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A few weeks back I read about the upcoming Brighton Food & Drink Festival. I’ve been meaning to go to Brighton for ages and this seemed like the perfect excuse to finally visit, so last weekend the fiance and I hopped on a train and headed down for the day.

Brighton is only an hour from London by train, so it’s the perfect day trip to get out of the city and breathe in some fresh, seaside air…

Such a cute name for a chilli plant

Finally, my first Pimm’s!

Freshly-shucked Oysters

Our list of local brews at the beer festival event

One of the coolest chandeliers I’ve ever seen, made entirely from upside-down wine glasses

As you can probably tell from all the photos, we had a great time in Brighton! It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday in Spring.

I really love festivals like this, it’s so fun to try small portions of so many different types of food. The beer festival was really fun too, there was a huge range of locally brewed beers and ciders and we managed to try quite a few between the two of us – my favourite was the Happily Ever After beer, brewed in honour of the upcoming Royal nuptials :)

I haven’t included my favourite photo from the day – I’m saving that one for Photo Friday tomorrow so keep an eye out for it, it’s very cute!

N x

 

Being a scrapbooker, I love paper. I’m sure other scrapbookers will know what I’m talking about, I’m just drawn to anything that’s pretty, patterned or unique.

As someone who grew up with dreams of travelling the world, I find myself looking for interesting or quirky reminders of the places I visit.

The history student inside me loves the glimpse into decades (or centuries) gone by as well as the here-and-now.

On my travels recently, I’ve stumbled across some incredible little boutiques selling a wide range of paper goods – long sheets of patterned papers, notebooks that inspire me to write inside them, intricate prints on handmade paper, second-hand postcards with messages written in foreign languages and vintage stamps from countries that no longer exist.

These shops have been real highlights of my holidays. The souvenirs I buy from these stores make me recall the exact time and place I got them, how I found the shop and what it looked and felt like inside –  I definitely couldn’t tell you the location or anything interesting about where I bought that souvenir magnet in Santorini that’s sitting on my fridge.

So I’m going to start sharing my paper boutique finds here on the blog, starting with my most recent trip to the Czech Republic, where we spent Christmas and New Year…

Name: U Zlate Cise

Location: Nerudova Street, Prague – this street is on the hill you walk up to reach Prague Castle

What’s so great about this one: While we were ambling up the hill towards Prague Castle, I spotted this little shop. At first glance it looked like an antique book shop but when I looked more closely at the shelves I realised they were packed with all kinds of antique paper goods in addition to books. There were boxes of old Czech postcards, second-hand cardboard portfolio wallets, old European advertisement clippings, packets of old stamps from the last  70 years or so, vintage envelopes & maps – almost any kind of paper ephemera you could think of, it was an amazing find!

I could have spent hours in there searching through all the boxes and shelves, there were just so much to discover in there – but we had a castle to visit that day as well, so I had to pick out a few things to buy before moving on.

What I bought:

 

I went to another boutique paper shop while I was in Prague, which sold only handmade paper goods – so that will be the next post in the series.

Have a great week! Don’t know about you, but I’m already counting down to the weekend and it’s only Tuesday…

N x

 

Tape strips courtesy of Pugly Pixel

I wanted to take a quick moment to wish you a merry Christmas and happy holidays!

I’m in the Czech Republic right now, in the small but very beautiful town of Cesky Krumlov. It’s covered in snow and the temp today was about -10 but I’m absolutely loving it. It’s my first proper European Christmas, and it’s just as charming as I imagined it would be!

This photo shows the view I woke up to this morning – sunny but very cold!

I’m also happy to report that I discovered two incredible paper shops since i’ve been here – one was the store attached to the studio of an artist who makes handmade paper products, and the second was an absolutely magical vintage ephemera store which was just amazing – but they deserve a post of their own so keep an eye out in the new year.

And on that note, I also want to wish you a wonderful new year – I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals for 2011 since I’ve been on the road and I’m so excited for another year to begin.

Until then,

N x

ps: this is my first post from my iPhone so bear with me if it turns out a little odd!

