Sunday, September 08, 2013

Grace's New Home

Since my good friend M is busy moving out of her recently sold house she has not had time for blogging or house searching so I decided to do a bit of an internet house hunt for her. Normally she blogs cute photos of her daughter's baby fashion so I figured I would evaluate the properties from the perspective of a 1.5 year old. I do know that they want a bit of a project house somewhere in South County. I also decided they need at least 4 bedrooms so Grace and her future sister can each have their own rooms and there will still be a guest room for Aunties V and J to spend the weekend after drinking too much wine with mommy. Based on that, here are some options in no ranked order.

I don't have much info about this short sale but for $200k it seems like a steal and as a short sale, I imagine it will come with some projects. With 4 beds, 3 baths, and a garden, there is plenty of room for a toddler to grow and play.

This one is an early standout. It is on the market for $440k and not at all a project house but it has some impressive features for grownups and children. I'm drawn to the large covered deck and abundance of windows. It has cathedral ceilings which I know can be an issue for heating but just make a house feel so roomy. But what is a real draw is that it is part of an association with a pool, tennis and boat access. This is the perfect way to keep Grace entertained swim days, tennis lessons and not have to worry about the maintenance of a pool or driving a teenager to tennis practice.

At $250k, this Portsmouth property boasts 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and is in need of some updating. It boasts a water view and seems to be about 2 blocks away from the ocean which is always a plus in my book. It also has 2 kitchens which is something I seem to be finding more frequently than I realized while looking at US real estate. The 2nd floor is apparently set up as an in-law extension but it really seems to me like it needs to be viewed in real life as the photos are very hectic. This is the fixer upper for sure but it has a lot of potential.

To round out the set, we have this $300k 4 bed, 2 bath which is also in a private beach district. It attracted me to a couple of features aside from the neighborhood beach (the strongest feature). There is a serious outdoor entertaining space complete with stone counters and gas grill. There is also a fireplace which appears to be functional and there is a bit of charm to the curb appeal. The furniture of the current owner is, in my opinion, not doing the house any justice but there is a lot of potential here as well and it seems to have enough small projects for personalization while still being move in ready. It's also in the mid range price point.

M, I wish you a stress free move and best of luck in finding your next home! I hope g gets a beach in her back yard.


Tuesday, August 06, 2013


Time to pack for my vacation! Since I had so much fun with my virtual packing assignment for lil g's week by the sea, I think I will bring my camera to my closet and pack myself with a virtual tag along. I'm in the mental packing phase this week and hope to start the actual packing on the weekend.

Any pre-packing advice? How many dresses and shoes do I need for 7 days? It's clear I need at least 5 swim suits. Beach fedora - chic or so 2000 and late?

Monday, August 05, 2013


I just feel like I'm melting. I can't move or wear clothes. It is too hot. But I secretly prefer this to cold and rain and snow. So, bring it on summer! I promise to go swimming after work tomorrow and enjoy the heat. Today, I spent my evening with my book, my fan and my computer. Unfortunately the plug on the fan is not long enough to allow me to comfortably use the computer and the fan at the same time. As I typed that I realized I could have moved my lap top. My actual solution was o use my lap top for some online shopping. Want to see what I bought? All from C. Wonder and all for less than $100. #summersalescore

Red cardigan

This cozy cotton cable knit in white (how could I not buy that)

I also got a coral and white striped sweater and a lemonade and grey striped T. Clearly it was necessary to buy 3 sweaters and a long sleeve T in August. I wanted gold leather sandals with nautical embellishment (red coral) but they sold out since I put them in my cart last week. If only they would ship directly to me, I could buy more seasonably appropriate bikinis but the spring / fall sweaters will be a nice treat when I get them.

Now I'm off to bed where I can lay in front of my fan and cool down a bit while dreaming about swimming in the river tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

SUMMER! and Vacation Planning

Here in Switzerland, it's summer vacation. Schools are out, colleagues are away and the city is oddly calm. I realized it was summer when crossing the boarder to Germany last weekend. Where there is typically a line of traffic returning to Switzerland after some tax free shopping in the EU, there were hardly any cars. Moreover, the line of people waiting for their duty free forms to be stamped was non-existent. On Saturdays, I typically laugh at a line of 12+ people sprawled across the boarder office. All of this to say, I am here, in the city, in the office, dreaming of my next vacation.

