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Merry Christmas!


Picture of kitty by the tree - taken by me!

We've survived an apocalypse, frenzied shopping, the longest day of the year and now it's finally time to take on the holiday. I can't wait to jet off to London tomorrow to spend the holidays with the husband's family. It's always super-festive with them as they go all out with Christmas lunch/dinner, decorations and the fun and games of boxing day. Plus! We'll be in the UK, which increases our chances of having a white Christmas by a billion percent.  

We're not doing presents this year just cos it's been so NUTS these past few months. But I'm lucky enough to be getting the best present of ALL. Ever. Santa's bringing my sis to London from NYC! I haven't seen her since the summer - and hardly at all during my pregnancy - so this is the one SINGLE thing I'm most excited about for the holidays.

Apart from that, we're going to a Christmas wedding, I'm seeing my best friend (again, someone I haven't seen at all during my pregnancy) and I get to stock up on snack a' jacks.

Here's to wishing you all a very merry time over the holidays and my gift to you - some fun wintery/Christmas-themed posts I've liked lately:

A Beautiful Mess' Emma's instagram calendar is such a neat idea.

Might be a tad late, but some year-round noteworthy gifts for bloggers from Pugly Pixel.

A festive candy cane smoothie from the Happiness Cocktail. What?

Sara's Yes and Yes 2013 calendar looks even better than last year's!

I'll be joining Gretchen Rubin's 21-day Relationship Challenge which starts on Jan 14. And her 7 tips to keeping new year's resolutions aren't bad either.

Emma ABM's biscuits and mushroom gravy. Slurp.

A super-awesome Christmas play list compiled by a Beautiful Mess.

Gingerbread. Hot. Cocoa. Courtesy of Bakingdom.

Photoprint wrapping paper via Sugar & Charm. So cute!

Cauliflower feta fritters magic-ed up by Smitten Kitchen.


 Happy Holidays!

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Oh, Life...


You are such a funny, funny thing. I don't think I've ever been busier than since I've been pregnant. My pregnancy is not entirely how I'd imagined it: leisurely days, coffees with friends, daydreaming about life with this little man.

I'm not going to get into the details but it's just funny when life throws curve balls at you.  But it only does so because it thinks you can take it. Or do I, alone, think I can take it and have ended up making a terrible, terrible mistake....

Time will tell. But I don't tend to make too many mistakes in life. I've never regretted a decision. Things have somehow always worked out for me.

So, I'll be staying true to my character and ploughing on through. It's always hard in the beginning, anyway.

What has the past month looked like for you?

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A Day in the Outdoors







I do love spending time outdoors (as evidenced in this post) but I seem to be spending more time outdoors now that I'm married to hubby.  He's a very outdoorsy kinda guy and with his movie project slowly coming off the ground, we've spent a lot of time location scouting.  

The above is the Tatoi Royal Estate, the exiled King's summer retreat dating back to the 1870s which was completely left to waste when he was banished from the country in 1973. Beautiful old palaces, hotels, summer houses, pools, gardens, farming villages have completely been abandoned to the elements - and our prying eyes!  You definitely get an apocalyptic, ghost-town feel when you walk through it, making it the perfect location for our short horror/thriller. If we could only get past the inevitable red tape.....

I love that being with hubby has added this extra aspect to my life. He's added something new and exciting to both of our lives.  I'll always be forever grateful to him for that.

Does your significant other/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend add something to new and exciting to your life?

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Super Ways To Promote Your Blog Post!


I wanted to share these awesome tips via Launch Grow Joy brought to my attention by lovely and clever Sarah at Yes and Yes.

I think I have a long ways to go until I get the knack of successfully promoting my blog; but I've always loved learning new things and I pride myself in keeping at the things that challenge me.  The above is something I will be pursuing whole-heartedly!

Hope you're having lovely weekends!

Back! (ish)



Lordy! I've been away for a little while as with the new job, moving house and getting ready for baby, things have been slightly hectic to say the least.  I really just need to find my groove and then I'll be back to regular posts in no time. 

