Thursday, September 29, 2011

Paris Sister Trip: Part 2

Day 2 in Paris started off the way all good days in Europe should, in my opinion. With perfectly frothy (and heart-adorned!) cappuccinos and new and delicious pastries at a local pâtisserie. It also started off freezing, unfortunately, and although we were ill-prepared in the way of fall clothing (especially me, having been used to the 3 months of excruciatingly humid NYC summer) we were determined to brave the outdoors all day.

Well, not at breakfast--we were freezing at breakfast, at least I was, but the pâtisserie had no more indoor seating so alas we decided to make do.

We then wandered the empty, Sunday morning streets of Montmartre in search of baguettes and other French picnic supplies. One thing I love about Sunday mornings in Europe is how even the most busy of neighborhoods is suddenly devoid of people, shut down, and the whole place appears laid out for you and you alone to explore. So we trekked up and down the hills of Montmartre, admiring the outdoor fruit and vegetable stands that were beautifully arranged at even the simplest of neighborhood markets (if you can say one thing about the French, it's that they don't skimp on presentation, ever); the gorgeous architecture complimented by splashes of bright color (ah, to live behind that blue door...); and the pâtisseries. We came across this one and, intrigued by the stand they set up in front, had to stop by. Apparently the French needed to get their mandatory daily baguettes without waiting in the long pastry line inside. Love that.

The macarons we picked up (salty caramel for Nic, of course, and passion fruit for me) were beautiful but, I'll grant Nicole this, not as good at those at Ladurée. Lesson learned: sometimes the expensive ones really are worth it.

We then headed to Les Puces, the giant flea market that I've heard so much about, for the afternoon, using the very helpful directions from Oh Happy Day. Just wandering the small alleys jam-packed with old knick-knacks, antique furniture, jewelry stands, and French sellers sipping wine and waiting to make a sale was worth the excursion. We wandered from busy street to quiet alley in awe of the size of the market. We came across lots of things we'd never buy (an old clotheless baby doll?) and a few we'd die for. Like this fabulous old bar cart that Nicole was seriously ready to pounce on, had we figured out any possible way to get it on the plane back to Berlin. Pretty sure she's still mourning that missed opportunity. We also thoroughly enjoyed the various paintings hanging around, including the still life (shown above) that is really the best kind of still life--includes fruit, a jug, and a dead bird. Just what I want hanging in my living room...

Other items we would have taken home if possible: this piece of an airplane (random, but Micha is an airplane fanatic, so Nic may actually have to go back one day and get this. And then move into a bigger apartment); this beautiful gray, ornate-but-not-too-ornate armchair that would never fit in my NY apartment but hey, a girl can dream (with our fun reflections in the mirror above!); and an old bust with the greatest skeevy mustache I've ever seen. If I don't have a Roman column in my house one day, I'm determined to have at least a fantastic bust of a dapper European man.

Then we did what we do best in Europe: just wandered. Down to the 7th arrondisement, admiring how picturesque every street is. (And also, to Nicole's happy German sentiments, how many of them have well-marked bike lanes.) To a fountain we hadn't seen before, where we had a macaron break and admired the Baroque pink-and-black column combination, definitely a favorite style of ours. To the lovely café/restaurant Paul for picnic-appropriate baguettes. And then down to the Seine, for our requisite daily picnic (after acquiring some delicious Sancerre to add to our meal, but of course). No day in Paris is complete, in our opinion, without a picnic. And, in Nicole's opinion, without more Ladurée macarons.

One silly but oh-so-practical accompaniment to our picnics were the ridiculously genius mini sippy cups (as we called them) that I picked up at The Container Store for this trip. They fold up to fit in your purse and expand when you open them to hold your wine! During our two-month Europe backpacking trip after college, Nicole and I learned the hard way to always remember to pack cups in case a spontaneous picnic opportunity presents itself. Now, we will never be cupless again!

Coming up next: Notre Dame, the Louvre, and a sangria break on a boat. And then updates on my excursion through Croatia! Ah, I miss Europe (and Nicole!) already...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Coziness

Growing up in LA, I never really understood the hype surrounding the beginning of fall. Changing leaves were not part of any real-life scenery that I knew and boots and scarves seemed like clothing that people only wore in movies. When Natalie and I left the city of perpetual summer and headed to Boston for college, fall suddenly became something to me that was all too close to winter. I was constantly freezing and never really embraced the season that brought with it the return to classes, swim practices, and dining halls.

But now, a few (let's just not count how many right now, k?) years later, I finally get it. Berlin has offered me the most perfect half-Indian-summer-half-start-of-fall September this year and I can't get enough of it. Here are some goodies that I'm lusting after on this brisk yet sunny fall day.

Nothing beats woodsy table and party decor for fall get-togethers. I'm working on justifying buying all of West Elm's upcoming fall collection for my Thanksgiving party this year. I just hope they sell everything in sets of 20 to accommodate my ever-growing guest list.

