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.


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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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, 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


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?

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Picture Perfect

Learning a new language is not the simplest of tasks. Although I always enjoyed French class in school, attempt a phrase or two of Spanish whist on holiday or Japanese on a work trip, I never fully understood the mammoth effort it takes to gain another language. Boy do I have deep respect for all those people who are multi lingual, and I have huge appreciation of the dedication and patience they must have in doing so.

Having moved to the Netherlands, I have set upon my journey of exploration, of finding a home in this still new- to- me place, making friends and carving out my own little life here; and a major part of this adventure is speaking and understanding Dutch.  Henceforth, many hilarious mistakes ensue, as I attempt to mumble my way through a conversation, but with growing confidence comes a sense of pride and enjoyment, as I begin to make sense of this rather guttural tongue.

Of course, there's no better place to study this, than being here in Holland, amongst natives of all dialect and accent! A challenge? You betcha! Lonely and frustrating at times? Yup. But massively rewarding when pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place. And I have adopted a fantastic way of emerging myself into the foreign words and phrases, in a fun and less daunting way, than your classic book of grammar...

Step forward, children's literature!! More distinctly, the written word of Annie M. G. Schmidt accompanied by the instantly recognisable illustrations from Fiep Westendorp, most popularly known for the stories of Jip en Janneke. A childhood favourite of Rich, who was so kind as to lend me this colourful story book, which I must share with you!

My study methods of choice vary from day to day, the most effective way to pick up the real lingo, is to be around Dutch people, to listen to the every day conversations and to swallow my pride and embarrassment and just give it a go myself. I also use an online course and a great book that offers an understandable approach to the complex linguistics. But sometimes, a grammar heavy book isn't all that appealing, and that my friends, is where these beautiful books come in handy!

The stories are sweet and comical, the language isn't entirely patronising or childish but clear and concise. The pace of the books are easier for such a beginner as myself, and the feeling of accomplishment after each turning page is reward in itself. The intricate and characterful illustrations are such a treat and take my learning to a more enjoyable place. 

These books will be treasured forever, as will the rather large box of my childhood literature currently crowding my parents loft space! When you come across something with such charm as this, the tales never get old and the pictures continue to draw you further into the story. Reading these really make a difference to my language skills and hopefully help me continue to develop further!

Do you have any tips on picking up a foreign language? Any clever advice for confidence building, when attempting to converse? Or know of any great study methods to try?