Wednesday, 23 July 2014

DIY: Shake Your Pom Pom!

There's nothing more satisfying than creating something from scratch. I say this often, I know, but I stand by it and aim to fill my days with as much crafty shenanigans as I can muster!! This little treat of a post is aimed at fellow makers and craft newbies alike!! All hail, the mighty pom pom!




These little fluffy balls of wonder can be made in no time at all, using barely any resources and can decorate and brighten up just about anything! Trust me, once you get started it's hard to put down your woolly bobbles!


Here are a few tips on how to create the perfect mini pom pom!




Grab a small fork, known to some as a Dinglehopper... And arm yourself with any colour, thickness or texture wool, oh and a pair of scissors too.




Cut a small length of wool and place it between the middle prongs. (This might very well be my new favourite word; prong!) Hold this to one side as you now begin to wind the ball of wool, horizontally, around the fork. I made the epic mistake of wrapping the yarn way too tightly. This must be my unconscious anxieties creeping through, as I tend to be a tight knitter too!!


There aren't any rules, when it comes to how thick you make this // I like projects with little rules, just call me the craft maverick ; ) // So have a go experimenting!! Once you have your little bundle, take the original, loose piece of yarn and use this to tie tightly around the whole thing. Tie this securely, maybe wrapping round a second time for good measure.


Your next step is to slide your almost pom pom off the fork and carefully snip around all edges, to set free your fluffy ends! Make sure you try and get all of the loops and don't worry about making this neat or even, as you're about to get scissor happy! Working your way around the little pom pom, trim all of your ends, aiming for a similar length the whole way around. Take your time with this and again, experiment with desired lengths. Don't be afraid to get in there with the scissors!!


Once you're given your newly made ball of fluff a healthy trim, get rolling. The key to a luscious ball (spoken as Nicole Scherzinger), is to massage your pom pom! Trust me on this friends.


// TOP TIP: Be sure to tie your pom pom up tightly, to avoid any nasty accidents... //


// TOP TIP: To save time and washing up, use your finger instead of cutlery! Works a treat! //




The only hard part of this gorgeous and fun project, is knowing when enough is enough!! Let me know if you have a go at making some of these cute decorations, and if you have any great advice for defining the process or fab ideas of how to use your puffy creation!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

New Music To Live To

Every now and then music gold comes along. A lyrical force to be reckoned with that makes you really take note of the world around you. For me this happened recently, and since then I can't seem to get enough of the folk / country influenced sounds of Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, the duo known as First Aid Kit.


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The haunting harmonies pull you in as their voices blend together within an entanglement of folk instrumentals and beautifully enchanting words. Just one listen will have you wishing yourself away, wandering barefoot through a sunlit forest, riding along a dessert road windows down wind in your hair, laying out on warm summer grass watching clouds stretch across an evening sky.





Having recently discovered and instantly fallen in love with their sound, I was beyond excited to explore their records and videos, finding a treasure trove of information, photographs, interviews and live acoustic sets, all solidly confirming their status as my new crush.


Just for you, my friends and music lovers alike, I present to you, your summer sounds and maybe even style inspirations!








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If you're like me, and have this record firmly on repeat, then you can check out First Aid Kit's tour dates, you can purchase their records and even a band tee or follow their adventures on twitter and instagram, all via their official site.


I'm escaping to my favourite day dream, acoustic voices, swishing around imagining myself at Woodstock with flowers in my hair...



Sunday, 6 July 2014

Grab A Drink, Let's Sit A While

Hey there lovelies! My post today offers the chance to delve a little deeper into the community of blogging, my favourite part of this creative hobby. 




I was recently contacted by two super ladies; Esther from Myrtaceae and Jess of The Rich Wallflower, delivering in all their gorgeous, lots of questions to answer!


Esther nominated me for the Liebster Award, and after answering her fair share of questions and revealing some great facts about herself (such as her obsession with triangles and aversion to cycling!), she then fired 11 in my directions:


1. What made you want to start blogging?
After making the decision to leave my job and move to the Netherlands, (starting with a three month stay), I wanted to document this exciting new adventure. I created my blog as a place to share my discoveries, thoughts, fears and excitement and as great way for my family and friends to keep updated with my shenanigans. I began to read more and more blogs and just fell in love with the entire concept of blogging and the community that comes with it.

