30 Aug 2013

Inspire Aspire - A Blank Canvas

Sometimes this is all we need: some thinking space, a breather, a moment to ourselves. We need to recharge our batteries so we get our ideas in order. We need to slow down so we catch our breath, evaluate a situation, get on the right footing that will get us into gear so that we reach our cruise speed again - and keep to it.

We need to do a clear-out so we rediscover our physical space, challenge that final frontier and choose to fill it with meaningful belongings and objects of desire. We need to paint all the walls white before we get bold with colour again. We need to go pared down and minimalist, so we appreciate accessories. We need a good haircut so we grow our hair back, thick and vigorous.

Sometimes we need to declutter our lives from a clique of doppelgangers, toxic acquaintances, fairweather friends and possessive relatives that are depriving us from being us.

Tabula rasa is indeed a good thing.

(via This is Glamorous)
(Pict source)
(via We Heart It)
(Pict source)
(via Snippet & Ink)

28 Aug 2013

A Frenchman in New York

In order to grow into our own, we need to surround ourselves with non-judgemental individuals, usually close friends and teachers/ mentors, who give us the space to become who we are truly meant to become, who take us as we are and who are supportive of our talents, skills and abilities, ideas and life essence and ambitions. In his recent newsletter, The Daily Love's Mastin Kipp referred to his entourage as his Tribe. This resonated with me and so did the realisation that my small tribe of respected and carefully-chosen close friends may even extend to one family member who truly understood me, even though he is no longer physically around: my beloved maternal grandad, Armand.

My grandad as a dashing 18-year-old French Navy Radioman

My grandad was an unconventional world-travelled freespirited chap who happened to be misunderstood and mocked by the fools of the world. As a slight 'misfit' myself, I can't help but greatly admire him for what he stood for. Born in Brittany, he was of pure Celtic heritage, tall, slim, handsome, blue-eyed, softy spoken and elegantly dressed. I am adamant my grandad could have been a silver screen actor on looks alone. In the early 1920s, his family left Brittany for a northern French textile town. Post-war, the north of France was crying out for labour to rebuild its towns and infrastructures and my grandad's dad worked as a carpenter. Unfortunately tragedy struck as he slipped off the roof of the Chamber of Commerce and died, leaving a 14-year-old son (my grandad), a very young daughter and a handicapped wife (my great grandmother had contracted polio). Without hesitation my grandad decided to head back to Brittany and join the navy, as his wages would help support his mum and sister. Hats off to him for his amazing courage!

The navy became my grandad's new family and he dedicated nearly 20 years of his life to it. He specialised in transmissions, first on submarines, then promoted to la crème de la crème of French naval warship fleet, Le Richelieu, the most powerful, streamlined and technologically-advanced WWII battleship ever designed, highly coveted by the US Navy to the extent that the design of USS Missouri is allegedly inspired by Le Richelieu.

Battleship Richelieu in action (pict source)

During WWII Le Richelieu operated off French territorial waters, mainly across the Indian and Pacific Oceans, responding solely to ally strategic commands and to Général de Gaulle, as opposed to the occupying power in place. This sent Le Richelieu to strategic battle locations as diverse as Norway, Mers-el-Kebir (French Algeria), Dakar (Senegal), and to regroup in the USA (Boston and NYC) before heading to Scapa Flow (Scotland), then on to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Sabang and Sumatra, back to Europe, Casablanca, and the Far East again, i.e. Java & Sumatra, Singapore and Indochina (Vietnam), via Trincomalee (Ceylon) and Durban (South Africa). From memory, my grandad also stopped over in Australia at some point.

In 1943 Le Richelieu spent approx. 6 months in NYC for refit, and my grandad acquainted himself with the American way of life. He is alleged to have had a girlfriend in NYC, despite having a wife back home (my grandma) and a baby daughter (my mum). As strange as it might sound, I would have liked to trace his girlfriend back, to hear her tell me about my grandad. I would have liked to hear that he had been happy at some point in his life.

My grandad travelled the length and breadth of the world at a time when this was a rather daunting thing to do. He would pique my curiosity with his descriptions of the dense dark jungle woodland-fringed shorelines of Borneo. I recall him telling me how he got to walk up 32 storeys to see a mate in NYC when the elevator had broken down. Little bits of everyday life would delight me more than facts and numbers off some history book. My grandad lived history, he was a part of it, and his account mattered more to me than some second-hand narrative by some historian.

