10 Things I Always Pack

Are you going somewhere warm this winter? I’m not, sadly. I’ve never been much of a snow bird, although we all know I enjoy the sun. Anyway, when I travel I generally pack everything I own. I love my clothes and that’s no joke. I also have my “look”. However I know that it is generally not looked upon favorably to bring everything you own so these are my ten picks for that effortless style that always seems to be evading me.

picture of travel items in a post about travel

1.) Maxi skirt
I love my maxi skirt because with sneaky leggings underneath it’s quite warm but without it’s cool enough even for hot Spain. With a floaty top and accessories I’ve worn it on nights out and with a simple top and sunglasses it’s good for sightseeing. Basically I’d wear it anywhere.

2.) Black flats
I love high heels. I have a lot and they cost more than I reasonably should have spent on them given how much I wear them. However in most European cities heels for a night out area no-no. European fashion generally means trying to look like you don’t really care and are too busy living your life to care about fashion. Of course you do care

3.) Extra moisturizer
Someone once said to me that it doesn’t matter if you spend five minutes on a plane or seven hours you feel like you need a shower afterwards. Truer words were never spoken. Likewise if you have dry skin (even if you don’t, to be honest) the recycled air and the general stress of travelling means dehydrated skin. I load up my bag with moisturizers and soothing lip cremes.

4.) A big scarf
An unexpected cold night? Want to look  chic and French? Need an extra blanket? Something to sit on at the beach?  A scarf is so versatile, you can wear it on the plane so it doesn’t take up any room and it is good for any country.

5.)Small candle
A small candle can make any hostel, hotel room or new apartment feel like home. Enough said.

6.)Simple dress
Like the scarf a simple dress is a multitasking wonder. Over a bikini for the beach.  Add accessories and it’s good for that bar crawl or night out. Add gladiator sandals or flats and it’s good for a city day. If you go out for a “coffee” and end up in  a nightclub at 5am the next morning (a thing that has certainly never happened to me) you will still look chic.

7.)Perfume samples
I love perfume samples and always try to get them from anywhere, the department store, Sephora, you name it. I like variety (in perfumes, that is) so I can bring a lot of scents  with me and they can go in the carry on.

8.)Basic black t-shirt
I guess versatility is the name of the game here. I like a black shirt because it can, like basically everything else I’ve listed, can go anywhere. Maybe not the beach but certainly anywhere elsed.

9.)A book
You never know when the day will come when it’s too cold to leave your hostel/hotel or you want some much needed down time. And when you’re done you can find a bar or hostel that has a book swap and discover something new to read. Definitely don’t bring more than one though because your suitcase will be heavy enough with all your outfits. Unless you have mastered this capsule wardrobe business in which case pack all the books you want.

10.)Something floaty
My look is a bit boho but I really recommend a floaty cardigan or long vest. You can wear them with almost anything and they can spruce up a plain outfit. Also good for when you want to pretend you are a wealthy recluse/1920’s former starlet/Game of Thrones character.

A January To-Do List For Your Empty Bank Account

Hello friends and happy January! Are your jeans  yoga pants a bit tight after the holidays and are you using your debit card with your fingers crossed? Yes and yes are my answers. So, on that note I’ve compiled a few activities to tide us over until things return to normal!

1.) Organise your beauty supply
If you’re like me you have drawers and cupboards full of products. I love beauty subscription boxes and tend to collect small products from hotels since I can’t stand the thought of them being wasted. Organise yourmeandlarryyestercolour make up collection, throw anything that’s out of date a way, give everything a good cleaning and then make it a mission to use up
your oldest products first. You might even discover a lipstick you forgot you had (at least that happens to me fairly often)

2.) Organise your finances
Make a budget, define your goals for 2017, make a debt payment chart anything to get you back on track!

3.)Go outside
If you aren’t heading anywhere this winter there is always something to do in your hometown. My bf and I have a special affinity for finding and loving hole-in-the-wall places and dive bars so we discovered a few of those in my city, we wandering the market  and also went to a museum and gallery. If that’s not your style you could go for a walk, have a winter picnic or get all your blankets and candles, get a book and curl up in bed.

4.)Have a broke dinner party
Everyone makes something with their leftovers and you feast! Don’t forget the leftover wine/gin/etc.

5.) Dramatically leave social media
Do as the celebs do and unplug for an hour/a day/a week/ a month whatever you’re up to. It’s good for our mental health to take a break from the constant stream of news and the perfectly cleaned up versions of everyone’s lives. Take some time to escape, to think of all the good things you did this year and to think about what your hopes and dreams are for this coming year.

