Monday, August 29, 2011


I've never been much of a painter--I much prefer pencil drawing and making collages when it comes to being artsy--but there's something about watercolors that I just adore (and wish I could do!). They're so soft and whimsical, with just perfect gentle touches of femininity and color. I came across these images recently and I have to say, I'm smitten. I mean, something as simple as a stack of kitchen bowls looks downright gorgeous in this medium!

Painting by Yael Berger

And as if the Eiffel Tower isn't always picturesque, how dreamy is this rainbow watercolor of it?

Source unknown via Stepping Stone

Painting by Jessica Durrant

I found Jessica Durrant on Etsy while holed up in my apartment over the hurricane weekend, and I'm loving the simplicity and dreaminess of her work. Her paintings of European cities, like this one of Rome, are at once surreal and completely recognizable. And her loose, drippy world maps are just as wonderful! I want them all. I also want to learn to watercolor now.

Image credits: 1) Stack of Bowls print by Yael Berger available on Etsy pinned by Lyndie Symons; 2) Rainbow Eiffel Tower source unknown* via Stepping Stone pinned by Anita L; 3) A Perfect Evening in Rome print by Jessica Durrant available on Etsy

*If you know the source, please share!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Diner en Blanc in NYC

I have to say, I'm sorely disappointed that I didn't know about New York's first Diner en Blanc that took place last night at the World Financial Center. I first heard about the event, which until now only took place in Paris, over at Oh Happy Day back in March. What an awesome event! I guess it's no surprise it finally made its way to New York, the city that thrives on new, secret, and super cool get-togethers. Fortunately for the 1,150 white-clad diners, the rain from our incoming Hurricane Irene managed to hold off and they were able to enjoy dinner and a sunset on the waterfront. Lucky people! Now the real question is, how do I get in on it next year?!

Photo by David Giral

Happy (and safe!) weekend all! Updates from hurricane central will be forthcoming!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Weekend Visitors Await!

Another work week is over, the temperatures have climbed to a whopping 30°C (at long last!), and weekend fun awaits! My best friend, her husband, and her not-yet-so-big pregnant belly are on a mini road trip up to visit us this weekend from Munich. I haven't got it all planned out yet, what we'll be doing (and what I do know shall remain a surprise for now) but let's just say, it involves a LOT of eating. I think that should satisfy us all quite nicely...

To start things off right, I'm taking a stab at this scrumptious-looking pizza.

Photo and recipe by The Healthy Foodie

After that, well, we'll enjoy what summer weather is left tomorrow with picnics, perhaps a trip to the Voodoo market, and maybe we'll even get to see the traditional rotten-vegetable-throwing fight between two neighboring 'hoods, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, on one of my favorite bridges. It was officially canceled, but hopefully some determined stragglers will go ahead with it anyway.

Here's to a fun-filled end-of-summer weekend! 

Image credit: Ratatouille Pizza by Sonja of The Healthy Foodie.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Striped Walls

Ok folks, the question of the day is, how narrow can a room be and still get away with a bold striped paint job?

Photo by Frisson

We have one of the narrowest halls on earth that also has 6 doorways (as in most old Berlin apartments, the front door opens into the hall, which in turn leads off to all rooms individually). It's currently white (we had to cover up the previous tenants' awful mint green), but I'm starting to think it needs a makeover. Micha would certainly kill me if I presented this picture to him. We don't exactly have the best track record when painting rooms together - think: arguing, grumbling about differences in painting speeds, yelling when someone gets tired, not speaking to each other by the end... you get the idea - but perhaps sister and I could tackle this project when she's here. After all, last time she visited, we painted the living room AND rearranged the entire guest room/office. It's not like she needs a vacation or anything...

On a side note, I am in unwavering agreement with the designer/owner of the above hallway when she says, "we firmly believe that no amount of white or bland 'greige' paint is going to make all small rooms feel big. Some rooms are just going to be small, so embrace them."

Do you have any great tips for sprucing up a bland hallway?

Image credit: 1) Hallway by Frisson via Houzz.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bicycles Repurposed

How fun are these colorful bikes-turned-advertisements I've seen popping up all over the city lately? I love that the repurposing gives a tired old bike a happy retirement home. And a purpose.

