Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Last Rays of Sunlight

It's Mid-November already, and I only realized that now. I woke up to a dull grey day and had a hard time lifting up my own mood until I remembered the last photo shoot I did. Photographer Andy Kacze and myself went on a stroll through my old neighborhood in Berlin and captured the last bit of autumn sunshine.

Coat & Top: Zara
Jeans : New Yorker

Awesome yellow heels: 1 und 1
Scarf: Vero Moda

Dress: Who Killed Bambi
Coat: SkunkFunk
Belt and seashell bracelet: Vintage

Dress: Zara
Also, the thing that I'm holding in the second last picture is not what you think it is, but it's my attempt at rolling a cigarette for the curling smoke effect. I think it worked out quite nicely.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Frankfurt, Finally ...

So I did it! I actually moved away from my favorite city in the entire world, Berlin. Geez. I'm homesick and all, but at the same time I feel that I am just getting started on a very exciting part of my life. Great plans are being conceived as I type, most of them containing some serious party-going or party-throwing.
To me, being the pampered metropolisian that I am, Frankfurt with its tiny population of 664000 seems like a village with a dramatically small number of cool places to go out for drinks and/or dancing. My two objectives right now are to go and find the very well-hidden "underground" scene and to grace this town with an all-new attraction straight from the capital. In order to do the latter I need to know the prospective audience, so I will indulge in Frankfurt's nightlife for research reasons only. Hehe. Right...

The last month I spent finding a new job and moving houses and generally figuring out where's what in this city. Now I'm ready for action again and I can't wait to get going with the aforementioned spectacular party I'm planning - so stay tuned because the O.R.B is where you'll find the news first!

Friday, September 11, 2009

More Drama in Belle's House

My boiler broke and spilled its murky watery guts all over my bathroom. As long as I have plumbers and construction workers and electricians here, I honestly can't be bothered to blog.

I have a question for you though:

I signed my insurance contract literally the day before the boiler broke down - is that good or bad karma in action?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Somewhat Ghetto, But Very Useful

Tadaaa !!!
This is the ultimate summer accesoire for your balcony: a table that costs you nothing (you actually get a refund for the crates) it's light and sturdy and, okay, tiny ... ;)

In desperate need for a table I came up with this little piece of sleek design. These beer crates also served as table legs when we had our little barbecue. It's not pretty but much better than buying a tiny table for 50+ bucks!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cash Jar Update

Whenever I want/need to save some serious money, this is how I do it: I open a second bank account of which I don't ever have the creditcard on me. I only have one card in my wallet, and that belongs to the account on which my "regular" money sits. Whenever I feel that I have some extra dough on my regular accout, you know, money that I don't need desperately to survive this month, I transfer it to the savings account. The money on that account is untouchable to me, so sometimes I actually forget I still have it at all. That's a good thing, because I just know that I'd spend it straight away if it was all too easy.

At the end of last month I had 200€ "left over". However, I have only transferred half of that money to my savings account, because moving houses and partying before ist going to be somewhat more expensive than usual. You have to be realistic about these things.

Ok, apart from that, I spontaneously decided to spend this weekend in Frankfurt - see y'all on monday and have a great weekend :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Weekly Shoe - Slightly Belated

First off, here's what The Shoeper Woman rightfully entitled shoe porn :

Giving you something to drool over as you wonder how to charm your bank manager into giving you another moderate loan of 500€ or so for the incredible Louboutin Feticha. Yes, that's right. Feticha. They're available in red and snake skin (yuk!) too, but the black ones ... *sigh*...

So this week I want to share some shoe-related linky goodness - here are the blogs I follow, more or less:

  • Sea of Shoes (as if anybody didn't know her by now...)
  • Shoe Asylum (Yes, we all are shoe addicts!)
  • A Girl's Guide to Shoes
  • Shoeminx (She's mean and she's harsh at times ... but I love people who dare to be honest and still make you laugh out loud)
  • The Shoebunny (with a huge list of links to designers and online shoe shops!)
And I adore the Shoeper Woman and all the other Midas Media blogs. But that's really not so surprising, I guess :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

An Unusual Photoshoot

Yesterday, it was time for me to find out just where exactly my comfort zone ends and awkwardness and the discomfortzone begin.

I know what you're thinking now - and you're right ;) I had a nude shoot, with the fantastic Jo Schwab. As you can imagine, I was incredibly nervous about it beforehand. What would my boyfriend think? And wouldn't it feel very very wrong to be naked around another man, even though he's a pro and has seen dozens of naked models? How would I feel about presenting my body if I can't hide any flaws under my clothes? On and on I worried, but decided to not chicken out (I considered that for a while) and go through with it.

And guess what? It was so much fun!
But don't get your hopes up, boys, the pictures are for the lion and myself to see, and nobody else ;)

Photo by Ingo Matthes

Here's a few things you may want to consider if you ever think about doing a shoot like this:

  • Talk to your significant other. If he/she has a serious problem with it, you have three options: You don't do it, and forget about it. Or you do it anyways but that shows serious disrespect for your partner. I don't recommend doing that! Or you take him/her along to the photoshoot. This could be a fun and exciting experience for both of you!

