Smell the roses: I'm no talker

I HATE talking on the phone.
It's a huge source of stress for me and I always try to avoid calling someone.

That's the reason why I did not complete last week's goal - call someone I don't get to see very often.
No big deal, really. I didn't want to do something that made me uncomfortable.

I'd decided to call my godmother earlier last week.
I haven't talked to her for a long, long time and I thought a little catch up would be great.
I scrolled my contacts and almost pressed her number but then I gave up and threw my phone on the sofa.
I did not even send her a text message because I knew she'd instantly call me.

Let me tell you what happens when I have to make or take phone calls.
First, there are very few chances I'll answer a phone call because my smartphone is always on silent mode.
I hate the sound of a telephone ringing - it scares me and puts me in full anxiety mode.
When I see an incoming call, I ignore it and never call back - most of the time.
I'd rather send a text or an email.

I think my fear of talking on the phone mainly has to do with me being an introvert.
Unexpected phone calls and unknown numbers are the worst & interacting with people can be so nerve-wracking for me.
Even when it comes to ordering pizza. Like, I need to rehearse "Hello, I'd like one Hawaiian pizza please" a thousand times.

This smell the roses was a good way to step out of my comfort zone - but I really didn't feel like being pressured.
Do you hate talking on the phone?

This week's smell the roses:
▲ Watch a TED Talk ▲


A recap of my Postcrossing experience and sending/receiving postcards from around the world

This is NOT a sponsored post.

Mid-January, I set up the challenge to write messages to random strangers - so I subscribed to Postcrossing.
If you don't know what Postcrossing is and how it works, please check out my Travelling Postcards post!

Almost two months have passed since I sent my first card to a fellow Postcrosser in Germany.
Now I'm ready to share my experience.

Let's talk numbers and places first.

Four to Germany - to Katharina, Klaus, Anke and Siegfried
Two to Finland - to Seija and Marja-Liisa
Two to Russia - to Maria and Arina
Two to Belarus - to Anastasia and Alexandr
One to Japan - to Mayumi
One to Singapore - to Jonathan
One to Czech Republic - to Ganna
One to the United States - to Rob
One to Turkey - to Atlastiko

Six from Germany - from Lothar, Wolfgang, Edeltraut, Gabi, Daniela and Lisa
One from the USA - from Michelle 
One from Belarus - from Tatiana
One from The Netherlands - from Coks
One from Taiwan - from Tina
One from Canada - from Michael

Clicking on "request an address" is such an exciting moment.
You don't know who you're going to write to and where - it's totally random!
Once a recipient has been assigned, I read the profile carefully and always try to send a postcard that the person will like - I like to imagine their reaction when they receive my postcards.
Some Postcrossers suggest a list of themes: some collect animal cards while others like receiving famous monuments or landscapes.

I purchased a stock of really cute postcards with different themes - vintage ads, landscapes, words of affirmation... and went to the post office to buy beautiful stamps as well.

As far as I am concerned, I don't ask for any particular type or theme for my postcards.
I just want them to be handwritten and people can write about anything: who they are, what they like, things to do where they live, their favourite quote...

I am so happy when I see one in my letterbox.
All the messages I got were lovely and I really enjoyed getting to know these people a bit - even if I will never meet them or write to them again.

Now that I started a collection of poscards, I'm still wondering what I can do with them.
I can put them in an album or hang them on a huge cork board or metal grid panel.
What do you suggest?

If you're curious about the postcards I receive, follow me on Instagram and search the hashtag #PostcrossingMaloreads.


Smell the roses: inspiring quotes to live by

Hello friends.
Smell the roses is back with a short recap of the last challenge - write down three inspirational quotes.


Last week was a great time to reflect on things.
I read a lot of inspiring quotes by great people and they really boosted my mood.
We all need inspiring words to lift our spirits, keep us motivated and improve the quality of our lives.

I have been a huge Oprah Winfrey fan for years - she's such a remarkable woman.
She delivers amazing speeches and is so supportive, she inspires us all and I would love to meet her in person.
Earlier last week, I picked three quotes by Oprah that I wrote on sticky notes and put on my entrance mirror.

"Turn your wounds into wisdom."

"Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you."

"The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but on significance -
and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning."

The above quotes really speak to me.
I could see them every day when I entered or left the house, or just when I looked myself at the mirror.
I highly recommend you do the same - choose a few inspirational quotes and put them on a mirror, or somewhere else.
It will help you feel great, confident and motivated.

Did you stop and smell the roses last week?

Next smell the roses - drumroll:
▲ Call someone I don't get to see very often▲


Books I read in February.

I'm back with a monthly reads post!
But I must say February has not been a really good reading month.
I was so busy with watching films, as part of my highly-anticipated annual Oscar predictions.
Speaking of that, I will share them on Twitter next Sunday. I can't wait!