I saw so many Beatles song-titled things during my trip to Liverpool a few weeks back – I had to buy a ‘Ticket to Ride’ for the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’… well, you get the picture. I tried to restrain from naming this post after a Beatles song-title but turns out I just couldn’t help myself – and considering the fleeting nature of our visit to Liverpool it’s still relevant. Hey, I could have called it ‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey’ (it’s off their White album in case you’re wondering…)

So, getting to the point, I took Elise’s Big Mini class last month, and I was hanging out to try some new techniques. My trip to Liverpool was the perfect subject for a new album: themed paper, fun photos and some awesome bits&pieces collected along the way.

I picked up a sheet of wrapping paper in Liverpool with the Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night album cover repeated over and over. So I used that a few times throughout the book, and after realising I still had heaps left over, I also used it to cover the front and back of my book too.

One of the techniques I used for the first time (that I picked up from the class) was using transparencies in the album with various bits attached (hmm that’s not very descriptive is it?). Here’s the title lettering I used, and I also attached ribbons and tickets to some other transparencies throughout the book.

I picked out a bunch of yellow, red & green patterned papers to alternate throughout the book – my absolute favourite was a yellow sheet of paper patterned with 60s style chairs in a shiny (almost vinyl) yellow texture. So awesome. (yes, I get excited over cute paper)

If you’re interested in visiting Liverpool, I definitely recommend staying at the Hard Day’s Night Hotel (yep that’s another awesome use of a Beatles song-title). Each room has a huge piece of artwork, and I thought it was hilarious (after a twinge of disappointment) when we walked in and discovered a HUGE portrait of my least favourite Beatle, Ringo, above our bed…

That’s all from me for now…

Hope you all have a great weekend! It’s very rainy in London so I shall be keeping indoors as much as possible :)

N x

More photos of the mini-book here

I decided a long time ago that Italy is a place I had to visit one day.

I think it was the food that initially got my attention as a young girl, then it was the language that intrigued me. Then there was the enthralling history, stunning scenery, the art, Italian design, among many other things.

Coming up to 2 years since we moved to London, I was surprised we hadn’t made the trip across to Italy yet, so we got planning and that’s exactly what we did –  man, I love living in Europe!!

We saw a lot of these...

It was a quick trip, just a taste really, as there’s so much to see in Italy and we certainly didn’t have time to do it all at once. The experience was particularly special as we stayed with a friend of mine, Simone, and his family (Simone lived with my family while he was at school in NZ for a semester) and it was so incredible to stay with an Italian family and experience real Italian cooking (more on that later!).

Lake Como

We spent our first few days in the Lake Como area, staying at Simone’s family home in a small town close to the lake. Because we arrived in the middle of the night and drove straight up from Milan, it wasn’t until the morning that I got my first proper glimpse at our surroundings. I had butterflies in my stomach when I saw the stunning snow-capped mountains surrounding the town full of houses built in the typical Italian style that’s so often imitated.

There’s something amazing about arriving somewhere like this – it’s as if someone has brought you there with a blindfold on and then removed it so you experience it all at once. Amazing!

Walking downstairs for breakfast, I met Simone’s mother for the first time – she doesn’t speak English, so as you can imagine our ‘conversation’ ground to an awkward halt fairly quickly. She did give me a big hug and thank my family and I for making Simone so at home during his time in New Zealand, so sweet :) Then she offered us fresh orange juice, coffee and breakfast – which was the most divine fresh Apple Torte.

I could definitely get used to this…

The most amazing light in their kitchen - wish I knew where to get one!

We had a fantastic time staying here, it was so relaxing and I felt so at home with Simone’s family (despite the language barrier we managed to share lots of laughs). Most of our days started with a walk down by the lakeside, followed by a beer and yummy snack in the town of Colico, a home-cooked lunch (more on that later…) and then more sightseeing in the afternoon before heading out to dinner with Simone and his girlfriend Claudia. She also doesn’t speak any English so we had to be quite creative in trying to communicate with each other (along with Simone’s help as translator of course!) – it’s amazing how much you can get to know someone when you only speak a handful of word in each others’ language, but we had a great time all hanging out together.

