Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Peek Inside My Diary #2

This song is:
Quiet car rides along the deserted highway late at night, Hej cafe in London, fireplaces, Borough market and Druid St adventures, a warm cup of coffee, a gentle smile from the barista, dreams of the past and hopes for the future, Autumn leaves crunching underfoot, loneliness and loveliness, journals, my bed, fairy lights. Feeling whole, feeling alive but feeling wistful. Forever yearning for the feeling of home, for somebody’s arms to hold me.

I have taken up a new writing prompt practice: playing a song that's close to my heart and writing down whatever comes to mind. When suffering periods of writer's block, I've found it the best way to get things moving again. First thought best thought.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday 08

Much like last week, I have had another full week at work and I am simply relishing in the thought of having two days off on Christmas and Boxing Day (which I wasn't expecting at all!). As I mentioned in my last Wonderful Wednesday post, I wasn't feeling all that chirpy, but things perked up for the better by the end of the week.

Here are some Wonderful things from a Wonderful Week

A very appreciative customer. An old lady came up to me at work the other day and asked in broken English if I spoke Spanish. I replied that I understood a little Italian, having studied it at High School. She then proceeded to say that she was looking for a specific product. It took a bit of time to understand what she was after, as my Italian is very very rusty. I could gather bits and pieces of information, but struggled with replying to her in Italian. In the end, we understood each other enough and I was able to help her. Her immense appreciation warmed my heart so much and made my entire day.

A surprise gift. My work gave each employee a gift voucher for the store as a Christmas gift. Working at Kikki-K, I always have my eye on so many products. It was nice to be able to justify two purchases as a little gift to me from me.

Catching up with family. I finally found a time that suited both my brother and myself to catch up. Despite still not seeing his travel photos, it was so nice to spend time with him, my mum and sister, as it always is.

Seeing La La Land. A friend of mine was determined that we go see the advanced screening before he left to go overseas for two weeks, and I was only too happy to oblige! Oh my goodness, this film is absolutely gorgeous and has had me listening to the soundtrack all week! Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are obvious faves, but together, they are a perfect on screen couple with fantastic chemistry. This movie will have you wishing you could dance and sing in the streets and will inspire you to continue pursuing your dreams.

Get an added dose of wonderfulness with other ‘Wonderful Wednesdays’ posts found all over the bloggersphere. Check out creator of 'Wonderful Wednesday' Sally Tangle along with posts by Jo, Helen,Michelle, Sarah, Kate, Cat, Sam, ElKerri, Jasmin and Lynsey.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas in Australia

I'd never questioned the Australian Christmas in depth before my trip abroad this year. It was oddly a hot topic amongst the Brits (and Americans) I met. They seemed incredulous to believe that Christmas could be anything but the cold, snowy version they grew up with. One girl even said we should just 'move' Christmas to our Australian winter.

Thinking about it, Christmas here is a weird amalgamation of English and European traditions and imaginings that we have somehow passed off as normal. It's not unusual to have a roast on Christmas day despite the fact it's boiling outside. Christmas cards and wrapping paper show depictions of snow, mistletoe, holly, the north pole, fireplaces. The store I work at even sells packets of fake snow. It almost seems ridiculous to be pushing something that is unachievable and unrealistic. When I was younger I wished for nothing more than to experience a white Christmas. I felt I was missing out on an experience that was apparently so intrinsic to the 'true' festive experience.

I've since grown to love Christmas in Australia. I'll admit, it can get unbearably hot, but I'm not about to trade the wearing of sundresses, gorging on fresh cherries and mangoes, afternoon swims in the pool and balmy evenings on the beach for anything else. Christmas here is pretty sweet.

Image via Pinterest

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Inspiring Artists | Monica Rohan

Taken by the vivid colours, patterns and realistic imitation of fabrics and textiles, the work of Monica Rohan initially struck me as whimsical. Upon further research, I discovered that Rohan's works are a 'reflection of the genre of autobiography through a mysterious form of self portraiture' (ref). Intriguingly, none of her works show the faces of the women, as the figures are often seen burying their heads in flowers, hedges or blankets. Their unusual stance and sometimes even bodily contortions hint at something more troubling: 'isolation and human frailty' (ref). 

While aesthetically pleasing to the eye, I eventually realised why I often see myself so strongly in her pieces. Sometimes we all feel like we're floating and falling through life, like we're constantly overwhelmed. As Rohan remarked on The Design Files: 'I think of the figure as being the part that allows access for the viewer to feel some kind of emotional reaction, to imagine themselves in the same kind of position, hiding in a hedge or drowning in a floordrobe or sinking into a rug.' (ref) I almost find refuge that Rohan's works are a medium through which these feelings can be articulated when words are perhaps inaccurate.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cookbook of the Month | 26 Grains

Think you know all there is to know about grains? Think again. I sure did. I was admittedly undecided about picking up this cookbook because grains are not something you would otherwise get excited about, am I right? Considered a staple, I had always thought of them as something to bulk up meals, rather than being the star ingredients. After an eye-opening visit to 26 Grains in Neal's Yard and consequent purchasing of the cookbook, I now know to never underestimate grains again. The way you treat and cook with grains can mean the difference between an ordinary bowl of porridge and an extraordinary one. I know which option I'd take, even if it involves a bit more prep time!

26 Grains has become my go-to cookbook not only this month, but the months previous. It is filled with both time saving recipes and ones that take that little bit more effort, but each meal I have tried has made me rethink the basics. Alex has elevated otherwise simple meals without any unnecessary fuss. Over a recent period that has seen me lack the motivation to get creative in the kitchen, her approachable recipes mean I can whip something easy up that doesn't compromise on taste.

I have so far tried and loved these recipes: Hazelnut and Butter Porridge, Blueberry Porridge, Porridge Pancakes, Spelt Salad with Beetroot, Feta, Chickpea and Apple, Coconut and Butternut Squash Curry with Black Sticky Rice, Tomato Coconut Rice with Halloumi and Avocado, and Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut and Cinnamon Cookies.

If that's not enough to whet your appetite and convince you to get your hands on a copy of 26 Grains, then this recipe for chai spice will, which makes for the perfect cup of comfort for those experiencing a cold December. Alternatively, this chai spice added into Alex's recipe for homemade almond butter will make you wonder what life was like before the phenomenal condiment graced your taste buds. It can be enjoyed on toast topped with fruit, on pancakes or straight out of the jar. The spiced almond butter also makes for a perfect veganised chai caramel for caramel slice...Watch this space, because I'm currently trying to create the perfect recipe!

Chai Spice by 26 Grains
5 tbsp ground cardamon
2 tbs ground cinnamon
1/2 tbsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
Good grinding of black pepper
1/2 tbso freshly grated nutmeg
40g coconut palm sugar

Mix all the ingredients together and store in a jar in a cool, dry place for several months (most spices deteriorate after a year).

To make a chai spiced drink, mix 1 teaspoon of the spice blend with 250ml milk of your choice and heat gently, stirring continuously.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday 07

The past week hasn't been the greatest if I'm going to be perfectly honest. Sometimes you've just got to accept that some weeks will be better than others, and things wont be bad forever. Despite this, there were a number of little moments that put a smile on my face.

Here are some wonderful things...
Pho with a friend On Thursday I went to Leederville for coffee and Pho. It was my first time eating Pho and it was delicious! A Vietnamese noodle dish, it had such a clean taste with a bit of kick from the chili. The place we went to was just generally the cutest and I was particularly smitten with the tea pot and cups that the green tea was served in.

