Cosy Day Essentials

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It is a funny time of the year for me to be talking about feeling cosy as we are supposed to be in the middle of summer. But we’ve been experiencing some colder evenings these last few days which has had me reach for my favourite winter essentials. I can’t think of a better time to talk about essentials for staying cosy than during the festive season when you feel all fuzzy inside.

Feeling cosy is a complete sensory indulgence for me. I like to start off with a scented candle. Right now I’ve got a Cinnamon and Jasmine duo doing the trick.

On nights where I feel completely drained, as I have often felt these past few days, I prefer to just unplug completely and head to bed with a few good magazines or a classic novel.

I can’t stress enough how important good quality sheets and bedding is. I prefer a sateen finish, especially on my pillows but I also know a good many people like the cool touch of percale. Once you’ve found what works for you, it is worth investing in it (I like this set from Parachute Home as they have both options available in a classic style).

My ultimate indulgence however is a cosy quite like a grey knit – be it in blanket or jumper form. Make it a cable knit and I’m sold! This is where you want to pay attention to what your knit is made of as Merino is preferable for that snug feel that doesn’t scratch. Never settle for anything less than cotton!

A little Christmas music always elevates my mood and songs about snow always fit the bill! I like to finish this off with a good cappuccino to send me into sensory heaven!

Festive Nails

heroI love nothing more than a simple classic red manicure for the festive season, something like Julep’s Karissa. As much as I like candy cane nail art or its seasonal equivalent, I have more pressing matters to attend to like work and holiday parties. So chips and smudges manage to creep up on me even when I use high quality nail polishes. Luckily I found a great way to disguise them in seasonal appropriate style so that you can get on with the champagne sipping this holiday season!

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What you’ll need:

  • Red nail polish
  • Gold glitter or gold glitter nail polish

I like creating a statement nail by either dusting it with loose glitter or adding a coat of glitter polish as it adds a nice pop to a holiday manicure without requiring any trouble. It is also a great way to disguise a nasty chip or smudge as you don’t have to worry about the texture showing through.

Simply add a fresh coat of polish to the chosen finger and lightly dust with glitter ensuring that the entire nail is covered. It is obviously preferable to just give it a coat with a glitter polish as it is less messy and will last longer, but glitter is a great alternative.

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Christmas Wishlist | For Him

mensgiftguide If you’re like me shopping for the men in your life might prove to be a tad more difficult than you’d care to admit. So this year I decided to reign in my fiancé to help me narrow down a gift list that will leave any man with a smile on his face. Unfortunately he proved that ‘boys toys’ usually exceed budget, so I added a few pocket friendly options which received his approval. Ranging from classic novels to the latest technological toys you’re sure to find something for the man that has everything!

  1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller from R375 (Kalahari.com)
  2. A selection of striped tees from R70 each (mrp.com)
  3. Fitbit Flex watch from R1199 (Superbalist.com)
  4. Leatherman Super Tool from R1658 (Kalahari.com)
  5. Humble & Mash Cased Braai Set from R499 (Yuppiechef.com)
  6. Leather Satchel from R1799 (Superbalist.com)
  7. Western Digital TV Live Hub from R2229 (Incredible.co.za)
  8. Powerstick+ from R349 (Superbalist.com)

December Favourites

‘Tis the season to be jolly…!

It is my favourite time of the year already! It is hard to believe that Christmas and New Years is around the corner as this year really flew by. So welcome to my festive favourites!

Even though I have already put up my Christmas decorations I still crave the perfect reef. I will be doing gold and white gift wrap this year, but the elegance of black and white still attracts me. Maybe I’ll attempt some calligraphy on this year’s name tag.

I usually make a panforte for Christmas (get my favourite recipe here), but I’d like to try my hand at florentines this year. This chocolate orange recipe seems like a perfect festive combination. Since it is summer I will steer clear of anything overtly cosy and rather attempt a simple yet festive table like the one above. It would go well with a summer Christmas lunch!

I also plan on spending as much time as possible either pool side or on the beach and a classic black bathing suit is exactly what I need.

Lets talk about the endless amount of DIYs I’m planning this month. Not only do I want to make this awesome star garland with glitter paper, I also want to tackle a few of my wedding DIYs, they may or may not involve large amounts of sequins and glitter.

Since December is decidedly summer in Cape Town, I look forward to al fresco dining, summer salads with my favourite fruit and braais (aka barbecues).

Finally I’d like to kick-start next year on a high note, it would be an added bonus if I could find these cute eyelashes!

I hope you all have a great festive season with all your loved ones! Safe travelling and I look forward to sharing a few festive ideas with you over the coming month!

