Sunday, 30 December 2012


My word today was 'envision'.
I'm so happy with this art journaling project and how it is pushing me, not only creatively, but to react and free-write to these seemingly harmless little verbs which have this way of pulling out prose and emotions I hardly knew I felt.
It's been a wonderful project to take part in and I'm looking forward to what the art journaler has up their sleeve for January >.<  

monday morning ear candy~ best of 2012

"Happy New Year friends!"

A new year full of promise and adventure is but a day away from us.
Tonight we'll be getting all dressed up and ringing it in out on the town with some special friends and raised glasses.

It will be with mixed emotions that I say goodbye to 2012, with all of it's swoops and dives, cautions thrown to the wind, chased dreams and surprises. 
All in all it's been a great year filled with many positive and forward-looking changes in my life and my relationship.

Now I'm looking forward to beginning 2013 with intention and just a tad more planning and caution.
Dallas and I have a bigger goal we are moving toward together after this final year spent in Korea and this year will be all about working together to make this dream of ours come true.

I hope you're all busy making your own special plans for both tonight and the clean slate ahead!
Here's a little round-up of my favorite tunes and artists found and re-played over and over from the last year. 
Press play and enjoy, friends!
Happy New Year!

                                          ear candy 8 by louloubelle on Grooveshark

On a side note: regarding my season of giving thread I was planning to run for each day of my winter vacation~ it turns out I was a little less organized than required to volunteer as a foreigner in Korea. Every organisation I have approached to volunteer with have been fully booked this week.
This makes my heart so happy to know that there is such a wealth of English teachers and ex-pats out here wanting to give back and do something to help wherever they can this winter.
This has absolutely not waned my desire to get involved with some charity organizations and campaign groups, I have just had to reserve my spots to attend a little further down the line.
Stay tuned for my reports on helping out at PLUR Korea and The House of Sharing

paper & woodland

Today was an early rise, pancakes for breakfast, back in bed till afternoon kind of a day.
I ventured out only once to make a run to the stationary store and discovered the world outside had turned into an ice rink overnight.
The freezing temperatures here have magicked the ground into glass while the glare of the low winter sun reflecting off the snow covered mountains created a supernaturally bright light.
Like a blinking little hedgehog I scurried back to the warmth of the apartment and spent my afternoon making these delightful paper craft house pets. 
They were one of my Christmas presents sent from a friend back home and I think they look just fine guarding our little floor garden. 

Tonight Dallas and I are off for a mini date of Korean gamjatang and The Hobbit.
Enjoy your Sunday evening dears!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

season of giving, day 2

This is a little montage of those babies of mine that keep me so busy every day.
Their little lives are so full of love, care and protection... dedicated teachers who take care of them for 7 hours a day until we bundle them up in their little jackets, mufflers and mittens and wave them off on a school bus which delivers each one of them into the warmth and love of their families apartments.

Beautiful children, lucky children, lucky like you or I who have had the privilege of growing up in a loving home, with money and parents and all the security and advantage that brings.

It was my intention to visit a Seoul orphanage during my vacation as part of this 'season of giving' thread I'm running but unfortunately for me, but good for the orphanages, there were no volunteer spots available at the short notice.
Although I am disappointed not to physically meet the kids it is also such a sweet pleasure to know that there are plenty of others out here like myself who wanted to reach out and give some time and help to the children less fortunate than those bundles of joy and energy I teach every day during this festive season. 

I still plan to volunteer in the future but for today I sufficed by making a donation to the Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach System. A wonderful non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of the Korean orphans through outreach and education.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

3 little things//matryoshka love

Nesting doll, Russian doll, Babushka, Matryoshka...
These beautifully rotund and rosy-cheeked peasant women hide under many pseudonyms but no matter what you like to call them their quirkiness and cute cannot be denied.

Their colorful hand-painted flower designs, so detailed right down to the tiny baby doll-prize in the centre, are one of my favorite aspects of these wooden creations.

