Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

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Open wide the gates of your souls
We haven't come here to ask for anything, we've come here to give.

These pristine flowers are real and true
Just like The Good News that we bring to you.
White, pristine white flowers, real and true,
White, pristine white apple flowers.

From beyond the mountains of Life and Illusion
We harvested last night these apple flowers.
We got them from those mountains where the apple trees
Bear golden fruit forever and ever.

These pristine flowers are real and true
Just like The Good News that we bring to you.
White, pristine white flowers, real and true,
White, pristine white apple flowers.

The flowers that we harvested last night
Will make seeds in the fields of your souls
And they'll grow golden apples, of which
All the carolers have been dreaming of, for centuries.

These pristine flowers are real and true
Just like The Good News that we bring to you.
White, pristine white flowers, real and true,
White, pristine white apple flowers.

Dear friends, this is my way of wishing you for Christmas more than I can say with words. I've translated above the most beautiful lyrics I know from a Romanian carol. In the communist regime, it was illegal to sing a Christian song, and all the lyrics had to be in disguise. My extraordinary school teacher Mrs. Barzu taught us this song when we were just 7 year old. The recording is from a folk show, with two beautiful voices accompanied by a cello and a guitar.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The First Snow

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This post is especially made for my friend Janne from Skjerstad, who wanted to know what the snow in Romania looks like :) Dear Janne, I know you've got as much snow as you want in Norway, but in here there have been winters when we didn't get much of it! We had our first snow almost three weeks ago - and we still do, because it hasn't stopped snowing since! I took the above picture right from my balcony at home.

This picture was also taken from my balcony. My windows face a city square populated by thousands of pigeons. We've got a family of pigeons nesting near the kitchen window, so the kitties have a blast each day stalking them. In the square, even if it's snowing non-stop, people come and feed crumbs to the birds, because we must all survive the cold winter.

On my way to work, I have to pass through two lovely little parks. The benches are buried in snow and so are the trees, the alleys, the lamp posts and even the statues. It looks very pretty even if some may say it's not really organised. We even have a national joke, because every winter we hear on the news that the local authorities were taken "completely by surprise" by the snow :)))

This is George Enescu, perhaps the most famous Romanian composer (and a great violin player, who taught Yehudi Menuhin among many others). He carries the burden of a white ghost on his head and shoulders. I just love what snow does to statues, the way it wraps them in white layers of unexpected shapes. And the last picture is the view from my balcony at night :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter Creatures

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The winter creatures came from the cold forest to live on my kitchen wall. In here it is warm and cozy, they might even find food, salt and water to survive the winter. Some of these creatures might miss the winter birds from the forest, but there is a nest of pigeons right next to the kitchen window, so they are in good company. 

The brown bear has an old sweater with geometrical patterns - perfect for the cold weather. We kept expecting him to fall asleep, because the bears hibernate in winter time, don't they? Only this one is too busy, guarding the sleep of a tiny girl in its paws. I found the prints at a fair then googled them: kissing foxes - Belly Rubs & Fox Cubs by Inaluxe; Pink circles by Elisabeth Hellman; Mister Fox by Native Vermont; Alphabet E by Paul Thurlby; Mr. Bear by Christine Pym. 

A little word about that rugged wall you keep seeing in my kitchen photos: it isn't a wallpaper! Nor a backsplash! Nor tiles! It is pure archaeology, so here is the story. When I first moved into the apartment, this is where the heating system used to be. It broke at some point and I had to buy another one (and moved the new one on another wall, for a better layout of the counters). When I removed the old heating system, this is what we found behind it: the original paint job of the house from 1983. Yes, ladies, that is paint and the dotted pattern was made with a brush and white paint :))

This is the larger picture, where you can see the kitchen counter, the archaeological spot on the wall, the burner, the new heating system on the right and the spice jars above. Also my cat Anais, whom you already know a little too well, would not move from the window and I didn't have the time to take other photos (we have very little sunshine, because it's been snowing every day for the past two weeks).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Goodbye, Eloise!

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If you're wondering who the **** is Eloise, here she is: the blue pocket-size handmade journal on the right. She was our first order (first ever!) on our Etsy shop L'Ateliera and by the time you're reading this, she has probably already arrived in Alaska, to our first customer! This is a great occasion to post some pics of Eloise and her sisters, still available online: Miss Punk and Fiestalita.

