I’m back! Three weeks of wandering from Johannesburg down to Cape Town left me mesmerized, sun burnt and with a full-on country crush. And out of the abundance of the heart… Because boy, does my heart have stories to tell! But instead of writing a novel-sized blogpost with all of the things I want to share, I’d thought I’d break it down and start by the beginning. The first (and if you ask me: most magical) part of our journey: our days in the South African Bush.

South Africa_101515_2834 copy

The highlights

We started our bush adventures the moment we drove through the Polaborwa gate into Kruger National Park (and spotted our very first impalas!). And yes: we were very tourist-cheesy about it, playing The Lion King theme song while doing so. (No shame!) We spent our time in this beautiful Park driving around (in the rented 4×4 we lovingly baptized Feisty Fonz <3), peering out of our car windows and trying to spot animals (with every sighting being accompanied by a big STOP scream and a test of dear Fonz’s breaks). The first night we slept in Olifants Restcamp and the next we laid our heads to rest in Lower Sabie Rest Camp. After these days of DIY animal tracking (guided and coached by our very own ranger Katrien <3), we headed to the beautiful nThambo Tree Camp in Klasserie. We took a little detour through the Blyde River Canyon, to check out the “potholes”, admire the three “rondavels“ and gaze out of “God’s window”. 

the bushthe tips

Plan ahead! Tempted to try your own Kruger experience? Make sure to book it (WAY) in advance! We started planning our trip about a year beforehand (this was the first thing we booked) and even then we snatched some of the last lodges in our preferred rest camps. Do splurge just a little: the bit extra you pay for a lodge with a view is REALLY worth it!

Find your perfect game combo. We found that the combination of the “DIY” stay in Kruger Park and the more “guided” days in nThambo was a perfect cocktail. You have your first “bush discoveries” at your own pace, trying your hand at tracking and spotting the animals yourself, after which your wildlife experience gets kicked into a higher gear with the help of experienced trackers and rangers. And yes: you’re more likely to spot those Big 5 with their guidance :)

The Bush Pub and Inn, where we stayed for a night between Kruger and nThambo. We had some difficulty finding the place (as it is located at the crossing of 3 private parks, so rather deep into the bush) but were delighted with the friendly reception. We originally booked a backpackers room, but they were nice enough to upgrade us to one of the Inn rooms, score! The place has a really chill atmosphere and very cozy rooms.

South Africa_101215_0967 copy

 

The memories

Bad Baboon Behavior. We had rather comical (but also a tiny bit scary) experience in Lower Sabie, where a Baboon stole our breakfast rusks (South African specialty! Look it up :) ). Smart little bastards…

(Bogus) Ranger stories. In the Bush Pub we ended up having some drinks with 2 rangers, who told us fascinating tales about their days dedicated to wildlife…and about all the bogus stories and nature facts they make particularly annoying tourists believe :) (Oh yes, giraffes’ necks are this long because they sleep with their heads stuck between two high branches…)

Sweet Savannah. NThambo’s domesticated African Wild Cat honored me with her friendship and cuddles one day after morning drive. I was assured “she does not do that with everyone” and felt very privileged!

nThambo Love. To me, our stay in this Tree Camp was nothing short of amazing. Contrary to the rest camps in Kruger, nThambo is not fenced, so you sleep in pile huts smack in the middle of animal kingdom. Granted: I was a tiny bit chicken-shit. But what an experience! On the game drives we got to see the animals from (really!) up close. (Definitely NOT DIY, and only possible when accompanied by a trained ranger). Again: a bit chicken shit. But wow. I mean WOW. I started this trip with an open mind, curious about how the experience would affect me. Witnessing the wildlife in this way (especially all the baby animals we were lucky enough to see): the awe… Oh, and sipping GT’s and watching the sunset in the heart of the bush (while stretching our legs in the middle of a night game drive), wasn’t bad either :)