After the war, my grandad got promoted to a land-based Navy role on the French riviera but he had difficulty adjusting to a sedentary semi-civilian lifestyle and quit his job, putting an end to his Navy career. His addiction to alcohol became problematic. My grandma suggested they live in Corsica (her native island) and he got a customs post. I am not sure he enjoyed the Corsican lifestyle after years of journeying across the planet, but what I know for a fact is that certain ill-intentioned individuals encouraged his drinking, and his condition deteriorated further. As a last resort, my grandparents and my mum moved to the northern textile town where his mum still lived. They left behind a somehow comfortable southern lifestyle for a cramped bedsit with no mod-cons. To make a living, my grandad had no other option than to labour in factories, while his addiction spiralled out of control...

This is a man who probably wasn't surrounded by a tribe of benefactors, well-wishers and an encouraging community of close friends. It seems he'd had the time of his life all those years back, from Brooklyn to Melbourne via Trincomalee, and he now was kinda lost, with no "save the world" superhero mission. He felt redundant, invisible. The unsung war hero became typecast as the drunk who can't hold his drink, as the worker who can't hold a job, and nobody seemed aware or cared that here was a man with an illustrious past, who had risked his life, on call 24/7 in the elite French Navy, who had put his fears behind him to support his family as far away from the comfort zone as can be. He wasn't the only one to feel misadjusted after the war. Even high profile figures like Général De Gaulle and Sir Winston Churchill notoriously struggled to stay popular and purposeful once back in civilian life.

Years went by. As his daughter (my mum) was about to get married, the universe lent a helping hand to my grandad. His employer wasn't going to sack him because of his drinking. He had seen potential in my grandad, a man who was smart, gifted, meticulous and keen to learn. The employer sent him to rehab. My grandad went to rehab like a silver screen actor would have: with acceptance and renewed dignity. He came out clean, his head high, resumed his job until retirement. He never relapsed.

My grandad holding my hand at the beach in Brittany

I came into the world a few years later. Something tells me I was his second epiphany and I am certain that my presence helped him stay afloat. He gave me so much attention, so much of his time, I was the apple of his eye! He took me everywhere, he believed in me, in my talents, skills and abilities. He read me like a book and identified what made me tick, more than anyone else in my family. He spoilt me rotten: educational comics, book series on how to draw, beautiful coffee table books on fauna and flora, top of the range boxes of high-quality pencils, invitations to the pictures, elegant dolls, etc. He would write me beautiful cards and letters whenever we were apart. When my parents were busy with their own lives and had little time for me, he had all the time in the world to listen to me, to advise me, to preempt, to guess what I was trying to say, to chat with me, to take me places, to tell me about the ways of the world. My grandad was my best friend.

Just as I embarked on those troubled teen years and needed emotional support more than ever, life got iffy. I wasn't even 14 and my grandad suddenly died, without warning. He collapsed in the street, in town, round the corner from that fated Chamber of Commerce where his own dad had died when he was just about 14. My grandad's death crushed me. It literally tipped me over, and all those years later I still find it hard to keep my composure.

Somehow I know that although he isn't physically around, he is giving me protection. I can feel his presence. I keep him alive by thinking about him daily. Armand is a definite component of my personal tribe: as an unconventional, world-travelled, spirited, independent, handsome, smart yet misunderstood and mocked chap, he is definitely one of mine!

"It wasn't until I realized that I belonged to myself and figured out what my values were, what I wanted from life, what my purpose is and the like, that I found my Tribe." - Mastin Kipp, The Daily Love 

July 2015 update: A few months ago, I came across the 'French Battleship Richelieu enters New York City - February 1943' video and am including it to this article. It was an emotional experience for me to view it for the first time ever: -

Technicolor on a Plate

Summer is a moment of pure delight, bringing a palette of flavours to our palate and a palette of colours to our plates. I couldn't help the tongue twisters and will go to any length to tempt those of you stuck in the takeaway/ processed meal habit to kick it and replace all that comfort brown food of pizza, pasta, burgers, fries, biscuits, chocolates bars, sundaes and the likes, with an injection of vitamin-laden light-hearted happy Summery colours of yellow, orange, pink, red and green onto your plate! It's not too late to embrace salad days still, so look away from the gummi bears and feast your eyes on these babies:

(via Grow Harvest Cook)

Think of all the fruit and vegetables currently in season... Let's start off with fruit in its many varieties - and you will spot my Mediterranean diet along the way: melon, watermelon, plum, apricot, peach, nectarine, fig, apple and pear (both just starting), raspberry, gooseberry, redcurrant, blackberry, grapes... and tomato and capsicum (which happen to be fruit also, contrary to popular belief that tends to categorise them under veg).

