tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-67074123860401415532016-03-23T14:20:25.433+01:00The Charming AvenueIvanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.comBlogger613125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-48695609530734626702016-03-23T10:00:00.000+01:002016-03-23T10:00:24.006+01:00Currently inspired by, #17<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-D1PuyBRt50w/VvA6DEqVrSI/AAAAAAAAnk0/zgU9lBOHnuA-goyjZoPZWCIpWxI0g9Uxg/s1600/currently_inspired_by_15.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-D1PuyBRt50w/VvA6DEqVrSI/AAAAAAAAnk0/zgU9lBOHnuA-goyjZoPZWCIpWxI0g9Uxg/s1600/currently_inspired_by_15.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><i><b>Images via: <a href="http://vivaluxury.blogspot.sk/2014/04/tales-of-trench.html" target="_blank">Viva luxury</a> // <a href="http://theeverygirl.com/heloise-mckees-washington-dc-apartment-tour" target="_blank">The Everygirl</a> // <a href="http://www.stylemepretty.com/vault/image/2628959" target="_blank">Style me pretty</a> //<a href="http://www.stylemepretty.com/collection/4147/picture/1363649/" target="_blank"> Style me pretty living</a></b></i></td></tr></tbody></table><br />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.<br /><br />I'm leaving you with just a few things and activities currently inspiring my office daydreams (don't tell my dad / boss :) : <br /><br /><i><b>Styling a spring trench. </b></i>Honestly, guys, I'm <i>so</i> 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!<br /><br /><i><b>Setting up a coffee station. </b></i>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 <i><b><a href="https://api.shopstyle.com/action/apiVisitRetailer?id=434608648&amp;pid=uid1444-33439962-95" target="_blank">Nespresso machine</a> </b></i>is a stunner in and of itself, but surrounding it with pretty mugs, transparent capsule containers and a stylish tray definitely wouldn't hurt!<br /><br /><i><b>Learning to put together gorgeous spring floral arrangements. </b></i>This is one of the most fun items on my <b><i>spring bucket list</i></b>. 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.<br /><br /><i><b>Styling my kitchen counters. </b></i>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?&nbsp; <br /><br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-47313391068714946092016-03-20T19:26:00.000+01:002016-03-20T19:26:43.636+01:00Spring bucket list<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Awh6gKuDTbM/Vu1qNZFyFXI/AAAAAAAAnkE/IWqrFQl9W6QsPSTKUogfZyWysMwo0LzPw/s1600/spring_bucket_list_1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Awh6gKuDTbM/Vu1qNZFyFXI/AAAAAAAAnkE/IWqrFQl9W6QsPSTKUogfZyWysMwo0LzPw/s1600/spring_bucket_list_1.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><b><i>Images via: <a href="http://thecakeblog.com/2015/01/sparkle-my-heart.html" target="_blank">one</a> //<a href="https://sk.pinterest.com/pin/149111437641036836/" target="_blank"> two</a> //<a href="http://blog.consumercrafts.com/decor-home/mason-jar-diy-herb-garden/" target="_blank"> three</a> // <a href="http://www.wellplated.com/kale-feta-egg-toast/" target="_blank">four</a></i></b></td></tr></tbody></table>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&nbsp; with every fabulous thing it entails:<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; * longer days = more sunshine = a huge improvement for my mood and my happiness levels<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; * overhauling my closet, throwing away my sad winter uniform of jeans, sweaters and ankle boots and embracing skirts, dresses and high heels again<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; * throwing my windows wide open and letting the fresh breeze in<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; * seeing the trees bloom<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; * gorging myself on salads made of first fresh produce scavenged on the farmers markets...<br /><br />... 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. <br /><br />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...<br /><br /><b><i>Celebrate my own 30th and my dad's 60th birthday.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>Buy and style fresh grocery store flowers each week.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>Plant an indoor herb garden and then benefit from it all throughout spring and summer.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>Try at least 10 new recipes built around eggs.</i></b><br /><br /><b><i>Take a flower arranging class.&nbsp; </i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-q0nDoqgxqs8/Vu1qNhEbyGI/AAAAAAAAnkM/DiOV70jYeyYB9zk99BKQzH9O-5AcCo8QQ/s1600/spring_bucket_list_2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-q0nDoqgxqs8/Vu1qNhEbyGI/AAAAAAAAnkM/DiOV70jYeyYB9zk99BKQzH9O-5AcCo8QQ/s1600/spring_bucket_list_2.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><b><i>Images via: <a href="http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-make-the-most-of-your-seriously-small-apartment-balcony-217277?crlt.pid=camp.98An9IU59UZv" target="_blank">one</a> // <a href="http://everydayhomeblog.com/2015/02/spring-touches.html" target="_blank">two</a> // <a href="https://sk.pinterest.com/pin/472878029596652599/" target="_blank">three</a> //<a href="http://happyinteriorblog.com/2015/08/wildernis-in-amsterdam.html" target="_blank"> four&nbsp;</a></i></b></td></tr></tbody></table><b><i>Plan and execute my balcony makeover.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>Update my home decor with seasonal, spring elements.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>Go for the Vienna Philharmonic outdoor concert in Schonbrunn, Austria.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>Visit the gardening fair that takes place each year in April, and buy all the plants I can carry.</i></b><br /><br /><b><i>Update and reorganize my closet - put away all the sweaters and coats, and bring forward my favorite skirts, dresses and ballet flats.&nbsp; </i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zHvAsL__qZc/Vu1qNoCpXFI/AAAAAAAAnkI/dUqF0Gw9Zzki4PCSar-TluFyJehY96fiA/s1600/spring_bucket_list_3.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zHvAsL__qZc/Vu1qNoCpXFI/AAAAAAAAnkI/dUqF0Gw9Zzki4PCSar-TluFyJehY96fiA/s1600/spring_bucket_list_3.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><b><i>Images via: <a href="http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-plant-and-keep-an-indoo-108900" target="_blank">one</a> // <a href="http://bydawnnicole.com/2016/02/watercolor-floral-wreath-monogram.html" target="_blank">two</a> // <a href="http://www.organicauthority.com/organic-gardening/organic-gardening/101-herbs-vegetables-edible-flowers-a-fruit-to-plant-in-your-kitchen-garden.html" target="_blank">three</a> // <a href="http://www.lifelovelarson.com/2015/03/diy-spring-tulip-wreath.html" target="_blank">four</a></i></b></td></tr></tbody></table><b><i>Buy a lemon tree (a would-be cousin for my mandarin tree), and learn how to take care of it.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>Learn to paint with watercolors.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>Plant edible flowers in our garden and then experiment with them in my kitchen.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><i style="font-weight: bold;">Make a spring wreath for my front door. </i>Looking at this beauty, I think tulips are the way to go!<br /><br />What are your plans for this spring? What are you looking forward to the most?<br /><br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-68247150564218921702016-03-19T11:37:00.001+01:002016-03-19T11:37:32.389+01:00Weekend notes & link love #38<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pAWYIi-fT3A/Vu0rvuFTSDI/AAAAAAAAnjw/eXKbTMWrQrUlVoyJL-KuohRqJKXSGYEIA/s1600/weekend%2Bnotes_38.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pAWYIi-fT3A/Vu0rvuFTSDI/AAAAAAAAnjw/eXKbTMWrQrUlVoyJL-KuohRqJKXSGYEIA/s1600/weekend%2Bnotes_38.jpg" /></a></div><br />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?<br /><br />My friend Rowena shared the secrets <a href="http://www.rolalaloves.com/2016/02/why-i-dont-celebrate-valentines-day.html#.VsWoY9Aqfk0" target="_blank"><i><b>behind the longevity of her marriage</b></i></a>, 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 <a href="http://www.rolalaloves.com/2016/02/why-i-dont-celebrate-valentines-day.html#.VsWoY9Aqfk0" target="_blank"><i><b>Rolala loves</b></i></a>)<br /><br />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. <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://thechalkboardmag.com/salad-recipes-that-arent-boring" target="_blank">These 10 original recipes</a></i>&nbsp;might be just the right inspiration! (via <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://thechalkboardmag.com/salad-recipes-that-arent-boring" target="_blank">The Chalkboard mag</a></i>)<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.megbiram.com/i-got-rid-of-all-magazines/" target="_blank">"I got rid of all my magazines and I'm still alive."</a> </i>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 <i>all of them</i>&nbsp;one day, but it's still reassuring to learn that it would not be the end of the world :) (via <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.megbiram.com/i-got-rid-of-all-magazines/" target="_blank">Meg Biram</a></i>)<br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-824339899412490312016-03-09T10:00:00.000+01:002016-03-09T10:00:03.274+01:00Note to self<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-2FS4Le9XZ8o/UxV8y1yJpBI/AAAAAAAAQXo/vrReNnQ73uc/s1600/right_1.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-2FS4Le9XZ8o/UxV8y1yJpBI/AAAAAAAAQXo/vrReNnQ73uc/s1600/right_1.png" /></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /><div style="text-align: left;">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 <i>and </i>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 <i>do</i>&nbsp;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.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">Have a lovely Wednesday, guys!&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div></div><div class=" fb_reset fb_reset" id="fb-root" style="background-color: white; background-image: none; border-spacing: 0px; border: 0px; cursor: auto; direction: ltr; font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; line-height: 1; margin: 0px; overflow: visible; padding: 0px; text-shadow: none; visibility: visible;"><div style="height: 0px; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: -10000px; width: 0px;"><div></div></div></div>Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-65351946470393027582016-03-08T10:00:00.000+01:002016-03-08T10:00:21.222+01:00Currently inspired by, #16<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rosZEA780-s/Vt6EXKXS6LI/AAAAAAAAnhY/S3evmHXwvFA/s1600/currently_inspired_by_16.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rosZEA780-s/Vt6EXKXS6LI/AAAAAAAAnhY/S3evmHXwvFA/s1600/currently_inspired_by_16.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Images via: <i><b><a href="https://sk.pinterest.com/pin/149111437640939381/" target="_blank">Laylita</a> // <a href="http://aseasyasapplepie.com/vanilla-glazed-baked-donuts/" target="_blank">As easy as apple pie</a> // <a href="http://helloglow.co/rose-chamomile-scrub/" target="_blank">Hello glow</a> // <a href="http://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/pear-and-chocolate-puddings/4005.html" target="_blank">Olive magazine</a></b></i></td></tr></tbody></table>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.<br /><br />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.<br /><br />Tell me, what is currently inspiring you?<br /><i><b> </b></i><br /><i><b>Caprese empanadas. </b></i>Recipe in French <i><b><a href="http://www.clementinecuisine.net/empanadas-tomates-mozzarella-et-basilic/" target="_blank">here</a>.</b></i> <br /><i><b><br /></b></i><i><b>Vanilla glazed baked donuts. </b></i>(via <a href="http://aseasyasapplepie.com/vanilla-glazed-baked-donuts/" target="_blank"><i><b>As easy as apple pie</b></i></a>)<br /><i><b><br /></b></i><i><b>Rose + chamomile facial soak. </b></i>(via <a href="http://helloglow.co/rose-chamomile-scrub/" target="_blank"><i><b>Hello glow</b></i></a>)<br /><br /><i><b>Pear and chocolate pudding. </b></i>(via <a href="http://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/pear-and-chocolate-puddings/4005.html" target="_blank"><i><b>Olive magazine</b></i></a>)<i><b> </b></i><br /><i><b><br /></b></i><i><b><br /></b></i><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-30114200720056206152016-03-07T10:00:00.000+01:002016-03-07T10:00:05.540+01:00On my nightstand, March 2016<a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-TQ-K-AIb28A/VtyBTaCTWJI/AAAAAAAAng4/FgzR0VdaY-M/s1600/on_my_nightstand_march_1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-TQ-K-AIb28A/VtyBTaCTWJI/AAAAAAAAng4/FgzR0VdaY-M/s1600/on_my_nightstand_march_1.jpg" /></a><span style="font-weight: bold;"></span><span style="font-weight: bold;"></span><br /><span style="font-weight: bold;"><br /></span>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:<br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">&nbsp;</i><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Discover-Your-Destiny-with-The-Monk-Who-Sold-His-Ferrari-Robin-S-Sharm/9780007195718/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Robin Sharma: Discover your destiny. Big ideas to live your best life.</a> </i>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 <a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Monk-Who-Sold-His-Ferrari/9780007179732/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i style="font-weight: bold;">Sharma's first book</i></a>, 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. <br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Balcony-Gardener/9781908170187/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Isabelle Palmer: The balcony gardener.</a> </i>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 <a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/lessons-learned-in-my-apartment-hunting.html" target="_blank"><i style="font-weight: bold;">this post</i></a>, 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 <a href="http://thebalconygardener.com/"><i style="font-weight: bold;">thebalconygardener.com</i></a>. Plus, this tome has some really beautiful photographs, and that is always a winner in my book (pun intended).<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Nigellissim-Nigell-Lawson/9780701189174/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Nigella Lawson: Nigellissima. Easy Italian-inspired recipes.</a> </i>I <i>really</i> 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.<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Circle-Dave-Eggers/9780241146507/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Dave Eggers: The Circle.</a> </i>I've already written about <a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/books-to-read-before-they-come-out-as.html" target="_blank"><i style="font-weight: bold;">this book here</i></a>, 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?