Inspiration Story – Fisherman collection

This is the inspiration story behind my hand woven tapestries from the Fisherman Collection that you can find in Carousell (only in Singapore) and Etsy. When I decided that I will start to sell my weaves I had to get a little detached from them, but I’m still very fond of them of course.

This posts help me get over it  and record some nice memories of my times by the coast in Ireland, where the inspiration came from.

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Detail of Fisherman II

 

The Fisherman collection was born with the intention to make 3 pieces that will hang side by side. The shape of the composition was inspired by this piece I found on Pinterest, but it actually took its own path while in the making. As usual.

So this is the inspiration… (with a very high quality studio photo)

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And this is the end result… (taken on my guest bedroom with my phone… I promise to take some better photos soon)

 

Behind the scenes

This project started right after my first weaving workshop at Hili Studio. Before I even finished my first piece I was already thinking of what to make next. This time it had to be something more practical than the first one, something you would hang in you living room.

 

I have a navy sofa so I decided it will have to include highlights of navy. It will be structured and intricate. Geometrical but at the same time rough like the tools the fisherman uses. The ropes and the nets inspired the yarn selection.

Fisherman II int he loom with my drawings of the composition on my notebook

 

 

Firsherman III on the loom, about to be closed.

 

 

Fisherman I – Testing the placement of the merino roving piece

 

A fisherman life

The Irish coastline is raw, wild, brutal, and incredibly beautiful. It makes you feel very small and powerless, and it makes you admire A LOT the people that go out there every day. Fishermen, coastal guards, and casual swimmers. The water is 12 degrees all year round and the blow of the winds is merciless.

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The ropes and nets of fishing boats inspired me to chose the colors and textures of this weave. But I wanted to keep it neutral, and only add the dark navy of the sea in the middle of grays beige and browns.The fringes had to look a bit like the mustaches of seasoned Irish fisherman and the knots a bit like the famous fishermen cable knit jumpers you can see all over the country. (Don’t miss Steve McQueen rocking a cable knit jumper below)

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Steve McQueen rocking a cable knit sweater.

 

Dunmore East – Ireland

This is the beautiful town of Dunmore East. In Ireland they love to show you only photos of the one sunny day they had the entire year, so it’s hard to find one to show the roughness I’m talking about.

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Dunmore East Fisherman Harbour

Last time I was around here, My Lovely Boyfriend (now Fiance!) The Troglodyte, decided to go for a swim at 6am to make the most of the jet-lag. It was August. I was wearing winter clothes.

‘Irish men a rough and tough’ I thought. ‘This is where they learn to swim!’ – My sunny Spanish suburban swimming pool, seemed like a very indulging place all of a sudden. I used to roast myself for three and a half months a year, 18 years of my life.

But in Ireland when the sun comes out the magic happens. It does happen often, It’s just that it doesn’t last for long. The place just glitters when the rays of light reach the wet fields. You lie down on the grass, and see the 50 shades of green that make this the Emerald Isle.

It’s so incredibly beautiful that it makes you cry. It looks a bit like this but it doesn’t do justice.

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Then the breeze blows the smell of the sea and brushes the bushes on top of the cliffs. The seagulls scream and you hear the gust of the next wind blow coming to you, and bringing those dark clouds in the background. Rain again. And it goes on like this.

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Ireland is very, very windy. The clouds more so fast it’s mind blowing. When it rains, forget about an umbrella. A long coat with a hood and wellington boots are your best friend.

 

The Fisherman Collection weaves

This collection has 3 pieces, the two big pieces of the sides are 25x56cm, and the central piece is 17x66cm. They can be purchased separately although they were designed to be displayed together.

They are made of merino wool roving, cotton cord yarn in grey, merino grey wool, shimmery navy acrylic yarn, beige wool with small golden sequin, cotton beige yarn, and fine melange roving yarn in cream with brown and blue strings. They hang on raw twigs from Singapore trees.

You can buy them in Carousell (only in Singapore) and Etsy
For made to order drop me a note to sparrowebites@gmail.com

Afriend of mine came home and told me Fisherman I looked like the face of Popeye the sailor. I take that as compliment. Mission accomplished!

Until next time! XoXo

The Real Popeye (AKA Ron Everett) - http://www.realpopeye.com | Photographer: Ian Horne - http://www.flickr.com/photos/essexdiver/

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What you should know about skin care

When you pass your mid 30s there tends to be a significant change in the quality of your skin. Reality check: It’s called aging. The alarm rings, you press the panic button. You have to do something about it ASAP, but there’s so many products out there that promise the same (eternal youth) that you don’t even know where to start. Nobody enjoys aging. Even guys. It’s sad but true.
Sounds familiar? Before you start buying and trying expensive skin care products randomly let me share with you what I have learn about skincare through the years. From the perspective of a very practical person and not a beauty blogger.
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The basics of skin care

Before I start I have to confess that secretly I have always wanted to be a columnist in Glamour Magazine UK. The research, first hand experience, opinion. All I gathered reading and was told by the therapists that did my facials over the years. I’m delighted to sum it up for you today like they would do in Glamour.

MYTHBUSTERS 1- The first thing to do is to buy a good cream

The first thing you need to do is to learn what are the things in your life that affect your skin, daily. Starting with water intake, sun exposure and proper cleaning.
– FACT 1 – Creams don’t go very deep down the skin, so what comes from the inside or gets much deep inside makes a bigger impact.
– FACT 2 – Sun exposure accelerates aging, and so does smoking
– FACT 3 – If your skin is dirty from the exposure to pullution whatever product you use will not go work much. Because It will not penetrate.
How is that for starters? I’m the kind of person that really needs to understand the “why” fore buying into anything so here’s the why. After writing this article I realized that there’s actually some truth in what we might know about skin care from advertising but It’s just a all over the place.
What you need to know are the basic principles, steps and products. The musts and nice to haves.
(Cut the crap take me to your list!)

MYTHBUSTERS 2 – Good skin care is important to look pretty / handsome

This one is half true actually. The most important thing to look good is for your skin to be HEALTHY and that to be honest is above pretty.  Your skin has the memory of an elephant and whatever you do when you are young will eventually show as you age.
That includes crazy things like putting oil on your body for tanning faster instead of SPF (we have all done that haven’t we? 🙂 You won’t see the effects of the damage immediately, but they will come, with time and aging.
Awareness about skin health should start in your 20s not once you pass 30. So please send this to your nieces, cousins etc.

Skin care routine – tried and tested

If it wasn’t because I live in Asia I don’t think I would care that much about my growing crow’s feet, but oriental women my age look so much younger than me. It’s hard not to notice, they are everywhere 😉
They don’t age much until they are 50 or so, and then … well then, they seem to become grandmas all of a sudden. Nobody is perfect. One thing they really get is how to stay out of the sun no mater what lengths you go to…

Image from the NYtimes of women in China with Burkinis and Facekinis

1- The best anti-aging cream ever is sun block.

People back home wonder how I don’t have a permanent tan living in the tropics. Simple. I stopped tanning, it’s bad for you. End.

