Summer holidays

Every year, around this time, I find myself in that state of mind where you cannot really comprehend the fact that Summer holidays are around the corner, and where you cannot imagine what life will be like having NO DEADLINES whatsoever, and where you certainly cannot imagine yourself longing for studying in September again. Well, that time of the year is here, because coming Wednesday, I’ll be having my last exam EVER. *Insert hands-up emoji*

Here are five things I definitely wanna be doing between coming Thursday and September 1st:

  • GO TO THE BEACH. The boyfriend and I are not going to travel, but making regular beach visits here in The Netherlands should make up for that a little. I always tend to forget how amazing a simple afternoon beach stroll + food and cocktails afterwards (at the local beach club of course) can be.
  • INVEST IN BEAUTY. Can you believe I’ve never been to a beautician before? Well that’s a top priority this Summer. Plus new nails, a proper hair cut and who knows what else.
  • WORK ON MY KNITWEAR SHOP. I’m always telling the boyfriend that I’d love to knit and crochet all day every day, and now I can finally do so. I hope to design some nice blankets and pillow covers to be put on sale when the cold days return.
  • BOOST MERELY MEREL. Feeling like I’m getting on the right track with my blog, all I need to do now is invest time to post more and do some research into SEO, web design, and photography.
  • SELL STUFF. I’ve been selling a lot of clothes and other stuff lately and I can’t even begin to tell you how much that clears my head. I wanna get rid of everything unnecessary and surround myself with things I really love only.

Hope you’ll be having some time off soon too, and don’t hesitate to tell me your Summer plans!

Photo credits (the ones that I could find) | @airdaisy_ desk | Jenny Martinsson lillies | Amy knitted blanky | Mija Flatau champagne | Find them all & more on my Pinterest

merely Merel

Fired by the desire to adhere to the a less is more kinda lifestyle, I’m continuously trying to create a coherent, minimalistic wardrobe that consists of a limited amount of clothes that can be easily combined with each other. In my case, however, this often results in me buying neutral colors and basic pieces only, which leads to plain and boring outfits. Not exactly the minimalistic Scandinavian effortless chic normcore look I was going for.

So at times, it’s important to look for those simple pieces that will still fit many of your clothes, but have something that is different, that stands out, and that gives your outfit just that little extra. I knew I found such a piece when I saw this gorgeous top with flared sleeves on Silvia. It was featured in my wishlist (see sidebar >>) for a couple of weeks before I decided to click it home, but I’m so happy I did!

The top can be called neutral in many ways: it has a discrete, blue-white stripe that is barely noticeable, and a simple v-neck. The sleeves however, don’t get me started on the sleeves haha! They add such a feminine touch to this outfit that I immediately decided to order myself a black top with flared sleeves as well.

Just as Silvia, I figured this top didn’t need much more than a jeans (and some beige suede dress shoes that score high on multifuctionality). The only drawback I can think of is that the sleeves don’t really fit into your regular coat (this is something Silvia struggled with too, I believe). Lucky for me, I’m quite a coat addict, so I dug up my most oversized one and the sleeves didn’t get too crinkly.

At the moment, I’m still in the middle of putting together a Summer wardrobe (too late for that, yes I know), so I’d be happy to know how you manage to keep your outfits interesting!

flared sleeves

fringed coat

beige suede shoes

flared sleeves

flared sleeves

Zara top | H&M jeans (similar) | Manfield shoes | H&M coat (kind of similar)

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avoid stress

I often find myself wondering how on earth it is possible that — even after those often celebrated inventions such internet, cars, and the laundry machine — we still find ourselves incredibly busy all day every day. We continuously think of ways to do things faster (and often succeed in doing so), but I guess we simultaneously think of ways to do more in the same amount of time. So instead of ending up with more off-time, we end up with a serious need for multitask-skills to tackle that impressive to do list.