<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Innovators-Walter-Isaacson/9781471138805/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Walter Isaacson: The Innovators.</a> </i>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 <i>invented</i>&nbsp;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.<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Dressmaker/9781846689949/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Rosalie Ham: The Dressmaker.</a> </i>Amidst all the more serious business and <a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/on-my-nightstand-february-2016.html" target="_blank"><b><i>Provence-related</i></b></a> 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).<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-2fj2kJ8W-CQ/VtyBT3cNuAI/AAAAAAAAng8/lGLDnWrWEjc/s1600/on_my_nightstand_march_2.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-2fj2kJ8W-CQ/VtyBT3cNuAI/AAAAAAAAng8/lGLDnWrWEjc/s1600/on_my_nightstand_march_2.png" /></a></div><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Throne-of-Glass-Sarah-J-Maas/9781408832332/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Sarah J. Maas: Throne of Glass.</a> </i>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 <i style="font-weight: bold;">Marie Lu's Legend series</i>, I've settled on this one, hopefully entertaining enough to keep me awake past 9pm.<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/When-Breath-Becomes-Air-Paul-Kalanithi-Abraham-Verghese/9780812988406/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Paul Kalanithi: When breath becomes air.</a> </i>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: <i>what makes a life worth living? </i>And shouldn't we all find the answer to this question before our limited time is up?<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/My-Name-is-Lucy-Barton-Elizabeth-Strout/9780241248775/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Elizabeth Strout: My name is Lucy Barton.</a> </i>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.<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Dark-Secrets/9781455520756/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Michael Hjorth, Hans Rosenfeldt: Dark secrets.</a> </i>"<i>Give me a good thriller and leave me alone for two days"&nbsp;</i>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!<br /><br />So now tell me, what are you looking forward to reading this month? Any great books I shouldn't miss? Let me know!Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-78283350162466437102016-03-02T10:50:00.001+01:002016-03-02T10:50:28.882+01:00Lessons learned from my solo spa getaway<div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3RMt2uO60SA/Vta3LOpFG1I/AAAAAAAAnfU/zAbGEpgLj6o/s1600/wellness_01.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3RMt2uO60SA/Vta3LOpFG1I/AAAAAAAAnfU/zAbGEpgLj6o/s1600/wellness_01.jpg" /></a></div><br />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 :)&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div>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 <a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Monk-Who-Sold-His-Ferrari-Robin-S-Sharm/9780007179732/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>this book</b></i></a>, 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:</div><i><b></b></i><br /><div><i><b><i><b><br /></b></i></b></i></div><i><b>How important it is to listen to my body and to my mind. </b></i>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:<br /><br /><i><b>Stress is something that I can and MUST manage. </b></i>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.<br /><br /><i><b>The world is not going to end just because I disappear for a few days. </b></i>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.<br /><br /><i><b>Being alone feels incredibly invigorating (but it also takes some getting used to). </b></i>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!<br /><br /><i><b>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. </b></i>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!&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /><div><span style="font-style: italic;"><span style="font-style: normal;"><br /></span></span></div><div><span style="font-style: italic;"><span style="font-style: normal;">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?&nbsp;</span></span><br /><i><b>&nbsp;</b></i> </div>Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-21049633352829284642016-03-01T10:00:00.000+01:002016-03-01T10:00:16.477+01:00March editorial letter<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-OpqznEB1KYk/VtU60NRpIdI/AAAAAAAAne8/TODRCWKglvI/s1600/march_editorial_letter_01_1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-OpqznEB1KYk/VtU60NRpIdI/AAAAAAAAne8/TODRCWKglvI/s1600/march_editorial_letter_01_1.jpg" /></a></div><br />Happy first of March, guys! Accidentally, has anyone of you seen February? I think I may have misplaced mine. How was your February, anyway?<br /><br />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 <i>do</i> love my new beginnings :)<br />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.<br /><br />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?<br /><br />I have returned home from my little spa getaway with clear mind, rested body and a renewed sense of energy. Thanks to <a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Monk-Who-Sold-His-Ferrari-Robin-S-Sharm/9780007179732/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>this book</b></i></a>, 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!<br /><br />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.<br /><br />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.<br /><br />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.&nbsp; As you're reading this, I'm compiling my <a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/search/label/readinglist" target="_blank"><i><b>reading list</b></i></a> 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 <i><b><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/12-healthy-habits-to-develop-in-2016.html" target="_blank">healthy habits</a>.&nbsp;</b></i><br /><br />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!<br /><i><b> </b></i><br />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!<br /><br />xo IvanaIvanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-73928215619873710742016-02-29T10:00:00.000+01:002016-03-01T07:50:56.768+01:00February chic list<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Xe9FUvIgWfY/VtQCeIPkAoI/AAAAAAAAnek/Iupf4RBZwgE/s1600/coffee_panna_cotta.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Xe9FUvIgWfY/VtQCeIPkAoI/AAAAAAAAnek/Iupf4RBZwgE/s1600/coffee_panna_cotta.jpg" /></a></div><br />Well, hello there guys! How have you been lately?<br /><br />Please, excuse the radio silence around here lately, but my <a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/weekend-notes.html" target="_blank"><i style="font-weight: bold;">latest home renovation project</i></a>, and the workweek that followed, have taken their toll on my morale, and I just needed to get away from it all. And by getting away, I mean literally packing my suitcase, clocking off early on Thursday and escaping to my <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BCNiXKqzI7E/?taken-by=thecharmingavenue" target="_blank"><i style="font-weight: bold;">home away from home</i></a>, aka my favorite spa. I booked my weekend there on a whim (however, I've been talking about doing just that for weeks on end, so the time has come to <a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/february-editorial-letter.html" target="_blank"><b><i>quit</i></b><i style="font-weight: bold;"> talking, and start doing</i></a>). It was also the first time I went on a wellness weekend all by myself, and it was the single best thing I could have done for myself. I'll be talking more about my quick <i>séjour</i>, and the lessons I learned there later this week, but today, I'm here with one of my favorite series &nbsp;(if not the most favorite): the list of things that made me happy this past month. Beware, this month it has been all about quality, rather than quantity. I was:<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">Eating one of the best lunches of my entire life. </i>Seriously, guys, it was epic. While in spa, I ventured into one of the new restaurants there, and quickly found myself in a culinary heaven. The homemade profiteroles with a selection of patés were followed by the single best marinated and grilled magret de canard I've ever tasted. It was accompanied by the red cabbage and cinnamon purée, which may sound quite unusual, but it was a really harmonious experience for my tastebuds. I topped it off with the coffee &amp; Baileys panna cotta, that can be only described only as pure heaven. I mean, my mouth is literally salivating while I'm typing this, so you get the picture. It should also be noted that I was too busy enjoying this unique experience to even think about pulling out my phone and instagramming the whole thing. That really says a lot!<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">Listening to Robin Schulz's Show me love. </i>I can't even explain this to myself: this is kind of unusual since electronic music and various DJ's <i>du jour </i>aren't usually my jam. But without overanalyzing it, this song has something that really speaks to me right now, and it's been on repeat pretty much non-stop (and it's the song currently waking me up in the morning!)<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">Reading <a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Monk-Who-Sold-His-Ferrari-Robin-S-Sharm/9780007179732/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">The monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma</a>. </i>When I go on vacations, I usually take a whole slew of books and magazines with me (I like to have my options). But craving the simplicity and wanting to avoid the fuss that comes with picking out too many reads, this was the only book that I took with me to the spa. And boy, was it the perfect read for my current state of mind! I practically didn't emerge from this book for three days, as I was furiously highlighting passages that spoke to my heart and soul (the books is practically pink now :), and taking notes in my bullet journal - I want to have that wisdom with me at all times, so I can reread the most important lessons learned whenever I'm in a slump (which has been happening to me way too often lately). Would you be interested in me doing a more in-depth book review?<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">Enjoying a well-deserved "me" time. </i>Do you ever feel like you're constantly giving your time, your efforts and your attention to everyone around you? I know I do - whether it's clients at work, my parents or friends...everyone deserves their fair share of my time and presence, but in the midst of it all, I can sometimes forget that even I deserve the same thing: I deserve the gift of my time and my full attention. It may sound selfish, but I've recently learned the hard way, that spending all my waking hours taking care and worrying about my loved ones takes a huge toll on my own mental well-being. Because if I give all my energy away, I have nothing left but exhaustion that ultimately leads to me being restless and snappy (I've lost my temper more often in the past three weeks than I have in the previous six months. I don't like that. At all). I'm writing it all here to remind myself (and maybe you, too, if you need it), that taking time to shut down the phone, not to answer the constant messages and emails, and just <i>be</i>&nbsp;and think quietly is the best gift I can give myself.<br /><br />What were the highlight of your February? Any valuable lessons you have learned? And how do <i>you </i>keep yourself sane in the midst of the everyday "busy"? Please, do share!<br /><br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-87409004126723937272016-02-21T09:31:00.001+01:002016-02-23T12:02:58.298+01:00Weekend notes #37<div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-iuIjK_N6Blk/Vsl1_O8yqgI/AAAAAAAAndU/aMHiK5SuFoU/s640/blogger-image-1037002276.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-iuIjK_N6Blk/Vsl1_O8yqgI/AAAAAAAAndU/aMHiK5SuFoU/s640/blogger-image-1037002276.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Real talk moment: this is why I've been MIA for the past few days, guys.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue light&quot; , , &quot;helvetica&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue light&quot; , , &quot;helvetica&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , sans-serif;">Please excuse the poor quality: I don't think there's a filter that could make this photo look good. And yes, that's how my living room looked for the past few days.&nbsp;</span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue light&quot; , , &quot;helvetica&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue light&quot; , , &quot;helvetica&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , sans-serif;">You know how they say that renovating an apartment is a never ending thing? Well, that's absolutely true, and then some. Installing the floor moldings was the last huge project on my list, and after failing at finding the contractors to do it for me, my dad and I decided to do it all by ourselves - despite the complete lack of experience in the domain.&nbsp;</span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue light&quot; , , &quot;helvetica&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue light&quot; , , &quot;helvetica&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , sans-serif;">My apartment went from presentable to the state of "post-atomic explosion" again (I don't think I can take much more of that anymore), and we've spent the past two days measuring, cutting, glueing and hammering the wretched things to my walls &amp; floors. My lower back is pretty angry with me right now, and I'm not even talking about my neighbors - I'm not sure they're going to say hello to me next time I bump into them :) But it's finally done, and all I have to do now is clean up that monstrous mess. No big deal, right?&nbsp;</span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue light&quot; , , &quot;helvetica&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue light&quot; , , &quot;helvetica&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , sans-serif;">My point here, guys, is that no matter how messy and complicated things seem, there's always a solution around the corner. And we're all capable of much much more than we think! And if there's one lesson I've learned from my dad, it's that we should always strive to do the best work possible, no matter what. I'm so grateful that I have a dad I can rely on, and learn from on a daily basis. And I'm so grateful that this huge project is finally crossed off my list. I'm not glad, however, that I'll probably spend the next few days dusting off any available surface. Bleh.