Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Stitch In Time

On Friday night I went to see 'The Artist'. I was very excited last year when I first heard about the film as for a long time I had wondered why no one made a silent film these days. I have seen many of the old ones and they can be breathtaking, funny and soul-stirring. It is a very powerful way to tell a story.

I wasn't sure what exactly to expect from the film but WOW. It completely blew me away. The film managed to capture the spirit of the original 1920s films perfectly. Let's start off with the 'leading man' who has been absent from the screen for many, many years. George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin) stole my heart. He was dashing, debonair and posseses the most winning smile imaginable. He was the type of man who had ladies swooning around him. There is a particularly funny scene involving a female fan and his coat jacket.

Jean Dujardin, however, can play much more than charming. The film shows what happens to a silent film star when the 'talkies' come in and the market crashes in 1929. Let's just say, I wish I had had a box of tissues handy as he captured the pathos of a man struggling and still trying to put up a brave front. Oh and let's not forget the love he has for his dog.

Parallel to George Valentin's inability to handle the new world of talkies we see Peppy Miller thrive and rise to stardom. She is a gorgeous girl and I loved looking and swooning over her outfits as well.

This was in addition to my swooning over the buildings, houses, the tap dancing and generally everything 1920s art deco.

When I arrived home I was inspired to look for 1920s/1930s patterns and found a designer called Susan Crawford who designs knitwear inspired by the 1920s to 1950s. She has a designer page on Ravelry at Susan Crawford. Some of my favourite designs are Jersey With A Soft Bow, A Swagger Coat, Tri-Cable Stitch Jumper and the Bobble Topper

As many of the designs in the books are actually things I would like to wear and I can't find in stores, I've ordered both books. It was a little bit of a splurge but I think it will be well worth it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Day Out In Robertson

On Australia Day , which was last Thursday, my family and I drove down to a little town called Robertson in the Southern Highlands. They have set up a facility nearby where you can walk through the canopies of trees so we thought it would be a fun thing to try out.

Before we did that we headed into the main street to find a place for lunch. We spotted a couple of new shops we thought we’d check out. One was an antique shop that had a good variety of wares and was actually reasonably priced. I’m trying not to be such a magpie this year, and limited myself to one item being a New Idea magazine from 1935. I always have fun reading those old magazines. Some articles are so funny and anachronistic while others make me realize that nothing has changed at all. Plus they provided readers with free knitting, crochet AND sewing patterns. New Idea today has nothing on its predecessors! For those of you who are not Australian, New Idea is now a celebrity gossip magazine. The 1935 version did have a “gossip” page but it was so respectfully written that the most “scandalous” items weren’t even scandalous.

We had lunch at the Old Cheese Factory café and then popped into another shop.

I’m not sure exactly how to describe what this shop was, other than totally adorable! Unfortunately, I didn't see a sign of the shop's name and I didn't think to ask. I will when I am next there.

There was a section for herb seedlings, second hand fabrics, new clothes, a table of knitted goods which had a biography of the lady that knits the items, and a grocery section. I like to think that the organic shop I go to do my groceries is local, but this one totally beats it. This is the cutest produce display and I’d be delighted to do a daily grocery shop if this was my local store. Everything is completely fresh and grown in Robertson.

I spoke with the lady at the counter and the plan is to expand an upstairs section to hold regular craft classes. I wish her all of the best of success – we need more local places like this to flourish.

We finished off the day at our treetop walk. What a view.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tea For Me and Tea For You

I'm normally a Twinings tea drinker but when I was Christmas shopping last year, I discovered a range of teas made by Crabtree and Evelyn. In black teas, they stock English Breakfast, Earl Grey and Afternoon Tea.

As with all Crabtree and Evelyn, they are beautifully and scrumptiously packaged. The black teas come in either a box or a tea caddy tin with Jane Austenesque images that harken back to those twee times when ladies sat in gardens sipping tea while crocheting lace. I immediately bought a tea caddy that came with all three varieties of black tea and then my mum bought me a box of the Afternoon Tea for a Christmas gift.

For those who prefer a herbal tea, they also stock chamomile and peppermint teas which I look forward to trying when I have my stash of tea down. It's a little ridiculous at the moment just how much tea I have!

