Monday, September 27, 2010

Nathalie Lété, Again

You may recall how much I love the artwork and home decor of artist Nathalie Lété. Well, it seems she has lots going on right now, including a collection for France's Monoprix. 

It just so happens that I recently broke down and finally bought the lovely Paumes book A to Z de Nathalie Lété (hmmm, can't find it on their site now), which I'd been eyeing for quite some time. It's lovely, as I knew it would be. Here are some images I want to share with you (click for more detail):

In case you're wondering where you can buy some Nathalie Lété-designed products, visit Anthropologie (those plates--I'll take one of each, thanks!) or Lapin & Me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Best in Bohemian, Lived-in Style

I think this may well be my favorite home tour by The Selby so far: the Harlem home of Albert Maysles (of original Grey Gardens fame) and his wife, therapist Gillian Walker. It's the real thing: unstudied and not "decorated"; radiating with life; and full of color and beautiful, meaningful items that have obviously been lovingly collected and curated over a number of years. Of course, I especially love all the books and the not-just-for-show kitchen. When The Husband and I get to this age, I can only hope our house will look half this cool. Head on over for a look (be sure to read Gillian's views on Maximalism) and then come back to let me know if you love it as much as I do!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Amsterdam Gardens

more from our August travels:

I always find urban gardens so inspiring.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another Day, Another Abbey

She knew what he was thinking. The gravel was a temptation, for sure. 

"If you throw one of those and it hits that window, that nun is going to get you!"

"How did you know...? No, she won't! She'd have to catch me first!" His heels scooted back and forth in the pebbles, making a pleasing grinding sound. It was something to do; after all, there was nothing else. These abbey visits were dead boring.

"Let's run, then!" Movement was often on his mind, especially as he spent far too much time sitting stock still on these holiday trips. 

"You know Mum and Dad said to sit quietly and wait for them here. I'm not letting you get me in trouble again today!" Ah, the joys of being an older sister.

"But my bum hurts! And they've been in that gift shop for a hundred years! I think Mum has enough herb tea already, don't you? Why does she always want to buy what the nuns make?"

"Because nuns are good at that stuff. Hey! You better come back here! Stop running or I'll tackle you! Or I'll get that nun. Don't make me get that nun after you! Don't make me, James!"

This is for Willow's Magpie Tales 31.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Amsterdam in August

We visited Amsterdam for four days in August while my mother-in-law was here. It had been fifteen years since the Husband and I had been, so it was nice to go again and to take our family. I love bicycle cultures, but I must say I'd forgotten how aggressive the non-rule-following bikes can be in this city. You really do have to pay much more attention to the bikes than to cars. But maybe that's not a bad thing? Anyway, here's a handful of photos from our trip.

Most of these were taken in the peaceful Jordaan neighborhood, which we loved. Some parts of Amsterdam are so busy and crowded that it can be hard to slow down and take leisurely photos. Thankfully the Jordaan is very photogenic. More later...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wandering Wednesday

Here I stand (my little dog, too!), by the new raised planter box the Husband, the Girl, and the Boy put together recently in our back yard. We're slowly, slowly attempting to begin growing vegetables here for the first time since we moved to this house last year. Until recently, we'd made do with potted herbs, various ornamental plants in the front and back, and the big, mature apple tree we inherited (more on that soon!). In this small planter, you'll find some spent strawberry plants and some new pea, mixed-lettuce, rucola, and spinach babies. I'm very happy just to see these infants, as I've had precious little experience planting from seed.

In case you're wondering, this is my first time to play along with GardenMama's Wandering Wednesday, and I think it's a good time to think about what I'm wanting to accomplish here--by here, I mean in our home in this little tucked-away German village. Sometimes it's hard for us really to feel at home, since most everyone in the area either grows up here or comes here for a few years with the U.S. government/military. Of course, there are those who come and end up staying for years, even sometimes (like us) buying a house. I think I need to get to know more of these people, since in the depths of winter, I'm not sure I quite get the appeal of this place. But let's think about that later! 

But anyway, I want to make the most of our rural location, and that includes al fresco dinners, countryside walks, fires in the fire pit on chilly nights, visits to local Christmas markets, and plenty of herbal concoctions and vegetable gardening. I've read a lot about gardening, you understand, but there are many things I've not had a chance to put into practice until now. So here we go...

Incidentally, along with GardenMama, I've just found (today!) several lovely blogs that are already giving me an education in and appreciation for rural living (often with crafting and homeschooling in the mix). I'm sure I'll be finding more...