  • Find a photographer you trust. And even if you'd trust that person with your life, make a contract that specifies exactly where the pictures may be published (if at all), the financial aspect, etc. For more info on what a modelling contract should cover, check modelmayhem's forum or ask people who have experience in the business.
  • If you bring lingerie for the shoot, don't buy the cheap stuff because "it's just for one picture". You want to take pictures that you can be proud of for a long time and if your outfit is in poor taste, doesn't fit well or doesn't look good for any other reason, you are probably not going to like the picture. Make sure the details are perfect and you feel good about yourself. If that means you have to splurge and buy expensive lingerie because you feel divine in this exact outfit and nothing else, so be it. It's all for the art ;)

  • Before the shoot, practise posing in front of the mirror. That way you have an idea what a pose is going to look like and how much you show (or not). Work on your facial expression - the boomchickawaawaa lies in the eyes more than anything ;)

  • On the day of the shoot, take as much time as you need beforehand to do your hair, apply make-up and get dressed. I like to go to the hairdresser just before a shoot, so I can at least trust my hair to be perfect. You can also get your nails and make-up done by professionals - anything goes as long as you feel gorgeous and pampered by the time you meet your photographer!

  • Talk about the poses and angles that you want to shoot with your photographer. Always keep in mind that if you don't feel comfortable with something, you have to tell him and, if need be, abort the entire shoot. That's always an option!

  • DON'T drink before or during the shoot. Not even a glass of champagne because you're nervous. It's not going to do your look or posing any good. Really.

  • If you feel awkward, you can try to imagine you're in an entirely different situation... or you're somebody else. Picture yourself in a role that has nothing to do with you, because in your head, you can be anybody you like - a raunchy burlesque dancer, a naughty schoolgirl, whatever. I'm sure you can come up with more exciting things than that! :)

It took a lot of guts, but I'm happy things went really well and easy yesterday. I realize that nude shoots are not for everybody, but in my case, it was a real confidence booster!

What do you think? Maybe you have some more great advice for delicate shoots? :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Birthday Bash

Last night, the girls and I had a reason to party! My girl Fabulosita turned 24 and of course we had to go out on the town. As usual, getting all dolled up in the evening before hitting the clubs was the best part of the night!

The Birthday Princess, rocking the tiara. I still haven't figured out why she refused to wear it in public ... ;)

The bathroom was a mess by the time we were done but that's to be expected.

While getting dressed, swapping shoes (!) and applying make-up, we sipped martini and champagne. Nothing gets you in a better party-mood than sweet, bubbly drinks! I made heart-shaped cherry muffins instead of a cake, because they are lighter and easier to eat while doing something else. I felt that sitting down around a table, using knife and fork and all the rest of it would have killed our gleeful, bubbly mood.

We headed for the Bar 25 first. Of course we knew it would be packed to the max because yesterday was to be the last night it was open. The last night EVER. The Bar is legendary here, so we expected there to be a long queue. Upon arriving at about 1 a.m. we waited for a little over half an hour. Mind you, I'd never wait that long for any other club, but with the circumstances being as they were, nobody dared complain.

And then the unthinkable happened: The doorpicker refused us.
Phew. I still haven't figured out what exactly the problem was. Three girls, all dressed up to the nines and, yes, tipsy, but far from being completly drunk. I daresay the problem was on HER side, meaning the bitchy doorpicker. It's called jealousy. Meow! I was an angry cat.

I have never been refused at any club before and mark my words, it's not going to happen again. At the same time, I find it important to make an elegant exit in a situation like this so we didn't argue (that's not going to make any difference, because doorpickers would undermine their own authority if they ever changed their mind about anybody! All you're going to get for arguing at a door is pitying looks from the other people walking in past you.) So we decided to take a cab to the Cookies, our birthday child's choice.

No queue awaited us there, but the club was jam-packed with hot guys! We had finally arrived in paradise!
Or so we thought - until we realized that we'd accidentally stumbled on a gay party! :) Maybe we shoud've done some more research beforehand, but heck, we'd paid the cover and we weren't going ANYWHERE soon. Right when we arrived we saw the last little bits of a burlesque show, which honestly didn't make much sense to me.

Why would they book girls (gorgeous as they were...) on an event like this? You could tell by the looks on the other partygoers' faces that they weren't quite sure either.

We ran into Zoe Delay, Sheila Wolf and Janka Kroft, who looked spectacular as always. I believe Sheila was involved in the burlesque performances, but you would have to read up on that on her blog.

In any case, we had another round of drinks, danced a little, and had a great time... you gotta make the best out of situations, unexpected as they may be. Never allow people with a negative attitude (like that doorpicker) to drag you down.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The O.R.B Moves On !

On to Frankfurt, that is. Moving cities is a pretty big deal for me, because I feel so very at home in Berlin. I've been born here, spent my childhood here, and the better part of my "grown-up" life. I have put a lot of work into the appartment I live in right now, and it hurts to leave the place I built for myself, and only for myself.

Not to speak of friends, family ... heck, I'm sure I'll even miss my bitchy frenemies :)

But times change, and I am no longer on my own, which is a great thing too. Myself and the lion are moving in together and I am very VERY excited about that! I have even quit my job to move to Frankfurt as soon as I can. Quitting a job I've been working in for over three years was a bitch, by the way, and one of the reasons I neglected my blog so badly. I have been told that I "throw away my life for a guy" and I realize, that's probably what it would look like to a stranger. But I don't see me quitting my job in favor of a life with my man as a weakness. It's not like I'll be unemployed in Frankfurt and live off the lion's money, but quite the opposite - I'll have to work harder than ever!

I will have to be very strong to do all the things that lie ahead now: Standing up for myself at work for another month (having to work another 4 weeks after quitting can put you in the most awkward positions...) , moving houses, moving cities, do the respective paperwork, organize a HUGE good-bye-bash, get the job I want, not just any job in Frankfurt, help my brother move houses, sell my junk at the fleamarket so I don't have to carry it all the way to Hesse... oh, and did I mention I'm working full-time while I do all the above...?