When I finally splurge for the ride of my dreams, my current bike is getting spray painted in sparkly rainbow and placed in front of the apartment building to live out her last years in peace. And of course she'll also get a new sign to carry for each birthday/Thanksgiving/happy-hour shindig we host.

All photos by Nicole

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pretty Paintings

While I'm no spectacular or even very consistent artist, I thoroughly enjoy picking up a pencil or some paints every now and then and letting the artistic juices flow. Our mom and grandma are both spectacular painters and I'm glad they passed a little talent on our way.

Lately I've been inspired to start painting again (I really need to get an easel already) and go wild with bright colors. Like in these gorgeous pieces by the oh-so-talented Michelle Armas.

Or in these more subtle yet completely stunning works by Jen Ramos of Cocoa & Hearts.

Aren't their color palettes just perfect? Makes me want to put on my big-girl pants and commission a painting to hang in our desperately-in-need-of-a-makeover bedroom. Perhaps one day... Until then, I'll settle for drawing inspiration from their use of color for my own amateur attempts.

Where do you find inspiration for new artistic endeavors?

Image credits: 1) Biznut by Michelle Armas; 2) Viv's commisioned artwork by Michelle Armas via Ish and Chi; 3) Slant 2 by Jen Ramos; 4) Colors 39 by Jen Ramos.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Inspired By...

...the most perfect floral lampshade I think I've ever seen. Aside from a bouquet of flowers, I don't know what could brighten up a room more.

Available at Anthropologie

...a comfy striped backpack for that back-to-school season. I may not be going back to school, but lugging my laptop and other essentials around in one of these bags instead of my giant mommy tote would sure make my right shoulder happy.

Available at Poketo

...also a lovely, handmade backpack with a vintage feel. I can't decide which backpack I like more--maybe I'll just have to covet both.
 Available at Ira Grant
...a beautiful geometric duvet cover in one of my favorite colors. Add this to my Bedroom Redecorating list, please.

Available at West Elm

...the coziest wrap sweater for the upcoming fall weather. The slouchy sleeves, the chunky stripes, the gray and green combo...I have to have it.

Available at AndyVeEirn

...clever and gorgeous chip & dip bowls! Just looking at them makes me want to throw a party!

Available at TIMIDglass

Image credits: 1) Rose Landscape Shade available at Anthropologie; 2) Striped Fleece Backpack by Poketo via A Cup of Jo; 3) Canvas Upholstery Backpack from Ira Grant at Etsy; 4) Geometric Duvet and Shams available at West Elm; 5) Crazy Long Sleeved Wrap Cardigan by AndyVeEirn at Etsy; 6) Handblown Glass Chip & Dip Bowls by TIMIDglass at Etsy

Friday, August 19, 2011

Breaking Out of the Daily Routine

Every now and then, especially when I've lived in a city for a while (and for me a while is about a year) and feel like my days are getting "routine," I get the urge to do new things. Not necessarily new giant things, like move or visit a museum everyday. New small things. Like shake up my morning routine, go to a new place for dinner, or even, simply, use my kitchen (it's very sadly unused, and I blame my crazy work hours and New York "it's-not-worth-my-time-to-cook" attitude). I remember getting this urge in Boston when I lived there a few years back, so took myself out to coffee in new neighborhoods, visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum that I had embarrassingly never been to, spent a whole day in Cambridge.

So this week was an experiment in just that. On my days off, I wandered around one of my favorite areas of New York, the West Village, admiring the adorable brownstones and sipping cappuccinos in vegan-friendly cafes (cause all cafes in the West Village seem to be vegan-friendly). I've been on a huge reading kick lately, which made hanging out a cafe for hours that much more enjoyable, and highly recommend The Help to anyone who hasn't yet read it.

I also went to a lovely Spanish tapas dinner one night with a girl friend of mine at Bar Basque. I love love love Spanish food, especially tapas, and wine and realized I hadn't had any in entirely too long. The presentations were downright fun on some plates, like these tuna tartare "push pops"! (Friend texting excitedly in background not included.)

And the chorizo sampler, chorizo being one of my favorite Spanish treats, was delicious! So delicious, in fact, that I couldn't even snap a photo of the plate before my friend reached her grubby fingers into it. (On a side note, if you haven't tried the soy-chorizo at Trader Joe's, go out and do! The texture's not the same, but good lord it's delicious for a vegetarian treat!)