When I visited home last Christmas I brought my little cousin up to my bedroom and had the pleasure of peeking through a 5 year old's mind when reacting to my Matryoshka: "a doll, inside a doll, inside a doll!"

The history behind these dolls is also so interesting: "Matryoshka" comes from the latin "Mater" meaning "Mother", so these plump and colorful Earth Mothers are actually symbolic of family and fertility.

I've built up quite the collection of all things Russian Doll-related and lucky for me Korean stationers love to use these purdy doll designs on their paper goods!

1. Matryoshka Card & envelope

I bought several of these card sets when I discovered them in the Lotte stationary store~ what's even cuter is that the card opens out to reveal more Matryoshka's "nesting" inside it ^^

 2. Matryoshka post-it memos

Another stationary store find. 
5 cute little post-it stickers with different colorful little mamas on each one!

3. Matryoshka ceramic jewelry beads

I found these three little darlings in a Christmas package my Mom sent which was full of wooden, glass and ceramic beads for jewelry making.
What do you think for these~ necklace or bracelet?

Wednesday, 26 December 2012


{{ 'Remember'~~Design inspired by Rachel from Pony Gold}}

My second art journal page as part of the Messy Canvas Advent Window project.
Who knew a single verb could jerk such a powerful response? 

season of giving, day 1

The perks of an anomalous vacation time:

claiming the best comfy-seat corner in the coffee shop
warming snow-cold hands around a hot paper cup
time to be still and alone with my thoughts
art journaling
playing incognito: taping free smile papers on to unassuming walls
finding one has been taken only half an hour later
another half hour, two more have been spirited away

smiling and wondering where my paper smile is now~ 
 inside a pocket or a wallet?

Is someone looking at it right now with a smile playing the corners of their lips?

How would you react to a free paper smile from a stranger?

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

a merry little christmas

A merry, merry Christmas everyone!
Today was filled with second helpings of duck and stuffing and roast potatoes, pigs in blankets and silly after-dinner party games.

Dallas and I waited till after dark to open the gifts under the tree while Charlie Brown christmas cartoons played in the background.

I opened sweet sweet gifts sent thousands of of miles from my cherished family and a beautiful surprise snail mail hand-made card from a dear old friend.

To all who are reading, whoever you are, wherever you are, I wish you the happiest of christmases, with peace, joy and lots of warm milk and christmas cookies.

Monday, 24 December 2012


Today, Christmas Day, is the day Dallas and I are celebrating three years of being together.
Three years ago today I, yes I, asked this beautiful man to be my boyfriend.
Lucky for me, he thought it sounded like a pretty good idea ^^

It's incredible how much both our lives have changed in the last 3 years.
We had an unconventional first meeting, at a training weekend for new English teacher's arriving in  South Korea for the first time. 
I pegged him for a keeper the minute I laid eyes on him.
It just goes to show, when you know, you know.

In three years we have gone from long distance weekend dating (we taught in towns 3 hours away from each other for 2 years) to 4 months travelling Asia together, a visit to my parents home in Ireland together to finally this year living together under one roof,

This relationship has been an adventure right from the start, we co-pilot this ship together and I can't imagine navigating my way through this funny ol life with anyone else by my side.

Happy Christmas Anniversary darling.
Here's to the next three.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

that's the jingle bell rock

On Friday my beautiful Korean co-workers and I went out for a staff Christmas dinner and drinks. We ate delicious Korean BBQ pork with a side of merriment and cheer which ended up in an impromptu house party of sorts back in my apartment

We are usually too busy during our work days to stop and really get to know each other and it was so special being able to connect and get on so well with these people who I have worked side by side with these past 8 months.

Christmas just has this way of bringing people together, organised parties, last minute decision parties or parties for no good reason at all.
I cherish this time!

monday morning ear candy//vintage christmas mix

It's Christmas eve!
All is peaceful and bright and dusted with white powder just as it should be.
Enjoy your milk and Christmas cookies, and don't even think about wiping that milk mustache off!

