Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Toms Ballerinas Are Coming!

I think my heart actually skipped a quick beat this morning when this email arrived in my inbox:

Are you a Toms fan? Cuz if you are, I can't imagine you wouldn't be excited about this! And even if you're not, who doesn't like a cute pair of comfy ballerinas? And comfy ones that support a good cause to boot? You really can't go wrong.

I actually do not own any Toms (though I did buy Micha a pair for his birthday, which he still has left to receive as we have no idea which neighbor the mailman left our package with. His handwriting is illegible and I'm now convinced he was drunk on the job. And probably usually is... But I digress.). Though I have wanted some for years, since so many travel-loving friends and bloggers always rave on and on about them.

So I think these ballet flats are the perfect opportunity for me to stock up. Quick! Who wants to order some tomorrow and ship them to Germany for me? I always pay back such favors in over-the-top care packages...

p.s. Get them here starting tomorrow!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Micha's Birthday Weekend auf Rügen in Pictures

A long title for a not-long-enough weekend. But it was celebratory and relaxing and gluttonous, nonetheless. So really, pretty darn fabulous.

Birthday breakfast

Birthday champagne, courtesy of the Hotel Hanseatic, which we cannot recommend highly enough. (Whiskey, top right, courtesy of me)

 Not-too-snowy, but oh-so-cold-and-windy beach 

Varied styles of living

The crew: Kerstin, Hendryk, and bday boy Micha

Re-energizing with fish soup and the beer of the righteous

Our villa (the top right corner one)

Boys, a bit skeptical of our candlelight dinner for four

Drinkies (please note Micha's table-decoration-turned-pearl bracelet)

Sellin, where "Kendryk" got married 1.5 years ago

As you probably know by now, we're kind of Rügen addicts. And tend to have the most fun when these two come along. Our goals for the weekend were simple:

-- Celebrate Micha's birthday quietly in one of his favorite settings. Success! We even got a fancy room in the adjacent Villa Fortuna with an extra large lounge area, balcony, and very envy-enducing-sized bathroom. Not to mention, we're such frequent guests that they left a bottle of champage waiting for the birthday boy upon arrival. (As my luck would have it, the bottle pretty much just went to me! Since the boys stuck to whiskey and Kerstin's preggo state doesn't allow for such debauchery.)

-- Enjoy our first real drinkies since December. Choosing to end Alcohol-free January on his birthday every year is like icing on the cake. Actually better, since Micha doesn't even like cake.

-- Sleep entirely too much. We did a lot of relaxing and napping in between breakfast buffets, lunchtime beach walks, and our candlelight dinner. We even all fell asleep at the same time in our lounge chairs at the pool, resulting in us all too closely resembling the groups of old couples around us. Yeah, they know how to live the life.

-- Eat lots and lots of fish. Fischbrötchen and a fantastic (and award-winning! :) red fish soup at this teeny tiny little restaurant near the beach are our all-time favorites. It's also kind of the only place open in winter...

Other than that, I did manage to spill an entire cup of hot coffee all over my stomach and lap at breakfast our first morning (after having packed extra light. Go me.). This following my finger-burning incident of the previous weekend. It appears my self-inflicted injuries habit has shifted gear from cuts to burns. Not sure I like the change...

And how was your weekend?

All photos by Nicole or Micha

Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy Weekend!

Happy weekend, everyone! This afternoon I'm off to pick up my race packet for the Miami half-marathon on Sunday. This is my second half-marathon, so I'm more at the giddy-to-run stage than the so-nervous-I-want-to-throw-up stage this time around. I'm also planning on finalizing some entryway and living room redecorating I've been working on, which will hopefully be ready to share with you next week.

(Words I sometimes I need to remind myself of)

What are you up to this weekend? Is it cold where you are? Snowing? Or do you get to run outside and across gorgeous bridges like I do? See you next week!

P.S. This video of our hometown made me laugh out loud.

My and Nicole's dream lawn.

The Valentine's Day gift wrap I want to recreate. (Or to receive. Either one ;)

My ultimate nightmare in a lamp via Man Made DIY (if you know me, you know I hate squirrels).

Happy Birthday to a Pretty Awesome Fella

Without getting too bloggy PDA here, I just wanted to take up this little space of the interwebs today to wish my favorite dude on the whole planet the merriest of birthdays!

Even though we're heading off to Rügen for the weekend with a couple friends, as we like to do, to avoid throwing a party (lame, I know!), it doesn't mean we can't virtually celebrate! Here's a little tribute to your awesomeness, that clearly started at a very young age, along with a couple of reasons why I find you so damn fantastic.

You've always been a stylish dresser

You're just oh-so-German

You've always had a classy ride

You're a beach bum at heart

 You make my picture face look normal

Happy birthday, Micha! I'm so glad I found you in a bar four-and-a-half fun-filled years ago!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Inspiration to Action: Fresh Mint & Chocolate Cookies

Do you ever get the urge to create? To make something new, tangible, created by your own two hands? I've had that urge lately and I can't shake it. Usually running--specifically preparing for my half-marathon this weekend, eek!--helps me feel productive and energized, but this week not even that is satiating me. I want to make something. I've been brainstorming about a lot of projects (hopefully I'll have some to share with you soon!), but I also thought, why not take some of my daily web inspiration and put it into action? I'm thinking of creating a weekly post from this--one where I take some source of inspiration from around the web and do something with it, create something out of it--not just look at it wistfully from behind my computer screen.

