Laura Recommends

January Recommendations II

February 7, 2019

Happy New Year! (Is is still time-appropriate to say this?) Happy Lunar New Year! (I guess this is more appropriate to say now that I am publishing this article in the first week of February)


I hope you all got a wonderful start to the year. I know many people dreaded January (hence all these “January was a long year” jokes), but I personally loved it. I feel I have done a lot, grew some more and came across some truly interesting articles, videos and books I can’t wait to share with you. Let’s get started:



Two Dope Queens

I listened to their episode with Michelle Obama (I’ll start reading her book in February and I am super excited!) and I was surprised I haven’t listened to these two ladies before! They are so fun, energetic, refreshing and witty! Loved the episode and will certainly listen to more.

How I Built This

I must have listened to 5 HIBT episodes in two days because they were right up my alley: business women and men talking about the companies and the projects they started and the way they reached success. I loved learning more about companies I had no previous knowledge on (or very little info) such as Burton. Highly recommend that episode and the entire podcast series for those of you passionate about business.

Challenge Accepted – Celeste Barber

If you don’t follow Celeste Barber on Instagram, you are missing out. She is a brilliant Australian comedian who recently published a book. As the physical book was not available in the Netherlands, I opted to listen to it (she narrated it herself!) and it was such a nice way to de-stress. While the book doesn’t always seem to always have a red thread, it is certainly a fun, easy read.



Art You Can’t Get To – The Art Assignment

If you are curious why there is a plastic bust of Vladimir Lenin in Antarctica, this video is for you! This Art Assignment episode is run by guest John Green, but usually the show is hosted by Sarah Urist Green (his wife) and she does a fantastic job! The episode on The Kiss by Gustav Klimt is particularly one of my favourites! It’s really amazing to see Klimt’s evolution and tangible mark left on art history, so I definitely recommend watching this video. Also, if you have not seen the movie Woman in Gold, you might want to save it for a weekend watch – it might make you love and appreciate Klimt even more.

How Photography is Affecting Our Brains – WIRED

Another amazing video by WIRED, this time about photography and the way it changes our perception of ourselves and our surroundings. I particularly enjoyed the part about selfies and the perceived face distortions that selfies bring. The video also features Chris Burkhard, a photographer whose work I love, so you have now more reasons to watch this video!

How Shazam Works – Real Engineering

I hope you know by now how much I love nerdy videos. This video makes no exception. Brief, but to the point, it explains how Shazam uses base frequency and overtones to match the audio you are recording to its huge database in only a few seconds.

How Popcorn Went From Banned to Saving Movies – Cheddar Explains

Although I have to avoid popcorn in order to prevent dental issues, I still found this video very interesting. Despite the fact that it may seem an obvious business plan now for cinemas to rely on selling snacks, it wasn’t always like this. Watch the video if you want to find out how things have changed.

How The Sound Effects In ‘A Quiet Place’ Were Made – Insider

Albeit a slightly older video, this take on A Quiet Place made me appreciate the movie even more (if you still haven’t watched it, please do!). I loved the inclusivity – one of the main characters was played by a deaf actress, I adored Emily Blunt in it – I thought she was able to convey so much emotion, and the sounds and the lack of them were absolutely perfect and chilling at the same time.



Just My Type – Simon Garfield 

I spotted this book at a bookstore and I fell in love with it immediately. It was funny, insightful and really interesting and I never thought a book about fonts could captivate me so much. Following the same line of thoughts, if you are into fonts, calligraphy or graphic design or you may simply want to learn more about them, I highly recommend you to read this piece about a new font called Sans Forgetica, aimed at making students retain more information (via WIRED). Also, this article by the New York Times about Choc, a seemingly Chinese font taking over New York, is absolutely fascinating, and so is this VOX video about the versatile Trajan font, the reasons it appears on so many movie posters and how it can convey different movie moods. All these pieces about fonts also tie very neatly to the new fashion trend of updating heritage fashion house logos into sans serifs, more inconspicuous versions of the seemingly same logo. This phenomenon is very well explained by Business of Fashion, in one of their January opinion pieces about this graphic design trend.

Man’s search for Meaning – Dr. Viktor Frankl

In January I took a literature course and some of the readings were very deeply related to the Holocaust, so I decided that January would be the most appropriate month to do additional historical reading and finally go through Viktor Frankl’s world famous book. I was chilling, inspiring, deeply saddening and yet optimistic, and I could not recommend it more. It might probably make a habit out of reading it every year for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In January I also read Educated by Tara Westover, but I still feel conflicted about it (it’s a sort of traumatizing and frustrating book, yet it is incredibly written), and also two hilarious books in Romanian that I loved tremendously: Fericirea e un ac de siguranță (Răzvan Exarhu) & Orice om îi este teamă (Radu Paraschivescu). Could not recommend them more.



Fyre Festival – Netflix

You may have heard of this from multiple sources. I know I did. From nine different people. And you know what, it is worth seeing it because it leads to discussions about false advertising, influencer economy, digital fads, human stubbornness and the cult of the genius, not-always-understood entrepreneur (which I call BS, but that is my opinion). If you are also in the mood for Netflix, but you don’t want to commit to a series, the American Meme documentary was also interesting because it showed the evolution, downsides and shallowness of famous, (micro) celebrities and the materially mad American culture.



Fotomuseum, the Hague

I was there just before they closed the Lauren Greenfield exhibit (called Generation Wealth) and let me tell you, if was perhaps one of the best photo exhibits I have ever seen (next to the Peter Lindbergh one in Rotterdam, but their subjects and approaches are too different in order to properly compare them)! Even though her name may not ring a bell to you, the campaign she directed for Always, called “Like a Girl“, won a primetime commercial Emmy Award in 2015! The exhibit was moving, thought-provoking and very well done, and I have enjoyed reading all the additional texts and captions – I feel they really brought a lot of light to the photos.



Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work? – The New York Times

This is a fantastic story on (mostly) Millennials, their self-proclaimed love for work, the possible reasons behind it and the perhaps toxic workplace culture installing itself in most working environments. Gread read and fantastically paired with a longer essay from Buzzfeed‘s Anne Helen Petersen.

The Women Running for President Are Breaking the Rules of Branding – Hyperakt (via Medium)

If you are slightly interested in politics, the most recent congress election and branding, this article is perfect for you. It describes the way fresh congresswomen have presented themselves through more diverse color palettes than anytime in history. Absolutely inspiring read. If you like the topic, you might find this article (from the Washington Post) about the poster design of AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) absolutely brilliant.

The Last Iron Lungs – Gizmodo

This is a slightly different story (and a bit older than 2019) than what I usually read, but it was a fascinating read about the last people in the States who live only thanks to an iron machine-bed they have been confined to because of polio. Thankfully, nowadays polio can be prevented with the help of vaccines during early childhood, so these iron beds are the last surviving medical artefacts of a world without vaccines.


If this is not your first time reading one of the articles from my Recommendations series or if by the end of this article you have opened more than 5 tabs and you feel you have already learned something new, it would really help me if you could share this link via your favourite social networks ❤️

And as always, feel free to drop me a message with your own recommendations or ideas to improve this series.




Laura Recommends

November and December Recommendations II

January 2, 2019

Happy New Year! I hope your 2018 was a good year for you and that 2019 will be even better. For those of you who thought I have abandoned my sacred monthly Recommendation project, I haven’t. It’s just that I have decided I will combine November and December into one big post (perfect for the holidays!) since these months are too crazy to pen down everything I want. You can check out here what I wrote last year during my November and December post.



Escher Museum, the Hague

I visited this museum in November after complaining I haven’t really seen a lot of museums in the Hague and this quickly turned into one of my favourite ones. It definitely offered more than I have expected, starting with the permanent exhibit of Escher’s visual illusions, the superb interior with square staircases, unique chandeliers and the fantastic interactive rooms perfect for testing how deceiving our sight can be. It’s certainly a fantastic place to spend 2 to 3 hours on a rainy day in the Hague.

Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden

I had no idea about this museum until I got out of Leiden’s train station and saw an ad for an exhibit about Bali. I was instantly triggered, so that obviously became a spontaneous stop during my day in Leiden. The exhibit was very well done, with many local objects, recordings, infographics, videos and so on depicting the local Balinese customs and way of living, while also highlighting the urgency of certain issues: mass tourism, plastic pollution and globalization. Beyond this exhibit, this museum of Ethnology has permanent and temporary exhibits on most regions of the world, from Asia to North America and Australia. I have to go back, so I would definitely schedule more than 3 to 4 hours for a thorough visit.

Femmes Fatales exhibit, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

I had been waiting for this exhibit ever since I first read about it online and on my birthday I finally managed to get there with my mom. It was absolutely fantastic – from the selection of pieces and designers (all female) to the set up of the rooms and the stories behind them, this was a very tasteful exhibit which displayed more than I anticipated, so it has definitely exceeded my expectations. If you decide to go and visit it, the museum ticket also includes the entrance to the permanent exhibits (such as the one on Delftware) and temporary ones (such as Splendour and Bliss – a fantastic show of Islamic art!).



Since I have quite a long list of videos I loved during the past two months, I will list them below instead of writing full paragraphs about them. Each is under 20 minutes, so you can definitely carve out some time to watch them if you like the topics. These months I was very into movie-related subjects and I have definitely learned a lot from them, so I hope you will enjoy them too.

How to Create a Crossword Puzzle – by WIRED

Harry Potter – What magic sounds like – by Nerdwriter1

What Happens When A Movie Has No Script Supervisor? – by Vanity Fair

What Does Food Say about a Character – by Fandor

If you enjoyed this video about the role of food into character and plot development, you might also enjoy another video made by the same channel, this time about The Power of Aspect Ratio. It’s under four minutes, so it’s straight to the point and very well exemplified.

+ Arrival – Examining an Adaptation – by Lessons from the Screenplay (it’s a video from 2017, but it’s amazing nonetheless)

+ This Greenpeace video about palm oil. It’s from August, but if you haven’t watched it, you should. Expect goosebumps, guilt and a newfound desire to change things around.



The Everything Store – Brad Stone

It was about time I deep dived into Amazon. As it frequently represents a debate topic in uni classes, I thought it would be a good idea to read more about it and form a better informed opinion. I will not spoil the content of the book for you, but I think it’s a good read and it certainly clarifies certain aspects about the origins of Amazon’s values, work ethics (or the issues around them) and Jeff Bezos’ vision of the company and the future.

Citeste, te rog, citeste – Felicitas von Lovenberg (Read, please, read – literal translation)

I finished this on the last day of December and I really enjoyed it, I feel it made my appetite for books grow increasingly bigger as I was progressing through the book. It’s currently available only in German and Romanian, but I have a feeling it will become more popular. A fantastic read about books and any possible topic connected to them.

I also finally made time to read Mihaela Noroc’s Atlas of Beauty and I adored it from the first pages, deciding it is one of the most beautiful books to get and have at home, and also RO-KIT, another Romanian initiative, this time bilingual RO-EN, aimed at illustrating 50 Romanian icons in a minimalist fashion using the same single-weight line. I enjoyed both of them, so perhaps you will do too!


