Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Week of Christmas

Listening to carols by Bing, Puppini Sisters, Glee and Eartha Kitt and a choir at St. Paul's cathedral.

Seeing Myer windows, little kids going mad with wonder at Mary Poppins flying across the stage, pretty christmas wreaths on small front doors and big fancy buildings.

Eating fruit mince pies, rocky road and drinking red wine.

Watching Love Actually, The Holiday and Die Hard.

Making treatlys for friends and thinking, I love this crazy time of year.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Crush

Book crush.

Yes. I have been known to fall a little bit in love with certain books. Once I get drawn in I can’t stand to be parted from it so it goes in every bag. Sometimes I carry it just to keep it close because you never know when you’ll have a moment to pick it up again - waiting for the train, on the train, waiting for my coffee. Right now that book is: Let the Great World Spin by Column McCann. It’s not especially new but it didn’t appear on my radar until a friend from work started raving about it (it also one the National Book Award).

Set in New York in the 70s, it begins with a crowd of onlookers spotting Frenchman Philippe Petit walking on air as he walked across a tightrope between the towers of the World Trade Centre.

Those ordinary people have witnessed something extraordinary and Irish novelist McCann isolates some of those characters and lets their stories unfold, overlap and collide. It’s such an evocative read and New York is treated with as much respect and complexity as one of McCann’s characters. It’s one of those books you read with a pencil, just so you can underline the perfect line.
Here’s just a couple: ‘‘It was a look that suggested she was part of a mystery she wouldn’t let go of’’.
‘‘A bridge lay between us, composed almost entirely of my brother’’.
Anyway. This the book I’m loving right now. More are on the way, I’m sure, but right now - it’s this one.

Photograph: Leonard Freed/Magnum
PS: If you get the chance, read the book first then watch Man On Wire - the fantastic documentary about Petit's 1974 wire-walking feat. Amazing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Softie for Mirabel.

Finished my softie for Mirabel organised by Meet Me At Mikes. I hope he brings a smile to a little.

The pattern is from this Softies book, a great place to start for new sewers, page after page of very cute, straight forward patterns.

Recent Reads

I've read some fantastic Young Adult books lately so I thought I'd post about a few of my favourites:

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares
by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn.

He hates Christmas. She loves Christmas. He finds a mysterious note book in his favourite bookshop, she dares him to come looking for her - the mysterious, goofy Lily. A book about falling in love, or maybe not falling in love. So good.

Burnt Snow
by Van Badham

You might think you've read this story before; girl reluctantly moves to small town and meets the bad boy but trust me, there's much more to this solid, paranormal story set right here in Australia.

Six Impossible Things
by Fiona Wood

One of the best YA books I've read all year. Fourteen year-old Dan Cereill is such a good character; he's a little like Woody Allen (but more loveable). A great story about longing, fitting in and realising fitting in is overrated.

And here are two titles I'm hoping to get to very soon:

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters
by Natalie Standiford

"The Sullivan sisters have a big problem. On Christmas Day their rich and imperious grand-mother gathers the family and announces that she will soon die... and has cut the entire family out of her will."


Matched by Ally Condie

''On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life. Except he's not.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sew La Tea Do

Got my crafty little hands on a copy of Pip Lincoln's new book Sew La Tea Do. And yes, one look and it's made me want to do,do,do!
So many great projects from a simple bib for a babe to a pair of lazy day pants.
Looking forward to picking a project to start. It's not only full of clever patterns but crowded with lovely photographs, too. And you know what's especially nice? Pip is made in Melbourne!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I've been stumbling across this book for years but have never actually read it. Now's my chance.

Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp is said to be genuinely frightening and not for the faint-hearted. Excellent news.

Here's the first paragraph:

There are times when the midsummer sun strikes cold, and when the leaping flames of a hearthfire give no heat. Times when the chill within us comes not from fears we know, but from fears unknown - and forever unknowable...

Monday, October 18, 2010

The recent wild weather, rain, wind, hail has got me in the mood for some seasonal reading and what better book to read than a ghost story?
Susan Hill's latest (she also wrote The Woman in Black) The Small Hand has all the makings of a spine tingling read: a crumbling mansion, the ghostly figure of a small child, the bleak English countryside. I started it on the train this morning...

It was little before nine o'clock, the sun was setting into a bank of smoky-violet clouod and I had lost my way. I reversed the car in the gateway and drove back half a mile to the fingerpost. I had spent the past twenty-four hours with a client near the coast and was returning to London, but it had clearly been foolish to leave the main route and head across country.

