Monday, September 30, 2013

I Heart Reading

Down time. I have some right now so I thought it would be the perfect time to blog even though I am not sure what to say! Currently, I am sitting on my morning commute train. On a normal day I would study my German books but this past Thursday I passed the second level. Sehr gut! Other times I would read my book but I finished it last night. I can blog about....nothing in particular.

Let's talk about what I just read.

This past spring one of the British girls at work introduced me to author Lindsey Kelk's "I Heart..." series. A handful of us girls ended up passing around all the different Kelk books to one another over several months. During our coffee breaks we would discuss the book characters, what was currently happening in the books, and which guy would we want to marry. The books are light- hearted and entertaining with story lines a tad bit like an adult version of Mean Girls. 
Reading I Heart London in the summertime!

Author Lindsey Kelk is originally from London but is now living in New York City. Her writing style is flirty and adventurous.  Think Sex in the City with a British flare.  How cool would it be to live in NYC, have a keen sense of fashion, frequent the trendy places and then use some of your real life experiences to write fictional plots?  Basically, I want to be Lindsey Kelk when I grow up!

The "I Heart..." series starts with the book "I Heart New York" introducing the reader to a handful of colorful characters and couture designers that will leave your mouth salivating.  Ever since I started this series I have been dreaming of owning a beautiful leather Marc Jacobs satchel. At the end of the books (New York, Hollywood, Las Vegas, Paris, and London) Kelk provides recommendations of hip places to eat, drink, and shop if you are in that certain area. This definitely would make for a more fun travel guide!
I could be an author with a bag like this!

Last night I finished reading the newest book, About a Girl. Normally, I save my reading for the train rides but between Saturday and Sunday I couldn't put the book down. The book ended with a cliff hanger and I was forced to make up my own opinion. *Over-dramatic gasp* How dare that book!? The book has a sequel coming out Summer 2014. I am not sure how I can wait that long! I must know what happens...

If you are looking for an entertaining escape into the fashion world, check out author Lindsey Kelk. If you want Sci-Fi...I can't help you there.

Mainly Reading,

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall Into Karusa

Exactly one week until October 1st which means....
Last month I started selling my crafts at a handmade and vintage shop here in Munich called, Karusa.  You can read about that exciting experience here.  If you stopped by, you saw that my little space was decorated with vintage hankies, cupcake holders, and old jam jars.  

Well that has all changed now.  It is out with the old and in with the FALL!  My little tiny space in Munich has had a complete seasonal change.  It is all about the jack-o-lantern and celebrating Halloween!

See the outside garland with the hanging clips?  That is made of material and ribbon left over from my Halloween Ribbon Wreath.  

Halloween has just started becoming a "thing" in Germany.  The kids these days see American movies with Halloween and it is slowly making it's way over the Atlantic.  Last year Husband was shocked when two kids rang our doorbell.  Unfortunately, we weren't prepared with gobs of candy...for shame!  

It will be interesting to see how the Halloween crafts do on the shelf in Karusa.  Compared to the candy filled, rubber masks, and polyester costume filled six Wal-Mart aisles, our local grocery store here in Munich only has a tiny end-cap of skeletons and witch hats.

This owl was soooo easy to make.  I think he is adorable and can not wait to make one for my own house!  

This is the new glitzy candy corn inspired yarn wreath also available in the Karusa shop.  

Speaking of candy corn...I saw Starburst has come out with fruit flavored candy corn.  I love Starbursts and fruit flavored candy but I don't know how I feel about messing with the original candy corn flavor.  Some things are just meant to be left alone.  Does anyone know if I can find candy corn here in Munich?

Don't forget tomorrow is the last day to enter our Oktoberfest GIVEAWAY! Become a follower of Mainly Maren for a chance to win this set of four unique Oktoberfest girl magnets from the Etsy shop CUTandTEAR.  The winner of the giveaway will be announced tomorrow evening! 

Happy One Week to October,

Sunday, September 22, 2013

DIY Halloween Ribbon Wreath

September is ending, the leaves are changing, and pumpkins are being sold at the farmer's market.  Fall is here!  This weekend I started getting the Halloween decor out of storage...then Husband told me it was too soon to decorate! *Gasp! What?! It is not too early to decorate for Halloween.  He requested I wait until October 1st to bring out the ghosts and goblins.  I quickly responded that maybe it was too early to make chili and Husband didn't say another word.  Now our house is looking spooktacular!