At various points in my life (and I think every single one of you can relate), I’ve found myself on the edge of my capabilities. Last year, it happened again and I knew I could not go on the way I did forever, so the last couple of months I’ve tried to make some changes. This post is devoted to the things that worked for me — that helped me unwind and avoid stress. Perhaps it’ll help you too!

avoid stress

SAY ‘NO’
This is probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever tried. I’ve noticed that multiple activities on one day make me nervous, so I limited myself to two. For example, when I have class in the morning, I can meet up with a friend later that day, but that will then be it, even if I have plenty of time in between. I’ll devote that time to myself; to study, to get some cleaning done, or whatever, as long as it doesn’t take me somewhere I’m expected to be. Naturally, this is something that might be different for everyone (I’m not that spontaneous and outgoing, so I can easily feel overwhelmed), but consciously saying ‘no’ to activities in favor of some off-time you can spend however you like really can be liberating.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO MISS OUT
The above advice goes hand in hand with this one, because those who have difficulties saying ‘no’ often ‘suffer’ from a fear of missing out. It can be hard to suppress this feeling, because nowadays, the world seems to move so fast and everyone around you seems to be on top of their game. It’s hard not to try to keep up. Battle this fear with the notion that quality is always more important than quantity. You don’t have to be dancing the night away every Saturday night, going to a big festival every once in a while can make you just as happy. The same goes for work or studies: Don’t be afraid to tackle one task after another instead of everything at once. Doing things more slowly enables you to do it with more focus, so you’ll enjoy it more, learn from it better, and — hopefully — reach a more satisfying end result.

Kobo e-reader

TAKE TIME TO UNWIND
Don’t fall in the same the trap I did when I figured that doing things you love automatically means it’s relaxing or unwinding. I love my studies, I love blogging, I love hanging out with friends — don’t get me wrong — but when something is in some way ‘pre-arranged’ or ‘obligatory’, you’re not able to completely relax. It still is something you ‘have to do’. Unwinding, for me, is to sit down and to do whatever I like to do, even if that is nothing in particular, and — even more importantly — to not feel guilty about that.

DO SOMETHING WITHOUT A PURPOSE
Closely related to the above is something I find myself struggling with over and over again: to be able to do something without a purpose. Each time I find something new I like to do to relax — the latest example being knitting — I somehow manage to turn it into something with a purpose — a one-day-in-the-future-knitting-shop. So now all my knitting evolves around improving myself, which totally misses the point and the purpose it once served, namely relaxation. Not that I don’t like the evolution, but I knew I had to find another activity-without-a-purpose.
In my case, the Kobo e-reader my boyfriend gave me a while ago (I’ve got this waterproof one, very holiday-appropriate!), and which features on the photos in this post, has fulfilled this quest. Reading a book had been crossed off of my relax-activities-list long ago, since I thought I already did enough reading for uni. Besides, why read something that is not of an informative nature? That will not provide me with ready-to-go tips and advice or other kinds of input? Well, that was exactly the wrong thought, fueled by the wish to be continuously productive, even when reading ‘for fun’. The easiness of this e-reader made me start reading just for the sake of reading again. To pick up a ‘book’ and get lost in the story and think of nothing else. It’s sincerely rewarding to find a ‘purposeless’ activity that you like!

cat in bed

06 relax 05

Well, here’s to a lovely new day to make some changes in your schedule if needed!

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Summer moodboard

Wowsj, I haven’t posted for a whopping two weeks, but please don’t be mad, ‘cause I’m kiiiiinda on top of my game when it comes to the rest of my life =D. Here are five random things that keep my busy!