2. What bloggers do you look up to?
Bloggers that stay true to their own voice. Bloggers that write about things they love, people that have passion and enthusiasm. People that grow with their blog. Friendly, interactive and diverse.

3. What is a place you would love to visit one day?
Now this is quite a list! A road trip across the States, North Europe (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland), Hawaii!! Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, more of Germany (Berlin).

4. Are you a tea or coffee person?
Coffee!!

5. How would you describe your blog?
Ramblings of an accidental anthropologist. I'm an avid people watcher, I like to observe cultures and varying personalities. My blog is place to share my creative journey via knitting, baking, sewing posts and somewhere like minded folk might stop by for a read and a chat. 

6. What would your dream job be?
Something creative, something with a chance to continue learning, exploring, growing. Something diverse. Something I enjoy and can find happiness in.

7. What do you like about yourself?
Positivity and optimism. Of course, I'm certainly not miss sunshine everyday, but I seem to have bags of enthusiasm- I love everything. Also, I suppose openness, (although that one can get you trampled on), a thirst for knowledge, (always wanting to learn more) and I always try to live with an open mind.

8. What’s a fashion trend you wish you were brave enough to try?
Statement hair. I would love something signature like a bold fringe or stand out colour. Also in my wardrobe more patterns/ print.

9. What’s the last book you’ve read?
Wild by Cheryl Strayed- and I recommend to any adventurers out there! I'm currently reading The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides and for study purposes Oorlogsgeheimen by Jacques Vriens (and enjoying both!)

10. What are something’s you are really passionate about?
Movies! Books! Tv! Costume! Creating things!

11. Do you have any strange talents/quirks?
I am the grand master of head stands and cartwheels, I kid you not! Although a more useful talent would have been swell...


My facts for Esther:
* I recently moved from England to the Netherlands to live with my Dutch boyfriend.
* I am an English girl that hates tea!
* I own a car in England and a bicycle in Holland.
I have a younger brother who is training to become a PE teacher.
* Previously mentioned brother had an imaginary friend as a child, who really didn't like me.
* I love horror movies, but almost always have nightmares afterwards (the screaming, punching, kicking kind!)
* I long for a pen pal! The old fashioned, hand written letter type. (Man I loves me some stationary).
* I recently had a piece of creative writing published in Whim online magazine, which gave me the push to pursuit writing work, and I now freelance!
* I have lost entire weekends to film/ tv marathons (OITNB, Dexter, Supernatural, The Carrie Diary's, Grey's Anatomy, Buffy, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Grim, New Girl, That 70s Show, American Horror Story, Gossip Girl... I think I need help...)
* I recently got into yoga (via youtube) and am loving it.
* I once played an Arabian princess in a school play.


The babe that is Jess, nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award, which sounds all kinds of wonderful!! Her answers were honest and intriguing and her questions had me thinking hard:


1. When are you at your happiest?
After spending time with loved ones, when creating something, getting lost in a book, laughing so much you fear for your sides, baking something naughty (and then eating it!), having in depth conversations about nonsense, making a den and watching Netflix all weekend!

2. What three things would you say to your younger self?
Be kinder to yourself, give yourself a break and look after yourself. Take more photographs and keep a journal coz your memory get worse and worse!! Enjoy who you are, explore, grow and experience. Lose the centre parting!

3. If you could make one mythological/fairytale creature real, what would it be?
Well, we all know faeries already exist, if you know the right pizza topping to lure them out with, so probably unicorns. Although horses scare me a little... But I'm almost certain my loyal and beloved unicorn would be sweet and not creep me out with it's glassy eyes... Ohh but what about vampires... No probably best to stick with the unicorn.

4. Favourite memory?
Oh man, this is a toughie. I have such fond memories of childhood family holidays in Devon and Cornwall, camping in all weathers and loving every moment. My first trip to Holland, I'll never know where I got the courage/ stupidity and will never be able to describe the excitement/ nerves. Touring to Japan with the ballet, my friend and I shopping in Harijuku in sheer amazement, and laughing lots during the entire trip- so much laughter!!

5. The strangest thing anyone has ever said to you?
My nan giving me hilarious advice; “Gem, don't marry for love, marry a man with lots of money.” My response: “Wow! How romantic...”, *shock written across my face* to which my nan replies “I didn't say marry an ugly man.”

6.Yes or No?
Heck yeah!

