Friday, April 15, 2011

Inspired By...

...the most perfect spring party food spread I've ever seen.

Photography by Bethany Belle; Styling by Collette Budd 

 ...easy peasy DIY Easter garlands. If I ever decide to get my sewing machine fixed or get a new one, I might lock myself in our guest room and go to town making fun garlands for an entire weekend. It's my fave.

 ...the perfect solution for people, like my sister, whose strokes of genius occur in one of the more awkward places to bring a paper and pen to.

...cute little wee rompers. Cuz babies can rock that trend. My thighs cannot. The first baby to be had by any of my closest girlfriends is getting beyond spoiled with trendy clothes that I can't (*ahem* shouldn't) wear myself.

...being reminded that what one person sees as trash, can be another person's treasure. Why throw away those colorful rhubarb leaves when you can use them as fresh decorations instead?

...fantabulously diy'd modular shelving. Those Swedes think of everything...

Photo by Livet Hemma

Image Credits: 1) Food spread by Bethany Belle, styling by Collette Budd via A Subtle Revelry; 2) Garland by Melanie Blodgett of You Are My Fave; 3) Aqua Notes via Black Eiffel; 4) Lavender romper and 5) blue sunsuit by kit+lili via Black Eiffel; 6) Rhubarb flowers by Serena of The Farm Chicks; 7) Modular shelving by Livet Hemma via Whorange

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Babies Are Still Alright

It's been a while since I posted about them, so you may be wondering how our babies our doing. Or maybe not but either way, I shall tell you:

They are faring quite well through this not-yet-warm-enough spring! Some better than others. The bush tomatoes (whatever those really are in English) are the most robust and nearly all of the little guys have sprouted tall with multiple leaves. The Stabtomaten (stake tomatoes?), both varieties, are a little nitpickier. But still, more than enough have survived than we could ever even fit on our wee balcony.

All the little guys who are growing but still sharing a tiny pot will probably need to endure their final pot transplanation soon. That's my next job and then they can grow happily in their new homes (individual big pots) for the summer!

I'm still praying most of that red basil hangs in there and makes it past the sprout stage. It would make our weekday grill dates on the balcony so much better if we could also add some of this basil to a plate of tomatoes and buffalo mozzerella...

I'm also in semi disbelief that we'll really get any real cayenne peppers out of these guys, but man I hope we do so I can horrify some friends with great spicy cooking! (many Germans aren't so big on or tolerant of spicy. Luckily I know quite a few who love it though!)

So the chives here were planted last year. The flower boxes were left on the balcony all winter and completely ignored and then one day, we went out and saw little baby sprouts popping up! They survived the snow and ice and negative temperatures of our somewhat brutal winter. And are now thriving, even though we still take absolute no care of them. Rock on chives! Just as hardy as our peppermint has proven to be

I have faith in the dill. He might be having an identity crisis in the rosemary pot though.

The parsley will be fine too. I've learned in my couple years of balcony gardening that parsley is a trooper.

In my closter garden, still only the eucalyptus have sprouted. I have no idea what to do with them next. I suppose I could read the directions...

And a final shot of some more tomatoes. I kinda just wanted a picture of my fun rug here, really. (Still working on finding the best camera settings for a typical grey Berlin day.) Soon we'll be finding some of these cute babies a new home (due to limited balcony space, not a lack of love for them). And hopefully also a babysitter for when we're gone on vacation starting next week...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Snapshots of the Weekend: Berlin Half Marathon

I fell a bit behind on the posts last week so I'll try to pay a little catch-up now. Last weekend, April 2-3, included on of my most exciting and yet most-dreaded Sundays of the year: the Berlin Half Marathon Sunday.

You can see the excitement emanating from my pores...

I say dreaded because, well, I'm not a runner. By any means. In fact, until about last year I really truly despised running. And pretty much complained throughout any running workout I would do. (Ask my sister, she had to deal with me and my whining for years!) But I finally came around and decided that, since I love doing triathlons and do want to keep improving at them, I would just have to face the music and force myself to at least try to enjoy running. Which is why I started running half marathons. It's still my least favorite race, but at least it gets me hitting the pavement all winter so that I'm in good running shape by the time tri season comes around!

