New Year, Better Me.

I know I'm a little late to the New Year party, but I've been redesigning (read: taking apart) my blog. Anyway more on that later. So, how did we get here so fast? It literally feels like yesterday that I was noting down last year's goals! 2015 was a whirlwind. It had its ups: travel, friends' weddings, creative work, and downs: the horrible events that happened in Paris at the beginning and end of the year, and a few things going on in my personal life, but all in all it was one of my favourite years yet. I racked up 25 flights, visited  8 countries (three new: Philippines, Iceland and Zanzibar) and that's not counting the monthly Eurostar trains to London. It also helped set me up: I laid the foundations for more photography work, content creation and without trying to sound too corny, more confidence to follow my dreams. 

Beanie: ME+EM / Scent: Thé Noir by Le Labo / Lace bra: Oysho 

I am a big believer in making new year objectives or goal-setting. You can call them resolutions, but rather than label them so ('resolutions' are notoriously broken after the first few weeks and therefore I'm not calling the fact that I joined the gym last week a resolution) I prefer 'goals' that are hopefully a  little more achievable. Inspired by Anne of Prêt-á-Voyager, who every year picks a theme (more on that here),  I've come up with a few words that will hopefully help shape my year. I couldn't decide on just one theme, so I've settled on three words:  CREATE, EARN, SAVE. This new blog space is the first creation. It's going to act as an interim until I get the blog design I'm really after, but that will take the work of my website guru friend Rachelle, so this will have to do for now. Either way, I feel it's heading in the right direction. I'm also working on a new photography portfolio and I hope to be creating more posts here, focusing on interiors, lifestyle, style, and documenting further travel. And as I have a (bad) habit of spending a lot of time (hours upon hours) searching for clothes online (if you tell me what you're looking for, I can probably advise you on where to find it!) I've decided to add a Wishlist section to the homepage, so all those hours spent searching don't go to waste. Hopefully it will help inspire your future purchases.

And finally a few things getting me through the January blues: 

  • Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert & her podcast Magic Lessons, which you can find on Soundcloud.
  • Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Denham -  I'm officially a fan-girl after listening to her podcasts: Woman of the Hour, also on Soundcloud (thanks for the tip Meg)
  • Wooly hats - the below is sold out unfortunately, but I'm also loving this and this
  • The film Joy - I urge anyone needing an inspirational kick to see this.     
  • Chai latte at Fragments and brunch at Pas de Loup
  • Shini's home tour - I want...everything.
  • Comfy, yet sexy bras - I'm not exactly blessed in the boob department, but I'm more and more leaning towards being confident with what I've got rather than disguising them with a layer of padding. I just picked up the one above from the sale at Oysho, but I've also got my eyes on this and this.
  • Jessica Comingore's creative goal-setting - lots of food for thought there and beautiful photos of her office space!
  • Carin's beautiful photos of Bali here and here. I mean.. le sigh.                                                    

London Time

I've had a crazy couple of weeks, hence no time to blog. I do have a few upcoming blog projects in the works though so you'll be seeing more here soon. In the meantime I thought I'd share a few photos I took in London when I was last there and muse on a few things I've experienced and learnt over the last few weeks. It's probably been the most exhausting, yet the most exciting and fruitful weeks of my career. I've pushed myself, both creatively and business-wise. And I've learnt a lot about myself, my boundaries and capabilities. As a woman (and if you're woman reading this, you will probably agree) I often find it hard to promote myself and can struggle with self-doubt. It comes down to not always having confidence and belief in myself and what I'm capable of. Luckily I've managed to bury that doubt over the last few weeks in favour of just going for it! I definitely think moving country and hence out of my comfort zone has helped me there too.

I've also learnt to be stronger in the last few weeks, but that is what it takes if you want to build a successful freelance career in anything creative. You have to grow some

cojones.

So not worrying about where the next job is coming from, but being confident that it will. I've been reading books by strong, independent business women, to help get me through. If you ever have any doubts about the path you're forging I urge you to read

Girlboss by Sophia Amoroso

- not only is it inspiring, but it's a bit like having a good friend or mentor cheer you on from the sidelines. Read anything by Richard Branson. Ok, he's not a woman, but he's incredibly inspiring with his 'screw it, just do it' work ethic, especially coming from a man that didn't go to university or come from an overly-privileged family. (Perhaps elements that made him strive harder). He just thought why not? And maintained the confidence to get on with pursuing his dreams. I'm currently reading

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

, which has been on my list for a while. She addresses many of the insecurities that I've felt and how to deal with them. 

