These Are A Few of My Favourite Things: August

The last month of Winter! Winter I love you, but I won’t miss you at all.

Running the City2Surf. Something I’d only been dreading for months finally happened and I couldn’t have been happier at the finish line! Just helps motivate me to push my comfort zone and never stop daring to achieve something great!

At the finish line soaking up some sunshine
At the finish line soaking up some sunshine

Banks. Goddess. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, this album is the real deal! Definitely helping me get through those study blues.

Sad airport trips. This month we had to say adieu to two of our favourite English exchange students. These boys know how much we’ll always love them, but it really does suck not seeing them every morning and every night. I look at the photo below and am so grateful for everyone’s unconditional friendship. You guys make me feel at home, safe and completely loved. Cheesy I know but deal with it.

Our beautiful little KB family
Our beautiful little KB family

Adventures with the family. Sadly I don’t get to see my family all that much. So when they come and visit for the weekend, we truly have the best time. We went out to the Sea Cliff Bridge which is an absolute must! Plus a lovely tour of Wollongong’s best restaurants and bars. Please come and visit more!

My sister and I on the Sea Cliff bridge
My sister and I on the Sea Cliff bridge

How to Be Parisian. One of the most beautiful little books that I own. For more reasons why I love it, read here.

My favourite French things; Coco Chanel Mademoiselle, red and black nailpolish and my gold plated Pierre Laniere watch I bought in Paris for my 19th birthday.
My favourite French things; Coco Chanel Mademoiselle, red and black nailpolish and my gold plated Pierre Laniere watch I bought in Paris for my 19th birthday.

Orange is the New Black. I have a problem. I’m addicted. Like seriously. I watched 2 seasons in just under two weeks. For anyone that’s been thinking about checking it out and has put it off (like I was) DO IT!!! Though it’s definitely not recommended during the middle of session when you have a million assignments due. But honestly, it’s such a quality show and I’m loving it!

So that’s about it from me. I’ve been ridiculously busy with work and uni so I’m glad I got to squeeze in this much excitement. September is looking even more scary with many assignments due but… just keep pushing on!

These Are A Few of My Favourite Things: JUNE

June where did you go? Please come back because you were one amazing month. Despite the depression associated with exams and the end of session, there’s nothing quite like walking out of an exam hall hearing ‘Eye of the Tiger’ flood through your mind and you feel like an absolute champion (unless you did a linguistics exam like me). Either way, Autumn session is done and the holidays are here! June has quite frankly been fabulous and I’d like to share it with all of you.

Our end of session college formal. Open bar, DJ, dancefloor and 200 of your closest friends. You’re definitely in for a good night.

My awesome housemate dressed to the nines
My awesome housemate dressed to the nines

The Northern Beaches. If you’re looking for a nice little weekend away, then get on a bus from Sydney and head up towards the Northern Beaches. I couldn’t believe how gorgeous it was! We were treated to a gorgeous sunset and wandered the streets and beaches… it was absolutely spectacular!

Venturing up to the beauitufl Northern Beaches with my best friend
Venturing up to the beauitufl Northern Beaches with my best friend

A PepTalk. Need some inspiration to make the most of life? To value your individuality and pursue your passions.

Finishing EXAMS. Need I say more?

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And if you need some more inspiration… World of Wanderlust. I’m constantly inspired and motivated to make the most out of life and spend hours gazing at beautiful travel pictures on pinterest! WARNING: this particular video will challenge you to reconsider your life.

And on that note… The day I got to meet Brooke Saward and have morning tea wanderlusting about the world. 

Brooke and some very inspiring readers
Brooke and some very inspiring readers

THIS SONG! 

Going home for the weekend. I don’t get home much lately because of uni and work, but whenever I do go home it’s always lovely. I’m constantly in awe of how beautiful nature is and how much I love just taking some time to unwind and relax. Oh, and it’s always great to have a roast dinner with my family.

