BOOK CLUB | Five Memoirs About Moving to France

BOOK CLUB | Five Memoirs About Moving to France

One of the unexpected benefits of moving countries is that I get a lot of recommendations on books written by other expats about their experiences, and as someone who's never really been into the whole "memoir" genre, it's been a nice change to pick one up every few weeks. While a lot of them follow the "I met a charming French man and now we live happily ever after" narrative, here are five of the memoirs that I've read recently - and might provide a bit of inspiration if you're thinking of moving abroad...

I'm not sure whether this is more of a memoir or a parenting guide; probably more so the latter, but I'm going to include it in here anyway. I'd been meaning to read this book since before I was even pregnant, as a nanny hoping to find out the secret to getting kids to behave like the little schoolgirls from Madeline (luckily the kids I did end up looking after were incredibly well behaved without too much help from me!). This book details Druckerman's experience as an American expat raising three children in France with her British husband and follows along as she tries to find out exactly why French children have the reputation of being so well behaved and sage. I thought this book was interesting (and gave me a bit of a head start on understanding what's involved in raising a child here) but I don't think Druckerman comes off particularly well in it - she seems pretty snarky on any parent who doesn't fit into her idea of what a thin, glamorous French mother should be, her anecdotes mainly focus on rich upper-middle-class Parisians (so, not super relatable for anyone who falls outside that category), and for all her praise about the French way of parenting, she chooses really odd things to fixate on and complain about - like the fact that kids here eat chocolate in a baguette for their goĆ»ter (afternoon snack)... just eat ya damn chocolate sandwich and enjoy it, you know? Maybe I should report back in a few months to let you know how useful the parenting tips are... until then I'll withhold my judgement on that aspect and let you decide for yourself!
{I was a bit confused because I own FCDTF as a hard copy and Bringing Up Bebe on my Kindle - Bringing Up Bebe is the title of the US release, but the same book overall!}

Oops, another parenting one snuck in... but this one is a much lighter read than French Children Don't Throw Food (although the name makes me cringe! I just hate the word 'potty'). Again, this book deals with an expat mother (and a French father this time) raising children in Paris, but it's a much more humorous take and didn't give me anxiety about the pressure to raise a perfectly behaved child. This is actually a sequel to Confessions of a Party Girl in Paris, of which I downloaded the sample but never got around to actually buying the book, but they both have a fast, conversational tone and Lesange seems like someone I would go and get a drink with.It's not as dense on the hows and whys of parenting like FCDTF but way more entertaining - if you want to know the deal with raising kids in France but aren't too fussed on reading about the pedagogy and philosophy behind it, this might be more up your alley.

I'll be totally honest here - on the first read I thought this was fiction and so I was really confused about why there was so much time dedicated to detailing the process of applying for a visa abroad (and almost an equal amount of space discussing the process of declaring bankruptcy?). Even though it's true, the story is ultra cliche - twenty years after meeting handsome Frenchman Jean-Luc, he and Verant reconnect over a magical French holiday and the rest is history. Honestly, I wasn't a huge fan of this book - it was so cheesy, even for me who doesn't mind a bit of the ol' fromage - BUT I did really enjoy the follow-up, How to Make a French Family. This goes into more detail about V's life in France (in a small country town, which made a nice change from the ultra-glamorous Paris lifestyle touted in most of the other books) and how she deals with becoming a stepmother and navigating her way through a foreign country. It's still a bit cheesy, but a little sprinkling rather than a fat, oozy amount. I wouldn't say you necessarily have to read them in order, so do yourself a favour and go straight to How to Make a French Family. It even includes some French recipes which I can vouch for - quite simple and very tasty.

This book wasn't a light, whimsical read like most of the others on the list; this memoir definitely goes into more explicit details on the struggles of moving to a foreign country, beyond "Omg I accidentally said the word for blowjob when I meant straw" (which, seriously, happens in almost all of the moving-to-France books I've read, fiction or non-fiction. Hasn't happened to me yet, though!). I wouldn't say it's a depressing read by any means but I was a bit taken aback - and impressed - with how brutally honest Beddington was about the city of love not living up to her expectations. Unlike the other memoirs, which I found tend to gloss over difficult subjects (or at least try to put a humorous spin on them), Beddington is pretty frank in her discussion of things like divorce, abortion and depression. It was really interesting to read a memoir by someone who had the strength to admit that perhaps they had made wrong decisions and I really appreciated the honesty of this book. If you're looking for a moving abroad memoir that's a little outside the norm then this is one I'd definitely recommend picking up.