Which brings me to the point of celebration, we're going to Africa in November!! I can't wait. I have slowly been expanding my travel outside my immediate comfort zone (Europe and US) and have only had great experiences e.g. Little Corn Island. We booked through Emirates and took advantage of the layover in Dubai to spend a day in the UAE before heading to South Africa where we will drive along the Garden route for a week. There should be whales,  penguins, and vineyards. Theoretically, we end in Port Elisabeth and fly to JNB to pick up our tour through Botswana and Zambia including 2 nights of tent camping in the Okavango Delta, and stops at Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls and a rhino sanctuary.  This trip is not yet fully booked but the planning gives me something to look forward to all summer.

Now to enjoy summer in Switzerland and book some hotels.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Guest Post - Grace and Josie - Toddler Prep

My favorite mommy is preparing for a family vacation to coastal ME and looking for some inspiration for her babe as well as some inspiration for her blog  Grace and Josie while she is away. Since I love beach babies, especially the blond ones, I happily volunteered to do some online browsing for little g. In case you have not figured it out by now, little g is the daughter of M, one of my best friends and former college roommates which makes me auntie J. Naturally, I'm going to be the cool aunt who shares those college stories of M locking her keys in the car at the worst time, playing Oozeball and dancing in the living room of our beach house. If she's lucky she'll even get the R rated versions. Unless of course I have kids by this time and don't want the reciprocal treatment form her mommy.

If I were a 1.5 year old beach babe, this is what I would pack for a week in Maine with my parents. I first went to the Lilly Pulitzer site but then realized Lilly is a bit to tropical for Maine. Sorry g, come back when you are going to FL and I will give you the best tropical inspiration. I've tried to include sources for purchase in case M wants to take my advice.

First, a few bathing suits. The ocean will be too cold to swim in my you need to be prepared just in case and I'm sure there will be a baby pool somewhere. Don't forget the swim diapers mom, these suits are too cute to have an accident!

Perfect from Maine, this suit packs the lobsters, from

Every toddler needs a bikini and this plaid one from Ralph Lauren is perfect for a New England baby and comes in a size 2 for little g.

I would round out the collection with this rash guard set from for some addes protection from the sun, sand and wind.

And this starfish and anchor one piece from Old Navy, you can never have enough bathing suits!
Starfish-Print Swimsuits for Baby

Every beach babe needs a cute floppy hat like this bright red one from that goes with all the bathing suits.

I know little g loves Hello Kitty and the girl's got great taste because she was my favorite as a kid too so I would complete the beach gear with this towel available at and pack it all in the matching bag.

Product Image 

Days at the beach in Maine are usually rounded out by cool, crisp evenings and a campfire if you are lucky. So a cozy hoodie or cable knit sweater is a must on this trip.
Big Pony Fleece Hoodie - Infant Girls Tops -  or  Classic Cable-Knit Sweater - Infant Girls Sweaters -

Any of these rompers fro Ralph Lauren would be perfect for a day of playing and they are all on sale. these one piece outfits will make packing easy but may not be the most functional for diaper changes.
Ruffled Cotton Romper - Infant Girls Dresses & Rompers - RalphLauren.comStriped Schiffli Mesh Romper - Infant Girls Dresses & Rompers - Linen-Cotton Summer Romper - Infant Girls Dresses & Rompers -

Dresses are the best part of a summer vacation. These are some of my favorites from Baby Gap. BTW did you know DVF has a baby gap line? These last two are from her collection and I love them.
Striped terry dressDiane von Furstenberg ♥ babyGap printed tank dressDiane von Furstenberg ♥ babyGap wrap dress

After packing the daytime attire, I would add in an evening outfit to go out to dinner with the adults.
This hairbow, simple tank and white skinnies should fit right in, all from baby Gap.
Striped bow headbandRibbed tankWhite skinny jeans

Don't forget the shoes. A pair of jellie sandals for the beach (Old Navy), jelly ballerinas for running around and some gold sandals that go with everything both from baby gap.
Glitter-Jelly Sandals for BabyJelly ballet flatsGlitter sandals
Have fun in Maine!! Take me with you next time and we can play in the surf together with matching beach hats.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

July 3rd - a Retrospective

Last night I realized that it was about to be July 3rd and became nostalgic about Independence Day at home.  Because the 4th (and 3rd) of July are just normal days in Europe. In fact, they aren't even summer days this year. I guess I should elaborate a bit on why I celebrate the 3rd. It's simple really, that is when my city had a hge fireworks display following the annual home game of the AAA baseball team. Literally everyone went to watch the fireworks. Growing up July 3rd always included a cookout with the most extended family possible at my Great Aunt's house from where you could watch the fireworks or walk a few blocks for a front row seat. Sometimes it was the only time of the year I saw my second cousins and it was ALWAYS a really fun day/night party. I hardly ever went to the baseball game because, as the locals know, the view is inhibited by the stadium roof. But the music in the stadium makes the show that much ore magical. By the time my grandma's sister became too old to host the party, I really didn't know what to do with myself, it just wasn't the same but it was not a problem for long because I was in college then I moved to Germany where 3rd of July Fireworks were hard to come by although I did find them once!

