A December gift for you!

When I started this blog I didn’t think anyone would read my figments. Except my parents.
When I listed my cards on Etsy I didn’t think anyone would buy them. Except my parents.

Turns out I was wrong. You read my blog, that’s for sure. And I even sold Christmas cards to people who – for all I know – weren’t my parents!

Here they are, six different designs.

Them cards.

Now it’s December. The month of giving and loving and caring. So I decided I wanted to give something too. Well, I always want to give, but December makes it a bit easier and I specifically wanted to give something to you readers.

I calculated a bit. I thought some things through. Other things I didn’t think through.

Outcome:
1. It appears 47% of my readers are Dutch (or: based in The Netherlands). Not surprising; I am, after all, Dutch.
2. On December 5th the Dutch Santa has his birthday and gives presents. Galore.
3. Giving away cards for free is not a budget-option.
4. Free shipping costs, however, is.

An idea:
From December 1st until December 5th 2014 the shipping costs are free for all people living in and ordering from The Netherlands.

The idea grew:
Why just one country? Why not make it a Top-5? I love Top-5’s! So, the 5 countries that hold the most readers…?

It finally resulted in this little thank-you-offer:
From December 1st until December 5th 2014 shipping costs for all orders from The Netherlands, USA, UK, Brazil and Australia are free. Hurrah!

Now, if you do not live in one of the afore mentioned countries, let me make it up to you a little bit by telling you I love and appreciate you dearly for visiting my blog. Thank you! Also, during December I will write and send my Christmas cards for you! No extra costs. Just add a note to your order with the address of the receiver and text you wish me to write down. And I will take care of it. You can pay a visit to my little Corner Shop right here.

Welcome to December everyone!

 

Isn’t she an Angel…?

PS: my beloved Christmas Angels will be back, fresh from the printers, tomorrow!

A balance challenge involving some chakras

This is going to be a little write up about a meditation experience. If you’re a meditation-sceptic or don’t believe in chakra energy – keep reading!

Over the last 2 – 3 years my life has been as hectic as can be. Depression, burn-out, months of being ill. It’s a bit of a struggle called ME. I thought I was getting there, getting back on track. But the last 3 months have been roller coasters again, to say the least. Something’s still not right and ME is definitely not helping. Simply put, I have to accept that finding my balance is a long term project.

Anyway, I do yoga. In my own pace – read: half of the class I just lie on my back or in child’s pose. And during my favourite class, Meditate and Breathe, I learn to meditate too. At a very lovely yoga studio in Amsterdam, Yagoy.

During meditation practice this morning the teacher led us through a chakra-meditation. I had done this meditation before, with the same teacher. Basically what you do is stop at and focus on all 7 chakras.
I hear you…what on planet earth are chakras? Chakras are the energy centres in our body. We all have them. Even you, pessimistic lot! As mentioned before, we have a total of 7 chakras. Each chakra represents a certain aspect of our being. If you want to learn more, I advise you to check this article from mindbodygreen. For the time being I’m leaving the theory of the chakras behind and will tell you a bit more about the experience I had this morning.

There we are. Meditation cushions under our bums. Eyes closed. Starting at the first chakra. The colour is red and the chakra represents our foundation and the feeling of being grounded. No matter how hard I try to colour the area of my tailbone red – visualising helps to focus – and concentrate on the first chakra, I’m like a radio that can’t find the right frequency: Kkgggghkghhhggggggggggggggg-redredred-kkkkgggkkkkkgghggghgggh-foundation-kkkkgggkk-focus-please-kkkgghg. Sitting up straight, dividing the weight equally. No no. No such thing. I’m convinced I look like the Tower of Pisa, all my weight comes together in the right side of me. Next stop: chakra number 2. Colour: orange. Same story all over again. This continues and I notice that frustration is starting to boil. However, the frustration is kind and cuddly. It tells me to fire away some questions at my yoga teacher after class. That doesn’t mean I’m not doubting myself. Why is it so hard for me to connect?

Then we arrive at chakra number 6. The third eye. Right in the middle, where your eyebrows would (or maybe do) connect. This chakra represents our ability to focus on and see the bigger picture, it’s the energy of our intuition and imagination. The moment my attention moves to this indigo spot, it explodes. It feels like an enormous beam of light and warmth coming out of my forehead. Travelling faster than light. A high pressure water jet. Coming right out of that tiny little place. It flows like a fountain. My whole body, head to toe, heats up. In a nice way. I realise that’s exactly how a radiator must feel when it’s on full heating-speed. Equally warm, throughout my whole body. This explosion, this fountain continues when I focus on the seventh – or crown – chakra where our ability to connect to spirituality lies. The sensation of overflowing, of energy and warmth. It just doesn’t stop.

