Tag: 2015

Postive Vibes – 17 Things I am Thankful For This Christmas…

Yesterday I flew to England for ten days of Christmas celebrations and fun! I still have some work to catch up on, but all my important projects and big deadlines have finished for the year and I am really looking forward to taking some time out and seeing my family and friends.  As the year winds down and the celebrations begin I always like to take this time to think about the things I am happy about which happened during the year and what cool stuff I want to do in the year to come.  Here is my what I am thankful for this Christmas…

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1. Being at home with my family.  Living in Italy means I don’t get to see my family very much so when I do see them it is always really special.

2. Catching up with friends.  I miss my friends so much when I am not at home and I cannot wait to have a big Christmas meal together, catch up, drink wine and have fun.  They are the best people I know and whenever I am with them I never stop laughing and loving life.

3. Special time with my boyfriend.  Before I left for England me and my boyfriend celebrated an early Christmas dinner together.  We cooked amazing food, drank champagne and opened our presents to each other.  In the run up to Christmas we have both been super busy so it was so nice to have a night all about us.

4. Taking some time out to chill.  I have been working really hard recently and for the next two weeks I am all about chilling, relaxing and making time for me.

5. Christmas food! As much as I love Italian food you can’t beat traditional turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes and mince pies.  My Dad is a chef and he makes the BEST food over Christmas.  I love it!

6. Presents! I know that sounds shallow but presents are one of my favourite thing about Christmas.  Not because I love getting new stuff but because I love buying presents for my friends and family and I love seeing their reactions when they open them.

7. Having a week off in Milan when I get back from England.  For the last two years I have spent the whole of Christmas and New Years in England.  But this year we decided to give ourselves a break from all the visiting and moving around and spend the last week of the holidays at home in Milan.  I am actually really excited to have a whole week at home with nothing planned and I want to do some major sale shopping, try new yummy restaurants and do some sight-seeing in Milan.

8. Cuddles with our new Labrador puppy – she is so cute!

9. Chilling on the sofa watching Christmas films and reading lots of books.

10. Having time to recap and review. 2015 has been amazing for me. I set up my own business as a Stylist, I did some amazing photo shoots and I worked for some really cool magazines. I feel so happy about how everything has started off and I am excited about my plans for 2016.

11. The travel I have done.  This year I visited Amsterdam and Sri Lanka and did a lot of traveling around Italy.  I had so much fun and I am super grateful for the amazing experiences.

12. The cool magazines I have worked for.  Since setting up as a freelance stylist in July I have worked with some really cool international fashion magazines.  I have loved every project I have worked on and I can’t wait to start shooting again after Christmas.

13. The amazing photographers, brands, models and MUA’s I have collaborated with.  I find working with new people really inspirational and this year I have been so lucky to have worked with lots of really cool and talented people.

14. Our home restyling project.  When we moved into the house two years ago we decided we needed to restyle everything.  This year we redecorated the living room and started on the kitchen and it feels amazing coming home to a beautiful house I love.  I am a home interior addict so I can’t wait to start doing more stuff.

15. My girly weekends away.  This year I had a girly weekend at the beach and a weekend away with my friends in a country cottage.  I don’t get to see my friends as much as I would like to so both these holidays were so much fun and super special to me.

16. For finding the most amazing yoga class near my house and discovering how much I LOVE yoga. My teacher is amazing and this year I have learnt so much about meditation, chakras, yoga posing and strength. I never thought of myself as a sporty person before but I go to classes two or three times a week and I love it. My goal for this Christmas is to do yoga every morning to stay healthy and fit.

17. To all you lovely people who follow and read my blog.  Your comments and support is amazing and really motivating and I appreciate you guys coming along for the ride.

And there we have it guys.  I wish you all an amazing week of fun in the run up to Christmas and a magical Christmas Day!

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Ciao Milano – 20 Reasons I Am Happy to be Back

Well friends, summer holidays have officially ended and it is time to get back to work.  In the past I sometimes found this time of the year a little flat.  I would have had an amazing summer full of adventures and fun and then suddenly it would end and I would be returning home, back to my part time waitressing job or university classes.  But not this year.

This September marks the two year anniversary of my moving to Milan! And as our Sri Lanka adventures drew to a close I felt genuinely excited to be returning here.  Living in a foreign city does feel a bit like living on a extended holiday because there are always new things for me to experience and enjoy.  I love Milan because there are so many cool things happening in the city and the longer I live here the more it is starting to feel like a home away from home.

