Thursday, August 22, 2013

Blog redesign !!!!

Hi Friends,
Isn't the summer wonderful? In Bremen, we have been really lucky with the weather and it makes the long school break bearable ( rainy days inside with a toddler are the worst!) . Anyhow, the gorgeousness of the season made me decide to change up some things around here.

So, I have been working on a great new blog design with the wonderful, talented and extremely patient Noor Al Qahtani of Blog Me Pretty.  Her work is so modern, minimalist and still warm, which isn't so easy to find. 

The new blog design goes up on the 1st of September and I will be celebrating with an online launch from a fabulous, design fueled location. 

While I'm away, here are a few images that have been inspiring me lately. See you at the launch !

Photo by Julia D. Lampe

via SLM

via Justina Blakeney

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Crete - Eating in Plaka and Almyrida

My family loves to eat. I would almost go so far as to say that we live to eat but perhaps I should exercise a little restraint... Anyhow,  getting to eat all the great Greek dishes was a major factor in our choice of destination.  Generally, the food in this region gets a big "thumbs up" from me because I could happily eat fresh bread, olives and lamb chops all day, every day.  We didn't take any pictures of our meals because...I guess we were too busy eating and I always feel weird about taking pictures in restaurants but trust me, you wont be sorry if you eat in these restaurants.

While all the Tarvenas near the village square in Plaka will deliver good food and a gorgeous atmosphere, Elpis gets our vote for lunch and early dinners. They have the best freshly baked bread and their chicken (served with honey and oranges) and lamb chops are so well marinated and moist without being over cooked. Also tried and approved are the liver with apples and onions that blew my husband's mind.  You can always tell when things are freshly made and with good, natural produce. They also have a great garden and playground so we could watch our daughter burn off some of that "toddler high" while we waited for our dinner. The service there was excellent and the owner, seemed to know everyone by name and by the 2nd night we felt like regulars.

Our favorite place to have breakfast in all of Plaka and Almyrida is Francoise ( by the beach in Almyrida). From the name, you can rightly guess that they aren't exactly serving Cretan food but my goodness, the french toast is amazing !!  You could get a good english fry up with baked beans and tomatoes or a simple yet strangely addictive croissant, both with huge freshly squeezed orange juice and fantastic coffee. The owner, Mira was lovely with our daughter and brought her a special kiddie plate and high chair.  You also have free Wifi and an english language library so I got to catch up on all the in-depth UK tabloid reporting ( don't judge, tabloids are great on vacation anywhere). Francoise is also great for sandwiches, smoothies, cocktails and all round chilling out in the evening.

We tried a few other places but kept coming back to these two. What can I say, we know what we like.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Visiting Crete - Plaka & Almyrida Edition

Kalimera guys !! That's good morning / good day in Greek.

We are here in Crete and its beyond wonderful, I want to say its "amaze balls ". The water is so unbelievably blue and the views ? Breathtaking.  At times like this, I curse my inadequate photography skills...(shakes fist at sky) and I wish you could see how really beautiful the Atlas mountains look from my bedroom window.

This morning, we jumped in our little rental car (standard here = compact in the US) and went in search of breakfast and the local supermarket.

Plaka is a pretty small village located uphill from the seaside town of Almyrida and its the perfect place for a quiet, beautiful beach vacation. The village square is the center of the social life in Plaka and most of the restaurants are located around it. There's also a pretty good supermarket but all the real amenities are 5 minutes away in Almyrida.

Almyrida is rather busy and has many tourist amenities but in a good way. So, no Starbucks or McDonald's but many locally run small cafes and restaurants.  There is a also a pharmacy, butcher, laundromat, bank and large supermarket so pretty much all you need for a self catered holiday.

The town also has a lovely beach within walking distance.

Great for swimming

Or digging,

Or just paddling around,

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Crete with a Toddler - Where to stay?

Traveling with a toddler has its own special set of challenges.  Gone are those blissful days when I could just strap her into my Baby Bjorn and be on my merry way, stopping only to nurse.  She slept through hours on the plane, brunches, garden parties and even open air concerts.

My daughter now needs loads of entertainment, exercise and space to explore. She also only sleeps well on her own (probably because we moved her out of our room at 6 months) and so this makes sharing a hotel room a bit tricky.

After a sleepless long weekend in Prague earlier this year, we decided that our days of staying at design boutique hotels would go the way of sleeping in on weekends - a thing of the past that seems so impossible now, that I'm not sure it ever really happened. So, its goodbye hotels and hello, holiday apartment rentals.

