Charming weekend #2

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Another weekend has sneaked upon me, and while this one is going to be as far from relaxing as it can be (I’ll be at school both on Friday and Saturday), I’m still determined to make the most out of it. Since I know I won’t have much free time, I’m limiting myself to just three items, but they still make me pretty excited for the weekend. Here are my plans:

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Attend a book fair

This has been an ongoing tradition for years – each November, there is a big book fair in Bratislava, and each year, my mom and I stuff our wallets, empty the car trunk and set off on a big adventure of discovering new books and authors. Let’s be honest, I probably need another huge stack of new books like I need a hole in my head, but I just can’t help myself. Nothing makes me happier than shuffling through piles and piles of books and picking new favorites to add to my bookshelves. We’ll go on Sunday morning, and it’ll be just the perfect reward for the otherwise exhausting weekend spent at school.

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Make a big pot of hearty soup and enjoy the leftovers throughout the weekend

I don’t usually cook much on school weekends – I return home in the evenings too exhausted to even be bothered to pull pots and pans out of the cupboard. That’s why I always try to prepare a bigger meal on Thursday, so we can enjoy the leftovers and avoid eating out too much. This week I have my eyes set on my favorite tomato basil soup, which, by the way, always tastes better the next day 🙂

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Listen to A torch against the night

Audible has been a lifesaver on my car rides to school – it takes me an hour to get there and another one to get back home, and while I actually love driving, doing the same route several weekends in a row can be rather mind numbing. Insert audiobooks here – Sabaa Tahir’s new series has been keeping me company for the past few weeks, and I’m in love! It’s such an absorbing and beautifully crafted story, and it’s really amazing on audio. It actually makes me look forward to going to school, which, let’s be honest, is no small feat 🙂

What are your plans for this weekend? Be sure to tell me in the comments, or let me know on Instagram, tagging your posts with a hashtag #charmingweekend Looking forward to seeing your posts!

Happy Friday 🙂

Images via: Kara Ashley Shreeve // Creme de la crumb // Buzzfeed 

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Charming weekend inspiration #1

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Despite being a short one, this week really has been a doozy. I can’t wait to close the office door, leave all the stress and worries behind and enjoy a tranquil and productive weekend at home. It’s supposed to rain the entire two days, which is completely fine by me – I’ll make myself a huge mug of tea, light a candle and catch up on my favorite podcasts while tackling the projects on my weekend to do list. Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish:

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1) Clean out and de-clutter my closet

Gosh, I’ve been thinking about this one for weeks. It doesn’t exactly sound like a fun weekend activity, but it’s oh-so-necessary. I did a spring cleaning of my closet back in March, but somehow, at the time, I skipped the de-cluttering part. And I have so.much.stuff in there, it’s scary (and not necessarily only clothes – I have DIY supplies in there, and magazines, and other random stuff that has absolutely no right to live in a closet). I probably need to get rid of most of it.

I’ve also been toying with the idea of a capsule wardrobe, but before I do that, I really need to get my closet back under my control. Plus, now that A. and I are living together, he also needs some space for his clothes, so there goes my Saturday morning 🙂

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2) Make breadsticks for dinner at least once

When it comes to comfort food, breadsticks are right on top of my list, alongside with a bowl of hearty soup and pizza, the queen of comfort food herself. Our favorite garlic breadsticks & garlic dip combo means that we’ll be having garlic breath for days, but I don’t even care, I love them that much.

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3) Hit the bike again

I don’t know why, but thinking of making breadsticks always makes me think of working out, too 🙂 Even more so when I recently got a flu that took me out for two weeks and prevented me from exercising entirely. Ugh. It makes me feel restless. Now that I’m finally fine again, I’m looking forward to my daily biking sessions.

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4) Make a new inspiration board

The old one has been shoved to the back of my closet (where I’m bound to rediscover it once I clean it out 🙂 ) I didn’t really have a space for it, but now that I’m planning my home office makeover, I’m really itching to get creative with the photos and the magazine tearouts again.

