October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

I have seen nary a Halloween costume or carved pumpkin in Budapest and I didn't think I'd miss it so.  Hubs and I aren't really into Halloween, but we love kicking back with some scary movies and shelling out treats to the miniature ghouls and princesses in the neighbourhood.  Hungarians seem to love their treats, so I'm puzzled they haven't jumped on the Halloween bandwagon.  At the bank, I caught a teller ducking under her desk to stuff a chocolate bar in her mouth.  In line to buy my metro pass, the guy in front of me couldn't even finish his transaction before ravenously tearing into a treat.  You'd think they'd be all over Halloween, with its abundance of yumminess. 

Unless they all spring Halloween on me at the last minute, I'm Halloween-less.  At least the neighbourhood kiddies back home can ogle my new DIY Halloween wreath with its glitzy beaded spiders.  I don't think Hubs is shelling out, so I'll just give them each double treats next year.  Unless they mutiny tonight.  Then next year they'll get raisins.


Tell me: did you have a fun Halloween weekend?  Are you dressing up tonight?  Handing our more or less candy than you intend to consume?  Let me live vicariously (include some links if you've blogged about it), and have a safe and happy night.

Happy Halloween folks!!

October 30, 2012

Pinterest Challenge: My Turquoise Embroidery


When Sherry, Katie, Carmel and Sarah announced the fall Pinterest challenge last week I thought, "hey, this is the perfect motivation I need to complete my (currently ignored) embroidered pillow!"  I have pinned a lot of embroidery ideas of late (I had decided it would be the perfect craft during my four month research stay in Budapest, Hungary, because I knew I'd be going through DIY withdrawal and in need of a craft - you know how much I love a good DIY). 

The Boy Trifecta; Dream a Little Bigger;Angela Osborn; via Inspire Bohemia

If you recall, I had purchased a pretty pillow case, with a Hungarian pattern already drawn on, and oodles of gorgeous turquoise embroidery floss.  I was a little doubtful, but had all the supplies.  All that was missing was the actual time to complete the project, something I have been sorely lacking due to my tight research schedule and obvious sight seeing.  But when a bad cold knocked me on my butt last week, I thought the timing was meant to be (Pinterest challenge + abandoned embroidery + me too sick to type coherent thoughts for dissertation = surefire success).


So, let's see the finished project, shall we?


Wait for it . . .


HAHAHAHA.  If I don't laugh, I'll cry.  If only I'd known one small section would take more than seven hours of hand cramping labour, I don't think the disappointment would have been quite so devastating.  At one point, I was just slumped over, embroidery loop hanging limply from my claw-like hand.  With my research progressing at a snail's pace, the cold weather setting in and my wool sock supply barely sufficient (packing for winter when it was 35 degrees Celsius was too tall a task), I think I really needed to knock out this project to feel awesome.  Didn't happen.  The hacking cough from my cold set in and then it became too dangerous to wield a needle at all.



But at least I have started (that's always the hardest part, isn't it?), and I'm getting better at it!  A little.  At some point, this will be done, and I'll have a great little guide on embroidery for people who can't embroider.  From a couple of Hungarian embroidery books I've already picked up neat tips about not starting with a knot, but a tail which can be later buried, and where to start embroidering on a dense design.  Through trial and error, I'm also learning to not embroider so tightly because it pulls the fabric wonky.  I have to relaaaax.

I will keep chipping away at it.  And try to fondly remember my last Pinterest Challenge success!  Plus my recent Pinterest-inspired agate necklace project, which I'm also linking up.  Ahhh, let's ogle it's finishedness:   

I'm linking up to these fabulous blogs:

Young House Love
Bower Power Blog
Ugly Ducking House
Our Fifth House

October 29, 2012

A Little Never Before Seen Eye Candy

Did you know Budapest has daylight savings time too?  We didn't.  I'm straining to hear the church bells to figure out just what time it is (our clocks all disagree), but in the meantime, I've decided it's time for a little eye candy!

From time to time (I'm really committed to this theme and feeling silly today), I like to do a round up of glorious inspiration from the web, whether an array of beds I'd like to curl up and cough in, or a designer whose work makes me want to rethink everything, but I'm very aware that sometimes we tend to see the same (great!) images circled about the web and in print.  So, when I can, I like to share something new, like photos of the townhouse (which is getting a facelift in the new year) or recent DIY projects or another blogger's home that needs to be circled around the web.  In Budapest, I have even better access to some nifty new inspiration, soaked up from a few events from Budapest Design Week (see here, here, and here) and now, from two local design/decor shops.

