Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Currently inspired by, #17

Images via: Viva luxury // The Everygirl // Style me pretty // Style me pretty living

Hey guys, I'm clocking off way early this week, I have my bags and ski equipment all packed and I'm off to a much anticipated ski trip in Austria. Despite having lived in Austria for more than 6 months, I have actually never skied in the Austrian Alps before, and I'm excited as a kid in a candy store: it's been so long since I descended the snowy slopes for the last time - I'm almost worried I forgot how to do it! I'm wishing you all a sunny and happy Easter, spent with the people you love most, and I can't wait to see you back here next week.

I'm leaving you with just a few things and activities currently inspiring my office daydreams (don't tell my dad / boss :) :

Styling a spring trench. Honestly, guys, I'm so sick of winter fashion! I can't even stand a look of my winter boots anymore - on Monday, to honor the beginning of spring, I pulled out the ballet flats from my shoe closet, and wore them to work - despite the fact that it was 3°C outside, and I wore them to go pick up my skis before my upcoming trip to Austria. I was like, screw it, I'm not going to put on any ankle boots till next October. My tried and trusted beige trench has also made its first appearance, and I simply can't wait to style it in 100 and one different ways throughout this upcoming season. No more winter coats for this gal!

Setting up a coffee station. This is one of my latest obsessions. I have seen so many cute and stylish coffee and tea stations floating around Pinterest, and it makes me want to spruce up my own morning coffee ritual. Of course, my beloved Nespresso machine is a stunner in and of itself, but surrounding it with pretty mugs, transparent capsule containers and a stylish tray definitely wouldn't hurt!

Learning to put together gorgeous spring floral arrangements. This is one of the most fun items on my spring bucket list. Fresh flowers strewn around my apartment are a surefire way to make me smile and increase my happiness levels by bucketfuls. And I've made a vow to invest in grocery store flowers whenever possible (ideally before each weekend). I know that this may seem like a pricey idea, but my local grocery store carries simple bouquets of roses, tulips or gerberas for as little as 2 euros a bunch (you can't even get a coffee-to-go this cheap!), so I don't think I'll be blowing my monthly budget anytime soon. And the beauty these flowers bring into my apartment? That, my friends, is priceless.

Styling my kitchen counters. My kitchen is my happy place. There's no doubt about it. It's the place where all my friends and family gather when they pay me a visit, where I can experiment with new recipes to my heart's content, where I savor my first cup of cappuccino of the day and where I occasionally cover up my dining table with my blogging and writing projects. I do my best to keep the space clean and tidy (sometimes successfully, sometimes less so), but what I feel is missing right now are the little touches that would make it more beautiful, organized and personal. I think a wider Pinterest research might be in order, and it's definitely one of those little projects I'm looking forward to tackle this spring. Any ideas you could share? 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring bucket list

Images via: one // two // three // four
We welcomed the first day of spring today, and I honestly couldn't be more excited. I've just about had it with this cold, gray, sad and dreary winter, and I'm ready to embrace the new season  with every fabulous thing it entails:
   * longer days = more sunshine = a huge improvement for my mood and my happiness levels
   * overhauling my closet, throwing away my sad winter uniform of jeans, sweaters and ankle boots and embracing skirts, dresses and high heels again
   * throwing my windows wide open and letting the fresh breeze in
   * seeing the trees bloom
   * gorging myself on salads made of first fresh produce scavenged on the farmers markets...

... and the list goes on. This season makes me incredibly happy, not least because I celebrate my birthday in May. There's just something so special about this time of year, when the nature wakes up from its winter sleep, when the beautiful flowers pop up at every corner and the opportunities for dreaming and making new things happen seem ever present. To me, spring means happiness.

Of course, this is also the perfect time to come up with another bucket list. Putting together these seasonal bucket lists is always so much fun, and this one has been easier than ever. Just another proof how excited I am for this new season of my life to begin. So without further ado, these are the things and activities I'm most looking forward to in the following three months. I'm going to...

