Sunday, 24 July 2016

Cobble Stones & Concept Stores // Exploring Nijmegen

Relocation can be an unsettling and stressful experience. Along with all the brain twisting organising and planning, comes the scariest of challenges... change! Although we know really, that change is a wonderful, productive and opportunistic thing, it can be a real emotional ball ache at times.

Those that have read my blog a while now, (hi Mum), will know about my venture from England to the the Netherlands and my epic journey that entailed learning a new language, leaving my family, friends and job behind and starting a fresh with an extremely tall Dutch man. Big change! But amongst many of the doors that have opened to me, since decided to take the leap, one of those brilliant factors is getting to explore my new environment.

After living a year in the area Richard grew up, we re packed the vans once again and headed out East, away from the sea, the cities and the industry and towards the flattest fields you ever saw, stretching out for miles. Being on the border of Germany opens up many more options of cool little towns and villages to explore, as well as discovering what's on offer beyond our own backyard. Which leads me nicely to the historically rich city of Nijmegen.

Nijmegen lies south of Arnhem and is connected to the rest of the country by it's nifty train system and multiple buses, allowing epic access to the hidden treasures that wait within it's welcoming embrace! Full to the brim with twisting lanes, cobbled streets and stunning classic Dutch architecture, Nijmegen has a fantastic balance of old and new, boasting a large student population- (meaning discount beer and high chances of being hit in the head by a frisbee whilst passing through the park!).

Boasting some of the best places to sit down for a coffee and giant wedge of cake, a variety of gorgeous book shops (and a huge public library), antique specialists and vintage clothing galore AND more concept fashion stores than you can shake a miniature succulent at! Nijmegen is my location of choice for whiling away an afternoon, strolling it's pretty side walks and partaking in a little retail therapy before chilling with a new book in one of the multiple parks within the city.

This place holds rank as one of the top hot-spots that I always recommend to travelling friends or play tour guide to family and visitors here, as it holds such a juicy mixture of sights and activities, all the while with it's friendly gezellig atmosphere, and is only a short hop on the train from my home!

Have any of you visited/ lived/ studied here? Do you have any top tips of places to visit and explore within your neighbourhood? I can't wait to share with you some of the other adventures I've snapped, whilst settling in to my next chapter here!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Feeling It // Mood Board Curations

Hello there, my fellow visual creatures. I'm excited to share my latest post with you, which features a round up of curated mood boards I've been gathering upon my Faded Windmills facebook page. When it comes to motivating ourselves to living a productive, fulfilling and happy life, I know many of you are with me when I say, beautiful imagery is such an effective mood boosting method, that not only gives your imagination and creative mind a right old work out but puts the cogs in motion for feeling pumped and ready for kicking butt with whatever task is at hand that day.

Personally I love love love walking round an art gallery, preferably in the middle of the day midweek, completely alone and really taking my time to soak up the beautiful exhibits but also the atmosphere and to just truly feel inspired by my surroundings. But for those moments when you can't get to a museum or the park or the fashion quarter of your favourite city for a visual up lift, then my favourite places to hit are found lurking in the glittery depths of the internet, but for those extra tight on time I have been collating some of my favourite pictures (mood depending day to day) on my facebook page and here for you, on the blog today!

Sit back, enjoy, and feel the flow! For more indulgence, tumble down the rabbit hole into my pinterest page where you can be lost for days, discovering the gorgeousness!

I hope you guys are having a great week, what are your favourite places for visual inspiration? Which are your most loved magazines or instagram accounts?? I have a whole list of these which I'm planning on posting at some point, we can never share too many sources of loveliness, right? For the time being, here you can find my previous round up of mood boards, which I hope might give your day the boost it needs to make you reach for that camera, paint brush, walking boots...

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Word By Word // Quarterly Book Review

Guys, I'm not going to lie, I've been having a blast lately with the books I've picked up. I just seem to be on a lucky streak with book after book being high raters and with my reading motivation in the zone, I've got through a ton!

It's been a great time for page turners and I'd love to share my thoughts with you but since this is quite a list I won't torture you with full reviews and summaries, plus I always worry about spoiling plots and important content, but if you are interested in learning more about the synopsis and hearing more of my opinions then please feel free to visit my goodreads page, where there is lots and lots of bookish stuff and you can keep up to date with what I'm currently reading!