Movies and series

Bohemian Rhapsody

Unless you were on a two month-long no-social-media sabbatical journey, you have probably heard about the premiere of this epic movie about Queen and its lead singer, Freddie Mercury. Personally, I think the movie did justice to the story and also considering the run time of only 2 hours and few minutes, they condensed 15 years pretty decently. However, the most extraordinary parts are hands-on their musical performances. I got a wave of goosebumps every other second and this definitely shows the impact of the movie. Definitely go watch it if you haven’t already!

This is Us

Perhaps one of the series I have recommended the most to my friends in the past two months, This is Us reached the rare achievement of connecting many narrative threads into something coherent, touching and relatable. Some of the topics of the series are childhood, parenting, adoption, raising an African-American kid, anxiety, miscarriage, addiction and more. Sometimes all these are treated at once, but somehow the show avoids creating a cacophony of voices and problems, creating instead a mature view over the complexity and the diversity of issues contemporary families face in real life, where nothing is simple, nor perfect.

L’Amica Geniale

For those of you who devoured Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Tetralogy, you will love this adaptation! The first season premiered in November and follows the events from the first book, while staying true to Ferrante’s universe, seemingly endless array of characters and many twists and turns. I binged all episodes with my mom during two days and we are already looking forward for the second season 🙂 For those not familiar with these books and the series, it’s not too late to jump on board!



As this blog post is getting quite long, I will only write few lines about some cool articles I have been reading during the past weeks. During their end of the year articles, VOX published a great piece on Crazy Rich Asians, diversity at Hollywood and the true portrayal of Asians. The article is on point and very relevant, so I highly recommend it. Another great piece by VOX was this one about the spare button we receive with clothes and its significance and real usage. It made me think about my own behaviour regarding clothes and ways to improve it. The New York Times published a piece about one font which took over New York, and despite the fact that I am nowhere near being a graphic designer, I was intrigued and excited to learn more about Choc. Speaking about design, WIRED published a very interesting piece about the way one female illustrator changed AirBnB’s online image, so you should definitely check that out as well. Since we are talking about tech companies, after watching Minority Report two years ago, I can definitely understand why companies like Ford and Boeing chose to hire SF writers to create future scenarios for them. This post on Medium by Brian Merchant will hopefully explain this interesting situation better. And finally, also on Medium, Tom Whitwell wrote his annual post with 52 things he learned in 2018, which will probably lead you to a rabbit hole of links, just my cup of tea.

If you still want to read more, Vanity Fair published a piece on Michelle Obama’s book, which made me even more curious to read it and Scoala9 delivered one of the most interesting visually illustrated articles I have ever seen on the slow death of cursive writing. Mura is the one who created all the illustrations and I can easily say I fell in love with them (the article is in Romanian though, sorry international folks!)


This is all for now, but I already started working on January content, so see you soon with new posts! And if you have enjoyed this article, I would most certainly appreciate it if you would share it with your friends. 



Laura Recommends

October Recommendations II

November 3, 2018

In an extremely fortunate turn of events, after feeling that September was longer than just four weeks, October managed to feel like a month and half as well. This either means that my time machine device works or that I have become more productive and organized since I am getting so much done. Yeah, it’s probably the time machine 😉

Here is what I have loved reading, watching, listening and experiencing this month. If by the end of this article you opened dozens of tabs and you are feeling inspired to test out on your own what I have shared below, please take few seconds and give this article a share: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, WeChat or even in a good ol’ email to a friend you think might like this article. It would help me a lot!



Everything I know about love – Dolly Alderton

I laughed. I cried. I clutched the book tight to my chest. I re-read my favourite paragraphs. I took pictures of my favourite pages. I laughed some more, while in the train next to dozens of uber silent people. No shame though because this book was worth all the looks I got. Since there are too many things to say about, I’ll resume myself to say that Dolly writes fantastically well and relatable about friendship, family, womanhood, loss of close people, youth, university years, dating and much more. If my friends receive this gift from me for Christmas, I hope they act surprised.

The 24h wine expert – Jancis Robinson

One of my wishes for 2018 and also for 2019 was to learn more about wines. And while tasting is one way to learn about them, I also wanted to improve my theoretical knowledge about oenology (my inner nerd is way too excited to use this word). This short book definitely helped me out with some base knowledge, while also leaving me wanting to know more, which is what I think any good book should do. It also made me curious to read more labels at the wine aisle or local wine shop to see if I can recognize abbreviations and grape variety. Definitely a nice gift for wine lovers in the early stages of wine knowledge.

La délicatesse – David Foekinos

After I came back from France last month, I decided I want to read more books in French in order to maintain my level of understanding the language. And I am starting to feel a little mad at myself for not having done this sooner. Considering two French books cost me only 6 euros each, I should have switched to reading in French a long time ago! Budget-jokes aside, (beware, nerd moment coming through) I forgot how exciting and mind-expanding it is not to know all the words in a book – and this made me engage more with the story and truly pay close attention. Regarding the book, I found it beautiful, fragile, fun, sad, and yes, delicate and it definitely made me want to watch the movie adaptation with Audrey Tautou.



The Goods – a VOX series

The “What Happens When Nature Goes Viral” episode certainly highlights important issues which should be up for debate nowadays and the episode about olfactive marketing was super interesting and relevant, especially as an example for brick and mortar retail differentiation. Really looking forward to seeing what new videos they add to this series.

This Prop Master’s Work Is Hidden in Plain Sight – Great Big Story

By now you probably know I love movies and I can’t even express how happy I am to see the crews behind the scenes of movie productions get more credit. From Foley artists to stuntmen and women and now prop masters, this video shows the creation process of essential movie props often glossed over by the public – a newspaper, a letter, a pile of old books and so on.