Much love,

Astrid x

My Trip to Italy: Siena

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Siena was our final stop on our Italian trip and by that time we were dead on our feet. It was so nice to arrive in this small, slow paced town. We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Italia which was located outside of town, close to the railway station. After what seemed like an endless amount of escalators we finally reached our hotel to drop our bags and head into town.

Siena was once the capitol of Tuscany, before the Black Death lead to its defeat by Florence. It is a small walled town, smack bang in the middle of the Tuscan hills most famous for the Palio di Siena, a twice yearly horse race taking place in the Piazza dell Campo. What attracts most visitors though is its beautiful Duomo. Although it does not match Florence’s Duomo in size, the sheer magnificence lies in its beauty and attention to detail.

Whilst the Duomo might have been what first attracted us to Siena, it is its Panforte or Siena Cake which guaranteed its spot on our itinerary. If we had more time (read money) we would have loved to attend a Panforte tasting but instead we stocked up on this delicacy at one of Siena’s many grocery stores.

We spent the rest of the afternoon nursing our tired feet on the Piazza del Campo after which my fiancé decided to scale the Torre del Mangia for some magnificent sunset shots. From there you can admire the dome, the countryside, the Piazza del Campo and the beautiful colours of Siena.

We finished our short time here with a traditional Italian dinner at a small restaurant inside the city walls before retiring to out hotel. What a great way to end this magnificent adventure!

P.S. I’d like to thank my fiancé for all these beautiful pics. You can see more of his shots on his Instagram account.

Christmas Wishlist | For Her

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This holiday season I am really enjoying the festive yet simple appeal of white and gold. Who am I kidding!? I’ve been enjoying it since last year. It is classic and elegant yet can also be playful and rendered in stripy form it is practically perfect. Throw in some black and it is as classic as it gets!

I wouldn’t mind being at the receiving end of a few of these gifts and the best part is that most of them are super budget friendly!

The beautiful earrings pictured in number two comes with a matching chain, how cute huh? And I’ve been eyeing a pair of lace Supergas for quite a while but the price kept my card tucked safely in my wallet, but for these Mr Price lace sneakers it will make a special appearance. I also desperately need a new beach towel as mine has sadly met too many chlorine speckles.

I’ve always wanted to own a Essie nailpolish and I think I’ve finally found the perfect one – the glitter chunks gets me every time!

Lastly, can we take a moment to discuss how cute these gold rimmed plates are? If you can’t imagine using them daily, at least get them for Christmas dinner. I think they might even make my favourite avo toast look fancy!

Have you made your Christmas wishlist yet?

My trip to Italy: Florence

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Hi everyone,

It is kind-off hard to believe that we have been back home for almost a month already and I am still sorting through photos from our trip. We’ve also got a myriad of videos still lying ahead and I’m going away for work next week so I think it might take up until the end of the year to get through it all. Which isn’t a bad thing! We had such an amazing time and I really want the feeling to last for as long as we can.

We spent a glorious three days in Florence which in my opinion wasn’t nearly enough! Between seeing all the amazing art works and eating copious amounts of gelato we didn’t manage to get to everything on our list. We kicked off day one, which was technically a half-day with a visit to the Galeria del Academia for Michelangelo’s David. Trust me when I say that none of the copies come close the real thing. You can even see the veins on his arms and hands and it is about three times the size of a real man! The Galeria also has a few other impressive works like the Rape of the Sabine Woman, which you really have to appreciate from all angles and a few other famous Michelangelo works.

We stayed close to the San Lorenzo market so we visited it a few times during our journey. I ended up buying a leather handbag for about 40 euros, but we did have to bargain slightly. Don’t buy at the first stall you see as they all have similar if not the same bags and everyone makes their own price. The market is also great for picking up a few cool souvenirs.

On day two we hit the Uffizi Galery where I fell slightly in love with Botticelli’s Spring. The gallery also offers some great views of the Ponte Vecchio and of course a secret passage across the river if you’ve got a special ticket.

By this time of our trip our feet were really getting the better of us, as I’d wake up feeling just like I did the night before. So we decided to skip the climb up the Dome tower and rather enjoyed a slice of pizza overlooking the dome. That evening we grabbed some take away and a large bottle of wine and dined underneath the stars on the stairs of the Piazza Michelangelo overlooking the city. There was a live musician and we even met another South African who recognised our Afrikaans. We  enjoyed the evening so much that we decided to do the same the following evening.

The next day we really tried to cram it all in and paid a final visit to the San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale, an amazing food market where you can do some grocery shopping on the ground level and get your meal on on the first floor. The pizzas there are totally worth it! I also really wanted to see the Santa Maria Novella and visit its pharmacy. The pharmacy is unlike any fragrance store I’ve ever visited as it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Sadly I left empty handed as I just couldn’t decide what I wanted.