ALMOST FRENCH | Sarah Turnbull
For me this is the OG of moving abroad memoirs - I first read it when I was in high school before I'd even ever considered a trip to Paris, before I'd heard of Serge Gainsbourg, before I'd even watched Amelie, when all my knowledge about Paris came from Moulin Rouge! (and to a lesser extent, certain songs from Les Miserables). I didn't like it so much then, probably because I couldn't really relate to it but I also found it a little clunky to read? I think the 'clunkiness' comes from being around people who, if they speak English, tend to speak it a bit more formally - no contractions, no slang, etc. So that I can get past, reading it now. I do think that in the book, Turnbull seems to have a bit of an "oh, poor me, things are sooo hard" attitude happening, which can get a little bit grating - but overall, I think it's a pretty accurate account of moving abroad, and especially of moving abroad while navigating a new relationship, trying to find friends, and trying to find work and remain independent - the scenes where she describes just sitting around waiting for her boyfriend to come home rang a little too close for home (especially since I've been on maternity leave and feel way too exhausted/bloated/generally pregnant to leave the house). And it was so great to read a memoir by an Australian, too! The descriptions of heading home to Australia for holidays made me feel a little bit homesick, along with the descriptions of the little things Turnbull misses about Australia (good spicy food, fish and chips, the beach...). One scene that stuck with me from my very first reading, years and years ago, was the description of having to eat a maggot-encrusted piece of Camembert cheese, so just for the peace of mind of anyone reading, I have NOT had to do that yet to prove my worth as a resident... but at least I'm prepared for the possibility.

So there you go! This really is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to memoirs by expats in France, but for better or worse, these are the most memorable ones I've read so far. If you have any more recommendations I'd love to hear them!

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For absolutely bloody ages I had an aversion to buying candles because of ONE line in ONE Sex and the City episode where Samantha says "Women with candles have replaced women with cats as the new sad." Well Samantha, you can take your candleless existence and shove it because there is nothing more relaxing then sitting back on the sofa with a lovely scent wafting through the apartment. A bit of a gift-giving cliche they may be but for good reason - you can go as cheap or as luxe as you like (perfect for those pesky office Secret Santas), you can go minimalist or extravagant with the packaging, and even if they're not used right away I guarantee that at some point in the future, the recipient will remember that lovely candle they got for Christmas and light it up! Here's my picks for this holiday season. 

I am a big Andy Warhol fan so of course I love anything that references his work, especially the Campbell's soup motif. I was going to link to an outfit post featuring a soup-print dress I own but it must have been purchased in the no-blogging years! Anyway, these candles not only feature a votive printed like the infamous soup can but they also smell like tomato soup (tomato, basil and mint to be precise). How cool is that?! And they have a great range of candles with votives by various artists which you can see here. Sticking with the Warhol theme, I'm quite drawn to the Brillo one! The Campbell's candles are also available in two other colourways, but I'm really feeling pink and red at the moment so I think this one is absolutely perfect. 

If it's an unusual and out-of-the-box scent you're after (and you don't really give two hoots if it's packaged up nicely or not), then this candle company is right up your alley. Choose from slightly odd scents like buttered popcorn, fresh bread or no.2 pencil, to the downright bizarre aromas of burrito, gasoline or light it up and... do whatever you do when you have a burrito-scented candle burning, I guess. I am a big fan of pickles - I fully embraced the pregnancy craving cliche and ate them by the jarful - so I'm intrigued to see if this dill pickle-scented candle is true to the real thing. 

Toiletpaper are known for their odd and arresting photographs, and if you want to own (or give!) a little piece of unusual art to someone this year, why not do it in candle form? My personal favourite is the "Charnel" (and I flippin' love that name), it's just so wonderfully weird. This one is unsurprisingly a bold, sexy, musky scent, with notes like sambac, tuberose, and amber. 

I love the range of Replica perfumes from Maison Margiela - with names like Lazy Sunday Morning, Beach Walk and By the Fireplace, the fragrances are designed to provoke memories and really encapsulate the feel of a place or a time. My absolute favourite was the Jazz Club, which contains some unusual notes like tobacco, leather and blah to really bring to mind the image of an old, gold-varnished, smoky speakeasy. The perfume was a little too strong for me though, so I was thrilled to find the candle version! They have the same clean, minimalistic packaging as the perfumes and would be an amazing gift, the perfumes are so unusual and special and luckily the candles are just as great. 

It's always a good time for The Pogues but Christmas is an especially apt time to get this Fairytale of New York candle! If you haven't heard the song please go and listen to it immediately - one of my all-time favourite Christmas songs (songs in general, actually) and perfect for belting out after a couple of shandies. The candle is similarly festive, with notes of 

DIPTYQUE BAIES CANDLE, 26€ for 70g - 48€ for 190g
For such a luxurious brand these candles are actually fairly decently priced, especially if you're after a special gift. If the gorgeous, simplistic packaging isn't enough to draw you in then the beautifully delicate fragrances should get you there! I picked the Baies candle because I think that the rose and blackcurrant scent would be absolutely heavenly and I think it's one of Dipytique's most iconic scents. Can't go wrong sticking with a classic at Christmas!