I read two books in February - and these were very good ones.

They correspond to the following reading challenge prompts:
• A book with your favourite colour in the title
• A book with a time of day in the title

▲ THE BLUEST EYE by Toni Morrison ☆☆☆☆
I just can't believe this is the first book that I've read by this author.
I knew Toni Morrison but hadn't had the opportunity to read one of her works yet. Shame.
The Bluest Eye is her first novel and was released in 1970.
Set in Ohio in the 40's, it mostly revolves around Pecola, an eleven-year old African American girl, who believes she's ugly and prays for blue eyes. She thinks this miracle could change everything, keep her brother at home, make her mother love her, make her classmates think she's pretty and prevent her father from abusing her.
First off, the fact that a little black girl fantasizes about looking like Shirley Temple so that everybody likes her broke my heart.
The effect of beauty standards on her made me angry and so sad.
The book also addresses harsh topics like racism, poverty, alcoholism & incest - which sometimes make the reading difficult.
But despite those heavy issues, I enjoyed the author's writing style and found it powerful.
When I finished the book, all I wanted to do was hug and reassure Pecola and the two MacTeer sisters.
I'm glad I picked The Bluest Eye for the reading challenge - and I can't wait to read more books by Morrison.

TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer ☆☆☆☆☆
Do I need to present this book?
Seventeen-year old Bella decides to leave sunny Arizona where she lived with her mother to settle with her father.
She thinks she'll give up everything she loves and that she'll never get used to rainy Forks.
Until she meets the disturbing and handsome Edward Cullen at her new high school...
I must admit - I watched all the films before reading the book.
I really enjoyed all of them and had even bought the book series but they just stayed right there, in my bookcase.
Let me tell you - I absolutely loved the first book.
If I hadn't been so busy, I would have finished it in a day because it's definitely a page turner.
I could have been bored since I already know the story - but Stephenie Meyer's writing style had me hooked.
From the beginning of the novel I was completely immersed in Twilight's atmosphere and really enjoyed the fluid narration.
I'm not a huge fan of vampires but found myself really attracted to them & even fall in love with Edward - as if I were Bella.
It was also very interesting to read about the vampires' human lives - especially Carlisle's.
If you haven't read Twilight yet, I highly recommend you do. Even if you have seen the films.
It's totally worth it.

What did you read in February?

I just finished The Witches by Roald Dahl and I'm about to dive into New Moon, which is Twilight's sequel. I'm addicted!


Smell the roses: showing blog love

Hello friends!
Let's take a look back on last week's smell the roses - read and leave comments on ten blog posts.


I have been reading blogs for years but have always been a very bad commenter.
Every time I read a post I want to leave a comment but I just don't know what to say.
I could leave a nice "Great post!" but it doesn't seem enough for me - so I just don't leave any.

I really wanted this smell the roses to be an everyday thing - but I couldn't find enough time for some blog reading last week.
I did scan a few posts, bookmarked some of them - but mostly read and left comments on Sunday.
My comments weren't very constructive but I enjoyed reading the blog posts.

That's why I'm going to share them - and invite you to read/comment and give these lovely bloggers some blog love!

Enjoy the reading ☺︎

SELF LOVIN' by Chloe | Chloe Louise


♡ MY BIPOLAR STORY PART 1 by Catherine | Working with Bipolar

♡ 5 THINGS I'M LOVING by Jemma | Dorkface

♡ 26 THINGS I HAVE LEARNED IN 26 YEARS by Lauren | Bournemouth Girl

♡ 7 WAYS TO SHOW LOVE ALL YEAR ROUND by Jordan | Hello Miss Jordan

♡ 7 PODCASTS YOU NEED TO HEAR by Ellie | Ellie K

♡ I HAVE OPENED AN ETSY SHOP by Bexa | Hello Bexa

ACHIEVING ORGANIC BLOG GROWTH by Charlotte | Charlotte Nicole

♡ THE VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD by Soffy | The Mum Affairs





MY BULLET JOURNAL by Amy | Amy Edmonds

♡ OUR LOVE SONGS PLAYLIST by Melanie | Fraser's Fun House

Did you stop and smell the roses last week?

Next smell the roses:
▲ Write down three inspirational quotes ▲


A book review of the Actually book series by Ali McNamara

Hello friends!
With Valentine's Day around the corner, I couldn't wait to share my thoughts on one of the best book series I've read in years.
The ACTUALLY book series written by the lovely Ali McNamara.

 It includes three books:

I'm sure it already makes you want to read them just by reading the titles!
That's what I first thought when I came across From Notting Hill with Love... Actually one day on Goodreads.
Not only did it draw my attention, but the cover illustration and the back cover blurb also attracted me.