7. Do you have a catch phrase or something you say all the time?
'Mooi!' (means beautiful in Dutch), 'awesomes' 'okie dokie' and I have My Silver Lining by First Aid Kit permanently stuck in my head, so 'gotta keep on keeping on', and I'm known for quoting movies all the time.

8. If  you could spend a year inside a book, which would it be?
My greedy side would say Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, my adventurous side would say The Princess Bride and my nerdy side would say any of the Harry Potter books.

9. Is social media a good or bad thing?
Hmmmm. If used in the right way (and in small doses) then it can be a marvellous tool to connect with people. To keep in touch with old friends, to share your life with people on the other side of the world and to make wonderful friends you may never have stumbled into, in the flesh. But so much of our lives is edited and analysed. There is a fine line between recording vacation snaps and tailoring an particular image of your 'highly exciting' life. Plus, sometimes ain't it just refreshing to switch everything off and go and experience something. First hand. For real.

10. What inspires you?
Everything! People. Personalities. Creativity. Stories. Images.

11. If you could meet one person from history who would it be?
Stevie Knicks!! Orrrr Heath Ledger, Joni Mitchell, Dennis Hopper, Jane Austin, Quentin Tarantino, Anne Rice, Judy Blume.


My facts for Jess:
* I really really don't like flies, or bugs with wings in general.
* Love reading travel literature and share this enthusiasm with my pa!
* In primary school I prided myself on being the queen of arm wrestling, honestly. Did I mention what a pip squeak I was/ am?
* I dream of one day owning a craft room/ attic/ shed/ den!
* My chosen super power would CERTAINLY be the ability to be fluent in any language.
* I am a huge Disney and Dreamworks fan and can watch any of those movies, at any time of day. 
* I really miss my cat Charlie, who lives with my family in England. He is all kinds of awesome (even if I am allergic to his fur/ dribble!) and he gives the best love, and always knows when you're in need of extra fuss.
* I have an excess collection of sunglasses, cardigans and balls of wool.
* I love to bake, and am the proud owner of a super duper sexy stand up mixer, which I am also missing greatly (it lives in England for now).
* Ik ben Nederlands aan het leren. Ja, mijn Nederlands is een beetje slecht MAAR ik probeer het en langzaam gaat het beter en beter!
* The crafts I love include: dress making, knitting, needle work (including embroidery and cross stitch), quilting, sewing ANYTHING, millinery, costume construction... Basically a bit of everything! Although I have never learnt to crochet... YET!


I'm breaking the rules big time, but hey, let's live a little!! I've devised a little list of questions for you lovelies!! Feel free to answer one or all of them, (in the comments box below), I'd love to hear your answers and any random facts you feel compelled to share! Go crazy!!


* Okay, let's begin with a classic- super power of choice? 
* Favourite line from a song?
* Which actor would you choose to play you in a story of your life? (One you'd love to and one more likely to).
* If you could only wear one colour, for a whole week, what would you go for?
* So, I have just put the finishing touches to my time machine, what era shall we visit?
* From your childhood or from today, what is your go to cartoon?
* Most loved season of the year?
* X- Factor audition song? (Don't pretend you haven't figured it out, plus backing dance choreography).


I sure hope you have some fun with these and embarrass yourself to your hearts content, welcome one and all!! I can't wait to read some of your responses : D

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Freckles and Brows

My two favourite accessories! I mean, I'm never without them, they're always right there on my overly large face, but it's time to appreciate the beauty in the simple things.


Freckles

Call me controversial, I know many people are all for a 'flawless' or 'airbrushed' look, but I flipping love freckles!! A couple here and there or a whole gorgeous face full, I think they are just ace. Too many lovely ladies hide them away under an overly thick layer of make up, what's that about?! I mean, sure, enhance your best features and maybe add a smidge of confidence when covering over that persistent pimple, but I think it's about time we're proud of those sun kisses!!


Especially as the season of sunshine and skipping hand in hand down a hazy country lane is upon us (no idea where that came from!), let's crack out the SPF and let our freckles do the talking.


