Friday, July 29, 2011

{Art Crush} Victorian Gotham Sirens

Be still my heart...

Speaking of words to live by...

If you hear a voice within you saying 'I am not a painter,' then, by all means, paint.....and that voice will be silenced.

-Van Gogh

Thursday, July 28, 2011

{Inspiration} Beautiful words...

"you can go for a walk after dark
buy only what food you feel like eating
stare into space, indefinitely.
skip breakfast, eat two lunches and have cereal for supper

you don't have to reply straight away
you don't have to make sure everyone's ok
you don't have to do the thing that makes sense
you don't have to wait and see
you don't have to jump straight in
you don't have to care
you don't have to.

look at your life. look at your life.
that's right, it's yours!
what a gift!
you don't have to listen to what they think it should look like.

that's why you were given a drum
for your own rhythm
a body
for your own dance
and wings
because you can fly, even if today you don't remember how."

To read the rest of these powerful and inspiring words go here

It's amazing, these moments of connectedness, when you see that someone is having the same thoughts, the same revelations at the same time as you. I spoke earlier of life manifestos and liberating words to live by {here} so when I read this poem, so sweet and brave, by the oh so lovely and talented Tara I had to share. 

Go visit her blog to read the rest in it's entirety. I promise you won't be disappointed. 


{image via weheartit}

{Fashion} Fix Thursday

I enjoy perusing fashion blogs from time to time and love seeing the creativity that comes out in one's clothing choices. I don't really follow (or believe in) "fashion trends" per say, instead taking bits from here and pieces from there that inspire new ideas. For me, fashion is about having fun and dressing up to be whoever you feel like being on any particular day. Whether it's a punk rocker, a retro housewife, or Chiquita Banana.  

While I adore blogs like cupcakes and cashmere or man repeller for their pretty eye candy, my thrift shopping unfortunately doesn't afford me the luxury of Miu Miu heels, 3.1 Phillip Lim dresses or Mulberry bags. And to be honest, even if I did have the money for those things, I still wouldn't buy them (ok, maybe I'd make an exception for a pair of Miu Miu heels). For me nuggets, money will always go first and formost to travel. Or pillows. Mostly travel though. 

That said, I'm always looking out for similar silhouettes or styles I like on a more low cost scale. So imagine my pleasant surprise when I stumbled across the oh so stylish and affordable fashion blog of Kendi Everyday. She's adorable, witty and thrifty.  Don't believe me, check out a blurb from her About Me page: 

Two years ago, I followed my husband to his hometown and decided to start a blog instead of having a baby. So far this has faired well. While our surroundings got smaller, my closet got bigger and I wanted to share my wardrobe with more than just the 5 people who saw me everyday (who were never that impressed, anyway).

I think I've found my new girl crush. I hope it doesn't get awkward.  

If you haven't already, go check out her blog. Seriously, what are you waiting for? 

{All images via Kendi Everday}

{work in progress} words to live by

Written in gratitude as a work in constant progress, a daily manifest to remind me of how I want to live my life: 

I am done worrying about the future or rehashing the past
I am over fear & insecurities that do nothing but drag me down

This is my life and I want to spend it in joyful jubilation
I want to wake up everyday with a purpose to laugh, love, sing, dance and create

I want to seek out adventure and never grow too old to play

I don't want to worry about success but rather know that it will always come if I work hard

I want to die dancing in the rain and know I enjoyed every day of my life

Tell me dear friends, how do you want to live your life? What is your personal life manifesto, what inspires, resonates and reminds you?  


Pillow crush

I kinda have an obsession with pillows. They're the easiest way to add color, make a statement or completely change the feel of a room. In my opinion, you can never have enough. 

That said, I just stumbled across this dodo pillow (that also happens to be on sale), and I'm not gonna lie, I'm having a hard time resisting. I know I show, but seriously, how can you not love this? Just between you and me, I think this quirky lil guy would be perfect in my living room...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