Here are the reasons I love being back…

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1. Even though its the start of autumn its still warm and sunny here in Milan.

2. Being reunited with my favourite cake shop California Bakery – those chocolate chip cookies are just so good.

3. Shopping at the monthly Vintage Market on the Navigli Grande the last Sunday of every month. Its great to spend the day wondering through the stalls and picking up cheaply priced vintage goodies.

4.  Starting new Italian lessons at the Passepartout School on chic Viale Monte Nero. I signed up for evening classes and am really excited to start at the school tonight.

5. Only three more weeks and Fashion Week starts in Milan. That means the city will be buzzing with exciting events and fashion shows and I will be busy buzzing around the city and having lots of fun. I will be covering my fashion week activities on here so be sure to check in.

6. Planning my looks for Fashion Week.  I brought lots of unique pieces over in Sri Lanka and am excited to style some cute looks throughout fashion week.

7. Strolling around pretty Parco Sempione and relaxing by the lake reading books.

8. Having evening apertivo (cocktails and yummy nibbles for only ten euros) in one of the cute bars in the Brera district.

9. Restarting my yoga classes and feeling zen three times a week.  

10. Seeing the new window displays of the designer shops in the super-chic Montenapoleone neighbourhood.  I especially love to see the visual merchandising at Marni, Dolce & Gabbana, Margiela and Valentino.

11. Vogue’s Fashion Night Out! A really fun event where the shops stay open late and you can pick up limited edition lines, goodie bags and attend cool events all over the city.

12. Shopping for the new AW season. Ok I have been Styling photo shoots for this season since back in March but it is great to finally start shopping the trends I fell in love with all that time ago.

13. Visiting the new Armani Silos – a four floor museum covering the forty years of Armani and housing the previous collections.

14.  Going for prosecco in a waterside bar in the newly renovated Darsena Habour.  Grab drinks on one of the boats which have be transformed into floating bars and watch the colourful lights reflect off the water.  It feels just like being on holiday!

15.  Eating slow food at the new Mercato Metropolitano – a food market built in the old train station.  There are stalls from a huge range of local food sellers and even an open air cinema – so cool!

16. Seeing my recent shoots start to be published in magazine. Working a season ahead means once I Style a shoot I have to wait months till I see it published. As we are entering the AW season my stories will start to be published and I cannot wait to see my hard work in print.

17. Getting some arty culture and checking out the new exhibitions at the recently opened Prada Foundazione. 

18.  Finding eccentric young fashion designers to fall in love with at the unique concept store 10 Corso Como.  Browsing the upstairs book shop and taking a juice in the sunny courtyard cafe.

19. Styling for new photo shoots and writing features for new blogs.  I feel so motivated after my holiday and am ready to create some amazing work.

20. Continuing with our home renovation and getting a dose of inspiration at the beautiful interior design shop Rossana Olandi.  Walking around the shop is like entering a treasure chest and every room is filled with something strange and unique.

And here we are, my reasons for loving Milan this September.  Why are you happy to be home? Let me know in the comments below…

 

Sri Lanka Road Trip – Exploring Sri Lanka in One Week

After a relaxing two weeks at the beach we decided to spend our last week in Sri Lanka on a road trip. I am so happy we did this because there was so many interesting things to see and do.  And we really had the best time.

In case you are planning a road trip around Sri Lanka or just want some inspiration of nice places to visit I have shared our itinerary with you below.

Day 1 – Ella

AM – Drive from Arugam Bay to Ella passing through tea plantations and rice paddies.  Stop on the way at the Rawana Falls for a swim in the rock pools.

PM – Go trekking in the hills surrounding Ella.  Choose treks to Ella Rock, Ella Gap or like us, trek through the tea plantations to see Tamil families picking tea at sunset. Sleep at Ella Eco Lodge to have your own wooden cabin in the forest.

Day 2 – Nuwara Eliya

AM – Wake up early and catch the train from Ella to Nuwara Eliya.  The old trains pass though tea plantations and tiny, hill top villages with incredible views of the valleys below.

PM – Go exploring in Nuwara Eliya.  Explore the english colonial village, eat fresh strawberries, go for afternoon tea, relax by the lake and take a walk though the rose gardens in Victoria Park.

