Category Archives: Life

What I’ve Read So Far 2017

For me, the summer season is always a very active time in my reading life.  Whether it’s because reading is, in my opinion, the BEST accompaniment to travel, or something enjoyable that you can do outside whilst enjoying the beautiful weather, or just because you might have some free time on your hands to simply be able to read – I always find that I reach for my book much more during the summer months.

In lieu of this, over the past couple of weeks I have been endlessly browsing the internet for some potential reads to fill my summer days and I have discovered that personal recommendations written by real people with real opinions make a book much more irresistible (or not) to me.  In case any of you feel the same way, I thought I would put a selection of the books that I have read and enjoyed so far this year into a blog post, so that you might be able to take your own reading inspiration from it!  Enjoy!

 

The Secret History

-Donna Tartt

This book is categorised as a psychological thriller, but I found that it also contained so many Romantic elements!  It tells the story of a group of young, eccentric students, living and studying in New England and wishing to break free from all social norms.  Together, and under the guidance of their mysterious yet devoted professor, they explore the boundaries and limitations of humanity and what is right and wrong.

I was totally hooked on this book.  I found the way that Tartt uses her narrative to create such suspence to be really clever and very addictive; the way the book evolves from beginning to end is staggering, and somehow reminds me of a kind of decent into hell.  It is a dark story, beautifully written and totally compelling.

 

 

The Neapolitan Novels

  1. My Brilliant Friend
  2. The Story of a New Name
  3. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
  4. The Story of the Lost Child

-Elena Ferrante

I have spoken about my experience of reading these four novels on my blog before, and all I can say is that these are some of my most favourite pieces of writing ever.  I have never felt so touched, high as a cloud, depressed, questioning of my own life and choices or simply in awe of any book before.

Ultimately, this is one recounted telling, from start to end, of the lives of two heroines, Lila and Elena, from the beginning of their childhood friendship, right up until the present day.  Their stories take us through their lives, with all of the difficulties and challenges that they face in different situations; what it means to be a woman, suppression, political angst, breaking free from their roots, marriage and children, love, friendship… The books are so packed full of emotion, passion, intelligence, and I don’t think I have ever gone from loving to hating one character so much and so often as I did with Lila.

Some people have said that it is a good idea to read other books in-between these novels, which I might concur with, just to feel part of the real world again, although in reality I absolutely could not take a break from book two to book four!  Reading these books was one of those life events that I won’t forget.

 

The Animators

-Kayla Rae Whitaker

I really enjoyed this artistic and powerful novel.  The story is about two female animators who meet in art school in New York, one of them being the reckless, outgoing and exceptionally talented one, the other being more inwardly troubled, quiet and introverted.  They develop a strong connection to each other, out of respect for the other’s work and also through each feeling like a somewhat of a ‘misfit’ or an ‘outsider’ in this world, and decide to make a long-lasting business partnership.  Together, they create stunning and hugely successful animated movies based on their own lives and experiences, which bring up all sorts of personal issues for each of them, and for me, this is really what gave the book such depth.  The story ended up being about so much more than art, but about relationships and sexuality, told through the wonderful subtleties of this incredible art form.

I found the story to have a rich and capturing narrative, and the book gave me a huge appreciation for animation and the work that animators do, which I really had no idea about before reading this.  It is such an intimate and sad novel, but also totally heart-rendering.

 

All The Light We Cannot See

-Anthony Doerr

This poignant and heartfelt war novel is told from a slightly different perspective than what you normally get from this genre.  Set around World War Two, we follow two different stories, told inter-connectedly alongside each other, from two different sides of the war.  The first is about a young, blind, French girl and her father, who is the keeper of keys at a museum in Paris.  We fall in love with this pair immediately and become very emotionally drawn into their experience of the war in France.  The second story is about a young German orphan boy and his sister, who live in an orphanage in Germany.  The boy ends up in a special, elite, Nazi school, and here Doerr portrays some hideous and revolting events that went on from this side of the war through the eyes of this boy, somehow making it feel even worse.

Although, of course, the life of each child is completely different, and they each experience incredibly different versions of war life, they are also somehow connected and, on reading the book, you feel very much the bond between the two.  Doerr cleverly draws on the innocence and confusing emotions of children from both sides of the battle, making it an exceptionally touching and refreshing read.  I would definitely recommend this book.

 

All Grown Up

-Jami Attenberg

I was really interested to read this book, as I had not seen or heard of anything like it before.  The story focuses on a woman in her middle age, who has chosen not to marry or have children and her struggle to find her own identity in our society that doesn’t yet know how to categorise or view women who choose this direction in their lives.  I found it really brilliant how the story unfolded right within the inner workings of the mind of this woman – it felt like we got a real window into her thoughts and struggles and this made it even more captivating and revealing.