You actually just need 15 min outdoors to get your daily dose of vitamin D, a bit more of you are dark skinned. Over exposure to the sun is very dangerous. Western culture teaches us that a nice tan is a sign of health, and a pale face is a sign of illness, while Asians on the contrary praise fairness as the ultimate beauty quality.
For me, when my face is tanned I see my usual dark circles are less noticeable, the redness of my eyelids blends in with the rest and my cheeks get a natural blush. That’s a fact, I think I look prettier, but it’s also a fact that if I don’t keep tanning this glow doesn’t last. It’s a temporary illusion, so better get used to the real me instead.
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I did the whole roasting by the pool for the whole summer thing. Also the tanning bed thing before summer, the no need SPF at the beach because I want to tan faster, the carrot juices and the oils. It was when I was not even a teenager but now I have an ever growing legion of moles in my body.
Some grew juicy so I had to go get them checked and removed. I’m healthy and I’m lucky that I am so far. Some others are not so lucky. My friend K is not so lucky, but she’s doing fine.
I had no idea what I was doing back then, nobody knew, so let’s raise awareness about skin cancer now. WATCH THIS VIDEO
I used to think that sun screen was just for sunbathing by the pool or to wear when you are at the beach but now I wear it daily. Think about it. We spend more time walking around in the open in our everyday lives than sun bathing during a holiday.
 TIP 1 – CHANGE YOUR DAILY MOISTURIZER TO ONE WITH SPF.
Do it now. It takes very little effort to be protected against wrinkles and against the damaging effects of the sun. Tell your better half too. My lovely boyfriend (now Fiance!) The Troglodyte has that wonderful Irish complexion. A mix of alabaster and freckles. He recently realized the rosy cheeks were not part of the package. It was the tropical sun. Now he lets me nag him with the creams.
I started using this one from Olay Total Effects 8 years ago. It’s really good value for money because it’s also an enriched cream. The texture and the smell are really lovely. You have it also with a hint of color.
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When I first came to Singapore, I promised myself I would not fall into the trap of being a make up slave, even if everybody in my office wore make up daily and I felt underdressed.
I decided I would have to deal with my face the way it actually looks like when it’s raw because getting used to seeing improved version of yourself daily only leads to disappointment when you see the ugly truth. I mean the real you.
I have to confess I only fulfilled that promise partially. I discovered tinted moisturizers like Nivea Q10 CC cream. It’s an anti wrinkle cream with color and sun protection. The Q10 worked very well on my body and it turned out very good for my face too. I love the light texture, how it makes my skin soft and plump, gives a healthy color and has SPF 15.
It’s inexpensive and does the all the jobs. You can’t hardly consider this make up, right? am I saved? 🙂
When I feel like spending a bit more I absolutely love Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer. It’s got higher SPF (20 vs. 15) and It’s invisible once it sets. It’s finer than Nivea and it absorbs very easily. You feel what you are paying for. I bought the non oily one for those times of the month (AKA PMS) but I really should have gone for the one below, the illuminating one. It’s heaven.

2- Be water my friend

Hydration is essential to skin health. Everything that dehydrates you (coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, sun bathing, dry weather) is bad for your skin.
I would plug an IV daily and pump in a full bag of that magic hydrating syrup the have at the hospital if it wasn’t because I have a horrific phobia to needles  I’m sure it’s cheap. When I was hospitalized my skin was glowing, it looked full and fabulous. No matter how sick I was. Maybe that’s why pregnant women look so glorious after delivery… It’s not joy, it’s that saline solution!  😉
TIP 2 –  DRINK LOTS AND LOTS OF WATER
My doctor told me to forget about the 3 liters, that I needed 5, so check how much your body needs. Remember that having frequent headaches and fatigue might be a sign of dehydration.
If I may add, drink mineral water. Not just the so called ‘drinking water’, ‘bottled’ or filtered tap water. Unless you live next to a great water source (when it’s like mineral water coming out of the tap) or you have an industrial standard water purifier, chances are your water is treated and stripped of all the goodness, for safety reasons.
I tried years ago having at least 500ml of Evian a day for a month, and it showed on my face immidately. The minerals do make a difference to me, and mineral water is also softer to the palette. Lighter, not so hard. Most governments have a website where you can find out the quality of the tap water you get so do a check if this concerns
 you.
Nowadays I drink even more Evian than 500ml a day. I can taste the chlorine in the tap water and I hate it. My only problem is that importing water to Singapore from France feels like a very snobbish and non eco-friendly thing to do.
Unfortunately buying mineral water from the nearest possible source to reduce my carbon footprint is not possible in this country, . Fiji and Evian are the most popular brands so I get some consolation in the fact that there’s massive imports happening and it’s not juts me. Read economies of scale.
I recycle the bottles and also carry around my own small water bottle that I fill with the big ones, but if I had a tank or a tap of Evian at home I will be a much happier and hopefully younger looking girl. Shame…
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3 – Relax your face

Our gestures affect our wrinkles in the same way our sitting habits affect our posture. Yoga helps with the second one, but for the face, try take some time every day to consciously relax the muscles on your face. Having a meditation app with a body scan will do the job. You can try Calm for free here or download the app.

I love meditation and relaxation. I loved it since my science teacher in primary school decided that we would do it once a week. So I highly recommend it. In fact I’m currently working on my first ever meditation workshop. Yahoo!

TIP 3 – MASSAGE OR RELAX YOUR FACE OFTEN TO REDUCE ACCUMULATED TENSION

Relax the the temples, the eye lids, the cheeks, the jaw, the mouth, and down to the neck and shoulders too. Just sink into your chair for 10min a day to give a break to those eyes that skint a the PC for way to long. To that jaw that accumulates so much frustration.
Try to stay away from your phone screen too. This one is hard I know, but again, squinting contracts the muscles and that leads to wrinkles. Unless you are heavily Botoxed of course. I’m actually going to start a collaboration soon with the guys from Bagby to create phone free spaces so stay tuned!
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I also own own of those little ReFa devices to massage your face, with rollers. The best comparison I can find to tell you how this feels, well, it’s like when you clean your ear canal with a cotton bud. Read near to sexual pleasure. It relaxes your facial muscles like a professional facial. My tip: do it to your partner, and then say it’s swap time!

Have you tried ReFa's top 3 best-selling products? PM us why you love them!#ReFa #ReFaSingapore #MTGSingapore #MTG #EnhancingBeauty

Image from ReFa Singapore

4 – ABC = Clean, tone and moisturize

Here comes the meat. The holy grail of my facial routine is to always do this. And here you have the products I that I use or have used. Some are cheap, some more expensive.
I have tried dozens through the years and now I only switch when one stops working. That happens because we change, our environment changes, so we have to observe how our bodies react and adjust. I have mixed skin, some parts more oily some parts dry, so also see what works for you.
THE BASIC ROUTINE
– Wash everything off your face before you go to bed.
– Balance the PH of your skin with a toner after washing and before applying moisturizers, else they are not so effective.
– Use an eye cream, because the eye area is thinner and requires richer creams
– Consider a serum, because moisturizers don’t reach so deep
– Get night cream, because skin cell renewal happens while you sleep
– Give your face a break once a week and don’t wear make up.
– Scrub your face to remove dead cells once a week

I don’t claim to have perfect skin but every time I go to get a facial (once every 3 months I have to confess) the therapists praise my skin condition, so something I’m doing must be working… even if I see the crow’s feet so obviously.

 

PRODUCTS FOR CLEANSING

My oldest skin care buddy is actually Clinique’s Take the Day off make up remover for lids and lips. We go a long way back. So long I don’t even want to mention. I tried others, I keep this one. No more going to sleep with your make up on no matter how drunk you are! I blockes the pores and leads to spots.

I also use Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser daily when I shower, and have been doing so for at least 10 years. It looks I’m not the only one apparently. Some celebrities are fans and also praise the gooey stuff. It’s a soap-less, fragrance-free thick gel lotion, and can be used as daily face wash and as a balm form rashes, to sooth your skin.

It removes make up with a cloth or cotton wool, or just rubbing and rinsing. It’s the most skin friendly product ever invented, and you can buy it for 10$ in any supermarket or pharmacy. It’s highly recommended for people with highly sensitive skin too.

