[ETSY] FACTORY TWENTY-ONE

Rustic furniture with recycled, reclaimed materials has taken the UK by storm. Whereas ‘rustic’ can sometimes refer to furniture displaying a distinct lack of craftsmanship, this is clearly not the case for one inspiring woodwork designer and his crafts, which use a large amount of recycled materials – mainly English oak or old pallet wood. Am honoured to sneak 5 questions in with the designer himself! Read on.

⚓️FACTORY TWENTY ONE

Who: Christopher Berry

What: Sussex-based Home Accessories – rustic, retro furniture, interior decor, prints and posters

🏠: ETSY! | Factory Twenty One | Facebook

We ❤: Wooden wall-planters in gorgeous colours

WhereFactory Twenty One, Unit 10 & 11, Alfriston Road, Berwick Court Farm (UK)

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Started by Christopher Berry and inspired from a background of medieval furniture and a degree in furniture and product design, Christopher set out to create affordable, easily shipped and eco-friendly house-hold products.

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“Factorytwentyone’s aim is to create original items, available to everyone. With a mix of traditional manufacturing techniques and modern processes, our collection of products ranges from lamp shades to coat hooks and clocks to key hook and mail organizers. You’re sure to enjoy the quality and playful side that goes with each design.”

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5 QUESTIONS WITH CHRISTOPHER BERRY @ FACTORY TWENTY ONE

VJ: Why ETSY?

Etsy has been a fantastic opportunity to show and sell my designs around the world. There’s a lot of work that they put in on social media and through local etsy teams. It’s a real community and everyone’s keen to help each other. It’s free and there’s a low rate of commission charged on sales. This was perfect when facatorytwentyone started out and as we’ve grown we’ve seen etsy grow too.

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?

I began working with my father doing Tudor, Elizabethan, & Georgian period replica furniture and at the same time studied furniture and product design at university. With an interest in modern design and the skills I had from work and university I decided to invest these in starting up factorytwentyone creating products that are inspired from my past.

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy?  How did you overcome these challenges?

Looking back I would say getting together the right tools and machinery, and the space to put it together. Luckily I was fortunate that my father had this in place already. But this would be a large outlay for someone starting out. Also getting the products in front of the right people, this is where etsy has helped.

VJ: With so many online stores, was branding an issue in setting up on Etsy?

Not really. I wanted to do something different.  I was keen to have a good brand but the most important thing was that the products spoke for the brand .

VJ: We’ll like to know more about the person behind your business!! Tell us more about yourself 🙂

Factorytwentyone is run by me so I’m involved with everything from accounting through to the manufacture and distribution. I love everything design and im consistently looking through blogs and magazines in my spare time reviewing trends and inspiration. To relax and refresh my mind I like to mountain bike, thankfully the workshop is at the base of the South Downs in Sussex.

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Be sure to check out his workshop at Berwick Court Farm!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ETSY] MILKCART – DESIGNER FURNITURE

Our Etsy journey continues with husband-and-wife duo from The MILKCART, a Sydney-based designer woodwork store. Inspired by simplicity of Danish furniture and light filled interiors of Australian homes, the duo’s great eye for detail has produced gorgeous, inspiring hand-crafted woodwork. Today we get up-close and personal with the creatives behind The MILKCART store.

⚓️MILKCART

Who: Ryan & Marnie McKnight

What:  Handcrafted, upcycled furniture

🏠: ETSY! | The Milkcart | @milkcart | Facebook

We ❤: The Dolly Collection, Skinny Betty…

Perks: Free delivery Australia-wide; SAVE $50 by picking up from their workshop in KIRRAWEE. Enter the discount code ‘Workshop’ at the Checkout.

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Trinity Console
Clean lines and precise woodwork at a fabulously affordable price – there’s so much to love about MILKCART. The store refreshes its collection every now and then to keep things interesting for returning customers.

MILKCART’s vision is to breathe new life into old ideas, creating original furniture with a vintage industrial feel. Each item is practical, beautiful and unique, complementing any decor or style. We know there is a place in your home for one of them!

5 QUESTIONS WITH MARNIE @ MILKCART

VJ: Why ETSY?
Etsy was the first platform we used to sell our furniture. Not only was it easy to use, it was also inspiring, innovative and really supportive of us as we developed our brand. There are great community groups within Etsy which helped answer our newbie questions and advise us on selling techniques. The local team also included us in an Etsy Pop Up event, which took us out from behind the computer and face to face with our customers, which was a scary, but ultimately rewarding and we haven’t looked back since.

