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One car garage turned guest room.

This is amazing. A one-car garage turned guest room. And it’s lovely! (Thank you Gardenista for posting about this.)

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And it’s 100% motivation to keep moving forward with tackling the barn renovation. We haven’t made much progress, as we’ve had to take care of a few things on the main house. That, and I’m completely overwhelmed with starting the project.

I did think it might be a good idea to bring in an interior designer to help us draft up a plan. My rationale being: We’ll have so many renovations in our future, perhaps it would be good to see how a professional would tackle this? All the while learning a thing or two for the future. But this comes with a rather hefty (more hefty than I thought) price tag. So we’re still weighing our options. I think the next step is to gather quotes from a handful of general contractors.

Any tips to pass along when working with general contractors? I’m all ears!

 

Pictures from Gardenista blog post.

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Design, Home, Travel, Uncategorized

Tiny home.

image from Viralnova.

image from Viralnova.

It’s becoming a pretty sure bet that B & I will eventually make our way further north. Whether that’s Maine or Vermont is still to be determined. And whether it’s permanent or just for the weekends is also to be determined. But we have time. After all, we just moved to the north shores of Boston.

When we finally do get serious about what we want, I am pretty sure it will be some sort of tiny home. I sure hope some of these resources are still around. But then again, I suppose they may just get better and better. Here are some great sites to build tiny homes away from it all. I absolutely love the idea of having a hideaway somewhere. I think I would go bonkers if I lived there all the time, but oh, how wonderful to know you have the option to get away and disappear for a bit.

ESCAPE – your unique, lovely faux-cabin is build in Wisconsin and shipped to wherever you are. There’s an article on it here.

weeHouse – From Alchemy Architects. Pre-fabricated, so not as flexible, but still tiny and quite sleek. Definitely on the modern side.

How about you? Could you live in a 200 square foot space?

PS There’s actually a whole tiny homes movement you can be a part of. Pretty rad.

PPS Thanks Amanda for the heads up re Viralnova.

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Impromtu hiatus.

Just a quick note to say I am still blogging. I am on an impromptu hiatus. In other words, I think I have to admit that little O has taken more time and attention than I thought would be needed. And since I’m a bit of a neat freak, my spare time goes to making sure the house is somewhat in order…But I’ll be back. Soon. So don’t give up on me!

In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying the beautiful weather and the changing leaves. It is absolutely gorgeous around these parts.

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Berlin Baby! – part 2

In my previous post, I promised my next post would be about some of my favorite food and shopping discoveries in Berlin. This is going to be tough because there is much and plenty! And honestly, it’s not all sausage and beer (although that deliciousness can be found without even looking).

One of my favorite German words is Gemütlichkeit which means “a situation that induces a cheerful mood, peace of mind, with connotation of belonging and social acceptance, coziness and unhurry”. Exactly! This undoubtedly is the very ingredient which sets many experiences apart in Germany. For example, when you order a cup of coffee, it doesn’t arrive “to go” hurried away in a paper cup, no it arrives freshly brewed, piping hot in a cup and saucer with an equally neat creamer of steamed milk, another little container of various sugars and of course a perfect biscuit. Just so. And you can stay and sit for as long as you want and enjoy it. No one will hurry you. No one will question you. It’s just you, your coffee and that moment. So that, a lot of that in Berlin.

And in pictures…

Brunch is a big deal in Berlin. I'm sure there are plenty of winners, but Cafe Anna Blume was so delicious and so near our apartment, let's just say we went more than once. Sit outside (they'll bring you a blanket if you get chilly) and order the tiered breakfast platter. Then swoon.

Brunch is a big deal in Berlin. I’m sure there are plenty of winners, but Cafe Anna Blume was delicious and conveniently in our neighborhood, so let’s just say we went more than once. Sit outside (they’ll bring you a blanket if you get chilly) and order the tiered breakfast platter. Indulge, then swoon.

If you look outside markets, Berlin is for you. There are many, particularly on the weekends. (L): Farmer's markets are aplenty, this one was in Prenzlauer-berg. (M): If vintage is your bag, head to Oderberger Strasse in Prenzlauer-berg or to (R): Mauerpark where there is a giant fleamarket with plenty of relics from cleaned out attics.

If you like outside markets, Berlin is for you. There are many, particularly on the weekends. (L): Farmer’s markets are aplenty, this one was in Prenzlauer-berg. (M): If vintage is your bag, head to Oderberger Strasse in Prenzlauer-berg or to (R): Mauerpark where there is a giant flea market with rows of relics from cleaned out attics.