Talking of which, veg are just as plentiful as fruit: courgette (zucchini), aubergine (eggplant), green bean, runner bean (and other beans!), carrot, lettuce, spinach, onion, etc. So why content with monochrome brown when you can jazz up your diet and boost your health with a rainbow of colours and tastes! So make sure mealtime means a party in your plate and you'll even find yourself more energetic as a result, more inspired and in a happier mood! It's a winner!

How many figs can you spot from my favourite tree?
Multi-coloured Root Vegetables, via La Tartine Gourmande
Roasted Radishes, by Saveur

25 Aug 2013

Feeling Ombré

If you and I have never met in person and you don't know me that well (apart from via this blog), here's two little known facts about me: I am a hairdresser/ hairstyling manufacturer's dream come true, and I reckon I've had every shade of colour from blonde to black since I have been experimenting with colour aged 18.

Controversial as Courtney (pict source)

I've also had every length of hair conceivable, from Pixie cut à la Michelle Williams to long and thick brunette ponytails à la Lara Croft (Angie Jolie), via crazy grungey hairdos à la Courtney Love and urban gothic Christina Scabia. I've had every style under the sun too: from the Rachel cut (Jennifer Aniston in 'Friends'), to the straightened out Japanese-stylee, via crazy curls, multi-layered lowlight beach bleached look, chavvy big rolls up, 1960s back-combed bouffants à la Brigitte Bardot or classic ballerina chignons. As a student I did a stint of hairstyle modelling. I reckon I had all the credentials to up it by moving to Paris and turn my pastime hair modelling into a career. But I chose to move to the UK instead to embark into art school and that was more kinda cool and edgy!

These days I'm much more sedate as far as hairstyle goes, although I started off 2012 with a radical haircut after years of mainstream comfort zone shoulder-length. I'm now growing my hair back and I've embraced the ombré colour technique, shifting my hairdresser loyalties through the process as I am still to reach colour contentment. The main issue it seems is to stabilise the colour against sunlight and sea salt. Haha yeah I'm talking beach culture like I mean it but ermm I do happen to live by the seaside, no kidding!

Ombré starts off dark at the crown of the head and gradually goes paler as you move to the tip of the hair. But as I said, my gradience (if such a word exists!) tends to fade uniformally quick and so does the radiance! I'm confident that eventually I'll manage to find the right hairdresser with the right dosage, and until then I'm afraid you'll need to content with other models' photos!

Rachel Bilson (photo by Jeff Vespa via Harper's Bazaar)
(Pict source)
(Pict source)

Ecologically Bankrupt

Creative platform Behance features many a thought-provoking artwork and the Environmental Awareness conceptual work presented to us by AAF-Addy Award-Winner Kandace Selnick from Los Angeles, California is no exception. The brief was in relation to an awareness campaign for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and this is how impactful a few chosen words and key statistics can become once you plaster them onto poster:

This demonstrates to us that you can deliver your core message efficiently and without resorting to long-winded stuffy reports that no-one is gonna read, or fancy avant-garde graphics that are gonna dilute the message by taking the shine away from content, or deluxe photographic wizardry that is gonna make an artwork out of your campaign when really this is not about designer perfume.

Awareness campaign aside, I can't help but be appalled by the way our planet is going, with galoping demographics that are crippling already tight resources (water, energy fuels, natural habitat, biodiversity, etc.), a hedonistic cavalier approach to said resources (mining, fracking, exploring, overfishing, overhunting, deforestation, wildlife traficking, intense pollution, extensive urbanisation process, industrial farming, shortened technological product lifespans that create more waste, etc.), with little room left for conservation, preservation, education, recycling and other sensible approaches.

I generally try to stay upbeat but the state of the global environment as it currently stands is a great cause for concern. Often we tend to pull the wool over our eyes and pretend everything isn't that bad out there, that the powers that be surely are in charge of this, and we choose to ignore or click away from a disturbing online environmental article. We might click away, change channels, look on blankly, or turn over the page or even close that mag and throw it in the bin, but the fact of the matter is the environment needs to be and remain on everyone's mind as a top priority, as our responsibility as to the quality of the legacy we are going to pass on to our kids.

24 Aug 2013

Share the Love!

Hi guys, this one is only a quickie, a testimony to shameless self-promotion... This needs to be done once in a while, and I promise it won't be painful! So here we go, Hugo!