6.)Pinterest your goals
If unplugging isn’t for you, get some tea/coffee/wine, download a new screensaver for your phone and make a pinterest board of the things you want or are dreaming of for this year. Pin recipes to try, projects to make (if you’re into that) decor tips for your apartment/house/room, affirmations, money or career goals, a destination you would like to visit or absolutely anything you can think of. Years ago I read that planning a trip makes you almost as happy as actually taking one so daydreaming is an important way to spend your time. Thinking about what you really want can also help you take steps to get it. When I looked over my boards for 2016 I realised that what I want from life is much clearer and simpler than I thought.

However you spend your January, here’s hoping it’s a good one!

The Art of Doing Nothing

good for the soul

There’s nothing better than the guilty pleasure of making your coffee and crawling back into bed and spending the whole day reading, pinteresting  and watching crappy TV.  Taking time to do nothing is an art and it’s important for our mental health. This weekend  I made this healthy salad and took time to read and catch up on shows I’ve been meaning to watch.  BF and I are watching Zoo at the moment. You know what? I can’t wholeheartedly say this is a good show, the writing is too on the nose a lot of the time and the second season feels a bit like the writers weren’t sure  after season one if it was going to get picked up for another season so they had to invent extra plot lines on the go. I still like it though, it’s totally implausible and sometimes a bit of escapism is what you need.

I found A Woman in Berlin in my mother-in-law (to be)’s bookshelf and am enjoying it. Maybe “enjoy ” isn’t the right word for a book about World War II but it is indeed interesting.

photo of fall page in 52 lists project

Also time to turn a new leaf in my  52 Lists Project journal. I love this journal and I love making lists. It’s so beautiful and the lists are thought provoking and inspiring.

What do you do for a lazy day? What are your guilty pleasures? Or do you think that lazy days are a bad idea? Let me know!

 

 

September To-Do’s!

Take a deep breath. Here we are at the end of summer. It’s September and that means it’s time to come back to routine. It always feels nice after the lazy days of August to have a bit of structure. It also means time for cardigans and candles, mugs of spicy drinks,  back to school shopping (even if we aren’t in school) and the scent of cinnamon. To start off I’ve made my list of things to do this September, hopefully to keep me focused and inspired. flatlay in post about september/autumn

 

Participate In An Online Book Club
As I spoke about last time, I have been thinking about community a lot recently. I’ve been wanting to join a book club for ages and have been thinking about joining an online one. Even though I think there are things to criticise about the internet I also think it can be a tool for good most of the time. black heart

Make Fall Sangria
A lot of my to-do lists contain wine related items do they not? Hmmmm

Wear Burgundy Everything
I love burgundy. That’s all I can say about this. Oh and mustard. If you follow me on Pinterest you know about my obsession with mustard.

Try Black or Dark Red Lipstick
With a mismatched liner for that extra 90’s omph!

Continue Reducing Debt
Ugh…boring but necessary

Go On (Grown Up) Autumn/Gratitude Scavenger Hunt
This sounds naughty right? Just me? I don’t know. But it’s not. I like the idea behind this one or just heading out into nature with a list of things to take pictures of. I know already the bf will enjoy this. Maybe. black heart

Go back to school shopping 
Buying a few new pens and a notebook for recording your thoughts never hurt anyone.

Study A New Language
I’ve been using duolingo and doing a few French lessons and plan to continue doing them. Honestly I don’t know how much I’ve learned so far although I can now say “a yellow duck” for whatever that’s worth. Anyway. I like the platform and the cheering sound effects really do motivate me. You can set daily goals for yourself and the repetition means vocabulary really sticks.

Enter A Writing Contest
Time to get studious and put the pen to paper again.
flatlay in post about autumn

What’s on your list for September? For fall? I hope everyone has a happy September and a good rest of the year.

xx

End of Summer Sadness

 

picture of alicante, spain in a blog post about summer

I was going to make a post about all the things I had accomplished this summer, a listicle as it were. But a few things happened. A couple weeks ago I was in Oxford visiting a friend of mine and I was saying that I hope that when this year is over I can look back and say I learned something or everything wasn’t as bad as I thought. My friend, always very straightforward said “well at the very least a hard time in your life will be over”. Honestly, I think that her approach was much better than mine, sometimes hard times are just hard times and there’s nothing specific to be learned from them. We also talked about community. Our generation, perhaps more than any other, is isolated. We’re told to travel alone, work alone, live alone.We’re told that any bad circumstance can be overcome with positive thinking and that we alone are accountable for our situation–society has nothing to do with it. We are told to brand ourselves, as if we are a product not people. Even our friendships have been commodified. A walk in the park, or a day sat inside chatting is not as instagrammable as a music festival or a trip to an exclusive club. But it’s these “unimportant” moments that end up being the most significant. Some sad news when I arrived back home made me realise all over again that we need to make communities. People are the only thing that matter and life isn’t about ticking things off a to-do list.

