Lisbon, Portugal

One of the great things about living in Europe is the budget flights that bring you all over the continent. Last summer, my boyfriend and I had no idea where to go for our summer vacation, so we visited Skyscanner and looked for the cheapest flights from the airports nearby. Turns out Ryanair was flying to Lisbon for a steal. Portugal had never come to our minds as a vacation destination, but we did some research and it seemed like a pretty cool place. Boy, were we in for a treat!

Culinary

Pastel de Nata

Pastel de Nata

First of all, Lisbon is a culinary delight. Trying out local dishes is one of my favourite parts of travelling! Try a pastry at one of the many cafes out there, or have some fresh seafood at any restaurant.

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Bacalhau com Natas

Bacalhau com Natas

Sights

Lisbon is also full of interesting and beautiful sights. We were there for nearly a week, yet there were still quite a few sights that we missed out on! They have a lovely old town with an impressive fifteenth century church and monastery. Oh, and do take a quick day trip to Sintra. There’s plenty of lovely castles there.

Tower of Belem

Tower of Belem

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All in all, I had an amazing time in Lisbon. The food was delicious, the sights were great, the people were really nice and the weather was amazing. We went in August, and there were only blue skies. I don’t usually revisit vacation destinations, but Lisbon is a place where I could happily go again!

Personal Finances

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Image from Google

Although I have been in charge of my personal finances since I was eighteen, it wasn’t until I started living on my own last year that I realised how poorly I fared when it came to keeping up my personal finances.

After paying for my necessities (mainly rent and transport), I really did not have a fixed budget for anything else, such as groceries, going out eating and clothing expenses. I realised money was trickling out of my purse pretty fast and when I checked my bank statement at the end of the month, I usually couldn’t remember a quarter of the expenses I had occurred.

This past month, I have resolved to be more disciplined and to keep up with my personal finances, something I imagine I will really appreciate when I finally have a full time job and “grown-up” expenses.

This template which I found on Google drive was free and extremely helpful. The tricky part now will be to have the discipline to log in my expenses faithfully!Image

How to do a Manicure at Home

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Given how much manicures cost at nail salons, I only go if I’m able to get special discounts and even then it’s few and far between. For others without deep pockets, I thought I’d share my own step by step take on the home manicure.

Step 1: File your nails (I love nails that are slightly longer than the fingertips and filed square.)

Step 2: Soak your nails in a bowl of warm, soapy water for 10 minutes

Step 3: Apply cuticle oil to your cuticles and push them back with an orange stick (this really makes a difference to the end result of the manicure)

Step 4: Buff your nails (this helps the polish apply smoother)

Step 5: Polish your nails (base coat, nail colour, top coat)

Step 6: Admire your polished nails!

*Tip: I always find painting my nails to be really relaxing and fun, so I love playing my favourite tunes in the background while I give myself a manicure.:)

 

 

 

My Organised Bookshelf

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Last week, I bemoaned the cluttered state of my bookshelf and was paying the price of not keeping my book purchases in check. After throwing out two boxes of books, I proudly present my decluttered book shelf!

I’ve used a better categorization this time and it’s so much easier to search for things. I’ve also added some personal pieces to decorate the shelves.

My collection of classics sits together with an adorable gift from a friend.

The Mulberry paper frames a picture of a beautiful evening in South Germany.

Atonement, a book that has been sitting in my shelf for ages, which I hope to finally read in September. If the reviews are to be believed, I’m in for a treat.

Decluttering

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While I was beginning to write my resolutions for the new year in January, I became aware of how much clutter I have in my room. This year, I’ve been trying to work at clearing away things, a little bit at a time and so far, but it has been going really slowly.

Yesterday, I began working on clearing my bookshelf and was amazed at how I’ve managed to amass such a large collection of books. My bookshelves are often triple-stacked, so this project is going to take me awhile. To spur myself on, I’ve completely cleared out one shelf and I just love how clean it looked!

The lovely, clean, white bookshelf

I’ve been really inspired by becoming minimalist which has great tips about how to declutter and to lead a simpler, more fulfilling life. While I doubt I will ever become truly minimalist, I like the concept of learning to live with less possessions.

In the meanwhile, this is the reality I return to. I’ve removed two boxes of books already, but I still have 200 or so to clear I estimate. Oh well, one step at a time.

My de-clutter project of the week

Flea Markets

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Marche aux Puces, Paris, image from chezbetrand.com

I love walking along flea markets. There’s always the feeling that you just might find an oddity, a treasure, a diamond in the rough. I usually leave empty handed, just looking at the wares is a joy in itself. However, every once in awhile, it’s great to leave with something special.

While I rarely grab clothes from flea markets, I love browsing for bags because one can often find vintage bags which have a timeless quality about them.

