Monthly Archives

August 2009

Guest Bloggers

Pink Loves Brown: Favorite Things

August 19, 2009

A few of my favorite things: Pink Loves Brown

Hello there. I’m Nicole Balch of Making it Lovely and Pink Loves Brown. I’m so excited for Holly, and I hope she’s settling in and enjoying her new home and her new country! I’m honored to fill in today as part of Holly’s guest series, “A few of my favorite things”. If you’re familiar with my blog Making it Lovely, you know that I’ve chronicled the work I’ve done to my house since moving in two and a half years ago. Here are five areas of my home that I love and that make me happy. Hopefully they’ll make you happy too.

Pink Loves Brown: Favorite Things

I adore my pink living room! It’s feminine but not girly, modern but not stark, graphic but not too intense. Of all the rooms in my home, the living room probably best exemplifies my style. Each piece of furniture reminds me of what was going on in my life at the time. The couch was the first big furniture purchase my husband and I made.  The coffee table was an impulse purchase that I didn’t even have room for at the time, but I knew we’d someday have a home and it’s proven to be perfect here. The rocker of course will always remind me of my baby Eleanor, because we bought it for her. And the zigzag rug (you can just see a smidge of it in that photo) reminds me of doing the National Stationery Show last year, because we bought in while we were in New York for the Pink Loves Brown booth.  I love being surrounded by beautiful things with such wonderful memories attached to them!

Pink Loves Brown: Favorite Things

Ah, the wallpapered dining room. My husband and I did that while I was five months pregnant. Then again, that wasn’t so unusual… I tackled a lot of projects throughout my pregnancy! I can’t just sit still. Anyway, I always knew I wanted wallpaper in the dining room but it took me two years to settle on a pattern. In the end, I chose a pattern that I had considered right from the beginning. I tend to overthink things sometimes!

Pink Loves Brown: Favorite Things

I spend a LOT of time in my daughter Eleanor’s room these days, so this photo makes me particularly happy. I read to her in that chair, I feed her there, we take naps together in it, and I soothe her by rocking in it. Some days are hard as I’m going through them, but looking back I know I’ll see that overall this has been a very, very happy time in my life. I couldn’t have imagined that fifteen pounds of cuteness could make me so happy.

Pink Loves Brown: Favorite Things

What can I say?  This makes me smile. All my pretty shoes and my patterned dresses above, all organized neatly behind closet doors. I think I’ll have to add some wallpaper to the inside of my closet and then it will be just perfect. A happy little surprise just for me, that I can see every morning.

Pink Loves Brown: Favorite Things

The room won’t stay like this for long, and soon my baby will be sleeping in her nursery instead of at my side. Right now though, I cherish her closeness. The cradle is a family heirloom on my husband’s side, spanning several generations. Eleanor’s father, cousins, aunts, grandmother, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather have all slept there, and now it’s her turn.

I’d like to talk a little now about inspiration. I’m often asked about what inspires me to design new stationery or pull a room together, but it’s a hard question to answer. I’m always filing ideas away, whether I’m out on a walk, watching TV, reading magazines, or just sitting on my porch. I think the easiest reference point would be blogs though. I love blogs! I read new posts over breakfast every morning, and I save particularly interesting photos to a folder on my computer called “some things I like”. I have everything sorted from there into sub-folders, and I like to just browse through everything from time to time. Sometimes I pick up on a color combination, other times I might pick up on a particular room arrangement. Either way, I’m often inspired after my morning read!

Oh, and I know it’s probably a huge cliché, but I’m also inspired by my daughter. Sometimes I look at her, and she strikes me as so beautiful and lovely, I want to make her world a fitting place for her.

In parting, I’m leaving you with some of my favorite advice. I try to remember and act on these three quotes (though I’m sorry I don’t know to whom they’re attributed):

“A good idea today is better than a perfect idea tomorrow.
“Don’t let best get in the way of better.
“Done is better than perfect.

