Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

November 30, 2012

November is Done! Did We Have Fun?

I just came back from the airport.  Mom is Canada-bound and our the apartment feels extra empty.  She's been here with me from the start of my research stay and I'm so happy to have had the company (plus the help translating some stuff).  I am so lucky to have a Mom who is fun and funny and interested in the same things as me.  We get along so well, which I know is a real gift.  I'm trying not to be sad she's gone and focusing instead on being happy we had this time.  It's not often a married gal gets a chance to live with her Mom again, so they can share some European adventures (back in Canada, we live 1600 km apart)!  I feel very privileged.  But still a little sad (I can't help it).

Because today I'm thinking a lot about our last three months and the good times we had, I might as well round up what happened on Dans le Townhouse in November.  I've re-named this monthly round-up.  Although I fancy myself a creative type, naming things is definitely not my strong suit.  My MA thesis had the longest, least imaginative title and I'm not into naming my furniture or other inanimate objects either - save for Charlie, who was named Charlie after a long line of other automotive Charlies, Blinky (my laptop) and Printy (my printer).  See?  Not very imaginative.  Plus Blinky and Printy are normally just referred to by their nicknames: "that %$#&ing thing".

So . . . November is Done.  Did We Have Fun?  Although my bra doesn't seem to think so, I do!  Let's look back. 

Thanks so much for your lovely comments and emails about my Ottawa at Home DIY feature!  It was on my 30 before 30 list to have another DIY project in a magazine and it felt like such an accomplishment to check something else of my (slowly moving, perhaps overly ambitious) list.

I've been doling out some DIYs I tackled pre-trip, so I can get a taste of home each month.  I was really excited to finally share the makeover my triangle painting got.  If at first you don't succeed . . . paint over it!

Speaking of art, another reader tried my black & white painting tutorial and I think I like hers more!  I love how different but similar it looks.

Not just for canvases, a little acrylic paint on blank note cards made for some arty cards.

After a pretty sad DIY fail, I shared my DIY redemptionSuch a simple project, but it's the principle of the thing.  Plus, what a perfect chance to ogle my growing silhouette collection and my still-much-loved DIY magnetic board.

I also shared some sweet inspiration, imported from Budapest.  If you missed it, click here for an overload of eye candy, courtesy of the Budapest Christmas Fair. 

I also shared some photos of our visit to what has to be the prettiest gem of a gallery ever.

Being in Hungary for months now (have I mentioned this is visit number three for me?), I'm starting to see things how Hungarians do.  For example, black, red and white (a traditional Hungarian palette) is strangely looking good to me!  I rounded up some gorgeous spaces to fuel my interest.  (Don't forget to take a peek at the original post for the image sources). 

I have tried to keep posts about Budapest to a DIY/home design/artful eye candy/inspiration theme but every now and then, I shared something a little random, like our fun-filled day of chill (and cats) at Aquincum . . .

. . . or my new digs, in a former Castle!

Even with my gorgeous surroundings, I still dream of home.  It was fun to show you the new display case a childhood rock collection got.  Lucky Hubby has been admiring this new desk accessory for months!

We will miss New Year's this year (literally, with our travel and time changes).  Do you have plans yet?  A dress?  Accessories?  Why not clip a pair of sparkly clip earrings in your updo?  Even unloved clip earrings need some love during the holidays (fellas, sorry that post was so girly).

It will be such a funny feeling to go home in a month, but I am already cooking up some ideas - although it means some de-cluttering.  We chatted about getting rid of things, and you folks were no help - telling me to keep the armoire I finally convinced myself to sell!  :)  Good thing I didn't ask you beforehand if I should sell the glass salad tongs to the lovely boyfriend replacing his girlfriend's shattered (and deeply sentimental) set.  I did (and you can read the full story here)!  Such a weird blog happening, but it made the world feel small and friendly.

Because time and looking back is on my mind today, let's also feel weird about the fact that I celebrated my two year blogging anniversary!!  I hope you enjoyed my look back at some hilariously bad posts.

And that's another month, gone whoosh!  It's always fun to chat with you folks, and share my DIY (and sometimes non-DIY) adventures with you.  I'm looking forward to December, when I share the last of the DIY projects I have been hoarding and get a little sentimental.   

November 29, 2012

This Will Make You Laugh. Promise.

I am starting to live like a messy teenager here in Budapest, flinging stuff on available surfaces instead of putting things away ("I'm too tired," she whined).  This is so unlike me!  My bra is obviously unimpressed:

I can't believe I just showed you all my mangy bra (I seriously have better and prettier ones!) but I had to show you because I almost died laughing when I saw the scowling "face" that had appeared overnight.  Can you spot it, or have I been spending too much time in the mulled wine?  I can't even look at the photo without bursting into giggles.  