So, the end of summer is here and even though that has me feeling melancholy, it also means fall is on it’s way. I can’t believe it’s fall already but I’m ready for the leaves to fall and fall fashion is the best fashion right?

 

 

Still Mine Review

cover of still mine in review of the bookI’m sure that there is a reason that we are culturally obsessed with mysteries with unreliable narrators and “strong female leads” as Netflix would say. I don’t know what that reason is, except that maybe we are finally in a place where we are willing to read about complicated women or maybe we are disillusioned with a world where we are constantly bombarded with news, conflicting stories, moral ambiguity and conspiracy theories that seem to suck in even the most level headed individuals. Whatever the reason Still Mine by Amy Stuart is one of the best iterations of this trend that I’ve come across.

Mysterious Clare  is sent to the mining town of Blackmore to search for a young missing woman called Shayna. As Clare begins her search she becomes involved with the local people, Shayna’s charming ex husband, the local drug dealer and the disturbed parents of Shayna. Everything about the depictions of a small town, left behind by a changing world and economy and left to it’s own devices, rings true.  The characters in the town are troubled, problematic and even at times violent but they are relatable, nonetheless. Blackmore is a mountain town that could be any mountain town that once had the resources to make it a rich town but it is now occupied by those who never left, who are hopeless and rudderless. Clare slowly begins to unravel as she finds herself in a situation that she is all too familiar with we are all reminded that old habits die hard. What’s most shocking about Still Mine is how not shocking all of it is. The revelations, while revelations to the reader are real world problems that are faced by numerous people all over North America and perhaps even worldwide. And the ending was a surprise but one that felt too sad and too realistic. On first reading I was annoyed that Amy Stuart didn’t explicitly say that the story was set in Canada. Canadian authors and creators sometimes fall in to the trap of setting something in a vaguely North American place so it can  be sold to American audiences. This is always troublesome  because Canada has a great history of great authors, musicians and artists and we have long struggles with finding our own unique voice. That said, I believe this was a deliberate choice by Amy Stuart to represent a town that could be any town and people that could be any people.

If you liked Gone Girl and Girl on a Train or for that matter, even if you didn’t, this book is for you.

 

 

My Life Lately

Hi guys! I’ve been away for a while, I know. After we got back from Spain we were sooo busy. Apparently we have now reached the age where all of our friends are getting married and we have about a million weddings to attend. Nevermind trying to get all the paperwork done for our own. Well and not just that. These last few months have been stressful and kind of soul-crushing for everyone I think. I, like everyone, check my phone when I wake up and it seems like there’s always bad news. I’ve never been one to be afraid of travelling because I’ve always felt that life is dangerous everywhere (which it is of course) but lately it seems like the only safe place to be is at home in the country. I know this is isn’t true but I’m finding it increasingly hard to be positive or try to see the good in the situation and  I know I’m not alone in that.picture of blogger drinking coffee in Madrid city centre

 

I’ve been going around in circles, mentally, over these last 6 months or so. When the year started I wanted to believe in all the mantras I saw on pinterest and instagram. I wanted to think that if I just thought good thoughts and followed my passions everything would be fine and soon I would find myself in amazing career with a life of constant travel and perfect pictures of me eating icecream and stuff. Well. It’s pretty hard to keep those illusions up in the face of such worldwide catastrophes. It’s hard to reconcile “think positively and everything will be fine” with a massive refugee crisis, war and terrorism, and seemingly unending racism and sexism in the media. Aren’t all these affirmations just another form of victim blaming? If we follow the thought through  the answer has to be yes. If we aren’t “successful” because we haven’t worked hard enough or  put enough pictures on our vision boards than we have to conclude that everyone worldwide must be held to the same standard. And that means that global systems of poverty, war, inequality etc don’t exist and all  and disenfranchised and downtrodden people need only think themselves out of their problems. The truth is I think it’s a fine line we walk. Of course we can wake up and be grateful for the things we have and encourage ourselves to be better without being callous or stopping our work in making the world a better place.I just think we need to be careful with our thoughts.

Well in my hiatus I have been able to read A  LOT so expect a few reviews coming. I also watched Stranger Things (if you haven’t watched it drop everything and go watch it now!) made jam, got caught up on The Bachelorette and generally avoided all my problems.

Well everyone, Happy August! I hope you are taking care of yourselves and let’s hope the rest of this year gets better. black heart