Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas At Our Home: Part 3

In warm, sunny Hawaii it can be difficult for a person raised in cold wintery Europe to create that special Christmas feeling she grew up with. No snow, no ice, just sunshine and warm breezes. Lovely, yes. Christmasy? Not really. 

So I do what I can to make the house sparkle, and evoke the magical Christmas atmosphere we all long to have.  Here are some of the details, small and larger, around our house that make a Hawaiian Christmas.

When it is lush and green outside, bring winter in 
with lots of white, silver and sparkle. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas At Our Home: The Tree

Every year we put up two Christmas trees. One goes in the living room, and I must admit I am very particular about decorating it. The second tree is in the family room, which the children decorate with mostly home-made ornaments, color lights and tinsel. We put our Christmas village around it. These photos are of our front tree, which I finally finished decorating a few days ago. 

The finished tree is sparkling with lights.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas at our Home

It is the season... to celebrate, eat, drink, party - and of course to decorate your home for all the celebrating, eating, drinking and partying that is to take place in the next few weeks.  I spent the last few days working on our Christmas decorations. Here are some pictures of the results.

Pine cones and ribbons decorate closet doors in the hallway

Friday, November 30, 2012

Inspiration for Budapest Apartment: Kitchen Edition

As I promised, here are some of the pictures I have collected as inspiration for our new kitchen in the apartment in Budapest.  Going with the Scandinavian theme, I was looking for kitchens with lots of white wood paneling, nice old fashioned cup pulls for the drawers, simple decorations of mixing old with new.  As our kitchen takes shape, I will post pictures of the result. Right now, here are the inspiration photos:

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Time flies, and summer seems like a far-away memory.  To bring it back, here are some of the pictures I took this July on the picturesque island of Crete. Amid the charming old buildings, quaint cafes, and panoramic bays, what struck me was signs of the hardship and poverty the Greek economic meltdown brought to this lovely island. Graffiti abounds, many of the buildings are in disrepair, and there are boarded up storefronts everywhere. Don't get me wrong: Crete is still beautiful and vibrant. We had a great time exploring the market, tasting some wonderful Greek food and wandering the narrow streets. I do hope there will soon be renewed prosperity for this pretty island in the Mediterranean Sea. 

Colorful doors and buildings

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Gift Ideas

Thanksgiving is just three days away, and with it the official start of the Christmas shopping season. When I have a little time, I enjoy hunting for gifts on the web.  Below are some of the goodies I found. A few of these will definitely show up under (or on) our tree!

Glass Bird Canisters @ Pottery Barn

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Inspiration for Budapest Apartment

One of the projects I am busy with these days is remodeling a small apartment in an old villa in the hills of Budapest, Hungary.  The apartment connects to the garden, and we are opening it up to bring in as much natural light as possible.  The project started in July, with walls being knocked down and moved,  water being relocated and windows relocated. 

Now that the apartment starts taking shape, it is time to consider decorating. I am thinking of furnishing the it in the Gustavian style, with lots of white-on white tones, mixing antiques with modern pieces. Here are some pictures I collected on my Pinterest board "Inspiration for Budapest Apartment".

Mirrors and white walls reflect the light in this room.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A New-Old Hawaiian Home

Lucky me, I get to visit broker's open houses on many a Thursday, because of my friend and realtor extraordinaire, Debbie. Here are some photos I took at a lovely Kailua home. This home is brand new, but its layout and feel is very "old Hawaii". It is spacious without being pretentious, open to the cooling winds and has a lovely canal-front setting. Check it out if you have a chance. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my photos.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Owls Everywhere

Do you like owls?  It seems to me that they are popping up everywhere lately.  Here are a few of my owl inspirations:

I got this adorable owl ornament in Santa Fe

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Santa Fe

Here are some of the photos from my recent visit to Santa Fe. A picturesque town with many galleries, shops and spas.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Misty day on the Big Island

Last week we hopped over to the Big Island of Hawai'i for a couple of days. One of the places we visited is the Mountain Thunder Coffee Company, in the hills above Kona town. It was a wet and cloudy day, and I enjoyed taking these photos of their picturesque property deep in the rain forest.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chili Pepper Wreaths

