Thursday, May 31, 2012

Small changes, big difference (PART 3)

Continuing the series that I started in April, today I have 5 more small changes you can make in your home that have a big impact.  These ideas come from the article "101 Decorating Makeovers" from the February 2008 issue of House Beautiful.  (Also see part 1 and part 2!)

Look at the pretty blue background! (Image from Frog Hill Designs.) 
1) Paint just the inside of cabinets in your house (either in your kitchen or anywhere else you would like) in a color that sets off your dishes, books or collections.  You can also paint the inside of a bookshelf or hutch.  In that case, make it a bright color! 

Show off your pretty jewelry! (Image from Apartment Therapy. ) 
2) Get rid of your jewelry box.  Your beautiful baubles can and should be displayed.  They can add color and an eclectic, lived in feel to a room.  Put your bracelets in a big bowl, earrings in a pretty thrifted dish and hang your necklaces on a bust, a mirror, necklace stand or on hooks on your wall.

Get rid of your junk; have a (fancy) garage sale! (Image from Thrift Core. ) 
3) If you are like me, you probably collect way too much stuff!  Take three things out of every room.  Take a deep breath; doesn't that feel better?  (Sell it at a garage sale.  Or, better yet, organize a fun, well-curated better-than-a-yard-sale with your friends.  Find a common theme and sell only things that fit that theme.  Provide theme-appropriate refreshments.  Have a lot of vintage stuff?  Do it in the evening, dress in Mad Men costumes and sell martinis!)

Utilize the fronts of your bookcases! (Image from Little Green Notebook.) 
4) Use your bookcases creatively: hang small pictures or mirrors on the front of them!

What a difference a rug can make! (Image from  Livet Hemma.)

5) Remove your rugs from all rooms.  Pile them together and start all over, putting them all in a new room.  You'll have instant room makeovers.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rainy summer days...

are super cozy, aren't they?  I absolutely adore them (and the humidity...don't judge me) and find that there is nothing sweeter or more relaxing than sipping a cold (or warm) drink with big, dark clouds gathering outside.

Today was one such day and I enjoyed every moment of it.  I ate fresh berries, wrote in my journal, read, listened to music and I painted.  It rained and then it got sunny and then it rained some more.  Tomorrow, we are in for a real treat: a forecast for thunderstorms.  :-)

How do you like to spend rainy summer days (if you get them)?  Do you think they are fun or are you anxious for the sun to come out again?  And humidity--awesome or miserable?  (I am pretty sure my love for it comes from summers spent in Michigan growing up.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gemütlichkeit is: morning moments

Remember that guy from Friends?  The "Morning's Here" guy?  He gets up every morning and sings about how happy he is that the morning has come?  It drives Rachel nuts.  But me?  I always wanted to be that guy.  (I am more in line with Joey, who prefers to sing along with him.)

Now, I am not particularly a morning person.  I rarely wake up early on my own and most mornings when my alarm goes off, I realize that I am saying "no, no, no" in my sleep before I have even had a chance to wake up and turn it off.  But, once I am up, the morning is my favorite time of the day.  Everything is fresh, there are tons of new possibilities.  The birds are chirping and the air is cool.  Plus, it's quiet, really quiet.  

I like to take it slow in the morning, have breakfast, sip my coffee and give myself a mellow start to the day.   The first few minutes of the day can set the tone of the entire thing, so I make sure to surround myself with views, images and things that inspire me and to take my time. Even on mornings when I have to leave for work at 6:30 I make sure to give myself at least 5 minutes to breathe in the newness of the day.

Morning, as the say they say about breakfast, is the most important time of the day.  You wouldn't start your day off by eating a KitKat, so you shouldn't start it off in a hurried and stressed way, either.  Better to savor that cup of coffee, put it in a pretty cup and drink it where the view is fine.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Pretty view of Rothenburg. 
My mom's been here for a week as of tomorrow and look at all the trouble we've gotten ourselves into. We've visited some amazing places and seen some amazing things.  I am looking forward to this weekend when Peter's family is coming to visit us.  I am not looking forward to next Monday when I have to take her to the airport.  