If educational videos were filmed like music videos – Tom Scott

This one doesn’t need extra introductions, it’s a well spent time for a hilarious and sort of educational mix which somehow ends up sounding like a video from The School of Life, but I will let you be the judge of that.

How Disney writes a villain song – Polyphonic

In case you needed a further reminder that you should rewatch your childhood movies with a new adult perspective, this video might convince you to pay attention not only to the romantic development of events, but also to the darker songs of the antagonists. As always, I cannot avoid mentioning ScreenPrism, especially considering they posted a fantastic video essay about Disney as well, this time about the magical objects in Disney stories.

James Veitch Is A Terrible Roommate

Please watch this video if you need a good laugh. Please watch this video even if you are already in a good mood. I think this video has the magical powers of improving any day, no matter how horrible it is. That is, unless you have a flatmate as horrific as James. It’s a video from 2017 and already very popular and I somehow only stumbled across it just now, so I am sharing this for everyone who wants a good laugh and hasn’t seen it already.



Bookstor – the Hague

Maybe it’s good I do not live in the Hague, because I am pretty sure the staff of this place would have a really bad time trying to convince me each night to finally go back to my apartment. This is how amazing this place is and how much it feels like home. Buy a book, cozy up with a cup of coffee and get some work/reading done. This is the perfect daily scenario I am picturing in my head whenever I think of the Bookstor.

Le temps retrouvé – Amsterdam

As I have already mentioned my newfound love for French books, it was only appropriate to tell you where I have gotten them. It is this marvelous little French bookstore (the only one in town!) in a canal house on Keizersgracht. Absolutely lovely and a good selection for a starting addiction of French classics and contemporary works.

Foodware – Amsterdam

I recently had dinner at Foodware and I can definitely say now that it was perfect. My quiche was delicious, my companion spoke impeccable French (I sense a pattern) and strolling on the canals that evening cannot be better described than as the zenith of Indian summer in October. What can I say, I love solo-dates with a book.



A Star is Born

I absolutely loved this movie, and as most people who have watched it, I became obsessed with the soundtrack! I also realized that I had no clue this was a remake until I came home from the cinema and read a couple of reviews and watched two video essays comparing the different versions. So now I have even more movies added to my endless list!

Salt Fat Acid Heat 

Yes, I started watching some Netflix shows. No, I am not yet addicted. But I did want to watch this series as fast as possible (watched it during two nights, so I didn’t severely misbehave) because I could tell from the very beginning that it was going to be amazing! It made me hungry, it made me curious, it made laugh and it made me share the joy that Samin Nosrat spreads whenever she discovers an interesting ingredient or cooking technique. Combining history, culinary lessons, bit of geography, anthropology and one of the most charismatic and authentic hosts, you must watch this show if you love food.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel 

How come no one told me about this show? It has so many elements I love! Amy-Sherman Palladino as a creator (hello, Gilmore Girls memories), amazing wardrobes (set in the ’50), great acting (four Emmys already!) and absolutely delicious sense of humour! I already marked in my calendar the release of the second season (5th of December) because I have a feeling it is going to be really good.



The High Low

After finishing Dolly Alderton’s book, I obviously had to look for more content created by her, so I have discovered the podcast she is co-hosting with Pandora Sykes. It is a news digest which includes everything from social and political events to pop culture and more trivial conversation starters. These two ladies have lots of wit and intelligence, so I can totally see how their episodes manage to make it to the most downloaded tops all the time!

This is Success – Business Insider

I recently discovered this podcast on LinkedIn and it is slowly, but steadily turning into one of my favourites. I first started with the entrepreneurs and the businesses I knew about and I am now moving onto learning about new people. I loved finding out more about Warby Parker and the way the company was set up, I found the discussion about Reid Hoffman’s professional trajectory super interesting and I learned more about the founding story of Dropbox, each in about 30 minutes.

I have also listened to the first episode of Deliciously Ella Podcast and one from Book Cheat (The Picture of Dorian Gray episode) and I really enjoyed them, so you might want to give them a try as well 🙂



Bon Entendeur app

In case the theme of October was not already super clear: I deep dived into French content!!! This app has a new mixtape released every week and I could totally see them act as background music during a night in with friends. The mixtapes are based on original songs, remastered pieces, samples of movies and old works of music. It’s something I love and didn’t even know I needed in my life.

P.S. I also wrote a poem recently, after struggling with the thought of possibly moving again (for a master), the uncertainty of the next years and the bitter-sweet taste of life right now. You can find it in the caption of this picture.


Would love to hear what you read and watched in October, so feel free to share any good things you would recommend!


Have a great November!


Laura Recommends

September Recommendations II

October 7, 2018

This September felt like a double Oreo. Before you laugh, hear me out. This September felt like double the goodness for me because I genuinely felt like this past month had 60 days. And maybe it was because I managed to squeeze in not one, but two trips, finish a few books (out of which I will only be listing my favourite two below), went to uni and generally had a really good time. I can only hope that with such a great beginning of the academic year the ensuing months will be just as amazing, peaceful and well traveled. Here are some of the things I have read, watched and enjoyed in the past weeks:



The Four – Scott Galloway

I have been looking forward to reading this book for a while now and I can definitely say it has matched my expectations. Scott’s analysis, besides making you do a double take about the things you thought you knew about the Four Horsemen (Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google), is also very sharp and witty. Although an advice section is not very common within books like his, I particularly enjoyed it.