  • I’ve changed the way I work on tasks — with the help of my beloved Productivity Planner — and this has guided me through the finishing stages of two huge study deadlines that I was really looking up against. Instead of alternating between several tasks, I now dedicate much more time to one project, and basically don’t stop untill it’s done (unless it takes more than five hours to finish it). On the one hand, this creates this restless idea in my head that there’s still so much else to work on, on the other hand (and this turned out to be more important), it enables me to cross off tasks from my to do list that have been there for way too long. Let’s continue that this week! #highfive
  • I’ve received my Triangl bikini and found the perfect denim cut-offs, so now I officially can’t wait for Summer holidays anymore. Still need some serious Summer wardrobe updates, such as skirts.
  • Two of my friends are organizing a trip to Portugal for all of us next year! It’s gonna be a villa-with-swimming-pool-kinda thing and it’s going to be ah-mazing. The boyfriend and I are probably gonna travel to some paradise destination in November, so if you have some nice suggestions for that time of year, I’d love to hear!
  • I sold one of my crocheted blankets and I now I can’t be more motivated to create more! (Have you seen my pink baby blanket, it’s the softest and cutest thing I’ve made so far.)
  • I ran a 5k in 38 minutes last week (what a joke ><) and I really hope I’ll feel like running again this week (probably not, but hey).
  • Planning an outfit-, lifestyle-, and giveaway post as we speak, so don’t go anywhere =D.

Hope you’re all having a lovely week!

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Monday Moodboard

I’ve been thinking about a way to regularly share some kind of personal update, reflecting the things I’ve been up to as well as the thoughts on my mind, while being inspiring all at the same time. And well, I think the answer is easy enough: moodboards. A moodboard is more than simply copy-pasting the pins from my Pinterest account to my blog, because it requires a selection process that reflects my current interests and – of course – mood. Therefore, it gives me an opportunity to talk a little about my personal life and recent thoughts, while providing you with some good old inspiration at the same time (because snaps taken by yours truly can be found on Instagram already). I’m certainly not the only one publishing these kinds of posts, so I admit I was greatly inspired by Jules’ weekly collages (love reading those). Hope you’ll like it as much as I do, ‘cause I’m planning to make this a regular Monday post.

WORK, WORK, WORK
What’s been on my mind most of all lately is starting on my thesis. I’m annoyed by the fact that I can’t do so because I need to finish some other courses first, especially after watching my fellow students from other universities present their research at a small conference last weekend. It gets me all motivated to — also — fill my days with early morning coffees, books, and a laptop.

WHITE WARDROBE 
On a more fashionable note, it’s almost Summer now and my wardrobe needs some serious updates. I’m planning to fill it with a lot of romantic whites and flared sleeves. I don’t know why I’m craving for this kind of femininity, ‘cause I normally don’t, but trying new things is always a good idea right? There’s a flared-sleeved-blouse-outfit-post being written as we speak (check out a sneak preview here), so I’m working on it haha! Oh, and I’ve decided to grow out the bleach in my hair and go for a longer, fuller, and most importantly, healthier lob to complement my Summer-wardrobe-to-be.

STACKS OF COZY
Contrary to these Summer feelings is my desire to create a whole pile of cozy crocheted blankets. I’ve launched the Donna blanket in blue (check my modest ‘shop‘ here) and I’m working on a beige-white one right now. Can’t wait to have it stocked in more of these pretty color combinations, so I’ll feel like I’m running a proper knitwear shop. I’m also working on a knitted blanky in the softest merino wool, so keep an eye in my Insta for future progress pics.

SNACCIDENT
Last but not least: let’s cut out the snaccidents, ‘cause my daddy gave me a new Triangl bikini for a birthday present so shit just got real.

😉 Happy Monday! (And make sure to follow my Pinterest account — link below — if you like these inspirational pictures!)

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outfit pictures

Many of you who also run a blog probably know the struggle: finding the perfect location to shoot your outfit pictures. The ‘big’ fashion bloggers just always seem to find the places that work, that complement their outfits without being too distracting. Of course, many of them travel to the most lovely places all over the world, but still, it really demands serious skills. So, how to do it? (And this is as much as a motivational post to me as it – hopefully – is to you!)