Thanks for bearing with me!!

Hope you're having a lovely week - and a happy turkey day to everyone stateside! 

A Little Reminder...



Hope you're having a fantastic weekend!

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Change is in the Air (+ Kitty Learns to Fetch)


Many important and exciting decisions and changes have taken place in the last week.  No doubt, change is very much in the air - much like the change in the weather and the change in the colour of the leaves, so doth change the colour of our lives.

We made the important decision to leave our old, cramped apartment and move to a MUCH nicer, larger one (with a rooftop terrace and pool!).  With the baby coming soon we're in need of a bigger place and moving to a more comfortable space now will preempt much of the stress that comes with taking care of a newborn.

I've started a new (dream) job at Daily Secret - a daily newsletter which sends out funky secrets of little-known things to do and places to go in cities across the world. I'm their English Writer so I write the English language editions for some of the most exciting cities (including Shanghai, Istanbul and Tel Aviv!).  Check the website out and make sure to sign up!  They're so cool to get for the city you currently live in or plan to visit in the future.

We're finally getting our short film project off the ground! We're gathering our actors and still waiting for a permit from the location we plan to use but we've made a lot of progress in the last month.  We're scheduled to start shooting in a few weeks so we're keeping our fingers firmly crossed that everything goes smoothly!

Lastly, we taught our kitty to fetch! She's the cutest thing in the entire world and if loving her like mad makes me a crazy cat lady, THEN SO BE IT.  You can watch the vid of her fetching here.

Are there any exciting and new things happening in your lives? I'd love to hear about them!

Sweet Treats Saturday

Hello to my Sweet Treat picks for this Saturday!


MISADVENTURES WITH ANDI
Oh Andi, what I wouldn't give to have your life! She travels to far-flung exotic places and writes about it.  She eats the yummiest foods and writes about it.  She loves France and friggin' writes about it.  Yes, she's as cute as her blog header.  Meet Andi!

Say hello! twitter // pinterest // facebook // bloglovin'

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It's a personal rule of mine to always eat cake before I go home. Gorgeous, devout and a lover of tiny furry creatures (who isn't?!), Manda and her husband just bought the most gorgeous of first homes and I personally cannot wait to see more of it!

Say hello!  pinterest // instagram // bloglovin'

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BRITT + WHIT
When two gorgeous, stylish, San Francisco based BFFs get together to start a blog you get Britt and you get Whit.  One loves coffee and the other's obsessed with hats.  They bring chic, affordable, San Franciscan style to our screens and I cannot wait to see more!

Say hello! twitter // instagram // facebook // bloglovin'

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P.S. - If you'd like to be featured in a Sweet Treats Saturday post make sure you follow along and leave comments below so that I know where to find you!

Hope you enjoy these blogs as much as I do.  Wherever you are whatever you're doing, hope you're having fun!

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Today


So this is what our morning looks like right now. Look at me posting about yet another Saturday morning. I wasn't kidding when I said this was my favourite time of the day.

Tea, scones and a nice big slice of raspberry tart in bed to get our weekend off on the right foot. You can't see her in this pic but kitty is here too, cuddled up at Daddy's feet.

Today is also a first for me because I'm creating my first post on Blogger for iPhone. I don't have high hopes as the app has gotten really bad reviews

Let me know what you think...

Have a great weekend!

Maria xx

Maria Loves...Secrets & Jazz Nights

Buy from The Ink Society on Etsy
 
Priceless advice for newly-weds, oldy-weds or anyone in a longterm relationship. READ NOW! * This Jo Totes bag - swoon! * crunchy yellow leaves * gorgeous instagram photos * foldable Hunter boots * live jazz nights * crib shopping * flirting with the idea of moving to a MUCH nicer abode * warm scones straight out of the oven * new (exciting!) jobs * Origami Owl * christmas giddiness * writing secrets

What are you loving this Thursday?
 
