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Art and Ghosts: New Work

I’m always interested in Miss Louise and anything new over at Art&Ghosts (remember her lovely favorite things post on decor8 last month?)… Here are a few of her latest additions – prints and postcards. Lovely, really.


Visit the shop here. Drool like a fool. It’s okay. :)

(images: art&ghosts)

Posted in Arts + Crafts on September 14, 2009

Neutral Love: Apartment In Frankfurt

White is boring, cold, “like a hospital” — I’ve heard it all a million times. But I argue that if done right, a neutral palette can be warm, inviting and a very nice and flexible base in which to work with. It’s especially good for those of us who like to decorate seasonally, swapping out the aubergine pillows with the pale aqua ones for the Summer months, for instance. In a moment, I’m going to show you a very nice example of white done right. But first, I must confess that I’ve been quite a Flickr/expat blog addict lately because I’m trying to find fellow bloggers who live in my new country so that I’m able to not only read their blogs but see how they live, where they shop and what they do for fun. I figure reading local blogs may help me as an expat to navigate my way around and so far, it is helping out immensely. Today I was reading Rearranged Design and found Busy Bee’s blog which is about a girl and her boyfriend, Iro & Jan and their 700 square foot penthouse apartment in Frankfurt. Upon seeing it, I thought I’d share bits of it with you. You’ll see why…

Iro & Jan, Busy Bee Blog

Love the IKEA frames with inserts of postcards and wallpaper — and I really like the cozy gray chair and am dying to learn where she found it as I’m in need of a chair so badly for my living room. So pretty! The stacks of magazines look great and since they’re all the same, with neat white spines, this look totally works without looking cluttered.

Iro & Jan, Busy Bee Blog

Here’s a nice living room view. I can imagine evenings spent on this sofa surrounded by flickering candles and my favorite music… with yummy snacks on the table and a big glass of wine. Oh yes, “the” life.

Iro & Jan, Busy Bee Blog

Here’s a glimpse of her eating nook, so common here in Germany is to have the living room and dining room combined like this. It’s not very common at all to have a separate room only for a dining area in a typical city apartment anyway. In a home or a very large apartment yes — but not at all common in the city. My dining room is also part of my living room, much like this. Don’t you love her teapot?

Iro & Jan, Busy Bee Blog

I’m not completely sure what the kitchen looks like, but this view gives me the impression that it is neat and well organized. I like how she arranged her spices. The most common arrangement is to simply put them all in an orderly row. But no, no — she’s “spiced” things up a bit with her zig zag design. Cute!

Iro & Jan, Busy Bee Blog

Here’s another view of her dining area. Nice, right? I think so too!

Iro & Jan, Busy Bee Blog

Here’s a good view of the entire area, the living room and then if you look to the left and squint a little and pull your chair up thisclose to the screen you’ll see the work area she has designed and managed to nicely separate from the living/dining space. Directly to your left in this photo is the nook where she reads on that gray chair that I must have! :)

Iro & Jan, Busy Bee Blog

Here’s the working nook she’s carved out for herself. Nice, eh?

Iro & Jan, Busy Bee Blog

Here’s their bedroom, which has a little more color and a cozy feel to it. I think her man must feel really comfortable in here with the deeper colors combined with her neutral palette.

Iro & Jan, Busy Bee Blog

What a nice morning breakfast spot, don’t you agree? Less is definitely more here.

In the Busy Bee blog, she talks a lot about decorating on her blog along with life in Germany (she’s from Greece originally) so I really appreciate learning her viewpoints. She’s also on Flickr where I’ve added her as a friend (you can too, here). Her apartment is refreshing and cozy in every way — it’s neutral for one with lots of texture and a variety of white tones ranging from bright white to cozy creams and soft beige. She knows how to do neutrals right, don’t you agree? And she uses a nice mix of IKEA finds along with things from other stores. Another high five to her for keeping it real and affordable while still infusing the rooms with her own style. Nice!

(images: Iro & Jan@ Busy Bee’s Blog)

Posted in Home Tours on September 14, 2009

Made By Anna & Thoughts On Keeping It Real

Hello Monday and hello to you too! I hope your weekend was heaven or at least you had a small slice of it at some point. Did you do something good for yourself? It’s so important to fit in a little self care now and then — so good for the soul. My feel good moment was yesterday when I picked up two French magazines at the train station and snuggled beneath the blankets in my bed last night with a cup of fruit & cream tea before going to bed. It may not sound like much, but these are (to me) the best moments that make me feel refreshed and emotionally clear. I also took a long walk in the forest yesterday near my house, just after the morning rain. I saw not one, but two massive rainbows and some of the most amazing cloud formations ever – the sky was putting on such a show, lots of drama and very “end of the world” ala some Will Smith film. It was awe-inspiring to say the least and made me feel somewhat small in a very large universe. It’s humbling and a good reminder that often our worries have become so petty up against the bigger things in life. I like to remember that as often as I can, personally it’s how I find peace and harmony within my soul & family life. Remembering that my feelings and ideas aren’t all that matter in this world. Blogging and social media make me forget this at times.

Anna Betts

Many (and I include myself at times), let’s face it, have turned into self-promoting cheerleaders on so many levels that it can feel very unreal and lacking in charm and value. Blogging can make us so self-focused! But this is the reason for blogging, right? I mean, it’s a “web log” or an online diary – at least so they began this way. And then over time blogs grew into valued resources and this magic takes place worldwide every day where thousands are publishing their thoughts and journeys via their blogs. I’ve crafted just to show and tell, or taken a photograph with the idea of showing it on my blog to inspire someone. Who else can you talk about in your diary but yourself, right? And of course you are going to share your life and work on your blog. Totally normal and well, expected. At least in most cases.

