Monday, April 25, 2011

Here is my handle, here is my spout

I am super excited because I just bought a teapot on eBay for 8.40 EURO (including shipping)!  It is so cute.  I don't think it is vintage (which is what I really wanted) but I fell in love with the adorable pattern and didn't care.  I almost thought I had lost to this annoying person who bid at the last minute just as I was eating dinner, but somehow it is mine now!  (I can't understand the German explanation fully.)  Anyway, I can't wait to upload pics when I get it. 

In other news, my best friend is coming to Germany for a visit this week, so don't be surprised if I am MIA for a while! 

Bis dann!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


It seems like I am redefining that word everyday. Does it lie in the place that you live?  In the people that you know or love?  In the connections you make with real people in this world?  Can community truly be found on the internet like the creators of Facebook would like you to think? 

Since moving to Germany I have had trouble finding community.  The definitions of it that I am used to don't seem to apply here, as far as I have seen.  Their are no friendly families watering their gardens and waving hello as you take your morning jog.  And, neighbors tend to try and avoid each other instead of stopping in for a cup of sugar and a little gossip.  I once went into a small gift/decor shop in town and started rambling on in broken German about how I loved all things birds and the shopkeeper seemed to get embarrassed hearing so much personal information about my decorating preferences.  It's certainly a far cry from the friendly, warm faces that work my favorite used book shop in Auburn or the neighborhood restaurant that I went to with my parents while I was home for Christmas.  The waiter there not only greeted my parents with a handshake and huge smile but also with their favorite beers served just the way they like them (out of the bottle). 

The lack of a friendly smile or a cheery "good morning" has, on occasion, made me feel sad over here in my adoptive home.  But, I have done my best to find community in new places.  Take for instance the German course that I took this fall and winter.  We had our own little community there.  We shared differences and similarities; recipes and good advice; (broken) conversation and the challenges of being foreigners.  In the coldness that can be Germany, our little class could be a warm, comforting shelter from the storm. 

And while I don't think I will ever believe that the Internet is a good substitute for the real deal, it can offer a bit of extra community when you need it.  That is something I have also noticed since moving to Germany.  Take for example the hundreds of blogs devoted to answering the questions of American's abroad.  But, by far my favorite right now is a blog called Haus Maus by Holly Becker.  Holly is an American decorator and writer living in Hannover.  She also has a great decorating blog called decor8 that I just love.  She has proved to me that it isn't always as hard to decorate in Germany as I always complain it is because she has done a great job on her place and has even written a book. 

But, I am getting off track.  What I love about Holly Becker's blog is how much I can identify with her and her German journey.  From dealing with the cold dark winters to relying on the people you love, she knows what it is like to be far from home and to forge your own unique path through unfamiliar territory.  She's definitely a role model and a woman truly succeeding in a situation that could bring others down.  Now, I don't think I am so lucky as to even have two people read this blog (well, excluding my mom and dad), but I like to think that I am adding to that community. 

No matter where you are, there are always good days and bad ones.  And it's the people that you can rely on to share your ups and downs that make it worth it.   They may serve you a coffee in the morning and brighten your day with a smile or they may sit down in their own living room one morning and share story about navigating a foreign country with a couple thousand of their closest friends.  They are your community and with out them life would be lonely and sad. 

Now, in honor of Easter, here are some pictures from this beautiful, warm and breezy weekend we have been having. 
Peter enjoying the sun.

Me enjoying the sun...and trying to get used to the bangs.

The new "thing" in Germany: slack lining.

Beautiful blossoming trees in the small fountain garden near our apartment.

Hofgarten, Coburg.

Me and a lazy eye. 

Spring flowers at home.  

Buttercream frosting and Easter

I should never have learned to make buttercream frosting.  In the two weeks since I first attempted Martha Stewart's Billy's Buttercream recipe, I have made it 3 times and have gone through 6 sticks of butter and 8 (small German) boxes of powdered sugar.  My god is this stuff addictive and so easy to make (which only enables my addiction)! 

Buttercream frosting on my annual Easter lamb cake.  Covered with coconut!
It came back to bite me in the bum today, though.  After letting my buttercream frosting sit out at room temperature for one day too long and then scarfing down a whole piece of cake I got a major stomach ache!  I have been nursing it all day now.  I guess I am being punished for my overindulgence.  From now on I only make buttercream frosting for special occasions (and Friday night does not count...nor does Saturday morning) and I am keeping it in the fridge! 