Freelance life is tough, it's not for everyone, but I cannot imagine going back to a full time job (which I have had experience of in the past). So when I'm doubting myself I've started turning to other strong women who I admire to get me through the tough times. A great publication for anyone who isn't a big reader, but wants short inspiring stories about strong women following, or who have followed their dreams, is

Porter

magazine. I'd be pushed to say it's the best woman's magazine on the market at the moment - it's intelligent, well-written, inspiring and stylish! I'm also a big believer of surrounding yourself with friends who will champion you, call you out when you haven't done something you said you will and be there for you when the going gets rough. 

When I was thinking about writing today, I didn't think this post would turn into such a personal post, but I thought I'd share my two cents! I'd love to know your thoughts - what you struggle with, what you've learnt if you do freelance or are following a more creative, less trodden path and what you turn to when you need to maintain that inner strength to keep going and challenging yourself push your limits, to do better and live better!

Finally a few favourite things:

- I've been enjoying my friend Ylenia's

street style photos

from the fashion weeks

- I've have quite a few Jewish friends, so

this

popped up on my Facebook feed and moved me to tears

- This

COS coat

- I can't decide if I'll look stylish or like a giant marshmallow? But I'm preparing for a trip to Iceland and this just might keep me warm!

- Nicole Franzen's

gorgeous photos

of new Miami restaurant, Marion Miami

- I'm totally lusting after this

look

- I made it to

Cafe Oberkampf

on Saturday to get a slice of Frank's, aka

@cakeboyparis

 almond and fig honey cake! Yum.

J.Crew heels - every woman needs a great pair of heels, even if like me you're not really a heel-wearer... I've worn these to the last two weddings I've been to and danced the night away at both. 

Notes from the Weekend

It's been crazy hot in Paris this last week - the

canicule

(heatwave) has been long lingering. I love the heat, but even I have been suffering. Living in the 4th floor of a Hausmann building, which is usually wonderful with the sun streaming in in the mornings, has turned into a greenhouse slash sauna. It's been so hot that I've been fantasising about air-conditioning (something that's pretty unusual for me - I'm used to expressing how cold I am on a daily basis, much to the boy's annoyance). Yet the heat didn't stop us getting out and about on Saturday, as my mum and her partner were visiting for the weekend. Opting for cycling over the equally sauna-like metro, we rented Velib bikes and cycled to the Pompidou in search of air con and art. We sauntered around the inspiring

Le Corbusier

exhibition, lingering to enjoy the cool air, and then headed over to

Bob's Kitchen

for lunch. We spent the rest of the weekend cycling and wandering around Paris in search ice-cream and air con, while I snapped a few photos. 

A few links/discoveries:

- I drooled over this gorgeous

post

- we're off to Santorini the end of August of a wedding and can't wait!

- I started reading

US by David Nichols

and am already enjoying it

- I'm excited to see Cereal's

New York

city guide - I'll be helping with the Paris guide later in the year

- I checked out

Ob la di cafe

& Kitsune's newest cafe on Rue Amelot last week

- Ate at the new

Grand Coeur

in the Marais - bit pricey, one for special occasions, but beautiful interior (marble-topped tables and stone walls) and a huge terrace

Birthday Weekend

This past weekend was a little special as it was my birthday and the third that I've celebrated in Paris. Friday was a holiday, so I started the 3 day weekend with a coffee at

Fondation

, followed by crepes at

Le Creperie de Josselin

 (some of the best crepes in town) and then a trip to the cinema to watch

Insurgent

- I'm a sucker for dystopian films with a strong female lead. 

On Saturday (the day) we had lunch at

Clamato

. I have been looking forward to this dining experience since the restaurant opened a couple of years ago and literally couldn't stop smiling as champagne was followed by the tastiest oysters, mussels, squid, ceviche and more wine. 

Later I dragged the boy shopping to buy this

number

from Whistles and then joined friends for tacos and cocktails at

Death by Burrito

 in the evening. Without gushing too much, I'm lucky to have such lovely friends to celebrate with me - I was overwhelmed with love, cards and gifts - which were not only thoughtful, but fortuitously also very photogenic! 

