Open Letter to My 15-Year Old Self

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Dear My 15-Year Old Self

I am writing to you tell you just how much I admire you. Going by the pictures, you are really serious about those pink-camouflage pants, and I think that deserves a salute.

I know that you are scared a lot because you feel different and most people don‘t seem to understand. All those nights lying awake and wondering, wondering how they can‘t see that you want to be just like them. Why don‘t they see how hard you are trying? How everytime you fall down you push yourself back up again? – But believe me, being different is not a bad thing. People will always laugh at you, they‘ll laugh at you for any reason. Whether you‘re too ordinary or you‘re too extravagant, they will always find something to mock you about. So be daring, and give them a jolly good reason to laugh. Be different, be ridiculous. Be everything that you are with a power that will knock them down.

So, I noticed you have bit of trouble finding your own style. To be honest, the pink-camouflage pants and the orange T-shirt with the stripes don‘t work very well together (but I‘m not going to mention it). The thing is that people outside of magazines rarely even have this thing called style. It‘s more like a disease, really. You don‘t have to become a demon-slaughtering shadowhunter to wear a leather jacket. You want that jacket, you go for it, girl! You want to wear smudgy black eyeliner and look mysterious? Just do it (although you will probably fail, but I‘m not going to mention it)! Everyday you can change who you are, don‘t you understand? You are not tied to one wardrobe or to one favourite boyband (and since we‘re on the topic, US5 are going to split up pretty darn soon anyway) or one version of yourself. You are never going to stop becoming yourself, because there will always be people leaving an imprint on your soul, places that change the way you look at the world and stories and that transform your thinking entirely. And girl, you are going places!

What is never going to falter is your love for books. Although I‘m glad to say that your taste in storytelling is. No, don‘t cry – Harry Potter and Jane Austen are always king and queen of your universe. But I wish you would stop believing you are Clary Fray. Honestly, that girl has a lot of issues. For a start, you do not need to have your first relationship when you are sixteen. You will, of course, but still; just take a moment here, all right? The guy you are going to meet is a real sweetheart, but he‘s not Jace. He‘s not the love of your life, no matter how hard you want him to be. Clary is a delusional idiot, made up by a desperate middle aged woman who probably has never had sex herself, so why do you think you need to live by the book? Write your own book, be your own superhero. There are more important things in life than having sex before you‘re seventeen and dating people that look like Richie Stringini (although he is pretty hot, I‘ll give you that!).

You are such a cool teenager, do you ever realise that? You read Charles Dickens for fun, your perfect night out is a Harry Potter midnight book launch, and you don‘t drink or do drugs. But I hate to break it to you, but soon that is not going to be you any more, so you might as well stop judging others for getting drunk on the weekends. You are going to love getting drunk! It‘ll take some time to gain control, but if you keep the people you love close to you, nothing bad will ever happen to you.

Growing up doesn‘t sound so bad now, does it? Responsibility is not such a sucky thing once you get the hang of it, you know? Sure, you have to make your own doctor‘s appointments and crying in public is frowned upon. But you still get to go to Disneyland and obsess over dinosaurs. Also, being grown-up means that you can spend all your money on chocolate AND THEN EAT IT ALL ON YOUR OWN! Being an adult, you don‘t stop loving certain things, you can just love them more openly, because you will stop caring what others think. And, OMG, guess what? Being a nerd is going to be totally cool! In fact, all those assholes that think calling you a geek is an insult, yeah, they are going to buy friggin‘ fake glasses to look smarter. And you, my sweet angel face, you are going to buy glasses to see better. Because you are already smart. Never think that being intelligent is a bad thing. Only stpuid people will let you believe that. Nope! Embrace your inner nerd with all your heart! 

You know what I love most about you, My 15-Year Old Self? You are on the verge of taking a massive leap into the unknown, and you are putting all of your heart and soul into it. I wish you would never stop doing that.
There are many moments of doubt still to come. You will find yourself crying on a bathroom floor more than once, and sometimes there will not be enough chocolate flavoured ice cream in the world to make you feel all right again. But I will tell you this: You are going to be happy, and you are going to be fine. You will always be surrounded by people who love you, and you will make many more people fall in love with you.

And finally: enjoy the Star Wars prequels while it lasts, because soon you will start to see Anakin for the whiny bastard he truly is and fall in love with Han. Also, don‘t cry because Tokio Hotel are not an item any more, you just haven‘t met One Direction yet. Also, the Sorting Hat puts you into Slytherin. Don‘t let it ruin your day, Draco is going to turn out so much hotter than Harry!