Check out the recipes here!
Billy's Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Billy's Chocolate Buttercream Frosting 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Love thy planet, love thy crap

It is both Earth Day and Good Friday and that means that it is time for a post about recycled goodies (because I care about the Earth and because I have a long weekend and a lot of time).  As you already know, I am a huge fan of all things old, salvaged, found, repainted and free.  That means I try my best not to buy stuff that I couldn't otherwise rescue from sad abandonment.  This has been hard since I have moved to Germany, but I guess I have to take comfort in knowing that my lifestyle here has made up for all the Ikea furniture in my living room.  All my clothes hang dry because I don't have a drier.  I don't have a car and I use public transportation.  And, while I have to use heating in the winter (Germany gets coooooold), my summer air conditioning is a cool breeze coming through open windows.  (And when there isn't a breeze?  I boil my butt off!)

Nevertheless, I desperately miss my old sources of decorating inspiration and finding something amazing with a history.  I miss knowing that I am doing my part not to create more waste in the process.  And,  I miss uniqueness!  Since I have already told you all about my love for the Goodwill, tonight I will tell you about one of my other favorite places, Urban Ore

Urban Ore is large "Ecopark Store" in Berkeley, California aimed at "end[ing] the age of waste", according to their website.  They take and sell old crap (and you already know how much I love old crap) that people would otherwise have to get rid of in a landfill.  Their cause is worthy but, it's what it means for you that is really cool.  From old bathtubs and sinks, to old cabinetry, to an excellent selection of old china, Urban Ore has all kind of cool salvaged decor for your home.  They sell furniture, tile and stone, metal and lumber, garden stuff, vintage baths, toilets, doors, household items such as pots and pans, art and frames, hardware, lighting, and even books and clothing.  If you are looking for something unique you can certainly find it here.
An example of the cool stuff at Urban Ore.  I could totally use that awesome bookcase (or pharmacy cabinet?) for my dining room!

When I lived in Berkeley, I often took a look in Urban Ore.  Their items are not too expensive--at least not the kinds of things I was buying (I never saw, for example, how much a claw foot tub costs).  There's a lot of stuff in there that is either unattractive or just plain random, so, like with the Goodwill, you have to look pretty hard. But when you find something perfect for you, it is a rush that I think must be similar to finding buried treasure.

Two of my favorite sections of the store are the sections with old china and art.  If I remember correctly, there weren't tons of sets of china but lots of great individual pieces that could make a really cool collection.  I am super into the casual and whimsical idea of having lots of mismatching china instead of one set of plates.  I also think it's an excellent idea for people planning a wedding on a budget (who don't want to spend money on renting dishes).  I'd go for a more simple look than the fluffy one below but this definitely has some charm.  I have also gotten some really great little dishes for storing rings and jewelry at Urban Ore. 

The art section has led to some equally awesome discoveries.  They have tons of empty wooden frames and lots of whole pieces of art...picture, frame and all.  Here is a great vintage flower painting I found there...I loved the color and the kitsch look.  It came with the gold frame and was totally ready to hang.  This picture is old and really zoomed in so I hope you can see it okay. 

Anyway, no matter what you are looking for check out Urban Ore. They are near the highway 80 in Berkeley so if you live in the Bay Area or ever go there, it is quite convenient to get to.  Plus, on you will be doing something good for the environment. Here's to loving old crap!

Happy Earth Day and Happy almost Easter!  XOXO

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Another new blog I need sleep!

Check out   The old house is cute, although a little too put together for me.  The new one has potential (love the picture wall) but I am not a fan of the new living room.  But they have lots of great projects! 

Spring has sprung and I have a butterfly project for you!

It's mid-April (okay, let's face it, it's pretty much the end of April) and we finally have leaves or buds on almost all the trees.  In celebration of this wonderful season (and by far the best season in Germany if you are lucky with the weather) here is a little happy, colorful project I did recently. 

It's a low-res iPhone image, sorry.  But here is the finished product.

I bought the images of the butterflies online from  These are wonderful graphic designs which you can buy in sets.  They cost $3 for one sheet, which has between 10 and 20 different images from one theme.  These butterflies are from the Butterflies on Blossoms sheet:  (I also bought the Loteria Cards part 6, Maps and Botanicals and Skeletons...for my darker side!) I figured they were worth it because of all the crazy project-ing I would get out of them. 

I printed my beautiful butterfly pictures in black and white because I don't have a colored printer and I was in too much of a creative rush to go to the printers and get them printed properly.  I then colored my butterflies in with colored pencils and I actually kind of like the hand-drawn look they have.  The subsequent times I tried this project I had the butterflies properly printed. 