Colico on Lake Como

During our time there we took a boat trip to the gorgeous little town of Bellagio (which inspired the Las Vegas hotel) – a beautifully picturesque little place on the edge of the lake with narrow cobbled streets leading you up through the town. We spent a few hours wandering the streets, taking photos and browsing the stalls. Then we spent some time sitting at a table outside at the lake’s edge drinking an Italian hot chocolate, watching the boats go by in the fog.

I knew I would like Italy, I was right.

The streets of Bellagio

Bellagio on Lake Como

Milan

The next part of our trip was spent in Milan, such a gorgeous city. My highlight was actually a surprise that Simone organised – going to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper which is painted on the wall in the monastery of the Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Milan. I originally tried to book tickets to visit the painting (yes, you actually need tickets) but you generally need to book at least a month in advance and we didn’t book our trip that far ahead. So when we arrived and Simone told us he’s managed to get tickets I was so excited!

It was amazing to see the painting in person and it was one of those giddy moments you have when you’re travelling and you want to pinch yourself (the Eiffel Tower was another one of those moments!). We had 15 minutes in the room with The Last Supper before being moved along for the next group, and obviously you weren’t allowed to take photos so I just tried to take in every detail and commit it to memory. I’m far from an expert when it comes to art but it’s something I have a huge appreciation for and I always find it such a breathtaking experience when I get the chance to visit art galleries or see well-known pieces during my travels.

The rest of our time in Milan was spent exploring the main square where the incredible Duomo di Milano Cathedral stands. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed inside to see it as I was wearing shorts, as you can see in this picture. Amateur mistake, I know.

Duomo Cathedral

The rest of our time in Milan was spent wandering the streets, looking in the stores (looking not buying, sadly!) and more eating of course.

The Food

OK, this deserves an entire write-up itself as it was a highlight of the trip. Our first meal in Italy (after breakfast) was the most delicious veal in sauce with risotto rice, vegetables and of course red wine.

The next day’s lunch was cooked by Simone’s mother and it was absolutely divine. It was orecchiette pasta with tomatoes and bacon – that was literally about all the ingredients and it was probably the best pasta I’ve ever tasted – I don’t know what she did to it but it was amazing. I’d say it was the local, fresh ingredients plus her Italian passion for food that made it so good :) After lunch it was a snack of Melon and Parma Ham – so so yummy.

In the evenings we went out to restaurants for dinner and I was sure to sample both pizza and pasta dishes so I could experience as much Italian food as possible and it was all absolutely delicious. I think my favourite dinner I had there was the pizza on the first night which had Bresaola on it, which is a really tasty, dried beef in very thin slices.

I can’t talk about Italian food without mentioning the Gelato (I tried the Mint and the Stracciatella flavours) in Milan on our last night there – I can’t even describe how good it was. Coming from New Zealand, I’m used to fresh, delicious ice cream but this was completely different – much much creamier.

So that’s it, our first (and definitely not our last) Italian adventure – I think Rome is next on the list!

And on a crafty note, I’m frantically trying to finish last year’s Learn Something New Everyday album so I can start my 2010 album on September 1st (and stick to goal #4) so I shall be posting pics of my completed album on the weekend.

Until then, have a great week!

Nat x

I’ve been very very quiet on the blogging front over the last month or so – there’s been so so much going in my life! Our flat is a complete mess, the fridge is bare and my google reader is overflowing so it’s not just my blog that’s been missing my much-needed attention.

Here’s a quick list of everything that’s been happening in my world:

1. I started a new job almost exactly one month ago working in the e-commerce team for an amazing photography-related retailer. I love love love my new job and I’m just starting to feel settled and out of that awkward new job phase where you feel like an idiot and have to ask about a million questions a day. It’s so nice to look forward to going to work each day :)

2. Flew out to Brisbane, Australia to be Maid of Honour at the wedding of my dear friend Carmen – it was such a fleeting trip as I was only there 5 days which is insane (I barely got over the jetlag before I had to turn around and fly all the way back to London!!). The wedding was absolutely beautiful and she looked so amazing on the day.