We've had excellent luck with the weather, and a week that was supposed to be cold and rainy has been sunny and hot.  Perfect (if a bit sticky) weather for sightseeing! 

By the river for dinner.

A beer in Rothenburg. 

Mom and I at a beer garden. 

Coburg's market place. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mama's coming

My mom (and sister) last time she was here.  I can't wait to get her here and drinking our beers.  It always turns out to be a riot.  
Happy Friday, everyone!

I am so lucky because my mom is flying into Germany tonight and will spend 10 wonderful days here with me! I can't wait and already have so many things planned.  We are going to spend a lot of time outdoors (as long as the fickle German weather allows) and will take a few day trips.  There are so many cafes, restaurants, shops, sights and other places I want to take her while she is here.

It's always difficult for me when she hasn't seen someplace I have lived in person, so I am really happy to have her see our apartment and our new city.  Plus, she can help me with all the corners of my place that I have been stumped on so far.  I expect a few DIY projects, as well.

We are going to be busy, so I probably won't post much next week.  Forgive me, but I need to focus on my mama time!

I hope you are going to have a fantastic weekend, too!  The days are getting so long, they are perfect for getting outdoors.  What are you going to do?

Food on Friday: Zucchini pancakes with feta and salad

I am always searching for simple and small lunch and dinner recipes.  In the summer, that is even more true.  When the temperature goes up, I don't like to eat large or heavy meals.  I feel my best (and best take advantage of the season) when I fill up on fresh fruits and veggies.

Relying on zucchini, a summer squash, this recipe is both fresh and packed with flavor.  I made it two weeks ago for the first time and have made it several times since then.  You can eat the zucchini pancakes plain as a meal or a side dish, or you can serve them under salad, eggs or just about anything. 

Each time I have made them, I have messed around with the ingredients a little.  This last time, I used goat cheese instead of feta and they were delicious.  The goat cheese doesn't fry up quite as well, but the taste is tangier.  

The salad that I topped the pancakes with is a simple one.  The recipe is below the zucchini pancake recipe.  The zucchini pancakes come from a website called cooking-spree and the salad recipe is my own.  I like that it doesn't distract too much from the taste of the pancakes. 

This would be perfect for a sunny summer brunch or appetizer.  It also makes a great lunch for one or two. 

Zucchini pancakes with feta and mint
recipe from Cooking-spree

3 medium zucchini, grated

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1 (or 2) cloves garlic, minced

3 or 4 finely sliced green onions

1 cup flour

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup grated feta

3/4 cup grated Fontina, Monterrey Jack or other mild white cheese

1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan 

oil for frying

pepper and salt

Combine all ingredients into a large bowl.  Drop by spoonfuls into hot oil and shape into patties.  Sprinkle with salt.  Fry until golden on both sides.  Place on a paper towel to absorb extra oil.  Let cool to room temperature if you are paring them with salad or eat them warm.

Also, experiment with different flavors, while keeping the basic recipe/ratios the same.  I have halved the recipe, with only one egg.  It worked well and was great for me for one lunch and one dinner.  I would experiment with less cheese to make them healthier, gluten-free flour if you can't eat gluten or even a vegan version, with an egg replacer and cheese substitute.

Super simple salad with vinaigrette

Spring or baby greens 
half of a red onion
feta or goat cheese
sunflower seeds or pine nuts
olive oil
white balsamic vinegar 
a dollop of mustard
sugar or honey
salt and pepper

Cut onions into rings and crumble feta/goat cheese.  Put salad greens on top of pancakes or in a bowl (if you are making just the salad).  Add onion and cheese.  Sprinkle on sunflower seeds or pine nuts.  Add a bit of fresh ground pepper.  (I trust that you can determine the ratios on your own.)  

