In collaboration with Sanda Vidmar

‘We all have a hard and courageous responsibility to be happy. Usually your happiness depends merely on the perspective in your head.  It’s simple. Loving yourself is the key. It’s what makes your heart fill with exuberant joy. In the light of truth there is no twig without a shadow and there is no person without flaws. Your flaws are what makes you interesting and you should learn to love them. Admit you are an enchanting and beautiful creature and therefore for you – being happy is a walk in the park.’ – Sanda Vidmar

Today is the 21 December and it was raining all day… bye bye winter wonderland and snowy Christmas.. Some people get to have snow for Xmas, we have rain. You can’t have it all.  Though, honestly, I like all sorts of weather as each season is beautiful in its own way.

This afternoon I decided to go for a walk and take some photos. It’s such a nice change to hear rain, wind and birds in the forest instead of cars and millions of people in London. In fact breathing in the fresh air was amazing. You don’t notice much of the pollution in London but by leaving the city and stepping into a little bit of nature you are in for a big treat :)

Taking my twig ring for a walk :)

The forest today was also the perfect place to show you my twig ring by Slovenian designer Sanda Vidmar. All her jewellery is handmade and her designs are super unique. I really like the symbolism behind her creations: the twig ring, for instance, stands for loving your flaws and imperfection. And once you realise that you are an ‘enchanting and beautiful creature’, being happy becomes ‘a walk in the park’. I couldn’t agree more with that. I would always prefer a wild and imperfect forest to an artificially designed park. The same holds for people, wouldn’t it be the most boring place in the world if everyone looked and thought the same?!

Doesn’t the forest even look prettier when there is no sun? The absence of it gives the photos a much more moody vibe. I took around a couple of hundred photos as everything was so beautiful. At some point I must have got entirely lost in the moment as I turned around and there were two horses next to me haha. Hello horses! I didn’t hear them at all!

And apparently I was not the only one today who thought that the forest looks especially mesmerising in this weather: I came across at least a dozen of people who were taking their dogs for a walk. One dog even decided to jump into the water… the dog mummy must have been very happy about that :)

‘And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.’  – John Muir

‘In a forest of a hundred thousand trees, no two leaves are alike. And no two journeys along the same path are alike.’ – Paulo Coelho

After walking for a little while I came across this super cute little hut. Perfect timing as the drizzle started to become proper rain. I wish I had taken my kindle with me. I had put on so many layers so that I wouldn’t get cold outside. Hence it was super cosy in the hut and it would have been the perfect place to read a book. Well, ok, a cup of tea would have also been nice. Or mulled wine :)

As I didn’t have either, no mulled wine nor my kindle, I decided to play bit more with the camera.

I chose the black and silver twig ring but it’s also available in sterling silver and copper. It’s also the perfect present as it arrives in a gift box and also comes with a little note that explains the symbolism behind your jewel :) Sanda designs a variety of different nature inspired pieces. You can click over to her shop here to explore :)

Moody lightroom settings - French Bulldog Photo

Last weekend little Jackson, a friend’s French bulldog, had his first gingerbread house Christmas party. If you’re planning a party in the UK, take a look at these venue spaces london. already wrote about the gingerbread house tradition last year (time flies!) so just a little reminder: The gingerbread house party was started 5 years ago by two friends of mine, Katie & Jonas, who have organised the yearly Xmas together ever since. And with organising I don’t only mean the general work that goes into hosting a dinner or party at home, I also refer to all the baking fun that goes into this sort of party beforehand. It turns out that you’ll need an Saturday to bake all the gingerbread pieces that will eventually become the structures of the gingerbread houses that the party guests will get to build. Awesome friends :)

It all started 5 years ago..

While the first gingerbread house party had one ‘baby guest’, this year’s party saw 5 kids already… A couple of them are around the 3 to 4 years mark and were super excited to build their own gingerbread houses. And they somehow did a better job than us. For some reason (not at all related to mulled wine and eggnog), our pretty house managed to break apart.. I guess we were a bit too eager about all the sweets and put way too much weight on the roof.. and whoosh. The housing structure just couldn’t take the prettiness of our decoration!