The mini size.  Sorry it's a little blurry.  You can see that the butterfly is printed in this one! 
The border is brown packing paper and the background is my coffee-stained paper printed with many Greek letters in 12 pt font (they are random and meaning here).  Then I measured everything to make sure the butterflies were in the middle and glued them down.  You should use nice photo or non-acid scrap-booking glue to help your project last longer.  I  don't have a frame yet, but I want to put the butterflies in a vintage, worn-in wood frame maybe in black, navy blue or white.  I also have this image of it in a frame just a little too big so that you have a clear glass border showing the wall through, but I don't know.

Anyway have a happy spring day! 


Monday, April 18, 2011 sucked into blog world today.  I just hate when that happens but I love when you can find some super inspiration from it (which I did).  Plus, it means I have a lot to write about here tonight, although I should be doing some real work instead.

There are some amazing people doing amazing things on the internet and using blogs.  I wish I had the talent and the opportunity to do what they do.  But, since I don't, I will just create a post telling you how great they are and asking you to please check out their blogs. 

The first thing I suggest is checking out Dean Fisher's blog My Little Apartment. (Have I mentioned it here before? Sorry if I have!)  It's fully of great ideas, inspiration and cool pics of her own apartment.  What I love the most, though, is that she looks for free or cheap stuff on and posts it for her readers.  Then she gives you an idea on how you could repair/renew it. She finds adorable things with great offers and I wish I lived in the States and could take advantage of some of these cool offers!
I love her antlers in the kitchen and am currently hoping to get my own pair.  And, she blogged this picture recently that got my creative juices flowing.  I think it's originally from Design*Sponge and I love the great color and the poppy picture. 


Today I also found  It is an awesome site by Elle with huge galleries of images that you can refine by choosing room type and/or style.  Of course, it is not always thrifty, but what I love it for are the how-to guides.  Nothing bugs me more than artwork hung too high and here is a great guide at getting it right:  Also, there is a page with great tips on going to the flea market:

A little inspiration for you ^! 


Then I found Miss Moss, a blog written by a South African woman named Diana Moss.  She has great decor/lifestyle stuff and a lot of great advice and music playlists.  Please check out her pics of an apartment she stayed at while visiting Paris:  It is adorable and gives me some inspiration for my own European flat.  Also, she posted this picture (from Chih Chen's photostream on flickr) that made me want to desperately have--no not a cat--a chair like this!  (What are they called? It's rare for me not to know the name of a chair, but I admit I have no idea...can anyone help?)  I think it would be a great modern touch to my otherwise country/whimsical stuff. 


Check out this interesting idea for a cheap centerpiece from Elle Deco España:  

I am not sure it's totally my style but it is definitely fun and if I had such great wine glasses, I would do it without hesitation.  


And last but least of my inspiration this evening comes from the beloved Carrie Bradshaw.  Now, I am not really a Sex and the City fan, except that I love Carrie's apartment.  And, I guess that is kind of a lie because I found myself desperately wishing the show was on tonight as I started writing this post.  I had never watched it before my boyfriend and I got Sky cable tv here in Germany and now it is on quite often and is about the only thing I can watch in English.  I guess I can no longer say I am not a fan...  

Anyway, Carrie's apartment is cool and is a great mix of vintage and modern, more soft and lived in with a cool-girl feel.  I love the framed images stacked on the table by the front door (I have seen that everywhere lately and it definitely something I am doing as soon as I have a table in my hallway and a bit more money).  
I love the pass-through closet (although, I could never do it...I am a closet mess).  And I especially love the grey-blue color.  

I love the old leather chair in the living room and her writing desk by the window.  

And...then we come to the bedroom.  The bench at the end of her bed is great and I wish I could find one.  I bet there are plenty of those things floating around out there at Goodwills.  You should look for one and put it at the foot of the bed.  I love things at the foot of the bed.   I am also loving the asymmetry of the bedroom.  I like the casual feel of asymmetry these days.  But mostly what I have been inspired by lately, which you cannot see in this photo, is the bookcase that is the headboard of her bed.  I LOVE this idea.  I LOATHE 1980s and 90s bookshelf build into a headboard built into a side table things.  But, I think the idea of actually using a real bookcase as your headboard is quite perfect.  There's tons of storage and it has a no-fuss, no-frills vibe that I am liking more and more these days (but without leaving the wall behind your bed looking naked).  


Okay, I hope you enjoy and find some inspiration yourself.  I got to get to bed now!  Work early a.m.  But cheers and here's til the weekend (a 4 day-er thanks to Easter).  See you then!

We could make that!

Now is a good time to tell you about my best friend.  She's one of the lights of my life and someone who just gets me, even when I am a huge dork.  Our moms our best friends, too, and share a love of all things decorating.  So, I guess we both kind of grew up with it.  When we had our ritual Saturday night sleep overs as kids and teens, we would always cuddle up on the couch with one of our moms, eat Popsicles and watch HGTV.

