OUTFIT - BIKE & SATCHEL


For my birthday this year, Mark ordered me this gorgeous satchel that I have been eyeing for the past several years. It took a while for it to arrive, but it's absolutely perfect and I couldn't be happier! It's just big enough to fit my laptop and a few essentials and I love that it has removable backpack straps - perfect for taking along on my bike. 
I spent a golden-filled evening traipsing around Port Meadow (in very impractical shoes, I might add, given the uneven terrain!) and it felt like a small gift to me from Summer - a little sneak peek at the days to come.


What I'm Wearing
Hat - H&M
Dress - Zara
Clogs - Lotta from Stockholm
Satchel - Zatchels


Much love,

HAIR - HOW I KEEP MY CURLS CURLY


As someone who spends a lot of time on a bike, outside (often in the rain), I've had to come up with ways to keep my hair in tact until I reach my destination. 
I love wearing my hair curly, but I was blessed with pin-straight hair that, while there's a lot of it, likes to go flat. My life is a constant pursuit of volume. 
Continue reading to see how I like to keep my curls in tact while riding my bike, or sleeping! 
 

What you'll need: 
  • A headband that fits comfortably 
  • Pins
  • Comb (optional)
How to:
  • Place the headband around your head like a crown (my sits just behind where my fringe starts and I secure it at the back with a pin so it doesn't slide off before the next step)
  • Take sections of hair (about as big as the sections you curled) and wrap them around the headband, gathering more hair as you go. 
  • Continue until all your hair is tucked in
  • Pin at the back to secure (doesn't have to be perfect)
  • When you've reached your destination / woken up, remove the pins and the headband and run a comb (or your fingers) through your curls to loosen them. 

Voila! Your curls haven't been ruined by the weather or by your pillow!

I hope you've found this helpful!

Much love,








OUTFIT - THE MAXI

IMG_7305
The Maxi
The Maxi
The Maxi

I don't want to jinx the weather by talking about it, but it wouldn't be a proper blog post (or conversation for that matter) if I didn't. So when the sun peaks out and shares its glorious warmth like it has (finally!) been doing of late, one of my go-to comfortable outfits revolves around the maxi dress. I'm quite particular when it comes to choosing a maxi dress, and this one ticks all the boxes - neutral colour, a bodice that doesn't require any special undergarments, and plenty of soft, flowing fabric. I particularly love how wide it is - it feels luxurious and doesn't cling all over!
Sometimes I even forgo the belt and let it flow in all it's tent-like glory.

What I'm Wearing
Hat - H&M
Dress - H&M
Belt - Joe Fresh
Flats - Ardene 

*Photos by Carmen

Much love, 
 

LIFE, AN UPDATE


Some time has gone by since my last life update where we left off in the middle of an unfortunate dilemma, at the head of a crossroads with an offer on the table not yet accepted...
For those of you with little time to read (or reread) that last post, I will give you a quick recap: I was accepted at Oxford to do a part-time diploma in Creative Writing, but was unable to accept the offer right away. This was mainly because of our dilemma with money, or should I say, lack thereof.
I am happy to report that the dilemma has (more or less) been overcome in a stroke of brilliance on my husband's part, and fervent prayer from us both. (As I hope I have established, my husband is a genius, which is an important part of this tale).
No too long ago (just before my acceptance deadline) Mark received a significant scholarship that will help fund his fourth year of study (his current funding runs for only three years) and make it more feasible for me to at least start my course. As well, a few developments in my working life have made it possible for me to potentially make up the amount we would need each month to pay for the course. This is still in process but our main concern (being able to cover Mark's fourth year of research) has been significantly relieved by the scholarship.
So, to recap, and to officially make things official - unless something goes horribly wrong - as of 29th September 2016 I will be a student at Oxford University.

I'm still sorting out how I feel about the whole thing. Excited? Absolutely. Nervous? Most definitely. Afraid? Undeniably.
My latest fear? That I'm attracted to the idea of this course and once I'm in the thick of it, I'll crash and burn, unable to keep pace. It's a constant mental game but I'm up for the challenge - overall I'm looking forward to being in an environment where I am challenged to learn and grow, and potentially uncover new strengths. 

As with all life stories, this one is to be continued...

Much love, 




OUTFIT - PARISIAN DREAMS

Parisian
Parisian
Parisian
Parisian
Parisian
Parisian

I am immediately attracted to anything striped so when I saw this dress at Zara I knew we would be instant friends. I considered for about three seconds buying it in black instead, laughed at my silliness, and went for the stripes. 
I've had this silk scarf for years and usually wear it in my hair, but with the neck scarf trend emerging this season, I knew it would be the perfect accessory against simple stripes with my Lotta clogs and a red lip to tie everything together.
Taking photos down this cobbled alleyway with it's lamp post knocked askew had me dreaming of Paris, where I think this outfit would feel right at home.

