A New Year...


A new year, a new me? Not exactly, but still a new phase in my life no matter how dramatic it sounds. A recent post by Carmen Varner about life after university pretty much sums up where I am at and have been in the last couple of months. Even though I have only just finished and am awaiting my degree certificate, I have not had any classes since before the Summer of 2014. Weird when you think about it like that. With no school and studying to occupy my time and life, it starts to hit me that I have to take action instead of keeping my life a bit on a pause. Sure, it is good to unwind a bit (as far as that is possible) but as I am one who likes to make lists I am feeling the need to make some plans for myself. Nothing extravagant, just to get a bit more of a routine in my life that is seriously lacking at the moment. Similar to New Year's Resolutions, you wonder? Yes, sort of. I never was a person for making them, but if we want to head in that direction then let's call them that.

Drink more water and start exercising. Let's get the typical ones out of the way shall we? If I am doing some New Year's resolutions then I might as well go all the way and take a couple of the most used ones - drinking more water as one of them. On a day to day basis I drink water and tea, sometimes coffee. I cannot remember when I started to exclude the fizzy drinks, maybe two or three years ago. Even so, I still drink way too little on a day due to laziness, seeing up against going to the toilet, but usually by just forgetting to drink. So yes, drinking more water is something I need to work on. Secondly, start exercising. I cannot believe I am putting this on the list as a non-athletic person for various reasons and as someone who hasn't really had a weekly workout since, uhm, P.E. in high school? Yup, I am that kind of girl. Of course, I walk a lot when I am out and about and I do cycle to work, but I do not actively exercise and I really should. The fact that some form of rheumatism runs in the family (on both sides) and having overloaded my neck and back in the last couple of months certainly put things in perspective.

January is almost coming to an end and I can already say that I have taken action on both these items. I notice that I remember to drink and although it usually adds up to maybe two glasses more a day, it is something. As for the excercise, I have installed two workout apps on my phone when I started to notice my back and neck pains some time ago, and am trying to use them at least once a week. Still taking baby steps and especially focusing on the areas that I have strained by doing extensive stretch workouts and warm ups is a great start if I say so myself.

Start a routine. The aforementioned resolutions luckily already contribute like that, but as stated my life is sort of in a pause and I should undertake some action if I want to battle this frequent tiredness due lack of structure. No classes and having a lot of free time on my hands, although to be honest a lot of them are reserved for helping my mom around the house, means finding ways to occupy myself with such as a new job. It would be amazing if I could start somewhere related to what I have studied for in the last couple of years, but as only a few very lucky people receive this opportunity straight away I am just happy with getting a job with more hours than I currently have. Having more free time on my hands also means I can spend more time doing the things I like to do, like learning how to play more songs that I like on my guitar and keyboard, but also being able to spend more time on my blog.

So far, I am soliciting to every vacancy a store in the vicinity has to offer with more hours than I have now. All I can do is apply and wait for a response. As for the more fun stuff, as you would have seen in the second part of my 2014 favourites, I finally learned how to play a song by Civil Twilight on my keyboard. Still not able to completely sing and play it at the same time, but I am getting there.

Blog. The first month of a new year means another year for my blog. I started this blog in 2013, on the 1st of January and it now has 133 posts and over 5000 views (although I am sure at least 500 are mine). Happy belated birthday blog! I cannot believe how much my blog has grown - sounding a bit like that aunt you only see on your birthday - but it has. 2014 was the year I discovered Bloglovin' and bloggerchats on Twitter, both of which contributed greatly to how I see, work, and post on my blog. Next to this, I have found even more great blogs to follow and people who have been so very kind to me even if it was just by favoriting or replying to a tweet I posted in one of the many bloggerchats that I didn't know of until I read this post by The Lovecats Inc. If you want to be more involved into the blogging world and want to get to know who is out there, then make sure to check them out. 

Blogging continues to be something I love to do. December's Blogmas was a new undertaking for me and I didn't think I would be able to make a post every other day, but I did. Don't expect any of those crazy undertakings on a regular basis, but I do want this blog to continue to grow. Not necessarily in the amount of views and followers, but as my own personal space online where I can ramble off in a post like this one. Let me know what you would like to see and as always thank you for visiting this little blog of mine.





Today's post was all set up to be a what you could call "my new years resolutions," but instead I am going to dedicate this one to my friends. Spoiler: soppy post ahead!

