Sunday, October 24, 2010

Eating Your Way Through Europe

I love a good re-run. That's why I'm joining Chari at Happy to Design for her weekly Sunday Favorites. Sunday Favorites is a fun linky where you post a re-run of one of your favorite blogs of the past.

I have to warn you may not want to read this one if you're a) hungry, or b) need to head to the grocery store.
There's some serious food talk here...yummo!

If you’re just now joining us, we’ve been chatting about how anyone (that means You) can travel to Europe, and on a frugal mama’s budget! We’ve covered the general info and then dove into the details of travel and lodging.

This week we’re taking a peek at where to eat while in Europe.

Mama Mia…this subject always makes me hungry.

When in Rome, do as the Romans. In other words, while in Europe, eat like a European! Europeans are natural foodies (well, most of them are…) and they truly enjoy food.

My last trip to Paris was an all girls trip (actually it was an all mommies trip!) and believe it or not, my favorite part of the trip was our nightly evening meal. We spent hours over our meal with lots of wine and dessert included. We talked and talked and talked, with no interruptions. It was bliss.

So be ready to relax a little over meal time – Europeans cherish food and good conversation and you should too!

Here is how our food is typically mapped out within a day. Remember that this is the frugal mama way to tour, to get the best bang for your Euro budget!

Breakfast: we grab a wonderful cup of coffee and a pastry from the local bakery (there are @ 3 bakeries on every corner) and we’re on our way!

Lunch: if we are in more remote area, we stop that morning at a local market and grab some bread, tasty cheese, fruit, and water (or wine!) and pack it with us for the day. If we’re in a more metro area, we eat off the streets! (no, not literally…). We find the most delectable paninis, crepes and such, made right there in little street stands - they are wonderful and cheap!

Dinner: We only have about two actual nice sit-down dinners a week. Most nights we will stop at a walk-up restaurant or grocery and purchase fresh baked chicken and scrumptious salads…oh, and of course wine and dessert!

Eating this way will save you a ton of money, you will enjoy a great variety of foods, and you will actually be eating like a real European!

Here are some notes about Food by Country, based on our experiences:

Switzerland Favorites

KaseKuchen. In Germany this is their version of cheesecake (I’ll get to that later…), but in Switzerland, this is an amazing thin-crusted cheese pie. It’s a nice combo of emmental, gruyère, and appenzell cheeses and it literally melts in your mouth. Here’s a recipe that I found that looks pretty close to the real deal.

Poulet Curry Sandwich. This is just a basic curried chicken salad served on some tasty bread. Most bakeries carry this and it’s a perfect grab for lunch!

Laugen bretzel.
These are basic pretzels that have been split and made into a little sandwich. I literally eat my weight in these – I can’t stop. These are found in local bakeries.

Bircher Muesli. This is a must-have for breakfast. I’m not a big muesli girl, but this is a major exception. A mix of muesli, yogurt, fresh honey, juice, heavy cream and fresh fruit. Most tea rooms and hotels serve this. You will also see it in little yogurt cups at the grocery, but that’s not the real deal.

Last on the list for Switzerland (and most important) is a visit to the Sprüngli store. They make the most killer macaroons. I’ve tried them everywhere I can find them and nothing compares to the Sprüngli version. Tons of sugar, but not too sweet and they melt as soon as you bite into them. Besides sending your taste buds through the roof, look how cute they are!

The best advice for Italy, is to stay away from Italian restaurants that advertise a lot or those that are in the heart of touristy areas – go to those found in side streets that don’t have many tourists eating there – eat with the locals!

Gelato: all I can say about this is eat as much as you can possibly stuff down! I realize that there are gelato shops in the States now, but there’s nothing like a scoop of pure Italian gelato- and for only 1 euro per scoop!

The fresh fish on the menu is always tasty and if you order a steak, it will actually be a side of beef – they believe in big portions!

For coffee, order a Latte Macchiato (tiny bit of espresso with lots of foamy milk) – it’s the perfect pick-me-up.

For olive fans, there are Turkish olive bars all over the place. I accidently spent a whopping $22 on olives the first time I stopped by one (my husband was not amused). But trust me, it’s olive heaven.

The pastries are not as good as they look – they don’t use much sugar in them, so their flavor is very floury. Their cheesecakes look divine, but the looks are deceiving . Try one if you like, but your best bet will be a pastry that includes some good ol' German chocolate.

For breakfast, milchreis is amazing. It’s a version of rice pudding that is both filling and sweet.

A note about pizza – in both Germany and Switzerland, pepperoni is actually banana peppers. If you want our version of pepperoni on your pie, you have to order your pizza “mit salami”.


If you’re in a more metro area (Paris!), a quick bite can be found at Brioche Dorée. This is a little in and out café that has something for everyone, and you’ll see them all over the city. Prices are very reasonable and the food is always fresh and tasty. This is a no-frills eating experience, but if you’re looking to get back to the shopping district in a flash, this is where you’ll want to eat!

My personal favorite food in France is the Croque Monsieur or Croque Madame. Let’s just say it’s the gourmet version of a grilled cheese.
The Croque Monsieur is the simple version,

and the Croque Madame includes a fried egg on top.

My husband was the brave one to first order the Madame version and we ended up fighting over his sandwich. True story. It was worth the fight.