And finally, just today, I actually put my kitchen to work and threw together a breakfast that wasn't my typical yogurt and granola and coffee. I think my stove was happy to be turned on. (And yes, that's Soy-Chorizo mixed in there. See? I love it.)

Do you ever get antsy with your daily routine? What do you do to shake it up? I'm always looking for exciting new suggestions!

Happy weekend, all!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Our First Harvest

I would never have expected it due to the lack of sun this summer, but as it turns out, our tomato plants are rock stars. They have so far provided us with enough tomatoes to make a caprese salad every day for the past two weeks and then some! (And the striped ones are just starting to ripen.)

A perfect little bundle, almost completely ripe for the picking.

I love their size differences and imperfections. Beats those store-bought look-alikes any day!

Summer salald bliss: Fresh-picked tomatoes, homegrown red and green basil, buffallo mozzerella, and entirely too much olive oil.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Dream Scooter

I've been searching bike stores and the interwebs lately for a new bike because 1) I am completely sick of the push-back-on-your-pedals childlike brakes on mine (why do all adult ladies' bikes have those awful brakes? Are we not adults too? Give us real brakes!) and 2) ever since I posted about, I've been completely smitten with this Kate Spade one. In comparison, my funky pink gramma bike is like a tired old Barbie doll of yesteryear.

And then I saw this scooter parked in front of my office.

And fell head-over-heels in love with a new mode of transportation. The question is: Do I steal it first? Or do I first finally finish converting my driver's license to a German one*...?

*This would be a simple procedure if I were, say, from Pennsylvania (grr you Pennsylvanians!), but Germany has a unique agreement with each US state about how to convert their licenses. We lucky Californians have to take both the written and practical German driving test in order to get a license. I passed the written (I got 100%!) but needless to say, am terrified of the supposedly mean driving testers here and have yet to sign up for the practical test. For this scooter, however, I would.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rainy Day Daydreaming

It's another cloudy, rainy day in NY and while I'm bummed that my beach plans got ruined because of it, I have to say there's something whimsical and inspiring about rainy days to me. I always feel justified being lazy and dreamy during this kind of weather, don't you? I spent the morning being inspired by Pinterest finds and other images around the web.

Like these oh-so-girly but still gorgeous rain boots! Since I tossed out my old pair as I left the house this morning (they kept cutting my heels and I very dramatically couldn't take it anymore!), I'm keeping my eyes open for a new cute (and comfortable!) pair.

Rain boots by Joules Posh

This simple but perfectly colorful living room made me smile all over. If you know me, you know I love color, especially bright color. And I'm newly in love with pillows and furniture with lettering on them (like this gorgeous chair!). The rug, the pillow, the poster--swoon!

Image from Salvation Jane's living room

Maybe it's because my upcoming travel plans are on my mind, but I'm in love with this idea of using maps as gift wrap. When we were younger, Nicole and I used to always find new ways to wrap gifts, like using candy wrappers with Twizzlers as bows, so a clever new way to gift wrap always strikes a chord with me.

I just adore the delicate beauty of this leaf necklace, and how it's adjustable, which I love in a piece of jewelry. Every time I go to the Brooklyn Flea I see similar gorgeous pieces that are so simple and pretty and I just love them. One of these days I'm going to splurge and by myself one.

Necklace by Morgan Prather

And finally, I want to hang this plaque in my room and look at it every morning so I can be as inspired as I am today, every day!

Plaque by Becky Murphy

Image credits:1) Girly rain boots by Joules Posh via Morgan January's Pinterest; 2) Colorful living room from Salvation Jane via Ashley Slate's Pinterest; 3) Map-wrapped gifts by Martha Stewart Weddings via Keaton Capturing's Pinterest; 4) Leaf necklace by Morgan Prather available on Etsy; 5) Inspirational plaque by Becky Murphy as seen on design is mine

My Weekend in Pictures

This past weekend was rather eventful and the weather was more schizophrenic than usual, which, luckily, resulted in the first race this year to not take place in horrid conditions. Other than that, we ate, we helped friends move (I think I'm getting too old for that), we relaxed at beach bars, and we did our best to focus on the fun aspects of summer storms.

