Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The Pillow Tutorial

Dear Lovelies,

When I think of pillows I think of snuggling, cosiness, feathers, pillow fights, dreams, warmth and comfort.... I simply LOVE pillows!
If it was just me, the whole bed would be covered in pillows! Unfortunately my better half is already struggling with two, therefore you can imagine that my pillow addiction causes a fair bit of tension.

On my journey to finding the the right pillows I stumbled upon a few questions and found so many pretty pillows that I found it very confusing to choose the right ones. Here are a few things that I learnt:

Choose a colour scheme
When it comes to colour there are a few things you need to consider.
First of all, what is the base colour of your couch/bed?
And: is there a particular colour in the room that is already present or that you like a lot?
For example you decorated your room with mint vases or have a feature wall in red?
While I'm not saying that your pillows have to reflect the identical colour of these decorations, it is recommended that you stay in the same colour family. This will make the style of the room look "complete" and your pillows will effortlessly tie back into the entire look of the room.
You could also choose to have the pillows in complimentary colours, but always make sure you don't end up with too many colours in your room (unless you love it of course, then please go ahead!).

My favourite colour combinations at the moment are:

1. Navy, Sea Glass, White

2. Berry, Rosegold, Beige

3. Mint, Rose, Beige




Have fun with textures, patterns and glitter
Gone are the days when mixing patterns were considered too busy and inconsistent. Have fun mixing a chevron pattern with flowers and stripes!
Also, add an additional layer of depth by combining different materials. Fake fur, cotton and velvet can look really nice together.

As a rule of thumb: Fake fur or knitted fabrics are considered a better decoration for winter because they appear cosy and warm and will make the room appear warmer too.
For summer months, cotton and linen will look fresh and crisp.

But once again, this is also up to personal taste - I currently have knitted pillows on my couch and outside temperatures reach 25 degrees - I just love the cosiness on the couch <3



When it comes to glitter, sequins or animalistic patterns (leopard, zebra, etc.) less is often more! They are such strong designs that they should be used as just the tip of the iceberg. If you overdo it, things can start to look a bit tacky very quickly.


Size matters!
Think outside the box and don't just choose the standard 45 cm x 45 cm pillow. Think of all these cute round pillows and the rectangular ones. Go ahead and mix them. Little round or rectangular pillows tend to look best as a feature piece to finish the look off, using them sparingly i.e. just one or two will already create the desired effect.

How many pillows?
I wish I could say "endless", but too many nice things can be a bit overbearing. Keep the space you want to cover in mind. A three-seater couch or queen sized bed should probably not have more than five pillows on it. I usually choose odd numbers over even numbers as I personally believe it looks better.

What is your favourite pillow colour combination?

With Love,

Coffeebeanlilly



Saturday, 5 September 2015

A dusty pink kinda spring!

Dear Lovelies,

Being on the other side of the planet also means that our seasons are the other way around.
While Europe is heading into Autumn, Australia is heading into spring.

There's no doubt about it, you can see it everywhere: the days get longer, the skirts of ladies shorter and there's so much laughter everywhere as the hearts seem to get lighter just like hair does in spring.

Having recently traveled overseas where Autumn is knocking on the door I was lucky to spot some colour trends of the colder season and immediately fell in love.

I'm talking about wine, or call it bordeaux - this velvety dark red with a hue of a purplish pink. Absolutely gorgeous. Dusty pink is the little sister and because it's lighter it fits perfectly into spring. Combine it with neutral colours and a touch of gold and you have an easy-going casual outfit.



Top: Zara | Pants: American Eagle Outfitters | Shoes: Louis Vuitton





With Love, 

Coffeebeanlilly


Amsterdam!

When I think back of our 3-day-trip to Amsterdam in September 2011, this loveable city still puts a smile on my face.

Being the Netherland's largest city (805,166) and capital, Amsterdam often gets viewed as one of the top financial centeres in Europe (the stock exchange is the oldest in the world!) as well as a cultural capital with the highest density of museums.



Expecting a big city feeling when in Amsterdam? Far off!