</span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue light&quot; , , &quot;helvetica&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue light&quot; , , &quot;helvetica&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , sans-serif;">Now I'm going to pour myself another cup of coffee, and bust my vacuum cleaner out. And I'm hoping I'll be able to get back to regular programming real soon. Happy Sunday! xo</span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue light&quot; , , &quot;helvetica&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div>Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-77128190149477204362016-02-17T12:24:00.007+01:002016-02-17T12:24:57.328+01:00Apartment renovation: Before<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-DrLUL5iF2bU/VsDOrfHT98I/AAAAAAAAna4/IQN3fzrsvJ0/s1600/apartment_before_01.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-DrLUL5iF2bU/VsDOrfHT98I/AAAAAAAAna4/IQN3fzrsvJ0/s1600/apartment_before_01.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">This was the moment I felt the proudest: when I was finally holding keys to my first own apartment.</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><br /><i>Note: All these pictures were taken with my old iPhone 5S. Excuse the poor quality. Although I don't think fault is entirely on that poor phone. The apartment before renovation looked so terrible, that not even a fancy DSLR could have made it look better!</i><br /><br />As I promised <i><b><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/lessons-learned-in-my-apartment-hunting.html" target="_blank">on Monday</a>,</b></i> I'm here today with the before pictures of my apartment. Remember when I told you in <a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/lessons-learned-in-my-apartment-hunting.html" target="_blank"><i><b>that same post</b></i></a> that when buying an old apartment (or house), you should forget the outside aspects, and focus on the bones? Well, I'm about to show you why. If I was judging the book by its cover, I would never have bought this apartment in the first place. It was as far removed from being move-in ready as possible. Creaky wooden floors, stained and worn out carpets, outdated and dusty light fixtures, sickly yellow walls, kitchen cabinets falling to pieces and the scariest bathroom I had ever laid my eyes on: this place had it all. Oh, and let's not forget the wasp nest in the kitchen pantry. That was a "lovely" added bonus.&nbsp;<br /><br />There was SO much to do before this place could become livable. But that didn't scare me off. I had my contractors lined up before I even received the title deed, and I knew that with their help I could turn this drab den into something fabulous and completely "me". But I also knew that before it could get better, it had to get a lot worse. And that's what I'm going to show you in my next post.<br /><br />But for now, let me take you on a virtual tour of my apartment, from before the hammers and drills got involved. Ready? <br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-BUcG-12ALiM/VsDLTo3dNVI/AAAAAAAAnak/fRQS5Rka1C8/s1600/apartment_before_02.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-BUcG-12ALiM/VsDLTo3dNVI/AAAAAAAAnak/fRQS5Rka1C8/s1600/apartment_before_02.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WfilYPR9dzM/VsDLThWEeAI/AAAAAAAAnao/LHrP-DZem7Y/s1600/apartment_before_03.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WfilYPR9dzM/VsDLThWEeAI/AAAAAAAAnao/LHrP-DZem7Y/s1600/apartment_before_03.jpg" /></a></div><br /><i><b>Living room</b></i>. Apart from the original hardwood floors, there was hardly anything to write home about. That fancy chandelier, maybe? Or the fact, that this room alone had three doors leading to and from it? That was completely beyond my understanding.<br /><br />I knew from the get-go what I wanted to do with this space: brick in doors leading to the kitchen and bedroom, in order to get more wall space for the furniture, remove the old heating system and paint the walls bright white to optically enlarge the whole space. <br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tz6AB52ZKGk/VsDOrSsALsI/AAAAAAAAna0/xf96jrA6hDw/s1600/apartment_before_04.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tz6AB52ZKGk/VsDOrSsALsI/AAAAAAAAna0/xf96jrA6hDw/s1600/apartment_before_04.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mTGoyonSV7I/VsDOsKcl0KI/AAAAAAAAnbA/6f7BrdRx1DA/s1600/apartment_before_06.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mTGoyonSV7I/VsDOsKcl0KI/AAAAAAAAnbA/6f7BrdRx1DA/s1600/apartment_before_06.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-67YsffCB10g/VsDOrTKpzuI/AAAAAAAAna8/fZHTWg-ZOYg/s1600/apartment_before_05.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-67YsffCB10g/VsDOrTKpzuI/AAAAAAAAna8/fZHTWg-ZOYg/s1600/apartment_before_05.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Z8_W72qXPfw/VsDOsT3uesI/AAAAAAAAnbE/5CfxG-vBUh4/s1600/apartment_before_07.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Z8_W72qXPfw/VsDOsT3uesI/AAAAAAAAnbE/5CfxG-vBUh4/s1600/apartment_before_07.jpg" /></a></div><br /><i><b>Kitchen</b></i>. Ehm. It looked pretty terrible in its original state: worn-down lino, cabinets in various states of decline, and a pantry that was installed somewhere around 1950s. But based on my <i><b>three <a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/lessons-learned-in-my-apartment-hunting.html" target="_blank">non-negotiables</a></b></i>, the room itself was one of the things that sold me on this place: With its 14 square meters, it was by far the largest kitchen I'd seen in the apartments I had visited during my search, and I knew that it could house my kitchen unit, as well as the dining table for 6-8 people. And that was really big to me. I knew that once this ugliness was gone, I could get creative designing my dream kitchen.&nbsp; <br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-i8GwmncW2rg/VsDOseTWElI/AAAAAAAAnbI/GmWLxr9Zl8I/s1600/apartment_before_08.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-i8GwmncW2rg/VsDOseTWElI/AAAAAAAAnbI/GmWLxr9Zl8I/s1600/apartment_before_08.jpg" /></a></div><br /><i><b>Entryway</b></i>. Not much to look at in here, except that I realized that I'd never taken a picture of the second ginormous pantry that was sitting right behind that corner. I've never seen that much dust before. When I was peeking into it, I kept waiting for a bat, or a bunch of tipsy mouses to come out to play.<br /><br />I was planning to use this huge space to strip down the lino, paint the walls white, and have a new, big pantry / closet installed there.&nbsp; <br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-CH1OmhAvsv4/VsDOtaDobgI/AAAAAAAAnbU/_0daBO8Ao-I/s1600/apartment_before_11.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-CH1OmhAvsv4/VsDOtaDobgI/AAAAAAAAnbU/_0daBO8Ao-I/s1600/apartment_before_11.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-M7fjOVQ4jXk/VsDOtefNmaI/AAAAAAAAnbY/yWK6pSIjnQQ/s1600/apartment_before_12.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-M7fjOVQ4jXk/VsDOtefNmaI/AAAAAAAAnbY/yWK6pSIjnQQ/s1600/apartment_before_12.jpg" /></a></div><br /><i><b>Bedroom</b></i>. This was probably the least terrible looking room of them all. But only because it was completely empty: no prehistoric heaters in here, no fancy paint jobs, no wooden monsters of a closet. Still, those sickly yellow walls... *shudder* I originally wanted to keep the wooden floors, but they were too creaky, and they were also hiding one very dark and disgusting secret (I'll show you next, promise), so they had to go.<br /><br />What I wanted to do here was brick in the door that lead from the bedroom to the living room, and make a new one, leading from the entryway to the bedroom - so that each piece in my apartment would have its own, separate entrance. I also wanted to have one wall covered with floor-to-ceiling closet. I also wanted a big, comfortable and pretty bed, and a commode for added storage space. <br /><br />Aaaand...drumroll please, now onto the worst of the worst. Please say hello, to my former <i>bathroom</i>. I'm not even sure I can call it that way.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7kHUO6m314w/VsDOsiCumgI/AAAAAAAAnbM/DLR45G9wNc4/s1600/apartment_before_09.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7kHUO6m314w/VsDOsiCumgI/AAAAAAAAnbM/DLR45G9wNc4/s1600/apartment_before_09.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-GSiGNasQnKk/VsDOtLPnRZI/AAAAAAAAnbQ/9Vzz09OgiC4/s1600/apartment_before_10.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-GSiGNasQnKk/VsDOtLPnRZI/AAAAAAAAnbQ/9Vzz09OgiC4/s1600/apartment_before_10.jpg" /></a></div><br />Yup. I bought this. In my own free will. No one coerced me. It's hard to believe, I know. Looking at these pictures, I can hardly believe it myself.<br /><br />But I had some big plans for this relatively tiny space. I wanted to fit the heating system, a washing machine, and a tiny beauty cabinet in there, while also having a bathtub - I didn't want to switch to shower only, since I love my bubble baths so much. And I can't wait to show you the results in one of my upcoming posts. <br /><br />Well, what do you think, guys? Would <i>you</i>&nbsp;buy this thing, given a chance? Do you think you've seen the worst? Just you wait :) I'll be back with more, I promise :) Have a lovely Wednesday! <br /><br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-78961248960902028342016-02-15T10:00:00.000+01:002016-02-16T08:43:55.231+01:00Lessons learned in my apartment hunting<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-OuaxZdLOJ8o/VsC-lU4s7FI/AAAAAAAAnaA/Z6AvPbb18KE/s1600/lessons_apartment_hunting_03.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-OuaxZdLOJ8o/VsC-lU4s7FI/AAAAAAAAnaA/Z6AvPbb18KE/s1600/lessons_apartment_hunting_03.jpg" /></a></div><br />Guys, the day has finally come. After much thinking and debating (and worrying, obviously), I've finally decided to pull the trigger and share my apartment hunting and renovating story with you. It's not because I feel ready to do it - I probably never will. Anyone who ever renovated and decorated an apartment would tell you this: it's never really <i>done.</i>&nbsp;It never feels finished and it most certainly never feels "perfect". It takes a long time - unless you're a top-earning blogger who gets most of her furniture and appliances for free - which I'm not. It's been more than a year since I crossed the threshold of what would become <i>chez moi</i>&nbsp;for the first time, and I can still see at least 50 things that need to be taken care of or completed. And that's fine with me. Like everything truly meaningful in life, it's work in progress.<br /><br />That doesn't mean that I'm not nervous about sharing the whole process with you: after all, putting your work out there for the world to see can be pretty nerve-wracking (<i>#keepingitreal</i>). But as I was reflecting upon the past year, I realized that I'd learned so many valuable lessons in the process, and it would be a shame not to pass them on. If this post could help only one person in her/his search for the right place to live, it would be well worth it.<br /><br />Before I dive smack into the list of lessons learned, I would love to clarify my situation, since I don't want to mislead you in any way. First of all, I didn't get a mortgage - I paid for my apartment cash. I did it with a major help from my parents for which I'll never be really able to thank them enough. This doesn't mean that I'm debt-free. It means that I'm repaying my parents instead of a bank. It also means that I don't have the crazy interest rate that goes with a mortgage to deal with: here in Slovakia, having a mortgage usually means that you repay your home over the course of 25-30 years, and incidentally, you pay twice the real value of your abode. Not having to do this is a huge privilege I'm well aware of, and I'll be forever grateful to my parents for their help and support.<br /><br />The second specific thing is that when it came to buying my first apartment, I <i>absolutely</i>&nbsp;wanted to buy it all by myself - no boyfriend / fiancé involved. I wanted my name to be the only one on the buying end of the contract. This pertains closely to the lessons I learned from my failed engagement a few years ago. At the time, blinded by love and trust, I let myself become financially dependent on my fiancé, and when things came to an end, they ended badly mostly for me. I was the one who had to move out of the apartment we shared, and I was the one who had to rebuild her life and career completely from scratch. I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. When it comes to my current apartment, there's only one name - mine - on the title deed, and it will forever remain so. No matter what happens next in my life (good or bad), I'll always have this security blanket to fall back onto. And that, to me, is truly priceless.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-h9-bTBoS9g0/VsC_FNuxybI/AAAAAAAAnaM/yf4avjogKyY/s1600/lessons_apartment_hunting_02.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-h9-bTBoS9g0/VsC_FNuxybI/AAAAAAAAnaM/yf4avjogKyY/s1600/lessons_apartment_hunting_02.jpg" /></a></div><br />With these two specifics explained, let's dive right into the thick of my apartment hunting. These are the most important lessons I learned along the way:<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">one: Do your homework and be prepared. </i>Apartment hunting is not something that can be improvised. You can't really "wing it". It's a huge commitment, both when it comes to time and money, and it deserves to be taken seriously. Once I set my mind on buying my own place (back in 2014), I moved it right on top of my list of priorities. I spent hours scouring the listings available, learning to understand the real estate lingo, calling the real estate agents and scheduling visits, looking at more listings, comparing locations and so on and so forth. I wasn't blogging at the time, so I dedicated my entire afternoons and evenings to researching my local market and to learning what buying and owning a place entailed. This helped me tremendously, because thanks to all the information gathered and stored in my brain, when visiting a potential listing, I was able to look at a place and gauge its price, its potential and whether it could be the right fit for me in mere minutes. I could never stress the importance of preliminary research enough. It may take time and effort, but it will save you so much disappointment and wasted time in the long run! Believe me, you absolutely want to know what you're getting into.