Enjoyed some yummies from the most fantastic store that opened up right next door, Mitte Meer. Good quality Italian and Spanish food and wine and ingredients galore.

 Cooked up some homemade tomato sauce using our homegrown tomatoes. (More on those guys soon!)

Went to see an open-air opera, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) at Wannsee. The very Led Zeppelin-influenced poster (see here) reeled me in. That and a promised stage in the middle of the lake. Which didn't happen (who sells tickets for such an event without first getting permission from the city?!). Oh well, the stage right in front of the lake was still lovely, even though the clouds were slightly less than inviting when we arrived.

 Passed some sparkly creatures on our way in.

Had a great view of the so-not-on-the-lake stage.The rain also decided to bless us with its presence promptly as the first act started. Thank goodness for ponchos.

And then we were greeted with the most magnificent double rainbow. Right as some balloons were set free. Fine summer, the rain was indeed worth it for this.

Awed by the spectacular sunset over Wannsee.

Spent the next evening (after an exhausting day spent helping friends move to their new house. Well, exhausting for Micha. I'll admit that I did not contribute much more than helping to empty a couple bottles of Sekt.) at one of my favorite beach bars, and not only because it's within walking distance from our apartment. It's located on top of a shopping center and always has spectacular views of the city.

Got up way too early on a Sunday to participate in the Müggelsee Aquathlon. (Sweet valley high, was that water coooold!)

 Battled my way through the swim start while Micha cheered me on from the sidelines.

Now I know how Micha entertains himself during these hour-plus long races. By making creature friends.

Ahh, the glorious feeling of reaching the finish line (especially when you pass big men on the way!).

Enjoying another Mitte Meer and homegrown tomatoes dinner. We have finally found buffallo mozzerella perfetion there and can never go back to another brand. The black things are squid ink ravioli filled with salmon and ricotta. I thought they would be gross but I could not have been more wrong.

Convinced Micha to join me on a summer walk in search of ice cream. It started off as such a good idea...

...until we got caught in a torrential downpour. Oh how quickly the Berlin weather gods will turn on you.

And how was your weekend?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Inspired by Paris

I'm lucky enough to have Natalie visit me for a second time this year (woohoo!) in September and since she's been to Berlin multiple times now (along with having lived here with me for a few months in the beginning), we decided we needed to take a sister trip to somewhere else while she's visiting. And what better location than the city of cheese, wine, and macarons? That's right, we're heading to Paris!

Print available at Enjoy Art

We've been to Paris a few times together already and really can't get enough of the city. I had conjured up a rough itinerary (all right, a massive list of pastry shops, if you must know) for my last failed girly trip to Paris -- EasyJet canceled our flight and never refunded our money, jerks! -- so I'm more than ecstatic to be able to finally put it to use.

Here's some Parisian inspiration for you on this lovely Friday afternoon. Let's just hope our trip turns out as fabulous as these photos are.

Le Bon Marché. I've never been, but it's definitely a shopping must for this sister adventure.

 Photo by roboppy

Pastries, pastries, and more pastries.

Photo by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day

The five food groups of Paris. I wholeheartedly agree.

Photo by Nichole of Little Brown Pen

Bikes and picnics. On our two-month post-college European adventure (I'm gonna say we did that before it became totally cliché, cuz then we sound cooler), sister and I mastered the art of the French bread-cheese-and-wine picnic. This time around, I intend to embark on our picnics (weather permitting) via bikes and they must come with a basket and a baguette. 

The Eiffel tower and wine. Cuz you really don't need much else.

Source unknown via Pinterest

And finally, here's a favorite personal Parisian memory from that Euro trip I mentioned. Nat, our friend Cori, and I at the fabulous fondue place in Montmartre that serves wine in baby bottles! I'd discovered the restaurant during my first Paris jaunt in 2003 and have gone back every time since. We might have to battle the tourist crowds there and go again, for nostalgia's sake.

Image credits: 1) Vintage Paris print from Enjoy Art; 2) Le Bon Marché by roboppy via HiP Paris Blog; 3) Pastries by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day; 4) Food groups by Nichole of Little Brown Pen; 5) Picnic by Lindsey Tramuta of Lost in Cheeseland; 6) Eiffel tower source unknown* pinned by Olga; 7)Fondue evening by us.

*If you know the source, please share!