Thursday, May 29, 2014

Step Inside My Closet

Husband and I have VERY important guests coming to visit us this weekend. In preparing for the VIP's first European trip, we naturally are busy cleaning, working out, scrapbooking, rearranging rugs, and of course, blogging. I am a Master Procrastinator.

Without further ado:

The first thing I should tell you is that walk-in closets are practically unheard of in Germany. Most people use a wardrobe inside their bedroom to hold clothing. When Husband and I saw this walk-in closet while viewing our flat, we jumped at this opportunity. 

While we are so lucky to have a walk-in closet, it is still quite a challenging space in our flat. It is about a 1/3 of the size of our closet back in Texas. And yes, those are two piles of dirty clothes on the floor.

90% of our clothing is folded on shelves. (These shelves were free btw!) With limited space, I had to get creative, Monica Geller creative, in how I stored my clothes. I won't discuss Husband's random nonexistent organization of his half of the shelves. 

Everything on my half of the shelves are organized by shirt type; tanks, t-shirts, short sleeves, 3/4 sleeves, long sleeves, sweaters, jackets, and then a shelf for pants. Within each category, the shirts are placed in order according to the rainbow. This system saves me time when picking outfits and I love the coordination. (Although... it takes more time when putting items away)

With only 4 shelves a piece, Husband and I now are on a seasonal rotation. Each spring we change out our bulky winter sweaters to warm weather items. Then again in the fall, we store our spring/summer clothing and bring back out our sweaters, boots, and cold weather accessories. Our stored clothing is kept packed away in the keller so it does not take up more space in our flat.

Opposite of the shelving, Husband and I have a three door wardrobe from Ikea. Inside we are able to hang dressier items that shouldn't be folded. Behind the mirrored door I keep the majority of my craft items.

For years I have stored my jewelry in clear plastic shoe dividers, again, color coded. Lately, I have been thinking about what I can do to make this system work better. I am finding that a lot of the accessories get buried at the bottom of a pocket and I forget about what is hiding. Do you have a recommendation for easy to see jewelry storage? Maybe I just need to clean out what I am not wearing?

Our shelving system is okay...for our current situation. I do find clean laundry piles up, waiting to be folded and put away for days at a time. I am terrible at this part of the process! More often than not, Husband and I have a pile similar to this one inside our bedroom. At least the clothes are clean, right? 

For old time's sake, here is our closet back in Texas:

Not too many newlyweds down-size in their late 20s but it is all about the experience right? I miss the double hanging rods, long shelves, and ample shoe storage. When we return to Texas, I plan to put a chandelier inside with a sassy rug. Maybe get some cute large baskets for the top shelf?

Make Life Beautiful,

Monday, May 19, 2014

Too Routine

There could be a problem when you suddenly refer to your coffee table as the dining table.  Umm...wait a second. That can't be right. Unless the coffee table is now the dining table and the dining table is now a craft table??? (true story)

Husband and I are quite comfortable in a routine right now. A little too comfortable. Each evening one of us walks the dog, the other cooks dinner, then together we sit down to eat, on the couch, in front of the television. Gulp* This is super embarrassing to admit but it is an honest look at our lives right now. 

Here are a few of my observations:
1. You might have a problem when you have to clear last night's dishes off of your coffee table before you can put down tonight's dinner.
2. Once my pockets hit that couch cushion, I might as well throw all chance of productivity out the window.
3. Two hours of television can really speed up time and leave you wondering "What did I do with all of my free time?'

In realizing our problem, Husband and I have decided to experiment this week in keeping the television turned off. We have pulled the plug! 

I am hoping to achieve:
1. More "me" time
2. A cleaner house
3. Giving Husband and Shelby Dog the attention they deserve!

In other, better, more EXCITING news...I am currently in the middle of a BIG project. Look for the project reveal on a "Made it Monday" post come mid June!