Notes from the Weekend

I finally kicked my chest infection after taking a round of antibiotics, so was a happy to get out and about again in Paris and looking at what I got up to below, I think I made the most of it!

+ Friday eve I dined at

Le Potager du Marais

(a good choice for any vegetarians/vegans visiting Paris!)  It was one of the best vegetarian meals I've had.

+ Saturday I guzzled pancakes at the

Rose Bakery

, wandered around le Marais buying candles at Muji, an umbrella at Uniqlo and a glass mug at Merci

+ Saturday eve we dined with friends at

Marylou

in the 10th. A lovely little (and reasonably-priced) bistro serving small plates. 3/4 is enough sharing between two. Followed by drinks at

Le Rosie

in the 18th.

+ Sunday we roamed around the market at Bastille on rue Richard Lenoir - open until 3pm, shopping for fruit, veg and the bunch of tulips featured on the mantlepiece.

+ Sunday afternoon I met friends for afternoon tea at the newly refurbished

Pavillion des Canaux

Notes from the Weekend

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Sadly a friend in Paris passed away whilst in India for a marriage, the week before last. She was the best friend and flatmate of a very good friend of mine here....We had the memorial on the Friday at Paris College of Art where she'd worked. I'd only known her a year, but she was one of the loveliest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting, with an infectious appetite for life. She lived life to the full, was always happy and laughing - a real inspiration. When I haven't felt like going out or being social in the last couple of weeks, I've been thinking: what would Céline do? It's also the reason I haven't felt much like blogging recently, but life goes on. If I'm to learn anything from this experience of losing a friend at the beginning of their life (she was only 26), it's that life is fleeting and to try and live it in the best way I can, especially if all I want to do some days is curl up on the sofa and watch 10 episodes of

Suits

(yes, I did that last weekend). It's obviously ok to do that every now and again, but I'm trying not to make it a habit - as good-looking as Harvey is. So here's a little summary of things I got up to this weekend (I only watched 3 episodes of Suits, for the record). 

+ We (I mean the boy) spent the weekend building our Ikea furniture - a much-needed wardrobe and table & bench. Who knew having your clothes in one organised space could bring so much joy. I know know what clothes I have and therefore what I need. Hello shopping. 

+ Friday was dinner and cocktails at

Bespoke

with

Carin

in the 10th - a newish cocktail bar and restaurant serving up sliders and fried chicken, with a great atmosphere and music to match.

+ Saturday, we went to a leaving dinner at

la Marine

on Saturday night - if you're looking for a traditional French bistro in the 10th than this is a winner - I'd suggest the tajine or boeuf bourguignon

+ Coffee at

Ten Belles

- I love that I live near so many great coffee shops. This place a 5mins walk from mine, just across the canal. It's usually heaving on the weekend, so get a takeaway and wander around the canal.

+ I read this interesting article on Stylist about

personal branding

- food for thought. Have you ever done a personal branding exercise with yourself? 

+ And finally I watched 

Pride

 - a brilliant British film set in the Thatcher era around the mining strikes. A group of gay and lesbians support a coal-mining village in Wales in their cause against a common enemy. It's funny, inspiring and tear-jerking - have tissues to hand! 

A Cornwall New Year

If you're following me over on Instagram, you would have seen a few snaps taken in Cornwall, where I spent my new year with one of my oldest friends. This part of the UK is beyond beautiful and I'm glad I had the opportunity bring in 2015 there. Despite feeling predictably ropey on New Year's day, I was luckily dragged out of bed to visit Porthcurnick beach. There's a cute little cafe, called the

Hidden Hut

on the hill selling ice cream and hot drinks. After a stroll down the hill in the biting cold and down to the beach to watch a few crazies run in for an icy dip, we lodged ourselves on a table to warm up over a cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows. Ice-cream does of course go against said warming up attempt, but I felt that I couldn't come to Cornwall and not try Cornish ice-cream. I managed about 3 bites before my lips froze over, but it made a pleasing picture nonetheless, so obviously totally worth it.

The next day we visited Godrevy beach (the slightly sunnier photos), which has a lovely long, sandy stretch of beach and a brisk wind that helped blow away all those 2014 cobwebs. It really did me good to get some good fresh sea air, calming my mind a little before getting back into the work mode, as did the super-sized sausage, egg and bacon sandwich we had for lunch. How was your new year's? 

