Stuck on Repeat: Top Artists from 2014

Music is my life! I think if my family had to pick a phrase that I’m always saying it would be either ‘awesome’ or ‘ah, this is the best song.’ I listen to music all day everyday, in the shower, before I go to sleep, pre-drinks, cleaning my room, eating dinner, and there’s always a song to get me pumped, relaxed or motivated. This year I’ve been dipping into a few different genres and discovering some awesome artists worth the click over to youtube!

Vital to the soul
Vital to the soul

1- Bastille – One of my all time favourite bands! I’ve been loving them for about two years and have seen them twice in concert (in Munich and Sydney and I cried both times). This year I’ve been loving their mixes and covers of songs, especially No Angels below.

2 – Asgeir – He’s Icelandic! And thus began my love for his smooth smooth voice. His album In the Silence is excellent! Perfect for when you need a good chill sesh! It’s my go to album when I need to relax to go to sleep, taking me to the sweetest dreams. I unfortunately missed out on seeing him due to date clashes, but he’s on my radar to see live! Below is his cover of Milky Chance’s Stolen Dance (which personally I think it on parr if not better than the original).

3- Violent Soho – Rad Aussie rock band who I was lucky enough to see in concert. Their whole album is filled with solid tunes and I love listening to it when cruising around in my car or when I feel like a grungy chill (i.e ‘cleaning’ my room).

4 – Banks – Very cool, fragile and unique voice, combined with a dirty rhythm… LOVE IT! Loving this London lady. I first discovered her EP and can genuinely say, this was the first album I was extremely excited to see be released!

5- George Ezra – Also great to listen to whilst cruising around, belting out tunes and experimenting with how low your voice goes. At first listen, I wasn’t sold, but it definitely grew on me. And hard! Now I absolutely crave hearing his smooth, sexy, deep and husky voice! Not to mention, he’s very cute! His entire album puts me in a great, positive and motivated mood!

6- Miguel – So sometimes, I love to get down and dirty and feel sexy dancing to some smooth rnb. And I was very excited when I learned he released some new music this year!

7- Taylor Swift – I’m admitting this with mixed feelings. I really do not like her song Shake it off, at all. But the rest of her album, pretty damn catchy! This is the one guilty pleasure I’ll allow myself! Her quirkiness is definitely growing on me and it leaves me thinking I too can look kinda cute whilst stumbling around trying to dance!

8- Sticky Fingers – Aussie reggae, rock, chilled band that leaves you wanting to be on a beach with a few beers and your mates! Fun, happy and chilled!

What are some of your picks from 2014? Let me know in the comments below because I’m always ready to discover new music!

xxx A

Happy Listening!

Room Decorating 101

Bedrooms should give you inspiration, should allow you to relax, motivate you to get out of bed and welcome you to a sound sleep at the end of the day. I’ve tried to take on advice of DIY magazines, stylists, blogs by sticking to a theme, a colour scheme, a purpose etc, but it always felt forced and unnatural. And now I’ve figured out the way to decorate my room which makes me never want to leave my room!

Current pictures on my wall
Current pictures on my wall

When I’ve got a big blank white boring wall, I feel dull, boring and uninspired. So, I print off my favourite photographs from the past year, of friends, family and places, take a trip down to the travel agent (or a few), rip out some beautiful pictures, scramble through my box of memories from the year (I keep anything from concert tickets, maps, foreign currency, to business cards) and pick out my favourites. Once I’ve collected bright beautiful things, I get to blu tacking and stick everything to my wall. The end result is very rewarding, colourful, inspiring and beautiful!

Don’t be afraid to get messy with it, stick up anything that makes you happy, because what’s the point in having photo albums filled with beautiful photos hidden away in a cupboard, when you can have them on display that will leave guests and yourself hypnotised!