<br /><i style="font-weight: bold;"><br /></i><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><i style="font-weight: bold;">two: Make a list. </i>Coming from the compulsive list maker that I am, this one is not going to surprise you. But in order to find the right place for you, you have to have your priorities straight <i>before</i>&nbsp;you start looking for it. Of course, you also have to be ready to be flexible, but knowing your non-negotiables should be your number one priority. While apartment hunting, I had three non-negotiables:<br /><br />&nbsp; &nbsp;1. <i style="font-weight: bold;">The neighborhood: </i>My future apartment had to be close both to my parents' apartment <i>and </i>the city center with all the shops and amenities. I didn't have a car at the time, so having everything necessary at walking distance was the most important thing to me. And while I do have a car now, the fact that whatever errand I need to run (post office, butcher's or the grocery store where I know all the salespeople by name) is within five-minute walking radius is one of the hugest perks of living where I do.<br />&nbsp; &nbsp;2. <i style="font-weight: bold;">Three separate pieces: bedroom, living room AND kitchen</i>. Having a separate kitchen was also huge on my list. I've never been a fan of open plans: merging kitchen and the living space simply doesn't work for me. I wanted to have a big kitchen for all my cooking and baking experiments and that could also house the dining table. <br />&nbsp; &nbsp;3. <i style="font-weight: bold;">Balcony. </i>This may seem completely random, but having a balcony really was a non-negotiable for me, for a whole slew of reasons.<br /><br />These were my top three priorities. Of course, there was a whole list of other things I wanted to have in my "dream" apartment, but that weren't the deal-breakers. Some of them I knew I could make happen during the renovation; and some of them I knew I could forgo completely (mostly because I wanted, but didn't really need them). Having my priorities straight prevented me from wasting my time visiting places that didn't match my three cardinal requirements from the get-go. To be completely honest with you, at the beginning of my search, I did actually visit a couple apartments that were in different neighborhoods than my dream one, or that didn't have a balcony, or that had an open plan kitchen. But these visits only reinforced my conviction that my non-negotiables were exactly that: things I would not compromise on. And it absolutely paid off in the long run.<br /><b><i><br /></i></b><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jtXBCj94PiY/VsC_FP1tQiI/AAAAAAAAnaQ/JNDeRadmJ5s/s1600/lessons_apartment_hunting_01.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jtXBCj94PiY/VsC_FP1tQiI/AAAAAAAAnaQ/JNDeRadmJ5s/s1600/lessons_apartment_hunting_01.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">My balcony is nowhere near this pretty right now (we're still in the dead of winter after all), but just wait for summer!&nbsp;</td></tr></tbody></table><b><i><br /></i></b><i style="font-weight: bold;">three: Get help and advice from someone you can trust. </i>This can be your parents, a trusted friend or a family member, or a real estate agent you can rely on. Personally, I didn't work with a realtor - I honestly didn't see the point. I did all the legwork myself: I scoured the listings, called the proprietors and agencies, asked my own questions and formed my own opinions. I spent a lot of time talking with my family and friends about their experiences with apartment hunting and living. And since in the past 10 years I was living in 9 different places, I also had a slew of my own experiences I could refer to.<br /><br />I wouldn't necessarily advise you to do the same thing: if you feel like the realtor could help you and be useful to you, by all means, go for it. I'm well aware that not everyone can dedicate as much time and effort to searching for the right place as I did: people have demanding jobs and families to take care of, and what I did is not realistic for everyone (and not everyone is the crazy compulsive researcher and note-taker that I am :) If you manage to find a dedicated real estate agent willing to listen to you and to take your needs and wants in consideration, than you hit the jackpot. Do what feels right and doable for you, and if you do want to work with a realtor, don't settle on the first one that crosses your path. Always get a second opinion.<br /><b><i><br /></i></b><i style="font-weight: bold;">four: Visit as many apartments as you can, but don't judge the book by its cover. </i>Seeing as many apartments as humanly possible played a tremendous part in finding my own perfect place. With a huge help from my dad, I was able to pinpoint a list of things to pay attention to and the questions to ask. In the end, I was able to forget the facade completely, and focus on the bones - that's what I like to call the things that truly matter in an apartment. I'm going to talk about this topic more in depth in my next post, so stay tuned.<br /><b><i><br /></i></b><i style="font-weight: bold;">five: Good things take time... </i>You have to be patient. If you need to deal with your living situation in a hurry, I would advise you to rent a temporary place for a few months, and focus all your attention on looking for the right place to buy. Purchasing a home is an enormous commitment. It's not something you can change your mind about in 6 months. You have to figure out what you want and need first, before signing the contract or taking that scary huge loan - and that's where the lessons no. 1 and 2 listed above come in handy.<br /><br />People are usually surprised to learn that it took me almost a year to find and buy my apartment. But that's because I knew exactly what I was looking for, and I was willing to wait for it. Of course, I had experienced many moments of doubt, thinking that I was being too difficult and too picky. There were times when I thought I would never <i>ever</i>&nbsp;find a place that fulfilled all my requirements. And as it goes, I was actually going to chicken out, and put an offer on a different apartment (one that met two of my non-negotiables, but didn't have a balcony). But right when I was about to call the proprietor to set up that last meeting, I stumbled upon the listing for my current place, and the rest is history. And that's where my last important lesson in apartment hunting comes in...&nbsp;<i style="font-weight: bold;">&nbsp;</i><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><i style="font-weight: bold;">six: ...but you have to be able to act fast. </i>Listen to you gut. You know how they say that you'll know the right place for you the moment you see it? Well, I never really believed that, but in the end, it worked 1000% for me. I knew this was the right place the moment I entered the door. But it wasn't thanks to some mysterious illumination that came out of nowhere. It was the result of all the things listed above: doing my research, seeing as many options as possible, having my priorities straight and knowing what I wanted from my place and from my neighborhood. Once I had all this figured out, it was just a matter of acting fast.<br /><br />See, when it comes to real estate, my neighborhood is probably the most competitive one in the entire city. Apartments like mine sell in two or three days. None of them is listed for more than a week. You see it one day and the next - <i>POOF</i>, it is gone. You don't get to take a few days to think it through. If you do, the apartment will most likely be sold before you make your mind. This is where all that thorough research and all the learning comes in handy. It did for me: by the end of the first visit, I was closing the deal. Three days later we were signing the contract. I was wiring the money to the proprietor the next day, and mere three week after the first visit, I was holding the keys to my first own place. It may have been fast, but it was also one of the best decisions of my life.<br /><br />Whew, this was one word-heavy post. I could probably go on and on about this topic, but I'm going to let you breathe a little bit before revealing the BEFORE pictures on Wednesday. Beware: it's going to be <i>really&nbsp;</i>ugly! Can't wait :)<br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-27379059086821375192016-02-14T10:45:00.003+01:002016-02-14T10:45:54.000+01:00Weekend notes & link love #36<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RdwQS6Bb8bc/VsBMkaIxR1I/AAAAAAAAnZk/vl2YdrorOAA/s1600/weekend_notes_36.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RdwQS6Bb8bc/VsBMkaIxR1I/AAAAAAAAnZk/vl2YdrorOAA/s1600/weekend_notes_36.jpg" /></a></div><br />How often do you say "I'm fine" without really meaning it? <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://theeverygirl.com/stop-saying-youre-fine" target="_blank">This piece made me think hard</a></i>, and I realized that I do this way too often. And I think it's something I should reconsider, because as Daryl puts it: "<i>You should feel comfortable talking about the things that matter to you." </i>(via <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://theeverygirl.com/stop-saying-youre-fine" target="_blank">The Everygirl</a></i>)<br /><br />When we are constantly hustling and rushing from one task to another, it can be difficult to step back and evaluate what's working and what's not. <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://theglitterguide.com/2016/02/04/6-ways-to-make-your-life-healthier-and-more-vibrant/" target="_blank">Erin's tips on making your life healthier and more vibrant</a></i>&nbsp;made me stop and think for a while about the things I could do to improve my wellbeing. What about you? (via <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://theglitterguide.com/2016/02/04/6-ways-to-make-your-life-healthier-and-more-vibrant/" target="_blank">The Glitter Guide</a></i>)<br /><br />Are we all <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://theeverygirl.com/addicted-to-busy-when-busy-is-really-avoidance" target="_blank">addicted to busy?</a> </i>And what can we do about it? This is such an important and thought provoking piece! (via <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://theeverygirl.com/addicted-to-busy-when-busy-is-really-avoidance" target="_blank">The Everygirl</a></i>)<br /><br />For the past two weeks, I've been having so much fun experimenting with my brand new Bullet journal! (read the <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/inspired-by-bullet-journal.html" target="_blank">backstory here</a></i>) I'm still figuring some things out, but already, having one notebook instead 10+ is proving to be invaluable to my mental health. And since Kara has been the main source of inspiration when it comes to BuJo, I loved reading about <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.bohoberry.com/bullet-journal-lessons-learned-in-6-months/" target="_blank">the lessons she learned in 6 months of using this system</a>. </i>(via <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.bohoberry.com/bullet-journal-lessons-learned-in-6-months/" target="_blank">Boho Berry</a></i>)<br /><br />As I'm slowly nearing my way to my 30th birthday this year, I'm thinking a lot about all the lessons I've learned in my twenties, the great things that I experienced but also the mistakes that I made. That's why I really loved <i><b><a href="http://www.megbiram.com/6-things-i-wish-i-would-have-done-in-my-20s/" target="_blank">Meg's list of things she wishes she would have done in her 20s</a>. </b></i>I fully subscribe to them all! (via <a href="http://www.megbiram.com/6-things-i-wish-i-would-have-done-in-my-20s/" target="_blank"><i><b>Meg Biram</b></i></a>) <br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;">And a few things you may have missed on The Charming Avenue:</span><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Qna3eZ83ZMo/VsBMkmk_7tI/AAAAAAAAnZo/owk5m_ut0iM/s1600/currently_inspired_by_15.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Qna3eZ83ZMo/VsBMkmk_7tI/AAAAAAAAnZo/owk5m_ut0iM/s1600/currently_inspired_by_15.jpg" /></a></div><br /><b><i><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/12-healthy-habits-to-develop-in-2016.html" target="_blank">12 healthy habits I want to develop in 2016</a>.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/books-to-inspire-your-best-2016.html" target="_blank">12 books to inspire your best 2016</a>.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/recipe-roundup-beet-inspiration.html" target="_blank">My favorite beet recipes to experiment with</a>.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/currently-inspired-by-15.html" target="_blank">Things I'm currently inspired by</a>.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-43294256760054196432016-02-11T10:00:00.000+01:002016-02-11T10:00:09.386+01:00Currently inspired by #15<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-5tdTJBxVdDU/VrwuhFom9lI/AAAAAAAAnZE/kKPrJtewuPo/s1600/currently_inspired_by_15.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-5tdTJBxVdDU/VrwuhFom9lI/AAAAAAAAnZE/kKPrJtewuPo/s1600/currently_inspired_by_15.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><i><b>Images via: <a href="http://leelalicious.com/irish-soda-bread-with-spelt-flour/" target="_blank">Leelalicious</a> // <a href="http://theglitterguide.com/2016/02/03/diy-romantic-floral-bath-salts/" target="_blank">The Glitter Guide</a> // <a href="http://waitingonmartha.com/succulent-arrangements/" target="_blank">Waiting on Martha</a> // <a href="http://www.cookrepublic.com/spicy-cauliflower-falafel-with-beetroot-dip-vegan/" target="_blank">Cook republic</a></b></i></td></tr></tbody></table><br />It's Thursday morning, and after a few nights of insomnia, I'm in a perfect zombie-like state. All I can think of right now is how much I'd love to return to the comfort of my bed and just doze the morning away. Instead, work is begging for my full attention, so I'm using my short coffee break to get lost in the dark hole that is Pinterest, and daydream about all the fabulous and inspiring things I would do, if I didn't have the energy levels of a rheumatic mosquito. Once I get my zzz's in check, I'll definitely be giving that spelt flour bread a whirl! What is currently inspiring you?<br /><br /><br /><i><b>Irish soda bread with spelt flour. </b></i>(via <a href="http://leelalicious.com/irish-soda-bread-with-spelt-flour/" target="_blank"><i><b>Leelalicious</b></i></a>)<br /><br /><i><b>DIY floral bath salts. </b></i>(via <a href="http://theglitterguide.com/2016/02/03/diy-romantic-floral-bath-salts/" target="_blank"><i><b>The Glitter Guide</b></i></a>)<br /><br /><i><b>DIY succulent arrangemetns. </b></i>(via <a href="http://waitingonmartha.com/succulent-arrangements/" target="_blank"><i><b>Waiting on Martha</b></i></a>)<br /><br /><i><b>Spicy cauliflower falafel with beetroot dip. </b></i>(via <a href="http://www.cookrepublic.com/spicy-cauliflower-falafel-with-beetroot-dip-vegan/" target="_blank"><i><b>Cook republic</b></i></a>)<br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-28010837800709851422016-02-10T10:00:00.000+01:002016-02-10T10:00:16.258+01:00Books to inspire your best 2016<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-mcCUd2xUWSc/Vroy0q6OANI/AAAAAAAAnYo/OeUQl8eY-H0/s1600/best_2016_books_04.