They all embody the same idea.  An idea that is hard for the perfectionist in me to act on. It’s so easy to be paralyzed by the pursuit of perfection that you end up doing nothing! Remember how I said I tend to overthink things? Sometimes when I’m working, I just have to force myself to hit “publish”, “send”, or “print”. Then I do it, and I’m always so much happier afterwards. -Nicole.

(images: nicole balch)






Travel

Wednesdays Where I Live…

August 19, 2009

On Wednesdays where I live there is a large farmers’ market that covers the outer edges of a playground/square called Moltkeplatz and has an array of flowers, vegetables, meats, cheeses, pastries, fresh & smoked fish, eggs, homemade pasta, herbs, teas, and even a little traveling coffee shop with a small cafe where we had cafe latte with Zucchini lemon loaf – a slice is only 1- Euro and so we brought some home for later too. :) The local farmers come in with their wares and so everything is super fresh. There is even a lady on the corner who plays a Leierorgel which creates a nice atmosphere I think (it sounds a bit like an accordion and my grandparents in Rhode Island played accordion around me all of my life so I always think of them when I hear anything that sounds even remotely like an accordion). Here are a few impressions so you can see for yourself what my morning looked like today. This is the district where I am living so it’s very convenient to have this market to visit each Wednesday.

Wednesdays Where I Live...

Wednesdays Where I Live...

Wednesdays Where I Live...

Wednesdays Where I Live...

Wednesdays Where I Live...

Wednesdays Where I Live...

Wednesdays Where I Live...

Wednesdays Where I Live...

Wednesdays Where I Live...

 

The flow of the market is just lovely… everything is easy to access because it’s a complete square, with flowers and plants being at each of the four points and then everything else peppered in between. The last photo shown above is an extension of the market, not the square itself. This area is mostly plants and flowers. I love all of the colors, I find so much inspiration at a farmers’ market because it’s very energetic and you see cute little children tugging at their mom for just one more cookie or grandma’s out and about, and lots of dogs and so many pretty shapes and colors when at the fruit and veggie stands. And the flowers, oh my! I bought more today, so now I have three arrangements in my little apartment. I promise no more flowers this week! :) I’m been on such a total flower binge since I arrived — I can’t get enough!

Now I’m off to register here and take care of lots of legal paperwork so my day is full. I’m leaving you with more of my lovely guests to take good care of you today, so enjoy!

(images: holly becker for decor8)






uncategorized

Feeling Joy

August 18, 2009

I love the fruity colors of this arrangement, don’t you? It reminds me of the Summer turning into Autumn which will officially begin next month. This is the type of flower bouquet you can expect to find in the city where I live at the street vendors and farmers’ markets. This particular arrangement was already made so I cannot claim to be the designer of it – but do you want to guess the price of it? You’ll be shocked. Go ahead, guess how much I paid (without the lovely el cheapo IKEA planter of course)…

Feeling Joy

Feeling Joy

Feeling Joy

(this photo is not upside down by the way, just the book creating the illusion!)

Have you pulled some numbers yet? Any clue? Okay I’ll tell you… 2,90 – including tax! Yup. Under 3,- Euros! That is about $4 USD. Can you believe it? Flowers are SO CHEAP here, I can’t believe it really. Fruit and veggies, cheese, it’s also very inexpensive as is bread and most groceries. I’m really loving the lower cost of living, our rent here is a 1/3 of what we paid in the states and without a car payment, insurance and gas, we’re saving a wad of cash.

Of course, we’re not in Berlin or Hamburg – these cities are close by for day trips but if we lived there expenses would be much higher. But Hannover is very affordable for the most part. I find here that the basics, the needed things for living — shelter, food, medical care… are so much cheaper than what I’m used to. And then the things that aren’t needed — can be a little more expensive but even so, not very much more. We also cut our grocery bill in half living here so far. HALF. And we eat mostly BIO food and I use better skincare and hair products. I also eat much healthier living near all of these bio markts and farmers’ markets, plus I’m walking everywhere, recycling everything (glass, plastic, paper, you name it), and because I have to carry everything home I think first before I buy anything — I consider, “Can I carry this? Or is it too heavy?”.