I have spent more money than I care to admit on various trinkets from Typo - they're cheap and cheerful AND they make great gifts. If the offerings in this post are a little too feminine then might I suggest this burger candle? Perfect for your mate who's always up for a Macca's run. The website doesn't have a scent description for this one - I don't imagine it would be quite as strong or complex as some of the other candles on this list but come on, it's a flipping burger candle, you're not really buying it for the scent are you?

Another super luxurious option for a gift - with this candle you're not just getting a scent, it's worth buying for the insanely amazing packaging. And once the candle burns out you can use it as a vase/box/trinket holder/whatever takes your fancy! They are on the pricey side so would make an excellent gift for someone who deserves an extra-extravagant gift this year! This lips version features a lavender and thyme top note, with a heavier base with notes of incense and birch. A very special scent indeed!

At first glance this looks like a sweet little geometric cat candle, but as it burns, it reveals a little cat skeleton inside! How freaking mental. You can get a range of different animals to burn down, you sadist, so you can choose from owls, rabbits, dragons and deer if that tickles your fancy. Make sure you check out the pictures of what they look like when they're burning on the website because they look incredible and also kind of gross. I would recommend maybe picking up one of the dishes as well because they look like they spread quite a bit as they melt, and as rad a present as they might be, the recipient probably won't love having to chip candle wax off their furniture as the candle burns down! 

If you've ever been in a Peter Alexander store you would have smelled a Glasshouse candle. These babies are STRONG, but quite reasonably priced considering their massive size and their pretty impressive range of scents. Since this is a Christmas list I had to include one of their limited edition Christmas candles, Under the Mistletoe (cute name!), which is a spiced apple and berry aroma - very festive indeed and such gorgeous packaging. I do have to throw out a mention to the Tahaa candle, which is a caramel and vanilla scent, which I just noticed is included in all the orders (a 30g size, but still!). 

Believe it or not this eerily realistic hand is in fact a candle. It would take a lot for me to light this one up because it looks so great as it is! It would look fantastic on a bookshelf next to some records, don't you think? Another great candle for someone who likes their house to smell nice but isn't so much into the flowery, frou-frou stuff. 

Paddywax is a fairly new brand on my radar (love the name too!). I love the idea behind their Library collection, which features a bunch of candles inspired by authors like Jane Austen (a zesty, feminine scent) and Edgar Allen Poe (which is more of a warm, gourmand offering - which I found a bit unusual considering his work!). I do have to make a special mention the Charles Dickens scent, which is perfect for Christmas with a spicy citrus top notes, a lovely warm middle note of vanilla, tonka bean and clove, an with a very festive base of fir and eucalyptus. And since Oscar Wilde is one of my favourite writers I would feel disloyal if I didn't feature his scent, which features a heavy, woody base of patchouli, amber and cedarwood, and with a nice citrus finish - but an unusual mix of eucalyptus, thyme and indigo poppy too. I'm so intrigued by that mix! 

Well, off I go to add a few of these to various Christmas presents (and maybe one or two for me...). Happy shopping!

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I bloody love getting a book as a present. I feel like Christmas is the time of year to go all out and get the impractical, gorgeous coffee table books, that no one ever buys for themselves because who can justify it, and give them to a loved one. That being said, I love getting novels as gifts as well! Even (and sometimes especially) if it's something I wouldn't pick up myself, I still love and am so appreciative of the fact that someone has taken the time to choose something for me and even if I don't necessarily love the book, at least I've read something new! 

Here's my top picks for this holiday season... I've linked them to the site where I came across the book so if you find a lower price do let me know!

