Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Movie Night

I always get super excited for Halloween weekend because it means I get to revel in one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures: no, not pillowcases full of candy (though I do love that), horror movies! No seriously, Nat and I can't get enough of them (much to Micha's chagrin, might I add). We've been obsessed with horror movies pretty much since we were allowed to start watching them as pre-teens. We used to spend many a Friday night roaming the horror movie aisles of Blockbuster with our friend, Shari, searching for a movie that we hadn't yet seen. The cheesier, the better.

So if you, like me, want to treat yourself to a little horror-movie-watching fun this weekend, here are my top recommendations for movies to rent that are sure to make you scream out loud, but not lose your lunch (we're all about the scare factor, not the gore factor).

1. Night of the Living Dead - I remember when we decided to rent this one, after having seen our fair share of the horror section already and, being the cocky 15-year-olds we were, we thought, "how scary can a black-and-white movie even be?" The answer, my friends, is blood-curdling-screaming-at-3am-that-wakes-your-friend's-parents-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night scary. Be prepared to lose some sleep after seeing this one!

2. Poltergeist - After seeing this, you'll never be able to hear the name Carol Anne again in your life without first hearing it in that tiny woman's voice and then thinking: "don't go into the light!" Oh, and you'll be terrified of giant trees located directly outside your window. And closets. And creepy clowns under the bed... Don't say I didn't warn you.

3. The Exorcist, director's cut - This version is seriously worth it. The extra scenes with the crucifix (shudder!) and the spider walk (double shudder!) will freak you out down to your bones. Never watch this one alone at night. (Although, I suppose that goes without saying for all movies of this genre...) Or after playing with a ouija board at a sleepover party.

4. House of Wax - You certainly won't want to step foot in Madam Tussaud's for a while after seeing this one, let me tell you. Natalie and I first watched in on a flight to Europe. The poor woman sitting next to us was so confused by our intermittent screaming and batting our arms in fright. We bought the dvd a few months later and it's our number one horror movie guilty pleasure. Sure, it's one of the cheesier ones out there, but it's all worth it to see Paris Hilton try to act her way through a death scene. And besides, the main characters are twins!

(I promise this is the first and last time Paris Hilton will ever make an appearance on this blog.)

5. Sleepaway Camp - This is one of those awful movies we found after having seen all the good horror movies already. It's totally campy (pun very much intended), a little gross, and the plot is absolutely absurd. Exactly what you should be looking for on Halloween! The sequels are pretty entertaining as well. (And I personally very much enjoy that one IMDB reviewer wrote about it"The disclosure of the murderer's identity is the most shocking climax in the history of American cinema.")

I will be viewing at least two of these with friends on Monday night while indulging in some spooky cocktails and yummy pumpkin treats. And to start it all off, I'm heading to an early screening of Paranormal Activity 3 late tonight! (Behind the times, yes, but it doesn't come out in Germany for another week...)

Happy Halloween weekend!

All images via IMDB: Night of the Living Dead | The Exorcist | Poltergeist | House of Wax | Sleepaway Camp

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Feeling Glittery & Twinkly

I know it's Halloween week and I should really be in the mood to deck everything out in shades of gray and pumpkin orange, but for some reason what I want to see adorning my apartment are sparkles and glittery things. Maybe it's the gray weather that's making crave a sparkly antidote indoors. Or maybe it's that I'm just a glittery, sequin-loving type of girl. I don't know. What I do know is that it looks like all my Halloween pumpkins are going to be decorated like this this year.

Photo by Linda Pugliese

What a perfectly pink and glitter-gold mousepad to satisfy my sparkly desires! Now if only I had a computer mouse to use it with.

 Available at Freshly Picked

A disco ball in the house is always appropriate, don't you think? Especially when it's paired with such a gorgeous flower garland (and, appropriately, our initial!).

Photo by Sania Pell for decor8

I may need to get this lovely image printed and framed above my bed.

 Photo by Lisa Leonard

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wooden Touches

Fall always makes me want to bring little touches of nature into my home to decorate. Maybe it's that I'm always on the lookout for new, creative Thanksgiving party decorating ideas... Whatever it is, I'd love to go for a long walk on a lazy Sunday with my guy, collect all sizes of tree branches and twigs, and then come home and whip up some of these awesome DIYs to prettify the apartment with. Not forgetting, of course, to reward ourselves for a job well done with a nice, warm glass of Gl├╝hwein.