Swans swimming in the gorgeous canals, hundreds of friendly Dutch people on bikes, the relaxed atmosphere around the Coffee Shops and areas overgrown with weeds everywhere in the city make you feel like you're on a country trip.

We wanted our trip to be as authentic as possible so we chose not to book a hotel room, but instead to live on a houseboat just like approximately 4500 other people in Amsterdam. And we would definitely do it again!
The lovely Annette that owns Ark16, which is a housboat anchored in a former workers district called Jordaan, was such a great host. http://www.ark16.com/en
Ark16 was a great basis for us to check out the city and as many attractions as you can see in 3 days. 

Here is my Top 7 of things to do:

1. You probably expect me to say "Rent a bike.". Umm, no! Simply because there's SOOO many bikes out there (approximately 50% of the population rides their "Omafietsen").
Even worse: there are so many tourists on bikes which are not familiar with the traffic in Amsterdam - it can quickly turn into quite a dangerous fun thing. Infact, isn't experiencing a city by walking everywhere much more rewarding?

2. Eat a Herring! Raw Herring! Actually: eat as many Herrings as you can, they will never taste better anywhere else! You will find a quality fish stall on almost every corner where this delicacy gets served either with or without cornichons, onion and bread.



3. Visit at least one of their beautiful markets around the city! We went to Lindengracht Market (www.amsterdam.info/markets/lindengracht) which is located in Jordaan which has become one of the most upscale locations of the Netherlands and a favourite place for students, artists and young professionals. While you're there: don't miss out on Poffertjes! These baby pancakes are deliciously fluffy and traditionally served with powder sugar and butter.

4. Visit the Anne Frank House. Walking through this part of our history will send a chill down your spine and even I may have cried a little. Worth seeing, but best to go there relatively early as queues get very long. 

5. A cheese shop! You have to indulge in all those varieties of cheeses as they might not be available in other parts of the world.


6. Go to the Bloemenmarkt - Amsterdams flower market - to buy tulip bulbs for your loved ones at home.

7. Take a stroll though the Red Light District, but be prepared because the beautiful girls in the windows don't care if you're female. They will still try to pick you up. On this note: while we were strolling through the city we saw these...umm..modern (?) Public Toilets everywhere. Strange to see and hear certain parts of someone elses very private business!



There's so much more to see and do in Amsterdam, like going to the Rembrandt or Van Gogh Museum or take a canal tour, but we simply ran out of time. But there's no doubt - we'll be back one day!


With Love,

Coffeebeanlilly

Sunday, 1 February 2015

About Nemos and Coffee Plantations - Cairns!

Dear Lovelies,

For my hubby's 30th birthday I booked a surprise trip to the Great Barrier Reef. As a full blown Aussie he had never seen it before!
I've been twice before and although I don't really have a bucket list, I believe this is one thing to do before you die. The beauty of the Great Barrier Reef is simply out of this world and hard to describe with words.

There are different places in Northern Queensland from where you can start your trip from. I chose Cairns simply for convenience reasons since it's a good 3 hour flight from Sydney.

Cairns with its roughly 150,000 inhabitants is a rural "city" full of backpackers and built on tourism. There are not many things to do there except have a nice barbecue at the Esplanade, join the free yoga classes in the morning, get on a boat to go to the reef or get absolutely hammered with other tourists in one of the many bars.
If the last thing I mentioned is not for you, then I strongly recommend renting a car and exploring the beautiful Atherton Tablelands surrounding Cairns as well as the rainforest with its hidden waterfalls! Situated only one hour west of Cairns it is well worth the trip! To find out more about the Atherton Tablelands please click *here*.

On the edge of the rainforest.

Cairns Esplanade.

The Cairns Marina.

Public pool with a view.

Sunrise.
Public barbecues at the Esplanade.

Yum!


