How time flies! One year ago today I just got back from a wonderful family trip to Brazil. Vibrant, sunny, colorful Brazil…. Someone whisk me away and take me back, please! Since I hadn’t shared the colorful pics and memories at the time (life happens..) I thought a throwback on its one year anniversary was an excellent way to make up for this dreadful negligence.

As we were visiting our Brazilian family (<3!), our stay was all about quality time, relaxing and getting a taste of this beautiful country. No adventurous jungle experiences (I’ll be back for those ;) ), but fun discoveries and activities around São Paulo and Rio.

SÃO PAULO

Places to discover:

  • Embu das Artes: Our Brazilian home base! An hour outside of São Paulo, this artsy little town would probably not be on your standard Brazilian itinerary. But if you have the time, do swing by! You’ll discover a lively town square surrounded by artisan shops, a delicate gazebo hidden amidst a patch of green and numerous craft markets and art galleries.

  • Vila Madalena: When visiting the Sao Paulo center, this was really my favorite neighborhood to stroll through! It has a lovely creative atmosphere and lots of cute shops and artsy hotspots. Highlight: you will discover some amazing street art (especially in the famous “Batman alley”).

  • Bella Vista: The Italian neighborhood, with picturesque houses mixing Brazilian vibes with Italian heritage. Plus good food! Not very Brazilian of course, but yummy nevertheless.
  • Mercado municipal: This eclectic building in the historic center of São Paulo with its remarkable stained glass houses a large food market with a myriad of local and international yumminess on display. It can get a bit hectic but any foodie will be loving the vibe.

RIO DE JANEIRO

Places to discover

  • Santa Teresa: we stayed in this lively area up in the hills. Colourful houses, eclectic street art, cute cafés and of course the tourist classic: the beautiful tiled stairs of the Escadaria Selarón, connecting it to the Lapa area. Should your feet be tired of climbing those hills: the little yellow tram is a delightful alternative :)

  • Lapa: definitely a must for a full Rio experience, as this neighborhood houses some major landmarks (including the impressive Arcos da Lapa)

  • Jardim Botanique: Rio’s botanical garden was definitely one of my favorite day trips! A jungle feel within the city, palm trees in every size, a beautiful archway (such a sucker for archways) and an IMPRESSIVE cacti garden. What more could any plantlady ask for?

  • Ipanema beach: for a real summer-tourist-modus day: head to Ipanema for some shopping (Hello new pair of Havaianas!) and some shameless lounging at the beach. Also: the sunset view is one to stick around for!

Places to eat

  • Zaza Bistro Tropical: We stumbled on this boho looking spot after an afternoon ay at Ipanema beach and felt we hit the foodie jackpot! Yummy organic fusion cuisine in a colorful bohemian setting.
  • Emporio Jardim: This eco hipster-style bistro was recommended to me by a good friend, so naturally we had to check it out. We headed over there for lunch after our visit to the Jardim Botanique and were not disappointed! Original burgers and salads plus breakfast all day!

Guilty tourist pleasures

  • A picture in front of the Cristo statue
  • Sipping from a coconut on Copacabana beach
  • Celebrating Caipirinha o‘clock! (which can take place pretty much any time you want it to)
  • Munching on an Acaï breakfast bowl (to balance the Caipirinha with some antioxidants ;) )

Place to stay

I would really recommend the Airbnb we stayed at in the Santa Teresa area! It was quite basic but clean and convenient with a homey vibe. The owner Beatriz was super friendly and served THE BEST breakfast, completely home made with love.

Practical tips

  • We did not bring a tourist guidebook and used city walk apps to map out our excursions. Super practical and a solid guidebook-alternative! This one is for Rio and this one for Sao Paulo.
  • Uber is a great and inexpensive way to get around the city of Rio, especially if you have limited time and want to cover a lot of different neighborhoods. Bonus: driving from highlight A to B with a local prevents you from wandering on foot into areas you should not visit as a tourist.

Things I am definitely traveling back for: After this first taste of Brazil, I am hungry for more! I’m especially curious to discover some of its lush nature, so on my wish list for next time: the Iguazu Falls, the Amazon, Bahia, Ilha Grande and Ilha Bella. So much more to see and experience!