Clockwise from top left: Candle holder centerpiece by SAS Interiors | Twig pushpins by Design*Sponge | Wooden trivet from VT Wonen via Remodelista | Branch curtain rod by one claire day

Inspired By...

...colorful mugs that brighten my day and also keep my hands warm in the chilly New York fall. These just make me want to sit down and learn to knit after all.

Available at Leif

...a cupcake stand fit for a queen (or at least for a lover of all things baroque and faux baroque, like me) and a party to match!

Photo and DIY by Jenny for Oh Happy Day

...a gold-leafed Eames chair that dreams are made of. If I don't have something dramatically gold in my apartment soon, I don't know what piece of furniture I'll resort to DIY gold-leafing.

Photo by Okay Art

..the brilliant idea of an Articles Club. My girl friends and I had a Book Club in LA once upon a time, but somehow only half of us (those left over college English majors, primarily) ever finished the book, and we found that we mostly spent club time drinking a wee bit too much wine and chatting about sex and silly things. So a discussion club based on articles that everyone could actually finish (before proceeding to drink a wee bit too much wine and chat about silly things)? Count me in!

...this lovely pillow that will always remind me of my favorite city I call home.

Available at SITE

...just the cleverest way I've ever seen a map displayed. And of my favorite country to boot (haha).

Image credits: 1) Cheery winter mugs by Leif via Eat Drink Chic; 2) Trompe l'oeil cupcake stand tutorial and printable by Jenny Batt for Oh Happy Day; 3) Gold Eames chair by Okay Art via Creature Comforts; 4) Brilliant Articles Club idea by Joanna Goddard of A Cup of Jo; 5) Manhattan pillow by SITE via; 6) Gorgeous map of Italy by Laudani & Romanelli as seen in Marie Claire Maison via A Cup of Jo

Monday, October 24, 2011

Guerilla Gardening

While the air was cold and brisk and winter-y this weekend, the sun was shining beautifully and beckoning me to spend some time outdoors (so very German of me...). So when a coworker invited me to join her on a guerrilla gardening effort on Sunday, I didn't hesitate to pack up my mini shovel, gardening gloves, and camera and head over to Mauerpark to join her.

She had recently purchased 260 tulip bulbs from a shop in Holland online and was determined to plant them in the park this winter. It'll be a present for her girlfriend, whom she'll show the bloomed tulips to in the spring when they blossom and say, "I planted those for you!" Can you imagine anything more romantic?

Needless to say, we got a few confused stares, but the only person brave enough to come over and ask us what we were doing was a sweet little 10-year-old girl. She seemed satisfied enough with my answer of, "we're making the park a prettier place." I can't wait to walk by here in spring and tell everyone, "those are my tulips!"

After we were done digging 40 holes, planting five bulbs in each, and then covering them back up, we headed further into the park to watch the usual Sunday karaoke. Mauerpark is often the site of protests and demonstrations, but this Sunday institution shows its happier, friendlier side. The perfect way to spend the rest of cold-but-sunny late Sunday afternoon.

ps. I'm still too chicken to ever get up and sing in front of this many people, but maybe one day... Would you dare?!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Autumn Color Week, Brown

I couldn't resist sharing some more lovely images I found over at Flickr's Autumn Colour Week. There are so many beautiful brown photos, who knew? Hope you enjoy as much as I did, and happy weekend!

Image credits, all via Autumn Color Week: 1) Dome and bell tower by Vera Lucia Goncalves; 2) Guinness barrels by annaofgreengables; 3) Cappuccino by annaofgreengables; 4) Cello by cookoorikoo; 5) Village Door, China by hellorefugium; 6) You Are So Loved by re.collected

Thursday, October 20, 2011

DIY Postcards

Nicole and I are big fans of postcards. Cheesy postcards. Like, really really cheesy postcards. The kind you find at a tchotsky-filled sidewalk kiosk, in an old spinning rack, covered in dust, looking like leftovers from about 1982 (no seriously, we were in a kiosk like this in Sweden once and found some real gems). Postcards like these:

These are mostly from Italy and Munich since we were living in Milan at the time (my favorite is the giant fat beaver chillin on the Alps), but France has continuously and unfailingly topped our list as the country with the. best. cheesy. postcards. Period. (We of course found many--many--this time around in Paris, and sent them off to our mom, who seems to take them seriously, and to the few friends who are still kind enough to tolerate receiving them.) In Croatia I also found some great ones, most of which I sent to Nicole, the message reading something like, "Look how great this postcard is--there's a cut-out dolphin and a rainbow with hearts!"