Spontaneous night trips to Fremantle My shifts have increased the past week meaning I don't have as much time in between for leisure. I usually come home just wanting to sleep! But, ever the adventurer, I notice when that I feel a lot happier when I make the effort to go out, even if it's just somewhere local in the evening. Walking along the cafe strip and near the harbour in Fremantle is one of the most relaxing activities after a day at work.

Re-visiting Fremantle Arts Centre As a final outing with a friend before she set off to Asia for a month, I met up for coffee on one of my days off and made another visit to FAC. I feel like I have mentioned this place far too many times to count (including in a recent #localloves post) but I really do love it so much!

Reading Womankind on my commute I finally got my hands on the latest issue and all I can say is that it makes the journey to work so much more bearable. This magazine never lets me down!

Get an added dose of wonderfulness with other ‘Wonderful Wednesdays’ posts found all over the bloggersphere. Check out creator of 'Wonderful Wednesday' Sally Tangle along with posts by Jo, Helen,Michelle, Sarah, Kate, Cat, Sam, ElKerri, Jasmin and Lynsey.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

5 Tips to Motivate Reading

Sometimes it feels like life is a constant juggling act and it can so hard to find a happy balance. For me, this precarious balance is between working, day to day errands and finding time to do things I enjoy. One of my favourite past times is reading, but it seems I go through cycles in which I'm either getting through novel after novel at full speed ahead or barely picking up a book at all. The past two months have been the former.

I would really like to strike a balance in my reading habits because it's not only an outlet I enjoy, but one that can make me feel a sense of achievement.

If you're like me and experience occasional slumps in reading, or would just like to read more, I compiled 5 Tips to Motivate Reading.

1. Compile a list of 'to-reads' I've never known a reading slump that can't be fixed with a good 'ol browse on Goodreads and consequent 'to-read' compilation. Once you discover just how many amazing and promising titles there are, you'll be itching to get reading again!
2. Watch some Booktubers Energy and enthusiasm is infectious. There's nothing I love more than hearing and watching people get excited about their latest read. At the moment, I have really been enjoying Booksandquill's videos, Sunbeamsjess' monthly book reviews and the Banging Book Club collab. videos by Lucy, Hannah and Leena.
3. Bring a book with you everywhere you go And I mean everywhere. The amount of time I waste on my phone when I forget to take a book out with me is something of which I'm not at all proud. Reading a book is the best way to kill time during your commute, in a doctors waiting room or if you find yourself on your own for a chunk of time during the day.
4. Join a book club This isn't something I have done or am doing, but I have always wanted to! Based off the experience of studying English at University, it helps having a set time limit to complete a novel. In addition, knowing you'll be discussing a book will motivate a deeper engagement with the text.
5. Read Seasonally. What I mean by this is, pick up titles that set the tone for the coming season. Our anticipation for what the change in seasons will bring can be encouraged by the books we read. Christmas is an obvious example: maybe you'll feel inspired to get out some classic Christmas tales and snuggle up on the couch. For Spring, you may find yourself reaching for something light-hearted and nostalgic such as The Secret Garden. 

Do you have any tips or advice? Feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions below. 
Image credit: Jo Rodgers 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Poetry | Words for the Soul

Consider this a tribute to some of my favourite poets and their poems. Having never been much 'into' poetry in the past, I have grown to love how ambiguous it can be. I have grown to love discovering flecks of truth or things of which I can relate, and for every other part I can't understand, I have come to appreciate every single carefully chosen word and the rhythms the poet creates.

If you're a self-confessed poetry lover, I'd be interested to know who your favourite poets are, what poems you ardently whisper in the early AM and what poems you wish you could shout at the top of your lungs on the highest rooftops. Isn't it quite something that poetry can be read whichever way and so many other ways in between?

Home (extract)- Warsan Shire
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well.

Wishbone (extract) - Richard Siken
With this bullet lodged in my chest, covered with your name, I will turn myself into a gun, because 
it’s all I have,
because I’m hungry and hollow and just want something to call my own. I’ll be your slaughterhouse, your killing floor, your morgue and final resting, walking around with this
        bullet inside me
‘cause I couldn’t make you love me and I’m tired of pulling your teeth.

I Wrote This for You - Iain Thomas
Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.

Milk and Honey - Rupi Kaur
how do you turn
a forest fire like me
so soft i turn into
running water

shadows that spill over naked spaces - A.Y 
tell me,
isn’t it tragic?
to open yourself up
like a museum,
to turn yourself
inside out, only
to have everything
stolen under the

Unbloomed - Allen Ginsberg 
Be careful, you are not in wonderland

I’ve heard the strange madness long growing in your soul

but you’re fortunate in your ignorance

in your isolation

you who have suffered

find where love hides

give, share, lose

lest we die, unbloomed

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Peek inside my Diary

Written on a day when my wanderlusting heart felt particularly heavy but hopeful for all the 'what ifs?' I had swirling around in my head.

I want to...
be a tumbleweed at Shakespeare and Co. or an au paire in Paris. walk the boroughs of New York and the streets of Quebec. teach english in Italy. take a cycling tour to the gardens of Monet. eat porridge in Copenhagen and drink coffee in Amsterdam. sketch the portraits at the National Portrait Gallery. take a florist course in Perth. write in a Moleskin journal in a cosy cafe on a rainy day in Paris, London and Melbourne. go to a musical festival in Budapest. drink wine on the U-Bahn in Berlin. learn Dutch, learn Swedish, better my Italian and French. take an art course in Tuscany. go to a tulip field in the Netherlands. see the northern lights. show a tourist around my town. attend a Dine With in a foreign city. dance along the Seine in the spring. 
I want to never stop dreaming. I want to never stop seeking possibilities.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Books I Read in November

November felt like a long, drawn out month. It started off quite promising, with Flaneuse setting my sights on adventure once more. Midway through, I picked up Pure Juliet and found it to be an enjoyable read to slip in and out of for the most part. The end of the month was accompanied by Sula, which was rushed and read more carelessly than I would have liked.

Last month I traversed some of the most glorious capital cities in the world, got a glimpse into the mind of a genius and witnessed a tale of two young girls in black mid-west. This was what I thought of each experience:

Flaneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London - Lauren Elkin
Flaneur: A French noun that historically refers to a purely male figure who 'saunters around observing society'. In her book, Elkin begs to differ that only men have, and can, participate in such an activity. As a passionate wanderer herself, Elkin felt inspired to tell her story and the stories of other notable women in the past, which see the reclaiming of space in the city even during times in which women were restricted. In this nuanced analysis of urban life, Elkin transforms the image of the flaneur into the flaneuse; of women who were bold enough to pound the pavements of London despite Victorian social mores (Virginia Woolf), protested in the streets of Paris and reported from war zones (Martha Gellhorn) plus many, many more.

This book is a beautiful blend of personal memoir and historical non-fiction. Contrary to a couple of reviews I have read, I quite enjoyed reading about Elkin's own personal experiences, as I not only relate to her love for urban life and desire to travel, but I felt they helped prevent the book from being saturated by facts. Indeed, while it read like an academic paper at times, I found it to be a pleasurable, and even sometimes whimsical, read.

Pure Juliet - Stella Gibbons
Juliet has always been a peculiar child. Her mother likes to joke that she is more interested in elephants than she ever would be in boys. She spends days and nights in her room solving complicated mathematical equations. And she never seems to be in the present; she would rather occupy her time pondering the nature of coincidences and it is this intriguing interest that she will dedicate the rest of her life figuring out.