Today, as I walked home from my German lesson in the rain without an umbrella, i once again remembered it was the eve of the 4th of July. My thoughts wandered to this day in 2009 when we were in Japan. I looked at my phone to check the time I realized we would have been on our way up Mt. Fuji. That was the wettest, coldest night I have yet to experience in my life. Despite the misery of the overnight climb, getting completely ripped off in a mountain lodge, waking up at 4am to learn we would not even see a sunrise due to fog and then having to put our wet jeans back on to climb back down the mountain, it was a great memory. In 2010, I spent July 3rd at the wedding of a close college friend who I sadly don't talk to as much as I would like anymore but it was also a great day/night/next day. In 2011, I was in Las Vegas, having just split off from a road trip with one of my oldest friends and his now wife. In 2012, I was most likely working but I kind of draw a blank on that one. Now in 2013 I'm having a normal day completely soaked from the not so summery rain. I sit in my apartment in Basel awaiting the arrival of my husband with a dinner plan and realize that every July 3rd won't be amazing but I have some nice memories. I cherish them and hope to make many more.

Friday, June 21, 2013

My First Congress

I feel like I am still recovering from a whirlwind 7 days in Barcelona. Made it through my first conference with the new job and that's a huge milestone. Also had another not so exciting first, first time my flight was canceled due to a strike (air traffic controllers in France).  Here's a random selection of photos taken at conference events. I had some great vistas each night at dinner.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Transition through Versaille

I feel kind of odd following up such a fun tropical trip to LCI with the more somber, yet very interesting and personal, topic of my trip to the Normandy region of France. So, this is a transition. A warning of sorts. I want to share an emotional and historical trip through Normandy. I learned a lot about June 6, 1944 and the planning that went into what is forever to be known as D-Day. Ironically, the thing that connects our vacation to LCI to this trip to France was a trivia question posed at a tourist bar on the island, what does the D in d-Day stand for? My team didn't know the answer at the time but learned it was simply Day. Now I know much more about this Day Day than I even anticipated. But I want to take a beat and get my emotions sorted  through before putting it out there. Therefore, this is a post of photos.

On the way to Normandy, we stopped and toured the Palace of Versailles. It was as opulent as I had heard. After spending 4 years living near and working at a Baroque Palace, I thought I would be underwhelmed with Versailles but it lived up to its reputation. Enjoy the images I captured.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Little Corn Island 4 - The end

When I last left off, we were facing the facts that we may leave without out PADI open water scuba certification. Our classmate from Holland left without her certification and our flight was so soon. Dive Master Dan informed us that no one was going out but there would be a chance we could head out the following day. At this point, we had 2 days before catching the 6am Panga back to Big Corn in time for our flight. In case you are unaware, 12-18 hours on land are required between a dive and a flight so we were cutting it close. Thankfully that next day we could take advantage of the 1 to 1 student / instructor ratio and get in the water. We only got through half of what was planned for the day or 1/4 of what we had left but Dan was confident we'd be able to squeeze it all in the next day and be done with plenty of time for our dinner reservations.

And everything worked out. I am so so unbelievable happy to report this story has a happy, albeit slightly stressful, ending. We are card carrying PADI scuba divers! I don't for a minute regret doing the course on Little Corn either. We saw a turtle, rays and sharks among many reef loving fish, living reefs, conch, flounder (which look nothing like in the Little Mermaid BTW),   and so much underwater life. I hope we can return one day and dive more of the island sites.

Here's how we spent the last bit of our vacation.

Last happy hour at Casa Iguana

A goodbye view or my hammock perch

The ocean view from our Casita

Taking in the view for one last breakfast on the deck

Admiring the beach while waiting for our food

My last island breakfast of coconut french toast (with coconut maple syrup on the side) and scrambled eggs

Flowers I admired all week and finally photographed

Using the phone cam to access my sunburn status after 14 days, note the creeper in all black behind me, who wear that plus Doc Martins to a tropical island?!?

Paid our hotel bill and enjoyed a final rum and mango juice.

Little corn Island won our hearts. I am sure we will return one day and I can only hope it is as natural and awesome then as it is now. I fear it may soon be exploited but it is a true island paradise.