France roadtrip: a vineyard wedding, seaside relaxation & the city that is always a good idea

June 28, 2013

We are finally booked for France! Between being frugal to save for Berlin and fretting about not having a proper holiday in forever, we took until the very last minute to decide that this was one trip we could not pass up (no matter how it may push back our Berlin move date). I mean, a two days of parties to celebrate our friends' wedding on their vineyard just outside Bordeaux, some much-needed relaxation time on the coast (seriously, this California girl is having major summertime withdrawals not being close to an ocean anymore) and of course, a conveniently located few days in the middle because, really, Paris is always a good idea, n'est-ce pas? How could we say no?

So I'm counting down the days (11, to be exact) I have to pack a fabulous French wardrobe full of wedding-worthy dresses, seaside stripes and fashion-forward pieces appropriate for every city on our itinerary, not to mention scope out some great places to eat along the way.  I'm just thankful I don't have to restrict my baggage - the back of our car will fit a lot of shoes!

Time for some new glasses!

June 26, 2013

If you can believe it, this blind-as-a-bat daily glasses-wearer has gone three years without getting her eyes checked! Mostly because I love all my frames so much (yes, I have, ahem, five pairs) and resisted having to change them, I gave in to take advantage of a coupon to a local shop for a free box of contacts for summer. So with my new Rx in my hot little hands, I am finally ready for something fresh and new!

Seeing that Warby Parker frames are so affordable and its selection is so extensive - not to mention that the quality and customer service is stellar -  it's hard to pick just one (or two, or three..) new frames. The only downside: they are only in the US, so clearly I cannot take part in the awesome home try-on program. So I just have to go with what I know works for my face and hope for the best. I think I've narrowed it down to the ones below... What do you think?

big & bold:  crosby // duckworth // preston

sleek & classic:  sims // ainsworth  // arthur 

Now if only Warby Parker would start selling in Europe... (hint, hint, guys!)

photos of me by Christie Dietz 

Happy first day of summer!

June 21, 2013

First day of summer

This week, we got a sneak preview of summer with sudden temperatures of the 'threatening to melt' variety and when I was not in a state of heat-induced delirium, I was actually reveling in the sun on my bare skin and the need to finally break out my sunnies (Germany is notoriously overcast, and this from an SF bay native). It almost made me feel like I was a California girl again. Almost.  

Happy first day of summer everyone! Here's to more fun, sun and some seasonally-appropriate holidays. I don't know about you, but the beach is calling to me...

blanket / necklace / hat / eyeglasses / round sunnies / square sunnies / bag / margarita / sneaks / shorts / tee

A few Friday things

June 14, 2013

While it is finally starting to warm up here like proper June weather, the threat of rain and thunderstorms is always looming overhead, usually just as I am about to put on some cute suede sandals and am forced to throw on water-worthy sneaks instead. It's no wonder my day-to-day footwear is not representative of my extensive shoe collection!

Here are a few things on my radar this week:

Jimmy Kimmel is just killing it with these (and another).

This also made me laugh this week.

Wise words on enjoying the good things you have...

... and this is the ultimate good thing I know I would enjoy for a lifetime (countdown to my birthday has undoubtedly begun).

Daydreaming about going here next month.

Been on a crafty streak ever since I took this on. Think these jeans might be my next DIY.

While its customer service has been a bit shoddy, I still can't get enough of semi-new European brand & Other Stories - especially its gorgeous collab with Alyson Fox and the fact that it's currently having its first sale ever.

Happy Friday and a wonderful weekend to all!

Das Wilhelmstraßenfest

June 13, 2013

The annual Wiesbaden Wilhelmstraßenfest marks an important anniversary for us: three years since making our very first friends in Germany. With our life-long friends and relations half a world away, they have become a kind of family to us, sharing Thanksgivings, Christmases, New Years and all kinds of significant celebrations with us. It is bittersweet this year, as it is likely the last time we will enjoy this festival with the people who have really made Wiesbaden felt like home.

So I wish a very happy anniversary of friendship to those we have now known for three years, those we met at the 2011 Wilhelmstraßenfest and all the friends we have made in between. I am so thankful for everything that they have brought to our lives and will miss them terribly once we head to Berlin. The expat life is never an easy one, but the fulfillment we have gotten from knowing such great people has made all the hardships worth it.

Here's to our final fest season in Wiesbaden - bring on more Erdbeerbowle!

Music Monday: Brian Williams raps Snoop Dogg

June 10, 2013

You're welcome.

Apartment Wishlist: Location, location, location

June 07, 2013

There is nothing truer than the three most important aspects of real estate: location, location, location. When we were in Berlin last week on our first apartment viewings, we realized that there was still so much we had yet to discover, both about neighborhoods we liked and neighborhoods we had yet to discover. With so many sub-neighborhoods within the larger ones (for those who aren't familiar, this city is massive - take the train for an hour... and you're still in Berlin), it's becoming increasingly clear that we have to love the streets around our apartment, perhaps even more so than the larger neighborhood itself. It's all well and good to live in an attractive building or a desirable neighborhood, but if the nearest good coffee requires a trip on the U-Bahn and walking anywhere for dinner calls for a map and hiking boots, then I have to wonder what is the point of city living.

Our first apartment viewing was tucked in the cutest little neighborhood, with stunningly detailed architecture, stone streets and tons of shops, restaurants and trees. Then we got to the apartment. While equally beautiful and well-maintained as everything around it, the space itself was difficult, to say the least. The rooms were broken up in such a way that wasn't meant for modern furnishings - i.e. the bedroom door would not actually open with anything more than a twin size bed in it. Additionally, the balcony we thought we saw in the photos was merely a gate across a floor-length window and the constant sounds of a kindergarten beneath the windows was less than ideal for two people who work from home.

The next apartment was just the opposite. The interior of the apartment was perfect: the layout, the two bathrooms, the two balconies, spacious bedroom and living room. Then we spent time walking around the neighborhood. Between the major traffic just on the other side of the building, the boring, suburban-type complexes that stretched for several blocks and the fact that the closest street of shops and cafes was not only rather far away, but offered little beyond random businesses and unappetizing looking food, we realized that we would be mostly apartment-bound way out there.

While we initially felt a little discouraged after striking out, our spirits were lifted when we were introduced a neighborhood we had seen next to none of - Charlottenburg - by a new Berlin friend whose admiration for her part of town definitely rubbed off on us. We didn't get to see as much of Charlottenburg as we would have liked, but it was enough to add it to our apartment searches. In addition to having good coffee shops in the neighborhood, I would also have someone to enjoy a cup with every once in a while.

Thankfully, we have plenty of time to dedicate to finding just the right place, which hopefully means we can find that balance between the perfect apartment and the perfect neighborhood. There's only so much we can do when looking at apartments online and not being able to see the surrounding area until we plan our next trip. If anyone in Berlin has a heads-up on something fantastic (2-3 rooms, preferably Prenzlauer Berg or Charlottenburg, preferably Altbau) opening up in early autumn, please let me know. Any other moving or Berlin apartment tips are also much appreciated!

Here is a look at some of neighborhood exploration this last trip:


Prenzlauer Berg

Prenzlauer Berg, suburban edition


Please forgive my decreased blogging lately. In addition to the apartment search, I have also been working furiously on my new blog (which I hope to launch next month) and massively purging and organizing our way-to-many belongings in preparation to downsize - not to mention the new furniture project I picked up on the corner the other day.

More good stuff to come, I promise!