Thursday, June 30, 2011

Birthday Week Fun: Round 2

For day two of our birthday fun, Natalie and I decided we'd treat ourselves to some pretty summery flowers. Because there's something kind of special and exciting about buying flowers for yourself!

My trip to the flower shop was a little underwhelming, but I did manage to come away with the last two bunches of not-yet-fully-bloomed pink peonies (those are peonies right? I'm a lot better with herbs and such than flowers).

Also, would you believe that that vase is made of...wait for it...rubber! It's so fantastic, finally a vase I can't break!

Meanwhile, Natalie opted for a different kind summery flower...

(Hey, it's Natalie now!) Since the sun has finally graced us with its presence all week here in NY, I thought it only appropriate to buy myself a cheerful bunch of sunflowers. And then to sit on my fire escape and enjoy them. I also picked up these handmade flowers--made of rolled and painted newspaper--from a local artist at the Brooklyn Flea Market about a year ago, and thought they'd add some nice color to my birthday bouquet.

When's the last time you bought yourself flowers? 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Birthday Week Fun: Round 1

Obviously a birthday isn't enough--we should really be celebrating our birth week right? At least that's what we think. So we're getting in the spirit now, prepping our respective houses for our birthday celebrations with one fun project/purchase/pretty thing a day. Yesterday was DIY colorful garland day, we decided, so in NYC I made a version of these zig zag accordion garlands (from the brillant Jordan Ferney) to start getting my apartment (and my roommates) into the July 3rd holiday spirit! Since I couldn't scrounge up any colorful paper (it seems to all be hiding in one of my yet-to-be-unpacked boxes, sigh) I improvised with colorful magazine pages and ended up really liking the outcome! Here are the first of the cuttings, on their way to being strung up.

I didn't know where to hang them at first--my roommate suggested the stairway/hallway leading to our apartment, but then I couldn't see them while I was just lounging around the apartment. So I decided on stringing them up between our dining room and kitchen, where we could enjoy them all day everyday!

I swear, I'm not going to want to take them down once my birthday is over they're so festive and colorful! And, truth be told, I'm probably going to add more to them tonight.

Meanwhile, in Berlin...

(Hey, it's Nicole now!) Since we're both big fans of Oh Happy Day, I decided to try my hand at these fringey streamers with my tons of leftover crepe paper lying around. (Seriously, six different colors, multiple sheets of each. I stock up way too much for parties.) And my oh my, if they weren't the easiest thing I've made in a long time! I whipped up about 15 of these in the course of three Friends episodes (my current TV addiction)!

They were so cute all bundled together than I barely wanted to unwrap them.

And since our new confetti-filled living room picture looks so lonely above the couch, I figured that would be the perfect place to add some fringey fun. (Yeah, that's a Friends reflection on the picture. Don't judge.)

Fashionably late day one of our birthday week projects complete! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Garden Party Gnomes

You may or may not have figured it out by now, but sister and I are a little bit head-over-heels for gnomes. This wasn't some kind of Amelie-induced craze that had us photographing lawn gnomes throughout our travels (though we do like to let our gnomies participate in our adventures as much as possible), but it instead came about one random, cold, fall day in Florence, Italy when we purchased our first wee gnome at an outdoor market on a whim. He was so freaking cute, with his tipsy pose, that we couldn't resist. And we've been hooked ever since.

I'd love to show you pictures of some of our gnomes out on their travels, but I don't want to wander too far into crazy-person territory in this post. We're still getting to know each other, after all. But let's suffice it to say, I nearly jumped right out of my office chair when I came across these guys:

And you had better believe that I just ordered more than my fair share of these little fellows for my birthday/Fourth of July picnic!

I foresee care packages full of these being sent to the US in my future...