FROM A B TO JAY Z by Danny Chiha & Jessica Chiha, $29.95 | I have actually ordered this for Lucie's Christmas gift, even if it cements my status as Whitest Mum Alive. I know this is a bit gimmicky and mostly for the parents' entertainment BUT I fricking love the idea and the illustrations are super cute. There's also 1 2 3 With The Notorious B.I.G if your li'l boo is more into numbers!
THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES by B.J Novak, $9.55 (paperback) or $15.15 (hardcover) | When I was doing relief teaching a few years ago, quite a few classrooms had this in their library, and lemme tell ya kids went NUTS for this book. It was like the kid's equivalent of a Drake concert. I loved reading it, they loved hearing it, it's just an all-round winner. And made even better by the fact that it is written by the hilarious B.J Novak. 
THE APARTMENT HOUSE by Katelin Butler & Cameron Bruhn, $49.95 | There are thousands upon thousands of interior design books out there, but what I liked about this one is that it specifically focuses on Australia's move from the 'Hills Hoist ideal' to small, condensed apartment living. As someone who has always been lucky enough to live in a fairly big house, moving to Paris and into tiny apartments was a bit of a shock! So not only does this book inspire some gorgeous interiors and ideas for small living spaces, it also explores why there's been a move to smaller living spaces, which I find really interesting. A great gift for any architecture or interior design buffs. 
GOODNIGHT STORIES FOR REBEL GIRLS by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo, $35 | I don't think there's anything wrong with little girls (or boys!) liking princesses and Disney and things like that, but I do think that it's important that they have some real-life, inspiring women to look up to as well. I'm so happy there's been a bit of an explosion of this kind of inspiration in the past couple of years because not only can I provide some kickass women for Lucie to look up to, I can educate myself as well! This book features _ women including Serena Williams, Amelia Earheart and Frida Kahlo, presented with fantastic illustrations and their story condensed into an easy-to-understand summary. I think this would make an amazing gifts for any little ones you might know. 
THE NEW BOHEMIANS HANDBOOK by Justina Blakenly, $20.24 | I've always fancied the bohemian aesthetic, though I can't really find the line between 'bohemian' and 'clutter'. This book has some gorgeous interior inspiration for any wannabe bohemians; come for the beautiful photographs and stay for the ideas on how to bring good energy and positive vibes into your home. 
JOLLY GOOD FOOD by Enid Blyton & Allegra McEvedy, $17.88 | One of my favourite parts of Enid Blyton's books was the wonderfully rich descriptions of food. My dad often said it was a wonder the Famous Five weren't rolling around everywhere with the amount of food they seemed to put away. I think this book would make such a wonderful gift - maybe even with some of the actual books so you can read the books and then cook the food inspired by the book? 
50 YEARS OF ROLLING STONE: THE MUSIC, PEOPLE AND POLITICS THAT SHAPED OUR CULTURE, $47.25 | It has always been my dream to work for Rolling Stone magazine (maybe I watched Almost Famous one too many times when I was younger); it's basically what inspired me to study journalism. This book would be an incredible gift for any fan of the magazine, or a fan of music or pop culture, as it contains interviews, short pieces, and photographs from the magazine's incredibly rich history. And I don't have a picture of it but I do have to recommend one of my all-time favourite books, But Enough About Me by Jancee Dunn, if you want a hilarious and insightful memoir about working for the iconic magazine. 
IT by Stephen King, $9.56 (paperback) or $22.48 (hardcover) | I still haven't seen this year's movie adaption of It - I doubt they had any Mummy & Me showings of it - but I did re-read the book while I was waiting for it to come out. My mum read this when she was pregnant with me and she thinks it's somehow responsible for my fear of clowns, so hopefully I haven't doomed Lucie to the same fear... Anyway, if you know someone who loved the movie then buy them a copy of the book so they know what to expect when the sequel comes out in a couple of years time!
MUNCHIES: LATE-NIGHT MEALS FROM THE WORLD'S BEST CHEFS by J.J. Goode & Helen Hollyman, $26.17 | I am so lucky to live in a country where food is a huge part of the culture and there is amazing food on offer at every corner (literally, there's five or six boulangeries within walking distance of our flat), but sometimes I just really crave a dirty, greasy, artery-clogging feed. I liked the idea behind Vice's Munchies cookbook, which is the meals that chefs (such as Anthony Bourdain, blah and blah) make when they've clocked off from the kitchen and are looking for a satisfying, three a.m meal. A great gift for people who love food but aren't necessarily looking to become the next Masterchef. 
NO WAY! OKAY, FINE by Brodie Lancaster, $25.50 | I pre-ordered this as soon as I got the notification because I am such a big fan of Brodie's writing (and she is a really rad person to boot!). Honestly I wish this book had been around when I was in high school, or in my awkward ~finding myself~ period at uni, because Brodie's collection of essays is just so relatable and so eloquently put. I cannot recommend this highly enough! I'm writing a little round-up of what I've been reading lately which will go into this in a little more detail but trust me that anyone in your life that appreciates essays that are in turn hilarious and bittersweet will appreciate this book. 
DRESSES TO DREAM ABOUT by Christian Siriano, $34.18 | Christian Siriano is one of my favourite Project Runway contestants (I'm just now catching up on the latest seasons!) and I've loved seeing how successful he's become since his time on the show. He creates the most incredible, feminine dresses, showcased beautifully in this book. This would be the perfect gift for anyone who's a fan of his beautiful, elegant style. 
FAIRYTALES FROM AROUND THE WORLD by Andrew Lang, $49.99 | This is part of a selection of leather-bound books available from Boffins Books, and while they all look just gorgeous, I especially love the cover of this one. It contains 100 fairytales from around the world and would make a beautiful keepsake for a little one (I know most kids' books end up covered in spit and bite marks, but it's the thought that counts...)
AMAZING(ER) FACE by Zoe Foster-Blake, $24 | Amazing Face has been a staple for many an Aussie girl, and this pumped up version features even more tips and tutorials (as well as some updated product recommendations, which is fantastic!). I am a big fan of Zoe's writing and as someone who has began experimenting more with makeup (i.e not just buying what's on special in the Coles toiletries aisle), I would love to receive a book like this that provides a little bit of guidance presented in a personable, un-intimidating way. 

