NOYO Blog » Seasonal Living

Astrid's secrets for the perfect summer!

May 20, 2014 0 Comments
Summer is those precious few warmer months when days are longer and life just feels a little bit more care-free. Summer is for outdoor lounging, al fresco dinners, fun parties, spontaneous trips, gelato and catching fire flies.
Don't let summer pass you by! Here a few of my favorite ideas and products to make the most of your summer!


Outdoor lounging

Nothing feels more like summer than lounging outdoors. I am not talking about just eating outside, but about bringing your reading, your tea time, your games and conversations outside.
Outdoor rugs and pillows are a great way to define a space and invite to stay and linger. I love the fresh colors and patterns of these outdoor rugs by Worldmarket.




You cannot always lounge outdoors as often as you would like. Bring the blue skies into your bedroom by changing up your headboard. A clear customer favorite is Blue Sky with friendly Clouds, comes in all standard bed sizes. 



There are many more summer designs to choose from, check them out by selecting the "summer icon" on the Shop page - which one is your favorite? 


Dining al Fresco

Food is especially delicious when you enjoy it during its Season, when Nature provides it for us and you can find it in your local Farmer's Market or in your own garden. I am thinking juicy tomatoes bursting with flavor, crunchy salads with a variety of greens and veggies topped with edible flowers and delicious meats and fish directly from the BBQ. My go to source for mouth-watering recipes is Bon Appétit magazine, always at the pulse of what is fresh and new, yet wonderfully connected to where our food comes from and when and how it is best enjoyed. Check out the May issue for great summer recipes. 


I dress my Al fresco dinners with plates and trays by Paola Navone. I have long been a fan of this Italian Architect, Designer, Artist at Life and all-round Renaissance Woman. 



Her work spans over 30 years of brilliance, both in Italy and abroad, but her latest collection for Crate and Barrel is a stroke of genius. I love using these dishes as they instantly put me in a great mood.



Fun parties

Summer parties are the best! All you need is some easy to prepare delicious umber treats (see Al Fresco Dinners), summery drinks and cocktails. Create a summer vibe by lighting up the night with colorful lanterns. I love the ones from Cottonlight on Etsy. They have texture, interesting shapes and come in a  whole rainbow of colors and shapes. Now just add music that makes you want to tap your feet and enjoy your summer party.






Why resist the temptation of Ice Cream and Gelato, especially during these warm and balmy summer months. My go-to Gelato is my draw friend Margaret's Lickt Gelato, right here in Maplewood.



If you are lucky enough to be near a store or restaurant that sells Lickt Gealto, try the new Kale/Blueberry or the summer favorites Salted Caramel, Cram Raspberry Lemon Sorbet and Watermelon Basil Sorbet and let her know how you like it.
If you live outside her reach, try finding an artisanal Gelato maker in your area by googling "artisanal gelato" or "gourmet ice cream" and support a local small business in the most delicious way!


Spontaneous Trips

Whether you are a planner or an improviser, spontaneous trips are a treat and add some spice to your everyday. It can be a humble trip to a new farmers market or trig out a new restaurant. Or you venture further afield by exploring a new park. Bring a pic-nix basket and a blanket, kick off your shoes and take in the taste and scent of summer.



Catching fire flies

Most of us have memories of catching fire flies or lightning bugs on warm summer nights. Many people keep them in jars - sometimes a jar full of fire flies can produce enough light to read by.



If you want to catch fire flies, take tips from the experts of to help you along!
What makes your summer special? 
Live it up and Enjoy the Season




Feng Shui for your bedroom

January 20, 2014 0 Comments

What is Feng Shui?

Feng Shui is an ancient practice based on the idea that our homes are a mirror of what's happening inside us. The purpose of feng shui is to get your environment in alignment with who you are and where you want to go - to harmonize your energy with your home's energy. How to do it is to carefully consider what you bring in, how you arrange your rooms and how you maintain the place. Everything has energy, even inanimate objects. Feng shui helps guide that energy and let it flow freely through your home. 

