Archive for September, 2009

25 September, 2009

Getting to grips with the GIMP

‘lomo-fication’, cross-processing, retro/vintage-effects (which I am quite partial to)… the world is your oyster these days for all photography geeks without access to processing studios and expensive equipment. All you need is a computer, digital camera and relevant software (in my case, GIMP) and away you go!

I’m a novice at this sort of thing, but the art of processing digital photography may well become a new addiction.

A few experiments – with varying degrees of success – below.






24 September, 2009


Heaven forfend, you should call me a bibliomaniac.  History abounds with dastardly fiends who have stolen, been excommunicated or even wreaked war all in the name of fuelling their book fetish. The most anyone could accuse me is of accidentally absorbing people’s books into my collection. And in my defence, I shall note that any number of folk have absorbed my books into their libraries!

But I do love a good book. And one with a beautifully-designed cover even more so. My ‘to-be-reads’ (currently numbering approximately 30) sitting in a pile by my bed never fails to give me an incredible sense of geekish comfort. And one day, I shall have a room lined with shelves from floor to ceiling and each shelf shall be filled with book upon book upon book…

Since returning to Melbourne, I have wondered how I would to fuel my bibliomaniacal book hoarding tendencies.  At an average of AUD$30 per paperback, books in Australia are horrendously pricey, compared to the United Kingdom where, if you time things right, you can pick up a great read for around £7-£8.  But fortunately, I recently came across this place.  A glass facade and a long floor-to-ceiling window means you are not stumbling around an enclosed, airless flourescent-illuminated space so typical of the usual discount book store.  Wooden shelving displays modern editions of books old and new – all with gorgeous covers (I noted many editions by Vintage).  Again, quite atypical of a discount book store.  And with the average paperback price of AUD$10 and friendly staff, you couldn’t really ask for more.  In short, a discount book store like one I have never come across before.

And so (*hands rubbing together in glee*) my dream of a library which will one day eventually conquer the world remains unchecked!

Here are a few recent biblio-themed photos.

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21 September, 2009

Method to their Madness

Mad Men kills me.  The frocks.  The repression.  The surreptitious glances.  The oh-so-very-proper enunciation.  The things left unsaid.  The fabulous 1960s interiors.  How the boys of Sterling Cooper always hand whiskies to colleagues popping around for a chat.  The constant smoking.  The ambiguity of the characters – is Betty totally bonkers or just acting out?  How one can despise Don in an episode, yet cheer him on in the next?  The sometimes uncomfortable depiction of 1960s American mores.  The manly maleness of Don Draper. The little, maddening clues which creator Matthew Weiner leaves, which transform each episode beyond soap, beyond pure drama, into an intricate jigsaw puzzle of emotion and motive pulled apart each week by the ravenous hordes populating a host of Mad Men blogs.  Oh, and did I mention the frocks (and suits)?

Here are a few, taken from here.














18 September, 2009


I recently had to produce a 3D paper sculpture, inspired by something I had come across, to a certain brief; it had to be organic, somewhat architectural, fit on an A4 base and be made out of white paper.

The trees would not thank me for my various experiments and neither would my (imaginary) cleaner for the myriad scraps of paper which littered my room like confetti during my endeavours.  But, apart from the stress of deadline and the fact that I was calling on parts of my brain which had long lain dormant and creaking them into gear was protracted and painful, it was a lot of fun.

The initial inspiration

Subsequent inspiration - trilobites!

The Millenium Falcon?

Aerial view of the final piece

18 September, 2009

Life Lesson #218: Don’t do a Tantalus

No matter how much you covet, desire, lust after, fall in love with what you perceive as the most beauteous, the most perfect, the most glorious of footwear, if the shoes don’t fit, leave them be.

In a irrational fit of longing and befuddled by the animal print, the velvety touch of pony skin, the artfully dishevelled leather bow, the delicate curves which make the wearer feel simultaneously like a ballet dancer with tiny, delicate footsies, Audrey Hepburn and a Leftbank Parisienne (not mutually exclusive things, admittedly), I purchased these lovelies.  Which are half a size too small and give me huge blisters on my heels and my toes within an hour of traipsing about in them.

I’ve tried stuffing them with wet newspaper, placing plastic bags filled with water in them before putting them in the freezer and even paid for them to be professionally stretched.  All for naught.  Pony skin, it would seem, does not stretch like leather does.

And now they sit in my wardrobe, tantalising out of wear.  As happened to Tantalus, the rather nasty ancient Greek king whose eternal punishment was to stand below vines and their bounty of grapes which receded from his grasp each time he reached towards them to quench his thirst and hunger.

I wonder if there was any way to encourage one’s feet to shrink?

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16 September, 2009

Peppermint and English Toffee Tea

You can blame a childhood spent poring over Enid Blyton books.  As a child, I was particularly entranced with her description of all the yummy things scoffed by Jo, Bessie and Fanny in the Enchanted Wood with their friends, the folk of the Faraway Tree.  Pop Biscuits which went ‘pop’ when you sank your teeth in and filled your mouth with honey.  Google (!) Buns which contained a large currant filled with sherbet which would fizz and froth when you bit into it.  Toffee-Shocks which grew larger and larger the longer one sucked on them, until it was impossible to speak whereupon the sweet would burst and disappear. Hot-Cold Goodies which once the chocolate-coated outside was sucked off, became incredibly cold – so cold you couldn’t bear it, and then would became warm, until the heat was unbearable, upon which it would switch back to being cold.