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon      5 * {850 pages}

An epic historical drama set in the misty highlands of Scotland mostly around the year 1743, Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

What. A. Novel. Being a fan of ginormous historical tomes filled with adventure I should have known that I would love this book and yet it took me an age to pick it up but man oh man, I wasn't disappointed! This book couldn't be wedged with any more story if it tried, this was intrigue and adventure from cover to cover following the story of Claire Randall and her tangled web of lost love, foreign lands, the moral struggle of conscience and the responsibilities that come with knowledge, and allowing herself to re assess who she is and to follow her heart where ever and whenever it may take her.

Beautifully written, deliciously detailed, full meaty characters, muscles and kilts- this book has it all!

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill      4 * {402 pages}

Beyond Belief is a fascinating insight into the darkest depths of Scientology, an honest and shocking account, right from the core of the organisation. This follows the upbringing and life of Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of the Church of Scientology's leader David Miscavige and the trials and tribulations that come from familial ties and the heavy weight of this religion.

This book really made me stop and think. It is all too easy to forget, whilst reading about this sci-fi esqu belief system and unbelievable way of life, that this is actually the story of a real woman, and real people across the world today, restricted and swamped by this completely bizarre organisation they see as a regular daily life style. To say I enjoyed reading this sounds rather odd, considering it's subject matter, but I do highly recommend this work for anyone with intrigue and curiosity of life outside of their own walls, however uncomfortable.

Nine Women: Short Stories by Frances M. Thompson      5 * {273 pages}

Such a gorgeous book! This heartfelt collection of short stories offers an honest insight at the varying lives of women, the joys of friendship, the complexities of those relationships, the strengths found during times of loss and the harsh truths we all face at some point or another in our lives.

This sweet book is divided into nine individual tales, a perfect way to enjoy many stories within one binding, wonderfully written with a gentle yet no- holds- barred hand. I sincerely look forward to discovering more from this author!

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes      5 * {481 pages}

Now, I'm not going to lie, I avoided this one for a while due to the over done hype, the cover, the title and the genre itself, none of it was working for me, yet something made me eventually reach for this sweet story and I am so happy I did.

This book tackles a controversial topic with grace, thoughtfulness and compassion and shows an inspiring array of points of view, opinions and just shows how different people react to life changing situations. I loved the development of the relationship and found it humble, funny, sweet and incredibly British!

Not sure I will be reaching for the follow up novel, as this book read perfectly fine as a stand alone, and was so fully rounded as a story that I feel satisfied enough with this one book. I will however, be fighting the crowds to watch the film adaption, but most certainly shall be attending alone with a hankie close at hand!

The Book of Fires by Jane Borodale      4 * {406 pages}

This gorgeously written debut novel from Jane Borodale is set in England 1752, following the story of seventeen year old Agnes Trussel, her childhood cut dramatically short and the obstacles she strives to overcome as she makes her way through the hedonistic streets of London.

Delightfully detailed descriptions of this grimy, lonely world, untrustworthy characters, exciting discoveries in alchemy and chemistry all work together to create a tense atmosphere accurate of how life for a young woman travelling alone in 1700s would be, treacherous and frightening at every turn in the road. My only grievance was that I felt short of story. That there seemed to be room enough for more, to go further with the romance aspect and the fire play. Call me greedy, I just want more!

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick      5 * {289 pages}

Upon arriving home after a stay at a mental health facility, Pat faces the confusion and difficulties of having to piece ones life back together, bit by bit, after the break up of a marriage and the disjointed feeling of separation after spending time away from his family and friends. Oh, whilst being haunted by Kenny G.

Despite tackling such a tricky and misunderstood subject, I found this story joyful and endearing and incredibly tender. The raw emotions and sheer transparency of the character's suffering gave such vulnerability to the book, whilst offering a fascinating view of such situations, told with hilarity and wit.

Complex yet stunning, this honest and funny story will captivate you till the very last page.

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon      5 * {743 pages}

I could simply resist no longer. The second instalment of the Outlander series was perfectly satisfying with so much story, new intriguing characters, thickening of plots, whilst the emotional thread ran continuously, giving tenderness to the relationships and complexity and softness to an otherwise harsh and gritty setting.

