Thursday, 28 February 2013

we all march on

February 2013 is a month I won't be sorry to turn my back on.
It left an aching hole in my heart and in my apartment that can't ever be refilled.
It left scars, emotional and physical.
It left circled dates on my calendar that are not of the romantic variety.
We all have bad years and bad months, upheavals in our lives.
Right now it feels like someone changed the record and I don't know how to move my feet to this new and unfamiliar beat.
But the band must march on.
I want to begin this new month with positivity and intention.
Dallas and I are lucky enough to have nurtured a healthy friendship despite the break-up... that is a huge blessing to me. 
Friends were sacrificed, but they left space for focus on new and healthier friendships.
My korean noonas and friends from home have created a circle of love and support around me...and  it tugs and tugs at my bruised heart to know how lucky I am to have them.
There is a lot to mourn, but so much more to be thankful for.
This one goes out to the heart tuggers and how I couldn't have got through this without them.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

❂ bisous ❂

Today was a slow burnin', takin' it easy, kids are off on spring break kind of day.
I spent the best half of this morning re-organizing our school library with children's book dust up my nose and in my hair and the delicious smell of musty, well-worn pages.
I so badly wanted to take my cup of chamomile and curl up in a corner with a stack of books and just read and read.

Children's book titles are simply the most enticing things to ten-year-old Louise's brain: 'The Accidental Zuchinni', 'Willie the Dreamer' and 'I love Cloud Bread' were some of my favorites of the day.
I love the dreaminess of kid's books, how the author can just flip open their head like a lid and let their imagination fly out onto the pages.
I have a secret little dream to be a children's book writer one day
When I was tiny I would lay in bed and Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton would take me by the hand and lead me on the most fantastical adventures every single night.
When I think back on those stories of magic and whimsy I am reminded of pure joy and happiness.

I'd love to to do that for a child one day too.

❂ bisous! 

Monday, 25 February 2013

threads & kicks

One of my favorite parts of winter is getting to layer up snug against the chill for an outing.
Usually I don't have the right figure to carry off current "trends" but I'm all over layering this year.
Wooly knee socks, leggings, cable knit tights and chunky woolen knits are the order of the day...
and I am head over heels for this pair of dark brown faux suede Tugo boots that Blowfish sent me.
They are unbelievably comfortable, have a flattering little wedge in the heel and they just suit my style to an absolute tee~ I love my boots to be belted and buckled like a pirates ~.^

I wore this outfit out to eat Vietnamese with Dallas on Sunday and paired with the Tugo booties it was just the right combo of style, comfort and warmth.
I think I'm going to be living in these till Spring starts singing her song and my toes can come out to play again!

Thank you Blowfish!

Outfit details//
Boots: c/o Blowfish
Navajo cardigan: Hellhound Vintage
Cream Knit Sweater: GMarket
Moon necklace: Free People
Black dress: American Apparel
Leggings: Uniqlo
Wool socks: Uniqlo

Sunday, 24 February 2013

the sunday slowdown

There's nothing a little tea and a sweet letter can't fix.
I love the peace and the quiet of a Sunday,
the way it bookends the week with a little pocket of solitude and wind-down time.
This day of the week keeps me sane and centered.
I dance to a slower melody.

Today I checked the mailbox and found the sweetest snail mail from a dear friend who knew exactly what I needed to lift me out of a little mood rut.
I made myself a hot cup of British tea to remind me of home, set out fresh roses and set aside an hour to slow sip, read over fond memories and just be.
I'm forever blessed to realize I have friendships that have survived time and distance and prolonged absence.

Swoony, cozy, cups of tea-filled Sundays are where it's at.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

kindie teacher moment of the week

Give two six year old girls a Batman mask printout and they'll quite literally turn him into a big ol' Queen,
beauty spot and all

You can also find me filling in for Nat over at Modern Buttercup today sharing this cute teepee stamp DIY.
Go check it out!

& finally a big congratulations to Natalie, she was the winner of my cute Korean stationary giveaway!

Peace, love & triple high fives people x

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

<<< tiny >>>

Welcome to my 7 am morning view as I wait, bleary-eyed, for the elevator to collect me from the15th floor and spit me out into that metropolis of high rises where I will become another tiny ant on the sidewalk, marching alongside the others to work.

I love the romance of this craggy mountain and the way it lends its poetry to Korea's typical white apartment building landscape.
I love that no matter where you travel in Korea, there is a looming, omnipresent mountain never too far away. Reminding us just how tiny we are.
They are the silent, giant observers of our day to day business. They witness scores of sunrises and sunsets, rain clouds and fogs and snowstorms. They are the harborers of stories and superstitions and lore.
You can look at a mountain and feel at once how small your worries are, how immaterial your cares.