Notes from the Weekend

This weekend was rather special as we celebrated our new apartment on Saturday, just before the arrival of the couch. Much fun was had and dancing done by all and admittedly I didn’t set foot outside yesterday.

Instead I spent the day cocooning at home, cleaning and watching films – lucky too as the temperature has dropped about 10 degrees in the last few days. Winter is finally here. Anyway this one’s short and sweet, so here are a few links and current favourite things from the last week. 

+ The new

Le Fooding

guide came out last week – it’s essential reading material for any Parisian foodie. I've already ear-marked a few places. 

+ Friday night I attended a lovely soiree hosted by

La Maison du Chocolat

and drank chocolat chaud, ate macarons and trotted off with a tasty box of chocs. 

+ Chocolates were followed by tacos at the newly opened

Death by Burrito

. I went to the one in London when it was a pop up in Shoreditch. So to see it in Paris was a real treat, especially with it being so close to my new place.

+ The ceramic dish pictured was made by my mum, who has been making pots on and off for years. Every time I go to visit her back in the UK, I return to Paris with at least 3 more.

+ I found the perfect wooden

fruit bowl

from Muji (ok it says 'salad', but I think it works for fruit too!)

+ I finally watched

Interstellar

last week. Incredible film and it had me getting a little philosophical and pondering about life...It also satisfied my inner Sci-fi geek. Don’t get me started on the new Star Wars trailer..

+ And I purchased this

top

from COS – it’s perfect for winter layering

First Impressions

When I moved to Paris, I was admittedly desperate to live in a traditional Parisian building, complete with wooden floors and original character features. Nearly two years later and my dream has come true. We fought for a good week for this flat (which included bugging the estate agent on a daily basis), but it was worth the stress. One of my main criteria for finding a new apartment in Paris was light, not something that is easy to find living in Paris. This apartment has oodles of it. The light streams in through the three large windows in salon and there's not one, but two floor to ceiling windows in the bedroom. We had to sacrifice a few things - we live above a busy boulevard, so often hear sirens roaring by, but luckily there's double glazing that drowns out a lot of the noise. It's also a little rough around the edges with a dated bathroom and kitchen, but the marble fireplace, cornices, parquet flooring and of course the view more than make up for it. And best of all it's almost unfurnished - not so easy now (we only have two chairs and a bed), but it means we can put our personal stamp on it. The sofa will arrive in three weeks and we'll be adding to it over the coming weeks, so expect many more posts! But here are a few first impressions. 

Lately

I’m not usually so personal in this space, but the pros of having a personal blog is that you can be ‘personal’. So I will admit that the last few weeks have been tough. I got food poisoning from the wedding I went to in Porto, which put me out for two days and generally helped upset my balance. Not just because I was sick, but because Porto was also meant to be a holiday and a time to rest - I haven't done much of that in a long time, and am in some need of switching off (something I am terrible at). Being bed-bound because you're sick is obviously not very restful. And then (without trying to sound like every woman blighted by her body once a month, although I don’t feel so bad mentioning this after reading Garance’s brilliantly honest post), my hormones have been wreaking havoc (I came off the pill, to try and balance my moods, but it is currently having the opposite effect) which in turn has made me tired, grumpy, moody, low, sensitive and generally lethargic and lazy (did I miss anything?) And when I am all of these things (bit of a toxic combo) I retreat into myself, doubt myself, let those little gremlins in my head get louder and nastier, and I don’t get much done. So despite having a backlog of blog posts, I haven’t posted them and have been generally putting things off. They say procrastination is the thief of time, I'm going to add PMS to that equation. 

It’s hard to get out of slumps like this, which I’ve been trying to do by not drinking too much, listening to happy music (Pharrell’s 'Happy' is obviously high on the list), spending time with friends, organising my summer holiday, hopefully doing more exercise like yoga in the coming weeks and watching videos like this. But despite my grumps, I’ve had a couple of good things happen over the last few days  – my interview with Paris interior designer, Dorothee Meilichzon can now be read in this month’s Eurostar Metropolitan magazine (read it here and here). And the nice people over at Made With Map featured a few of my favourite places in Paris on their Instagram feed this weekend. Thought I'd end this post on a positive note!

I'd love to know what you do to feel better when you're caught in a slump or your body drags you down!? 

[I took this photo in the Jardin du Palais Royal back when my mum was visiting.]