After we settled on Crete as a destination, I spent endless hours trying to chose a place that worked for our family. We needed at least 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, washing machine (essential because my daughter still runs through at least three changes of clothes a day), a pool and close proximity to the beach.

We had our doubts since we had never used this rental company before but it was exactly as described on the website.

Welcome to our temporary home in Plaka, Crete.

 The view from the upstairs terrace.

The Cretan sunset on our first evening in Plaka.

We debated long and hard about having a pool because well, the obvious risks with toddlers near water  but we really wanted our daughter to start learning to swim.  In the end, we brought along a portable baby gate for her room and will make sure all the doors leading outside are locked at night.  And can I just say, from the look on her face when she saw it, it was the right decision.

Fun times full speed ahead !

Friday, June 14, 2013

Two weeks in Crete, Greece.

Next week, we are heading off to the beautiful island of Crete on holiday. I'm so excited to be in the sun as Bremen weather has really been a disappointment this year.  This will be my first time in Crete and I'm looking forward to visiting all the small towns, eating yummy Cretan delicacies and just generally recharging the old batteries.

Via Real wanderlust

Crete is the biggest island in Greece and its weather is somewhat between North African and Mediterranean, yippee. It also has loads of gorgeous mountains, gorges,warm blue seas (the Aegean on the south and Mediterranean in the east) so its perfect for hiking, bird watching and beach bumming.

Culturally, Crete has so much to offer from really great museums and historic monuments to great art, fashion and design.  I'm really looking forward to visiting the towns of Chania and Rethymno for their fantastic shops and old venetian harbor towns.  Fans of history and Greek mythology will be thrilled to hear that Crete is also home to Knossos which is an amazing archaeological site and the center of Minoan civilization.

The island is pretty large and has so many interesting sites, so we decided to split our time between the eastern and the western parts of the Island.  For the first week, we will be based in Plaka, a small village near the beach and about 20 minutes from the city of Chania.  The next week, we will be in the soft welcoming arms of the St. Nicolas Bay resort in Agios Nikolaos.

I'm off to do some ruthless packing as we are flying with Ryanair (lord, give me strength) so just the essentials !  I hope the internet access is good so I can blog from the beach.  Any restaurant recommendations will be seriously appreciated.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Flea Market - Arm Chair

Its finally flea market season in my city and I'm torn.
I love flea markets and the discovery of new - old things but I have a serious follow through problem. You know, where you buy that old cupboard and tell yourself that you will spend the next week stripping, repainting and polishing it to its full shabby chic glory but erm, its three months later and nothing. Or the antique tea set that just needs a spot of cleaning and polishing( why is polishing always involved) and its ready for fabulous garden tea parties?  Do you guys know what I mean? Anyone? It cant just be me, can it ? 

Looks sheepishly into the blogosphere.

Anyhow, i visited our local flea market last week and while i mostly managed to avoid temptation, here's what I got for 20 Euros.

I can change, this time it'll be different. Why? Because I am armed. With tons of inspiration pics and an easy- peasy tutorial on arm chair uphosltery,  I can turn my sad looking chair with good bones into this:

Or this,

Or even this.

I have some Kilim fabric from my trip to Marrakesch and that might just do the trick.  But first, I have to figure out how much fabric I need to upholster this chair. Any ideas?

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Precious.

Envy is an ugly emotion. It makes you want to take something that belongs to someone else and try to keep it for yourself.

This was the exact feeling that washed over me last weekend when I laid my eyes on the slice of gorgeousness dangling from the delicate wrist of my friend at our sunday brunch date in Hamburg.

Okay, so I'm not proud of it, but maybe you'll understand when you see these pieces designed by Marjana von Berlepsch.

The "Mogul" is a leather adjustable bracelet with faceted gemstones plated in silver and 18 carat gold, with citrine, brown and blue chalcedony and a little bit of rose quartz.  And I want her. Now. To dress up my denim and flats uniform for the school run and add a little personality to my business suit and pumps.

Just so that she won't be lonely, I might just have to bring these along too.

At around 300 Euros, she doesn't come cheap so it'll have to be a treat for when I've been good or very bad..

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Space to imagine - Part 2

Last week, I told you about my new shared work space. Its a big open loft with conference and exhibition rooms upstairs which is great for client meetings. I will be sharing the space with three other designers and I'm so excited to finally have a work space outside the house.

The location is also perfect - it's close to lots of cafes, design stores, boutiques and my absolute favorite brunch place in the city.

Welcome to my new work space.

My section is the part closest to the far wall and I think its gorgeous.  The partially exposed brick makes the entire space a little less sterile and more welcoming.

