Carry on

Carry on…no not as in “keep calm and carry on” but as in carry-on luggage. Tomorrow I am going to Portugal for a, if I must say so, well-deserved get-away with four of my best girl friends. But we decided to travel with only carry-on luggage. This means one little suitcase for a 5-day holiday. Why….in Gods name…why did we decide this again?!

5 days, 4 category’s of activities; beach/swimming pool, shopping, going out and wining&dining. This actually means I need to bring an entire wardrobe cause you never know what to expect and who you might run into. So right now I am a flipping coin for al pre-selected items to see what will actually carry with me.

But truth is I cannot wait to get away out of the country tomorrow. It is going to be sooo much fun. Just fyi…in another category of carry on I carefully deleted several mobile phone number of boys that I collected over past few weeks in my eternal search for love. It is time for less drama and more girls just want to have fun.

Turn on out office, switch mobile phone into flight mode, keep calm and carry on!

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Rwandaful

I visited Rwanda twice. And if you are looking for your next destination this country should be it! Land of a 1000 hills and a million smiles. Check out this amazing video to get a peek of what this beautiful country has to offer. But more important book your ticket and go find out yourself. It is simply Rwandaful.

Oh and if you are planning to go there let me know. I am more than happy to hook you up with tips and addresses of great people you should meet for sure!

Rwanda Office

List of The lists

With the holidays approaching rapidly and 2014 in sight we are being overloaded by lists to conclude this years successes and failures. Fact is you only need a few of those lists to be prepared for the new year. So here is my selection to survive: 

1.BBC Sound of 2014. 15 promising artists long listed by the BBC. Expected to be next year musicale heroes.  Most of the artists are already on Spotify so start listening and make sure you can sing along by the time that the artists hit the top of the charts. As the BBC boys have been right 6 out of 10 times over the past 10 years you better keep any eye open for Sam Smith; predicted to be elected the winner in January.

2. Forbes 30 under 30. The lists that selects the thirtieth most important innovators and influencers under 30. Which will give me less than 2 years on January 1st to make this list. My favourite person on this short list so far; Brandon Stanton.  The street photographer behind Humans of New York. You can still vote for your favorite. The final 30 will be announced in January 2014. All of them are a great inspirtation for me; I might be able to make it!

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3. Lonely Planet’s best value travel destinations for 2014. To broaden your horizon this list is important. It will give you bright new ideas for holiday destinations that are not only affordable but that will give you the ultimate holiday feeling. My wish list for next year includes a trip to San Francisco, a family trip to Marbella and potentially a next trip to the beautiful continent of Africa.

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4. Vogue’s spring|summer ready-to-wear overview per designer. Get inspired for sunnier seasons! As soon as you don’t have to be covered in hoodies, scarfs, gloves and big winter coats you need to be ready for shirts, shorts and flip flops. Because while you picked your Lonely Planet holiday destination  I am sure you cannot wait to update your summer wardrobe. My trend for 2014; blue.

5. Top 20 Tech Products of 2013.  Probably outdated by the time January ends, but good to know for now that if you have at least one of the gadgets on this list you can consider yourself to be either a high tech nerd or hipster. Either way I can’t wait to see what next year will bring us for cool new gadgets and apps.

So now you have your music, your idols, your holiday destination, your fashion style and your gadgets. The only thing missing are you New Years’ Resolutions and  I’d say you are ready to prepare for 2014.

Living in the dark.

This the season to be jolly

Amsterdam, the 2nd of the December 05h55 Amsterdam Airport. My plane lands after a 9 hour flight from sunny Kigali. It is still pitch dark! The purser on my flight happily tells us that the local temperature is 3 degrees. If that doesn’t wake you up after 6 weeks of tropical weather I don’t know what will. So with my first reality check in the pocket I entered the airport; Home sweet home! Schiphol fully decorated in holiday season style eased my pain a little bit. After a jolly picture and some tax free shopping with my Kigali room mate and travelling buddy George Pericles I went to pick up my suitcases and passed through Customs.