Phew, that turned into a mini-book of its own. I'm sorry! I could talk about books all day and I really need to get back into reading (you know, in the spare half an hour of time a day that I have). I hope this provided you with some gift-giving inspiration and if you have any more recommendations please let us know!
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WISHLIST | my dream designer purchases

WISHLIST | my dream designer purchases

Hello hello! I've talked a bit recently about wanting to invest in higher quality, luxe pieces, rather than a bunch of tat from the nearest chain store. Obviously having a baby has rearranged my priorities a bit - most new clothing purchases are guided more by How long can I get away without using an iron? and Can I get baby vomit out of this? - but since it's holiday time and if there's ever a time for wishful thinking, it's now, here's the top designer purchases I would make if I had the budget. And please do check out the links below each picture for a range of similar items at different price points!

I don't know what to say about these jumpers except that I bloody love them. I was gutted to have missed out on Kenzo's H&M collaboration last year - I was even in Paris where there's a H&M on every corner! Unfortunately I never did get my hands on one of the jumpers in the iconic tiger head style so, what the hey, might as well lust after the real thing.

Out of everything on this list this is the one thing I seriously consider putting money away for. I love love love the loafer style of shoe and with the amount of money I've spent on "Gucci-inspired" pairs of shoes I probably could have almost afforded the real thing. I mean, you're paying for the quality and the timelessness of the design as well as the name with these bad boys and I know that the cost per wear would go down to practically nothing. Maybe I will start campaigning for these for my 30th birthday in a few years... I think it'd have to be the classic black loafer but I am also loving this star and bee embroidered pair!

While most of the other items on this list could be considered investment pieces, this piece is pure whimsy, it's so ostentatious and over the top and that's exactly why I love it. I'm loving the rainbow stripes trend, it reminds me of the colour combinations I would wear as a kid (in fact I'm pretty sure I had many rainbow-striped tops over the years) but none of them were as luxurious as this tiger-embellished version! It's so bright it borders on tacky but that's right up my alley and kind of my dream ~aesthetic~ if I'm to be totally honest.

I've never really been into sunglasses really - I either buy a pair on a whim and then end up never wearing them, or they're at-the-counter purchases at really cheap chain stores so I end up hating them, and I think I even had a couple of free pairs that came with magazines. I just never used to be excited about buying sunglasses at all! However, since I lost my only pair (which luckily were just H&M) and never bothered to replace them, I have noticed a lot of wrinkles around the old eye area that probably are partly due to so much squinting in the sunlight. Anyway all that to say that I need a pair of sunglasses and I love how over the top these ones are! Not much chance of losing these (I hope). I could see the likes of Iris Apfel rocking these.

The black cardigan is my wardrobe holy grail. Of course you can walk into any chain store and find a black cardigan but, for me, they're always too thin, too long, the buttons are wrong, they're too cropped, the neckline is wrong... I have been searching for years and I am yet to find that ubiquitous piece that can go with any outfit. This cardigan is pretty much perfect in that regard - a lovely, close-fitting shape, beautifully made, great fabric that won't be shapeless in two washes, and of course the infamous heart logo. And while we're at it I wouldn't say no to one of their striped shirts either. They're probably as far as I'd go when it comes toCDG clothing, the rest is a bit too conceptual for the likes of me (though can I just mention what absolute GARBAGE this year's Met Ball was, when the theme was Rei bloody Kawakubo?!).

It may not be quite in the ranks of Gucci and Prada but it's still "designer" enough to me to be included in the list! I know that when I eventually invest in a leather jacket, I want it to be quality. However I've never wanted one THAT badly, I suppose because my style was so vintage in previous years and I just never really had the need for a leather jacket in my wardrobe. But with my style now, which is a little more casual and, while still vintage-inspired, influenced more by glam rock and the late '60s/1970s rather than the 40's and 50's. Anyway, I first visited an All Saints store when I was in America a few years back and fell in love with the styling of the store - very very cool indeed! The brand as a whole is probably still a little too cool for the likes of me but I am absolutely head over heels for this jacket; I know it would be a wardrobe staple and something I would own forever.