If you love this blog - like I'm sure you do - how about showing the world that you do? Spread the good word, start off by telling your friends online and offline, tell them about that 'good crazy' lifestyle blog that can scrape the surface of skin deep without leaving a mark, and also dig deep into topics as diverse as design, travel, ecology, business, brand worth, or personal value systems.

Chic Sprinkles

If you're a blogger and online socialite, I would be chuffed - and your BFF (best friend forever!) - if you mentioned La Baguette Magique to your audience. And if you fancy guest-blogging in here, I would be delighted to hear from you! Likewise if you'd fancy having me around as a guest blogger, give me a shout and I will give your audience my best epistolary shot!

You can also subscribe to this blog via Google Friend Connect (down the sidebar within the Fan Club & Stats section) to make sure you always get the latest release, or you may access it via BlogLovin. Even easier, get it via my RSS Feed. A dedicated Facebook page is on the cards by the way!

British Telegram Letter Set, via Present & Correct

You can get even more out of La Baguette Magique, by following it on Twitter where I mostly publicise the animal cause via different animal welfare societies that I support, and I invite my followers to give abused animals a voice via petitions across the world, from endangered bats in Borneo to badgers in England, via industrial farming mispractices here, there and everywhere! My Twitter feed is also packed-full with interesting lifestyle tips.

Finally, you may or may not be aware that La Baguette Magique has a sister site, Mirabelle Design Inspiration! The accent is placed mostly on high-resolution visual content based around design, illustration, photography, architecture and travel. Go check it out! Mirabelle boasts an amazing Pinterest account, with over 1,230 followers so far! Let your mind wander in our Bohemian Wonderlands, lose yourself in Mid-Century Palm Springs, or hit The Road Less Travelled - I promise you'll have a ball - even a blast!

Thanks guys and let's ensure La Baguette Magique becomes less of the blog world's best kept secret moving forward, so we can engage into a thriving community! Take care, luvvies!

22 Aug 2013

Bare Face Summer Fresh

As we are already nearing the end of August, it feels like Summer is slipping away through my fingers like the sand of the beach I'm sat on but it's still time to celebrate the fun, the joy of this happy season! Happy it surely is when you are blessed to live in warm climes like I am, on an island (even better!) and a five-minute jog from the closest beach (bonus! Yet sorry to rub it in!). And I thought I would do a quick round-up of my beauty routine...

(Pict source: uncredited via Pinterest)

I guess you could call me a beach babe although I guess the babes in Malibu, Kuta or Bondi Beach adhere to the beachy lifestyle more than I do. I own neither a surf board nor a beach hut, and the days of me spending 12 hours non-stop on the beach/ in the sea are a thing of the past. Even so, I make sure I wear SPF30 all year round, including during those drizzly Winter months. I got round the idea of wearing serum (been doing it for 5 years now) for extra protection, and especially to keep those sun spots at bay but this is a different story!

As a general rule, I hardly ever sunbathe, as I don't fancy the idea of turning into a wrinkly old prune and I am not a fan of the sunbaked look. I am fortunate enough to catch the sun fairly easily anyway and enjoy a subtle sunny glow even if staying out of the sun, courtesy of those 25% of mediterranean genes that make up my DNA, yay!

I always wear good quality sunglasses whenever the sun is out, more for eye protection than out of vanity (erm OK I actually love sunglasses!), but I would recommend you do the same, as UV rays damage eyesight and repeated blinking/ frowning accelerate the ageing process around the eyes!

(Pict source)

I go easy on the 'maquillage' (make-up) mostly because this less-is-more approach fits in with my lifestyle as a beach babe and country girl. When I lived in the big smoke and worked in an office I was suited and booted and made up but this was in my previous life, right? The barely there approach means that I've downsized my make-up bag dramatically and I only keep a few capsule items: YSL Touche Eclat Radiant Touch magic highlighting concealer, nude lipglosses (from Urban Decay to Bobbi Brown, Clinique and Biguine). I am a fan of enhancement and enlightenment, which means Benefit High Beam luminescent complexion enhancer is my kinda make-up genius. All I do is dab it with my fingers just below the eyebrow arch, but also lightly down the T zone, the cheeks, or wherever my face needs a bit of an uplifting light effect.