Hoping for More Beautiful Evenings,

Friday, May 16, 2014

Five on Friday

I have a confession. This is my Five on Friday from last week. Last Friday I had a late work meeting and dinner plans shortly after so I never got around to posting!
Husband was out of town so I took care of my new found girl time with a little bit of retail therapy. I bought a new dress, rust colored tank top, black leggings, and lemon lime colored Capri leggings. I was worried about the lemon lime color being too "out there" for me but when I tried them on with this dress, the outfit looks fantastic!

Worn out from work and business travel, Husband and I lived up to the American stereotype with McDonald's for dinner. I always feel a bit comical speaking English with my Texas accent surrounded by
people ordering Happy Meals in Deutsch.
Anyone else STILL order a Happy Meal?

I officially became a regular at my commuter coffee stand. I love when the employees say your order as a question, "kaffeemilch mitnehmen?" They know me oh so well.
Check out my Mojito by Essie nails for Cinco de Mayo!

At school we baked 6 dozen mini blueberry muffins for Mother's Day. (Germany celebrates moms this Sunday) We used them as centerpieces during a Mother's Day breakfast. Eh. Who cares now? Let's look at my new haircut instead! Husband just said "Oh wow, she cut a lot off." Goodbye dead winter hair!
Too bad every day since then has been humid and wet! Pony tail?

"April showers bring May flowers" or "April flowers bring May showers"? I am hoping for a warm weekend full of sunny days! (two weeks now of rain, rain, and more rain with scattered sunshine in between)
Seriously, enough rain already!

Happy Weekend,

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Three Days on the Amalfi Coast

I don't even want to tell you this...word might get out. Who am I kidding, I should just go ahead and tell my readers. I mean there are like what, 10 of you out there? Ok, here is the big secret... 
Il Pirata Restaurant in the background.

Husband and I originally planned a few days in Sorrento and then we did NOT even go there! 
Sorrento is somewhere around the bend.

It all started sitting on my couch running through a hotel search. I began noticing 4 and 5 star hotels, well below our budget, popping up just a few kilometers outside of Sorrento. What I didn't realize was that these tiny towns a few kilometers away, were in reality an hour's stomach turning drive from Sorrento along a winding cliff side highway.
Positano, Italy

But...once we actually, safely, made it to the tiny local town of Praiano, we suddenly had no interest in attempting a visit to Sorrento OR the Isle of Capri. Not just because of the wild ride to get in to Praiano, but also because for the first time on our Italian vacation we weren't lost in crowds of tourists. We finally felt alone on our vacation. Did you know Italy is always packed with millions of visitors from every corner of the world? Everyone wants to see Italy!
Hotel Tramonto d'Oro

Our hotel was one of only a handful in Praiano. Hotel Tramonto d'Oro overlooked a mosaic plaza outside the town's church and was popular each evening as a local gathering place. In the plaza, we watched teens play soccer, little kids ride their tricycles, and elderly folks sitting for a visit. From our corner room we had a view of the plaza and the seaside. When staying in a hotel overlooking the ocean, you want a room with a view!
 The side view from our balcony.

Praiano, Italy

The hotel staff members were attentive to all of our needs during our stay. They took care of parking and moving the car when necessary (it's difficult to do on a cliff!), the manager greeted us at each meal, and the bellhop brought us comfortable chairs for our bare balcony. It was fantastic down to the little bottles of olive shampoo and lotion.
Husband outside our hotel.

Each night Husband and I ate watching the sun set over the ocean on the hotel restaurant's balcony. The food was outstanding and the wine recommendations did not disappoint. We fell in love with the chef's stuffed anchovies, lemon based cream sauce, and the local fresh fish options. Ok, now I am getting hungry just reliving the memory!
Hotel's Dining Patio

You can see why Husband and I never made it to the crowded streets of Sorrento!
View from our room!

So what did we do in a tiny Italian coast town? We relaxed!
Praiano, Italy off in the distance.

Husband's giant sized lemons!