Hope you like these tips and happy travels!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Present season! Among my friends and family, I’ve built up a bit of a reputation as gift-freak. The one that starts thinking about Christmas gifts in November and gets overly excited about the whole ritual. Finding the perfect gift: yay! Wrapping it using tons of washi tape: double yay! Finally getting to give it: jingle all the way! I blame my grandma’s genes. I swear, she starts buying her gifts in August. Apple & tree.

With only 10 days to go till Christmas, I assume most normal, non-freak peeps are in full gift buying-mode as well. So I thought I’d share some of the most original Christmas gift ideas I bumped into on this year’s hunt and some of my all-time favorites. Laziness bonus: you don’t have to leave the house for any of them. Last-minute laziness bonus: at least half of these can be bought super-last-minute (provided you have a printer or are good at hand-crafting vouchers).

christmas gift ideas

*1* For the endless commuter: an audiobook service This way you help them spend this otherwise lost time in an enjoyable, even inspirational way. Bought this for my dad, who has to spend quite some time in the car, and it was a hit! You can get a voucher of the app I personally use here.

*2* For the person you shared a significant moment with: a beautiful poster with a star map from a particular place, on a particular day (your first date, the birth of your child, your wedding,…). A bit cheesy but a meaningful gesture if you ask me. I got one (for a very special person!) at The Night Sky.

*3* For the busy bee who needs a break: think about what would help this person hit the brakes and take a breath. A massage? A spa visit? A private music lesson? If you have some budget: a stay for 2 at these wonderful Slow Cabins.

*4* For your significant other: don’t give your special person stuff, you’re their gift! Hello, quality time! A moment to share. A visit to a theme park, a weekend away, a fancy night out, the possibilities are endless! (Not giving away mine, the screens have ears ;) )

*5* For the crazy plant lady: She might not need any new plants (guilty..) but anything that celebrates her plant lady life: success guaranteed. How about this “plant lady is the new cat lady” tote by Eva mouton bag for Phyt. A beautiful green interior book is always a winner amongst this crowd as well! The Urban Jungle book is one of my personal favorites. Also: how adorable is this keychain with a real-life mini cactus?

*6* The girl who has everything: you cannot buy her happiness, but you can buy her a little piece of nature. How about a voucher for a fresh bouquet of flowers every week (Bloomon is a classic in this category) or some beautiful, easy to keep cacti or succulents from Plantiful.

*7* The guy who has everything: there are two things a guy can never get enough of: socks and plain white T-shirts. What do you mean boring? Not if you go for Happy Socks or a gift voucher for a responsibly produced tailored white T, made to his exact measurements by Son of a Tailor (thanks for the tip, Elle.be!)

By the way: I’m watching Netflix’ “A Christmas Prince” as I’m posting this. How appropriate and deliciously cheesy.

 

Merry days!

<3 C.

I am not a morning person. Never have been and probably never will be. I’m not likely to ever catch that worm. But when moving house added the extra stress of a long commute to my morning routine, I felt my morning mood getting worse and worse. (Both my boyfriend and my colleagues can probably attest to that. Sorry guys.) Time for a change. Time to beat that morning mood monster. Enter this month’s mantra: Kick Morning’s Butt.

Morning routine

What the experts say

Like the geek I am, I started with some research. One theory particularly triggered me: In Laura Vanderkam’s “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast“, she states that mornings are the best time to tackle crucial tasks. Why? Because people’s willpower and control tend to get weaker throughout the day. We just get fed up with making the sensible choice. Salad for lunch, pizza for dinner. Makes total sense.

So what distinguishes successful peeps from the rest of us? They focus on the first things first, while they are fresh and have a full daily dose of willpower to spend. They get up (early!) and get cracking at:

  • An important professional task
  • A personal passion project
  • Exercise or meditation
  • Quality time with their loved ones
  • Planning and strategizing towards their life goals
  • Getting their daily dose of news

Aside from the lightbulb powered by Vanderkam’s vision on willpower, I naturally turned to some of the ideas of my life guru Gretchen Rubin, to makeover my morning:

  • A good morning starts the night before, by simply getting to bed in time (I know ultimate #girlboss Arianna Huffington will agree).
  • Loving actions inspire loving feelings (and what better to start the day with).
  • To keep up with a new routine it should become a habit, like brushing your teeth. Something you don’t question, but just do.
  • The one minute rule: for some people (represent!) outer order inspires inner peace. Any chore that takes less than one minute should be done immediately, which will eliminate a lot of clutter.

