26th April 2016
Summer I’m ready for you! Said everyone, ever. And what better way to usher in a new season, temperature and attire requirements than to throw something together yourself? I’ve noticed pin striped styles making their way back into my summer wardrobe, via pinterest and window shopping at Zara. But recently while I was at IKEA stocking up on a few essentials for our home overhaul (more on that soon! I promise!) I zeroed in on a set of tea towels, the ‘ELLY’ to be exact. Cheap as chips and bang on trend with their heavy linen/cotton fabric and little stripe, I picked up few bunches and took them on home. Now, admittedly I haven’t been all that into IKEA hacks in my time, but this seemed too good not to share. I mean, a top, for $5. Who could resist? You can keep the rest of your sets for your next project, or perhaps even drying the dishes? Whatever’s your jam.
- Striped fabric (/tea towels)
- Elastic, enough to stretch around your chest
- Thread and Sewing machine
- Cut your fabric to the right size. I cut a piece that equaled the length of my torso (where you want the top to sit) and then 1.5 times around your body.
2. Because I was using the tea towels, I had to pin the sections together, so,thing you won’t have to do if you’re using normal fabric.
3. Now you need to do a little trick to create the ruffled neckline, which involves making a casing for the elastic a few inches below the top edge. From spare fabric, cut a strip of fabric that matches other piece of fabric all the way around.
4. Pin it in place just below the edge of the top.
5. Sew it down (I made it s bit thinner too) on the top and bottom edge, that is once you’ve also sewn down the hem.
Where you have a seam meet you’ll need to leave an opening in the casing.
And then thread the casing with your elastic.
By the end you should have a nice tube top style. All you need to do is sew/tie the elastic together finish it off in the casing.
Done! Maybe I’m kidding myself after staring at this fabric for a while but I really feel like it doesn’t look like a tea towel…. I guess it could double as both if you’re ever forced to do the dishes after going to the beach?
Photos by Nicola Lemmon
25th April 2016
Soooooooooo how is everyone going with their nightly phone ban? Still on the wagon? It’s been a pretty successful few weeks back on the ban so far, for me anyway. Although admittedly one morning I found myself on my phone (how did that happen?!), which quickly turned into a browse of instagram and somehow even a post. All in the space of a few minutes – calm completely shattered. This is a great example of how easily you can slip into phone mode without really meaning to (as opposed to flight mode… get it?). It’s so great to see how many of you got involved in this little challenge, but it turns out there’s a lot of questions. So I thought it would be good to chat about some trouble shooting for this phone ban, how you can get over some of the pitfalls easily and quickly. If you’re just joining us now, make sure to check out my first post about the phone ban, and also a list of books that *should* help you fall asleep.
What if I need to receive calls, like in emergencies?
Big thanks to Syd who commented on the last post and mentioned the Do Not Disturb function on iPhone… This was completely new to me and I think is fantastic. Rather than putting your phone in flight mode which is what I used to do, the Do Not Disturb function allows you to silence all alerts, calls and notifications while your phone is locked, but you can also allow certain people to get through. This is great if you have aging parents or other people (like that friend who is going on her first date and you HAVE to know how it went) who you would want to be able to call you if they needed to. That way you know when the phone rings that it serious AF. I’ve been using this!
I could never give up my phone, you’ll have to claw it out of my dead hands.
I hear ya sister. I used to think this 100%. Let me count the reasons I justified my phone being glued to my hand: 1. It’s my job 2. What if I miss something? 3. I need it! 4. I’m scared of it sleeping on it’s own… the list goes on. The reality is you don’t really need to be plugged into your phone at all times, and the fact that you feel like you need it all the time is a good sign that it’s time to detox. Now, don’t get me wrong, your phone isn’t the enemy, but chances are it’s making it hard for you to be creative, sleep well and concentrate. Try putting that baby down for a little while, you can make it a little knitted sleeping bag if you’re worried about it getting cold.
What if I use my phone for other things?
This the the most regularly asked question, and it’s a very legitimate one. I have this issue too. Yes you can deal with the issue of the alarm clock by getting an old fashioned one, but how do you manage all the other things you use your phone for like patterns for knitting, monitoring your insulin or really whatever else you use it for. Phones have so much important equipment these days they can be a lifeline. I would say, therefore, that if you have self discipline you can still use it, as long as you turn notifications off and disconnect from the internet so that you’re not accidentally getting sucked into the void that is all those ‘minimalist Swedish design’ boards on Pinterest.
But what about the weekends Geneva? Is catching an uber cheating?