What I'm Wearing
Scarf - gift from a friend
Dress - Zara
Clogs - Lotta from Stockholm  
*Photos by Carmen 

Much love, 
 
Parisian

RECIPE - AVOCADO PASTA

Avocado Pasta

I really love pasta, and I really love avocado, so of course I found a way to bring the two together in a deliciously 'creamy' dish! This is almost reminiscent of an Alfredo, but without all the cream. The beauty of this recipe (as with most recipes here on the blog) is that it's really customize-able! Add in whatever veg you fancy, play around with seasoning, change up the type of pasta you use. Heck, you can bake it with cheese on top like a casserole if you want (I'd recommend it - it's delicious, just like all things baked with cheese).
Read on for the full recipe!  

Avocado Pasta

 Ingredients
  •  2 avocados 
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (or to taste) 
  • 1 onion
  • 1 zucchini 
  • 6-8 mushrooms
  • Pasta (I used fresh egg tagliatelle)
  • Parmesan cheese to serve 

Method
  •  Sauté onion and mushrooms in oil or butter 
  •  Add zucchini for the last five minutes and cook to desired tenderness
  •  Cook pasta according to package directions  
  •  When the pasta is cooked, toss together with veg 
For the sauce:
  • Heat up olive oil, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper in small pan until sizzling, removing from heat before the garlic begins to brown
  • Blend together with avocados and lemon juice until smooth 
  • Toss together with pasta & veg
  • Serve with grated Parmesan cheese 

Avocado Pasta
Avocado Pasta

Let me know if you give this recipe a go and how you like it! 

Much love, 
 

LIFE, CURRENTLY


When I first moved to Oxford, I had this grand idea that I would reinvent myself and become Delightfully Mysterious. You know, not give too much away, keep people guessing (keep my mouth shut). Of course, this idea flew right out the window when I started meeting actual people. I'd open my mouth and my entire life's story would spill right out onto the floor and I'd stand there awkwardly looking at it, wishing I could scoop it up and swallow it back down. Fortunately I've met the most gracious people who politely looked away while I collected myself and tried to mop up the damage. It's amazing how many friends you can make by being open and honest...even if you walk away painfully reliving every word you wish you hadn't said. 
I say this because I'm about to make a mess on the floor, hoping that you won't point and laugh but instead see something interesting. 

To do this story justice, we will have to start way back at the Beginning. Not as far back as the day I was born, not even as far back as the days I wore too much eyeliner and plucked my eyebrows to absolute obscurity, but farther back than my move to Oxford, and a bit farther back than the days leading up to that. 
I think our story will best start around the time I got married. I had just moved back from Australia, having lived there for a year while going to college - I came back with a Certificate IV in worship ministry, stars in my eyes, and a killer tan that I have never again been able to achieve. 
My new husband and I jumped into married life - he a music director and master's student, me a youth ministry director and barista. Things went on like this for a while and when it came time for Mark to graduate we had a decision to make: would he continue in education and apply to do his PhD? We decided yes, of course Mark should continue in his academic dream which eventually led us to Oxford. 
To summarize: since we were married, I have been supporting my husband one hundred percent as he fulfills his dream of pursuing academics (which he is particularly excellent at, I might at). This has never posed much of a problem for me - I am so happy to be standing alongside Mark as he pursues a life-long passion. I knew vaguely in the back of my mind that eventually I wanted to go back to university at some point, but never had a specific timeline in mind. 
When we first started exploring the idea of moving to Oxford I looked into undergraduate programs, but nothing stood out to me as something I needed to do (if I'm going to spend three-to-four years of my life studying something and spend all that money, I want it to be something I need to do) so I put studying back into the depths of my brain to pull out again on a rainy day. 
Well, that rainy day came along winter last year. 
Have you ever stumbled across something at just the right time? Something you know wouldn't really have been great one month, six months, a year before? Just me? Okay. Well, trust me, it's pretty awesome.
This Something that I stumbled across took the form of a potential route of education I had never really considered, or even knew existed. 
(I suppose this is where our story really starts, but sometimes you need a bit of background to make things have a bit more impact, right? Also: life-story-spillage).
Oxford University has a department of continuing education that offers part-time courses in many different areas of study. I was perusing the continuing education website one day to see what kinds of courses they offered and discovered they offer a two-year part-time undergraduate diploma in creative writing. Two years - that means I would finish at the same time as Mark. Part-time - that means I could still work. Creative writing - something I need to do. Having something like that as a possibility made me simultaneously feel overwhelmed with excited and completely sick with fear. That's how I knew I needed to apply. 
I researched the program to death - the application requirements, cost, course outline - and got a thrill of fear every time I opened the page. I decided to keep all this information to myself. I would not tell a soul (except Mark) and apply in secret. Naturally, I told everyone. 
The library became my new after-work domain and soon I had a rough draft of my statement of purpose (probably one of the most evil things anyone ever has to write, if you ask me). I sent it off to some trusted advisers for feedback and eventually came up with something that would do.
Then I moved on to my submission piece. A sample of my writing. Two thousand words of it. Here's how it went:
I was hit with a great idea. The idea took on a wonderful shape in my brain. I did some research into the topic. My imagination ran wild with possibilities. I tried writing. Hated everything. Stared at a blank document for hours, willing myself to start again. Scrapped the idea. Started a new one. Scrapped that one, went back to the original. Trapped myself in the library until I had roughly two thousand words and something that made some sort of sense. Sent it to some more trusted advisers for feedback and tried not to fall into the Depths of Despair as I waited for the verdict. Received very valuable feedback. Edited. Edited again and edited one more time for good measure. It was finished (or as finished as it was going to get the day before the deadline).
I loved every second of those few weeks. I loved having a project. I loved going to the library day in and day out. I loved sitting in coffee shops with Mark while he worked on his research and I edited. I loved talking to friends about my story. Don't get me wrong, it was hard work, but work I enjoyed.
I submitted my application and the waiting began.
On the fourth day, I was invited to interview.
Nine days later I interviewed, didn't say anything stupid, and got through the whole thing without crying.
Six days of obsessive email-checking later, I received a letter in the post.
I was accepted. To Oxford University.