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early morning train

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sunrise at horton plains

Day 3 – Horton Plains & Kandy

AM – Wake up at sunrise and go trekking through Horton Plains.  Get to the park early and reach the Worlds End Viewpoint before 9am to see panaramic views of Sri Lanka’s countryside.  Have a picnic of fruits and coconut pancakes for breakfast on the cliff edge.

PM – Drive to Kandy, stopping along the way at a tea plantation to do a tea tasting.  We arrived in Kandy during the Perahera Festival so found seats in the streets and watched the two hour procession of elephants, fire dancers and drummers all wearing beautiful traditions costumes!

Day 4 – Kandy

AM – Visit the ancient Temple of the Scared Tooth Relic to see beautiful buddhist shrines and temples. Visit during the Perahera Festival to see pilgrims worshipping and visit the festival elephants relaxing in the gardens before their performance.

PM – Take a walk around the Botanical Gardens to see exotic plants and wildlife.  We saw snakes, birds and hundreds of bats sleeping in the trees.  In the evening we watched the festival again.  This time following the procession back to the Tooth Temple to walk with the free elephants around the gardens.

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elephants at the perahera festival

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monkies at the temple

Day 5 – Sigiriya

AM – Drive from Kandy to Sigiriya making a stop off at a Batik craft-factory to see local women making beautiful handmade batik clothes – great for some shopping!

PM – Visit the amazing Dambulla Cave Temples and explore the five painted caves filled with ancient buddha statues.   Then arrive at the Sigiriya Rock Fortress in the late afternoon.  Climb the huge rock-face and watch the sunsetting from the incredible view of the surrounding mountains.

Day 6 – Polonnaruwa & Minneriya Park

AM – Rent bikes and cycle around Polonnaruwa Ancient City.  Ruins date back to 2000 years but statues and shrines are incredibly intact and the atmosphere is beautiful.

PM – Take a jeep safari around Minneriya National Park and see huge families of elephants gathering around the lake.  We saw over 50 grazing together and two new born baby elephants!

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sigiriya rock fortress

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polonnaruwa ancient ruins

And there you have it, our road trip itenary around Sri Lanka.  Thinking of visiting Sri Lanka, let me know your plans in the comments below…

For more about our Sri Lanka adventures read my Arugam Bay Beach Town Guide

Arugam Bay – My Beach Town Guide

Following my recent posts about our wonderful travels around Sri Lanka I have had a lot of people asking advise about places to visit and stay, particularly in Arugam Bay.

As we were there for two weeks we got to know the scene quite well and we found some cool places we really loved.  There is so much to see and do there that we were busy exploring and having fun everyday! So I decided to write a list of my top spots in Arugam Bay.  Hopefully you can check out some of these places when you visit and see if you likes them as much as me…

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peanut farm beach

SEE

Main Point Beach. Drink a fresh coconut while watching world class professional and amazing locals surf the waves breaking at the point on Main Beach.  It will give you some inspiration before starting your surfing lessons.

Wild Elephants at Sunset. End your day at the beach by stopping at Crocodile Rock before heading back to town.  Climb the rock at sunset to see herds of wild elephants coming out of the forest to graze! We saw a herd of 15  – so beautiful!

Pottuville Lagoon at Sunrise. Take an early morning canoe ride through the lagoon and see crocodiles, elephants, monkeys and countless wild birds.  The atmosphere is so tranquil and peaceful.

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coconuts on the beach

sunrise at potuvil lagoon

pottuville canoe trip

DO

Early Morning Yoga Class. Start your day with an energising Yoga Class before hitting the beach.  I loved the rooftop classes at Bay Vista Hotel for the amazing ocean views.

Ayurveda Full Body Massage.  A deep tissue, ancient healing technique using holistic oils.  I took a treatment at the Ayurveda Healing Center for a natural and authentic experience.  Learn more about my experience here.

Eco Wave Cooking Course. Learn how to make traditional Sri Lankan dishes taught by local women from the village.  Even better all the food used is grown locally on organic farms so, as well as having a fun day with lots of food, you are also helping out the local community too.  We loved making the coconut sambal and fish curry!

Surf Lessons. Take lessons or rent a board and try out at the many surf sports around Arugam Bay. For beginners Elephant Rock or Peanut Farm are great places to practise.  Hasan’s Surf House is a cool place for board rental.

fishing boats at main beach

fishing boats at main beach

Eco Wave Cooking Course

eco wave cooking course

EAT

Spicy Snacks from the Street Venders.  At the top end of the beach road you will find several street venders selling freshly made spicy snacks.  Super cheap and extremely tasty, it is so much fun buying a mix and having a picnic on the beach.  We loved the vegetable rotti’s and fried lentil dhal.