When thinking of the Southwestern United States, one of the first images that comes to mind is chili peppers. Indeed these red, green or yellow little peppers pop up in not only food, but local decorating.  Aren't they pretty?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Up, Up and Away! - A Tutorial to Boldly Go Ballooning

Have you ever gone up in a hot air balloon? I had not, until last week.  And since my motto is anything worth doing is worth doing right (and in style), it was fitting that my first-ever ascent was at the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, NM.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Recently I was lucky enough to visit beautiful Albuquerque, New Mexico with a group of friends. We were celebrating my friend Kathy's birthday. Her birthday is actually in January, but we decided to celebrate in October. Why in October you ask? The answer is simple: it is when Albuquerque hosts its annual International Balloon Fiesta, the most photographed event on Earth.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Florence and the Machine in Albuquerque

My lack of posting lately was due to yet another trip, this time to New Mexico, celebrating a friend's birthday. I am back now, however, and ready to tell you about my NM adventures.  First up, here are some pictures I took at the Florence and the Machine show in Albuquerque.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mystery Plant

Last week I accompanied my friend Debbie to a few open houses in Kailua, and found this mystery plant in one of them. It looks great and I want one too! The only problem is I do not know its name. So if any of you readers can help me on this, I would very much appreciate it!  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Doris Duke's Shangri-La

One of my favorite places on the island of Oahu is Shangri-La, an oceanfront mansion built by the late heiress Doris Duke.  The property is now a museum, but can be visited only by reservation through the Honolulu Art Museum. They also hold events and receptions there occasionally, and I was lucky to get to visit at the night time. There is no photography allowed in the house. The pictures below were taken on the grounds during my last visit, when I accompanied some friends doing the "tourist thing".

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Two Faces of Macau - Part 2: Modern Gambling Mecca

In my last post I explored some sights of historic Macau. Now let's look at how these islands got transformed into a modern gamblers' heaven.

After the British established Hong Kong in the middle of the 19th century, Macau gradually lost its importance as a trading post. It dwelled in obscurity of over one hundred years, until the islands were handed back to China by the Portuguese government in 1999. The change in regime, brought prosperity to the Macau once again. With the liberalization of Macau's gaming industry, and the relaxing of travel restrictions from mainland China, it has become a bustling gambling destination.  You can find several  big name Las Vegas casinos having set up business here.  There is a Wynn, MGM Grand, and a Venetian. Gambling revenues have made Macau the world's top casino market, even surpassing Vegas.

We had dinner at the Wynn (lovely restaurant, 
superb service, forgettable food).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Two Faces of Macau - Part 1: Old Time Colonial Islands

Macau is a territory consisting of two islands in the Pearl River Delta, just off the coast of mainland China. It was a Portuguese colony from the 1550s until 1999, when it was given back to China. Today it is a SAR (Special Administrative Region) just like Hong Kong. You will need to have a passport with you when visiting Macau. The trip from Hong Kong takes one hour by high speed ferry.

The ruins of St Paul's Cathedral (built in 1602 
and destroyed by fire in 1835)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Busy, Beautiful Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a relatively new city. Though the area has already been inhabited thirty-five thousand years ago, it was never densely populated, until it became a British colony in 1842. Originally confined to Hong Kong Island, in 1860 the colony was extended to the Kowloon Peninsula, and then in 1898 the New Territories were added. In 1997, after the 99-year lease on the New Territories expired, the entire area reverted back to Chinese sovereignty, and it is now a Special Administrative Region.

Lots of construction is an indicator of a lively economy, and Hong Kong is indeed a booming city.  There are new buildings going up everywhere. The beauty of these modern skyscrapers is evident in not only in how architecturally interesting and polished they are, but also how well they complement the landscape. Hong Kong is a city of hills, and these gorgeous new buildings seem to grow organically out of the hillside.

The Bank of China Tower in the Admiralty area of the city.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

London Fashion Week Favorites

I am back home in Hawaii now, and a world over, in London, Fashion Week is in full swing. Here are some of my favorite outfits / trends direct from the runways. 