When I look through the window and see this mountain every morning I can't but picture myself atop it, sleeping ,cooking, walking  it's crags and battling it's lonely wilderness like Kerouac in Big Sur.
Mountains are commonly used to symbolize obstacles, but I see a mountain and feel only reverence and transience. The thrill of it's loneliness and solitude, the awe at it's magnitude and the longing for it's wild expanse.

Mountain, Field or Sea?
These days I am comforted living under the watchful eye of the mountains.


there is a crack in everything

The older I become the more I "get" the importance of purging.
It is such a healthy act to constantly strip back, shed like a snake, expel the negative and the things that are holding you back from growth and forward movement.
Purging can be applied to all aspects of our lives; from the company we keep, our diets and our social habits, all the way down to our list of friends on Facebook and the blogs that we choose to read.

Just recently I performed a mass purge in my bloglovin reader. 
Over time I was realizing that quite a few of the blogs I choose to read follow the same cookie-cutter formula:
same impeccably taken photographs of household items, same beautifully put together outfits, same "ain't life sweet" smiles and same lines about an amazing weekend/ brunch/ birthday party/ date with a boyfriend.

I'm not attacking this style of lifestyle blogging.
Of course we should blog and celebrate the joy in our lives and our homes and everyone has the right to post as they see fit.
My point is it that for me it can get tiresome seeing the same life-is-as-sweet-as-cherry-pie posts over and over again.
What's wrong with sharing the "I'm having a bad day"/ "I feel down this week"/ "I'm having relationship issues" posts?
I find it way more refreshing  and relatable to read posts by bloggers who aren't afraid to show their vulnerability or problems alongside the good stuff.

Me, I'm all for putting my best side forward in this blog, so far I've used it as a vehicle to showcase my adventures in life, travels, my job and my loves.
But I have been guilty, like the bloggers I described above, of putting a Stepford-Wife smile on things when they haven't been as rosy as my blog posts may have portrayed.
For instance, my ten year battle with anxiety disorder and the fact that last week I had a Valentine's date with a therapist rather than a boyfriend.

I guess my reason for writing this post at all is to break the mold a little bit. To show to other bloggers or readers that behind the pretty photos and the upbeat posts there is a real person battling real demons.
I'm not special or alone, everyone has their flaws and I think flaws can be just as beautiful, or maybe even more, than the "perfect" image.

There is a lyric by Leonard Cohen which I love and that verily sums up my feelings:

"Ring the bell that still can ring//
forget your perfect offering//
there is a crack in everything//
that's how the light gets in."

I am cracked, flawed. 
Demons? I has em.
But show me a branch of oak as smooth and stainless as a piece of cold steel and I will feel nothing.
It's the knots and swirls, the cracks and indents and crevices that make it something different, special and interesting.
Never be afraid to show your flaws. 
They are a part of your perfect whole.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

3 little things

One week, three tiny joys.

1. Free shoes!!

When Blowfish offered to send me a free pair of their new Spring season shoes to showcase on my blog I said "HELL YEAH!"
They arrived last week and they are beautiful.
Keep your eyes peeled for my first ever style post next week. 
 (not a direction I ever thought of taking on this blog but what girl can turn down a  free pair of shoes? 
"Not I", said the cat.)

2. Breakfast of champions

Lately this chilly season has me reaching for the kind of tasty comfort foods that are usually bad but oh... so good!
I've been treating myself these cold winter mornings to a breakfast of creamy chocolate milk and tuna and mayonnaise samgak kimbap, or triangle kimbap, which is basically rice wrapped in dried seaweed with a tuna and mayonnaise centre.
I know everything about this breakfast sounds wrong, but trust me, it's delicious!

3. Baby Wig Wams for my baby matryoshkas

I found the template for these adorable paper craft teepees on the same site I found the printable feathers for my cupid's arrow diy post.
Just so happens they are the perfect size to house my ceramic matryoshka beads.
Tiny joys, friends, tiny joys.


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

a sponsored post: DIY cupid's arrows

The happiest of Valentine's Days to all of you gorgeous people  
The old lady who lives inside me who loves to stitch and sew and make things with little glass beads rocked a little faster back n forth in her rocking chair when the lovely people at online craft supply store Wholeport offered to send me a parcel of goodies to craft with ^^

Among other pretty little doo-dads they sent me this lovely packet of masking stickers~ this is basically the sticker version of the Japanese washi tape that has been taking the crafting world by storm.

I've been wanting to use washi tape in a DIY post for a while now and the love-heart decoration on these gave me the inspiration to make these sweet-as-can-be Valentine's cupid arrows to give to your sweetheart on Valentine's day.