I'm not saying I don't have more quirky pieces in my handbag. I happen to be a big fan of creamy iridescent green eyeshadow, which complements brown eyes beautifully, or sometimes go heavy-handed with the brown eyeliner if I fancy a 1960s doe eye look, or smudge it into a smokey eye effect if I'm in the mood for an edgier look. Yet generally I have come to love the no make-up make-up look, or even a make-up free face. As long as you take care what you put in your body, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, look after your skin, wear a flattering hairstyle and make sure your eyebrows stay in a good uplifted shape, there is nothing wrong with the make-up-free face. At least you are not afraid/ intimidated of showing who you are to the world, you are just being you and that is the most important thing. Be happy to be you! Happy Summer everyone!

Minka Kelly (pict source)

Find out more of what makes me tick in the beauty department, from my Pinterest board! Check out 10 Steps to Flawless Looking Skin by Pixiwoo, 'No Make-Up' Make-up Tutorial by Lisa Eldridge, and How to Find the Perfect Nude Lip Colour by Wayne Goss (gossmakeupartist).

20 Aug 2013

Why Turning Pro Must Be a Solo Process

Last Tuesday, as part of MarieTV's Summertime Special by Marie Forleo, I enjoyed the re-run of her interview of seasoned American author Steven Pressfield, back in November 2012, based around his self-published book, Turning Pro.

During the interview, Steven identified the difference between an amateur and a professional, and dispensed a few tips on how to cut it like a pro, using his female wannabe-golfer friend as a fitting example. Although a terrible golfer, she had made the commitment to improve her skill and equipped herself head to toe with all the pro-golfer gear in order to be in a winner's frame of mind, which eventually worked in her favour.

Steven also described how he came to realise one day he just didn't want to be a dilettante anymore and decided to up the ante as a full-fledged writer. The change was cathartic and involved discipline, routine, perseverance and strength of character, which might scare the amateur a mile off! Imagine moving places like Steven did, to live in isolation and spartan accommodation with a cat as sole companion, no distractions, no excuses.

Faced with his own fears and doubts looking him up straight in the eye, devoured by demons and possibly nagged by the appeal and (apparent) security of the comfort zone (the unchallenging 9 to 5 job, the normality of the suburban life, etc.), his focus 'forced' upon his writing and nothing else, letting his inspiration wander constructively and taming the muse onto paper, concentrating on those thoughts and ideas that lead to words that string into sentences that develop the narrative and enrich the tone, no matter how painful, solitary and uncomfortable this new 'pro' lifestyle exercise might be to adjust to. This part of the interview actually captured my interest the most, as someone contemplating the big leap and still tottering on the edge but chickening away as yet not so sure of it!

It is clear to me though that my lifestyle as it currently stands is not compatible with a pro's choice and something needs to give. I currently live at my parents (long story!), and two strongwilled generations try to cohabitate happily... There is a protocole to follow, unspoken rules to abide by, spoken rules to not question and sometimes these just get jarred in. I mean things can go crazy up in my head, and inspiration doesn't strike on cue. It hits me on a sleepless night, but that means I might not be up first thing in the morning after that (discipline not being my forte as yet!), which might be frowned upon.

Besides I might fancy the idea of a heavy punching bag in the garage that I go kick whenever I need to release some tension. I might skip lunch for a brisk walk down the beach to clear the cobwebs, and I might want to play Bullet For My Valentine at full blast when I get back to get those creative juices flowing (Oh yeah, it can get even stranger!) but these are things I can't do at my parents! Oh and I might fancy a dish of fried quinoa and nuts instead of mum's classic Sunday hotpot, and a glass of persimmon juice in lieu of black coffee, and jet off on a whim across the Channel for a few days to see my peeps, but those little liberties are not erm democratically embraced... and I respect that.

Part of Eliza Cerdeiros's Motivational Monday

There is no beating around the bush: turning pro is a solo process, you can't drag in family and friends like it's some picnic down the park. You need thinking time, me-time, a structure that you can navigate around and not impact on others. You need to find yourself, grow into your own, shape and fit into your pro lifestyle, before you can share and become social again. I'll leave the conclusion to Steven Pressfield:

"What we get when we turn pro is we find our power. We find our will and our voice and we find our self-respect. We become who we always were but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and live out."

19 Aug 2013

Inspire Aspire - Let There Be Light!

The cloud with a silver lining is an ode to hope. Celebrated French writer and Literature Nobel Prize Winner Albert Camus said it beautifully: "In the midst of Winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible Summer"

We all have the metaphorical cross to bear in life, admittedly some crosses being heavier, bulkier than others, with some of us plodding on regardless, while others make a mountain out of a molehill.