But, while picking these treasures out, I got to thinking. I once had a drawing teacher who encouraged the class never to buy postcards again--that with a piece of paper, a pencil, and five minutes, we could create our own personalized postcards anywhere. She had us do an exercise where we looked at a slide of a typical vacation image, set a five-minute timer, and made a simple but emphatic line drawing of the image. Like these (from slides of Venice and Greece):

So (years later, and seriously out of practice), I decided to try this exercise again, on my own. While I didn't do the drawings when I was in Croatia and observing the view firsthand (looking back, I wish I had), you easily could! Just take a seat, give yourself something to draw with (I like pencils for the variety in line depth they can create--and let's face it, because they erase), a scrap piece of paper (or, hey, even a napkin), and set your phone timer for 3, 5, or 7 minutes. If you give yourself 7 minutes, you'll feel less rushed and not stressed out that you missed some element in the picture. But with just 3 minutes, you'll be pleasantly surprised with the focused, concise image you end up with. Then: draw freely! These aren't detailed drawings, and you don't need to be a great, or even decent, artist to render an impression of the place you're in and the view you're looking at. Just create a small enough frame to draw in (mine are around 3 inches by 4 inches), vary up the darkness of your lines, pick the most noticeable and interesting elements to include, and voila! A postcard that's one of a kind!

Confetti Inspiration

I am completely smitten with this intimate little party that Jennifer of A Merry Mishap threw for her little boy recently. The simplicity of it all is a nice breath of fresh air and would be easy enough to put together quickly for one of those last-minute-well-maybe-we-should-have-a-party-after-all-even-though-we-said-we-wouldn't kind of moments. Plus, you can never go wrong when your inspiration is confetti. Am I right?

I'm right. Confetti for everyone!

All photos by Jennifer of A Merry Mishap

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Decorating for Halloween

Since there are only 12 more days left until Halloween, I realized it's about time I start spookifying the apartment. And since I won't be attending my usual Wednesday spinning class tonight (due to an unpleasant lingering cold that's had me in bed the last four days), I figure tonight's a good night to get started.

I don't usually decorate much for Halloween because 1) we often head to Munich for my best friend's annual Halloween bash, (sadly, this year, I won't make it); and 2) I'm usually so busy planning my big annual Thanksgiving party that I never manage to squeeze in time for Halloween. But this weekend, we've decided to get in the spirit by heading to a pumpkin patch that's less of a patch and more of a giant barn with lots of pumpkins and other goodies for sale and consumption. We went last year and had a blast picking out all sorts and sizes of pumpkins, buying 5 kilos of fresh apple juice (I don't even like juice but that's how good it was), and wandering our way through the corn maze (we were the only adults without children there but hey, I'm a child at heart). I highly recommend checking it out if you're in the Berlin area!

So, I'm currently looking for quick, easy, and inexpensive ways to make our apartment a little more festive. Here are some great and totally feasible ideas I've found, some of which I plan to get started on tonight.

 Photo & diy by Rebekah for eighteen25 | Photo & diy by made

Paper bats everywhere. Attach them to paper lanterns, walls, you name it. A simple touch that's definitely Halloween-y but not too cheesy for the minimalists out there (*ahem* Micha).

Photos and diy by Martha Stewart

Spiders and spider webs. I personally like going all out with any holiday or party decor, so I already stocked up on some plastic spiders and fake spider webs. I like how Martha displays them more creatively than just strewn willy-nilly about the house.

Photo & diy by Better Homes & Gardens | Photo & diy by Martha Stewart

Once I've picked out and taken home my fair share of pumpkins this weekend, I'd really love to make some cute Jack Skellington-esque vases out of some of them and awesomely adorable fanged jack-o-lanterns out of the others. I usually attempt painfully complicated jack-o-lantern patterns, like haunted houses or witches on broomsticks, with about a 50% success/satisfaction rate. These little guys might be a nice change of pace that wouldn't have me wanting to tear my hair out while holding a knife at the same time - never a good situation to be in.

How are you getting your place ready for Halloween this year?

