practising | packing light

packing light

Before heading off for our week holiday, Tim and I purchased some new ‘cabin size’ friendly bags. We have a few Ryanair flights this year but also thought it would also be easier for our trip to Japan to pack as light as possible as we aren’t keen to travel across the country with 23kgs of bulk.

Having bought the bag I got a bit nervous (it is so small!) but thought I would share a few tips of what I have already learnt from my first packing. Luckily for Japan it will be summer but we are away for two weeks. Obviously, last week we were still in winter so it was bulkier and I packed my laptop (which I don’t plan to take to Japan) so I think I might be alright.

Clothes

  • I mostly packed along the principles of the Konmari folding method that I have used in my cupboard after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. All my clothes were folded in this method and I was able to layout items so I could see everything that I was taking in one look. Tim said it looked like a bento box. This made it really easy to pack and, more importantly, while we were away I was able to put items neatly back in my bag so the airbnb didn’t look like something had exploded.
  • Puffer jacket. I finally succumbed to an Italian sartorial classic and bought a puffer jacket. I bought one that fits under my other jacket so I could layer up well. Mostly I had great fears that I would be cold in Budapest (although it wasn’t). But it is so light, like it won’t even show anything if I put it on a scale. And you can ball it up really small when not wearing it and it doesn’t come out looking like it has been crushed. Not only is it great for layering in winter but I figure it will also be good for travelling and while in Japan if there is a cooler evening in the summer.
  • If you can manage and feel comfortable wearing them go for bras without underwire (you get some cute tshirt bras). They can fold up much smaller and are actually super comfortable for long flights, and actually just generally more comfortable (why have I subjected myself to underwire for all these years?).

Toiletries and such

  • I have been streamlining my skincare routine so all I brought with me was a mini tub of coconut oil, a muslin face cloth and a small bottle of tonic.
  • In the makeup department I like multi-use items and none of them require brushes. Next time around I might even take fewer items.
  • Pack a small bottle of washing liquid. This is useful if you are spending more then 2 nights somewhere so you can wash socks and underwear and don’t have to try and squeeze in 14 pairs of everything.

Gadgets

  • Chargers and masses of plugs are always an issue. First decide do you really really need something? Like I won’t be taking my laptop to Japan. Then I’ve discovered that one charger can do it all and you normally just need two cords (one for my mobile and one for my tablet/kindle/re-chargable battery). For my camera I know that the battery life is rather long so I just fully charge two batteries and don’t need to bring the charger, It obviously depends how long your trip is on whether this is an option.
  • Kindles. You can have all the books and none of the weight.

Next, I would really like to buy a lighter weight ‘personal’ camera for when I am not doing ‘work’ related things and am only using photos for my own enjoyment and for sharing on the blog (in which case they don’t have to be that high a quality. Any tips on good mirrorless cameras? I’ve been eyeing out the Fujifilm X100T but it is rather steep on the budget and I don’t like that you can’t change the lens. I am looking for a camera that I can still use a viewfinder, is fully manual, has a good quality lens option which means I don’t need to buy a kit lens, is light and compact. I wish I could try them all out.

On a side note: be aware that even if you are flying with Ryanair there is no guarantee that your bag will be allowed with you as cabin luggage as there is a guarantee that only the first 90 bags are allowed. So on our way back from Budapest our bags were checked into the hold from the runway. A combination of early morning and not being prepared meant that one of our bags didn’t have a lock and something was actually taken from our bags in transit. I now kind of liken flying Ryanair to a bad relationship which you keep going back to!

Anyway, I would love to know if you have any magical packing tips for future trips?

read ’em and eat

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READ ‘EM

I could spend ages looking at this floral/fashion shoot. Well if I had hours to spare…

The delivery of our blender was delayed because we were sent a vacuum cleaner instead (I kid you not!) but when it arrives I will probably be visiting Simple Green Smoothies every day!

And some more food inspo via instagram.

Talking about healthy eating I love this tongue in cheek definitive guide on it.

This note on 9 years of marriage is perfection. Even though Tim and I have only been married 7 months we have been a couple for over 10 years and so I can really associate with some of these.