My room in London
My room in London
Organising pictures! (a lot of them)
Organising pictures! (a lot of them)

The Love of My Life… Coffee

Coffee, the golden brown bean that ignites your energy, gets rid of morning breath and warms your belly. Silky milk glides down your throat and reflects the sparkle in your eye.  The chocolate powder on top tickles your nose and sometimes gives you a cute little moustache that you are just saving for later. The cup and plate are mismatched, bright colours which secretly make you happy. The love hearts and patterns in your coffee show how much coffee loves you, and even though you knew it would be there anyway, you’re still pleasantly surprised. There’s interesting artwork covering the walls and when conversation fades, you’re still both thinking the same thing. You talk about current events, what you did on the weekend, and how you feel about your life. You dream and confess, listen and open up, knowing that in the sanctuary of a good cup of coffee, you need not fear judgement. Have you met coffee’s partner in crime though? Nothing is more irresistible than golden butter melting on warm yet slightly crisp banana bread. The waiter is kind of cute and he smiles at you as he takes your order, brings you your coffee and makes a little inside joke that leaves my cheeks flushed.

Coffee understands. Coffee is there for you. Coffee is nice, and warm, and caring, and gives you energy. That’s why when the little teacup is empty and you return to your life, you take with you the happiness it gave you. And you know you’ll feel the same way again tomorrow morning.

xxx A (can you tell I’m addicted?)

In the zone at my favourite café in Newcastle
In the zone at my favourite café in Newcastle

Summer Lovin’ (The Best Things About Summer in Australia)

It’s officially Summer here in Australia and I couldn’t be more excited! There’s parties to go to, people to see, food to eat (and lots of it), places to go… it’s just three months of sunshine and good times! I missed out on an Aussie Summer last year (instead, spent the majority of it Eastern Europe and Iceland in the middle of Winter), so here’s the things I’m most looking forward to this Sun Season!

Taking some Australian traditions to London
Taking some Australian traditions to London

Fresh and Delicious Fruit – Mangoes, watermelon, honeydew, grapes, bananas, pineapple, strawberries… with a bit of muesli and a drizzle of honey, it makes for the perfect summer snack! And speaking of fresh fruit, try cutting the top off of a watermelon and pouring in some Midori and Malibu… perfect for an afternoon spent on the beach with a few drinks. Hey, at least it’s healthy!

The Beach – What is Summer without spending the majority of it at the beach! My hometown is the perfect place to do this, with over 10 pristine beaches located within a 10 minute drive from my house (and one across the road). Just remember to Slip, Slop, Slap, drink plenty of water and be prepared for sand to be EVERYWHERE!

Australia Day with mates
Australia Day with mates

Christmas – Yes, in Australia Christmas is in the middle of Summer, and it’s brilliant! A typical Christmas day for me involves being woken up at some ghastly hour by my younger brother and sister, opening presents, giving presents, snacking on some chocolate, and saving our stomaches for a big lunch at Grandma and Grandad’s house with the whole family! After our food babies settle down, we duck down to the beach and soak up the sun. It’s a pretty brilliant way to spend Christmas!

It’s hot – OK so sometimes this can be the bad thing about Summer. I’m a red headed girl with a pale complexion, I was not made for 40+ degree days. A nice 28-30 degrees is perfect for me!

Never gets old
Never gets old

Minimal clothing is totally acceptable – When you’ve got a scorcher of a day, it’s completely acceptable to walk around in your bikini everywhere. Minimal clothing is great, especially when checking out all the hotties at the beach, until some 60 year old men decide to wear their speedos and your eyes a permanently scarred.

I get a tan – Ok, by tan I mean all my freckles come out. Even though I’m constantly reminded of how white I am, I can see I’ve got a fair bit of a tan going on (if I squint really hard and don’t forget to apply my tanning moisturiser).

Sunsets are beautiful
Sunsets are beautiful

New Years Eve – I love New Years Eve in Australia! Don’t need to take a jacket out, everyone’s drinking ice cold beers, we go out on a friends boat, watch the fireworks and then go for a midnight swim.

Australia Day – Australia Day is on the 26th of January and is generally celebrated at the beach or a friends house with a pool, listening to Triple J’s top 100 countdown, drinking beer and hanging out with good friends!

Everyone’s happy – It’s Summer, what’s there not to be happy about!

xxx A

The Hardest Things About Packing (and Moving on in Life)

As the year draws to a close, so does this chapter of my life; living at a university residence. Whilst I’ve met some incredible people, done some awesome things and drank and awful amount of goon, I’m glad to move onto the next and currently unknown chapter. As I lay on my bed, walls cast with the shadow of my travel photos that lined them, bags, clothes and mess everywhere… this is not the first time I’ve packed my life into bags. Yet the same questions, uncertainties and feelings overcome me. So here’s the hardest things I’m confronted with whilst packing up my life yet again.

