Monday, 28 April 2014

Once Upon A Time

Fairy tales and fables reach people of all ages, anyone with the slightest hint of imagination can find themselves swallowed whole by a good story. Novels, short stories, scripts, even lyrics to your favourite song have the power to whisk you away to a far off place of wonder and mystery. I mentioned several posts ago, that I had re introduced myself to the world of creative writing, allowing myself the exploration of where my mind and a few carefully chosen words, could take me.

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Being a seriously dedicated book worm, I have always had a longing for literature, devouring book after book, savouring each page. I think it may be a combination of my ridiculously over active imagination and my appreciation for beautiful imagery delivered in black and white type, that led me to try out my hand at writing. Dearest friends, I tell you this with a spring in my step and the goofiest of smiles on my face, that my very first 'real' attempt at writing a piece, has landed itself in the latest issue of one of my favourite online magazines Whim!

Here you can find issue 5 in all its whimsical beauty and charm, jam packed with dreamy photography and delicate literature, wonderfully gathered into one swell magazine. Whim Online Magazine have long been my favourite place to venture, when looking for a little creative inspiration and I recommend paying them a visit any time you're in need of an escape into a world of wonder and delight!

Here is my story, please feel free to have a read and let me know what you think. I welcome any advice or critique, as I hope to write more and using your help perhaps I can develop!

Footsteps Of The Past

The tiles peal away with surprising ease, a sure indication of that ever invasive friend called time. I dig my nails into the soil, my searching fingers find a cool, hard surface and come up for air, grasping the key in both hands. Kneeling on the ground, I take a moment to appreciate my treasure. The long, thin metal retained its intricate wonder, as the loose dirt clings to the curved edges. Within these four wooden walls, decrepit and crumbling, I pause amongst the over grown surroundings, hidden from the outside world.

How did she know I would find it? Such immense responsibility resting on one long forbidden secret, but how could she have known it would unfold this way?

I shake the key free of the grains of time and stuff it into my pocket. As I struggle free of the clutching claws and branches, the streaking golden beams that coat the forest in an eerie glow, show me the way.

I begin to run. My mind fills with unanswered questions. Thoughts I had long given up hope of untangling, blurred memories I had long forgotten, began to haunt my conscious. A face I could not place, a letter written in dark blue ink, faded by the weary tears of its author. If only I could ask her. See her one last time.

The sheltering crowd of ancient trees open wide and as I look out across the stretch of water a gentle creeping mist dances above the black depths. I long to run back towards the warmth of the sun, but I had to know. My answers lay ahead of me.

The boat was within reach but time was running out. I picked up pace and circled around the sandy bank and down towards the beech wood planks, that creaked and moaned with each foot step. The air hung moist and suffocating, as if pulling me down towards the silent lake beneath the deck. I scrambled for the rough, old rope holding the boat fast, and with a weakening grasp I release my vessel from this floating spectre of an island.

Having done this a thousand times as a child, these waters and land had always held a fascination, luring me into its fading embrace. The summer eves I have spent, stretched out on the deck, listening to this world around me. The warmth of the season soaking into my skin, entire days lost in this most isolated of places.

I make a leap to reach the boat, as it slowly makes its escape. Time slipping away like silk in the wind. As my feet leave the boards, a spread of birds stretch out across the sky, a wave of freedom mimicking my haste. I hit the boat and in that moment time stood still as the breath left my body and every vein squeezed tight to a halt. The key that held my story, dropped delicately into the vast liquid swell, leaving nothing but a sequence of ripples, then silence.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Ja Wol

A huge step towards making the Netherlands my home is finding 'those' places that eventually become favourite spots to hang out, shop or visit... And friends, I have already found a goodie! It is always a little daunting being the new kid in town, but with that also comes the excitement of exploring a place for the first time and I did just that, by jumping on the bus (and then metro) and heading into the city of Rotterdam.

After already making friends online thanks to our mutual passion for hand made items, I headed straight for the best wool shop in town Ja Wol, belonging to my new friend and knitting mentor Saskia of Sas Knits It Again, and I was not disappointed!