EAT

I’ve been ‘powering up’ my porridges this year. I add some milled flaxseed, tahini, nuts and fruit. Kiwis are packed with Vitamin C so I am hoping it will keep the colds away. Also hazelnut milk? It is like drinking dessert and is so good with some porridge (and hot chocolate).

Don’t you love how winter fruits are so colourful, oranges and persimmon and kiwi fruit. The ones here in Italy are so sweet.

How do you ‘power up’ your porridge?

read ’em and eat

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READ ‘EM

I think Freya’s key to happiness is such a perfect insight.

Every few months I resolve to be better at staying in touch with my friends around the world. And mostly I fail but this is a beautiful idea to keep connected with your global community that I might steal.

Thanks to my friend Donald I discovered the five minute journal this week. You can buy the app, an actual journal or they share the whole journal (which has some research and explanations) as an Issuu so you can read it and then just go make your own journal with a notebook you have lying around. Admittedly I have just done the latter because I didn’t like the idea of doing it on my phone and I wanted to start straight away. It is definitely a really helpful tool in helping me to live my word for the year, Intentional. I have now done it for five days but have changed the ‘gratitude’ question slightly in line with advice from Marie Forleo about making gratitude more precise.

I made this beetroot soup the other day. I have to say I was a bit … scared … about what beetroot soup would taste like but it was really good. And it felt so healthy I was sure I lost weight just eating it! (Okay maybe not but it felt like I was getting all the good stuff). Plus with the little bit that was left-over I added it to an abundance bowl as a dressing. I love multitasking food.

I think I might take up Rosie’s call for learning/re-learning a skill. I have a few in mind, I just need to get some materials …

EAT

I haven’t had too many exciting breakfasts since my return to Italy. This morning I met a friend for coffee though and this is the standard Italian breakfast out. Un brioche con cioccolato e un capo in b, per favore. Seriously I don’t know how they stay so slim! I don’t often have this for breakfast. In fact this is probably the first time in about 4 months, but sometimes you wake up late on a Sunday and are eager to catch up with a friend. A ‘capo in b‘ is short speak for a cappuccino in bicchiere (a glass). The cappuccino’s in Trieste are much smaller in size than the rest of Italy. Just an espresso glass size. Which is plenty big enough for me. Also Trieste is the only place (as far as I know) where you ask for a coffee like that. Even an espresso is called a ‘nero’ (black).

There you go a little lesson on coffee in Trieste. This year I plan to share a little more about the city which I hope you will enjoy. At some point I will also pull out my actual camera to start taking pictures again!

cape town | thoughts and things

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I had great plans of all the tips and insights I would give you to Cape Town, my place of birth and home for 20 years. But when you go back for 10 days, have to see all your people and it is Christmas, a family engagement party and a celebration of the fact that you got married in the year, the bulk of activities and meals are allocated to not eating out. That said I still have some thoughts and things I wanted to share incase you find yourself heading to Cape Town. Which I think you should because this is definitely a city that is worth seeing!

Cape Town is a beautiful and dynamic city. Without having visited any other parts of South Africa for a while, I would say it is the ‘flagship’ of a country that embraces its multiculturalism so beautifully. In 2014 Cape Town was the ‘Design Capital’ and it is definitely showing up everywhere. I could have spent an absolute fortune in shops all over town, even little stalls in the middle of nowhere. Tip 1: Go with a big bag and spare cash!

Here are a list of my suggested places:

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1. Starlings: A coffee shop and restaurant in a suburban part of town. Has great cake and a lovely outside eating area.

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2. Watershed at the V&A Waterfront: a great destination for picking up some gifts and souvenirs by local designers who hold concessions in a large old wharf building.

3. The Old Biscuit Mill: on a Saturday this has many of the same designers that you can find at the Watershed but it does have more of a market vibe, as well as a variety of food stalls. My suggestion would be to go early and check it out and then wonder around the other shops and restaurants that are popping up in the area. Definitely a gentrification process going on here which has its pros and cons.

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4. Take the metro along the coast: When I lived in Cape Town I used to take the metro to work and on the weekends we would head down to the lower regions of Cape Town for some adventuring. You need to take the route that goes from the City Bowl towards Simons Town. From Muizenberg you start seeing the sea and it is such a lovely trip. Get off at Kalk Bay for trendy shops and eateries or Simons Town for some sightseeing in the former naval town. Locals might still warn you about safety but I had no issues and really felt quite comfortable. Get the Metroplus (which is like first class) as you will have more space and more comfortable chairs and a return ticket is still less than £2.