Unfortunately, 15-year old me, we have still not published our bestselling novel or saved the world from evil or married a prince. But we are in a good place. The kind of good place where on some days we go swimming in the Carribean, while on others the best thing that happens is somebody telling us that our dress is pretty. We are pretty amazing, you and I.

With love,
23-Year Old Me

Meet: Aleks and Sophie

 

Bild 31Aleks and Sophie in three words: Honest, Lighthearted, Fun
Aleks and Sophie read: Hannah Maggs
Find Aleks and Sophie online: http://www.sisterhoodofthetravelingwags.com

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When Aleks and Sophie moved to Geneva because of their husbands’ jobs they had no idea that they would soon find a best friend in each other. Since then, two years have passed and they have launched their wonderful blog The Travelling Wags where they tell talk about their experiences, adventures and mishaps in Switzerland. I met them on a sunny autumn afternoon for a chocolate brioche in a lovely café called Mafalda Tivoli in Geneva and had them answer all my silly little questions.

Aleks and Sophie literally write each and every blog post together. They are such giggly ladies, it’s very easy to imagine how a post about hoo-has or drunk people in clubs came to be! They really do write about everything. «It’s a blog about day to day life,» they say. «We talk about marriage, friends, food – basically we wanted to create a blog people can turn to, especially those that find themselves in a similar situation as us. After all, living in strange city where they don’t speak your language can be really quite frustrating.» Having lived in New Zealand and Honduras myself, I know exactly what they are talking about. But every place has its plus side. Like the Wags’ favourite ice cream place, Manu Gelato, where they even sell Specculoos Gelato. «It’s life changing,» Sophie promises (Needless to say, I am extremely excited for my next visit to Geneva now!)

Sophie’s and Aleks’ most loyal readers are both of their mums who not only spot every little grammatical error but also gladly let their girls know when they look gorgeous in pictures! Family is very important to both of them. Even though – or rather, especially because! – they don’t live in close proximity with their families and loved ones, the Wags are really quite proud to have kept a good and loving relationship with the people closest to their hearts. Their husbands play a big part in their lives as well, and Aleks even goes so far as to calling meeting hers to be the best thing she has ever done! Sophie agrees, but then cheekily adds that if she could make any fictional character come to life, it would be Superman – then she’d date him!

There is a quote, that every two best friends can probably apply to themselves, that says: «You can always tell when two people are best friends because they are having more fun than it makes sense for them to be having.»
Sophie and Aleks can tell stories and giggle for hours on end. «One night out we put a really drunk friend into a taxi; as it was leaving we tried to get a picture of its number plate, but because our hands were shaky we ended up with a lousy picture – just the flash of the taxi taking the corner!» The memory actually brings laughing tears to their eyes. Then they remember that their special name for each other is Bertie. «That’s how we greet each other – by saying, Why, hello Bertie!»

An afternoon with these two is simply heart warming. Towards the end of our afternoon together, having finished up all the cake and extra pastry the chef had brought to our table, I ask them where they see themselves in twenty years’ time. «I just hope to be in a happy, balanced place,» Sophie says. Aleks nods and adds that maybe one day she’ll write a book. «Who knows. We hope we can keep inspiring people.» Is there anything they would like their readers to take with them? «Absolutely – Stop killing each other and be more tolerant – GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!» And on goes the giggling.

 

(Since writing the post, Aleks has sent me the following message: «Sophie has now also moved back to Singapore for her husband’s work! We will of course carry on the blog long distance and will now be including information about Singapore as well.» – Sounds like a fun reading experience, right?! :))

Shit I Bought in London

Last week I was fortunate enough to visit London again. I went with my gorgeous friend Anna who you can find on her blog: www.tinytrinket.wordpress.com. It‘s a lovely little internet niche and you should totes have a look!

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Because we have both visited England‘s capital a bunch of times we did hardly any sightseeing. Instead we drank lots of tea, ate cupcakes, went for strolls and got stuck in the shops. I‘m not much of a shopper when it comes to clothes, shoes and handbags. So when Anna tried on coats and blouses I checked out Primark‘s sock section; we went inside Topshop three times, but to even things out I dragged Anna to the Disney Store. So, as you can guess, most of the stuff I bought is utterly useless and unnecessary – but I just felt the physical need to stuff my suitcase with all the overpriced rubbish I could possibly find. Not. Regretting. Anything.

