Monday, March 31, 2008

just in time for April Fool's

I like random street art and this one is really creative. I saw it via the Wooster Collective. It's called the 'air bear' and was made by a NYC street artist named Joshua Allen Harris.

The link also has video so you can see the bear in action. When the wind comes up from the subway grates the bear inflates, which could be a metaphor for traveling 'green' and keeping the polar bears alive by saving energy. That's my art historian view, or you can take it at face value as an interesting outdoor instillation.

Now wouldn't that be a great April fool's day surprise? I'd love to see people's reactions.


This morning I woke up to my very own Rothko, courtesy of Mother Nature and the one hour time change. Rothko's probably wouldn't have been so matchy, but I stood there in awe of the striking colors. It was spectacular.

I kept reminding myself of the old sailor's rhyme:
'Pink skies at night; a sailor's delight. Pink skies in the morn'; sailor's be warn.'

I prefer to think it signifies a great week ahead.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

weekend wrap up

I love the frilly and floral qualities of Tord Boontje's lights. As we were walking to Gast, a delicious and simple restaurant that runs off the open kitchen concept, I passed a shop and instantly recognized his 'Midsummer's Light' pendant lamp in the window. Boontje's aesthetic mix of natural with the technological create some striking pieces. I also love that he returns to nature for inspiration.

He currently has an instillation at Swarovski in Innsbruck through 2009 and I still need to make my way to see it. Despite my lack of interest in the zillions of Swarovski shops that seem to dot every European city, I would be willing to visit the one in Innsbruck since he is involved. I had to laugh when we went to tiny Liechtenstein last year to find their headquarters are there. Swarovski is truly inescapable.

Dinner at Gast, was great as usual. They have a huge variety of fresh pastas, pizzas, salads, and rice dishes. I've also seen their menu for a breakfast, but we haven't made it yet. If you're interested in an inexpensive and delicious meal, you can find Gast at the Gasteig, one of Munich's performing arts centers, at Rosenheimerplatz.

This weekend we also enjoyed the Mark Rothko exhibit at Kunsthalle, which is part of Fünf Höfe. It was a retrospective, which are always fascinating. I love being able to see how an artist progresses and they had these really neat digital monitors that enabled the viewer to flip through pages of his sketch books simply by touching the screen. It brought me back to the abstract expressionism from my 20th century art history courses. We noticed many of the pieces were on loan from his daughter Kate. Interestingly he also holds the record for a post-war painting sale - in 2007 he had a piece sell for $72.8 million. I wonder what he would think of that. Fünf Höfe has several exhibitions through the year and they are always quite good. The space is beautiful and I love that they integrated art into a frequently traversed area of the city.

I love taking people to art museums, because it's nice to be knowledgeable and tell people about the area that I studied. Stefan was asking me even seemingly simple things about the different mediums and the differences between oil paint and gauche, so it was a bit back to basics, but it brought a little smile to my face.

We definitely need to make museum visits more of our weekend repertoire. I miss seeing the art as well as the other patrons, since museums and galleries seem to draw and eclectic crowd.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


At the suggestion of Troy, from Munich Daily Photo, I went to see the last remaining units in the Olympiadorf.

I remember being slightly shocked and intrigued by this bunker style student housing when I initially came to Munich and went to the Olympic park. They were brightly colored and looked slightly decrepit. It's a dichotomy since Munich is known for being a posh and wealthy city and this looks like a small piece of rebellious Berlin within.

Seeing the reconstruction made me recall my own university experience with 'the ghetto', - an affectionate name for a fabulous neighborhood of university owned housing. While it is undergoing a facelift of it's own, it is an essential part of what gives the university a major sense of community.

When I went to see the Olympiadorf remnants there was a feeling of sadness and hope as I strolled through the blocks of housing. It reminded me of my university days and how it slowly has become less recognizable. During my visit students were moving out and talking to each other from their roof top patios and dogs scampered around as they waited on their owners to say their last goodbyes. The ivy on the buildings clung for life adding a beautiful contrast on the colors.