You know, I was thinking yesterday that I’m so happy I made this move. I feel joy. This is life changing for me but more than experiencing something new, I am learning to appreciate the differences that exist between cultures and how some things aren’t needed that were once so much relied upon. In a way, I’m learning more about ME. Life has a different pace here. And as much as expats from the states complain about it, I absolutely love that shops are closed on Sunday because now I’m forced to explore museums, hobbies, and the nearby forest or gardens. I’m reaching inside more than ever because I don’t feel as distracted with “noise”. I am no longer watching all my favorite television series either so my new “stress” relief is either an hour night walk around the city or a few hours at the gym followed by a Finnish sauna. I’m realizing, through a change of environment, language, culture… that my old way of living was in need of a change. I wish I had known this sooner! I can’t say this or that culture or country is better or whatever because that’s just plain foolish — problems exist in every country — but we all have to find our spot and instead of seeking the promise land where others may determine to be hip or cool or even the place to be, we need to find the spot that suits us best. Whether that’s some farm in the Kentucky or a remote island off the coast of Africa — or Berlin or Hong Kong — there is NO one spot on the planet for all only a spot for each of us. I think I’ve found my spot. At least for now. And if I evolve and decide to find a new spot, I’ll allow myself for that growth as I have before.

I’m also learning through this move, that the spot that matters the most is inside of us and being comfortable in our own skin because if you are your own best friend and are in tune with your own needs, you tend to look out for your own needs more… and you tend to find your spot inside. Though I’m a big believer in inner and outer harmony and that both need to be in synch — you need to match your environment — for a rich, full life.

Man, I feel like you’re going to shout Amen! — ha ha! But it’s just how I’m feeling and I’ve missed you all so much and our daily interactions and such — so I wanted to pop in and share a bit. I hope you’ve enjoyed my musings and perhaps related on some level to what I’ve expressed here. :)

(image: Holly Becker for decor8)






Guest Bloggers

Automatism: Favorite Things

August 18, 2009

A few of my favorite things: Automatism

Hello, I’m Lori from the automatism blog — lovely to meet you! Holly was kind enough to invite me to be a part of her August guest series, “A few of my favorite things” while she’s busily moving, so here are a few objects from my home that I thought I’d share with you.

Automatism: Favorite Things

This beautiful little porcelain bowl (it’s just the right size for me to hold cupped in my hands) was the start of what is now a small collection of bowls made by local potters. I love the coppery tones of the glaze and the interesting texture, created by scratching into the glaze before firing.

Automatism: Favorite Things

On bright afternoons the sun streams through the white cotton roman blinds in my kitchen and makes these silk cherry blossom branches (which I display in a plain tall glass vase mixed with bare branches) glow. I never get tired of how pretty these look — plus, as I’m so terrible with plants, it gives me the illusion of nature!

Automatism: Favorite Things

I recently invested in a set of white Sophie Conran dishes, which are so beautifully designed that they make even a bowl of muesli in the morning an occasion. Just lovely to use.

Automatism: Favorite Things

I picked up this fragment of driftwood from the shore of the lake in northern Ontario where my mum and step dad lived for years before their recent move back into town. It reminds me of summer days spent canoeing at dusk, sunny afternoons paddling about in the shallows, and listening to the haunting cry of loons late at night.

Automatism: Favorite Things

Several years ago Andrew and I visited London, where I found this lovely old skittle in an antique shop on Portobello Road. The proprietor was a sweet and shy man — I remember he had a sign above his tiny counter that read, “All prices are final as the owner is not emotionally equipped to haggle.”