So when I came across ‘Peppermint and English Toffee Tea’ in my local supermarket, I became all nostalgic for the descriptions of imaginary food which haunted my childhood, England in general, and its toffee and its tea, and the box quickly joined my basket of groceries.

Granted, Peppermint and English Toffee Tea is not as crazy or impossible as the treats of the Faraway Tree, but the combination of peppermint and toffee in liquid form borders on the slightly improbable.

In reality, there was a distinct lack of a peppermint tang to the tea.  Or if one existed, it was completely drowned out by the English toffee notes.  Which made for the rather odd sensation of drinking a warm, waterey toffee liquid.  Not unpleasant, but strange.

Just as the children felt when sampling one of the Faraway Tree goodies for the first time.  I’d prefer a Toffee Shock any day but in the absence of these, English Toffee Tea will do.

13 September, 2009

My Wanderin’ Days

Looking for work is a necessary evil and an administrative bore, but one should not overlook the potential and the pure beauty of the state of unemployment.  Such as being able to wander around on a bright, sunny spring day, quaffing chai lattes and/or coffee and admiring the quirky kitsch aesthetic of Melbourne’s inner suburbs, unharassed by the weekend hordes.

Seven years is a long time and I cannot remember whether Collingwood and Fitzroy were as full of boutiques selling all manner of lovely things then as compared to now. But who’s quibbling?





A 'doilied' tree.



Tea towel bunting.




8 September, 2009

Toasty Spaces

Huzzah! Toast’s Autumn/Winter 2009 homewares catalogue is out!  Dare I say it?  Dare I say that the rustic, pastoral, boho interiors and dilapidated luxe furniture outglam the homewares in more than a few shots? The school of fish swimming up the stairwell is particularly lovely.









6 September, 2009

Mr Morris

Have nothing in your houses which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
~William Morris (1834-1896)

Clean.  Clear.  Declutter.  Edit.  Re-edit.  Recycle.  Amalgamate.  Store.

Spring cleans always provide a nostalgic, sometimes horrifying (I wore that?!) ride.  Even more so when the clutter dates back decades to childhood.  Mr Morris’ quote sets out useful criteria for a sentimental hoarder such as myself.  Additionally, I’m holding onto the creed that your things should reflect who you are.  Things not doing so and claiming space in your home (and your life!) should be let go.

It was a stocktake that began in the months before I left London; a stressful, sometimes haphazard, frantic process to reduce seven years’ of clutter to things encapsulating my time in London for shipment to Melbourne.  Interestingly, a London friend, La Finch, declutters whenever she could.  She’s a minimalist gal, and given the space constraints in her London flat, it was a necessarily constant activity.  I don’t think I could ever do it on a frequent basis.  I like letting things lie, and seeing how and where my feelings for them develop.

There are a number of things I got rid off in London which I regret.  But still, precious space is a fair exchange.  Most of my current Melbourne detritus is hitting charity shops and ebay.  But a few items – long-forgotten but happily rediscovered – have made the cut.

My mother's intricately beaded cardigan.

An intricately beaded cardigan which belonged to my mother.


A Hello Kitty table mirror.

A Hello Kitty table mirror.


Small chinese crochet dolls.

A set of small chinese crocheted dolls.

4 September, 2009

Spring and Liberté

Thunderstorms, sudden hail showers and bursts of brilliant sunshine.  It’s spring as usual, in Melbourne town.  And a young filly’s thoughts turn to fields, frolics, flowers and… frocks!  And there’s nothing like a new frock to make a girl feel light on her toes, a spring song trilling in her heart, even as it’s pouring outside.

It will be a Liberty print frock for me this year.  Liberty prints are always perfect for spring – pretty but not country kitsch and evokes childhood memories of Ladybird books, school fêtes, tea parties, cupcakes and all things crafty.

APC came out with a few stunning creations earlier this year, for the Northern Hemisphere Spring/Summer 2009.

Tatum Liberty Print Summer Dress, A.P.C.

Tatum Liberty Print Summer Dress, A.P.C.

Poppy And Daisy Liberty Print Smock Dress, A.P.C.

Poppy and Daisy Print Summer Smock Dress, A.P.C.

Bourton Liberty Print Crochet Dress, A.P.C.

Bourton Liberty Print Crochet Dress, A.P.C.

Cacharel also celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in April 2009 with a re-edited collection of its original Liberty print collaboration of the 1960s.

Green Liberty Print Apron Dress, Cacharel.

Green Liberty Print Apron Dress, Cacharel.

Halterneck Summer Dress, Cacharel.

Halterneck Summer Dress, Cacharel.

Green Button Through 70s Dress, Cacharel.

Green Floral Button Through 70s Dress, Cacharel.

But I’ve found a couple of other lovely Liberty print dresses at Nadinoo, a British designer based in Germany.



Or, maybe a frock won’t do.  Perhaps a scarf.  Hermés has jumped into the Liberty love-in with a range of Liberty print scarves which will be available soon.

(Image taken from the Guardian)

(Image taken from the Guardian)

Honestly! What’s a girl to do?