Getting out our Halloween decor reminded me of one of my all time favorite projects, a Halloween Ribbon Wreath.  I created this wreath two Halloweens ago bored on a Sunday afternoon. 

Even though the wreath is boxed up in storage back in the States, I still thought I'd share this fun easy project with you!

My favorite, sometimes most time consuming, indecisive part of a project is picking out the materials!  Since this ribbon wreath was last minute, I headed to my local Michael's but there are plenty of craft retailers online.  At Michael's, I stood in awe for about 10 20 30 minutes staring at the beautiful assortment of Halloween ribbons. There I tried to decide which ribbons go best together and match the vision in my head. 

Who else does this...  You stand in an aisle debating with yourself over rather or not to spend an extra dollar on something for so long.... that you've wasted a dollar's worth of your time?

At Michael's I picked out around 3 spools of Halloween ribbon.  Then I dug in their clearance bin and brought out 2 coordinating black and orange ribbons.  To add to the assortment of ribbons, I also bought a black bandanna.  At home I had leftover black material with white polka dots that I cut into strips along with the bandanna.
I mostly choose black ribbons with a few orange and green accents.

Usually, I use foam wreath rings but for the ribbon wreath I bought a 14" wire wreath ring.  Michael's also had plain white foam letters, so I picked up the ones I needed for "BOO".  I chose "Boo" because it was cheaper than "Spooky" or any other Halloween term. Gotta love saving a buck or two!

At home, nestled on my couch I began cutting all the ribbons into 8-10" lengths.  The polka dot and bandanna material I cut into 1"x10" strips.  Since the material was cheaper and I had more of it than the ribbons, the majority of the wreath is the polka dot and bandanna.  

After cutting the ribbons and material strips, I arranged them in alternating orders as to how I would tie them on the wire wreath ring. You can choose to tie randomly, but my sometimes guest appearance of OCDness would not allow me to do this.  To not waste unused material and ribbons, I only cut a handful of strips at a time, tied them all on the ring, then cut a bunch more as I needed, and repeated.

I painted the "BOO" letters with green acrylic paint.  After the paint dried, I brushed a layer of Mod Podge on the letter tops and sprinkled them with green glitter.

After the letters were finished, I played around with their placement on the wreath.  Turning the wreath around on the backside I realized I liked the  more uniformed ribbon look rather than having the ribbon ties of the front.  This was my personal choice for this wreath but the messy tied look on the front could be cute too.  I hot glued "BOO" to the bottom and the wreath was complete! 

Check out my Valentine pj pants reflecting in the glass...Classy!

Have you started decorating for fall?  Or is it as Husband says "too early"?

Also, don't forget to become a follower of Mainly Maren for a chance to win this set of four unique Oktoberfest girl magnets from the Etsy shop CUTandTEAR.  The winner of the giveaway will be announced Wednesday evening!
Don't Forget to Enter Our Giveaway!

Make Life Bootiful,

Saturday, September 21, 2013

It's Baaack...Oktoberfest

The world's largest beer festival kicked off today here in Munich.  Oktoberfest is celebrating it's 180th year with 16 days of hustling-bustling beer tents, obnoxiously illuminated rides, and enough fair food to spoil my calorie count all the way into November. It's time to get Bavarian! 
Oktoberfest 2012 Opening Day Parade

Husband and I are planning on making our first visit of the year to Oktoberfest sometime next weekend.  We've talked about doing an Oktoberfest Dinner Night where we head to Theresienwiese (the grounds) just to try a bunch of the yummy fair foods.  The fair food is a bit different than the State Fair of Texas.  There are no corny dogs or deep fried margaritas!  Some of my favorite foods at Oktoberfest are Nutella crepes, reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), rotisserie chicken, and fried apple spirals.  Husband prefers to eat schweinshaxen, bomb splitters (round marshmallow chocolate puffs), and of course a liter (or two!) of Oktoberfest beer.
Oktoberfest 2012

Last year Husband and I went to Oktoberfest around three times.  We'll probably do around that again this year between work get together and friend meet ups.  We still do not own traditional Bavarian dirndl and lederhosen.  I finally started looking around to see what style I like.  I do know that I want my dirndl to be proper, not one of the short cheapos, and most importantly, I don't want to look like I'm going out to milk an alpine cow. 
I love the silky green material and detailed edging on the above dirndl.  I think of dirndl shopping like buying a prom or bridesmaid's dress.  Even though I will probably promise to Husband "I will wear it again next year...please..." when the time comes around, I will want a new dirndl every year.  I can imagine it becomes addicting buying dirndls!