You may be thinking, "Wow, that's great and I am really happy for you.  But, what does this have to do with decorating on a budget?"  Well, my friends it has everything to do with decorating on a budget because it was those Saturday evenings sitting on the couch that not only inspired this blog, but also inspired the whole range of projects I have done and the creativity I have nursed over the years.  As we sat there with Popsicle juice running down our fingers, our favorite thing to say was "We could make that."  It didn't matter how hideous it was or how complicated.  There wasn't a project that the Design Time Saturday Night hosts took on that we didn't think we could replicate or try to replicate.  And between myself, Danu, her mom and my mom we weren't really dreaming.   We really could make that. (Usually it was more a matter of if we really wanted to.  Design Time Saturday Night wasn't exactly up-to-date...or tasteful, actually.)

And over the years, the words just stuck.   To this day, they are still my motto.  I have tried my hand at a lot.  And I still think I can make just about anything I see that would be too expensive to buy.  I still need to try my hand at woodworking and I use a lot of shortcuts (you gotta love glue guns, Velcro and staple guns) but, in the end I can usually do it or find someone who can to help me for free.  I suggest you take on that motto, too.  And when you can't do, recruit someone who owes you a favor and can.   

I love that Danu gets me in this way.  I love that we have the same passion for design and the same creative minds.  I love that I can trust her to give me honest feedback and to help me when something just doesn't look right.  But, most of all, I just love her.

Matt Fox and Shari Hiller of HGTVS Room by Room, a show Danu and I used to watch far too much.  

Friday, April 15, 2011


So, I worked on my next project a little...the Eiffel Tower on the coffee stained paper.  I have to end products and I need to know which one you like more or how I could tweak either of them to make a better end product.  I kind of think that the coloring of the one on the left is good, but the image may be just a little too intense/structural but that the image on the right is too light in color.  (Not sure why but it is hard to see the coffee stained color of the paper in this picture.)  I also think I would want to frame them and would like suggestions for colors/types (if I can find a good frame on sale). 

I love the bright red-orange color.  It is one of my favorites right now!  Thanks for your input! 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gwyneth Paltrow's got a new cookbook and I want it!

I am a big Gwyneth Paltrow fan!  I mean, who could beat her rendition of "Forget You" on Glee.  In fact, it kind of made me FALL in love with her.  I don't even watch Glee (don't hate) but I watched that episode. I think she is really adorable and I love all of her little side jobs.  Often, when stars take on side projects they can seem contrived and, quite frankly, annoying.  How many cheap drugstore pop-singer perfumes does this world really need?  But, Gwyneth has taken on a kind of (celebrity) uncharted territory in writing her new cookbook.  Yes, chefs have become celebrities (Rachel Ray + eye roll), but I can't think of another celebrity who has become a cook.  Despite what her figure implies, I truly believe that Gwyneth has a real love of food and the ritual that goes into preparing it. 

I have come to this conclusion because of a little PBS tv series I found two and a half years ago called, "Spain...On the Road Again."  I first found this series by chance on tv about 5 months after I had walked El Camino de Santiago (or the Way of St. James).  At the time, I was in love with Spain (and my own Spanish adventure) and was very happy to find a whole show devoted to Spanish cuisine, which to some is terrible but to me is the epitome of good eats.  I was immediately enthralled by the show and eventually even found an episode that is set along the Camino in Galicia, where I ended my 800 kilometer walk.  Anyway, Gwyneth does the show with Mario Batali, Mark Bittman and a Spanish beauty whose name I cannot remember.  It's excellent and to this day I watch it all the time (I bought it on iTunes). 

"Spain...On the Road Again" taught me that Gwynie and I (do you think she would mind if I call her that?) have the exact same taste in food (I too think that good bread with olive oil, salt and pepper makes a perfect breakfast).  I've admired her recipes on her blog Goop for a long time now and I am so excited to get my hands on her cookbook.   Of course, I have to find it in Germany in English first.  But then, I can't wait to cook away.  I really think this is one star's side project worth investing in.  Add it to her many talents! 

Check out the article about the cookbook and her publication dinner party on People.,,20481233,00.html

Guten Appetit!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


It sounds fancy and expensive.  But it is just my mother's pronunciation of Target--you know the big box with the glowing red bulls eye hanging above the entrance?  That place you go to buy Windex, cat food and tampons?  While it may seem mundane to you, for my mom and I it is a treasure trove and worthy of such a French sounding name.  You can find just about anything there and, I promise, you CAN find cute house stuff...if you look hard enough, often enough.