Markthalle Neun is food magic. Utter bliss. Every Thursday from 5-10 all the best sidewalk vendors in Berlin (German and International tastes as well) join together in an old warehouse and set up a wonderland of deliciousness. We made ourselves real cozy.

Markthalle Neun is food magic. Utter bliss. Every Thursday from 5-10 all the best sidewalk vendors in Berlin (German and International tastes as well) join together in an old warehouse and set up a wonderland of deliciousness. We made ourselves very at home.

Our best shopping success happened mostly by accident. Prenzlauer-berg is sort of a haven for independent designers. We loved wandering down the streets and popping in to one well-curated shop after another featuring mostly Berlin or European designers. (L): These little red shoes were found at Shoeting. (M): A trip to Berlin is not complete without a stop at KaDeWe, the second-largest department store in Europe featuring every high-end designer known to (wo)man. Equally mind-blowing are the art exhibits and top-floor "cafeteria" with views of western Berlin. (R): One of my favorite "finds" was wandering in to shops that were also workshops. Art in action.

Our best shopping happened mostly by accident. Prenzlauer-berg is a haven for independent designers. We loved wandering down the streets and popping in to one well-curated shop after another featuring mostly Berlin or European designers. (L): These little red shoes were found at Shoeting. (M): A trip to Berlin is not complete without a stop at KaDeWe, the second largest department store in Europe featuring every high-end designer known to (wo)man. Equally mind-blowing are the art exhibits and top-floor “cafeteria” with views of Berlin. (R): One of my favorite finds was wandering in to shops that are also workshops. Art in action.

We frequently found ourselves saying, "Is this place real?" And activities seemingly normal for Berliners were magic for our little American eyes. (L+R): Gypsy music by Tralalka at an open-air theatre—we all danced. (M): Swing, Tango, Salsa by the river, late in to the night. Don't dance? No problem, just grab a drink and watch. There are no open-bottle rules in Berlin. Just enjoy life!

We frequently found ourselves saying, “Is this place real?” Activities seemingly normal for Berliners were magic for our American eyes. (L+R): Gypsy music by Tralalka at an open-air theatre—how can you not dance? (M): Swing, Tango, Salsa by the river, late in to the night. Don’t dance? No problem, just grab a drink and watch. There are no open-bottle rules in Berlin. They trust you to just enjoy life!

Next stop on the This Can't Be Real tour was Clarchens Ballhaus. My cousin informed me that legit Wienerschnitzel and Spätzle could be found here. You know what else can be found there? More swing dancing—with candlelight and boys that actually ask you to dance! The schnitzel-and-noodle were just as good as mama's.

Next stop on the This Can’t Be Real tour was Clarchens Ballhaus. My cousin informed me that legit Wienerschnitzel and Spätzle could be found here. You know what else can be found there? More swing dancing—to candlelight with boys that actually ask you to dance, and know how! The schnitzel-and-noodles were just as good as my mama’s, but don’t tell her.

Wurst! You really can't escape it, but why would you want to? Undeniably habit-forming. Never met a salty meat I didn't like. Don't leave Berlin until you've sampled Currywurst, best paired with a crusty roll or pommes frites.

Wurst! You really can’t escape it, but why would you want to? Undeniably habit-forming. Never met a salty meat I didn’t like. Don’t leave Berlin until you’ve sampled Currywurst, best paired with a crusty roll or pommes frites.

Prosit! Wurst and Beer, can't split 'em up. The beer gardens in Berlin are everywhere—some hidden, some in plain sight. All offering a sampling of the local brew. The Berliner Weisser is a specialty

Prosit! Wurst and Beer, can’t split ’em up. The beer gardens in Berlin are everywhere—some hidden, some in plain sight. All offering a sampling of the local brews. The Berliner Weisse is a classic but not everyone likes it. Here is a guide to the some of Berlin’s best beer gardens where there is something for everyone.

Also on the short list:
Badeschiff: By day, a pool on top of the river. By night, a place to listen to music, dance and have a few drinks. By winter, an outdoor/indoor sauna. Oh, okay!
Club der Visionarre: This place! Also some sort of magic. Along the river with all sort of lanterns hanging from trees, music and people drinking something good under the trees, dangling their feet in the river. It’s like a rustic house with a big porch that all your favorite people are at.

Berlin, I’ll be coming back to you. Until then, Auf Wiedersehen! And thanks A+H readers.