Lucas Nascimento Spring / Summer 2013
Black and white, as well as geometric patterns are definitely a trend. Sheer is also everywhere, and this is a very pretty example of the combination of the two.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hong Kong by Night

There are few cities with an amazing skyline such as Hong Kong. Whether you are looking down on the city from Victoria Peak, or from across the water in Kowloon, the night view never disappoints. 

The view from Victoria Peak

Thursday, September 6, 2012

In my suitcase: Hong Kong

Off to the Far East on Saturday, and it is time to think about what 
to pack. There will be a couple of fancy dress nights, so my new
Kate Spade cocktail dress is a definite suitcase item.  Some other 
pieces that are coming are my Michael Kors jeans and tweed jacket,
a few tailored shorts and blouses and of course heels. 
It will be my first time in Hong Kong, and I am really looking 
forward to it!

In my suitcase: Hong Kong

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Inspired Gardening

So I have had a bit of a gardening mishap over the weekend: stepped wrong and ended up face down, no, not in the dirt, but on a concrete pad. Nursing my banged-up knees, I spent some time surfing the net, and found this lovely picture which I just have to share.

A charming combination of plants and fashion, the photo is by Nicole Dextras. You can find it along with more pictures at Soiled and Seeded.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Seven Dos and Don'ts Of Visiting the Acropolis

As amazing as ancient Greek architecture is, your visit to the Acropolis can be a bit stressful if you do not go prepared.  Here are some things to keep in mind:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Equestrian Chic - Part Two

My last post on Equestrian Chic is still quite popular, so I have gathered a few more pictures that can inspire to decorate with all things horse related. Now that we are back from traveling, it is time to spend more time with horses! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Color for Teen Girl's Bedroom

While she is not a teenager yet - it is ten months away- she is at a new school and has just moved into her new room. Time to redecorate. Her favorite colors are lime green and lilac: obviously these colors are going to figure heavily in the decorating.  I have been searching the net and pinning inspiration for this color scheme.  Here are some of my finds. Do you have a favorite? Let me know!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Greek Theatre in Taormina

A highlight of a Taormina visit is the Teatro Greco, an ancient structure originally built by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC for theatrical performances. In the 2nd century AD (yes, that was 500 years later) the Romans reconstructed it to fit their entertainment choices, that is gladiator and wild animal fights.

The Teatro Greco would be a remarkable monument by itself, but what makes it especially splendid is its being situated on top of a hill with majestic views of the Ionian Sea, Mount Etna and Taormina. You can still catch a performance here - add one more thing to the bucket list!

This is what I call theater with a view! Mt Etna 
is puffing smoke quietly in the background.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Beautiful Taormina, Sicily

If you are one of my loyal readers you have probably noticed that I have not been blogging much lately. The reason is simple: I was busy traveling. However, all good things must come to an end, and this is exactly what happened to us - we got home after being gone for almost two months.  So I am back in blogging mode again and will try to post a little more regularly.

To make good on that promise, here are some pictures I took in Taormina. This beautiful medieval town is situated about an hour's drive from Messina, along the coast of  Sicily.  The quiet charm of the town (despite the thousands of tourists that can descend upon it every day) made me want to stay for a week, a month, a whole summer.

The landscape is dominated by Mount Etna (a quite 
obviously active volcano) in the background.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Kate Middleton and Her Lovely Herend China

The Duchess of Cambridge (aka Kate Middleton) has many things a girl can only dream of: royal husband, palaces to live in, killer wardrobe, romantic vacations with said husband.  The list goes on and on. She seems like a lovely lady with a great sense of style. 

Being competely content with my life I would not trade places with her. This being said, she does have a possession that I covet.  It is a Herend porcelain dining set, official gift of  Hungary to her and her husband Prince William for their wedding.  

