16/08/2016

Mallorca!

I love summer holidays in the Northern hemisphere which signifies the end of the school year and the start of extensive travelling trips. Whilst the summer holidays in the South are great too since it coincides with the Festive Season, I think summer holidays hold extra significance in the North when nature awakens from a long winter’s slumber, summer days are pristine and Europe shines on long summer evenings.
This year we travelled to the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Maastricht, Rotterdam, Groningen and Breda) and Spain (Mallorca and Barcelona). It was a fantastic holiday and I will be sharing more with you in the coming weeks. First about the relatively small island of Mallorca with beaches that dreams are made of. We lived in the historic quarter of Palma, rented a car and explored the island. 
Playa de Formentor
 We swam in the crystal clear azure sea of Cala Deia, Cala Mondrago and Playa de Formentor. I loved the intimate coves below dramatic cliffs, wild natural beaches which are accessible only on foot and huge swaths of soft golden sand backed by palm trees.
Cala Mondrago
Unusually for a Mediterranean island, Mallorca is fertile and green, with an amazing array of natural landscapes from soaring mountains in the west (the Tramuntana mountains), to beautiful vineyards in the fertile central plain. 

We indulged in the cuisine and spirit of the Mediterranean, the food something out of the ordinary. Where else can you find wild boar, osso buco, traditional seafood dishes or the best paella this side of the Atlantic? With new-wave chefs championing local cuisine and converted castles and convents in the countryside harbouring Michelin-starred restaurants, Mallorca is fast flourishing into one of Europe’s most exciting and authentic foodie destinations.  

 
Walking to Cala Deia
 

The above below photos were taken in and near Deia. This small town is well-known by many, but we followed the winding road down from in front of the gorgeous La Residencia hotel and we hit Cala Deia, a small and pebbled but very pretty beach. Two restaurants blend into the surrounding rocks and, though they look rather shack-like, serve gorgeous fresh local fish and cold San Miguel beer. We tucked into seafood platters at  Ca’s Patro Marchthe restaurant perched on the cliff overlooking the sea.

Dining at Ca Na Toneta, a small and charming family restaurant in Caimari, a quiet village located at the foot of the Tramuntana mountain range was a highlight. The six course tasting menu changes weekly, or more often, based on seasonal products organically grown in the home garden.
Ca na Toneta Restaurant

Crochet Ca na Toneta

Crochet Bowl Ca na Toneta Giftshop

Crochet rug, Ca na Toneta giftshop

We had a fabulous meal at La Despensa del Barón located at Posada Terra Santa, a new boutique hotel in Mallorca. I enjoyed a superb dish of 3 months aged Angus Fillet with foie gras and potato gratin. 
La Despensa del Baron - chef 

Cool Teen awaiting her food

Taking a sneak peek at the restaurant when we made the booking

Parked at the entrance to the restaurant and hotel

For “Where to go in Mallorca” take a look at the blog posting by Swede Jacqueline Mikuta. Her Instagram is to die for.




06/08/2016

What a Year! Or two.



What a year! Or two. I don't have fancy words but will grab a few normal ones and tell you the roads we have travelled as a family over the past 25 months.

The kids and I arrived in Qatar on 1 May 2014, stoked and ready to once be living the expat life again after a 20 month stint as locals in South Africa. Two months later (kids and I still without residency permits at this point), it was clear that the Husband was very, very ill. A swift visit to emergency one morning resulted in a 5 week stay in hospital and the Husband diagnosed with end stage kidney failure.

Without going into detail - he is still in desparate need of a kidney transplant and recieves peritoneal dialysis 24/7, meaning he is linked to a machine every single night for 8 hours and also does a manual exchange once during the day. From being a globetrotter he became a prisoner to his non-existing kidneys. His life consists out of endless medical procedures and hospital visits. He has started to to travel and can manage 4-6 days away, doing manual dialysis when travelling. The logistics to manage this is another story.