Work today is all about Christmas fun for the kids~ there'll be a (Korean) Santa visiting the classrooms, lots of Disney Christmas cartoon watching, carol singing and my own class will be performing their rendition of 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' on stage in the gym while I probably weep a little bit.

On Saturday we hosted Christmas dinner for our friends and I had to step out to the store to pick up a few things while everyone was arriving. On my way back home, laden with bags, breathe turning to fog out of my frozen lips, navigating the frozen pavements as the charity workers clanged their jingle bells I stopped a breathe to watch the twinkly lights on the big Department store Christmas trees across the street.

I got that belly-warm Christmas feeling, the kind I haven't felt since I was a little kid and I believed.
I guess now all I believe in is the magic and spirit of Christmas.
But it still lit my face up like a Christmas tree.

Today's play list is full of cool vintage Christmas twang, press play and let's deck those halls.

Merry Christmas!

                                      vintage christmas by louloubelle on Grooveshark

Thursday, 20 December 2012

3 little things// the kiddos

One week, three tiny joys.

I've decided to dedicate today's 3 "little things" to around 30 little things. 

These little things pretty much dominate my day from 9 am to 6 pm 5 days a week.
They are a hurricane of energy and spirit, endless teacher hugs and sass.
They love to rub noses with me Eskimo-kiss style, call me "Rapunzel", write me letters and draw me pictures of themselves talking to me on their cell phone.

They arrive to school in the mornings bundled up in bunny ear body warmers, bobble wool hats and love-heart mufflers.

Heart swoons.

They love nothing more than to color and paint and help me decorate our Christmas classroom with a tree made entirely of tiny 6 year old hands traced on green paper.

They can be a tough crowd some days, I won't lie. 
But they put a smile on my face every single day.

Thank you to every one of my tiny little joys for pulling the nurturing mother and the playful clown out of this natural introvert.

They've helped me grow in so many ways and they'll probably never even know it.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

merry and bright


Gift wrapping is one of my favorite things to do. I love to gild the lily so to speak.
I think this goes way back in my memory to when my Mother would bring out her big box of endless papers and ribbons and bows and we would sit cross-legged on the living room floor each Christmas wrapping gifts surrounded by paper and scissors and odds and ends.
This year I don't have my Mom's big box of Christmas goodies so I've had to be more resourceful in my wrapping. I've been using brown paper, newspaper and old maps as wrapping paper and then tying the gifts up in twine. I love the clean and timeless look this gives them.
When it came to the gift tags I hopped online to see if there were any nice, free and printable Christmas tags available that I could download and use.
Turns out there is enough to fill Santa's sack.
Here is a round up of my favorite, beautifully illustrated, printable stickers and gifts tags by some very talented and artistic bloggers:

I hope you're all having a great week leading up to Christmas. Dallas and I are hosting another fancy pot luck dinner again this Saturday, this time for a Christmas dinner. We'll be giving Secret Santa gifts to each other so I've already been putting these lovely freebies to good use ^^

Happy gifting!

opening windows

This week I decided to start following along with Messy Canvas's Advent Window journaling project.
I am arriving a little late to the party as we're less than a week from Christmas but  now I've begun I realize it really is just an inspirational and fun activity that can be done at any time of the year.

You're given 31 written verbs which you should select randomly every day so each day you will have a solitaire word to reflect on, live by, sketch or journal about. 

The first word I pulled was "decorate".

I've decided to use a pretty notebook Dallas bought for me a while ago that I had intentionally set aside and was keeping for a special purpose or project such as this one.

With most of my words I will mostly want to use them as writing or art journaling prompts but this word I decided to take literally.
I pasted it to the center of my page, took out my pen and doodled and decorated every spare surface on the paper.

This is my first art journal project and I'm excited about the next 30 words I will pull and meditate on and what they will evoke from me on to paper.

Monday, 17 December 2012

the season of giving

{{Quote by Theodore Roosevelt//Source}}

I remember it was Christmas 2008, before the tornado of backpacks and passport stamps and adventure came and carried me away from London for what seems like will be good.
 I was living in a flatshare in Spitalfields, East London, an area gloriously frozen in time.
My local pub the "Ten Bells" is infamous for being the bar that Jack the Ripper's victims drank in, street lamps light cobble stoned alleyways and dignified Georgian architectures crumble decadently. 

