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Making Waves

My family had its first summer holiday somewhere new this year. I had my fair share of memorable summers when I was younger but I just realised that we, as a family, always spent our together-vacations with more family. Visiting my grandmother in school-breaks was always a highlight and I never found myself wanting more. The annual reunions featuring various aunts and uncles, loved/hated cousins and old friends of my parents will always be precious to me. Until I left my parents’ home for university, I never thought about having a say in our holiday plans.

As my social circle grew, my list of holiday destinations grew. Over time, I began to stray from my parents’ pattern of going somewhere with familiar people. I started adventuring and leaving familiarity behind. Being a student on a fairly limited budget however, these experiments were few and far between. Now that my immediate family are scattered across the globe, we look forward to weddings, business-trips and other official reasons to swing by homebase. This is great but it also means that we are hardly ever in one place at the same time.

This year, a seed that was placed many years ago, grew into a plan that brought us together from distant shores. We did reconvene briefly at headquarters but in an attempt to give my parents’ a break from hosting, we moved on to a new location. A house in the middle of the North Yorkshire Moors that accommodated all 14 of us with enough plumbing to go around. To have a decent bathroom/toilet to person ratio on the British Isles is no small matter. It was sheer luxury.

One of our adventure days out took us to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North East Coast of England. Apart from being a quaint old town with good fish’n’chips, it boasts the highest seawall in Britain. A walkway that runs along the top of this incredible fortress allows you to look at your own mortality. The waves that crash into this wall and slap back into new ones create such a fearsome sound and spray that you can’t help but clutch the handrail for comfort at first. Who needs a fast car when you have colliding waves? Free thrills.

Talking about making waves, how do you like my new blog theme? Leave a comment so I know what you like and what you would like to see more. I’m bracing myself for the waves crashing back!


Stocking Up

I tried to empty the fridge of perishables before my husband went away for a few days and I succeeded. Unfortunately, I failed to remember that I might need to eat at some point while he was gone. Any salad that comes out of a bare fridge and manages to look this good has my vote. I had precisely 12 tomatoes (we always have tomatoes), a forgotten handful of lamb’s lettuce and two avocados. Not too exciting at first glance.

Chopping tomatoes for what seems like forever, I finally have meal-like proportions in front of me. I scoop out buttery avocado onto my bed of lettuce and tomato and it now looks good enough to eat. But hark! My TV chef alter-ego wants to come out to play. So I drizzle some Greek blossom honey in an elaborate pattern quickly followed by an elaborate swirl of extra virgin olive oil from Mykonos Island (*friends who remember you on glamourous holidays are good friends).

I wish I could say I crushed black peppercorns in my hands and rubbed some sea salt between my palms till it fell onto my Mediterranean feast of delight but sadly, my IKEA grinders were called on for the final touch. I can honestly say that it was one of the best salads I have ever eaten. I was making appreciative noises for no-one to hear and praised the beauty of simple, fresh ingredients. Perfect meal for one and guilt-free to boot.

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A Page Out Of Glamour

In an effort to put off lesson-planning, I decided to découpage my rather ugly lever-arch file with a bit more sophistication than a teenager into Gary Barlow. Flicking through my small stack of German magazines brought up some real treasures that I will display on my masterpiece of organisational stationery at a later date. I was getting impatient with all the tiny snips and neck crick-inducing accuracy, so I whipped up something small and fun for the meantime.  [Note: I have attempted to learn German by reading ungrammatical chick-lit. Mission impossible.]

A page in Glamour Magazine featured some summery shades of eyeshadow cracked beyond recognition by some rebellious teenager. Maybe one who would découpage her school folder with rebellious icons I can’t name. I thought these splashes of colour looked like flowers so with a few strategic smile-shaped cuts, I ended up with a page full of roses. My fascination with doilies and light filtered through interesting patterns came out to play this afternoon so I prettified our bedroom lamp.

Unfortunately, it is too girly for a boy-girl space so it is only temporary. I feel inspired to take this idea to other things in my path. Vases, tea light holders and of course the whole legion of sorry stationery in my cupboard that is begging to be customised. This is a perfect activity for a bored afternoon when procrastination cannot accomodate any more trips to the fridge. Do it and share!


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Local Hero

Shopping locally can often mean fewer pennies in your pocket in exchange for a somewhat soothed conscience and half-bruised tomatoes. Add to that the seemingly futile mantra of reduce, re-use and re-cyle and you’ve got yourself in an eco-whirl that either makes you self-righteous or tatty. I try to find some middle-ground by shopping for seasonal produce even in supermarkets, making things from scratch as much as possible instead of relying on ready-meals and upcycle things in a crafty way whenever I can.

This is the vegetable bounty I picked up for under €10 at the local market on Saturday in a bag that I made from a €3 vinyl tablecloth I got the  previous weekend, featuring some cheery cherries against a bright blue sky . I hope to use the rest to make a waterproof picnic blanket because unless you live in the Savannah, grass-stains are inevitable.

I cut two rectangles of the vinyl, two of some remnant navy canvas and two large squares of cotton lining to make the body of the bag. I changed the grey zip for a red one after I took this picture to make an inside pocket for my phone, cash and keys. To smooth the edges of the handles, I used some binding bias tape and finished everything off with a co-ordinating red thread.

I’ve found it’s perfect for schlepping giant books across town as well, keeping them safe from the rain that seems to strike without notice after a particularly hot day or from a massive flood in your apartment block if you should be so unfortunate. Last Saturday, just after our grocery shopping excursion, we found our neighbour standing in the hallway, barefoot with dripping towels in her hands, looking very worried and apologising for the lack of water in our building because she turned off the mains supply.

It turned out that she had to break into another neighbour’s flat because they were on holiday and found a lake a few inches deep full of hot water. Enter Local Hero aka my husband. Armed with a toolbox and manly know-how, he leapt into action, turning off this tap and the other and soon stopped the leak. A burst valve in summer. Who would’ve thought!

I’m tempted to waterproof everything in sight but I suspect cherry tablecloth may not be my husband’s solution of choice. Do you have any water-disasters to share? Maybe it’s time to bring in the vinyl.

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Back to School

Remember the feeling you had as the summer holidays drew to a close? I always had a case of the fidgets. Nervous excitement took over as I micro-planned the first week of school, who I would see again, stories we would swap, new clothes to show-off, stationery to play with etc. The same happens to people in offices and other crayon-free environments after a glorious week off in sunshine. I have no water-cooler banter being self-employed and all but I decided to make the most of my post-holiday buzz and got excited about this blog and my Etsy shop all over again.

In a twist of fate, my glue gun arrived just before our holiday. I made these flower hair barrettes among other little things on a day I abandoned my guests. Shocking hostess behaviour, I know. My adhesive adventure had to wait. I spent many an hour over the last week pointing out the sights of Vienna to our wonderful guests while daydreaming about all the things I could do with my new glue gun. I had difficulty choosing what not to glue.

So I thought I would try and redeem this lampshade with embroidery thread. That got me nowhere.

It was time to exercise caution and burn my fingers. Armed with my granny collection of doilies, one paper lampshade and molten magic, I pieced this together.

Destined to bring light and life, I thought I should share it on Etsy.

Got any ideas for me or have a request for a custom item? Comment below or send me a message. I will be more than happy to try it!

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