Create the most beautiful life you can imagine! ~ photo from http://dearcrissy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/quote-about-the-future.jpg
Create the most beautiful life you can imagine! ~
photo from http://dearcrissy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/quote-about-the-future.jpg

What does the future hold?

Whilst not even tarot cards can accurately tell me this, it’s a bit unsettling having so many options and decisions to make for my immediate and distant future. Where will I live? Who with? Do I need to start looking for a house now? Or maybe just a room? What about my job? How am I going to afford Christmas presents? Can I go to this party? Or will I be working? What do I want to achieve? Countless questions flood my mind. The thing that gives me hope is that I’ve experienced this before (when I was leaving London) and I know that if you make the most of every opportunity, learn and grow from every experience and refuse to give up, then wonderful things will happen. You just need to first believe and then do it. The present and future is in our hands.

Is this the end?

The end of some things… yes. And thankfully, goodbye single bed, see ya later noise/alcohol bans, adios cookie thieves and au revoir to the thousands of lizards! The hardest thing, particularly leaving London, is imagining your life without certain people, places and the little things you’re used to, and the saddening fact that you don’t know when you’ll see them again. A big thing that I dealt with leaving London was the fear of losing the new London Adelaide. I was proud of everything I achieved and had become and was scared that it would disappear when I moved back to Australia. Sometimes I still feel like I’m dealing with an identity crises, however over time, you adjust. It’s almost like you get to recreate yourself again. The picture below shows how much I changed last year and even comparing myself to the photo from last year, I’ve changed a lot from that girl too. We have to create the life we want and inevitably we’ll change. Yet some things will never end, the unique and special friendships (especially those that cross borders), the memories, the lessons learnt and the feeling of creating a home.  With every ending, comes a new beginning, and they are always exciting (and your friends will want to hear all about it).

February 2013 & December 2013 (St. Andrews, Scotland) More than just my clothes changed
February 2013 & December 2013 (St. Andrews, Scotland)
More than just my clothes changed

How am I going to move all of this stuff?

I don’t know how, but I just accumulate so much stuff! It’s not until you start packing and thinking about transporting everything you own, you truly realise it. Luckily, my parents are helping me do this (thank god). When I moved back to Australia from London, I had to fit my life into 30kgs! (miraculously I did it). And with all the of the stuff you accumulated over your time somewhere, attached to each thing is a specific memory that you just have to hold on to!

My best friend trying to pack all of her stuff. Proved to be challenging yet possible.
My best friend trying to pack all of her stuff. Proved to be challenging yet possible.

Reflection, reflection, reflection 

Maybe it’s just me, but I take forever to pack because I look through things, I reminisce, I decide if I want to keep it or not, I organise things, toss thing and look at things a bit more. While I pack, I can’t help but reflect on the year that has been, how I’ve changed, grown and learned. I then listen to sad and soppy music and look at photos, thinking back to all the good times. And once I’m done reflecting (and sobbing), I think forward to next year and how I want to change, what I want to achieve, fix, excel at, get involved in. Once I do this, I get a buzz of excitement and just want to get it all started!

What gets me through?

Even though packing up your life and moving on can be difficult (and you will no doubt need an adjustment period), the thing that gets me through is hop for the future, that I can make each year, month, day, bigger and better than the last. Knowing that my friends and family love and support me (and will even help me move all of my stuff). Knowing that I have goals and dreams to aspire to, and that the actions I take now are a step towards those dreams. Knowing that each night the sun will set and each morning the sun will rise, shining new light on a new day. I know it’s incredibly clichéd, but it’s true.

xxx

A

After each sunset, there will be a sunrise
After each sunset, there will be a sunrise

My Secrets to Confidence

Confidence comes in all shapes and sizes. Hopeful of joining a gym, courageous to apply for that job, brave to deliver a speech, bold in your outfit and fearless in life! Confidence is a key element that we’re all expected to have, yet why is it that we talk ourselves down and doubting our ability? We all have insecurities, we all have weaknesses, yet it’s how we accept them, deal with them and conquer them so that nothing, especially yourself stands in your way.