The pain we endured during that first year after his diagnosis was and still remains undescribable. After a few worrysome months, the kids and I recieved our residency permits and I started working full time towards November of that year. Finally I felt like I could breathe - not that it was easy to focus on getting a career on track whilst having to handle every aspect of our household and the challenges that come with people in our situation.

Then, exactly a year ago on 6 August 2015, I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.

Bloody hell.

What an inconvenient shock.

I underwent surgery exactly a year to the date when the Husband was released from hospital. Knowing that he won't be able to give me much support during my treatment, knowing that the show must go on, I relied on self discipline, focus and strength to face the next 10 months of treatments I was embarking on. I mentally broke my treatment up in small chunks of 3 months after which I would take a travelling trip to recharge and be ready to face the next 3 months.

Today I am forever thankful for the the 2 years we spent living in Penang when I learned from the Chinese what self discipline, self control and focus really looks like. Westerners have a lot to learn from Asians. Throughout 2 separate surgeries, 6 months of chemotherapy and 6 and a half weeks of  radiotherapy, I continued to work full time and travelled to Turkey, the UAE, Sri Lanka and Europe.

There were days that I came from chemo, went straight to the supermarket, did the shopping and collapsed at home. Other times I came from chemo, went to the school for parents/teachers meetings or events, went home and collapsed only to haul myself out of bed the very next day for work again. It was brutal but I nailed it! During this time I was supported by a lot of people, but my male Egyptian office mate was the one person who moment for moment witnessed the hell I was going through. His support was second to none. I also have the most amazing boss who immediately adjusted my workload and both him and his wife gave me immense support.

I still have to undergo scans and sonars and get the NED (No evidence of disease) from my oncologist, but meanwhile I am thankful that this year is over.

 C'est La Vie.



I will now show you what the cancer bitch does to one's appearnce. I am hoping to look like picture 2 again in another year.  These are phone selfies of dubious quality and terrible filters but I could hardly bare photos of the self during this time.

Prepped for surgery

Five weeks post surgery and 10 days before my first chemo session

This was a challenging moment, I was on my way to the hairdresses to get my hair chopped off.

The human hair wig I never wore. I just couldn't bond with straight hair and wore headscarves in stead.

Headscarf looking "meh" - my Arab friends gifted me with fillers soon afterwards. These fillers are caps with tulle sown in to create the idea of volume underneath the headscarf.

My eyelashes and eyebrows only fell out after chemo and then grew back in within 2 weeks. Thank goodness for small mercies.

Hair starting to grow again. It came back 100% grey and I promptly visited an organic salon in Barcelona 2 weeks ago and turned it back to brunette. I love the grey but it was also too much of a reminder of the year that just was. Anyway, I only had a small patch of grey prior to chemo.


13/11/2015

Linen Love


An inherent quality of linen is the endless design stories it creates for living spaces and wardrobe alike. I am especially drawn to the fiber due to it's cool, fresh quality that is in stark contrast to the extreme hot weather climates I call home. This past summer stood out as one of the most brutal recorded in the Middle East, no doubt the driving force behind my continued obsession with natural fibers.  Linen is notoriously laborious to manufacture, but an affair with this ancient fiber, dating back thousands of years, is a lovestory for life! Linen is going through a revival stage with bloggers such as Beth from LocalMilk honouring the integrity, showcasing the beauty of the fiber in their daily narratives. 

The pincushion above and the broach below is by the uber talented Namolio. I was doing the happy dance when I opened my parcel to see that she has gifted me with no less than 3 skeins of 5 ply linen yarn in  3 colourways. What a wonderful gift, thank you so much! The fragrance of lavendar emanating from the pincushion transported me straight back to our summer vacation in Croatia. Ah bliss.
Find Namolio on Etsy for exquisite gifts, Flickr for incredible photography, and Instagram for daily snapshots into her life.





