Saturday, 29 March 2014

the style problems of an expat and 43kg allowance



I talked last year a little bit about being in a style rut and I feel even further in that rut almost a year on. I am going to blame the whole situation on this expat business, because when you have to pack up your life and wardrobe into one, maybe two suitcase, you have to adopt a rather ruthless attitude. 

That is the stage I find myself at currently. I will leave Cyprus in less than a week and I have just two suitcases and 46kg's at my disposal, to transport my life back to London and then onto the next destination. The problem I have at the moment is the changing seasons; my wardrobe feels insufficiently prepared for the summery temperatures Cyprus has given us recently, but before I know it will be the English climate to deal with and who knows what that is going to throw at me. 

I think my problem is that I don't have a capsule wardrobe. Everything I read says the foundation of wardrobe is the key basic items. I always go shopping with the aim of bringing home those key basic items and it never happens. I always get distracted or worse still, irritated and leave empty handed. So my aim for 2014 is flood my wardrobe with key, basic pieces that can transition from cold climates to hot and then throw in a few pieces for fun like this skirt and these shoes which are happily in the purchased items of my ASOS account. 

Any tips for taking my England wardrobe further as I move onto another hot climate, would be most welcome. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

midweek mix #13

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setting the scene: 10 days and counting

Suddenly summer has hit; today I was wearing flip flops. Yes that's right, flip flops. The sky is blue, the sun is shining and the whole of Cyprus smells like orange blossom because in Cyprus there are orange trees everywhere! You know how in England we have those boring trees lining the streets. Well in Cyprus they have orange trees. Makes the sunny days feel like your inside of a washing machine. 

The apartment is getting emptier by the day. I have deep cleaned my wardrobe and been particularly ruthless; if it hasn't been worn in the last 6 months it isn't coming with me. Which means half my wardrobe went in the bin yesterday. Well at least now I have an excuse to hit H&M when I return to London. 

The bookshelves, the tv, the microwave, our dining table and lamps, frames and prints have all been scooped up and distributed to their next homes. There are two suitcases sitting in the spare room, ready to come out as soon as the pooch is off on her travels next week, because she knows what a suitcase is and what happens when the suitcases come out so the less trauma the better. Needless to say the spare room is strictly out of bounds for her. 

In just 10 days I leave this little island in favour of another. I am scared, excited and anxious all at the same time. These are the tough emotions I should be used to by now. Expat life is a mixed bag and the sooner you get on board with those emotions and ride them like the wave they are, the better. 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Kate Sheridan accessories make my heart beat

Recently I feel like I am lacking in the accessories department. Whether its necklaces, rings or bags, I feel like I don't have the right finishing touches for every outfit. Well if money was no object I would have a whole wardrobe just for those pieces. But as a roaming expat currently packing up my life into two suitcases, I guess I should be glad that my wardrobe is a little more capsule. But browsing doesn't hurt does it. 

Kate Sheridan is an accessories designer with very British roots. She uses traditional print methods and British fabrics and has collaborated with Urban Outfitters, Topshop and the V&A Museum to name but a few. 

Prints crop up a lot in her designs and I fell in love with her stuff when I saw her at London Fashion Weekend, last year mainly because she also uses a dark colour palette. Well grey black and navy are my favourite colours. 

Digi Tri Blue Leather Zip-Top Tote


Grey & Plum Brolly Bag

Leather Navy Popper Rucksack
Aqua Blue Monkey Make Up Case
Disrupted Print Orange Ipad Case
Geometric Print Canvas Clip Purse

Monday, 24 March 2014

Cancer Research UK and the power of Facebook

Social media gets a lot of grief sometimes. You read article after article about how much power social media has over our lives and how attached we have become to our smart phones, social media accounts and the internet in general. I am from the generation that has become reliant on the virtual world to get through the day. But there is a flip side and sometimes this power is used for good. 

On Tuesday, the #nomakeupselfie hashtag started trending on Facebook and it soon took off. Anyone in the UK or with friends in the UK will have probably noticed their Facebook newsfeed being flooded with make up free ladies posting their photographs. I think pretty much every single female friend I have on Facebook joined in. The amazing thing is that this wasn't a campaign started by Cancer Research UK. It was a campaign that grew organically, through the power of Facebook. 