I have lusted after this jumper for literally YEARS now (so I'm very glad to see it's still available! NOT that I'm any closer to purchasing it). If I could buy myself one moving-to-Paris present, it would be this, even if it is a bit too on the nose for that occasion. My favourite detail is the 'Serge' written on the arm (heart on the sleeve and all that!). I know Bella Freud jumpers are incredible quality, and they look beautiful - just look at the lovely Kate from Kate La Vie for proof!

Et voila! There's my dream winter wardrobe sorted. Lots of outerwear (v practical) and lots of Gucci (not v practical). Let me know what's on your list and if you have any more suggestions for more wallet-friendly alternatives, suggest away!
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SUNDAY STUFF | 20.08.17

SUNDAY STUFF | 20.08.17

Hello! It's been a busy week for me - most of the furniture for the nursery has arrived and we've been trying frantically to get everything organised before the baby gets here. I feel so exhausted but I'm trying to keep moving around and not just lay down on the couch watching Supernatural (yeah I'm about ten years late getting into it but it's a good enough show to have on in the background, with enough series on Netflix to keep me entertained waiting for this little beb!). Here's some links I found this week and a playlist of songs I've been loving. Enjoy!

What has happened in Charlottesville and Donald Trump's reaction to these events is nothing short of horrifying. I can't believe that this is still something that's happening in 2017. Kaleah posted a fantastic round-up of links to take action against racism, from places you can donate and support the victims of Charlotesville to articles on what to do if your family member posts something racist on Facebook. Please do take the time to check them out - I know there's still some areas I need to educate myself in and these links are a great place to start.

And sadly yet another terrorist attack took place this week in Barcelona. The world seems like such a horrible and scary place right now and my heart goes out to anyone affected by these senseless attacks. Elite Daily have posted all the ways you can help right now (and if you have any more links about ways to support Barcelona or Charlottesville, please do leave them in the comments or send me an email).
I haven't watched the War on Waste documentary but I read a lot about it when it aired, through Facebook comments and articles and Instagram posts. I was honestly a bit surprised at how much everyone was talking about it, though I think any efforts to cut down on waste are admirable and I think it's great the documentary has opened up such a passionate discussion!! I was really interested in this article on Smaggle, War on Waste: Is It Ruining Your Life?. It discusses the no-waste movement as well as people who have become evangelical about the war on waste. I can't wait to watch it (once I figure out how to watch it from here!).
Strictly Ballroom is one of my favourite Australian movies - my sister and I used to watch it constantly and I believe it led to many hours of begging my mum to send us to ballroom dancing lessons (or at least to provide us with glamorous costumes, which she did). This week the film celebrates its 25th anniversary, and SBS Movies provided this surprisingly thorough 'cheat sheet' about the movie and it's a wonderful little nostalgia trip. Time for a rewatch, I think!

Image by Natala Stuetz (found here)
I've always been intrigued by the idea of French style; as much as I thought it was a cliche (and of course, not everyone here looks like they're an extra in a Jean Luc Godard movie), there is a certain je ne sais quoi about the women here that is impossible to imitate. I think by now we all could name the "basics of French style" as touted by magazines and cinema - trench coat, striped boatneck top, skinny jeans and chic flats, finished with a slightly unkempt chignon and red lipstick - but I loved how this article "How To Sell a Billion Dollar Myth Like a French Girl" explored where this idea came from, how it can be used for a successful marketing campaign and how ubiquitous (and slightly bullshit) the concept is.
Who is she? She’s intellectual, cool, and a bit of a romantic, but she doesn’t give her approval easily or smile too much. She might run around in black-tipped Chanel slingbacks, or barefoot if she’s on vacation. She has a signature perfume. She eats cheese without abandon and nurses a single glass of wine all night because she’s a master of reasonable indulgences. She’s almost always white, hetero, and thin, and you can only conjure her by willfully ignoring the many French women whose daily routines do not involve bicycling along the Seine in mini skirts with baguettes tucked under their arms.
Happy birthday Madonna, she turned 59 this week and is still such an icon. Here's 38 Madonna Quotes and Photos to Empower Your Authentic Self.
Be strong, believe in freedom and in God, love yourself, understand your sexuality, have a sense of humor, masturbate, don't judge people by their religion, color or sexual habits, love life and your family.