(Pict source)

Sooner or later in our lives, we are faced with crossroad dilemmas and pivotal destiny moments. We face setbacks, traumas and delays. Some of us even hit rockbottom: reversal of fortunes, string of 'bad fortune' events, loss of loved ones, illness, war, accidents, detrimental lifestyle choices, etc. But even in our darkest hour, there will be a crack of light coming through - no matter how thin, how faint, how insignificant - for darkness cannot exist without light and light cannot exist without its opposite either. Yin and Yang symbiosis. So there you are, if you are looking for a shred of hope, an ounce of fortune, a reason why, a smile, you have it! Dark is never completely dark - and light is never completely light. In fact, the colour white is made up of all the colours and the same applies to black.

(Pict source)

My message to you, if you are feeling blue, is to acknowledge the pain but don't linger on it. This too shall pass! Yet never give up on hope, never lose faith, stay afloat and never lose sight of the shore. And remember that you need darkness in order to see the stars! Every cloud definitely has a silver lining.

15 Aug 2013

Inspire Aspire - Be True to Romance

As I set about the ambitious subject of love relationships and romance for this article, I literally felt a pain in my heart, as I was trying to figure out how best to approach the subject. So I decided I would start off by dedicating this post to L-O-V-E as I mean it: true, unequivocal, uncomplicated, unadulterated love, the kind of love I do believe in. That's the kind of love that needs to be earned and worked upon, and in just a few pointers I'm going to show you why and how.

Photo by Jana Williams Photography, via Style Me Pretty

I do feel flattered that friends come up to me for advice and guidance regarding all things heart-related. I have become an agony aunt of sorts and I should be none the wiser to follow the clarity of advice I give out, but this of course is a different matter. But there is one thing I preach time and time again to the broken-hearted or disillusioned in love: choose honesty, and stay true to yourself, true to the other party, true to love, true to romance, and you cannot - and will not - go wrong.

You see, I just get confused when friends come up to me with their knickers in a twist so to speak, telling me about how being "friends with benefits" with so-and-so resulted in it going horribly wrong. Or how that gurl/ guy whom they "led on" without reciprocating the sincerity of their feelings has now somehow backfired on them and dented their ego! Man, who are you kidding? Of course someone is going to get hurt in those shady free love arrangements and half-baked sentimental trips, because as much as we know the old adage of "there isn't such a thing as a free meal", the same applies to free love.

Love comes with unspoken boundaries and secret expectations while giving out that grand illusion of freedom... Because the friends with benefits combo carries hidden agendas, and stirs the dark corners of human psychology into stratagems: "We're just together for now cos it's convenient", "I'll stay with him until I find The One", "She will do for the time being and she knows about it", "I just couldn't stay on my own", "He's only a sex partner to me", "I don't love her, I don't even care that much about her anyway", "If he left me tomorrow, I wouldn't bat an eyelid", etc. Huh, what kinda vibe are you sending off to the universe?

'Into the Wild' (2007), feat. Emile Hirsch (pict source)

Now I fully understand that this carefree attitude towards love is sadly a by-product of the throwaway culture we live in, a culture of instant results at any cost: self-gratification, instant pleasure, self-indulgence, where people try to find satisfaction in the moment. Where we have no time to wait, no inclination to see a relationship slowly develop, where we want something without putting much effort into it, and we want it now. No compromise. Friends with benefits implies you have sex and a cuddle with your mate, in that second-best/ something-better-than-nothing mindframe, and no guarantee of love and stability and growth of feeling, because from the moment it starts, any prospect of the relationship evolving is stunted. It is biased and conditional.

However with honesty of heart comes truth of feeling and a chance for a relationship to develop. If there is no relationship in sight, how about learn to (re-)discover who you truly are, and learn to fall in love with yourself? For you cannot expect someone to fall in love with you or you fall in love with them, if you don't love yourself first and foremost. This is the most basic rule that defines success in relationships, and something that the likes of Louise Hay have been drumming into the collective psyche for the last few decades.

Via Pinterest

So then, do yourself a favour and ditch the toxic duos and half-hearted pairings, and take time out of the dating game. Enjoy quality time with yourself, and why not overhaul your whole life: are you happy in your current job, in your town/ village etc? How can you improve certain areas of your life? How about take up a course, how about exploring the possibilities of a gap year? Cultivate happiness, don't make it dependent upon another.