The feeling of hope radiated and I appreciated the unique artistic displays that the students had painted on the facades of their homes. Some were more literal than others with replicas of Piet Mondrian, Roy Lichtenstein, and Keith Haring.

The news hit that these units were going to be a thing of the past and students decided to have a party which quickly escalated into outsiders deciding they could help in the destruction. Sadly, broken windows, fist fights, and fires broke out and the party promoters had to call riot police in August of last year. Photos can be seen at Sueddeutsch Zeitung. Rather than renovating, it is less expensive for the units to simply be rebuilt.

Another unexpected shock to me was how it reminded me of a cleaner version of Christiania, the squatter type neighborhood located in Copenhagen pictured above. The colors of Christiania added to it's allure, however when curiosity caught the best of us and we decided to visit I was really disappointed. The concept of Christiania was to provide for each other, which sounds good in theory, but I couldn't really respect the conditions that these people chose to live in or their attitudes towards outsiders. I like to tell myself these people were so busy caring for each other that they simply didn't have time to care about their city. The area was litter filled and lacked the 'hippiness' I was told it was filled with.

Having visited the village of Yellow Springs, Ohio many times, I think I have a fair comparison of how a self respecting hippy village looks. It's a place of pride, natural living, and even draws free concerts from Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, and other friends of resident celebrity Dave Chappelle.

I am intrigued to see if the new village, which is scheduled for completion in 2009, will have as much character as it does now.

Thanks Troy for the inspiration! Check out his blog, it's really informative, not only for Munich but many other European cities.

Another thing...if you are visiting Munich in the near future, there is a beautiful view from olympic tower B on the 15th floor. You can see the entire BMW plant, Allianze arena, olympic park, Frauenkirche, and on a good day even the Alps.

Friday, March 28, 2008

M. Sasek

I am quite fortunate because my mother-in-law is a complete bibliophile. Granted, we don't really share books because it's easiest for us to read them in our native tongues. However, I appreciate the wealth of knowledge that she is and the fact that Stefan grew up with books surrounding him (this has made him more tolerant of my ever expanding book collection).

A couple years ago I started collecting the books of Miroslav Sasek. Some of the most beautiful illustrations and sweet city portraits can be found in these wonderful children's books.

Another reason I feel such a connection to M. Sasek is because he adopted Munich as his hometown, I love thinking about him walking these very streets. I'd be very curious to know more about his life here, although not much is known other than he died in 1980 and had one son. You can read a bit more about him here.

The great news is that his 18 'This is....' books are being reproduced. While the old copies from 1959-1974 can be acquired through old library sales and book shops handling antiquities, I enjoy being able to order them and have a replica of the original without the hunt.

The down side is while it looks as though the entire collection is being reproduced, I am still waiting to hear when 'This is Munich' will hit the shelves. I have to remind myself to patient. Thank you Rizzoli for republishing these phenomenal books.

There is also a slideshow of his illustrations that is worth checking out.

Simply stunning!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

fun book ideas

I was reading bluelines, the Martha Stewart blog dedicated to her magazine 'Blueprint', which has sadly been cancelled, when I came across the blank board books sold by Romp. This is a delightful little shop in Brooklyn. (I'm beginning to think with all of these creative and great things in Brooklyn that it's calling my name).

I absolutely love the youthful quality of these adorable blank books. The possibilities are endless and inspiring. While they would be a fun and meaningful afternoon project with children or baby shower activity, I am also thinking they would be great personalized gifts with a little more sophistication.

I've most definitely not lost my love for book making, however these are inexpensive and immediate. I also think they would be great to journal in while traveling and create personalized travel guides tailored towards the lucky recipient.