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-mcCUd2xUWSc/Vroy0q6OANI/AAAAAAAAnYo/OeUQl8eY-H0/s1600/best_2016_books_04.jpg" /></a></div>Before internet and Google rolled around, I used to look up all the answers to my questions in the books. Nowadays, I spend majority of my time online, but that doesn't prevent me from being the biggest bookworm around. Quite the contrary. To me, nothing beats that moment when I settle down on my couch with a good book in my hands. It's one of those rare moments when I'm able to slow down my racing mind, focus on one thing entirely and feel entertained and inspired in the process.<br /><br />When I was putting together this list of books to inspire my 2016, I kept in mind a few of my priorities for this year: growing this blog, growing and expanding my business and managing my time better. It took me quite some time to do my research and pick the books that seemed right for me, but now that the list is complete, I'm beyond excited to dive in, take copious notes and implement all the lessons learned along the way.<br /><br />And per usual, I would love to know: do you have any books that influenced positively your life and that you would recommend? <br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VsteIMXheNg/Vrovhw8_RlI/AAAAAAAAnYc/86eLqjM-Kcg/s1600/best_2016_books_01.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VsteIMXheNg/Vrovhw8_RlI/AAAAAAAAnYc/86eLqjM-Kcg/s1600/best_2016_books_01.jpg" /></a></div><br /><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Girlboss-Sophi-Amoruso/9780143108597/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>Sophia Amoruso: #Girlboss</b></i></a>. This book has been all the rage among bloggers for the past two years, but somehow I never got around to reading it, until now. From a school dropout committing petty theft and taking random jobs for health insurance, Sophia moved on to build the Nasty Gal empire, a company worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Sharing her story and her own nuggets of wisdom gleaned along the way, she demonstrates how you can find your own unique path to success. Even if it's one that's windy and lined with naysayers.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Miracle-Morning-Hal-Elrod/9780979019715/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>Hal Elrod: Miracle morning</b></i></a>. You may have already heard that plenty of successful people wake up well before sunrise, and use those quiet hours to work on their passion projects or to truly focus without interruptions on work issues in need of solving. I myself have always been a morning person, but I've never really thought of ways my morning routine could influence and change my life and my success. This book is supposed to do just that: show us how to wake up each day with more energy, motivation and focus to make things happen.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/You-are-Badass-Jen-Sincero/9780762447695/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>Jen Sincero: You are a badass</b></i></a>. Besides having the most kick-ass title of them all, this book is also marketed as the self-help book for people who desperately want to improve their lives but don't want to get busted doing it. Its purpose is to help you identify and change the self-sabotaging thoughts and belief, and create a life you will love. Filled with blunt and sassy no-nonsense advice, it's both inspiring <i>and</i> fun.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Essentialism-Greg-McKeown/9780753555163/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>Greg McKeown: Essentialism, The disciplined pursuit of less</b></i></a>. There are three questions to ask yourself first:<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; 1. Gave you ever stretched yourself too thin?<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; 2. Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; 3. Are you often busy, but not productive?<br /><br />Way too often, my answer to these questions is a resounding yes. That's why I guess (and hope) that this book could be useful for me. It's not a book about getting <i>more</i> done in less time. It's about getting only the right things done, through discerning what is essential, and discarding the clutter (especially the mental one).<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vdL5jlcQJN4/VrovyvVwWZI/AAAAAAAAnYk/ILDUSxdkZrA/s1600/best_2016_books_02.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vdL5jlcQJN4/VrovyvVwWZI/AAAAAAAAnYk/ILDUSxdkZrA/s1600/best_2016_books_02.jpg" /></a></div><br /><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/The-School-of-Greatness-Lewis-Howes/9781623365967/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>Lewis Howes: The school of greatness</b></i></a>. I'm not a regular reader of <a href="http://lewishowes.com/blog/" target="_blank"><i><b>Lewis' blog</b></i></a>, but when I stumble upon it every now and then, it's always chock-full of no-nonsense and inspiring advice. In his book, Lewis shares the essential tips and habits for successful life he gathered in interviewing his "heroes" and mentors on his podcast. His basic premise is that greatness is cultivated from within, and that success has nothing to do with luck or good fortune. Motivating, right?<br /><br /><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Do-the-Work/9781936891375/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>Steven Pressfield: Do the work</b></i></a>. There is one question present throughout all Pressfield's books on creativity: Could <i>you </i>be getting in your way of producing great work? Or, in different words, is your resistance preventing you from finishing the work you have started? And how do you even recognize the work that truly matters? I think these are the questions any creative person asks at one point or another. And Pressfield may have the answer: instead of waiting for great ideas to just <i>happen</i>, you have to start actually <i>doing</i> the work. Beat the resistance. Take action. This books is your roadmap for taking your project from Page one to The End.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Camille-Styles-Entertaining/9780062297273/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>Camille Styles: Entertaining</b></i></a>. If I should pick just one coffee table book to save from a burning house, it would be this one. Camille is my favorite blogger ever, and my most trusted source of inspiration. I know that whenever I'm in need of a little bit of inspiration in food, entertaining, healthy living or life in general, I can always turn to her. And because life shouldn't be all about work and hustle, I have Camille to remind me to celebrate the everyday moments and live my life as stylishly as possible.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Daring-Greatly-Brene-Brown/9781592408412/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>Brené Brown: Daring greatly</b></i></a>. Being vulnerable isn't something we're encouraged to do these days. In the present culture of "bigger, better, stronger and more, always more", admitting our fears and doubts may seem really intimidating. Putting ourselves out there is risky. But avoiding fear and vulnerability altogether can prevent us from achieving our goals and really hurt us in the long run. This book is about finding your courage within your vulnerability, and that is definitely something I should learn how to do.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8KhB99tdavk/VroviiBag7I/AAAAAAAAnYc/QXki-QNpPFo/s1600/best_2016_books_03.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8KhB99tdavk/VroviiBag7I/AAAAAAAAnYc/QXki-QNpPFo/s1600/best_2016_books_03.jpg" style="cursor: move;" /></a></div><br /><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/The--100-Startup/9781447286318/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>Chris Guillebeau: The $100 startup</b></i></a>. Chris is here to prove that in order to build a successful business, you don't have to quit your day job, take a huge loan and plunge into the unknown, hoping for the best. You can start small, commit a little bit of money and some more time, and wait to be sure it would be successful before making the leap. This book is full of advice from people who were able to turn their passions into profitable businesses, and the most important would be <i>"in the battle between planning and action, action wins."</i><br /><br /><br /><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Fire-Starter-Sessions-Danielle-Laporte/9780307952110/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>Danielle Laporte: The Fire starter sessions</b></i></a>. This is supposed to be THE book to give you the right kick in the pants when you feel overwhelmed (<i>me</i>), unsure of your next step (<i>me</i>) and stuck (<i>me, me, me</i>). It will walk you through defining your vision, managing your fear of failure to finally making things that truly matter happen.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Manage-Your-Day-to-Day/9781477800676/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>Jocelyn K. Glei: Manage your day to day</b></i></a>. I'm all about productivity these days. Time (alongside my health) is my most precious resource, and I would love to be able to use it more wisely, and to my best advantage. There are days when I feel like a dog chasing its tail - working my butt off, only to realize at the end of the day that I haven't accomplished the most important tasks on my list. This book is a compilation of advice from some of the most creative minds (like Leo Babauta or Seth Godin), and I'm hoping to glean as many nuggets of wisdom on using my time better as possible.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Eat-That-Frog-Brian-Tracy/9781444765427/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>Brian Tracy: Eat that frog</b></i></a>. This is the ultimate book for my procrastinating self. I'm forever striving to do more with my time, fit more things in my schedule, but I'm not really sure this is the best approach to take. Probably not. What's good about this book is that it doesn't dwell on explaining the psychology of procrastination - it gets right to the action and explains all the steps you can take every day to become more productive.<br /><br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-84285006252352260532016-02-09T10:00:00.000+01:002016-03-01T07:50:10.134+01:0012 healthy habits to develop in 2016<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-qBOrnZlsFPk/Vrd1N5_5HbI/AAAAAAAAnXw/hQ2GkqTYmF0/s1600/healthy_habits_2016_03_1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-qBOrnZlsFPk/Vrd1N5_5HbI/AAAAAAAAnXw/hQ2GkqTYmF0/s1600/healthy_habits_2016_03_1.jpg" /></a></div><br />As you <a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/the-charming-content.html" target="_blank"><i><b>may remember</b></i></a>, taking better care of myself and becoming more fit and healthy is probably my biggest goal for 2016. It's the stepping stone for all my other activities, dreams and plans - without being healthy, I simply cannot focus on achieving my goals. And I think I've been making quite an effort, working out daily, cutting back on my chocolate &amp; candy intake, trying to get at least 7 hours of sleep and bringing my homemade lunches to work so I could avoid the copious and not-always-healthy restaurant meals.<br /><br />But true to my perpetually unsatisfied-with-myself self, I recently caught myself thinking about how I was not doing <i>enough</i>. And once I realized what I was doing to myself, I had to take a deep breath, calm down the chatter in my head and turn the whole thing upside down. Of course I could always do more. Try harder. But the most important thing I should do for myself in terms of healthy living is shedding this "all or nothing" mentality.<br /><br />Years of bad habits aren't going to vanish in a blink of an eye. And if I'm going to try and change everything at once, that's a surefire way to set myself up for failure. That's why I've decided to focus on one healthy habit each month. From what I've read from various sources, it takes something between 21 and 28 days to build a new habit, so I'm hoping that each month I'll have enough time to do something good both for my body and for my soul. I want to try different things to see what works for me and what doesn't. Let's see how it works out! Baby steps, right? <br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">January: Work out daily. </i>I'm extremely happy to report that this one has been a huge success so far. From the queen of "I can't work out today, because..." excuses, I've become an endorphin junkie, climbing on my bike each and every day, lifting weights and doing sun salutations first thing in the morning. I honestly don't even recognize myself, and it feels so so good!<br /><br /><b><i>February: Drink lemon water first thing in the morning.&nbsp;</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>March: </i></b><b><i><b><i>Practice yoga each morning.</i></b></i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>April: </i></b><b><i><b><i>Establish morning and evening routines.</i></b>&nbsp;</i></b><b><i> </i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oCeQgyAA0yw/Vrd1NsQ8hEI/AAAAAAAAnXs/sVKwPQ-xfrc/s1600/healthy_habits_2016_02_1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oCeQgyAA0yw/Vrd1NsQ8hEI/AAAAAAAAnXs/sVKwPQ-xfrc/s1600/healthy_habits_2016_02_1.jpg" /></a></div><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>May: Practice being kind to myself and giving myself grace.&nbsp;</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>June: </i></b><b><i>Learn to manage my stress levels.</i></b><br /><br /><b><i><b><i>July:&nbsp;</i></b></i></b><b><i>Learn to meditate.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i><b><i>August: </i></b>Master the weekly meal planning and prepping.</i></b><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-70_vpFcV5R4/Vrd1NgnpEDI/AAAAAAAAnX0/OEB9WzFlkqo/s1600/healthy_habits_2016_01_1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-70_vpFcV5R4/Vrd1NgnpEDI/AAAAAAAAnX0/OEB9WzFlkqo/s1600/healthy_habits_2016_01_1.jpg" /></a></div><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>September:&nbsp; </i></b><b><i>Work on strengthening my willpower. </i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><i style="font-weight: bold;">October: Always start my day with breakfast. </i><b><i></i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>November: Cut back on alcohol.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i>December: Make time daily to sit down for a while in silence, and just think and reflect upon what's going on around you. &nbsp;</i></b><br /><br />Now it's your turn to tell me: what healthy habits do you want to adopt this year? Any particular areas you want to focus on?<br /><b><i> </i></b><br /><b><i> </i></b>Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com5tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-57933336343639642022016-02-08T10:00:00.000+01:002016-02-08T10:00:17.788+01:00Recipe roundup: Beet the inspiration<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-er8NjnBOI4o/VlIbm93nzcI/AAAAAAAAmuA/TkHws-UOXyo/s1600/beet_recipes_1.