South Africa_101515_2884 copy

South Africa_101215_0620 copy

South Africa_101415_2433 copy

South Africa_101415_2500 copy

South Africa_101415_2475 copy

South Africa_101015_0214

South Africa_101215_1659

South Africa_101215_0659 copy

Pics by me, Katrien and Lore

It might be a tad quiet here over the next few weeks! Heading for an African adventure with a few of my all-time favorite peeps <3 I can’t believe after all these months of planning and counting down, the moment is finally here… So psyched I can’t even. You know, that so-excited-you-can’t-sleep-eat-think pre-travel state of mind? Yup: that’s where I’m at! Might be doing some gramming from the road if I get the chance, so keep an eye on my IG account if you’d like the occasional update ;)

Anyway, time to stuff some last items in my suitcase and say goodbye to my little Nalu… (A big shout-out to one very special friend who is coming to stay with her while I’m away!)

Sien jou later! <3 C.

person-beach-holiday-vacation-large by Ed Gregory

2015-09-20 14.29.15

So yes, I’m a girly girl. I have a love affair with dresses, love me some pastels and created quite the girly happy place for myself. But don’t be fooled :) As the only girl amidst a band of brothers, I’m not averse to stepping out of my girly zone. You’ll never hear me refer to myself as a tom boy (cause let’s face it, I’d be lying), but I do love a look with a dash of androgyny. Somehow, when you’re dressed comme les garçons, you feel even more aware of the feminine fire within. Those fiery red lips help, of course ;)

Fitting with the lovely days of Indian Summer we’ve had these past weeks, one last bright colored look before switching to an Autumn color palette? I got this color blocked top at a ZOOT sale a few months ago and even though I was a bit hesitant before buying it (it’s not the most flattering model ever for the feminine form..) I’m so glad I caved because it has turned out to be one of my go-to pieces these last few months. Light, comfortable and super easy to style (I feel that it’s enough of a statement on its own, and doesn’t need much to create an outfit). And what can I say: its bold brightness just lifts my mood :)  Nothing beats a happy look!

Happy Days! <3 C.

2015-09-20 14.28.12

2015-09-20 14.30.33

2015-09-20 14.32.31

2015-09-20 14.33.19

French Connection top – Vintage blazer – American Eagle jeans – Adidas Stan Smith Sneakers

Pics by Mara

Croatia20150903_224

Nothing like a little getaway to recharge that mental battery, am I right? We kicked off September with a week of wandering the Dalmatian Coast, and it was just what the doctor ordered! Besides the obvious joys of traveling, discovering new places and experiencing new things, it’s the little things which I secretly look forward to just as much and which trigger that state of total holiday bliss…

Reading Reading Reading! Yup, I’m a closet bookworm! My everyday routine rarely allows me time to read as much as I would want to. So selecting which books to pack and stretching out in the sun with a good read is one of my favorite parts of going on holiday. In the relaxed holiday state of mind I also feel like I’m more receptive for what’s written between the lines, more inclined to think about what a story really means. I usually end up with a book that will forever be the symbol of that specific holiday, one storyline that lingers in my mind. This year, that title definitely goes to the tragically beautiful “All the lights we cannot see

Disconnecting. As a natural part of my digital job, I’m ALWAYS connected. Yes, a slight social media addiction might play a role here to :) Taking a break from all of this is an important part of really getting into the chill-vacation-spirit. Granted, the social media disconnect is often largely due to a lack of mobile data abroad, rather than an actual choice… But it’s the result that counts, right? :)

Contemplating the big and little things. Disconnecting from both your real and virtual life opens up quite a bit of space to let your mind wander, now doesn’t it? After a few hectic months it feels so wonderfully luxurious to just gaze at a beautiful view and take stock. It tends to clarify what matters most, and energize for challenges ahead.

Getting inspired. When you give your mind the room to wander, it might end up in magical places. Nothing like a relaxed and open mind in a stimulating environment to get those creative juices flowing. I often return from holiday with plenty of new ideas, plans and stories in my luggage.

Enjoying the moment. You don’t need to be any specific place at any specific time. Just enjoy where you are and what you are doing there. Cherishing that moment while it lasts = total bliss.

Enjoying the company. Whether you’re traveling with friends or that special someone, I love how holidays give you the opportunity to really spend time together. To talk about everything and nothing. To discover that little thing you never knew about each other.

What could I find on your holiday bliss list?