Beautiful Port Stephens
Beautiful Port Stephens
And just another because it's just THAT pretty
And just another because it’s just THAT pretty

And finally, I joined the gym! After recently re-reading my post about all the things I’ve been hoping to achieve this year, it’s about time I did something on it and re-joining the gym was the easiest (and at the same time hardest) thing to do. Watch out City2Surf.

I hope you’ve all had a lovley month and hope that July is equally as awesome.

Peace and love

xxx A

The City of Beauty, Fashion, Morals and Of Course… Sex

Sex & the City is the modern woman’s answer for a bible. It offers us guidance, reassurance, faith, the promise of redemption and stresses the importance of red wine. Whilst it was only last year that I watched the epic 6 season girls guide to life, I have since seen every episode about 3 or 4 times and each time it gets better and Big-ger (hehe get it?) So here is what the four women, Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Miranda can teach each and every one of us, and yes boys, you included.

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Being single can be fabulous – For a long time, we were all told that the ultimate goal in life is to get married and have kids. Then we can live a fulfilled life baking cakes and picking our kids up from soccer practice. Well those ideals can f*ck off right back to the 1950’s. These days being single doesn’t mean you’re unattractive, unwanted or undesirable. It means you’re taking time for yourself. Giving yourself the time, love and attention you deserve. We’re allowed to explore ourselves, discover what we want and allowed to have standards and expectations. Being single gives us more time to ourselves, to be ourselves.

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Love and relationships are difficult and confusing – even if we do happen to find someone, it’s bloody difficult. There’s unspoken social rules that need to be followed, expectations, thoughts, experiences, when to call when not to call, Facebook likes… these days there’s so many things that interfere, distract and can get in the way of relationships. There’s so many complex relationships; Carrie and Mr. Big, Carrie and Aidan, Miranda and Steve, Charlotte and Trey, Charlotte and Harry, Samantha and Smith, Samantha and everyone… but regardless of their relationships and connections, they kind of make you feel like any sort of relationship or ‘thing’ you have going on in your life, is kinda normal.

“They say nothing lasts forever …dreams change, trends come and go, but friendships never go out of style.” – Carrie Bradshaw

Friendship will overcome all things – True friends are friends for life. They’ll be with you through thick and thin. Regardless of time or distance, when you need someone to talk to and hold you, your best friends will be there. Through a break up, a bad life choice, a broken fingernail, they’re there for you. The best things about having girlfriends is that you can tell them anything and everything. They’ll never judge you and always be there to give you advice and paint your nails with.

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Fashion is everything darling! – Unfortunately guys, I’m not sure you’ll ever understand the age old struggle of having a wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear. Don’e judge us if we take 20minutes or 2hours to get ready, we just want our outfit to match our confidence and inner beauty!

There’s no such thing as a normal *insert noun here*- relationship, penis, date, face, vagina, man, woman, dress… All the different escapades the girls get up to kind of justifies anything you have going on in your life.

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Sex is sex – Sex is a natural part of life which for decades has been smothered by taboo and secrecy. But Sex & the City, true to its name, destroys all sexual stereotypes and taboo. We talk openly about love, life, friends and family, why not sex?

Every woman has a little bit of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda in them- Samantha is a confident, strong, successful, sex crazed woman who sleeps with a new man every episode and always offers the blunt truth. Charlotte is an innocent and hopeless romantic woman who dreams of a fairytale happy ending. Miranda is a cynical strong lawyer who has questionable fashion choices but is a loyal friend. And Carrie, the slightly annoying pushover whose kryptonite is the man she keeps running back to. And me? Well I like to think I’m a bit of a Carrie and Samantha.

We’re all beautiful people who deserve the best and nothing less than butterflies!

xxx A

10 Things I ‘Learned’ From Lena Dunham

Having smashed through the hilariously witty novel ‘Not That Kind of Girl,’ I just had to share with you how incredibly f*cking awesome it is and the 10 things I have ‘learned.’