I liked this book. It had wit, charm and the main character Juliet was so peculiar that I didn't lose interest. But it was forgetful overall, especially as the ending was quite a let down. It was like a beautifully shot film with an absence of depth. I found it hard to empathize with any of the characters and the biggest let down was Gibbons failure to address how, exactly, a maths prodigy thinks about and solves the mystery behind 'coincidence'. This is obviously no simple ask, but without a solution, I wonder why it was written at all.

Sula - Toni Morrison 
I've been slowly getting through Morrison's body of work, with adequate spaces of time in between each novel. Every time, I fall in love once more with Morrison's prose, and Sula is no exception. Sula focuses primarily on a friendship between two black girls that is shattered one day after a tragic event. The story spans their paths into adulthood, with Nel Wright chosing to stay in 'Bottom' (the poverty stricken black neighbourhood in Ohio), and Sula escaping to the city. Upon her return to Bottom, she is ostracized from the community and eventually from Nel, as she is seen as a rebel and seductress.

Much like all the other titles I have read by Morrison, Sula provides a harrowing reflection of what it means to be coloured and female in America and what hardships these women faced in the 1920s specifically.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Nostalgia & Saudade | A Playlist

One evening I found myself listening to a particular song and, not for the first time, I felt a very specific emotion. The best way to describe it would have to be nostalgia void of the visual stimuli, the rush of memories, or that elusive feeling you get of a specific time or place from the past. This feeling has always haunted me in a way because it's so hard to define.

Before, I simplified it as a nostalgia for something you never had or experienced. But in my inherent desire to pursue accuracy, this troubled me, as the definition of nostalgia is 'a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past'. Even if this past was one that I wasn't alive to experience, it falls short. (I'd say 'Golden Age thinking' would be more appropriate for such a situation and this certainly isn't how I would describe how I felt).

After a little research, I found possibly the closest term that I'll ever come across that satisfies this feeling. The Portuguese term Saudade is defined as 'a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the's not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.'

This got me thinking about a lot of things, predominantly how freaking amazing and magical music is that it can evoke feelings I never even knew existed before further investigation. It had me pondering the English language and how many more discrepancies exist between an emotion and an accurate description or term. It then had me appreciate how incredible languages other than my own native tongue are.

But I digress. The main purpose of this post is to share some of the few songs that have tugged at my heart stings in a way that's just that bit different to others. This playlist consists of songs that provoke feelings which exist somewhere between nostalgia and saudade. It is both a fond reminiscing of moments in the past and a yearning for something I never had. What that something is I'm not quite sure. Maybe I'll never know in my lifetime. But for what it's worth, it's thanks to the specific effect that these songs have on me that I feel inspired to reevaluate my life, to get out there and make the most of it.        

Background Image Credit: Tiina Törmänen                 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Fremantle Arts Centre x Light Geist | #localloves

Fremantle Art's Centre (FAC) has to be one of my favourite places. For starters, it is situated in my favourite towns in Perth. Named one of the top towns by Lonely Planet earlier this year, there is always something quirky going on in Fremantle, such as live music acts, art exhibitions and festivals. But even if one were to brush these attractions aside, Fremantle is generally one of the nicest places to chill out: it has the beach, a plethora of local businesses and more cafes than you can poke a stick at.

FAC to me embodies everything good about this port city town. Once an asylum, the historic building and surrounding premises was transformed into an art gallery with a stunning courtyard cafe. On a recent visit, I not only indulged in some treats from said cafe, but also in the recent exhibition Light Geist. And I was truly mesmorized.

While the works don't translate all that well through my photos, they were absolutely breathtaking. The program described the works in the exhibition as 'throwing light to transform the gallery. Projected light in Light Geist does not rest lightly on a flat surface. Rather, it enlivens architectural space, animates three dimensional forms, and even makes the ground beneath us seethe...the light is powerfully generative and creates energised landscapes'. These landscapes were immersive to a whole other degree.

The third image is an animated piece of a work by Aboriginal artist Ngamaru Bidu titled Walyja Ngurra. Aboriginal art is highly intricate and is never the case of 'what you see is what you get'. Without knowledge of Aboriginal art and how the artists envision, depict and see their native land, it can be hard to understand. This particular piece is drawn from the landscapes that the artist calls home and relies heavily on the use of waru (fire). Painted form an aerial perspective, it is 'charged with 'information about plant species, the multiple stages of regeneration, Bidu's narrative of walking through this country with her family, and their deep ancestral connection to these places'. A highly interactive piece, visitors can walk through the space and 'bathe in intense chromatic light'. In doing so, the animator of Bidu's work hoped to emulate what paintings to Martu artists such as Bidu are like; that is, 'animate; charged with the country they paint...ancient, ever evolving and filled with knowledge'.

The first two images are from a piece I found particularly impressive. Titled Hive Mind, the artist Sam Price explores 'the relationship between human consciousness and the digital world' through his installation. Consisting hexagonal foam shapes assembled on a wall, the hive mind 'flickers with points of light and creates the illusion of the cerebral form physically undulating and pulsing with neural energy'. These projections were directly based off scans of the artists brain which gave fascinating insight into the workings of his mind and how it responds to stimulants such as screens and digital technology. 

There was also one other piece on display that I was sadly unable to capture. Overall, Light Geist was one of the most phenomenal exhibitions I have had the pleasure of experiencing this year. I never know what to expect when I visit FAC, but I always know that I will walk away seeing, thinking and contemplating the world differently. 

Find out more about FAC here

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday 06

The Christmas fever has definitely begun as work has been getting busier. I'm surprised I'm still sane after listening to Carols on loop for more than a month and the thought that I still have a good three weeks of it to go isn't exactly exhilarating. None the less, I have been happier than ever as my evenings and days off have been spent doing some wonderful things with wonderful friends.

A gallery and coffee date with one of my oldest friends to celebrate her 22nd birthday. I kind of like how birthdays are a lot more toned down now that we're older. I prefer having a casual catch up so I can actually give more time and attention to the people I love on their special day.

Pecha Kucha, ramen lab and creme brulee in that order and on the one night. For those not aware, Pecha Kucha is an initiative that takes place worldwide. It essentially sees people make presentations with the accompaniment of 20 slides, with each slide lasting 20 seconds. Anyone is able to put their hand up to present before the event takes place, and this allows for such a diverse range of presenters to have their voices, ideas and stories heard; whether they be business people, architects or artists. After the event, my friends and I went to a new ramen place called Ramen Lab, where we feasted on some of the most artistic ramen I've ever seen. We ended the night at a French restaurant which was probably far too pricey for our budgets, but as we just got dessert, we felt it was justifiable.

Cold evening in Fremantle I caught up with some other old friends on Friday in Fremantle. It has been uncharacteristically chilly in the evenings, so we were all rugged up. We spent the evening along the shipping docks and on the cafe strip catching up.

Fancy fries and an evening at the moonlight cinema A new fish and chips place popped up in Northbridge recently and my foodaholic friends and I were eager to check it out. Despite paying $15 for cone of chips (it was very large to be fair), they were the most decadent we've ever had, with lashings of mayo and a modest sprinkling of truffle on top. That evening called for more apparent decadence as I went to the outdoor theatre to watch Bridget Jones' Baby with a picnic consisting brie, crackers and nutella hot chocolate. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie too!

