Friday, March 30, 2012

Happy Weekend!

It's finally Friday and I tell you, it couldn't have come soon enough. What with my computer still not working, getting little to no sleep before long work days because of the new kittens, and all the triathlon prepping I had to do this week, I'm ready for a relaxing Saturday and an intense Sunday! I have a couple friends in town from New York (finally! yay!) and hope to have a long leisurely dinner tonight, then just relax on the beach and at home with the kittens tomorrow while trying not to concentrate solely on the race. And maybe even finally see The Hunger Games. What about you, any big plans? Or small relaxing ones?

Here's a photo of my sleepy little monsters, for your daily cuteness quota.

Happy weekend, everyone!

P.S. Best victory dance ever.

This is so true.

In case you haven't yet made plans for April Fool's Day...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Dream File Cabinet (Yes, I Have a Dream File Cabinet)

Have you ever wanted something so so bad that having to wait for it was just painful? I mean, everything I wanted as a little kid felt like that, of course. But lately, for me, despite all the home redecorations I have planned in my head, all the cute new spring outfits I'm dying to wear, and now, all the millions of kitty toys I feel drawn to buying, the one thing I wanted so so bad was this:

Cb2's chartreuse file cabinet. And now--it's mine! I'm pretty sure I mentioned it at least once a day for the past month, and finally, with an oh-so-subtle, "You know what you should buy today" hint from me, F picked it up this week. Hurrah! Pics of its happy home in my apartment (we have the coordinating desk, so it's not a completely random chartreuse purchase) will come soon--when I actually get the time to, you know, put it together and fill it up (meaning probably next week, after my triathlon). Until then, well, doesn't the color just make you smile? Cause it sure does for me!

Image from cb2

Travel Thursdays: Bohol Adventure Tour

Welcome to part 3 of the trip that only lasted three weeks but will take a million years to recount... You can find our Philippines vacation part 1 here and part 2 over here

After a couple days of relaxation on Alona Beach, we were ready for a little adventure, so we booked ourself a driver (that sounds so bourgeois to say and felt just as ridiculous, but it's just what you do there!) to take us around the main island of Bohol (Alona Beach is actually on a small neighboring island, Panglao and consists primarily of resorts, restaurants, and not much else).

We had only planned on seeing a few sights - the Chocolate Hills, the tarsier habitat, and maybe the Loboc river, but our driver had other plans. Other very, very fast-moving plans...

The Blood Compact Monument, where the first pact of friendship (or rather, non-hostility) between the Spanish and Philppinos on the island. And some random people, because we didn't feel the need to photograph ourselves in front of it.

The day turned out to be less of a slow-tour-around-the-island kind of day and more of a this-must-be-what-it's-like-to-travel-on-an-Asian-tourbus kind of day. Sans all the fun other tourists with cameras a million times fancier than ours, though. Our driver sped along through the narrow roads, honking at every other vehicle in sight (though we soon found out that honking is just a crucial part of driving in the Philippines), passing them at full speed, and then swerving and screeching to a stop while yelling "Blood compact monument! There!" (pointing) "You get out. Take pictures!" And so take pictures we did.

The not-so-chocolately Chocolate Hills. Apparently, this is the problem with the rainy season. The hills are green and the weather is fabulously uninviting.

The Chocolate Hills were an interesting experience as well. It started when our driver dropped us off at the top of one of the hills that had been turned into a viewing platform where then two valet guys wrote down his license plate number and told us, when we were done taking pictures, to give them the number and they would call our driver up for us. The whole spiel was oddly similar to being dropped off on a summer camp field trip. We then wandered up the platform as it started raining (thankfully, we were used to this by now on the island and had our rain jackets with - they were not packed in vain!), fighting our way up the crowded steps full of picture-crazy teenagers and semi-bored little kids, only to reach the top and find that 1) the hills were not brown and chocolatey but green and grassy since it was still rainy season, and 2) the fog was rolling in with a vengeance.

Nonetheless, it was a pretty breathtaking sight and one of the stranger landscapes I've seen in my day. And we did manage to get some great pictures despite the fact that the will of skies was against us.

My handy dandy little waterproof video camera, which really did make me feel like a Japanese tourist when I busted it out and narrated such things as "and here we are driving down a street..."

The manmade forest. Another of those short and sweet "Get out! Take picture!" stops.

After stopping for about 2.5 seconds and 3 pictures at the manmade forest before speeding along to our next mystery destination, I was left wondering exactly which men actually "built" this forest... I did no Googling during our trip so I just found out today that this massive mahogany tree forest was actually planted in the 1960s as part of a nationwide reforestation program by the Philippine government. Can those trees grow quickly or what?!

