Wednesday, 29 January 2014

midweek mix #5








santa is quite intuitive

Sometimes those annoying Facebook adverts really pay off. Like I mentioned here, my feed is usually filled with a random collection of uninteresting and totally not relevant ads. And then by chance I stumbled across Bauble Bar and santa was definitely paying attention to that post, because look what made it all the way to Cyprus in time for christmas. 

Emerald Palm Bib
When I say santa, I really mean the boyfriends Mum. She definitely takes notice of this little blog and quite spontaneously surprises me with bits and pieces I mention here. Which makes me think I should feature some more luxurious handbags, spa days and leather bound notebooks every once in a while. 

But anyway, this gorgeous necklace was waiting for me under the tree on christmas morning and I couldn't have been happier to unwrap the black velvet pouch and pull out the contents. The colours of this necklace are 100% me and it feels so elegant whilst making a statement all in one piece of jewellery. 

If you can, I would definitely recommend purchasing some items from Bauble Bar; they have an amazing collection and the quality is fantastic. Fingers crossed you live in one of the countries they ship to! 

Monday, 27 January 2014

living vicariously through food blogs

Anyone who knows me, or for that matter, reads this blog, will be fully aware that I not only like, but downright LOVE food. If I was better at photography and better at cooking for that matter I would have loved to have been a full time food blogger, pottering away in my perfectly designed kitchen. Alas the real world comes knocking. But thanks to my favourite food bloggers, I can live vicariously through them.

My New Roots is one of those food blogs that makes me want to put down the Malteasers (ok, only for like one minute) and head straight for the fruit and veggie section. Author Sarah blogs because she loves it.  And they certainly comes across in her posts and photographs of amazing creations she concocts in her kitchen. 

Although she is a certified Holistic Nutritionist,  My New Roots is an unbiased, non-threatening space which deconstructs healthy food and makes healthy living look incredibly luxurious. My favourites include the winter abundance bowlcaramelized fennel and goats cheese flatbread and the wild rice, butter bean and garlic roasted carrot salad. She really is a genius with food. 

the winter abundance bowl

caramelized fennel and goats cheese flatbread
Souvlaki for the Soul is one of those blogs I stumbled across while searching for easy to follow recipes for Greek food. Since moving to Cyprus my cooking has been influenced a lot by the produce and local flavours of the Mediterranean and while I love Cypriot food, sometimes the recipes are too complicated to even contemplate attempting. 

Written by Peter, a photographer who blogs about food and travel and his Greek heritage, the blog is full of accessible recipes for authentic Greek foods. Perfect for an uneducated English cook who needs a little help. Recipes definitely worth trying: fasolakia (Greek style green beans), kolokithokeftedes (baked courgette fritters) and biftekia (Greek style burgers). 

And for my sweet tooth, I am always glued to Ambitious Kitchen, the beautiful home of Monique, who's passion for cooking and baking literally jumps off her blog. All her creations have a wonderfully healthy twist and she features lots of good-for-you food as well as vegan and gluten free stuff. She seriously adds some glamour to cooking and her baked goods look incredible. What I would give to spend a day in her kitchen. 

banana chocolate chip quinoa flour waffles

fudgy peanut butter chocolate chip brownies
It is probably a good thing that I am useless at baking otherwise I would spend all weekend in the kitchen and have a stupidly high cholesterol and blood sugar. 

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

finding my roots again

The mornings, more specifically between 6.30 and 7.15am are my favourite time of the day (except for the end when my head hits the pillow). It is my thinking time; walking the dog, half asleep on quiet streets gives my brain time to mull over all the little bits of information, tasks to complete, worries and excitement that I have crammed into my skull. 

I have been a little quiet for the past few days. I decided that 2014 would the year where I got back to the roots of this blog. I want to write because I enjoy writing, but I don't just want to write for the sake of it.  

I feel like the blog diversified a lot in 2013 and I want to re-focus. This blog started way back in 2009 when I was living in England and was more focused to fashion and culture and all of the things that were surrounding me in those first few months out of university. Needless to say a lot has changed along the way and it would only be right for the content of this blog to reflect that; because what happens in my life and what happens on this blog are inextricably linked. 

Moving forward I want to write about the stuff I love; food, culture, photography, fashion and beauty products but with an expat focus. Many people will think, well how do any of the above link to being an expat and I would say, quite well! 

Expat life affects everything because. Your life in a different country means the food you eat and dare to cook yourself will change, the culture you experience and the things you photograph are influenced by your surroundings and the fashion you consume or the beauty products you deem as a necessity will be adopted depending on your climate. 

And at the root of it all, the blog remains somewhat of a lifeline, keeping me connected to world outside of Cyprus, to the family and friends I left in London and to my sanity.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

2014, lets do this!