The ultimate trick is to mix the Clinique make up remover with the Cethaphil in the shower. It’s a 2 in 1 face wash and they go well together. Put both in a container with a pump (if you don’t have go to Muji) and voila you got yourself a life hack! If there’s any leftovers you can put some make up remover on a cotton disk and finish the job out of the shower the traditional way. Going to bed with the make up on can be a thing of the past with this little tip.

When I need a deeper wash I use a soft foaming gel from Galenic that removes stubborn oils, and for exfoliating I use Akin facial scrub with natural walnut and bamboo. It smells lovely of cinnamon.

PRODUCTS FOR TREATMENT

  • Toner

Toners are the forgotten cousin of skin care. I broke up with them because of Clinique’s 3 steps clarifying lotion. It has done some damage to my perception of toners and to my skin at the time. This was the first wash-tone-moisturize set I ever used. The soap was great for oily teenage skin, but it became too harsh as I grewp up. The toner was simply abrasive and the dramatically moisturizing lotion was like putting raw cocoa butter on your face. Sounds lovely, right?

The therapist from St Gregory Spa, at the Park Royal hotel in Singapore (where I go for a facial every once in a while) once told me:  ‘If you don’t use toner, the mismatch of PH between the water you use to wash and the cream, makes the cream so much less effective’. She was sooooo right. I tried it. Wow! Then my mother introduced me to spray toners and the two ladies have given me my faith back in toners.

TIP 4 – PUT YOUR TONER ON A SPRAY BOTTLE

A simple spray bottle makes the whole experience so much more convenient and saves you cotton disks. If your brand of choice does’t come in this format but a spray bottle from Muji

I have to confess I’m not very loyal or even consistent with this one, but here’s my product recommendation. Clarins Chamomile Toner, Aesop Parsley seed, NuSkin NaPCA

  • Eye cream

There’s only one cream in the eye department that I have seen a radical difference with. That’s the ARTISTRY™ Creme LuXury Eye,  but the moment I stopped using the effect was gone. And I had to stop because It was just too expensive…

It’s only available through Amway direct sales but lately you can buy anything online, in Amazon. At 150$ per bottle you really feel the price and the results that come with it. In firmness, fullness and dark circles. Out of all Amway products I tried I was only impressed with the LuXury collection. The eye cream and their face cream too.  I highly recommend as a rich night cream.

A few others have been OK so far. Clinique All About Eye Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage when you need refreshment and both versions of Dermalogica: Age Smart MultiVitamin Power Firm that has a lovely velvety texture and smells of berries, and Age Smart Reversal Eye Complex 

After cleansing and toning apply eye cream or eye serum and tap slightly with your fingers to activate circulation and facilitate absorption.

  • Serum

This is probably one of my favourite skin care products because I can really feel it working. I love Bobbi Brown’s Intensive Skin Supplement when I’m on dry weather, but Nuxe Creme Fraiche De Beaute Serum is inexpensive and works better in the tropics.

Forrest Essentials India makes this lovely Advanced Soundarya Age Defying Facial Serum With 24k Gold gold that smells on sandalwood. It’s very oily but I use it instead of a night cream every once in a while and when I wake up in the morning my skin is plump and glows. Aesop’s Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Serum is also divine. I’m a huge fan of the botanical aromatherapy theme of the brand, but the price…

Remember that the serum goes after the toner and before the cream, because it goes deeper with its oil or gel texture, getting in through the smaller and more narrow holes.

  • Face cream

Earlier I mentioned that a cream to use for the day should have SPF and that I prefer the ones with color, so I’m going to go straight to the night cream in this section. The holy grail of night creams is SK-II. Stempower was the previous one that I have, now they call it SK-II RNA Power but it’s a refined version of the same. I don’t put it under day because It does not have SPF and you will need a separate cream for that, which I think it’s too much hassle.

They have a Rich Cream version for night but this is good enough and doesn’t feel like a mask. The eye cream is good too by the way. All are quite  expensive. I can only advise you to buy the big pot and at the duty free shop in the airport, but it’s 220$ minimum. It does last, you need only a bit every time, so it’s worth it.

Only the Artistry LuXury face cream, from what I have tried, can be put at the same level as this one.

There’s hundreds of options for face creams. I think that’s why probably people think it’s the first or most important think to buy. Just in a quick trip to Sephora, a department store or the duty free cosmetics area can drive you crazy. Remember that a cleanser is actually more important.

I have tried many face creams in the Duty free, as part of my super moisturizing routine to survive long lights . Including the outrageously expensive ones like La Mer (500$ a bottle) and La Prairie (1,800$ a bottle), and I did not feel much difference at a glance. I’m sure they work better with continuous usage but for that price it better give you instant youth! I can’t afford them anyway so let’s leave it here.

 

NICE TO HAVEs

There are many other products out there related to skin care. I do not want to call this a miscellaneous section but I do now know how to classify them, except they are not essential but nice to have. Here’s a few I have used:

  • Dermalogica Phyto Oil – you could say this is a Serum, but it’s like a dry oil. I usually blend it with my daily tinted moisturizer to give it a treatment boost, and sometimes when I’m not going out of the house I just use it instead of cream. It’s one of those things that you just have to try to see the difference. It goes under your skin and plumps, softens in an few seconds. A bit like an instant boost that’s very visible. Magic! That’s why I love it. Thanks to Laura Kee from Le Petit Spa for the tip!

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Once upon a time in Japan, somebody noticed that the hands of the ladies that brew Sake were incredibly clear soft, white and smooth, whereas their faces really showed their age. 30 years later, the rest is history. This facial water is the signature product that made SK-II famous, the most awarded bestseller, that has over 90% PITERA™, the main ingredient, that comes from fermenting rice… I’m guessing.

You can also put this in the treatment section under serums because it’s used like one but it’s a special one you could say. I have tried it long ago. I liked it I did not love it. Maybe I was too young to see the difference but I have friends, Asian friends, that swear by it. Maybe it doesn’t work the same for Caucasian skin… It evens your skin tone which essential means it whitens.

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NUTRITION TIPS

What you eat, obviously affects the quality of your skin too. My beloved Glamour Magazine UK published a article about Vitamins for skin care before me, so I might as well just redirect you there. Learn what Vitamins are responsible for what when it comes to your skin.

In a nutshell:

Collagen is made by Vitamin C. This one deserves an entire chapter. There’s no such a thing as too much Vitamin C, because the body disposes the excess in the urine. What’s interesting is that It’s more effective if you eat it than if you put it on the skin but like the article says: “skin is the last organ being addressed within the digestion process, so there was a gap of a ‘topical Vitamin C’ formulations that work efficiently within the skin’s metabolism.”

Vitamin E is another one of my favorite because it’s hyper moisturizing and makes my skin instantly smooth. Most Palmer’s products have it. Body Shop used to have an entire range of Vitamin E, but they don’t have it in Singapore shops anymore. Sad face… It works great for dry skin and to reduce and prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.

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To sum up. Like my doctor said, when it comes to vitamins you are good to go with one multivitamin and fish oil, but if you eat a lot of salmon like me you don’t even need the fish oil. If you live in a country where food is fresh, no imported, not GMO and organic you can probably take anything your body needs from a good balanced diet.

In Singapore the cost of eating ‘that well’ is astronomic so we will stick to the vitamin supplements and the salmon sashimi for now.

 MEDICAL / FACIAL TREATMENTS

If the world of creams is crazy the world of facial treatments is bananas. All those branded terms and jargon confuse me all the time. Daily care doesn’t mean you don’t need a professional treatment every once in a while, and well, admit it, getting a facial is a bit of a treat, isn’t it? This is a small glossary of what I learnt about facials.