I must admit that for flavour, I still prefer my Twinings tea, but this is probably purely because of habit. They do taste nice, especially the Earl Grey with the citrusy flavours. This year I aim to widen my tea palette so this is a good start on my journey

Slow Sundays

Sunday is my favourite day of the week because I have the morning to myself and I get to ramble around Double Bay. I usually start with breakfast at Simmone Logue while reading the paper. This morning I ordered sourdough toast with preserves and English Breakfast tea. I pored over my newly bought magazine issue of "The English Home" where most pages are filled with images of homes that are so beautiful and inviting. I picked up a loaf of sourdough bread to take home, because this is the best I have ever tasted. If I had to survive on bread and water I would not mind two bits if it was bread from Simmone Logue.
After breakfast I wander over to the Oscar and Friends bookshop to buy a book. This morning I took a slight detour via Papier D'Amour which is an exquisite little stationery store. I saw some gorgeous pencil tins there last week and I wanted to buy one for my friends daughter as a gift for starting Kindergarten. Unfortunately many other people had had the same idea as they were all sold out. Never mind!
I am all for supporting local bookstores, so I am doing my bit for Oscar's. Books are my one weakness and when I say I go in to buy one book it usually means two. Or three. Or more depending on what new goodies have arrived. There is a new edition of the Narnia series which I have had my eye on which I am aiming to eventually collect in its entirety.

This morning I bought two of the books.

Finally, on my way home I popped into the flower shop to see if there were any blooms to brighten up my living room. I chose these gorgeous orange and yellow roses.

Ophelia very much approved on them, even jumping up on my coffee tables for closer inspection. Although, I suspect she was more interested in the paper (she LOVES paper) than the flowers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book Review: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making

I have found a wonderful author called Catherynne M. Valente via a novel called "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making". You can read my review below as well as find the link to the book trailer on Youtube.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1) The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have often dismissed the old adage of "never judge a book by its cover" and found some wonderful books as a result. I figure that a book with a beautifully designed cover has a level of care in its production that has filtered through from the writing. This is not an infallible method of choice by any means, as sometimes beautiful artwork is accompanied by text that is vacuous. But as I am inspired by aesthetics this is not often an insurmountable problem.

What about judging a book by its title? For this was the main reason I began to read "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making". I had not even seen the cover before I decided that I must read this story. There were too many questions running through my mind that needed answering – how did the girl arrive in Fairyland? Why did she need to sail around it? How does a girl go about building her own ship?

As soon as I began reading the first sentences, I knew I was in for a treat. Catherynne M. Valente has a particularly lovely way of writing that borders on poetic. She has a knack for describing and pointing the reader's attention to little details that immerse you into the wonderful world of September.

September. What a name for our heroine. The characters have the most imaginative names and I can just see the fun the author had in coming up with them. A Through L, Wyveraries (a cross between a wyvern and a library), the witches Hello and Goodbye.

When the opportunity knocks at September's window (literally) to fly away from her dull life in Omaha, she does not hesitate. If this scenario sounds familiar, you will find that there are many nods to classic tales in mentions of magical wardrobes and tornadoes.

In Fairyland, September travels over seas, through lands of cloth, Autumn forests, and islands of antiques that come to life after 100 years. She picks up a few companions along the way who help her and become friends for whom she will risk all.

Whilst the story comes to a resolution, there are many questions left unanswered. I very much look forward to a sequel following September on her adventures again. Reading this book was like being wrapped in a soft blanket while nibbling lemon scones on an autumn afternoon. I know that's a very synesthetic description but when you read the story you will understand what I mean.

View all my reviews

Book Trailer

Monday, January 16, 2012

Introductory Post

Hello dear reader and friend,

I hope you are having a lovely day so far. I would like to begin this blog to tell some stories and anecdotes about my interests and adventures. My curiosity and love of learning tend to take me down winding crafty and literary paths so I thought this would be a nice place to share these with others.

I live with my feline friend, Ophelia in a little harbourside village called Double Bay. Our home is a green art-deco apartment that's filled with many, many books.

At the moment I am cross stitching this Theresa Wentzler design to put on my wall.

I began knitting a while back and completed a magenta beanie for my first project. I am hoping to start knitting again and I have been looking through Ravelry for inspiration. I could while away hours on that site admiring the inspirational designers. I am thinking of completing either a shawl or cardigan now. While I am a fairly inexperienced knitter, I like to dive in at the deep end when I am learning a new skill.

The other venture I will be starting soon is art lessons. There is a lovely girl at my work called Elizabeth who it turns out is very artistic and loves nature. We have worked together for several years but it is only in the last two months or so that we have discovered just how similar our interests and outlook on life are. She asked if I would be interested in joining her in some classes. I was a bit hesitant at first, but I agreed and we will be doing some life drawing classes. Eventually I hope to learn watercolour skills so that I can do botanical and animal paintings.

The last hobby I'd like to mention is cooking. I love food a lot and inadvertently fell into becoming a cookbook reviewer for a couple of local publishers last year. I hope to be sharing some of the recipes I test with you – especially if they are delicious.

I will leave it there for now. I'm finishing a cup of fenugreek seed tea and will soon pack my things to go home. I hope you all have a lovely evening.