Celebrate my own 30th and my dad's 60th birthday.

Buy and style fresh grocery store flowers each week.

Plant an indoor herb garden and then benefit from it all throughout spring and summer.

Try at least 10 new recipes built around eggs.

Take a flower arranging class. 

Images via: one // two // three // four 
Plan and execute my balcony makeover.

Update my home decor with seasonal, spring elements.

Go for the Vienna Philharmonic outdoor concert in Schonbrunn, Austria.

Visit the gardening fair that takes place each year in April, and buy all the plants I can carry.

Update and reorganize my closet - put away all the sweaters and coats, and bring forward my favorite skirts, dresses and ballet flats. 

Images via: one // two // three // four
Buy a lemon tree (a would-be cousin for my mandarin tree), and learn how to take care of it.

Learn to paint with watercolors.

Plant edible flowers in our garden and then experiment with them in my kitchen.

Make a spring wreath for my front door. Looking at this beauty, I think tulips are the way to go!

What are your plans for this spring? What are you looking forward to the most?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Weekend notes & link love #38

Hey guys, how have you been lately? I have to admit, this month of March has been quite hard on me so far. For the past three weeks I've been battling some nasty kind of flu that, true to myself, I first tried to ignore, and which then responded with such force that I ended up clued to bed, pretty much unable to do anything. In my absence, work has been piling up on my desk, and once I returned to the office, I didn't even know what to tackle first :) Lucky thing the weekend arrived to save me! I'm planning to savor these two days off, spending them with my family and trying to put some kind of order into the mess that's currently my life. What are your weekend plans?

My friend Rowena shared the secrets behind the longevity of her marriage, and I couldn't help but find it immensely heartwarming, encouraging and inspiring! It's another great reminder that what we do every day is much much more important than what we do only once in a while. I think that's a powerful lesson to keep in mind. (via Rolala loves)

We all know by now how important it is to get enough greens into our daily diet. But do you ever find yourself stuck in a salad rut? I know I do - there are only so many ways I can make baby spinach or watercress, and I could use some inspiration in the salad department. These 10 original recipes might be just the right inspiration! (via The Chalkboard mag)

"I got rid of all my magazines and I'm still alive." I was laughing so hard, looking at this picture and reading Meg's recount! I'm an obsessive magazine hoarder myself (I even have an entire bookshelf dedicated to them in my apartment), and the idea of parting with some of them have always been painful to contemplate. I actually transported stacks and stacks of magazines from Paris to Brussels, then to Graz and finally back to Slovakia. I don't think I'd ever be able to part with all of them one day, but it's still reassuring to learn that it would not be the end of the world :) (via Meg Biram)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Note to self

Do you ever get that sinking feeling that no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, and no matter how many sacrifices you are willing to make, it will never be enough? It's a feeling I've been no stranger to lately. I have entered this new year with big dreams and plans, and the energy necessary to make them all come true. And I've been making progress on so many of them: living a healthier life, working out daily, tying up loose ends in my apartment and trying to work smarter and harder on our family business. But there are other goals and plans that have seemingly fallen to the wayside (like my travel plans, blogging daily, and the idea of starting a new business). I'm writing this little note to remind myself (and you, hopefully, if you're struggling with the same anxieties), that I should stop focusing on things that I don't have yet, and spend more time being grateful and happy for the people and things that I do have in my life. Because there are plenty. I just really need to learn to slow down, and appreciate them like they deserve. Hopefully, you can do the same. 

Have a lovely Wednesday, guys! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Currently inspired by, #16

Images via: Laylita // As easy as apple pie // Hello glow // Olive magazine
So it seems that I have a lot of baking on my mind. It's been forever since I last made baked donuts (and the pan has been sitting sadly in the drawer ever since), and I've actually never made a baked pudding before. The chocolate one with pears sounds and looks pretty heavenly.