As I prepare to move in, I've been thinking about what type of furniture and/or decoration i can add to my little corner to help with inspiration. I want to be considerate of the design aesthetics of the entire loft while making a space that i can enjoy and be creative in.

First, I have a few limitations.
- No painting or wall hangings allowed. The owners have sternly vetoed any wall hangings so I'll have to get creative.
- My section comes with a desk and chair only. I also have space in a tall built in book shelf where i can store my design books, magazines etc.

Other than that, the owner says I can go wild. Yippee! But, I'm concerned about how much i can do without bothering the others.

What do you think? I'm thinking of a new chair, area rug, some stuff for organizing my documents, stationary, fabric swatches, inspiration board and maybe some more storage.

Mini makeover, hurrah !!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Space to imagine.

I have a hard time working at home. There, I said it. I'm always reading about these amazingly disciplined people who can write books or music at their kitchen tables but that's just not me.  I need a dedicated space devoid of extraneous material...order, I say, I will have order !
Ever since I left law school, I have always had a real office in which to work. Over the years, the offices have changed along with my career. I have had the big international firms with their somewhat sterile offices, the computer software start ups and their huge open style lofts and most recently, the mid sized firm with smaller but definitely warmer spaces.

But I have never had my very own space to create, as a writer or a designer.  I tried to carve out space in my home but the dinning table in my living room isn't cutting it. Besides, I'm so easily distracted by household chores and television (a pox on HGTV).  I had planned to use our second bedroom as my studio but then along came the baby and wouldn't you know it, they don't stay small and immobile for very long. So I dejectedly kept working in the living room. Before I gave up on turning the spare room into some baby / studio hybrid, I dreamt of working here.

Or here.

Or in my idea of designer heaven, here.  In the workspace of textile designer Caitlin Wilson.
I can truly only echo the words of another doughnut loving, overworked, New Yorker by saying, " I WANT TO GO TO THERE ".

After a six month search, i finally found some thing i think will work. It's a shared space in an open loft so I can't go all design crazy but I am so excited to finally have a space of my own.  I guess i have no more excuses for not blogging here more regularly !

I get the keys next week so I'll share the space with you then.  Meanwhile, I'll be ogling office supplies and furniture.

Do you have a home office or work in an outside space?  What are your top 3 home office essentials?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What to wear in Morocco

As part of my Morocco travel recap, I wanted to answer a question that I saw being asked on all the travel blogs and forums.

So, what do you wear in Morocco?  To be fair, there is no all encompassing answer as we have to make allowances for personal taste, style and planned activities.  So this answer is for the woman who wants to be stylish, comfortable within the city (no hiking or strenuous activity unless you count lifting carpets and haggling) and still respect the culture of the country.

Morocco is an extremely modern and tourist friendly country.  Although its considered to be  a traditional muslim society, the western culture is firmly established in the cities so you will easily find the young Moroccan women out and about in skinny jeans and sleeveless dresses. The fashion designers are extremely fashion forward and the boutiques carry fashions that could be seen in any European or American city. 

However, in the medina, where all the markets are located, the dress code is more conservative. The general rule is to wear loose tops with sleeves and make sure your bottoms are not too short or tight which means leave the hot pants and Herve Leger body con minis at home.

I only brought a carry on, so all these pieces did double, even triple duty during the trip. Not credited are about 3 white tanks and 2 light layering tees. 

What ? No pictures? Hush, impatient ones, here's what I wore in Morocco.

Tunic by Tory Burch

Dress from Piperlime

Heritage Wrap Cardigan by Banana Republic,  perfect for plane rides and chilly evenings.

Paige Jeans and Lace Blouse - Visits to Boutiques and Rooftop Drinks

See by Chloe

StudUp by Steve Madden

And finally,  my number one travel necessity. A big fluffy scarf or two twisted together.


Theodora and Callum

Friday, March 15, 2013

Three days in Marakesh

It's only been one day since I got back from Morocco and I'm having serious sun withdrawal. There's a snow storm in Germany ...really, Deutschland? It's freaking March 15th.

Anyhow,  I had an amazing time. I seriously want to live in Marrakech forever, or at least for half the year. I"m already plotting my next escape and I can hardly wait...more on that soon to come.

My trip started off on a rather sour note due to the nitwits at Ryanair and their insane luggage policies but once the warmth and sunshine hit me, my mood improved immediately.  I chose a hotel in the old city (the Medina) because I wanted to be close to the markets and experience as much of Moroccan life as possible.  My hotel, Riad Snan13 sent a car for me and that made transportation a breeze. I'm so glad I chose to be picked up because the Medina is a pedestrian only zone with loads of twisty roads and little lanes and I might have never found it on my own. This place was gorgeous. I generally hate to use terms like 'oasis' and 'refuge from the outside noise' but if the shoe fits? The owners, Stephan and Xavier are really the best hosts ever and they took care of my many, many travel needs and answered all my crazy design and shopping questions.