I found this image on pinterest a few days before 2013 ended and it made an impression on me; I feel a little bit like 2013 overtook everything and ending up suffocating me a little. It was full of unhappy experiences, and the negatives outshone the positives for sure. So with a new year comes a fresh start and 2014 seems like the year to take back control and remember what it's like to feel alive. 

Im pretty rubbish at keeping to resolutions as you will have noted here when I commented on the resolutions I made here, at the beginning of 2013. But in light of being positive and feeling alive in 2014, lets get a list going. Plus actually putting here on the blog in writing, makes me more inclined to at least try to complete some of them!

A bad habit to break
Breaking bad habits is always hard and I think you should tackle one at a time for optimum success. As such 2014 is the year I will stop eating my cuticles. I know.....its gross right. But I cannot resist. For as long as I can remember (probably since my teenage years) I have been eating the skin around my nails.  And I don't remember why I started but it is one of those things that I find myself doing when i'm nervous, anxious, stressed or angry. I also suffer from dry skin in general and this obviously makes the whole situation worse. But I intend to break this habit in 2014 with the help of some notoriously good products, namely Essie apricot cuticle oil and Burts Bees lemon cuticle butter. More about those and their (possible) success to come, in future blog posts. 

A new skill to learn
I want to crack html. I think it is one of those skills that makes and bloggers life easier and although I have picked up a few bits along the way thanks to tutorials from other bloggers like Rylee Blake or the wonderful lady behind Wonder Forest who has launched a website, aptly named I haven't had the time or, let's be honest, the motivation to go it alone and take full advantage of their free tips and tutorials. But now seems like a good time to put my best foot forward and commit. And while I am there, a little refresher in photoshop is much overdue since the last time I used it was ohhhhh about 5 years ago in my final year at university!

A good deed
My some what unrealistic good deed would be following in the footsteps of the boyfriends Mum and doing some sort of charity running. I am always a little bit envious when she comes back from yet another 5K, red faced and sporting a nice medal round her neck, having just run and raised money for a good cause. But since I haven't been running since I left my luxurious London gym behind and moved to Cyprus, I am not sure if this is achievable. My goal would be to do the Cancer Research UK Race for Life; i'm not going to lie, I think the likelihood of me achieving this in 2014 is slim but I will start as I mean to go on and not only donate to a cause extremely close to my heart in money, but start running in 2014 with the aim of completing a 5k without needing oxygen at the end of it.

A book to read
One of my favourite authors is JoJo Moyes; I read two amazing books by her in 2013, Me Before You and The Last Letter from Your Lover. So since she is releasing a new book in February 2014, The One Plus One, this had to go on my reading list. I can 100% recommend the other two. Her style of writing just sucks you in and draws out your emotions; yes I was that girl crying at the end of the book and I am not ashamed to say it. 

A place to visit
In 2013 I wanted to travel more, but I made it to a grand total of 2 places; London and Latchi. And Latchi is only the other side of the island. Although London is always on my travel itinerary (and I did have some good trips in 2013), in 2014 I have my sights set further afield; Germany, Barcelona, Poland and New York. Lets hope 2014 is the year for so much needed travels.

I wonder how many of these resolutions will actually be marked as complete by the end of 2014; if it is all of them, we know it will have been a good year. Oh and one more resolution, no more long distance relationship. Enough said. 

Monday, 13 January 2014

the first purchase of 2014

In 2013 I made a resolution to shop less, or a least more meaningfully. And this is one resolution that I actually stuck too. Shopping in Cyprus is not the best and the majority of my shopping is done on the few London trips I get each year. But with very few London trips in 2013, at least at the latter half of the year, I have made fewer purchases and my bank balance is certainly happy about that. 

I don't know what other expats wardrobes are like, but mine has definitely changed in the last few years. Firstly, in England, you have to have just about every garment, on hand, because you never know what weather you will wake up to in the morning. In Cyprus, your 85% sure that there will be sun and winter is confined to the months of December through to March, and even then it's better to have a steady supply of layers to take off as the weather changes throughout the course of the day.  Secondly, the actual items within my wardrobe have changed; in England, I think I had one swimming costume and that was only used at the gym. Now I have more swimwear than knitwear. 

But aside from the items that have changed, the size has also changed. I think when you have to pack your wardrobe into two suitcases and move across Europe, you realise the importance of streamlining your items. And you realise what items are important in the first place; I would rather sacrifice space in my suitcase for a few sweaters and swap them for photographs and books that make any place feel like home. 

So my first purchase of 2014 ended up being some pattern in the form of  a polka dot grey sweater from Mango. In 2014, I want to continue to shop more meaningfully and actually find my style; find the style that I can consistently maintain and feel comfortable in. Il keep you posted how my pursuit goes. 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Friday, 10 January 2014

sally hansen insta-dri

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri is the best top coat I have ever laid my hands on. Seriously I know that is a bold statement but it has made my life a whole lot easier over the past few weeks.