I think a book like this is highly relevant right now, whether you are a woman or a man, a feminist or not – this book makes a point which is something we can all think about.  The ‘old spinster’ view of single women in their 50s and 60s, who don’t have children, just doesn’t apply; it’s old-fashioned and out-dated and reading this book really made an impact on me and how I thought about this issue.

 

Swing Time

-Zadie Smith

This book tackles issues of race, class division, politics and gender stereotypes.  It’s about two girls, growing up on council estates in ‘rough’ London.  They each struggle with the challenges of their social contexts, but find a connection and a ‘place’ for themselves within dance.  For one girl, dance is a way to achieve a form of success, a chance for her to express herself and to be good at something.  For the other, it’s more of an exploration of her ethnicity, all about body shapes and rhythm which intrigue her.

Although I went through several different phases of being really engrossed in the book and not loving it so much, overall I found to be quite a powerful read and I would definitely be interested to check out more work from this author.  I found Smith’s writing style to be very vibrant and colourful, it’s almost effortless reading.

Reading this book has also made me very aware of social issues, particularly focusing on minority groups, which, for some reason, were escaping my reading choices.  I would really like to expand my reading to explore and discover much more in this category, especially any books written by authors from social minority backgrounds, so if you have any recommendations for me, please let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

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On Turning 26

Not to sound Romantic,

or anything,

But 26 IS a strange age.

One step closer to something

that feels more real each year,

yet much further from those bygone flirtations with worriless, happy days .

 

Is this when I am supposed to start really living?

Things never happen quickly enough!

I can’t find the right words in time,

nor soak up enough knowledge like a sponge.

When I am not moving I feel completely stuck,

but really it’s just that I am standing still.

 

Perhaps, then, I should now start to slow down instead,

I have been told this before;

take your time!

don’t overthink!

don’t care so much!

But HOW, when there is just SO much to do and I am already so far behind?!

 

Forgive me, I am not a poet.

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The Absolute Joy Of Fantastic Colleagues

A few years ago, I attended a talk given by cellist/composer Philip Sheppard, which was titled ‘Advice for Young Musicians’.  He has since condensed this talk into a written article, which I will have linked down at the end of the post if you want to check it out.  In his talk, Sheppard shared many interesting and inspiring thoughts on all things related to being a musician and making yourself a success in this world; he gave tidbits of advice on how to manage your life as a musician and a business, what issues you just don’t need to stress over and what deserves a little more time and care and practical ways to achieve your goals.

As a young student, I was always a little wary of lectures that were obligatory (actually I am still wary of ANYTHING obligatory…!).  But I was totally surprised to discover how refreshing Sheppard was, how relevant and futuristic his advice was to me and my fellow classmates and I am continually surprised at how often I have since referred back to some of the things he said.

There was one point on his list, however, that really stuck out to me: I have never forgotten it and have thought of it on a regular basis.  He said that, as musicians, we should always work with people who are better than we are.  At first I immediately thought, but won’t that give me a never-ending feeling of insecurity, a fear of being constantly inferior to my colleagues and never quite feeling good enough? Actually, though, I think that this piece of advice is genius!

When we work with people that we know are not really as good as we are, we get comfy: there is no need to stretch ourselves, we are already in the top position and we can relax!  Maybe this sounds kind of nice at first, but when you really think about it, how fulfilling can this work ever be?  What is there left to achieve or strive for?  It seems to me that a job working with colleagues that we can’t learn anything from is extremely limited; there will never be room to grow or go anywhere.  And I can definitely say, having been in this position, that life like this gets miserable very quickly!

I have just returned from two weeks of working intensively with my new quartet and I am beyond excited!  If I wasn’t so jet-lagged I think I would have trouble staying still in my seat! I can say, without any doubts whatsoever, that my new colleagues are all definitely very much better than me and I am so inspired!  I have found that I am fast becoming better too, as working with colleagues that are so great at what they do means I have to constantly reach for more within myself, show my best side of myself, be on top of my own game all the time to meet what they offer me and continually try to throw the ball back at them too.  And the result of all this? I feel incredibly happy and content, I feel exhausted after working so hard, I am artistically fulfilled and am inspired to keep going, searching for more.

I have finally understood Sheppard’s point.  Working with colleagues that are better than we are, whatever your field of work, is SO important; for our own work, for our lives, for our emotional souls!  The circle of inspiration breathes very much more deeply when we are looking upwards instead of down.

Exhausted, sweaty but INSPIRED and HAPPY and CONTENT after the first concert with my new quartet!

See Philip Sheppard’s article here!

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Update!

I am really excited to share with you that I have finally moved my blog over to wordpress!  There’s nothing quite like a good old spring clean, and this feels like the mother of all (metaphorical) clean slates.  My life as a musician and blogger finally feels beautifully connected and I can’t wait to get back into my full blogging routine!