Get it and get it now
Get it and get it now

1. Lena is ridiculously talented. Actress, director, writer, and independent strong women who don’t need no man (or woman for that matter). Her humble success seeps through the pages of this book and episodes of her TV show ‘Girls,’ injecting me with drive and excitement that I too one day could accomplish great things.

2. Even though there’s no such thing as ‘normal,’ Lena makes all of your bizarre, morally incorrect, questionable and somewhat insane ideas seem, well… normal.

3. You deserve nothing less than the best, especially when it comes to relationships. All those little doubts that we have in our mind about ourselves are absolutely obliterated by the following passage.

“Being treated like shit is not an amusing game or a transgressive intellectual experiment. It’s something you accept, condone, and learn to believe you deserve. This is so simple. But I tried so hard to make it complicated.” 

4. We don’t need to confine to labels. Whether it be single, in a relationship, gay, straight, bi, happy, sad, anxious, crazy, fat, skinny… as soon as we assume one of these labels, it leads us to subconsciously act and think in a certain way relating to that label. Lena discusses her ‘girl crush’ and how she hates using the term because it implies inferiority to other crushes or relationships. But the fact of the matter is, that happy people can have sad days, straight people can be attracted to someone of the same sex, and even though it’s hot at 30degrees outside, it can still rain.

5. Confidence is the most timeless fashion you can wear.

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6. Girls have quite a lot of shit to deal with at any one time. She splits her book up into various parts addressing issues like; body image and self confidence, sex, sexuality and relationships, family and friends, careers and pursuits and everything in between. If anything, this book is an ode to women and all that we can do and are capable of doing/dealing with at any one time.

7. Challenge yourself! Because great things don’t happen to you in the warmth and familiarity of your comfort zone.

“It’s not brave to do something that doesn’t scare you.”

8. Break ups are tough and there’s no easy or right way to do it. Having just dealt with a break up of my own, it’s hard to come to terms with the whole concept of love, being single again and just readjusting to a life without that someone special. Whilst I was the one who ended things, my heart felt just as broken. However, Lena made me feel brave and empowered that I had put my heart and emotions first and that ultimately was taking control of who I wanted to be and where I wanted to go. It was an absolutely terrifying experience but at the end of the day, I know it’s for the best for both of us and that a few months from now I’ll be able to look back on that relationship with fond memories.

9. Keep on writing and keep on telling my story. I sometimes feel a little hesitant to write, let alone call myself a writer of any description because I guess sometimes I don’t feel qualified to write about the sort of things I do or that I haven’t had enough life experience. But the thing is that everyone has a different perspective on something, different values and different experiences which shared with the world, can contribute to a better understanding of one another.

“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told, especially if that person is a woman. As hard as we have worked and as far as we have come, there are still so many forces conspiring to tell women that our concerns are petty, our opinions aren’t needed, that we lack the gravitas necessary for our stories to matter. That personal writing by women is no more than an exercise in vanity and that we should appreciate this new world for women, sit down, and shut up.”

10. Each and every one of you reading this is beautiful. I think this is an idea that will take a while to fully internalise, but it’s definitely growing on me. After finishing this book, with a smile on my face, I had an amazing realisation that I am me. If someone doesn’t like that, that’s not my problem at all. I feel like I’ve discovered a new found self confidence where I’m not afraid to let the real me show and flaunt my flaws.

So I hope this has inspired you to run down to your local book shop and devour her tasteful words.

xxx A

An Essential Guide To London

Lately I’ve been asked a lot from my lucky jet setter friends, ‘what are the essential things to do and see in London?’ I usually reply with ‘depends if you want to see the touristy London, or the real London?’ And whilst I only lived in London for a year and am still no expert on the real London, here’s my list of awesome things that you must see and do in the fabulous city of history and culture, LONDON!

Don't be afraid to do some sight seeing at night! You get a beautiful different perspective on things minus all the tourists.
Don’t be afraid to do some sight seeing at night! You get a beautiful different perspective on things minus all the tourists.