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?
After moving house, we found that there was very little designer furniture within our budget, and more specifically, nothing to fit those narrow spaces and awkward corners of your home. We made a couple of pieces for our home, and then decided that if we liked them, others might too. What began as a hobby in the back shed is now a full time job for both of us, with a large workshop and plenty of helpers!

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy
The hardest part, I believe, is making your product stand out. I think that photography is key in an online environment, and I am constantly trying to improve my pictures to represent our products and brand. Luckily, everyone has smart phones now, and that is really all that you need – a phone and some practise! Also, finding out who your target audience is, really helps so you can aim your key words towards that demographic.

VJ: How did you overcome these challenges.
With the photos, I just keep trying! I would love to take a quick photography course, but honestly don’t have the time! I am happy with the overall feel of the pictures, and will update them as I get better. The keywords are also an ongoing project for me – trial and error as we work out who is drawn to what, and why. There is more research and computer work involved than I thought, but I am amazed at how much I have learnt and how much support there is online to help you when you are stuck.

VJ: We like to know more about the person behind The MILKCART! Tell us more about yourself 🙂
Milkcart is made up of myself (Marnie) and my husband Ryan. We work together in every project, both online and in the workshop and studio – every single items passes through these four hands. Outside of work, we also have to live with each other, so luckily we get on pretty well! We have three kids, a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, and crazy ambitious dreams – most of which are already coming true! We are huge believers in visualising your product or brand, or any single thing in your life, and working towards that with a positive outlook. That way, anything is possible!

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Scarecrow Lamp

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Black Betty

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Concrete Puddles

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Skinny Betty

Our pieces are fully designed and handcrafted by us in our Sydney workshop – each passing through our four hands – a real human touch, separating us from the mass produced items flooding the market. We really wanted to incorporate pieces with simplicity and practicality, and inspired by a quote from a Brooklyn furniture design company, ‘Perfect Imperfection’ has become our motto.

For more of their gorgeous work, check out the links above, or their main store at

MILKCART
4/29-33 Waratah St,
Kirrawee NSW 2232, Australia

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ETSY] GRAPHICS FEATURE: HOPSKIPJUMPPAPER

Customised wall art concepts has become all the rage in contemporary Asian homes following a rise in hipster worshippers. Whereas this trend has been around in the West for quite some time, the idea has only recently been adopted in modern Asian interior design. Popularised by Etsy’s legion of talented graphic designers, it’s now really easy to purchase typography prints online and have them delivered to your home. True enough, for apartment-owners looking to individualise their homes, possibilities are endless with typography and prints. Running short on gift/decor ideas? We’ve got one right here:

Today we get up close and personal with an admirable stay-at-home mom turned small business owner. Read on for her Etsy business journey.

⚓️HopSkipJumpPaper

Who: Jeanne DeFauw (Graphics Designer)

What:  Typography and Wall Art Decor

🏠: ETSY! | HopSkipJumpPaper | @hopskipjumppaper | Facebook

We ❤: Her signature “I love you …” series

Your Perks: Enjoy 20% off entire order when you quote “TRAVEL” at checkout!

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(I could use one of these as a cheer-me-up as I down my daily cuppa!)

What you’ll find: Nursery art, alphabet prints, digital illustrations, zen and humorous art. You name it.

Well, perhaps it’s just me, but there’s something comforting in waking up to an inspiring quote, or a saying that strikes you particularly hard. There’s solace in reading a big strong reminder of how your life can or should be. And I found some graphics I really loved on HSJP.

Travel art is perfect for your loved ones living far away or to commemorate an anniversary or special vacation. Coffee prints are perfect gifts for that caffeine-addicted friend. Why not say “I LOVE YOU” with a customised greeting card? Whatever the occasion, you’re sure to find something special! HSJP offers modern typography wall art prints, posters and greeting cards for travel, sports, children’s rooms, weddings, and home decor.

As if her work isn’t evident enough, HSJP’s designs have also been featured and positively validated on Apartment Therapy, BabyTalk, Babble, BuzzFeed, DailyCandy, and SmarterTravel.

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5 QUESTIONS WITH JEANNE @ HOPSKIPJUMPPAPER

VJ: Why ETSY?

My name is Jeanne. I’m a work-at-home-mom of two very active little boy. I’m also a graphic designer with over 10 years of experience in marketing and advertising. After I had my first son, I left my corporate job and started to look for a creative outlet. I stumbled onto Etsy and have since had three shops. I closed the first one because it focused on custom graphics and I found I didn’t have enough time for custom work.

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?