I feel lucky to be a visual person as I find inspiration all around me, from films, books and magazines to the way the afternoon light falls on a glass of water. There’s so much beauty around us — all we have to do is pay attention. I have a favourite quote by the French writer Collette that’s become a bit of a motto for me: “Be happy. It’s one way of being wise.” I think it’s a good way to live one’s life.

(images: automatism)






Guest Bloggers

Ninainvorm: Favorite Things

August 18, 2009

A few of my favorite things: Ninainvorm.

Hi, this is Nina from Ninainvorm and I’m visiting while Holly is taking a break to settle in here in Europe. Though I’m really happy and honored to be included among the already wonderful ‘A few of my favorite things’-posts so far, I also have to say Holly asked me like one of the most difficult questions one can ask me… Okay, I know it’s not a difficult moral question but still… It’s hard to choose a few from my many favorite things. So I decided to just share a few more or less random favorite things with you.

Ninainvorm: Favorite Things

In this photo you see a part of my tea towel and apron collection. I’m in love with beautiful patterned tea towels, preferably hand-printed like these from Skinny Laminx, SpinSpin Design and PataPri, all etsy sellers. Though we have a dishwasher, I regularly add a beautiful tea towel to my collection. In fact, I think it’s even better that we have a dishwasher, so that I can keep these in good shape!

Ninainvorm: Favorite Things

I bought this tin Mother Mary sculpture years ago while backpacking in Mexico. I fell in love with it at a little market in Oaxaca on the first day of the 4 week trip through Mexico and Guatemala, so it  was quite a journey to protect it during the rest of the month of traveling and to get it home safely. In fact, I was so determined to get it home safely that I sort of protected it with my life (I was more worried about protecting my Mary than about stuff such as catching our buses, not falling out of boats and more things like that!). Well, let’s assume that apparently we protected one another… ;)

Ninainvorm: Favorite Things

I love babouches, oriental house slippers. I always try to bring at least one pair home when I travel to countries where they have nice ones, or ask people to bring a pair for me from their travels. My current collection includes pairs from Morocco, Turkey and Afghanistan, but I’m always on the lookout for additions to the collection from other countries. On the photo you also see a little vintage 1950s wooden Herlag bench, a piece of furniture that I inherited from my grandparents. Since we’ve very few inherited pieces in the family that bench is very dear to me.

Ninainvorm: Favorite Things

I like to notice the beauty that can be found in everyday items, such as wrapping material for products. I always drag everyday products home from trips abroad, such as these beautiful little boxes filled with sweets that I bought in Italy this summer. I have no idea how they taste, it was the wrapping that seduced me… I also brought (please don’t start laughing, like all my travel companions did…) 10(!) large boxes of seasalt home from Italy, simply because they were wrapped so nicely. I love to display these collections in my kitchen, but I’m having trouble finding enough space. So, a box of seasalt, anyone? ;)

Ninainvorm: Favorite Things

No ‘few of my favorite things’ would be complete without some vintage tableware and ceramics! I’ve never really found a reason or explanation for it, but beautiful ceramics and tableware just make me very happy… What else can I say about it?

My inspiration…
It always sounds a bit cliche, but I can find so much inspiration in the beauty of everyday things. I just came back from my holiday in Tuscany, Italy, and over there they somehow manage this creation of simple, everyday beauty so well. Just a bunch of simple flowers in pots against the walls of an age-old farm, some fresh laundry waving in the wind, a few old traffic signs nailed on the village church… Beauty then seems to be everywhere, and it makes me realize that we shouldn’t try too hard and make it all too perfect. So right now I’m inspired to look for this nonchalant beauty instead of the too perfect, over-styled things.

Favorite advice…
Oh, I’m never good at this kind of thing! I always hear and read those nicely formulated bits of wisdom and think ‘I should remember this’, but somehow I always forget them… I’ll leave it simply at this: work hard for the things you love! – Nina

(images: ninainvorm)






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