Photo by West Elm

My years of wearing only flip flops are behind me and these days I yearn for tons of boots in all shapes, sizes, and colors. But I am sadly the worst at picking out boots because I tend to just want all of them. When I'm queen of the world, I will have my own personal boot shopper at my beck and call. Until then, who wants to volunteer? I can compensate you in baked goods and love.

 Boots available at zalando

Something about the crisp fall air and thick knit sweaters that go along with it just makes me want to curl up at home with a giant latte, turn off the computer, and write some real letters again (my grandma, who has no computer, would be overjoyed). A pretty address stamp like this one would be the perfect finishing touch.

Stamp and photo by emilie friday

What do you daydream about this time of year?

Image credits: 1) Woodsy items by West Elm via Bright.Bazaar; 2) Brown boots by KMB and black boots by Blowfish available at zalando: 3) Stamp by emilie friday via dandee.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Paris Sister Trip: Part 1

Our sister trip to Paris was one of those wonderful trips that you don't even know where to begin when trying to talk about it. As planned, we ate a LOT of baguettes, cheese (of the stinky and non-stinky varieties), and macarons. We strolled and picnicked along the Seine each day. We started each morning with hot, frothy cappuccinos and large, calorie-filled pastries. We took in the best views of what Paris has to offer while casually pouring ourselves another glass of wine next to groups of Parisians doing just the same. We didn't focus on sightseeing or museum visiting. We didn't focus on shopping.

We were not deterred when the trip started out with a mini disaster (those seem to haunt us when we travel these days...). So even though I had managed to book our tickets from Berlin to Paris for 5 hours BEFORE Natalie was even scheduled to arrive in Berlin (they really need to write "arrives next day" much much larger - and in bold. and in neon colors. - on reservation confirmations), and even though the rebooking fee was the same price as the tickets (I still heart Air France though and my boycotting of EasyJet was once again justified), the trip itself was still faaaaantastic.

Natalie and I have a thing when it comes to luggage and we can never seem to pack in any bags that just blend in with the crowd.

We stayed in Montmartre (albeit in a shabby hotel that I would not recommend, I blame the mini plane ticket disaster for this too) and got a lovely view of the Sacré Coeur each morning on our way to find breakfast.

Looking up the Eiffel Tower's skirt!

We took Jordan's advice when choosing picnic spots and had our first one away from the crowd, but still in front of the ever-photogenic Eiffel Tower.

Picnic goodies. Every single bottle of wine we had on this trip was perfection. Every one. As were those grapes. I could go on like this for days.

Near the Champs Elysées.

By far my new favorite movie poster of all time. Because if there's one thing better than cheesy horror movies, it's cheesy horror movies about sharks. In 3-D. And I'm pretty sure the French are calling that chick both the "bikini" and the "burger"...

We hadn't originally planned to sit down inside the Ladurée cafe, but seeing as we needed a bathroom break anyways, it was only fitting. The rosé was divine (it was 4pm and we were the ONLY ones with wine instead of coffee or tea. What's up with that?! We did get the waiter's smile and nod of approval, though.) and the macarons were, well...

...heavenly. Like they could be anything less than that? I know we had two salty caramel ones (because I won't share mine) and the rest I don't really pay attention to. I live for caramel à la fleur de sel macarons.

More pictures to come, including the Eiffel tower and night and macaron-tastings from other shops!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sister Time and a Bloggy Break

Just popping by to say a quick "sorry for being MIA!" Natalie was here this past week and, as promised, we had a fantastic long weekend in Paris (filled with ridiculousness, mais oui) before my college roommate joined us in Berlin for even more fun and shenanigans. Yesterday, those two headed off to Croatia and are enjoying some wonderful sunshine-y adventures while I'm back to the daily grind.

We'll both be back next week with regular posts, so expect some delicious pictures from Paris (macarons! baguettes! stinky cheese! wine!) and Croatia (castles! islands! seafood!), as well as the usual inspiring goodies we find around the web.

This internet break is getting my creative juices flowing as well, so I might even have some fun projects to share with you soon. Enjoy your weekend and we'll be back on Monday!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Inspired by...

...a cute coat that walks the line between fabulously French and ridiculously jailbird.

Available at

...and a playful, airy kitchen to match.

 Photo by Björn Wallander

...the new Fall issue of Sweet Paul Magazine. All 160 pages are just fantastic, but this wallpaper had me dreaming up scenarios in which we absolutely can't live without a nautical-themed room in our apartment. (So far, I have none good enough to convince Micha. Blerg!)

...make-your-own sweet-and-sour mix by the fabulous Fashionably Bombed girls. I'll never have another excuse not to whip up a perfect margarita right when the mood randomly strikes.

 Photo and diy by Fashionably Bombed

...luggage that has me pining to hop on a train through India, The Darjeeling Limited-style.

