the week that’s been

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We were supposed to be in Australia at the moment for a little holiday, but sadly it all fell through. It’s a bit of a long sad story, so let’s not focus on that. Had we been in Australia this weekend, I’d be heading down to this little park near my parents’ home, where we held our engagement party. So instead let me reminisce through this old photo. We have a printed version hanging in our living room and it always reminds me of the beautiful green spaces in Brisbane, our amazing friends and our commitment to each other.

And since I have no relevant segue, here’s some lovely things I’ve found on the internet this week – enjoy!

A great paradoxical thought.

Why creators are happier than consumers.

Fascinating long read: Why are there so many women in PR?

A pillow for my book lover friends.

I know. Wrong time of year, but mojito icy poles, yes please.

Should you quit your job?

Loving Cuyana’s Bali-inspired collection.

Wasabi mashed potato. We ate something similar here last week and it was so good!

Just finished this book on marriage.

And this one on fast-fashion. Both come recommended!

A ‘less is more’ essay on the home.

I love this artist’s instagram.

P.S. – If you enjoy my blog, you can follow along via email. Just enter your email in the column on the left and voila! You’ll receive posts right into your inbox (:

bunny rabbit sweater makeover

FastFashionFrenchConnection_GL_21jul09_pr_bI’ve had this French Connection sweater for years. I loved the rabbits and though my version was a ‘boyfriend’ sweater, meaning it was a little baggier than the one above, the sequins made it a little fancy. However, after years of wear and a general disdain for handwashing fragile items (when will I learn?) my rabbits were looking a little worse for wear. So, time for a makeover!

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I started by removing all the sequins. Some came off really easily, others took a bit of work. I was sitting on the floor rather than at my desk, so of course our dog Rum wanted to inspect everything while I was working.

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Once I removed all the sequins, I discovered there was a stitched outline of both rabbits. I knew I wanted to add some patterned kitenge fabric to the sweater, and was brainstorming various shapes I could use. But when I saw the outline, I decided to save myself the effort of unpicking it all and stick with the bunny design.

I didn’t snap photos, but I cut out two paper patterns and use them to cut out the fabric. I cut out bigger bunnies, so I could fold a small hem. And then I hand stitched them to the sweater.

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Ta da! The old becomes new. The colours remind me of autumn leaves and I’m rather happy to have another warm piece in this rather cold Nairobi weather.

Next project: Find a tailor to turn the rest of that maroon fabric into a pretty dress. The material has a gorgeous bird print on it but it’s not too bright and busy, so I think I’ll get a lot of wear out of it wherever we are.

How to: fall asleep

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA© Copyright Jim Champion, licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

A few years ago, my father-in-law told us the best trick to help you fall asleep. It’s like counting sheep, except you only count two of them. One. Two. One. Two. One. Two. Breathe in on one, and breathe out on two. The repetition regulates your breathing and makes you sleepy, and your brain doesn’t have to keep working: ‘496, 497, 498… what comes after 498?

It takes me forever to fall asleep, but this trick has helped me so many times.  I also swear by a few drops of lavender on my pillow, it totally knocks me out.

Do you have any magic sleep-inducing tips?

P.S. – Did you know jasmine is a great ‘wake-up’ scent for the morning – ‘an exquisite perfume which imparts a feeling of optimism’!

the 30-piece wardrobe experiment

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Do you remember awhile ago when I shared a little about the five piece French wardrobe?

I was actually really struck by the concept. I loved the idea of a wardrobe that is functional, yet more minimalist – and full of high-quality pieces. I started thinking of how my current closet could reduce in size.

Also, I’m obsessing over the idea of simplicity this year. It’s my ‘one word’ for 2014. And, well, I love personal experiments, like Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project or Jen Hatmaker’s 7.

So, in a moment of sudden inspiration, I took all my clothes out of my wardrobe for my own personal experiment. I picked out 30 pieces and returned them to my closet. And that’s all I let myself wear for 30 days.

On one hand, 30 pieces feels like a lot. I picked out three pairs of jeans, three skirts, nine tees/tops, seven cardigans/jackets, two pairs of shoes, one pair of yoga tights, one pair of shorts, one pair of stocking tights, one dress, one belt and one scarf.