This weekend we are supposed to have beautiful weather, so I'll probably hit the town and look around for some inspiration.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life is too short

When you are a lady of leisure with idle time to burn, much like myself, you often consider things that you could or should be doing. I'm not talking about the household chores, but all of the possible career paths and life choices. The things that make life interesting. The difficulty is not knowing how long we will be living here to know how much of myself to invest in these endeavours... not to mention crossing the language barrier in a foreign country.

Being in an international marriage means that at least one of us, at all times, will be the foreigner. Right now Stefan has a different kind of battle, considering he's an international business man and speaks English and German fluently (on the down side he works crazy hours, but he is passionate about his job). I, on the other hand, have plenty of interests that I would consider sinking myself into, but have other obstacles to conquer along the way - namely the German language, social system, and the political and bureaucratic games that are unique to every country. Granted, these are the same things that make me appreciate the opportunity to live in a foreign country and really challenge myself.

The unfortunate thing is that even with so much time to ponder what I want to be when I grow up, the secret is I am still quite clueless. I've had a number of jobs in my life to know things I am not interested in doing, but I am excited for the time when I am able to do something great. Sure I love being a tour guide - it's probably the best job I've had to date, but I yearn to do more.

I was thinking about this today for a variety of reasons... Spring is a time of new beginnings, Stefan and I have major life changes in the next few years, and I finally entered Geobuch - the book store located at Rosental 6. The reason I list this travel book shop is because to me it contains a wealth of possibility and experiences. The glowing globes in the windows draw me in and the collection of books inspire me.

I love life and the possibility of it. I'd probably even come back for another one if I was able to. With as many interests as I have I think I would need several more lifetimes to accomplish everything. There is one common thread that I notice with my interests- they make people happy. And here is a sampling:

Art - I love art history, archeology, architecture, art education, and museum work, which are all visual communication that people from every walk of life are able to take in. I love the link to the past and understanding how old societies did things, as well as modern works that the people of today will be remembered for. Let's hope it's not another strip mall! All people are creative and I think it's really essential to have some form of a creative outlet. Hence my need to take zillions of photos and make arty things as shown to the left.

Travel bookshop owner / writer- While I'm nearly finished with my second self published children's book, I would like to write a real book. If I lived in a city long enough I also think it would be great to have a shop like Geobuch or Globe Corner Books. Did you notice the graffiti monkey?

Florist - my grandparents owned a massive greenhouse before I was born and I wish someone in the family would have taken over it. Being surrounded by color and beauty all day sounds like an alright life to me. Especially if I could make visually stunning arrangements.

Non-profit work - I'd love to do any kind of work that helps people for the greater good. Perhaps that is due to my benevolent side.

Letterpress stationer - sure it may be an archaic title and job, but for me it's deeper than that. I appreciate hand written correspondence and the personal nature of it, as well as the tactile quality. I never met someone that didn't love getting mail - so why not make it high quality mail? Having the space and finding a Vandercook press is another obstacle.

Pastry chef - while I don't want baker's hours, I love beautifully made desserts that are elegant and delicious. People always love cakes and cookies. I'm also a big fan of various interesting chocolates, like those at Vosges.

I definitely have an interesting adventure ahead of me and I'm enjoying life as it happens.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Moving on

It looks like Stefan and I will soon begin the search for a more grown up apartment. I already have the letterpress 'we've moved' cards ready... now is the task of finding the perfect place, or at least perfect for now place.

I think back to being unsure of just where we would live and how I was delighted to see an urban apartment in Berlin that was in an old chocolate factory... unfortunately we were never able to call that home. I'm surprised we've been in this apartment for so long!

I love our location in Munich - we are close to the S-Bahn and U-Bahn and quite central. While deep down I covet some kind of hip pre-fab style or renovated home, with loads of space for letterpress printing or doing creative things, I am certain we will be doing the apartment thing for some time.

We really love living in the city, whether it is Munich or elsewhere. I think that's been a crucial aspect for me to enjoy living in Germany and being able to feel comfortable navigating the city and having more options for things to do. It definitely helps to be independent and not feel obligated to drive on the autobahn.