From Goodreads -
She was just a girl, standing in front of a boy... wishing he looked more like Hugh Grant.
Scarlett loves the movies. But does she love sensible fiancé David just as much?
With a big white wedding on the horizon, Scarlett really should have decided by now...
When she has the chance to house-sit in Notting Hill - the setting of one of her favourite movies - Scarlett jumps at the chance.
But living life like a movie is trickier than it seems, especially when her new neighbour Sean is so irritating.
And so irritatingly handsome, too.
Scarlett soon finds herself starring in a romantic comedic of her very own: but who will end up as the leading man?

These books are page-turners for sure.
I am a fan of Ali McNamara's writing style and storytelling - and I just couldn't put the books down.
I love rom coms and the Actually story was so lovely, charming and very entertaining.

The heroine, named Scarlett, is adorable but also very clumsy, which lands her in some funny situations.
I could easily relate to her as she always daydreams and likes to compare her surroundings, the people she meets and situations to her favourite films - which annoys her relatives a lot... but certainly not me!
In fact, she originally decides to house-sit in London to show her dad & her fiancé that living like your life is a film can be done.
And then she unintentionally finds herself the heroine of her own romantic comedy.

I instantly fell in love with Scarlett, and with her new neighbour, Sean, too. What a man.
I found myself attracted to him very quickly and could easily picture him as a younger version of Simon Baker.
The minor characters are also very good - sometimes a bit too cliché - but they are definitely necessary to the story.

Also, as an avid movie fan, I really enjoyed all the romantic films references.
The Holiday, Love Actually, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones' Diary, Pretty Woman and many more. You will love it.
Scarlett even meets celebrities in real life, and there's even a weekend getaway to Disneyland Paris in the first book!
Did you know you could actually get married in Sleeping Beauty's castle?

I highly recommend all lovers of romantic comedies and chick lit in general read this book series.
It was a really good story that hooked me in and made me want to keep on reading.
From Notting Hill to New York... and From Notting Hill with Four Weddings... are just as lovely & entertaining.
I really hope the author will release another Actually novel because I want to read more of Scarlett's adventures.

Ali McNamara is an amazing author and also the queen of music and film references in books.
She has written seven books and her latest one, The Summer of Serendipity, came out last year.

Let me know in the comments if you read the books!


Smell the Roses: Make-up novice needs guidance

Hello friends!
Remember last week's smell the roses goal - get a facial.


Well, I did not get a facial.
Instead I booked an appointment at the hairdresser's.
I love going to the hairdresser's - the head massage and nice smelling shampoo. It's absolutely divine.
A month ago I wanted a makeover so I had my hair dyed brown - but this time, I had it cut.
Now I have a bob haircut and I'm loving it!
I feel a bit more confident and pretty - for once.

That's not all - I also took a make-up class!
You see, I'm a total novice when it comes to make-up.
I did try to take an interest in the beauty world ages ago but never asked for any advice.
In retrospect I think I never really had an interest in anything beauty-related because.. I didn't like my face.
Why take time and spend money on that face, really?
Ridiculous thought, I know. But that's what I used to think of me - and my face.

I have a history of low self-esteem, and learning to care for me has always been a challenge.
However, and that's good news, I'm feeling much better and more confident lately.
And not only thanks to the hairdresser's and beauty salon - but that's a topic for another blog post. I promise.

After my hair treatment, I talked to a beauty therapist.
I detailed my (quick) morning/evening beauty routine and the products I use - I actually brought them to the salon.
My skin is dry and sensitive, and easily irritated. I knew that, but I never really took care of it.
I'm such a bad girl, I buy products from the supermarket without knowing if they are suitable for my skin type.
Same when it comes to choosing a foundation for my skin tone.

Each morning, until last Saturday, I used a bottom-end moisturiser that would irritate my skin, put some foundation which was way darker than my skin tone and some mascara. That's it.
Don't even mention an evening beauty routine because there was none of it!
I would just use a make-up remover wipe - when I wouldn't forget about it. And not very eco-friendly either.

This needed to change. Back to square one.
The beauty therapist taught me the basics (easy-peasy) and showed me the different types of brushes and a selection of products.
She put make-up on one side of my face and as a good student, I had to do the other half.
It was a fun class. We got along well and she instantly made me feel comfortable.
I must admit I felt ashamed at first - I thought, I'm a 30-year old woman and I don't even know about make-up!

The beauty salon sold Pupa Milano products - have you ever heard of this brand?
I bought a face exfoliator, bi-phase make up remover, lotion, moisturiser, foundation, eyeliner pencil, blusher, and eye shadow.
My bank account is crying right now - but it's worth it.
I will write a review of these beauty products in due time.

This smell the roses was perfect ♡
Not only did I get some much needed me time, but it also boosted my confidence.

