Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Things I did in 2015

As I reflect on the year passed, I can't shake the fact that 2015 was the year that saw me grow more than ever before. It's crazy to think that this time last year I was living it up in Paris. I brought in the New Year in the most exciting way possible by being in a foreign city, dancing until the early hours with fellow wandering hearts and marveling at the city of lights while stumbling back to the hostel at 3am. The trip set in motion the promise of a fantastic year and it made me realise that it's my thoughts and actions that determine a fulfilling year. I learnt that I have so much to gain by pushing myself and working hard. Not just dreaming, but doing and approaching my fears full on.

I am so grateful for this year and the experiences it presented. After reading an article in the recent Frankie titled 'What I Did This Year', I felt inspired to create my own list, which ranges from brilliant to somewhat banal. All are moments I cherish dearly. It seemed a fitting way to wave off 2015 but also serves as a reminder for the coming new year that exciting things are on the long as I am willing to embrace everything that comes my way and seek out experiences that make me feel most alive. 

1. Went solo traveling for the first time 2. Discovered Paris was everything I dreamed it would be and more 3. Lived with a host family in Vichy and attended an intensive language school 4. Dabbled in freelance work for the first time 5. Bid adieu to my teen years 6.  Got a new job 7. Had a non-fiction piece published in an anthology 8. Went to Sydney to attend the launch of said anthology 9. Veered outside of my comfort zone multiple times, including attending a dinner with seven strangers 10. Made a film for one of my communications units 11. Achieved my highest ever grade of 87% for a unit 12. Visited relatives in the Netherlands, some of whom I’ve never met before 13. Read a decent amount of books of a diverse range of genres 14. Saw One Direction and Sam Smith live (the former being one of the most amazing experiences of my life!) 15. Developed quite an obsession for independent magazines, discovering a number of excellent publications such as Oh Comely and Womankind 16. Probably spent an obscene amount of my hard earned money on brunch and coffee 17. Became more confident in myself than ever before 18. Took part in the Oh Comely perfect strangers package swap 19. Saw many peers and friends graduate and began to feel both excited and nervous knowing that I will be in their position in just over 6 months… 20. Enjoyed every moment of the year, the challenges and the triumphs. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

DIY Christmas Wreath Gift Tags

So here's something I don't do often: a DIY! Yes, indeed, it has been months since my last DIY post, but what better month for another one than December? I haven't been as crafty as I would have liked this year. The month crept up on me and I was left feeling really unorganized with no idea where to begin. Thankfully, my family isn't very big on presents anymore, now that the majority of us are 'grown ups', so that at least allows me some slack when it comes to gift shopping. As I've grown older, I've found it harder to think of things that family members would really want anyway. I don't want gift giving to be a thoughtless exchange (buying something for the sake of buying), and so I've become more inclined to make my own gifts, including all the trimmings.

These Christmas wreath gift tags are so easy to make but so effective. You'll notice that the foliage isn't of the traditional kind one would usually associate with Christmas. I've opted for using Australian natives instead. For the majority of my childhood, I wished for a white Christmas. I wanted ivy and mistletoe, snow, wood fires, roasts and warming punch. But I have come to love and embrace the Australian Christmas, albeit the sometimes horrendous heat. The Christmas that I adore involves waking up early on a warm morning, swims in the pool. fruit platters and 'cold' puddings such as trifles and pavlova. These wreaths are just a small representation of what Christmas here really is. It's odd seeing cards and gift wrap in the shops which depict wintry scenes. While I still do one day want to experience that Christmas, I am happy that I've come to appreciate the Australian Christmas.
I have used fake foliage for these, which I found at a craft shop. I initially wanted to use the real deal, but it can get quite expensive. And while I'd love to be able to just gather some native flora from the park across my road, it is illegal to do so, and for good reason. The fake foliage, though, is quite realistic and, added bonus, could potentially be used as tree decorations.

You will need:
An assortment of foliage
Thin steel wire
Wire cutters
Hot glue gun

Essentially, all you have to do is bend the wire into a circle of your desired size, twisting the ends around a couple of times to form a complete circle. I just used my hands, but pliers would probably make the process a lot easier. From there, it's as simple as cutting your flowers and hot gluing them onto the wire to create a gorgeous arrangement. 

I'll be using plain brown paper to wrap my presents, as it really helps to draw attention to the wreaths. Tied together with twine, it all makes for a very festive and eye catching gift.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Tiny Tales from Sydney #2: Shelley Beach, Manly

Manly NSW, Australia
A trip to Manly initially wasn't on the cards, but we decided to take the fifteen minute voyage one afternoon. We stayed for a total of about three hours. I wish it could have been more. The beach side suburb is full of life with tourists and Sydneysiders both young and old found lying on the shore or eating ice-cream on the boulevard. But there was one place in particular that cast me under a certain spell. A short walk along the mesmerizing coast leads to Shelly Beach, the closest thing to a tropical oasis that I have been lucky enough to visit. Home to a large variety of marine life, Shelley is  popular with Scuba Divers and Snorkelers, but is just as populated with holiday makers and locals. It is the perfect sheltered spot with stunning blue waters and white as white can be sand. Beneath the shade of palm trees and the faint smell of salty sea in air, it felt like nothing could be more perfect in that moment. This is the place that turned me into an enthusiastic beach person. Never have I fallen so in love with the sea so fiercely as I did that perfect Spring day.

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