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Being a creative minx and Jack of all trades, Sas happened upon her gorgeous store following a life time love of knitting and everything involved in this woolly world of wonders. Learning many of her skills (and trust me, there's loads!) from her beloved grandmother, she embarked on a career in marketing and communications in the music industry, indulging in her hobby during her down time, never knowing what fantastic opportunities lay just around the corner for her. Several years and an adorable family later Saskia finds herself lady of the manor, owning her own hive of creativity and production, selling all manner of treasures, including yarns and all tools needed to knit, crochet or embroider yourself silly, books, buttons and even ready to go kits for beginners to advanced crafters.

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Ja Wol, situated in a seriously design-cool street in Rotterdam, holds home to workshops and lessons, as well as brilliant and warm hearted advice and truly hilarious and fantastic conversation. Sas herself was incredibly welcoming, taking me under her wing and providing me with a sanctuary to visit any time, quickly becoming the first strand of friends/ contacts of my own (out side my comfort zone of Dutch family).

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The workshops are suited to all level of crafters, taught by wonderfully friendly people in an easily understandable way. If you head over here you can see a huge selection of some of the finished items made by the gang, and get a great idea of the range of classes available.

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If you find yourself in the area you really truly must pay the lovely ladies here a visit, stop by for a coffee and a chat and treat yourself to a ball of wool or two (good luck deciding which to take home, I must have paced up and down the shop 65 times before finally choosing!)

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The friendliest place to indulge in some knitting nerdiness, full to the brim with colourful choice, talented folk and maybe even a biscuit or two!

I can't wait to pop back in for some more supplies and to visit my newest of pals. The only trouble is deciding what to make first, with my lovely new yarns!

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Have you found any great new craft suppliers, independent shops or market stalls holding the best hand made treasures around? What new hobbies or crafts have you decided to explore lately?

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Just Wanted To Say...

Wishing you all a wonderfully happy Easter weekend! Let's hope for some sunshine, time spent with friends and family and maybe even a chocolate egg or two!

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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Road Trip To Middelburg

Hey there friends, today I thought I would share a few snaps with you from a trip Rich and I took, as a way of celebrating my belated birthday, enjoying some valuable time together, raising a glass to Rich doing so well in his new(ish) job and as a blooming good excuse to stay in a fancy pants hotel!!

We packed the car with a cool box of goodies and headed off to our first stop- the gorgeous Domburg. This place was tiny but held some really pretty architecture and some seriously inviting shops. After a wee stroll around and some lunch, we continued on our journey until Westkapelle. We braved the skirt lifting winds and climbed the stairs to marvel at the view atop the dyke (separating the village from the sea), and learn a little about the history of this area, including when it was bombed during the second world war and how it took more than a year to close the gap in the dyke.

After almost being whisked off with the breeze, we headed to our desired destination, Middelburg!


Shop fronts in Middelburg

It's all in the details

Such a variety of styles and structures

Majestic church spire hidden amongst the roof tops

Wandering around the old streets

Hidden treasures

This is somewhat of a large town, in comparison to our previous pit stops, but was no less pleasing on the eye. Take a look at those buildings, the fine details and curiously intricate silhouettes. This place is steeped in history and character and may I also say THE place to go for some delightful boutiques.

The sun shone down on us as we hit the cobbled streets and stretched our legs, taking in the sights and soaking up some rays.

Now, I'm not sure about you chaps, but staying in a luxury suite with a freaking sauna in the room, is not an every day occurrence, and I may have done a little happy dance when we walked in! The place was huge, all open plan and seriously indulgent. The bath was ridiculously amazing, the shower was ginormous and did I mention the sauna? I may have mentioned the sauna. We even had fluffy bath robes and slippers, I mean come on! We lounged about like royal slobs and treated ourselves to an equally fancy meal in the restaurant.

I can't say enough about the hotel, and really really hope to go back (soon!), the whole trip was incredibly relaxing and really good fun, just what we needed. The dust is starting to settle, now I have my feet firmly planted on Dutch soil, Rich is hard at work and I am attacking the language continuously. So much time spent checking things off lists and organising the serious stuff, this was a highly required and thoroughly enjoyed bit of time spent together.