So you see, I'm not running away from commitments. I just realized that I really want to commit myself to something else. I want to use my energy to turn my life into what I want it to be instead of wasting it on a somewhat tedious job. Also, all the time and energy (not to speak of the money) that myself and my boyfriend "wasted" on sustaining a long-distance-relationship we can now put into creating a life together, maybe even a future together ... but I digress :)


Here's what I really wanted to write today: The O.R.B. will be back in action from now, and I promise not to take such long breaks anymore. Unless I have a really damn good reason.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Don't go to the Party...

... let the Party come to you!

Oh yes. I know that organizing a party is a lot a work and stress. Here's how to simplify things, have almost zero preparations and actually enjoy your own party :)

First of all, think about one thing: how well do you know your neighbors? Well? Not at all? Never even seen them? As far as I was concerned, I didn't know my neighbors well enough - after 2 (two!) years of living in this house, I couldn't even tell if that person I met on the stairs actually lived here or was just a visitor. I wanted to change that situation, and have a party in the little garden I share with my neighbors.
The preparation was so simple, I was amazed it never occurred to me before: All I had to do was hang a poster next to the house door, suggesting a barbecue on a certain date. I attached a pen to the poster so people could comment on the idea and lo and behold - everybody seemed to love it!

I hung it on a glass door, so the pretty backside of the poster was visible too. You gotta know how to attract attention, and a picture of a beautiful woman ALWAYS seems to help :)

On the actual day of our barbecue, all I had to do was set up the grill, a table and chairs. I also made two salads, brought some baguettes and dips. The lion insisted on making burgers and ribs, ah well, I suppose that's what you do on a barbecue - I didn't eat any of that, being a vegetarian and all ... ;)

Then, with only minutes to go til the party was supposed to get started, I had a major panic attac, including the obligatory whining that "nobody's going to show up and I just made such a fool of myself, what a stupid idea to begin with, boo-hoo!" ... you get the picture. Not to worry though, I get a minute of doubt like this before EVERY party I organize.

But of course, my neighbors did turn up. We actually had to set up another table and bring more plates and glasses, because so many of them came! They all brought a little bit of food or drink, so everybody was well fed and watered. The kids played soccer and the babies got to play in the sand, while the grown-ups finally got to know each other. Two guys realized that they had made friends years ago on a camping trip, then lost touch, and have now been living in the same building for three years without ever noticing each other!

I'm not the best of photographers, can you tell?

I was very lucky that one of the guys is a event technician and had all sorts of fancy lights and music equipment, and one girl decorated the garden with a lovely garland! There was one very sweet older couple, too, who brought some amazing wine and lit up the place with flowers and candles!

The guys are giving the camera their smartest looks.

In the end, everybody did a little bit of the work, so organizing the party didn't feel like much of a hassle at all. Try it, you might be amazed by the great people living so close to you! Me and my neighbors partied till 3 in the morning ...

By the way, we decided to install a blackboard in the hallway so we can stay in touch more easily. And all that it took was a simple handwritten poster to get all of that started! Yay!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Free Dinner @Traube, Berlin

Yesterday, one of my good friends surprised me with a visit at work, and asked me to come and visit him at his workplace in return. Hm, what a strange request, I thought, but not to worry, I'd be there right after I'd finished my shift.

When I turned up at the Traube in the evening, I was in awe - it is a wonderfully luxurious, very chic place where you run into the rich and important ones - mostly politicians and bankers, but apparently people like Bob Geldof eat there, too. Or so I was told by the Maître. Anyways, as soon as I arrived, I was led to my table under the tree in the yard and brought a glass of lovely crémant rosé. Wow. A few minutes later, my friend came out of the kitchen - he had arranged for me to get the VIP-treatment. That included a waitress hovering in the background, waiting to refill my glass or take care of any other wish I might have. You won't believe how silly and important you feel (at the same time) when you stumble into that kind of situation unprepared, like me. I enjoyed every second of it, though :)

I especially enjoyed the dinner I was served by the Chef de Cuisine personally (!). He sat down with me (!!) and told me that he is very new to the restaurant and ever since he started to run the kitchen, he raised the standards of food and drinks steadily. I can only say that the food must have been superb even before he started, and was stunningly delicious yesterday. In fact, it was so good that I had to stop talking because I wanted to concentrate on the party in my tastebuds. That's great praise, believe me.

Now, two facts that make this great evening at the Traube worth a mention on the O.R.B.
  • The prices are just as mindboggling as the cuisine, so if you're on a tight budget but don't want to miss out: Go there for lunch, the "Business Lunch" is great at only 9,90€. That's still expensive by Berlin standards, but heck, it's worth it.
  • This sort of surprise is one good reason to ALWAYS look your best. I didn't expect to spend the evening with the rich and famous, but if I may say so, I was dressed impeccably anyways. A bright blue silk wrap dress and matching heels suited the occasion nicely - but I would have felt terribly out-of-place in worn-out jeans and a t-shirt. So make sure you're prepared for any surprise - by looking your best at all times.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Weekly Shoe: The Pimped-Out Pumps

I promised I'd show you my precious new pumps, and finally, here they are:

The actual shoes I bought for circa 17€ at my local Turkish market (I get a discount for being a regular customer and I don't care if that's cheap! :) ) . Then I invested in 4€ worth of sequins and a 1,50€ container of glittery little beads. They are pale pink with an incredible gold and light blue sheen, depending on the light. The octopuses were 75 c each at the local toy store, and the gold paint is still the same that I used for the brooch and the animals on the jam jars.
Now all you need is a few hours of time, thread, a needle and a thimble.

