Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our Summer Balcony, Nearly Perfected

So you remember how, just a few weeks ago, our little tomato and herb babies look like this? Well take a look at these bad boys now! They're loving this early summer weather as much as I am and they grew in leaps and bounds while we were on vacation last month to prove it!

Here are the three happiest tomato plants. I totally lost track of which ones are which, but I'm sure we'll figure it out once actual tomatoes start to grow...

The parsley has perked up this past week, thank goodness! That tomato plant though, has not. Am I overwatering? Underwatering? Under-sunning? I have no clue, but I know one thing: I don't like needy plants. He either needs to get his act together or get out!

Red basil makes me sooooo happy!And apparently a tomato seed snuck into the mix there and now one is growing right in the middle of the basil and oregano. It'll be my Italian planter box.

Some random chives and what I like to call my Thymian Wald (thyme forest), because those guys grow like mad. My transplanted oregano is behind that and let me tell you, he is so happy to be out of the kitchen and on the balcony instead, that he's doubled in size in two weeks!

I needed some color on the balcony so picked up these two guys on my trip to buy more dirt. They add the perfect happy touch this front spot was looking for.

Oh dill, you continue to make my heart swell with pride.

I found out last week that half the stuff in there were weeds! Sneaky punks. They are now removed and I'm waiting for the mint to do its usual let-me-grow-out-of-control-and-try-to-make-my-way-to-other-planter-boxes thing.

Garden gnome is happy with his tomato plant. The pot on the right has flowers that I'm guessing are waiting to bloom until full-blown summer. At least, I hope that's the case...Maybe I'll just start calling them lily pad plants instead. (Oh and we totally win the balcony war against our neighbors. Just look how boring their balcony is! Lame!)

And the latest happy addition: the grill!! Isn't he gorgeous?! His name is Bruce. (True story, it's even printed on the bottom right corner.) We initiated him into our life with our first balcony grill get-together last week. I never could have expected how fun it would be to set food on fire on your balcony. I'm hooked. Pictures of that to come at some point too.

Since these pictures were taken (again, DSLR-less sadly), I've added some fabulous Ikea lights (like I would come back from Ikea without balcony supplies!) and now the balcony pretty much feels like a permanent party. Summer can officially begin.

My Weekend in Pictures

Let me first preface by mentioning that my DSLR is enjoying adventures in Munich with Micha, so all pictures below are from a point-and-shoot or camera phone. So you don't think my meager photo-taking skills suddenly all went down the tube in the last few weeks or anything!

I started my weekend of with a run along my usual course to Weißensee.

The road around this little pond looked freakishly familiar to how it looked covered in snow all winter! Luckily, it turned out to just be tons and tons of pollen (which also likes to attack me on my bike these days...) Oh how I pity those with allergies this week.

On Saturday I took a trip to the most recently opened Ikea, right in the city! Well, depending on your definition of "in the city" in Berlin. It's "way" in the East in Lichtenberg but, in my opinion, super close and easy to get to with public transportation. Getting back with all your stuff is of course another story...

I still don't know if it was good or bad that I knew going into it I would be driven home by Micha's mom (my shopping companion for the day) afterwards. (Uh, but my bank account DOES know the answer.) Because dear lord just look at the result of not having to worry about carrying things home on the tram!

Shopping adventures do not end there though and I received my first of -- well, you don't need to know how many -- packages from my recent (and much-needed) (and yet quite embarassing) buying spree on Zalando lately. It is the greatest website ever, I kid you not. But as the commercials warn you, you will get addicted. Ohhhh soooo addicted...

And then I moved on to my other newest addiction of baking layer cakes. The dough was TO DIE FOR. (I used Martha's yellow cake recipe.)

Then I got all crazy with the buttercream frosting. Translation: I ran out of powdered sugar and on a whim decided to substitute it with cocoa powder and love. Shockingly, it worked!

And then I added some chocolate chips to the middle just because there probably weren't enough calories in it already.

Somehow, I have no picture of the final cake (what is wrong with me?!?), but here's a super dark and blurry phone pic of the part of it that was left after we all dove into at a friend's party that night.

Mmmmmmmmmm... And how was your weekend?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Inspired By...