{Travel} Budapest my Budapest

2 cities in one
Hero's Square

A merge of two cities into one, Buda and Pest, Budapest combines the best of both worlds. The Buda side is lush with rolling green hills, hot springs and laid back attitudes. The Pest side is a metropolis of thriving culture, underground nightlife and controlled chaos. Yin and yang, this weirdly wonderful Eastern European city was one of my favorites (for more of my Easter Europe Trip go here, here and here). Not quite as edgy as Prague, yet not as prime and proper as Vienna, Budapest is a city with a flair all it's own that flys under the radar of most tourists. The people are friendly, the nightlife is crazy and the langosch is deadly delicious. What is langosch you ask? It is the quintessential late night snack after one too many drinks consumed, i.e. pure Hungarian genius. After two 6am runs back to back, this lil fried dough snack topped with sour cream, cheese and salt was my saving grace.
Art on Lake floating exhibit in City Park Lake
Outside Szechenyi Spa

J's new friend

Budapest was wrought with new friends, fun filled adventures and several late nights. We stayed in one of the sketchiest hostels of the entire trip that turned out to be the friendliest (isn't that how it always works though?). Got invited out to a friend of the hostel owner's gig and went dancing with reckless abandon. We drank pitchers of mojitos in cute cafes and drank Hungarian beer in a tent while a big burly man played the flute. We soaked up the warmth from the thermal baths and met up with a close friend of a friend (who became our new best friend) and who brought us to an off the radar music festival that lasted all day and all night. 
Entrance of hostel. It may not look pretty but it was ours and we loved it

Letting it all soak in at the thermal baths

New bff. A charmer and a musician this one

What not to do in a Hungarian bathroom

I know this is the worst photo ever, but the scene here is too good not share. Imagine please a really shitty band comprised of men dressed as cartoon Street Fighters,a WWF wrestler, a rabbit and a giant inflatable penis. Add to that the odd midget, chicken costume and S&M latex clad backup singer and you know have an idea of what was going on. Enjoy the mental image

Bringing sexy back one jumpsuit at a time

One of the top highlights from Budapest though was the caving tour we went onUnderneath the residential districts of Buda, lies a multi-level labyrinth cave system that stretches out over 100 km in length. The cave we explored was located in the Duna-lpoly National Park and roughly 20km long. Upon arrival 2 buses and almost an hour later, we were given a overall suit and helmet with light, and with guide in tow taken to a hidden steel door that led down into the depths of the earth. Like being in the movie Goonies, we climbed, clamored, squeezed and slid down rocks moving from chamber to chamber. There were times when the spaces we had to wiggle through that were no wider than my hips and no taller than your helmet.
You can't tell but we're all smiling
I didn't get stuck - Score!
Cave dwelling and the living is easy
The experience was beyond incredible and I can not recommend it enough. It's not for the claustrophobic - as it is definitely dark and cramped but I can guarantee it will be one of the coolest things you do. Want more info to plan your own Goonie adventure? Go here
Group photo!

In the end, I admit I didn't want to leave. And not because I had a 20+ hour train ride ahead of me. No, Budapest snuck in and stole a piece of my heart. I realize it had more to do with the experiences while there - the new friends, the wild nights, the adventures - rather than perhaps the city itself. But really in the end, isn't that what travel is all about? A city is a city, filled with pretty buildings and cute cafes anywhere in the world you go. It's those unexpected twists, the embrace of chance encounters and getting swept up in the moment that make a place truly special.

queens of pout
Sunrise spotted on rooftop bar

{photos 1, 7-12 via the lovely J}

Monday, July 25, 2011

Master Bathroom Makeover

Happy Monday Nuggets! Remember way back when, when I mentioned that I was redoing our master bathroom? No? Well suffice to say that project came and went I just realized I never shared it with you. Pretty horrible of me I know but to kick off this week I thought I'd make amends. It's the least I can do. 

This was what the master bathroom looked like before. I'm afraid I didn't take any proper "before" shots of the apartment - in my crazed need for color I randomly grabbed whatever shade of blue made me happy on the day. Looking at it now it kinda reminds me of a color you'd paint a nursery, or 5 year old boy's room.

Either way it was miles better than the original beige colored walls that were here when we moved in, though to be fair, it's still miles from where it needed to be. Everything was sort of cobbled together in a failed attempt at a cohesive look or feel that neither worked in the room alone, or as a part of the bedroom.

Since this would be the second time I'd be painting the room, I wanted to make sure that it actually flowed from the bedroom and worked with the rest of the space while keeping costs as minimal as possible.

Once I decided on a color scheme that would work with bedroom along with the towels and linen I already had, I made only a few minor changes. I switched out the rubbish bin along with the baskets for our toiletries (as bathroom storage doesn't seem exist here in Ireland).