If you want to recreate a look like this, here's what you do:
  • Buy pumps with open toes! Peep-toes are a LOT easier to work with! Trust me.
  • Paint the animals in question, and let them dry. Set with a layer of clear paint.
  • Put on the shoe, and try out where you want to put the octopus (or whatever else you may want to sit on your shoes), making sure they aren't uncomfy when worn. Glue in place, and take off the shoes again.
  • Then secure the decoration with a matching thread.
  • Start applying the sequins and beads around the center. This is the hardest part, so if you start here, you're done with it all the sooner :)
  • Make small stitches, one per sequin/bead. Be careful not to tangle the thread - it's a nuisance to untie a knot inside a shoe !!!
  • When finished with one length of thread, tie the knot on the outside of the shoe and hide it under the next sequin you apply. That's much easier than making a knot inside a shoe.
  • First finish ONE shoe to perfection. Having a prototype that you can copy is easier than starting from scatch - you'll know what I mean by that once you're there :)
  • Just for your information: I used about twice as many golden sequins as I used pink ones. Otherwise I think they might have turned out too pink. The uneven look is also created on purpose by applying a few of the sequins upside-down.
  • Now the insides of your shoes are covered in little stitches and pieces of thread (no knots though, hopefully), you can cover them in a thin extra layer of leather or faux leather for more comfort. Ask your local shoemaker or tailor for scraps and leftovers.
Wear with pride. And don't be irritated by the jealous stares you are bound to receive ;)

I can't wait to shoot these and finally have proper pics of the whole outfit! Yay!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I am Sailing ... I am Saaaaiiiliiiing ....

... or I WAS sailing, rather.
My little trip to Bavaria was a huge success, which is partly due to my home-made jams :) It turned out that the kiwi-banana concoction and the plum chutney suited my hosts' taste very well and I was one happy hedonista! Anyone interested in the recipe for the plum chutney? I'm more than happy to give it away, but I don't want to bore my faithful readers with recipes all the time either :)

But I digress, as usual. Back to the trip, now.
Pictures say so much more than words :

The Alps looked more than stunning in the background!

That paddlesteamer was way too big (and too close to our boat) to fully fit on the picture.

Showing off my not-so-dazzling physique :)
I had to overcome an irrational fear of slimy seaweeds and big fish and actually went swimming in the lake. Once in, I didn't want to come out of the water again! In fact, it was so lovely to swim that I had to be coaxed out of the lake with the promise of coffee and apple pie with whipped cream and vanilla ice-cream :) Needless to say, I was back on the boat in no time at all...

If only I had a little more time and money at my disposal, I'd be on my way back to the Chiemsee right now! The lion and I already promised to go back soon, so I hope we make that happen!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Another Little Gift

I am very excited about the upcoming weekend, because I'll go sailing (Oooh, the poshness!) and stay at my boyfriend's parents' house right at the lake. To show them my appreciation I decided to bring a little something - and that decision of course meant that again, I had to come up with a cute, personal, useful and generally awesome gifting idea.

Here's what I made:

That's a customized jar of home-made kiwi-banana jam! Home-made jams and chutneys are always great for spontaneous gifts: Just make a few jars at a time, they stay good and edible almost forever, so you have a gift at hand when you need it - or jam for your own toast :)

This jam is a little different however. You don't have to cook it, you just stir all your ingredients together and let it sit in the fridge overnight. That makes it extra-fruity and very simple to make, but it will also go off within a week or so!

Here's the recipe, maybe you like it:

6 kiwis
2 big bananas
1 shot glass of coco liqueur
100 g of preserving sugar
1/2 orange or lime

some grated white chocolate (optional)

Cut the bananas into small pieces, and add the juice of the orange or lime. Peel the kiwis and cut them into small pieces, make sure to get rid of the stringy part in the center of the fruit. Then add the kiwis and the sugar to the bowl and stir for at least 10 minutes with the hand mixer, while slowly pouring in the liqueur. Now you should have a creamy light green jam. If it doesn't seem to thicken enough, slowly add some sugar and stir very carefully. Taste your jam to be sure that it doesn't turn out too sweet!
When done, sprinkle on some white chocolate et voilá!

This tastes incredible on pancakes, by the way, and adds a Caribbean feel to every breakfast table! Don't forget to refrigerate it :)

Now you may have noticed the little extra I added to the jar:

This is a replica of the frog I turned into a brooch. I did it the quick'n'dirty way, and you can SO tell. But sometimes, even I have other things on my mind than painting things golden :)
The little flecks that appear brown on the picture actually are gold sparkles that I added for more drama! I just ran my golden sparkly eyeliner all over it and secured it with clear spary paint.
Then I glued the frog on top of the jar (which is very obviously see-through, so if you make one of these, don't forget to paint the frog's belly! Just sayin' .) and now all I need to do is wrap a pretty bow around my little gift for the lion's parents and I'm ready to go!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wednesday's New Feature: The Weekly Shoe!

Girls love shoes, don't they? Going shopping for them, looking at them in online-shops, wearing them of course, revamping them if necessary. I am one especially bad case of shoe-addiction, and strangely proud of it. My collection holds more than 50 pairs, and that's just the high heels.

The Weekly Shoe

People ask me why I would do that to myself, walking around in high heels all day at work and put on a different pair of heels that's just as skyscraping when I go out in the evening. It's pretty simple, really: High heels make your legs look longer and more slender, give you a very feminine walk and posture, make your behind look fabulous in an instant and give your body a nice little workout as you wear them. That improved look, and especially the improved posture, make you feel and look more confident. Confidence in your look, your walk and your attitude is absolutely sexy and desirable, much more than a low neckline or a short skirt.
I won't deny that you can easily over-do it, and thereby cause long-term damage to your feet. Just look at this x-ray (Picture by Helmut Newton, high-heeled boot by Karl Lagerfeld).