I would describe myself as a confident person, yet from time to time I give in to those dark uncertainties and it can all get a bit overwhelming really. However, I have found some ways to help me be more confident in my thoughts and actions.

Slow down every now and again to embrace beauty around you
Slow down every now and again to embrace beauty around you – Rome

Smile – It instantly makes you feel a little bit better I promise! Also laughing or singing helps break down those nerves and negative thoughts circling your mind. It will also make people around you feel more comfortable and relaxed. A smile really can go a long way!

Think about your strengths and skills – Take a moment to think about all the wonderful and exquisite things you can do. Maybe you can play all of Ed Sheeran’s album on guitar, a really fast reader/typer, good at remembering people’s names, keeping things tidy/clean, taking initiative or responsibility… the options are endless! If you’re ever in doubt, focus on your skills and strengths and how you can use them to your advantage to help you achieve what you want.

Embrace what you love – Personally, I love writing, listening to music, going to the beach, going on coffee dates with my friends, travelling… the list goes on. It’s important to take time out and focus on yourself, what you want and what you love. Engaging with these activities will also give you that motivation and self-confidence that will automatically make you happy and feel better about yourself and your capabilities.

Surround yourself with positivity
Surround yourself with positivity

Accept and grow from your weaknesses – We all have them, I’m not the most committed student when it comes to exams, I try and take on too many tasks at once and cannot for the life of me keep my room clean! (that, I can’t change). The first thing is to be aware of aspects of your life you can improve on and how you can do that. For example, trying to go to sleep before midnight, having a diary to write all of your due dates in and focusing on things your truly passionate about. Even if you take baby steps, at least you’re closer to growing and moving on.

Think Positively! – Whilst it might be hard to stay positive sometimes, I strongly believe that positive people attract positive energy.

‘Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.’ ~Peter T. McIntyre

Set Goals (and make them BIG) – I find it helpful to set goals to work towards. All throughout high school, I just wanted to go to Paris, and I made that happen by getting a job, planning, investigating and being absolutely determined to make it happen! Like the quote above says, be fearless! Go out and grab life! Like the classic cheesy quote ‘if you miss reaching for the moon, at least you’ll be among the stars.’ Opportunities are everywhere if you have the courage to seek them.

Take the plunge – Yes it might be scary, seem impossible, be overwhelming etc. etc. etc… but what if… it works? What if you accomplish your dreams? And what if you take the world by storm? You cannot truly gain without a little risk. Put yourself out there and just do it!

xxx A

Take the plunge!
Take the plunge! – Greek Islands

The Things You REALLY Learn at University

University. That big scary thing that you’re expected to go to once you finish school and you want a good job. After deferring my university offer for my amazing Gap year in London, I was really torn between returning to Oz to go to that big scary place or stay in London. And tah-dah, I was university bound. This has honestly been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I had my time in London, and now it was time for something equally new and exciting. I’m nearly finished my first year of International Studies/Communication and Media Studies at the incredible University of Wollongong. This year I lived at a college, International House (iHouse) and learnt a lot more than just course content. So these are some of the things to expect when moving into a university college.

University of Wollongong!
University of Wollongong!

You’ll Learn to Love Goon (for those of you not in Australia, goon= cheap, cask wine) – Let’s get the alcoholic part get out of the way first. Us cheap uni students love a good bargain. And with a First Choice Liquor store about 500m away from your doorstep, cradling $12, 36 standard drinks goon… what choice do we really have? Unless you peaked on your eurotrip, then the hangovers just get worse and you start thinking ‘i’m getting too old for this shit.’ (How I Met Your Mother Reference).

giphy

You learn your limits – O Week anyone? You go out a few times a week, spend a few too many days at the beach to suddenly realise that you’re absolutely hammered. And after a few too many hangovers you realise that maybe you should steer clear of tequila. Learning my limits is something I’ve been working on throughout the past two years, and regardless of how many times others tell you ‘don’t do that’ you will never really learn until you experience them for yourself. Which leads into my next point…

You learn about yourself – I know this is incredibly cheesy but hey, who doesn’t love a bit of cheese? You try new things like going to the gym, you learn new things like how to navigate around building 19, you meet new people from across the globe… you put all these pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle, hoping they’ll fit together into the person you want to be. I’m always growing and learning, trying to become a better person and uni definitely helps you put the pieces together.