<3 C.

Croatia20150901_171

Tondelier20150517_083The Man Repeller. My fellow fans of the fashion blogosphere will probably be familiar with this concept, conceived by the wonderfully witty Leandra Medine, founder of the Man Repeller blog. On this “humorous website for serious fashion” (seriously, you must check it out, the writing is so clever and snappy, I love it!), she describes it as follows:

man·re·pell·er1 [mahn-ree-peller]

–noun

she who outfits herself in a sartorially offensive mode that may result in repelling members of the opposite sex.

I’ve always felt like there are definitely trends and styles that are strictly “a girls thing” (or even a “fashion girls thing”). Outfits we put on to please no one but ourself or our fellow girls, because we just know most guys will hate them (or just don’t get them, you know ;) ) So when I stumbled upon this blog in one of my online wanderings I was like YES! THIS GIRL GETS IT!

Meanwhile, the term has become somewhat of a common phrase amongst me and my girlfriends. When out shopping or giving each other outfit advice something in the sense of “Love it! A bit man repeller though” is standard conversation. (I realize we’re not using the term 100% accurately – more as an adjective than a noun – but I’m sure Leandra won’t mind).

Now: which pieces or styles, you ask, are commonly known to deserve this title? A little field research amongst my girls (and some of our boys – thanks for the input guys!) resulted in the following (probably non-exhaustive) list of garments which will most likely inspire a degree of aversion in the male specimen:

Dungarees / Platform shoes / Boyfriend jeans / Harem pants / Wool sweaters / Floral prints / Maxi skirts / Retro patterns / Ballerina flats / Flared pants / Christmas jumpers / Everything oversized or baggy

As a true #girlboss evangelist I’m all for dressing for nobody but yourself. Who cares what any guy, even your significant other, thinks? As long as you feel great wearing it, nothing else really matters. But you know what? If you feel like wearing something you know he’ll love, that’s perfectly fine to. There is no shame in wanting to dress up for your man every once in a while (and feeling hot as hell doing so). There is girl power in that to, isn’t there? Whatever makes you feel confident and beautiful. That being said, if he’s the right kinda guy, you’ll sweep him of his feet wearing your most man-repelling look. (Oh yes, we’ve been known to put a guy to the dungaree-test on early dates). Something about the book and its cover, right? ;)

<3 C.

Man Repeller

Man Repeller

Man Repeller

Lee dungarees – Zara top  – Nike Sneakers

Summer sure is flying by! Luckily I still have some exciting travel plans (with a few of my favorite peeps <3) to look forward to ^^ In case you are considering a little weekend getaway of your own, but haven’t fixed on a destination yet: Paris is ALWAYS a good idea ;) Visiting this beautiful city with a “first timer” a little while ago, it got me thinking about what my all-time favorites in the City of Lights are. So if you would ask me what you should do to experience “my Paris”, here’s what I would say:

1. Have breakfast or brunch at a classic Parisian bistro. Make sure to start your days in beauty! And who doesn’t love a little croissant-café au lait combo? Yes please!

2. Rent a Velib bike and drive along the Seine. I’ll be the last to suggest a full-blown tourist style trip to Paris, even if you’re a first-timer, but  you might want a little culture to feed your soul, now don’t you? Especially in summer, a bike ride along the water is the perfect way to get your quick tourist fix. Start at the Eiffel tower and pedal on merrily, past the Grand Palais, Les Invalides, Musée D’Orsay, the Louvres, across Ile de la cite (Hello Notre Dame!), right up to Ile Saint Louis.

3. Have lunch at “Le Marché des Enfants Rouges”. All this sightseeing gets a girl hungry! Why don’t you cross that stately river and head to the Marché des Enfants Rouges, the oldest market in the city? I adore this roofed-in food Walhalla’s relaxed boho atmosphere and think you might too!

4.Get lost in the streets of Le Marais. The little cobblestoned streets of this historic yet so contemporary area are crammed with art galleries, cute little bistros, cozy coffee houses and pretty boutiques. Coming from the  Marché des Enfants rouges (because I just know you’ll follow this list religiously ;) ), you might want to stop by Merci first, and also foresee a quick touristy stop at the beautiful Place des Vosges, before starting your leisurely stroll in the neighborhood between Place des Vosges & Rue du Temple. Oh and if you’re up for some vintage shopping, you can find my favorite spots in Le Marais here.