To help you visualise (and because in November I focus on drawing) I made a little sketch of the experience:

Me and my chakras.

Me and my chakras.

The experience beautiful, the feeling of warmth and energy so comforting! Despite the feeling of failure at the start I felt rather good after the meditation. So good even, that somehow I knew I would be able to do the bridge pose again. Which I haven’t done for at least 10 years and which physically is just a no-go at the moment. However, it does show how good I felt. Yet I knew that there was a serious disbalance. How else can you explain that chakras 1 – 5 hardly do anything whereas when we get to number six and seven all I have to do is sit back and they do their magic for me? The chat with my teacher confirmed this. The energy of all 7 chakras ideally should be the same, a balance of freely flowing energy. In my case, the foundational energy seems like it’s nowhere to be found.

Whether you believe it or not, in everyday life this blocked energy in our chakras can lead to illness, emotional distress and such. A general feeling of being unbalanced and unhappy. And truthfully, it seems to me that this could be one of the underlying factors causing the disorder in my life.

Here’s to a new challenge. Namasté!

IMG_6406

 

 

A nearly finished project

I can’t help giggling. Big smile on my face. Giggle-giggle-giggle-giggle-giggle. Yeah! On the streets people look at me as if I’m a mad woman.

What happened? The printer happened! Paper everywhere. All different colours and structures. Oh joy! As if you let a little girl on the loose in a candy shop. And they are making test prints of my work as we speak. What’s not to giggle? Let’s just say I’m mildly enthusiastic. This is the first time I have something I made professionally printed. And it is wowzers!

Viaviavia I ended up at a really lovely printer just outside of Amsterdam, Pantheon. René and René (jaja) both have the patience of a saint, take a layman like me by the hand and make it a party. So helpful! Pantheon also prints stuff (books, brochures, stationary  and such) for pretty big names, so the first time I walked in it was kind of beyond daunting. However, the second time the excitement took over. I draw the old-fashioned way. Paper, pencil, fine liner. You know. And then…they scan! All of a sudden my work appears massively on their computer screens. STOP ME! But I mean, really: STOP ME! I could dance in the streets. And I haven’t even seen the test prints yet.

Testing some paper at the printer

Testing some paper at the printer

But yes, I draw. And from there a little project developed. No way!? Yes way. I know, more projects. Surprisingly this is a project – beginning to ending, all stages – of which I can almost say it’s a wrap. Who knew!

Not keeping you in suspense longer than necessary: I’ve designed a couple of Christmas cards. And other cards. But taking it slow I’m first tackling this Christmas project. The cards are supposed to be fun, keep you busy and creative. Whether you’re 3 or 97. That’s all I’m giving away. It took a lot of drawing. And the drawing took a lot of time. And pain. After half an hour my hands and arms are finished, you see. For the rest of the day. From the idea all the way to the final drawing that is ready to be scanned and printed…it’s not really a piece of cake for me to finish. Not done and dusted in an hour or two. However, it’s worth it – I love it. I absolutely do!

A sneak peek

Now it’s onto the next stage. The actual printing. My very own designed and hand drawn cards *giggles a bit more* being printed! The moment my Christmas cards are finished you’ll be the first to know. And of course the first to buy them from me, too. Honestly, the best Christmas cards are underway. For now we’ll just have to wait. Patiently.

I’m going to love and leave you and continue being overwhelmed and excited. Frankly, scared too. Why did I do this again? What if I’m the only person in the world to like them? Only time will tell…but already this experience is mine forever.

 

November, my friend

October 2014 and I weren’t friends really. No success was guaranteed by putting us together. Even when I decided to name the last week of October 2014 November, we didn’t work out. How could we, when on the last day of October 2014 my GP dropped a little bomb telling me to consider an electric bicycle.

Maybe you would blame it on the stars and the entire Universe. I want to believe that too. But isn’t that simply chickening out? When things don’t go your way: hands up and ‘It wasn’t me’? Reality is that my body is playing up, pain increases and my energy is only going more down. That didn’t just start in October 2014. It clearly is a message that’s been trying to come through for quite a while now. Maybe the Universe did feel it had to interfere getting it through and decided to make October 2014 a harsh one. Anyway, it’s pretty clear. I have to adjust to my body and energy. Instead of keeping on fighting it. And my brain finds that bloody hard! Scary even.

But, I’m always up for a challenge. New month, new pain killers, new therapies, new focus, new spirit. Ah November 2014, already I can say we got off on the right foot. You are not October, that’s one thing. And on your first day the one and only Enrique Iglésias (don’t we all know his songs by heart) liked a picture I posted on Instagram. Oh yes.

 

So, instead of beating myself up about the fact that October 2014 wasn’t very productive nor pain-free, November and I are gonna start all over again. Embrace each other. Ho hey!