The second shop, HopSkipJumpPaper, began with mainly nursery art since that’s where my life was focused was at that time. My husband and I traveled extensively before having children. I would often ask him: How much do you love me? And, he would answer: From Here to Vanuatu (or some other crazy-sounding location far away). I decided to try some travel prints in my shop. They sold quickly and I added more. Now my shop is focused more on travel-related items.

I recently opened my third shop, Ramble Print Co, for instant download – printable art. I’m slowly working on building inventory. There aren’t enough hours in the day!

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy

My biggest challenge is feeling overwhelmed. It’s not easy balancing a business, small children and life.

VJ: How did you overcome these challenges.

Prioritizing is key! I wish I had more time to design, but need to spend most of my time printing, packaging, responding to messages, researching, keeping on top of Etsy changes, etc. Running a business takes lots of work. Reading the Etsy forums, networking with other sellers, and reading blogs and articles help.

VJ: We’ll like to know more about the person behind Popov Leather! Tell us more about yourself 🙂

I love travel, reading, playing with my kids, hiking and living in Colorado.

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“My new Etsy shop is www.etsy.com/shop/RamblePrintCo

Find me at: HSJP

Check out my pins and posts!
Pinterest | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr “

How not to love these artsy, creative prints? Don’t forget to use that discount code when you checkout!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[NEW YORK] EAT. SHOP. REPEAT

“I love New York. You can pop out of the Underworld in Central Park, hail a taxi, head down Fifth Avenue with a giant hellhound loping behind you, and nobody even looks at you funny.”
Rick Riordan

Eat, shop, dream, repeat! was all we did in New York during the winter. In early February, 0°C felt like much less, thanks to bone-chilling winds and an insufficient wardrobe. We had 3 days to spend right smack in the city, where you could literally shop all day and stay up at Times Square without realising it’s already midnight, and not even subzero temperatures could deter them creatures of the night.

Rick Riordan’s quote rang true when I realised literally anybody could dress up in anything and sell their crafts/ideas on Times Square. I forgot how many Big Birds, Cookie Monsters, Madagascar Penguins, Mickey Mouses and Eeyores I’ve seen accosting strangers in the streets, handing out pamphlets or just attempting to sell you something. Nobody found it weird and the reverse is true. The ones wearing them don’t feel judged at all.

Checking into The Paramount Hotel at Times Square felt like entering a club – dim lights, velvet couches, a DJ spinning on the console and bar drinks in the corner.

Straight off our flight, we headed for Koreatown in search of piping hot and spicy Korean food! Decided on New Wonjo because it looked spanking clean and boasts a really strong heater (we felt the emanating warmth just by walking past). Not once during our entire meal did we regret our choice. We had an amazing meal: Bean paste stew (된장찌개), Spicy Tofu Stew (순두부찌개), Short Rib Soup (갈비탕), Beef Glass Noodles (잡채), Rice Cakes (떡볶이), and Seafood Pancake (해물파전 ). Daresay this was one of the best Korean restaurants I’ve been to outside of Seoul.
    

During the trip I had one of the best Thai dishes in NYC too! New York’s melting pot of culture gives rise to an international array of good cuisines within the city centre. Yay me, who’s not a big fan of fast food. This was Thai green curry chicken from Pongsri Thai, a hip diner tucked between Broadway & 8th Ave, bringing you awesome Thai food since 1972.

The sweet-tooth in me jumped for joy at MAGNOLIA BAKERY, NYC’s very own vintage cupcakes store! This is one patisserie that I would seriously cry with happiness if it ever makes its way to Singapore…and guess what!! I just read this on their webpage:
In addition to our current locations, Magnolia Bakery is continuing to franchise internationally and will soon open in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Singapore.”

OH LORD I’LL SHED REAL TEARS OF JOY. Let me show you why:

Day One: Red Velvet Cupcake and Banana Pudding.
I’ve always been a huge fan of red velvet, but this is a whole new level of velvety goodness. It was so soft and creamy, that there was nothing cake-y about it at all. Just melt-in-your-mouth smooth satiny velvet, made red with cocoa, vanilla and “a little southern mystery”, topped with  special whipped vanilla icing and chocolate chips.
  

I’ve never eaten a banana pudding, and my first was pure orgasmic. I totally get why this is Sex-and-The-City-approved! Layers and layers of banana and melted vanilla wafers in a cup blended in rich vanilla mousse… this is helluva showstopper. Omg, so good I swear!