On this site, you will find all my usual blog posts in their normal categories, and you will also be able to catch a glimpse of what I’m up to in my musical life; what projects I’ve got going on, concerts coming up, travel plans etc.  Everything else will all stay the same, but do make sure to subscribe and follow me on my social media so you don’t miss out on anything!

For now though, must get back to packing; I’m travelling to Seattle tomorrow for two weeks of Beethoven Quartets and I CAN’T WAIT.

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March: Freya Chooses…

This month has been a very busy and fulfiling one; I have tried lots of new things and experienced many impulses from different areas in my life that I want to include in this month’s Freya Chooses post.  There are, as usual, a few items in the media category, as well as a couple of musical and cultural experiences that touched me, and even some other more personal highlights of the month.  I hope that the things I write about in this series here on my blog can give you a few ideas for things that you might also enjoy, or inspiration for some small ways to improve your daily life.

The Animators
Starting off with a fabulous book that I read this month, The Animators, by Kayla Rae Whitaker, took me on a whirlwind through the lives of two young women in America, finding their paths and their identities in the world.  Both artists, the characters meet in art school, through which they become business partners, and together they create incredible animation movies.  This is a book about art and what it is to be an artist, especially for women in what is a pre-dominantly male field, it’s about family and relationships, sexuality, life in very different parts of the USA and, ultimately, death.  This is a really wonderful read and I totally recommend it for something to help you escape from the real world.



Love
I had to mention this great show which is a Netflix original.  The second season just came out, which is why it is fresh in my mind, but I have enjoyed it all from the beginning.  In my opinion, this show absolutely nails the portrait of a real relationship – and not in the usual ‘fake’ way that you see in TV shows and the movies.  In Love, the characters each have their own worries and issues, it’s often hard to say which one is right and which one is wrong, they make you feel slightly uncomfortable yourself as you watch them fight and they make decisions which reflect real life.  A show like this is so refreshing and different, episodes are a perfect length and you are guaranteed a giggle or two!



Robert Frank Exhibition
Although I had never previously heard of the photographer/film maker Robert Frank, on a recent trip to Salzburg I decided to check out this exhibition at the Rupertinum Museum.  Frank was a native of Switzerland but spent much of his life in the States and Canada.  One of his most famous pieces of work was a book of photos called The Americans, which portrayed real people in their real lives all across America.  I learnt that Frank was a contemporary of Jack Kerouac (definitely enough to get me to the exhibition) and Kerouac actually wrote the introduction to The Americans, in typical Kerouac style.  After reading it and then looking through the book, I was struck by how much the writing matched the photos; it moved and flowed, it revealed secrets and was altogether incredibly inspiring.  I definitely recommend checking out Franks work, especially if you like Kerouac – his photos are amazing and his short films are really interesting too.

Brighton
This month, I got to spend a weekend with my aunt, her partner and my two cousins in Brighton, and I was reminded of how much I love this place.  I don’t know if it was that I was having such a good time with my family, with great food, walks on the beach and the best Bloody Mary I have ever had, or whether the bohemian vibe of the city just got to me as it always does, but I felt so happy and content there.  I also took a visit back to my old school to teach a day of masterclasses to some young violin students, and it felt so good to teach again!  It really reminded me how fulfilling it can be to see the look in a young student’s face, as they begin to realise, through the things that you say, just how many possibilities they have in music-making.  


Beyond Retro
On the subject of Brighton, I had to mention my favourite vintage shop, which I managed to get a chance to pop into on my way to the airport!  I discovered this store a couple of years ago and immediately fell in love with it.  It is a warehouse full of recycled, upcycled, reclaimed vintage clothes and bits and pieces.  I have talked a lot on my blog about how much I love to shop second hand, so Beyond Retro is kind of a dream for me!  Every single piece is unique, there is so much colour, so many styles from every decade, so many prints and fabrics, I could honestly spend hours browsing here.  I picked up a couple of things which I absolutely LOVE and will be featuring in a Vintage Finds #2 blog post coming up soon!  (Check out the first one here.)

Living Room Concert
This month I held the first concert in a new concert series that I have called ‘Living Room Concerts’.  My idea was to take the musicians out of the formal, sometimes inaccessible, concert hall into a place much friendlier and more intimate – i.e. my living room!  I will dedicate a whole blog post to this event as there is much more to say, but the concert was definitely a success and I am already planning the next one!  There was a great atmosphere, great music, beer and conversation and altogether it was a very special evening.  I know that concerts like this are going on everywhere, so I suggest checking if there is something similar near you, as it really is a fun event!



Lindener Berg
I want to talk about a new discovery for me, near to where I live, which is a gorgeous walk around the Lindener Berg, or Linden mountain (Linden is the name of the area of Hannover in which I live).  Just now the bloom is starting to emerge and the spring daffodils and bluebells are absolutely beautiful.  It is so worth taking a walk around this area, and there’s also, in true German style, a cute beer garden too, serving beer, coffees, ice cream, wurst and pommes.  I definitely recommend a visit here if you ever find yourself in Hannover!