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5) Create an editorial calendar for the upcoming weeks

I’ve been having so much fun with slowly easing my way back to blogging. I have dozens and dozens of ideas for posts and features, but I’m currently lacking a proper editorial calendar that would guide me and keep me organized. I’m still on the hunt for a simple and effective system that I could stick with. Do you have any tips or ideas you could share? Besides the big closet de-cluttering, this is going to be my most important and probably the most inspiring weekend project.

What are your plans for the first November weekend? Share them here and tag them on Instagram with the hashtag #charmingweekend – I’m always inspired by your own take on weekend projects!

Happy Friday!

Images via: Popsugar living // Damn Delicious // A house in the hills // The Everygirl // Unknown

Inspired by: Beet recipes

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Despite my father’s many futile efforts, I’ve never been much of a gardener. It’s probably his biggest disappointment, that despite trying so hard for so long, neither I nor my brother have inherited his love of digging into soil. While he could spend his entire days cultivating his huge garden, I tend to avoid working there as much as possible. I guess it has something to do with the sheer vastness of the space, and with the still vivid memories of all my childhood weekends spent laboring there.

As much as I love trying to grow herbs and tomatoes on my tiny balcony, that’s pretty much as far as I’m willing to go with my gardening efforts. But what I surely do love, is bringing home a basket full of fresh produce and coming up with different ways to use it all up. Due to my glaring lack of efforts, I don’t really deserve to be spoiled by my parents with such generosity. But there’s usually so much produce available that my parents don’t really mind sharing 🙂

Each year, it’s kind of an adventure: what is going to work and what is going to fail? What will grow abundantly, and what will fail even to sprout? Each year, there’s something that surprises us: last year we were swimming neck-deep in tomatoes, and this one, there hardly was enough of them to eat in salad, let alone thing of canning them. On the other hand, last year there were almost no cucumbers to be found, and this year, my mom was giving them away by bucketfuls, because she didn’t know what to do with so very many of them anymore. Unforeseeable is the name of the game here.

And thus, this fall we have been blessed with the largest crop of beets anyone in the family can remember. There are so many, and at least half of them are as large as a soccer ball. Mom has been canning them like crazy, but she still can’t get to the bottom of the pile. The last time I went to see them over the weekend, she sent me away with a full basket and the uloha to find as many recipes to try as possible. I, of course, was happy to oblige. Beets are one of my favorite fall crops, and while I already have a few favorite recipes, I’m always looking to add more to my repertoire. These recipes are currently on my “to try” list:

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Beet & greens tart (via Green kitchen stories)

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Beet & cream soup (via The pretty blog)

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Beet & quinoa veggie burger (via The Awesome green)

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Beet hummus (via Not your standard)

How to get organized this fall

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Like practically every season this year, fall has sneaked upon me without a warning. One day, I was wearing my favorite summer dress, the next one I was trembling from cold and pulling my ankle boots out of the storage. This year is flying by with the velocity of a high-speed train, and while I can do absolutely nothing about it, I can at least try to make the most out of it.

My problem is invariably the same: I always have so many things going on in my life, that my mind is desperately scattered and overwhelmed. You know that feeling, when you can’t fall asleep at night, because your brain keeps buzzing and whirling? Well, that’s me, pretty much each night of the week. Between work, A. and school (yup, because on top of everything, I went back to school in September, in order to get a degree in electrotechincs. I’m insane like that), my mind is in constant overdrive. At times like this, I always think of all of you, amazing mamas out there, who aside from doing all those things listed above, manage to raise a family as well. You have my admiration.

But I digress. To be honest, for the past few weeks, I’ve been sort of going weary and bored with myself. I keep whining to my journal (and to anyone else who would listen) how busy I am, and how much I’ve got on my plate. It starts to feel really redundant and useless. I mean, whining can be satisfying, right? But it’s not going to make me move forward. What I really need is to become more proactive about being organized and managing my time. And prioritizing my health and well-being, because without them, I’m never going to get anything else done.