Anna Betts

But because blogging is a public diary, we each become authors writing a moving biography and often we can forget that our life is pretty mundane in the grand scheme of things. Nature has a way of changing the popular “me me me” perspective very quickly because it runs the show, you have no control over external circumstances or people, only control over your own thoughts (unless of course you suffer an emotional illness and often lack control there, too). In the end, it’s vital for me personally to have these time-out moments to keep sane. I love blogging but I don’t want to become self-absorbed. Yes, this is my blog, my diary, and so of course I’m going to talk about my feelings. This post is the perfect example. But I can assure you that by sharing in this open space I’m only trying to make a connection with you and perhaps raise a topic that may make you think about something and in return, your comments do the same for me. Again, finding a balance in all this crazy blogging is key. I often like to sit down and just think about blogging and what it means to me, why I do, what is my goal with having a blog, etc. and then I feel really clear as I begin a post. If you ever feel like your blog is running your life and not vice versa, try to think about finding some balance with it.

Anna Betts

This “me” mentality, which can sometimes take hold on someone who blogs frequently, really affects how one approaches work. Take art as an example. Art may become less about painting something you love as much as it becomes painting something that will sell (which isn’t always what you love). Making a living and having a life have such a huge gap between them! It’s important to work hard to be humble in your work, know your place, and be authentic. This can be really hard when you have a successful business as most of you know — when you are good at something, whether it’s designing a building, caring for animals or working on a project at your job – you tend to have success with it and then with success comes fans of your work — those who look to you to set an example. If you are immature or a “fame whore” as we call these people in the states who will stop at nothing until they rule the world (ha ha), then all this attention can quickly go to your head and you forget your roots and often mistreat others or misuse your own power. Or if you’re rare like Oprah, you have heart, you use it for the good of others. And some bloggers do this so, so well. I think we bloggers in general have to keep it in perspective, don’t you agree? We are constantly writing about our thoughts and feelings that we can forget that our ideas are not all that matters. I think this is why I battle with the idea of having a cult following (reminds me of zombies following some great leader) or being a tastemaker/trendsetter. On one side, I see the need and it can be quite community building and helpful. On another side, if you are the leader of this, it can be quite hard to live up to. It can also make one quite narrow-minded I think and it can be very isolating – especially since you start to wonder if your same friends would care for you if you were not wearing your current hat. And for the followers, they can start to forget their personal goals and dreams and start mirroring that of their leader instead, or of the pack, so as to fit in and be popular, cool, accepted. Something to think about, right?

Anna Betts

That’s when a good time out is needed. Step away from the computer and think of what made you happy as a child and that it had nothing to do about blogging or the internet and everything to do about being creative, playing and having joy – and usually this involved getting very dirty and giggling a lot, or reading a book with your parents in bed. And when your parents are gone and if you have no children to read to, then you simply must grab a stack of books or magazines and read to yourself. This gives such a nice balance to the soul but also a great start to the work week. Flipping through French magazines does a body good. :) A little nature walk, some fresh air, reminding yourself that you are not perfect, and that you are not all that matters. I think it’s freeing actually, when you accept these truths because then there is a burden that is lifted and better work can flow more freely from your soul. And so this ends my essay, which really is an assemblage of random musings without one focal point, but perhaps you can extract something from it that will make your week a bit more interesting.

And so, now to talk a bit about Anna, who has definitely lost her spotlight in this post and for that I’m very sorry, Anna. But she receives full shine over at Real Simple where I wrote about her earlier today. Have you heard of Made By Anna and her blog, Colour + Sound? I think it’s a nice way to begin our week. I wrote about her over on Real Simple if you’d like to learn more… These photos above are just a glimpse of some of the photographs on her blog that inspire her work and that have inspired me today.

(images: anna betts)

Posted in Arts + Crafts on September 14, 2009

Happy Weekend!

So! Here it is Friday and after 4pm my time so I’m heading out for the day because we have things to do and friends to visit with, and tomorrow a festival at the enchanting baroque gardens here (shopping, food, music, entertainment, etc.) and on Sunday more people to visit. I want to spend the next hour or so completely alone so that I may have a few moments to myself before the weekend madness begins. I love/hate weekends with back-to-back plans, though I cannot complain because I could be a lonely expat sitting here with nothing to do and nobody to do it with! Not the case at all, so I feel lucky and should be grateful. Before signing off though, I have many posts below this one that I invite you to look through and enjoy because I think they’ll give you a cozy feeling for the weekend and lift your spirits, invigorate your creativity and perhaps inspire you to do something nice for yourself over the next few days until we meet here again on Monday morning.

Happy Weekend!

The weather here is in its 5th week of deliriously gorgeous temps with loads of sunshine and now the evenings have this “crisp” quality to them that promises Fall will come soon (love) – the weekend shall be nice so fingers crossed, it will be so that I may take some photos to share with you on Monday of this festival I will attend.

Books to Review

I’m hoping that if I can sneak it in I will take the morning on Sunday and curl up with a pot of tea on my sofa to review 3 new books that were sent to me. Perfect English Cottage, Essentially French and Romantic Irish Homes all arrived this week from the publisher and look ever so promising — I can’t wait to dig in and hopefully offer you a review of at least one of them next week. One perk of being a writer, you occasionally get some great books to share. Yay, books!

What will you do this weekend?

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Books + Magazines on September 11, 2009


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