So I started kind of small today, with a baking project. As I mentioned before, I recently planted a balcony herb garden with mint, cilantro, and thyme. I've always dreamed of picking fresh herbs from my own garden and using them to cook, so I decided it was time to actually do so. I'm more of a baker than a cook, as I think I've said before, so I went for some cookies (my all-time, cannot-pass-them-up-no-matter-what-the-circumstances, favorite dessert). I found this fresh mint and chocolate cookie recipe via Casa Veneracion and got so excited, I bolted out the door to go buy the missing ingredients I needed to make the cookies right away.

(Quick side note: I forgot to buy eggs and didn't want to run out again, when I got to thinking that there has to be a way to substitute eggs in baking recipes (there are vegan cookies, after all). Turns out there is: I mashed half a banana and added it as I would an egg and voila! No noticeable difference in the result and a lot healthier, too. Love it.)

The mint was happy to finally get picked and put to use. I know. I asked it.

My chocolately minty delicious dessert. I have to say, it felt great to make them, especially with my own, homegrown mint. (And let's face it, even better to eat them.) Looking forward to sharing more homemade creations with you each week!

Recipe via Casa Veneracion (originally from Eatpress). I used 4 tbsp of chopped mint, as suggested, and substituted half a banana, mashed, for 1 egg. All photos by Natalie.

A Rug Has Stolen My Heart

If you want to know the truth, I'm really really not a rug person (I'm sure I've mentioned this before). Maybe it's because we grew up with so much carpet that hardwood floors seem like such a welcome change to me. Or maybe I'm just a wee bit too lazy. Or cheap. (Rugs are freaking expensive!) All I know is, they are the last thing I think about when decorating a room (ask Natalie, she's been trying to break me of this habit for the past few years cuz she can't stand walking around on our very old and very freezing floors when she visits).

Which is all to say that, while shopping online for rugs recently, per Natalie's advice, of course, I was rather surprised to find myself falling madly in love with one I would never have expected to be my taste.

Benuta rug, now only available on eBay

I don't know what it is about this rug - oh heck, yes I do, it's full of color! - but it's got me in a tizzy. (So much so that I'm using embarassing words such as "tizzy" to describe it.) I want this rug in my life.

So tell me: where should I use it? In our gray and dark pink living room? I'm not so sure... In our turquoise-y blue guest room? Probably not... In our white bedroom? Is it too pretty to be partially hidden by the bed? Would it be too cruel to purchase it for Micha as a birthday present and just tell him that I really thought it was his taste? Hmmmmm.
Oh, and in case you need help finding rugs too, Holly of Decor8 wrote a great post on her personal blog, Haus Maus, about where to find rugs in Germany. Which is the only way I found Benuta. She's chock full of good Germany resources, thank goodness!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Inspired By...

...a lovely chalkboard wall that was the inspiration behind my painting our entryway with chalkboard paint (more on that to come soon!).

...a fantastically floral calendar for the new year.

...a DIY for a throw pillow that I can't wait to recreate asap. Now just to think of the quote I want to stencil...

Photo and DIY by Amanda Wright

...pretty much everything colorful and neon from GAP's new spring line. I can't wait to get my hands on that striped sweater and those pink flats!

Available at Gap

Image credits: Chalkboard wall from Cottage Living idea house via SF Girl by Bay | 2012 giclee calendar by Brittany Watson of The House the Lars Built | Throw pillow DIY via Wit and Whistle | Outfits available at Gap

A Tropical Paradise Awaits...

So I have a fun secret to share with you that I actually can't believe I haven't revealed until now. In just a few weeks, Micha and I are escaping the winter and heading off to...

...the Philippines!!

We have very little planned as of yet, but we have guidebooks and I pretty much want to visit every single island I read about. It's gonna be rought narrowing it down; but I'm also pretty sure there is no wrong place. We're just stoked for three (well-deserved) weeks of sunshine, beach-lounging, scuba diving, backpacking, and downright adventure!

Ever been there? Or know someone who has? Tips are always welcome.

All images taken by my awesome friend, Sam, who is in the Philippines right now!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Weekend in Pictures

This weekend I pretty much just baked like a madwoman. Hence every single one of my pictures is of food. Get ready to drool!

Apple pie, ready to bake 

Super fluffy (and accidentally gigantic) cinnamon rolls, ready to bake

Vanilla bean, to add to the orange juice

Cinnamon rolls, complete with LOTS of frosting

Homemade bread

Brunch with Micha's fam

Do you bake with yeast? I usually try to avoid it, cuz it kind of scares me, but this weekend, after Micha suggested inviting his mom + bf and brother over for Sunday brunch, I did that thing where I go super nuts planning an all-too-elaborate menu for Germans who really just want brötchen plus a selection of yummy meats and cheeses. I decided I absolutely had to make cinnamon rolls from scratch. And not the non-rising kind. And then, since I was at it, why not make some bread too? And oh! Kai had wanted an apple pie for Thanksgiving, which I never made him, so why don't I make that too?! 