I have an adorable white lamp (also waiting for me at home in California) that came from Target.  It was from the Shabby Chic collection, when that was the big thing.  I have since moved on from that style a bit, but the lamp is classic and I will use it forever.  It's curvy, cute and glass with what looks like white paint running around the inside.  I have plenty of their little accessories and some bedding.  Not to mention many, many kitchen goodies.  And, while this isn't necessarily cute, I have the best thing ever made by Target: a cheaper version of a memory foam bed topper! 

I know there are a lot of Target naysayers out there and pretty much all I have to say about that is don't be so snobby.  I have my moments where I feel like culture is dying and we are all wearing and buying the exact same crap; but then I find a pair of earrings, a purse, or an adorable lamp that I use 600 times before I wear it out and I put away all my Berkeley-bread prejudices and embrace what I know to be true: Target is the Thrifty Girl's Mecca.    So have no shame and flaunt your thrifty finds! 

Check out the current Blue & White collection.  They have some cute vases (please take out the lame looking silk flowers and see my previous post) and lamps.  They also HAD something called "Branch Side Table" which was the cutest, most whimsical side table I had ever seen but it is gone.  It was round, made out of natural (not stained looking) wood and had bendy legs that looked like the branches of a tree.  It is still listed as an item under the Blue & White collection but, oddly, the picture has changed.  It now looks like a sleek modern side table.  I don't know what happened.  Anyway check out the:

Accent Lamp Shade - Sour Cream

Porcelain Striped Vase - Blue/White

Accent Lamp Base - Epic Blue

Hammered Metal Vase - Small   

Also check out some of the non- Blue & White collection stuff.  For example the Ginger Quilt could look cute folded at the end of the neutral bed or when under a more neutral, solid duvet.   I also think the scarlet quilt (or maybe just the shams) has some charm.  And I love the Dwell for Target "Bird in Vine" bedding collection (have you caught on to my bird obsession yet?).  I think it would look great with a brighter colored duvet.  Maybe a bright, leaning-towards-neon yellow or olive or citrus green?

So, get to Target, because I can't.  And think of me while you're there (don't forget the blue raspberry Icee)!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fresh flowers

It's the season for flowers!  They're everywhere and they're beautiful, so colorful and fresh.  No matter what you like (I am quite a fan of tulips, ranunculus, and pansies this spring) they can lend a whole lot of color and life to an otherwise drab room. 

Now I realize that buying fresh cut flowers is not exactly a "thrifty" habit.  But, there are some things I am willing to spend a little money on--fresh cut flowers, good food, skin care products--in order to brighten up my life.  Anything that makes you happy to look at (or eat) is generally worth it.  And this time of year, I believe that flowers are worth it.  They always make me smile and they always make my rooms feel complete. 

The yellow ranunculus on my dining room table add a little extra color and sunshine to my decor.  The spring home desperately needs fresh flowers.  And when spending a few bucks on fresh flowers is impossible, I suggest you go picking.  I am not suggesting stealing flowers from your neighbors' yards.  But, I do think that there are some excellent (and somewhat fair) sources of flowers out there.  If you life near any sort of wild area, you are bound to find beautiful wild flowers.  I think wild flowers look even better in the home than cultivated flowers do.  Parks are also excellent sources of flowers.  Anything in a flowerbed IS NOT fair game; but anything that is supposed to look wild, in my book, is okay to pick.  Additionally, flowers can often be found in or around parking lots and along the side of the street.  In my opinion, you can pick these and they probably won't be missed.

Either way,  this spring you need to have fresh flowers in that small, large, or tiny place you call home.  I promise they will leave you smiling.  

Biergärten und Blumen

Frühling ist wieder da.  And all of the allergies that come with it.  Luckily, I am not one of those people who let that stop my springtime fun.  Often I practically scratch my face off while I am enjoying the weather, but it is so worth it.  Spring in Germany is unparalleled.  Coming from California (which is, in my opinion, at its best in spring), I had no idea what a real spring looked like.  In Germany, spring is like a beautiful painting, what I imagine heaven is like (gagging at my own cliches).