While feng shui flows through your whole home, there are many thoughts on how to best use feng shui for your bedroom. Not surprising - it is your personal sanctuary where positive energy should reign and flow abundantly. 

Feng Shui for your bedroom

It is best to have an interplay of feminine and masculine details. For example create a bed that feels solid but sumptuous by combining a wood bed frame (masculine) with an upholstered headboard (feminine). Check out Mosaic design by Jessica Swift. The contrast ensures that the room feels balanced: energized, yet restful.

Where should the bed go?

Ideally, the head of the bed is on the wall farthest from the door but not directly across from it. Feet pointing directly out the door is known as the "coffin position" and should be avoided. A sidewall is also OK - but no matter what, make sure you have a clear view of the door.

If you are stuck with a layout that demands the coffin position, put a settee or a high bench at the end of the bed that 's slightly higher than the mattress, or place an upholstered screen between the foot of the bed and the entry to shift the energy.

Can one side of the bed be against a wall?

It's OK for kids. But for adults, leave space on both sides. Think about how both people feel in the room. Each should have adequate lighting and easy access to the bed without climbing over the other person. 

How do you get that calm, feng shui feel?

It's a combination of safety, with an enveloping bed; coziness, with soft materials; and symmetry, with table lamps and nightstands that create a bookend effect. The bed feels like a little room within a room. Combined with Victoria Falls headboard your bed can feel like an oasis. 

What about a light plugged in behind the bed?

That's tough to avoid. But keep lighting soft - unless you read in bed, in which case you can have good, focused lights on your nightstands.

Storage under the bed?

Stuff under the bed sends out energy all night long. The bedroom is a private space, and it's important to honor that. You need to protect your bed.

Assume no TV in the bedroom?

It's not the best. Bringing a public thing into a private space disrupts your energy. If you do have a TV in your bedroom, make sure it is not a focal point and maybe keep it in a cabinet.

In review, looking at flow, layout, lighting, and clutter clearing, how do we even start?

Sit in a  room, close your eyes, relax, and breathe for a minute. Try to determine how it actually feels to be in the space. Open your eyes and slowly look around as if you've never seen the space before. Try not to label things, like Anna's chair of uncle Frans' painting. Just look and consider: is there room to move freely? Is one side of the room much heavier? Is there enough light in the corners? Does anything drive me crazy? How does the color make me feel? Note anything that feels off. Then make a list of adjustments to tackle one at a time, at your own pace. Feng shui is like life. It can be directed and guided, but not forced.

If you only do 3 things….

1. Clear clutter: mess is the number one enemy of feng shui. Dead or uncared-for piles sap your home's stregth and block positive energy from entering. 

2. fix or toss broken things: they're impediments to vitality. Toss chipped plates, burned-out bulbs, and clothes with holes. Repair stopped clocks, clogged drains and loose cabinet pulls.

3. clean the windows and oil the doors: in feng shui, the windows are the eyes of a home, and the front door is its mouth. To bring clarity to the space (and to yourself), maintain them, making sure that they open, close, and lock well. 


Enjoy the Season




For more insights on feng shui throughout your home contact feng shui master and interior designer Catherine Brophy

Full article in January Issue of Real Simple by Nicole Sforza.




Make your own Ice lantern

December 20, 2013 0 Comments

Making your own ice lantern is an easy way to bring light and magic into cold and dark winter nights. I like mine with cranberries, twigs, leaves and other beautiful objects I find in the yard and around the house.


I borrowed this beautiful image from Songbird until my own ice lantern freezes - after a cold spell we are currently in the high 40s, way too mild for my ice lantern! 

Start with a mold - your bunt cake form, a bucket, a water bottle - and get your ingredients ready. I use fresh Cranberries.


Here we start with a bunt form and fresh cranberries.



Add the cranberries to the mold and fill the mold with water.



Put your composition outside to freeze!




Once frozen solid, turn it over to reveal the beautiful ice lantern, place a candle in its middle and enjoy!

Since the temperatures in Maplewood jumped from below freezing to upper 40s, I cannot show you my frozen ice lantern yet. So let me show you some beautiful examples I found on Pinterest.