...a standout outfit. I don't know when I started liking the color yellow but all of a sudden, it's my new color crush. Only when done right, of course.

...cupcakes that look like sunshine from the oven. These beauties will have to duke it out with my fave blueberry peppermint cupcakes for my birthday treat this year.

Photo by Erin Wilson

...a fancy picnic on a lake. This looks freakishly similar to what my birthday looked like last year (courtesy of a friend's fancy World Cup viewing party we attended in Wannsee on a perfect July day). I would like a repeat. Immediately. Oh, and a trip to Ikea. I need that too.

Photo from Ikea

...a sparkly garland. I'm not usually one for sappy decorations like this, but 1) I love all things glitter, and 2) with Micha gone in Munich for the month, frankly, I'm feeling a bit sappy lately. I think I'll recreate one of these BHLDN garlands myself with some rocking green and blue glitter paper I have lying around.

...a gorgeous summer hairstyle. I've worn the typical messy side bun to too many weddings this past year and need to change it up a bit for the wedding we're going to in July. I'm thinking this will do the trick quite nicely.

...the perfect final touches for our balcony. These lights have been calling my name for way too many weeks. I can ignore their siren call no longer.

Photo from Ikea

Image credits: 1) fuckyeahstreetstyle via Wear Color 2) Cupcakes by Sunshine and Carousels via CRAFT; 3) Lake scene by Ikea; 4) Garland available at BHLDN via oh, hello friend; 5) Braid bun by GM Photograpics via Fräulein K. Sagt Ja; 6) Solar string lights available at Ikea.de.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Öko-Kiste

It's kinda silly and maybe completely boring, but I thought it might be a wee bit interesting to showcase a fun thing we've got here in Germany: organic grocery delivery (ökö = organic, kiste = box). I know similar things are popping up all across the US, but as organic produce varies from region to region, I'll give you a peek at what's currently available here in Berlin.

I'll admit that I have a love/hate relationship with our organic delivery company, Märkische Kiste. I love them because, well, they're fantastic, well-priced, have a great selection, and great customer service when I harass them with phone calls. Hate comes in because, sadly, the time delivery time for my area just plain sucks. It's at 11:30am on Wednesday mornings -- we're on the stay-at-home mommy neighborhood route. It used to be at 9:30am and that was just barely doable, seeing as I have to be at work at the ripe old hour of 10am. But 11:30...sigh. No way. They have no problem leaving your box on your doorstep for you, which many people do. I, however, am skeptical of the trustworthiness of our neighbors and so have stopped ordering for the time being. We'll see how this irons out.

But enough with the babbling and on with the fun. Here are some pictures from my last delivery! I ordered the regional box (size medium), which offers a variety of fruits and vegetables from local farmers (in our case, from Brandenburg) and is a surprise to you (mostly) until you get your box! I LOVE surprises, so that plus the 14.99€ price tag are pretty much unbeatable.

Our most recent shipment consisted of a lovely mix of lettuce, carrots, parsnips, apples, chives, wild garlic (Bärlauch--that's the best translation I could find!), sprouts, and mushrooms (I totally forget which kind. They were delicious though, and I'm not usually a big mushroom fan!).

Bärlauch: does this stuff seriously not have a more real name in English than wild garlic??

No, you do not have an option as to what to make with your sprouts. They are for woks and woks only!

The mushrooms completely overwhelmed me when I first saw how many there were! But I made a delicious creamy pasta sauce out of them (okay okay, Micha helped. A LOT.) and so we became friends.

At first I was totally convinced I had orange and white carrots. Until I tried to peel those things and found them entirely too squishy. Man, I can be such a city girl some days...

So that is our lovely Öko-Kiste, which I highly recommend if you're living anywhere in Germany. Just go here to find your local one!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sweet Valley High, It's Here!

And I mean that oh so literally. I don't know if I've ever been so excited for something that I know isn't actually going to be that good, but let me tell you, when my first Amazon order of Sweet Valley Confidential was delayed and then canceled, I felt a very sharp pang of disappointment. And so I promptly ordered a pricier version for delivery in two days. And lo and behold the glory of all my pre-teen fantasies come true...