Photo credits: 1) Paper lantern by a bit of sunshine for eighteen25; 2) Bats on wall by made; 3) Spidersill by Martha Stewart; 4) Cobweb candles by Martha Stewart; 5) Pumpkin vase by Better Homes & Gardens; 6) Jack-o-lanterns by Martha Stewart.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Autumn Color Week, Yellow

With a crisp chill in the air and colorful leaves sprinkling the sidewalks of New York, I'm finally ready to welcome fall. And what better way than with these lovely images from Autumn Colour Week? Today's color is yellow, which I'm usually not very fond of, but one glance at those leaves (and those shutters!) and I was hooked.

Happy fall!

Friday, October 14, 2011

My First 3 Days in Croatia

Do you ever go on a trip, take a picture of every little thing you see, going "This is amazing! Oh my god, no, this is amazing!", thinking that everyone who sees the picture will see it exactly as you did--amazing!--then come home and realize you have 500 pictures of walls, crooked landscapes, and, inexplicably, blurry reflections of lights in water? If you don't, wow, good for you. As for me, that's kind of how I always travel. And this time around, my spontaneous (to be explained shortly) trip to Croatia was no exception. So I tried to narrow down my pictures to share with you really well--even though the picture of that wall was really amazing.

I say it was a spontaneous trip even though, I know, I mentioned it before, because this is how it basically got planned:
Me: I really need to go on a vacation.
Kathleen: I'm always up for a new trip...
(One never-ending pitcher of sangria and three beers later)
Kathleen: What about the Caribbean? What about Croatia?
Me: I've always heard Croatia was beautiful!
Kathleen: Oh my God we're going!
One week later, we had flights booked from Berlin to Split for the following month. A week after that we had the other flights booked (you know, the ones that would get us from America to Berlin, and back home to America, those small sort of things).

So off we were to Croatia, specifically southern Croatia. We went from Split to Dubrovnik, visiting two islands in between. I've been curious about Croatia for a long time because 1) I was told how frickin beautiful the beaches are (and I'm a sucker for beaches) and 2) it's right across the Adriatic from Italy and I. love. Italy. We chose Split as our starting destination. Not only because flights go there from Berlin (thank you, Germanwings,and Nicole, for booking our tickets in German), but also because there was an old palace to explore, a belltower to climb, and a nearby island, Brac, famous for windsurfing and the most beautiful beach in the country (how can you go wrong with that?). So what did we do in Split? Well, we explored that old palace, which is less a palace and more a remnant of a former walled-in city, where half-ruined walls sit next to newly built apartments, next to undies hanging off laundry lines, next to Diesel and Max Mara stores, next to outdoor restaurants tucked away into the narrowest alleyways I've ever seen. It's a labyrinth of a place only to be explored by tossing aside your map, looking up at all your surroundings, and just walking, really. We climbed that belltower--where I was terrifed (evidently I've finally adopted Nicole's and our mother's paralyzing vertigo and fear of heights...sigh). And we went to that beach.

Oh man, that beach. Zlatni Rat, it's called, or as I read somewhere while doing my trip research, a "tongue" in the Adriatic It's a long stretch of what appears to be sand but what we discovered is actually a bed of soft white pebbles extending, true to it's nickname, like a tongue into the perfectly clear turquoise sea. We laid out on the soft pebbles (bonus: no sticky sand covering you afterwards!), we swam in the clearest water I've ever seen, we took a windsurfing lesson (I might possibly be addicted to windsurfing now), and we even took a spontaneous scubadiving trip. Kathleen's diving certified, but I've never been and didn't plan on going. But when the guides who were to take her out just looked at me blankly and asked, why don't you go, too?, I couldn't think of reason (well, besides the fact that I was scared of getting eaten by a shark--but I didn't want to say that out loud). So I went, I learned to breathe underwater (eek!), and I had a rather good-looking Croatian man holding my hand the whole time to guide me (yeah, that's right, he held my hand. How can you not love that?)

So that was the first half of the trip, before our five-hour bus ride along coastal cliffs, through Bosnia (details about that to come), and down to Dubrovnik. Throw in some Croatian beer drinking in seaside cafes (Ozujsko was our favorite beer, we decided; Karlovacko took second place), lots of fresh if mildly seasoned seafood (I love octopus and good god did I order a lot of it), and a couple gorgeous B&Bs that we stayed in and you have a pretty good idea of how we spent our first three days.

All photos by Natalie, except the underwater pictures, which are by my hand-holding scuba guide.