Decorating is something that excites me. I'm not certain that we'll be able to do tons of painting since Germans prefer white walls and we'll be renting, but I'm sure that I'll be able to find creative ways to add color.

Ideally we'd like an apartment that is modern, or an 'alt bau' (old building) with an elevator and loads of light. I've been collecting photos of things that I'd love to have at some point in my life. Dwell has tons of drool worthy images. My favorite is the house above in Brooklyn. And this one in Dayton, Ohio.

Moving is an interesting process in Germany. You don't simply find a place that you like and tell the realtor to take it off the market. I've heard horror stories of people saying things like 'I'm not certain if our furniture will fit' or 'I wish the living room was a tad bigger' and then they have disqualified themselves. This is a serious process. I'm hoping since we want something just slightly bigger than what we now have that there will be more options.

So this summer we'll be packing up and finding a new place to call home - how exciting and daunting. I remember helping our friends Dirk + Constanze move into their four storey walkup last year. I'd prefer to not repeat that nightmare. I'll try to focus on the positive aspects during this new chapter of our lives and all of the decorating possibilites.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Eiffel Tower

My aunt sent me some information about the updating the Eiffel Tower will undergo next year to celebrate it's 120 years of existence. The third floor will have an extended viewing deck created by Serero Architects. I'm not sure what to think about the inner galactic appearance. However, this is only a temporary thing.

Last time we visited, we didn't go all the way to the top, so perhaps we will when the viewing deck is finished. Fortunately the TGV now travels between Munich and Paris and takes roughly 6 hours, so I can see more weekend trips to Paris in our future. Train tickets are extremely affordable and start at 29€ - that coupled with an overnight train sound like the perfect way to spend a weekend... who knew Pylones and Dalloyau were so close! - This could be dangerous.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter everywhere

Easter is a very commercial holiday in Europe. It's really quite amazing how Americans get mocked for their lighted houses and kitschy Christmas decorations, because Easter, while lacking the lights, is just as commercial here. I realize I live in Bavaria, which is hugely Catholic, but may of my ex-pat counterparts in other countries have also commented on this phenomenon. From the perspective of friends in the Netherlands click here.

Europe has Easter decor that America hasn't thought to market yet. Every home that I have visited since I have been back has had an egg tree. Yesterday on the news I saw a man dressed as the Easter bunny, his house was decked out and included a plush rabbit that laid colored eggs. Stefan was also given a colored egg from the grocery that had their name printed onto the side. Fortunately in addition to the decorations and family get togethers there are also a few extra days off to appreciate time with loved ones - or at least the loved ones that are on the same side of the ocean.

Something else that I've been reminded of lately is the very German use of mint green and a peachy orange. Not only in the Easter decor, but the restaurant used these colors on their walls, and our company apartment in Frankfurt also had the orange color. I notice more people use of warm tones while decorating here. I've seen many country kitchens in America, but never the use of orange or mint green.

Enjoy Easter however you celebrate!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Oma's 85th geburtstag

Last night was an evening of knödels and cards with Uli (my brother in law) and his girlfriend Verena. They even cooked dinner for us, which was sweet.

Today we all drove to Passau / Vilshofen early in the morning to celebrate Oma's birthday. She turned 85 yesterday. I adore Oma and really wish that we saw her more often. She always brings a smile to my face and has words of wisdom that can only come from someone her age. Today she made me laugh when I told her my German is getting better but I am still slowly learning and she said, 'You can't cut a tree with one whack.' Between her Niederbayern accent and my attempts at German it still never fails that I leave her house sad to go. Despite our differences in language I can tell what a strong woman she is.

Oma is always genuine, caring, and all around happy. Her husband was a POW shortly after she was married and he was sent to Nebraska and Kansas. I can't imagine what they went through, but they said the Americans treated him well and he went to work on a farm. From the first time she warmly welcomed me into the family and even surprised me at Christmas with a beautiful angel candle holder.