Raging Bitch and Maple Smoked Weizenbock
Finally,  I have been introduced to two craft beers this month which are so delicious!  The Raging Bitch is a Belgian IPA and has a hint of orange in the after taste.  The Maple Smoked beer, which comes from Steam Works brewery, has more of a smokey flavour, but is not harsh or too strong.  Both beers are really smooth, tasty and if you like craft beers then definitely check them out.  Watch out though because they have a pretty high alcohol percentage!   



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Neighbours

Throughout the last few years of living in various different apartment buildings, student housing accommodation and flat shares, I have collected quite a few stories about all the different neighbours I have had! When you share buildings with lots of other people, you do come across some very, how shall I put it, individual characters with some unique habits.  In general, I love living in an apartment; I feel safe, I feel a sense of community, I feel like I am someone’s neighbour and I enjoy being part of that.  However, living altogether in the same building does mean that you are forced to be much closer to your neighbours than you would be if you each lived in your own house.  You really get to know people personally, you get a window (sometimes literally) into their intimate lives and I have to say that sometimes this can drive you mad!  In another way, though, it can be very eye-opening; these are people that you would never have met otherwise, they wouldn’t necessarily be your friends or people that you would normally socialise with and so it can be really amazing to get to know these other kinds of lives.  I wanted to share some of my neighbour stories here in a blog post to give an example of just how interesting the world of neighbours can be and I would absolutely love to hear some of your stories in return!

The first story that comes to mind was an experience that I had when I lived in a student accommodation building in Salzburg.  The building, which was absolutely huge with probably around 200 people living there, was full of students of all kinds and of all ages, from young music students to older history students.  In the basenment of the building was the laundry room, where the entire building shared two washing machines and a dryer, each costing about 2 Euros per use.  To save a little bit of money, I never used the dryer – instead, like a lot of other people in the building, I hung up all of my wet clothes on the washing lines, provided in the same room, and went back to collect them a day later when they had dried.  Now, I lived in this building for three years and I never had an issue except for ONE TIME, when I went back to collect my dry clothes from the washing line, only to find that someone had stolen all of my pyjamas!!!  They had left all of my clothes, had only taken my, rather old, red pyjamas covered with dogs!  To this day I am still confused by this – why did they want my old pyjamas so much?!

My next bewildering neighbour experience was when I moved into my own flat in a small building in Germany.  I quickly found out that I had a rather noisy upstairs neighbour, but not in the ways you might think.  I don’t know what it was, but I heard a continuous sound of stomping feet, at all times of the day and night, going around in circles on my ceiling.  I came up with so many theories as to what it could be; first I thought it was a noisy washing machine that moved when it was on, then I thought he must have lots of guests over all the time and that it was several different people walking around.  Then I noticed one day when I bumped into him that he wore these HUGE Dr. Martin style biker boots.  I also never saw anyone else going in or coming out of his flat, so I knew then it must be just him stomping around – and when I mean stomping, I mean heavy, loud bangs all over my ceiling that sometimes even shook my bed!  And this would continue long into the night.  My Dad came to visit me and came up with, what I think, is probably the closest solution – this this neighbour must have had an mental health issue, such as OCD, which forced him to continually walk around his flat, back and fourth, back and fourth.   However, the truth of matter remains a mystery.

The following story only occured quite recently and I have found it incredibly interesting!  I have lived in the flat that I am currently in, with my boyfriend, for the past year and we both started to notice a strange sounding noise, always at the exact same time every morning, at about 8 o’clock.  Now, we live above a little market and a cafe, and we share the backyard of our building with both establishments so there is generally quite a bit of noise, especially in the morning when both places are opening up; there are people using the bins or taking rubbish out, unloading stock and emptying boxes, retrieving things from the store cupboard.  So I always put this strange sound down to that general noise.  However, it became clear that this noise was coming from above, not below, and it was unlike anything else we had heard.  Also, because it started and stopped at a very particular time every single day, we struggled to find out what it was.  It was my boyfriend who finally discovered the answer.  He realised that the noise was a human voice and that the sound was actually an Islamic prayer!  I had never heard this before and, now I know what the sound is, I really do find it amazing!  Now we hear it each morning and it has become a symbol of our day too, like a call to wake up and get out of bed and start our day!  This is definitely one of those times when I love having neighbours and getting to know a lifestyle that I have not come across before.