Not at all. Something I didn’t mention in my last post was that for me on the weekends, the phone ban is kinda null and void, on Friday and Saturday atleast. That’s mainly because at this time chances are I’ll be communicating with friends, trying to work out plans or booking a taxi. All of which you need your phone for. You also need it to be in working order for your safety when you’re out and about so yep, I use it then. For me on the weekends is actually less about putting it down at a certain time each night and more thinking consciously about your phone use during the weekend as a whole. And I don’t mean using your phone to take photos or do something else creative, more like the mindless scrolling while sitting on the couch that we can all fall prey to. Ever lost 3 hours on Instagram and come to with a stiff neck and a very hot hand? What, where did Saturday go? This is exactly what you don’t want to happen, so being conscious about what you’re doing on the weekends as a whole is important.
What if I hate the alarm beep?
Ahhhhhh welcome to the club! If I even so much as hear a beep of an alarm I want to scratch someone’s eyes out for the rest of the day. I’m also way more prone to just turning it off and going back to sleep for another hour. Not a good way to start. If you’re like me, I suggest getting yourself a clock radio. The more simple ones just allow you to tune into a station and get woken up to that. Others can be connected to the internet and even be programmed to play your own spotify playlist. How good! But on the basic side, if you find a good station with not too many ads it’s a good way to wake up – preferably to 90’s RnB.
What if I live in a studio and I can’t leave my phone outside the bedroom… cos the bedroom is the whole house?
When Ben and I first moved to Hong Kong we lived in an apartment that was so small you could put your arm in the kitchen while lying in bed… Seriously. So I get you. In this case, put your phone over on the other side of the room, so you can create that separation which will allow you to sleep better and leave work at work. And turn off notifications because those vibrations are going to ruin your sleep.
I’d love to hear if you have any other things you’re stumped about! And also how your phone ban is going, have you tailored it to your lifestyle?
22nd April 2016
The best thing about travel is that you never know what to expect. Even if you’ve pinned, googled, grammed and, hell even encyclopaedia britannica’ed , there’s no way to now what truly awaits, because places change every minute. Which, as all of you avid travellers will know, appeals the most. It’s a constant roller coaster – some days are meh, some are truly awful and every so often there’s that day you’ll remember forever. I call it my ‘one perfect day’ where unexpectedly everything falls into place and you have an experience like no other. I spoke about it recently with about our hike to San Fruttuoso in Italy, and I wanted to share my (and potentially your) one perfect day on the outskirts of Kyoto.
I visited Kyoto a year or so ago with my mum, as part of an annual pilgrimage we do to Japan. After spending a few days in the main city of Kyoto (read my guide on that here) we decided it was high time to escape to the country. Mum had read about a hike and lunch spot worth checking out, but other than that (for once) we were not overly informed. What follows was one of my best travel experiences so far.
The focus for our day trip was the two valleys of Kurama and Kibune, located in the mountains outside Kyoto. Whilst you can definitely stay overnight (and some of the ryokans in Kibune looked amazing!), it works just as well for a day trip. There is a gorgeous mountain hike between the two, which allows you to go to one and walk over to the other. We decided to get the train to Kurama and hike over to Kibune. Here’s how our day went (feel free to follow this itinerary if you’re ever in the region!).
9am. We boarded the tiny little electric train at the Eizan line, and took it 30 minutes to Kurama. You’ll pass Kibune on the way.
10am. We arrived in Kurama with enough time to go over to the gorgeous outdoor Onsen, departing from our clothes for half an hour to boil in the spring water. No photos of this incredible spot because of Onsen rules, but google will show you it’s lovely.
11am. We stopped for tea in the most lovely tea house, mum order a green tea which was lovely although my smoky tea has a certain 5 packets of cigarettes taste that I couldn’t quite embrace. (does anyone know what this was?)
Noon. To get to Kibune you walk over the hill, passing through the incredible Kurama-dera, a beautiful and serene set of temples and grounds. This is worth a visit even if you don’t want to hike!
1pm. We then hiked over to Kibune. I use the term hike lightly because it was only around a 2km walk, a little bit hilly here and there but completely do-able for most.
2pm. Ummmm can anyone say lunch time? It’s surprising how hungry one can get after walking a mere 2km. To be honest I was just expecting a cute little sushi place, but when we arrived I had this almost out of body experience to see traditional restaurants built on platforms over the rushing rapids of the river. Apparently they set up during the summer months, and honestly it was a pinch yourself moment. Most restaurants serve kaiseki meals that are a) oh so cute and b) not that cheap. But so worth it to sit with the water rushing below you.
4pm. Alas, time to go home. We hopped back aboard that tiny train at Kibune station (a short walk down the hill from the town)and headed back into the city, full belly and (can I put it a little soppy?) full hearts.
The tiny little streets of Kibune, with all those incredibly ryokans set on the side of the stream. Bliss!