We walked along and down the coast to eat lunch on the water. Husband and I found Il Pirata which turned out to be a restaurant partly built into a grotto. There we paid the price for the location but the view was worth it. 
The Marina in Positano, Italy

During our second day, we took the deathtrap of a "city" bus to Positano. The bus drivers along the coast are too familiar with the curves of the roads and they fly around the bends. Husband was nearly sick to his stomach just from the 20 minute ride. Anyways, If you have seen a picture of brightly colored buildings running down a cliffside to a beach, it probably is Positano. I loved this town! It was full of shopping, gelato, and beachfront restaurants.
Positano, Italy

Italy in all it's glory!

From Positano we took a water ferry two towns over to Amalfi, Italy. There Husband and I sat for a coffee and lemoncello. Amalfi had more tourists than Praiano and Positano but sitting next to a fountain underneath the steps to a gorgeous chapel is not something you can do everyday. We even met a super sweet couple who visited the U.S. and toured Route 66 from Chicago to L.A. They run a handmade paper goods store in Amalfi and would not comment on Chicago style pizza!
Selfie on the boat!

Visiting the Amalfi Coast at the end of April was a great time of year because we were about a week ahead of the start of "busy" season. The temperatures did fluctuate between nice and warm to chilly with rain. The people in the area were extremely friendly, the food unforgettable, and the scenery breathtaking. Someday we will plan another trip to the Amalfi Coast!
I'm in love with the Amalfi Coast!

Up next; skipping Florence (kind of) for the Tuscan countryside. Do you prefer busy city sightseeing or relaxing in a serene environment?


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

All Things Rome- Easter Weekend

Am I the only one walking around singing in true Broadway style "Do you want to build a snowman?" I have even sang a new Maren version to my dog "Do you want to eat some dinner?" If all of our future kids are just like me, I fear for Husband's patience.

When Husband and I were planning our trip to Rome, most people had the same reaction when we mentioned we were going over Easter, "Hsss". We thought two things:
1. There will be a TON of tourists over Easter weekend and we are insane
2. Most people will think there will be a lot of people, so they won't go, and there won't be a lot of people.

The Vatican

Yeah. It was definitely Number One. Rome was filled with thousands of tourists the weekend before Easter. Every single place had lines wrapping around the block, the restaurants were fully booked, and flight prices were outrageous.

He is Risen!

If you are going to venture over to Rome during Easter weekend, you must follow this one tip:

Even among the other thousands of tourists, Husband and I NEVER once had to stand in a line. We planned ahead and booked online a tour of The Vatican and a time slot for the Colosseum. In both locations, the lines wrapped around the city block. It was raining, the wait times were several hours, and people looked down right miserable. How in the year 2014 are people still not booking online ahead of time?!?

I wish I had taken pictures, but a little part of me felt bad when we passed a line snaked halfway around the Colosseum and walked straight inside after approaching an employee guarding a roped off entrance. Who wants to waste precious vacation time standing in these lines? Even if you do not visit Rome over Easter weekend, do yourself a favor and book your sights before you even before you step foot into Italy.

You might think guided tours are over priced....but consider this: a 3.5 hour guided art history tour of The Vatican and Sistine Chapel is $85. No lines, no waiting, and a personal guide to explain some of our world's most precious art masterpieces. A regular priced ticket for The Vatican and Sistine Chapel runs for $16. This does not include a tour guide, requires an unknown amount of time standing in line, and you are left to figure out the unknown. By the time you purchase the additional audio guides or guidebooks to understand what it is you are viewing inside the museums, the guided tour prices start seeming not so high.

In the end you have to decide how precious is your time, what is your time worth, and what do you want to take away from the day? So far, I am averaging a Rome trip once every 30 years. Whether or not you are visiting Rome over Easter, booking tickets ahead of time is just an absolute easy way to make the most of these rare opportunities.

When in Rome,

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Step Inside My Teeny, Tiny, German Kitchen

We came together at the beginning of October 2012. Ever since then we have had a continuous love-hate relationship. No, not Husband and I... rather my teeny, tiny, German kitchen and myself.