GO ON AN ADVENTURE
Improving your outfit pictures by choosing the right location is, in my experience, a matter of wandering through your own neighborhood, looking for those hidden spots that might just work perfect. That takes time, time you may not want to ‘waste’, and time that might screw up the lighting or your hair and make-up while it is ticking away, such as with this shoot (even though I loved the graffiti wall in the end). But it’s so worth it, because you can always go back to that place you know works well (for example, my blogging friend Lauren and I always have this location as a plan B, in case we don’t find anything).

JUST GIVE IT A TRY
The next thing, when you think you find some place cool, is to just shoot away and check afterwards if it indeed worked. Because sometimes, you can only decide on that after you’ve seen the pictures. Just as those jeans that turn out to make your butt look fat, locations can disappoint in hindsight. For example, the golden hour sun could not make this location look any better (even though I thought the rhythmic windows might look good). On the other hand, this place, with its weird white pillars, didn’t convince me at first, but turned out to be awesome in the pictures (if I may say so myself).

LEARN AND IMPROVE
Recently, I went to this cute place some forty-five minutes of cycling away. I always kinda knew of its existence, but never thought it worthwhile to go all the way there. Well, when we arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes: pretty houses and white facades everywhere! In the end, we shot these pictures in front of the river, which (I now think) actually doesn’t do justice to the prettiness around there (there’s too much going on I think). But at least these photos turned out airy and light, which is what I was going for, and I’ll definitely return for another shoot.

And while we continue to improve ourselves, let’s be inspired by looking some of my favorite bloggers, who perfectly understand which locations work: Anne (queen of the pretty facades), Ebba (queen of the streets), and Lydia (queen of lighting).

ripped mom jeans

black blazer

merely Merel

mom jeans

H&M t-shirt (dark grey) | H&M mom jeans (similar) | Mango blazer | Fred de la Bretonière sandals (also pretty)

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London Big Ben

As has been the case since forever, my studies are the reason for not updating the blog as much as I want to. Now I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but I do feel like I need to keep you guys a little informed about that as well. Also because I’ve got some nice study-trip-to-the-British-Museum-in-London pictures left to show you haha.

Actually, those little fun trips to great places with great museums with great antiquity collections are the thing that keep me going at the moment. London is already quite a while ago (February), but I went to Cologne recently and there is probably more fun to come during Summer (nothing planned yet though). As some of you know (or might have guessed by now), I’m studying ancient history, and my focus is on ancient Greek art. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s say it involves a lot of research and – hurray – traveling to all those beautiful ancient Greek archaeological sites and accompanying museums (check out my posts on our road trip through Greece here).

At the moment, I’ve finally (almost) reached the last stage of my masters: writing a thesis. Since my masters program focuses on doing research, a thesis is kinda like the icing on the cake. Contrary to students from other master programs – who often look up against that horrible thesis – research is what I have been trained for, what I love to do most, and what I’ve been looking forward to for six years. So you can say I’m pretty damn excited!

Right now, I’ve still got a smaller research paper and a course on Ancient Greek to finish (the latter of which is horribly difficult and exhaustive by the way), but on the sideways (is that a proper saying?) I’ve already started on my thesis. Next September, it will be full-time-thesis-time and I’m looking forward to that more than ever. So yes, I’m adding another six months to my studies, and I think that was one of my best planning decisions ever, ‘cause the pressure for a fantastic thesis is ON and I just need time to take it easy now.

I’ll probably tell you more about the subject of my thesis in the future, but for now, let’s pray Summer comes sooner rather than later. And tell me, what are you guys up to right now? And do you have any plans for Summer?

marble floor

London British Museum

Cat British Museum

Meow <3

London British Museum

Venus British Museum

Just a little did you know: Any ancient sculpture of a naked female is in all probability meant to represent Aphrodite/Venus, goddess of Love. Who, by the way, is the mommy of Eros/Cupid, that chubby boy with the bow and arrow (who wasn’t chubby in Antiquity, that’s a Renaissance idea).

London

Relief British Museum

It’s all in the details. And as my friend said well: “Look! He’s flying a Hema smoked sausage!” – Dutchies will understand hihi.