Get an added dose of wonderfulness with other ‘Wonderful Wednesdays’ posts found all over the bloggersphere. Check out creator of 'Wonderful Wednesday' Sally Tangle along with posts by Jo, Helen,Michelle, Sarah, Kate, Cat, Sam, ElKerri, Jasmin and Lynsey.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Youtube Channels to Watch

Confession: I'm a bit of a Youtube binger. But who can blame me when there are so many inspiring channels to pick and choose from?

I've got to say, my feed has never looked better as I have been discovering a whole bounty of amazing ladies lately. I always wait in anticipation for their next upload and drop everything once I spy a new video in my subscription box.

I thought I would share my top 5 faves of the moment (but there are certainly more!). You can tell that these Youtubers work so hard at what they do and they deserve all the exposure that they can get.

I'm always on the lookout for more channels to follow, despite the fact I already spend a good chunk of my free and not so free time on Youtube, so if you have any recommendations send them my way!

Channel: Lucy Moon
Watch for: Lifestyle, advice, fashion, social commentary
Favourite videos: Cruelty Free Skincare | What I've Found So FarHow to Lose Your Virginity, I Am Not a Millennial, Lucy Moon's London | My Favourite Places, Pretty much all her 168 Hours vids. if I'm gonna be real.
What I love about her: Lucy is one multi-talented, self-aware and intelligent gal. Her channel strikes the perfect balance between providing 'care-free' entertainment (think monthly favourites, music recommendations, travel vlogs etc) and social commentary/advice about difficult topics. She is approachable, says what she feels and produces content she is passionate about. I have to say that she is one of my biggest girl crushes and the kind of person I would love to talk with for hours on end over bottomless cups of peppermint tea.

Channel: justkissmyfrog
Watch for: Books, lifestyle, social commentary, advice
Favourite videos: Youtube Is Dead | A Slam Poem, We Are British | A Poem, Alternative Small Talk, Practical Tips for Loving Your Body, HOW CRUEL IS MY MAKEUP BAG
What I love about her: Leena is the kind of woman I wish I could be more like. She is feisty, refreshingly outspoken, exuberant and unafraid to speak her mind. She produces such interesting content and really makes me second guess things I wouldn't otherwise be aware of or allocate attention to. She's also enviably articulate, creative and one helluva spoken word poet (I have SO much love for Alternative Small Talk). Indeed, her spoken word videos are my personal favourites of hers. Her channel is a treasure trove just waiting to be explored and you'll walk away all the richer.

Channel: Jessbeautician
Watch for: Food and beauty
Favourite videos: ALL her what I Eat in a Day related videos. Hit 'em up!
What I love about her: For starters, Jess is just so sweet, making her videos such a delight to watch.  While her channel is a mix of beauty and food, it's her food related videos that I devour. She is a vegan and creates some of the most inventive plant-based meals I have ever come across. As a vegetarian myself, her recipes inspire me be more creative in the kitchen. She proves that there are no restrictions or lack of variety in a veggie diet if you're willing to put time and energy into creating wholesome meals from scratch. I really appreciate the time and effort she puts into her videos; over June and November, she filmed 'What I Eat in a Day' videos every day/every second day and I always learnt something new.

Channel: sunbeamsjess (and extrasunbeamsjess)
Watch for: Lifestyle, books, fashion, beauty, student life
Favourite videos: Back to Uni Lyst Lookbook, UNI ROOM TOUR 2016, SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER BOOKS, Vlogmas.
What I love about her: I have to say right off the bat that Jess' voice is so calming and therapeutic. More often than not, I watch her videos in the evening as I've found it to be the perfect way to calm down. Aside from this, there are a number of reasons why I love Jess (of course!). Her style is so unique and while I don't share the same taste in fashion, her lookbooks always blow me away. She is also so well spoken and intelligent: despite not labeling herself as a 'booktuber', her book reviews are probably the most insightful I have come across thus far. Finally, she is my favourite vlogger. I discovered her last year while still at Uni and her commitment to her studies and practical advice throughout her monthly vlogs boosted my motivation. Even now, as a graduate, I still find her vlogs motivational!

Channel: What Olivia Did

Watch for: Fashion, beauty, lifestyle
Favourite videos: My Record Collection Part 1, My Record Collection Part 2, 48 Hours in Venice, New York Hidden Gems, OCTOBER FAVOURITES
What I love about her: As a long time reader of her blog of the same name, I've always got the impression that Liv is one of the most kind hearted people out there and her content is always creative and feel-good to boot! This extends to her youtube channel which is filled with all kinds of lovely things such as lookbooks, travel vlogs and my personal favourite, record collection videos. Liv's taste across the spectrum of fashion, lifestyle and music is top notch and I can't think of anyone who wouldn't love her sweet demeanor and positive vibes.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Beauty | Natural Skincare with Goodness Natural Beauty Lab

I won't pretend that I'm at all knowledgeable about beauty and skincare because my routine has always been about as basic as it gets. But even with my limited expertise (and consequently, my limited collection of makeup and all things beauty related), I have been wanting to be more conscious about the products I use. Not only does this come from increasing awareness of the unnecessary cruelty behind far too many well known cosmetic brands, but it is also the result of quite a frightening incident which essentially saw me house bound after an allergic reaction to a certain facial cream last year. My face swelled so severely that I simply did not want to go out in public because I looked so terrible, but it was also incredibly painful.

What I learnt since this particular incident is, first and foremost, it pays to test any product you buy on a patch of skin before you slather it all over your face and or body. It was silly on my part not to, but now I know to never risk it again. Secondly, I realised that the cream that provoked such a harsh reaction had an ingredients list as long as my arm, most of which I couldn't even identify. While other skin care products I used throughout my teens to early adulthood never caused me problems like that one offending product, I felt uneasy that they too were filled with 'unnatural' ingredients. I realised that I no longer wanted to put those nasties on my skin and I vowed to slowly change my routine.

Goodness Natural Beauty Lab is a recent discovery and a brand that I feel ticks all the boxes. Goodness prides itself on using all natural products, with avocado, chia and coconut oils being their star ingredients. I have been using their products for over a month after purchasing their samples kit, and I have loved the experience. The moisturisers, cleanser, chia facial oil and facial scrub all have the same fresh smelling scent and you can tell there's nothing artificial about them at all. The effect they've had on my skin has been positive so far: although breakouts are not likely to ever disappear (unfortunately), the products have helped to brighten up my face and just made it feel healthy and refreshed. As a person with combination skin, the gentle scrub is my personal favourite product, as it has helped with dry and flaky patches.

There's nothing not to love about Goodness as they have taken care to eliminate the negative aspects behind 'mass-produced' skincare brands. Their products don't test on animals, are biodegradable and their packaging, aside from being so darn gorgeous, is recyclable. I think Goodness has nailed it, and for such reasonable prices, I think I will be using the products for a long while.

Products in sample box: every evening cream, every morning moisturiser, every week face scrub, every day cream cleanser, chia seed oil.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Inspiring Artists | Ruby Pilven

All I can think about when I see these stunning handmade porcelain ceramic pieces by Ruby Pilven is: how could you possibly be unhappy if one of her vases were a centre piece in your living room? Or if you were rocking her jewellery? Or eating dinner off her plates? It comes as no surprise, then, to read on her website that 'Ruby wants her ceramics to inject joy into everyday life….making it that little bit more fun.' Her passion for the craft and her genuine desire to positively impact the day to day life couldn't be more evident.