3. And speaking of my trip to Australia, on my way there I bought Twilight at Heathrow airport, had finished it by the time we re-fuelled in Singapore, bought New Moon in Singapore airport, finished that in Aussie, bought Eclipse in Sydney before the flight home and finished that on the plane somewhere over Europe. I then proceeded to go straight out to my local book shop as soon as I got home to buy Breaking Dawn and read that in about 2 days. As you can see it was a pretty quick conversion to Twilight madness for me :)

4. We’ve had my Mother-in-Law-to-be staying with us for the last month – this was her first time to Europe so while she was in London we did lots of sightseeing and fun stuff with her including going to a couple of amazing shows.

5. We’ve also been on a couple of trips recently including Amsterdam, Italy, Ireland and we just got back from 6 days in the Greek Islands on Tuesday, phew! Have had such an amazing time and I have lots of fun stories and photos to share in the coming weeks. The photo above was taken in the beautiful island of Santorini, such an amazing place.

6. Last but not least, I finally decided to sign up to Twitter this week! I’d been holding back as I don’t actually have many friends who use it but I’ve been using it with work a lot recently and realised how fun it is! So, seeing as I have the huge number of 2 followers (I wasn’t kidding when I said none of my friends use it!) I’d love to make some more twitter friends, so if you’re on twitter I’d love to meet you :) My twitter name is @missnatwilliams.

So that’s all my news! I haven’t done any scrapping in SUCH a long time but I have so many photos from my travels so I won’t be short on topics. I have a bunch of new postcards so i’ll be adding them to my ‘Postcards From Me’ album sometime soon as well and will post the new additions :)

What’s new with you?

N x

Hope you’re having a great weekend so far! This week I want to post a layout I made using my first developed photos from my Diana+ camera that my fiance gave me for Christmas last year. I’d had my heart set on it for awhile so it was the perfect present.

In case you haven’t heard about this adorable camera by now, it’s a recreation of (and homage to) the popular 1960’s Diana camera. It takes 120mm film and has the very technical aperture settings of sunny, partly cloudy and cloudy (represented by cute sun and cloud pictures). The photos they produce have been described as “dreamy, color-drenched, sometimes-blurry, and often-mindblowing” and above all unpredictable.

But that’s the beauty of it.

You never really know how they’re going to turn out and the best part is waiting to open up your packet of developed photos and seeing what you got. As much as I love my digital camera, there is something awesome about having to wait and see :p

This is the first layout I’ve done with photos from this camera, and the pics were taken during our trip to Morocco at Christmas time…

Supplies:

Bazzill Basics cardstock

Basic Grey Marrakech Vanilla Chai paper

American Crafts Shoe Box Thickers (I love this colour and I chose it because it’s similar to the aqua colour of the camera)

Making Memories Tiny Alphas

I went home (to New Zealand) last month for a holiday and it was my first time back in over 18 months.

To be honest, I haven’t really been that homesick since I moved to London – I skype with my mum, dad and younger sister pretty regularly so have always felt like I was in the loop with what was happening, and being able to see them when we talk makes me feel a lot closer too.

Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely things I missed about home:

1. Our cat Ziggy who now lives with my parents

2. Food! Especially the best fish and chips in the world at the beach in Kaiaua. Funnily enough, I just noticed in this picture that my fish & chips were wrapped in the obituary section – is this a warning about what will happen if I eat too many?

3. And just some good old fashioned fresh air.

Coromandel

I was taken by surprise by what an amazing time I had in New Zealand. Growing up there I think I take a lot for granted and being away really makes me appreciate all those little things that make it such a special place.

These are some of the special things that I love about it (in no particular order!):

1. Going barefoot. I seemed to be barefoot a lot more at home and not just at the beach and around the house. Going to the supermarket barefoot is also acceptable – that might sound gross to some but it’s just an example of how laid back it is there.

2. Being the only one on the beach. Being able to be the only one standing on a beautiful white sandy beach is an incredible experience and it reminds me how there are relatively so few people that live there.