As you may or may not know the second half of 2014 has been a very stressful period for me, mostly centered on finishing and passing my thesis and therefore complete my master's degree. During this period various different experiences has made me feel like I was pretty much on my own. Despite all this, I somehow managed to pass my thesis in December and my crazy bunch of friends - whom I mostly just talked with online during that period because of our busy lives - threw me a surprise party yesterday evening.

Surely, a surprise party is always special, but it really struck me emotionally (especially due to the preceding months). Of course, being the awkward penguin that I am I was completely baffled and didn't know how to react or express how much it meant to me - though the couple of tears might have given it away - and that's the reason for this post.

Seven individuals who I met and befriended when I moved to a new town, a new house, and a new school and basically had to start all over. Seven people with the utmost different personalities who together - with me included - form a rather unique group of friends, but somehow just seem to fit. I am utterly humbled, grateful, and proud to call each and every single one of you my friend. Thank you.



2014 Favourites - II

Hello, hello! Interested in seeing the second part of my favourites of 2014? Then keep on reading. As with the first installment it wasn't until writing everything down that I noticed I either have a lot of items to go through or just have a lot to say about it. That last bit certainly applies to some mentioned items here, so get yourself a cup of tea, sit back and start reading about my favourite books, films, music, food and drinks. 

I hardly watch TV simply because the TV series or shows I watch are not aired on Dutch TV and there is not really much else that particularly interests me that I am not able to watch online as well. Nonetheless, watching everything online also has a downside (if you can call it that) because I just keep on adding new things to watch. Next to the TV series that I watch for some years now, there are a couple of TV series that really interested me last year. For one I have rekindled my interest for Once Upon A Time, a fairy tale drama series centered on the fictional city Storybrooke and its population of known fairy tale characters within the modern world. When this show first aired in 2011 I watched it with my mom but never got fully into it, until the last couple of months of 2014 - I am all up to date now. Another show that has kept my interest and only had its second season in 2014 is Reign. Reign is a historical fiction TV series about Mary, Queen of Scots and her early years of living in France. Besides mentioning these two shows that I have watched as well in previous years, I also want to highlight two series that were completely new to me in 2014. First up is Penny Dreadful a series centered on 19th century British and Irish fictional characters we all know including Victor Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, Mina Harker, and Abraham Van Helsing. A lot more darker, serious, and an almost horror-like TV series as opposed to Once Upon A Time. Last but not least it was in 2014 that I was introduced to In The Flesh, a zombie-series or in this case Partially Deceased Sufferers and with that a different take on the conflict and confrontation between the living and the living dead. 

Of course my favourite film of last year has to be The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies. Having seen it two times in the cinema says it all, doesn't it? The second time was more to be able to see it with my friends, but I enjoyed the film just as much and with it the end of the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit world. It has left me nostalgic of the days when I would just watch all the bonus discs of the LOTR dvd's and I recently received the extended edition box set from my good friend Esther which is amazing. My friends and I are already planning marathons.

Sadly, I haven't read that many books in 2014 and I suppose it is mainly because I was doing my master's during most of that year. So besides reading all the stuff for my study I didn't want to indulge myself in any more reading. Now that I have completed my study, I am participating in the Goodreads '2015 Reading Challenge' with the simple quest of reading 15 books in 2015. Back to 2014, the books I did read for entertainment - or shall we say get lost in another world as this is what I love most about books - and loved were 'City Of Heavenly Fire' by Cassandra Clare and 'The Night Circus' by Erin Morgenstern.

The first one mentioned is the last installment of Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments Series, a book series revolving around a girl named Clary Fray who gets introduced to a secret world within our own existing of demons, Downworlders, and Shadowhunters. You may remember that a movie was made of the first book and although it didn't receive the success that was intended, they are in the midst of making it a TV Series. Since probably more people have seen the film and heard about it and simply because I do not want to spoil the ending of the series I will not include a synopsis. If you are into fantasy and young adult series that simultaneously covers a lot of different topics then give it a go.

The 'Night Circus' on the other hand is still fantasy but with a very different scenario - although still including a love story - and as introduced on Erin Morgenstern's website:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
 A story about a magical circus with beautiful descriptions that your imagination just gives into if you are a dreamy type like me who loves fantasy and above all set in a Victorian-type age. Love it.