  • Sharplight skin rejuvenation- Using IPL (Intense pulsed light) to reach the deeper layer of the skin and promote collagen creation. Cold or warm therapies also do this. You really see the difference, quite fast, but needs a few treatments to make a massive change.
  • Microdermabrasion – it’s basically ‘fancy’ for scrubbing your face with a special machine. It’s either a strawberry shaped rotatory metal head with sand paper, or a vacuum tube with sandpaper on the edge. Objective? to remove dead cells and promote better product penetration or products, and cell renewal. To do once or twice a year I would say.
  • Medical grade facials – The difference between a normal facial and a medical facial is that the first one is applied by a beautician and the second one by a dermatologist, using medical tools and products instead of cosmetics. Read stronger products and stronger treatments. These are the people that also do invasive treatments like fillers and Botox. For people 40-60 this is much better use or their money that normal facials, but for 30 year olds is a bit of a treat at 500$-1000$ a session.
  • Laser/chemical peelings – This is an extreme cell renewal method that basically uses chemicals (read a mild form of acid) or laser to remove (burn) the upper layer of the skin so you grow a new smoother one. Seriously consider if you have acne scars. I would say this is more a once off thing do do if you really have a serious problem. You will be red for a good two weeks. Celebrities love it. It’s like growing a new face.
That’s all folks! I hope it was useful.
This is probably the most difficult post I ever wrote, but it was due! Now hydrate yourself in and out, eat well, take vitamins and stay out of the sun!
If you have any comments or questions please feel free to reach out and share tips. I would love to hear from you.
Until next time!
XoXo

 

Inspiration Story – The Beach Collection

When I started this blog I wrote a declaration of intentions. It included a mention about me publishing mood boards of things I find inspiring, but it never really happened.

I probably didn’t have a compelling reason to publish one. Since I started weaving this has changed. This old habit of mine has taken a new purpose. So here I come mood board on steroids.

This is the inspiration story behind my hand woven tapestries from the Beach Collection that you can find in Carousell (only in Singapore) and Etsy. It includes the images and videos that gave shape to my weaves but also the stories that they evoked. Enjoy!

Behind the scenes

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It all started in my first weaving workshop at Hili Studio. I  kept some purplish yarn from that day because it reminded me of the curly jellyfish tentacles I saw in Johanna Basford’s book Lost Ocean.

I think jellyfish are fascinating creatures. The one thing I wanted all the tapestries of this collection to have in common is some reminiscence of them.
This mesmerizing footage of a Portuguese man-of-war is from National Geographic. It’s worth checking the entire article but just this video will give you an idea of how mesmerizing I find them. The Portuguese Man-of-war is feared and terrible. It’s sting described as hot knives, but it’s actually not a jellyfish. It’s combination of 4 creatures although commonly refereed to as a jellyfish because its similar shape. Out of all real jellyfish, the most deadly one is the Box Jellyfish.

 

The Beach Collection mostly reflects my love for the seaside

The sights, textures, the sensations and my own experiences and memories inspired these 4 pieces. First I made Il Bagnio (the bath) then Jellyfish,  Waves, and finally Sand (that’s still in the loom as you can see).

 

Il Bagnio (The bath) – A cherished memory

Growing up, the first bath of the season was a moment of anticipation. It was like a ritual. First walking down the streets in Marbella from my family’s old apartment to the beach. Then running as fast as we could on the burning sand to reach the safe zone, the part that’s wet and cool.

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The freezing cold water of the first bath was always a shock. In shades of green with shimmering baby sardines here and there. The foam and the smell of fish. The occasional piece of fisherman nets and ropes from the boats that get washed to the beach. The white skin of the winter exposed for the first time to the sun. Sand everywhere. Wet, dry.

That’s what I tried to summarize in the weave. Green and white meets with shades of beige. It’s a sharp and quick moment, the lines are mostly straight and It’s a small weave with a small fringe of tassels or ryas.

The choice of Italian for the name is simple because I did some of the weaving listening to Pavarotti sing La Donna e Mobile from Rigoletto.  If you have never seen this please don’t miss it, and look into his eyes!

White sand beach in Thailand. Now I go here more than to Marbella. It’s just closer to SG.

I was never a Yankee Candle fan until they gifted me this one. Now my house smells of beach

Drone View, Aerial View, Sea, Ocean, Wave, Beach, Shore

Green waves, white crests, dry sand, wet sand.

 

Inspiration behind Jellyfish

If you don’t go under the sea you miss half, if not more, of the beauty of it. The creatures that inhabit the under water are just mind blowing. The tropical corals, the fish, the non fish, the plants… they all have shapes that are round and very organic. Which I love. But there are also dangers out there.

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Many years ago I was snorkeling in Nusa Penida near Bali, taking a break from diving with the mantas. I took my suit off and jumped to the water. The currents in the Bali area are unpredictable and very strong. In a matter of seconds I was surrounded by small pinkish jellyfish. I swam to the nearest boat (not mine) fearing for m life and getting at the same time small little  stings ALL OVER my body. Including my face. It felt a bit like Marlin in that scene from Finding Nemo. I missed the last dive of the day obviously.

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These Jellyfish were tiny but they can be some of the deadliest creatures on the planet. It’s no surprise they have a tendency to depict Aliens with shapes that resemble a jellyfish. They are creepy, lets be honest.

This guy below could be in any alien science fiction movie. The ones in the middle are actually from the movie Arrival. And who doesn’t remember the box jellyfish from the movie Seven Pounds? Scary. Fascinating but scary stuff.

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Nature is beautiful and cruel. Jellyfish are really vulnerable physically so they have to defend themselves with strong neurotoxin. If you want to find out more about Jellyfish have a look at this article from howstuffworks.com. They are incredible creatures of imposible shapes and colors so they make great artistic inspiration. Just got to google images and type Amazing Jellyfish.

I wanted this Jellyfish weave to be long and thin and to hang from a piece of coral I found on the beach. So that it will be like a jellyfish and it will also have a jellyfish in the centre. What I didn’t want is to go full on with the colors, I wanted it to be very neutral. I imagined this weave hanging on the outside wall of a white beach house with a porch on stilts. Next to a mobile made of drift wood and coral pieces. Like those American movies.

Box Jellyfish Seven Pounds

Aliens anybody?

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The lovely and deadly Portuguese man of war by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. Fascinating stuff!

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Tentacles with little feathers. How beautiful is that!

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Lake of the harmless jellyfish in Kakaban, Indonesia

Inspiration behind Waves

The sea has always fascinated as scared me at the same time. It was not until I did snorkeling for the first time that I lost part of my fear. It was the not knowing what goes on under the water, not being able to see, that drove it.

Truth to be said waves scare me. I love looking at the see from a hill or a cliff  (I’m not scared of heights) or from the comfort of a bed or a sofa, but I will never go into the water if the waves are high or strong. Call me chicken.

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Waves – Part of the Beach Collection. Available on Etsy and Carousell

 

The wildness of big waves inspired the shapes of the tapestry. I found myself staring at them and losing track of time in two recent occasions. In Tramore in Ireland (hometown of My Lovely Boyfriend The Troglodyte) and in Gansbaai in South Africa, a spot for whale watching.

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High tide in Tramore Beach

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View from our room in Whalesong Lodge, De Kelders, Gansbaai, South Africa.

I wanted to make the waves in the weave a little softer. Not like the rough Atlantic or cold Antarctic sea. The colors of the tropical beaches and corals in South East Asia inspired the selection of greens and blues and the softening for this tapestry.

Beautiful shot of green waves

Probably a retouched photo of some mushroom but did the job.

Thailand beaches

 

Inspiration behind Sand

Shaped and carved by the currents, smothered by the constant flow of water or wind. Ever changing, solid and fluid at the same time. I think sand is really beautiful in whatever form it takes. I love when it makes swirly patters with different colors or when it’s shaped in waves or ripples.