Laughing is good, because my Mom's flight home leaves tomorrow :( 
We're off for one last adventure.  And mulled wine.
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November 28, 2012

The Heat is On (But I've Got New Digs)

Technically I don't live in the library (so I can't really call it "my digs"), but moving library spaces felt as huge as moving apartments would.  Awhile ago, we left that super pretty library (remember the comfy chairs?) and moved to the Hungarian National Library (Szechenyi Library) which, although beautiful and housed in a former CASTLE, on a hill, has rock hard chairs.  My bum cares less about the history and more about not being permanently flattened.  But this library is open until 8:00pm and, with my research deadline looming, late nights have been necessary!

The whole area by the library is a major tourist attraction, with the former castle now acting as a museum as well (this part of Hungary is on my swell new day timer too).  Up here you will also find important sites like Matthias Church (that's the church with the stunning turquoise roof in this series of photos) and Fisherman's Bastion.  Plus there is an excellent view of the city, including striking views of the Parliament.

The first few nights we worked late, we stumbled out of the library dazed and alarmed that the local patisseries were closed (no cake?!?), but now we've learned to stop and marvel.  What a treat for the eyes (I'm not sure my belly needs any more treats anyway).

Really foggy nights (or is this smog?) make for an even more amazing sight, because the world looks fuzzy and glowy.

Yup, the heat is on in terms of needing to really boogie to get the rest of my research done, ideally by mid-December, but the heat is also literally on at home.  Readers had asked how our weird little heating system works and now I know!  It's called a "cserép kályha," which means tile stove (here's a bunch more), and it is heated with gas.  The pilot light was a little alarming at first, but we got used to it and really love this heating system!  It heats metal behind the stove and the tiles keep the heat, radiating it into the room.  I haven't had a gas bill yet (I'm scared!) but we rarely turn it on because it keeps the apartment toasty for long, so I'm hoping it's cheap to run.  It extends to the other side of the room, where we tuck our clothes dryer, which makes the rest of the apartment warm, plus it dries our clothes in record time!

cserép kályha

Coming home is a treat because (being that I am so silly), I barely packed enough warm clothes.  I had to buy a hat and warmer socks!  I think I thought, "I'm a tough Canadian, we get 50 feet of snow, what's a Hungarian fall to me??"  But boy, is it damp here - that bone chilling, ear hurting cold.  Especially when one is traipsing around in a fake version of the Labyrinth of Buda Castle.

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November 27, 2012

Black and White and Red All Over?

Top and bottom left photos mine, black & red embroidery from here, placemats from here, red and white felt from here.

Maybe I'm wrong (Hungarians, chime in) but it seems that red and black, or red and white, are very traditional, "Hungarian" colour pairings.  I've never been into red, black and white but you know how even if you might not like something, sometimes if you see it enough times, you kind of get on board?  Well, after seeing red, black and white in the Museum of Ethnography and in Hungarian crafts and art (traditional and contemporary), I'm starting to think there's some potential in the colour palette . . .
Desire to Inspire

Fresh Home

Centro Architecture


All House Design


Go Yovo


I'm liking all of these red, black and white spaces.  I think the key is lots of neutrals, like a healthy heaping of white (mmmm, you know I love white), with black and white accents used sparingly, or for a focal point.  Clean, contemporary lines keep the look from being too gothic. 

Yup, seems like I'm sold!  Are there any colour palettes you never thought you'd like, but now do?  Or am just exceptionally susceptible to peer pressure?
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November 26, 2012

Touring the Budapest Christmas Fair + Craft Market in Vörösmarty Square

Sad-sack me clearly needed a little pick-me-up over the weekend, so we headed to the Budapest Christmas fair and I bought a puppet: 

I am totally normal for buying this puppet because it's a gift for my niece and I have NO plans to buy one for myself.  It is handmade by an adorable older couple and the gentlemen just sits there, puppeting (is that a word?), so it's impossible not to get draw into their booth.  Actually, the whole market is delightful and chock full of eye candy.  But can you believe these artisans will be freezing their tushies off in this outdoor market all December???   

Budapest Christmas Fair
Budapest Christmas Fair
Budapest Christmas Fair
Budapest Christmas Fair
Budapest Christmas Fair
Budapest Christmas Fair
Budapest Christmas Fair
Budapest Christmas Fair
Budapest Christmas Fair
Budapest Christmas Fair
Budapest Christmas Fair
Budapest Christmas Fair

Of course we couldn't leave with just a puppet!  Mom bought this pair of oil paintings . . .

Budapest Christmas Fair

. . . and bought me one too!

Budapest Christmas Fair

Then I bought a set of four enamel paintings.  They are the same landscape in spring, summer, fall and winter.  I had to buy the set because, come December 21st, I will have visited Hungary in all four seasons!  But I asked for them sans frames (and the price was lower as a result) so they will be easier to bring home and I can frame them to suit the townhouse. 

I bought this day timer as well (am I the only person still using these?) and the vintage Budapest map on it features - of all the neighborhoods - my exact apartment!  I'm loving these sentimental, made-for-me treats.  Maybe this is my karma coming around?

When Hubby comes for a visit, he will have to learn to live without gotch and socks because I am going to need a good chunk of his suitcase space for these treasures.

Have you started hitting any holiday craft shows?  Seeing all of the hard work and creativity that went into these 100 or so booths made me really happy and inspired.  
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