How could that work for me?

Let’s be real. Tackling all of the things “successful peeps” do in the morning, would just set me up to fail, and probably even feed the morning mood monster. Priorities and baby steps. So I thought about the key things that poison my morning: feeling tired, feeling rushed and feeling like I am wasting time being stuck in the car. Easy. Now, what are things that make me feel happy? Feeling loved, learning new things and feeling like I am making healthy choices.

With that in mind, and considering what I’ve learned from the experts, I resolved to try these seven baby steps to make-over my morning routine

  1. Sleepytime alarm: rigorously following Gretchen’s advice I set an alarm at 10 PM, to remind myself to GO TO SLEEP.
  2. Buy some time: I set my morning alarm 45 minutes earlier, to eliminate the rushed feeling and have the time to add a few new happy habits to my morning routine.
  3. Snoozers are losers: No use setting the alarm if you will snooze that extra time away!
  4. 7 min workout: I am a total victim of the willpower trap, and have had a hard time keeping up my evening work-out. So why not try a quick daily morning workout. (I quite like this app since it gives you a routine, meaning I don’t have to wreck my sleepy brain coming up with exercises).
  5. Start with love: Take time to snuggle with the BF and pet my cat, before starting my morning routine. I get a tiny snooze pass for snuggles :)
  6. Listen and learn: I’ve always been a fan of audiobooks during my commute, but mostly stuck to fiction. On my way back from work I just don’t have the mental energy to listen to anything too serious. But Vanderkam’s willpower rule would suggest this to be different in the morning… Enter my new “reading”-routine: marketing/business/personal improvement in the morning, shameless fictional indulgence in the evening. With an alarm at the hour to make sure I switch to the radio for the news :)
  7. 5-minute clean-up: Inner peace through outer order definitely applies to me. The general application of the one minute rule and one quick household task before I leave the house will surely add to my feeling of efficiency.

How did that work for me?

Did I magically become a morning person by sheer force of will? Not even close. But I did manage to slightly tweak my routine for the better. Let’s take stock:

Success: the sleepytime alarm (prevents losing track of time when you’re Netflixing the night away), getting up earlier, starting with love (that one is not hard to keep up :) ), the audiobook reading routine (since I took up this habit, I’ve feasted my ears and mind on “Start with why”, “Blue Ocean Shift”, “The subtle art of not giving a fuck” and plenty of episodes of “The Happiness Project podcast” on my way to work).

Work in progress: 7 minute workout (daily proves to be unrealistic, but on the upside: have done at least 2 of them every week. Still waiting for this to become like brushing my teeth though.. ), snoozers are losers  (my bed is just so nice and warm…) and the 5 minute clean-up. These last two seem to be directly related to the amount of sleep I get, the former for obvious reasons and the latter because it is the first one I skip when I am running out of time.

So all in all, still some work ahead, but a good start! And I have to say: walking into the office on time (no rush!) and feeling like I already accomplished even the littlest of things, really did boost my morning mood. So there’s that.

What about you? Could your morning routine use a makeover?

Love, C.

My parents raised me well. When you visit someone, you don’t show up empty-handed. Just not done. So, whenever I’m going on a new-born baby visit I am confronted with somewhat of an inner conflict. See we Belgians have this wonderful habit we call the “diaper account”, where we just wire money as a gift to the new baby and its parents, for them to spend on whatever they desire or need. Very practical. Very rational. My efficient side loves it. My well-mannered side, not so much.

Excuse me? Entering a person’s home to celebrate the birth of their child with nothing but a virtual stack of cash? Outrageous. Enter the ongoing quest for original little gifts, to hand over along with the promise of that very practical donation. The latest episode in this series: cute little cuttings in personalized pots. Baby plants for baby people.

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How to go about this?

Couldn’t be easier. All you need are some cuttings (I went for aloe vera because babies deserve the cleanest air we can give them, don’t they), small terracotta flowerpots and letter stamps. Just stamp the name of the baby girl or boy on the pots, and you have the prettiest personalized gift. Very simple, very sweet.

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Clumsy girl tip: use some masking tape as a reference to stamp in a straight line. And never mind if you’ve created a few blotches when stamping. It’s handmade, remember? It’s not supposed to be perfect.