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bloglovin' // twitter // instagram // tumblr // pinterest

Pinterest Desserts


1. French Toast Donuts via Bakingdom // 2. Red Wine Chocolate Cake via Smitten Kitchen // 3. Cranberry and Orange Cinnamon Rolls via Annie Eats // 4. Funfetti Cake Batter Fudge via Pursuit of Hippieness // 5. Giant S'mores Cookies via My Baking Addiction

Since I joined Pinterest, oh way-back-when, my most active board has been the Indulge board.  No prizes for those who've guessed that this board is home to all things sugar and spice and everything nice!  

I'm also addicted to the iPhone app Foodgawker where my eye tends to gravitate towards those pictures of the sweeter variety.  
 
I can personally vouch for the Red Wine Chocolate Cake as I've made it so many times now and it's always such a hit with everyone.  It's definitely got that WOW factor.
You can follow me on Pinterest here.


What's been making your mouth water lately?
 
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My Favourite 8tracks Film Soundtracks

 Found on We Heart It

One of my favourite things to do in the world (ever) is to compile and listen to instrumental film scores.  I love movies and I believe half of the enjoyment of watching them is in excellent music composition.  Listening to the film's music takes me back to the way I feel and the emotion I'm overcome with when watching the film's themselves.

Some of my favourite films with excellent scores are Forrest Gump, The Last of the Mohicans, Jurassic Park, The Godfather, The Da Vinci Code, Pirates of The Caribbean...  Composers like Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, John Williams, Michael Kamen, Alan Silvestri, James Newton Howard, Thomas Newman and James Horner are not to be messed with.  They are Gods.  I get stupidly excited when a new film comes out composed by one of the aforementioned divine beings.
Instrumental film music is perfect listening fodder for when you're doing work that requires lots of concentration or for when you need inspiration.

Most of my favourite mixes on 8tracks are of film scores and I thought I'd share them with you here:

Soundtrax Volume 1
Really atmospheric music from movies as well as video games and TV shows (mostly Lost)
 

Daydream to Somewhere Else
Moody and atmospheric; music from Inception, Atonement, Memoirs of a Geisha, Twilight...

Piano to Some Film Scores/Sountracks? Yes.  
Mostly piano versions of scores from Amelie, Moon and others...

Bengt [film score nerd no. 2] Sounds. 
Mellow scores from action/adventure films such as Braveheart, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter...

Epic Movie Soundtracks.
It's all in the name.  Really powerful stuff here from How To Train Your Dragon, Iron Man, Dragonheart...

Productivity V.
Again, some of the more melancholy stuff from Lost, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Band of Brothers...

Amazing Soundtracks.
This is one of my favourite mixes as it's quite an eclectic mix.  It includes stuff from Eminem (8 Mile), Inception, Kill Bill, The Dark Knight, The Godfather...


Do you have any suggestions for excellent film soundtracks? Please share in the comments below!

5 Tips to Keep Calm When Looking at Your Blog Reader


When I go away for a while I simultaneously dread and look forward to checking out my blog reader.  I look forward to it because of all the delicious posts waiting to be devoured but I also dread the sheer number of them.  It takes time picking out the good'uns from the not so good'uns.  

This is why I'm practicing 5 simple rules to help keep me from feeling overwhelmed.

1. Only read articles that you are genuinely interested in/are relevant to you.
I often feel like I have to read everything in front of me.  I have this irrational fear that I'll miss something super cool and relevant to me.  As hard as you try, you cannot read EVERYTHING.  This is fact and no wishing on the universe will change this.

2. Allocate time in your day to catch up on blogs and don't go over it.  In all honesty, there are probably more important things you should be doing. Discipline is key!

3.  Start culling.  There are several blogs I haven't checked in on for a while and there's a blatant reason for this.  At times like this, it's time to get brutal and start culling.

4.  Don't get bogged down by chronology. It's absolutely fine to skim through and go straight to those posts which are relevant to you rather than reading them in chronological order.  Use the 'Like' button on Bloglovin to save posts for reading later on.