On the other hand, I packed away an entire suitcase of clothes that didn’t make the cut. I was a little surprised actually to realise just how many clothes I own, especially after I did a fairly serious purge when we first moved abroad.

Here’s something that struck me though. The ‘average’ Australian woman buys 56 garment per year, and up to double that if she’s under 30 (Source: Council of Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia). And yet, I’m sure I’m not alone in the experience of opening one’s wardrobe and lamenting that I have nothing to wear.

So here’s how it went.

Firstly, I realised again that I am not a shoe person. I could live the rest of my life with a pair of boots and a pair of ballet flats and I would be perfectly content. Especially if the flats are nude and go with everything!

About a week into my little experiment, the weather took a sudden turn to the cooler end of the thermometer. I’m a stickler for rules though, so I did not allow myself to swap out a cute silk singlet for my big wooly cardigan. No I did not. As a result, I did get a lot of wear out of my blazer and trench.

Though, apparently I’m not always a stickler for rules, because I did sneak in a pair of heels one night for a fancier dinner.. and I only felt a little guilty.

I had a couple of pieces I didn’t wear at all – namely that cute silk singlet, a light jacket that really didn’t hold up to Nairobi’s cool days, and a dressier skirt that I didn’t need all month.

But overall, I actually loved it. I felt like I always had something great to wear. You can do surprisingly a lot with 30 pieces, especially if they are all favourite items.

The biggest life lesson I’m learning this year is that life is better with less. Less junk, less clutter, and yes, even less clothes. Once my needs are met, all the extra stuff seems to weigh me down more than it makes me happy.

So now I’m really rethinking what I own and wear. I have more than enough clothes… and yet there’s always that nagging feeling that I need more. How can I find contentment in having enough when I hardly appreciate my overflowing wardrobe?

I don’t think 30 is some magical number. But my inability to define enough is not a healthy thing, and I’m eager to change that. I think something like 35-45 items might be a good number to aim for right now.

Now this month is over, I’ve been adding back a handful items. I’m figuring out what I really wear and what I don’t… and purging myself of the rest. Well, trying to. Why is it so hard to say goodbye to something I haven’t worn in months anyway?! (:

reading on a kindle

 

kindleConfession time.

I’ve had a Kindle for two years, and I love it, but I’ve always been a ‘I love my Kindle but there is nothing like a real book‘ kind of girl.

But……

The other night I was reading a real book, for the first time in ages actually, and my thumb almost fell off. You know that achy weird pain you get in your hand as you try and hold up a book sideways while you’re lying on your side?

Yeah, you just don’t get that with a Kindle!

Plus books are cheaper on the Kindle, it’s lightweight, I can have my entire library with me and float between books without having to tote around 20 books in my bag.

So just in case you’ve never used a Kindle, but have been considering it, I say go for it. Your thumbs will thank you and, if you’re anything like me, you will find yourself reading more than ever before.

the week that’s been

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I hope you’ve had a lovely week! What’s been the highlight? We got our first Kula Kula veggie delivery this week and it felt a little like Christmas morning, opening it up to find all the goodies inside. I’m all over Pinterest looking for yummy new recipes. Any recommendations on something delicious to do with a red cabbage? (:

In the meantime, here’s a few lovely links from around the place:

How to avoid the comparison game.

Amazing fabric moths.

I tried these oven baked pork spare ribs last week. Not bad at all.

The cutest New York temporary tattoos.

Five things to never say in a job interview.

And do shorter workdays really work?

Nine marriage hacks from the likes of Gary Chapman, Christa Black and Danny Silk.

The health benefits of trees.

Sweet dotty cards from Ma & Grandy.

I’d love a couple of these Moroccan goodies for our lounge room.

(And I love Maven’s philosophy!)

Apparently women are getting smarter, faster.

Beautiful Scandinavian home inspiration.

And if you read anything this week, you just have to check out this article by Ann Morgan, who in one year, read one book from every country of the world. She blogs the journey at A Year of Reading the World and her full list of books she read (plus others that came highly recommended) will inspire you out of any ‘what should I read next?’ rut!