The Medina gates


And the shopping, unbelievable. I came with a carry on and left with 2 suitcases worth of lamps, rugs, fabric, home accessories, ceramics and blankets.  I'll be sharing pictures of my finds over the next couple of posts so stay tuned !

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On the road again.

In exactly one week from today, I'm hopping on a plane for Morocco ! I'm so excited that I catch myself daydreaming about how beautiful it will be. The colors, the scents, the textures ....I 'm absolutely giddy.

Beum Photograpghy via Flickr

In preparation for the trip, I've been reading the usual suspects, lonely planet, trip advisor, frommer's and I think I'm up to speed on the must sees. But the pictures and designs from Morocco are so unbelievably beautiful that  I'm losing my mind to Pinterest.
One day while I was working on a very important licensing contract ogling pictures on Pinterest, I came across Marrakesh by Design. It's written by Maryam Montague who also runs a boutique hotel in Marrakesh called Peacock Pavilions. The pictures of this place are jaw droppingly gorgeous and I would have liked to stay there but sadly, it was fully booked for a yoga retreat.

Pics from Peacock Pavilions

I haven't finished the book but my impression so far, is that Marrakesh by Design is easy to navigate and gives a great introduction to Moroccan life and design. It also includes tips on buying carpets, textiles, lanterns and other home accessories. I'm devouring it right now and I'll let you guys know how useful it was when I get back from Morocco.

Have you been to Morocco?  I would love to get tips and recommendations on your favorite things to do and places to see.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Once you go Mac...

I'm crossing over to the dark side ( cue dark, foreboding music). After over 12 years of loyalty to the PC,  I just put in an order for a new shiny MacBook Air !

Noooooooo ! Cry my old friends at Dell and Sony, et tu Eme?  Am I really so shallow, swayed by its shiny silver sheen and impossible lightness? Will I spend countless hours sipping coffee in cafes working on my blog, screenplay, app,  etc oblivious to the frowns and clock watching of small cafe owners everywhere ?  Where is my commitment to tradition?  To be dependable, sober and coporate lawyer-like? What will the other members of the New York Bar say? Will they refer to me as a "hipster" with thinly veiled loathing?  Must I now consume copious amounts of wheatgrass  and proclaim Lena Dunham as god?  I don't even know who I am anymore !!!

As you can see, I run slightly to the dramatic. Okay, dramatically to the dramatic.  The truth is really very simple. My trusty Sony Vaio died on me after years of good service. I spent countless hours researching the right pc to buy next. My needs were simple.  It had to be light because I travel a lot and many times with a toddler in tow. Perform with speed and efficiency.  That left tons of laptops with mind boggling specifications and sadly, I'm no techie. So, the deciding factor was that it had to be reliable and easy to troubleshoot or fix in any country.  Enter the MacBook Air.  That's all folks. 

The new "precious" comes in next week and I'll tell you how I like it after a test run. So guys, how did you pick your last computer? Do you have your eye on anything new? 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tri-continental Childcare

This week all over Germany, parents of toddlers are visiting schools to try to find a space for the little people for the school year starting this September.  In my part of Germany, you only have until the end of January to find a place and register or it's curtains for the rest of the year ...even if the school still has places available ( I don't know why, rules are rules. Don't get me started, let's just say that it's a battle I fought and lost last year).

Anyway, my daughter turns three this November which means that she will have to leave her wonderful, nurturing day care for the big scary world of the Kita aka kindergarten starting in September. The application process is like dating, more accurately, it's the Bachelor. You show up on open house day with your child and prepare to dazzle the head teacher hoping for a place. Sometimes, parents will be invited for another interview (the rose ceremony) where you prove that you are worthy of a place in the hallowed halls of the kindergarten. Even more frustrating is that you can only apply to one school which is enforced by having you hand over your  Kita Card (like a baby identification card) when you apply so no hedging your bets here.  

Bubbling over with indignation , I call my good friend in Brooklyn and go on a 10 minute rant about the application process and early closing time (2 pm) of the German kindergarten. We both work full time so I was sure to find an understanding ear. She responds by saying "at least you had a year's maternity leave". Turns out that my 350 Euros is nothing to her 1800 USD monthly childcare bill. 

Oh, and my high school friend now working and living in Dubai? Three kids and two nannies. Must be nice.