Princess Leia Mug

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I can‘t even begin to tell you just how excited I am about this mug! I mean, just look at the buns! Aren‘t they fabulous?!

Giant Crumpets

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I also bought regular ones, of course, but I could not resist the temptation of one massive chunk of happiness!

The Iron Trial (by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black)

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It was raining and we found shelter inside a Waterstones store, and oops-a-daisy I ended up buying a shitty YA Harry Potter rip-off with a romance twist, and I‘m really looking forward to reading it!

Harry Potter Jandals

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Looking back, I seriously can‘t remember why I bought these. I suppose I saw them and just held on to them without even checking the size.

Postcards

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Did I mention my love for crumpets? And check out this hamster, he‘s a real hero!

William & Kate Mug

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Strictly speaking this is some Shit-I-bought-in-Brighton-last-summer item, but it‘s terrible enough to get a mention here. I pretty much just scanned all the souvenir shops for the most dreadful mug and then bought it for myself. I greatly enjoy drinking out of it, though. It gives me a sensation of roalty.

Socks

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I have this very weird obsession with socks. I buy socks whenever I‘m bored because I have to wait for a train or someone is late meeting me. At least they keep my feet warm, so they are not completely useless.

Rapunzel Plush Doll

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Another weird thing I do is collect plushy Disney Princess dolls. Basically, everytime someone I know goes somewhere they have a Disney Store they have to bring me back one of these dolls.

Aluminium Foil

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There are cats on this foil. Sandwiches will never taste the same again!

Hummingbird Bakery Cupcake

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I am a massive fan of the Hummingbird Bakery. I own two of their books, they make beautiful cupcakes and cakes and all other sorts of edible things. So naturally, when we passed one of their stores I had to go inside and treat myself. I bought their Blackbottom Cupcake which, technically, was absolutely delicious. But because we‘d just had a big lunch fifteen minutes before I was still stuffed. So for a day and a half I carried around a half eaten cupcake in the hope to eventually finishing it. Which I did, but by that time it was squashed.

I‘m going to end this list here, mainly because I do not want to appear like some weirdo who can‘t control herself. But also because I‘m stuck with the flu and looking at a screen for too long makes me all dizzy. I hope everyone‘s been having a lovely weekend!

Lots of love from the roots of my heart!
xxx

Ps. I ALMOST FORGOT! Remember how I went to Hannover a little while ago? Well, Inga made a small video (because she is that awesome) and that‘s my sole reason for creating a Youtube channel, so if you have three minutes to spare have a look at it!

Last But Not Least: Day Six

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We went to Stonehenge today, and I loved it. It‘s a funny feeling, getting excited about stones. But just think, those lifeless junks of rock surpassed the ages of history. All the wars, the storms, the crises, all the malice in the world could not push them from where they are stood.

And just think, all the people that come to visit, so desperate for a little bit of mystery, for the proof of magic. And those unmoving stones just keep standing in a circle, casting shadows and marking the sinking of the sun, they are all the proof some of us need.

Just think, maybe the stones are not special at all, maybe people just made them so. Maybe fairy tales exist for those who believe in them and who are willing to look at things as if they really are magical.
Just think, maybe that is the real power of the stones.

(Quote: J.K. Rowling)

Gold Star for Hannover

Hello dear reader!

[I was going to name this post Hungover in Hannover but I never was hungover in Hannover, so I decided not to lie to you.]

I am writing this while sitting on the train home from Hannover, and there is no time like a long train journey to write or read or sleep (or, in my case, eat!). I spent five glorious days with Inga up in the north. It was so lovely seeing her again after almost six months, and especially after having travelled the UK with her last summer. She is my number one travel buddy and I’m very lucky that she keeps going off to live in exciting places where I can stay with her!

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Hannover is a seriously underrated city. I mean, have you ever heard of it? Have you ever made any plans to visit at all? Admittedly, seeing Inga was my sole purpose of visiting, so no judging! Buuut for starters, Hannover has a mean coffee house culture. We spent so much time in cafés drinking tea and eating cakes. My favourite café was called Glücksmoment which translates to «Happy Moments» and is a very adequate description of what’s expecting you inside. They have a massive variety of cakes and beverages and the mugs and plates and inside décor are super cute and pretty in blue and pink shaded colours. They also have a little shop within the café that sells baking essentials. I couldn’t resist and bought Bavarian themed cupcake molds; I know that’s all the way down in the south, but, hey! They say I mog di! at the bottom, and I like being told «I love you!» in Bavarian!