I really want to try this felt flower wall hanging DIY (above right, by Essie Ruth, via frankie magazine)! We moved apartments a little while ago but I haven't really had the time or the energy to make it feel more home-y. And once you actually have a baby you have tons of time and energy... right?
I've loved reading Kristabel's blogging series, the ladies featured are all fantastically inspiring and creative and it's given me a lot of great blogs to follow! Here's her latest instalment, an interview with Cynthia of Simply Cyn. I loved reading about how Cynthia balances blogging with working full time as a lawyer and living in New York and it's full of really good advice about growing your audience, approaching and working with brands and how to stay authentic to yourself.
For any London babes reading, my gorgeous sister Valerie Savage is putting on a rad burlesque show on September 13! Check out the details on the poster below and mosey on down for an excellent night full of great performers, jazz, and general cheekiness. 

And finally, here's this week's playlist! I was going for a last days of summer, listening to this while relaxing in the backyard with friends, drinking a gin and tonic kind of vibe. Hope you enjoy it! One of the things I missed a lot about blogging was making my Sunday Songs posts... well this is even more songs and in a much more convenient format (I hope!). Look out for the new playlist next Sunday!

One last super-important thing! If you're in Australia, please make sure your voting details are updated in preparation for the plebiscite on same-sex marriage. Of course, it's completely bloody ridiculous that this is STILL up for debate in Australia and the way the government is handling would be laughable if it wasn't so frustrating. But that's why it's so important to make sure your details are correct, so you can lend your voice to this issue and fight for equality in our country! If you're like me and currently living overseas it's still easy to update your details here. You have until August 24 so get on it pronto!

Have a fantastic week!
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I guess I have a few reasons for writing this post. One, because lately I've been feeling unsatisfied with my personal style. I started dressing a bit more "professionally" (i.e lots of button-down blouses and midi skirts) when I started teaching, and a couple of years later I went through a really horrible stage of depression where  it was enough of an effort just to get dressed in the morning, let alone find something cute and colourful to put on. Moving countries with a couple of suitcases full of clothes, taking a job where beautiful vintage dresses just weren't practical (which left me unable to wear a lot of what I packed in those two suitcases), and then having to figure out how to dress a pregnant body only exacerbated the problem and left me feeling kind of lost in regards of which clothing actually makes me happy to wear. 

And the second reason I had for writing this post is that I'm 38 weeks pregnant, bored on maternity leave, and can finally start thinking about what clothes I can wear post-baby. I wanted to look through my old outfit posts both as a reminder of how my style developed since I started the blog and to remember how much fun I used to have with dressing up. So, here goes, a little round-up of some of my favourite and not-so-favourite outfits of the past eight or so years.

So these were some of the first outfit posts I ever did, around 2008. It was when I was just getting into reading style blogs - in particular I loved Gala Darling, Style Rookie and Kingdom of Style - and experimenting with my personal style. I actually still own the Leona Edminston dress from the photo on the left; it was  the first 'designer' dress I bought and it's held up really well over the years (although I don't wear it with the big belt anymore!). The red shoes from the second photo have also stuck around, although they've accumulated a lot of stains from various pubs and parties, and I kind of wish I still had the tuxedo-style jacket had as well... 

This is deep into the Zooey Deschenal phase - all the dresses are vintage except the last one, which was a Modcloth one called The Deschenal Dress (the obsession was real). Once I discovered sites like Etsy, my wardrobe quickly became filled with gorgeous - if impractical - vintage and vintage-inspired dresses. At this stage I worked in a boutique where we had to wear all black to work, so outside of work I tried to pack in as much colour as possible! 

And here's the first time I dyed my hair... I loved the red at the time but to be honest I'd rather still have gorgeous healthy hair rather than the slightly frizzy straw I currently have growing out my noggin. Anyway! No vintage clothes in this set at all, for a change. Obviously still figuring out how to wear separates (hello, outfit three), which is still something I just can't seem to get right. I either get the proportions way out of whack (again, hello, outfit three) or just end up with the super-casual jeans and a tee, which never feels quite put together enough. The other three outfits are all cheap'n'cheerful chain store pieces which surprisingly did not last much longer after these photos...

Another unnatural hair colour! I loved dyeing the ends of my hair different colours and loved the purple (but hated the upkeep). Even in 2011 I was still working out fit issues with my clothes, for example the second dress (that I never could get to button up over the chest) and the last dress (still can't find a dress with built in cups that actually sits in the right place on me). I ended up taking the Liberty print dress with me to Paris and, while I didn't think it would get a lot of wear, it made a fantastic maternity dress! Looking back at these photos I also wish I'd taken my mum's hounding advice about brushing my hair every once in a while... most of the time hair and makeup is still an afterthought for me but it's something I'd really like to get better at. 

I feel like this is when I was finally really comfortable with my personal style; while I was still experimenting with different shapes and colours, most outfits followed a formula of nipped in waist with a flared skirt, preferably with a crazy print thrown in somewhere. I got rid of most of the cutesy printed items of clothing when I went through a bit of a manic Konmari phase, but I still have the op-shopped skirt from the second photo - one of my favourite op-shop finds ever! 