So in honor of Oktoberfest and all the BEAUTIFUL dirndls out there... I'm having another 

These Oktoberfest doll magnets are designed and handmade by my friend, Kate, artist of CUTandTEAR. The four girls are wearing traditional German dirndls inspired by designer couture. How cute would these girls decorate your office space or refrigerator?!

To Enter the Giveaway Choose One of the Options:
1. Follow this blog, MainlyMaren
    - Just click "Sign In"
    - Pick "Google, Twitter, or Yahoo"
    - Hit "Sign In"
    - Log in with your account and you are done!
2. Share this link on your Facebook 
3. Leave Husband and I a comment!

The winner will be announced Wednesday night!

Be sure to check out CUTandTear's Etsy shop for more styles specializing in lingerie and vintage designed bookmarks, cards, and more. 


More Oktoberfest

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Boys and Crafts of Fall

The first week back to school, loads of rain, and the need of warm sweaters.  Fall has arrived here in Munich, Germany.  So Husband and I celebrated this weekend in true fall style!

Saturday morning we headed to our local flea market where I was able to restock some of my craft supplies.   I also took this time to practice my German bartering skills.  Each time I tried, I had success!  The Flea Market was very similar to ones I have attended back in Texas.  Seeing a crowded mix of all sorts of people felt a lot like being at Trades Days, with the lack of mullet sightings.  For a split second, I even thought I was back in the South when Husband and I heard the song "Country Road" by John Denver playing. 

So we looped arms, walked the flea market row, and sung together:
"Country roads, take me home 
To the place I belong 
West Virginia, Mountain Mama 
Take me home, country roads" 
Bargaining for Buttons

Husband and I both grew up in Texas where Friday nights are spent under the bright stadium lights of a football field.  Later on, we both went on to universities that boost large football programs and even larger school spirit.  Every Fall we Husband makes it a priority to get back to those glory days and attend football games.  The downside of living in Europe is now attending those football games (not to be confused with soccer!) is not possible.  
2010 Texas Tech Victory! Rushing the field post-game.

So last night Husband made a big pot of Texas Chili and baked cornbread to commemorate college game-day.  Sitting around our computer screen, we streamed the Texas A&M v. Alabama game which was considered one of the, if not the, biggest games of the season.  It might not have been in person, but Husband said "This almost feels like being back at home."
Tailgating Fall 2010
Texas Tech University's Goin' Band from Raiderland
West Texas Girl's Roadtrip 2010

Sunday has been spent getting started on my inventory for an upcoming Christmas Market.  Details coming soon!  Check out my latest design:
One of Husband's gifts last Christmas was a year supply of cookies.  Basically it's "Cookies of the Month" for the entire year.  Each month I bake a batch of special cookies designed for the time of year.  Since Fall is just starting, September's cookies were Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies.  These cookies turned out to be what I like to call "muffin cookies" that used no sugar, only egg whites, and pumpkin puree.

Everyone keeps posting their photos of their first Pumpkin Spice Lattes of the season.  Unfortunately, Starbucks does not serve Pumpkin flavoring in Munich, Germany.  Knowing this, my friend sent me a homemade recipe for PSL.  Husband and I bought the ingredients this weekend and plan to make ourselves a cup of PSL tonight.  I think these Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies will go great together with the Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

Have you started enjoying the changing seasons?  How does your family enjoy the Fall months?  Football, Pumpkin flavors, camping in the foliage?

Make Fall Beautiful,

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Giveaway to Celebrate!

In preparing for this blog entry, I may or may not have been inspired to listen to Christmas September.  You will see why, further down in this entry.

If you have been following along in the blog this week, you read that I opened a teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy shop (Can you call a shelf a shop?) here in Munich.  After putting several wreaths on display, I saw that my shelf had quite a bit of unused space. 
So... I created these floral bobby-pins using fabric scraps, random buttons, and a girl's best glue-gun. 

For the display, I used items that I already had on hand. 

Getting back to the Christmas music. In Germany, wreaths are almost an exclusive Christmas tradition.  The concept of using a wreath to decorate the front door, to celebrate a birth, or even to bring in new seasons is not very common.