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Another fun thing we did was visit the zoo. I am very very fond of monkeys, and I was so excited to see the cuddling gorillas and the tantrum throwing orang-utan, and OMFG the chimpanzees! Aren’t they the cutest?! I SO want to adopt one! I also got slightly carried away when I saw the flamingos. But, honestly, they are pink birds standing on one leg, looking elegant as fuck and matching my socks – it was an intense moment, okay?

One night we went to a concert in some dodgy bar called Glocksee. Well, I say dodgy, really I felt quite at home. It’s just your alternative, 21+, smoking-is-allowed-inside kinda bar that allows live music and encourages the dealing of drugs. In short, it was brilliant! The music was fun to dance to and even allowed for my microwave dance to bloom. Hannover supposedly has quite a number of secret locations to go out, but you have to discover them for yourself. And that’s what, to me, makes this city so utterly charming, the fact that the really great places are not as advertised as they are elsewhere.

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We got all of the touristy stuff done as well, as you can see on the badly taken photos above (yeah, sorry for the lack of quality). For me, some of the nicest moments we had were on the couch with a cup of tea and chocolate cookies, watching Doctor Who and talking about all the places we’ve been. Especially with the weather as rainy and windy as it was it was good to be sitting in the warmth. Carrie Hope Fletcher and Dodie Clark recently did a song together called Gold Star For Me – to which Inga introduced me one late night. I think I should probably some day write us our own song, but I still think the lyrics relate to us pretty well, too!Bild 98Today I insisted on visiting the History Museum and I was very excited, too, when we walked there after breakfast in yet another beautiful café, but I ended up feeling more and more tired the further we explored Hannoverian history. There was a lot of talk about kings and horses and houses, but my mind just kept spinning around images of kings’ beds (of which they sadly had none on display). So thus conclude my adventures in Hannover, and I’m going to try and get some sleep. I still have five hours to go, and tonight I have two parties to attend. It’s going to be a late night. Tomorrow is not going to be fun (except that I’m going to the bookshop and then catching the train to go on a skiing holiday with my family, so I believe the hangover will be just a minor distraction.); I told Inga I’m not going to drink tonight, but open bar? Who’m I kidding!

Okay, better stop here before anyone thinks I’m a hopeless alcoholic (if anything, I’m a promisingly hopeful one!). I hope your week has been as great as mine!

Lots of love from the roots of my heart!
xxx

Sexy Books: Fools Rush In by Bill Carter

Just read: Fools Rush In by Bill Carter

I have been so excited to finally talk about this book! It has become one of my absolute favourites and I think everyone should read it, because there is so much to gain from it!

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Fools Rush In tells the story of Bill Carter who visits Bosnia in the 1990ies during the Siege of Sarajevo. He helps distribute food and other goods, he goes to rock concerts and parties and he finds friends.

Basically, the blurb already says it all:

«Some trips are chosen, some choose you. When tragedy strikes Bill Carter‘s life he finds himself drawn to a war zone. In the modern heart of darkness, the besieged city of Sarajevo, we meet a man rebuilding the ruins of his former self in the most unlikely of places. Carter joins a maverick aid organization, „The Serious Road Trip“, and dodges snipers to deliver food and supplies to those the UN can‘t reach. He makes friends with the artistic community of Sarajevo and fights alongside them for survival in a place where food and water are scarce, where you meet death every day, but crucially where life, love and laughter ring out all the same.
Carter takes his journey one surreal step further and enlists the help of major rock band U2. The ensuing events go no small way to influencing the course of the war and Western awareness of it.»

There is no way I can do this book justice by writing this review, so I‘m not even going to try. But let me tell you this: it wrenched my heart, it reduced me to tears, it made me giggle hysterically, it sent shivers down my spine – but most importantly, it gave me back some faith that even the smallest person can change the course of events. It had me believe that there are people who care and who stand above themselves. Not just Bill Carter, who just seemed to be acting without much further thinking, but also U2. Bono offered the band‘s help and meant it. During their 1993 world tour they did satellite link-ups where Sarajevans were broadcast onto stage and told their stories to so many people. Please, just look at this video!

Fools Rush In is such a genuine story, and it‘s really a work of philosophy. Bill Carter writes in large parts about loss and love and family and home – things that essentially have nothing to do with war, but have everything to do with life. And life just appears to be going on during any war.