Me and my tri buddy Kerstin pre-race, not overheating quite yet, but getting there!

The start on Karl-Marx Allee

Funny thing about big races here in Germany. You see, Germans love to clap, but only in unison. There is no out-of-turn clapping and a race is no exception. So when the gun goes off, the clapping begins. And then after a few minutes of military-like clapping and cheering and general excitiment, it stops, just as suddenly and all at once. If you hear an extra lone clap, you can pretty safely bet it's me or some other sorry-I'm-not-following-the-clapping-rules! American...

 Ok, I can't take credits for these snapshots at all this week. They're all courtesy of my #1 cheerleader, Micha.

Where's Waldo? Oh, there, between the big group of Americans on my right finally talking in miles and not kilometers and the group of way-too-enthusiastic pink-shirted Italians on my left who jumped up and down one too many times  before the start for me to still consider them of sound mind.

The human barricade in front of the final start group. They had a separate start time and were escorted to the start line by these friendly helpers in green.

 Anti-nuclear energy/power plant flags abounded abounded this year.

 This sticker was my favorite: "I'm ,without radio, active" (that word order makes the saying, but doesn't make quite so much sense in English, unfortunately...)

 Ummm, not me. I was probably wishing for the sweet relief of death at about kilometer 11 while he was crossing the finish line.

 Our meeting point at kilometer 17, right past Potsdamer Platz. Micha hasn't managed to actually spot me in this race before, but this year, it worked...

...with quite a pretty outcome... I'm clearly taking one of my infamous running naps here. I think I have a picture of me during this moment from every race I've ever done...

Done! I survived my third half marathon! The heat nearly killed me--my California self is ashamed to say so but it's true--as it was a good 15 degrees hotter than it had been in months and all that training in negative temperatures did not prepare me for a race day heat wave, complete with no shade and very minimal water stations! But what can you do? I made it, Kerstin made it. The top-seeded German female runner, Sabrina Mockenhaupt, did not make it. So at least we can be damn proud of ourselves after that!

And as a side note, thank goodness I brought the flip flops in moment of genius while packing that morning, cuz the heat caused my poor sweating feet to develop not one, not two, not three, but four blisters on almost each toe! (They are thankfully already gone. And surprisingly, weren't that painful. TMI, huh? Sorry about that.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Inspired By...

...the prettiest gosh darn tights I've ever seen. If only the price tag was just as lovely.

 ...letterpress versions of posts from one of my already favorite I-could-really-use-a-laugh-today-so-I'll-waste-time-here websites.

...a new take on a classic film. While it was never my favorite movie, Micha is obsessed. And so after about the 14th viewing of the trilogies, they've grown on me. Michael J. Fox will do that to a girl.

...a fashionably messy vanity area. We have the very typical no-one-else-sees-the-bedroom-so-let's-use-it-as-storage-space syndrome. I'm determined to change this and make it cozy. A snazzy vanity area for my jewelry and other goodies is a must.

...revamped state mottos. Who knew how many cool state mottos were out there? And how many kinda freaky ones as well!

...florals and mustard yellow. Everything I start to think I have too many mustard yellow things in my life, I find another one calling my name. And I would love to have more non-granny florals around, if only I had the talent to pick them out.

Image credits: 1) KronKron ombre tights from Olive Shoppe via Where the Lovely Things Are; 2) and 3) Letterpress prints by Sapling Press via one cool pick; 4) BTTF poster from Phantom City Creative via ManMade; 5) Vanity space by Martin Löf via sfgirlbybay; 6) Alaska by Keetra Dean Dixon, 7) Texas by Curtis Jenkins, 8) West Virginia by Bobby McKenna , all for 50 and 50 via ManMade; 9) Outfit by Kendi Everyday.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Apartment Therapy

It's no secret that I'm a tab bit obsessed with Apartment Therapy (both the website and the book, which I highly recommend!). I've always enjoyed decorating and redecorating, but once I realized I could start calling it therapy, the amount of time I spent thinking about sprucing up our apartment has me bordering on crazy pants territory.