Next we got to the most adorable part of our journey:

Each of these cuddly little fellows is only about 3 inches tall! Just look how human-like those hands are. And those ridiculous giant eyes!

These little fellows are tarsiers! The most adorable wee primates I ever did see, hanging out (and mostly sleeping as they're not really daylight-loving creatures) in their own little huts in the tarsier habitat where they're given a happy home and a chance to beat extinction. They may have been my main reason for wanting to visit Bohol.

This teenage tourist had no shame in kicking the banjo player out of his spot and stealing his banjo and hat to pose for a picture.

And finally, the most entertaining and surprising part of our day trip: a real live jungle cruise on the Loboc river! It was so freakishly similar to the Disneyland one that I almost expected to hear cheesy comments from a guide a while floating past elephants and lions and alligators and headhunters. Almost. (I may have shouted this to Micha multiple times while he not-so-subtley tried to shush my enthusiasm.)

Instead we got a buffet and a terrific-ly terribe singer, whom I was lucky enough to sit right next to; meaning I had to constantly struggle to surpress fits of laughter as he belted  out off-key country and soft rock songs at the top of his lungs. (Note his adorable mohawked, guitar-playing sidekick, though. That kid could at least somewhat sing.)

We also got to see a totally spontaneous traditional dance party...

...a silly excuse for an impressive waterfall...

 ...and this adorable kid, the most Jungle Cruise-like sighting of the afternoon.

Micha likes to advertise his company on his person in foreign countries, apparently.

The last stop before we were dropped back off at our beach was the Baclayon church, one of the oldest stone churches in the Philippines. And while the church has definitely been up-kept to some degree and modernized with speakers and fans, preventing mold didn't seem to be a big concern to anyone. Those churchgoers must have lungs of steal.

We returned to our resort that night tired and happy campers and to our surprise, even made some friends to travel with to our next destination: Siquijor, otherwise known by us as the ultimate paradise and the absolute best part of our trip! Coming soon!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Inspired By...

...desserts gone awesome. Massive + minimalistic = my kind of sweet tooth fix.

... non-cheesy (or childish) Easter greetings. I'll take these over a card covered in pastels and baby rabbits any day.

Photo and design (printable!) by Sodapop Design

...a small space alternative to my fabulous bar cart (bonus: it comes in various colors!).

Available at Loll Designs

...quirky touches in this droolworthy house tour.

Photos by Pernille Kaalund for Femina

...a statement that is not to be used lightly but could very well make someone's day (or weekend).

Hand lettering by Lisa Congdon

...spruced up paper bags (in my favorite shiny color) that would make transporting random goods so much more fabulous.

Image credits: Cake by Stewart Leishman Photography via Style Me Pretty, pinned by Helen | Macaron tower pinned by Melanie | Easter card by Sodapop Design |  Wallbanger bar by Loll Designs via Augenpralinen | Maria Helgstrand's apartment by Pernille Kaalund for Femina via The House that Lars Built | Quote by Lisa Congdon |  Metallic sacks by Rebecca

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Weekend in Pictures

Apparently, I'm finding it hard to let go of the weekend this week. But alas, it really is over and here's how it looked:

The sunny balcony was just screaming for some attention in the form of baby plant repotting (as opposed to its usual winter job of beer storage)

The cliché ridden comedy show, Cavewoman | Friday night gin tonics

View from the Mini

Lunch/dinner: pea soup, grilled cheese a là John (our grandpa), and a beer with a smiley!
More spring flowers (I can't get enough)

After the Eisbären game (next stop: semifinals!), we happened to see all the players driving home from our table at a fabulous Italian restaurant (that bruschetta!)

Wee little spaced-out Mara and her newest friend (whose hand she wouldn't let go of), Micha

It was a busy, busy weekend. We enjoyed an evening of gin tonics, Philppines picture-showing, and Italian treats (I made this lemony fresh ravioli and it was to-die-for!) with Kerstin and Hendryk on Friday night before they left for vacation. I replanted all the tomato babies and planted a bunch of herbs to go with them (separate post to come). We had tickets to the comedy show, Cavewoman - a Christmas gift from Micha's momma - and it was...ok. A one-woman show about the semi-hilarious difficulties between men and women when living together. Somehow, though, I felt like I was the only one in the audience who, every time she commented on typical manly behavior - like being ridiculously whiney when sick or always buying everything at the store except what's on the list - I turned to Micha and said "frick, that's totally me in our relationship..." To which he nodded and chuckled. Sigh.