So please, boys and girls, wear heels, but not ALL the time. Make a point of stretching your calves often, to prevent your sinews from shortening - wearing flipflops has the same effect, by the way.

Apart from the health concerns, I have to say a few words about my style concerns...
First and foremost, there is no shame in practicing to walk in new shoes at home. Everybody does it, or at least should! You may want to practice the actual walking as well as a more or less elegant standing position. Don't feel silly about that - just imagine you're at a party and somebody snaps a picture. How do you want to look on that picture? That's a good pose right there :)

Second, don't bang your heels on the ground like a jungle drum. Of course you can't avoid the clicking noise that heels make, and sometime they just ARE loud. Try to keep the noise as moderate as possible though. Just take smaller steps et voilá :) If that doesn't do the trick, practice on a wooden floor - if you don't want to leave heel marks in the wood, you have to walk carefully! It may also help to shift your weight a little more to the ball of the foot.

This is just the beginning of my new feature, The Weekly Shoe!
Every week, I will post a shoe-related artice right here, showing off my revamped pumps, exploring the workplace of an old-fashioned shoemaker, going style-hunting with my cam for outstanding footwear and anything else that I may come up with! I'm open to suggestions, as always.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Truly Manly Birthday Gift

I wish I could claim the credit for this, but I can't. This was originally my lion's idea, and I'm just stealing it :)

About a week ago, I found myself absolutely surprised by the fact that, yes, another year has passed and it's my brother's birthday again. Oh darn. Birthdays tend to surprise me anyways, especially my own ones - just when I've settled in at one age, say 22, and I've grown comfortable with it, all of a frickin sudden, another year has passed and I have to deal with growing older yet again!
The stressful thing about other peoples' birthdays is the pressure of finding the perfect gift. Of course you want to get the birthday child something special and personal, at the same time it should be useful and look cool. I find that nearly impossible, but I try my best. Those gifts usually take some time for thought and getting it, or making it.
So with my brother's birthday only one day away, that wasn't going to happen. Instead I decided to heed the lion's advice (which I don't often do) and made him a voucher for A BEER-BREWING COURSE!

Now, that's a pretty damn cool gift, if you ask me: He and one of his buddys (or I!) get to make their own beer, drink beer as they make it ;) and after four weeks, they can try the beer they made!

In order to arrange for one course like that, you can turn to agencies, like MyDays or Jochen Schweizer but keep in mind, they take a commission, that you can save easily. Just call the brewery! I turned to the amazing Brewbaker, a cozy little pub where they still make their own beer! And, without any bargaining, they named a price ten bucks below the one that the agencies wanted. I don't care if that sounds cheap, but that easily translates to a day's worth of food for myself, and I'd rather save it if it's that easy ;)

But the next birthday in my family is looming already, and I need another thoughtful, cool and fun gift. I find it very hard to get presents for men, and I know I'm not alone with that problem. So I would really appreciate if you guys would share your best ideas for proper boys' gifts!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fleamarket Treasures

Yesterday I went to the fleamaket in Mauerpark to reserve a stand. I have a whole closet full of stuff I don't need and don't want- books, clothes, interior decorations, fabrics and so many things I already forgot about! So it won't hurt too much to sell all those random items :) I'm looking forward to it, not because I might make a little money, but because the chilled-out atmosphere in the park and on the market is just amazing. It feels like something between a playground for grown-ups and a beach party. I realize that's pretty much the same, but you get the idea!

But, being the spontaneous shopper I am, I couldn't resist to sneak a peek at the other stands ... and ended up spending a little more money than i'd planned. BUT I'm also proud owner of two new tops, a tacky gold purse, a little surprise for the lion and a few bits and pieces, like rhinestones, homemade liquorice, you name it.

You can't really tell on the pictures, but these fleamarket finds are seriously rad! And they match my secret project, my pimped-out pumps, that I want to wear next week-end. I will travel down to Bavaria, and go sailing with my boyfriend - of course I want an outfit that matches the occasion. So the dress has handy pockets and little ships printed all over it, for example :) You can see them a little better in this picture here:

I'll probably show off my outfits here when I'm back, so stay tuned! Especially for those shoes, I promise you'd hate to miss them ;)

Have a great week, everybody!

Friday, July 31, 2009

An Update on the Cash Jar

It's the last day of the month, and I can proudly say that for the first time (as long as this blog exists) I have managed to save some serious money for my great travel plans!

To be honest, I already threw in some of next months paycheck. It's just an amazing feeling to be getting closer to my goal! I'm so sure I can actually do this now (and I've had my share of doubts!) - YAY! Tomorrow I'll celebrate in style and go out - I can't wait! :)

Free Virtual Hugs&Muffins for everybody!

(You get one if you follow me on twitter! Promise! :) )

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sneak Peek

It's like a tradition for me to go to one certain movie theatre with my friends, when they're in town. For years, that cinema had the same feature on mondays, 11 p.m., the Sneak Peek. You get in for half the money, and you get to see a movie that officially doesn't start in theatres until the next thursday. Awesome!
The catch is that you don't know which movie you are going to see. That way, I already ended up in horror movies, soppy lovestories, terrible cartoons and about everything in between. The worst by far was "Waiting for Angelina", by the way, I saw that last year. Oh my, the boredom. But in those movies, the audience simply takes over.
Just to give you an idea what that's like, imagine this: An old-fashioned cinema that still seems to dream of it's grandeur back in the days. The faded velvet seats are crowded with scruffy teenagers and young adults - almost everybody is under 25, holding a beer, the usual suspects for a pub rather than a cinema. And when the movie is crap, the commenting sometimes is louder and so much more fun than the actual movie.