Shoe Dog – Phil Knight

Before starting this book I didn’t know much about Nike except for the swoosh anecdote and their famous Just Do It campaigns, but I feel like from now on I will be looking with very different eyes at their sneakers and fans. The story was very well written, the rhythm was much better than I thought (I seriously thought they were doing to glaze over the beginning years and just go straight to the uber successful and well known part of their history) and it felt more sincere than many other books I have read. I would have particularly liked to read more about Nike’s story development after 2007, or at least more about how Phil perceived it, but considering the less fortunate events that happened in Phil’s family, I will not complain about that.



Disclaimer: somehow two of the videos I have enjoyed the most this month are about architecture and natural cooling systems. Oh well, that was another YouTube wormhole I never felt into before 🙂

Open Layout Homes Have A Surprising Problem – Cheddar Explains

I just found out about this channel so until the next round of recommendations I will probably binge watch half of their episodes, but again, I’m not complaining 🙂 This particular video, besides the fact that is stroke the right balance between duration and explanations, is also interesting because it starts from an intriguing point “Air conditioning freed us from having to design for climate and now it’s got us trapped”. Very interesting and just as the video below, it presents a great topic to think about when designing or updating the cities of tomorrow.

How Termites Inspired A Building – National Geographic

Perhaps a solution to the problem explained in the video above, this clever solution of natural air conditioning transformed one building in Harare, Zimbabwe, into a landmark and into an example worth following. You’ll have to see the full video (which is quite short) to see where’s the link with the termites, but all I can see is that it’s about the air circulation 🙂



Dynamic Underwater Photographs – Bored Panda

It has been a while since I have gasped at how beautiful a certain collection of photographs is, but this is hands down one of the best I have seen. The brilliant use of light, the lack of grain and the Baroque inspiration are turning this photos into modern day masterpieces worthy of being hanged on the walls of any reputable photography museum.

Why you should read this article slowly – The Guardian

“The slow reader is like a swimmer who stops counting laps and just enjoys how their body feels and moves in water.” – this is one quote from the article which really struck a note inside me. I know for sure that for a long period of time I was more than curious about speed reading, but I feel that now I am more keen on actually remembering what I read rather than just reaching an insane Goodreads target. This article will give you many reasons to think about slowing down a bit while reading, but also some reasons to be confident that reading is not going away anytime soon.



Halfway through September, I had the wonderful chance to go to the South of France for a few days and apparently, lady luck was on my side because I happened to be there while the Journees de la Patrimoine (The Heritage Days) were in full swing. That is how I managed to see buildings and corners of Montpellier which are not usually open for the public. Below are my two favourite places that took my breath away.

Chateau de Flaugergues

I still cannot believe how well serendipity worked in order for me to get to attend a nocturnal visit to this castle, accompanied by wine produced on-location and some delicious tapas. The visit was phenomenal, the domains are stunning (especially at night) and the castle in itself, seemed to be breathing magic through all the pictures, furniture, vases, small decorations, books and more. No wonder Gucci shot a campaign here 😉

Montpellier Opera

I have never ever been to an opera that was looking like this. Grandiose, with burgundy plush chairs, golden details and a neck-hurting beautiful ceiling, this must be one of the most beautiful homes for music (Palau de la Música Catalana must be another one on this list).


I am pretty sure there were more things on my list for September, but if I remember something I have  missed, I will make sure to add it to the October Recommendations.

Enjoy autumn!




6 years of blogging

September 1, 2018

This time 6 years ago I opened my laptop and decided to start a blog. It was 2012 and people were opening blogs like crazy while sharing their links everywhere, from Facebook to Lookbook, Flickr and even Google+. They were fun times.

Although I felt there was a lot of content out there (silly me, I couldn’t have predicted the effects of social media and our current content invasion), I thought I could say something different.

In the beginning, I was sharing my outfits and pictures taken by my mom in our horribly lit house (which is how many bloggers started), my shopping hauls and various moodboards I made using pictures I found online (Pinterest was not that strong back then, so it was all up to Google Images for me). Later the shoots got a bit more complex, involving outfit changes and better locations around my hometown. You get the picture. I was a dreamy 14 year old teenager and I had this ambition to prove the people around me that even teenagers can be relevant in the fashion scene of Bucharest. I used to apply to go to as many events as I could, I went to many fashion and art courses and workshops, I got my first business cards when I was 15 and I started learning who is who in Romania.

Obviously, no one knew me (tbh, I don’t think many know me now either), but for me this didn’t matter because I was too excited to explore this new world.

My blog would remain fashion centered until 2015, which was also the year of the rebranding and the year I switched from Google Blogger to WordPress, which is why you won’t find on this site all the archives. So in 2015 traveling took on a more important role in my blog and I decided that posting outfits was not really what I wanted and that by then, too many people were doing this, so what I posted did not really stand out. So I started writing traveling posts where I would try and use my best pictures taken in holidays around Europe. Groundbreaking, I know. But for me at that time, this diversification felt like an important step and it represented a great reason to try and put out there even better content.

By the end of my highschool years I got an internship at Glamour and thought that I would return to my passion for fashion. But then after that summer, I moved to the Netherlands, forgot all about my fancy clothes (I’d sort of say #NoRegrets, but I do miss my dresses and my heels) and kind of forgot about that idea since I suddenly had so many other things on my plate.

My first year abroad was also the year in which I was the least active on my blog because I was struggling to understand who I was. Obviously, at that time I did not know this was happening inside my mind because I felt too excited about all the new things I was experiencing. At the same time, I was asking myself if we still need blogs and opinion pieces and if people would miss reading what I posted. It took me a while to reach the conclusion that for now writing is not dead and that maybe even more than ever, we need clear voices to guide us through the ocean of content surrounding us and to offer relevant and valuable perspectives, but it was only in late June 2017 that I had an epiphany of what I wanted to do next.

