vasárnap, szeptember 11, 2011

a fresh start (lamest title ever)

Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to share your opinion with strangers than with people whom you personally know? It's one of the strange effects of the digital society we're living in today, I guess. 

Facebook, twitter, blogger, tumblr, etc. all provide us a platform to create a fake/desired image of ourselves. Of course everyone wants to be liked (both in the old-fashioned sense of the word and in facebook terms) so I don't blame anyone.  It's human nature and no social networking website will ever change it.

According to Merriam-Webster 'a blog is a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks provided by the writer'.

Personal journal. I like the idea. I intend to turn this blog into one. I want to create rather than merely duplicate content. 

I want my digital self to be as close to my real self as possible. I want to take the responsibility for what I'm doing here, which gets us back to my initial thought. People who know me in real life sometimes comment on something they see on my blog stating that 'it's so not you'. And they may be right.

So from now on this blog will be 'so me'. 

Still interested?

ps. Just told my husband how hard it was to write this first post after that long hiatus. He suggested to write 'hi, everyone, I'm back'. He always makes me realize that I'm the one making my own life so complicated.

hétfő, május 02, 2011

dull vs. understated


NY Times has recently featured musician Moby's house, a rather modern and minimalist home clearly influenced by its owner's personality. At least this is what I think and this is why comments like 'soulless, boring and impersonal' made me think about simplicity once again.

Some of my most determined readers must be familiar with my journey of 'finding my real self' which caused me a lot of headache. Right now I am closer to accept that I am an understated person than I was a couple of weeks ago, but I still fear that my understatedness is perceived as being boring/dull/soulless, etc.

Just like in Moby's case. Although I am not sure if he is responsible for the décor, I think it fits him very well. (Let's not discuss the building itself now because that would be a completely different story.) The surrounding nature was successfully 'brought inside' which is all positive in my book.


There are objects in every room which I think tell a lot about the person who owns them. They may not be too 'over the top', but they add a personal touch anyway.


I also believe that creative people always have so many things going on in their head that they can find true comfort in paired-down spaces. Sometimes all you need is a guitar, right? Or a typewriter or a piece of paper and a pencil...


Clearly Moby has his own issues (read the article if you are interested) and I think a home like this can have a truly healing and soothing power on a wounded soul. It allows to breathe, to think freely and to shine through. Because this is what homes are for.

all photos by Trevor Tondro for The New York Times

péntek, április 29, 2011

easter in france no.2







next destination: strasbourg

an utterly beautiful, vivid city with a charming historic downtown and a good laid-back french atmosphere

just lovely!

csütörtök, április 28, 2011

easter in france no. 1





first destination: colmar, alsace, france

it was like a fairy-tale...
I am in love with france more than ever...

kedd, április 05, 2011

new blog love: tomboy style

Tomboy Style is an amazing, inspirational blog written by Lizzie Garrett. I promised myself not to label myself anymore, but I have to say I can totally relate to tomboy style. I never wear heels/dresses/skirts/jewelry. Like never. I always buy some of them, but they end up in the bottom drawer of my closet. Unused. And I have always had an admiration for men's style. The blog showcases examples of woman from Audrey Hepburn to Audrey Tatou sporting great tomboy style. Actually every woman whose style I admire are included: Diane Keaton, Francoise Hardy, Emanuelle Alt, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stella McCartney or Sofia Coppola. I really enjoy the snapshots from movies (remember Meryl Streep in Out of Africa?) and the uniform ideas. But I guess what I most like about this whole tomboy thing that it suggests a lifestyle. Tomboys always seem to do great stuff, like sailing, horseriding, playing music, shooting, camping and enjoying life in general. And Lizzie says that Tomboy Style will be published as a book. I can not wait having it on my bookshelf!
tomboy style

hétfő, március 28, 2011

decorating never should be intentional

Decorating never should be intentional. Your home should change as you change. Let it evolve and transform slowly and carefully. Add things you like one-by-one and your home will start reflecting your SELF. Never force anything. Allow only things into your home that come to you naturally. That you feel comfortable with. YOU are the king of your home. You can do whatever you want. Let your home be the place that nurtures YOU emotionally, physically and intellectually. all photos - via the absolutely amazing OLD CHUM - are linked to their sources

