• 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…

  • Food,  Garden,  Table Styling

    Raspberry cordial and rhubarb cake

    It is late June as I write this, but it happened to be the same moist, lush green and heavy on a drizzle day as month ago when I set off to photograph the Raspberry Cordial and Rhubarb Cake afternoon treat.  You would think that only children get restless when it rains for 48 hours non-stop…Think twice.  On day two of the rain deluge in the southeastern Poland, a town tucked away at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, in the region called Beskid Niski, I opened wide my parents’ garage  door, set up my trusty prop table stored there just for the occasion, and set up an afternoon tea. …

  • Food

    Easter at the table

    I will simply call it ‘Easter state of mind’.  Going back, it was truly the holiday that evoked Narnia-like world of ephemeral flowers awaking to the warm rays of sun, and everything that was delicate and wonderful and bound to disappear any moment. Wildflowers were at arms’ reach, when I was growing up, all you needed to do was to go to the end of the fields to a magical stream and cove called “debrza“, and pick to you heart’s content. Then, there were larch trees growing at the property, planted by my grandfather.  By the time I was in college, most of them had fallen in a particularly powerful…

  • Food,  Table Styling

    Wintry Blood Orange Pavlova

    Technically speaking, the winter was supposed to be over right now.  Still when the snow fell, I did not hesitate to head outside to photograph the cloud-fluffy meringue in, well, white fluffy snow.  Even my flowers matched, a random bunch of white carnations, as if they anticipated the snow… Pavlova stands up to all seasons, but is sure lovely in winter when the fruit can make up for the lack of flowers in all its prettiness… The recipes are countless. I like the one from Cal Peternell.  The reality check version, as I call it.  I highly recommend caramelizing blood orange slices. I followed the technique described in this this…

  • Food,  Table Styling

    Harvest Tales

    October in Poland had been really good to me for the past few years. Sun on the face that feels warm, but never overbearing, evenings still warm enough, at least occasionally, to have a bonfire and grill goat cheese and yes, foraged mushrooms. This year was a year of walnuts. We would start every day by rushing into the garden to play a game who can fill the basket first. Never mind we needed gloves to fend off the morning frost, on some mornings…And then, there was a constant shuffle of our bounty for the last of the sun rays to dry.  The days were shorter, for sure, but there…

  • Travel

    Wanderlust: Lisbon

    I never wanted to write a guide book, or even a blog post that would serve as a  miniature guide book. Not because of the research involved, but because I consider travel deeply personal event, and choose to express and convey my favorites places through photography and mood, rather than a list to follow.  I no longer pay much attention to “must see” lists of any destinations I go. I probably will never admit what I did not care to see in Rome for example…Still there are places that struck a chord with me that I am more than happy to share.  The memories though are a function of people…

  • Wanderlust Venice| totallybydesign.com

    Wanderlust: Venice

    Mention Venice even in a casual conversation and more often than not you are bound to unleash a monolog of “when I was in Venice…” type. What if you have never been to Venice? What if you want to go and just cannot bear the thought of crowds and the cliches? Well, I got you covered.  This past October I embarked on a solo 3 day visit to Venice, my first time to this city. Ryan Air had a great deal on a round trip ticket from Krakow, so off I went just with a carry on and my camera.  Read through for my survival tips and personal approach to…

  • Travel

    Williamsburg mornings

    Sometimes all it takes is few morning hours to restore the creative life spark. Welcome to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I have been long saying that this neighborhood of Brooklyn has the same eclectic mix as the Shoreditch, London, or my own Cambridge, Massachusetts. I am also happily adding Grünerløkka, Oslo to this category as of October this year. See two posts earlier why! It is still mind boggling to me, how few stops on the L train and you end up in a neighborhood that is such a far cry from Manhattan. I made my base at the Wythe Hotel, just to check out the decor, but also for its iconic…

  • Polish countryside 2017 | totallybydesign.com
    Food,  Table Styling

    Thanksgiving table inspiration from the Polish countryside

    The unassuming and humble materials for the table decor are all around us, even in the city. The sidewalk, the frozen over container vegetable garden, community garden, few supermarket chrysanthemums,  usually dismissed in favor of flashier roses.  This year, having just returned from the trip to the southern Poland, my inspiration was hiding in the photos. Dried basil branches are standing in for the dreamy grasses, but bring the same earthiness and whimsy to the table, and the fragrance is just a bonus. I like the tone-on-tone assembly of linen tablecloth and napkins made from the same batch of fabric. This is just a quick afternoon project, that really pays…