I'm sorry I digress :)

So, this week I watched "The Horsemen", starring Dennis Quaid and Ziyi Zhang. Boy, was I scared. It's rather unappetizing, but here's the trailer for the not-so-faint-at-heart amongst you. Don't let the trailer irritate you though, it's actually not a bad movie. Dennis Quaid is the grumpy detective, Aidan Breslin, who has the worst of relationships with his sons because he can't deal with the loss of his beloved wife. When an extremely gruesome series of murders commences in the city, Breslin finds that all the evidence directs at his own family. From huge red writings on the walls at the crime scenes, Breslin deduces in a painstakingly slow scene, that the first Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are in town and they take their toll, so to speak.
If you're going to watch this movie, don't read the rest of this!

It's just a real shame that about halfway through the movie you can't stop thinking of it as "Revenge of the Emo Kids!" ... I guess they have a point, those kids had pretty crappy lives, but the measures they take seem very drastic. It's a well-made, entertaining though extremely bloody movie, so if you feel you can handle it, go and watch it.

I have to admit, I hid behind my jacket half of the time. I'm a scaredy cat :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

How to Fly for Free

Oh, I got your attention now, don't I? :)

Alright, so I exaggerated a little bit to keep you guys interested. Here's a little trick to get seriously cheap plane tickets on a proper plane, that's not covered in ads inside and out (I'm looking at you, Ryanair!) or overbooked.
I always think it's quite a hassle to get those "cheap" tickets that you have to book 78 months prior to the actual flight, and that only go from/to the middle of nowhere, like Frankfurt/Hahn. Ever been to Hahn? No? Good for you, because it's almost two hours away from Frankfurt on an overpriced bus.
So how do you fly in style, spontaneously, and don't spend the better part of your savings on the ticket?

Very simple. Ask a flight attendant in your circle of friends to take you along as they go. It's not much of an effort for them, and saves you so much money! I just saved over 100€ when I took that flight to Frankfurt last saturday. I had the most pleasant flight, chatting away to my stewardess friend as we each had one of those tiny airplane beers. Also, my friend didn't mind, actually she was quite delighted to have somebody to talk to during the (admittedly short) flight.

So do ask around. Nobody is going to be offended, if you ask politely to be taken along. You get to see some more of the world that way and you don't want to miss out on that, do you? :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why go to the gym ...?

... if you can have a fun workout for free AND without being in the same un-airconditioned room with 20 other sweaty people?

Staying in shape is not about hitting the hippest gym in town where skinny models break their behinds as they try to lose another half a pound. It's more about being healthy and looking fit, not thin. As I don't believe in gyms, but in a shapely figure, I had to find other ways of working out.
Here are a few, maybe you can incorporate them in your daily routine, too:

1) If there are stairs to climb, climb them!

Escalators are only allowed if you have more than 3 storeys to ascent. That's a great workout for your legs! Make sure to walk very upright, not leaning forward, that'll get the muscles in your bottom and tummy going!

2) Take the bike to work/school/everywhere!

My bike is one of my most prized posessions. I go to work on it, and almost everywhere else. Even if you only need 20 minutes to work, that amounts to 40 minutes of work-out for your legs and back every day!
I understand that people don't want to go to their job on a bike because you arrive all sweaty and gross. Recently, I solved that problem by depositing basic toiletries at work, but of course not everybody has the room to do that.

3) Walk like a Pageant Queen! In Heels!

Walking around in heels all day is an extremely exhausting thing to do, most men will never appreciate that :) I will not call myself an expert on the subject, but I do have some experience. On a normal day at work, I stand and walk for about 9 hours and I love my heels too much to not wear them.
For starters, wear tights or stockings, otherwise the shoes are going to give you blisters, no matter how comfortable they are when you first put them on. Again, make sure to walk upright. Get into the Pageant Queen Posture (PQP) : Hold your chin up high, shoulders back (but relaxed!), make your back long and straight, and suck in your tummy a little bit. Uh, that's not comfy. Now, try to tense the muscles in your buttocks. Still not comfy - but that's really the whole point. Consciously trying to throw yourself into the PQP will probably give you sore muscles in your thighs, tummy and bum. But it looks good while you're at it and even better when those muscles get in shape over time.
When you try this at work, bring flats, too. Surviving an entire day in high heels is not for the faint-of-heart.

4) Got a park nearby? Use it!

I'm very lucky to live within walking distance of Tiergarten, a huge park in the heart of Berlin. I go jogging there (Get yourself some proper running shoes if you go jogging. It makes such a difference!) and sometimes, I just hang out, play frisbee with friends, or play with my pois. Going out and playing something, anything really, from soccer to hit-the-pot with your friends is probably the best and most fun workout you can have. I promise, it won't even feel like a workout.

Oh, and please share your free workout tips with me :) It would be very much appreciated!

Pimp my Balcony!

Having a little refuge, something that belongs to you and nobody else, is a great luxury. To me, it's my balcony. I might not have the best of views (my neighbors ^^) but I love sitting out there and read, think, have an after-work-glass-of-wine or my sunday breakfast.

But I neglected my balcony this year, and by mid-june it looked somethings like this :

Not so pretty, and definitely not the right place to be spending relaxing afternoon hours on. It actually looked like this, I did not mess it up more for effect.
So I went to buy some flowers at my local florist, and got a little discount because I bought so many plants. Also, that gave my the satisfying feeling of supporting small local businesses. Try it, it's a good feeling ;)

These beauties will even come back next year. Isn't that one amazing colour?