A visit to the Boboli Gardens was one of the things at the top of my list and it did not disappoint- even though a large part of the gardens were off limits due to (what we understood between the broken English) trees falling. We also went in to see the Costume Exhibition and finished with the Bardini Gardens which were even prettier! Both gardens offer amazing views of Florence. From the Boboli Gardens we saw some typical Tuscan scenes and from the Bardini Gardens we got a great view of the city.

We finished off our final evening in Florence with a gelato watching the sun set over the beautiful city. I hope we get to return soon!

Photos taken either by me or my talented fiancée. You can check out more of his amazing shots on his Instagram account here.

 

How to ask your bridesmaids

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Once all the hubbub around our engagement started dying down, we immediately started thinking about who we wanted in our wedding party. I knew who I was going to ask, but for me the important thing was how I was going to ask.

I waited until we had already decided on the look and colours of our weddings as I wanted it to tie into that. I then tailor made a gift for both girls, one a close friend and the other my niece including small gifts (not the fragrance, that is only for colour inspiration).

The important thing is to give them as much information about your wedding as possible to help them make an informed decision. I decided that I want each of them to get a unique dress within my colour palette so I collected a few colour swatches from my local hardware store to include in the gift pack.

I also gave them a budget for dresses, a ball-park for wedding dates and in which region it would be. I think it is also important for them to know with whom they’ll be sharing the responsibility and fun and what extras I would pay for them or expect them to pay for. This is particularly important if your wedding party needs accommodation.

I made sure to finish it with a nice card asking her to be part of our special day and explaining why. Pretty wrapping also helps!

How did you ask your bridesmaids? Maybe you can steal a few ideas?

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November Favourites

Hi everyone!

I know this month’s favourites is a little late, but better late than never is what I always say! I also tweaked this month’s favourites a little as an added bonus.

November and December is my favourite time of the year. I love looking back at everything I’ve done and achieved that year and this year it has been a lot! November is also the official start of summer and I can’t wait for the first official heat wave- and I think today qualifies.

So this month I am looking forward to the future which stretches far beyond this year. Next year will be a pretty exciting time for me and my fiancé. I am also looking forward to the festive season which will probably enter our home later this week as I put up the Christmas tree. This is one of my all time favourite things to do. Just add a little Christmas music and bam- you’re ready for anything! ‘Jingle bells jingle bells…’

Summer also means a few trips to the beach. We usually divide our time between Clifton and the West Coast for Christmas. I just can’t wait for endless turquoise waves and blueberries (by far my favourite berry) to match!

Next weekend I am visiting my niece in the winelands and we plan on baking macarons, not in front of the Eiffel Tower unfortunately but in their lovely kitchen. I suspect a few ice lollies might also be consumed…

Finally we are kicking off the wedding planning and I am mostly looking forward to dress shopping, always keeping my beloved Monique Lhullier Candy in the back of my mind.

P.S. As a fun extra I decided to compile this month’s favourites of pics from some of my favourite Instagram accounts. Credits go as follows:

  1. The Glitter Guide @glitterguide
  2. Stephster Jovski @stephsterjovski
  3. My own pic of Cliffton beach
  4. Lucy Laught @lucylaught
  5. Amy Stone @amy_stone
  6. A Girl, A Style @agirlastyle
  7. Gal Meets Glam @juliahengel
  8. Fab Muse Diana @fabmuse_diana
  9. Liz Adams @liz.adams_

You can also see what I Instagram over here.

I hope you all have a great November!

Much love,

Astrid

My Trip to Italy: Rome Part 2

We really crammed it all in to our last two days. We spent it running around trying to take it all in. We had only set aside one day for the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill but found ourselves moving from seat to seat when we finally made it to the Roman Forum. There is definitely a reason that the tickets are valid for two days! The queues to enter the Colosseum stretched for miles despite the fact that it was autumn (which we never felt) so we were really glad that we bought tickets in advance. Honestly I must admit that I was a little underwhelmed by the Colosseum but it might have just been my feet talking. It was really hard to grasp the historical value of the site when the sheer size of it overwhelmed us.

I really enjoyed the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill more although all the walking had definitely taken its toll. We were completely knackered by the end of the day.

On our last day in Rome we just did a little shopping on Via dei Condotti (hello H&M!) and explored a few of the side streets where we found some really authentic looking Italian alleys. This was surprisingly also the first time I noticed a real Vespa. We also returned to the Pantheon so that we could enter during daylight. For our final evening in Rome we went to bridge before ending our evening with some gelato and wine at this cute little restaurant and bar that had amazing live music.

I couldn’t believe how time had flown and that it was already time to move on to our next stop. Rome, you romantic, you really managed to seduce me with your opera on the piazzas, great pizzas, even better gelato and beautiful architecture. I can’t wait until we meet again. La Dolce Vita!