Traditional frontages in Kurama
The Kurama-dera is an unforgettable place.
Art, or charity?
BYO walking shoes.
The ancient and peaceful forests of Kurama.
And then this!
Traditional ladies having lunch (I can’t help but wonder… talking about their recent tinder dates maybe?)
Course one of our Kaiseki lunch…
Just before I go, I meant to say that this route is perfect in Summer, but you may want to reverse it in Winter and have your onsen at the end to warm up.
21st April 2016
Contrary to what many people think (or believe about themselves), creativity isn’t something you either have or don’t have. While many of you might feel that a lack of talent at painting or singing precludes you from being creative, physical skills or talents that are an expression of creativity are only a small element of it. In fact, what makes you creative is as much about the way your ideas take shape, how you think about a problem and how you search for solutions, as it is about your abilities when it comes to playing the, say… saxophone. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to feel or be automatically creative either. Over time I’ve worked out it’s something you need to nurture every day, lest you suffer from the dreaded rut or burn out. As part of a year long collaboration with Nespresso – who are all about enhancing small moments and trying new things – they recently asked me to share how I promote creativity in my every day. Here are some thoughts!
Be more curious (ask questions)
I’ve found that it’s important to seek out new viewpoints every day. For me, creativity is all about opening my mind so that I can think and approach things from another angle. Often creative solutions take something simple and apply it in a different way – I mean how often have you seen something and thought to yourself, why didn’t I think of that? To integrate this more into your daily life, make sure to keep an open mind when you’re presented with an idea, and be curious as to what else is around the corner.
Don’t be afraid of inspiration
On the subject of curiosity, I feel like it’s important not to be afraid or overwhelmed by the things that inspire you. Often we worry so much about imitating something we like, that inspiration seems like the enemy. But recently I’ve realised that taking in ideas around you is key to building your own, so make sure you consider what other people are doing and ask yourself what they can teach you. A tip: instead of looking at the same sources of inspiration over and over, look to new people and projects as your inspiration.
Change it up
Recently I’ve put much of my mental well-being down to better routines (morning and night particularly). However, something I’ve noticed is that if I follow the same pattern of behaviour day in and day out, I end up feeling like I’m in a rut and the opposite of creative. It’s clear that a balance needs to be struck between establishing important routines and doing things a little differently everyday to keep myself inspired. Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to be messing with my morning in a major way, but even small tweaks to what you usually do can make a big difference to add variety and vibrancy to every day. Recently I’ve swapped my short black Kazaar on the sofa (something I’ve done religiously for a year or so) to a latte Ristretto in bed while reading my book, a small change that has helped to add variety and opportunities for new thinking patterns to my morning.
Give yourself space
Creativity needs space, that’s for sure. And letting every piece of information into your brain where it can disrupt your thinking patterns is at best distracting and at worst can immobilise you. The 8pm – 8am phone ban is a great way to begin this, but I’ve also been trying to apply a level of space into my everyday life (at my desk, when walking down the street etc). I’ve found it helps to channel my thinking patterns away from potential self criticism and comparison, leaving much more room to have creative ideas and pursuits.
Try something new (outside what you usually do)
I read recently that frequent thinking patterns can create grooves in your brain – in effect causing you to be more likely to think the same things or make the same decisions over and over unless you get out of your comfort zone. I couldn’t agree more – even if you’re doing something creative it’s easy to veer towards the same solution if you’ve got the same subject matter continually. Using your skills in a completely different area to what you usually do is a great way to challenge yourself to think outside the box. We’ve been working on a few new projects in the studio recently that are unlike other things I’ve done before and it’s opened up a whole new world of thinking, albeit not always easy!
Remind yourself you’re good enough (and that it’s ok to make mistakes)
Social media has in some ways created an environment where we’re constantly shown whether we’ve succeeded or failed in the form of likes or comments, which can lead us to doubt if we’re good enough. It’s important to remember that creativity is a journey, and you’re learning something every step of the way (regardless how many screen grabs on snapchat you got). And anyway, who CARES if this time you failed? Honestly, you’ll learn much more from that than a straight win anyway. I’ve learnt to look at mistakes as key learning experiences, so long as you can be open minded enough to know what you’re learning from them.
And finally… Get moving
I’ve said this a few times before, but getting physical really helps to sort out your brain space and promote creativity. Think of it like organising all the paperwork into the right piles and tidying up so there’s room for new ideas. Let the body wander (or do barre, or aerial yoga etc etc), and the mind will do the same.
This post is brought to you in collaboration with Nespresso, who I’m working with this year to develop my creativity and channel some new skills. Why not try out their range of Intense coffees – you may even want to change up your usual blend for something a little different!