As soon as the temperatures drop again and my ice lantern freezes I will share images! Until then, happy hunting and gathering for your own ice lantern.
Enjoy the Season!


Try this Christmas cookie!

December 20, 2013 0 Comments

If you are only baking one ind of cookie this year - try the Swiss all time favorite Mailänderli – milanais in French or, literally, “little milano” in English – is the most popular Swiss Christmas cookie. It’s an egg-enriched shortbread with a hint of lemon. Get out the cookie cutters! This cookie is easy to make, for small and big hand, for seasoned and novice bakers. 

Roll out cookie dough about 1/2 inch thick on a flour dusted clean surface. The thicker the dough the more buttery the taste. Remaining dough just gets rolled up into a ball and rolled out again!

Cookies ready to bake! Either coat them in a  thin egg wash (see recipe), or bake as is and cover with a think sugar coating when still warm.



Recipe: Mailänderli (Swiss Shortbread)

Quantities in weight – scale required!

250 g butter
250 g sugar
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk (for egg wash, keep separate!)
1 lemon, zest only
500 g flour

confectioners sugar

egg wash: beat 1 egg yolk with a bit a water, brush on cookies before baking

sugar icing: mix confectioners sugar with fresh squeezed lemon juice and food color

Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare baking sheets (line with parchment paper).

Using a standing or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure everything is well combined. Add the 3 eggs, incorporate on low speed, then beat on higher speed until mixture is light and homogeneous. Mix in lemon zest, and finally the flour.

Gather the dough together. Flatten into a disk and place in fridge for two hours.

Dust counter with flour. Roll out dough to 8 mm thickness. (Yes, the Swiss are very exact! I think the main thing is not to make them too thin.) Cut out cookies using cookie cutters. Place on baking sheet.

In a bowl, prepare the egg wash by lightly beating the egg yolk and diluting with a bit of water or milk. Brush cookies with egg wash.

Alternatively, bake cookies as is and coat them with a sugar icing after baking. Sugar icing can be colored with food color and enriched with sprinkles. Bake approx 10 minutes or until golden.

Cool. Store in an airtight container. Makes 50-80 cookies!


Enjoy the Season

Today is St. Nikolaus day!

December 06, 2013 0 Comments

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas whose day we celebrate today December 6th. Occasion for a joyous celebration in my home country Switzerland. St. Nicholaus -or Samichlaus as he is called in Lucerne where I am from- was born during the third century in the village of Patara, on the coast in Turkey. Nicholaus was from a wealthy family and when his parents died young he used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. On December 5th, the eve of St. Nicolas Day, villages around Lake Lucerne glow with the light of hundreds of enormous, heavy paper-cut bishopsmiter/hats, iffele, paraded through the streets by men and boys in white robes. The headpieces are artistically designed, intricately cut out of cardboard, and lit by a candle within. Theiffelen, from three to six feet tall, have been made for over 100 years. Each is a unique piece of art.

When St. Nicholaus visits homes, he may be accompanied by Schmutzlis. He goes over a list of the good and bad things the children have done. Good children receive candies, nuts and mandarines. 

While St. Nicholaus brings Candies, nuts and mandarines, families celebrate his day by baking Grittibänze, a delicious sweet bread formed into darling little bread men and women

Bake your own Grittibänz , get creative and enjoy this  joyous time of the year! Happy Samichlaus!



5 easy ways to Celebrate Fall - no pumpkins necessary!

October 29, 2013 0 Comments

As the colors change and the temperatures drop, get your home ready for Fall with a few easy twists in your home.


1. Deck your mantel

A mantel is an easy way to celebrate the season and display seasonal plants, decoration and accessories in a playful way. My mantel is toped by a large and quite dramatic sailboat during the summer. Shells and beach accessories - the playful whale is a new addition and a gift by my dear friend Theresa- round the picture. Come Fall is swap the sailboat for beautiful Fall leaves, preferably with berries and colorful fruit. I round it up by bringing out pottery made by my daughter Elina in earthy colors to create a warm and inviting collage.


