Entries Tagged as 'Inspiration'

Jewellery with meaning



The ring / JessOnThames

Ever since Jaime over at Angloyankophile wrote this piece about jewellery with meaning, I’ve been thinking about it.

Maybe its one reason why I find myself on the bus so often, headed towards the V&A on an idle weekend. Heaps of items with meaning lie in those halls… and I go to just stare at everything.

Staring is maybe the wrong word… I gaze with curiosity (and laugh at myself for the mushiness of that last sentence…) But its true – sometimes I’m surprised at how my imagination kicks into gear in places like that.

I think I’m fascinated with the V&A because I know that behind every gorgeous item, there is a story. Someone’s life is behind every object. Its why I was fascinated by Jessie Burton’s book The Miniaturist. Burton came up with the idea for the story after seeing an intricate doll’s house in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I’m fascinated by the stories behind things people make.

Jaime’s post resonated with me so much because the most precious item I own is a ring my family created for me after my grandmother passed away. Jewels, passed down through the generations, were some of the items she left behind and in particular, one necklace with three large stones. The necklace, while gorgeous in the 1920s, would probably be hard to find an occasion to wear these days and so my family had the stones cut down and fitted into two rings for my cousin and I.

We didn’t know anything about them until we found them in little tiny boxes under the Christmas tree one year. Mine is silver and hers is gold. I love to think that she’s always wearing hers in San Francisco as I wear mine in London. I haven’t taken it off for any extended period of time since the day I put it on.

At first, I stared at it constantly. I mean, this thing was SHINY. But with time, it has become a constant companion. Which doesn’t make it any less special. It is a portable memory I carry with me everywhere. It reminds me of their house in New Jersey, which I thought was the most magical place on earth as a child. It had perfectly manicured lawns and deer that would mysteriously eat my grandmother’s roses in the night. Lightening bugs would light up the trees in the evening and we were given sparklers on the 4th of July. We drew with chalk on the driveway and I would sneak up to my Dad’s old room and read the messages his friends had written on the walls. We’d sneak into the giant climbing tree in the front yard even though we knew we weren’t supposed to. We’d eat half a grapefruit every morning, without fail. We played Pass the Pigs for hours on end.

These days, its such a part of my everyday that it was nice to really think about it a bit more deeply again. The ring was with me as I drove my cats across the Channel to a new life in London and it was with me on safari in South Africa. It signed my visa application and my last two employment contracts. It swipes my Oyster card on the Tube everyday. It makes my coffee. It sits on my right hand as I type these posts – well… as I try to type these posts with a cat laying on my arm. Its been there for my most important decisions of the last few years. It accompanied me on my latest trip to Paris: my grandmother’s favorite city. Though it has yet to go on a “oh, you wouldn’t believe it, bateau mouche at sunset sailing in front of Notre Dame…” trip – an experience my grandmother couldn’t help but gush about to anyone who happened to mention France.

Thanks to Jaime for her inspiration and I would love to hear about pieces that mean something in your life.

How to survive a blog redesign



Sunday at JessOnThames

I currently find myself trapped in the delightful spiral of emotions that is a blog redesign. Its not that I do not enjoy the current design of Jess-On-Thames, but to be honest, I’ve outgrown it. I chose it when I was still living in Belgium and that feels like a long time ago already. I’ve changed, my blogged environment has most certainly changed and as such the nature of the blog has changed. So its high time.

But oh dear lord, how I underestimated the challenge I set myself before Christmas.

I’ve decided to teach myself how to pull together a design. I’ve upgraded to ProPhoto to have a bit more flexibility but still keep the WordPress platform I love. I’m designing my own logo (HA!), using a template design to get started but changing everything behind the scenes and frankly, just getting organised.

In an effort to reassure anyone who plans on going through this in the near future, I’d like to admit for the record, its not easy.

Here is what I would have liked to tell myself before starting this process:

1. Just resign yourself now to the fact that this process is probably going to take longer than you think it will if you want to do it yourself, no matter how much you plan in advance.

2. Prepare to be inspired. Do your research (you’ve probably already done a lot, which inspired you to redesign it in the first place…). I’ve paid particular attention to The Blog Stylists’ A-Z of Resources, The B Bar, Breanna Rose’s “For Bloggers” Column, Pugly Pixel’s Photoshop Basics (actually Pugly Pixel’s everything), A Beautiful Mess’s Blogging Tips, Designer Blogs Tutorials, and Note to Self’s Some Advice Column (which she wrote ages ago, but which I still come back to…).

3. Promptly forget almost everything above (or tuck it away in your brain somewhere if you can) except for the skills you learn. Its too easy to compare yourself to what other people are doing. Your blog needs to be a reflection of you. Not a collection of reflections of others.

4. Note that the above is much easier said than done.

5. Think about what you want to say. I mean REALLY think about it.

6. GET ORGANISED. This has been the biggest flaw of my current blog. I just didn’t think about the fact that people might use it as a resource. I didn’t have those ambitions. So what started as a platform for friendly rants and musings is being organised into travels, thoughts on being an expat, London adventures and other stories.

7. Test out plugins. Play with your design. Play with your photos. Rearrange everything! Drive yourself nuts until you are so disorganised that you need to repeat step 6.

8. Get smarter about categories & tags that reflect your content and that means going back through a few years of posts. Deleting some old ones. Updating some others.

9. Ask your friends what they think about your progress.

10. Put yourself in a new reader’s shoes. What will they come to find?

11. Put yourself in a long-time reader’s shoes. Why do they visit?

12. Use this Organized Wallpaper for your desktop.

13. Vow to take a photography course and spend time with friends who can teach you things.

14. Take a break because you are pretty sure your head is going to explode from over-thinking.

15. Grab some nice paper and your favorite pen.

16. Make a giant list of things you love.

17. Make a giant list of places you want to visit.

18. Make a giant list of activities you want to do in your own city.

19. Remember why you love blogging to begin with.

20. And get back to the redesign when you are ready.

The long and short of it is, I’m still here. But going through the above.

In the meantime, instagramming like the addict I am and over on Twitter.

Super, Pretty, Funny n°47



Christmas with Pippa

So I have watched Love Actually, I’ve put up the tree, I’m even playing my Christmas playlist (see below) and yet there is still something that is holding me back from feeling like this Christmas is really here. Its coming too fast! I don’t have time to savour it.

Slow down, Christmas. SLOW DOWN. Just a bit.*

I’m still cracking up over this picture from the weekend. Pippa and I will be here taking in the decorations in our pjs… in the meantime, here are some of my favorite recent reads & watches.


This most adorable of movie trailers

The White House welcomed 100 travel bloggers yesterday to announce priorities for study abroad programmes. Bravo. (Follow along with the talks here: #WHTravelBloggers)

The NYTimes gift guide

The Voyageur’s travel itinerary for Japan

I always LOVE the way NPR structures their best books lists (bookmark this one folks)


Margo’s visit to one of the prettiest towns in France

In the moment with Michelle Dockery

Jen’s trip to Marrakech

OK Go does it again – their music videos are amazing – there are no special effects here


Charts for people obsessed with Serial (with thanks to Robin!)

Kate Spade + Anna Kendrick = brilliance

Victoria Beckham being funny

*I likely also feel this way because I have managed to avoid Oxford and Regents Streets as well as Covent Garden during this period. Nor have I been subjected to the more annoying of the Christmas carols… all in perspective…

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