We like to make things in a series, because this way you can see their common traits and their differences as well. All three journals are special, their covers express their personalities, as well as the colored inner cover and even the colored thread. And here it is Eloise, wrapped in brown paper and ready to fly to Alaska!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Red And White

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Lets look at some more red and white pics from around the house, to get into the Christmas spirit. First, the reindeer coasters, a gift from my mom when she went to Sweden. You can also notice my slippers in retro colors :)

A paper lantern suspended in my study. The bicycles and the sakura are just wrong for the cold season, but the colors aren't.

Red and white stripes make a longing pillow for my cat Anais.

Red and white lamps in the bedroom, against the purple wall for a smashing effect.

Red and white fabrics waiting in vane to be sewn. And a bunch of yellow, just for fun.

And the red lamp again, next to a little pine cone on the Christmas credenza.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Small White Christmas Tree

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My Christmas tree is white and small, about 40 cm tall. I never decorate with big ornaments, because it would look too heavy for its delicate branches. Instead, I always choose little ornaments and I put the tree somewhere safe, so that the cats won't choke on the little toys. I love tiny Christmas toys, they are so much better than the usual shiny stuff you can buy in the supermarket!

This year I went with all natural ornaments. Some of them are simply made of straw and bound with a festive red thread. I got them in Germany ages ago, but I still love them. So there you have it: straw angels, snowflakes, little wreaths and even straw hearts for my humble tree. Last year I think I saw something similar on the Ikea website, but never got there to complete my collection.

The straw ornaments were not enough, so I also chose a collection of tiny figurines made of wood and painted red. This is a Spanish collection, entirely handmade! It's got everything, from angels playing the little drum or the clarinet, to Santa riding on ski, an angel riding on a red sledge, another one riding on the tiny toy horse and also a little guy hiding in a red wooden star!

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Little Mess

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I've made a little mess because of the Christmas preparations. Traditionally, in all the homes in Romania, we have a big, big cleaning of the household before Christmas (and another big, big one before Easter). I don't have to clean too much because I have a weekly cleaning routine. Still, it's the time to rotate some furnishings and to bring up new decorations - and that's why everything is upside down.

Like I already said, the kitchen gets a red-and-white makeover. I'm working on the shelf display.

I need more storage in my happy entryway, hence the new shoe storage units that need fixing on the wall.

And my cats are rearranging the rug every day for a deconstructionism manifesto.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

In The Mood For Christmas

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No matter what happens with the rest of the house, there are three things that are always ready for Christmas: there is a big stocking on the entrance door full of candy for the door-to-door carol singers, there is a Christmas tree less or more decorates and there is a red theme going on in the kitchen. So the red and white mugs and glasses are out in the open, setting the mood on the kitchen counter.

A little word about the door-to-door singers: this is an ancient Romanian tradition, perpetuated even today. Anyone can ring your doorbell on Christmas eve with the intention of singing some carols for the people inside. It can be close friends, relatives, little children or complete strangers. Even in my block of flats, I always get some Carol singers at the door and that's why I keep a stash of candy by the entrance door :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

DIY Christmas Ornament

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This is my first year in blogging and the second swap already! First, I participated in the Pumpkin Swap organized by Laura from Vivere a piedi nudi / Living Barefoot and Anna from Tulimami - you can check out the beautifully unconventional pumpkin that Anna made for me here. And now it's time to show you the ornament I've made for Stephanie from Toastie Studio, participating in the Ornament Swap organized by Tutus and Tea Parties.  

Stephanie told me that she had big plans for her little Christmas tree. She even showed me her Pinterest board on the subject: her theme was elegantly turquoise / peacock. I made my DIY Christmas ornament late one night so there are no how-to pictures. I just bought turquoise beads, put them on a wire and twisted the wire in the shape of a Christmas tree. The ornament was looking a little dull, so I added two pink beads for a chic update. Click here to see what lovely ornaments Stephanie made for me, in my colors!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Mantel 2012

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It's not a real mantel, technically speaking, it's just a credenza. So shoot me now! Life is too short to be soaking in tears just because you've got no fireplace and no mantel. So I thought I should try a little Christmas arrangement anyway. A shelf would have been more appropriate for the display, but there isn't one shelf in the entire house :)) ...except for the ones above the sinks in the kitchen and in the bathroom. So all I had left was .... the Christmas credenza!

The first thing I did was to choose a color theme: classic red and white as seen before here in my little Christmas exercise. In order to respect the chosen colors and to create a clean look, I moved the books from the credenza and filled the latter with white storage units and fluffy pillows. The white cubes come from my desk area and are filled with scrapbooking supplies, so I hope my two cats won't eat the ribbons too soon (fingers crossed!).


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