Homemade empanadas are another thing I've been thinking about trying for a long time, but never actually got around to do. Maybe because my best friend's mom is from Argentina, and her homemade beef empanadas are stuff culinary dreams are made of. They are impossibly good, and I can only aspire to recreate them one day. Until then, I'll try my hand at an easier, lighter Caprese version - I just need to find a good recipe for the dough.

Tell me, what is currently inspiring you?

Caprese empanadas. Recipe in French here.

Vanilla glazed baked donuts. (via As easy as apple pie)

Rose + chamomile facial soak. (via Hello glow)

Pear and chocolate pudding. (via Olive magazine)

Monday, March 7, 2016

On my nightstand, March 2016

I haven't been as good at reading lately as I would have loved to. Somehow I've been having trouble focusing on any book or story - I'm really having hard time getting out of my own head sometimes! But I'm here today with a fresh crop of interesting reads, and I'm pretty excited to get back into my habit of reading in bed before falling asleep. These are the books I'm hoping to read through in March:
Robin Sharma: Discover your destiny. Big ideas to live your best life. I'm not usually one to give in to those fantastical claims about "books that will change your life forever". Often times, they are simply too bombastic to sound even remotely realistic. But I recently read Sharma's first book, and it has truly had a huge impact on how I think about my life right now (I'll talk more in depth about this in a future post). I practically inhaled it (twice already). Once I finished, I made a run for my bookshop, to see what else is there to read from this author. So now I have his second book on top of my reading list, because I love myself a book that makes me think.

Isabelle Palmer: The balcony gardener. I picked this book at a recent book fair, and I've been flipping through it on a regular basis. Now the time has come to give it my full attention. You may remember from this post, that having a balcony was one of my top priorities when I was hunting for an apartment. And now that I have one (albeit a tiny one), I would love to transform it into a little green oasis. And who else to turn to for advice than the founder of Plus, this tome has some really beautiful photographs, and that is always a winner in my book (pun intended).

Nigella Lawson: Nigellissima. Easy Italian-inspired recipes. I really love myself some Nigella. I love her cooking shows (I binge watched over Christmas, and it was heaven), I read all her interviews, and I've recently began collecting her cookbooks. Knowing how much I also love Italian cuisine, I simply had to have this one! This book has something for every mood, season and occasion. It celebrates the fresh ingredients and teaches you how to make your weeknight dinner prep a breeze. And since I tend to read cookbooks like novels, I'm bound to get lost completely in this one.

Dave Eggers: The Circle. I've already written about this book here, and I'd love to read it before the movie (that will supposedly star Emma Watson as Mae Holland) is finished. Have any of you read it yet?

Walter Isaacson: The Innovators. After having way too much fun reading Richard Branson's books, I've been on the hunt for a next inspiring business-related read. And since our lives are evolving around internet and digital pretty much 24/7, it could be interesting to learn more about the people who actually invented the computers and internet. And the question of what were the talents that allowed certain innovators and entrepreneurs to turn their visionary ideas into disruptive realities, is pretty intriguing for any budding entrepreneur.

Rosalie Ham: The Dressmaker. Amidst all the more serious business and Provence-related reads, I've also been on the hunt for some lighter, kind of escapist books. You know, those page-turners that suck you in, and make you forget all your current worries. And this one looks like a good choice. There are intrigues, couture and revenge involved, which is sort of a winning combo - proven by the fact that the book has already been turned into a movie, starring Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth (swoon).

Sarah J. Maas: Throne of Glass. This one also falls into the escapist category. By now, I think you already know that for me, there's nothing better than getting lost in a purely and perfectly invented YA world, and I'm forever on the lookout for the next captivating series. After practically inhaling Marie Lu's Legend series, I've settled on this one, hopefully entertaining enough to keep me awake past 9pm.