*Again, I'm restoring the posts that the Blogger outage got all messed up. Sorry for the repeats!

Inspired By...

...coral and navy. It's been a color combo crush of mine since last fall and I'm looking for way to transition it into spring. If only I had the legs to pull these capris off.

 Photo by Kendi Everyday

...I would actually write all those letters I say I'm going to send my Gramma if I had this pretty of an address stamp to seal them off with.

...an office space (in Berlin!) worth drooling over. My days at the office just got a little more dreary in comparison.

...my newest mantra. I'd like to print this on a t-shirt and wear it to my next karaoke outing so I have an excuse to hog the mic all evening. 

...an unexpected pop of color. While I'd love to paint my kitchen table this color, I have the feeling it would clash horribly with the lime green walls. Perhaps the blacony table..? Either way, I need some seafoam paint in my life.

...a homemade cake that could rival that of any bakery. I recently made my first multilayer cake for a friend's birthday and, though it was extremely time consuming, it was perhaps the most fun I've had baking in years! I'm not quite sure I can hold out 'til my birthday in July to make my next one...any takers?

Photo by Call me cupcake! 

Image credits: 1) Outfit by Kendi Everyday; 2) Stamp by Felt & Wire Shop via A Cup of Jo; 3) Berlin office by Giorgio Possenti via Black Eiffel; 4) Mantra by Castle and Things via Black Eiffel; 5) Kitchen table by Jasna Janekovic via Creature Comforts; 6) Cake by Call me cupcake! via Peonies and Polaroids.

*Blogger deleted this post during the outage and apparently decided not to restore it. So here it is again, enjoy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Where on Earth Have I Been Lately?!

Whenever I get into travel mode I tend to ignore everything else I have to do. Such as cleaning the house, cooking dinner, working out, reading anything but celebrity gossip, or blogging. But I have been back from vacation for almost a week now and so no longer have an excuse to be so negligent around these parts!

Just to catch you up, we took a whirlwind trip to the US over Easter break to visit family and friends in LA and New York, with a one-day pit stop in Boston as well. It was fantastic. I even introduced my German man to Disneyland and wouldn't you know, he loved it! (Not like he had the choice of saying otherwise...) We had a wondeful time and I'm always so grateful for the limited time I have with all my favorite people back there. Here are a few picture highlights. More perhaps to come in another post, if I ever get around to it!

 Ahhh, the joys of acting like a child on the teacups! Makes me feel...well, to be honest, 16 again. I've never stopped loving this ride. And the ridiculous pictures it produces!

This was my first time on Tower of Terror in California Adventure (the newish park next to Disneyland) and OMG if it wasn't the most terrifying thing I have EVER done in my life! (Besides perhaps, my leap off the Park Inn hotel here in Berlin but at least then, I knew what I was getting myself into!) Not that my expression and the laughter of everyone around me gives my fear away or anything. Or the claw mark I left on Micha's right arm...
I dare you to tell me a desert day trip would be complete without a Wild West-style picture. We took one day to drive to Calico Ghost Town (about halfway between LA and Vegas) with Micha's cousin and his wife who are conveniently living in LA for a while and it didn't disappoint. We had beers on rocking chairs in front of a saloon, rode an old train around the silver mines, and ate massive burgers and ketchup-doused fries in Peggy Sue's '50s diner. 

Ohhhhh, mini martinis in NYC...the champagne one was heavenly. I no longer have any idea what any of the others were, but I'm pretty sure I liked 4 out of 6 of them. As sure as one can be after such an evening...

I'm loving the effect we get when using the fish eye attachment on our lens and then super zooming. It makes me feel like a mermaid.

Oh, the amount of food we ate was obscene. Especially the amount of good, homemade Italian food. And cheese. It still has me drooling.

 Walking through the crowds by Fenway after the Red Sox won. We were not at the game, but we did half watch from a sports bar across the street! Nothing like the Sox and a fellow Padovana to immerse you happily into Boston nostalgia and college memories just like *snap* that!

The view from Williamsburg aka Hipsterville. It was adorable over there and the weather was oh-so accomodating. Thanks for that New York! Now next time, just don't get me sick on my last day and we'll have a long and lovely friendship, k?