The soap dispenser was found on sale for a few euros at T.K. Maxx, while the little "sugar" holder was found for only .50 cents at a charity shop. The sea shells were collected from the beaches in Florida and the woven balls had been used in a different room (originally from IKEA a year or so ago). I distressed the frame I had to give it a more weathered look and replaced the print with an old vintage map of Ireland I found on ebay for 8 euros.

The wooden mirror I actually had stashed in the back of a closet for a future project and had completely forgotten about it. It wasn't until S. Monster accidentally knocked over and broke the old mirror, causing a need for a new one, that I even remembered it. Talk about a happy accident! The mirror has a wonderful nautical feel that reminds me of a porthole on a ship and I think added the perfect finishing touch.

Personally, I adore how the bathroom came out. The color used on the walls is a gorgeous deep teal that seems to change from blue to green depending on the light. As this was the first time I'd used such a bold jewel tone I admit I was a bit nervous but am completely in love with it turned out. The depth and richness of the walls are only accentuated from the various textures used. I think it all comes together to create this feeling of being out at sea, as if everyday is filled with infinite possibilities. Who says design can't inject a little fun and adventure into your day?

It took roughly only 3 days and 60 euros to transform the bathroom which in my mind is only further proof that great design doesn't have to cost a lot!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


We mastered the left handed highfive.

We celebrated with a right handed highfive.

True story.

5 things

It feels like there's been something going on every weekend for the past month or so, so this time S. Monster and I are enjoying a few days of lying low. With the return of the sun after a weeks absence, we've been soaking it up in between catching up on various projects that fell by the wayside during the week. It's been so long since I didn't have any set plans that I forgot how lovely it could be!

Here's to slowing down, catching up and enjoying the simple things...
{Long sun soaked leisurely walks to one of my favorite brunch spots}
{Never ending jam options enjoyed with afternoon tea. Spent in the company of some of the amazing women I know}
{Establishing new traditions. Big, messy, delicious home cooked Sunday (or Saturday!) night dinners. Garlic soy chicken wings are our newest obsession}
{rediscovering the joy of painting just to paint without rhyme or reason}
{Finally going to see Harry Potter with my wand and glow in the dark glasses at the ready}

Tell me dear nuggets, what's making you happy right now?

{Design crush} Kitchen envy

I am completely smitten this little kitchen. The beautiful pale gray walls, salvaged reclaimed wood table, duck egg blue industrial pendant lights, copper topped bar stools, graphic pop art and blackboard creates a wonderful eclectic mix that eludes warmth, personality and charm. 

{Found via Knack via Kitchenisms}

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

{Travel Edition} Amsterdam guide round-up

One of the things I love most about Amsterdam is the plethora of oh so lovely design shops and eateries. Since I didn't have room to mention it in my travel review,  I thought I'd round up a few of my favorites to share with you in an Amsterdam guide round-up:


Friday Next
Overtoom 31

A crazy cool concept store with incredible chandeliers, one of a kind furniture and funky decor and fashion accessories. If that's not enough to tempt you though, this place is worth a visit for their cafe alone - the sandwiches and staff are delightful

Frozen Fountain
Prinsengracht 645

2 floors of incredible Dutch design and art, this store is definitely not to be missed. I snagged some fantastic wallpaper for 50% off and can't wait to use it in upcoming projects. 
loved this chair

Droog Design
Staalstraat 7b

A 3 story concept and high end design and fashion store that is utterly inspiring. Showcasing works such as Tadaaki Narita's Lucky Cat pinball machine and Tejo Remy's loosely bundled set of found drawers, Droog showcases design as it was meant to be seen. It mixes the insane with the ordain all the while invoking questions, eliciting answers and leaving you in awe.
Tadaaki Narita's Lucky Cat Pinball machine

Laura Dols
Wolvenstraat July

A great priced selection of men and women's vintage, though I didn't move much past the purse section. I scored a great vintage leather satchel for only 15 euros that I have big plans for along with the cutest little silver bow tie. 

I love Vintage
LV Atelierboutique
Prinsengracht 201

I wasn't able to make it into this cozy little shop, but I've heard great things about it. If you check it out, let me know what you think!