Gnome torches available at Car Möbel via sodapop-design

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dreaming of a Tropical Vacation

One of our best friends headed off to Hawaii this weekend for a week long vacation and, I have to say, I'm more than a little bit jealous. Not only because it's been gray and rainy here in New York for the past week, and I've been stuck inside for most of those days, but also because it's nearly July and I have yet to set foot on a beach this summer!

Luckily, not for long--I'm a mere week away from my own mini-vacation to Miami! So, needless to say, I've been spending a lot of time daydreaming about the perfect beach escape.

Like one where I can float all day in endless clear water.

Photo source unknown

I've been eying this awesome cooler tote with built-in ipod speakers for my beach lounging time. It fits a six-pack and your music--what more could you need?!

Available at Pottery Barn 

I've also been on the hunt for a new pair of summer sandals and I'm coveting these simple leather ones for days on the beach and nights dressed up.

Available at Gap

And of course I need a new bikini. I've been trying to pick out one that has a funky new shape I've never tried before, or even a cute one-piece. But I just adore this gold and pink one by Jo De Mer. (Then again, I am a sucker for almost anything gold.)

Photo by Mark Platt

This gorgeous illustration--of crumpled and shaped striped shirts!--basically sums up what I need in a summer vacation.

Illustration by Mary Matson

Just one more week of stocking up on beach supplies and ideas for me, then I finally get to feel the sand under my feet again! Until then, I'm wishing my friend the best of times in Hawaii, daydreaming about lounging around the Hamptons (I've never been!) ever since I saw this movie, and reminiscing about the beach bars I went to in Berlin with Nicole last summer.

Happy beach going everyone!

Image from Anthropologie 

Image credits: 1) Dreamy vacation spot via Aubrey Road, source unknown; 2) Cool summer tote available at Pottery Barn; 3) Leather sandals available at Gap; 4) Pink and gold bikini by Jo De Mer via; 5) Sun Sand Sea illustration by Mary Matson via Hi + Low; 6) A perfect beach day photo from Anthropologie via Say Yes to Hoboken

Let the Birthday Week Begin!

Hey all! I'm just stopping by for a quick lunch-break hello to say: Our birthday week has officially begun! And this week, I'm determined to leave all the crappiness of last week in the past and focus entirely on the sweet side of life. To that end, I have made three goals for myself:

First, I am giving up the word "hate" all together, no matter what the circumstances. It's very counterproductive to finding your happiness.

Second, as of now, I'll be complaining less. I don't like whiners, even though I tend to be ahead of the pack in the whinieness department. But not this week! And I'll see what I can do to make this stick after birthday week ends too.

Third and most important of all, starting today, I think we should all try to:

Happy Birthday Week, sister! Let's live it up!

Image credit: Redstamp via Kate Spade NY

Friday, June 24, 2011

In Search of Smiles

This week has been one of those weeks that has made me want to simultaneously tear out all my hair, throw my computer out the window, stomp my feet, pout, and hide under the covers all day. Berlin has been obligingly gray, rainy, and all-around gloomy the whole week, just to make sure I don't get out of my slump. (Thanks a bunch, Berlin. Thanks.)

But I'm taking a stand against my inner negative Nancy and  I vow to end the week on a good note. So, I made it my goal during my lunch break today to find things that make me smile. And what do you know, this time Berlin came through for me.

Here's a peek at some things that turned my frown upside down on this dreary rain-filled summer day:

My always cheery Marimekko shoes.

A sparkly addition to my bicycle. We were recently told to mark our bikes somehow if we keep them in the courtyard of our apartment building, as they would be clearing out old crap (of which there was lots) and, and I quote, "bicycle corpses" (Fahrradleichen). I couldn't find ribbon, as they suggested, and instead found some sparkly red star garland leftover from last July 4th. It makes me too happy to want to remove it any time soon, despite the horrid color clash.

Cheesy summery "Fun in the Sun!" displays in the most boring of shopping centers. (Sorry for the awful camera phone pic.) The view of the TV tower makes it all the more enjoyable.