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-er8NjnBOI4o/VlIbm93nzcI/AAAAAAAAmuA/TkHws-UOXyo/s1600/beet_recipes_1.png" /></a></div>Please excuse the pun in the title of this post - I couldn't resist :) Upping my beet game has been on my to do list for quite some time and I've finally got around to rounding up some of the most inspiring recipes to try. Beet is one of those vegetables that I really hated as a kid, but one I've came to really appreciate as an adult. I know that its rich, earthy taste is rather specific, and it doesn't have to suit everyone, but I personally enjoy it, and now that the beets are in season, I'm planning to take full advantage of their vibrant color and health benefits.<br /><br />I usually cook a bunch of them in water, peel and store them in the fridge, and then throw them in whatever salad or power bowl I'm currently putting together. I even tried a beet smoothie, and it was an interesting experience - definitely something to do again! But I'd love to become a little bit more adventurous: I'm really tempted by a beet soup with coconut milk (it sounds like a pretty exotic combo to me), the beet &amp; feta tart looks absolutely heavenly, and the veggie burger with beets sounds like the perfect lunch to bring to the office with me. But what draws me in the most are the beet ravioli: mastering the homemade pasta is currently on top of my wish list and these deep red dumplings are as beautiful as ever.<br /><br />Now it's your turn to tell me: do you have a favorite way to prepare beets? Do you even like them? I would love to know!<br /><br />Happy Monday, guys! <br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8gR9CmwJ04U/VlIblhSHvMI/AAAAAAAAmt8/lSIh5OM-SMQ/s1600/beet_recipes_05.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8gR9CmwJ04U/VlIblhSHvMI/AAAAAAAAmt8/lSIh5OM-SMQ/s1600/beet_recipes_05.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><b><i><a href="http://www.sugaretal.com/2014/07/09/beetroot-and-feta-tart/" target="_blank">via Sugat et al.</a></i></b></td></tr></tbody></table>Beet &amp; feta tart (via <b><i><a href="http://www.sugaretal.com/2014/07/09/beetroot-and-feta-tart/" target="_blank">Sugar et al.</a>)</i></b><br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-yuMfGsQ7ThU/VlIbkEmI1oI/AAAAAAAAmt4/B3JbNxn5jcM/s1600/beet_recipes_04.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-yuMfGsQ7ThU/VlIbkEmI1oI/AAAAAAAAmt4/B3JbNxn5jcM/s1600/beet_recipes_04.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><b><i><a href="http://www.theprettyblog.com/food/beetroot-soup-recipe/" target="_blank">via The Pretty Blog</a></i></b></td></tr></tbody></table>Beet soup (via <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.theprettyblog.com/food/beetroot-soup-recipe/" target="_blank">The Pretty Blog</a></i>)<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Mym1cIHvCIo/VlIbjtdoegI/AAAAAAAAmt0/Tj2mOgdHkZs/s1600/beet_recipes_02.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Mym1cIHvCIo/VlIbjtdoegI/AAAAAAAAmt0/Tj2mOgdHkZs/s1600/beet_recipes_02.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><b><i><a href="http://www.theawesomegreen.com/the-ultimate-veggie-burger/" target="_blank">via The Awesome Green</a></i></b></td></tr></tbody></table>The ultimate veggie burger (via <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.theawesomegreen.com/the-ultimate-veggie-burger/" target="_blank">The Awesome Green</a></i>)<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-h2cUjoDbz_s/VlIbjSH0rWI/AAAAAAAAmts/SsAL4aDLuJA/s1600/beet_recipes_03.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-h2cUjoDbz_s/VlIbjSH0rWI/AAAAAAAAmts/SsAL4aDLuJA/s1600/beet_recipes_03.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><b><i><a href="http://www.purevege.com/2012/04/beet-dumplings.html" target="_blank">via Pure Vegetarian</a></i></b></td></tr></tbody></table>Beet dumplings (via <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.purevege.com/2012/04/beet-dumplings.html" target="_blank">Pure Vegetarian</a></i>)<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yV_VpJVryCs/VlIbjsfuahI/AAAAAAAAmtw/pW_pfA8n-xM/s1600/beet_recipes_01.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yV_VpJVryCs/VlIbjsfuahI/AAAAAAAAmtw/pW_pfA8n-xM/s1600/beet_recipes_01.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><b><i><a href="http://emiliemurmure.com/lautomne-soupe-betterave-pomme-lait-de-coco-gingembre/" target="_blank">via Emilie Murmure</a></i></b></td></tr></tbody></table>Beet, apple &amp; coconut milk soup (via <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://emiliemurmure.com/lautomne-soupe-betterave-pomme-lait-de-coco-gingembre/" target="_blank">Emilie Murmure</a></i>)<br /><br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-81743407205662669382016-02-07T10:00:00.000+01:002016-02-07T10:00:18.476+01:00Weekend notes & link love #35<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-bIgnVpMw2Ts/VrcCnUy3sZI/AAAAAAAAnXU/3pXLksznE10/s1600/weekend_notes_35.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-bIgnVpMw2Ts/VrcCnUy3sZI/AAAAAAAAnXU/3pXLksznE10/s1600/weekend_notes_35.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><b><i><a href="http://waitingonmartha.com/8-easy-indoor-houseplants-you-cant-kill/" target="_blank">Image via Waiting on Martha</a></i></b></td></tr></tbody></table><br />Although I'm skipping Valentine's day festivities altogether this year, I'm still not opposed to the idea of treating myself to a tiny (or not so tiny) little something that would make me smile. <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.megbiram.com/valentines-day-gift-guide-for-the-ladies/" target="_blank">Meg's list</a> </i>is full of stylish and beautiful options, and I love that each item comes with an experience inspiration. Be sure to check it out - especially the travel section! (via <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.megbiram.com/valentines-day-gift-guide-for-the-ladies/" target="_blank">Meg Biram</a></i>)<br /><br />I may be single right now, but I found myself nodding my head in approval all throughout reading <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://camillestyles.com/valentines-day/how-to-keep-romance-alive/" target="_blank">Camille's post on keeping the romance alive</a>. </i>Grand gestures are rather useless, if the everyday kindness is nowhere to be found! After all, it's what you do every day, not once in a while, that truly matters! (via <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://camillestyles.com/valentines-day/how-to-keep-romance-alive/" target="_blank">Camille Styles</a></i>)<br /><br />Becoming more organized is one of my biggest goals for 2016, and <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://justagirlandherblog.com/" target="_blank">Abby's blog</a> </i>is definitely a huge source of inspiration. <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://justagirlandherblog.com/how-to-get-organized-when-you-live-in-a-small-house/" target="_blank">Her tips on how to get organized while living in a small space</a></i>&nbsp;are all worth a try! (via <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://justagirlandherblog.com/how-to-get-organized-when-you-live-in-a-small-house/" target="_blank">Abby Lawson - Just a girl and her blog</a></i>)<br /><br />I've always thought of myself as having the ultimate black thumb: I was even able to kill cacti, which tends to be almost impossible! But ever since I got my own place, and started experimenting with different plants, I'm getting slightly better (I have killed a kalanchoe, but my orchids are still alive!). So<a href="http://waitingonmartha.com/8-easy-indoor-houseplants-you-cant-kill/" target="_blank"> </a><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://waitingonmartha.com/8-easy-indoor-houseplants-you-cant-kill/" target="_blank">this list of 8 houseplants that you can't kill</a> </i>comes in really handy! I'm really curious to see how many can survive on my watch :) (via <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://waitingonmartha.com/8-easy-indoor-houseplants-you-cant-kill/" target="_blank">Waiting on Martha</a></i>)<br /><br /><b><i><span style="font-size: large;">And a few things you might have missed on The Charming Avenue:</span></i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/--npSRO9UJAQ/VrcCnkMeZZI/AAAAAAAAnXY/xfU1cbpirC8/s1600/weekend_notes_35_2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/--npSRO9UJAQ/VrcCnkMeZZI/AAAAAAAAnXY/xfU1cbpirC8/s1600/weekend_notes_35_2.jpg" /></a></div><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/january-chic-list.html" target="_blank">A list of things that made my January more beautiful</a>.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/february-editorial-letter.html" target="_blank">My first editorial letter</a>.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/on-my-nightstand-february-2016.html" target="_blank">My first monothematic monthly reading list. Hint: it's all about Provence!</a>&nbsp;</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/a-few-reads-to-inspire-your-february.html" target="_blank">A few reads to inspire your best February.</a></i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/02/real-talk-closing-gap.html" target="_blank">Real talk: On closing the gap, honing your skills and becoming better at what you do every day.</a>&nbsp;</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i><br /></i></b>Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-72716118918108917972016-02-04T10:21:00.000+01:002016-02-04T10:21:43.874+01:00Real talk: Closing the gap<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8JJiRrn2kmU/U_mqLVZtRUI/AAAAAAAAQvE/fwYzv29jsnk/s1600/ira_glass.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8JJiRrn2kmU/U_mqLVZtRUI/AAAAAAAAQvE/fwYzv29jsnk/s1600/ira_glass.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><br />“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”<br /><br />&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; - Ira Glass<br /><br />I read this quote over the weekend and I couldn't stop thinking about it ever since. I'm sure that this is something every creative person can relate to, and I find these words immensely inspiring and encouraging. It is true that often I am my own worst critic. I wouldn't go as far as calling myself a perfectionist, but I'm sure about my taste and I have a pretty specific set of standards that I measure my work against. And I'll go ahead and admit that I'm not always completely satisfied with the results of my efforts, especially when it comes to this blog. Raise your hands if you ever went a few days without publishing a single post because no idea that you'd come up with, written down or photographed seemed good enough to go online. (<i>*raising my hand sheepishly*</i>) I'm struggling with this more often than I care to admit. <br /><br />But you know what? That's completely fine. I'm still learning my craft. And I never want to stop learning. To me, learning, making mistakes, scratching my work completely, deleting my words and starting all over again is the ultimate sign that I'm moving forward. That I'm evolving into a person that I'd love to become. That I'd rather step outside my comfort zone, challenge myself over and over again, stumble and fall, and then get up and try again, than stay safe and comfortable in my own little corner.<br /><br />And I have Ira Glass to thank for reminding me that great successes and achievements aren't due to magic. We owe them to our own hard work, to the countless hours dedicated to honing our skills and to the refusal to give up. It may seem pretty obvious, but I'm the first to admit that it can be so easily forgotten in our world filled with picture-perfect Instagram photos, envy-inducing Facebook statuses and flawless blog posts.<br /><br />This is one quote that I'll make sure to keep in mind whenever I doubt myself or my work. I hope we all can do the same.<br /><br />I wish you all a successful, productive and happy February! <br /><br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-8668901445601690112016-02-03T10:00:00.000+01:002016-02-03T10:00:22.551+01:00A few reads to inspire your February<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-TXnjkpw44ls/VrDuL0iTm3I/AAAAAAAAnWs/z5PsAQab0ic/s1600/february_inspiring_reads_1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-TXnjkpw44ls/VrDuL0iTm3I/AAAAAAAAnWs/z5PsAQab0ic/s1600/february_inspiring_reads_1.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><b><i>Images via: <a href="http://theeverygirl.com/embracing-rest-in-a-culture-of-busy" target="_blank">The Everygirl</a> // <a href="http://www.tennisidentity.com/2016/01/nike-at-the-australian-open-2016-womens-tennis-fashion.html" target="_blank">Tennis identity</a> // <a href="http://camillestyles.com/wellness/life-lessons/how-to-create-a-personal-brand/?slide=1" target="_blank">Camile Styles</a> // <a href="http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2014/08/5-secrets-to-success.html" target="_blank">A beautiful mess</a></i></b></td></tr></tbody></table><br />Tell me guys, how often do you experience those blah days, when you feel like your mojo is nowhere to be found, when you feel overwhelmed with all you have on your plate, and when you have no idea how to move forward? I'm going to come clean, and admit, that this occurs to me more often than I would like to. And if you don't experience days when you feel like the inspiration is gone for good, when all you want to do is curl up on the couch and watch Food Network, or read distopian YA novels (enter whatever seemingly unproductive activity strikes your fancy here) all day long, then you're a superhuman, and I tip my hat off to you and go pour myself another glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Seriously, I think we all have our moments of weakness and doubt, and when they occur to me, I often turn to a secret Pinterest board, where I stash all the inspiring, uplifting and motivating reads I come across. And I'm sharing a few of the best ones with you today, hoping that they can do the same for you: inspire, motivate and give you a little kick in the pants whenever you need it. <br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://theeverygirl.com/embracing-rest-in-a-culture-of-busy" target="_blank">Embracing rest in the culture of busy</a>. </i>This one really struck home with me. "Busy" and "hustle" are the master words of our times, and since we all "have as many hours in a day as Beyoncé" (I really, <i>really</i>&nbsp;don't like this quote, as <a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/the-charming-content.html" target="_blank"><i style="font-weight: bold;">evidenced here</i></a>), we should be productive 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, right? Wrong. Life and work are always ebbing and flowing, and I think we all could benefit from learning to use the down periods to refocus, recenter and take care of ourselves. To make our well being a priority instead of trying to uncover the "next best idea" in an instant.