On a more practical level, enjoy and embrace celibacy for a while. Oh and yes I do have first-hand experience of it and there is no shame to be had. This lifestyle choice will give you self-respect, clarity of thought and inner-strength and it will keep you focused on other areas of your life. I don't believe in second bests and subterfuges and alternatives and faking it as far as love is concerned. I just come from a pure heart. Call me naive, old-fashioned and a hopeless romantic, but true love can only be borne out of truth. True love needs solid foundations to thrive. As much as we have the Slow Food movement, how about Slow Love?

14 Aug 2013

Making a Mint and Loving It!

Many of life's little pleasures are derived from nature's own, from growing a garden to foraging, from collecting sea-shells to turning bits of driftwood into pieces of art. And to me, the humble mint just so happens to be one of those little pleasures!

The island of Corsica is particularly blessed when it comes to wild flora. And wild culinary herbs account for that blessing. Let's just name a few: marjoram, oregano, thyme, lemon balm, angelica, rosemary, garlic, onion and dill. On the family land I have been able to source an ever-ready supply of fresh mint. I fill (but don't overfill) a Tupperware tub with a few handfuls of mint that I cut with a pair of secateurs, making sure no roots are pulled. I leave the mint sprigs unwashed inside the tub. Then I pop a clean sheet of kitchen paper on top, seal the lid securely and off it goes in the fridge. Whenever I feel like it, I get a small handful of mint sprigs out, pop them in a cup or teapot, pour boiling water out of the kettle on top and leave to infuse for a few minutes. In this hot weather, I find it extraordinarily refreshing. It is also a great aid to digestion, after a heavy meal, or if feeling bloated.

And this fresh mint has nothing to envy to its cultivated counterparts. It will keep for at least two weeks in the fridge, whereas the shop-bought varieties will quickly wither, go brown and soggy, because they were forcefully grown, (over-)watered and possibly treated with fertilisers. Nature's own is a little fighter for it will have learnt to fend for itself, relying on sparse to zero water supply, and will have developed coarse leaves that retain moisture and diffuse a strong aroma that will make the cultivated varieties pale down in shame!

Maybe in your neck of the woods, there are wild culinary herbs waiting to be discovered or shared with others! If you are unsure, how about getting a wild flora book about your region, or join a local nature society (they tend to organise guided themed country walks), or enrol a local plant expert/ botanist into your adventure - and get your friends/ family/ neighbours to rally round - for the more the merrier! Have fun!

13 Aug 2013

Cooling Down the Heat!

I have a confession to make: I have been on a meltdown. I've been indulging in all things fresh and cool and icy lately. I whipped up a wicked strawberry ice-cream from scratch, earlier in the season, which I served with a homemade warm dark chocolate sauce, the kind that makes you go 'ohhhh!' and 'ahhhh!' and not care if the world ends now!

Introducing the passion fruit gelato from my local café!

My mum made an apricot ice-cream last Sunday that was equally delish! And in between our homemade concoctions, I've had the odd cornetto, and the odd (the odd, haha!) gelato from my local café down the resort, from fig to coffee, from pistachio to passion fruit... With a terrace view to kill for - overlooking the beach cove. Who said life wasn't a beach?

P.S: I have another confession to make: homemade is best!

9 Aug 2013

The World's First Really Live Feed

Who said that awareness campaigns and calls for donations had to be stern and serious in their approach? In the UK, the animal welfare charity CIWF (Compassion in World Farming) came up with an innovative and interactive marketing campaign aimed at promoting the benefits of happy free range pigs!

Ingredients: take one free range country farm in Buckinghamshire, a posse of five happy-go-lucky cheerful and slightly peckish "Tamworth" piggies, and a giant interactive billboard down the road (London's Westfields Shopping Centre). Ask would-be benefactors to stand in front of the interactive screen, armed with the CIWF smartphone app in order to connect to a crazy-professor-style apple catapult strategically placed in the field, and part with £1.00 for the benefit of feeding one juicy green apple to the piggy brigade.

The smart thing is that the donator can literally see - in real time - where their cash is going. As soon as the £1.00 transaction has been processed, the apple is ejected into the field and a horde of happy gallivanting pigs comes for it, while the name of the benefactor shows up in big letters on the screen for that glittering 15 seconds Ta-Da fame moment!

All in all, this is a tongue-in-cheek fun experience that goes the light-hearted way - while striking a chord - to promote free range into the streets and educate consumers ... (vegetarians, look away now!) ... about their bacon! Over five days, 500 apples were thrown and the campaign reached out to 500,000 people, with the "to eat free range is to eat happy" slogan.