5.  Have fun categorizing.  I imagine like most people, I have my blogs sorted in groups on Bloglovin. If you don't, then I highly recommend doing this.  This is tip number one to prevent feeling overhwhelmed!  I always find myself checking out one group more than an other often leaving the other groups unread for days and days.  Every once in a while though I like to peruse my unread list as it is - without discriminating against groups.  It feels great and refreshing reading up on topics and new information that would otherwise be left unread.

Have you any useful tips? Please share!  
Have a great Sunday! We're off to go exploring in the woods again!

My Favourite Time of the Day


Matt would kill me if he knew I'd posted this picture. Shhh...

As much as I'd love for us to look as glamourous in the mornings as the couple in the top picture I wouldn't change the sight I woke up to this morning for anything in the world.  Kitty spent the entire night sleeping between our two pillows - where it's warm and cozy now that it's getting chillier.

I love our mornings.  We lay in bed for an hour or so, even on weekdays, cuddling kitty and talking about anything and everything - baby names, moving house, weekend plans, what we're having for dinner...  I think the mornings have always been when most of our important decisions are made It's my favourite time of day.  Soon enough, you'll be seeing the addition of a little bubba in this pic.

I hope it never changes!

What's your favourite time of day?

Friday Pinkness

  1.Handmade Woollen Mittens on Etsy // 2. Bird Nest Photograph on Etsy // 3. Strawberries found on Tumblr // 4. Light Pink Jumper from H&M // 5. Bag from H&M // 6. Chevron Pillow Covers from Etsy // 7. Pink Studded Shoes // 8. Picture of Sweater from Tumblr // 9. Cotton Candy from We Heart it

The colour pink makes me supremely happy.  This week, all my favourite things pink are here on the blog for your viewing pleasure.   

Doesn't Lana look just fabulous in that light pink jumper from H&M?  It's on my wishlist!  You can see more pictures of Lana Del Rey and her H&M holiday campaign here.

 Happy Friday and happy weekend folks!

A Love Letter: Part 5

Finally, we come to the last post of the series and with it some breathtaking views! Is there anything more wonderful and awe-inspiring than standing at the top of Rockefeller Centre and gazing upon the expanse of Central Park?  Many people would argue that there is but there are few things quite as unique a patch of greenery the size of a county amidst such a bustling city on a tiny little island.    

Beautiful doesn't even begin to describe it....

  All photos were taken by me with instagram.  Please don't be mean and use them without my permission. Thanks! But if you'd like to follow me, you can do so here!

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You can donate to the Red Cross to help American relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy here and you can also donate through iTunes.  We should also remember that the US was not the only country hit hard by Sandy - the hurricane caused immense damage, including death, in Cuba and the Carribbean and we shouldn't forget to help these relatively poorer regions by donating through Operation USA.

P.S. - In the spirit of giving, please also visit my Movember page and give whatever you can to raise awareness and help fight the fight for men's health.  Men do so much for Breast Cancer Awareness - let's pay it forward!

Please feel free to share your memories and loves of NYC in the comments below.
It's almost the weekend. Yipee!

A Love Letter: Part 4

NYC is absolutely stunning at night.  It literally shines.  It glimmers.  The lights of the skyscrapers step in for the concealed stars.  My sister is so lucky in that her office has a rooftop terrace with an absolutely breathtaking view which you can see in the last two pics.  They have loads of bbqs and events up there. I can't even imagine what it was like when the city was plunged into darkness during Sandy.
 
All photos were taken by me with instagram.  Please don't be mean and use them without my permission. Thanks!

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You can donate to the Red Cross to help American relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy here and you can also donate through iTunes.  We should also remember that the US was not the only country hit hard by Sandy - the hurricane caused immense damage, including death, in Cuba and the Carribbean and we shouldn't forget to help these relatively poorer regions by donating through Operation USA.

P.S. - In the spirit of giving, please also visit my Movember page and give whatever you can to raise awareness and help fight the fight for men's health.  Men do so much for Breast Cancer Awareness - let's pay it forward!