Something I will never quite understand about German birthday celebrations is that the person celebrating their birthday pays for it. They pay for their own drinks or meal and everyone else's that they invited along. I hate having Oma pay for us, but I'm always told 'that's the way it is.' I was happy to see how many bouquets of flowers and other gifts she received because she is very humble.

For her birthday lunch we arrived at the home of Ulrike + Stefan Schmid, a sommelier and a chef. I wasn't sure what to expect. It turns out this family has started their own restaurant called the Schwarzbauer Stub'n. It's very quaint and beyond delicious. Most everyone ordered the 'Menu' which consisted of a goose liver pate (Stefan ate mine), a salad with butterfly shrimp and raspberries, bärlauch soup, a passion fruit sorbet with a cappuccino foam, the entreé -mine was fish, and for dessert we had Bavarian cream and stawberries with ice cream that was rolled in pistachio... and then there were four cakes to celebrate the birthday. The food was one of the best meals I've had in recent times and was very reasonably priced. It would have easily costed triple if we had something similar in Munich.

I tried to resist taking loads of photos, but when dessert came around I couldn't help myself. The presentation of everything was excellent and the taste was equally great.

While in the area, we stopped to visit Stefan's newly married cousin Andi and his wife Steffi. Despite getting married last December, they are having their church wedding this summer and I am anxiously awaiting my first German wedding.

During our visit we had a red berry sparkling wine drink they had made with their 'Vorwerk Thermomix' (sort of a food processor and blender that also cooks). Evidently this is the new rage in Germany and I am the last one to know about it. It's pretty much like a Tupperwear thing, where you can only buy it through 'parties' or door to door style sales (Stefan says Vorwerk was originally a vacuum company). The Thermomix slices, dices, and cooks your food - for the low price of 1,000€. However, everyone that has one raves about it, or so I hear. The cookbook that is sold with it apparently makes everyone a chef. I doubt it can compete with the Schwarzbauer Stub'n though!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

pretty little things

As soon as spring was around the corner we are now having flurries. Germany likes to do that... Last year, I remember one huge snow after a barren winter, and it looks like history will repeat itself. We may not have had a white Christmas, but we'll have a white Easter.

Stefan went to the flower shop this morning to get his grandma some flowers for her birthday and he picked up some beautiful purple tulips for me. That's a great thing to wake up to!

Another thing I can't wait to add to my collection is a beautiful yellow Cherbourg coat that I just bought from the obvious - J.crew (my favorite). I had seen this coat online at Oh Happy Day! and thought it was adorable... and now I'm the proud owner of it.

Although I am very simple - I rarely wear makeup and my only hair product is shampoo, I have what could be called an accessory addiction. I love simple things that have some pizzazz... silk scarves, classic hand bags, bright shoes, and elegant coats. I will probably be the old lady in the bright clothes one day. What can I say - the pretty little things make me happy!

I have this problem where I see things that I love and then envision where I see myself using it. On occasion it crosses my mind that something would look great as I float down a river on a boat in Thailand. I know it probably sounds crazy and I fully admit that, because I don't even have a trip planned to Thailand. However, I do have several dresses that would fit the occasion. Dresses are another weakness of mine. They are my spring and summer staple since they are effortless and cute.

So as the snow falls I will consider all of the great places I can wear my new jacket (I think the Spanish steps in Rome would be fitting). I will be enjoying an afternoon in, appreciating my tulips even more while I work on my photos and DVD slide shows. There are so many beautiful photos from all of our day trips and I can't wait to add them to our collection.

Here's a quick sample that will be added to the circle art I made above. I love it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Lately I am loving to do little creative projects. Last night I made a DVD for my parents, so they could take it to my Grandma's house and show her photos from their visit. I was happy that I can put descriptions directly on the photo, so they'll know what each sight is. Then I got to thinking about the book on CD (it ended up being a DVD because it was so big) that I made for my friend Ryan with my digital voice recorder. I have a new found respect for recorded book readers, even if they have studios to edit things.