Sunset at Papamoa Beach

3. Fishing with my Dad. And eating fresh snapper within hours of it being caught…absolute perfection.

My gorgeous sister Ellen with her big catch from our fishing trip

4. Ice Cream. These two words need no explanation.

Ellen and I and our Mr. Whippy ice creams

5. Stuff on fences. I’d love to know if this happens elsewhere in the world. New Zealanders seem to have a penchant for putting lots of one type of thing onto a fence. In this example it’s jandals on a local fence in the Coromandel, but there is also the famous bra fence, a toothbrush fence and a gumboot fence. Clearly dental hygiene, breast support and having non-muddy feet are not important to us.

Needless to say I was quite sad to go. I realised skyping can’t replace being able to hug my mum and dad, or hang out with my sister.

In saying all that, I’ve adjusted to being back in London and am looking forward to the little trips we have planned and to exploring new places in Europe and further abroad. One thing NZ definitely doesn’t have going for it is that you certainly can’t get a train to Paris, hop off to Morocco for Christmas, or fly to New York for a long weekend!

As much as I love NZ, I love living in London right now at this time in my life. And when I’m ready to move back home one day I’ll be happy to be going to that little corner of the world – and i’ll appreciate all the little things :)

I’d love to know your favourite things about your home!

Last year when I found out Fleetwood Mac were touring America I knew I had to make it to one of the shows. Luckily we were able to make it to NYC for a long weekend and we went to their show at Madison Square Garden – it was amazing and a dream come true. So when I found out later in the year that they were extending their tour to Europe I really really wanted to go again.

My fiance and I frequently had the conversation where I told him I had to go again and that maybe I should just put the tickets on my credit card. Sensibly, he kept telling me that I should just appreciate the amazing time we had at the concert in NYC instead of spending money I didn’t have to go again.

Annoyingly, I knew he was right.

Come October the Thursday before my birthday and we were hanging out in our room before bed, when he says “I’m going to give you your birthday present early” and hands me a standard white envelope. I open it and find e-tickets for return flights to Dublin for the weekend – amazing!

And then he handed my a second white envelope – and I was completely at a loss as to what could be in it. I tentatively opened it to find two tickets to Fleetwood Mac in Dublin for the Saturday night! Well you can imagine my excitement then – there was jumping up and down… and screaming.

Turns out as soon as he found out they were touring Europe around the time of my birthday he had planned it. I love that the whole surprise was covered up by him making me see sense about using my credit card and by me learning to appreciate incredible memories instead of trying to recreate them at any cost.

So after all that, here is a layout using some photos taken while touring the Guinness brewery in Dublin. Matt is a big fan of Guinness and it was great to have a pint right at the source, yum!

Journalling is on the other side of the bingo card

I love these fabric letters!

Hope you enjoyed the little story behind my layout.

Nx

It’s been a good while since I’ve blogged – I haven’t been scrapbooking much recently and been feeling pretty un-creative and un-motivated all round. But i’m out of my rut now and have done 3 layouts this week and it feels really good to be back into it.

The other reason I’ve been away from blog-land is I was back home in New Zealand visiting my wonderful family and trying to find a wedding venue (we did, yay!). Had the most amazing time there and really made me appreciate what a special place it is. I’m going to do a post about the trip with some photos from my time at home, but in the meantime here’s one of my favourites…

Sunset at Papamoa Beach

I’m so happy it’s a bank holiday weekend here in the U.K., looking forward to a sleep-in on Monday! I was hoping to get in some park time but the weather may mean I have a scrappy weekend in instead. I’m cooking a birthday dinner for one of my bestest friends tomorrow night – any suggestions for special dinner recipes? I’m so stuck! I have her birthday banana cake sorted though…yum!

Tomorrow I’m going to post a story and some pics of a layout I did from a surprise weekend away to Dublin at the end of last year – it was such a fun weekend and the best surprise birthday present ever! Below is one of the photos I scrapped as part of the layout.

Enjoy the weekend!

Nx

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