6 Aug 2013

Why Good is Better than Perfect

I am a perfectionist - or shall I rephrase that - I used to be a perfectionist. Now what might appear as a clean smart ingenious statement to make, and certainly one I used to pull at job interviews, can also compromise timescales, efficiency and the flow of creative thinking. It can create doubts and blockages as that feeling of frustration generated by the unquenched quest for perfection might just send you loopy in your daily endeavours. So I learnt to let go and no this wasn't easy.

Perfectionism and an eye for detail were certainly qualities and pre-requisites in my area of work (Marketing & Advertising), when it came to typesetting, copy editing, proofreading, CMS (content-management system), image manipulation, customer profiling and segmentation, but sometimes perfection had to be harnessed and toned down and tamed because time was of the essence. And if we didn't have the right Pantone definition to hand, maybe we had to work out a close match, and if I was still unhappy with a layout, maybe just accept this was just an opinion - my opinion - and opinions are subjective, and for the good of all, we had to go with next to perfect - if such a thing does indeed exist as it would imply that perfection is measurable.

We could be debating for hours on end about what perfection actually is, and chance is, everyone has their own personal definition of perfection, based around a loose set of universally-accepted moral and cultural codes, Fibonacci, divine proportions, and a more personal, biased set of standards and gamuts and benchmarks. Ask Michaelangelo about perfection, ask controversial architect Antoni Gaudí, ask eccentric painter Salvador Dalí, ask Karl Lagerfeld, ask your best friend, neighbour, colleague... Where a tall iron-board high-cheek-boned androgynous woman might be Calvin Klein's idea of the perfect woman, many African tribes would opt for a plump curvaceous generously-shaped busty woman who embodies feminity, fertility and health. There is relativity in perfection.

Calvin Klein Fall 2013 Presentation

Some of us are driven by the quest for perfection, yet isn't what perfection should be about: an ideal as opposed to an idea, i.e. to aim for perfection as a lifelong quest, but never to reach it? Because once you have reached perfection, what comes next?

By becoming less of a perfectionist, I started to get things done, things and ideas and energy flowing more fluidly. I became freer once I started being less harsh on myself. Perhaps I wasn't 100% satisfied with the image content in a blog post, but there was no way I was going to hold on with baited breath until the perfect pic was sourced. No I didn't think I looked great that day but I would nonetheless pull a video message to a friend or associate, because content was more important than form and anyway they may actually believe I looked great! Perfection is all in the head and a potential danger to our evolution in life if we seek to attain it, rather than simply aim in its direction as part of our core values, while respecting our limited capabilities. As we have briefly demonstrated, there is no such thing as objectivity of perfection.

Antoni Gaudí architecture in Barcelona, Spain (Pict source)

In my life journey so far, I have found out that perfection is not a universal truth or state of mind, it is subjective. Perfection is one opinion, it is one's opinion. Pushed to the extreme, perfection is as subjective as those Mothers Day cards that go "To The Best Mum in the World". The idea of "Best Mum" is skewered because how can we determine she is the best as indeed we have no way to compare, as we only have one mum in life. "Best Mum" would imply that we have been able, as a daughter/ son, to compare our own mum to other mums, which is pretty nonsensical. We just experience our own idea of perfection, we create our own perfection.

P.S: I am keenly aware that I have only scratched the surface of perfection here. Besides my approach might come across as pretty simplistic to some of the "illuminati" yet I have never claimed to be a philosopher nor a sociologist. My only claim is to be deeply passionate about the workings of the human mind and their interraction with our daily lives. I am naturally curious about life, people, relationships, including the relationship we hold with ourselves. If this also describes who you are, you have come to the right place @ La Baguette Magique! Glad to have you around!

Illustration by Luis de la Torre, via Behance

3 Aug 2013

Inspire Aspire - Jonathan Fields' Good Life Project Ft. Gala Darling

I draw a lot of inspiration and food for thought from the Good Life Project chat shows by Jonathan Fields, and his latest invitee, Gala Darling just brought me the best 38 minutes of my whole week as the living proof that you don't need to suffer the rigidity of the corporate system in order to "make it", that you can indeed turn your hobby into your livelihood, that you do not need to sell out in the process and can remain yourself and celebrate the quirkiness in you.

I am positive you will enjoy this fresh, lively and inspirational interview as much as I have!

Find out more from Gala's Radical Self-Love Project.

Gala Darling (pict source)