Photo Ops

1. Big Ben. Of course.

2. The Red Telephone Box. Again. Of course. And don’t worry, they’re EVERYWHERE!

'Ello Govna
‘Ello Govna

3. Piccadilly Circus TDK neon signs. Kind of unmissable if you venture into the city.

4. Tower Bridge. So much history and beauty. Get a good shot from the Southbank.

996021_731518820196469_1823809950_n 5. Buckingham Palace. Obviously.

Culture

1. Camden (Markets). Pretty much one of my favourite parts of London. You can walk around aimlessly for hours and find a good feed and bargain along the way. With music, buskers and weird and wonderful things everywhere, it’s a must see. Plus an amazing music scene! Amy Winehouse ring any bells? This was her territory.

Camden with my girl
Camden with my girl

2. Brick Lane. Possibly one of the coolest places ever. Located in East London and just a short walk from Liverpool Street, Brick Lane is a hipsters paradise. Amazing pop up food stalls, underground vintage markets (I bought my pair of Converse from there for 20pounds), street performers and AMAZING Indian cuisine. If you want cheap and authentic Indian then this it the place to go. Hidden between the high rises of Liverpool Street, it really is a hidden gem.

3. Covent Garden. Beautiful restaurants and a few little markets hidden around, conveniently located right in the middle of the city.

Food

1. Carnaby Street. Lots of cute little restaurants and bars scattered along the street it’s a great find and a lot of fun.

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2. Any markets. Camden, Brick Lane, Southbank, Notting Hill, Borough Markets…

3. Browns for High Tea. If you’re in London then you must indulge and have a high tea experience. I was fortunate enough to go with some family members and it was a simply divine dining experience.

Expensive but beautiful little cakes
Expensive but beautiful little cakes

Galleries and Museums

1. The British Museum. I went here about 4 or 5 times and still didn’t see everything! Make sure you don’t miss Cleopatras Mummy or the Rosetta Stone.

2. The National Gallery. Prime location, overlooking Trafalgar Square. Again, a day simply is not enough but my (biased) recommendation is checking out the Romantic’s artwork.

3. The National Portrait Gallery. Adjacent to the National Gallery, it’s worth the detour to spend an hour or two here. When I visited, there was an exhibition on Miss Marilyn Monroe and I was in love.

Chillin in Trafalgar Square
Chillin in Trafalgar Square

History

1. The Tower of London. If you want to dive deep into 13th Century London, this is the place to do it!

2. Shakespeare’s Globe. If you’re a poetry/literature nut like me then you’ll probably swoon when you see it. If you’re not too keen on paying super high prices, every now and again they have deals on tickets.

3. John Keats House in Hamstead Heath. Again, if you’re an English Romantic Literature fan… you CANNOT miss this. I studied John Keats in English at high school and have since had a fascination of him and his work. Being at his actual house and in the surrounding neighbourhood was so inspiring and overwhelming, I may have shed a tear or two.

Swooning over Mr Keats
Swooning over Mr Keats

A Little Something Extra

1. The Heron Tower. Located just near Liverpool Street tube station is this fabulous 40 floor tower. If you dress up pretty nicely and say to the guy at the door ‘I’m just going up for drinks’ then he’ll let you past. Press number 38 and you’ll shoot up in a glass elevator. Up the top of the building is something spectacular. An amazing 5star bar, a sushi restaurant and a fantastic view (which is free). I’ve been up there a few time and not purchased anything, just to check out the view and it’s splendid every time. If you feel like splurging, why not enjoy a glass of wine whilst overlooking the spectacular city.

Some of the view from the Herron Tower
Some of the view from the Herron Tower

Things to give a miss

1. The Tate Modern. OK if you love modern art… go for it. Even with my open mind, I still didn’t get it. Any of it.

2. The London Eye. Look at it from a distance. It’s not worth wasting the time in the huge line or money.

3. Changing of the Guard. I never went and I’m glad I saved myself a few painful hours. There’s waaaaaay too many people, you can’t really see anything and it’s all rather uneventful.