Moody lightroom settings - Xmas Party

Gingerbread House Making

Apart from having an immense sugar and sweets supply during the day of the party (most of the sweets go onto the house, while others magically wander into your mouth), we also had mulled wine, eggnog, Mac & Cheese and hot dogs. No surprise, that little Jackson was all over the place trying to secure as many treats as he could :)

Happy kids, happy dog

Moody lightroom settings - French Bulldog Photo

For a while he decided to strategically position himself under the table. Especially where the kids were sitting, he was quite a happy camper. Once everyone was done decorating, Jackson put on his best cute dog face and managed to get some more of the human food..

Moody lightroom settings - French Bulldog Photo

Moody lightroom settings - French Bulldog Photo

But really, who can resist that look?!

And the winner is…

… not our gingerbread house! Apparently it doesn’t count if the house can’t stand on its own.. But fair enough, even if ours had not broken apart, this house would still have won. Doesn’t it look super pretty? While we were keeping Jackson happy, Jackson’s mummy had enough time to create her masterpiece..

Moody lightroom settings - Gingerbread House Photo

Good night, little Jackson

Moody lightroom settings - French Bulldog Photo

Moody lightroom settings - French Bulldog Photo

It was such a fun day and once all the kids plus parents had left, we decided to start our Xmas movie marathon. After Bad Santa we moved on to Die Hard (such a Christmas classic haha). Though I think only one of us managed to watch the whole movie. The rest fell asleep halfway in.. after the sugar high there is always a sugar low :) Zzzzzzz…

Moody lightroom settings - French Bulldog Photo

Karate Pony and Cat Monkey are our travel mascots. Karate Pony was adopted from London and Cat Monkey from Vietnam.

How did we come up with the names? Well, Karate Pony was easy, she is obviously a pony and, being my first travel mascot, the blog name had to be part of the mascot’s name.  Mix Karate and Caviar and pony (leave out the caviar, she doesn’t like it much..) and you get ‘Karate Pony’ :) Well, and obviously she has a black belt in Karate, duh..

With regards to Cat Monkey, he (yes, pink and male can go together!) was born in Vietnam in the year of the monkey. And I think he’s  supposed to be a cat.. We were debating which animal he resembles most but I think cat comes closest. There we go, Cat Monkey it was!

Travel Mascot’s Pictures

Karate Pony joined our trip through the Americas for 5 months starting in the US, then Canada and then slowly making our way down via Cuba, Mexico, Peru and Bolivia. Cat Monkey joined us in Vietnam (I think in Vung Tau) and then happily travelled along through the rest of Vietnam, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Japan.

Cusco & Machu Picchu, Peru

As I have already mentioned several times, Peru is one of my favourite places in the world. I studied there for my semester abroad and immediately fell in love with the people, the food and Peru’s amazing nature. Karate Pony’s favourite place was Cusco and the city’s surrounding Inca ruins. She was also thrilled by visiting Machu Picchu!

Travel Mascot Cusco

 

Travel Mascot Peru and Cusco

Travel Mascot Peru

Turns out Karate Pony loves Cusquena… keeps her quiet :)

Travel Mascot drinking beer

 

Hue, Vietnam

Hue is an amazing city and should be part of any trip along Vietnam’s coast. It’s a former emperor city and there are ruins all over the city. Definitely worth a visit!

Travel Mascot Hue

Travel Mascot Hue

 

Hanoi, Vietnam 

Though I’m quite biased to prefer South Vietnam I really had an amazing time in Hanoi. It’s quite a hipster city with lots of quaint coffee shops. So for some of the days I took my kindle and Cat Monkey and we ventured out to explore the city’s best coffee shops. Have you tried Vietnamese Iced Coffee (cà phê đá)? If not, you have to!

Travel Mascot Hanoi Coffee Shop Travel Mascot Hanoi

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay is a must if you spend some time in Hanoi. The islands are really stunning though they have turned quite touristy over the last few years. Nevertheless, it’s worth to go on a day trip (or a couple of days) to explore them.

Travel Mascot Halong Bay

Travel Mascot Halong Bay

 

Once Karate Pony and Cat Monkey have made up their minds and choose more  photos, I’ll add them here. And by the way, Cat Monkey already has his own post here.