Ancient penis rings

They had everything in Antiquity, even penis rings. Why don’t they sell replicas of these in museum shops?

London

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knit and crochet shop

Now that my thesis is one of the last obstacles to tackle before I’ll graduate, I find myself being questioned by family and friends all the time about what it is that I’m gonna do after. Truth is, I don’t know. Yes, I’d love to have a job or PhD position in my field (= ancient Greek art, so if anyone knows a vacancy… =p), but chances are small that will actually happen. So lately I’ve been allowing myself to dream a little and I can’t help to come to the conclusion that I’d love (LOVE) to run a knit and crochet shop (in combination with a blog haha).

Probably many among you have similar dreams: the thought of running your own business is simply such an appealing one, isn’t it? It is hard work, but doesn’t everyone have that one thing that they’re crazy about? That they’d love doing every second of the day if it were possible? Imagine making money with it! So yeah, here’s my modest plan for now.

knit and crochet shop

LEARN TO KNIT AND CROCHET BETTER
I know the basics and I know them well. So far so good. But I’m continuously trying new stitches, new patterns, and new designs. The possibilities are pretty much endless and it’s all so rewarding to learn new stuff, all knitters will agree right? Well mastered techniques are naturally at the foundation of a shop in handmade products.

CREATE ‘COLLECTION’ PIECES
Continuously trying out new yarns and designs results in a hella lot of swatches, half finished stuff or finished but unsatisfying pieces. However, a good shop should have a nice collection of basics in its own unique style. Finding my style in knitting and crocheting is gonna take some time, but I do wanna start with ‘collection’ pieces that can be made in different colors and that can easily be customized (think size, color combination, or even stitch pattern). The blanket featured in this post is my first collection piece, hooray! For me, it’s easy and relatively quick to make (I say ‘relatively’, ‘cause it still takes ages, but I’m trying to increase my speed haha), for future customers it’s highly customizable and cheap (thanks to the acrylic yarn that comes in a thousand colors). Right now I’m working on a sweater as a second collection piece, and I simply can’t waittttt to see how that will turn out.

SPREAD THE WORD
In the end, it’s mostly about letting people know about my future knit and crochet shop. So I already put online a shop page and started selling via Marktplaats. In the shop, you’ll only find the collection pieces just mentioned. Since those are the results of endless try-outs, it will take a while before the shop is filled with things I love to make and sell. For now, only this blanky is listed. Besides here and on Marktplaats, it’s very much necessary to finally teach myself the ins and outs of social media. This has been on my blog-to-do-list for ages and it will benefit both my blog and my future shop. Can anyone recommend a good and up-to-date book about social media (especially Instagram?), I’d love to hear!

And well, that’s it for now. There’s a thesis out there that still needs to be written, so I can’t focus on all of this too much, even though I’d rather spend my days knitting and crocheting with coffee on my balcony. In the meantime, raise your hand if you’re dreaming about your own little business as well, because I would LOVE to hear about it!

crocheting a blanket

knit and crochet shop

I’m selling this blue beauty for only €25,- and it’s also possible to choose your own colors. Again, more info here and don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re interested!

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Productivity Planner

Many of you can probably relate when I say that boosting my productivity is on my forever to do list. Juggling between university, work, blogging, a household and countless little projects (check out this one hihi) – not to mention a social life – can be quite overwhelming sometimes. So I always find myself on the lookout for something that might improve my productivity on a daily basis. Here’s a recent discovery I found to be totally worth sharing with you guys: the Productivity Planner.