We did manage to end the night at Dr Pong, though, so not all was lost. Except, of course, that one hour of Daylight Savings time. Which we very much did lose and which I very much did miss on my hungover Sunday morning.

Sunday was game 3 of the DEL hockey quarterfinals and while not the greatest game, the Eisbären still kicked ass and will hopefully clench their semi-finals spot tomorrow (they were first place this year, so it's not really that tough for them. Never really is.) After the game, we did what good Germans do when the weather is even remotely nice and enjoyed a meal outside at the cutest new (to me) Italian restaurant in Friedrichshain, Saporito Pasta e Vino (which you certainly can't tell by looking at the terrible website). Teeny little few-week-old Mara joined us; along, of course, with her parents Andrea and Stefan, and she was pretty smitten with Micha, evidenced by the blatant hand-holding. The adoration seemed pretty mutual, though. :) Frankly, I was most envious of her rockin' to-go sleeping bag...

How was your weekend?

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Monday Morning Hello...

...because I was so absent last week. But here's why. Last week went something like this for me: work...too much. Train for triathlon...(what felt like) not enough (I'm a wee bit terrified that it's coming up so soon!). Get baby kittens and stare at/play with/cuddle them...endlessly. Blog/work on computer...not at all, because my computer's power cord decided to commit suicide (for the second time, I might add, which may turn PC-loving me into a Mac girl yet). Just to explain my absence in a few sentences to you all. And since it's Monday morning and you probably haven't had your daily dose of cuteness yet, here's one of our new little munchkins in their favorite "toys/beds." (You can spend $80 on toys at Petco, come home, and all they want to play with is your shoe. But of course.)

Also, since I'm already talking about my baby kitties, why stop there, it's just entirely too precious how, when we lie on the floor and let them climb, wobbly, all over us (F calls it "playing Gulliver") they'll come really close to my face and just stare at me. Like, I don't think you look like me, but maybe you do? I realize I'm talking about them like a new mom would about a baby, but they pretty much are my first babies. Especially since they kept us up all night last night meowing to get love, to explore, and to just have us near. And who can refuse a wee kitten meow?!

So that's my, Hi, I'm back! spiel besides my still-busted computer and my final week of tri training. Hope you don't mind a lot of kitten talk (and pictures!) from now on.

P.S. Is anyone else on the fence about John Cusack playing Edgar Allan Poe?

In the spirit of kittens...!

DVF for kids may be the cutest line ever. I got this for F's 9-month-old niece--how ridiculously cute!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy Weekend!

Is there anything more delightful than that high you get on a Friday evening when you finally shut your office door and realize that there are two full days and another whole evening standing between you and the next time you'll have to walk into that office and turn on that jackass computer again? No, I don't think there is. (Unless you don't work in a sterile office environment in which case, cheers to you for that!)

Anywho, I'm currently reveling in the fact that I have no real plans for this weekend and not only that, I  get to go it alone. Micha's busy with work stuff the whole time (lame, I know), but I'm actually kind of looking forward to a little alone let's-see-where-I-end-up-and-when time. If I can get just one sunny bike ride in, I'll call it a success.

Here's hoping you've got some great plans in store for the first weekend of spring!

PS. Good advice about becoming a regular.

I'm considering taking an online painting course...thoughts?

The bar cart would look even prettier with these Mad Men cocktails on top of it.

It's Hunger Games opening weekend (are you as excited as we are?!) and this is so sad but true.

Image pinned by Brittany (source?)

Flying Bach

Have you heard of the show Flying Bach? I first saw them on the morning news last year and immediately knew I had to see them in person, so Kerstin and I stalked tickets online until we were finally able to track some down for this spring. (They're currently on a Germany tour but who knows, maybe they'll go more international soon!)

The wait was finally over this week and let me just tell you, the show did not disappoint! I find the concept really really cool, but I'm also a big fan of mixing old with new and not sticking with tradition. As the pianist of the show says (he was awesome, by the way), their main goal with these events is "to bring break dance to the 'sacred' [fancy] venues and Bach to the youth on the streets." Pretty awesome goal, if you ask me.