The Producer Series by Steamline luggage

Image credits: 1) Dress by; 2) Kitchen by Björn Wallander for Country Living; 3) Wallpaper by Bodie and Fou for Sweet Paul; 4) Sweet-and-sour mix by Fashionably Bombed; 5) Luggage by Steamline luggage via hip hip gin gin.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Adventures in Baking

This weekend was a wonderful respite for me from...pretty much everything. So I took advantage of a weekend to myself, sans boy and between two weekends of busy travel plans, to do a whole lot of nothing. Except new recipe testing.

mmmm, melty chocolate...

The first thing I tried my hand at was this salted chocolate caramel pretzel bark. Because there are two sweets I'm obsessed with (and therefore not allowed to keep in the house for fear of devouring them in 10 seconds flat): chocolate-covered pretzels and salty caramel anything. I found it via my friend, Jessica, on Pinterest (glorious, glorious Pinterest) and intrigue got the best of me. 

 Where's the rest of the chocolate? you might be wondering. Well, let me tell you...

And to save you time, should you attempt this recipe too (which I highly recommend), let me tell you a few things I learned in the process. 1) When it comes to making caramel, follow the recipe EXACTLY. Don't pretend you're a fancy schmancy baker and say, oh, I'll just add some more butter now, even though half the brown sugar is already in there, cuz it couldn't hurt, it all cooks together in the end...this is not true. Boil things in the right order and you'll be thankful later for smooth, creamy, non-grainy caramel.

2) Measure your baking sheet ahead of time to make sure it works with the recipe. When you run out of caramel after only covering half of the pretzels, it leads to rookie mistakes when trying to quickly whip up a new batch (see item 1).

3) Never run out of chocolate. (This should really be more of a life rule.) I gathered every tiny last piece of chocolate we had in the house and look how sad my half-covered bark looks. There is something wrong when you do not have enough chocolate in the house for mis-measuring, or other, emergencies.

The next recipe I tried was slightly more successful because, 1) I got to use my favorite kitchen tool, the microplane zester, and 2) I did a test round before making the full cake and managed to figure a few things out in the process.

The recipe was a "healthier" version of a cheesecake made with greek yogurt, which I love, and which is why I tried it.

I made a round of mini ones in muffin tins first, but the crust-to-cake ratio was not to my liking (not nearly cheesy enough!). Luckily, I had enough of everything still to fill a pie tin.

To top it off, I just piled on some zwetschgen (tiny plums that are in season now, a pain-in-the-§*$ to cut up, but delish)...

...and ta-da! Now I just need somebody to eat it.

No really, Micha doesn't have a sweet tooth and I can't eat this by myself! Any takers?

And how was your weekend?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Inspired By...

After four days of relentless, sticky heat in Rome, I must say that I was surprisingly relieved to return to Berlin and find it as gray and rainy as ever. Our summer getaway was fabulous, but I'm officially ready for fall. The chill in the air, cozy sweaters and boots, warm drinks, and lots of colorful tights are just a few of the things I'm looking forward to. I think part of my California soul just died a little while typing that.

...flowy dresses, boyfriend blazers, and slightly masculine accessories.

Fall - chartreuse and neutrals
Created via Polyvore

...cocktail decorations perfectly suited for a snazzy, pre-Thanksgiving dinner cocktail hour. (Oh, yes, the minute the wind turned chilly, my Thanksgiving party 2011 plans got underway.)

Photo and recipe by Fashionably Bombed

...a fall party that I would love to see come to life. Have you seen the new fall issue of Styled. yet? If not, oh are you missing out. It is eye candy galore and procrastination central; and worth every single second. 

Photo by Alli for Styled.

...outdoors brought indoors. I always feel the need to add a little more nature-inspired decor to my home in the fall. This mantle is just right: classy without being campy. My gnomies would have to reside elsewhere.

...simply packaged office supplies with a touch of fall flair.

Available from Roots and Wings Design

Image credits: 1) Fashion board from my Polyvore (links to items here); 2) Bellini by Fashionably Bombed; 3) Fall party by Alli of Hooray blog for Styled.; 4) Interior styled by JHID, photo by Lincoln Barbour via Pure Green. 5) Clips and tags by Roots and Wings Design via Eat Read Love.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Seen in Rome - Part 1

The view from my friend's rooftop terrace in Trastevere. Bet you'd never guess that yellow building on the left contains a prison.

Aperitivi on the balcony and more wine and cheese at the restaurant. Liz's coworker took us out. We have no clue where we were except for that it was outside of Rome and where the cool kids hang out.

Old friend and new friends.

The Colosseum, as seen from a taxi. There are certainly worse things to drive past in a cab.

Indescribably cool outdoor club/bar where you could either pass the whole night dancing or just sitting on the grass, enjoying the hot hot hot summer night with friends.

A peaceful corner of a bustling courtyard in the Vatican museums.

The perfect window spot to call home from while slowly meandering our way to the Sistine Chapel.

An enviable Vatican balcony and the pines of Rome.

Statues, busts, and alleyways from days long gone.

Our Rome girly weekend was everything I had hoped for and then some. More pictures - and some particularly yummy ones at that - to come.