torstai 27. heinäkuuta 2017

The Blues & Life Updates

It's time again for some real talk about the challenges of expat life. 

For the past few weeks I have been constantly carrying this heaviness in my chest, no matter how hard I have tried to pretend it's not there. I try to be fine during the day, but all night I clench my teeth together and dream of horrible things. This period of anxiety and generally feeling just down, started when I realised that I am losing many of my old friends back in Finland. As an expat you get to experience first hand the fact that most friendships exist only as long as it's convenient. As long as both are in the same school, job, city, hobby... They vow eternal friendship on social media, but ignore my private messages. Yes, it hurts even if I try to be the bigger person about it. "Oh well, their loss"-attitude doesn't take away the feelings of abandonment and betrayal.

And then suddenly, my sorrow is not only about loneliness, but everything at once: the past, the present, the future. I try my best to stop the snowball effect, but maybe in this case the healing will be in the aching. Giving myself the permission to grieve what is lost and maybe then...move on. 

In september I will start my French studies at the university. I trust that having something structured and concretic to do from day to day will already improve my mood enormously. Currently I just feel so foggy and indecisive about everything that school will give me a much needed kick to the right direction. I will also finally be in an ideal place for meeting people. People with similar life stories and interests. If everything goes according to plan *knocks wood*, the coming autumn will make things fall into place.

Meanwhile I have started to follow one of my oldest passions: painting. Once a week I go to a local atelier to make some art. The workshop is open for anyone who wishes to discover their creativity. There are people from all walks of life. The atelier even holds exhibitions for which you receive help to price your works. Everytime I go there is an exercise of diminishing the little voice in my head that says "You are not up to this." It's time to follow my intuition and find my confidence again.

So, feeling blue for now, but staying hopeful :)

torstai 20. heinäkuuta 2017

Finished Crochet & Knitting Projects

It's been quite a while since I talked about knitting or crochet, my two big passions, here on the blog. Nevertheless, I have been keeping my hands constantly busy behind the scenes. The only problem is that I seem to start lots of projects, but then mystically I end up with a pile of unfinished stuff. The situation got recently critical and I finally pushed myself to just do it. Now I have a pile of cute handmade items ready to be used plus I don't need to feel guilty about starting anything new! Ever since I received the new number of Novita-magazine, I have been eyeing it almost everyday and feeling so inspired. For example, I dream of starting one of the amazing crochet pullovers (I don't even care it's 35 degrees here). Now I just need to order some skeins of cotton yarn from Finland for the project.

One of the best things about finishing everything I have been working on is that I can finally share my finished items with you. I hope you will be inspired to make something with your own two hands, too.

This summery yellow market tote bag is actually my latest work! I used the tutorial you can find here. You can make the bag by just using your fingers (as instucted in the tutorial video) or with a large crochet hook. It was my first time trying finger crochet and I was suprised by two things: 

1. It's very easy.
2. It hurts. 

Well, obviously my fingers were not used to work so hard for hours in a row (I finished in one afternoon). Once you have strong fingers you can really enjoy the method though! It was definitely a fun experiment, but next time I'll probably use a hook anyway...However, I love how stretchy (but not too) and squishy it turned out. It's comfy to keep on the shoulder, too. It served as my pool bag this morning and performed excellently.

Continuing with another crochet bag! When I created my capsule wardrobe  I was complaining that I don't have any tote bags. Originally I wanted a leather tote and I searched for one in flea markets and second hand stores. As I had no luck, I figured that for summer I could make a crochet tote with materials that I already have at hand: canvas bag, cotton yarn and some fabric (made in France!) for lining. I would still like to replace the handles with something more sturdy as they tend to be uncomfortably thin when I'm carrying half the house in my bag. For now it functions as it is.

Pouches! I'm not only crazy about boxes but also all sorts of cute pouches to arrange my things. 

This one consists of two granny squares which I just stitched together. I use it for now as my camera's protection. Would work great for keys too as I added the clip.

The two last ones I crocheted using the star stitch. I'm loving all sorts of pom poms and tassels these times so I didn't hesitate to add them on both. Both pouches have a white cotton lining with silvery pineapples! I use the smaller pouch for keeping my eyeglasses safe in my bigger bag. The other one I might give as a gift to someone :)

More crochet pouches. The first two are again created from two granny squares attached together. I attached zippers and they are perfect for storing my little sewing tools or serving as a coin purse. The last one is my first attempt at crochet pouches. I didn't add a closure nor lining, but it works well for keeping my tissue papers organized in my tote bag.

This turquoise blue cross body bag was supposed to be much bigger, but it ended up being just a tiny bit more spacious than my other capsule wardrobe purses. In that sense it is a bit of a fail even though I really like how it turned out. I am not wearing it actively at the moment since I want to purchase a proper strap for it. My mom loved it so much that I made one for her too. She told me that she already got compliments wearing it!

Problem: laptop has no case.
Solution: Grab some yarn and make it yourself.

This case was created by using zpaghetti t-shirt yarn. Their yarns are made from the waste of garment industry!

I had some cute yarn I purchased in Finland back in december. Once again I didn't care much about the local weather. I felt like making mittens so I made a pair. Not the best idea though as a subject for this bulky yarn...they ended up ridiculously thick for me to ever wear in France. I will send them to Finland.