The Productivity Planner is the second business baby of Alex Ikonn and Uj Ramdas, known for their first project: the Five Minute Journal. I had heard of the Five Minute Journal before (which to me seems like a great tool for improving happiness), but soon enough encountered the Productivity Planner project on Kickstarter and Instagram (@beproductive). That fabulous, black-and-gold piece of stationary heaven made my heart jump, even more so when I read about the ideas behind it:

  • writing down tasks…
  • having fewer priorities…
  • and working undisturbed on one task at a time
    …significantly improve productivity

And that’s what this planner is made for. After an extensive (and, admittedly, somewhat incoherent) introduction, you’ll find space for a weekly plan, daily plans, and a weekly review. They have in common that beforehand, you need to prioritize the most important tasks. The quote “if this was the only thing you did today you’d be satisfied” helped me enormously, ‘cause most of the time, those are the tasks that not necessarily need to be done now, but the ones I’m reluctant to do. And starting off the day doing just that, makes me feel like a bosssss taking care of her shit! #girlboss #etc

04 productivity planner 04

Another thing that really gave me an insight in how exactly I use my time, is the so-called Pomodoro Technique. The five circles behind each task symbolize twenty-five minutes of undisturbed work (a “pomodoro”), followed by a five minute break. The idea behind this is that, because of the breaks, a two-and-a-half-hour task doesn’t seem too overwhelming. Plus, you’re less prone to distraction.

Now I don’t usually have a problem concentrating, so working for just twenty-five minutes seemed like a joke to me. However, the breaks reminded me to get myself some coffee, tea, or water. And the two-and-a-half-hour maximum per task really made me realize that I used to make my tasks way to big. I mean, the “chapter 24 of ancient Greek” that previously featured my daily to do list rather takes five hours. Still it was there, next to “chapter 25 of ancient Greek”, “reading this or that book for my thesis”, and “cleaning the bathroom”. In other words: I used to set myself impossible goals. Thinking and planning in twenty-five minute spans helped me get a grip on how long tasks actually take and what can realistically be done in a day. Believe me, then you’ll learn to prioritize!

Productivity Planner

Needless to say, the Productivity Planner is a wonderfully designed notebook: It has a minimalistic looking, textured hardcover with golden lettering, pages of quality paper with text in just the right fonts (at least that’s my humble opinion), inspiring quotes are everywhere to be found, and it lays flat (!). Okay, I feel like I can’t stress this enough, but IT LAYS FLAT. It lays flat you guys! In short, this planner reminds me of Moleskine notebooks, and that’s something I don’t say that often.

I pre-ordered the Productivity Planner even before it was officially being produced, but certainly have no regrets in buying it. If you’re interested, it’s on the market now for $24,95 and a hella lot of shipping costs if you’re a Dutchie, and you can buy it here. Don’t order too fast though, ‘cause I’ve stocked a few and will be giving one away to you soon! Make sure to follow along so you don’t miss it.

04 productivity planner 03

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black bomber

Sooooo sorry for not blogging for ages, but I’m busy with a lot of stuff I wanted to do for ages (that is, cleaning up my house, head and life, can anyone relate?). Please follow along on Instagram to stay up to date on a (most of the time) daily basis and please don’t if you don’t want to #nohardfeelings.

But here I am for a little while, with an outfit sporting three new pieces that might not be super excited stylewise, but at least they’re black, and that’s something to always be excited about. I’m talking about my striped turtleneck, pointy chelsea boots and shiny black bomber jacket. I think the first two speak for themselves (they’re the kind of simple, but always a good idea pieces), the latter needs some elaboration. Because this is not just a bomber jacket, no, this is the bomber jacket that once featured my wishlist (>>) in burgundy. Now it is also available in black! With just the right amount of shine – not too in yo face – and the right amount of elastic bands – that is: not on the waist. I have a relatively long torso, so something with an elastic waistband always makes me look out of proportion. Still, I didn’t wanna miss out on the bomber trend, because its coolness is just right up my sleeve (never been one for the girly-girly stuff), so I clicked home this jacket right away.

Hope you like the look and I hope to get back on track with regular blogging sooner than later! Oh, if you didn’t already, don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win the Polette (prescription) glasses of your choice (click on the button in the sidebar >>)!

black chelsea boots

black bomber

back outfit

black bomber

Monki turtleneck | H&M skinnies | Sacha boots | Weekday bomber

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