That’s why I’ve decided to make a plan to get more organized this fall, before the winter & holiday season hits me like a ton of bricks. I’ve made a great deal of thinking about the areas in my life that need an improvement and that I should focus on to feel more sane and ready to take on the world 🙂 Here they go:

AREAS TO FOCUS ON:

  1. Making the most out of my bullet journal, and analyzing and improving on my planning routines.
  2. Setting up a simple meal planning system.
  3. Cleaning out and organizing my closet for fall & winter.
  4. Setting up a simple cleaning schedule and learning to delegate household chores accordingly.
  5. Decluttering and organizing my beauty drawer, and updating my skincare & beauty routine for fall & winter.
  6. Scheduling in time to make my health a priority: penciling in workout times, prioritizing rest and relaxation over getting everything done “perfectly” and adopting a healthier, more balancing diet.
  7. Creating a fall reading list, and then actually sticking with it.
  8. Setting my most important goal(s) for the remainder of 2016, and then starting to work on them immediately.

It may seem like a lot, but in reality, all these areas are more or less intertwined. They reflect my current goals and priorities, and I feel confident that improving upon them will help me stay productive, energized and sane during this season of my life. I’ll be sharing more about each point in a separate post, and in the mean time, I would love to know – do you have any tried and true strategies that help you stay organized? If so, please do share them in the comments, as I’m always eager to gather more useful tips to try!

Happy Monday!

xo Ivana

New beginnings

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Sometimes, you just have to take that first step toward something new, and never look back…or, why I’ve decided to delete my archives and start my blog all over again.

You know how they say that if you want to start something new, you have to leave the old things behind? Well, this post is a proof of that.

I have wanted to come back to this space over and over again, but each time, my enthusiasm faded away after a few short weeks. It’s not that I didn’t know what to write about. Quite the contrary – I have pages upon pages of my bullet journal filled with ideas and snippets of new posts. The problem was, I didn’t know how to reconcile the old me, with this new person I’ve become. I was looking at my old posts and pictures, and while they made me appreciate how far I’d gotten, they also reminded me constantly of the past I wanted to leave behind. And thus, my old blog has become a source of guilt and anxiety, instead of being a place for inspiration and creative fulfillment. Suddenly, the archives became daunting – like the kind of legacy that would forever be a part of your past, but that you don’t want to define your future anymore.

It’s hard to believe sometimes, but I’ve been blogging since 2010. Over the course of the years, my blog changed its name and focus several times. It has been the witness of my evolution both as a writer and most importantly, as a person.

When I started my first blog, I was fresh out of university, with big dreams that, at the time, failed completely and miserably, and thus, I had no clear idea of what I would become “when I grew up”. My interests were all over the place. I had never even heard of the word “niche”, and I blogged about whatever struck my fancy at the time. Fashion, beauty, food, home decor, shopping…anything went.

Then, life happened. I underwent some pretty drastic changes, and in the midst of all the drama, my blog fell completely by the wayside. While adjusting to a dramatically different life situation, learning the ropes of a brand-new-to-me industry (cable confection, anyone?), and trying to figure out my next steps, I couldn’t be bothered to put together cute outfits, review nail polishes, or follow the latest runway shows. I was becoming a new person, and at the time, I couldn’t figure out a way to take my blog on that journey with me.

I popped in occasionally, with a new post and grand plans to “do it all better this time“, but my heart wasn’t in it anymore. Truth is, for a brief moment, I even debated closing this space altogether and moving on to something else. But I couldn’t bring myself to writing that one last post. I couldn’t kill this space that had played such a huge role in my own personal evolution. So I let it hibernate and I tried to stop beating myself up for being a “bad” blogger (that didn’t really work). I focused fully on the most important areas of my life, and trusted that when the right time came for me to put on my writer’s hat again, I would know it.

And boy, has that time come, indeed. The itch to write and share has come back in full force. But it has also come with a great deal of soul searching. In those months away from blogging, I have changed and evolved. My priorities have changed. So have my interests and passions. And I want and need my blog to change with me.

See, this year I turned 30, and a new pair of shoes, a cute skirt or the latest shade of nail polish don’t fire me up anymore. I still love a good shopping spree, but it doesn’t make me jump out of my bed in the morning. Learning the ropes of running a small business does. Building and nurturing a new relationship does. Wrapping up a difficult work project, making my apartment a home, traveling the world, reading inspiring books, creating, making delicious things in my kitchen, learning constantly and growing as a person, as a girlfriend, as a daughter, as an entrepreneur…these are the things that light the fire inside my soul, that make me wake up in the morning full of energy and excitement for a brand new day.

