25.4.13

Things I Love Thursday

This week I decided to join in on the fun at Poppytalk and take part in the Things I Love Thursday round up! That's one of the things I love about the blogging community, finding new ways to connect with other bloggers. Have a look on Jan's post to see who else took part this week!

This week's picks are all things that already do or would make my everyday life a little bit more fun.


1. Silly Two colour pens from Mochi Things
2. Orange sandals with cute bow by Georgia Rose available from Sarenza. I already got these a few weeks ago but still haven't been able to wear them... Spring where are you?!!
3. Dress patterns by Deer & Doe. This dress has a really nice shape a lovely detail at the back...I don't know how to use a sewing machine but I'd like to learn just so I can make this dress. Picking the fabric would be so much fun!
4. Gorgeous necklace from the Color Theory collection by Cursive Design. Very original and both quirky and ethnic at the same time. What an inspiration!
5. Free downloadable & printable monthly calendar by Zü. I use it in my studio and love finding out  what the new design looks like each month.
6. Party birds print from Les Zigouis. This cool print is up on our studio wall too, as a reminder not to take anything too seriously...

What do you think of this week's selection?

16.4.13

Discovered in Madrid: Citizens Collectible

So, here goes, I have a serious addiction for stationery. I'm always drooling over pretty notebooks and silly stickers. I never have enough! I was in Madrid just over a week ago selling my jewellery at the Nomada Market and came across the Citizens Collectible stand.


It was their stationery (penguin notebooks to be precise!) that caught my eye initially but they also do handmade dolls and they have this really clever and lovely concept: They make little 'citizens' to order. Designer Liliana starts with her own basic original illustration and then you can ask for customised features like hair colour, haircut, outfit, glasses etc... what a brilliant idea!

Her illustrations are also screenprinted onto notebooks, tote bags and even baby onesies but my favourites are the personalised dolls. It's like Liliana is creating a whole new population of little felt people! They would make a very original gift for a new family (complete with pets and everything!) or a newly married couple.

personalized dolls family with dogs




Let me know if you get some, I'd love to see what they look like! Oh, and in case you are wondering about the penguin notebook, it's actually in Liliana's other etsy shop right here.

14.4.13

A little trip to Porto... accommodation

Finally, the last part of my little guide to Porto with tips on where to stay. Well, it's just a review of the two places we stayed in really, but it might be of some help of you're planning a trip of your own!

6only guesthouse porto portugal hotel

We stayed for two nights in the beautiful 6Only guesthouse and loved it! It's run by a lovely young couple who renovated a really old derelict building and turned it into their guesthouse and their home (they live on the top floor). It's very much a cool boutique hotel and designed like one. You can tell they are really proud of the place and they genuinely enjoy looking after their guests, which makes you feel at home straight away. There's a lovely sitting room where you can hang out, listen to music and read a selection of books they have there for you (in case it's raining, which it was!). Mariana & Pedro are also full of great advice about the city and can recommend great local places to eat (that's how we found out about the amazing sandwich place, Casa Guedes).

The breakfast is delicious, lots of choice with some local pastries and quince jam homemade by Pedro's mom. And there is jazz playing in the background, what a lovely way to start the day! We decided to start doing that at home at the weekends too.

You can see below how much work was involved in renovating that building, assuming it looked like the one next door to it originally. What an exciting project that must have been!



The other place we stayed in (6only was booked out for the first two nights) was the B&B Hotel Porto Centro. It doesn't have as much character and feels a little bit less personal but it's a great option if you're on a tight budget and is amazing value at that price. The rooms are super clean, modern and the bathroom has one of those big rain showers, love them! The setting is also quite nice, it's in a gorgeous building that used to be a cinema.

Both places are really near each other and in a perfect location in the centre of the older part of town, a 5 minute walk to the metro. You can walk pretty much everywhere but the metro is handy for the airport.

And that's it for the review! I'll leave you with a couple more photos of Porto that I couldn't fit anywhere else :o)

tiled shop front porto portugal




12.4.13

A little trip to Porto... food guide

Hello everyone! It's time for part two of my little report on our weekend in Porto, with some restaurants and food tips in case you were planning on visiting soon (and you really should be...)


So yesterday I mentioned all the lovely things to see and do in Porto but one of the best things about the city is the food! How tasty and also how super cheap it is... We didn't know this on our first night (we had just arrived late that evening) and had dinner in a fancy looking Italian restaurant not realising it was way more expensive than everywhere else! I know, I know, we were in Portugal, why would we go to an Italian restaurant? Well, it was late, we were hungry and it looked really appetising. We figured they'd be using Portuguese ingredients so it'd still be ok! And we didn't regret it, it was amazing. We started off with an olive oil tasting, the waiter explained about the different types and added some herbs in too. Then we both had gorgeous pizzas with really thin crusts and the wine was incredible. I went for the expensive wine, again not realising that the cheapest one on the menu would probably be the quality & taste equivalent of a €10 glass in Dublin! Anyway, all this to say that yes, it was a bit expensive for Porto but so delicious we didn't regret it one bit. It's good to know that they do a great deal for lunch at €15 for a starter, main course, dessert, glass of wine and coffee.