Organic Curry at Danny’s Soul KitchenThe best place we tried for local food.  All ingredients are grown locally in the organic farm.  Order curry of chicken, beef or fish and enjoy trying the amazing selection of vegetable sides with mountains of red rice.

Health Smoothies at Zephyr BarGrab an amazing fresh smoothie and relax on one of the huge bean bags on the beach.  The perfect chill out evening.

fresh rotti's & spicy sauce

fresh rotti’s & spicy sauce

EXPLORE

The Beaches. As well as Main Beach, Arugam Bay has several secluded beaches all within around a ten minuet tuk-tuk drive away. Our favourite was Peanut Farm for its isolated setting and great surf! Visit them all and see which is your favourite.

Kudumbigala Forest Monestry. Take a day away from the beach and explore this little visited Buddhist Monastery in the middle of the forest.  See some of the 200 cave shrines and climb the sacred rock for incredible panoramic views of the countryside.  We were greeted by lovely monks who gave us cakes to eat at the top and saw snakes and monkeys while walking through the forest.

Lighthouse Point. 23KM from Arugam Bay town this amazing beach is little visited and extremely beautiful.

buddhist monks at peanut farm beach

buddhist monks at the beach

kudimbigala monastery viewpoint

kudumbigala monastery viewpoint

SHOP

Ethical Accessories from Rice & Carry.  Made from recycled rice sacks by local women from the villages, this brand is super cute and works for a good course.  Choose from backpacks, tote bags, clutches and purses – you will want to buy them all!

Hideaway Sunday Morning Market. Serving up happy vibes, Hideaway’s sunday morning market sells cute handmade products from the local community.  See artsy postcards, funky jewellery, ethic fabrics and colourful sarongs.  Great for present shopping.

rice & carry accessories

rice & carry accessories

As you can see we loved our time in Arugam Bay lots.  Have any suggestions from your trip – please share in the comments below.

Beach Bag Essentials…

So far this holiday we have spent lots of long, lazy days relaxing at the beach.

So in the past two weeks I feel like I have become an expert in what to bring along and what is dead weight in my beach bag.

Below is my list of Beach Bag Essentials…

Continue reading “Beach Bag Essentials…”

Ayurveda Healing Massage – Feeling Zen in Arugam Bay…

I always love to learn about new beauty therapy techniques and when travelling I love to try beauty practices traditional to the local culture. In Sri Lanka ‘Ayurveda Healing Techniques’ are widely used and upon arrival I was really excited to try it out for myself.

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian healing treatment. The philosophy of Ayurveda treats the mind, body and soul as inter- related properties, all needing to be in balance to have a healthy body and life. It focuses on treating the root causes of beauty problems or ill-health. The techniques involve using massage and natural plant beauty products to deeply cure and remove toxins from the body. Indian Head Massage, Deep Tissue Massage and Full Body Massage using organic and natural oils are all treatments practised at Ayurveda Spas.

In Arugam Bay I saw many Ayurveda Spas attached to the beautiful, bohemian resorts lining the beach.  But I decided instead to try my treatment at Arugam Bay Ayurveda Healing Centre (a natural healing spa used by the locals) for a more authentic experience. I signed up for a Deep Tissue Full Body Massage & Indian Head Massage. I was greeted by my massage therapist and taken to by own cabana where soft mantra music was playing and scented incense was burning. She started by asking about my health and any areas of tension in my body – I have terrible shoulders from always carrying heavy bags of clothes to and from photo shoots! She selected a special oil for my treatment called Abhyangam Oil which detoxifies and revitalises the body while also working as an anti-ageing and anti-stress treatment and the massage focussed on the deep muscle tissue and removing tension.

The treatment was amazing and after I felt so relaxed. I really recommend it to you when you are visiting Sri Lanka or India yourself.  Since my massage I have continued my Zen feeling by doing a Yoga class overlooking beach every morning at the beautiful Bay Vista Hotel.