Music always is a difficult topic to choose favourites from in my case, but I thought I might just name a couple artists and bands that I have discovered in the last year. If you keep up with any of my Monthly Music posts these should not come as a surprise, so you have been warned. First and foremost Civil Twilight and their self-titled album including the utmost beautiful songs 'Human' and 'Letters From The Sky'. Oh my god, I fell in instant love with these two songs and cannot tell you how many times I have listened to them over and over. Back in one of my first Monthly Music I asked if anyone had any sheet music or a tutorial on how to play 'Human' and although I am still on the search on how to play this song completely I did find a tutorial on YouTube by Andrea Kelso on how to play 'Letters From The Sky'.  Although I am still in the beginner levels of playing guitar and my keyboard I enjoy learning how to play a song that I can put my heart and soul into and sing and make my own. Phew, okay that was a long segment so I'll keep the rest short. Of course, James Bay, RHODES, and Hozier have to be mentioned who I all discovered as well in 2014. The amazing voice of James Bay was first introduced to me in a video by Hannah Maggs or as subscribers know it #sundaynightwiththemichalaks. It wasn't until later on that his music also appeared on Dutch radio which I thought was quite a coincidence. A similar story can be said of me finding out about Hozier and his great songs. The first time I came across this artist was in a vlog by Tanya Burr. Again, not listening to the radio or watching TV all that much I soon came to realize 'Take Me To Church' by Hozier was already a definite hit here in the Netherlands. I surely discovered a lot of music via YouTube because RHODES was one of the artists I came across when I was searching for new music to listen to.  A long story for my favourites but I love music so if you haven't checked them out, give them a listen.

On to the last part food, drinks, and all that's just yummy! My favourite drinks of 2014 were the Mango Drink by Maaza (discovered by my mom on the train station), 100% Beetle Juice (that I found on a trip to Big Bazar), Ginger Ale (the staple drink of my friends and I when we were in Berlin), and my homemade Banana Smoothie (just too easy to make).

When it comes to food I definitely have to mention pasta and pizza's in their many different shapes, forms, and flavours.Of course I cannot leave without mentioning the amazing combination of hummus and carrots and grilled cheese sandwhich that I can now make to perfection thanks to this blogpost.

Sweets and Treats
I have a sweet tooth or just am an overall foodie and my friends know it so I have to include a sweets and treats segment to conclude this post. The second half of 2014 has been all about the wine gums. I cannot imagine how many bags of wine gums we have devoured here at home in the last couple of months of last year. My mom had the idea of having a couple of jars in the living room with cookies and sweets with the idea that eventually we would get bored of them. So wrong...the jars are still being emptied and the wine gum craze is still going strong. Besides those wine gums I have been loving the Fizzy candy mix of Red Band (so much that one time I went so quickly through the bag, the sourness of the candy in it had hurt my tongue) and various sorts of salted and chocolate covered nuts mixes.

Wow, are you still here? I hope you have enjoyed your tea. That rounds up my favourites of 2014. What has been your favourite in any of these categories? Is there a category I have missed? Sound off in the comments below!



Monthly Music

Catching a bit of the Monday blues? Maybe listening to some music will lift your spirits, it sure always works for me. A new monthly music containing the songs I have been listening to the most in December. For this round-up I am using a different platform to create my play list - PodSnack. For the past months you have been able to listen to the mentioned songs via a play list I created on 8tracks, although I recently found out that if you, lovely reader, are watching a post via Bloglovin' the play list doesn't show. Not to worry, if you are still interested in hearing the tracks then just head back in your normal browser. Anyways, to combat the limited song catalogue 8tracks offered I am testing PodSnack where I can just search on YouTube. As always, let me know what you think!

We Are The Ocean - Story Of A Modern Child
Mashup Germany - My Bitter Cheap Symphony (Still Sweet)
Stateless - Bloodstream
Sam Smith - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
John Murphy - The Surface Of The Sun
A Day To Remember - All Signs Point To Lauderdale
Agnes Obel - Tokka
Kodaline - Way Back When
A Day To Remember - This Is The House That Doubt Built 
Years & Years - Desire
Andy Williams - It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
Kwabs -Walk
RHODES - Your Soul
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk
Years & Years - Memo
Florence + The Machine - Leave My Body



2014 Favourites - I

Hello Hello! I hope you have had a wonderful start of the new year. Up for seeing some of my favourite  products considering all things beauty? Then keep on reading, but before we start a bit of extra information. Firstly a little disclaimer: some of the products shown here have been in my favourites of 2013. When I truly love a product I stick with it. What can I say? Creature of habit. When it works, it works. In case you're interested what other products made up my favourites of that year which I compiled back then in a four-part series of posts are available here (hair), here (lips), here (face), and surprise surprise here (eyes). Secondly, instead of just having beauty-related favourites I mixed it up this time. This post will include all the beauty bits which I think most of you are interested. Think make-up, skin, and hair. In addition there will be a part two next week showing all the other stuff I have loved in 2014. From films and series, to food and music. For both posts I have tried to add clickable links to the brand's website or the shop where you can find the mentioned product.  Phew, okay information bit done.

