Chocolate dipped (dried) fruit

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Today was such a Monday! Even the weather was in on it, so gloomy and foggy you couldn't even see the other side of the street. I am trying to console myself with the typical "these days happen" and "tomorrow will be better", but all I can think is "chocolate, muffins, popcorn". Please tell me you know what I am talking about.

So I figured another great remedy against a mean case of the Mondays is "stuff dipped in chocolate", which in my case happens to be bananas and dried figs & dates with sea salt sprinkled on top. This is much less a recipe, because you can all google how to best melt copious amounts of chocolate (although I do suggest, you only use the dark, rich and preferably organic kind), than a party trick on how to turn this day around and make it one to remember.

Pick your favourite feel-good movie (It's Complicated would be my pick ;), settle in the cosiest spot in the house and dip stuff in chocolate to your heart's content. It is bound to cheer you up! If you are patient (or full) enough, you can even let some pieces cool, to enjoy some other time. 

Feeling better already, what about you? :)

My Morning: Ashley Neese

I am super happy to introduce you to today's My Morning lady. Ashley Neese is a certified yoga instructor, a natural foods chef and overall bright, shining person. Best of all, she shares all her wisdom, delicious recipes and inspirations on her blog, so make sure you check it out. Ashley, thanks so much for your inspiring answers. You're my personal wellness guru :)
 

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1) Are you a morning person?

I love mornings, especially when have a couple of hours before I have to start working. I like to wake up slow and really take my time. In the autumn and winter seasons I tend to need more sleep in the mornings and it can be a bit more challenging to get myself out of bed. 

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2) What is the sound of your alarm and what time does it go off?

I set an alarm two days a week, when I have to be up early to teach yoga. Those classes start at 7am and the alarm goes off at 6am. All other mornings I let myself wake up naturally and that usually happens around 7 or 7:30am.

3) What is the first thing you do when you get up?

I drink a glass of room temperature water with a little fresh lemon juice then I make a cup of herbal tea. Water with lemon helps to jump start the detoxification process and is very hydrating. Herbal tea is very grounding and nourishing in the morning. It's a really nice ritual!

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4) What do you have for breakfast?

This really depends on the season. These days breakfasts is heartier and warmer. I enjoy superfood porridges and the occasional sprouted pancake. I also like to have a bowl of miso soup or simple sautéed greens and poached eggs. 

5) Do you swear by a particular beauty routine or product?

Yes! Eating loads of seasonal produce, getting plenty of sleep, daily yoga and meditation, water, and herbal teas. Fermented foods like sauerkraut are great for the skin. A few products I love are this herbal body oil, clay face masque, and daily face oil. I swear by all of this!

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6) Do you have a secret/silly/weird morning habit no one knows about? Do tell!

This question made me laugh and actually I do! It’s something I’ve been meaning to blog about but haven’t done so just yet. These days I am focused on preparing my body for future pregnancy so I take my temperature every morning before I drink water :)

Photos by Sera Lindsey

Kale Chips

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I've been wanting to make kale chips ever since I saw them floating around the internet forever ago. For some strange reason though, kale is not that easily found in Amsterdam. I've kept my eyes open for months, but it always eluded me. Until a few weeks back, when I finally saw it at our little neighbourhood shop. 

Turns out finding it was the hardest part, the rest is a simple affair: wash it, rip it into bite sized pieces, dress it with your favourite oil and spices and put into the oven for ca. 15 minutes at 140 C. Just keep an eye on them. When the kale pieces are crunchy and dry, they're done. I gave mine a simple olive oil and salt and pepper treatment and really loved it.

Just to be real here, of course they don't taste like real chips/crisps, and if you want the real thing these guys probably won't cut it. But as a healthy crunchy alternative kale chips are amazing. Happy baking!

New Year

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Happy New Year friends! I hope you all had safe and fun parties to ring in 2015. I am sitting here with the remnants of a two-day hangover, which just goes to show that, I can't party like I used to. Recovering from one night for two full days, is just not efficient, is the thing. Oh well, what can you do, eh?