The hibiskus I got for my birthday. It has three huge pink blossoms by now and by the looks of it, there's going to be more of them!

Star of Bethlehem and lobelia make a great colour combo. Who said you can't have flowers that clash? :) The pink hibiskus sits right next to them...

Of course, you can get edible plants too. They are not quite as pretty usually, but having them also means having free organic food all autumn - rad! I have a tiny chili tree that's more like a chili bonsai, but has great super-hot chilis, some herbs (all legal ;) ) and tomatoes. I wanted to get more, but ran out of room for plants. Instead of giving up, I got this wrought-iron shelf and now have more space than plants. I'm sure I can solve that problem soon!

Growing your plants from the seeds and being able to enjoy the results as a dinner is probably the most gratifying thing you can do on a balcony that won't cause your neighbors give you cross looks :)

I cleaned up some more and planted new flowers since I took the pictures and will update you soon with a few tricks to make balcony-fit furniture out of almost nothing. Now go outside and enjoy the sun!

Concerning Brands

Today I want to share some common sense with you. Maybe you are going to read this article, nod, and wonder why on earth I had to write down something so obvious. In that case, I'm sorry for wasting your time, because you already have what it takes to be a fabulous budget hedonist! :)
Maybe not though. Find out!

I have been marveling at the concept of brands for a long time. Just because, say, a pair of jeans has a certain name printed on the inside (!) it's more expensive. The only claim the company makes to justify the price is the qualities described in the respective commercials - and more often than not it's a "lifestyle" rather than actual characteristics of a product, for example the sturdiness of you new jeans or the taste of the joghurt you are supposed to buy at the supermarket.
My favourite example for this phenomenon is perfume ads. Watch any old perfume ad on youtube, and afterwards you'll know exactly what kind of style the brand's art director wants you to live - but do you know what the perfume actually smells like? Even have an idea? Nope. Usually not.
So let's first of all try to ignore the suggestions of commercials. Do you really and honestly care if celebrities show their faces in combination with some sort of product? Does it improve the product? No.
I claim that consciously ignoring ads when going shopping makes you happier. It takes away the pressure. The other day I went out to buy a pair of grey skinny jeans, and I could've gotten those for 150€ I'd seen on that ad, that had a fancy brand name on it. I went for the cheaper ones, and now have exactly the jeans I wanted for 20 bucks, without the brand name. What is a brand name good for, anyways? Impress your friends?! If they can be impressed by the money you spend on things, think again if they are really good friends and therefore people you WANT to impress.

However, I'm not against spending money (and lots of it) in general. Sometimes you see something in a shop window that you need to have this second or else you won't be happy for the rest of the week. That's ok. Or you really want to order the most expensive dish they serve at the restaurant. That's ok, too. Just make sure to listen to what YOU really want, not anybody else.
Trust you own taste, that's as simple as it is.
And if you really want something and it's not ridiculously overpriced, go for it.

Just like I really, really wanted to have this fun and colourful beverage instead of the bland table water when I went to the café yesterday. It was more expensive, but it made me happy that moment.

Figure out what you spend your money on. How much do you care for the brands you buy? Does it matter what company puts their name on your baked beans? No. Does it matter to you to get a certain brand of joghurt? Yes, because your mom always bought that kind? Then get it. Otherweise go for the no-name version and you'll find out it's probably just as tasty :)
Finding out your own priorities takes a while, but is well worth it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What happened to ...

... the Cash Jar?

I know I promised to keep you guys up-to-date about my savings and I tried very hard to save all that money to put a new piece of candy in the jar. However, I'm standing in my own way in this case by being my forgetful self... I locked myself out of my apartment the other day and calling the lock and key service actually cost me 211€. Ouch.
The money that was supposed to go to my Australia-savings now went to the lock&key-guy who took about 3 minutes to open my door. I'm grumpy about it, but I learned my lesson about forgetfulness.

I hope everybody had a great week-end so far! :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Photo Shoot Results!

TADAAA ! Results of my shoot with Ilja Hendel!

Remember, I was supposed to look younger for that shoot. I think I managed - these might not be the most exciting pictures that have ever been taken of me, but some of them are quite cute. If you keep in mind that one of them might be used as a book cover, they're even better ;)

It was a cold, rainy and very windy day, hence the mess on my head. The photographer, the two other girls and myself stopped by a café to warm up in mid-shoot. With the permission of the coffeemama behind the counter we just kept taking pictures inside, getting weird looks from the other customers. I see why, too - we didn't look glamourous or even above average, so why would that pro photographer be buzzing around, taking pictures of us from every angle...? Ah well, the price of fame ... ;)There were geese in the park ! And fluffy baby rabbits! Seriously!
In the background you get a glimpse of Luisa, and those jeans belong to Josefin. I honestly don't HAVE better pictures of the two yet. Apparently Ilja is going to photoshop a few more photos and send them over in august. I can't wait!

Here's one last pic that made me laugh out loud.
Hell yeah. No bunny rabbits or geese were harmed in this shoot.
For more photos, click this!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An Apple A Day...

... is a pretty boring diet. There are better ways to stay healthy. Who said, that just because you have to spend your money carefully, you have to buy the mundane and bland stuff? In fact, you get all kinds of exotic fruit at the discounter, too.I tried out fresh lychees for the first time. They really aren't my thing, but I believe in trying things before I judge them :) Then there are a couple of physalis (79 cents !), a gold kiwi fruit, flat peaches and more little bits and pieces you can't see in the picture.

Spoil yourself with some fresh fruit that might be a little out of the ordinary. It's healthy and tasty, in fact it might be better than candy. Arrange the fruit nicely to give it a sophisticated touch - let out your inner Martha Stuart :) However don't buy more than you actually eat! You don't want mouldy fruit in your kitchen ...