Banana-pudding-and-kindle kinda night

Day Two: Lemon Cheesecake and Magic Cookie Bars
Lemon cheesecake was my breakfast, and it was so totally amazing, I wanted to trudge back to the store in freezing winter just to get another. I love how moist their cupcakes are in the grand scheme of how cupcakes tend to be, and it’s sweet without being sinfully so (or at least they don’t taste sinfully sweet like a pure bar of sugar)
Curious about Magic Cookie Bars and just how magic they were, I tried one, and went to cookie heaven. Still wasn’t sure what was in them until I went over to their page:”Graham cracker crust with chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut topped with sweetened condensed milk then baked.  

Enough talk about food, moving on to the shopping part of my whirlwind stay. For me shopping is the main activity in the States. Without driving to outlet stores, NYC has a convenient selection around our hotel and down the streets. Big names are all listed on city maps designed with easy-to-navigate grids. Sephora awarded me their VI(B) thanks to my patronage every time I’m in the States.

We went into the Lego Store! – always such an innocently happy place. Larger than life-sized figurines such as the Statue of Liberty and Lego Movie characters were made of lego blocks only. I applaud the makers’ patience and their eye for details. This was where we took most of our shameless selfies that must have prompted many to judge us overenthusiastic Asian girls.

In the day, Times Square is incredibly, vividly lit. In the night, it’s not so different. Shopping from late evening on, I didn’t even notice that daylight was gone because the billboards were so intensely bright that they lit up almost the entire sky if you were to stand right in the middle of the streets. I’m reminded again of why NYC is the City that Truly Never Sleeps.

When it was time to go, I was just incredibly sad ): But knowing that I’ll be back someday makes me incredibly excited to explore new parts of the state and venture beyond the city centre!

Of course my bag suffered the brunt of my shopping.

 

Till next time,

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[DIARY] LOVE YOUR IMPERFECTIONS

31 days into 2015 and it has been surreal. I’ve been thankful each day for the people I’ve met, especially to those I’ve learnt to count on for simply being there.

The obstacles in my current career are finally levelling out. I’m beginning to understand why some of my colleagues would fall in love with this jet-setting lifestyle. Don’t be fooled – good money and free travel comes at a price. When I tell my friends about the hardships we face on a daily basis, everyone rethinks the facade of a glamorous lifestyle we lead. A certain kind of sadism cannot be denied (of me) since I’ve stayed beyond my 2-year bond not for the money but the sheer intensity of hard work involved. I love challenges and when they come my way, they become means of making me a better person, because the process of clearing major hurdles forces one into endless introspection.

I like to think that what I’ve really done in this past 2 years was to experience the world, gather my thoughts on living, get to know a lot more people. And then I really want to write them down. Whilst I will leave my job, the journey is not over. For those who can live vicariously through my words someday I hope you know that life is about giving and receiving experiences, not the things you buy or get to keep. I also know that life is not about making sure something or somebody stays in your life as long as possible when you know they are not yours to keep.

2015, I don’t expect you to be awesome. I foresee bad days, heartaches, disappointment and yet another emotional roller coaster ride. But I trust myself to know that when 2015 comes to an end I’ll emerge triumphant with battle scars that makes me both imperfect and wiser. This is what we have to do.

Accumulate experiences like it is the air you have to breathe, for in time to come we’ll have our own stories to tell. Tell yourself to keep going, run the extra mile, and don’t be afraid to fight losing battles, or to lose. Never lose sight of who you were. Never forget who was there for you when you needed them the most. Most importantly, never fall out of love with yourself. Love who you are, and appreciate who you’re not. Embrace and acknowledge all your imperfections. Because the most imperfect people have been through the worst.

“I am not a graceful person. I am not a Sunday morning or a Friday sunset. I am a Tuesday 2 a.m., gunshots muffled by a few city blocks, I am a broken window during February. My bones crack on a nightly basis. I fall from elegance with a dull thud, and I apologize for my awkward sadness. I sometimes believe that I don’t belong around people, that I belong to all the leap days that didn’t happen. The way light and darkness mix under my skin has become a storm. You don’t see the lightning, but you hear the echoes.”
Anna Peters

I want to hear some good stories when December 31st comes round.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

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[SYDNEY] THE UNIVERSITY OF

Beautiful campus on a brilliant part of town, right out of the page in Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

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“Go on . . . Go out with me, and I’ll never lay a wand on old Snivelly again.”
“I wouldn’t go out with you if it was a choice between you and the giant squid,” said Lily.”

(Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5))


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xoxo,

Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 032: AZUKI MATCHA

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”
— Erma Bombeck

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Mister Donut‘s intensely satisfying Azuki Red Bean Matcha Bing Soo. Summer now doesn’t feel complete without having an ice-cold bowl of sugar-laden goodness! Especially when they come with chewy Japanese mochis. Erma Bombeck said it right – you should never pass up on dessert.