This is quite different in the United States, or at least in the South.  My mom has a closet strictly for storing wreaths.  My grandmother even had a row of homemade wreaths hanging on a rope in her laundry room!  Just a quick glance around on the internet and you will find a massive assortment of cute wreath ideas. A cheerful wreath on the front door is a great way to greet your guests. 

So...I must wonder, why are wreaths not used all year round in Germany?  Here is where I want your help!   
I'm looking for people to email me pictures of their wreaths hanging either on the front door or on a wall.  I would love to use these pictures to show the Germans how wreaths are being used all year.  I know I could just get pictures off of the internet, but I thought it would be fun seeing actual pictures from the readers of Mainly Maren. 

Let's make this a giveaway! For each person who sends me a picture, I will put their name into a drawing for a pair of the new floral bobby-pins.  The giveaway will end this coming Friday at 3 p.m. Central time. mainlymaren@gmail(dot)com

Spread the Cheer,

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Exciting News for Mainly Maren!

Exciting news today...Mainly Maren has officially hit the shelves (well, one shelf at least) in Munich!  That is right.  I am now selling my wreaths in the local handmade specialty store, Karusa.  For a few months now, I have been debating opening an Etsy shop but with the high cost of shipping, this seems like the best option for me.

It will be interesting to see what sells here in Germany and I am looking forward to learning more about the market.  Right now, the crafts I see around in the markets and stores tend to be traditional Bavarian styles.  Think deer antlers, hearts, mushrooms, and elves.  Will the Germans take to the American style crafts?  We shall see!

Here is what is currently in store:

The Newest Project- "Baby Blue Bird"

Check out my German labels!

Special thanks to Raw Lux Gems for the information on Karusa.  Also, if you stop by the shop, make sure to check out Cut and Tear's Oktoberfest dolls! Buy homemade y'all!

Support handmade!
Graphic By:

Make Life Beautiful,

Monday, September 2, 2013

Brussels Trumps Paris?

Summer's end. The time of year when the morning air suddenly has a bit of a nip and my favorite white linen skirt gets just one more wear before seasonal hibernation.

Husband and I grabbed one last chance to travel in our final days of summer. We spent the weekend, six hours northwest, in Brussels, Belgium.
World Heritage Site- Grand Place

When Americans plan European vacations, the top visits tend to be France, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Belgium is not even rated in the Top 25 European Destinations according to TripAdvisor. The tiny country is often overlooked, nestled in between France and Germany. Belgium, the European Union capitol, is either underrated or one of the best kept secrets. 
Where the King Works

We loved Belgium! I daresay that we enjoyed just two days in Brussels over six days in Paris. How is that for a bold statement?

Beautiful Brussels

Husband and I stayed right in the city center in the Saint Catherine's district. The heart of the Brussels, The Grand Place, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The cobbled stoned, 17th century guild hall lined square is considered the best in all of Europe. I felt like I was standing in the middle of a dollhouse village.
You must see this square!

We participated in a free (tips) three hour walking tour of the city. With only two days, this was a great crash course to what Brussels is all about. The guide lead us through the charming streets, sharing historical information along the way.
"Marin" Close Enough!

Saturday night, Husband and I did yet another tour, a Belgium beer tour! Belgium is known worldwide for it's craft beer. Our guide explained to us about trappist ales (brewed by monks), lambic beers (wild yeast) and wheat beers. It was a dream come true for Husband!
At Delirium Beer Pub

And of course we ate Belgium waffles, fries, and chocolates but no trip would be complete without a steaming pot of mussels in Brussels.  After our beer tour, Husband and I ate dinner on the patio of Rugbyman No. 2.  The food was outstanding although the service was slow (by American standards) as is the case in most Parisian styled dining experiences.  Meaning, our meal took close to three hours and included several courses.  Both of us choose a fantastic lobster soup as our starter, wine mussels and garlic cream mussels as our main course, creme brulee for dessert, then ended it all with espressos and the famous speculoos biscuits.  We even got to enjoy the company of our neighboring table, retired U.S. Diplomats still in love with Brussels.
Mussels in Brussels!

With good food, great beer, a melting pot of culture, art galleries, gifted street musicians, and a heart of politics, I couldn't help but feel the similarities between Austin, Texas and Brussels, Belgium.  If you are planning a European vacation, this city is well worth a few days stop.  You will see how quickly Belgium can get under your skin.
Spotting Artwork 

Au Revoir,