Petticoat Lane and Brick Lane markets, born in the 17th century, were my cold and foggy Sunday morning haunts. It's the place where the Indian sailors who jumped ship in the 19th Century introduced some of the first curry houses to London.
irresistibly attracts eccentrics, artists, hipsters, musicians, Rastafarians,  Bangladeshis, C-list celebrities and vintage-ware sellers like summer attracts fireflies.
Also, homeless people.
The homeless are another fixture of London as permanent as the Houses of Parliament.
Rough sleepers, drifters and beggars were ubiquitous in my area and that Christmas in 2008 I decided I wanted to help.
On Christmas day myself and a friend went to my local shelter and helped cook and serve Christmas dinner to over  a hundred local homeless.
It was a great opportunity to interact with these people who I would usually just walk straight past on my way to the Underground in the morning or even cross the street to avoid when walking home in the dark.
We met some colorful characters, old, young, some who wanted to talk and share, some who silently took their food and ate alone, some who seemed affected by our presence and expressed gratitude and others who didn't. I think it's the ones who didn't that I was there for in the end. I feel like they were the ones who needed it the most.
I didn't change the world, I served hot meals and maybe cheered a handful of people up before I went  home to my family and gifts and a table full of Christmas food and they went back out on to the streets.
That's the thing with charity, you always walk away with a feeling of un-finished business, like there's still so much more you could have done. But the act of helping, of leaving a smile and a belly full of food on someone less fortunate than yourself... the act is surely worth it, no matter how small.
I have read so many wonderfully selfless and inspiring posts lately about sharing joy and random acts of kindness  and they have inspired me to forfeit my Christmas vacation which I probably would have spent entirely indulging myself and my own projects/crafting/shopping/movie watching and see what there is out here in Korea that I can get involved with and help.

They say you should do charity silently or the charity is you but the only reason I am posting about this is to give myself the push to get off my butt and do it.
I feel like by publishing this on my blog I am further duty bound to keep this promise to myself and I will keep you posted on my endeavors when my one week vacation starts on December 25th.

Whether it's a small act of kindness, volunteer work or campaigning I will find a small way to give something back every day of my vacation.
It is after all the season of giving ^^

Sunday, 16 December 2012

monday morning ear candy

This weekend I took my cue from all the winter woodland hedgehogs, badgers and doormice and retreated snug and warm into my burrow apartment for almost the entire two days.
This morning I was forced out blinking and shivering for work again. How rude!
Although we do have a glorious work-free day on Wednesday to look forward to as it will be election day here in Korea.

I put the final touches to my parents Christmas presents ready to be shipped to Ireland today (don't worry  neither of them read my blog so I'm not ruining any surprises!)
I wrapped my Mom's present in brown paper and twine and used diy rubber stamps to print a Christmas tree design onto the paper~ a lovely and simple idea from Patchwork Cactus.

Aren't Dad's the peskiest people in the world to buy decent gifts for?
Last year I returned home for Christmas after four months of travelling and thrilled him with a traditional Native American headdress I bought for him in Thailand as he loves anything related to that subject.
This year I thought it would be nice to frame a photo we took of him wearing his gift last year and pegged them onto string along with other pictures of us and the family.

Here is a beautiful little collection of tunes Dallas put together last night just for you!
Please press play, relax and enjoy your day!
Thanks for visiting ^^

                                                        ear candy 7 by louloubelle on Grooveshark

Thursday, 13 December 2012

3 little things

One week. Three little joys.