A makeshift bench fit for a gnome fmade from old-fashioned Coke bottles and crates.

Silly, unexpected window displays.

 [New! Superman for your skin]

 [This store will not open on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday but on a Friday in August.]

And one from the blogosphere as well: a summer idea that involves my very favorite type of woodland creature.

Happy first weekend of summer everyone! Let's make it a non-grumpy, non-dreary, only-fun-and-smiles-allowed one!

Photos 1) - 7) by Nicole (and my not-so-fabulous cell phone camera); 8) Gnome by Melanie of You Are My Fave.

Fourth of July Preparations

With our birthday falling on July 3rd, sister and I are always a little extra giddy to indulge ourselves on our big day knowing that we can always recover on the day off directly after. It's pretty great, not to mention the added bonus of fireworks, because there's always at least that one dude who sets them off a day early in celebration of us (at least we like to think so).

You may now be correct in guessing that no, we do not, unfortunately, get July 4th off from work in Germany. And yes, it does make me sadder than any other lack of a holiday. Which is exactly why I treated myself to an extra me! vacation day this year on that Monday and plan celebrate America's big day, after celebrating our big day, to its fullest. Starting with this:

I mean, is that cake not absolute perfection?!?! I've been on a huge layer cake kick this year, as you may have noticed, and this one is most definitely the next in line. Now I just have to find a few Berliners who are willing to take the day off and eat cake with me...

Hop on over to Glorious Treats for some more fabulous and yummy July 4th ideas!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Inspired By...

 ...a perfectly colorful chair for lounging on the beach. Or even just on my fire escape.

Available at Anthropologie friend's creative use of frames in her adorable Williamsburg apartment. well as her fire escape balcony. (Like Nicole's, her mint is taking trying to take over the largest flower pot.) I think it's high time for my fire escape to get a green facelift!

...the dreamiest spot for a nap I've ever seen.

Found on Bright, Bold & Beautiful, source unknown

...this gorgeous new Jonathan Adler turquoise desk. I've been on the hunt for a while now for a desk or console to fill a void in my new bedroom and I'm head-over-heels in love with this one. (Although not, sadly, with the price tag.)

Available at Jonathan Adler

 ...a wine barrel turned flower planter. Those tiers, those colors! Do you think it would fit on my fire escape?

...a clever way to make frames personalized and use one of my favorite decorating tools, chalkboards.

Photo by Ez of Creature Comforts

Images credits: 1) Beach chair by Anthropologie; 2) and 3) Photos by Natalie; 4) Dreamy spot for a nap via Bright, Bold & Beautiful, source unknown; 5) Turquoise desk by Jonathan Adler; 6) DIY wine barrel planter by Centsational Girl via Design*Sponge; 7) 5-Minute DIY chalkboard frames by Creature Comforts

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We Have Baby Tomatoes!

I made an amazing discovery this past weekend. I had just brought my filthy road bike out onto the balcony to await cleaning (it got filthy muddy during the rainy Berlin triathlon I had just finished, which went well, yay! For those of you who knew I had a race this weekend!) and took a quick peak at how our little plants were doing. And lo and behold, if I didn't find some wee tomatoes popping up all over the place!

What at first seems to just be flowers...

...are actually hiding happy little bulbous green babies!

I got just a litttttttle excited.

Look! Another!

And some more!

A realllllly small fuzzy one. I bet he'll be tasty though come August.

These guys can barely wait to show their true colors.

I love how they shed the flower afterwards. I kept thinking the flowers were drying up and dying and man was I relieved to learn that them turning brown was actually a good thing!

Well, these aren't the babies exactly, but I looked at the balcony for the first time from another point of view--out the living room window--and it was great to see my Italian planter box in its full glory.

Look at that lovely basil!

But better yet, look at what we made with it!

And yes, that is buffalo mozzarella. The only kind that this basil deserves.

So how is your summer garden growing?

All photos by Nicole