Do you have any recommendations?

xxx A

1 Year On: Returning ‘Home’ After A Year Abroad

Firstly, I’ll start by saying how extremely difficult it was for me to write this post. Not physically write it, but for me to actually accept the fact that this big journey that I’ve been living (my Eurotrip Gap Year) was a year ago and is officially over.

So this time 2 years ago (January of 2013) I got on a plane and headed off to London (you can read about my Gap Year here). One year later (a year ago nearly to the day) I said goodbye to London and G’Day to Australia. And as the months flew by, I got stuck in to my new uni life (read about my adventures of 2014 here) as my London life slowly slipped away. So what are the biggest changes readjusting to life back ‘home?’ How do I define home? What’s the hardest part of it all? Here it is.

About to jet off to Iceland
About to jet off to Iceland

Home isn’t quite the same – you’re stuck somewhere in between. For a few months you mistakingly refer to home as in London (after all, it was home sweet home), then you start calling your parents house home, then where you’re living home and then you just get confused. I believe home truly is where the heart is, and my heart seems to be scattered around the world.

You have an identity crisis – you get on the plane all strong minded like ‘yea I know who I am and I’m not gonna let anyone change me.’ Then you land in Sydney, see all your friends and family and suddenly have an identity crisis. WHO AM I? It’s a terrifying experience, thinking that the old you is slipping away, making way for the new you that you’re not quite sure you like. The thought that got me through this ‘transformation’ is that I’m growing and learning from every experience (good or bad) and at the end of the day, it will help make me stronger.

Conquering a hike through a valley
Trying to be a strong independent woman

People see you as the same little you that left – Not the strong independent traveller you now are. School friends see you as the nerd that studied too much, or too things too seriously, or partied too much… but little do they know how much you’ve changed. You feel so empowered, accomplished and strong until someone says ‘aw, you haven’t changed one bit,’ then all that confidence disappears like packets of Tim Tam’s on sale.

You can no longer say ‘This time last year’- For some reason, this was such a comforting statement. Comparing my life now to my adventures last year. But now I can say this time next year… who knows where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing!’ That is the most motivating thought I have. The thought of the unknown!

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Welcoming new challenges and adventures

You can see people getting bored with your travelling stories but you’ll still tell them again – What do you mean you don’t want to hear about how I lost my purse in Rome and magically found it an hour later with all my money in it? Or the time I crashed the best house party in London? Or the time I got to march in the St. Pattys Day Parade in Dublin? Or the time… Ok I get it, you’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it a few more times yet so get comfortable.

You get a serious case of PTD (Post Travel Depression) – You have the highest high that travel offers and suddenly you stop and you’re back at home. Then you come crashing down with the realisation that it’s over. It’s real and it sucks.

You lose touch with your ‘lifelong friends’- At high school you have about 50 BFFL pink sparkly necklaces. And as soon as you jet off, the sparkles seem to magically disappear. This isn’t necessarily a sad part of leaving home, it’s just the inevitable change in life that takes some getting used to. Regardless of if you actually keep these friendships for life, you’ll always have the precious memories of friendships.

My (short) Christmas with my family 2014
You realise how important family is!

But you also find out who your real friends are – You might now have to message everyday. In fact, one of my best friends that was in Australia when I was overseas and I barely spoke. Not because we didn’t want to, but because we were so preoccupied with our busy lives. And the second one of us needed eachother, we’d be there. The minute I returned to Australia it was like I never left. It’s those sorts of friendships that will last for years and will be the most special. Best Friends For Life (for real).

You don’t settle for okay anymore – You’ve had a taste of the spicy, succulent, addictive flavours of the world and crave it everyday. Why would you then settle for a little salt and pepper seasoning? You won’t accept ordinary, or average, or okay… you try to make everything incredible!

You feel motivated to do it again – Was it all worth it? The love, the pain, the grief, homesickness, the ongoing identity crisis… (see image below)! So what am I doing about it now? I’m trying to live life to the fullest, to appreciate everything and everyone I have and bring on the adventures for 2015 and years to come!

x A

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If it’s on Sex and the City, it must be true