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Eyebrows

The Power Brow. With a subtle tweak and cleverly positioned tweeze, you can master the art of a wonderfully sculpted look, opening up your beautiful face and showing it off in all it's glory. Remember the days of overly plucked, almost naked lines? Angular, heavily pencilled and obviously applied? Well thank goodness that is history my friends, as over the years our love of a more fuller, natural shape reigns supreme. There is definitely an art to creating that super scrumptious arch and of course, getting them both to match (I'm currently harbouring a love for my left brow, the other has a bit of catching up to do!), but less tweezing is more in this case. It's more a case of tidying the strays, maintaining the basic shape and helping the fullness along perhaps, with a wee touch of cosmetic assistance. There are ton's of helpful and gorgeous tutorials online, if you're into beauty, and one diamond in particular always giving good brow, is Anna of Vivianna Does Makeup beauty blog.


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What have you been up to this weekend? Has it been a hectic one or have you reclined in the garden with a good book? Mine has been a bit of both, but I hope to start the week off in a productive manner, tomorrow morning!



Friday, 20 June 2014

Gotta Keep On, Keeping On

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With summer's highly anticipated arrival and these intermittent bursts of beautiful weather, I can't help but feel excited, like a kid awaiting the six weeks holidays from school!


There is an undeniable happiness that comes with fresh summer days, the desire to enjoy picnics with friends and walks along a sun drenched beach. For me, I reach for my trusty steed and whisk myself away, taking in the sights and sounds, blowing the cob webs out and enjoying the freedom of mind that comes from riding my bicycle!


To celebrate my affection with my beloved bike, and this most fun- filled season, I have gathered a gorgeous selection of wheelie wonders!


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All hail the bicycle bell with attitude! This fabulously sassy bell comes from the glorious mind behind Claire La Secrétaire shop on Etsy.com, not only do they sell accessories for your ride, they also offer reconditioned 1950's typewriter... Oh that's right, IN BUBBLE GUM PINK! I'm saving up for one of those, perhaps the mint green one? I digress. If you're after some seriously snazzy pieces to brighten your day, then look no further, plus they ship world wide with great prices to boot!


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This cute, printed fabric caught my eye for obvious reasons, and although I continue to promise not to add to my undeniably over grown material stash, just look at this sweet pattern! My mind races with the possibilities! (Pun totally intended). For the avid stitchcrafters out there, if you've yet to visit The Homemakery then you're in for a real treat! If you're already a fan, then you'll know just how much of a treasure trove this web site is! It caters to all your crafty needs, and even those you never knew you needed ; ) Wonderfully friendly, diverse range of pieces and a delightfully designed site, you can do no better than The Homemakery. But please, allow me to purchase a roll or two of this cotton before it runs out!


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And for my grand finale, step forward the ever faithfully jam- packed with beauties Sugarhill Boutique! Now, I understand that by sharing this with you, I may run the risk of it flying off the cyber shelf before I get my grubby mitts on it, (especially since it's now in the sale!), but proving my dedication to you my dear friends, I just had to reveal it. Sugarhill Boutique; fashion bloggers delight, boasting high quality garments, with unique spins on the latest trends and fabulously affordable pieces- and now a bicycle print dress! 


I really can't seem to get enough of this cheerful pattern, and can envision an entire summer spent zooming around Holland, kitted out entirely in bike themed lovelies! Ah well, in the words of the infinitely glamorous Mae West "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful."


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What are your favourite activities to do when the weather is just right? It's been way too long since I had a picnic, I think that's going on the 'to do list' immediately!!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Reconnected

Every now and then life can leave us a little frazzled and more than a little grumpy, but I have discovered just the ticket to remedy this!


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Shaking up your routine, stepping out for some fresh air and re visiting what it is that fuels your passion for life can make a serious difference to your mood. After riding a ginormous wave of emotions upon my move here to the Netherlands, as the dust begins to settle and the pieces start to fall into place, I found myself in some what of an energy slump. I suppose it's only natural after such a roller coaster of feelings, but I wasn't liking my new found frown, always feeling tired and just general lack of enthusiasm.


Where had my lust for adventure gone? My need for exploration and excitement of new horizons. Oh wait, that little thing called real life started! Hooray! Trust me, real life is JUST what I need and despite this hangover of sorts leaving me with the sudden realisation of starting from scratch in a new place; it was the lack of inspiration itself that prompted me to kick my own butt and step out of the fog.


Addressing the particulars was step one. Figuring out just what was pulling my mood down, then writing a plan of action to tackle this. Missing my family was on the top of the list, and the ideal and most obvious solution... Jump on a plane to England! Just by spending time with a handful of my favourite people I feel instantly energised, bringing this fresh attitude back to Holland with me! 