In this book we travel across lands and time frames, working back and forth allowing the tale to unravel beautifully, leading us carefully through adventure and scandal ending in quite the revelation at the closing of the story. Let me put it this way; I can't wait to read the third novel!

Burnt Tongues by Chuck Palahniuk      3.5 * {329 pages}

Although his name adorns the cover, this is actually a collective work from The Cult, a writers workshop made up of fans of Chuck Palahniuk. Twenty grotesque and twisted tales, hand picked by Palahniuk, thrown into this book, craving to be read.

Anything labelled 'not for the faint of heart' has my immediate attention. Call me curious or just plain perverted, I can't explain it but there is a morbid fascination with the gritty, gross and down right weird, and what better ingredients for a bind up of short stories?! If you're a fan of Chuck Palahniuk, especially if you dared to read Haunted, or just love a shocking bit of fiction then this book is for you!

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson      3.5 - 3.75 * {182 pages}

This is a clever take on a classic ghost story with just enough suspense and spookiness yet retaining it's grace and style. This book also eloquently tackles the mucky waters of mental illness, respectfully woven into the novel alongside the boasting paranormal aspect.

I enjoyed reading my first piece of work by Shirley Jackson and found the story spine tingling, the characters sweet and the dialogue simply gorgeous and hugely resonant of when it was written in 1959. No gore or rushing, this isn't a high thrill, slasher tale, but a beautifully told story taking it's time to make each and every hair stand upright on the back of your neck!

What larks we have here whilst sharing our favourite books of the season! Please let me know what gems you've picked up over the last few months and what you're currently reading, or if you have any recommendations for me I'd love to hear them! If you fancy a snoop at my previous quarterly book review then be sure to check out this link, or if second hand books are more your thing then head over here and over here for some serious treasure!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Inspiring Vibes // Podcasts I'm Currently Loving

Gang, gather round, I have something to share with you. From background company while you tap away on the computer, to getting comfortable with a coffee and really engaging, my latest source of entertainment and inspiration comes from a handful of epic and diverse podcasts!

Now, don't get me wrong, give me a good book and a quiet afternoon and I'm happy as a pig in shmelly poop, the same can be said for my intense Netflix habit, but for those days where multitasking is a must, or simply just to relax in a non committal way, completely hands free, floating in a wave of audial delight... The humble podcast is my choice. And talking of choice, man oh man are there tons to pick from!

I am here this very fine day to share a few of my current favourites in the hopes that I can spread the love and brighten your busy day, lighten the load or at the very least help you pass the time!

Stuff Mom Never Told You hosted by Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin-

The audio podcast that gets down to the business of being women from every imaginable angle. Fuelled by boundless curiosity and rigorous research, Cristen and Caroline are girls-next-door gender experts who skilfully decode the biology, psychology and sociology of ladies and gents, from their evolutionary past to millennial present, to better understand all the Stuff Mom Never Told You.

Incredibly informative and diverse range of topics discussed in a familiar, chatty manner with a huge sprinkling of hilarity and sass!

#GIRLBOSS Radio hosted by Sophia Amoruso-

On each episode of the podcast, Sophia interviews world-class Girlbosses who have made their mark in creative, cultural, and business ventures to extract solid advice from the lessons they've learned along the way.

Just as Sophia's kick ass book, this podcast packs a motivational punch from the uplifting advice to the inspiring stories of her guests. This one is ace for those slumpy days when you need a little boost!

Nerdette hosted by Greta Johnsen and Tricia Bobeda-

Interviews with your favourite authors, artists, astronauts and more. Because everybody is a little bit nerdy about something.

Cultural and social commentary mixing intelligence and humour, covering consistently awesome topics and guests (Judy Blume, Game of Thrones, Caitlin Moran), so much going on, you won't be disappointed!

Dear Sugar hosted by Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond-

The universe has good news for the lost, lonely and heartsick. Dear Sugar is here, and speaking straight into your ears. Hosted by the original Sugars, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, the podcast fields all your questions- no matter how deep or dark- and offers radical empathy in return.