In response Cancer Research UK set up a dedicated text line for people to easily make donations and in 48 hours, £2 million was raised. Of course there has been criticism of the campaign, saying that it took the focus away from the cause and brought it back to vanity and beauty. 

But how can raising such a large amount of money for such a good cause be criticised. Women, including myself stripped themselves bare, which is a big thing for most of us and did so in aid of a specific and worthy cause. It wasn't an opportunity to show off. It wasn't narcissistic. It was a chance for women to do something simple to show support for a good cause.

I lost two amazing women in my family to cancer and as such I know first hand the devastating impact the disease has at all stages. It is such a prevalent disease in todays society and if my small donation can be used to make a difference for future patients, well going bare faced on Facebook is a small gesture.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

expat life: booking flights that change your life


So this happened last night, which means I am officially entering the next phase of the adventure. A one way ticket to London has been booked and I will be saying hello to a city I love on the 4th April. 

Yes I know that is barely more than two weeks from now and I don't finish work until the 31st and I have a million and one things to organise, accounts to cancel, bills to discontinue and apartment to finish packing, not to mention two suitcases to pack. But I like to keep life interesting. 

As soon as I pressed the confirm booking button, a wave of emotion rushed over me. It was a combination of excitement, nerves and sadness. It was bittersweet because no matter how much I want to leave, there is a piece of my heart reserved for Cyprus and the people that have made the past three years so amazing. Cyprus has been home and it is weird packing up and leaving another country for a new adventure. 

You want to be excited but oh my the future is a little scary. 

I have mentally prepared myself for the ensuing stress and emotion that the next few weeks will bring. One day we will return to Cyprus but until then, it's see you later to this little mediterranean island. 


midweek mix #12

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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

budget beauty: bioten

My budget for beauty items varies according to numerous factors, such as if I want to splash out and buy more cheese that week (because I like cheese and in Cyprus it ain't cheap) or if I am saving for flights, presents etc....

As such I don't opt for high end products and favour instead high street; I think the most expensive make up item I have is my Benefit Badgal Mascara. Anyway, I am going off track as usual. The whole point is I have a new moisturiser and I think it's going to be skin saviour.



Bioten Skin Moisture 24hr moisturising cream is 100% natural and packed with quince which has a whole host of moisturising and hydrating properties. Bioten is a brand I don't know much about, but they use lots of natural ingredients and simple formulas. And this little pot of yummy smelling cream was less than €6. And with my current international moving expat budget being squeezed, this price point ticks all my boxes.



I have only used it a couple of times since I purchased it a few days ago, but I already noticed it's super light texture slides easily over my skin and there is no lingering greasy feel that some creams leave across my already oily face.

And that is a major plus point in my book. Any suggestions for moisturiser great for oily skin, send them my way. With summer approaching I need all the help I can get. 

Monday, 17 March 2014

ABC Series: J is for Job

the perfect work space via a beautiful mess


Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if we didn't have to work; if Sunday evening's weren't so stress inducing and Monday mornings weren't filled with tantrums. And then I remember what it was like when I was unemployed after university and remember how dull it was. 

I guess if we didn't work, there would have to be some endless pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to tap into. 

These thoughts are flowing through my brain as I enter a small transition phase. Moving from one country to another often means being somewhat jobless for a while and that's kind of scary. In less than two weeks I will leave my current job and that will be the end of full time employment and a steady income. While I am freaking out a little bit (ok a lot) about being jobless, I want to be positive about this time and use it wisely. 

I want to find something I love doing; I want to be one of those people that make you sick because they do what they love and they get paid to do it. For the last three years I have worked at a financial services company and while it has given me amazing opportunities and taught me a lot, I don't want to continue working in such an industry. I pretty much detest numbers after studying words for three years so maths teacher, accountant and financial analyst are all jobs off my tick list. 

Me and my brother were brought up in a hands on, creative household; I remember my mum was always baking, doing crafts with us, or reading us stories and that certainly rubbed off on us since I love writing and art and fashion and my brother is a designer. 