Do you have any tips for squeezing in essential down time, during a somewhat hectic routine? Is there an effective way to balance things without piling on pressure or stretching in too many directions? Let me hear em!!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Identity Crisis

Calling all subtly styled sirens! I am in need of your assistance and advice. 

Do you ever have those moments when you peer into the depths of your wardrobe, searching for something wearable, amongst heaps of items, yet never seem to find a single thing? Or one of those days when you pass a mirror and think to yourself '... Really?' ? My friends, I must confess... I have lost my fashion mojo.

I am not sure if it is the changing of situations, starting in a completely new direction with my life, or if it is perhaps the age I have reached, or maybe even it is my ever developing personality and evolving preferences... But I really do not recognise myself these days, highly shallowly and strictly fashionly speaking (yes, I said fashionLY).

I think I am in need of a shuffle up of stylings. A fresh outlook on my clothing and perhaps to try new shapes and colours, introducing a more current representation of myself. This isn't the easiest of tasks, especially considering living on a budget, but in order to organise and collect my thoughts I have gathered some images of styles I really like.

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There is no escaping the fact that I will, and always have, loved a good pair of jeans. I have three pairs here with me in Holland, only one of which fits properly (how annoying). The right pair of jeans can do wonders for your shape and are the mother of all comfortable clothing, bringing an edge to any outfit. High waisted, turned up hem, however or whatever a bit of denim goes a long way.

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I love the twinset style of pairing a cute collared shirt or pussy bow blouse with your trusty cardi or slim fit jumper! It has a deliciously Man Men secretary-esque vibe that appeals to my inner librarian. This look can work with a skirt, jeans or dress and styled with the right accessories or slick of lippy and I really think it looks a treat. I own more than enough cardigans, an embarrassing amount actually, so perhaps layering over a sweet shirt would breath new life into an old knit.

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Another classic item that has a multitude of styling options is the dress. In particular, for my short frame, a hem length a bit above the knee, fitted or full skirt, and my sleeve of choice is forever a cap or a three quarter length (or bracelet, if you will). I definitely need to expand my colour palette and explore prints, as I generally tend to stick to navy, black or grey.

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Oh my, I could lick this image, (I won't though). I know, I know, not very Spring / Summer but I really can't help myself here. There is something about a high impact coat or jacket that sets off a whole outfit. I have only recently discovered the power of the right coat, and can't seem to get enough of this soft, layered approach to an outfit completer. It really doesn't matter what goes underneath, almost. The right jacket does all the work, and I would be delighted with any one of these!

Sincerely chaps, if any of you have any advice for how I can reclaim my mojo, please let me know. Any great online shops, any refreshing your wardrobe techniques... Or even dressing for the right shape (5 ft 1 ain't easy!). I would love to hear your wisdom.

Monday, 7 April 2014

DIY Easy Peasy Mini Bunting

Whether it's to brighten up a sad and sombre office, to bring some handmade fun to your bookshelf or perhaps you're looking for a quick and super cute celebratory garland to bring in the cheer; this easy to create, felt bunting will do the trick!

All you need for this mini piece of crafting is some felt, string and good old fashioned needle, thread, scissors and your trusty thimble.

It is as simple as this; cut your pieces of felt into small triangles, however big small or isosceles as you like, in whatever colour combination you fancy. The beauty of felt is that it doesn't split or fray so no need to worry about seams or hemming!

Once you have your coloured pieces in order, and have chosen a contrasting or complimenting coloured thread then go ahead and stitch those little guys to your length of string. It would be a good idea to chose where you will be displaying the garland, in advance. If it's going to sit on a shelf then perhaps measure your length of string against the shelf, this way you know how much to cut from the ball and how many triangles to attach.

I used a basic straight stitch across the top of my triangle, but again, you can get as creative as you like with these. There really are no limitations!

Next step, go hang them EVERYWHERE!

I have decorated just about everything with these little chaps, including across the top of my sewing machine. Just think of the colour combinations you could use for a Spring inspired number!!