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This has got to be my favourite bingsoo combination ever.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

But it is the nature of stars to cross

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)

“It seemed like forever ago, like we’ve had this brief but still infinite forever. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”
— John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)

“I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
— John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)

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Lounging around in bed, in Beijing, unable to fall asleep, and re-reading John Green’s while thinking about life. The best part about this hotel – everything in the mini-bar is complimentary, although I hardly touched anything except beer and nuts. Been unable to fall asleep lately, again, and I think it’s the restlessness and hyperactivity in the mind that kills me and keeps me up all at once. Ironically, only when I’m truly on holiday do I find the complete relaxation to concuss for long unspeakable hours.

“But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.”
John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Confessions of a Hostie: True Stories of an International Flight Attendant

I received this book from Monsoon Books in exchange for a review, and here it is!
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Published July 1st 2012/October 28th 2013 by Monsoon Books

MY REVIEW:

“Caffeine is not a drug – it’s a vitamin. Comedian Steven Wright makes a joke about how he first makes an instant coffee just so he has the energy to go ahead and make a regular one.”

Confessions of a Hostie is truly laugh out loud funny! Life of a flight attendant is more than serving coffee/tea at 35,000 feet – Danielle Hugh exposes the behind-the-scenes scandals, real-life anecdotes, and unfortunate mishaps of a cabin crew.

The novel starts with Danielle Hugh waking up in a hotel room, not knowing where in the world she was, and what time of the day it is, and while she figures this out, the hostie reaches for a bar of chocolate – then falls asleep halfway while eating it. By this time, I was nodding my head in full agreement!

“Shopping can feel so damn good – a much-deserved relief from jetlag and sleep deprivation issues.”

Indeed there is only so much sightseeing you can do…

“…even if it’s Paris, if you’re visiting the city for the fifteenth time, even the Eiffel Tower starts looking like a rusty old piece of scrap metal. The shops, however, look shiny and new.”

The book offers eye-opening anecdotes of flight attendants’ revenge on incorrigible flyers, scary tales of unglamorous off-site happenings, coupled with jumbled sleep-cycles and moodswings … you’d feel like you’ve been there and done that by the time you’ve laughed through the entire 200+pages. Basically, this has the job stripped bare right down to its itty bitty details, if you manage to get past the airheaded-ness on the surface of it all.

“…makeup and five cups of coffee are no disguise for the weariness that seeps through every pore of my body””

The author makes her point across. The job is not for the weak! Maybe I’m just a little biased. Great romp of a read.
The sequel will be out this end, or is it the beginning of next? Definitely hanging on to the news for this!

SYNOPSIS:
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to be a jet-setting hostie, or international flight attendant, then spending a little time in Danielle’s life is a captivating journey. You might be surprised and shocked to discover many of the truths behind the lifestyle as well as the incidences and behavior of passengers at 30,000 feet.
Danielle writes candidly, humorously and from the heart about life, love and her exploits around the world. From the slums of Mumbai to the glitz of New York there are as many highs and lows as take-offs and landings. Prepare for a turbulent ride of emotions and adventure, so place your seat upright, fasten your seatbelt and prepare for take-off. Danielle Hugh’s passion for flying dazzles in this frank and amusing account of jet-setting around the globe. With almost 20 years in a unique working world, her juicy tales are often as shocking as they are colourful.

London Lovin’: Notting Hill

Autumn leaves crunching beneath my feet, light rain smattering wet droplets on my leather outer. Can you imagine how happy I was to see the ‘travel bookstore’ with a blue door on Notting Hill?

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Mostly I was busy snapping pictures, head in the clouds, wishing I could step into a bookstore and meet my personal Hugh Grant.
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William: I live in Notting Hill. You live in Beverly Hills. Everyone in the world knows who you are, my mother has trouble remembering my name.
Anna Scott: I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.

The romantic comedy still gives me the chills! Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant has this electrifying chemistry that not a lot of onscreen couples (or real-life ones for that matter) have quite managed to produce.

So here I am, my camera not quite capturing the charm of Notting Hill. Its exquisite nature doesn’t scream urban city or first-world sophistication. What I love is its tame English elegance – a popular setting for numerous films and novels.
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Comprising Ladbroke Grove, Portobello Road, North Kensington, Westbourne Grove and Notting Hill Gate, Notting Hill is essentially a large district that an afternoon of exploration on foot is not gonna cover.
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A Singaporean Chinese Restaurant! Gosh 😀 a piece of home
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And here I encountered Patisserie Valerie
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Also, I found what I was looking for: Book Warehouse and Waterstones.
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FYI Novels by G.K. Chesterton (The Napoleon of Notting Hill), Colin MacInnes (Absolute Beginners), Michael Moorcock (the Jerry Cornelius quartet), RC Sherriff (The Hopkins Manuscript), and Alan Hollinghurst (The Line of Beauty) have exclusively featured Notting Hill.
As did the films The Knack …and How to Get It (1965), Performance (1970), with Mick Jagger, Notting Hill (1999) and Lava (2003).