A warm welcome from my brother, room mate and my mother as the big surprise act made me forgot about the horrible winter ahead of me. The Hello/Goodbye moments at the airport always make me think of the priceless commercial made by T-Mobile a few years ago.

I tell you this was almost as good as the movie. So the change from tropical, warm and smiling kigali to cold, grey and grumpy Amsterdam will obviously take some adaption time. But with great events ahead such as Sint Nicholas dinners with my girlfriends, concerts with my homeboys, dance festivals with my brother and Christmas with the family I am pretty sure I will survive until 2014. But then there is the three remaining months that I will be living in the dark. January until April are painfully long, the nights longer than the days, the degrees lower than zero and the winter depression guaranteed. Luckily there is no place like home and no better place to come up with new adventures for the year ahead! Let the holidays begin!

Nai and her lovely designs

Every once in a while you meet people that add something to your life so that why I want you to meet Naomi. It was another amazing person, miss Rika, that introduced us last year in Amsterdam. And we met again when I arrived to Kigali a few weeks ago. Just to give you a picture, this lovely lady is hard to miss; she is tall, dark and handsome. 

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So besides the fact that she is funny and super nice she is extremely creative. She designs glass artwork with dots made of glass paint. The designs vary from candle lights, wine bottles and glasses and jewelry. And occasionally she goes out of the box for a side project. The first week in Kigali Nai worked on a designs for the Milles Collines fashion show in South-Africa. She literally spent day and night putting dots on dresses and jewelry, but the result was breathtaking.

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Right now I am living in Nai’s room because she is out of the country for her first international art exhibition. Next week she will be one of the featured artists at an exposition at HANGAR311 in Mechelen, Belgium. So Europe this is your chance to go and check out this amazing art work! The exposition officialy opens Sunday the 24th of November and will last until December 15th . While you are at it you might as well enjoy a city trip to Brussels and/or Antwerp as Mechelen is half-way!

Normally Rika and Naomi are this lovely roommate couple that call each other husband and wife. Needless to say that Nai is the husband. And while she is out of town I got the questionable honor of being husband number 2. But this house is great fun and it brightened by Nai’s artwork. Drinking wine all of a sudden has become an even nicer event than it was before.

Oh one last thing; Rika is the manager of this all. So interested in buying something? You will need to battle this one first. Just follow her on Twitter and you will know what I mean @rikafontana. No I am just kidding she is as lovely as she looks as she looks ;).

Now dot on: www.facebook.com/naidesigns and try to become friends with these two ladies because they will make your life so much more fun. LG – life’s good 😉

Turning fabric into dresses

I am in love with African fabrics, always have been. The colors and the prints are just insane!  Vlisco is one of my favorite African Fabric producing brands. Even though they are Dutch based they have been making African women look fabulous for over 167 years. So my trip to Rwanda was thus the excellent opportunity to get myself some fabrics and turn it into some tailor made dresses.

Last week I went fabric shopping at the local Rwandan market. Literally over 1000 yards of fabric to pick from. The one even brighter than the other after careful consideration I picket to two fabrics to begin with. I mean let’s be honest I don’t have a colored skin so I wasn’t really sure if I could pull it off. I decided to go with a turquoise as it would be a color I would wear back home as well and my friend convinced me to get an over the top pink with purple print.

As I wasn’t really look to go all African in design I picked out a few dresses from back home of which I thought they would look great in African fabric. The advantages of bringing your European dress to a local tailor – that of course doesn’t speak English or French – is that they can just copy your design.  So after only two days I went back to pick up my first dress, and…the result is just to cute to be true! Check it out below! They put in some great effort and event stitched me some extra pockets. So I am convinced! Monday I am going back with my pink fabric to get trousers and a top. After calculating (yes, I am still a Dutchy) I realized that I have a one-piece design at H&M Price. So off to the market again tomorrow! My wish list is now endless and I am planning to go back with a suitcase filled with colorful gear for me and my loved ones. All right enough for now! I am putting on my dress and planning to dance the night away, Kigali style! dress picking