• Portuguese countryside - Totally by Design
    Food,  Table Styling,  Travel

    Portugal – countryside food tales

    Beyond my, now well documented, love of Lisbon there is a little secret. The countryside outside of Lisbon, all within less than 2 hour drive. Looking deeper, past the veneer of maybe little too perfect home renovations, there are still captivating stories to be told, with colorful local characters, oblivious to the demands of instagrammable perfect shots. Moments that unfold into stories, and only take time and curiosity to develop. Enter the village of Ericeira, on the Atlantic cost. While my traveling companions went into the cave looking for elusive sea urchins (elusive mostly because they were not in season!), I opted for the above ground vantage point, mesmerized by the waves. This is how I spotted a local fishermen in the churning and terrifyingly crashing waves. Sometime later, he was happy to tell me his story of the day, but only in a very animated Portuguese! Through little research I figured out that he was harvesting a local delicacy, gooseneck barnacles.

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    Meandering through the countryside on the back to Lisbon we stopped at Veronica’s farm. The table was set for a casual feast of clams cooked in a simple garlicky broth, bites of cheese, rustic bread and, of course, sardines. The conversation was just like the food, honest, unassuming, and wholesome. Challenges of leaving a steady job in Lisbon to focus on restoring the farmhouse and the small farmland, some successes, some failures, struggling orange trees, dreams and hopes. The every essence of gathering around food outdoors is that you can turn your gaze to the patch of garden where the strawberries on the table came from, or run your hand through the thyme perfuming the clam broth. The connection is made, the homage to the land and the human cultivating and foraging it is paid. Watching the golden light setting on nearby hills feels almost like a frivolous bonus by then.

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  • Carpathian harvest fairytale | totallybydesign.com
    Travel

    Carpathian harvest fairytale

    Fairytales happens when you believe in them. In the power of ordinary, imperfect, wabi-sabi that is….The power of little, but emotionally charged things, the power of imagination, the power of child-like (not childish!) enthusiasm. I headed to my hometown in Southern Poland recently knowing that some lovely objects are waiting there for me, thoughtfully gathered by my Father just for my photo storytelling. An old kitchen hutch, a table with peeling paint, but gorgeously preserved top by years of oil cloth cover up, a bench. They all come from an old log cabin home nestled on my parents property waiting to be re-invented, re-imagined and hopefully relocated, although this might prove too ambitious…

    But in the spirit of living in the moment, I gathered and styled a little scene in my parents’ shed with fruits and flowers from the garden. There is something immensely satisfying about stepping out the door into the morning autumn fog and gathering the branches and flowers by the armful, fruits by the basket, and forgetting about the crispness in the air and working with bare hands to style, nest, experience. Then, there is always my Mom’s cake and tea to melt into…

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  • LogCabinWindow | totallybydesign.com
    Travel

    Visual storytelling part 2 – home

    The title says it all. Home – as in opposite of travel. We all have places that ground us. For me, it is an early 1900 log cabin style dwelling that belonged to my maternal great-grandparents. It is located in Poland, at the foothills of Carpathian Mountains. I grew up walking by it every day: to grammar school, high school, coming back from university on weekends. It left our family, then in came back to our family… I photograph it every time I visit my parents and my hometown. I have photos from all seasons, and memories from all seasons. The house is unoccupied now, waiting for an idea, that I am not sure will come soon enough to save it, but it is in my heart. On a recent trip back home I showed my Dad articles from Country Living (US) about examples of cabin restoration. This lead to a very spirited discussion…

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