Did you stop and smell the roses last week?

Next smell the roses:
▲ Read and leave comments on ten blog posts ▲


Books I've read in January 2018

Finally... it's February!
I don't know about you but I just couldn't wait for January to be over.
The first month of the year is never easy - in spite of all the goal setting and motivation.
It's a long month - and where I live, it's cold, raining all the time and the evenings are dark early.
Ugh - bye January!

I started my 2018 reading challenge and read four books throughout the month.
I wish I could've read more because I have a pile of exciting books on my bedside table - but I'm a slow reader & I've been busy.

Here are the prompts I chose in January:
• A book you borrowed or that was give to you as a gift
• The next book in a series you started
• A book about time travel
• A book set in the decade you were born

WHAT HAPPENED by Hillary Rodham Clinton ⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎
I got What Happened for Christmas and couldn't wait to read it.
Let me tell you - it was a very interesting and powerful read by an incredibly good writer.
I'm not American and don't know much about politics but I thought it was very enlightening on the 2016 presidential campaign.
Many topics are discussed here - the behind-the-scenes, the omnipresent misogyny in politics, Russia's role in the elections, Donald Trump, the email controversy...
She also gets very personal when she writes about her upbringing, the support of her family and her recovery from the election.
What I like in this book is that she admits she made a series of mistakes, and that she is not perfect. Who is anyway?
Hillary Clinton is inspiring and one thing is sure - she would have made a better president than Trump.
I highly recommend this book.

▲ THE ELITE by Kiera Cass ⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎
The Elite is the second book of The Selection series by Kiera Cass.
If you don't know what it's about - three hundred years have passed and the United States became Illea, a caste monarchy. Thirty-five young girls, including America Singer the protagonist, are chosen to compete to conquer the heart of Prince Maxon, the heir to the throne.
It's a bit like a dystopian Bachelor during the Civil War - including all the excitement and cheesy show around it.
Just like the first book, the second installment is a good and easy read.
And yet I have a few reservations about this one - and mostly because of the heroine.
I was tired of America's indecisiveness, and her mood swings and fits of jealousy were annoying.
She just can't stop changing her mind in every chapter and is less and less likable.
This being said, I can't wait to read the third book of the series.

STEP BACK IN TIME by Ali McNamara ⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎
JoJo is a workaholic.
One day she is hit by a car on a zebra crossing and starts time traveling into the 60's, then 70's, 80's and finally 90's.
I really wish I could have given the book five stars because I am a huge fan of Ali McNamara and The Beatles - but it was not as thrilling as I expected it to be and I wasn't fond of the protagonist.
That being said, Ali McNamara's writing style remains enjoyable and the Beatles & other cultural references are perfect.
I also enjoyed the time travel concept - it's original and fun.
Not my favourite book by the author, but still a pleasant one.

▲ ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell ⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎
Eleanor & Park is set in 1986 so that fits perfectly with the prompt - a book set in the decade you were born.
It's a third-person narrative from the points of view of two teenagers - Eleanor, a red-haired chubby girl and Park, a half-Korean comic book reader. Barely speaking to each other, the pair will end up forming a relationship through music and comics.
The book also deals with important topics like school bullying, family violence and identity quest.
What struck me the most is not the romance but Eleanor's chaotic life. Her family is broken and it was sometimes very painful to read her narrative. All I wanted to do was hug the kids.
This was a good book overall but I was nevertheless left with mixed feelings. The romance was lovely and real and the cultural references on point but the end disappointed me.
My first thought when I finished it was - Whaaat, that's it??

What did you read in January?

I'm about to finish The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and intend to dive into Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.
The Twilight series have been on my bookshelf for years and it's about time I read it!


Smell the roses: make a playlist of your five favourite songs

"Without music, life would be a mistake."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Hello friends!
Time to take a look at last week's smell the roses - make a playlist of your five favourite songs.


Last week has been a bit of a struggle for me.
So many emotions have hit me all at once - and as a result, I feel emotionally drained and physically tired.
But it's time to get back up and keep moving because I know I got this!

When I'm in such a mood, I don't really feel like talking and usually dive into a book or listen to music - and close my eyes.

Music can be very therapeutic and make me feel better when everything seems to go wrong.
Music speaks to my soul and heart, and helps me recover - faster & better.

I listen to music all the time and have multiple playlists on Spotify - from 90's music and musicals to TV shows theme tunes.
For this smell the roses, the only difficulty was to pick only five songs.
I have so many favourite songs!

There's something special about all of them - the melody, the lyrics, the charismatic lead singer...
Those I have picked for the compilation have been favourites for years and will probably always be.

Enjoy the playlist ♡

Did you stop and smell the roses last week?

This week's goal is:
▲ Get a facial