Happy crafting!

Love, C. 

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Can hardly believe this is actually happening! After three wonderful years, I am officially moving out of my little happy place. What can I say. Love made me do it.

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I’ve had such a great time creating a home out of this little house, adding more personal touches and vintage discoveries over time. Many a visitor told me they could just it tell it was my place, the moment they stepped across the doorstep. A lovely compliment, I always thought. ^^  Granted: I really let my inner (or maybe not so very inner) girl loose between these walls. (More pastels, anyone?) It was exactly what I wanted at that time in my life, and what I felt brought out the best in this light and lovely house. And didn’t it look nice and cosy in all its girliness?

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Now it’s on to a new interior mission. A new home. Naturally, my favourite part of moving is decorating the new place. (Beats the boxes routine by far…) The new house surely has a different spirit than this one. An older soul. I’m thinking a touch of boho, a pinch of vintage and an urban jungle vibe. I cannot wait to make it ours.

A new chapter, a new happy place.

Love, C.

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I love glass jars! Whether it’s in your home office (bye bye heaps of paperclips, washi tape, and other wandering knick-knacks) or on your kitchen cupboard (for flour, pasta our your M&M stash), they are both fun and functional.

161013-diy-jars-158-dsc_3387-2A personal touch makes just about everything better, doesn’t it? With a tad of DIY you can pimp the jars’ lids and turn them into unique deco items. For this example, I used toy dinosaurs (because: why the h*ll not), but you can create this effect with any little trinket. I personally have a few little cat figurines, saved from my grandma’s collection which would be perfect! Maybe next time around :)

161001-diy-jars-011-dsc_3240-2161001-diy-jars-082-dsc_3311-2The simple steps to take:

1. Glue the figurines on the lid (press down firmly!)
2. Let dry (an overnighter is always a good idea.)
3. Spray paint in a happy color.
4. Ready!

Easy peasy, right?

This post first appeared on Hello Sunshine

I rather like having catchy, inspirational quotes in my interior. However, when my mood changes, I would love them to change with me. One day you want a kick in the but to get that pile of work done, the next you want to remind yourself it’s ok to take a breath. Fickle? Not at all! These clipboards will easily keep up with your mood swings, with a dash of color and a touch of color for that little something extra

dsc_4427-diy-clipboard-6As with all my favorite DIY projects, this one is very easy to do.

WHAT YOU NEED:

 Clipboards
 Acrylic pint for that happiness factor
 Brushes
 Masking tape
 Gold leaf for a bit of bling
 Glue
 Duster brush


HOW YOU GO ABOUT IT:

Define the pattern you want with masking tape, for clean geometric shapes, and paint your clipboards in a happy color. In my case, two layers was enough for a good coverage. Remove the masking tape immediately after the second layer. Let the paint dry before you proceed with the gold leaf (an overnighter is always a good idea).

diy-clipboard-combo

For the gold leaf spots: add little strokes of glue across the painted surface. Lay the gold leaf carefully across the painted area and press down gently (or stroke across it with the duster brush) and let dry. Brush away the residual gold leaf, not stuck to the clipboard by the little strokes of glue, with the duster brush. That’s all there is to it!

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Happy crafting!

This post first appeared on Hello Sunshine

It’s the merriest time of the year again! If like me, you are part of several Secret Santa groups (people know I am a sucker for gift-giving…), you might still be looking for some original gift ideas. Believe me when I say: nothing says “extra mile” like a handmade present. However, when you go for that DIY gift, you’ll want something that looks a bit impressive but is actually fool-proof. Because you won’t want to wrap anything you don’t feel proud to give to your loved ones, do you? These two handmade gifts are pretty perfect in that regard! Easy and festive!

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Vintage teacup candles

You will need: teacups, long skewers, candle wax (you can use leftovers or get little wax beads at a crafts store), candle wicks and the little metal tabs to hold your wick. (I got wax, wicks and beads at the Banier).

  1. Pick up some pretty vintage teacups at a flea market or second hand store (I got these babies at the vintage Walhalla that is Burkelbloem Ghent)
  2. Cut off a piece of wick and attach the metal tabs to one end. Knot the other end to the skewer.
  3. Melt the candle wax carefully in a metal bowl above a pot of boiling water (“au bain marie”, as we tend to call this)
  4. Dip the metal base in the melted wax, to easily attach it to the middle of the bottom of your cup (this will stop the wick from moving to the side of the cup/candle).
  5. Place the skewer on top of the teacup, it will keep the wick upright.
  6. Carefully pour in the melted wax. If you feel extra festive you could add some glitter :) Let it cool and set.