I guess at 25 years of age (nearly 26) I feel like I need to find what I want to do in life and find what I love in life and somehow combine the two. I am over working jobs that don't satisfy me; sure I am not a super ambitious career women type, but a job should be more than just about bringing home a pay check right since you are there 5 days out of 7. 

So I am going to take this break, the move and the international living head on and use the time to really build something for myself and look at ways to market my skills. 

Than challenge will be not getting lazy after landing in London, before heading off to the next destination. Any tips for staying motivated, job hunting, or figuring out what you want to do in life would be greatly appreciated. I love making lists; is that a profession?  

Thursday, 13 March 2014

midweek mix #11

The midweek mix is a little bit late this week for very important reasons. Well actually no, it's just that last night I was my girlfriends with a glass of red wine, a big lump of brie and a puppy to keep entertained. Anyway, with the impending international move soon to get under way, things are going to get very hectic around here and the blog posts will no doubt become more sporadic. So lets say this was preparation; getting you used to delays, less reading and fewer posts. That being said, the organised part of me will be churning out lots of posts to keep in the drafts folder, scheduled for those days when travelling comes and internet is a distant dream. 

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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Repatriation: can I still call England home?

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We talked, albeit cryptically, about the next chapters of our life here. And the first stage of that next chapter is repatriation to England.

Repatriation is scary. Cyprus has been home for the past three years and it has become so familiar that I almost feel like I can't call England my home anymore. It's a very confusing time right now.

Leaving one "home" to go "home" - sure it is exciting to be going back to a whole bunch of friends and family who I miss on a daily basis. But I will be honest with you, the excitement is intertwined with nerves, panic and occasionally, anxiety. I know what you're thinking; why would I be nervous about going home.....? Well that's kinda the point. It hasn't been home for over three years. And I have to stay it is a weird feeling, being scared about going home. 

I guess I got used to life in Cyprus; the climate, the culture and the routine of life here. 

Simple things like remembering how to top up my oyster card, which tube line to take, where to grab lunch from or what rush hour stuck on a bus in London is like, have all escaped me. Whenever I return to London for short trips, I feel like a tourist in my home town. I feel anxious and unprepared and at the same time, take in so much more of the city, that I had previously overlooked. 

I wonder how long it will take to get back into the swing of London life?


Monday, 10 March 2014

Fashion: Olivia Burton London

I never placed that much importance on watches. Or jewellery for that matter. But as I get older and I continue my pursuit of finding "my style" i'm drawn more and more to pretty gold things. And that's where Olivia Burton London comes into the equation.

Currently I am lusting after a Olivia Burton London watch. My problem is I am not sure which one I want more because the whole collection is wearable and gorgeous. Not to mention feminine and stylish. 

Olivia Burton Watch
Midi Dial Mink and Rose Gold
Olivia Burton Watch
Wonderland Dusty Pink + Gold
Olivia Burton Watch
Midi Dial Bracelet - Rose Gold

Lesa Bennet and Jemma Fennings are the design team behind the brand which was started when they couldn't find a watch that fulfilled their need for style. They met at the London College of Fashion and both have a great industry background which leaves me in no doubt that they have the style credentials to make beautiful collections. 

Their collection, for me has a very British feel to it; I am not sure whether its the classical elements, the timeless feel of their designs, the colour palettes, or the cute, eclectic design motifs, but their watches wouldn't look out of place peeping from the arm of a Burberry trench coat. 

Animal Motif Mint Hummingbird

Woodland Butterfly Bracelet 

Flower Show Tan

Their watches have a high end design look, with a very affordable price tag, which makes me inclined to purchase two. Still can't narrow it down. 

Visit their website here

Thursday, 6 March 2014

the health bowl

I read food blogs. Shocking I know. I like writing and I like food so it just makes sense really. I wrote here about my favourite food blogs to frequent and lately I started to notice a little food trend (and thanks to pinterest) on the horizon. 

Health bowls. What the hell is a health bowl. Well I know a bowl is like a plate but has rounded up edges and health is usually synonymous with boring food, tasteless food. In the case of the health bowl though, only one of those applies and thank goodness it's the bit about the bowl. 