My fingers itched to give the linen yarn a whirl and the result is this textural piece hooked from a pattern by another very talented woman, Sandra, the driving force behind the Mobiusgirl label. She has just started her own blog on which you will find the pattern for this beautiful mandala. I have yet to decide what to do with my mandala, but see some of the options below! 





Have a great weekend, we are off to enjoy bistro style dining in a hip, relaxed atmosphere at Opal, a Gordon Ramsay restaurant where we will be celebrating my birthday that took place earlier this week. 




30/10/2015

Norwegian Woods

The Project
~ a breathtakingly beautiful lacy blanket titled Norwegian Woods. 

The Pattern
~ tutorial on YouTube by Jachelle Stephanie. I am hoping to receive feedback from her soon confirming whether she was also the designer of the pattern. A chart is available on Jachelle's Instagram, but beware that the corners differ slightly to the YouTube tutorial I followed.


The Inspiration
~ the mood captured by @camillalboe from Norway and the beautiful black exterior houses of Scandinavia. Photo credits: Camilla 


The edge
~ improvised!



Fiber Meditations
~ I have been searching for the perfect black fiber for close to two years and was about to order black hemp string online, when my eye spotted a few sample balls produced by my friend Hester, the force behind MoYa Yarn. It was instant love and without a doubt the most suitable yarn for the project. MoYa is a high twist hand dyed organic cotton with the added benefit that it does not split, the ends do not fray and once woven in, also do not unravel. Perfect!

Black Tweed has the potential to become my signature yarn if I ever decide to take the leap and do what I really should and want to do, i.e. hook in stark non-colours. I am the bearer of bad news though, this yarn is not (yet) available for sale.    



15/10/2015

Pretty Pieces and my dear Katja

Tinctory- I fell in Love with Eva's creations many years ago when it first started making an appearance in my Pinterest feed and finally got around to take the plunge and buy myself something from her Tinctory shop.  Czech born and British based designer, Eva, uses cues from geometry in nature and created several pleating studies over the years which she later translate into wearable jewellery. I love expats artists, you can see the depth of their lifestyle experiences in the works of art and craft they produce. Her pieces are etherial, intriguing, unique and if you page through her Flickr and Blog, you will also fall in love with her photography.  Eva hand dyes repurposed silk and then applies various techniques in her work, among others batik and shibori, knitting and smocking. She scanvenges natural organic materials from the forest floor and her colours represent the forest fodder and seasons. The jewelery exhudes space, stillness and calm. I am completely in love with the Feather I chose and love wearing it. Thank you Eva!

Swoon Lounge is a gorgeous new online shop by Susan Cropper, owner of bespoke yarn shop, Loop London in Islington, London. I had such a great time selecting yarns from the shop during a business trip to London earlier this year, that I knew Swoon Lounge would be a great choice to order a few linen dresses from.  I bought the Bud Dress and Fan dress by Manuelle Guibal  and it quickly became weekend wardrobe staples. Each piece is individually garment dyed and processed by hostoric mills in the French countryside and tailored in pure and simple shapes with sculptural volumes.

I took this picture in the Medieval Mediterranean garden of St Lawrence Monastery high up in the old town of Sibenik, Croatia during the summer holiday. These flowers remind me of delicate tutu wearing ballerinas.


Have a nice weekend, I will be posting more about my latest crochet project that I started making during a trip to Istanbul soon!  I am making a blanket titled "Sprinkles" in the gorgeous Moya, hand dyed organic cotton with a hight twist in a stunning palette of colours. I am in love!


Oh no, I just read the sad news of Katja's passing away on 13 October. RIP Katja, your Versponnenes blog has been a constant favourite of mine over the years and I will miss our bantering over "Visiting Sweden" (Ikea shopping) and me buying "Katja Colours" during one of my King Cole Cotton Bamboo shopping trips.  A recent blanket of mine has been inspired solely by one you made (photo below), I will most definitely be blogging about that next. I am so damn sorry, cancer is a bitch!