You see every time I paint my nails, which seems to be a lot lately, I end up doing it in the evening, before bed. Ok Ok usually in bed and then I whack a top coat on and before it can dry my eyes are tightly shut and I am in dreamland. 

This is a sure fire way to mess up your nails. Anyone else suffer from those annoying "sheet imprints" on tacky nails? 

Well get the Insta-Dri top coat and you can say bye bye to those horrible unwanted patterns. I found this little bottle in my stocking from santa, AKA christmas package from father Finerty and it has been put to good use. I know my local Debenhams stocks Sally Hansen, but I haven't found an online stockist that will ship to Cyprus just yet. If any of you do, please share the details. This expat needs shiny nails in her life!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

a librarians daughter

I grew up around books. In fact our little apartment was filled to the brim with books; fiction, non fiction, books about religion, history, general knowledge and art that my dad had collected over the years; his collection stemming from his love of reading and his work as a librarian. I remember Saturday afternoons spent at the library with my mum picking books to take home for that week and reading every night before I went to bed. Obviously those were the pre laptop and Ipad days. 

Even at school and university I enjoyed reading and I was one of the people who wasn't scared of the library; aisle after aisle of books as high as the ceiling can be quite overwhelming unless you know how to handle it. 

In Cyprus, the only library I know about is the one at the British Council building, and in stark contrast London is dotted with public libraries, art libraries housed within museums and, I found out recently, a newspaper library. The British Newspaper library has been located in North London for more than 80 years almost every British newspaper, whether local, regional or national, published in the last 300 years. Which means the collection stands at around 750 million pages. 

And that's not all. Under the legal deposits act, the library is also required to archive any periodical regularly published; each week around 1200 publications, from football programmes to Vogue, are added to the collection. 

The BBC recently reported on the closure of the archive in North London, with all the pages being moved to a special facility in Yorkshire, which allows for better control of conditions to maintain the life of the newspapers. Watch the short film here. I don't know about you but the volume of pages in those aisles kind of blows my mind. And I thought my dad had a lot of books! 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

christmas in a foreign country

This will be the last christmas related post I promise! But seriously, didn't christmas go super fast this year? I thought because of the time between christmas and new year, the festive period would feel never-ending. Yet here we are in January.

I remember the first christmas we spent here; we had landed in Cyprus in October and just 2 months later, were celebrating our first christmas Cypriot style. I am not going to lie, that christmas was probably the most challenging of my life and the most miserable. Home sickness had well and truly set in and all I wanted was a quiet family English christmas.

Three years later I have adapted to the customs and traditions of the festive season here in Cyprus. Christmas day is spent at granny's; the uncles cook souvla, the aunties do everything else and cousins entertain the little kids. There is an abundance of food which continues up until new years eve when there is another family feast to ring in the new year. 

With all this to navigate during the festive season, there are a few tricks to keep any expat sane: 

1. Embrace it
If you don't embrace your circumstances, you will inevitably drive yourself crazy. Sure christmas may not be what your used to, but there are lots of positives to celebrations in a new country. So find them, adopt their traditions and embrace the holiday period in the style of your new country. 

2. Maintain your own traditions
Just because you are living in another country, doesn't mean you have to completely disregard your own customs. It is always possible to integrate your own style of doing things into your expat life. For example, come the first of December, my christmas tree is up, christmas movies are playing and christmas songs are on. In Cyprus christmas doesn't really get going until about two weeks before the day, but not in my apartment. 

3. More importantly enjoy it
Just because your spending christmas apart from your family and friends, you should enjoy the festivities, whichever you want. Whether it's with your fellow expat friends, with family or with natives, enjoy the holidays, the traditions and the customs and look at it as an experience. 

sunday sound #1

Saturday, 4 January 2014

2014 so far has been lowkey

I haven't been at work for the last few days since the boyfriend is still here and as such I haveb't written the date, or checked the day of the month. I have barely even put my watch on since he got here because I want to have that time-is-endless-because-I-am-on-holiday feeling that comes with not knowing the hour. 

But the point is, because I haven't written the date, flagged an email or answered a phone call, 2014 has slowly crept in and I barely noticed it. I am working on a little list of goals and things to achieve for 2014 but it is still in the drafts folder waiting to be edited. 

Speaking of which, I know I have been a bad blogger since the year begun, but again, that can all be blamed on the boyfriend. The dreaded day of his departure is looming over my head like a grey cloud and soon it will be me, my laptop and the dog, meaning plenty of time to write. 

So I promise I will play catch up after the 7th January. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

midweek mix #1 (is late)

Last weeks midweek mix got left behind during the excitement of christmas and boxing day. And this one is a day late. I promise I will do better next week! 

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