Am ending off this post with Ronan Keating’s hit. I love the feels that the song brings.

I’m a ’90s kid and this is so nostalgic.

Book Review: Waking Up Married

I received this book from Harlequin KISS in exchange for a review, and here it is!
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    By Mira Lyn Kelly

Date Published: January 22, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin KISS
My Ratings: 7.2 / 10

“Life isn’t about getting everything you want the instant you want it.
Some things are worth waiting for.”

    Additional Info:

From USA TODAY bestselling author Mira Lyn Kelly comes WAKING UP MARRIED, a free book in Harlequin’s brand-new contemporary romance collection—Harlequin KISS.
The free e-book can be found:
URL (only goes live December 1-indefinite): http://www.tryharlequinkiss.com

    My Review:

“This guy had one of those slanted smiles going on. The kind so lazy that only half of it bothered to go to work.”
Connor Reed stands apart from the typical cult-romance hero – he is temperamental, aloof and recently-heartbroken, yet is the only willing party in their accidental marriage.

“A person couldn’t make something last if it wasn’t meant to, like a person couldn’t be someone they weren’t. And trying only prolonged the inevitable.”
Megan Scott doesn’t do forevers, because no one in her life is a living proof of happy ever afters. Sporting a “GOT-SPERM?” tee-shirt and a can’t-do-love attitude, she picks up Connor at her cousin’s Vegas bachelorette party just to get the hen-party off her back about getting a sperm donor.

“You’re telling me this marriage between us is going to work because we aren’t bringing any fairy tale expectations into it. But here you are, down on one knee, fitting a glass slipper on my foot. Everything you do or say is like some fantasy come to life…which makes it hard to know what reality is actually going to feel like.”
It’s tough to hold on to a fleeting promise, and even tougher to resist the charms of a very determined accidental husband.

“Because—truth?—on the scale of significance, that stuff doesn’t even register.”
Then again, how do you convince somebody that true love does exist and is here to stay, if they’ve spent their entire lives disbelieving?

“And then he gave her a kiss that was meant to be the first of its kind, but tasted so familiar there was no denying those undercurrents of love had been there all that time… just waiting to be recognized.”
Or can Connor Reed really deliver what he set out to achieve?

“He’d been vowing to give her everything he had, but…nothing would be enough.”
Because truly, waking up married is Megan Scott’s worst nightmare.

The book can me sitting on the edge of my seat, giggling at the best parts of Megan giving in to Connor’s charms, and then sighing when she recedes into her safe world where she cannot be deceived.

Dialogue in this book is convincingly close to home, because reading it seems to put 2 voices in my head: Megan and Connor’s, constantly debating the push and pull of having someone else in your life to share your ups and downs while maintaining the goals and dreams you’ve always had.

Like a devil and angel plot, there’s always a bad guy, or guys, and Megan’s demons come in the form of many many stepfathers who had various fleeting appearances in her life. Hence the insecurities she lays bare, especially after her stepfathers makes a cameo in the storyline.

All in all, it was a predictable story, with Mira Lyn Kelly’s brilliant voice to narrate, and 2 fantastically crafted characters to project the gist of a Vegas aftermath.

    SYNOPSIS:

Her first thought: “Who are you?

It’s the morning after her cousin’s bachelorette party in Vegas and Megan Scott wakes up with the mother of all hangovers. Even worse, she’s in a stranger’s penthouse having woken up with something else as well – a funny, arrogant, sexy…husband!

Up until now, finding even a boyfriend had seemed impossible – been there, got the broken heart, sworn off men for good. Then a few martinis with Carter…no, Connor Reed and she’s gone from first meet to marriage in one night!

Megan wants a lawyer. But Connor’s shocking bombshell?

I don’t want a divorce.

Book Review: I Heart Hollywood

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Publisher: Harper
Date Published: December 1st 2009
My Ratings: 7 / 10

This fast-paced sequel to I Heart New York races Angela Clark through a whirlwind week in Hollywood. James Jacob, Hollywood star and heartthrob has made special requests for her to conduct the exclusive interview, and as days progress, she finds herself in deep shit with tabloids, paparazzi and Perez Hilton.
Embroiled in a scandal with misleading photographs to prove, even her boyfriend Alex Reid and best friend Jenny is convinced of her infidelity.