1953 - Retro & Chic
Staalstraat 2
A tiny gem of a shop that had S. Monster not literally dragged me out, I would have spent all day in. 1920s-40s shoes and dresses take centre stage and it made my vintage heart swoon

The Otherist (formerly Egg Mercantile)
Leliegracht 6 

I discovered this place a few years ago when it was still known at the Egg Mercantile. It's a true "cabinet of curiosities" in every sense of the word and is an amazing little shop specializing in all things unique, nonconventional, weird and wonderful. From home decor and accessories to jewelry and books it's almost impossible to walk out empty handed.  
Kitch Kitchen 
Rozengracht 8- 12 

A bright and kitschy place that made my inner drag queen sing with delight. If it's colorful, fabulous and made from oilcloth it's here. As Friedensreich Hundertwasser said "The absence of kitsch makes life unbearable". So what are you waiting for? Go get your kitsch on 


Pied A Terre 

Overtoom 135-137

A large specialist travel book shop with a beautiful collection of globes, maps and travel guides. We popped in by accident but I could have easily stayed and pursued the maps for at least a few hours. To be fair though, I do have a thing for maps.    


Sea Palace
Oosterdokskade 8
Delicious Chinese restaurant that is a bit of a hike but well worth the journey. It looks a bit ridiculous but frankly that only adds to the charm once you take your first bite.

Supper Club
Jonge Roelensteeg 
211012 PL Amsterdam

This place is the definition of edgy and is most definitely not for the faint hearted or conservative. An S&M erotica restaurant fusion you never quite know what you're going to get. You can be sure though that whatever happens, it will be a good time. Go with an open mind, an apetite and let your inner freak flag fly. 

Upstairs Pancake
Grimburgwal 2

It's tiny, open for only a few hours a few days out of the week and located on the second floor with what appears to be an almost vertical flight of stairs to climb but it is more than worth it. Easily the best pancake joint in Amsterdam this hidden gem is fantastic and not to be missed. You have been warned. 
can't decide between bacon and cheese or chocolate and coconut? Get both!

If you need more resource guides on dining and shopping in Amsterdam, here's a few that I enjoy:

Amsterdam city guide

Design*Sponge Amsterdam Guide

Vintage shopping in Amsterdam

Got any nifty, off the beaten track tips or suggestions to add to the list? Let me know! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

{Travel Tuesday} Amsterdam

With it's pretty, canal lined streets and abundance of beautiful parks Amsterdam is a city that seamlessly merges urban life with nature.

Stroll through Vondelpark

Unlike Dublin, New York, Buenos Aires or London, Amsterdam doesn't take itself too seriously. Tall, thin and incredibly good looking, the Dutch seemingly invented the look hipsters the world over try and inevitably fail to imitate. I have never in my life been surrounded by so many beautiful people at one time before. Like a more stylish older brother of Prague, Amsterdam oozes classic cool design in everything from buildings to bikes to people.

classic Dutch style

Combined with warm and welcoming hospitality, an incredibly efficient and easy to navigate city layout, clean streets, design shops galore and incredible food, everything about Amsterdam encapsulates this infectious vibe that makes you want to pick up and move there.

even their playgrounds are seriously cool

On Friday S. Monster and I danced to our newest favorite artist - Parov Stelar - who did not fail to impress at the VRIJ Festival. A DJ and live band rolled into one, Parov Stelar put on a fantastic set that you couldn't help but jive too. By the end of the day we'd picked up a few important festival tidbits. First, if a festival goes from noon to midnight, don't show up at noon. Second always double check and see if you're allowed to leave and reenter the venue before going in. This is especially true if the venue only serves overpriced shots of beer and pizza. You live and learn though and despite a few setbacks, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
getting our dance on

The rest of the weekend was spent lazily dodging the rain by popping in and out of design and vintage shops as we explored the city. We sipped vanilla lattes in quaint cafes, played silly games and in the evenings sought out delicious food.  
all the pretty little houses
One particular epic quest took us through wind and rain to a floating Chinese palace - ironically called The Sea Palace - whose food, more than made up for our not so dry journey. 

Despite only visiting when it was cold, or, as was the case this weekend, raining, my love for this city has yet to diminish. Rather it simply continues to grow. Even though I could have stayed an entire week (or more!) our weekend trip was oh so lovely nonetheless. 

Overall, it was the kind of trip that relaxes and revitalizes you. We had no fixed agenda, and despite or maybe because of the rain we just enjoyed each moment as it came, wandering and altering plans as we saw fit.
rare glimpses of filtered rays 

{all photos taken by me}
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