It started off a little slow with a kind of storyline that I wasn't too sure about, but it quickly took off and proved extremely entertaining. I, personally, really liked how they danced to classical piano solos and then also to piano mixed with techno beats. Micha, on the other hand, wasn't so much a fan of the mixed music because he "really likes classical music and really likes techno music. But not together." So you know, something to consider. I also thought the group did a fantastic job of intertwining their break dancing with the ballet moves from the lone girl. She was spectacular - you couldn't keep your eyes off of her every time she was on stage (or is that just me and my long-hidden desire to be a ballerina?). Plus, really, the whole thing just looked like so freaking much fun! Especially the last three dances where the whole crew was just so smiley and you could tell what a great time they were having. Ahhh, to be able to dance and be awesome at it...

Photo by Red Bull

As an added bonus, the show took place in a seriously fantastic and very fitting location in Kreuzberg: trafo, a huge industrial hall that used to be a heating-and-power plant (that is also the newish home to the revered techno club, Tresor). I love locations like this because they are so Berlin. Giant, shabby, industrial would-be ruins that a group of creatives took it upon themselves to save and use to host all sorts of cultural events. And because of the massive size of the hall in which the show took place, the acoustics were incredible.

Photos by fine art berlin

If you get the chance, I highly recommend checking out Flying Bach or, if you're in Berlin, catching any event at trafo (they even sometimes host operas there, how sweet would that be?). Here's a good video to lure you in.

Note: No pictures from me because they weren't allowed, but these are better anyways. :) Also, I have no association with Flying Bach. Just think they're awesome.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Baby Kittens!

Sorry for my absence this week, but I've been working really long hours and then trying to prioritize triathlon training above anything else (just 10 days til the event!), but I had to share with you all, albeit late in the day, the newest members of our family--our new baby kitties, Zuma and Aperol! It took us half the day to adopt them from the shelter and then get them home, on the scooter no less--yes, we braved it; yes, the little guys were okay. Then it took us the other half of the day to name them (and watch them stumble around the house like little drunks! It's so cute how baby animals toddle around on unstable feet, isn't it?). So here's some cuteness for your evening and I'll catch up with you more tomorrow!

Zuma, our little man, climbing on his new papa

 Aperol, our little girl, is a fan of the rug

Getting ready to nap for the fifth time of the day

Bringing the babies home!

So far, they're fans of the wine rack. Good thing, considering Aperol's namesake

All photos by Natalie

Travel Thursdays: Sleep in a Coffin in Berlin

I enjoy finding out about cool places to stay in my city so that I always have an arsenal of suggestions for potential visitors. And let me tell you, Berlin has its fair share of wacky hotels.

For example, in the Propeller Island City Lodge here in Berlin, you have the choice of many crazypants rooms, each one completely unique and designed by the artist Lars Stroschen. But my favorite room, by far, would have to be the coffin room.

Not that I have some bizarre death fetish or anything. But you see, when we were wee munchkins, Natalie and I were obsessed with vampires. Freakishly obsessed, starting at the age of five when our mom got us hooked on the awesome-but-sadly-very-short-lived '90s remake of the classic vampire TV show, Dark Shadows. And so much so that we never built forts out of our sheets in our rooms, we built coffins.

So I'd like to think our early '90s small selves would greatly appreciate this unique (and yet totally creepy) hotel room; and if it weren't in such an inconvenient location for visiting (Ku'damm is just so so far from my apartment), I'd totally book this one for Nat's next visit. (Or maybe I'm just throwing her off the track here and will do it anyways...hint hint, sister: plan a visit!)

Also, if coffins aren't really your thing, there are 26 other awesome rooms to choose from, too.

Photo by Propeller Island City Lodge

ps. No, we could not possibly be more excited for the upcoming Dark Shadows movie that Tim Burton is directing! Just had to throw that in there.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Inspired By...

...the prospect of spring picnics!

Designed by Eat Drink Chic

...or grill parties (with non-traditional ingredients) on the balcony.

...pairing florals with stripes for a girly, spring feel.

...the perfect off-beat cocktail to sip on those early spring evenings on the balcony

...a new land to visit and love.

Illustration by Verney L Danvers (circa 1930)

(Side note: I'm so excited to be heading to Scotland next month! We'll be enjoying an extended weekend in the land of whisky to meet up with some good friends from the US. Any tips for Glasgow or Edinburgh would be beyond appreciated!)

Image credits: Picnic invitation by Eat Drink Chic | Portobello burger by Johanna Frenkel, recipe by Green Kitchen Stories  for Design*Sponge | Embroidered art Art by  Jazmin Berakha via Creature Comforts | Spicy grapefruit margarita by Dean Kaufman for bon appétit via Heart of Light | Railway brochure by Verney L Danvers via Mikey Ashworth