While it isn't the white + bright I normally gravitate toward, the rich hits of colour in this shop definitely had me at "hello".  We were actually en route somewhere else and, like moths to a flame, found ourselves inside, snapping photos. 



I like the idea of black walls paired with white walls, punctuated by rich, graphic artwork and bold accessories (those lamps are huuuge).  Black would just suck the light out of our currently bright and airy house, but in this sizable retail space with gigantic windows, it works beautifully.


Literally, before we could even think about getting back on track to our destination, we stumbled into an art deco and retro shop.  Having just seen the art decor exhibit, we were really curious.  An American couple were in the shop too, but they weren't just ogling, they were visiting different art decor shops and buying and shipping things home! 




Even if we didn't take anything home, I picked up a great idea for display: I think I go wrong buying little decorative items here and there and then trying to make them "work," when a collection of similar pieces just looks so effortlessly good.  My only suggestion: this collection needs more!


With no time to dawdle, we finally got on our way and reached our destination, where we bought a little eye candy of our own.  Details soon!

October 26, 2012

Making a Home That is Not My Home Feel Homey

With all those photos of comfy, airy bedrooms I longed to lounge in, I think I made our little Budapest apartment feel unloved.  The truth is, it's cute but it's not home.  I'm in this weird in between place of not living here for a short enough time frame (say, two weeks) for the apartment to barely matter, nor am I here long enough to make it feel like "mine" (which I've decided would consist of refinishing the awesome herringbone floors, painting the walls bright white punctuated with really long, curtains in a bold, graphic pattern, adding a super tall wall of bookcases with a ladder . . . yes, I've made mood boards).

Luckily, we're pretty easy to please and a few simple things made this temporary space feel like home.

Little Luxuries

The first thing we did to make the place feel homey, strangely, is something I'm too cheap to do at home: buy fresh flowers.  In the underground metro stations, elderly women sell small bunches of flowers for about $2.00, and we always buy a bunch when we pass through.  Other luxuries we've indulged in include buying handmade local soaps (bottom left) and eating way too much bread.  Baked goods are really inexpensive here, so the folks at both the neighborhood patisserie and both bakeries know us by name.  Mmmm, now I want some more french toast.  Although it's not the same sans maple syrup . . .


Comfy Cozies

Because Mom and I both prefer table lamps and floor lamps to overhead lighting, we fought over the one floor lamp.  So we trekked to Ikea and bought a little $11.00 paper guy (dibs!).  He won't win a beauty contest, but he sure does make life better.  Add some tea lights plus a kettle that boils water fast as lightning and has a light up base, and now we're bathing in glowly, comfy light.  With a hot mug of tea in hand to boot.

Actually, buying these inexpensive candle holders and tea lights was such a nice idea, I might do it on shorter trips too!  Although they aren't fancy pants, I'm taking these candle holders home as a sweet reminder of every day life in Budapest.

 

Makeshift Vignettes

Working with what we had (we found random bits and pieces under the sink, in drawers, etc), we did our best to accessorize.  Truthfully, most of our "accessories" are dishes, but that little bit of effort immediately made the place feel more like "ours" and less like a temporary rental.  We've also collected wild chestnuts to display in bowls - anything will do!


Practical Purchases

I hate buying stuff I will only use for a few months, but there were a few practical things that we did buy, in addition to the electric kettle, including something for my bum and something for my Mom!

While at Ikea, we drooled a little over these seat cushions.  A little secret: my bum picks everything.  We literally bought our car because my bum liked the seats.  Ditto for the sofa and chairs.  That's also why this guy and I never got along.  Anyway, we picked up two cushions to make our dining table chairs a little more bum friendly.


With my bum happy, my Mom was next on the agenda.  Walking by a plush stand of towels, she couldn't resist, so we bought some for ourselves.  The apartment came with some, but now we have fresh ones.  Also, with a trip this length, not only was unpacking necessary for us, but so was "settling in".  That meant buying a toothbrush holder, soap dish for our fancy soap, and even hangers.  We picked up some sticky hooks to make life a little easier and tidier, but they went crash.  I wish I'd gone with over door hooks instead! 