This new person that I’m becoming simply isn’t able to identify with the old blog anymore. The time has come to tell a different story of who I am and what I do, and this new story needed a new name, and a new space to unfold in. That’s why I’ve removed all the old blog posts from my new website, and only kept the lucky few (four, to be exact) that correspond to my life the most right now. I have a head (and a notebook) full of new ideas for topics, posts and things I want to write about, and I was craving a clean slate to do so. I didn’t delete my archives – all those old posts are like journal entries speaking about my lives past, and I would be devastated to lose them completely. Instead, I’m keeping them on my old website, while I’m trying to decide what to do with them ultimately. But I don’t want them to interfere with my new blog, my new focus and the new direction my life has taken.

It feels slightly dramatic and a little bit terrifying, and I’ve been agonizing over this for weeks (if not months). But once I took the plunge, I’ve acquired a new sense of calm and purpose that I’d been missing all this time. I feel excited about these new beginnings, and most importantly, I feel excited about blogging again. I’ve been missing this feeling dearly.

Thank you so much for bearing with me and for reading, and I’m looking forward to making this space a source of inspiration to us all.

Cheers to the charming new beginnings!

xo Ivana

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Fall bucket list

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Here we go again. A new season (a bloggers’ favorite) has rolled in today, and I’m not entirely sure whether I should feel more excited or flabbergasted. I’m definitely feeling happy about the fact that the crazy summer temps are finally over (yay for cooler mornings, crisp evenings and the fact that it’s finally acceptable to have a candle burning at home day-in-day-out), but the speed with which the pages of my calendar keep turning gives me chills.

 

However, today I’m not going to dwell on the fact that the life is speeding by in such a crazy manner, but instead focus on all the amazing and exciting things waiting for me in the upcoming months. Putting together my seasonal bucket list is one of my favorite blogging exercises, and when it comes to this fall, these are the things I’m most looking forward to:

 

Create a fall reading list and read, read, read. No explanation needed, since this thing is pretty much on every single bucket list I create 🙂 Books are my favorite things in the entire world – but you already know that 🙂

Light a candle whenever I’m at home, and use essential oils for my aroma lamp. Lavender, eucalyptus, orange or jasmine…my collection is ever growing, and I’m even thinking of trying to make my own mixtures.

Start walking back home from work again. Now that the temps are finally back to my “normal”, I’m excited to start taking my daily walks from work again – it will be the perfect way to unwind after a stressful day in the office, and it’ll give me plenty time to catch up on my favorite podcasts. A win win!

Update my home decor for fall. I’m thinking of a new blanket for my sofa, a few new throw pillows, bowls filled with little decorative pumpkins and a fall wreath for my front door.

Clean out and reorganize my closet for fall. I’m going to store away all the dresses, summer skirts, flimsy tops and stilettos, and replace them with warm knits, my favorite hoodies and my collection of ankle boots. This could also be a great time to try my hand at capsule wardrobe!

Take a hike to see the changing leaves. This would make for a lovely weekend date.

Sew a few new fall tablecloths. My linen closet is overflowing with spring and Christmas tablecloths, but for some strange reason, fall-themed ones have been conspicuously missing. Time to change that this year!

Try at least 10 new soup recipes. A. (my boyfriend) and I are both huge fans of homemade creamy soups, but my usual repertoire begins to feel a little stale. I need some fresh new ideas – please, do share your favorite recipes in the comments.

Cook and bake with all the different kinds of pumpkins available. I’m pretty good with Hokkaido (my all time favorite kind), but I’ve yet to discover spaghetti or butternut squash. Any other varieties I shouldn’t miss?

Swap my summer lip gloss for a new lipstick. Am I finally ready to bite the bullet on the red one?

Wear my favorite dark nail polish. Sketchy nail colors are definitely not my jam (you will never ever catch me with green or blue nails) – I’m a dark red gal through and through. I’m looking forward to wearing Essie Size matters day in day out!

Bake cookies shaped like autumn leaves. This may sound like a cliché, but I’ve never actually baked sugar cookies, and I’m finally willing to give them a try. So why not have a little fun with decorating them afterwards?

Roast pumpkin seeds at home. I adore them, A. adores them, and between the two of us, we should be able to find the perfect recipe.