It's a slim book (166 pages) so plan to knock it off quickly and get back to Franzen's Freedom.

Tommorrow: Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New Dress for Wanda

Why not.

Finding at Finders and Keepers

Dropped into Finders Keepers market on Saturday. Wow. What a fantastic gathering of great hand-made things - gorgeous, well-made and original, things. We had a jammed packed day so we could only spend one, tiny hour but I think I managed to see every stall. There was so many delightful things, a couple of hours more would have been ideal.
Here's a few snaps of the haul. Only downside was lack of caffeine. The poor bloke had set up but didn't have any power - no coffee. Melbourne. Shopping. No coffee? Not good. We got there at 10am and it was comfortably busy...I imagine things got a whole lot more crowded later on. Hope it did.

Love love love: this painted plate by Storybook Rabbit

& this very cute and functional make-up purse.

& this wee pot holder made by Pip from Meet Me At Mkes:

I picked up a lot of lovely business cards from loads of makers: here's just a few from my favourites:

frankie mag had a groovy little lounge all set up with a dj playing chilled out tunes. Really hope it was a success for all.

So glad I got there. If you live in Melbourne, hope you did, too.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Friday Round-Up

Weekend's almost here but this is what's been catching my eye today:

Anna Walker's blog - illustrator of All Through the Year and Little Cat and the Big Red Bus. If you haven't read her books (with Jane Godwin), you're missing something really lovely.

Sweet Paul's visually delicious online cooking magazine. Great styling. I can't wait to try the apple muffins.

Really looking forward to Finders Keepers Market on this Saturday and Sunday. Meet Me At Mikes will be there and Lark, too.

Tomorrow after the market:

*lunch by the sea with the out-laws
*a movie at The Sun
*dog walk
*making apple muffins

It's going to be a good one. I hope yours is too.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Rockaway Taco - The Selby

A really lovely short film about bees, surfing, veggies and community.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Footage of Nathalie Lete painting in Melbourne.

Such a treat to see Nathalie Lete painting a store window at Blue Illusion today in Malvern. After following her work for so long, I was really excited to meet her in person and stand there (along with lots of other people) and watch her work. Jam Fancy was there, too. A lovely gathering of crafty bloggers and people who admire Lete's work. So lucky to see Lete dip her brush and just...create something so beautiful.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Interview with Nathalie Lete

A window into Lete's Red Riding Hood world

Frances Atkinson

NATHALIE Lete's work is exuberant, nostalgic and everywhere. Blooming flowers with giant petals, bright red toadstools, battered teddy-bears, butterflies and birds; her work is story-book naive, with bold brush stokes from a boiled-lolly palette.

In the past decade the work of the Paris-based artist has become coveted by everyone from Disneyland and Issey Miyake to Chanel and, most recently, Australian clothing line Blue Illusion. Lete's unique aesthetic has blurred across a diverse array of items including clothing, rugs, jewellery, stationery, dinner-ware, ceramics, linens and colouring books.

In an email interview (her English is not strong) on the eve of her first Melbourne visit, 46-year-old Lete talks about her childhood growing up in Paris. ''I had no brother and sister so I was often alone and drawing all the time,'' she explains.

Holidays were spent with her grandmother in Bavaria where Lete spent her days exploring the forest, ''like Little Red Riding Hood''. Fairytales, ''the woods'' and the menacing threat that might be lurking there, also creeps into Lete's work: a spider dangles from a web or a wolf with a hungry look prowls nearby.

''My mother read me lots of stories when I was a child and I loved the illustrations. Even now, when I'm in the middle of nature, I can remember that feeling and I try to use it in my work,'' she says.

Lete says her father also influenced how she sees the world. ''He was Chinese. He wasn't really home a lot because he worked very hard. I remember we had a lot of silk paintings and my mother had some kimonos, which I loved.''

Lete describes her visual style as a mosaic that draws on everything from souvenirs to clashing colours.

''I like contrasting things. I think my parents had 'strange' taste and as I got older, I developed my own and now I mix both. Sometimes what I paint is inspired by stories I make up in my head. Some people might not understand this but it's an important part of how I work.''

Making a living from her art was something Lete always hoped to achieve, but growing up she was told the idea was ''impossible''. Undeterred, when she was 18, she sought the advice of an astrologer who predicted she would become an artist.

''That's why I went to art school, but it wasn't always an easy path. It's been a lot of hard work.''