5. Wander or lounge along Canal St Martin. While Le Marais is probably my favorite Parisian neighborhood, this one is definitely a close second. Not a classic tourist destination just yet, the area around this 4 km canal still has an authentic feel about it. Beautiful views, colorful people and interesting little shops (for all you lovers of books and all things creative, definitely stop by Artazart). If you find yourself in the area in the late afternoon/early evening: the perfect place for a casual aperitif on the edge of the canal.

6. Take a breath at Jardin Catherine-Labouré. Paris is a voluptuously vibrant city, but sure can get hectic at times. Hidden behind thick walls in the heart of the 7th arrondissement (29 Rue de Babylone, to be precise) lies this little green gem. Nothing spectacular really, but just a beautiful “secret garden” you can flee to for a nice quiet moment.

7. Snoop for vintage treasures at Les Puces. A Parisian Sunday classic: a trip across the northern Périphérique to visit the Saint Ouen Flea market aka Les Puces! This vintage wonderland is Paris’ most famous flea market and hosts 15 different markets, each with their own story and characteristic atmosphere. Don’t expect to score great bargains here (these guys know what their goods are worth) but the atmosphere and treasures on display alone are worth the trip.

Bon voyage! <3 C.

paris 101

Every reason for a trip to Pars is a good one in my book. Even no reason at all :) I guess the growing size of that “Paris” tag on this blog’s sidebar (yes, feel free to have a look at that tag cloud to see what else has been on my blogger’s mind ;) ) is undeniable proof of my weak spot for this beautiful city. This weekend I had the pleasure of introducing someone to it for the very first time. Oh the joy of seeing the City of Lights through a newbie’s eyes… But also: dilemmas!  So little time, so much to see and share… It really made me consider what my all-time- Paris-must-sees are. I have a feeling a future blogpost might be in order here ;)

But anyway: since a first time visit inevitably entails some touristy activities, I thought I’d dress the part (no halfway measures for this girl!). Nothing screams tourist like a good tropical print (for me personally, the word tourist always invokes this image of a skinny, sun-burned Englishman with Hawai print shorts…), so this happy comfy palm tree number was a no-brainer. The fact that it’s by la petite française is just one of life’s perfect coincidences. Topped off with a sturdy pair of sneakers (yes, like so many before me – and half of Le Marais it seems – I caved for a pair of Stan Smiths. Not very original but what can I say: they were too pretty to resist…) and some light layers, and I was set to hit the town, tourist style.

Happy tourist tip: the Velolib bikes are a perfect (and budget friendly!) way to get around the city, especially if you want to hit several neighborhoods in a day, and admire the beautiful sights along the way. Biking through those pretty streets or along the Seine: <3 it!

Bisous! C.

IMG_6064

IMG_6090

IMG_6142

IMG_6106

 

IMG_6063

Kiomi shirt – H&M jacket – la petite française pants –Addidas Stan Smith sneakers – Suiteblanco Bag – Paul Frank glasses

Nothing like a good glass of wine to wind down after a hectic day, am I right? Are you a lover of the best grapes have to offer, cozy hangouts and most of all: beautiful projects by kick-ass #girlbosses? (Check, check and CHECK!) Then I have just the thing for you: meet Ona: the girl and the bar :)

The Girl

There are certain people in life you cannot help but instantly like, gravitate towards. This girl is definitely one of them. I guess it might be a charisma thing. But most likely it’s an Ona thing. A 26 year old lover of life, music and all things yummy, Ona radiates the kind of positive energy that can instantly boost anyone’s mood. Ona according to her friends? Warm, passionate and energetic (tx for the intel Lore Maene ;)  <3). Seems about right to me! Fun fact: she also has been playing basketball for over 15 years. A driver on the court as much as in life ;)

Graduated in the field of communications, Ona has always had a soft spot for the hospitality industry. After running a coffee bar for about a year, she tried her hand at a more “classic” office job, with the idea of putting her degree to use. But as much as she liked the people she worked with, she realized this was not her passion.

ona1

The Story

“I started to think about what I really wanted: what do I like to do, what am I good at? I had all this energy and was looking for a challenge, somewhere to channel it into. It was pretty simple really: what I am most passionate about is enjoying food, wine and the good things life has to offer.” So why not share this passion with the world? And more specifically: our beautiful city of Ghent?