If I have the patience I may try to do something to combine the two. The possibilities are endless and make great little surprises to find in the mail.

Arty globe

Back to my obsession with travel and cartography are these beautiful images by an architect artist named Hartwig Braun. This is one highly skilled man.

His beautiful illustrations are available at the site arty globe in a variety of cities including Paris, New York, London, Berlin, and Cardiff.

It looks like I'll have another weakness to consider - these are stunning and very affordable. I think they would make a sophisticated yet playful children's room decor.


Today I had a ticket home that didn't get used. It's sort of strange for me to think about. I've officially moved. Not only that - I had to say goodbye to my parents.

Before, my life revolved around trips home since I had been buying round trip tickets out of the US. There is a subtle sadness to not knowing when I will be back, but I am not going to dwell on that. As of now we've been fortunate enough to make it back a couple times a year for weeks or even a month or more.

There's a definite sense of quiet here that seems really foreign to me and I'm already missing my parents a great deal. I look at the mementos left behind and it feels like they have been gone so long. Sure we have spent months apart, and I know we all experience these feelings when we must part, but it always seems to be harder on the person that is left behind. Little details remind me of the great times we had, while I know they will arrive home late tonight and be greeted by a happy dog and smiling faces. As much as I hate saying it, I'm usually the one leaving. Now I know what the grief feels like.

What's worse is knowing that my parents are wanting to gouge their eyes out by now as they endure their 10 hour flight to Chicago. Having them visit has really been a special time that I will always cherish.

I was thinking of them and our flight here since we flew together. I remembered a great plane window photo I took above New York City.

Thanks for everything Mom + Dad! You are undoubtedly the most selfless and generous people. I ♥ you!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

trying something new

Thankfully my parent's last day was without rain. It was still chilly due to the strong winds, but that didn't stop us. We decided to go back to the Englischer Garten and then to walk through town. We saw many dogs playing and people enjoying the last bits of sun before our snowy weekend begins.

We walked through the park and then around the University area. I wanted to show my parents the unique monument to the 'Weiße Rose' in front of the Ludwig-Maximilian-University, as well as the wall to remember, which has pockmarks from the bombing during WWII.

I had read about Sarcletti's ice cream in various Munich books, and then Stefan's mom reminded me of it when we saw her on Saturday. Surprisingly I had never been there. I decided that would be something new to all of us. She said last year the big flavor was garlic... yes, garlic ice cream. I love how adventurous the ice cream shops are here, so we made it a bit of a mission to check it out.

After a lot of walking and a few metro stops we arrived for some ice cream. My Dad had a scoop of pine nut carmel and coconut, I had cheese cake and mango, and my mom had latte macchiato and indian chai. They were all quite good, however I am still partial to Schuhbeck's. I must say there is a really beautiful flower shop right by Sarcletti's. You can also admire my cute new scarf - thanks for making me get it Mom!

I was delighted to stumble upon a little shop in Schwabing that had fun gifts. I am surprised I haven't seen it before. I was able to find Stefan a gift for Easter, a German Chinese picture dictionary similar to the English German one we have. I also found Munich city cards, which are tiny business sized maps with information on the back, including restaurants in the area, public transport maps, and other cultural information. I always love maps!

They also now have a German Turkish picture dictionary that some of my old classmates (and perhaps new) would greatly appreciate. I'm a big fan of these dictionaries - you can learn the language and worst case scenario point to the picture. It looks like Stefan is going to be heading back to China, so maybe he'll be able to brush up on his Chinese while he's at it.

We had a laid back evening and enjoyed our chocolates from Stancsics. They have a wide array including mango, saffran, champagne, green tea, orange, coffee, and salted carmel. We did eat real food too, but as always - there is so much to do and so little time, which is why it seems we are overindulging. Besides - what sane person ever says no to ice cream and chocolates?