Staying Chic on a 15 Hour Flight…

When flying to Sri Lanka we were in transit for 15 hours! That is a mix of flight time and waiting in airports because there was unfortunately no direct flights from Milan. We were in a similar situation last year with our flight to Costa Rica and when we finally arrived at our destination, it took me several days and a lot of strange sleeping patterns to feel normal again. So this year I decided to be prepared and make an emergency beauty plan to bring with me on the plane to feel more healthy when we arrive.

In case you have some long-haul flights scheduled this summer too I have shared it with you here – I hope it can help.

Continue reading “Staying Chic on a 15 Hour Flight…”

The Positives & Negatives to Building your Fashion Career Abroad

I recently took part in an interview for my former university magazine about what it is like building my fashion career while living abroad.  The reason I took part in the interview was because moving to Italy (and the extensive travelling I did before university) are some of the most important experiences I have had and have helped to shape me as a person.  I hoped that by speaking about my positive experience it would encourage anyone considering studying or working abroad to pursue their dream, because it really can lead you to wonderful places.  In the interview I spoke a lot about how studying abroad and afterwards moving abroad to pursue a career in fashion has changed my life and led to so many positive developments, both professionally and personally.

With this in mind I have decided to include on here a list of the positives and negatives of living and working abroad to give more advise to anyone who is thinking about making the jump.  In regards to the ‘negatives’ section, I have included this because I think it is important to give a balanced description of what to expect when moving abroad.  Generally my experience here has been incredible, but it isn’t always sunshine and fun, and so I think it is important to be real.  I hope you find it helpful, and if you want anymore advise about building your fashion career abroad, please get in touch in the comment below!

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(photo taken from pinterest.com)

Positives

  • You can travel the world while building for your future.  Living abroad allows me to experience life in a different culture, learn languages, try new food, see new places and meet amazing people.  But unlike when I was backpacking in South America, I am also working everyday which means I am gaining invaluable experience as a Fashion Stylist, building my professional network and increasing my Styling portfolio.  These are things that will help me in my future even if I decide to move back home.
  • It can take you in any direction. When I moved back to Milan after university I knew I wanted to work in Fashion but I was torn between two area to specialise in.  I arranged a meeting with an international Stylist to ask advise about breaking into the industry in Milan, one thing led to another, and I now work in Styling .  It was something I was always considering, but following this career path was the best decision I could have made.  I now spend everyday doing a job I feel extremely passionate about and love every minuet of.  It was moving to Milan that allowed me to follow this, so you never know what opportunities might present themselves for you.
  • Provides inspiration and develops creativity. Working in a different culture exposes me to different working styles and ways to be creative.  It has also introduced me to many fashion brands, Italian style, photographers, artists, architecture, exhibitions and culture.  All these things combine to provide me with new kinds of inspiration which develop my ideas and direction as a Stylist.
  • When you have to travel for work, you also discover beautiful new places.  On a few occasions I have been lucky enough to travel to locations for photo shoots. In the last year I have been to Venice, Cortina and rural Liguria for shoots and so, as well as doing my job, I have also been able to explore more of Italy.
  • In your free time you get to be a tourist.  When I am not working I use my free time to explore Milan, visit the sights and museums, try new food and study Italian.  Its like being a tourist but its also my home.

Negatives

  • The language barrier can sometimes be tough.   I arrived in Italy speaking only a little bit of Italian, so when I first started working it could be REALLY hard.  Not only do I work flat out but also in a language that isn’t my own, which can be confusing/exhausting.  I still have a long way to go with my Italian, but as I have improved, work has gotten easier.  You just need to be prepared to work harder than those who are native speakers.
  • Be prepared to work twice as hard to establish yourself.  Being foreign sometimes does make it hard for me to establish myself.  I don’t have all my contacts I made at university, I am speaking in a different language and I am new to the culture.  For me, thats fine because i love to be challenged and I love seeing the positive results of my hard work, but be prepared to work twice as hard at everything than you would if you were at home.
  • You leave your friends and family at home and it can be hard to meet new people.  Especially in Milan, a city where everyone is trying to make it, it can be hard to meet people and make friends.  Lucky for me I have made some amazing and welcoming friends here and make the effort to see my friends and family at home as much as I can.  But at the start it could be hard.  You just have to get yourself out there, join clubs & groups and speak to people even if it seems a bit scary at first!

But really, if you are thinking about moving abroad to work, whether in fashion or another industry, just go for it! For me the positives have always outweighed the negatives and working as a Fashion Stylist and living in Milan is one of the best experiences I have had.

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