I have been coveting her vases for a long while now and one day, I really do hope to get my hands on one of my own. But for now, I will continue to drool over her wares and stunning studio on her instagram. Her feed really is candy for the eyes.

Friday, December 2, 2016

PICA x Pip & Pop | #localloves

Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) is the leading contemporary art gallery in Western Australia. With an ever changing and always engaging program, you never know what you might find upon entering the gorgeous heritage building in Perth's cultural centre.

PICA has showcased some of the best Australian and international visual, performance and interdisciplinary art. However, it was a recent visit that truly blew me away. 

When Happiness Ruled by local artist Pip & Pop, (who I can only imagine to be an all round magical human being) was one of the most visually exquisite exhibitions I have seen. The official program had this to say:

'Pip & Pop is obsessed with representations of paradise, illusion and wish-fulfillment described in folk tales, mythologies and cinema. Her wonderfully immersive and color-saturated dreamscapes draw wide inspiration from the edible fantasy world of Cockaigne, platform video games and Japanese stories of spirits residing within objects and nature'.

A kaleidoscopic landscape consisting kinetic sculptures, coloured sugar and other bits and bobs all doused in glitter captured my wildest imagination.

When Happiness Ruled runs from 12 November - 24 December. Find out more about Pip & Pop here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday 05

It has to be said: how crazy is it that we're entering the final month of 2016?! The year started off quite slowly and then just went full speed ahead from June onward. I have no doubt in my mind that these final few weeks will also go by in a flash which, to me, seems an even better reason than any to continue 'Wonderful Wednesday' each week so everything doesn't just become one big blur.

Here are some Wonderful things from the past week
Picking up my brother from the airport My brother and his girlfriend are now home after a whirlwind six weeks spent traveling around Europe. It's kind of weird in a way that he's back, because I don't see him all that often at the best of times. The other day I caught myself wondering what he was getting up to overseas...only to remember he's home. It's just nice knowing he's safe and we can plan a proper catch up, hopefully in the near future! I can't wait to see all his travel photos.

Laughing with my sister I feel so lucky to not only get on with my brother, but to have an even stronger bond with my sister. Life has been stressful for us both of late, especially for her as she's had exams to battle with. While it may seem silly, I love nothing more than getting into hysterics over silly memes with her and performing duets of High School Musical, Hairspray and Chainsmokers' numbers.

Chai almond butter I made this the other day following the recipe from 26 Grains and holy moly, it is just about the most delicious condiment that has ever graced my taste buds. I've been eating it out of the jar, on toast, with fruit and am envisioning it on top of pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup. It is just so damn good.

People in general There's been a countless number of instances lately in which people have been approaching me and saying 'you look familiar'. In each instance, I discovered these people used to frequent the cafe I worked at throughout university. Each person I've come across would always have such lovely things to say about how they really valued the service I gave. It really warmed my heart to know that I could positively affect the people I've come across without even knowing it. It has really helped to perk me up too over periods in which I've felt particularly down. A little kindness goes a long way and I feel more inspired than ever to do my best to make someone's day better.

Perth Upmarket I spent Sunday perusing local businesses with a good friend of mine, feasting on artisan marshmallows and perfectly brewed honey chai. It really got me into the festive mood and I look forward to attending more Christmas markets in December.

 What Wonderful Things have happened to you the past week?

  *Image taken at a new concept store/cafe in Fremantle (aka my fave place)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Small Business Saturday x #localloves | Stackwood

For as long as I've had this blog (and others in the past), it only recently struck me how little the content I produce is related to my home city and specifically, the small businesses that make it unique. As much of a wanderluster I am, I still very much adore where I live, and I feel like Perth and the small, dedicated business owners here deserve a bit of time in the spotlight.

Perth has really come into it's own over the past few years. It's hard to keep up with all the new businesses, cafes and cultural projects that continue to pop up. As a result, the city has become such a vibrant place. Although some may harp on about how much infinitely better places over east are in comparison, I think we've got it pretty good here. After being invited by Fundera to take the pledge for Small Business Saturday on the 26 November, I felt inspired to write about a favourite small business of mine. Despite the fact that 'Small Business Saturday' is a U.S based initiative, as an advocate for shopping local, I was only too happy to spread the word. It also sparked what will hopefully become a recurring feature on Windswept Wishes: #localloves. These posts will see me explore the places that I love most about Perth, Western Australia.

Stackwood is an incredible example of a thriving small business that sets itself apart from retail chains. The owners love what they do and do everything they can to showcase and support local talent and their livelihoods. Located in suburban Fremantle, this creative venue/concept store/cafe is indicative of the city of Fremantle's creative spirit. With a mission to 'encourage a more wholesome way of living', Stackwood is a community oriented space which regularly hosts workshops, holds markets and food swaps and celebrates local producers, makers and service providers through their concept store. The warehouse is sure to get the creative juices flowing as the space looks like those you may find on Pinterest.

Stacked cafe is also one of my favourite places to swing by for a perfect cup of coffee. Their intentions to support local businesses also extends to the food on the counter (such as freshly baked donuts by glazed and confused) and the beans in their grinder (Pound).

Over the numerous times I have visited Stackwood, it has always been well patronized by locals. That, my friends, is a telling sign as any that you know you're onto something good.

Store opening hours are Tuesday-Sunday. Cafe opening hours are Wednesday-Sunday. Find out more here

To celebrate Small Business Saturday, I encourage any U.S readers (and anyone for that matter!) to get out there and explore your local area and support a local small business especially over the festive season.

*Disclaimer: I was not paid by Fundera to publish this post. Desire to take part and 'Take the Pledge' was inspired by my sincere love and passion for local initiatives and businesses.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Inspiring Artists | Britt Dunbar

With bold colours, striking compositions and satisfying brush strokes, Britt Dunbar's life sized works have the power to enrapture. An award winning Western Australian artist, Britt paints her surrounds and brings stunning vivacity to her depictions of still life and landscapes.

When I volunteered for and saw this year's Artist Open House Fremantle, I was transfixed by Dunbar's work. I was awash with a wave of emotion, the same kind I felt when tears began to prick behind my eyes and my chest started to swell seeing Monet's works in the flesh at the Musee d'Orsay. It was a feeling of joy at pure beauty and talent; and what a privilege that such talent exists in and has emerged out of the place I call home.

Images sourced from Artist Open House website

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday 04

Phew, what a busy week it has been. My shifts have picked up which I'm really happy about but also, the weekend was filled to the brim with general loveliness.

Here are some wonderful things from a wonderful week...

Volunteering at Artist Open House Fremantle. This is my absolute favourite arts/cultural event in Perth. AOHF is a three day event which sees homeowners open up their space to local artists so they can exhibit their work to the public. Taking place in Fremantle, the event is a walking trail consisting six houses and over 24 talented artists. It's an especially exciting event for devoted art collectors, but also for art enthusiasts like myself. I always walk away from the event feeling incredibly inspired by the art but am also left in a daydream state envisaging my ideal home. It was so rewarding knowing that I could help out for an initiative which gives exposure to some outstanding artists.

Spending time with my pal from London and attending the festival of light. As I mentioned in last week's 'Wonderful Wednesday' post, a good friend of mine who I met in London recently moved to Perth. She also volunteered at AOHF so we had plenty of time to catch up and chat. On Sunday evening, we went to the Festival of Light in Joondalup. Her being really big into art and photography, she always motivates me to get out there, see more and see differently. Our adventures together are never ordinary!