Please feel free to share your memories and loves of NYC in the comments below.
Have a wonderful Wednesday!

A Love Letter: Part 3

What do I love more than FOOD?!  Very few things.  My cat and my family to name two things.  NYC is absolutely the place to indulge in all things food-related.  I walked into Wholefoods at Columbus Circle and instantly knew I was in my Mecca.  Sprinkles is my own personal heaven.  Soft pretzels at every street corner - I'm 100% sold.

We ate a lot of food.  And then we ate some more.  My love letter to NYC series continues with my love for their food.


This is fondue at Dylan's Candy Bar


This is how happy I am to be having fondue at Dylan's Candy Bar


My eyes were as big as this pizza.  I love me some pizza.

Baked by Melissa.  Little tiny bits of bite-size cupcake heaven.  With flavours like Mint Choc Chip, Cookie Dough, S'mores, Chocolate Chip Pancake and Peanut Butter & Jelly, how can you NOT go insane?! (That's my sister! Isn't she pretty?)

Oh, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  Even though you're one mega tourist trap I am a slave to your ways.  I cannot resist the shrimp.  I cannot resist the Forrest Gump decor.  I cannot resist the Greenbow Chicken Strips.  I've been to 7 Bubbas across the globe and plan to visit them all before I die.

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You can donate to the Red Cross to help American relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy here and you can also donate through iTunes.  We should also remember that the US was not the only country hit hard by Sandy - the hurricane caused immense damage, including death, in Cuba and the Carribbean and we shouldn't forget to help these relatively poorer regions by donating through Operation USA.

P.S. - In the spirit of giving, please also visit my Movember page and give whatever you can to raise awareness and help fight the fight for men's health.  Men do so much for Breast Cancer Awareness - let's pay it forward!

Please feel free to share your memories and loves of NYC in the comments below.
Have a wonderful Tuesday!

A Love Letter: Part 2

When I went over to New York to help my sister move, she had just started a new job.  While she spent her days in the office I was left with loads of time to explore the city at my own pace.  One of my favourite things to do was grab a soft pretzel and walks for hours through the city's AMAZING museums.  I'd hire the audio guides, which I rarely ever do, and get lost in the art and history surrounding me.  It was absolutely my favourite thing to do in New York!

 METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

I adored the Egyptian Wing of this museum. There were so many interesting and eerie pieces and their descriptions on the plaques and in the audio guide were really informative.  I felt like I was in Indiana Jones!


The American Wing was also a real treat!  What I loved most about it is that they'd created a section which showcased rooms exactly as they were from various time periods.  From the early 1800s through to the early 20th century.  All the furniture and deco was authentic and walking into these rooms was truly like stepping back in time!



MUSEUM OF MODERN ART


GUGGENHEIM




AMERICAN GIRL PLACE
All photos were taken by me with instagram.  Please don't be mean and use them without my permission. Thanks!

This place wasn't so much a museum as a VERY expensive doll store! But on the upper levels they had a museum of all the historical dolls in the settings of their era.  I was in love!  Molly in 1944, Felicity in 1774 and Samantha, my favourite, in 1904, amongst others!  My sister and cousin each had our own doll when we were younger and we had so so much fun with them!

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You can donate to the Red Cross to help American efforts towards Hurricane Sandy here and you can also donate through iTunes.  We should also remember that the US was not the only country hit hard by Sandy - the hurricane caused immense damage, including death, in Cuba and the Carribbean and we shouldn't forget to help these relatively poorer regions by donating through Operation USA.

P.S. - In the spirit of giving, please also visit my Movember page and give whatever you can to raise awareness and help fight the fight for men's health.  Men do so much for Breast Cancer Awareness - let's pay it forward!

Tomorrow, I'll be sharing pics of my favourite foodie experiences while I was out there...

Please feel free to share your memories and loves of NYC in the comments below.
Have a wonderful week!