My final neighbour story (for now, at least) is also about a current upstairs neighbour and this one is quite emotional.  Over the past year, we gathered that a young couple live above us, and it also became clear that they have quite a turbulent relationship.  We have been awoken several times in the middle of the night by screaming and fighting and, on a few occassions, it has got so bad that my boyfriend has been on the point of getting involved.  Then, one day a few months ago, there was a knock on our door and it was the yound girl.  It surprised me to see that she was quite heavily pregnant – I had not ever actually seen her before.  She was extremely nice and wanted to ask me if I could organise my violin practice to be at specific times during the day so that she could plan her rest around it.  She explained that she was has having a difficult pregnancy, that it had been unexpected and that there was going to be a problem with the baby, but they didn’t know exactly what yet.  On top of that, she was only 24, still a student at university and working in a perfume shop in town.  Of course, I felt huge empathy towards her and wanted to help her if I could, and she must have felt that she could trust me because she also started to tell me about her relationship with her boyfriend.  He works in a pizza shop and so she never sees him, and when they do see each other at home they don’t speak – communication completly broke down between them.  Well, I have no real end to this story except that I have not seen her since and, for the first time last week, we heard a baby crying.  

I guess, these stories show that there are just so many different lives going on all around us – everybody has their own shit to deal with, personal battles are being fought all the time  and sometimes it can be a really good thing to step back from our own lives and take a closer look at those around us.   There really is a wealth of variety in how people live and this is such a good thing.   The question is, who really are your neighbours?

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February: Freya Chooses…

And just like that, February is already at it’s end! One thing about this new series on my blog, the monthly ‘Freya Chooses…’ post, is that I am constantly hit in the face with how quickly the time flies by – it is CRAZY.  In my January edition of this series (read it here) I feel like I had curated quite an organised and orderly collection of things that I had loved throughout the month; everything fit so nicely into categories!  This month, however, the things that I have chosen to mention are all very random, a real mixture of things that have improved my life, given me joy and happiness and generally made my days a little better.  I hope you find some inspiration in my list and that these things could also interest you too!

I want to start off by talking about two TV shows that I LOVED in February., both on Netflix, both really entertaining, although completely different.  The first is a documentary series called ‘Abstract: The Art Of Design’.  This is a show consisting of eight episodes, each one focusing on a different aspect of design art and featuring a unique artist in that particular field.  It dives into worlds which I had no idea about, from graphic design to architecture, interior design and, my personal favourite, set design.  It is absolutely fascinating, not only to get to know the art and the work involved in making it, but also to meet these incredible artists, with their individual personalities and inspirations.  I found the show totally engrossing and a real feast of colour, shapes, ideas and creativity.  Definitely recommend! 
The second series that I just had to mention, although I know I am late on this bandwagon, is ‘House Of Cards’.  It’s dramatic, tense, sexy, dynamic and all of this with a remarkable cast to go with it.  I tried to watch this show a couple of years ago, but something about it just didn’t capture me – maybe it was because I found it too serious or that it required too much of my attention (sometimes the very reason to watch TV is simply to switch off!).  But I started it again a couple of weeks ago and just totally loved it and binge-watched it all in about a week.  Probably the current state of world politics helped to pull me back into the show – I constantly found myself exclaiming, ‘but that is actually happening for REAL’!  So if you also once tried it and gave up, I definitely suggest trying it again, as it might all make a lot more sense this time.

This month I finally started reading a book that has been on my ‘to read’ list for quite a while, and that is the first of the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante, ‘My Brilliant Friend’.  I have heard incredible things about this set of four books; that there is no better or more rounded portrayal of a friendship, that the characters live with you as you read the books and stay with you long after you have finished, even that these books are life-changing!  I am only a little way into the first book and already I love it!  It is not difficult reading, as I expected it to be, although maybe this is yet to come.  I will save my full review of these books for a later blog post (probably a much later one…), but for now I am really involved and really enjoying it.



Quite a momentous event has happened this month in my musical life; I have finally begun to work on a new piece, one that I have been itching to play since I was a kid, and that is Beethoven’s monumental ‘Kreutzer Sonata’.  It is fiendishly difficult, long and tiring, but I can’t remember ever feeling so fulfilled after a day of practice!  This is music that is astonishingly beautiful, complicated, terrifying, dramatic, divine!  Each day I get a little closer, I find something new in this incredible music, I look for different secrets behind the notes.  This piece is a high mountain for me, but I am so EXCITED to be climbing it!  If you are interested to hear this sonata, and I so recommend giving it a listen because this is music you just can’t go your life without knowing, then I urge you to check out Alina Ibragimova’s recording on Spotify!  It is one of my favourites.

A new discovery for me in the kitchen this month has been avocado oil!  Since going Paleo, I have changed and experimented with not only what I eat, but how I prepare food.  Avocado oil is something that is always recommended on Paleo websites, but here in Germany it is just so expensive.  However, I got the chance to pick up a huge bottle of it in the States over Christmas (tip: it’s really cheap in America!) and I have been loving cooking with it.  It doesn’t have an over-powering avocado taste, but just gives a really rich and juicy flavour to fried meat, and makes such a nice change from regular olive oil.  It also works great on salads!  