Usually I am not much a resolution person, although I am a sucker for a fresh start. Especially after last year. 
2014 was not a bad year at all. AT ALL! It was great really, but boy did the last week of December pack it all in: internet fraud (aka, I am a bloody idiot), losing the only piece of jewellery that is actually valuable to me (again, super idiot) and having to pay money to be allowed to rummage through the trash trying to find it (we didn't) and actually tragic, losing a much beloved family member. So by the end of it all, I was pretty done with good old 2014.

So on a much more positive note,  let's see what wonderful things&plans are in the works for 2015:

  1. A trip to London to hang out with some of the loveliest ladies (hi Freya, Siobhan & Tania!), and to go to the ballet (Alice in Wonderland choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon!!!)
  2. A wedding in Israel!
  3. A trip to Iceland with my oldest friends!
  4. A gym membership and actually trying to go regularly (ha, walking cliché!), and starting a fitness challenge on Monday the 5th (check kaylaitsines.com.au if your curious. We could do it together!)
  5. Healing my shoulder injury by finally going to a chiropractor on a regular basis.
  6. Cooking through Jamie Oliver's book '30 minute meals' with my man, and inviting two different guest to join us each week.
  7. A possible (don't want to jinx it) project with a children's book publisher!
  8. A mini bathroom makeover.

Most importantly, I want to find out how to slow down time. Seriously. To learn how to draw out the days and weeks, making them feel as long as they used to as a child, instead of racing from Monday to Friday without even thinking. I got very close once, spending a week in Normandie (see here), and I want to capture that essence and apply it to everyday life. I will keep you posted on this.

Here's to the new year ahead, filled with magic and dreams and craziness, filled with good books, many kisses, creativity and laughter. Make it your adventure!

*photograph by Jeff Sheldon, text added by moi.

'Tis the season

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We're back! And just in time for the most wonderful time of the year, too! 

I'll have a proper India & Sri Lanka post for you soon, but right now I am so cozied up at my Mom's, ordering & wrapping presents and listening to Christmas music, that posting anything remotely tropical seems just wrong. It was amazing, but one takeaway I already have from this trip is this: I love Advent, the Holidays and everything leading up to it so much, that I want to be there when it starts, December 1st sharp. 

How is everyone spending their Holidays? Anything exciting happened while I was gone? Fill me in, fill me in!

More soon, but for now, merry Christmas everyone!

xx

1) Making/burning Honiglebkuchen (gingerbread) with my Mama.
2) My beautiful hometown Regensburg at night. View from the old Stonebridge with the just as old Cathedral in the background.

Nice Stuff

One of my favourite reads in blogland has to be Shioban's "Nice Stuff" series. I thought you might enjoy it too, so she kindly agreed to concoct a post for you, while I am away for work and travel. Thanks Shioban!

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I'm so happy to be sharing my 'Nice Stuff' finds with you while Maja is away travelling. I really love collecting all the nice things I find on the internet each week, so I hope you enjoy it too. Thanks so much for having me Maja, and wishing you happy travels!

1. I'm so smitten with Natasha Newton's art, her moon illustrations have been on my wish list for a while. I love her paintings on stones, and the idea of not just confining art to your walls but having it all around your house. Art you can hold.

2. I've spent a lot of time over the last few months trawling Etsy for British-made products, trying to find stylish things made close to home. I came across Jeanie Deans and her bags, all made in Exeter where I went to school. She's got some really lovely things in her shop, but my favourite is this indigo shibori and canvas zipper bag.

3. I've been having a go at making my own soy candles, as I burn a lot around the house. It's really satisfying to make something for yourself that you'd usually just buy in a shop. I've been bookmarking a lot of concrete diy projects, and I like the idea of making a concrete candle holder to pour the wax straight into. Found via Pinterest, but the original link has now expired.