If when I was 8 I wanted to be a model, by the time I was 19 I realized that what I really wanted to be was a role model, a person who would do good and inspire others to have their own lasting positive impact. And so a new concept for the blog starting taking shape.

Meanwhile, during the same summer vacation and after a year from my Glamour internship, I returned to my fashion roots by joining ELLE as an intern, and later, as a contributing editor for their print issues. I never thought I would end up writing for such magazine, let alone do that before my 20s, and the reason why I probably doubted myself was that I rarely got feedback for the articles I uploaded on my blog in the years before. More than that, writing in ELLE was a different thing than posting on my blog. I couldn’t unpublish something, I couldn’t edit what I wrote after the issue was sent to the printing house and there was actually an audience reading what I was writing. However, this only motivated me more to strive to write the best articles and eventually, I started receiving those messages I was once writing myself in which I was congratulating an article author for the piece.

And while my second year at university did not have the best start, I somehow managed to push through all the challenges, or ignore them until I was ready to face them, and arrive in this point from which I am writing this right now.

I have never been happier, more content with my life and with my decisions, I never felt better in my own skin and mind and if my 14 year old self would have had a magic mirror to see who she would become in only 6 years, I am sure she would not have believed it. In a way, neither do I. I am definitely proud of the things I have achieved and I am even prouder of all the things I have achieved by myself. And as I am writing this from a sunny beach, I don’t think I have done a bad job.

Cheers to six more years of writing, publishing and even consulting (yes, you read that well, I am branching out into digital communications consultancy, but more about that soon)!


Laura Recommends

August Recommendations II

September 1, 2018

I hope you’ll read this article somewhere on a beach (it’s actually where I am heading to right now as I write these lines) or somewhere sunny, where you can still pretend it’s the 1st of June all over again.

I’m not going to write any more introductory lines because I don’t want to get sentimental over the summer break, so here are the things, places and events I loved this past month. Enjoy!



Why songs of summer sound the same
A brilliant and interactive piece from The New York Times (and seemingly fitting for this August article) shows in a well researched and superbly illustrated manner how the songs we hear today are less diverse in sound than in other decades. It’s a fantastic and interactive piece and something that maybe you would not read in a classic blocks-of-texts way. The piece also reminded me a bit of this fantastic article written by the Wall Street Journal in which they used an algorithm to show how the lyrics in the acclaimed Hamilton musical were created.



How feng shui shaped Hong Kong’s skyline
I never noticed in pictures how some buildings in Hong Kong have this rectangular-shape cut out, so I was fascinated when I found out why. This video is part of a VOX series called Borders and it is absolutely fantastic, so you should definitely check it out, and if you are curious about Hong Kong, there is another VOX video you should watch if you would like to know more about their culture and aesthetics based on neon and more recently, LED lights.

Rom Cons: Problematic Movie Romance Lessons
By now you probably know I am obsessed with Screenprism and this video perfectly illustrates why they create amazing content. This time they take 10 messages that romantic comedies send and decode them, showing how unhealthy and unreal are some of these rom-com ideas and behaviours. They also recently published a video about Titanic which made me do a double take because it made me look at the movie in such a different way that I may have to rewatch it for the 26th time.

10 Letters we dropped from the alphabet

All I am saying is that you should prepare yourself to be mentally blown away by some of the fun (and real!) facts in this video. Also, suddenly a lot of things will make sense, such as restaurant names like “Ye old tavern” or the backstory to why w is pronounced double u. Austin is incredibly hilarious and informative at the same time, so it’s pretty hard not to like this video 🙂

What If English Were Phonetically Consistent?

Another language-related video (yes, I fell into that nerdy Youtube wormhole) transforms into hands-down one of the hardest pronunciation exercices I have ever heard. It makes you ask yourself lots of questions about how we passively take languages as they are without second guessing if their rules actually make sense.



Buyology by Martin Lindstrom
My second Martin Lindstrom book after Small Data (which I talked about in the July Recommendations article) was maybe even better. It was fun, pleasant to follow and very intriguing at times, especially when talking about neuromarketing. It contains one inaccuracy about how the Nike logo was created, so I can’t give it 5 out of 5 stars, but it is still a great read.

Cum să fii fericit în România – Humanitas Publishing House
I bought this book called How to be happy in Romania after seeing the amazing contributing authors list. I found it so relatable, funny, diverse and unexpected that it quickly won me over and I can only hope more collections of essays like this one get published.



Museum of Communication – Bern, Switzerland
Interactive, highly entertaining, displaying a large collection of pieces, and suitable for both children and adults, while catering to the needs of each group, this museum seems to have it all. Most information sections in the museum are in Swiss German, French and English, so it’s perfect even for foreigners. I loved discovering new devices and pieces of history I have previously missed and I am sure I could have easily spent more time there.

Delicii and Dolci Coni
The last days I spent in Bucharest were marked by me trying to fit in my schedule as many ice cream stops as possible. These two shops were fantastic places I never went to before, and they triggered in me a newfound love for delicious mango ice cream. Dolci Coni also makes the best lemon and basil ice cream I ever had and a fabulous passion fruit sorbet, while Delicii has some of the funkiest flavours I have ever seen, such as Black Sesame or Sunflower Seeds, which were already gone by the time I arrived there. Next time 😉



Brunch în ograda lui Moromete

While this was an event only held in Romania, I still felt the need to talk about it here, mainly because of the great idea behind it: organising brunches in small villages while activating the local communities to take part in the events by providing ingredients from their gardens, cooking, singing or dancing. I think it is a marvelous way to make some smaller places and communities in Romania more well known while also making sure that younger generations get to experience almost forgotten recipes, local dances and the idea of a rural closely knit community. The events are organized by My Secret Romania and they still have upcoming dates all the way till late September, so you can check out this link for the exact dates and locations.