Today Lete, her husband, painter Thomas Fougerol, and their two children, Oskar and Angele, live and work in a renovated 19th century studio that was once a metal factory that made pieces for the Eiffel Tower. The iconic structure features in Lete's work as a playful kitsch element that she seems to mock and embrace in equal measure.

Recently, Lete was flown to New York to paint Anthropologie's window on Fifth Avenue and this Sunday, she will visit two Blue Illusion stores in Melbourne. ''People are amazed that I find painting the windows so easy but for me, it's like a big piece of paper,'' she says. ''It's fun to draw such large pieces … it makes me really happy.''

The desire to create - whether for the crowd of bystanders she inevitably attracts, or a major label - is constant. ''I always have this feeling that I need to do something, otherwise I feel like a prisoner inside.''

Lete says that her ability to recreate certain feelings of nostalgia is partly because she feels ''disconnected" with the reality of being an adult. ''I don't like too many responsibilities, unless it's to do with my work. I like to feel protected in my world, which is probably why I'm so organised."

As Lete's popularity grows, how she manages her creative time has become critical. ''The success is great but I can't just sit on my balcony,'' she says. ''I have so much to do but I'm not a machine, I have to make sure I don't forget myself.''

Blue Illusion, Sunday 10am, 113 Glenferrie Road, Malvern; 2pm, G093, Doncaster Shopping Centre.

From: The Age newspaper

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Queen SIze Crochet Blanket FINALLY finished

Three and a half years.
Countless balls of yarn.
Hours of happy hooking.
Ta daaa.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chapter One: Spring Comes This Way

The warmer weather is getting closer. You can see it in the early mornings and again later at night when the sky gets that pinkish glow. I don't mind winter but I'm ready for some sun, reading in the shade, picnics, bbqs and drinks with lots of ice. Speaking of reading, I've got a stack of books on the go. I usually try and read one at a time but the four books on my bedside table and the one in my handbag, tell a different story.

I've just started Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (if you buy it from Book Depository, it's FREE shipping around the world). The film, with Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley is out soon and looks fantastic. Set in the 1990s, the book is about three children who grew up and were educated at Hailsham School, a place where children are referred to as 'donors' and have 'guardians'. I'm not too far into the story, but it's got me completely absorbed.

Racing through Jonathan Franzen's new one: Freedom. When it comes to a contemporary take on the suburbs of North America, Franzen is a wicked genius. The book charts the lives and the demise of the Berglund family. They might look like the perfect couple with two 'perfect' teenage children, but of course, they're not. More acerbic than poignant, Franzen's take on modern life can make you squirm and laugh at the same time. Can't wait to get on with this book.

Just quickly: Naming the Bones by Louise Welsh. I saw her recently at the Melbourne Writers' Festival and she was fascinating.

Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein. Loving this book about an American journalist who ends up working for a big Japanese newspaper and taking on the Yukuza. He was at the MWF, too - very funny guy with so many amazing tales of his life covering the 'beat'. Made me want to jump on a plane and fly to Tokyo (again!).

Okay. That's not exactly all of the books I've got my nose in but it's a start. I'm off to get a coffee and find some sun.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Breakfast: the prettiest meal of the day.

Our breakfast doesn't look this pretty every day but a new teapot kind of demanded a little extra trouble. Loving Sophie Dahl's cookbook. I haven't actually made anything from it...yet, but it makes for good breakfast reading and the pictures? So pretty.

Woolly Winter

A friend told me about the Yarn Barn in Reynard Street Coburg, just up from the old Progress Theatre. It's a small, unglamorous shop but they have some of the best colours. I went a little crazy, partly due to the fact that I was on the home stretch with my 100 granny square blanket. These new hues got me over the line.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wee Wonderfuls WIP

I've been following Wee Wonderfuls for years and even made a few of her lovely softies but her latest book, Wee Wonderfuls: 24 Dolls to Sew and Love inspired me to stop organising my craft space and actually make something. It's been ages since I've made something so I've started off slow and easy. This little doll took about half an hour to make. I haven't quite finished sewing on her features, but here's a shot of where I'm up to and a few more from the book. The book as a great range of projects, from hand-sewing to more complicated toys but they have one thing in common, they're all cute and would make great gifts for littles.

Some Books I've Really Enjoyed

  • Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros
  • Saturday by Ian McEwan
  • Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life by Andrew Motion
  • The Bell Jar by Syliva Plath
  • Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
  • Stasiland by Anna Funder

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Living, reading, crafting, taking photos, writing.