1. La Ricotta - Rua de Passos Manuel no. 18 - up-market Italian restaurant with a great selection of Portuguese wines and olive oils, open seven days a week.

Pretty much every meal we had in Porto was great so I will just list out the other two places that stood out for us:

2. Casa Guedes - Praça dos Poveiros - This is a tiny old place that's getting very popular with the young locals. The decor is on the retro side (as in it looks like it hasn't been done up since the seventies!) and it is run by two brothers. Their big specialty is the sandwich (sandés) - you can ask for cheese or ham or else go for the hot pernil that they are famous for, they'll cut a juicy slice of roasted pork and put in a tasty bap. And it doesn't need anything else! To drink they'll bring you a bottle of house wine and then count how many glasses you had out of the bottle and just charge you for that. There aren't many tables there and it gets pretty packed but don't be put off, people tend to eat and go without hanging around too long. Another great thing about this place is it was just around the corner from our accommodation!

3. Jimão - Praça da Ribeira 11 - Amazing tapas and wine place on the old riverside square in the Ribeira area, beside the famous Dom Luis I bridge. We were kinda put off by the other touristy restaurants all around that had touts trying to lure us in and then we spotted this lovely little place. They have a great concept, you come in and they give you a tasting of several wines and tell you a bit about each of them so you can choose which one you'd like to have with your dinner! (and the tasting is free). It's a small family run restaurant that had only opened a few days before and you can tell these people are passionate about what they do. There is a great selection of delicious tapas, the portions are generous and they are very very reasonably priced. We had a skillet of quail's eggs, black pudding with potatoes & apples and a prawn, melon and yoghurt salad but you'll want to try everything on the menu!

Last thing about the food in Porto, don't forget to try the pastries! There are loads of little patisseries that double up as cafés where you can sit down and have a coffee or a freshly squeezed orange juice with a selection of small pastries. I don't remember their names apart from the famous pastel de nata but I'd say just point at anything that looks nice and try them out :o) That's what we did for our first breakfast and the total came to less than €7 for a coffee, a tea, two glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice and three pastries. Tasty bargain! And there's a nice atmosphere in those little places, people meeting up for a chat and a sweet thing, taking the time to enjoy life at their own pace. Well, it was Easter weekend, that might have something to do with the slow pace...but I like to think of it that way! 

10.4.13

A little trip to Porto... part one

There's been a lot of travelling here lately... I am just back from Madrid where I was taking part in a fair (more about this very soon) but just before that I had a lovely little break in Porto for Easter weekend. As you can tell from the pictures, it was pretty grey and wet all weekend but still, what a beautiful city!


azulejos church porto

azulejo porto portugal building green

azulejo building porto portugal blue

azulejos yellow blue porto portugal guide

old building derelict porto portugal guide

old derelict building porto portugal city guide

azulejos ceramic tile buildings porto portugal city guide

I think the main attraction for me were all the beautiful buildings, each with its own distinctive set of colourful azulejos (painted ceramic tiles). The great thing about them is that they are all different  so there's lots of variety but they fit really well with each other. A huge number of them are derelict, or very run down but in a way it added to the feel of the city, giving it an air of past grandeur. We were a bit puzzled by why so many buildings were left in that state, especially in the city centre where their location would be considered prime real estate so we decided to ask our lovely hosts at the B&B. Some of them are still inhabited by old ladies who have been there so many years that their rent is really low and the landlords can't afford to repair the facade. And for the others, there is simply not enough demand for anyone to do them up. People prefer to get cheaper, more spacious apartments on the outskirts of the city or near the sea, which is understandable. Still, we couldn't help but think about how nice it would be to refurbish one! Especially on one of those tiny windy little cobbled alleys around the cathedral. With all the clothes hanging on their lines and flowers on terrasses and balconies, it seemed like such a lovely, relaxed but tight-knit community living at a completely different pace of life. The only problem is we'd probably end up adopting all the poor stray cats in the area!





Another cool thing about the city is all the fun modes of transport it has to offer, most of them probably only around for tourists but who cares, I loved them all! From the old tram dragging its way along the windy roads in the old district to the little tiny funicular that goes down a hill so steep it looks like you're on a roller coaster.

funicular porto portugal

tramway porto portugal


Another highlight and definitely not to be missed is the garden around the Serralves Foundation. These are grounds and gardens that are very thoughtfully designed with great attention to detail and with some surprising pieces of contemporary art scattered around for good measure. It was raining heavily when we got there but it added to the experience, like the wet stone steps around this pound that were arranged in such a way that it looked like they were floating on the water. 

stone steps serralves foundation garden porto portugal

When the rain got heavier, we took refuge in the tea house for a hot cup of delicious red tea and a tasty lemon meringue pie. I'd recommend having a look in there even if the weather is nice though!

serralves foundation tea house porto portugal


Stay tuned for part two tomorrow with some recommendations for places to eat and accommodation tips!