The Great Barrier Reef attracts millions of tourist per year and consequently there are hundreds of boat companies offering different tours. From snorkelling to diving to helicopter flights and all the above in combination with one another - the offers are endless and choosing a particular provider can be confusing. Different companies will also take you to different parts of the reef. Regarding the diversity of species they are all relatively similar but some reef groups may attract a more specific type of fish.
And in the end it really depends what you like - I prefer smaller boats that offer a higher level of service and do snorkelling tours but everyone is different. To give you a starting point, we chose Deep Sea Divers Den for this particular trip and were absolutely happy with our choice. Click *here* to get to their website.

On our way to the Norman Reef.
The Norman Reef - photo credit: Deep Sea Divers Den


Since I am madly in love with coffee, there was no question about it: we had to visit the iconic Skybury Coffee Plantation.
As one of the world's finest, the Queensland highland Arabica is well known across the planet and visiting the plantation in tropical North Queensland is a must for everyone who's interested in great quality coffee. Click *here* to read more on their website.

Termites on the way to the plantation.
At the Skybury Coffee Plantation

Coffee in the making!

Coffee cherries.



There is no way I can cover all the amazing things to do and see, so I'd love to hear from you about your adventures in and around Cairns!

With Love, 

 Coffeebeanlilly


Monday, 26 January 2015

Recipe: Cream-filled Lamingtons (gluten free)

Dear Lovelies,

Happy Australia Day!
Today is the day when everyone in Australia celebrates the things that we are grateful for in the country that we live in. As most people will be at the beach having a BBQ, there was no real main meal recipe that I could blog about. But every great BBQ celebration deserves a desert and what would be more suitable in Australia than Lamingtons?

These cream-filled little sponge cakes covered in chocolate and coconut flakes made me fall in love with them the first time I set foot onto the Australian continent.

This recipe uses almond meal and tapioca starch/flour instead of grain based flours, not because I am gluten intolerant, but I enjoy the small alterations and welcome an alternative to conventional cooking methods.
Whenever possible, I also use organic ingredients and in general make sure to use unprocessed ingredients of high quality.

If you prefer the Lamingtons to be a dairy free desert, simply leave out the cream.



It takes approximately 1 hour.
For 25 bite-size Lamingtons you need:

For the cake base:
♥ 3 eggs
75g (1/2 cup) tapioca flour (note: tapioca flour = tapioca starch)
175g (3/4 cup) almond meal
♥ 2/3 teaspoon baking powder (note: not all baking powders are gluten free)
150ml (2/3 cup) coconut oil
3 tablespoons raw sugar (dissolved in 6 tablespoons of hot water)
♥ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate ganache:
75g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
150ml (2/3 cup) coconut oil
♥ 2 tablespoons of the dissolved raw sugar you made for the base
♥ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
♥ 3 tablespoons coconut or almond milk
1/2 block of Dark Chocolate (70%)
225g (1 1/2 cup) coconut flakes

For the cream-filling:
100ml cream
1 tablespoon of the dissolved raw sugar you made for the base







1. To start with, preheat oven to 150 degrees celsius (fan forced) or 170 for a conventional oven.

2. Grease a 2 cm-deep, 20 x 30cm baking tray with olive oil and line with baking paper making sure that the paper comes up the sides of the tray as well.

3. Dissolve the coconut oil, 3 tablespoons of the dissolved raw sugar and vanilla extract and whisk together for about a minute (or until all granuals have dissolved) before setting aside. Measure out the tapioca flour and almond meal separately and also set to the side.

4. Beat eggs for 5 minutes until thick and foamy before gradually adding the coconut oil mix and then the baking powder, tapioca and almond meal mixture as well. Mix everything together using a whisk and fold together until there aren't any lumps visible.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tray and spread evenly. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Place the sponge cake onto a wire rack and set aside to cool completely (If the cake is warm the chocolate won't set).

6. When the sponge cake has cooled down, trim the edges off and cut into 4 strips.
Note: this is when you can place a small amount of cream between the two cake pieces, alternatively you can use jam, chocolate or anything that you would prefer.

7. To make the chocolate icing, combine coconut oil, cocoa, vanilla, coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of the dissolved raw sugar in a pot and warm up. Add half a block of Dark Chocolate 70% and stir until smooth. Spread coconut on a plate.