Picnic & Film la Conac

I am a big fan of outdoor movies so when I heard about this event I was instantly curious. I went with my mom and before watching Haute Cuisine (a movie I also recommend, although the plot seems like it could have used more work) we got some mozzarella bites and some fajitas from the food trucks there and had an absolutely great time (after our bodies got numb from too many mosquito bites). Nonetheless it’s still one of my summer’s highlights 🙂


I hope your summer went just as well as you imagined and that you got as much rest as you needed.

I don’t know if I am ready yet to say goodbye to summer, but I do know it was a good one and I know I have so much to look forward to in September and onwards (including my 6 year blogging anniversary!!)



You’ve got it all wrong

August 10, 2018

If you have been following me along the past year both on Facebook and on my blog you might have observed that I haven’t always been positive. I spoke about my issues with housing, the fact that I felt my second year abroad was harder than the first, the impression that I have temporarily lost my vision and so on. And you might have reached the conclusion that I am unhappy or depressed or that my life decisions were not the right ones.

And you could be right. If these were all the facts. But they are not. Remember, there is always more to the story than you know. And such is the case for me too.

Indeed, this year, I have been publicly sharing my struggles more than ever. But I only chose to do that because I felt no one else around me was doing so. At times I felt alone in my struggles, although it seemed to me they could not have been experienced only by myself. Perhaps not paradoxically, I was ready to share those seemingly weak moments only when I was at my strongest point, after the storm had passed. That’s because it took a lot of guts and thick skin to publish those snippets of life.

Yet, I have not been completely unhappy. Rather, I would say, in the big picture, I have actually been happy more times than I have been unhappy. I built a life for myself exactly how I wanted it, in a way I am more than sure my younger self would be inspired by and my older self proud of. I surrounded myself with the best of things and people, as much as I could, and I did my best to enjoy each day.

And yes, there were hard days! But never, NEVER, have I thought to give up. Never, NEVER, have I said to myself that I made the wrong decisions. Never, NEVER, have I considered that I was not exactly where I was supposed to be.

Truth be told, I have grown up. I might have lost a bit of my teenage innocence and my sweet naïveté, but I have never felt more like myself. And yes, I experienced many many happy days and I still believe with all my heart that Life. Is. Beautiful. It’s just that now I mostly keep these moments to myself.

I don’t want to be phony, I don’t want to be hypocrite and I most definitely don’t want to project the idea that living abroad is easy. Because it’s not. So I will not cast everything in a pink and flattering light just so I can get more likes and more hearts and more congratulations messages. Because these are not warming my heart. Lately I chose to share more of my troubled moments to help others and to create that sort of accepting environment where we don’t feel judged for opening up. Yet, that is exactly what happened. I felt like my own story got distorted, as if my life could be resumed only by those fragments of text. Did the filters and the curation of social media content trick us that life is always easy, gentle and kind? Have we forgotten that life is made out of both good AND bad?

Frankly, I am bloody happy and freaking proud of where I am now. I achieved so many things on my own that bring me joy every single day, and most of all, I Did It My Way.

And watch out, because I got my vision back, and this time, I’m not letting it go. 


P.S. I think the highest form of praise, satisfaction and embrace of life is saying that you would make the same choices again. Which I would.

Laura Recommends

July Recommendations II

August 2, 2018

July is over which means we have come full circle from my first recommendations post last year! How crazy is this?!

I cannot express how happy I am to have started this series as a way to revive my blog, give more meaning to it and bring value to people’s lives. This series has also helped me accomplish so many things, such as keeping myself accountable with always reading, experiencing or watching something to giving me the best reason to publish something at least once a month. This is why this particular month feels special and why this current article is almost double than the usual length! Ready. Steady. Go!



Small data – Martin Lindstrom

This book immediately caught my attention because of the seemingly unrelated connections it makes between magnets on Siberian fridges and American supermarkets, between a teddy bear in a teen’s room and Tally Weijl’s store restructuring in 20 countries or between used sports shoes and LEGO’s urge to revive its spirit and its position on the market. After reading the book and the explanations, all these connections will make sense and will open up your eyes to learning more about small data, I promise.

Factfulness – Hans Rosling

I put this book on my wish list immediately after Bill Gates recommended it in a LinkedIn post and I absolutely loved it. You might remember Hans Rosling from his world famous TED talk from 11 years ago (which I advise you to watch if you haven’t as these are some very well invested 20 minutes). This book is all about giving you context and perspective in order to see the world with different eyes and with a more realistic and positive approach based on facts, not exceptions. It’s a very rare thing that I read a book and find comfort and reassurance, but Factfulness is one of these books.

Visual Thinking – Willemien Brand

I have seen this book first at The Next Web conference, at the ABC bookshop corner, and I knew I had to get it (in another day in which I was not running from one place to the other). I have been long thinking that I need to up my visual game since this skill can be used in presentations, pitches, notes and anywhere you need to get noticed or highlight certain information, so I am already making progress with my high-end doodling even though I am barely half-way through the book! Definitely get a notebook and some fine liners next to you if you buy the book!

*Above I have put links from Bookdepository because they have global shipping and so I thought this would be the best platform for all international readers. I’m not getting anything if you order the books, except the gratitude that I inspired your reading choices.