<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">"I'm not a robot." </i>On Saturday morning, I was watching Serena Williams lose the Australian Open final to Angelique Kerber, and I was like "whoa! what's going on here?" I've been a long time Serena's fan, admiring her strength, her tenacity, and her ability to always work harder, push herself more, do better. And then I <b><i><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlQCorbf5W4" target="_blank">watched the post-match press conference</a></i></b>, and she said something that really struck me: <i>"I mean, every time I walk in this room, everyone expects me to win every single match, every single day of my life. As much as I would like to be a robot, I'm not. And I try to. I do the best that I can." </i>It was so wonderfully honest and vulnerable, and I love her even more for it. Because we all have those days, when no matter how hard we try, it's not enough. We fail, we lose, we screw things up. And you know what? That's okay. Because it means that we still have things to learn. And when we learn, we move forward. And I want to remember Serena's words forever, because they're a powerful lesson in giving ourselves grace.<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://camillestyles.com/wellness/life-lessons/how-to-create-a-personal-brand?slide=1" target="_blank">How to create an authentic personal brand</a>. </i>I know this term gets thrown around rather liberally these days, but defining, building and cultivating a personal brand is something that we all should consider, whether we are looking for a new job, building an online business or striving for a promotion. It is something I have been thinking about a lot lately, especially since went through a recent&nbsp;<i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/the-charming-avenue.html" target="_blank">rebranding</a> </i>of my blog. Building an authentic brand can seem daunting, especially since we spend so much time comparing our lives to the perfect Instagram representations of other people's lives. I love that Camille breaks the process into 8 easy-to-follow steps and at the same time urges us to remember that all we have to do is take one step at a time. Because &nbsp;<i>"The hard work and good decision-making that we make day in day out is what lays the foundation for how others ultimately see us." - Camille Styles</i><br /><br /><b style="font-style: italic;"><a href="http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2014/08/5-secrets-to-success.html" target="_blank">Secrets to success</a>. </b>This, to me, is a real classic. I must have read it more than a dozen times already, I have printed it out and taped into my career journal, and I find myself going back to it each time I need a little friendly nudge in the right direction. Emma is so honest and inspiring here, sharing her failed dream of acting, and what she accomplished instead - which, by the way, is nothing short of amazing. I love that she stresses the importance of finding your own definition of success, and not subscribing blindly to any other person's definition. The words I love the most, though? <i><span style="background-color: white;">"If you don't have a goal in your life right now that absolutely terrifies you, like you don't even want to tell anyone about it because it's so crazy, get one in your life. Now." - Emma Chapman</span></i><br /><i><br /></i>I would like to know: where do you turn for inspiration when you find yourself stuck in a rut, or when you feel like you've lost your mojo?<br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-17893452781893093022016-02-02T10:00:00.000+01:002016-02-02T10:00:06.572+01:00On my nightstand, February 2016<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--KtDJ7xaG-0/VrBjh5V6s6I/AAAAAAAAnWE/pNpOEwFqa6k/s1600/on_my_nightstand_february_2016_3.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--KtDJ7xaG-0/VrBjh5V6s6I/AAAAAAAAnWE/pNpOEwFqa6k/s1600/on_my_nightstand_february_2016_3.jpg" /></a></div><br />You may have noticed that my <a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/search/label/readinglist" target="_blank"><i><b>monthly reading lists</b></i></a> tend to be all over the place...from fiction to business books, from nonfiction to cookbooks. My reader's taste is pretty eclectic. But I've been toying with the idea of a mono-thematic list for a while. I have always been that studious type - the consummate researcher who likes to read all there is to understand a subject she's currently interested in. And when I was brainstorming the possible February themes, one subject kept coming back over and over again: Provence. It has been the number one on my list of places I want to travel to, and before I do that, I want to gather as many information and tips on what to see/eat/do as humanly possible. Starting with this list: <br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-lB94Of-F-OY/VrBjikjZVWI/AAAAAAAAnWM/KDaCbepdWbQ/s1600/on_my_nightstand_february_2016_1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-lB94Of-F-OY/VrBjikjZVWI/AAAAAAAAnWM/KDaCbepdWbQ/s1600/on_my_nightstand_february_2016_1.jpg" /></a></div><br /><i><b><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Picnic-in-Provence/9781849537001/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Elizabeth Bard: Picnic in Provence</a>. </b></i>A few years back I read and adored <a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Lunch-in-Paris-Elizabeth-Bard/9781849531542/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank"><i><b>Lunch in Paris</b></i></a>, so this was my obvious first choice when it came to picking books on Provence. Elizabeth's writing is as fluid as silk: it pulls you in and seduces you with little tidbits of life in France. And to make it even more perfect, the book is peppered with a whole slew of mouthwatering recipes. From a charming apartment it Paris Elizabeth and her family relocate to a tiny Provencal village of Céreste. There they launch an artisanal ice cream shop and discover the charms and hardships of living <i>à la provençale. </i>This is bound to be a delicious read!<br /><br /><i><b><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Provence-and-the-Cote-D-Azur/9781452140513/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Janelle McCulloch: Provence and Côte d'Azur</a>. </b></i>From the enchanting villages of Provence to the glamorous and stunning coastline of Côte d'Azur, this book covers it all. Keeping away from loud and tourist-packed spots, Janelle focuses on hidden gems that embody the charm of this region: markets overflowing with perfectly ripe produce, quaint cafés, sweeping vistas and cobblestone streets. Plus, the photographs in this book are nothing short of stunning.<br /><br /><i><b><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Paris-to-Provence/9781449427511/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Ethel Brennan, Sara Remington: Paris to Provence, Chidhood memories of food and France</a>. </b></i>Who says Provence, says Provencal cuisine, and that is something I can easily fall in love with. This is a cross between a memoir and a cookbook: Ethel and Sara capture their memories of a childhood spent traveling to France through their beautiful recipes. In short, this books is the taste of France, translated into recipes and pictures.<br /><br /><i><b><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Secret-Provence-Jean-Pierre-Cassely/9782915807127/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Jean-Pierre Cassely: Secret Provence</a>. </b></i>This book is perfect for those who love to wander off the beaten paths. Away from the picturesque villages and vibrant lavender fields, countless hidden gems can be found in this beautiful French region: a statue of pregnant Virgin Mary, a hotel room in a tree, a church in theater, a false volcano. Intriguing, right?<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kJsKRMA50_M/VrBjiXGJk0I/AAAAAAAAnWI/_ng2wDioMrQ/s1600/on_my_nightstand_february_2016_2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kJsKRMA50_M/VrBjiXGJk0I/AAAAAAAAnWI/_ng2wDioMrQ/s1600/on_my_nightstand_february_2016_2.jpg" /></a></div><br /><i><b>Peter Mayle: Provence trilogy (<a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Year-in-Provence-Judith-Clancy-Peter-Mayle/9780140296037/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">A year in Provence</a>, <a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Toujours-Provence-Judith-Clancy-Peter-Mayle/9780140279344/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Toujours Provence</a>, <a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Encore-Provence-Peter-Mayle/9780140242669/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Encore Provence</a>). </b></i>This is an oldie, but somehow I've never read it before. Mayle recounts his experience of moving into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse lost in the middle of Lubéron, where the life is governed by seasons, not by days. You will learn about the truffle trade, about the delights of regional cuisine, about finding gold coins while digging in the garden or about a small town murder mystery. An ideal read to help you escape the ordinary.<br /><br /><i><b><a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Lonely-Planet-Provence--the-Cote-dAzur-Nicol-Williams-Alexis-Averbuck-Lonely-Planet-Oliver-Berry/9781743215661/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">The Lonely Planet's Provence and the Côte d'Azur</a>. </b></i>This one has been revamped and updates just in time for my travel plans. It is supposed to be the most comprehensive travel companion, with essential tips, colorful maps and reviews of what to see and what to skip. This one is a must have!<br /><br />Tell me, what have you been reading lately? Have you read any book on Provence that I've missed?<br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-12871175966649862062016-02-01T10:00:00.000+01:002016-02-01T10:00:04.682+01:00February editorial letter<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Wr5iPYLLlus/Vq8Kxz8o0zI/AAAAAAAAnVs/3FnUQs5s4BY/s1600/february_editorial_letter_02_1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Wr5iPYLLlus/Vq8Kxz8o0zI/AAAAAAAAnVs/3FnUQs5s4BY/s1600/february_editorial_letter_02_1.jpg" /></a></div><br />Happy first day of February! We have somehow misplaced January (seriously, the time has been flying by so fast in 2016!), but as I explained <a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/january-chic-list.html" target="_blank"><i style="font-weight: bold;">yesterday</i></a>, I'm not really sad to see it go. And I'm so excited for this leap month! I have a whole slew of amazing things I'm looking forward to in February - and no, none of them is related to the Valentine's day (this year, I'm skipping the V-day stuff altogether).<br /><br />Most of all, I'm looking forward to celebrating my Dad's birthday - the gift we got him with mom is seriously amazing, if I do say so myself - and I'm kind of wishing I could keep it for myself :) I'm excited to be adding new healthy habits to my daily routine, to working out <a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/january-chic-list.html" target="_blank"><i style="font-weight: bold;">daily</i></a>, to reading more amazing books (hint: this month, my reading list will be centered all around Provence), eating healthy, but delicious food, seeing Best of Broadway show with my mom, and tying up a bunch of loose ends in my apartment.<br /><br />A propos, my apartment. After much thinking and planning, it finally feels like I have my stuff together, and I'm ready to share the whole renovation process with you. Stay tuned for the second half of this month, when I'll be sharing all the good, the bad and the ugly, the before &amp; after pictures and all the lessons I learned along the way.<br /><br />In February, I'll also be sharing a whole slew of things that make me excited and hopeful for 2016: things I want to learn and focus on, healthy habits I want to develop, home resolutions I want to keep up with, or books that will hopefully inspire me to become a better version of myself. I'll be sharing my fail-proof tips to beat the winter blues and what to do when you feel completely overwhelmed with your life. Believe me, I'm myself no stranger to this feeling, and I would also love to hear your perspective.<br /><br />When I was thinking about the words that should define my February, this quote kept running through my mind: <i>"stop wishing, start doing"</i>. There are so many things I've been talking about doing for ages (like sharing my apartment story, or blogging daily, or starting my own business, or writing more...and the list goes on). But wishing and talking about those things without actually <i>doing </i>them is absolutely pointless. So this month, I'm committing to showing up, and doing the work every single day. And if that means waking up earlier to take advantage of my most productive hours, then be it. Who else is with me?<br /><br />xo Ivana<br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-33500997361250375422016-01-31T10:00:00.000+01:002016-01-31T10:00:16.695+01:00January chic list<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-nc5REPTld7Q/VqzvyGTM0SI/AAAAAAAAnVM/Y0a77w8ljds/s1600/january_chic_list_1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-nc5REPTld7Q/VqzvyGTM0SI/AAAAAAAAnVM/Y0a77w8ljds/s1600/january_chic_list_1.jpg" /></a></div><br />Hey guys, how is your weekend going so far? I'm signing in on an odd day to update one of my favorite blog series: the highlights of my month. Even if I have to admit that this time, putting together my list was a lot harder than usually.<br /><br />January was hard. Really hard. After the glorious weeks of Christmas &amp; New Year's farniente, I had the hardest time getting back into the swing of things, and adjusting once again to our crazy work schedule. Then, in mid-January, someone very very close to me had a health scare that left me terrified and worried. I was constantly feeling like I was spinning my wheels, and being pulled in so many different directions, I was unable to find a clarity and focus necessary to move forward. And to top it all off, just last Thursday, I finally mustered the courage to end something that had been eating away at my usual patience, bringing me too much worry and self-doubt. It was both heartbreaking, but also kind of liberating. For the first time in weeks I feel like so much of my brain power has been freed to focus on all the things that truly matter to me!<br /><br />All in all, I'm not really sad to see January go - quite the contrary. I'm pretty excited about what February has in store, and I'm prepared to take full advantage of its 29 days - anyone else as excited that we get to enjoy one extra day in 2016? I have some great things lined up on my February editorial calendar, but before I explain it all in my tomorrow's post, let us have a look at all the things that made me happy in January. Due to the reasons listed above, it took some serious digging through my iPhone photos and journal entries. But in the end, I managed to find quite a few highlights that made this first month of 2016 more beautiful and enjoyable.