Granted: Ghent already has a lot of nice places to hang out and enjoy a drink. But I felt like there was still something missing. You either find those really hip “hotspots”, where everything feels almost too well thought out, too spick-and-span, or the classic, more rugged pub. I was missing a cozy middle ground here.”

Moreover, much like yours truly, Ona loves to enjoy a good glass of wine when going out. Sadly, a lot of the places we like to hang out at serve horrible wine. That’s how the first inkling of an idea took root. Ona enrolled in a sommelier course, to gain more insight into this drink she was so passionate about. “The more I learned about it, the more disappointed I was with the offer in a lot of bars. I really felt like there was something there. An opportunity. To offer a good glass of wine at a reasonable price, in a nice environment. I’ve been playing with the idea for over a year, developing the concept so once the right time, the right opportunity, came along, I would be ready to grasp it with both hands.”

ona6

The Bar

And that time is very much now! This weekend, Ona is opening the doors of her very own wine bar ONA, which will be marked with her name as well as her distinctive personal touch. The main goal of ONA is to offer a good, affordable and honest glass of wine to anyone who feels like it. No matter whether you’re a connoisseur or an amateur, ONA invites you to discover and enjoy. “It’s important to me to offer a good range of wines by the glass: I’m starting off with 8 whites and 8 reds. Rather ambitious but I really hope I can keep it up, so people can come and try out different things.”  

Sustainability and proximity are a big part of what Ona wants to bring. She chose her assortment very carefully, only selecting sustainable growers from within Europe, preferably from small vineyards.  80% stems from bio production. Wines that each have their own identity, their own story. “I really want to go back to the roots of the product. To quality and the way good wine has been made for ages. There is so much heritage and quality close by, why look any further?”

This concept of proximity also extends to the rest of ONA’s offering. Because yes: even if you’re not into fermented grapes, you’ll be sure to find something to your liking ;) No big brand soft drinks around, even the mineral water originates from as close as the East of Flanders. In the afternoon, you can stop by for a yummy cup of coffee or tea. Or how about some home-made iced tea and lemonade or a glass of 100% chardonnay grapefruit juice? (the second best thing grapes have to offer ;) ) YUM!

Anyway: ONA is opening this Friday, and will be celebrating all weekend! Hope you’ll be sipping a glass during her opening weekend, I know I will :)

Cheers! C.

Schermafbeelding 2015-05-06 om 11.29.45

ona4

Pictures: Yann Bertrand

Oh those soft and sunlit spring days! That much more precious in their scarcity than yet another sunny summer day (even though those can get quite scarce in our little country as well ;) #weatherobsessedbelgian). They do come with one dilemma though. At least for me. Which sunny favorite to wear first? Decisions, decisions… Choosing seems losing, because you’ll never know when the fickle spring weather will grant you another window of opportunity. Pressure = on! ;) This particular combo is one of my go-to looks at the moment, since it combines four of my spring wardrobe pets (not sure if that’s an actual thing, but feel like it should be :) ):

The cute and comfy flower print dress I got it as part of my Austin wardrobe (oh yes, conferences demand targeted shopping), a perfect “business casual” option in my opinion. I’ve been wearing it quite a lot lately! I really like the fit: loose enough to be gentle to your figure, but not so loose it hides your feminine forms. And the print is just so unapologetically girly! Instant good mood! What can I say: I just feel good wearing it. In the end that’s the ultimate sartorial goal now isn’t it?