This month I’m gonna focus on drawing. And meanwhile try and adjust to myself.

These streets are made for shopping #1

You’re a tourist in Amsterdam so you go to the Anne Frank Museum and you shop in the Kalverstraat. Right?

Wrong!

If you like to discover the real deal Amsterdam – nice bars, shops with character and other unique things that you never thought existed – you go to the shopping streets that are somewhat dangerous to shop. Because these are streets that have cars, bikes and some even trams you should look out for.
Of course there are many more places to shop and Kalverstraat seems safe, for it’s a pedestrian area and your brain recognises the brands amidst your lost-in-translation fog. But you’ll find the H&M in your home town too. However, the shops on the streets I’m going to show you at Tessie’s Projects probably won’t be found anywhere else (almost).

Grab your map and search for today’s street: Rozengracht. That’s where we’ll go.

 

Rozengracht. A busy street and from the perspective of the Dutch this is a very broad, almost Argentinan, lane. Don’t expect to be able to pop in and out of shops as the gems are spread out along the road. But on this busy road there is a lot of interior, design and inspiration to be found.

On the even side of the street mark these spots in neon colours on your map:

Nr. 58 Les deux frères. Something for the men. Brought to you by the brothers Alain and Matthieu. With the Swedish Happy Socks, scarves by Lovet & Green and much more. These guys really have some lovely brands waiting for you.

Nr. 104 De winkel van GUUS. Keen on green? Shop your gifts at GUUS. Just because you can.

Nr. 196 Nordic New. Well, a little Nordic design heaven. I can’t think of anything else to say. Most of all because I’ll be drooling all over their website again for the next couple of hours if I did start telling you about my love for this heaven…

Nr. 204 – 210 Hutspot. Enjoy Hutspot’s (named after the traditional Dutch one-pot dish, hotchpotch-like) rich mixture of design and new stuff. Hutspot offers a chance to artists and designers to expose their products and art to a larger audience. Each and every one of them has a corner to himherself. Many a shop within one shop.

Nr. 218 Vakhuis. A lovely workshop. Where owner and designer Sanne Klap works. And where she’s made room for other designers to exhibit their producst. Stop by and have a look.

Nr. 200 Urban Cocoa. Where they make chocolate. Lots of chocolate!

 

On the odd side of the street, mark the following numbers:

Nr. 191 – 193 SPRMRKT. Shortly: a concept store that sells clothes for men and women and books for everyone. And also houses pop-up events. Interesting to browse. Note from your author: although I find SPRMRKT an intriguing spot, I can imagine it may come across as a little too hipster-to-be-true. So be warned my friends.

Nr. 217 – De Vegetarische slager. They started in Den Haag. Their products may lie on the shelves of many of the Dutch supermarket these days, but it’s a Vegetarian Butcher so you should go and taste. The shop is beautiful. Really! And even if you believe you were born to be a carnivore, go and check it out.

Nr. 229-233 – Raw Materials. Here you’ll find the industrial, chunky materials that you expect for a shop named Raw Materials. Décor for the home. Whatever your style, you will find something you like.

 

Have a nice shopping day!

My monthly focus

Starting something and then sticking to it, is not my strongest point. Diaries, sketching practise, cleaning; for a little while I’m all-systems-go! Then, after a week (and sometimes a half more) I get distracted by something else that needs my full commitment.
The idea of focussing on something, from beginning to end, gets my standing ovation. The continuation however… Still, I really would love to prove to myself that I can! Which is why, for a couple of years now, the idea of a focus challenge has been in the back of my mind. I never did though. Until now. Because now I have my readers (hi mum & dad!) whom I cannot let down if I promise to go for it.

During a short course Styling Basics at the Artemis Academy, we had to focus on a colour in the streets for a whole week; what colour did catch our attention in the streets? Orange and fuchsia drew mine. Before you know it, it seems as though every car is orange and all bikes and curtains fuchsia! An amazing little trick of your brain. Try not to think of an elephant. This project was such fun, that ever since I look around and up even more! And I discover things that are worth googling. Or not. Only recently I discovered this funny little creation on a house on the corner of my street:

Adorable teapot on a wall.

 

 

 

[ Adorable, not?
A teapot on the wall.
It probably has been there even long before I moved here.
But I never noticed. ]

 

 

 

Now then. My challenge is going to be monthly, as you may have guessed already after reding the title. The longer I have to focus on something, the more difficult it gets so giving myself only a week would in itself be cheating. So it’s going to be a whole month. The things I want to focus on are of such a variety, there is no connection. I will not be spamming you until you’re dying with boredom, I simply will sometimes post pictures or write down some figments on the theme. In September my focus challenge will be about yellow. It’s a colour I love but somehow underestimate, so I’m going give it my full attention. But in October I might as well focus on toes or money or, well who knows…