Pizza and mini golf with friends. I had a much needed catch up with two friends on Saturday evening over delicious pizza. We then attended the launch of a contemporary exhibition located in an abandoned basement. It was unlike any exhibition I have been to as it combined mini golf and art. We spent what felt like hours playing the 19 holes of mini golf and having a general riot of a time.

Delicious cheese toasties and coffee on my break. For the whole month of November, Yelp Perth has partnered with a number of cafes and restaurants to offer freebies upon check in. One of my favourite city haunts, Toastface Grillah, offered a free coffee with a toastie, which was just what I needed to break up a long shift and revive me for the rest of the day.

A catch up over coffee. Another friend of mine recently returned from a trip overseas so we caught up in the city for a quality cup of coffee in the stunning Treasury Building.

Get an added dose of wonderfulness with other ‘Wonderful Wednesdays’ posts found all over the bloggersphere. Check out creator of 'Wonderful Wednesday' Sally Tangle along with posts by Jo, Helen,Michelle, Sarah, Kate, Cat, Sam, ElKerri, Jasmin and Lynsey.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday? 03

In light of today's events, I hesitated posting this. What could be wonderful about arguably one of the most horrifying Wednesdays of the year? What began as an optimistic day spiraled into one filled with dread. Like thousands, millions, of people around the world, I found myself on the edge of my seat, following along with the US Election. Not quite believing what I was witnessing, I felt more agitated, more fearful, more filled with despair than I ever have before while reading live updates. It was so easy to succumb to despair.

I struggle between wanting to avoid the news entirely on my blog and feeling it's an obligation to follow along with current affairs. I wrote of my frustration in a previous post here. I feel things far too deeplyand  collapse under the weight of a world filled with so much hate. I want to be a part of a generation that changes and challenges that, but by god, sometimes it's a nightmare and I lose all hope.

But despite all this, what would life be if it weren't for hope? Sometimes the only things that keep me going are the little things I can be grateful for every single day. They may not solve the world's problems but at least they give me something to cling on to. In saying this, I acknowledge that I come from a background of privilege and I worry if these kinds of posts may seem 'airy fairy'. Posting what may seem as self-indulgent in light of recent events almost struck me as irreverent to the seriousness of what has just unfolded and what it means for the future. But this blog is, above all else, a positive outlet for me and these 'Wonderful Wednesday' posts in particular have really been helping me through some problems, fears and insecurities in my life, so I see no shame in reflecting on positivity. When the whole world seems to be going to shit, there are still wonderful people who exist, wonderful things to be grateful for and wonderful things to look forward to.

So without further ado, here are things I have been grateful for the past week.

Catch ups with wonderful people. Now that the university semester is winding down, I have been able to meet up with a couple of friends (in between their hectic study schedules). On Saturday, one of my closest friends and I had iced matcha to cool down on the very hot 37 degree day. I also met up for lunch with another close friend before she jets off to Taiwan today for a month. On Sunday, I briefly met up with a friend who I met in London. Our paths first crossed in June on the Oh Comely forest walk in Epping. I never would have thought that I'd make such a lovely friend that day who just so happened to be moving to Perth. What are the chances, right? Sometimes life is full of surprises.

Visits to galleries. I had quite the cultural fix over the past week, taking a trip to the Art Gallery of WA. I also squeezed in a visit to Fremantle Arts Centre and I was reminded how beautiful it really is. Formally an asylum, the place has quite a sad history, but it's nice that something so positive has come out of it today.

Passing my driving test! I am particularly over the moon about this one! I don't know about other countries, but the first (and most brutal) test that is required after the initial theory test to get a Learner license in Australia is the practical test. I had been putting off driving and going for my practical test for years; when everyone else got their licenses at around 17, I was still too afraid to even get into the drivers seat. Initially failing the practical test twice this year also didn't help with my nerves or confidence! I feel so proud that I have now not only passed the practical test, but I actually want to drive and no longer fear it. I still have to do 25 hours of supervised driving over the next six months before I can take the Hazard Perception test (and hopefully pass that to get my Ps), but I am so relieved to have the hardest hurdle over with.

Finding a street library in my neighborhood. I first came across the existence of Street Libraries over on my favourite website Khoollect. I wasn't aware of all that many in Perth and the closest Street Library was hardly all that nearby. You can hazard a guess, then, at my excitement upon discovering one in my very own neighborhood by chance after having to take a detour. I picked up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which I have been meaning to read forever and so far I'm enjoying it.

Image credit: kicks // lauren aquilina

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Read in October

You know how sometimes you go through those funny reading slumps? Where you have so much promising material but for whatever reason, you lack the motivation to read at all? Well, October was that kind of month for me, which is fine, but it seems I put unnecessary pressure on myself and feel oddly 'guilty' when I haven't been reading as frequently as I normally would. As much as I would ideally like to reach my reading goal this year, the moment reading becomes the semblance of a chore, the less I enjoy it, understandably. So from now on, I'm going to accept that reading slumps happen. They don't last forever after all. Sometimes you just have to let it be.

As a result of last month's reading efforts, this post will be nice and short and sweet.

Vinegar Girl - Anne Tyler
“Funny how you have to picture losing a thing before you think you might value it after all.”
I had seen the cover of this book floating around the internet over the past year and it piqued my interest because of how beautiful it is. I was hesitant to pick it up initially as I have never read Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, of which this novel is a retelling. Nonetheless, I went with it in the end, as I had heard rave reviews by the likes of Sanne (bookandquills) on Youtube. I'm afraid that my overall opinion of Vinegar Girl may fall short of its true merit as I was obviously unable to draw parallels to the original tale by Shakespeare and therefore cultivate an informed critique. For what it's worth though, this book is an easy, quirky and enjoyable read. Anne Tyler does a marvelous job of making the scenario, of a father trying to marry off his very high strung daughter, as credible as it could ever get, especially in a contemporary context. It must've been no easy feat! After reading this reinterpretation, I'm keen to check out the others to come by Hogarth. 3/5

Beauty is a Wound - Eka Kurnawan
 "One afternoon on a weekend in March, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years."
This novel was lent to me by a close friend with high recommendation. She struggled at the time to give me a succinct overview of what it's about, and having now read it, I can understand why: it is quite an epic novel! In addition to one of the most compelling opening lines I've ever come across (see above) and my friend stating that I would 'never expect the twist at the end' (which happens to inspire the title) I was excited to get into it. I have to be honest though and note that it took longer than I expected to get through it, which is to no fault of the writing. Beauty is a Wound is quite a dark satire and damning commentary on the history of Indonesia. Approaching the subject matter therefore, as a reader with very little understanding of Indonesia's history, was a challenging and slow process but at the same time rewarding as I was able to engage in further reading about certain reference points I didn't quite understand. Yet, even if I didn't get so involved in understanding the context of all the events as they unfolded, the novel can be read and enjoyed simply because it is so well written and there's so much going on that I didn't lose interest.  There's war, colonialism, fairy tales and legends, communism and stories of love all thrown into the mix. What I loved above all was the focus on the five main female protagonists, consisting an Indonesian-Dutch prostitute Dewi Ayu and her four daughters. Through reading about their lives leading to their tragic ends, I realised that it's not often I come across a narrative which presents such vibrant and multifaceted female characters. While a challenging read, it was highly worthwhile. It both excited and shocked me throughout. 4/5

What did you read in October and what books do you hope to read this month?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wonderful Wednsday 02

It feel like I was just typing up last week's Wonderful Wednesday post and now here I am once more! In just a week, the weather has gone from strength to strength, elevating my mood. One downside though is hay fever...but I think it's a worthwhile trade off for sunny skies.