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Mason jar snow globes

While I was picking up my candle-making-necessities at the Banier, I got inspired by a display of Christmas scenes in mason jars. As you can imagine, I stuffed some tiny trees, fake snow and little wooden animals in my basked as well. So easily persuaded by a little prettiness :) Stumbling on a collection of the cutest vintage deer and little Christmas tree decorations in the Burkelbloem right after this impulse buy told me it was fate though!

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It takes a little dexterity to get all your little elements into the jar and keep them upright (I used a skewer to give them gentle little nudges), but aside from that, this is the easiest thing ever! You just open the jar, stuff it all in and: voila!

Hope you’ll have fun making these, and even more fun giving them ^^

Love, C.

Is it just me or can this season’s trends take you pretty much anywhere you want to go? Flipping through fashion magazines (yes, for some things I still go old skool print) scouting styles for Hello Sunshine’s AW16 look book, I had the feeling just about anything can be on-trend, if you just own it. And isn’t that exactly the beauty of fashion these days? Because the best trends are the ones you can really make your own, aren’t they? The ones so adaptable to your personal style, you could basically dive into your wardrobe to create the desired look, without even having to rate the new collections. (Something I know my sustainable fashion guru Mara would approve of ;) ).

Case in point: anyone who knows me, knows I’m far from the rock chick type (let’s face it, I just cannot pull that bad girl vibe off…). But a softer, more feminine interpretation is definitely right up my alley! Enter the sweet rock chick look from our Hello Sunshine AW16 look book: badass black softened by pink and burgundy hues; sturdy (p)leather combined with delicate fabrics and flattering skirts: love it! So me, that every item from my version of this look has been part of my closet for quite some time. (Except for the leather jacket that is, borrowed that one from my dear Katrien). This A-line skirt is actually one of my most priced vintage pieces! I got it at Think Twice years ago (during my vintage treasure hunts prime time aka my student days) and still wear it all the time. The high-waist, calf-length fitting combined with a pair of heels always gives me a powerful #girlboss kinda feeling.

Speaking of #girlbosses: had such fun with our band of badass Hello Sunshine babes, shooting this look book! Almost felt sorry for poor Carina, getting this unruly bunch to behave in front of the camera. But what a kickass job she did! Can just feel the happy girly vibes when looking back at our pics, which is why I thought I’d share some of the unpublished images here. I’m usually rather awkward and stiff in front of the camera, but felt so empowered by this group of girls I went all attitude and (rare!) full teeth smile. Feeling comfortable in your skin, surrounded by your girls, that’s true girl power for ya <3

Have a look at the full Hello Sunshine AW16 look book here!

Delicate Rock Chick

Delicate Rock Chick

Delicate Rock Chick

Time sure flies by! In its signature way, Facebook just reminded me that one year ago today, I was in the middle of our South African adventure (I’m guessing somewhere between Coffee Bay and Tsitsikamma….) Can’t believe it’s been a year already! And please (pretty please!), can I go back, like.. NOW? (More about this trip of a lifetime here).

Apart from a bunch of great memories, life lessons and unforgettable sights, I came back from this trip with what might be considered a bit of a weird fascination. A weak spot, let’s say, for one African creature in particular. A teeny tiny obsession… with zebras. There is just something so fabulously illogical about them! A classic prey animal, with such a bold, striking print… I almost felt like there was a certain philosophy to it. Be your fabulous, extravagant self no matter what others think, and all that. The fact that I later found out the black and white stripes actually do serve as camouflage against mostly color blind predators, in no way diminished the fascination or inspiration brought on by this beautiful creatures.

I even decided to dedicate the final project of that year’s photography course to it. Because when you start brainstorming around these extraordinary animals, the possibilities are endless! From zebra prints, over zebra cakes to zebra crossings… A versatile subject if there ever was one. I had so much fun with it!

Special thanks to my fellow travellers Ben (for the inspiration!) and Katrien (for her modelling and awesome zebra socks!) .

Hope you like the result :)

❤ C.

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