The pretty pastel pink purse I got as a gift from major #girlboss and inspiration Trix (inspired by my love letter to pastels, how thoughtful is that!). Straight from one of her passion projects Eviva E, an online shop where she shares her love for Spain by offering a beautiful selection of genuine Spanish products, imported directly from her second home. Definitely worth a virtual visit ;)

To complete the pastel party: a little ice-cream colored wrist candy from my jewellery. Playful, delicate and a perfect match for this dress’ color scheme: <3

Finally: my super soft Vero Moda cardigan. It’s just SO soft and fluffy, how could I not ADORE it? (SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE) Random side note: on two separate occasions I had a total stranger coming up to me and asking me if they could touch it (once on an escalator in Austin and once in a coffee bar in Brussels). Sounds a bit creepy when I write it down like this, but it was quite the conversation starter ;)

Hope you’re out there enjoying spring days and cardigan inspired conversations too! ;)

Love, C.

Fluff & Flowers20150418_01

Fluff & Flowers20150418_13

Fluff & Flowers20150418_27

Fluff & Flowers20150418_21

Dorothy Perkins Dress – Vero Moda cardigan – my jewellery bracelets c/o – Eviva E purse c/o – Converse sneakers

Pics by Mara

SxSW Tee20150405_89I can’t believe it’s been a month since I set out to Austin for my very first #SxSW. Accompanied by three of my favorite geniuses and armed with an open mind, the necessary geeky stuff and a solid set of sneakers, I threw myself into this Texan adventure. And what an inspiring adventure it has been! Beside tons of smart insights, mind boggling innovations and clever thought processes, what I will remember most of all are the inspiring people I got to witness on and off stage. Now some of the Texan dust has settled, here are some of their life lessons that seem to have stuck with me:

1. Embrace failure

In our results-oriented society, failure can be a difficult concept. We are hardwired with the desire to do well, win, be the best. But sometimes, you have to be willing and ready to fail, in order to come out on top. To trigger real change. Give yourself room to fail, and be smart about it: asses, learn and shift direction.

John Vary, innovation manager at John Lewiss: “It’s ok to fail. The trick is to take the right risk, fail the right way.

Google’s Astro Teller: “Failure drives progress. Fail often, hard and fast. It will give you the insights and mental push to get it right.

2. Stay curious

Innovation was never found on the beaten track. An average kid asks 100 questions a day, whereas an average adult only asks 4. Why not embrace that kid in you, daring to question what you do and how you do it? Be curious about the world around you and its endless possibilities. Who knows what you might discover…

Producer & author Brian Grazer: “Curiosity is a superpower. It’s a driving emotion that gives you courage to pursue those ideas you otherwise wouldn’t.

Nilofer Merchant: “If we only look for one particular set of ideas, we miss everything else. If we’re curious enough to look further we can find an entire new solution for an old problem.

3. Find your place of authenticity, and stick with it

In a maturing online sphere, it’s all about creating meaningful connections. People connect with people. So be human. Find your authentic voice and natural online personality. Don’t share what you think you should, but what you want to. Find your passion and share that story with the world. Your passion will be what sets you apart from the crowd.

Eva Chen: “What makes you different? Find what excites you and let that enthusiasm shine.

Michelle Phan: “People think they have to copy, but the beauty of the internet is that everyone can have their own niche market. If you’re being real – being yourself – people appreciate that.

4. Remember that your project is only as good as the people involved

No matter how motivated and brilliant you might be, you’re just one person. Cherish what other people bring to the table. It’s where the magic happens. Surround yourself with people that inspire you and bring value to your life. And be a team player, for heaven’s sake!

Spencer Griffin: “Nobody is so good they can afford to be a dick.

Gary Vaynerchuk: “I don’t give a fuck if you’re the best, learn to play with the other girls and boys or you’re out!

Decoded Fashion’s Liz Bacelar: “It’s like baking a cake: focus on the right ingredients, the right people, and you can create beautiful results.”

5. Celebrate uniqueness

There are many ways to be good in the world. You’re the only one with your particular blend of goodness. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Celebrate your uniqueness and that of those around you.

Nilofer Merchant: “How many of us have been told that we’re too wild or too weird to fit in? Each of us is standing in a place in the world only you are standing at. It’s in this place you create value. We have to celebrate that which each of us bring.

Princess Reema: “If you stand still, you’re letting them push you down. If you keep walking, they have to follow you.