Paul Kalanithi: When breath becomes air. This one has been making rounds in the blog world for weeks, while it's bound to be a difficult read, I'm ready to give it a try. This memoir of a young, promising neurosurgeon facing a terminal cancer diagnosis will definitely be heartbreaking, but it also asks the right question: what makes a life worth living? And shouldn't we all find the answer to this question before our limited time is up?

Elizabeth Strout: My name is Lucy Barton. I've been hearing some rave reviews about this one, so I'm curious to see what the fuss is all about. It's a story of a complicated mother-daughter relationship, full of emotions and wisdom, capturing the ache of loneliness we all may feel sometimes.

Michael Hjorth, Hans Rosenfeldt: Dark secrets. "Give me a good thriller and leave me alone for two days" may as well be one of my life mantras. Seriously, when I stumble upon a great nail-biting thriller, I'm absolutely useless - all I want to do is crawl in the safety of my bed and read my way through the gripping story. This one starts with a dead 16-year old boy, and leads to all the dark secrets hidden behind the walls of a prominent private school. Now that sounds promising!

So now tell me, what are you looking forward to reading this month? Any great books I shouldn't miss? Let me know!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Lessons learned from my solo spa getaway

My friends and family always tell my that I think too much, and it's probably true. I can spend so much time overanalyzing and dissecting various things and events in my life, to the point where I'm even able to give myself a proper headache. But it has its positive aspects, too, since it tends to give me inspiration for blog posts :) 

Anyway, my recent spa getaway gave me plenty time and opportunity to stop and think, and I took full advantage of it. I was reading this book, and thinking about how much time I spend worrying, and how I could make way better use of my time (which, after all, is our most valuable asset of all). And while enjoying way too much great food, jacuzzi and walks around the lake, I also realized the following things:

How important it is to listen to my body and to my mind. Lately I've been feeling like a pressure cooker, ready to explode any moment (which I also did, and several times in the past two months. I'm not proud of it, but I'm only human). People around me have been passing their problems onto me, and I've been like a sponge, absorbing it all. I really need to learn to manage my Mother Theresa tendencies - I can offer my help, my advice, or just a sympathetic ear, but I can't make other people's problems my own. It creates way too much pressure on me, and I can't always handle it all that well, especially since I already experience so much of my own stress. Which leads me to the next point:

Stress is something that I can and MUST manage. It's not going anywhere. It's not going to magically disappear, just because I want it to. It's an integral part of my life and my work, and I'm not going to just will it into non-existence. I have to learn to deal with it, to keep it at a manageable level, and not to let it overwhelm me like this again. Whatever it takes.

The world is not going to end just because I disappear for a few days. We have this saying around here: the graveyards are full of irreplaceable people. It means that despite the fact that practically all of us are convinced that there is always something that we must do, most of the time the world can do just fine with us resting for a while. Work will go on, blogs will go on, and it will not all shatter to pieces just because we decided to enjoy some much needed time away from it all. Don't sacrifice your health and mental well being on the altar of busyness.

Being alone feels incredibly invigorating (but it also takes some getting used to). Traveling places alone means that you get to set your own pace. You can go to bed and wake up as early / late as you wish. You can do whatever strikes your fancy, whether it's a 5k hike in the woods, or lounging around in your pajamas. You decide what and when you're going to eat. Simply put, you get to be wonderfully selfish for a while. And there's nothing wrong with being selfish from time to time, especially if, like me, you spend the majority of your days giving your time and energy to the others (family, friends, clients or blog readers). If being alone is what recharges your batteries (it definitely does for me!), then by all means, go for it! Of course, it may take some getting used to, especially when you venture out for dinner or drinks all by yourself. But ultimately, it's all about being true to yourself. I'm an introvert by nature, and I really need my "me" time to restore my energy and my soul, and the best thing I could have done for myself was to stop apologizing for it. And in the end, if I feel lonely, or have anything to share, my loved ones are always just one phone call away!