csütörtök, március 17, 2011

luxurious minimalism or something like that

As you may have noticed I have a thing for minimalism, frugalism, down-sizing, simplicity, etc. Recently I started to read blogs about people who successfully managed to simplify their life in many aspects. What I am really curious about is how to design and decorate a home that is simple and minimal, but looks warm and welcoming.
My ideal home
a) is low-maintenance
b) purpose-built
c) has a harmonious, visually pleasing decor which reflects its dwellers' personality
d) allows its dwellers to pursue all kinds of activites smoothly and comfortably
e) is welcoming and nurturing
f) has nothing that is not practical or does not have any emotional value for its dwellers
g) has a strong connection with the surrounding nature
I think this vacation home in Uruguay meets all of the above requirements.
It exists in symbiosis with nature and the architect managed to make the best use of its surrounding. Except for one guest bedroom each room has an amazing view of the ocean. The use of natural materials is a great idea to make a minimalist space look warm. In this case rough concrete walls are combined with wood surfaces and furniture. Hand-woven rugs and traditional textiles evoke a sense of simplicity. Nothing is too fancy or pretentious here (only the swimming pool, but it is a forgivable sin in my opinion) and yet the whole place looks sophisticated. This is a home that makes its dwellers calm, relaxed and happy. And that is the most a home can offer.

Horacio Paone for The New York Times

Horacio Paone for The New York Times

Horacio Paone for The New York Times

Horacio Paone for The New York Times

Horacio Paone for The New York Times

Horacio Paone for The New York Times

Horacio Paone for The New York Times

Horacio Paone for The New York Times

all photos by Horatio Paone for the New York Times are linked to their original source

szerda, március 16, 2011

simple moments to remember #1

mid-century modern reading corner

Animal Jazz Band Fountain in sunset, Tervuren, Belgium

When we were walking to the kindergarten with Daniel this morning a lovely woman stopped me. She told me how much she admired me. In that moment I felt truly shocked. For what reason could anyone admire me, I thought. It turned out that she saw me every morning walking with my son hand-in-hand and she thought that I always looked so calm and peaceful. Me? Peaceful? I have never thought about using the words 'I' and 'peaceful' in one sentence. No way. But you know what? She was right. During that ten-minute walk I am really peaceful. This is actually the best time of the day. No rush, no noise, no worries. Just a mother and a son hand-in-hand. This is our quality time. We always walk very slowly stopping often to admire snails, birds, worms. There is something very simple and old-fashioned about it. I have never thought about it before, but this is a great way to sense the changing of seasons, something that we could never do if we were going by car. It was a great reminder for me to see how truly lucky I am and how sometimes the simplest things bring the biggest pleasure.

csütörtök, március 10, 2011

more doubt


It is hard to come up with a clever and interesting new post today. I feel like I probably need some time to clear up my mind after yesterday's post. (Thank you for your kind and clever comments! I really appreciate them!)
Currently, I am trying to figure things out and to make some plans. Not necessarily about our rental, but in a broader perspective.
I desperately want to know whether our life as it is now makes any sense. Whether we really enjoy the way we are living now? Whether it is good for us as a family? Is everyone in our family really happy with our situation? Does this whole living as expats thing lead to anywhere?
This is a topic that we are discussing with my husband almost every day, but we never seem to find answers.

And then there is the question whether I need to think about this at all?

Q: What do you see yourself doing five years from now?.
A: I have no idea. I've never had a career plan and never will. I just always make sure that I'm doing something I love at the moment, and find out where it takes me. I float down river, then I wake up and say, “Oh, here I am. I've had a swell float.”
- Diane Sawyer, interviewed in US magazine, Sept., 1997

szerda, március 09, 2011

if you can't change it, make it work - honest thoughts about our rental home

This has been our mantra since we moved into our rental home 2 years ago. Before we had been living in a small moldy apartment on the 2nd floor of an old building in a Flemish town near Brussels and when our contract expired we wanted only three things: no mold, a garden and being closer to the city centre. After (at least we thought so) careful consideration we found a house that ticked all the right boxes.