From what I have observed a health bowl it's a bowl (yes we established that now I will get to the point) which is a well balanced meal, with wholesome, healthy food to satisfy your stomach and give you the much needed fuel food is supposed to. And the best bit; the ones I stumbled across look so yummy I dont think the word health should be attached to any of them. 

The Winter Abundance Bowl from My New Roots is something I actually tried. Well not fully because as you know I never entirely stick to a recipe. I did everything except the lentils. And my dressing was more a mustard, honey lemon kinda thing. But it was seriously yummy and have the balance of the veggies and brown rice was really filling.

the winter abundance bowl (not my version)


The Honey Chipotle Chicken Bowl looks and sounds super yummy, with lime quinoa, salad, avocado and chicken.

the honey chipotle chicken bowl (not my version)
In true fashion, I knocked this one up one evening with my own little twists. The recipe over on How Sweet Eats calls for a variety of mustards and this is the flavour I ramped up. I made my chicken with lemon, mustard, honey, pepper salt and a little olive oil. I paired it with oregano and lemon cous cous cause I didn't have quinoa (boy that stuff is pricey in Cyprus) and made a salad of lettuce, coriander, rocket, tomato and avocado. It was delicious and I felt satisfied. A bit of big deal for me since I could eat and eat and oh eat.

Next on my to try list will be the Chicken Health Bowl from Real Simple which FYI is my new favourite website; it has food, home, fashion and beauty and other super useful bits thrown into the mix.

the chicken bowl


Anyway, this bowl is crammed with shredded chicken, farro, lemony carrots, marinated mushrooms, romaine, snap peas, avocado, Feta, walnuts all covered in a mustard vinaigrette. Sounds like my kinda lunch. Anything with chicken and avocado gets a thumbs up from me.

Any other health bowl ideas please throw them my way; an easy lunch is a must in my world.


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

midweek mix #10

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a little facelift

Do you get as restless with your blog design as I do? 

The more blogs I follow, fonts I find and designs I see, the more confused I get about the direction I want the aesthetics to go in. I love all things art, graphics, photography and design so I positively enjoy spending hours scrolling through webpages and pinterest for ideas. But that means my mind is a bit of a melting pot of ideas. 

Should I go more sleek and minimal. Or focus on the expat life and culture thing. And then there is lots of super cute designs with spots, banners and stripes but would they fit with my blog? I just don't know. 

For now, I decided that with a change in focus, environment and transient nature of my life, my blog needed something a little more sleek and compatible with my changing life. Im sure I will get restless with this new look soon and want to make tweaks and changes here and there. The beauty of this template, other than the fact it was super cheap, is that designerblogs.com offer various designer services too so you can add all the elements your heart desires, at very reasonable prices.

As such there will probably be some more changes popping up here and there over the coming days as there lovely designers give my blog a little va va voom.

Please bear with me. 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Benefit She's So Jetset!

The sign of a well loved palette; empty spaces, barely there powder and missing miniature tubes. The Benefit She's So Jetset Palette has been my favourite, ever owned. My brother usually gifts me with a Benefit palette for christmas each year for two reasons; he knows I love Benefit and can't get my hands on it in Cyprus and he knows the miniature nature of the contents make travelling with your favourite beauty bits so much easier. 



The original contents of the Benefit palette were Porefessional, First-Class Face Powder, They're Real Mascara, Life on the A List Lip Gloss and a great, four shade bronze to nude eyeshadow. I fell in love with the little tube of Porefessional instantly and it was gone before I knew it. It made me skin feel super smooth and my Body Shop BB cream slid across my face like a dream. 

The selection of eyeshadows offers a great range of colours, but they are a little shimmery for my liking; not really an everyday look for me. I don't tend to put anything on my lips, so the lipgloss has gone a bit unused, although im starting to realise it would be a great colour once my face has a bit of a tan since it is a pinky peachy tone that would complement perfectly bronzed skin. 

The First-Class Face Powder has been my favourite since it has a peachy, stronger hue and a lighter, pink toned highlighter than complements my hair and skin tone. 

And there is the They're Real Mascara. I have to admit I am a devoted fan of the Badgal Lash mascara; I love its formula the thick rounded brush. They're Real Mascara has the sort of plastic brush that I am not such a fan of and as such I have only used it a handful of times so I cannot comment on the formula or the results.