I recently visited an exhibit of Herend china in Balatonfured, and this exquisite new pattern caught my eye. Taking a closer look, the sign said it was a redesign of the old Victoria motif, which was first created for (you guessed it) William's  great-great-great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria. This new pattern is much larger than the Victoria pattern, and the dominating color is a lovely light lavender. It is called Royal Garden and I absolutely have to have it! Below are some pictures I took of the set. Isn't it gorgeous?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Choices, Choices... But This Many? - Isles of Bounty

Whenever I visit Hungary (that is every summer), going to a large supermarket is always an experience.  We think we have large stores in the United States (hello Costco), well, we have nothing on little Hungary (and other European nations: I have been to similar sized food meccas in France or Italy too).  

Though the size of these establishments are impressive already, they still can compare to some of our U.S. giants (Wal-Mart, anyone?). What simply blows my mind is the coices of food that Hungarian supermarkets carry.  Whereas in my local Safeway, or Whole Foods Market in  Kailua, Hawaii, there may be five different brands of  sour cream to chose from, Auchan in Budaors, Hungary, has an entire isle of it. I can't even guess the number of brands.  It would take me three hours just to look at each.
The sour cream isle. Crazy, isn't it?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mount Vernon: George Washington Up Close and Personal

Just a short distance from Washington, D.C. in the rolling hills of Virginia along the Potomac River, is the home of George Washington, General of the Continental Army, Founding Father and first POTUS. 

It is interesting to note, that having accomplished so much in his lifetime, Washington wanted to be remembered not so much as a commander, statesman, or leader, but as a gentleman farmer at his estate, Mount Vernon. This was the home he returned to after his presidency, where he could devote his days to agricultural innovation. 

The front facade of the main home

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jefferson's Monticello

 Monticello - Italian for "Little Mountain"-, the plantation home of Thomas Jefferson, should be a familiar site to people. After all, it is depicted on the back side of the U.S. nickel (five cent coin). We recently had the good fortune to visit this beautiful estate, which was designed by Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, 3rd President of the United States. It is located just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, and is the only historic house in the U.S. on the United Nations' World Heritage List.

Built on a hill, with 360 degree views of the surrounding land, today the estate is owned and operated by The Thomas Jefferson Foundation. It is open to the public every day except for Christmas. We went on a beautiful June morning, and the flowers in the garden were in full bloom.  After taking a guided tour of the house, visitors are free to roam the grounds. Unfortunately photograhy is not allowed inside the building, so the only pictures I can share with you were taken outside. We explored the gardens and remains of the slave buildings on our own, but thare are also guided tours that start at regular intervals.
The back of the house faces a large lawn.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Delightful Garden in Richmond, Virginia

We had a little time traveling through Richmond, Virginia, and decided to visit the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  It is a lovely garden with a butterfly exhibit in the large conservatory.  There is also a tea house, children's water play area, a large tree-house, and many lovely paths connecting the smaller gardens. A truly delightful place!

 Colorful butterflies flutter around in the ButterfliesLive! exhibit

Monday, June 18, 2012

Colonial Lighting

The highlight of a visit to Colonial Williamsburg is touring the Governor's Mansion. Having burned to the ground not long after the Revolutionary War, it was painstakingly restored in the early 20th century.  While listening to the guide talk about the life and family of Lord Dunmore, last royal governor of The Colony of Virginia, I could not help but notice the beautiful light fixtures that can be found around the mansion. 

The dining room has a glass chandelier

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chowning's Tavern - Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg is an impeccably restored historical town in Virginia.  It served as Virginia's capital in the years both preceding and proceeding the Revolutionary War (1699-1780). Today, it is a tourist destination where people young and old can learn about colonial times, talk to guides and craftsmen in period costumes, and of course spend money on everything from souvenirs to dinner. 

After a long day of touring the town, you can reserve a table at one of the historic restaurants.  We chose Chowning's Tavern for our dinner, and had a lovely colonial meal in a beautifully furnished period restaurant with even some musical entertainment.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

New York City, French Food and Italian Opera

Last night, in search of some late dinner, we happened upon a restaurant called Papillon, on East 54th Street. As we entered, the Maitre'D asked us if we would like to sit downstairs, or "upstairs where the opera singing is"?  Of course we had to chose the opera.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Paris Memories

School is out! The house is full of kids playing. As I am getting ready for another summer,  preparing the house for our two-month absence, my mind wanders back to our adventures last year.  The week we spent in Paris in particular.  