The last item! We had four incredibly ugly couch pillows so I crocheted them new covers. The pillows were thin so I put two in each case. This one is gray-white and the other one is fully white.

Whoooo! We have reached the end of my latest creations. I decided to introduce all of them in one post since I'm too impatient to carry on with my new projects. If you have questions about how to make some of these, I will do my best so explain.

torstai 13. heinäkuuta 2017

Welcome To Avignon: Arts, Bohemians & Rosé

July is an anticipated and magical month here. Every year for three weeks the city becomes the stage of the famous Festival d'Avignon, The Avignon Festival. The event was founded in 1947 and has since grown to be the world's greatest theatre festival and the oldest extant in France. What makes the event extra special is the transformation of the city. Avignon doesn't just host the event, it transforms into it. Some sites within the city walls become almost unrecognizable by the thousands of theatre posters covering meters of buildings' walls, masses of festival goers and street artists. 

Most see daily from two to three theatre plays, which they choose from the overwhelmingly large selection. The festival's shows are divided into two categories: the "IN" and the "OFF". Everything IN is part of the official selection of the festival, which annually consists of about 60 shows. The majority of the plays, known as the OFF-festival, are presented to the audience by numerous independent groups and theatres. 

For three weeks everything in Avignon revolves around the festival that gives the city its much needed annual economic boost. Hotels are booked full months before and many locals make a nice amount of cash by renting their flats to the festival goers. Art galleries, cafes, restaurants, second hand shops and bars appear like desert flowers after a heavy rain and eventually disappear just as fast as  they bloomed. 

The festival attracts people from all corners of the world, but according to the statistics, especially the cultivated women and men of Paris. The chic parisians bring their sense of style and coolness to the streets of Avignon. Suddenly little flower dresses are in fashion (normally nobody wears a dress in this city) and bras seem to be globally forgotten. The city being day and night full of police officers and theatre goers creates a safe bubble to dress more daringly than would normally be wise in Avignon. 

What I love about the festival is that there is nothing exclusive, posh or pretentious about it. Although a certain aesthetic preference can be observed among the public, the atmosphere is very relaxed and encourages you to come as you are.  The unofficial official drink of the event is rosé that people enjoy everywhere you turn your head to. It's three weeks of enjoying one's creativity and liberty. I imagine the bohemian festival's long summer nights provoke thousands of romances within the medieval city walls. 

I love people watching during the festival. Everybody looks so interesting and original! Such an inspiration also style-wise. I decided to have some fun and put together a collage of the most popular women's festival look: boho dress (sans bra of course), leather bag and sandals paired with minimal amount of make up and natural hair. An important part of the style is that nothing you wear looks brand new. Even better if your clothes are all thrifted.

If you haven't yet visited the Avignon Festival, I recommend to mark it on your list of things to do. The atmosphere of the medieval city during the event is something to experience, whether you are a theatre-enthusiast or not!

lauantai 8. heinäkuuta 2017

The One Where Family Comes To Visit

The whole last week we had the pleasure to host my little brother and his fiancée from Finland. As good old ex-guides, we took our role seriously. Q drove hundreds of kilometres to show our guests the best of Provence in the limited time we had. 

Their visit awoke lots of mixed feelings in me. Stomach clenching homesickness and in the other hand the daunting realisation that there's nothing there for me anymore. My life is here and my family's is there. With fascination I stared at their sky colored eyes that, apart from mine, I was no longer used to seeing. I let myself dwell in their familiar air. I realised how innocent they now looked in my eyes. No matter what, Finland is still a calm and protected corner of the world. 

Seeing their child like naivety made me play my role of the big sister to the maximum: 

"Don't walk there." 
"Put sunscreen on."
"Don't look at those people."
"Drink lots of water."

The reality is that out here it is the big world. One morning I woke up to the news that minutes after passing last night by a spot a shooting took place there that made news all the way in Finland. Little did my worried parents know that it happened next to my parent-in-laws' quartier. We were quick to tell them to move as this wasn't the first alarming incident in the area.

However, I'm pretty sure we managed to give them one of the best holidays they have ever had. Thanks to Q's local knowledge, they were able to discover amazing things. Him also being a history teacher, they had detailed background info on all of the ancient sites.

The visit was well timed as we got to celebrate together one birthday, Q's master's degree, my brother-in-law's move back to Avignon and new job, our 1 year wedding anniversary (in advance) and my acceptance to the University. Our diet flew out of the window for the whole week, but it was totally worth it.

Thanks to our urgent need to get wine and baguette after a day at the beach and rushing into a random super market (and their destocking sales) on the way home, I can actually present you our adventures in pictures. 

The week was filled with long and hearty breakfasts, road trips, wine drinking, sightseeing and laughter.

And finally, last day at the zoo!

Et voila! I was like a real tourist, my camera always ready for action. So happy that I took so many photos, since numerous beautiful moments were captured.

Saying goodbye was once again hard for me. Already in the car on the way to the airport I was struggling to not let the tears roll out. Finally, when they disappeared to the other side of the security check, the sobbing started. Q's hand on my back guided me out of the Marseille Airport.