Around the time these photos were taken, I was lucky enough to participate in Perth Fashion Festival's Restyle challenge, so I added a lot of op-shop pieces to my wardrobe (like the incredible find on the far right). For a few years my weight fluctuated quite a bit so while I loved the clothes themselves, I just never felt quite right, or really very confident in them at all - I wasn't comfortable with myself and my clothes would fit, then be slightly too tight but not enough to give away, then fine again. Also wish I had taken more time to really iron out the little details in my outfits (i.e not worn stockings with a huge hole in them!). At least my accessorising started to get a little better during this period - not as many huge cheap cocktail rings and dangly earrings, but more dainty pieces by local designers, like the little ceramic cat necklace in the second and third photo. 

And finally, some more printed dresses! As much as I loved the dress on the far left - another Modcloth find - I ended up giving it away because the print just felt too young for me. I still would wear the second outfit, although the dress under the jumper, never buttoned up properly and it wasn't exactly cheap, so ended up being a waste of money. The third outfit is very ~dramatic~ but one of the problems I had around this period was putting together an outfit I loved and then just entirely skipping any effort with hair or makeup, and then choosing mismatched accessories. And finally, the fourth outfit is another ill fitting piece (the skirt that never zipped up all the way) paired with a sheer Miu Miu knock off which was the unfortunate victim of a rogue cigarette burn that ate through half the polyester. I've since learned that sheer clothes are also a waste of money for me because I never can find the right things to wear underneath them, so they just end up looking cheap. 

So did I learn anything from this little nostalgia trip? When I got to Paris I realised I hadn't bought many clothes that actually went together. I'd bought some gorgeous vintage dresses - including, for some reason, a 1940s evening dress that I last wore to a wedding - but no clothes that were casual enough for work, and really no clothes that were good for day-to-day wear. So I hit up the European chain stores like Pimkie, Zara and Bershka and panic-bought a bunch of clothes that were cute enough, and actually worked as some kind of capsule wardrobe, but that didn't make me very happy to wear. So at the moment I'm trying to find a happy medium between clothing which is functional but still fun; clothes that are still colourful and a little bit different but that don't make me feel like a children's TV presenter. 

I'm thinking that, for me, the prints and "quirky" items of clothing look better when they're higher quality. The cuts aren't quite as young and you're less likely to see the same pattern on five other people whenever you leave the house. Fit is also something I'd like to focus on (especially after spending the last few months in leggings paired with increasingly sack-like tops); from what I've admired of that elusive French style, the fit of clothes makes a huge difference in making even basic items look like a pulled-together, deliberate outfit. 

I know that motherhood will also play a big part in redefining my style; for the first few months I doubt I'll really care about the fit or print of my clothes and will be a little bit more concerned about how boob-accessible it is... but I'm looking forward to the time in the future when I can take all these new facets of my personality and project them into a look that feels like, well, me!

I'm curious to see if anyone else has been through a personal style overhaul lately?

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You know how you run into, say, a friend from high school, who you haven't seen for ages, and you have the awkward "So... what's been happening with you?" conversation? I always think, mate, there's absolutely no way I can catch you up on everything that's happened in the past few years unless you want to talk for three hours, so I usually answer with "Oh you know, just work, haha... Yeah..." or something equally scintillating. But since I'm blogging here for the first time in four years (under a different name! Goodbye Gin in a Teacup, hello Baguettes & Vegemite) I thought I'd at least try to catch up on what's been going on because it's been quite an eventful time.

So, since my last blog post in 2013, I...

Became a qualified primary teacher
Went on my first overseas trip to America (for Coachella!) and Canada
Moved house and lived by myself
Visited Europe for the first time
Met the love of my life at a bar in Paris
Came back to Australia, Skyped him every day
Got my UK passport (as seen above!)
Moved to Paris
Got engaged
Adopted a cat called Garbage 
Found out I was having a baby
Started freelance writing again
Started blogging again!

...I think that just about covers it?! Obviously it has been a crazy few years and I've been going between "Man, I'm glad I'm not blogging anymore" and "Actually, it would be kind of fun to blog again", and since I'm just about to start maternity leave, I figured I'd give the ol' blog another go. I know blogging is a completely different game than it was four years ago, but I've been inspired by a whole heap of new (to me) bloggers and I can't wait to get back into it!

I hope some old readers find their way back here, and if you're reading along for the first time, welcome! And you can always click here to follow my blog on Bloglovin'!
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I'm a freelance writer who blogs about Perth (my old home), Paris (my new home), fashion, food, and everything else that takes my fancy. Have a look around and enjoy!