And how I see it after living here for two years?

We live in a house

-that is old and only superficially renovated with the cheapest materials possible=looks cold and unloved,

-that has an old electric system=certain appliances can not be used at the same time safely,

-that has no dishwasher=and it is not possible to install one,

-that has an oddly shaped garden=it is more about maintenance than fun,

-that is not protected at all=we had a break-in during the Christmas holidays when we were away and the destroyed door is still not changed=the owner of the house is totally negligent,

-we have mold= we had to invest in a dehumidifier to keep the bedrooms dry and mold-free,

-which is owned buy a person who had cared for stray cats in the garden=even if she is not living here any more, there are always at least 5 strange cats in the garden (fed by some kind neighbours).

And I have a son and a husband who are both highly allergic to cat fur, mold and dust in general…

God, it is even worse to see these written down.

To be honest, we hate this house and it costs us a fortune because it is situated in one of the most popular districts of Brussels and it has a garden and a private garage. And we have to stay here until March 2012 or we can leave but we have to pay indemnity.

I made a lot of effort to make this house more comfortable and I wanted to make it work. We made a pretty guest room, we rearranged the living room three times, we tried to add personal touches to it, we switched bedrooms with the boys and we try to maintain the garden. But I feel that until there are serious problems with the basic living necessities like health, safety or comfort, my efforts are aimless.

I am not sure if I can make anything work as I stated in the title. And I feel really lost right now…

P.s. I know that many of you would probably say that as a tenant I have certain rights and I have to turn to the owner with my complaints. I tried it several times. But my French is not good enough and she is really hard to communicate with anyway because whenever I complain she always tells me she understands, but now she has serious medical/personal/work-related problems.

szombat, március 05, 2011

Être et avoir - To be and to have

'Deux chaises, une table, un lit, un toit, c'était tout ce qu'on avait
Vingt ans, pourtant, des rêves en grand
C'était tout ce qu'il nous fallait
Voiture, maison, c'est sûr, c'est bon
Maintenant qu'est-ce que ça cache ?
Ça nous remplit, ça nous rend pas meilleurs pour autant que je sache

Car tout ce qu'on est, pas tout ce qu'on a
Tout ce qu'on est, pas tout ce qu'on a

Plus beau, plus cher, plus riche, plus fort, voilà tout ce qu'on adore
Autant d'efforts, tous ces trésors, on en fait quoi, quand on sera mort
Que tout cet or en banque, ces armes
Ces tanks, alors que c'est d'amour que l'on manque
Et l'être humain l'est un peu moins depuis qu'il s'est fait avoir ?

Car tout ce qu'on est, pas tout ce qu'on a
Tout ce qu'on n'est pas tout ce qu'on a

Deux chaises, une table, un lit, un toit, c'était tout ce qu'on avait.
Il en faut peu pour être heureux, moi, c'est tout ce que je sais

Tout ce qu'on est, pas tout ce qu'on a
Oui, tout ce qu'on est, pas tout ce qu'on a
Tout ce qu'on est, pas tout ce qu'on a
Oui, tout ce qu'on est, pas tout ce qu'on a
Tout ce qu'on est, moi, c'est tout ce que je vois.'

Even if you do not understand French, you will understand the message. Plus it is a great song!
Basically it is about how many unnecessary thing we buy and how our stuff define who we are. On Zazie's latest album the songs are divided into 7 parts, i.e. 7 days of the week. This song 'Être et avoir' is among the Saturday songs because in France (and in Belgium) this is the day of consuming with the shops being closed on Sunday.
If you want a lame google translation click here.