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The inspiration for this one is very straightforward, but it was not so easy to execute. Choosing the colors and the shapes to make a harmonious but intricate combination, one that traps the eyes, took hours or work. But it might be my best piece so far.

I kept the tassels long and the tapestry short because it resembles more of a jellyfish like that. Curly tentacles all the way in this Beach Collection!

Oil paining of sand waves

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Sand waves when the tide goes low

Beige and reddish sand mixing

Finally the Antelope Canyon in Arizona, USA is one of my biggest inspirations. Also one biggest regrets in life. The fact that as a teenager I decided not to go down the canyon because it was too much exercise kills me… Jesus! what was I thinking!

I hope I have the chance to go back again some day because I think it’s one of the wonders of Earth. The shapes, colors and textures. They all inspired the Sands weave too.

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That’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed the first Inspiration story post.
Coming up next, the inspiration for Fisherman takes us to the south or Ireland.

Until then,

XoXo.

 

About passion and changing career paths. The weaving diaries – Chapter I

Yesterday I opened my Sparrowebites Etsy shop. I have made a good amount of weaves since I took my first course a few months ago to it seemed it was the time. I have a notebook full of notes for future projects and a basket full of yarn. Of course a thriving Weaving Pinterest album too. But am I ready for this? Where is this going?

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After a 13 year career in marketing I became a Yoga instructor, and now I consider myself an aspiring weaver. One doesn’t replace the other. I’m all of the above. They might seem random and disconnected paths but they are not.

Nevertheless I think some explanation is needed to understand how I got here.

It’s all about passion. OK that’s not new, so here comes the breakthrough:

Passion doesn’t have to be one thing, and It doesn’t have to be THE only thing you do. Passion is a feeling, and feelings change overtime.

We hear all the time that for a career path one should find that thing they are passionate about and follow it. It seems to be the current mantra. The truth is that only 3% of people doing that succeed (according to research by 80,000 hours.org )

Being good at your job doesn’t mean that’s the thing you are most passionate about. It’s a job, it needs to cover the basics of not hating it, and pay the bills. This TED talk was a real eye opener for me.

 

Powerful, isn’t it? This gave me reassurance that what I’m doing,  to explore and experiment, keep trying different things while I take a break from corporate etc. That’s healthy and necessary. And that I can be a multidisciplinary professional.

From a marketing perspective going many different ways made me feel a bit insecure. It’s called positioning. It’s easier to say: this is what I do and why I do it well. But is that it? Wait a moment. I’m not a product, that’s why I always found it very difficult to apply that to myself. The concept of personal brand probably comes from here.

That’s probably how I ended up with this website that seems a bit of a mess but in reality it’s about me and the various aspects that define me. The communication, the branding, the aesthetics, the mindfulness, the wellness, the helping others and the creativity.

A person is the combination of many sides and skills. I agree It’s just easier to make an impact when you focus on just one, but that’s also reducing your chances of success. Launching the weaving shop might give me another avenue, but this time, for the first time, it really feels like jumping into a pool blindfolded.

You can’t really see how deep it is, so it’s hard to predict if you are going to end up going in the water with a graceful dive, or an embarrassing belly flop.

It’s just because it’s unknown territory for me. That’s it. End of the fear. Passion is the feeling that made want to start this and that’s why I decided to go ahead whether people like my weaves or not. Like I did with the blog, and with the Yoga before.

What happens next, I don’t really know. I believe it in. I love it! and only time can tell if I succeed or not to make it my main source of income or just one more (or just a time pass :-). I will definitely give it my best ideas, my creativity, my structuring, hard work and my analytic skills.

If you look at celebrities for example, there are many that are known for one talent only and then keep the others low, on purpose or not. Very honestly (and without sounding arrogant) I would not want to define myself like that. Simply because I think I’m good at many things, and most importantly because I think I have the ability of becoming good at whatever I put myself into.

I secretly always wanted to be a journalist in Glamour magazine and try different things to just write about them and tell others. That’s how this blog started. I could always say that weaving is part of my experimenting phase, and something to write about, but I look at my work and I feel really proud! I think it’s pretty and that’s the whole point. I hope others find my weaves pretty too!

Until next time!
XoXo

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Jellyfish – Beach Collection. Available in Etsy

 

 

5 things you can do every day to practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the opposite of going in autopilot. Gulping a cup of coffee on the go from a take away container is not the same as sitting down, leaning back against the chair, and sipping your coffee bit by bit from a porcelain cup.

Apply that to life and you will see things differently, feel differently and think differently. You will likely realize that you don’t need more to be more content. You just need to go deeper.

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Paying attention to the little things that surround us becomes very hard when we are rushing from one errand to another, from one to do list to another. It’s like trying to see the landscape from a bullet train.

We live in an overstimulating environment here in Singapore,  and it does get to you eventually if you don’t consciously make an effort stop going with the motions.

 Mindfulness practice is about taking some time to be in the here and the now. When you are doing something or when you are taking a break. 

It’s putting your mind and focus on it. Here and Now. Not in the past (too much of this causes depression), not in the future (too much of this causes anxiety) and not in your imaginary thoughts (too much of this causes delusion).

The good news is that you don’t need to go to a course, download an app or read a book to do it, although it helps to start the habit. If taking time off to do nothing and meditate is impossible for you…

There are things we do every day that can become your mindful moment.

You don’t need a lot of time, just a few minutes will do.

MYTHBUSTER! Meditation is not putting out all thoughts, It’s to focus your attention into one thing for a longer period of time. The mind keeps jumping like a monkey from one thought to another in a matter of seconds, unless we give it something to entertain it for a while. Lack of thoughts (meditation) is the result of the effort, not the effort itself. Mindfulness is a mediation technique.

 

Here’s 5 things you can do to make every day more mindful

1- Do not do multitask when you eat.

Focus on your food. Not your phone, or your laptop or even the person you have in front of you. We eat minimum 3 times a day so there you have 3 possible mindful meditative moments.

I have an ability to go into ‘meditation mode’ at certain moments (read getting so absorbed into what I’m doing that I forget about everything around me) and one of them is when I’m eating.

Sometimes I’m so into my food I stop hearing what My Lovely Boyfriend the Troglodyte says. So instead of taking me out of my moment, he stares at me and the faces I do, the noises I make, and he says; ‘I can see you are really enjoying that’. Mindful moment for him, mindful moment for me. Double check!

I had this article half written when I went to a mindful eating workshop by Tansy Boggon at Balanced Living in Singapore.

The most valuable thing I learnt is that digestion starts in the senses.

I always thought the first step was chewing your food properly but when we smell the food, we look, we touch, we heard anything related to the food experience, our body starts preparing to receive the food. The brain sends signals to the digestive system to start producing the juices that help digestion.

Therefore eating without thinking about eating makes it more difficult for the body to digest food. There you go. Two benefits for the price of one! I just can’t resist a bargain. Try paying attention to all the details around your eating experience. It can be your daily mindful moment.

(SHORTCUT: I don’t want to read more about your life now, take me to number 2)

I have a student that has lots of digestive issues. I went to have lunch with her once and she literally hoovered what she had in front on her. It took me 3 times more to finish my soup than for her to eat her eggs ben. If you do the same try this.

Next time we go for lunch I will ask her her look at the food for 30 seconds after it arrives. I will try to make her smell and touch the food even, to tell me what she perceives. Then I will make her mentally plan how she’s going to eat it by asking her. Where to start, how to divide etc. Hopefully that will give her body enough time to prepare.  If the Tea ceremonies in China and Japan take about 45 min. I think we can take a good 30 min. to eat our meals properly.