Red vintage hobo

I scored this red vintage handbag from a flea market in Paris a couple of years ago. I love structured bags and this bag was really well made, durable and extremely versatile.

Tan shoulder bag

Strictly speaking, this was not a flea market find. I got it at the second hand store near my neighbourhood for $6 and this is probably one of my best finds ever. This bag was made in Rome and the quality of the leather is impeccable. This bag is perfect for city vacations and stores all my necessities for a day trip.

Do you guys like flea markets? Have you picked up any great second hand items that you would love to share about?

Nude Heels

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I previously mentioned how I had found a lovely pair of nude heels. I wore them to graduation and they were really comfortable and looked very chic.

Here they are!

Nude Nappa Leather Heels

I love that the heels were only 4.0cm. I prefer shorter heels as they look more professional and are so much better for your feet! I added heel guards for a better grip and more comfort. I’m sure this pair is going to be a wardrobe staple.

Now to find the perfect pair of black heels…

 

Ten Tips for the Lone (Female) Traveller

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Èze, Provence, France

Travelling is undoubtedly a great deal of fun. Sometimes, by choice or by chance, some of us will wind up travelling on our own. This is a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and be more independent. Personally, I have travelled alone to Moscow and Nice and they were both good experiences for me. However, it definitely helps to keep these ten tips in mind.

  • Choose to stay in a backpacker’s hostel

Part of the fun of travelling alone is meeting people from everywhere. Backpacker’s hostels are usually perfect places, because you will meet people who like yourself, are travelling alone and have great stories and travel tips to share.

  • Do your research

Travelling on your own, it’s always handy to learn about the destination before hand. Bring a good travel guide. In Moscow, I depended on my Lonely Planet for travel tips, information on key sights and directions.

  • Stay in safe places

For me, dangerous countries are a definite no-go, but even safe countries sometimes have bad neighbourhoods. I would advise keeping away from such areas. Besides, there’s usually not much for the average tourist there anyway.

  • Be open to new experiences

A different country has loads to offer. All sorts of food, sights and sounds. Try something that you usually wouldn’t do. For me, that was doing a seven-hour hike! Pretty gruelling, but fun nevertheless! And the view was worth every step.

View from Feldberg, Germany

  • Learn to deal with unnecessary attention

A friend and I were sharing how travelling on your own sometimes attract unwanted, male attention. Be polite, but firm. Pull out the “I have a boyfriend/ husband” card (real or imaginary) and that usually does the trick.

  • Plan your finances well

I sometimes read about people running out of money in the middle of trips. I honestly do not know how anyone would go on a trip without ensuring they had sufficient funds, but this is even more important when you are on your own without a travel companion to lend you some cash to tide you through.

  • Bring entertainment material

One of the down sides of travelling alone is the lack of a travel companion to chat with. Bring novels and put some music on your iPod to keep you company on those long train, bus or plane trips.

  • Pack light

As much as we’d love to have our entire wardrobe and make-up collection at our beck and call, the best thing you can do for yourself is to bring only what is essential. It’s no fun lugging huge luggage up a flight of stairs at the train station. Consider paring down your make-up routine while on vacation. Bring shoes that are comfortable enough to walk in, yet presentable enough for an evening out.

  • Combat loneliness

Perhaps the worst part of travelling alone is that loneliness can sometimes sink in. Combat this by packing your schedule with lots of fun activities so you don’t spend too much time feeling lonely. I find that buying thoughtful souvenirs for loved ones also helps fight loneliness.

  • Trust yourself

Travelling alone can be a scary experience. But have faith in yourself and have fun! Trust your gut instincts. Studies have shown that women have stronger intuition than men do. That’s a powerful advantage for any traveller!

The beautiful Red Square, Moscow, Russia

When You Say Nothing At All

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“When You Say Nothing At All” is one of my favourite songs. I love Alison Krauss’ version as the clarity of her voice really emphasises the poignancy of the lyrics.

I love the suggestion how sometimes, silence is golden. Words may help us convey a lot, yet sometimes, no words are neccessary.

I finish off with one of my favourite quotes in literature,

I cannot make speeches Emma:’ he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing. – ‘If I loved you less I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.

Emma, Jane Austen

Emma and Mr. Knightley (1995 Adaptation)

A Little Bite

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I tend to feel hungry at awkward timings, sometimes in between meals, and often at around 10pm. A few days ago, I whipped up this little snack from some chilli con carne leftovers.

Chilli Con Carne

For a lovely chilli con carne, I always use this recipe here.

To make a night-time snack, I mashed some potatoes and spread them over the chilli in a small bowl. To add a finishing touch, I sprinkled some bacon bits over the mashed potatoes.