You can get involved in some pretty awesome stuff – This year, along with some friends of mine, we created the UOW Skydiving Club (I have some other posts here about it). There’s countless opportunities to volunteer, become an activist, help, donate, support towards everything! It’s a great way to meet new and like minded people but also work on things your passionate about and help create positive change in the world.

Singing petitions at uni - Don't Risk the Reef
Singing petitions at uni – Don’t Risk the Reef

You learn how to balance – Literally! I’ve been going to yoga classes regularly for about 3 months and it’s INCREDIBLE!!! I walk out feeling rejuvenated, relaxed, free and like I can accomplish anything. Definitely the best stress relief! And also figuratively balance. At uni you’ve got so many things going on; actual uni work, social life, keeping fit and healthy, watching latest episodes of Walking Dead, sleeping, relaxing, beaching… sometimes it can be a challenge to manage it all. I must admit, sometimes I spend too much time doing all of my assignments being a good uni student and not enough time outside at the beach (OK you got me, I’m always at the beach), but if you surround yourself with like minded people who are as determined to succeed in many aspects like you, you can do it! Making timetables, reducing time on Facebook and monitoring how much time you spend streaming can help you stay organised.

You learn how to become an owl – Literally. You become a little bit older, a little bit wiser and if you go to sleep before midnight and wake up in time for breakfast at 10am… it’s officially a miracle.

You suddenly acquire some really nice clothes – At college this year we’ve had 6 formal-ish events involving open bars and getting dressed up. And of course it calls for a new outfit each time right! And open bar!!! No more goon for a night!

Friends and I on the iHouse Sydney Harbour Cruise!
Friends and I (the far left) on the iHouse Sydney Harbour Cruise!

You’re going to meet people from across the globe – Literally from EVERYWHERE! We even had an Icelandic exchange student here! You learn so much about different cultures and might even find a French boyfriend to help you with your French grammar 😉

You make some pretty amazing friendships – And this is where I get all sentimental but everyone I’ve met at college/uni this year are truly inspiring, unique and driven people. I’m so glad to have you in my life, if we stay friends for this year, the next 3 years or the next 20 years, you’re each as special and dear to me.

So…. first year (nearly) down, 3.5 to go. It’s been a pretty exciting and crazy ride however if this year is anything to go by, I eagerly look forward to it!

xxx A

Some more friends at another fancy event (I'm in the pink dress)
Some more friends at another fancy event (I’m in the pink dress)

A smile is a smile by any other name

It doesn’t take much to make me smile

Oh no, not much at all

For a smile should cross your lips as quickly and as easy as remembering the tune to your favourite song.

And a smile can stretch from ear to ear or perhaps just quiver above your chin.

Maybe you hide your teeth behind your lips to try and hold the excitement in,

But for me, my crocodile smile is always on show, creeping across the bridge of my nose so that my eyes squint and my cheeks ache.

 

It doesn’t take much to make me smile,

Oh no, not much at all

A simple hello, a fluffy white puppy, a blueberry muffin or a warm and sweet coffee.

A kiss on the cheek from the ones that I love, a hug, a handshake and sunshine above.

Painting your nails a bright, bold colour, getting to the train station one minute before departure, a text from your friend to say g’day, being woken up early on Christmas Day.

Finishing a book, cooking dinner, submitting an assignment, and getting a distinction.

When my favourite song plays on Triple J, when I arrive back home and look out over the Bay, going to sleep before midnight, and knowing that when I wake up… everything will be alright.

 

Sometimes I smile when I’m happy, even when I’m nervous or trying to be brave. Some days I don’t know if I can smile because the sunshine is gone and the clouds are grey.

But I now know a secret, something that will break a frown, when someone smiles at you, don’t look at the ground.

Look them in the eye and let that smile infect you, until you hear your favourite song ring through your mind and a smile sweeps across your face.

Then pass that smile on, you never know how much someone will need it.

xxx

A

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