As a true coffee addict, nothing is more important to me than my first morning coffee.  I had been feeling quite unhappy with my nespresso coffees; even though they are massively convenient, they just don’t taste great and certainly were not cutting it for me in the morning.  I popped down to my local second hand shop and picked up a percolator, or mocha, for 5 Euros and I am completely sold!  I already owned a coffee bean grinder, which I also really recommend getting if you haven’t already got one – it gives much fresher tasting coffee and you can choose yourself how finely you want your beans ground – and I bought some really nice espresso beans to go with it.  Making this coffee in the mocha gives me a wonderful espresso every morning which has definitely stepped up my coffee game!


So, I am a little afraid to mention this next one, just in case I jinx it!  But this month I got a new gym membership and… so far so good!  I would count myself as a total gym failure in the past, with cancelled membership after cancelled membership and my work-out clothes gathering dust somewhere in the back of my wardrobe.  But I think my previous problem was that I was not working out properly; I used to go to the gym with no plan whatsoever, just to spend half an hour doing some form of cardio before calling it a day.  I see now that this is completely wrong!  This time I have a real work-out routine, divided into clear sections; I start with some warm up exercises, then move on to the main ‘body’ of my work-out which consists of different weight machines targeting the right muscles, and finish with 20 minutes cardio.  I feel so much better having a real plan and goal!  Also, this time, my boyfriend and I work-out together which makes it all SO much less boring (I can’t really call it fun just yet…!) and we can also motivate each other which really helps!

Last weekend I got to visit one of my favourite cities – Berlin!  I will be featuring a special trilogy of blog posts about Berlin, coming up soon, so stay tuned for that, but I absolutely had to mention the wonderful Pergamon Museum here.  It is a museum of Middle Eastern and Islamic art, and is so interesting because it hosts so many archaeological and artistic treasures, of which one star is the infamous Ishtar Gate.  If you are thinking of visiting a museum which is a bit different from your typical western art gallery, prepare to be absolutely overwhelmed by what this museum has to offer, not only as a house of art but as something which is part of our history.

The last thing I want to mention are my gorgeous new shoes!  Every once in a while, everyone just needs a pick-me-up and for me, this is definitely shoes.  There is nothing like a great new pair to make you feel like a whole new person and I adore these funny gold shoes with lips on them by Betsy Johnson. Plus, the were on sale! What a bargain.  I’ve decided to call them my ‘Kreutzer Shoes’ 🙂

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Love Your Pet Day with PuppySpot

Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while will probably have gathered by now that I am truly, in my heart, a bonefide dog-person (couldn’t resist that one!).  My love for my beautiful Golden Retriever, Sasha, has crept into many of my posts, I even dedicated an entire Blogmas post solely to her, and today I am going to extend the love to all dogs, of all different breeds.  

You may know that today, Monday February 20th, is ‘Love Your Pet Day’, so it seems really fitting that for today’s post I am collaborating with an exciting brand called PuppySpot to talk about everything dog and dog breed related.  PuppySpot is an American-based organisation that connects dog breeders with families, seeking new and caring homes for healthy, happy puppies.  PuppySpot specifically promotes only the best standards from both parties; with a strict ‘No Puppy Mill Promise’, breeders are only selected after a comprehensive screening process and homes are carefully chosen to match each puppy.  If you are thinking of getting a new puppy, or you are a breeder who is in need of good homes for your dogs, PuppySpot seems like a fantastic resource to check out – I will have all of their links below!

Now, I know that lots of you will already own dogs and are perhaps considering getting a second (my Mom fits into this category!).  Let’s face it, once you’ve got one dog, you are BOUND to want another.  Something that I, personally, have never given much thought to before is how certain breeds of dogs can get on much better with others, and some are not so well matched.   If you are in the process of getting a second dog this can be an extremely important point to think about in your choice of breed – you don’t want two unhappy, fighting dogs at home!  

Well, PuppySpot has you covered on this one too.  They have developed a cool new graphic that gives you ALL the information about dog breed compatibility that you could need.  


It was so surprising to me how much I didn’t really know about this; for example, that a poodle and a pug would make a great match, or that French Bulldogs should avoid being paired with herding dogs. PuppySpot have made the information so clear and accessible here, which is something that I really like and appreciate about this graphic.  It almost reminds me of one of those Zodiac charts that tell you which other star signs would be a good match for your own!

In the spirit of ‘Love Your Pet Day’, and because choosing the right dog breed for your home really is SO important, I hope this cute, informative graphic helps you – I would love to know what you think in the comments below!  Do head over to PuppySpot and take a look at their fantastic site – although, I warn you, I’ve just been there and seen a Golden Retriever puppy named William and I think I might be hooked, so if you suffer from puppy fever be VERY careful!