California is green in the springtime; Germany is full of amazing colors and sights.  The grass is covered in miniature flowers in white, yellow and purple.  The trees bloom in all colors, shades of lime green that I have never seen before in nature, white, pink, and yellow.  The tulips, daffodils and ranunculus thrive in the sunshine and bring life to the flowerbeds.  On top of all the visual beauty, there is a nice, cheery constant song coming from the tops of the trees.  The birds are happy too. :-)

As the sun is setting it casts a warm glow over the magnificent force it is bringing to life.  Everything looks dreamy and sweet.  It's enough to make anyone happy.  And I feel so lucky to be able to experience it.  I think sometimes we forget about the small, important things in life...the things that make it worth it.  Spring in Germany (or simply even the beauty of one crisp, cool morning or one bird's chirping) is what life is about.  We shouldn't take these things for granted.  It's my goal to enjoy every minute of this spring.  And I suggest that you take many moments this spring to enjoy the simple beauty all around you wherever you are.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Coffee stained paper

I am always searching for ways to decorate my horribly white walls.  I know that white walls are the thing right now (yes, they often make your furniture pop) but my first word was "cozy" (and it is still my favorite) and white walls just aren't.  So, I have painted and drawn and hung up all kids of stuff.  This always ends up being a big project (and a big mess), but I at least I have you to share my results with.  My latest project: coffee stained paper.

I am obsessed with this stuff and I make it all the time.  It's a little work and a little time drying, but you can print ANYTHING on it and it looks super classy and cool.  I like to use the paper to print black and white pen and ink sketches from the internet.  Recently, I printed a sketch of an owl on a piece of coffee stained paper.  It is adorable.  I also like to print a bunch of small Greek alphabet character on it and use it as a background for my other arts and crafts projects.

Here is how to make it.

You need:

6 pieces of white paper (or as many as you want to make)
cheap coffee (I use cheap instant coffee)
water (if you are using instant coffee)
a large shallow baking dish
a flat place to dry

Pour coffee (or warm water with two teaspoons of instant coffee) into the baking dish.  Carefully place the first sheet of paper in the water, hanging onto one of the long edges.

Pull it out and let the water run over it as you are pulling it up.  Turn it over and do the same with the other side.  The paper will become incredibly fragile at this stage and the first few you do will probably tear along the edges.  Once you get a little practice you will learn how to handle it carefully.

When the color is deep enough for you, lay it flat (maybe on a piece of paper towel) to dry.  It will go through your printer better the flatter it is. 

Once the paper is dry, you can print just about anything on it.  It looks great with a black and white image on top.  And it could easily be framed.  If I were less lazy and more wealthy, I would frame all of mine!

Here are some examples for you:

The brown paper in the printer after it has dried. 
 I printed this owl on my coffee stained paper.  It is just a black and white drawing. 

My Greek letters printed on the paper...used in another project that I will write about some other time. I like the smudges my printer made. 

 I bought these .pdf files off the internet from a graphic designer for 3 dollars for 12 different images.  They came colored and I printed them in black and white on my paper.  I love that the titles are in Spanish.  I think they are supposed to be Tarot cards or something. 

My next project is to print an Eiffel Tower on one of these coffee stained papers.  I have a piece of bright poppy colored tissue paper that I want to use with it.  I am obsessed with the poppy color (a bright red/orange) and kind of in a Paris phase.  I never really went through one, but then I saw the movie An Education and it put in me in a mood.  I will show you the results if I get to this project!

I hope you find this project interesting.  Talk to you soon. :-)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cute Stuff

Although the majority of this blog is about decorating/living with little to no money, I just have to write about this adorable company I found.  They are a little expensive, but some of the smaller things are quite reasonable. 

And I can give you a money saving tip related to this web site.  Sometimes I find things I absolutely love (and absolutely have to have) and, when this happens, I find no shame in getting them.  If I love it and I will cherish it forever, I buy it.  But here is the thing, I can usually only buy one.  This is great if the thing I love is a lamp or a picture frame but not so great if it is a tea cup or a plate...or is it? 

If you find something you love, get it...even if you can only get one.  You may end up with a slightly matching totally cool mishmash of stuff or you might end up with one random, but adorable cup that makes you happy every time you use it.  I think both things are awesome.  I bought this cup today.  I have nothing else even a tiny bit like it, but it makes me feel sweet and dainty and happy.  And that is enough.  Plus, you can always find cool ways to display single items.  In this case, I could someday use this as a pencil cup or a coin collector on a book shelf.  But for now, I am more than happy to primly sip my tea from it. 

Enjoy this site...especially the Early Bird Wallpaper (in gray or yellow)!  Its expensive, but if I could I would wallpaper my whole house in this stuff.  Do you think that would be going overboard?

Old Apartment

Found two pictures of my old apartment.  This is not all the pictures I have and one day I will find the rest and show them to you (cuz this place was SERIOUSLY ADORABLE) but for now this is all I got.  My taste has changed a bit and, especially now that I live with a boy, I have had to become a little less girly.  But, I still miss this place dearly.  It was my first real taste of freedom and I loved it.