8. Dip the cake strips first into the chocolate mix and then into the coconut flakes.
Enjoy!






With Love,

Coffeebeanlilly


Sunday, 18 January 2015

Fitness in the City

Dear Lovelies,

I didn't plan on publishing this post, but I was so surprised that I got so many good photos this morning. What was planned as just one photograph ended up as a whole series - let's face it: Sydney is simply stunning and even though I've lived here for over two years now, I still take photos like a tourist :-)

The reason for this spontaneous photo shoot this morning is a competition in Marie Claire Magazine. In a fitness related article they asked readers to reflect on #whatgetsmeoutofbed and although I can think of dozens of reasons, Sydney's beauty and beachy lifestyle is top of the list when it comes to fitness.
Not many cities can claim that they have such spectacular waterfront areas and an amazing climate. This combination is simply made for working out outdoors.

I recently discovered Yoga, after a lovely friend convinced me to join her at Hot Yoga. The craze behind this type of exercise was always a mystery to me, in fact I even thought it's something that Hippies did - please excuse the very shallow stereotype.
It turns out it is one of the most physically challenging things I've ever done while also forcing you to switch off stress causing thoughts and focus on yourself. Being a girl, I also of course enjoy the certain type of gym clothing styles that comes with yoga - the little crop tops and patterned tights <3 The tights I'm wearing in the pictures are from Mika Yogawear (have a look *here*), an American company I stumbled upon while I was searching for the perfect yoga pants. Not only do I love the pattern, but I also have to say that these tights fit perfectly, they literally mould around you. Very recommendable! The top needs to get a special mention as well, it's from H&M and double sided! One side is pink and purple, the other is grey and pink! Everyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE things that have a little special something. Both, the tights and the top tick this box!








With Love, 

Coffeebeanlilly


Saturday, 10 January 2015

Going off the birth control pill

Dear Lovelies,

This is a rather personal post but I felt like sharing my experience to reach out to those who are unsettled/insecure and hoping for some illumination.

First of all I am neither a doctor nor otherwise qualified to make medical statements. There are many different birth control pills available across the globe, this article is no generalisation. Furthermore this article is based on personal experience and not on scientific data. It is always best to discuss your very personal situation with your doctor.



I've been on the pill since I was 16. A micro pill to be exact called "Belara". Mainly for contraception, but the pill clearing my skin was a nice bonus. I never had troubles with the pill, no side effects, no weight gain, I took it regularly and never skipped a cycle. Being an early mum was never an option for me so the pill just seemed to be the perfect and easiest method of contraception.

It was after 10 years of being on the same pill that I started bleeding in between periods. More a spot bleeding than proper red blood but still, I knew that this is unusual. I asked my gynecologist and she assured me it was quite normal to bleed a little bit in between periods especially when being on a micro pill. Having experienced such a thing for the first time and not being able to read the signs that my body gave me, I believed her and just accepted having to wear liners most of the time. One year after that I moved to Australia. The pill I had been on for 11 years by then was not available so I went on a different micro pill called "Yasmin". At the same time I got a PAP smear done and while the doctor took a sample and the cotton tip came out blood red, she told me that this is absolutely not normal and there was far too much blood even for spot bleeding.

That was the time when I began to feel more changes. It is really hard to explain but I didn't feel like myself anymore. Almost as if I'd lost the connection to my body. Physically I felt bloated and fat and psychologically I had the worst mood swings and was upset quite often. To the point where I cried randomly and showed many signs of depression.
Not to mention that during this time I lost my sex drive completely. When you encounter a situation like this for the first time all you feel is insecurity. "Am I seriously ill? Cancer?" and "Is this normal after only three years of being married?" were frequent questions in my head, not knowing what's happening to me.

Not being able to pinpoint it directly to my pill it took me a while to realise that this is not me. All this doesn't happen because of life and work and stress, all this has to have a real cause, so I went back to my doctor. She was convinced the new pill she prescribed me at the blink of an eye is more suitable for my body at this stage in life and so I hoped that being on a new pill would bring positive changes. But it didn't. That's when I decided that this has to stop! After almost two years of these side effects I wanted my body back and my sex drive and my health! All the doctors I had consulted during this time said it can't be the pill and when I asked if going off it is an option they all looked at me in disapproving surprise asking me if I want to start a family.