The Croque Monsieur/Madame is amazing for either lunch or dinner, and you can find this little foodie in both walk up cafes and nice restaurants as well.

So our trip down Euro-foodie lane was more extensive than I had planned, but it was deliciously worth it. Be sure to take a peek here next week - it's all about the frugal way to shop Europe. You won't want to miss this one!

Now that I’ve been through all these favorites, it looks like I’m heading to the store to stock up on some Euro cheeses. Mmmmmm…..I can’t get enough. Now if I could just find some Turkish olives as well…

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Finally Loving MY Home

One of my most loved jobs of the past was when I was a Merchandise Manager for Burdine's, in Miami. My sole task was to simply merchandise (and re-merchandise) different sections of the store. To say the least, I loved it. I would spend hours on a display and the time would just fly. This was many many moons ago...

Today, one of the things that I really enjoy about doing outdoor markets, is just that - the merchandising. Playing with every little piece to find the right home for each.

I often get the same comment while selling at markets - it goes something like this..."Wow. I'll bet Your home just looks amazing". Each time I smile graciously while thinking, "Couldn't be farther from the truth!".

I spend so much time on the little details of my business (I'm not complaining - I love every minute of it) that the house just gets the basics. Some cleaning, some organizing, but nothing fancy.

I have a bazillion home decor projects that sit and wait for me to get to them, and they just get dusted off now and then.

A few days ago, I decided to pull a major home project out of the cobwebs (literally out of the cobwebs...) and actually get it done. It's going to take some time, but I think we will be using it well by Thanksgiving. It's a new dining set for my kitchen!

I remember drooling over this cover page from Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion (April/May 2008) and have kept it in my Idea Notebook ever since. It's the inspiration for my new dining area, although I do have to tone the colors down a bit to match some pieces that I already have.

Dreamy, isn't it?

So, here's what I've started working on...

This table. I found it on Craigslist!

And primed. Color coming soon!

Comfy arm chairs Before. (also found on Craigslist!)

Comfy arm chairs primed. Color to come soon!

This is another set of smaller dining chairs that I brought back from Germany. They will be a part of this new group and they join the paint party tomorrow when I'm finished sanding them.

(Ok, so this pic may be a little too honest...can you tell that I may have a chair fetish???)

So that's what's in the works!

I'm really praying for this beautiful weather here in Colorado to hold on a little bit longer...painting in freezing temps is not my thing!

I'll keep you posted...literally!

Link up with these crafty divas...You'll be Glad You Did!


The Life of LouLou's first ever Linky!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Apologies...

Business was postponed today due to us welcoming a new baby to our world.

Welcome, Ms. Madalynn Lois and congrats to Cristi and Jeremy.

New babies are soooooooooooo scrumptious!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Sneak Peek...

Two days and counting 'till the shop reopens for the holidays!

Our shop was on hiatus for the summer, as we toted our wares to local markets. Market season is now behind us, so we're reopening our shop "doors" from now through mid January.

Holiday shoppers, start your engines!

Both today and Thursday I will post a few sneak peek pics featuring some of the new treasures...they are very fun!

Stay tuned....the shop reopens on Friday, October 15th. Just click our Shop Now button to get there!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Get Yer Paint!

Just a quick FYI that Hobby Lobby has their spray paint on sale this week - 25% off. I know that some of you are thinking, "and...".

Well, Hobby Lobby is one of the very few stores where you can purchase American Accents paint by Rustoleum. These spray paints come in great colors and the paint finishes beautifully!

I've done my share of refinishing furniture (I'm actually sanding and painting again this week...), and if you choose to use spray paint, this brand will save you a lot of time. (It may also keep you from using some naughty words in the midst of your creativity!).

For those of you who do not live close to a Hobby Lobby, I apologize if this sales announcement has caused you any anguish.

I just don't know where I would be without my Hobby Lobby...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Printing on Fabric

…the frugal mama way!

I found this great tutorial for printing on fabric via

If you’ve never been to this site, you have got spend some time on there. Anything you want to try (or didn’t even realize that you wanted to try) is there.

Now, I realize that there are special papers that you can buy for printing on fabric, but why purchase those expensive supplies when you can simply use….drumroll… freezer paper!?

That’s right. Good ol’ freezer paper is the key!

Ready to get started?

Here are your materials:

favorite fabric
roll of freezer paper
paper cutter
fabric scissors
ironing cloth
hot & dry iron
ink jet printer

1. Cut 8.5 x 11” sheets of freezer paper.

2. Using a hot & dry iron, place the shiny side of the freezer paper facing the wrong side of your fabric. Cover with an ironing cloth (clean piece of cloth) and press, moving slowly across each edge.

3. Cut your new fabric/paper combo to fit the 8.5 x 11” paper. This is to ensure that you don’t have any loose strands of thread that could get caught in the printer.

4. Get the type ready on your computer.

5. Place your fabric/paper combo in the printer – fabric side down. (actually, it depends on what type of printer you have…mine goes face down!).

7. Voila! You have a new crafty custom piece to play with!

Here are my letters…

I used them to make this bunting (aka banner) for my shows this summer!

If you would like the full tour video of this tutorial, just go to the instructables video link here.

Have fun with your new custom projects and be sure to show me what you've created!

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