5. Try out some of the local wines: We went to Eagle’s Nest in Constantia for a picnic which was absolutely brilliant with delicious food and definitely suggested. On Christmas we also went to Blaauwklippen in Stellenbosch (outside of Cape Town) for a Christmas meal and wine tasting. Apparently they also have a brilliant market on the weekend with live music (which is currently my Uncles).

6. Get some fresh air and go for a hike: The scenery around Cape Town is absolutely breathtaking. We went for a hike up Chapman’s Peak. In summer I suggest you go early as it does get hot. Also take lots of water to prevent de-hydration. It probably requires a moderate fitness level but there are also more gentle excursions. There is something particularly special about seeing all the way around the peninsula from the top though.

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7. The Oude Molen Eco Village has a little restaurant that had a lovely and well-priced breakfast menu which we enjoyed with the sounds of chickens clucking and a nice view. I felt like we had driven an hour of of town and had found a quaint dorpie (little town).

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8. The Imhoff Farm: An old farm in Kommetjie which now has several eateries (we had breakfast at the restaurant with a view of the mountains and peacocks). It also has a few shops and if you have young kids a sort of zoo and camel rides.

9. Truth Coffee: good coffee in a steampunk setting which has some great attention to detail.

Also, I didn’t get to experience it but Cape Town is expanding its public transport facilities with a City Bus. The routes are limited to the City Centre but if you are a tourist in town that is probably where you want to be anyway.

Honestly, I didn’t take my camera out much while in Cape Town and these are all iPhone pictures. I suppose that is sometimes the way when you are just enjoying time with friends and family. But I will be sharing a few more photos of Chapman’s Peak that I took.

getting there

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I feel like it has been more of a slow shuffle into the new year and all that is promises rather than a leap. But I am getting there and starting to work out what I want 2015 to look like.

Until I allocate some time to actually sitting down and writing some posts I thought I would share these iPhone photographs of yesterday’s sunset with you. I just kept taking pictures as it changed and it was so darn pretty. I think sunsets are just about one of my most favourite things in the world. I would estimate that I have spent about 942 hours of my life appreciating the wonder of sunsets. Maybe I should make a book … Or one that is crowd sourced … A world of sunsets.

Anyway, I hope they set you up for a week where you stop to appreciate the magic of the everyday.

our traditional christmas dessert

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For at least the last five years (if not longer) my mother has been making a twist on bread and butter pudding for our Christmas dessert. As I won’t be with her this year I asked for the recipe so that I could make it in South Africa. I tried it out on the weekend to have with friends at a “friendly Christmas” (I think that is an appropriate name for a Christmas celebration with friends). I don’t have a recipe as such as my mom just makes it by magical mom skills but I thought I would share with you what we do.

Ingredients

  • a large panettone (I used a 750g one)
  • butter
  • apricot jam (although I am thinking fig jam or a cranberry jam would be pretty awesome too)
  • 1 pot double cream and  (you don’t actually get this in Italy so I used marscapone)
  • 1 pot single cream
  • milk as necessary (I used almond milk)
  • 4-5 eggs (depending on size, I used 5)
  • raisins (soaked in juice)
  • brown sugar

Method

Slice the panettone and make sandwiches with the jam and butter. I cut from the bottom so I have rounds which I think quarter to make little triangles. Place them in a dish with the little triangles pointing up.

Separately combine the single cream, double cream, milk, eggs and a bit of sugar (I just sprinkled it in) and beat until combined. Making this marscapone it kind of separated strangely but cooked to look fine.

Sprinkle the raisins over the sandwich ‘spread’ and the slowly coat with the liquid. It should  come as high as possible in your dish (although not cover the top of the sandwich peaks). Leave to sit for a while if you can. Then pop the pudding into the oven for 45 minutes to an hour at 180 degrees. Keep an eye on it to make sure the peaks don’t burn.

Serve with custard or ice-cream. It makes about 8 portions and is great for breakfast the next day!

Also check out my guest post on Leanne’s blog about what Christmas is to me.