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-oIA3Fd3g_9w/VqzvyKTTx6I/AAAAAAAAnVQ/IoEdPBlufQ0/s1600/january_chic_list_2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-oIA3Fd3g_9w/VqzvyKTTx6I/AAAAAAAAnVQ/IoEdPBlufQ0/s1600/january_chic_list_2.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><b><i>Images via: <a href="http://www.skinnymom.com/10-best-yoga-moves-for-a-toned-and-tight-body/#/1" target="_blank">one</a> // <a href="http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/11/06/cranberry-orange-muffins/" target="_blank">two</a> // <a href="http://lifelately.com/" target="_blank">three</a> // <a href="http://www.bohoberry.com/bullet-journal/" target="_blank">four</a> // <a href="https://sk.pinterest.com/pin/87679523970254206/" target="_blank">five</a></i></b></td></tr></tbody></table><br />So without further ado, in January I was...<br /><br /><b>...</b><i style="font-weight: bold;">making some huge changes to this blog. </i>This little space of mine has got a major overhaul. Macarons and Pearls were laid to rest, and the red carpet was rolled out for <b><i><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/the-charming-avenue.html" target="_blank">The Charming Avenue</a></i></b>, and its <b><i><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/the-charming-content.html" target="_blank">new content and focus</a></i></b>. I couldn't be happier with the results, and I'm also extremely thankful for all your words of encouragement and kind comments. I really hope this blog will continue to be the source of inspiration to us all.<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">...buying my first car. </i>After investing in my apartment, buying my own car was the next logical step in my quest for personal independence. And I'm beyond happy to report that this month I've become a proud owner of a lovely little Skoda Fabia. It's the perfect city car - small enough to fit even in the tiniest parking slots, but also lively enough to make my occasional long business trips more enjoyable. I'm already looking forward to all the amazing travels we'll go on together! I think I'm in love :)<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">...working out daily. </i>Seriously, guys, I haven't missed a single day, which, to me, is really huge. I used to get all excited about exercising, work out for ten days, and then promptly move on to something else. This time however, I'm making conscious effort to put my fitness on top of my list of priorities, and I can already see the positive effects it has on my mood and my energy levels. Cheers to keeping up with my new routine!<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">...drinking smoothies. </i>Together with my new workout routine, I've also been trying to make more healthy choices when it comes to food and nutrition. And I fell completely under the spell of smoothies. Fruit smoothies, green smoothies, smoothie bowls...you name it, I love it. I've been experimenting with various kinds of fruit and veggies (persimmon and pomegranate were a huge hit, and on the contrary, mango was the biggest fail) and I'm having so much fun coming up with a different flavor combo for every day!<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">...listening to <a href="http://lifelately.com/" target="_blank">Life lately podcast</a>. </i>I've already raved about it <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/weekend-notes-link-love-33.html" target="_blank">here</a></i>, but I have to repeat myself: if I had to choose just one podcast to listen to till the end of my days, it would be this one. Yes, I'm <i>that</i>&nbsp;hooked. Clara and Brooke are among the most intelligent and inspiring women I have discovered in the blog world, and each and every episode is filled to the brim with thoughtful advice, healthy dose of humor and so much inspiration for your life and career! I just wish there were a new episode every day!<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">...baking orange cranberry muffins. </i>I haven't baked muffins in forever, and when I finally decided to make them again, I couldn't pick a better recipe than <i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/11/06/cranberry-orange-muffins/" target="_blank">this one</a>. </i>It's seriously the best flavor combo I've tasted this month. I just wish I could have fresh cranberries on hand more often to experiment with them even more.<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">...journaling daily. </i>This was one of the habits I've wanted to develop for a long time, and I think I've finally found the perfect stride. Each morning, after my stretching and yoga routine, I make myself a cappuccino and sit down with my daily log to record all the highlights and lowlights of the previous day, transferring my random iPhone notes on paper. It's been a fun exercise for my brain, but also an exercise in gratitude, since I always make sure to write down at least three things that I'm grateful for that day.<br /><br /><i style="font-weight: bold;">...reading <a href="http://www.bookdepository.com/Divergent-Series-Boxed-Set--Books-1-3-/9780007538041/?a_aid=macaronsandpearls" target="_blank">Divergent trilogy</a> again. </i>I picked it up from my bookcase on a whim, and reread it with a great pleasure, before the last movie in the series comes out later this year. But I have to confess that I still hated the ending, just as the first time I read it. I'm really curious to see how they will spin it in the movie version!<br /><br />Now it's your turn: tell me about your January highlights! What made you happy? Do spill the beans, I would love to know!<br /><br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-81125578797186367642016-01-30T10:12:00.003+01:002016-01-30T10:12:35.358+01:00Weekend notes & link love #34<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ZteWzoypBws/Vqx955700xI/AAAAAAAAnU4/0cejJab4t3A/s1600/weekend_notes_34.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ZteWzoypBws/Vqx955700xI/AAAAAAAAnU4/0cejJab4t3A/s1600/weekend_notes_34.jpg" /></a></div><br />I've already mentioned several times that creating focus is one of my biggest challenges. I often feel like my mind is pulled into way too many directions, and I don't know how to stop my brain from being all over the space. I loved reading <i><b><a href="http://www.bisforbonniedesign.com/2016/01/how-i-created-focus-for-2016/" target="_blank">Bonnie's tips on how she gained a laser sharp focus for 2016</a>. </b></i>I'll be definitely taking notes! (via <a href="http://www.bisforbonniedesign.com/2016/01/how-i-created-focus-for-2016/" target="_blank"><i><b>B is for Bonnie design</b></i></a>)<br /><br />Have you heard about that myth that <i><b><a href="http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/251543" target="_blank">entrepreneurs never sleep</a>? </b></i>Well it's just that - a myth, and a stupid one for that matter. Entrepreneur or not, you should never feel guilty for sleeping<b style="font-style: italic;">! </b>(via <a href="http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/251543" target="_blank"><i><b>Entrepreneur</b></i></a>)<br /><br />I love companies that have a mission and support cases close to their heart, so I was happy to discover the <a href="http://thisbrightplanet.com/our-products/" target="_blank"><i><b>Bright planet beauty products</b></i></a>, thanks to my friend <a href="http://www.rolalaloves.com/2016/01/bright-planet-beauty-brand-with-mission.html" target="_blank"><i><b>Rowena</b></i></a>. The products sound lovely, and the fact that buying them will help feed hungry children, makes them even better! Definitely worth giving a try! (via <a href="http://www.rolalaloves.com/2016/01/bright-planet-beauty-brand-with-mission.html" target="_blank"><i><b>Rolala loves</b></i></a>)<br /><br />Really good and inspiring books on writing may be hard to find, so I always love a good recommendation. <a href="http://www.megbiram.com/writing-stephen-king/" target="_blank"><i><b>Meg's review of Stephen King's On writing</b></i></a> really has me intrigued, and I'm promptly adding it to my reading list. (via <a href="http://www.megbiram.com/writing-stephen-king/" target="_blank"><i><b>Meg Biram</b></i></a>)<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5678l55PJxM/VqPKLA8LDQI/AAAAAAAAnRo/wgJhLMPkkn4/s1600/paris_04.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5678l55PJxM/VqPKLA8LDQI/AAAAAAAAnRo/wgJhLMPkkn4/s1600/paris_04.jpg" /></a></div><br /><b><i><span style="font-size: large;">And a few things you might have missed on The Charming Avenue:</span></i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><i style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/remembering-paris.html" target="_blank">Remembering Paris</a> - </i>the city in which I left my heart.<br /><br />A few words on my concept of <b><i><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/recipe-roundup-shallots.html" target="_blank">sentimental ingredients, and a roundup of shallot recipes</a>.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b>7 things currently <b><i><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/currently-on-my-wish-list-4.html" target="_blank">on my wishlist</a>.</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b>My struggles with planning and organizing my time, and the possible solution in <b><i><a href="http://www.macaronsandpearls.com/2016/01/inspired-by-bullet-journal.html" target="_blank">bullet journal</a>.&nbsp;</i></b><br /><b><i><br /></i></b><b><i><br /></i></b>Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6707412386040141553.post-71968793947286926192016-01-28T10:00:00.000+01:002016-01-28T10:00:22.096+01:00Inspired by: Bullet journal<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-LGj2WCcnYuA/VqnRVyNzxtI/AAAAAAAAnT4/3tHU7XAAI8o/s1600/bullet_journal_05_1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-LGj2WCcnYuA/VqnRVyNzxtI/AAAAAAAAnT4/3tHU7XAAI8o/s1600/bullet_journal_05_1.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><i><b>All images: <a href="http://www.bohoberry.com/" target="_blank">Kara Benz</a>, via <a href="http://bulletjournal.com/show-tell-3/" target="_blank">Bullet Journal</a></b></i></td></tr></tbody></table><br />I have this weird relationship with planners. I love them. But I also sometimes don't know what to do with them. I love flipping through them, I get excited about their various features, I may sometimes purchase more than one for a given year, and yet, I'm always feeling like I'm not using any of them effectively and to their fullest potential.<br /><br />Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those hoarders who amass planners by dozens, keeping them in their drawers, but never actually using them, for fear of spoiling them, or whatever. Quite the contrary: my planner gets his fair share of daily use, but I always feel like I'm not using it to my best advantage. And what's worse, I'm not using it in the most effective way to help me with my scattered mind.<br /><br />Also, my problem with all those pretty planners (whether bound or printable) out there is, that with each and every one of them I always feel creatively stifled. There's never enough space for my own true self to express itself. There are dozens of various tasks I need to accomplish each day, pertaining to our business, to my blog and to my personal life, and I need to log them all in one neat space. I also rarely get to use any prefabricated daily categories (like food log, phone call log or savings log) that always take up too much valuable space in any given planner. What I need is the blank space to create and define my own categories.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yu-p6MWAAro/VqnRWfgjvrI/AAAAAAAAnUA/Fj1m_LufeAI/s1600/bullet_journal_06_1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yu-p6MWAAro/VqnRWfgjvrI/AAAAAAAAnUA/Fj1m_LufeAI/s1600/bullet_journal_06_1.jpg" /></a></div><br />And if there's one thing I currently need the most, it's getting my stuff and my act together in all my areas of interest. See, right now I'm using this bonkers organizational system, where I have a separate notebook for everything: a daily planner for my work, blog and personal tasks and events, a "brain dump" notebook where I download all my random ideas and inspiration, a blog binder with my editorial calendar and blog post master list. I also have my daily logbook &amp; gratitude journal, a book journal, a goal binder, and I could go on and on... Believe me, it's really as crazy as it sounds. There are notebooks literally strewn all over my apartment, and at any given moment, your can find at least three of them in my purse or on my desk. It's getting ridiculously out of hand, and I feel like I'm not able to keep up with this anti-system anymore.<br /><br />What I really need is a pen-and-paper system that will bring all this mess together, and define one neat little cohesive space that would help me create that elusive, but much needed focus and peace of mind. A planning system that will be flexible, easy to work with, visual and creative. Just like me :)<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-TiKPBzHjfkI/VqnRWD34rrI/AAAAAAAAnT8/mniG_jJJ3JU/s1600/bullet_journal_07_1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-TiKPBzHjfkI/VqnRWD34rrI/AAAAAAAAnT8/mniG_jJJ3JU/s1600/bullet_journal_07_1.jpg" /></a></div><br />And just when I thought that I'd need to create that system myself, I stumbled upon Kara's <a href="http://www.bohoberry.com/" target="_blank"><i><b>Boho Berry blog</b></i></a>, and her gorgeous <a href="http://www.bohoberry.com/category/bullet-journal/" target="_blank"><i><b>Bullet journal</b></i></a>, and I immediately felt that tingle of excitement that accompanies the sudden stroke of inspiration. And I fell down the rabbit hole: I've spent the past two days researching this concept and falling in love with all its glorious possibilities. If you've never heard of bullet journal before, or want to get a better idea of how it works, be sure to check the original <a href="http://bulletjournal.com/" target="_blank"><i><b>Bullet journal blog</b></i></a>.<br /><br />I've decided to give this system a try for a month - for the time being, I'll use a random grid notebook (no need to invest in any fancy gear before I actually see if it can work for me), and I'll definitely work on my hand lettering and doodling abilities. I'm really excited and curious to see how it works out!<br /><br />Now that I've confessed my planner struggles, I would love to know: what system do <i>you</i> use to manage your time and stay on top of all your tasks? Are you more of a tech or an analog kind of girl? And have any of you ever tried the bullet journal? If so, to what results? Do spill the beans in the comments! <br /><br /><br />Ivanahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12486982671840979541noreply@blogger.com0