Along with the catch ups, heart to hearts, much too much food and plentiful hugs, I feel connected once again. All areas of my life are reinforced now, for a while at least. I feel excited to start looking for my latest career adventure, ready to put myself out there and try some new paths. I am appreciating what I have and where I am in my life, seeing my discoveries with new eyes and understanding my achievements better. 


Inspiration can be found in all kinds of places, and I feel, with this shift in attitude, I can absorb more positivity and 'go get em' thoughts, using this to feed my enthusiasm. I intend to make the most of this while it is active, as I am fully aware that our emotions change like the waning moon, and plan to pour my energy into looking for work, getting creative with my craft projects, losing myself in writing and perhaps even taking those first steps towards opening the Etsy shop I've been taunting myself with for years now (actual years).


By sharing this little attitude change and general update with you chaps, I hope to pass on the cheerfully cosmic powers of karma and wish you all a ridiculously productive, laughter filled and down right fabulous week. And if it ain't so, then please please drop me a line, we can shake off the grumps together!


Monday, 9 June 2014

What Is Happiness?

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It's been three whole months since arriving here in the Netherlands. Three months! It seems to have, both, flown by and feels like it's been approximately thirty years... I'm not sure what that says about how I've spent my time so far...


The question I get asked the most, besides do I miss my family (oh yes), and how am I getting on with the language (hmmm ik probeer), is 'Are you happy?' Is it me, or is this a difficult question to answer? Of course, not every person asks this with the expectation of an actual lengthy, in depth analysis of my inner most thoughts, some people simply make polite small talk. But it really does make me stop and think, wait a minute, am I happy? And then follows, what counts as happiness? How does one measure or judge something so complex and diverse?


I'm not even sure if that is an answerable question really, as no two days are the same. Having a surprise phone call from a loved one makes me so happy; but then what is the feeling when the call ends and you realise how long it's been since you last looked into their eyes? That doesn't make me an unhappy person precisely, but it's certainly a feeling close to loss. Basically, I'm still, very much, coming to terms with not being around my family (not sure if you notice!), and that is the part that sticks out to me, when people ask this.


Perhaps a better way to answer the question, is to look at and focus on the things that really do put a smile on my face. The things that brighten a day and leave me skipping, however mundane or simple some may be! Here are a handful of triggers that have put a spring in my step lately:


* Finding inspiration in the most unsuspecting places; without searching or striving, discovering something that fills you with excitement and purpose, then growing ideas, thoughts and plans.

* Waking to the sound of the neighbours chickens, even if it is before my alarm...

* Starting a new book! Makes the passing blow of finishing a good book, easier.

* Handwritten post. There is nothing like receiving a thoughtful parcel sealed with such love, and even more pleasing sending one. I am eagerly awaiting a reply from my baby cousins (10, 6 & 2!). Sending postcards and notes makes me happy (basically any excuse to buy/ use my stationary!).

* Road trips- car snacks, 'singing' to the radio, blurry window photography, Rich's road rage.

* Figuring out the tricky bits in my knitting pattern feels like an epic win!

* Coffee and cake with the in laws, and maybe a borreltje or two.

* A smile from a stranger, a friendly nod or a hello- this includes local wildlife, as I may have said good morning to a heron the other day...

* Bare feet on sun warmed grass- enough said.

* Skype dates with my family always, always makes my day.

* Laughing; any time, any place.

* Walking by the canal, putting the world to right with Rich, like a couple of oldies.

* Preparing and getting excited for a visit to England- words can't describe how much I'm looking forward to all the hugs and catch ups and food (hihihi).

* Cycling in the early morning sunshine; blows the cobwebs right out and clears my mind. Those few precious moments are worth their weight in gold.


It's best to focus on what we have in our lives, look at what we can be grateful for, rather than things we want. It's easy to miss the good stuff when searching for 'perfection' (whatever that is), we put unrealistic goals ahead of ourselves and wonder ignorantly how we fail. I think it's time to quit pushing for impossibly high expectations and start living life for the heart felt moments in between, those kind gestures and simple happiness. I'm sure if you remind yourself of how lucky you are with what you have, then you'll find a wee smile stretching across your beautiful face.


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Is this something you find yourself thinking about? Am I alone in thinking that it really is a tricky thing to pull apart?