Make the vinaigrette.  In a small jar (I like to use old jam jars), combine 1/4 vinegar and 3/4 oil.    This ratio is very important and good to remember for always making a delicious dressing.  (If I taste it and it tastes just a little too oily, I sometimes add just a small dash more of vinegar.)  Add a bit of sugar or honey until you get your desired sweetness and a dollop of mustard.  You can also add garlic or herbs if you would like, but I didn't do that here.  Shake up the dressing and give it a taste.  Add more of anything if necessary.  Drizzle on salad and pancakes.  

This dressing is great for any salad and I make it every time we eat salad (which is often in the summer).  Since living in Germany, I have never once bought salad dressing at the store.  It is so easy to make and if you eat salads daily, you can make a big jar and save it in the fridge a few days.  It is way more cost effective than buying and must be much healthier.  Salad dressings are full of preservatives, artificial ingredients and things you don't need.  This is super-simple with all real ingredients.  


Thursday, May 17, 2012

The unglamorous truth about living abroad

Somedays, living abroad looks a lot like this:

or on really special days this:

But, quite honestly, most days it just looks like this:

Yep, those are my dirty clothes.  And my bills.  And that is only a fraction of the pile of each.  Not to mention the work to be done, the dishes to be washed, the beds to be made, the tax returns to be completed.  The list goes on and on.  

I am not complaining.  In fact, there's a certain beauty in it. The fact that it's mundane is how you know you really live abroad.  

It's not the non-stop touring of a Eurotrip, it's not the non-stop partying of study abroad. It's real life.  
Most of the time it is really boring, totally unglamorous and completely normal.  

And then there's a moment: it's night, the snow is softly falling on the market place, it's completely silent except for the bells of the church, your feet slip across the cobblestones.  It's only a second--a millisecond even--but you feel it. Squeezing your chest you feel it.  You live here.  You live here.  And, my, do you feel lucky!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Just because he isn't adorable enough, Justin Timberlake got together with a designer friend of his to launch a line of home products called HomeMint.  (Yes, he decorates, too.)
Now, I used to be a really huge Backstreet Boys fan and was soooooo not interested in Justin Timberlake.   But, while Nick has been busy getting drunk and doing drugs, Justin has continued his musical career, opened restaurants, created a brand of tequila, designed a clothing line, endorsed a billion products, developed and eco-friendly golf course (seriously) and started a line of home products.   If that's not kind of amazing, I don't know what is.  (I love a man in touch with his eco-sensitive side.)

One of my favorite home blogs Decor8 covered the launch of the line the other day and posted a little interview.  You should read it.  Also, watch the video above.  The house they're in is cool.  Justin is cooler.  

From the pictures I have seen, the line looks pretty cool.  It's a whole big membership to-do, but it's worth checking out for a few minutes.  Ah, to be Jessica Biel!

Fuchsia Lipstick

It seems like everyone is wearing fuchsia lips these days (see here here and here for proof).  It looks great and so springy on them, but I definitely did NOT think I could pull it off. it is... it only took me going back to the drugstore 8 times before I actually bought it.

I've got to say, I kinda like it.  I'm no super-hot, super-trendy runway model (5 foot 1 frame, to mention only one of many things, kind of killed that) but it definitely doesn't look bad.  And, I'm really liking it with the striped shirt. Looks classic but with a twist.

Do you wear pink lipstick?  Lipstick at all?

(Random trivia? Fuchsia actually comes from the German word and is named after the plant, which is named after the German botanist.  It's pronounced "fook-sya" in German (in which case the spelling f-u-c-h totally makes sense) but "fyusha"in English.  That's why it's so often misspelled as f-u-s-c-h-i-a. Hum..good to know. I totally had to look it up before I wrote this post...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gemütlichkeit is: a summer fire pit

I always have a list of things I want to do before the summer's end.  I think it is my way of making sure that I don't waste away my favorite time of year.  It's more difficult now that I am not a student and work the whole summer through, but I do my best to take care of a few things each week.

Nothing says summer to me more than a backyard bonfire.  It's a fond memory I have from Michigan (more about Michigan coming soon!) and is one of those rare things that is both summery and cozy at the same time.  I love to roast marshmallows and make s'mores (I have a great trick of adding peanut butter or, as my friend Brittany taught me, replacing the chocolate with a Reese's peanut butter cup) and sitting with friends and talking until the last embers go out.