Hair & Body
Let's start with the basics. For regular shampooing I have been loving the Revive Color Seal Hair Bath Shampoo by Syoss, and in addition the Sea Coral Bath shampoo in Cherry by Posh to put some of the red back in my dyed hair. I have been thinking about putting up a post about my haircare routine including these products so let me know if anyone is interested in reading something like that. Next to these I have been using the Reflexx Color & Care conditioner by Metamorphose in level 4-6 Red and for that extra nourishment the Argania Dream Hair Mask.When it comes to styling I have been using Got2B's Guardian Angel heat protection spray to start with in combination with Coconut Hair wax by Swiss O'Par and Color & Care Hairspray by Balea as seen in my favourites of 2013.  For those in between lazy days, I still love the dry shampoo of Batiste in Tropical that isn't included on the photo as I just have run out of the product. Next to all these hair products I have been enjoying the One Ginger Morning shower cream by Treacle Moon and the Coconut Cream by NIVEA to wash myself with.

This may be the part most of you are interested in. Let's start in the same manner as above and that is the base. Over the past couple of years I have been in and out of using primers. In 2014 it has been the Essence All About Matt! Oil Control Make-Up Base that has won me over thanks to my sister. Maybe a little tube, but it lasts quite a long time. If I feel like putting the extra bit of time in I use the BB cream in shade Medium by Garnier. Never been much of a fan of foundations, but BB cream may just be my thing. As for concealer, well I have two. The under-eye area has some trouble looking awake and for that I have to use two concealers to get the desired effect. I start with applying the Click'N'Conceal concealer in 03 Dark by Gosh and afterwards use Manhattan High Cover Concealer in 22 Sand. Top this all off with the All About Matt! Fixing Compact Powder by Essence, another gem I use thanks to my sister, and the base is all done. My favourite blush, bronzer, and eye brow products have stayed the same as in 2013: Defining Blush in 060 Rosewood by Catrice, SUN Glow Matte Bronzing Powder for Darker Skin by Catrice, and the taupe shade of the H&M Smoky Eyes palette and Eyebrow Pencil by Miss Sporty in 009 Brown for the brows.

Mascara-wise I have found a new favourite, but by the same brand as the year before that - the 010 waterproof Glamour Doll Volume mascara by Catrice. In addition I have also found a new favourite eyeliner, the Waterproof Eyeliner Pen by Essence. All about that lasting power as you can see waterproof is my way to go. For an everyday eye look I still use Calvin Klein's Sheer Creme Eyeshadow in Retro Bronze, but have also been loving the Cookies & Cream Jumbo Eye Pencil in 01 Last Night A Cookie Saved My Life (Limited Edition) by Essence. To create some more defined eye make up looks I have been loving the Undressed palette by MUA along with the Made to Stay Higlighter Pen in 010 Eye Like! by Catrice.

Base of the face, eyes...and lips. Lips have a their own little list as it is the one make up product that I tend to collect the most. My favourites of 2014 (in no particular order) are:

Facial Skincare Last but not least in this part one of my 2014 favourites: skincare. A little run through of my favourite face products and with that my face cleansing routine. Starting off with the Eyemake-up Remover Pads by HEMA to get my waterproof eyeliner and mascara off as well as a bold lip that sometimes needs some extra attention to get completely off. Once all the longlasting make up is off it is time tor the P.S. I Love You Skin Oil Balancing Facial Cleansing Wipes by Primark, followed by the Sensitive 3 in 1 Micellair Water by NIVEA. For a more deep face wash I use the My Skin Soft Cleansing Gel by Essence. In 2014 I have added an extra step to my skincare routine: moisturising. For a long time I didn't see the point of moisturising my face as it was oily. So wrong! Not only has it made my skin feel softer, but I also see the difference with the darkness and visibility of veins under my eyes. Of course, it also is not a bad thing to start thinking about the future, better to start early and prevent wrinkles and whatnot. To do this, I have been using the Moisturising Night Cream and Sensitive Eye Cream by Kruidvat.

That is the round-up of all my favourite beauty bits of 2014. If you are looking for more specific information about a certain product then make sure to let me know. Watch this space for part II next weekend!