Friday, September 3, 2010

When House Hunters International Came to Call

I have a fun surprise to share with you: my family is going to be featured on the HGTV show House Hunters International! I was contacted by a production assistant who saw my blog and encouraged our family to apply. Now, before you go thinking, "Wow! That's really cool!", let me just say that a person has to be something of a lunatic to agree to doing a show like this. I'll explain more, but first...

Here's our friendly crew for our one-day shoot in Texas in mid-July. For HHI, in case you aren't familiar with it, there is always a "before" shoot, to show where you lived before you embarked on the insane journey of buying a home overseas. We hadn't lived in Texas for seven years and our home there has been sold for a while, but we couldn't very well go back to our rented house in Japan for the "real before"--that would have been delightful but awfully impractical.

These guys taught us all about how to get miked up, how to answer to-be-edited-out questions from the director without making it seem like answering questions, and how to appear to be candid and fresh when doing a third take. It was terribly, terribly hot, so any real freshness was pretty much out of the question.

It was necessary to inject occasional moments of levity into what can be a long, tedious process. TV people work hard for their money! I should probably mention that we decided to do this shoot at my grandmother's house, where we stayed this summer but had never actually lived.

Oh, now here we are back in Germany in our house, with a simply lovely British crew. This was Day Two of our three-day shoot. Day One was spent out and about, looking at two other houses in the area with an agent, as if we were in the midst of choosing a house to buy. 

Did you notice that there is no furniture in that photo with the crew? That's because they hired movers to move everything out of our entire house to make it look as if it wasn't ours yet. Oh, the acting we had to do! Thank goodness the Husband was in Advanced Drama in high school. I won't go too much into how ridiculous it feels to have most of your household goods moved into and around your garage and then all moved back in, on the same day. This kind of thing can be (was) a major promoter of mental instability in homeowners (us). This day was not fun at all.

Day Three was better, because we were total celebrities. To show what it's like to live here, we went out around town and ostentatiously took over a restaurant (got to eat a nice "typical German" meal on HHI's tab!), a bakery, an outdoor cafe area, several streets, and a walkway alongside a lake. Make way for the crazy Americans and Brits, everybody! That's right, go ahead and stare! And most of all, stay out of our way. No autographs, please.

Oops, this is back on Day Two, with our kitchen empty and our new friend, agent Gabi, waiting around with us for our next take. She was such a good sport and also a good actor. 

Here's the last thing we did, at the end of Day Three when we were all dog-tired: we sat in the field behind our house and shared our thoughts (director-led, you understand) on buying our house and living in Germany. We had to lie a little so people who see the show won't want to go stick their heads in ovens immediately after watching.

And here we all are: our American (German-speaking) P.A. Chuck, director Katie, sound dude James, our family, and camera wrangler James. They were a fun bunch (we had a little too much fun at the end of Day Three) who helped make this whole thing almost bearable. Cheers!

Maybe you're wondering when the show will air; we are, too. They're telling us it will likely be next year, in the Spring. I guess it's a little late to be concerned about possibly looking like idiots on TV?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

U2, and Summer's End

I know, I know. You've probably been thinking I abandoned this blog. But no--for the past two months I've just had plenty of things to do--and people to see, like this guy:

Yep, it's Bono, fresh off his back surgery here in Germany! While my mother-in-law was visiting a few weeks ago, the Husband and I took the opportunity to head to Frankfurt for our first (not only, if we can help it) U2 concert. I can't say enough about how great it was. Incredible.

No, we didn't use a super-powerful zoom lens. We really were this close! But being on the floor next to the stage meant arriving very early and then standing and waiting for a long time--I'm talking hours. So what did we do to kill time before the concert began? We read the books we'd brought with us, of course! I geeked out on Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris and cared not in the slightest that reading a book at a concert might have seemed more than a bit strange to the sweaty, teeming throng sharing floor-space with us. I'm thinking book-freak Ms. Fadiman would be proud.

Yow! You know, I didn't think I would be so star-struck, but I totally was. Really. Jumping up and down with arms raised overhead, fists pumping, for the entire concert? Check! Singing along continually? Duh! Crying when it was over? Almost!

These guys really know how to put on an amazing show--just sayin.'

Coming up soon on this resuscitated blog: more excuses why I was gone for two months (Paris, Amsterdam, Texas, House Hunters International...).
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