I mean... Cheryl Strayed! If that's not enough to get you tuning in, how about the fact that they release new episodes weekly, offer an email submission for questions and have current posts titled 'Friends With Benefits', 'The Inevitable Guilt of Motherhood' and 'Letter From a Closet Atheist'.

If you are already a fan of any of these podcasts, I'd love to know which episodes you enjoyed and if you have any recommendations or suggestions for other shows to check out! Wishing you guys a fab week!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Pleated Perfection // Summer Sewing Wish List!

Having spruced up my sewing studio lately with some snazzy new furniture, I can't wait to get constructing some pieces on my sewing wish list, and have decided to share with you a few ideas and inspirations I'm hoping to whip up in the next few months!

Pleated midi length skirt

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First up on the cutting table is this super simple yet desirably diverse pleated Zinnia skirt by Colette Patterns, which I have downloaded ready to go! I'm thinking of choosing the shorter version with a zip, in a navy blue cotton, to begin with, then of course I'll have to try out the button up version! (Is it wrong that I'm excited for button shopping? Choices choices!)

One of my main reasons for wanting to make a lightly pleated, knee length skirt was diversity when styling. You can really dress these guys up or down, stay cool and fresh in the summer with sandals and a strappy T but also layer up with a cute blouse/cardigan combo! Some of my outfit inspirations based on this skirt:

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Pleats and stripes, what more can we want for? I love this combination of girly, swishy skirts coupled with the hard edges of a good stripe.

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Going fuller in the skirt and folding a wider pleat allows for this slightly more dramatic silhouette, balanced out by a delicate yet defined waistband. And let's not forget the beautiful fabric choices here, propelling these skirts into chic occasion wear!

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For endless dreamy, retro inspiration head over immediately to the gloriously fashionable Instagram page of Amanda aka Modern 'June' Cleaver. This girl can wear the heck out of a full skirt but also kills a pencil skirt like no other!

Simple playsuit

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I am thinking of making a pattern mash up of this cute and simple Poppy playsuit from issue 16 of Simply Sewing Magazine and the stylish form and more fitted silhouette from the Salme playsuit PDF found on their brill Etsy store. Ideal for the warmer summer weather, comfy enough for days spent in the garden or by the pool and dressy enough for sight seeing during a city break! This is where a lot of my ideas sprung from:

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Keeping things casual and comfy, these loose fitting, light rompers could be made in all manner of light cottons or jersey, with or without pockets... endless variations!

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The fine details and precise tailoring take the humble playsuit up a notch or two, refining it's soft edges and adding some sweet straps or sleeves.

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One handy way to dress a playsuit up, taking it from day to evening wear, is to make it from a bold print or geometric pattern. I love love love the fabrics used in these outfits, showing just how creative you can get with your home made wardrobe!

A couple of weeks in the Spanish sunshine should give me an extra little boost to get stitching some new pieces for my summer wardrobe. What do you guys have planned to add a sprinkle of sunshine to your lives? Do you have anything special lined up to make or any ideas on how to update an other wise ordinary June?

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Digging For Treasure // Second Hand Book Haul

There are many things I hold dear to my heart and visiting my family in England is one of (if not the most) precious ones- add to this books and boy oh boy am I a happy bunny! It just so happens that on my latest trip back home, my parents, fella and I spent a wonderful weekend discovering the historical treasures and stunning landscape of Wales. Nestled in the grounds of the magnificent Chirk Castle was the tiniest of second hand book sales, that of course I scavenged through, selecting for myself a little collection of goodies to bring back to the Netherlands and cherish forever as a momento of our visit.

The first book that caught my eye was a delicate, old copy of The Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, originally released around 1850, this version was published by Mellifont Press Ltd in 1948. Immediately the engraved work of the intricate design on the cover just grabs your attention and this delicate pattern continues inside the book and on the spine. A glorious sized novel, its hardback standing true to the test of time has protected the pages within, showing that it has been lovingly read yet carefully kept. The introduction reads:

The Scarlet Letter is one of the first great regional novels of America; and one of that Continent's first classics, for its author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, was a contemporary both of Fenimore Cooper and of Edgar Allan Poe, and an imaginative writer of supreme genius.
The theme of this book is sin. Its title is the symbol of sin. The story tells  of the effect upon the sinner of her sin and of its strange symbol- the Scarlet Letter 'A' of a detected adulteress, that she must wear embroidered on her dress, for in the intolerant Puritan New England of the 17th century the Wages of Sin earned that badge of shame. It is an unforgettable book and both tragic and powerfully dramatic. But so subtle and skillful is Hawthorne in his treatment that never once could delicate taste be offended. Indeed, despite its theme, The Scarlet Letter wrings pity from the reader for its harassed characters. Indeed, he solicitously shares the sufferings of its four immortal fictional protagonists: Hester Prynne, the erring wife, Arthur Dimmesdale, the false priest, Roger Chillingworth, the betrayed husband, and Pearl, the fatherless child. In short, it is a book that must, and ever will be read.

The other yellowed with age, shining gem that I found was the controversial classic Madame Bovary written by Gustave Flaubert and translated in this Penguin Classics 1952 edition by Alan Russell. The pages may be crumpled and torn, there may be scratches and dashes of ink here and there but this is another elusive find. I love the size and weight of this book, the stand out green that was standard for the Penguin Classics back then, and if ever a book were to have that ripe, truly loved book smell, then it would be this one! And for two shillings and sixpence I'd say it was a bargain!

The story that caused a moral outrage upon its publication in 1857, follows the tale of bored and beautiful Emma Bovary, stifled by married life she longs for passion and escape, although where this leads her holds little to be desired. Heralded as one of the greatest novels of the 19th century, erotically charged and controversially admonished, yet still read and re read today.

My third and final bounty comes in the bright and punchy form of Lion Boy {Big Secrets, Big Cats, Big Adventure} created by Zizou Corder, a Puffin Books novel published by Penguin in 2003. I am quite sure I need not explain what drew me to this book, but the joy grows once you open its pages and revel in the magnificent end pages, the chapter titles, the scattering of tiny illustrations throughout and the sheer imagination that oozes from this small bundle of paper. I had never heard of it or its author but can't wait to sink my teeth into this treasure;

Escape on a voyage of wild adventure and incredible friendship. Charlie Ashanti can speak Cat. He takes it for granted- but when his mum and dad go missing, the cats are the only friends he can turn to. Setting out to find his parents, Charlie stows away on an incredible circus ship bound for Paris. On board he meets six proud, beautiful lions who need his help. With danger close behind and uncertainty ahead, they embark together on the adventure of a lifetime.

So there we have it, a small pile of books stemming from curious minds and unquiet imaginations, travelling through time, passed from hand to hand, continuing to stoke the fire of escape and adventure. Happily crossing my path for the time being, who knows where the future will take these three parcels of joy?! For another loved before book haul head over here!

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

All The Small Things // Currently Loving

Visiting: Family back home in England, Nijmegen {spending the day wondering around the awesome fashion concept stores, the beautiful old buildings and enjoying the sunshine reading in the park}, Friesland {yet more exploring of the Netherlands}.

Reading: Historical novel The Book of Fires by Jane BorodaleDutch book on the go right now is Die Again (or Sterf Twee Keer) by Tess Gerritsen.

Consuming: Grapefruit flavoured sparkling water... HEAVEN, copious amounts of Peanut & Chocolate Fridge Bars!

Sewing: Hand stitched fabric flowers for a wee prototype.

Indulging in: Hotel bathtubs! {We don't have a bath in our apartment, just a boring old shower, so anytime we take a road trip or weekend away I crack out my hoarded Lush supply and spend every spare moment floating in the tub!}

Watching: I lost my heart to the beautiful animated movie Song of the Sea, balled my eyes out at the stunning film The Danish Girl, laughed my ass off whilst watching the fantastic Mr Right starring both Sam Rockwell AND Anna Kendrick, and of course I am a dedicated fan of Ru Paul's Drag Race and seriously can't get enough of the drama, the fashion and the shade!

Buying: Half price wool in varying shades of moody blue with a jumper for yours truly in mind.

Enjoying: Bee Lovely Hand Cream from Neal's Yard is such a divine formula that sinks into your skin immediately and the scent is almost edible!

Wishing you a lovely week and hope that if the weather can't perk itself up that you have a great book to dive into!