You can be social when mindful eating, just take be aware you can’t do two things at the same time, and slow down to take turns. My Lovely Boyfriend the Troglodyte and I make it a point to have a proper sit down home made dinner several times a week. That’s our mindful eating moment together and there’s 50% talk 50% silence. The rest of the days I’m guilty of rushing it often, but hey nobody is perfect.

One thing I don’t barge on is my tea or coffee moment. It’s my special moment. Add a nice biscuit to it and I’m a happy camper. If you love coffee or tea you van make it your mindful moment.

Coffee here and coffee there #ootd

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2- Acknowledge others

Do you pass by the same people every day and don’t ever say hi? Do you know your neighbors? To answer these questions you probably need to ask yourself first if you pay any attention to the people that surround you.

People watching in a cafe is a good option. The ones in the crossroad between Orchard and Scott’s road (Marriott Hotel, Prive, Starbucks, Overeasy) give you a view to a great deal of people, but I think this should be taken a step further.

It’s easy to use things for your mindful moment, but if you do it with people it has a double effect. On you and on them.

Just nodding, smiling or say hi to passer by makes the person do the same to you. It can be a bus driver, a neighbor you don’t know. A construction worker, gardener, cleaner. You can even venture to mention something you notice about a receptionist or a clerk. Something not related to the task in hands.

Here’s  3 recent occasions I saw myself doing that. Paying attention to the people around me, noticing the differences and mentioning those to them to give acknowledgement.

  • Post office. I found in the Singpost office in ION a bubbly Malay lady that used to work in the Tanglin office, and wear braces. I commended about the change of office and the braces. You should have since her smile (post braces)
  • Gardeners. To decorate my house warming party I picked scraps of leaves from the mountain the gardeners make in my condo. I went to them an explained my intentions. They were happy to help me. They are usually those invisible people making everything look tidy, so I took the time to talk to them, ask them about the job, hear them.
  • Guards. Every other day I pass by the house of the Prime Minister on my bike. It’s a shortcut I take to work. There’s always guards at the door. The special Nepalese forces. They have different hats depending on the time of the day and weather. I tap on my imaginary hat as I pass by and give them a thumbs up or something. It must be really boring to stare at the same wall all day every day. The poor things.

It’s incredible how little attention we pay to strangers. I was recently in a Yoga Workshop by New Angle Yoga, Hands-on assists where we did very interesting exercises. It was about helping students feel the Yoga postures better, and to raise the awareness of the need of support and the role of a supporter. In Yoga and in life.

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Trish and Julie from New Angle Yoga

At some point we were asked to walk around the the room randomly and at the sound of the gong stop and look at what we had in front. For the first three rounds we all looked at objects in the room. Then the teacher asked us to look at the person you have in front instead. We all sadly noticed the objects before the people.

Then she made us stare at them for a full 30 seconds, felt like an eternity. It was intense but it did the job: Engraving the message in our brains. Kudos to Trish.

 


3- Take 5 min to rest outdoors.

Oh the great outdoors… There’s no such thing in Singapore but you can still find solace. Whether on your way somewhere or just coming back home, just pause, sit down and pay attention to what you have around you. Close the eyes if possible and listen to the sounds. If not just stare vaguely at a point far away.

This is another bargain. Mindful and a tried and tested creativity boost. When we de-focus we access the subconscious mind and ideas arise. It’s like switching of from the running commentary of the outside and inside our mind and boom! The magic happens.

When we are waking up or about to fall asleep is when we have more access to our hidden mind. That’s why power naps work so well to boost creativity.  I learnt this from Carlos Pomeda in one his workshops.

You can find time to do this for example at the bus stop. Put your phone down and look at the surroundings. Notice the signboards the plants the floor the sky. Look up and down, left and right. Notice everything that you can see from where you stand. How many buses stop there, check where do they go. Notice the houses or buildings you can see from the bus stop etc. If you don’t know what they are ask yourself what could they be or imagine them inside.

Detailed observation is a great tool for mindfulness.

You could do this at your work space too or pretty much anywhere except when you are sitting on a plane, but it’s better to do it outdoors, just for a change and a breath of fresh air.

Noticing  food, noticing people, noticing your surroundings and also why not also noticing your own body? Yoga Nidra, also known as Yoga sleep, awake rest, is also a very powerful way to induce a meditative state with a simple body scan sequence.

 

4- Journal before going to bed.

I recently started doing this, after reading an article in UK Glamour Magazine about list making its negative effects and bullet journalists.

It’s not writing your diary like when you were a kid. (Dear Diary: Today that cute guy in class looked at me. OMG! I think he likes me. I hope I didn’t blush) Bullet journaling is about keeping it short.

A good thought generates a good feeling, a food feeling triggers creation of serotonin hormone, that one makes our brain happy. Yoga’s Pancha Kosha theory (and in a nutshell the entire body mind connection hoo-ha) is this by the way. In a nutshell.

Just write one thing you are thankful for each day, before you go to bed.
Don’t over do it or you will end up like this…

Take a moment to notice that you are here in bed now, writing THE good moment of the day and being thankful for it. Recalling the day, looking for the good, choosing the moment, recreating that feeling, will all help you focus on something else that’s not what you need to do tomorrow but watch out!

Don’t get too caught up on the facts but stay with the feelings and the now. 

This is something great to do with your partner too. Just ask him/her to tell you one good thing that happened today before going to bed.

I use the Thoughts and Reflections Journey from Typo that has one page for day with 3 sections, so you can fit 3 years there. If one day you forget you can always turn back the pages and write what you remember.

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Image credit : Katie Te

5- Observe nature.

Nature is amazing, really. The shape of a flower, the variety of plants, the leaves, how tall trees are, how incredible it is that water and air magically turn in to matter. Think of the space they take and how significant plants are. They are all around us and they are a feast for the eyes.

I’m a very visual person so this works wonders for me. Like mindful coloring. Any art and music can fall into this same category. Call it appreciation of beauty. Pets and kids are also fascinating. Like wild creatures (I wish I had done a boomerang video of this fella)

One of my students told me she likes the trees here so much that sometimes she even stops the car to admire them and take photos of them.

I love the lush vegetation in Singapore, it makes me awe every single time. The jungle is just amazing and intricate enough to keep your eyes entertained in every detail and switch off from the rest. Look at the colors the shapes the size of the trees and you got yourself a mindful moment.

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This is the view from my balcony. It makes it easier!

I hope this helps! Pick your thing and stick to it for a while. Like the muscles, the brain requires training. Don’t be frustrated if you can’t lift a 10Kg dumbbell with one arm on the first day at the gym.

Until the next time! Xx

Namaste.

Letting go of Miss Independent

It’s Monday morning, 9am. I’m sitting on my balcony having breakfast and listening to the soft sound the rain makes when it falls on the canopy of trees that surrounds me.

Good morning #bougainvillea !! #plantsofinstagram #plantsmakepeoplehappy #mediterranean #fucsia #flowers

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Last night my morning class was cancelled and I rushed to book a slot in my Yoga studio for a morning workout. I went to bed thinking: Great! I can finally get some time for my practice! and it’s with one of my favorite teachers! Then the rain happened this morning… and it hypnotized me and convinced me to stay at home and enjoy the moment. I happily cancelled my plan of rushing and I’m set to spend the morning listening to her soundtrack.

Her, yes, because I think the rain is a She.
The rain nourishes life,  and so do women.

I’m staying home (and probably order Uber Eats for lunch) because I deserve it and becase I can. Like my Lovely boyfriend The Troglodyte says, I’m not a fan of self praise, but the truth is that I worked my ass out last week, and didn’t get much rest over the weekend so this morning I’m staying home, to nourish my soul and to get nourished by the rain. I deserve it.

And I can. Yes, I can. I can I can I can. I have to repeat that to myself several times to shake off any possible the sense of guilt for doing nothing. I can because he provides. I can because while I was happily wrapped in my pillows and duvets he was silently getting ready to go to work. Very early. I actually must.