Now isn't that so much better than a bunch of ordinary apples ? Enjoy ! :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Small-Scale Hedonism

Having to live on a low budget sometimes is a very tedious affair. You start to envy those folks who don't seem to work hard (or at all) and have money to burn. But here's a little bit of wisdom I read in Teresa de la Parra's excellent novel "Iphigenia: Diary of a Young Lady Who Wrote Because She was Bored".

The theory is, that very rich people don't actually enjoy the expensive things they have, the good food and the hip interiors and all that - because they can have it all the time, and it seems normal, boring. They can't be excited by anything, because they have seen and had it all. And the worst part is, that they don't even realize that they suffer from boredom, the finest food and drinks may be flavorless to them but they hardly notice.
Think about it - your appartment right now might not seem very impressive to you, but even if there's nothing fancy about it, millions of people around the world would consider it pure luxury.

So here's my trick to get rid of those pointless pangs of jealousy of richer people:
Don't waste money on expensive luxuries or status symbols that don't mean anything to you personally. Why imitate vain people who don't even have enough of a taste of their own to get dressed without a stylist? Spend your money wisely, that is, on things that you really enjoy. Make a point of appreciating what you have. Share it with your friends.

Applying the above to the real world sometimes is hard. But I really believe that the key to being a happy budget hedonista is following your own style (because you cannot allow yourself to waste money on copying somebody else's and wouldn't be happy with it anyways) and really appreciating the glorious things that already surround you.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lazing on a Monday Afternoon

That's hedonism, baby. Yeah.

Last week, myself and the lion had a little time on our hands before we were supposed to catch a ride that would take us from Berlin to Frankfurt. We indulged in donuts and huge coffees for breakfast and figured that three hours would be enough to visit the famous Berlin Zoo. Now visiting the zoo is a thing that families, tourists and tourist families do. But who said that locals aren't allow to enjoy the beautiful park and the amazing animals? :)

At the cash box I realized that I forgot the coupons that we got when we went on top of the TV tower. I pointed that out to the very friendly lady at the cash desk and - lo and behold - she actually believed me and gave us the discounts anyways! Yay!
By the way, I read this article on Creepy Queen Mag yesterday, and I agree: there's no shame in coupons! They saved us 6 bucks, you can translate that to "free breakfast". Yay again!

The animals at the zoo seemed to be putting on a real show just for us, it was incredible! The elephants were bathing and playing, the nandus displayed their plumes, the brown bears stood up on their hind legs for the camera. We found out that the Canadian wolves have a doggy door to the bears' enclosure so that they could go over, but the bears couldn't get into the wolves' bawn. The penguins came close enough to pet them ( We didn't though. It seemed wrong to just go and touch a wild animal. They have some mean beaks, too. )

But all of that couldn't stop me from nagging my boyfriend to go and see the lions. To see them passed out like this was pure glee to me :)

Technically, we could have just reached out and stroked that soft, fluffy fur on the lion's belly. But the thought of teeth and claws made us think twice... and in the end, the sign that read "Warning! Lion may pee through the grate at visitors!" made us change our minds. You really don't want lion pee on you when you're about to get in a car with well-meaning strangers for the next five hours. Then again, you probably don't EVER want lion pee on you. Excuse my ickyness :)

In the end, three hours weren't near enough to see all of the beautiful zoo. We resolved to go and see the zoo of every city that we travel to. I'm just afraid that in other zoos, the animals will have smaller enclosures and I won't feel anything but pity for them. I hope to prove myself wrong ...

And when was the last time you went to a zoo? :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Budget Glam - The Frog Edition

The other day, I found this incredible brooch in a shop window:

Oh my... How could I not fall in love with this super-ugly, white-painted, glitter-adorned, over-priced pug?! But obviously, I can't just go and spend so much money on a brooch that I might wear once or twice and then hide in my jewel box. So I decided that what these kids at the store can do, I can do, too. And I went shopping for a plastic pug.
But, I was bewildered to find out, the plastic miniature pugs at my local toystore were sold out! A little confused (who on earth buys plastic miniature pugs ?!) I settled for a plastic frog. In the same store I purchased gold and red paint, a little brush and a bag of pins.

And the rest was rather easy! First I painted the belly of the frog and let it dry. Then I applied two thin layers of colour on the upper side of my frog, making sure I don't smear over the structure of the frog's skin. It didn't even take very long to dry. I had to bend the pin a little bit so it would sit flat on the frog's little tummy. I used my gem glue to attach the pin. That glue survived just about everything so far, pulling and tossing the brooch, just not the washing mashine. But heck, I just glued the pin on the frog again and that was it.
I wear my little frog as often as I can and already bought more brooch-material.

The turtle will be sparkly and decadent when I'm done with it. For the crayfish I have to go and buy silver paint. Oh yes, I'm serious. The sealion is not going to become a brooch, it's too heavy and bulky. And that weird green shape at the bottom of the picture is a seahorse... I already got started on painting it gold, but will add some serious glam with gems :)

Now, regarding the budget...

Original Pug Brooch : 85 €

Plastic frog : 1,80 €
Gold paint (enough for 20 brooches!) : 2,59 €
Brush : 1,50 €
Pin: 0,25 €

Total : 6,14 €

And I get to use the paint and the brush again, of course. The sea animals I got even cheaper than the frog, they were 75 c each!
Getting a little creative about things like acessories is easy and saves money, and you have the priceless feeling of wearing something unique. Who knows, you might even start a mini-trend and be THE local fashionista all of a sudden :)