I can't wait to have some bonfires this summer (we had the small one above on an abnormally warm evening in March this year).  Now, I just have to teach these Germans to like s'mores!

Monday, May 14, 2012

New and improved tabs

Hey everyone! I improved the pages of my blog to make it easier to find projects and recipes.  Simply click on the Eat! tab to see all recipe posts and the Make! tab to see all DIY and other crafty posts.  You can also see all "Gemütlichkeit is" posts under the Get gemütlich! tab and all travel related posts under Travel!  Hopefully this will make browsing just a little easier!

Snapshots of a weekend

Hello, everyone.  Hope you are enjoying your Monday.  Here is everything I was up to this past (looong) weekend.  Peter and I both had Thursday afternoon off, so we took a long but slow bike ride along the Pegnitz.  It was perfect: the sun was shining and was so warm and the landscape was fantastic.  Everything is in bloom, including tons of wildflowers in yellow, pink, blue and white.

On Friday, Peter and I were both off of work and we had lunch at a sweet little cafe in town.  I would highly recommend it if you are ever in Nuremberg.  It's called Cafe Lucas.  The location is prime and the food was surprisingly good.  The middle picture in the top row is of one of their flower boxes on the deck that overlooks the river.

I worked on Saturday and the nice weather from Thursday and Friday turned into clouds and cold.  Peter was at a race with his dad, so I relaxed at home alone after work and got some much-needed me time.  Sunday morning I had an excellent breakie of scrambled eggs, toast and fruit before Peter came home.

Oh, and in the bottom middle picture, you can see my newest and most exciting new BRK (like the German Goodwill) purchase.  I had seen this several times.  Don't know why it took me so long to finally get it.  It cost me 3 EURO.  Yes, 3!  I think I needed something bigger and more impact-making over the couch and this is perfect.  I adore how simple yet rustic it is.

Have a fantastic week!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Spring cleaning

You may have noticed a new look around here.

I thought that it was about time to give the blog a fresh (and floral) update for spring and summer.  Along with the update, I've given this little blog of mine a simple new title, to make it easier to remember (and pronounce! ü wha?).  It's still the same blog, with all the same coziness-making tips, but in a prettier dress.

(Some more improvements coming soon!)


I can't believe how lucky I was 25 years ago, when I came into this world and into the arms of a truly amazing woman and a wonderful mother.  She, with her kind heart, thoughtfulness, strength, wisdom and willingness to put all things aside for her girls, has taught me the kind of woman I want to be and has shaped me into the woman that I am.  Thanks, mom, for everything you have done, everything you do, and everything you will do.  I don't say it enough, but I appreciate it so much and I love you with all my heart.  (And I can't wait to see you in less than a week!)

Then, 4 years ago, I was blessed again and came into another wonderful family, with an equally amazing mother.  Since then, she has been my home away from home, my caretaker, my wonderfully strong female role-model and the most amazing "mother-in-law" I could imagine.  Johanna, thank you for everything you do for me, for treating me like your own and for showing me that even halfway around the world, you can feel like you always have a mother to turn to.  I love you.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Small changes, big difference (PART 2)

Do you remember this post about a month ago?  Well, here comes part two!  Today I have 5 more changes/improvements you can make for little to no cost.  These ideas come from House Beautiful magazine (Feb 2008) and are excellent for making a large impact on a small budget.

(Image from Lona de Anna)
1.  In spring, summer and early fall, stack wood in your fireplace.  (I've also seen people do this with books for a cool look!)

(Image from Better Homes and Gardens)
2.  Buy a large piece of artwork: a map, a poster or a print.  Cut it into equal parts, frame the sections separately and hang them together on the wall.

(Image from The Newlywed Diaries)
3.  Buy an inexpensive supermarket bouquet and pull it apart.  Put all the similar flowers in different vases for the look of a fancy bouquet in each room.