On some days I call it Charming, at other times I scream "This is a one butt kitchen!" or another reoccurring line "I need MORE counter space!" We definitely are NOT in Texas anymore...

When Husband and I moved into our apartment our landlord put in a brand new kitchen. (Although I was up for making the previous orange cabinets "work"...ha!) In Germany, most apartments DO NOT come with kitchens. It is quite common for renters to supply their own cabinets, counters and appliances. Husband and I did not want to fork out 3,000 Euros (or more) for a new kitchen so we only searched for apartments with pre-existing kitchens. Lucked out we did!  

I picked up this vintage flour sack in a dusty backroom of an antique shop on some back country roads of Indiana back in 2010. Unfortunately, the sun has faded the print due to it's location. (Bad Maren, Bad) I never have gotten around to properly matting the print. The knives were a Christmas present from Husband during our first year together. I am not-so-secretly hoping to "upgrade" to some German-made J.A. Henckels during our time in Munich. (hint hint*)
I love the view I have while baking!

My pride and joy is my green apple (told you it was my favorite color) Kitchen Aide mixer. It was a 25th birthday gift back in the heyday. The African Violets were Valentine's Day flowers from Husband back in 2013. (The gift that keeps on giving!) My Texas flag ornament is a sweet gift from my amazing brother and his girlfriend.

It's a miracle... No dishes in the sink! Husband and I have an on going debate on whether dirty dishes belong in the sink or on the side counter. So sad, our super cool, uber heavy duty, black metal American to European power adapter did not make it into this photo! Shucks. For those wondering...we shipped most of our American appliances here to Munich. The only thing that is not use-able is our pancake griddle. Boo!!!!

Anyone else a soap snob? I think I got this from my mom... we both love "special" soap. I am actually excited that this bottle is almost empty because that means I get to buy something new! *sigh* Did I just let on how nerdy my nerdiness can be?

*Floral Bowl- Kirklands (Teacher gift)
*Bluebird- Ross $10
*Candy Jar- Pier 1 (Birthday gift)
*Cookbooks- LOVE Barefoot Contessa
*Milk Glass Bowl- Leftover Wedding Centerpiece

I absolutely HATE our spice cabinet. Everything constantly gets pushed to the back corner and then I "lose" items. I have casually looked at other spice storage items via Ikea but I cannot find a good solution. Did you notice our Salt Lick rub? God Bless Texas!

-Kirklands Serving Bowls
-Wine, Martini, and Beer Glasses
-White Dishes from Kohls
-Cereal Bowls from Crate & Barrel
-Oven Dishes from France
-Plastic Dip Dishes (teacher gift)
-Snack Bowls Crate & Barrel
-Clear Glasses from Macys

Did you read about my dish towel and ruffled apron in My Favorite Things post? If you are a fan of Trader Joe's, the reusable grocery bag is theirs! 

You REALLY wanted to see inside our dishwasher, right?! I just wanted to show you two things; 1. Our American dishes are too big for German dishwashers!

2. Check out my BRAND NEW bright colored dishes! I bought them this week at Butler's. Oh AND the green apple colander I bought from Ross WAY before I even had a place of my own.

I haven't taken any recent photos of our dining space but this photo is from Easter. Our table was bought second hand for 40 Euros but originally comes from Ikea. My favorite part is the table runner bought from Pier 1 and the milk glass cake stand. (It's actually a fruit bowl with a plate on top here)

Thank you so much for stopping by and coming into my teeny, tiny, German kitchen. I am linking up with Andrea today over at Momfessionals and will be back next month to show you our outdoor space.

For nostalgic times, here is a picture of our kitchen back in Texas:
I loved my giant jars of flour and sugar. Oh...counter space how I miss you! These cabinets are getting a white wash when we move back.

Recognize the flour print and potato sack? We will probably DIY a farmhouse table when we return. Someday, I want to put up some vintage linen cafe curtains. 

Whatcha Got Cookin',