Links
Website: https://www.puppyspot.com/
Twitter: @_puppyspot
Facebiik: https://www.facebook.com/puppyspot/

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100th Post!

Today’s post marks the 100th blog post that I have written for Freya’s Nook!  When I checked this number in my blog statistics I was quite surprised and, I have to admit, a little proud.  I really had no idea when I started this blog, under a year ago, if it was going to be something that I would keep up or put a lot of work into.  But I have found it to be so fulfiling, such a wonderful source of joy and creative freedom and I am really pleased that I have made it to post number 100!

To mark this small milestone, I have decided to pick out a few of my favourite posts from over the past 10 months or so, to reflect on them and see how my blog has developed and grown.  Looking over my old posts has been really fun and interesting – there have been so many that I had completely forgotten about and I did have a few laughs (particularly at the oldest ones!).  I have chosen a handful of favourites to highlight here and I hope you will enjoy looking back at them too!  I have linked them all up so if you would like to re-read one, or indeed read it for the first time if you missed it before, please just click on the title!

Violence Vs Art
Although this was one of my earliest posts it is still very much relevant today, if not more so.  I wrote it just after the terrorist attack in Belgium last year and it covers a topic that I feel very emotional about; how as acts of violence in the world increase, we have an ever greater need for art.  I mention how important all different types of art are, simply for humanity, and I feel strongly that today, in the face of Trump and Syria and everything else, art is absolutely fundamental to us and can show us the way forward.

The Beauty of Berwick Church
This is a post that is very close to my heart.  I wrote it after a visit to the wonderfully intimate and pretty Berwick Church in Sussex, England, where I spent a glorious afternoon with my Mom and dog.  It is such a nice memory to have, as my parents have since both moved and I am no longer very connected to this place.  This part of the world is so beautiful and this church in particular has such an interesting story to it.



Be Strong, Simple and True – Eugene Delacroix
I wanted to mention this post, because I particularly remember feeling very pleased with the finished article after I had written it!  In it I talk about the philosophy of the great artist, Delacroix, told through his own personal journal, and how inspiring I found so much of what he said.  It is always a pleasure to re-read some of his passages and get inspired all over again!



Jacob
I have written a couple of posts about certain people in my life that have been extremly important to me, and I intend to continue to write more like this.  But the one that really sticks out and has a fixed place in my heart is, of course, the tribute that I wrote to my friend Jacob, who did tragically almost six years ago.  

Comic Book Affair
This post was SO fun for me to write, as I had just discovered the fantastic world of comic books and graphic novels, and was so excited about it!  Since then my comic book collection has definitely grown considerably – I should definitely call this a lasting relationship now, rather than an affair – and I have taken huge interest in the incredible art that comes from these books.  I am proud to call myself a nerd!



The Musician
It took a while, but a few months after starting the blog I finally stepped out from the shadows, unafraid about whoever should read it (including people I know in real life), and told the world about who I really am and my life as a musician.  This was a hugely liberating moment, and since then I have written so many other musical-related posts which has been incredibly gratifying for me personally.  I plan to continue to feature as much of my musician lifestyle on the blog as possible and look out for some new musical projects coming up on the blog soon!



A Few Thoughts On The Non-Expert
The subject of this post is one that is really interesting to me; that we may do things, know things, take interest in things without being an expert in them, and that’s OK!  I was inspired to write about these ideas after a trip to the opera with my (non-musician) boyfriend, when, talking with him afterwards, I found that he had noticed and appreciated so many interesting things about the production which were very important, that an expert musican eye might not have seen.  I still think a lot about this, and the unbelievable pressure that exists in our society to be an expert, to be really at the top, of everything we do.

Favourite Paintings and Weekends In Series
I have so enjoyed getting stuck in with a few different series’ of posts on my blog, and two that I particularly enjoy writing are the Favourite Paintings series and the Weekend In Series.  I love writing about art in, what I hope, is a non-pretentious or scholarly way, just coming from someone who thinks it is interesting and beautiful and wants to share her feelings about it! And travelling is also a huge part of my life – I love to recount my experiences and tell my stories here!





Blogmas Day 22: The People I’m Thinking Of This Christmas
Blogmas! What a huge feat that was, and I am so happy that I managed it.  24 consecutive daily posts seemed very daunting, and I was extremely last minute on a couple of them… but I also absolutely loved writing it!  My special favourite was Day 22, when I wrote about all the people whom I would not be spending Christmas with, but who I was going to be thinking of.  It’s personal and emotional, but it means a lot to me to have written this for them.