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Guest Blog, Inspiration, Travel, Uncategorized

Berlin baby! – part 1

Hello there A&Hreaders, it’s guestblogger Tanja signing in on behalf of Karen as she’s swaddling and diapering and loving on her new little baby. Congrats is definitely the first order of business. CONGRATS!

So let’s jump in, shall we?  My summer has been 180% different than Karen’s. In lieu of nesting and settling in to a home and newborn, I packed my suitcase multiple times and traveled well and often this summer. First stop: Berlin!

I had heard for quite some time that Berlin was the new epicenter of all things creative. And as an artist, my curiosity could no longer be contained. It had to be seen! Luckily a good friend scheduled her wedding in Belgium this summer so I had more than one reason (not that an excuse is ever needed) to plunk down the cash and cross the pond.

One week is just enough time to fall in love with this city and swear to return again and again. Berlin is a “new” old city. If you know anything about world history, you will remember that until 1989, a giant wall divided Germany in to East and West after World War II. West being free and democratic, East being under Communist rule. Thankfully, in 1989 both sides were reunited in to one Germany. Berlin’s history is deep, rich, tragic and triumphant—for a broader understanding, read this.

It’s important to understand the east/west distinction when traveling to Berlin. While it is a unified city there is still a very different feel/vibe/look between the 2 sides. Because the east side is essentially only 15 years old, it’s very much in a phase of rebuilding and reinventing itself. Buildings once neglected, bullet-ridden or covered in graffiti, are re-imagined, renovated and redesigned. Some are brought back to their original pre-war beauty, others are completely modernized. Part of the raw beauty of Berlin is that one stands next to the other—a constant reminder of past and future and an assembly of what’s good about both. Revitalization requires creative vision, which perhaps is why the energy there is so appealing to artists. The potential is massive! And because of this, we spent the majority of our week exploring the east side—our appetites for history, art, shopping and of course food glorious food were satiated.

This post will focus on the sites and views. Next post: food and shopping! Viel spaß…

(L): Remains of the Berlin Wall (M): Communist era block housing (R): "Traby" graveyard, pretty much the only car available in Communist East Germany

(L): Remains of the Berlin Wall, visit the Mauer Museum and Checkpoint Charlie to understand the magnitude of what this meant to Germany. (M): Communist era block housing still seen throughout eastern Berlin. (R): “Trabi” graveyard, pretty much the only car available to East Germans prior to 1991. They are no longer manufactured and are now considered novelties.

(L): Fernsehturm in the middle of Berlin, worth a trip to the top for the view (M): Museum Island, where most of the city's museums are situated (R): Brandenburg Gate, a signature must-see which is best seen at night

(L): Fernsehturm in the middle of Berlin, worth a trip to the top for the 360 view (M): Museum Island, where five of the city’s museums are situated on the Spree River. (R): Brandenburg Gate, a signature must-see which is magnificent at night.

Schloss Charlottenburg, worth a leisurely afternoon stroll through the garden and of course afternoon coffee and cake!

Schloss Charlottenburg, built in 1699, is Prussian architecture at it’s best. It’s worth a leisurely afternoon stroll through the sprawling grounds. And of course, coffee and cake in their garden café!

Berlin's "Central Park", endless winding paths for walks or bike rides. You can rent a boat and idle away an afternoon or find your way in to the hidden biergarten and stay put.

The Tiergarten is Berlin’s “Central Park”. Endless winding paths for walks or bike rides. You can also rent a boat and idle away an afternoon or find your way in to the hidden biergarten and stay put. Or all of the above.

The Reichstag Building or parliament building with rooftop views that are breathtaking at sunset through the crystal dome. There is also phenomenal restaurant on the rooftop which is definitely worth the splurge.

The Reichstag Building or parliament building holds rooftop views that are breathtaking at sunset through the crystal dome. There is also a phenomenal restaurant “Käfer” on the rooftop which is definitely worth the splurge.

Special thanks to my traveling companions for use of some of their photos. Particularly Jenny B., she’s the real deal

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Some fun for Wednesday.

Arabian-Camel

Guess what day it is? I’ve been collecting a couple links here and there, and I wanted to share them with you on this fun-filled Wednesday. Enjoy!

Just in case you want to draw a camel.

Bad boss sticky notes. For real. Made me laugh out loud.

Everyone knows kids are funny. Here’s a blog about the stuff they write.

I would like this dress to be in my closet.

Discovered this cozy alternative to San Francisco.

Can’t get enough of the artwork from this small business. (I ordered two prints already.)

Saw this hand puppet poster on swissmiss and had to share.

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