Have a nice shopping-free weekend!

hétfő, február 28, 2011

capsule wardrobe for spring

As almost every year my keywords are: timeless, classic, simple. Based on these criteria I put together a capsule wardrobe for spring. Some of these pieces I have already, some I would like to buy now and some will probably remain out of budget forever :-(

1. White linen jacket - the most perfect cover up for spring.

2. A feminine blouse - I love solid colored clothes with nice details like embroideries.

3. A camp-style chambray shirt - to introduce some utilitarian chic. This one is very affordable.

4. A classic breton top - I love the moden styling of this one.

5. A vintage snakeskin bag - is destined to become a wardrobe staple. It adds the right amount of edge to any outfit.

6. A pair of chinos - the less fuss about the details the best if you ask me.

7. Cigarette pants = classic chic!

8. A nice vintage watch with leather strap - I dream about finding a vintage Hermes watch one day!

9. White brogues - are more unique than the brown or the black versions.

10. Ray-Ban wayfarers - shall I say more?

11. A classic leather belt - I seriously need to buy a good-quality leather belt.

12. A nice classic silk scarf - this is really versatile and makes you look really Parisian!

And here are some of my outfit ideas. You can wear the belt over the jacket or shirt as well as in a proper way with the top tucked in the pants. Also you can wear the scarf in your head or you can adorn your bag with it.

vasárnap, február 27, 2011

small measures

The process of making our rental friendlier and more interesting is under way. This is what I have accomplished this weekend:

I started a herb garden. (please forgive the dirty windows, shame on me) As our kitchen is the most basic thing ever with the cheapest laminate flooring+cheapest white IKEA cabinets+cheapest grey laminated worktop, these two wooden pots with the herbs in them add real warmth to this place. Some more changes are foreseen here and I hope that the herbs will survive.

herb garden beginning

I said good-bye to the ugly brown plastic pot and our (so far) one and only plant was transferred into a lovely grey terracotta planter and found a new place next to the French doors.

new pot

Recently I scored three really old almost antique school posters on e-bay and one of them is now in my sons' bedroom. I have to tell you that the other two are in much better condition and are far more interesting and attractive (one of them is the anatomy of a sheep while the other one is a photo of Reykjavik), but Marci wanted this one. And he loves it. I'm afraid that he is becoming a nerd...

kids room

I think their bedroom is looking very cheerful now, but they just do not like being here. I think the simple reason is that it is on the first floor while the living room where we usually are is on the ground floor. And they just love being around us.

So this is a rather rare moment...

daniel in his room

Notice the giant Bumblebee car on the table. That's what we bought on the flea market today. That place is filled with lovely vintage toys, but they wanted transformers...

Marci and I made this artwork. I bought him a craft book and he dyed paper towels. (Yes he has a flair for maths and art...) These are his color choices... afterwards I tried to display them tastefully with more or less success. Plus I bought a succulent!!

we made art

I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

csütörtök, február 10, 2011

a big thank you to BODIE and FOU

The lovely Karine from the gorgeous store BODIE and FOU has just informed me that I won the Living etc giveaway organized on their über-inspiring blog. Could you believe it? I have never won anything in my life! And now I will receive one of my favorite decorating magazines for a whole year!!

Thanks a milion to BODIE and FOU!!!

hétfő, január 24, 2011

weekend recap

So many thoughts, but so little time to blog. We had a quite lazy yet exhausting weekend which is perfectly possible around our home.

Lazyness involved:
-an amazing book on lofts (a surprise from my husband, thanks :-), reading blogs and drinking some wine

-kids playing with PlayStation Move which is an amazing alternative to 'just sit in front of the screen and pushing buttons' kind of games. So much fun! Here is Daniel brushing the teeth of a crocodile :-)

-this happened to my hair. Still unsure if I liked the result... maybe I will show it to you later...

-sale finds: Sessún boots from Yoox and some stripes and greys from COS and Toast

-a temporarty lighing solution for the entry...

The busy part involved going through our stuff, organizing, decluttering, recyling, giving away, selling on e-bay during which process I realized how much I hated most of our stuff. We had some BAD-BAD shopping habits before and that has to come to an END!!!
I am really busy right now, more inspiring and less bitter content coming soon!!