Attend wine tastings at my favorite wine shop. I haven’t done this in forever, and I’m missing discovering new varieties, chatting with random neighbors at the table and then buying way too many bottles to carry home 🙂

Make homemade apple cider. Finally!

Experiment with fried recipes. We got a fryer this week, and it got my mind spinning with various possibilities: homemade fries, chicken nuggets, spring rolls, oh my. It may not be the healthiest way to cook (quite the contrary – *nods sheepishly*), but in my opinion, nothing beats a plate of homemade french fries with tartar sauce.

Now it’s your turn: tell me what’s on your fall bucket list!

Happy Thursday everyone!

The best books I read in summer

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Today I’m joining Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy for a Quick lit link-up, where fellow readers share short and sweet reviews of the books they’ve read lately. Usually, it’s a monthly thing, but since this is my first time joining, I’ve decided to round up the best books I’ve read this summer. Despite it being quite busy with work, travel and a few important life changes, I’ve managed to squeeze in quite a few good reading sessions into my days and weekends. These were my favorites:

picnic_in_provence_1Elizabeth Bard: Picnic in Provence

I’ve read this before my big summer trip to Provence, in order to get some travel inspiration. But I got so much more out of this book! It’s a captivating story about how does it feel to start all over again…again!

I loved Bard’s first book, Lunch in Paris, and this one was equally funny, endearing and fascinating. After living in Paris for almost a decade, Bard decides to turn her life upside down once more and relocates her little family to a quaint Provencal village. Her recount of adventures that follow is delicious both figuratively and literally: the book is peppered with delicious Provencal recipes, each coming with its own story. I laughed at Elizabeth’s misadventures, empathized with her efforts to build a new life while trying to blend in, understood her struggles with cultural differences and let my mouth water all over her inspiring recipes.

I would recommend it to: Those who dream of changing their lives completely, those who fell under the Provencal charm, and those who love memoirs with recipes.

 

incorrigible-optimists_1Jean-Michel Guenassia: The incorrigible optimists club

I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that this is going to be one of the best books I’ve read in 2016. Set in Paris in the early 1960s, it follows the journey of Michel, a self-described consummate bookworm, towards adolescence. He grows up while his family is falling apart and his country is entangled in the Algerian war. Michel finds his way into a chess club filled with a slew of original characters – all refugees from Communism, all of them with stories that are nothing short of fascinating. It’s really impossible to describe this book in just a few lines: politics, philosophy, love, family ties, friendship, loss and war all blend into a sweeping coming-of-age tale. Most importantly, don’t let yourself be intimidated by its 640 pages – it truly reads like a charm and you’ll devour it before you’ll know what hit you 🙂

I would recommend it to: Those who are not intimidated by long, sweeping sagas and those who love their books with a side of realness and humanity.

 

elle_lui_1Marc Levy: Elle & Lui

I’ve already mentioned that Levy is one of my favorite French authors, and I’m always eager to discover his annual paperback offering. Mia is a famous British actor running away from her failing marriage. Paul is an architect-turned-writer, running away from his fame in the US. They are not supposed to fall in love, but when serendipity (and a little nudge from Paul’s friends) brings them together in Paris, they learn that friendship and love are divided by a very thin line that’s so easy to cross.

This was an easy, and a slightly predictable read, but very pleasant all the same.

I would recommend it to: Those who want to take a break from “serious reads”, those who believe in happy endings, and most importantly, to those who read in French, because there doesn’t seem to be an English translation available 🙂

 

last_good_man_1J. A. Kazinski: The last good man

In Jewish scripture, there is a legend: there are 36 good, righteous people on Earth. Every generation has them. Without knowing that they are the chosen ones, they protect us – without them, humanity would perish. Suddenly, these good people begin to die all over the globe, all of them wearing the same, strange death mark. Who is killing the good ones and who will be next? Those are the questions a Danish detective Niels Bentzon sets out to answer. Little by little he pieces together the puzzle of those far-flung deaths, only to come to the most astonishing conclusion.

I would recommend it to: The lovers of fast-faced page turners, those who love old legends.