While we had visited Paris before, this was the first time we have taken the children.  Paris is so much about art, museums, and food. Young kids just do not appreciate these things.  Last summer, however, we thought the time was finally right. Our youngest just turned seven, and we figured he would be able to handle the long hours spent at various museums. 

Turns out we were right.  The kids loved Paris.  We spent a happy week exploring the city. Saw the sights, lots of art, wandered the streets, and ate many, many macaroons. 

Lovely flowers abound. This was at the Luxembourg Garden.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tips for a Successful Herb Garden

Those of you who like cooking (or eating great food, for that matter), will appreciate the great flavors fresh herbs provide.  Running to the supermarket for fresh herbs every time you need a bit just to spice up a recipe can be a drag. There is also the problem of what to do with the rest of the herbs, once you have used enough for your particular dish.  The solution to the fresh herb dilemma is easy: plant an herb garden.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Color Inspiration: Yellow

Yellow is such a happy color. It looks great by itself, or you can pair it with white, grey or black. Just a little bit of yellow adds interest to a room/ picture/ outfit. 
Don't hesitate to find space for a bit of yellow in your life! I just did.

Photos: Pinterest and Polyvore

Yellow and black

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Art of Arranging

We all have random objects we love in our homes. The old wooden box you picked up at the flee market.  The sea shells you collected at the shore. The antique bell you inherited from grandma. The ceramic art your child has made. How to display them without making them look like clutter?  

The trick is to group and edit arrangements purposefully.  Pay attention to size, color, shape. What area of your home are you putting the items in? Public and private areas need different considerations.  Are you going to use any of the items on a regular basis? Are they purely decorative? 

Here are a few pictures with well balanced arrangements. Which one is your favorite?

Monday, May 14, 2012

What Francis Tapon Can Teach You About Following Your Dreams

If you know me well, you know how much I love to travel. In fact, I believe that the best way to spend your money is to go see the world. Although I have traveled extensively and even lived in four different countries, my experiences cannot compare to professional globetrotter and author Francis Tapon. 

Francis recently published his second book, The Hidden Europe, a volume documenting the three years he spent visiting all nations in the Eastern half of Europe. His book is a funny and insightful account of his experiences in these countries. Is The Hidden Europe a true travel resource book? Probably not. I would characterize it as an adventure travelogue, where you learn just as much about the author as about the places he visited. Francis is opinionated, irreverent, and refreshingly honest. He inspires his readers to go out there and experience these places for themselves. Here is my interview with him. 

Tallinn, Estonia 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Garden and Pool

Happy Aloha Friday! As I promised in an earlier post, here are some pictures of our back yard and pool. We designed the pool with the help of Steve DeBiasi of DeBiasi Pacific.  It took about two months to build.  All the lava rock surrounding it is textured and painted concrete. The guys who formed and brought these "rocks" to life are true artists.

 Behind the waterfall is a swim cave with a small 
hidden waterfall inside

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Five Fun Ways to Play - With Your Food

Because eating should always be a celebration, here are five ways you can  add a little fun to your food. These ideas are simple to execute and will be a great conversation piece for your next party.  If you don't want to wait until a home-based bash, make them for yourself, and turn your day into a party of one!

Mini-doughnuts and coffee

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Soufflé time!

A little while ago I found this recipe at and decided to give it a try.  It is a Grand Marnier Soufflé, baked in an orange.  Since this is my first attempt at baking soufflé, I enlisted the help of my friend Melanie.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Summer shopping list

Here are some inspirations of what I would like for my summer wardrobe. 
The white skinny jeans are a must; the espadrilles would be lovely. 
And of course, I am always looking for sunglasses. 

         Summer shopping list

Chinti and Parker stripe shirt
$125 -

Current/Elliott low rise jeans
$175 -

Stuart weitzman wedge
$365 -

Diane von furstenberg sunglasses
$161 -