I need to learn to bottle up and store the benefits of being away from it all. And learn to use that stock when necessary. This is something I've been thinking a lot about, when I was sitting in the giant jacuzzi all by myself, little invigorating bubbles dancing all around me (please excuse the shameless bragging). How on earth am I going to stockpile on this wonderful feeling of calm, serenity, happiness and mindfulness, and then pull it out and use it whenever necessary? Because I understand the harsh truth: it's not always possible to pack my bag on a whim and disappear on a four-day weekend getaway when life gets hectic and busy again (because it always is!). An, much to my dismay, installing a huge jacuzzi in my living room is not really an option, either (believe me, I asked). So what's a girl gotta do to keep herself sane? I'm not entirely sure yet, but I have a few ideas brewing that I'm going to experiment with. And if you have any tried and true tips, be sure to send them my way!     

And I would also love to know: what do you do when you need to clear your head, manage your stress levels and you feel like you need to get away from everything? Does this even happen to you? 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March editorial letter

Happy first of March, guys! Accidentally, has anyone of you seen February? I think I may have misplaced mine. How was your February, anyway?

I have a kind of bittersweet relationship with March: I love it because it's the first month of spring. The days are slowly growing longer, we get to see the sunshine again, and there's a promise of a new beginning hanging in the air (you may have noticed that I really do love my new beginnings :)
But March also means that the tax season is upon us, and by the end of this month, I (and pretty much any entrepreneur in my vicinity) will be pulling my hair and crying bloody tears, once I see the sum I'll have to pay.

But never mind that - it's just part of the deal and I'll have to power through it. Let's focus on those new beginnings instead, shall we?

I have returned home from my little spa getaway with clear mind, rested body and a renewed sense of energy. Thanks to this book, I have come to realize that I'm the only person responsible for my state of mind: I can't change my circumstances and I can't change the actions of people around me. I can only change the way I react to them. No one can drag me down if I don't let them. I know it's not always possible to keep this positive outlook 24/7, but I'm at least willing to give it a try. And if everything else fails, I can always book another jacuzzi session!

While away, I also spent a great deal of time just thinking and writing: two activities that tend to bring me the sense of clarity. And that is something I have been craving a lot lately. I want to make them both a bigger part of my morning routine (in fact, I'm writing this editorial letter while the city is still asleep, with just a cup of coffee and my thoughts to keep me company). Since my days tend to be so fast-paced and action-packed, I'd love to be able to outline and draft my blog posts before setting off for the office. It's much much harder to focus my thoughts once I get into the thick of things! I'll let you know how it goes.

As far as my March editorial calendar goes, I'm really excited about all the topics I want to share and write about. Most importantly, I want to continue my apartment renovation series - you guys have been so kind and supportive, that I now feel much more confident to share the work in progress and my (almost) finished place. More ugly pictures to come :) but also some pretty, and hopefully inspiring ones.

Later this week, I'm also going to share the lessons I learned during my spa getaway: a lot of soul-searching has been going on around lately and I would love to get your point of view on some of it.  As you're reading this, I'm compiling my reading list for March, as well as my spring bucket list (because, hello, spring is just around the corner and I couldn't be more excited!) and I'll also be talking some more about building my healthy habits

Easter has never been one of my favorite holidays, and I'm kind of skipping the festivities altogether this year, in favor of a short ski trip to Austria. I may not thus post any dedicated Easter stuff this month, but since lately I've been making a conscious effort to spend more time trying new recipes in my kitchen, I'd love to start shooting and writing food posts again. I just need to get my photography game together, but I'm really excited about that!

All in all (tax season excluded), I hope that March will be a calmer and more serene month for me, and that I'll be able to dedicate much more time and energy to this blog, and to you, my lovely friends. I'll work really hard on that :) In the meantime, have the most amazing start to the new month, and see you around here for a lot of fun stuff!

xo Ivana
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