Meanwhile a shocking truth about James Jacobs is hers to reveal to the world, a secret that will save her career and love life. Except, the secret is not hers to tell.

In a series of hilarious misadventures, she survives crazy LA, only after puking in the bushes of a Hollywood star, getting dead drunk more than a few nights in a row, and finally getting herself out of the fire.

As always, tragedies are blessings-in-disguise. She, or rather James Jacob and his personal assistant-slash-something-more Blake, takes us on a ride through LA’s Chateau Marmont, Fred Segal, Melrose Avenue, Rodeo Drive and The Ivy.

A super fun piece by Lindsey Kelk, which took me a day to complete because I couldn’t stop reading. Thumbs up!

If I HEART was ever to be made a movie, (as seen in I Heart New York)I would cast:
ANGELA CLARK: Alicia Silverstone
as

ALEX REID (the rockstar): Nicholas Hoult
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JENNY LOPEZ (the best friend!): Cheryl Cole
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JAMES JACOB: Cam Gigandet
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SYNOPSIS:
Celebs, sunshine and beautiful boys…enough to lead a girl astray? Angela Clark can’t believe her luck! she’s an English girl living in New York with a dream job at hip magazine The Look and a sexy boyfriend. Her latest assignment takes her to Hollywood to interview hot actor and fellow Brit James Jacobs.Thrown in at the deep end she heads west with best friend Jenny dreaming of Rodeo Drive and Malibu beach. Soon Angela discovers that celebrity life in Hollywood is not all glamour, gloss and sunshine. Despite his lady-killer reputation, the only person who seems genuine is James. Then a paparazzi snaps them in an uncompromising position and suddenly Angela is thrust into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons! Can she convince all those close to her — especially her boss and her boyfriend — not to believe everything they read? And will Hollywood ever win Angela’s heart?

Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take

A meeting, a perfume launch, and an after-work HappyHour at Words Worth — all these on my only day home this week!

Loving what I do because I could be spending the entire day in bed with my truckload of books, but if I’m not filling up my days and making sure I’m dead beat by the end of the night, I feel underworked and downright lazy.

Come to think of it, I’m turning 23.

Working has made me feel that age is nothing but numbers, cuz nobody ever takes that into consideration. Being too young or too old doesn’t give you any excuse not to be at optimum efficiency. It’s so strange for me to be the youngest most of the time, yet nobody treats me like a kid. And I appreciate not being treated like I can’t handle myself plus 250 people.

Today I had this strong epiphany while doing up my chignon – that is, my hair is not growing faster than usual. Rather, time is flying day after day without my conscious awareness that it has slipped me by. Didn’t I just transform my long hair into a bob a coupla months ago?

How many more days can I still tell my colleagues “I’m turning 23”?

I just know that when it’s time for me to say “I’m turning 25”, I want to be a hell lot of a better person than I am now. And as always, no regrets.

 

“My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing,
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.” 
― Edna St. Vincent Millay

Book Review: The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris

Do not read this book on an empty stomach, for it will leave you foraging for every last morsel of chocolate in the refridgerator.

With the promise of being introduced to the world of The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Jenny Colgan has left me more than hooked: I literally devoured her novel in 2 sittings, with a couple of Reese’s peanut butter cups and a bag of Mars PODS to go along. 20130912-072626.jpg

What’s promised is rightfully delivered: Paris is ever so picturesque, and French cuisines ever so mouth-watering. Jenny Colgan successfully reignites the spark of Parisian magic in contemporary chick-lit by infusing the element of top-secret home-made luxury-chocolate recipes (plus we all know it’s every girls’ dream to be able to guiltlessly binge on chocolate, not a hot Parisian with dreamy French accent).

If interested, you can expect elaborate and vivid descriptions of chocolate making processes. The tale of an artisan chocolatier – Thierry Girard – springs to life, the Parisian Willy Wonka whose chocolatier is the highlight of the story. His brief but significant relationship is revealed in italicized snatches of flashbacks, inserted between the modern, blossoming love affair between Girard’s son Laurent and the novel’s heroine, Anna Trent. As much as we can smell love in the air, the thick scent of ‘rich dark chocolate’ is so often repeated and emphasized, reflecting the chocolatiers’ dedication to their craft, as Colgan never lets us forget that the story is set in the culinary capital of Paris.