4. I haven't done much baking of sweet stuff lately as I've been steering clear of the inevitable aftermath - the eating of all the sweet stuff. I do have a whole bag of pears in my fridge that need eating, and this pear and ginger chocolate mini loaf from Fig & Honey would be the perfect way to use them up.

5. Another of my British-made Etsy finds, The Mountain upper finger ring by We Are Arrow.

6. Is it OK to be posting about Christmas yet? I don't mean to pull a Starbucks on you in early November, but I'm getting kinda crazy for Christmas already this year. I'm determined to hand make all my cards and gifts, and put a little extra effort into my decorating. I've bought all my supplies to start making presents, but I'm keeping it simple to make it easy for myself. I love this black, white and kraft paper gift wrapping. Simple and stylish.


Thanks for reading, I hope you've enjoyed my finds!

My Morning 05: Jessica Comingore

Today's 'My Morning' lady is actually the very person who inspired this series in the first place. I have been following Jessica's work and blog for some time now, and it has never failed to greatly inspire me in so many ways. She is a talented designer & photographer with such a beautifully simple aesthetic, something I aspire to achieve in my work. But even more importantly, she is a genuinely beautiful person, inside and out, with much wisdom for her young age. And she creates killer playlists, too! 
She shares some great insides on a lovely morning routine, and I already incorporated one of her tips: oil pulling.
 Thanks Jessica!

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01. Are you a morning person?

Very much so! I always have been (though that also means I've always been a grandmother whose eyes automatically close at 10:30pm).

02. What is the sound of your alarm and what time does it go off?

It may sound silly, but I found this website called Clear Tones with "minimalist ringtones" earlier this year and started using them for all of my phone alerts. They're really lovely! I use the one called 'The Zen Man' to wake me up in the morning. It goes off at 6am.

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03. What is the first thing you do when you get up?

A friend got me into oil pulling a few months back so that's been a consistent part of my morning routine, along with a cup of ginger tea and a skim through the New York Times. But usually the first thing I do is either jet out the door for a jog (I love that the streets are so quiet at that hour), or hop in the shower.

04. What do you have for breakfast?

Lately, I've been on an oatmeal with blueberries kick, alongside a cup of rooibos tea with a bit of steamed milk. But on the weekends I'll go all out with some scrambled eggs or french toast. Mark Bittman has the best slow cooked scrambled eggs recipe in existence, and after one bite, you'll never look at scrambled eggs the same.

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05. Do you swear by a particular beauty routine or product?

I recently adopted a wash-your-hair-every-other-day regimen and it's been a real blessing (both in terms of time and styling). I also picked up a bottle of Redken's Wax Blast and its made styling short hair a dream. In terms of products, I typically just throw on a bit of blush, eyeliner and mascara before I head out the door. I swear by Mac's Penultimate Eye Liner and if I'm feeling fancy, Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Red Square.

06. Do you have a secret / silly / weird morning habit no one knows about? Do tell!

It's not too much of a secret as I've managed to get a few friends on board too, but I'm hooked on checking my horoscope every morning. So much so that I downloaded Susan Miller's Astrology Zone app and check it religiously when I wake up. I don't necessarily live my life by it, but it's fun to see how accurate those readings are some days!

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A little house makeover

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A few weeks back we finally spruced up the remaining rooms in the apartment, and just in time for the winter coziness to commence, too. Copious amounts of hot chocolate and christmas movies will be enjoyed on that couch very soon.
Holly kindly asked me to participate in the Home series on her blog, so if you want to see some more pictures and hear about the inspiration and some fun home-related tidbits, you can read the interview on her blog.

Life Lately 02

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  1. I've returned to the land of the internets! Yoga exams took over my life for a while, but I am happy to say they are over, I passed (yay!) and I am more than ready to get back to my normal (ha!) routine.
     