Abandoned Crap

I am all for it.  I LOVE abandoned crap, especially if it is about to be thrown away.  If it is sitting sadly in or near a dumpster, it's my new favorite friend.  I have no qualms about picking up old furniture off the side of the road.  In fact, I think it's awesome (and kind) and not at all disgusting. 

Okay, yes, you should probably know which house it is coming from (let the chair go to chair heaven if it is sitting at the curb of the crack den around the corner) and, no, you should probably not pick up any mattresses or anything that has been left outside in the rain or over night.  But, over all, I think picking furniture up off the side of the road is totally cool and totally safe.  To prove it to you, I am going to show you picture of all the wonderful things I have gotten off the side of the road over the years. 

Please do it.  You won't be sorry.  And, you will be helping that piece of furniture fulfill its destiny.  (Oh what that chair wouldn't give to be your favorite cozy reading spot!) 


Germany-  This little dresser thing came off the street in front of our apartment.  I think it looks a little cheap so I really want to paint it.  I am thinking a navy blue color...what do you guys think?  Of course, when I do it, I will share it with everyone. 
 Germany- so once a year they have this thing here were people put out anything old they don't want and the city comes to collect it.  I got this by driving around before the city collectors and asking if I could have it.  I love the pattern and it is one of my unique pieces.  It came in a set with another chair and a sofa.  I wanted them all but this was all that (barely) fit in my boyfriends tiny European car. 
California--I got this desk off my street in my tiny town in California.  It was my neighbors and they said we could have it for free.  It was stained wood so I painted it white.  It was my desk all through college.  Unfortunately I no longer have it. 

California--The coolest leather club chair EVER.  IT was so sexy.  It had holes in the seats so I covered them with fabric.  I found it in the dumpster next to my apartment and lugged it, alone, up a whole flight of stairs.  Unfortunately I can't find a picture of it anywhere.  So sorry. I will keep looking for a picture, though. 

The Goodwill

If you are lucky enough to live in a big city like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Chicago (or even in a little city like Sacramento) you probably have a bunch of fun, cool second hand stores to go to.  If you come from a small, country town like I do second hand stores, if you have them at all, are creepy, smell of old lady and probably have a stuffed cat hanging up in the back corner.

So, what I had growing up was the Goodwill and the Salvation Army.  I have nothing against fancy or trendy second hand boutiques, but for those of you who don't have the luxury of living in someplace that hip, I want you to know that you can still find awesome treasures for relatively cheap.  Some of the things I have that I love more than anything else in the world have come from the Salvation Army and the Goodwill.  Often, all it takes are a few small repairs and a fresh coat of paint.  And, you can get really cool drawer pulls almost anywhere these days.

So, go to your local Goodwill store.  If you see something even remotely cool, chances are it will be between 15 and 40 Dollars.  If it costs that much, you just have to have it.  Then, get creative.  I like to paint the frame one color and the drawers a slightly different color (try a paler yellow with a mustard yellow) and add cool knobs.  You can often get a big set of six at antique malls or flea markets.  Or, try using an unexpected piece of furniture in a otherwise plain room.  I have seen many salvaging blogs talk about reupholstering this or that, but I urge you to pause before doing so.  I LOVE old, interesting fabrics.  What may look cheap or shabby (without the chic) in a used clothing store may look lovely, interesting and soft when paired with more modern furniture.

Before painting your furniture be sure to sand it well.  You can use primer or you don't have to.  I think it is vest if the wood has some stains or damage that you want to hide.  Then choose your paint of choice and have at it.  I have always done this using regular house paint.  I think it works really well.  True Value hardware has small tubs of paint about the size of a large face cream jar that you can buy as a sample.  I have used these many times.  Truthfully, the paint isn't of great quality and has usually chipped after a short period of time, but I find that sometimes I really just don't want to buy a whole quart of paint, especially if my furniture is small.

Be sure that you paint with the grain of the wood.  For most pieces that is usually lengthwise.  If you are a distresser (I used to be, now I am not), then after the paint dries (for a few days) run over the edges lightly with some sandpaper.  You can seal it if you want, but usually I am too lazy and don't mind when my pieces get a bit beat up.

At this point you should have a wonderfully beautiful new piece of furniture, which should have cost you no more than $40.  I don't even know why we need an Ikea with these possibilities.  You can get something just as cheap with far more character and individuality*.  So, please, next time you are in need of a dresser or a side table or a book case, go to your local Goodwill.  You may be surprised what you find.

My favorite Goodwill finds:
The dresser I definitely got at the Goodwill.  I painted it a cornflower blue first and then painted it this green and blue.  I don't have it in Germany (and I miss it!) but my mom is kindly saving it for me for when I come home.  (The boyfriend's got to crack and want the California sun sometime, doesn't he?)