I’ve enjoyed the novel thoroughly from cover to cover – her simple and deftly delivered prose were easy on the eyes and thus would be a comforting light-hearted pick-me-up. However, I hardly had to think while reading for the words were fairly simple and the plot somewhat predictable towards the end. The bittersweet aftertaste from the novel is something I was expecting from the description of the bitter chocolates that Parisians found tasty — totally unlike the overly-sweetened milky creamy American commercial brands — and that, I felt, perhaps foreshadowed a non-sugarcoated ending to this unconventional chick-lit.

Publisher: Sphere
Release: 14th March 2013
Genre: Chick-Lit, Fiction, Food, Paris, Romance
My Rating: 7 / 10
Recommended for: Holiday-goers, summer reads, weekend reads

If Chocolate Shop was ever to be made a movie, I would cast:

ANNA TRENT: Blake Lively
Noon By Noor - Presentation - Fall 2012 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

LAURENT GIRARD: Henry Cavill
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CLAIRE (French Teacher): Gwyneth Paltrow
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow arrives at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood

THIERRY GIRARD: Fat Russell Crowe
ACTOR RUSSEL CROWE ON NBC NETWORKS THE TONIGHT SHOW.

SYNOPSIS:
As dawn breaks over the Pont Neuf, and the cobbled alleyways of Paris come to life, Anna Trent is already awake and at work; mixing and stirring the finest, smoothest, richest chocolate; made entirely by hand, it is sold to the grandes dames of Paris.

It’s a huge shift from the chocolate factory she worked in at home in the north of England. But when an accident changed everything, Anna was thrown back in touch with her French teacher, Claire, who offered her the chance of a lifetime – to work in Paris with her former sweetheart, Thierry, a master chocolatier.

With old wounds about to be uncovered and healed, Anna is set to discover more about real chocolate – and herself – than she ever dreamed.

September Reads

These couple of chick-lit came in the mail from Book Depository!
A cosy, much-desired break from heavy literature. Can’t wait to lose some sleep over them.
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Easy – Tammara Webber
Hubble Bubble – Jane Lovering
I Heart New York – Lindsey Kelk
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris – Jenny Colgan
Unsticky – Sarra Manning

“Sometimes we get so used to not really feeling anything, just going with the flow, that we forget how it feels to be really happy or sad.” 
― Lindsey KelkI Heart New York

Book Review: The Food of Love

I’ve truly learnt a lot of Italian phrases from Anthony Capella and here are some of my favourites:

“…what your first Italian date told you to say to anyone who got fresh with you..”
1.“Cacati in mano e prenditi a schiaffi”
lit: Take a shit on your hands and then smack your own face

2.“Lei e’un cafone stronzo, vada via in culo”
lit: You’re a piece of shit, so get back up your own arse!

2.“Guardone ti sorella e allupato ti bagnasti”
lit: It turns you on to watch your sister and me

And many more laugh-out-loud quotable Italian phrases. ♥
“Si nonnema teneva ‘o cazzo, ‘a chiammavamo nonno”
lit: If my Grandmother had a dick, we would have called her Grandpa

That, combined with the hilarity of cross-cultural language crises, a love triangle, and irresistibly mouth-watering descriptions of Italian cuisines, is the reason why this book is Awesome with the capital A. Recommending this to food-lovers and those seeking to immerse in an Italian adventure.

foodlove

 

Publisher: Viking Adult
Release: July 15, 2004
Genre: Chick-Lit, Fiction, Food, Paris, Romance
My Rating: 7 / 10
Recommended for: Holiday-goers, summer reads, weekend reads

If The Food of Love was ever to be made a movie:

LAURA PATTERSON: Hayden Panettiere
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TOMASSO MASSI: Milo Ventimiglia
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BRUNO: Zachary Quinto
Heroes

 

SYNOPSIS:
In Anthony Capella’s delicious debut novel, Laura, a twentysomething American, is on her first trip to Italy. She’s completely enamored of the art, beauty, and, of course, food that Rome has to offer. Soon she’s enamored of the handsome and charming Tommaso, who tells her he’s a chef at the famed Templi restaurant and begins to woo her with his gastronomic creations. But Tommaso hasen’t been entirely truthful he’s really just a waiter. The master chef behind the tantalizing meals is Tommaso’s talented but shy friend Bruno, who loves laura from afar. Thus begins a classic comedy of errors full of the culinary magic and the sensual stmosphere of Italy. The result is a romantic comedy in the tradition of Cyrano de Bergerac and Roxanne that tempts readers to devour it in one sitting. Evoking the sights, smells and flavors of Italy in sensuous prose, this lively book also features recipes for readers to create (or just dream about) Bruno’s food of amore.