I made an appointment for a blood and urine test (pregnancy, STD's, etc.), another one in a female clinic for an ultrasound and an appointment in the hospital for a biopsy to make sure that I'm ok physically. After all results came back absolutely fine I made up my mind and decided to go off the pill.

Yes, there was the option of going on a stronger pill, or using another hormone based contraception method but I was well and truly past the point of wanting to feed my body more hormones. But how would it be without the pill? What would my body be like without the pill? Would I revert back to the pubertal, pimply teenager with period cramps? Is it worth it?

The following months were quite a learning curve. The first thing you learn is to listen to your body again. My skin broke out, randomly and unpredictable, it was very oily. My beloved foundation (yes I am still part of the generation which is loyal to certain brands) all the sudden was too oily for my skin and my powder just "swam" away on my shiny face. My back was full of pimples. My scalp was so itchy and I well and truly could've washed my hair twice a day.
And as if all these puberty-typical things weren't enough I also developed a form of the skin disorder Rosacea in my face.

Apart from all the things that DID happen, there was one thing that DIDN'T happen - there was no sign of my period. The first 3 months you actually enjoy it and it is so liberating not having to think of this "time of the month". Then you slowly start to think that there's something wrong (out of the frying pan into the fire). It turned out that in my personal case it took my body 11 months to "restart" the female program. All puberty-like symptoms have also vanished, the Rosacea is gone and everything is back to normal!

The conclusion? Of course it's challenging. You need to learn again to control skin outbreaks with a good cleanser rather than hormones. Find gentle products which work for you.
You may have to change the shampoo you love because your scalp now needs to be treated differently. Pay more attention to what you eat as it also has an effect on what your skin looks like.
Always carry tampons with you to avoid surprises, so yes, many things are like being a teenager again. But instead of feeling frustration I feel joy. Joy that I finally hear the voice of my body again, that I am truly myself now.

At 29, so almost three years after the first "symptoms" I'm more than happy that I went down the path of going off the pill and should we want to start a family then I think it is best to get all these hormones out of the body as early as possible anyway.


With Love,

Coffeebeanlilly

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Louis Vuitton Love

Dear Lovelies,

Everyone seems to reflect upon the past year at the moment. I'll spare you my thoughts and show you my new favourite shoes instead - Louis Vuitton open toe sandals in tan <3








With Love,


Coffeebeanlilly


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Blue Scuba Peplum

Dear Lovelies,

As the days are getting shorter and the temperatures lower in the southern part of the world, it is slowly time to dig out some pants. It is a truly strange (and from a fashion perspective challenging) time with winter knocking on the door, but the sun's rays are still so warm and cozy. The person who can master layering now clearly has an advantage.
The peplum is made of a new composition of materials called Scuba which is quite a nice windbreaker while being light and comfortable. Definitely not as stiff and heavy as I expected it would be (I guess I had a wetsuit for divers in my head).







Peplum - Asos *here*
Pants -Zara *similar here*
Blazer - Zara *similar here*
Bag - Rebecca Minkoff *here*

With Love!


Coffeebeanlilly


Saturday, 26 April 2014

Black Sheer Lace Blouse

Dear Lovelies,

I first saw this lace blouse a few months ago when it was all over German fashion blogs, mostly in cream colour. Back then the lace trend hadn't hit Australia quite yet, so my only option was to order it from Asian online shops, but because it seemed such a hassle to order it from overseas, I just forgot about it. Two weeks ago when I flew to Melbourne I found this beauty in H&M and had to buy it. You know when people sometimes say that Australia is behind in fashion and they say it with that undertone? I think being behind is not necessarily a bad thing - it just means you get to fall in love with a trend twice!








H&M doesn't offer online shopping in Australia yet, but you can order this shirt from *here* (Lookbookstore).

With Love,

Coffeebeanlilly