Yes, that's me with my official offer letter (obviously things aren't real unless you document them with a photo).
I never thought I would be able say I was accepted to Oxford University - it always seemed like this dream-beyond-a-dream that I didn't even dare dream, because it would clearly never come true.
But here I am with an offer letter to one of the world's leading universities in an area of study I am so passionate about.
So... Now What?
The obvious course of action would be to accept the offer, do the course and learn everything I can - which is ideally what I would like to happen. The only trouble is: Money.
Yes, it's such a terrible dilemma to be in. During the application process there were moments I half-hoped I wouldn't be accepted purely so I wouldn't have to worry about where the finances would come from to pay for it.
I'm still not quite sure, but I'm remaining open and cautiously excited about the whole situation. I'm trusting that things will come together and that I'll feel at peace either way.

So here we are, all caught up to the present, and I commend you, dear reader, for getting this far in our story. We will leave our protagonist (that would be me) at a crossroad, of sorts - an offer received, but not formally accepted. A dilemma to be faced and hopefully overcome. A path to choose - but which one remains to be seen.

...to be continued.

Much love,









OUTFIT - BY HAND LONDON SARAH SHIRT (HACKED)



I had my first foray into the world of Shirt-Making a couple weekends ago when I closeted myself away to try my hand at the By Hand London Sarah Shirt. Seriously, the folk over at By Hand London know how to make a good pattern and offer instructions that make construction easy to follow and relatively painless.
I already knew I wanted to hack this shirt into something a bit different - more along the lines of the shirt I wore in this post
Fortunately, because the shirt is styled to be slightly oversized, I didn't have to worry too much about fit - I followed the pattern instructions and chose my size based on my waist measurement, which suited me perfectly through the shoulders (the only place I really needed it to 'fit'). 
I added eight inches to the length and widened the body, getting rid of the slight indent at the waist, making the front and back pieces angle straight out from underarm to hem (kind of like a tent!). I lengthened the short sleeve pattern pieces to be a touch longer, and added a slightly dipped hem. 
The fabric I chose is from 100% cotton from Ikea (heck yes, £3 per metre) and I honestly couldn't be happier with how it turned out! At first I was a bit concerned with the size of the collar - it seemed huge to me! - but it looks much more normal in the photos than I thought it would.
All and all a resounding Success on this one! I've got this fabric burning a hole in my cupboard at the moment and I'm thinking a box-pleated midi-skirt will be just the creation it needs!


What I'm Wearing
Hat - H&M (borrowed from a friend)
Shirt - made by me
Pattern - By Hand London Sarah Shirt 
Fabric - Ikea
Jeans - TopShop
Flats - Ardene


Much love,