2. Pick your flowers 

I love fresh flowers and bring them inside by the armful! In summer I love my odes for their delicate colors and wonderful smell. Small arrangements throughout the house make me happy! In Fall I go into the woods to find beautiful branches with colorful leaves and berries.


3. Dress your bed

Changing my headboard cover is an fast and easy way to change the mood, vibe and feel of my bedroom. Here in Elina's room, we move from a summery sky with friendly clouds and cheery striped sheets to a warm and rich urban landscape in bold orange and blues, combined with coordinating sheets. 


4. Change your pillow covers and area rugs

Pillow covers and area rugs are an easy way to change the look, feel and touch of any room with minimal effort and expense. I swap mine 4 times a year to celebrate the Seasons. Color but also texture are important elements for making room feel "right".


5. Choose your art and details with love and pleasure!

I enjoy changing out some of my art and accessories with the Seasons. When I put something away for a couple of months and bring it out again, it feels all new and wonderful. My lighthouse from brittany -Ar Men, my favorite!- makes for a cheerful summer living room but is peacefully stored away in the basement during the cold winter months. In Fall I bring out my Sculptor by local Maplewood artist, bought at my beloved Open Artist Studio Tour in our town years ago.


Live up the Seasons with these easy twists and share the result with me. Looking forward to your solutions and ideas,



Great Ideas for Fall

October 06, 2013 0 Comments

Beautiful Fall impression by The Inspired

Check out The Inspired Room for great Ideas to celebrate Fall. I have followed Melissa's blog for a while now and love her fresh ideas and clean look. Always an inspiration for me. Make sure you check out her 6th annual 31days of Falling for Fall series, today is day 19 but you can catch up on past posts on her blog. Enjoy!



Apple picking

October 04, 2013 0 Comments

What better way to start fall than picking apples! My favorite farm is Hillview Farm in Gilette, NJ.


They have a big apple orchard and grow a variety of apples: Cortland, Empire, Fuji, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Jonathan, Macoun, McIntosh, Red Delicious, Stayman/Winesap. You will find the perfect apple for any dish and recipe you have in mind.



My ultimate go to place for no fail recipes is Jamie Oliver. His simple and irresistible apple tart is always a huge success. Try it, experience how the smell of a freshly baked tart warms up your home and enjoy every bite!




Welcome to the NOYO Blog!

September 25, 2013 1 Comment

The NOYO blog has hatched, welcome to Seasonal Living in style! 

I am Astrid and to me Seasonal Living is about opening my senses to the world around me and bringing some of that wonder into my home.

I eat, dress and yes - decorate in step with the season and love the joy, color and warm touch that everyday impressions, experiences and flavors bring to my family and my life at home. It is about living in step with the seasons and Nature around you. 

We celebrate the seasons in the kitchen by experimenting with and enjoying the flavors Nature has to offer. We happily rotate our closets, loving the fact that flip flops give way to our favorite boots as we wrap ourselves up in our coziest sweater. You are with me, right?

Now celebrate the seasons in your home by experimenting with seasonal home design: play around with fabric, texture, color and switch out accessories and art.

I love the seasons and I love changing it up: I change my pillows and area rugs, move art around. I love it when the colors and touch and feel of my décor reflects the season I am in. What is true for my home should certainly hold true for my most personal room, my bedroom. But when I could not find a way to makeover my bedroom easily, in a smart and stylish fashion, I designed my own headboard with removable slipcovers and NOYO headboards were born. My favorite design right now is the black and white tile you see in the picture. Bold and stylish at the same time, would you agree?

My headboard looks great - but feels even better! None of the guilt of locking myself into an expensive and inflexible solution, just the fun and joy of having each bedroom be truly personal. My daughter Elina enjoys the last of her summer look with vintage ships and beachy stripes. 

I hope you will enjoy this blog: every month I look forward to sharing images, stories and ideas around seasonal living....a short newsletter will cover home and design, food, travel and whatever is beautiful that time of the year.

Let me know what you love most about this time of the year and how you bring it to life in your home. Looking forward to walking through the year with you and sharing stylish ideas to enjoy the seasons.

Live it up and stay in touch,

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