Behold the materials:
~ feathers (I searched high and low for craft feathers but they are apparently a rarity in Korea , so I made do with this feather printable)
~ washi tape/decorative sticker strips from Wholeport
~ bamboo sticks
~ craft wood chips (I sifted through untill I found some that resembled the shape of arrow heads)

Step 1:
Take a strip of decorative tape and carefully wrap it around one end of your bamboo stick. Repeat until you have an assortment of decorated sticks.

Step 2:
Gather together a sprig of  3 or 4 feathers.
Or in my case if you are using the feather printable, cut out a bunch of feathers.

Step 3:
Use invisible tape to attach your feathers to the decorated end of your bamboo stick.

Step 4:
Using a glue gun apply a small amount of hot glue to the bare end of your bamboo stick and attach your wood chip.

And you are DONE!
You can give your Valentine an arrow along with their card or, like me, use them as a wall decoration!
Lemon squeezy.

A special thank you to the wonderful folks at Wholeport craft suppliers for sponsoring this post. 
Check their site out for cute and extremely affordable crafting treats~ I have my eye on their beautiful selection of beads and feathers ^^

rewind ➳ ➳ India mountain paradise

I posted recently about musing, dreaming, building castles in the sky...a divine head trip where I could revel in the fantasy of perfect freedom and solitude. 

But then it occurred to me...I don't need to create this place, 
I don't need to retreat into my imagination to find my place of tranquility, I just need to search the corners of my memory.
 Because I've already been there.

Here we are. The Motley Crue.
The boy from Germany, the girl from London and the girl from France.
We had done what is wont to happen with lone travelers ~  grouped together and formed a rat-pack of land walkers, wearing our home on our backs like giant African land snails.
The objective was simple; we were to find a taxi driver willing to drive us way, way up into the hill mountains of Kodaikanal and find a Tamil family willing to bed and board us.

And do you know what? Our crazy plan worked.

Look at the picture above real close. Squint your eyes. Middle right. Do you see that whisper of a thatched roof peeking shyly through the foliage?
That was our home for a week.
Below is Sophie with Silvan, the amazing taxi driver who connected us with this family living in the remotest spot on the mountain you could imagine. It was our fantasy, our nirvana, our backpacking dream come true.

We spent that week living with "Amma" and "Appa" who looked after our every need.
They didn't speak a word of English but when you share house and kitchen, beautiful clean air and a never-ending skyline, language becomes a very small thing when you can touch and sing and smile.

We drank fresh mountain water, bathed under the waterfall, did yoga while the sun rose and let Amma feed us till our stomachs swelled like watermelons.

At night Appa would shuffle into our room all wrapped up in his shawl, pass around his rum and roll charras cigarettes, smiling toothlessly at our broken up English and gestures of communication, by turns  entertained and amused by these western curiosities.

I have never experienced such untouched kindness and beauty in both mankind and nature as I did on the side of that mountain in India in 2009.
I also learned a valuable lesson then; one I'd recently almost allowed myself to forget... that in the natural order of things, we and all of our problems are tiny specks of dust. We don't matter. But kindness, truth and the spirit of adventure can carry us very vey far in this world and maybe, in some small way, let us leave our tiny little footprint on it.

And that fantasy I wrote about, it doesn't need to stay ficition. I don't have to live in my own head...
because I have wings the strength of a mighty Swift bird and strong enough wind beneath them to keep me flying a long time yet.

I read the best quote today:

"I haven't been everywhere,
but it's on my list"
~Susan Sontag

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

group giveaway//cute korean stationary

It's no secret around here that I am a certified stationary junkie and it just so happens I am living in the creme de la creme of paper slinging countries.
Korea has the cutest, most decorative and affordable paper goods for all of your journaling, snail mailin' and crafty needs.

If you would like to get your hands on ALL of the hand-selected Korean stationary items shown above then please take part in this super group giveaway I am taking part in hosted by the cutest (and, incidentally Korean-American) gal Sarah over at Love Sarah K.

She is hosting a huge giveaway featuring myself and 6 other contributing bloggers with prizes including free premium ad space for your blog, a Stila palette, Hobby Lobby goodies and Amazon vouchers.
You can choose if you want to enter for one or all of the giveaways in the Rafflecopter on her blog post.
My Dad always says if you ain't in you can't win, so why not? ~.^

Scroll down for more details on my Korean cuties waiting for a new home...

~ flower stamp
~animal book marks
~ 2 sets of decorative washi tape

~ pencil set
~ 2 ink pens
~ recyclable bottle caps

 ~ mini hug cat cards
~ matryoshka doll card
~ vintage stamp stickers
~ scandinavian index label stickers
~ day planner
~ geometric notebook

If you win, ALL of these items will be sent to you!
For entries all you have to so is follow my blog through GFC, follow me on Bloglovin or on Pinterest.
Each follow will gain you one entry.
Head over and get you entries in now...x

Monday, 11 February 2013

kindie teacher moment of the week

Check this pair out.
Bambini Kindergarten's resident lovebirds, Jessica and Johny, wearing their finest hanbok (korean traditional dress) to wish you all a "Happy Lunar New Year' in Korean.
This was because Koreans celebrated their traditional holiday Seollal (Lunar New year) this weekend..

