remnants all over the place.

Conveniently enough, gold was part of the color scheme Micha chose for our tree this year, so I had a great excuse to bust out the Xmas letters again. (You better believe I stuck them in a plastic bag and stored them in the basement with the rest of our Christmas decorations.) Now I'm seriously considering purchasing and glittering every letter of the alphabet and just spelling out new things for each special occasion  Or season. Or month. Oh, the possibilities...