Israel part 1: Jerusalem

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Last week, M and I flew to Israel for a family wedding. Since we only went for a couple of days, we tried to manage our time wisely. So on the day of the wedding, which only started that evening, we ventured out early in the morning to explore the Old City of Jerusalem.
Not being a religious person, it is near impossible for me to understand the conflict that has been going on over the centuries, fighting over this Holy Land. But seeing three world religions clash, trying to live side by side on such close quarters, as a passerby, is at the very least fascinating to see.

1-5: Church of the Holy Sepulchre
6: The Western Wall

7-10: Dome of the Rock

Your Story Illustrated | Giveaway

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Last fall I had the pleasure of meeting Marlous and Marieke, the creative duo behind Plan M. They had a stall at Strawberry Earth Fair offering one of their specialities, a concept called "Your Story Illustrated". Basically, while Marlous asks you a couple of questions to get the conversation going, Marieke is busy illustrating using i.a. beetroot & spinach ink and growing paper. They then combine the two components and voilà, ready is your custom illustration. 

M and I had so much fun during the process and loved the result so much (see above), we asked them if they could draw a "long distance" illustrated story of our friend (whose birthday was coming up), based on some pictures and stories we had from him. That too was such a hit, that after some more chatting, we came up with the idea for a giveaway.

We are giving away one "long distance" custom illustration for you and/or your favourite person, which might be the perfect gift for Valentine's Day!
Plan M and the winner will arrange a Skype/Facetime chat and b
ased on that conversation and some photos the winner sent, they will make the illustration and send it out as a gift for you to give or receive :)

To enter, just leave a comment and let me know, who would you have them illustrate? The giveaway closes Friday, the 6th February at 23.59 pm. Have fun and good luck!

* The giveaway is now closed and the winner has been contacted! xx

Matters of the heart

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Relationships are hard work. Rewarding, important, probably the most important of all the work you'll ever have, but in constant want of attention. And there are the days, weeks, even months when your attention is elsewhere. Jobs, projects, clients, money, health, that one botched haircut, the untidy house. Your mind is frazzled by things that, once set in perspective, shouldn't get the biggest and best piece of your attention cake, the only piece with the tip still intact, the frosting un-smushed and all the chocolate sprinkles in their place. What is left for your favourite, your best people, who deserve all the first class cake in the world, is the sad leftover piece sitting inside an old tupperware container in the back of the fridge. 

This year, for Valentine's Day (and beyond), instead of gifts or chocolate or flowers, I will give attention. The most dazzling, shiny and caring attention my favourite people can bear, because there can never be enough of that loving goodness.

 

Graphic by Maja Molière / Heart illustration 

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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