This chair I got at the Salvation Army, I think.  For some reason, I left my sandals in the chair in this picture.  I guess I was just so excited to take a picture of it and send it to my mom that I couldn't even take the time to put them away. This is an example of why I am a fan of leaving thing upholstered in their original fabric.  This looked a little cheesy in the store, but when I paired it with all my whimsical furnishings it looked right at home.  Another treasure my mom is saving for me.  :-)

*Note: I have NOTHING against Ikea.  In fact, due to the lack of Goodwills and Salvation Armies in Germany (see post #1), most of my furniture comes from Ikea.  And I love to go there.  In Germany, people go there JUST for the food...and the coffee. Who woulda thunk?

Welcome and come in

Hello all, and welcome to my humble abode.  It isn't much I know, but it is truly amazing what you can make out nothing...or at least out of cheap Ikea purchases.  I am a self-proclaimed decorator, crafter and refurbisher extraordinaire.  Of course, I have very little talent for any of these things, but since when does talent matter (I'm looking at you Paris Hilton, Miley Cyrus)?  I love all of these things and I consider them my hobbies and that is what is really important.  So, come, sit down and enjoy a cup of tea with me.  I'll teach you all my little secrets for having a beautiful life on very little money...if you teach me yours. 

First things first, since we are all friends here, I should probably give you a little information about myself.  My name is Jamie, I'm in my mid-twenties and I am from sunny, beautiful California.  But, I currently reside in the often cold and cloudy Bavaria, Germany.  "Why Germany?" you may, and probably should, ask.  And to that question, I have a rather predictable answer:  LOVE.  Yes, I moved to Germany for a boy.  And most of my non-German friends here did, too.  You may think its pathetic and lame, you may think it is courageous and romantic but it doesn't matter to me.  Aside from the several days I spent schlepping around in -75 degree weather (as you will also soon learn I have a penchant for exaggeration), I don't regret it one bit.  It's fun, beautiful, old and inspiring.  And, all that love ain't so bad either.

(To those of you wondering how I met my wonderful, smart, kind and loving German man, the answer is typical: traveling.  In the summer of 2008, we both walked The Way of St. James, a pilgrimage across northern Spain.  It's been almost three years now!) 

I grew up with the most wonderful, loving and amazing mother in the whole wide world (are you sensing a trend here?  I am amazingly lucky with the amount of awesome, loving people in my life).  She taught me everything I know.  She is a master-decorator-extraordinaire and I admire her greatly.  Her projects occasionally had their drawbacks--I once got a piece of glass stuck in my knee after she attempted to frame a picture on the living room carpet--but mostly they are a huge success.  And, our home always looks flawless, as any of our friends or family could tell you.  She taught me to paint, decoupage, reupholster, and, most importantly, bargain hunt. 

So, now we get to the part where I tell you what I do for a living: I am an English teacher.  In other words, I am perpetually broke.  Add in the fact that I need to visit my family in California every once and a while (international flights are NOT cheap, my friends) and I am always pinching pennies (or stealing them from my boyfriend...shhh...don't tell).  That means I have had to be very creative in decorating my place over here.  And that leads me to this blog. 

Now, it may come as a surprise to you that in Europe, the "Old World," you can't really find old furniture.  But, I tell you it is the truth.  It may not be the truth everywhere, but in my little town in Oberfranken it is true.  Of course, we have some antique stores but they are the fancy kind, full of 18th century curio-cabinets (did they even have those in the 18th century? Shows you how much I really know!) and other fancy things that I can't even begin to afford.  What they don't sell here is the cheap old stuff... the Salvation Army dressers or the miss-matched Good Will dishes, the cute old 1920s dresser you find for 45 bucks at a garage sale on a crisp fall Saturday morning with a latte in hand.  The best we get is a crappy flea market two times a year.  So I have had to be even MORE creative here than I was in California and I want to share with you some of my ideas. 

So, now that you know a little about me, let me give you a little idea about my goals for this blog: 1) share with you tips and tricks for decorating on a budget  2) share with you some of my creative projects and endeavors 3) provide a safe place to talk about penny pinching and how to get the most of it 4) share with you some other good ideas for generally living, eating and drinking well without a lot of money (because who ACTUALLY has a pair of Manolo Blahniks and drinks Dom Pérignon?), in addition to sharing other blogs I find on doing just that and 5) fill up some of my extra time, as I have a lot of it these days.

Before we get started, let me give you a tour of my little apartment.  They're not the best pictures OR the most recent, but they will do for now.   Then, kick off your shoes, snuggle up on the couch and make yourself feel at home!