In any case, focusing not just on the pretty, but also the functional (I'm a little hook-nutty and tea-crazed at home) also made a big difference.

Reveling in What's Different

Appreciating what I don't have at home (the amazing views, the amazing food) makes what I do have at home (TV to watch New Girl, backyard for spray painting fun, etc) seem, at least for now, unimportant.  Although I would like to know what Jess is up to.  But, with views like this out my front door, window and stairwell?  I'll get caught up on TV later.  (You can see more photos of beautiful Budapest here).





Okay, but someone tell me: is New Girl on now???

October 24, 2012

I Wish I Were Here

I am in rough shape today.  I have a cold, plus I pulled a muscle in my leg.  I think the latter is from the copious amounts of walking we do.  I'm not used to a 5km walk, just to get home each day (often we walk more).  My body rebelled, but too late because I am completely addicted to the walking now and just hobble along.

At home, I am rarely sick.  When I am, I always figure that a day in bed or on the sofa, with movies and magazines in hand, is just what the doctor ordered.  It forces me to relax, unwind and recharge.  Am I weird in embracing a cold?

Here, although our Budapest apartment is pretty, there's no time, or place, for lounging.  I have a research deadline and need to book it (pun intended).  So today, in the library, I am dreaming of fluffy, comfy, airy bedrooms (my own included) where I could lay my head down.  Just for a bit.

Lonny Mag

via Fresh Home

Lonny Mag

House to Home

via Fresh Home

via sfgirlbybay

Lonny Mag

Michael Graydon

Ish and Chi

Home

Speaking of beds, have you wondered where we sleep?  We have a small sofa and chair that both morph, transformer style, into beds.  Here's mine:

October 23, 2012

A Life Changing Day

I haven't ever mentioned this, but my grandfather (the one who made our amazing headboard and metal sculptures) was a political prisoner in socialist Hungary.  He was sentenced to life, but released in 1956 after six years, months before the 1956 revolution broke out (click here to read more about the revolution).   My grandmother and grandfather fled to Sweden as refugees because former political prisoners were among those questioned (and severely reprimanded) for real or presumed involvement in the revolution that sought to end Soviet rule of Hungary.  My grandfather only narrowly escaped.  My grandparents married in Sweden, where my Mom was born.  In the 1960s they emigrated to Canada and had to start over again: learning a new language, finding new work, building a new life.  Although my grandmother's two sisters and then later her parents also made new lives in Canada, my grandfather's family did not.  He never had the chance to see his father again, because the socialist authorities denied his father's requests to visit Canada, and my grandfather was unable to return to Hungary before his father's death because he had left illegally.

I feel very privileged to be Canadian, and am always mindful of what my grandparents gave up and how difficult life was for them.

Today marks the anniversary of the 1956 revolution and is a holiday in Hungary.  In honor of this day, that not only forever impacted the lives of Hungarians but also set in motion a chain of events that saw my grandparents living in Canada, I'd like to share some photos of beautiful Budapest.  So far, I've only shared a bit of me at the library and photos of Budapest Design Week (here, here, and here).  Now you have a chance to get a glimpse of life in the city. 

On the way home - (Rákoczi Street)
My favorite bridge - (Szabadság híd or Liberty Bridge)
Faces - (Peterfy Street)
Trabby - (The East German recycled car)
Ticket cashier - (A theatre in our neighbourhood)
Pink bicycle - (Outside WAMP)
Play on words - (A bar beside a denture clinic)
Signs - (Denture clinic)
The view from up here - (A church by our house seen from our window)
Országház - (Parliament)
Mátyás Templom - (Matthias Church)
Mátyás Templom Detail - (Matthias Church)
Take flight - (Buda Castle district)
Window Shopping
Pink Lilies - (Margit Sziget or Margaret Island)
Girl and Streetcar I
Girl and Streetcar II
On the 47 - (In front of Hotel Gellért)
Vroom - (Margit Sziget)
Untitled - (Buda Castle district)

Imports - (Kiraly Street)
Fashion Shoot - (Sculpture in Városliget, or city park)
No Parking
A Perfect Day - (Margit Sziget)
Hot pink - (Margit Sziget)
Musical fountain - (Margit Sziget)
Hat Shop
Petőfi - (Sándor Petőfi wrote the poem I stenciled onto a mirror)
Getting around
Aqua and orange - (A shop by our house)
Candy Coloured
Street Signs
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