Here are some other things that I have been grateful for:

Coffee with mum at our new local. We recently discovered an absolutely gorgeous cafe and florist all in the one space. The owners are such genuine and beautiful people that we always feel welcome the minute we walk through the door. Coffee always lifts my spirits and I'm now also becoming a firm believer that flowers have the power to boost my mood almost instantaneously. They always make me smile!

Attending two 21st birthdays. As it always seems to go, I had two events to attend on the one night, but as a result I got to catch up with so many people from way, way back. It's so interesting finding out what people have been up to, but more so reassuring to know we're all in the same boat as we decide what to do after our studies finish up. It put me at ease knowing we all have each others back and there's support there when it's needed. Aside from that, eating good food, drinking rosé and reminiscing about school days is always fun.

Attending my first Xtend Barre Class. I have been itching to form some sort of exercise routine for a while now. I'm not very knowledgeable about fitness at all, but I knew that running and the gym were out of question as I've tried them before and I loathed it. I decided on Xtend Barre as I used to do jazz and tap in the past and I realised I enjoyed the 'dance workout' the most. Xtend Barre is a little different though, as it focuses on simple but effective movements (mostly drawing on the basics of ballet) that improve overall strength. I was saturated with sweat and the class was no easy feat, but by the end, I was feeling that wonderful sense of invigoration you gain after exercising. I'm really hoping to continue on with classes and can't wait to see what positive improvements it will make on my overall health and fitness.

Doing my first trial shift at Kikki K It was so exciting being on the floor and getting 'back into the game' so to speak. There are so many lovely products I'm going to find it quite difficult not to spend all my earnings on new diaries, pens and cute home ware bits!

Blogging. I feel like I'm really getting my mojo back and I've never had so many ideas nor the motivation to write as I do now! I mentioned on my twitter that I have been contemplating doing blogmas this year and I'm now determined to see it through. I think it will be a rewarding challenge!

Writing in my journal. I've never been a particularly consistent with my journaling, but I'd like to change that. Lately, I have had so many thoughts swirling around in my head and keeping me up late at night. Once I started writing these things down, I noticed a considerable improvement in my stress levels. I've also been inspired to give bullet journaling a go and have so far found it has done wonders to spike my motivation and general well-being.

What have you been grateful for?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday 01

Gratitude posts, specifically of the 'Wonderful Wednesday' kind, are some of my favourite posts to read. I'm a big advocate of the practice of gratitude, whether you're feeling happy or feeling down, it always does a bit of good to take some time to reflect on the things you're grateful for, however big or small they may be. In saying that though, I probably don't practice gratitude enough. So, after Linsey's latest post, I thought I would join the Wonderful Wednesday crew in the hopes I will cultivate a positive habit.

The days getting sunnier and longer. I have never been the biggest fan of summer, but after what has felt like a particularly long and wet winter, I'm welcoming the gorgeous mid 20 degree days and intend to soak it all up before summer comes around and temperatures go beyond 35 degrees! I'm especially loving seeing my favourite flower, Geraldton wax, in bloom around my neighbourhood.

Following on from this, I am over the moon to be able to drink iced coffee again! That isn't to say iced coffee can't be enjoyed any time of the year, but it becomes so much more refreshing during the hotter months. I enjoy my iced coffee with one shot, soy milk, a dash of honey and ice. Mmm absolute heaven!

I got a job! Okay, so it may not be the lucrative publicist/public relations position I have been so ruthlessly chasing, but it is with a company I adore (Kikki K) and with people who are absolutely wonderful! I'm so excited to be earning again and looking forward to the return of a routine. I never realised how much I love working until I wasn't. I'm content that having this position will help me save but also spoil myself on occasion, all the while allowing me to continue my *entry level* job related search with a little bit more optimism.

I caught up with a group of my good friends at 'Oktoberfest'. In celebration of a friend's 21st, we all head up to the Swan Valley to attend one of Perth's replica events of the festival at a brewery. Funnily enough, it never crossed our minds that we could dress up for the event, so we were among the very few attendees who weren't kitted up in dirndls. Nonetheless, we had such a good time drinking beer (cider in my case), eating pretzels and just generally catching up.

What have you been grateful for lately?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Magazine of the Moment | The Happy Reader

After a very prolonged 'pause', I am so happy to once again be typing up another 'Magazine of the Moment' post. Admittedly, the ferocity with which I have been consuming new 'indie' magazines has diminished a lot since my last post, as I both came to realise that I couldn't keep up with all the magazines I was purchasing and I was probably spending a little too much of my money on them (I know *shock horror*. I never thought I'd type those words either...). I'm now focusing on buying the magazines I truly love and leave me hungry for more the minute I finish reading the final page.

One of these magazines is The Happy Reader. A quarterly publication, the fundamentals of this magazine are refreshingly simple. Each issue is split into two halves: the first half consists of an in-depth interview with a prominent celebrity or figure and the second half consists of an in-depth analysis of a piece of literature. Being a collaborative project between Fantastic Man and Penguin Classics, The Happy Reader is a marriage of exquisite style and literature. But for me, what makes it so unique, is it invites readers to further explore their own curiosity.

In the information/media saturated world that has seen our attention spans grow ever thinner, The Happy Reader is a welcome reprieve from all the noise. The interview half of the magazine is very extensive - more so than any other feature I have read in other publications. The issues I have read so far featured incredibly prominent people within their fields (actors, curators, artists), although they were still people of which I was personally unaware. This was no detriment to my reading experience though; I got to learn so much about the handful of people in the most organic way possible. The interviews are conducted as if the interviewer and interviewee are merely good friends talking the afternoon away. Of course, books are a regular and reoccurring topic of conversation, but the interviews also delve into the areas of art, music and cinema. On the occasions that I have found myself reading these interviews (at a cafe, on public transport and even in the bath) I have always been enraptured by the insights that the interviewees gave and eagerly noted down every reference to things that inspired them in some way.

The second half of the magazine is a pastiche of essays, opinion pieces, artworks and, in the case of the latest issue, activities that relate to the chosen classic of that issue. I particularly enjoyed the second half of Summer 2016, which focused on Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Favourite articles of mine included: 'On Big Ben', which discussed the sound and significance of the iconic bell of London, 'Ten Men I Should Have Married', which sees the writer take apt inspiration from Clarissa's constant wondering of what might have been had she married Peter Walsh, and 'My First Great Book', in which author Michael Cunningham discusses how Mrs Dalloway changed his life and helped shape his career. These pieces are indicative of the ways that literature can shape people; their ideas, livelihoods, careers and every day life. Reading it, I not only became more curious about the impact of great works of literature, but the varying ways in which we interpret them and attach individual meaning.

The Happy Reader is an absolutely delightful magazine that provides food for thought at a very reasonable price (8 pound for a yearly subscription or, if you are lucky enough to find a local stockist like I have, about $6 per issue in Australia). If you happen to live in London, I also urge you to send through your interest to attend their book club events which coincide the release of the newest issue. I was so lucky to have been able to attend the second Joseph x Happy reader Book Club. It was an evening of enlightening discussion with like minded readers and lovers of Virginia Woolf accompanied by bottomless gin and tonics. It was one of the highlights of my trip to London, and I think for that reason, I will always have a soft spot for The Happy Reader

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Thoughts On: Reverse Homesickness

Reverse homesickness, reverse culture shock, whatever you prefer to call it: it's something we don't normally consider before setting off on a big trip abroad. Whether you're a bit of a worry wart like myself or not, I think it's a pretty unanimous feeling to be a mixed bag of nerves and excitement moments before entering the departure gate. The two times I set off on my own overseas I felt a huge surge of panic leading up to the moment my plane took off. I worried about the things and people I would be leaving behind, the things I would miss about home, in effect preempting the few instances of homesickness I experienced later on in my trip. I'm no seasoned traveler by any means, but based on just these two experiences, I can say with absolute certainty that despite this, coming home is so much harder than leaving it behind.