 

nightmare_1Lars Kepler: The Nightmare

A drowned young woman is discovered on an abandoned boat, but her clothes are dry. The next day, a man is found hanging from a lamp inside a completely bare room. A political activist and her boyfriend go missing. And soon we learn that all these events are linked to something even more sinister, something that reaches the high levels of Swedish administration. This thriller gets a little bit slow from time to time, but it still manages to capture your attention and propels you, page after page, towards a surprising end that explains it all.

I would recommend it to: The fans of Stieg Larsson and the Nordic thrillers in general, and those who don’t like their thrillers too bloody and gruesome.

 

pride_prejudice_1Jane Austen: Pride and prejudice

I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to read this perennial classic. But it was definitely worth it – it was a pleasant departure from all those crimes, murders and sinister events depicted in the previous two books. I sympathized with Lizzy Bennett, laughed at her colorful and funny family, rooted for Mr. Darcy. And all that time I was thanking heavens that I’ve been living in a time and place where women get to be defined by so much more than just their family wealth and by their marriage.

I would recommend it to: The lovers of classics, those who want to take a break from the not always approachable world of modern fiction, and those who dream of a comfortable and easy life in marriage 🙂

 

shock_of_the_fall_1Nathan Filer: The shock of the fall

This was a strange, powerful and a truly original book. It tells the story of Matthew, struggling with a mental illness that’s been poisoning his entire life. It brings to life a family that has suffered too much, and a boy who finds a little bit of solace in putting his story on paper. I won’t give much more away about the plot. But the book is written in such an original way – it doesn’t follow a linear timeline, there are blurbs from past and future and it’s not always easy to follow Matt’s train of thoughts, but this book is definitely worth the effort. I’ve jotted down so many beautiful quotes, and the story has stayed with me long after I finished reading the last page.

I would recommend it to: Those who are not afraid of difficult themes, those who only read one book at a time (you really need to focus here) and those who want to stretch their empathy.

Now it’s your turn to tell me about the books you’ve read this summer. Which of them really stood out? Has any of them stayed with you even after you finished reading it?

31 before 31

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It’s been a while since I celebrated my 30th birthday and wrote this post, but it’s still one of my favorite personal essays. At the time,  I also compiled a list of 31 things I wanted to accomplish / learn / do / experience before my 31st birthday. Yet somehow, this list got lost in the depths of my bullet journal, and I only recently stumbled upon it, and decided to publish it here on the blog, in order to give myself an extra jolt of inspiration and motivation to accomplish every single item that’s on it. I’m going to cross things off as I go, and in the meantime, I would love to know, do you have your own personal list of things you’d like to do before your next birthday? Mine is a mixture of travel, adventures, dreams and also things I’d love to ameliorate about my daily life – what would be on yours?

  1. Take a tour of vineyards in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. June 2016
  2. Wander through lavender fields in Provence and take hundreds of photos. June 2016
  3. Attend an olive oil tasting. June 2016, in Provence.
  4. Try a lavender ice cream for the first time. June 2016, in Avignon.
  5. Create a real photo album from my trip to Provence.
  6. Create a gallery wall made of my own travel photos.
  7. Organize all my friends and family addresses and send out birthday cards on time.
  8. Create a habit of writing my morning pages.
  9. Edit and organize my clothes & shoe closet.
  10. Create a filing system for all my paperwork.
  11. Read at least 5 books a month.
  12. Fall in love 🙂  May 2016
  13. Write a cookbook.
  14. Learn to manage my stress levels better.
  15. Improve my focus.
  16. Create (and stick to) a productive morning routine.
  17. Make all the recipes from one cookbook.
  18. Go see a live concert.
  19. Go on a weekend spa getaway.
  20. Complete one adult coloring book.
  21. Every month, read my three favorite magazines cover to cover.
  22. Change my hair color – go a lighter shade.
  23. Donate blood again.
  24. Watch at least three new-to-me shows.
  25. Learn to write book reviews for my blog and keep a reading journal.
  26. Visit at least 5 cities in Slovakia I’ve never been to.
  27. Kick my procrastination habit to the curb.
  28. Develop a regular exercise routine I will be able to keep up with.
  29. Organize my inspiration files and actually use them.
  30. Complete my technical and business education.
  31. Enjoy, cherish and be thankful for every day of my 31st year.