(Image from
4. Don't buy a matched set of towels.  Instead, buy them in shades of one color for an ombre effect (Home Goods and Marshalls/Ross/TJ Maxx are good places for inexpensive but nice towels in the States).

(Image from No Place Like Home)
5. Buy a "collection" on eBay.  For example, buy a set of three white pitchers for $1-$8 and display them in your kitchen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Gemütlichkeit is: water and a sunset

Last Friday night, Peter and I had a little date night.  It was wonderful and definitely needed, as we had spent the last few weeks constantly going in different directions, working at different times and only meeting up when it was to spend time with friends or relatives.  

We decided to take advantage of the weather and go to a beer garden/bar on the little lake in our neighborhood.  We sat as close to the lake as we could and enjoyed the evening, the beer, the birds chirping and good conversation.  Then, on our walk back, we rented a little row boat just as the sun was sinking behind the trees.

The boat rental only cost 5 Euro for 30 minutes and was by far the best 30 minutes of my entire week.  I love being on the water and the boat ride on Friday evening reminded me of my childhood summers spent on a lake in Michigan--which is still my favorite place in the whole world.  

It made me feel peaceful and energized at the same time.  It was great time to spend with my love just talking and enjoying the whole thing.  And, I am not going to lie, a man looks pretty darn hot when rowing a boat.  Of course, it doesn't hurt to feel just a little like you are in a scene from The Notebook.  Princess time.

Combining water and the sunset is one of the simple pleasures in life.  It costs almost nothing (except perhaps the gas money it takes if you have to drive to a lake or river) but is calming, inspirational and awe-inducing.  Whether it's a boat ride, a picnic or a simple walk, watching the sun set over the water is always good for the soul.  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday inspiration

Image from 5ftnif on Ink361 (a web interface for Instigram). 
Happy Monday, everyone!  How was your weekend?  Sorry about the general lack of posts last week.  It was kind of a busy one, but mostly, I just needed a little break from posting.  The weather was fantastic and a great deal of time was spent outside.  I was inspired--in many beautiful ways--but not to work on the blog.  I am hoping that a lot of good eventually comes from that inspiration, making a week of absent posts totally worth it.  I had a couple of realizations the last few days that will hopefully give me a chance to improve myself and improve my life.  What I need now is to just hold myself to them.  

In the meantime, I have been checking out a few things on the web and have found a lot of excellent bits of inspiration.  Right now, with the warming weather, the sun and the birdies that chip loudly early in the morning, I am being drawn to all things bright and airy and to the more rustic. 

Vintage/shabby chic bedroom that looks like a nice place to wake up on a summer morning. (Image from Petitevanou.)

I am totally in love with this bathroom.  I would LOVE to shower here every morning; it would give you such a burst of energy.  I also love the clever way the mirror and plant are hung over the shower head. (Image from Desire to Inspire by Prue Ruscoe)
A lovely kitchen with great vintage pieces and some summer fruits on the table.  (Image from Desire to Inspire by Prue Ruscoe)
Beautiful spring flowers.  How happy I am that it is spring again! (Image from Mr. Darcy is my hero)

Inspiration for a good day: coffee, flowers, fruit and paintbrushes.   I want to get back into art and especially want to start taking pottery classes again (I took them a few years ago).  This gives me the push I need.  I love all these inspirational photographs from 5ftnif on Ink361 (a web interface for Instigram). Check them all out!
And another one from 5ftnif on Ink361
A beautiful workspace from DustJacket
I've been oohing and ahhing over this tiny studio in S.F. for weeks now.  Isn't it gorgeous? (Image from Apartment Therapy.) 

When I am in need of a little inspiration I always turn to the website Inspired by Tamar.  She always has the most beautiful collection of images.  You can also check out my Pinterest boards to see what is inspiring me daily, from decor to food and fashion.

I wish you a beautiful Monday, a lot of inspiration and a great week!  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

This is Germany in the summer

And it's why I haven't written all week. It's just been too gosh darn beautiful out. I'm motivated only to sit in the sun and listen to the sound of the breeze shake the leaves of the trees. You've got to love life--and spring/summer!