I was invited by my lovely co-worker to observe the holiday with her and her family at her Grandmother's home but unfortunately this cold I can't seem to shake kept me in bed most of the weekend.
Otherwise I could have spent two days helping her family make traditional Korean foods, play folk games and perform ancestral rites at the graves of their dead relatives.

I'm sorry to have missed out on being a part of this very closely guarded part of the Korean culture~ the fact that they still observe their holiday traditions so fervently is why the sense of tradition and culture has been preserved in this country so successfully.

According to the Zodiac, Asians believe we are entering the Year of the the Chinese Zodiac the snake symbolizes mystery and malevolence. 
Previous Snake Year's have included the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, the Tienanmen Square protests in 1989 and the 2011 terror attacks in New York.

What do you think?
Is this a year of bad omen or is it all a bunch of smoke and mirrors?

Saturday, 9 February 2013

the sunday slowdown

Is it almost Spring yet?
I have a hankering for flowering baby buds and warm window panes and
I'm tired of fending off colds that are coming for me left, front and back!
This morning I scooped up my book, pens and writing paper and escaped to the coziness of the coffee shop for a few hours of reading and writing therapy.
Works a charm on me every time.

My soul is craving some good outdoors time, but for now the snow and the frost have me running for cover every time I venture out of the apartment.
I have to remind myself the deeper we move in to February the closer we inch toward Spring and warm air and good changes.
When I think back to Spring last year, when I was home at my parents house in Ireland, taking long walks every day, spotting wild horses in the fields and taking photos of old churches, I realize now just how happy a time that was for me.

As much as there is a hermit in me (incidentally, The Hermit was one of the first cards I pulled at my Tarot reading) who loves the hibernation involved in Winter, there is another part of me that loves the freedom and call of the outdoors that Spring offers.

I hope that Old Man Winter is being sweet to you, he is a charming old wizard after all...but I am ready for a little bit of change ^^

castles in the air


I've been dreaming up visions lately, of a place I'd love to spirit away to and bury myself during this season of frost and snow.
A perfect hideaway deep in the forest where I could read Kerouac and Nin by day and sip on Jack Daniels and listen to the hell hounds howl at the moon by night.
Wrap myself baby blanket-tight in huge woolen throws, spin the Doors, smoke woody cigars and flip through black and white photos found inside dusty old boxes.
Read Tarot in front of the dancing fire, smell the pine and sage and the outdoor fog.
There would be a big old wooden porch with a worn out rocking chair where I'd sit in my jacket and boots shelling lentils for soups and stringing dried herbs to hang over the door to keep the place safe.
A place of peace and isolation, endless water boiling for mugs of tea and hot stew bubbling in an iron pot... meditating, night wandering, moon gazing and star counting, deer hoof tracking,  story writing and forest trinket gathering.
Just me and the silence of the ancient forest... nature at her mightiest.
What a great escape.
                                                    Swagger Vets and Double Moon by White Fence on Grooveshark


Thursday, 7 February 2013

great friends bring cake

It's times like right now that I am so glad I took the time and effort to cultivate a good relationship with my amazing co-workers.
Last night these sweetest gals dropped by without a word to brighten up my night.
They knew, without asking, that I was in need of the spoils of such friendships.
They brought cake and beer, party poppers and ears to listen.
They laughed with me, cried with me, gave me great advise...
it was such a treat.
I'm truly blessed and ever thankful to have made a village of friends right here in Korea when home feels so very far away.

peek at my week// winter warmers

Beomgye High Street

The Korean winters can be long and brutal.
The deepest freeze can come along and take your breath away, red your nose and numb your ears in the blink of a night time.
If you squint your eyes and turn your head to the left you can semi make-believe you're living in Narnia.
But I don't much feel like an arm-circling ice skating lesson every time I put a foot out the door!

There's so much about this part of the year that invites the seasonal blues but I say blues are for the birds and I'm gonna keep some warm winds in these sails of mine!

This involves warm woolen socks, making blanket caves in the bed, cranking the heat and spending an extra ten minutes under the hot shower...

... it also takes wool lined slipper-socks for padding around the apartment....

...belly warming bowls of banana and almond butter porridge before work...

...treating myself to a soy chai tea latte date, wrapping my mittened hands around the hot cup for extra warmth in a classroom not yet heated by muffler-clad energy balls...

...and opening care packages filled with warm pajamas, marmalade, chocolate and all the things only an intuitive Momma could know that I need most in the world right now.

Hope y'all are keeping cozy ~.^