I must because what woke me up today was not the sound of the door as he left the house but the smell of the cigarette he had for breakfast.

Those little things he does to “calm me nerves” like he says, tell me he’s stressed, but he will hardly ever complain. He’s going through hell at work. I know. He’s doing all of that so that We, so that I, can have this life we have. So I let go of Miss productive, of Miss Independent and I stay home to enjoy, for him, for us.

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I don’t really need to drag myself out to fulfill a series of tasks I had planned myself, for myself . I do it a lot and It’s completely self inflicted. I do because time is a terrible thing to waste and because there’s always a million things to do in the house. But in reality It’s to make myself feel useful because that’s something that gives me a kick since I do not work the in the corporate game anymore. Call it withdrawal symptoms.

It’s really me just finding fulfillment in the task achieved, not in the moment enjoyed.

The woman that has been working since 16 just to have my own income and not have to ask pocket money from my parents. She’s quite dominante in my brain, Earning it, and being able to spend it without justification, without second thoughts, has been part of my nature since that first job in the gift shop. I was actually brought up like that, to be Miss Independent. I guess part of my mother didn’t want me ending up stuck with my father like her.

For a very long time I dismissed the importance of her nourishment role. I was very masculine in my approach to life. Nevertheless, enough time as Miss Independent has showed me too many women role models that ‘made it’ in my environment, that also had serious guilt and failure issues on the nourishment side. Call me old fashion but I did get the call of human nature that told me there was a conflict, and going against it has a price to pay.  God knows if the business drive will come back. I just couldn’t do it any more, It was time to tune into my nourishing side.

It’s very hard to let Miss Independent go. It takes trust in your partner and to make deaf ears to your Miss Independent girlfriend’s warnings. Including the one in your head. It’s also hard to find balance.

My corporate life payed me well to put up with a lot of crap, but I didn’t have to think of money ever. My new sponsored status means thinking if I’m going to get this or that with my boyfriend’s money or eat on my savings. I can’t think of it as OUR money yet. That’s a part of me that’s still holding on to Miss Independent. I’m always concerned about abusing his kindness.  I do not make a lot of money teaching Yoga part time, even if it’s really fulfilling, and It’s hard to monetize the value of my home making versus his job.

The fact is that I keep striving to be even with him, when I know it’s never going to be even in that way. It has to be whole as the sum of both our efforts.

It’s getting chilly here. I grab my mustard cardigan and a cup of tea. This is a rare moment in Singapore and I’m going to allow myself to soak it all it, because I can now. I listen to the rain again. I hear the gardener sweeping the floor with a straw broom. He’s deaf, he can’t hear the rain, and yet he seems to be singing to some tune in his head. He talks to the trees, he talks to the birds. I’m not even going to stand up to make the bed.

It’s generally hard not succumb to the temptation of over planning to maximize my day.  I have time now, and I want to make the most of it and be useful, but today nature made a conspiracy that’s too hard to resist.

I still have not decided how long this break from corporate life will be but it’s clear it will not be forever. I will not be able to slow down to enjoy Me time as much soon enough. I will not be able to do all those things that keep me busy and fulfilled either.

A friend of mine always says that she doesn’t know how I stretch time. I can give 3 classes, run several errands, be social, bake a tray of muffins and make dinner all in one day. The answer is that I’m a planner. I have the skills, dedication, hard work and commitment of a corporate soldier. I’m known to make things happen. It’s so programmed in my brain that here I am writing about how hard it is sometimes to let it go and enjoy Slow Living.

How much we try to justify it when the world around you is on the hamster wheel and you just came out of it. I stare at them with a mix of ‘should I be going back’ and ‘look at them the poor things running all day rushing to no where’.

Regardless of what I do professionally, the Slow Life has the days counted. When children come this will be over, for a VERY long time. Better enjoy it now.

 

I want to teach yoga, but I also want to contemplate and write, and I want to weave! I finally found something artistic to express my creativity that I can actually execute myself and not just design and order. It feels fantastic. Maybe a new business opportunity!

I don’t want t go back to to corporate but I do not have a solid plan ahead either! That’s what makes it very hard to truly relax and let go, permanently. 

Until then I shall stay home more, at least times like this when I just can’t resist it. I will stay home to enjoy what he can’t, and nourish myself so I can nourish him.

Together we can be even. It’s not me versus him. It’s US.
There goes Miss Independent.

How to wear Yoga clothes all day and look glamorous

Dear women doing everything in their active wear:

Finally the world has reacted to the strange phenomena of you walking around everywhere on your sport clothes, like you are on the way to the gym when maybe you are not… Some clever people out there came up with this active wear spoof and it’s a checkpoint charlie.

I think after this we don’t have a free pass anymore. I have to confess I do everything #inmyactivewear, but I’m a Yoga Teacher so chances are I am doing errands before or after my classes.

(SHORTCUT – Cut the crap and take me to the tricks)

That said, this happens to normal people too. Carrying around changes of clothes is a pain and sometimes there’s just no time to change between sports and life. I’m assuming you are not “doing nothing in your active wear” and you do NOT want others look at you this way right? If that’s the case keep reading. I think active wear is great but that’s why I want to draw the line and write this post.

I try to make my active wear (my work clothes) look classy or trendy so I do not look like the women int he video all the time. Even if I have a reason.  I wear active wear all the time and to me there has to be certain degree of style and dignity. AKA Not looking like a clown.

To me my clothes are a way of self expression as much as a presentation card to my clients and students, so yes It’s pretty important  (Isn’t this the third post on the topic? hehehe) Let’s get started.

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I’m quite sure this is the Selene Hoodie from Nux. Leggings are Rio Capri from the same brand.

I have had occasions where I really didn’t care, but I had others where I had to be able to disguise my active wear for a social event. I did this simply because I don’t think It’s very elegant to dress outdoors all the time like if you were in the gym. If you disagree, I invite you to stop here and read my post about Menstrual Cups for example 🙂

Once I went to an Embassy party after a Yoga a workshop, and I think I managed to pull that out decently… I think…

Where I come from people don’t wear sports clothes unless you are doing sports. Or at least that was the case until recently. Yes I’m from Europe, not from America. From southern Europe, to make things worse, where fashion matters.  Running shoes with dockers are not acceptable even on an office that has dress down Friday guys. Not even in a start up. There they even have an entire separate hipster dress code but it does not include active wear.

For us in the South of Europe not really acceptable to walk around on your gym clothes all day. Funcional yes, comfortable yes, practical yes, but pretty!? Stylish? Elegant? Makes you look like a respectable person? Really, lets be honest: No.

A few years ago people started glamorizing uneducated people on TV, in their active wear. Giving them so much media attention  has the effect of validating it. It makes sports gear socially acceptable. Tolerance by over exposure i call it, and it’s even made it trendy to some extend.

I’m not talking about the ladies in the spoof of the video. I’m talking about Barbie Fitness. This is a Barbie Fitness. If you actually like Barbie Fitness you can also stop reading here.

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Andressa Ferreira (AKA Barbie Fitness): Well done dear, but please don’t go out to a bar like that. Let me guess, your biggest ambition is to eradicate world hunger…

The Barbie Fitness effect

Check point charlie. Don’t call me intolerant before you ask yourself if you would not turn the eyes in shock if you see somebody dress like this in a coffee shop.

There’s an alternative to this. The golden era of Aerobics with those 80s TV stars like Jane Fonda, is way over. And the great news is that the amount of “wearable” street smart exercise clothes that have come out recently is incredible.  It’s actually trendy and you see that’s a very common uniform in Orchard Rd. You don’t have to go on tacky mode.