1. Christmas crafting

These fingers of mine have been working double and triple shifts to get the tree, apartment decorations and what felt like a million handmade Christmas card, gifts and envelopes ready for posting.
The floor to our apartment has been a mess of thread spools and pine cones and little pieces of paper for weeks!
But finally, almost, kind of, I'm done! ^^
Some of those cards will have to cross thousands of miles to wish their merry Christmases to my loved ones.
One card in particular was addressed to a lady who I have never even met but I hope to share a little bit of Christmas peace and hope to.
Her address is:

Betty Vogel
425 E. Coleman Rd.
Clare, MI 48617

If you have a spare Christmas card left in your box I urge you to write a Christmas greeting and your signature and post it to this deserving lady and here's why.

2. Duvets & books

I have fallen shamefully behind in my reading due to a combination of Christmas prepping and and a very distracting new iPhone full of wondrous Apps for me to play with ^^
I have been making an extra special effort this week to snuggle under the duvet for 30 minutes every day after work and get back into my reading groove.

3. Lots and lots of hot chocolate

Because on these icy, frosty, cold-finger-and-toe mornings nothing else will do!
Especially when they come packaged so cutely ^^

What tiny joy kept you going this week?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

winter magic

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” 

― Lewis CarrollAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass


“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” 
― John Steinbeck


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

the crafty little christmas tree

I've been the busiest of bees the past week. 
I've been putting all sorts of grand Christmas schemes into action, making big messes in the apartment and starting new yule tide traditions with the beau.
This will be our third Christmas as a couple but our first living together and I'm not sure poor ol' Dallas knew what Christmas prepping does to this gal!

Happy for days.

I picked up this plastic tree for less than ten dollars and I knew I wanted to decorate my first ever Christmas tree using only found objects, nature and crafty odds and ends.
This is the result. Think Santa will approve?

 Mamma Gillanders would certainly approve of my decorating efforts~ she has filled my Christmases with colors and warmth and delicious smells since my memories began. 
Now here I am, arms wavering as I try to follow behind in her well-trodden footsteps.  I wonder what 10 year old Louise would think of grown-up Louise's first efforts at dinner and decorating? 

Sure there were bugs crawling out of the pine cones when I washed them before painting and the tree itself has a tendency to topple over if you so much as breath on it. But it's ours, and if a christmas tree's only job is to cheer up a room and give the 10 year old inside you a warm christmas-y, santa is coming kinda feeling when you look at it, well it's doing it's job just swell.

Happy Christmas!

Monday, 10 December 2012

out with the old


Welcome to my new blog space!

I have to say a big thank you to Savannah over at oh so pretty for listening to my design ideas and really "getting" what I wanted to go for.
There are a a few tweaks and a adjustments yet to be made but this is generally it and I couldn't be happier with it.

Over the last year this space has increasingly become a little haven, a "happy place" for me to come and document my day to day. It's kept me motivated to keep crafting and taking pictures, to sit and reflect on a day that may have been tough and to pull out the good in it. To write, really write, to dance to the tune of what inspires me and to consider my situations and experiences and try to present them with clearer eyes and a more open heart.

If ever I've had my own private teepee to crawl into and set my imagination and creative juices free this blog has been it, and I think this design reflects this perfectly.
Thank you to my readers who have followed me along so far, hopefully now the place is a little less shabby you'll feel a lot more comfortable around here!


Sunday, 9 December 2012

monday morning ear candy

The weekends here in Korea are slippier than fish and faster than elk. They just have this way of getting away from you!

Dallas and I had a swell time on Saturday evening, going out on the town and celebrating two birthday parties, bar-hopping and slipping around on frozen snow and drunken legs.

We ate delicious Korean BBQ, sneaked trays of tequila shots to the table at the bar, got up to all kinds of mischief and laughed at the realization that all of our gifts to the birthday boy in his mid-twenties were "old man gifts"~ thick socks, cologne, a puzzle,  warm gloves....though he didn't seem to mind one bit. Maybe we're all old souls on the inside!

When we got home Dallas and I carried on the party and stayed up till dawn listening to tunes. We drank rice wine, laughed and traded stories like a couple of old sailors. It was certainly my kind of a night.
This is my favorite tune of the moment. A pretty ditty by a great new band to get that heart rate bopping on this slow and frosty Monday morning.

Enjoy x