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I know the Bosnian War has long passed, but there are so many other tragedies taking place in the world, and the least we can do is not turn our backs. Let‘s talk about it. Let‘s not pretend there aren‘t any people suffering. No one is required to go into a war zone and risk their life, of course not. But who has ever stood up to a bully or paired up with the unpopular kid at school? If anything, this book makes us care about each other.
It‘s a life changing read, I promise!

Lots of love from the roots of my heart!
xxx

Last But Not Least: Day Five

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Two things. One, I had the best of days today. Two, Brighton is heavily overrated and I do not wish to go back. The pier was too loud and the pier was too bright, the beach was too crowded and the noise of the traffic was everywhere. The fish ‘n‘ chips made my stomach ache.
But.
Around noon the sun came out.
And we wandered along the promenade and we left behind the people and the noise and we told each other stories that we already knew but liked to hear anyway.
I remember waking up from my own snoring on the train back.

It was such a complete day.

(Qote: A.A. Milne)

A Family Dinner

There is this Taylor Swift song called The Best Day where she describes different stages of her childhood, and when I look back on mine I find this song to pretty much sum up my life. Of course, there were a few rough patches, and there will always be, but having a loving and caring family means that there will always be a new Best Day.

Tobias, my baby brother, moved out two weeks ago because he has a proper job and a shit load of money, so you see, he‘s nothing like me – and it should feel weird, but, you know, I kinda enjoy not sharing the bathroom any more!

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Tonight we had him over for the first time since he moved and it was such a lovely evening. I made a pineapple-kumara salad and risotto, and it was surprisingly delicious, considering that I never cook. My family is slowly turning vegan (although we can‘t quite let go of Nutella) and I took the recipe straight out of Vegan Lovestory, a beautiful vegan cook book I got my mum for her birthday.

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I like having my family together and listening to their stories about work and friends and idiots they met at the supermarket. Our favourite topic is my mum‘s trouble with her work computer, because she has to phone the IT-company about once a week and then practically tells them what to do. We always joke that they must be pretty terrified when the phone rings because they have started giving her administrative rights, even though they are not technically allowed to do that.

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So there you go, a little insight in my friday night. I know it‘s not the most exciting thing to talk about ever, but it‘s what matters most to me in the world, and I like people knowing.

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Oooohh, and I must also tell you that tomorrow I am going to watch all of Season 9 of Doctor Who! I haven‘t seen one single episode of the new series, and you will not believe how excited I am! This is my christmas, I swear!

Lots of love from the roots of my heart!
xxx

Last But Not Least: Day Four

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Ten years ago someone asked me what my favourite part about Winchester was, and I answered, «the catherdral.»

And I still feel mesmerised by this ancient structure that stands there so proudly. The windows were once destroyed and yet, people gathered the broken pieces and rearranged them, a beautiful chaosof of unfitting colours and shapes. The floor is crooked, and do not trust these walls. All those small imperfections that show just how desperately people want to live. How little effect war and destruction have on our need of beauty and light and divinity.

They say that Winchester is the hometown of Camelot.
I believe it.

(Quote: The Sword in the Stone [Disney])

«Snowy Linen Land»

Apparently, what people are most likely to do when it snows is not going outside to build a snowman, but post «snow» on Facebook and take Snapchat pictures through their living room windows – or, you know, blog about it!

Winter is my favourite season and it‘s true, I mostly enjoy it from the inside. I love being all snuggled up in a blanket and working away with a mug of tea. I can‘t work when the sun is out, I always have to draw the blinds. But then snow is something else. I still get giddy when the first snow falls, even if that happens way after Christmas. I feel like snow is a valid excuse for the cold wheather, because cold with no snow, that‘s just eh. At least with the snow there it looks pretty.

I still don‘t massively celebrate the white scenery, but having a dog I‘m out in the woods almost every day anyway, and this week has been simply stunning. And because I have the world‘s cutest dog I decided to share some moments with you.

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On wednesday night I went ice skating with Samantha for the first time this year. It‘s funny how you can just go round and round in circles for hours and not notice that it doesn‘t get you anywhere. We discussed all the books collecting dust on our shelves and we talked about working in bookshops and how it‘s the best job in the world and yet the routine gets too much sometimes. And we talked boys and castles and poems.
It was a pretty night.

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Lots of love from the roots of my heart!
xxx