That's not to say I missed my home comforts at some points throughout my trips and wasn't thankful to return to my own bed. But once the normality of daily life set in, I found myself itching to get back on a plane again. I'm not even an adventurous or nomadic traveler; when I go abroad, I prefer spending a considerable amount of time in one place rather than racing through all the countries and landmarks so I can 'see' everything in a short period of time. I thoroughly enjoy being in a place long enough so that I can establish somewhat of a routine; my last trip was especially true to this, as I was pretty much interning full time in London. So it's not like I was fearing the 'everyday' life upon my return to my home country.

When I was in London, locals would quiz me on why the hell I was there, of all places, when I'm from Australia. Even family would scratch their heads about my desire to travel and say how lucky I was, still am, to live here. There's no place like home, right? Without a doubt, I feel incredibly grateful to have grown up in such a beautiful place. While I have always been somewhat of an Anglophile, it's not simply a case of 'the grass is always greener on the other side...'

If it weren't for the independent trips I have taken abroad, while few, I can say with conviction that I wouldn't be the person I am today. My 15 year old self could have never dreamed that I would become the confident, driven, headstrong person that I am. I used to identify as an introvert, but thanks to pushing myself, I realised that I thrive off human interaction. I was just too afraid to put myself out there before. In a city where I knew no one, where there's always something going on, I had nothing to lose but to soak up everything that London had to offer.

Naturally, I guess you're going to attribute the positive change in yourself to the place which saw you blossom. So it's there that I picture the best version of myself. London was my 'home' for little over two months and my time there was enough to leave me feeling empty, like something was missing, for well over a month after coming back to my actual home. Before, home always meant comfort and security. But after my trip abroad, I craved a home that set my soul ablaze with excitement, a home where I could be whoever I wanted to be in a city that barely knows my name.

Reverse home sickness goes something like this: One afternoon you find yourself jamming along to some music and then that song comes on and it's like a punch to the stomach; the song or songs that punctuated the nights dancing on sticky floors with the people you grew so close to in a short amount of time. You weren't ready to leave it all, them all, behind. You realise you're still not ready.

Reverse homesickness feels like your roots have been uprooted but your wings have been clipped. You struggle with neither being 'here' mentally nor 'there' physically. What was once familiar seems unfamiliar. You can't express this change that has taken place within you except that you know that the moments and experiences that helped it to eventuate were, and are, the most worthwhile pursuits you could ever wish to make. 'Home' will never feel the same again. With every return, you will forever be planning for and chasing after your next adventure.

'Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to go'

But all hope is not lost, and after the initial 'dazed' period of the first month back home, I have slowly begun to feel fairly content and happy with where I am at this moment in time. I know myself well enough now to know that I'll never wish to stay in one place my whole life. Living abroad for an extended period of time (aka more than 2 months) has always been somewhat of a bucket list pipe dream, and I'm determined to make that a reality. But for now, I've fallen back in love with my city and need to remind myself that there's nothing stopping me from 'getting out there' just as I did in London. I think it's just easier to become lazy. Home will always be there and it will always be home. There's not the same sense of urgency to see the latest exhibition at the state gallery or go on road trips as far south as Margaret River and as close by as the Swan Valley. I may never be able to sate my appetite to see and do bigger things, but for the times in between, I can still make the most of every day. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Podcast Picks | Food, Travel and Art

So I realise that I am probably one of the last people to jump on the podcast bandwagon, but now that I'm on it, I don't know how I lived without it! I've found myself listening to a range of different podcasts over the last month, and said listening sessions have usually been accompanied by some kind of creative endeavor (painting, drawing or cooking). I find that it's such a productive way to wind down and can really lift your spirits. As my life kind of feels like it's in a limbo right now (shout out to post University life and job hunting!), I have naturally felt inclined to seek out podcasts of the inspiring and uplifting kind but at the same time, ones that encourage me to learn new skills or simply learn new things.

I thought I would share my top three Podcast Picks that I have been obsessed with lately, so much so, that I am pacing myself with each episode, because I don't want them to end! If you have any other podcast recommendations, I would love to know.

This has to be my favourite podcast series of all three. I first chanced upon it shortly after coming home from time abroad which, as keen travelers will know, is never easy. Reverse homesickness is a real thing! Roam and GoLightly appealed as it has a keen interest in travel, so I could happily sit and daydream about my next adventure...but it also places huge emphasis on sharing the adventures of the everyday. This description on the blog particularly stood out:

"I set out to find that creative, adventurous lifestyle that I experienced with a passport in hand, except this time it would have to happen in the "real world." With real responsibilities, with real struggles, with a realistic approach to living the lifestyle I craved"

I realised while listening to a number of podcasts that living an adventurous lifestyle is possible without necessarily having to board a plane, and this can be made possible by making time for creative pursuits. Roam and GoLightly interviews a number of talented craftsmen, writers, thinkers and dreamers. I have yet to finish a podcast and not come away feeling inspired. Some of my favourite episodes so far are: Minisode: ROME! | "A Little Bit of Everything" with Bianca Cash | "Grand Possibilities" with Ziza Bauer of Darling Magazine
*Just as a side note, the Roam and GoLightly blog is equally fabulous and worth checking out!

I've been a long time, let's say, casual reader of the blog The Jealous Curator, so it took me by surprise to only just recently discover that Danielle Krysa also has a podcast series called 'Art for your Ear'. As if her site isn't amazing enough as it is, her podcasts give an inside look into the lives of some incredible artists. On the inspiration behind creating a podcast series, Krysa writes:

"When I studied art history in university, my favorite part was, well, basically the gossip. I loved hearing why artists did certain things. What was going on in their personal life, stories about other artists they knew and worked with. ART FOR YOUR EAR is exactly that… inside-scoop stories from amazingly talented contemporary artists."

I've always been a bit of an art lover and regret not taking more courses in history of art in University. However, with these podcasts, it's truly wonderful to know that I can deepen my knowledge and awareness of celebrated and upcoming contemporary artists despite not necessarily studying art extensively. These podcasts make for the perfect way to kick start a creative weekend or wind down in the afternoon with a cup of tea. Who knows, it may even prompt you to take out your paints and paintbrushes!
Favourite podcast so far: REBECCA LOUISE LAW: Painting with Flowers (aka my favourite installation artist!)

Finally, this is a podcast I only just recently got into, but am certain that it will become a firm favourite. I'm a big foodie, but have lately felt lacking in inspiration in regards to what to cook. After listening to just one episode, I felt like I was getting my mojo back and was motivated to get back into the kitchen! The Olive Magazine podcast is hosted by the editor of the magazine and shares 'exclusive additional content, behind the scenes gossip, expert advice and fun'. The topics usually centre around a specific ingredient or food and there is often a guest speaker, but the podcasts also discuss everything from upcoming events in London to traditional cooking methods and customs of different cuisines. It is an absolutely delightful podcast series. 

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