I do not exactly recommend this kind of baking insanity, but it was fun pretty freaking fun. And took up my entire Saturday (but it was rainy and gross out anyways, so what the heck?).

(Oh! Quick tangent: We did leave the house on Saturday night to go see Ziemlich Beste Freunde at my all-time favorite old-school movie theatre, Kino International, with Kerstin & Hendryk (or Kendryk, as I prefer to call them). It's a french movie and so sweet and lovely and touching and I could go on and on but seriously, just go see it! It's called "Intouchable" in French. I promise you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll love it.)

But back to the baking. I used this really intimidating-looking cinnamon roll recipe from Not So Humble Pie (love that blog name!) and will never use another one again. If you enjoy taking all of your anger out on a slab of sticky dough by beating the bejeezus out of it, then this is the recipe for you! I throughly enjoyed pounding the dough onto the counter for an entire episode of Up All Night, and seeing it rise afterwards was one of the most rewarding sights I can imagine. Plus, they were dangerously delicious and the frosting was to die for. I could have eaten it by the spoonful (and may have at one point...).

In addition to those, I also made this Simply Recipes apple pie (but with a pre-made crust because crust is totally not my thing), and then Vitalbrot, which also rose fantastically and ended up all fluffy and airy and deelish. The vanilla bean was used for roasted vanilla orange juice, which tastes like a creamsicle in a glass and made up for the lack of mimosas since it's still alcohol-free January in our household. (It ends on Friday, woohoo!)

As usual, the sweets overwhelmed the Germans, but I'd call our brunch a success anyways. We basically recovered from it on the couch for all of Sunday, skipping the hockey game (the third of the week, which really is overkill), and watching entirely too much Friends and cruise ship documentaries instead (note to self: NEVER go on a cruise. Seriously.).

Important p.s. For the cinnamon rolls, she recommends searching YouTube for a video demonstrating the french folding method so pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top use this one. His french accent + enthusiasm + the plethora of flying dough will win your heart over in minutes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Morning Finds

I spent half the weekend fighting off an impending sickness (coughing all night is my favorite), which means I spent half the time indoors and not outside enjoying our magical 80 degree weather. Even though I know pretty much every day from here on out is going to be 80 degrees and sunny, that always bums me out. You know what I mean? I did, however, find some lovely things across the web that brightened up my weekend.

I think this Valentine's Day card is perfection (does anyone else only think of Chandler from Friends saying "Gum would be perfection," when they hear that word? Anyone?). Adorable, simple, and a great lyric from a really great song. I'm sold.

Available at Our Little Words

These colorful flower paintings, and many more, would fit right in in this Miami sunshine, and would be sure to brighten up the dreary New York winter, as well. I love the bright color, the whimsy of the lines, and the imperfect brush strokes. These all add up to such unique and fun paintings, don't you think?

Available by Lulie Wallace

This visual New Year's resolution (this one is "to eat healthy") is just too cute. And how much nicer to look at a pretty picture of a resolution than a dull written/typed list? That'd sure help give me the inspiration to stick to them.

 Styling by Style Cookie

Love love love this simplistic but super functional desk. The chunky wood, the set-in drawers, the way it's partitioned off to, perhaps, create its own little nook even in a busier space. Love it all.

Available at Slow Wood

This hilarious labradoodle print (and many more) that made me laugh out loud this morning. Cause I basically think this is exactly what every fluffy dog is thinking.

Available at Tiny Confessions
Image credits: Valentine's Day card by Summer Allen of Design is Mine available at her Etsy shop | Lulie Wallace paintings via You Are My Fave | New Year's Resolution photograph by Maria Stijger styling by Wenda Torenbosch via Bloesem| Desk by Slow Wood photo by Trendland via Ohhh...Mhhh... | Labradoodle's confession by Christopher Rozzi via Fab.com

Friday, January 20, 2012

Can't Get Enough Maps

I often wonder how many maps are too many for one (not-so-big) apartment. I seem to have accumulated quite the collection over the years and yet I find myself  constantly lusting after new ones.

My all-time favorites are the wonderful prints from These Are Things. We have the big world map in aqua in our guest room and the large LA city print by our dining table, in addition to a big old map that Micha's had for ages that graces the wall above our guest bed/couch.

And now I'm conjuring up non-existent wall space to fit (at least) these three as well...

...wouldn't that cute one on the bottom left be perfect for a multinational rugrat (*ahem* Charlie!)? And I have big plans for that chalkboard one. Oh yes, at some point this year, mark my words, I will make it mine!

So what do you think: how many maps are too many? Or is there just no such thing...?

p.s. some other great maps!

Our monochromatic hometown.

A cool look at Beantown, my favorite college city (go Terriers!).

I need a giant pack of these postcards stat.