On turning 30

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Good morning guys! I’m here today with a rather special post. Yesterday, I bid goodbye to my 20’s with my closest family and a bottle of great wine,  and today I’m turning 30. It feels like such a special moment, despite the fact that it’s shaping up to be another busy day at work. It feels different. I feel like I’ve been gearing up towards this moment for weeks, maybe even months.

See, I have never been afraid of getting older. Quite the contrary. My parents keep telling me that I have always been an old soul: responsible and mature beyond my age. And in my late 20’s, I was always the woman telling everyone how much I was looking forward to reaching the 3-0 milestone. I was pretty darn sure about it, and now that the day has finally come, I couldn’t be more excited to begin this new chapter of my life.

Different periods in our lives bring us unique experiences that help shape and build us up. My 20’s were full of growing pains (and I’m pretty sure yours were, or still are, too). When I was 20, I was convinced that I had my life all figured out. I knew what I wanted to do, I knew where I wanted to live and with whom. Fast forward 10 years, and I remember my younger self fondly, with a tiny knowing, yet indulgent smile. Life is not at all like I had imagined it back then, but it’s wonderful all the same. I’m happy and thankful to say that my 20’s were all about learning, experimenting, trying different paths and deciding what I liked and what I most certainly didn’t. I lived in several different countries, fulfilled a few of my biggest dreams and failed miserably at a few others, I almost got married to the wrong guy (thank goodness that didn’t work out), and learned the hard way that people I love the most won’t be here with me forever.

For the past decade, I tried, I failed, tried again and fell to my knees more than once, but I’m proud to say that I always managed to get up, pull myself together and begin again. The older I get, the wiser, more secure and more confident in my own skin I feel. And as I’m entering another decade of my life, I finally feel like I know who I am and what I want out of life. I have found my voice, and I’m more comfortable using it than ever. And I have quite a clear idea of a woman I want and I’m meant to become: loving but independent, caring and strong, confident and vulnerable, and so, so much more.

In my 20’s I had my insecurities piled up high. I was second guessing my decisions at every turn. At the onset of my 30’s I finally feel like I have my priorities straight and I know what’s important to me. And I also know that so many things I used to agonize over a few years back, will no longer cause me to lose my sleep. I finally feel like I’m in the driving seat. Of course, I don’t know that final destination yet (no one knows, and that’s the beauty of life, after all), but now I feel like I can steer my life in whatever direction I decide: whether it’s taking over our family business, starting my own company or becoming a mother. It’s up to me to choose my path.

Of course, I’m well aware that this new decade arrives with a whole slew of its own problems and issues. I don’t expect it to be an endless walk through the rose garden (after all, every rose has its thorns, too). I don’t ask myself anymore what I’m going to be when I grow up, or if I’m looking cute in that bikini, or why, oh why didn’t he text me back? Now I have a bunch of very different questions I ruminate over when I can’t sleep at night: will I continue to be successful and happy in my career? Will I be able to take care of my parents if necessary? Will I be able to meet a man I would want to start a family with? And eventually, what would having kids in my 30’s ultimately feel like?

What I know now, that I didn’t know 10 years ago is that I’ll be able to cross that bridge when I reach it. I feel strong enough to overcome and survive each and every challenge life throws my way.

I have been 30 for the totality of 8 hours, and yet this decade already feels like home. I am at home in my body, with all its flaws, imperfections, but also its capabilities. I’m at home in my mind, even with its tendency to become cluttered and scattered all over the place (maybe this will be the year when I finally start meditating 🙂 ). I feel at home in our business, which, honestly, I’m the first one to be surprised about, but in the end, that’s what life’s unpredictability is all about. I’m at home in living alone and assuming all the responsibility that goes with it. And I’m at home in being single right now, although I very much hope that it won’t be  a permanent state for me.

I’m entering this new chapter of my life with curiosity, confidence and humbleness, and I simply can’t wait to discover what life has in store for me next.

Thank you so much for reading and following along on this journey. And I would love to know: have you turned 30 already? If so, what it felt like? If not, are you looking forward to crossing that threshold, or does it feel slightly daunting to you? What are you looking forward to the most in your 30’s?

Happy Monday!

xo Ivana