There’s definitely a boom for Athleisure, so let’s just start stating that you can move from looking like the friends of Vicky Pollard (the hot ones and not so hot ones) to looking like Gigi Hadid very easily.

There’s no need to go all fashion victim on active wear like Barbie Fitness or end up like a Christmas tree of neon Lycra. That’s what I see happening a lot. When Vicky Pollard goes to the gym and wants too look like Gigi Hadid, she becomes Barbie Fitness, or this:

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Suddenly the active wear ladies seem like innocent day time comedy. Right?

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ALERT!

Jokes aside. If you made it here, thank you. Now I’m going to make a pause and use the chance to promote diversity online. As I was doing my research for this article, I bumped into some things that made me activate my social responsibility mode. Barbie Fitness is not alone. They are a tribe, the are very numerous and they LOVE showcasing themselves in social media. That gives them attention and validation.

Because of this, they end up monopolizing the stereotype of what a good Yogi or a good Yoga teacher should look like.  Extend this to any fitness instructor. To some extent also to what a “healthy person” should look like too.

I will write another post one day about how a good Yogi doesn’t necessarily make a good teacher in yogamasala.org , but for the moment let me introduce you to DIVERSITY in the yoga world.

This is Jessamyn Stanley, she recently tried cross-fit and it was really inspiring

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This is Bette Calman, also known as the Yoga Grandma.

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And this is my dear Lara Chandrini AKA MintYogini

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Point made.
Now back to the topic.

 


Get going all day on your Yoga clothes (with class and style)

Starting point: Leggings Galore

Leggings… where to start.

If you are anything like me you will appreciate the snug hugging sensation. Yes, the one that controls the wobble of the thighs. Also the lack of any sort of tightness or strangling anywhere. The flexible waistband that doesn’t sink into your belly flesh,  that can accommodate food babies, PMS babies and random water retention babies. It’s kind of liberating.

I firmly believe that leggings are made in the woman section of heaven.

No chauvinism here. In fact my friend @talltreeyogi has a superbly manly collection of leggings and pulls them out like a down to earth pro. RESPECT Andy! But they are SO made for women the market is a bit biased.

The biggest shift you have to make is to stop thinking of them as active wear and treat them like if they were skinny jeans. Leggings are very versatile and if you see them fashion items when you buy exercise clothing it changes the game. You think of what can you wear them with in the context of your entire closet. Not just the sports section.

With this in mind you will notice that the planets have aligned, and now you can get good exercise leggings but with fashionable textures and prints. Remove neon from your mind right now unless you like to go to Zumba conventions all the time. Neon is never going to be glamorous (I hope)

Please note that Active Wear leggings are NOT like normal ones so don’t go cheap here. The cut and the material are different (learn more about this in my last post). Liquido Active has variety for both worlds (glam and zumba) but they are Brazilian after all and they have a slight tendency to think of carnival.

When you re-think of what your work out leggings and you look at them as if they were normal pants you will notice there’s room for basics, prints florals, just in a different way. Just doing this will immediately make it easier on the eye to go around all day on your Active Wear.

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This could be me, when I was 10. I absolutely adore leggings, and I have been wearing them since the 80s. I had two pairs in primary school, with pink or blue flowery patterns. I wore oversized jumpers on top, and White Reeboks or Navy Fila trainers. I did this for years. Credit goes to my mother of course.

If for some reason you think they are really off you can stop reading this right here and maybe have a look at my funny post about Brazilian Waxing instead.
Now that I am a Yoga teacher, I have a professional reason to wear yoga pants all day, every day, and I just love it. YIPPIE!!! This is part of my Liquido Active collection and even these prints work fine on the glam if you combine then with the right tops.

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Mosaic of tiled some of my Liquido Active legging. They are the best because they are buttery soft. Brazilians work Lycra like no other country.

Layer with tops

The key is to layer. Because leggings are so versatile they can be disguised under flowy tops easily. It’s mostly exercise tops that give you away as an active wear fashion victim. Wear a floaty top or jumper over your exercise tank and make sure that’s long enough to cover that infamous Camel Tow. The rule of thumb is that with tight pants you wear a lose top and vice versa. The trashy look is achieved by trying to resemble a neon sausage, hugged in Lycra from top to bottom.

A blouse, a jumper, a light sweater or even a simple and loose v neck white t shirt will do the job, and it will be great with a jacket on top. The next step.

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I have to make a special mention to the top in the cover.

If you find it (Nux, Selena Hoodie) please email me. I think it’s the cutest thing ever. The entire outfit is great, the pony, the flowery hydrangea leggings (also wanted, Nux Rio Capri) and the peekaboo top. ME WANT!

With clothes like this you have the Gigi Hadid look in a moment, maybe not the body but hey, there’s worse things in life. Like Zumba conventions and barbie fitness.

Add a jacket

A denim jacket, military parka, a motorbike jacket, or a chunky cardigan. All of the above make a good combination with yoga pants that you can wear all day in colder weathers. And the great thing is that it doesn’t really matter what you wear underneath because nobody is going to see that.

If you live in the tropics like me, a cardigan is a must to survive the attack of the killer air con blast. You don’t remember what your mother used to tell you when you were little? Don’t go out in the cold all sweaty. after exercising. Here’s the other way around. Don’t go indoors in the air con all sweaty. You will get pneumonia.

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Maybe add a scarf too

If by any chance you still will feel conscious about the camel toe or simple about wearing leggings this is the ultimate trick. Guide the eyes to look somewhere else.

A big or colorful scarf can take all eyes to your neck and away from your yoga pants.  A beautiful scarf makes dress up anything or it can define the entire outfit. Black leggings, black booties and black top? Throw a red or pink scarf around. Print leggings and plain top. A scarf can dress it up.

I don’t need to tell you the use of them in winter, but remember the air con temperature in that expensive shopping mall is always going to be colder than average. Yes that shopping mall we all know, where you need to buy those expensive coffee capsules every week.

Don’t forget the shoes!

You do yoga barefoot, ergo you don’t need to wear trainers. Repeat this 3 times mentally, or out loud if possible. It will help to make it sink in.

Take a deep breath and now proceed to remove the association of yoga pants and trainers. Exercise shoes are optional for your Yoga outfit. If you are American try a few more rounds. Please forgive me, but running shoes are for running. ONLY.

There’s trillions of cool trainers out there these days. They call them street wear, and any of them are going to make you immediately look 10 times more chic than those standard running shoes most standard American seems to have (for some reason I can’t understand). If you have and old pair, maybe it’s time to upgrade and realize that they belong in a Salvation Army box.

That said I do love a sleek cool trainer. I have 6 pairs to be exact. But these beauties below should only be used with jeans or for the gym floor and in case of emergencies like acute foot pain, or heavy rain that will spoil all you other shoes except the Hunters. BTW Wellington boots are actually really cool with leggings – Trainers work on the hipster side, not so much the glam.


Let’s look at other options now. If you are going for the European thing, you will have to follow this and send those ugly running shoes straight away to exile. Now. Resist the trainers temptation and go for sandals, flats, oxfords, booties, and flipflops.


As you can see, leggings go great with all kinds of shoes. Anything works better than trainers, but if you really have to, at least get cute ones.

That’s all folks! It’s really quite simple.

Basically you can combine your yoga clothes with whatever you would wear with skinny jeans. I think it should not be difficult to pull this out, right? If you need more inspiration have a look at my Pinterest album.

Remember that looking like this is really the work a complete team of stylists, make up artists, hairdressers, lighting specialists and photographers. Not just the model.

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Agua Bendita – Active Submarine Jungle Collection

In case of doubt, big black sunglasses add 100 glamour points no matter what you wear.

Until next time!

xx

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Lululemon top with peplum – Out os stock everywhere unfortunately.