Which is why I am now proud to say that, after almost four years in our current apartment, we have FINALLY finished painting every room! This wouldn't be nearly as exciting if the previous tenants hadn't painted each room in a hideous shade of ugly and uglier* (I'm looking at you hideous orange-red on the one living room wall!), but they did and so repainting was really just a way of keeping my sanity.

*An aside: not only were the paint colors ugly (butter yellow, skin-color yuck), but they didn't flow at all from one room to the next. You try moving from a mint green hallway to a light yellow guest room to a different shade of yellow plus one wall of weird orange-red living room without wanting to poke your eyes out.

I do not at all miss the yucky yellow and orange-red walls. Along with the top white stripe that we were skeptical to paint over, but are now so glad we did!

My sister's spontaneous visit last month gave us that final metaphorical kick in the ass to finally paint over the ugliest living room walls in existence. Though that opinion is mine alone, as Micha wasn't too disturbed by them. But he does know that when I have my mind set on new colors, you can only postpone the inevitable weekend painting extravaganza for so long. So off we went!

Goodbye blah yellow, hellooooo sultry gray!

We had somehow managed to agree on two colors for the room 1) quickly and 2) quite a while ago. We knew that we wanted our one picture wall--the previously red wall--to be a lovely pinky purple (I know, I know, you still don't believe me that a boy would agree on this one but he TOTALLY did! Almost right away!) My inspiration for this color came from this fantastic bar in my old stomping grounds of Padova, Italy that my sister and I stumbled upon during our last visit there. It had the most fantastic color scheme of pinky purple and lime green with a faux fur leopard print bar! Sadly, I have no pictures, but honestly, who could say no to that?

And we had originally agreed to paint the other three walls white. That is, until a good friend, while visiting, told me that white was just too boring for me. Why not light grey? (gray? I can never decide.) And thus the idea for light grey was born. (Thanks Faralyn!)

If you don't have a German boyfriend (and are still on the market), might I recommend finding one? Because let me tell you, they can tape a wall like no other in the amount of time it takes you to find your roller! And perfectly straight to boot.

Sister, getting her paint on. And rocking a Bon Jovi tee. She was at least twice as fast as me. If I had known this sooner, I would have flown her out to paint all of our other rooms years ago!

It still warms me up inside to see the yellow disappearing...

 We totally could have left it like this and called it modern art.

...aaaaaand the final product! Ok, fine. It really does look pink here. But I swear in real life it looks just slightly more purple...
Ta-da! (Ignore my dead tulips, please.)

I love it. It's not at all what I had originally intended, but I'm so glad I took the advice of quite a few clever friends of mine and amended my original ideas. The room feels so fresh and lovely now. And so much I'm sure most of our friends here will have pretty much the same shocked expression on their face when they see it as they did when they first set their eyes on our lime green kitchen, but by now they're used to the fact that Americans like colorful craziness. And drama, baby, drama!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Snapshots of the Week: Signs of Spring

I'm determined to hone my rather mediocre photography skills and have devised a new way to force myself to do so: snapshots of the week posts. I already have the great camera and live in a beautiful city, so the only thing holding me back is weekly motivation. I'll try to post fun pictures I take, usually on my lunch break, of daily life here in Berlin. This will challenge me as well to move out of my usual lunchtime photo-taking area of Mitte (where my office is) and venture to new neighborhoods. Otherwise, pictures of the TV tower and Berliner Dom could get pretty boring pretty quick.

The TV tower. I promise not to feature it every week. Really. It just happens to be right there though...

Sign of spring #1: People taking an open-air boat ride Sign of spring #2: People lounging in the sun on the grass, where the Palast der Republik used to be

Fun fact side note: That space will remain empty for lounging for quite a while, seeing as the city lacks the funds to follow through with their (ridiculous) proposed rebuilding of the old Prussian castle.

 Sign of spring #3: New baby buds!

Sign of spring #4: Topless guys playing paddleball

Sign of spring #5: Beach bars are opening at long last!