This Is What Happens When Writers’ Rooms Aren’t Diverse

I have increasingly started to be more aware of the production aspects of movies, serials and series, particularly the diversity of the teams creating them: are there enough women to ensure a proper female representation of characters on screen? are there enough ethnically diverse people to make sure no line is inappropriate or harmful for some communities? – these are some of the questions I try to ask myself when watching a series or taking into consideration when I feel something on screen is odd. Definitely watch this video if you are also preoccupied by this or if you truly want to understand the need for diversity and representation. (On a side note, I am very excited to watch Crazy Rich Asians – it already feels like such a win for the industry!)

Nike #NeverAsk campaign

This incredible campaign for the Russian market has been created by Wieden and Kennedy and perfectly encompasses the Just Do It slogan. It’s in Russian, so don’t forget to add subtitles (CC button) to understand the story. It’s definitely worth watching.

Continue Reading…

Laura Recommends

June Recommendations

July 10, 2018

Albeit a bit later than usual due to a well deserved holiday in Italy, I am back with a list of places, things, videos and thoughts I have liked during the past month and which I would like to share with you.

As a result of a hectic month with a different set of priorities than usual, my reading list was sadly thinner than I wanted, being composed only out of three books that should count as one and a half considering two of them add up to less than 250 pages and the other one I was done with on the 1st of June, after reading 90% of it in May. I can’t truly recommend any of the three for different reasons irrelevant to this post, but let me know if you want me to do a bigger book post about my favourites/my dislikes in the past year or about my read shelf and my TBR shelf. I have indeed started reading other 3 books in June out of which I have read almost 300 pages so here’s to hoping July will be the month in which I get to finish something (I hope this will be the case since I also just bought 10 more books *facepalm*).


Let’s get into it. Here’s what I liked seeing, attending, watching and reading in June:


Notes on the set – ‘The Crown’

It’s not a secret I loved Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ , a series focused on the British Monarchy played by an incredibly cast. In this video, Martin Childs, ‘The Crown’ production designer, explains how his team managed to pull together interiors that resemble the original royal venues. It’s extremely fascinating and insightful and particularly interested for the fans of the show familiar with the scenes and with production and design passionates.

How New York got its skyline

Before watching this video I never asked myself the above question, but now I am glad I know the answer to it. Bloomberg has done a particularly fine job bringing this topic forward and I hope to see more such videos from them in the upcoming months.

RO: Vlad Voiculescu’s TEDx talk

For my fellow Romanians who did not get a chance to watch this widely circulated video of a talk one of our former Health Ministers offered at TEDx Cluj, please carve 20 minutes out of your hectic schedule and watch it. Please.



Villa Rufolo, Ravello

Out of my most recent trip to Italy this must be one of the most beautiful places I have seen! The gardens at Villa Rufolo are so well maintained and the views are absolutely breathtaking that it’s easy to forget you are not dreaming.

Hotel Covo dei Saraceni, Positano

Alright, so I might not be able to say a lot about the hotel since I did not stay there during my time in Positano, but their downstairs café/restaurant served the best sorbet I have ever tasted! Maybe I am slightly biased because it was lemon-based (and I love lemons!) and served in an actual frozen lemon, but it was for sure one of the most memorable things I ate while in Italy. Also, I sort of regret not going on a lemon farm tour (I didn’t know these were a thing!) so if someone can take me to the Amalfi coast again so I can see the pretties lemons again I’d be forever grateful.



Open Tuinen Dagen/ Open Garden Day (Amsterdam)

This classical June event is something I had been waiting for since last year, when I sadly learned about it too late. This event is centred around the gardens of the canal houses in Amsterdam, and it was mainly created as a way to raise awareness about them and their sometimes decaying beauty. Considering the participating gardens are mostly private or not easily accessible ones, the event felt like a special incursion into a magical and secret green world of Amsterdam.

Dan Ariely talk- The Philosophy of Money

In June I got the amazing opportunity to hear Dan Ariely talk during an event organized by the School of Life Amsterdam. He mainly talked about money and our financial habits and behaviours and I have noted down some really insightful thoughts that I decided would be great to share with you:

  • We made saving invisible and we made spending visible. Do you know how much your neighbours are spending? Kind of – you know in what type of place they live, what car they drive, what clothes they wear and so on. But do you know how much they save?
  • Life  is a portfolio of decisions. What do you have highlighted in yours?

If you want to learn more about other ideas Ariely talks about, such as the pain of paying, the money you need to get to live happily well into your retirement years or why we should make our efforts visible in relation to our clients, you might want to read his latest book called Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter.

Noaptea de Sânziene – Se deschid cerurile de Sânziene

I wanted to attend this event for more than three years and unfortunately I was either away or unavailable during the nights it was organized. For all my foreign friends and readers, every year on the 24th of June, Romanians celebrate the Sânziene, who are the closest beings to fairies who every year dress in white, gather flowers and braid them into crowns which are later thrown on house roofs to determine if someone in that household will die (if the crown falls from the roof) or if the next year will be a prosperous one (if the crown doesn’t fall from the roof). The celebration and our rituals sort of reminded me a bit of what I have read about the Swedish midsommar celebrations (by the way, if you haven’t watched this extremely humorous clip about these Swedish festivities, this clip might be for you).



Want to understand experience design? Eat popcorn with chopsticks

Before reading this article I was a bit skeptical I would learn something new from such a seemingly irrelevant and click-bait-ish title, but I caught myself by surprise by learning more about how we can create memorable experiences with thoughtful design.


Here is where I am wrapping up this months recommendations article, with the hope you’ll also share what you have liked/read/watched or tried out and loved in the past weeks.


See you soon!