  2. My Mama just stayed with us for a week, and it must have been the fastest time has ever flown by. Seriously, lightening speed. I am such a mother's child and love having her with me SO much. Also, she has bundles of energy, and helped us tackle tasks around the house that we've been putting off for far too long, like painting the living room and a general declutter and rearranging session. Oh and she taught me how to use my sewing machine! Let's see if anything good will come from that.
     
  3. Trying to prepare for the holiday season travels, which can be a bit much in this household with both our birthdays sandwiched in between there, not to mention preparing for our work trip to India and Sri Lanka in November and December. P.S: If you have any great Sri Lanka tips, I'd love to hear them! 
     
  4. Listening to ALL of Jessica's playlists. Perfect for working and your general enjoyment.
     
  5. This quote via theSkimm: “We run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything” — Pope Francis. He says that evolution and the Big Bang Theory are real and don’t go against the Church’s idea of creation. Not that I am following what's happening in Vatican City all the time, but I thought that was really something. Sounds like a stellar pope to me.

Creative Blog Hop

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When Niken asked me to join the creative blog hop, I kindly reclined. Partly due to final yoga exams and not enough time, but another part of me was not quite sure what to write about and more importantly, if I had anything worth sharing. What did I have to say that's any different form all the other creatives that have answered the questions before me? And more importantly, my projects never seem as fun and interesting as theirs. Then Inge asked me to join a few weeks later and I thought, "Well this must be a sign, I'll just have to do it."

The truth is, most of my work never makes it on the blog or in my portfolio. I am at an early stage in my full-time freelance life, going on 5 months now. A big part of my clients aren't what many in the online creative world would call "dream clients", meaning they are not exactly the kind of projects that get you really excited and leave you majorly inspired. But more often than not, those are the projects that pay the bills, and let me do crazy things like buying food and heating my place. And then there are some projects that give you so much energy, working with inspiring people that are right in line with your aesthetics.

These things take time I believe, all of it. There will come a day when most of my clients will fit the latter category. Or not, who knows? But for the time being, I am grateful to both, for keeping me financially and creatively afloat and letting me pursue my dream job.

What am I working on?

Well, you are catching me at a good time, because at the moment I am working on two fun branding projects with great people involved. One is for a young "consultancy" team, shaking things up in the business world and the other is for a local food shop here in Amsterdam. I can't go into more detail at the moment, but will share some progress soon! Besides that, I have a retainer client, who I do monthly work for.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is quite hard to answer. I think these days it's easy to find a great designer that produces quality work. The difference lies in the person itself, in the relationship with the client and how they choose to do things. I love a personal approach, meeting my clients where possible, really getting to know them and keeping them involved in the process. Many of my clients have become friends.  Also, my interests are very diverse, which can be both good and bad, but I try to bring them into the projects as an extra asset.

Why do I create what I do?

Because it somehow was on my crooked path, which let me to where I am today. I studied business in university, but kept busy with photography, writing and other creative endeavours, to keep the right side of my brain happy. Fast forward from finishing my degree to various internships, I didn't end up doing anything with my business degree ( although it does come in pretty handy now that I am working as a freelancer. See everything happens for a reason ;), but went back to school for graphic design and am finding myself doing exactly what I want to be doing. 

How does my writing/illustration/creative process work?

It always differs a bit, but in general it looks something like this: For a branding project, I first always meet/talk with the client and try to get a very clear idea on what they want (also with the help of a survey). Then I do research, which is probably my favourite part. I first create a mind map and dump out all the words, ideas and things that come to mind in reference to the project. Usually a few of these words/ideas stick out and I do some "background checks", reading up on history, competitors, customs or whatever lies behind. There will be moodboard(s) to show the client. From there I pursue three or so different directions and sketch them out before bringing them to Illustrator. Then presenting the ideas to the client to get feedback and then following and refining one of the directions or possibly a combination of ideas.

Thanks for having me Inge and Niken.

I would love to ask the lovely Anna from Earthly Luster, Océane, a talented graphic designer and dear friend and the always enchanting Rebekka from Camellia Fiber Co. about their creative processes.