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January: Freya Chooses…

Welcome to a new series on my blog!  Oh how we all love a good series…  This will one will appear monthly on the blog and in it I will talk about all the new experiences that I have had over that past month, things that I have loved or benefited from and that I want to share with you all too.  It could be a book or movie that I particularly enjoyed, a concert that I found inspiring, a delicious new recipe that I tried… you get the idea.  I hope that you might take some ideas from it or find my reflections and impressions helpful to read.  So here is the first one, the January edition of ‘Freya Chooses…’

MEDIA

Book: This month, the book that I particularly loved was ‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt.  I have heard quite a lot about this author recently – her newest book, ‘The Goldfinch’ has received much praise and I have yet to read that.  But I found her writing in this novel very beautiful and totally engaging.  It is described as a psychological thriller, which I partly agree with, but what I found most compelling was the window that Tartt gives us into the romantic and eccentric lives of a group of very unique and wonderful characters.  I highly recommend giving this a read.

Movie: I am not going to mention the most current movie of the moment, featuring the city of stars, which unfortunately I did not enjoy at all.  Instead I will mention a movie that I did love.  Although not a new one to the movie world, it is new to me and that is ‘Suffragette‘.  I always thought that a movie like this would annoy me with suggestions that I take my liberties as a woman for granted, or make me feel guilty about my decisions, which is why I put off watching it.  Maybe it was the inspiring Women’s Marches that persuaded me to finally watch the movie, or the fact that some of my favourite actresses are in it, but I absolutely loved it, both as a movie in it’s own right and as a retelling of history.

“The cure for poverty has a name: it’s called ‘the empowerment of women’. Now, name me a religion that stands, or has ever stood, for that.”  

– Christopher Hitchens

Current Affairs:  I recently subscribed to The New Yorker magazine and am very excited to receive my upcoming issues in the post.  It is artistic and cultural, political and relevant, journalism with real value. If you are feeling upset with current politics and don’t know what to do for yourself, I would recommend looking into subscribing to a magazine like this; I feel that the press is so important to us now and supporting great journalism is something small but significant that we can all do in these times.

Podcast:  I’ve been listening to a lot of new podcasts this month and plan to dedicate a blog post to my favourite ones in the future, as I know lots of people who are still kind of figuring podcasts out.  But for now, my favourite podcast pick has to be ‘The Minimalists’.  It’s a great and entertaining podcast for anyone interested in the minimalist lifestyle, it addresses questions and daily challenges that life gives us and it just offers some good advice and a cool outlook on the world.

DAILY GRIND

Work:  A lot of my resolutions for 2017 are about taking control and putting creative project ideas into action.  I have never had a problem with coming up with ideas – I always have far too many floating around in my head – but actually doing them is a whole different matter.  I decided to buy an intense daily planner, where I write down all of my commitments and appointments as well as my daily targets, weekly goals, things to get done – everything to make a great plan of action.  I have found it amazingly helpful; it gives my time a structure, everything is so clear, I have been able to formulate organised plans which are taking shape and I feel really good about it.  Totally recommend investing in something like this, even if it seems a bit tedious at first!

Home:  Probably the thing that has most improved our daily lives at home has been our weekly vegetable box subscription.  It’s like getting a mystery box each week, full of vegetables that we wouldn’t normally buy (like turnips or pumpkin or even salsify!) and each week we get to put our creative minds to work, to try and come up with the most delicious recipes which could incorporate these vegetables.  As vegetables is the main component of our diet (see my Paleo posts!) this subscription has been so beneficial and has made the diet so much more interesting.  Plus, it is a great way of supporting local farmers and feels good to be eating such fresh and local produce.


Luxury:  We have a new camera! It is a Canon EOS 750D and it is seriously amazing.  I have been experimenting a little bit with it but I can’t wait to start using it properly for my blog pictures and to create some cool music videos.  I felt I had to count this as a luxury item as of course it is possible to get by without, but I am so excited to see what this will add to my work content too!

“Life doesn’t imitate art, it imitates bad television.”

– Woody Allen 

EXPERIENCES

Travel:  I brought in 2017 in a place that I had never been to before; St. Augustine, Florida.  My impression of that city has really stayed with me – I found it to be a very special place.  Being the oldest city in the USA (officially founded in 1565), it is full of history and is really interesting to just walk around.  It also has a beautiful old town with plenty of pretty little shops and cafes, and as it is always so sunny in that part of the world it is a lovely place to visit.  My personal highlights of St. Augustine were visiting the old fortress, a beautiful second hand bookshop and a restaurant called ‘The Floridian’.



Culinary:  While on the subject of my trip to the US at the beginning of the year, I absolutely have to talk about my experience of trying real, authentic Mexican tacos for the first time.  On a day that we spent in Knoxville, Tennessee, we decided to do some food shopping at various international markets: in one ‘plaza’ there were Indian, Korean and Mexican markets.  To me, the Mexican one looked just like a small, rather ‘unlikely’ food shop, with various pieces of produce from Mexico. I quickly found that in the back of the shop was a little cafe, serving INCREDIBLE Mexican food.  I have never tasted such delicious food in my life… my mouth is watering just thinking of it and I will never forget my chorizo tacos.

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