Friday, October 31, 2008
Wishing you all a most lovely weekend! Im going to attempt to make this lemon meringue pie to finish of a seafood bbq with friends this weekend. I might also head out and check out Designers Emporium Boutique Market this sunday here in Brisbane, and hopefully I might just have time to start restoring a vintage Singer sewing machine cabinet I have been meaning to do for ages.
May you have a most lovely weekend too.
Image from Donna Hay.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I cannot tell you enough about how much I simply adore Amy Butler, I have mountains and mountains of her fabric at home which are too beautiful to explain. It is so very very exciting to hear that she will be coming to Australia and doing two evenings which will be filled with creative inspiration by this internationally renowned textile designer, author and style guru. Held in Melbourne on the 13th of November and Sydney on the 20th tickets are only $45.
I cannot tell you how much I want to go. Only problem is I don't know how! I don't think I could get to Melbourne with my students shortly graduating and Sydney is out on the 20th as it is their graduating exhibition and my husbands birthday. Oh my beating heart, I must find a way to go!!
Recently while flicking through the latest copy of Frankie Magazine I came across a small article on Morsbags and decided to check it out.
Started in the UK this website has been developed to help crafters, sewers and environmentalists to get together across the globe to form pods. These pods gather together over a cup of tea (or bottle of wine), chocolate cake, and their sewing machines. Using pieces of fabric found from recycled sources together they use the Morsbags bag template to create environmentally friendly shopping bags. The idea is then to get out in the community and give away the bags to encourage shoppers to say no to plastic bags.
Now im not a raging environmentalist but I do believe that we can all do our little bit to help the world. Plus im a huge fan of carrying my own over sized shopping bag whilst out shopping. It really is so much easier then carrying plastic bags, plus fashion wise, it really is so much more appealing!
And above all else sitting down with a group of lovely crafty ladies for an afternoon of laughter, sewing and meeting new friends sounds too good to resist! Did I also mention the massive collection of fabric scraps I have collected over the years? It would be so fabulous to finally put these to good use.
There aren't many pods yet here in Australia, so I have started the first Brisbane Pod group called Brisbane Bag Ladies. If your interested in joining this pod or starting your own head over to Morsbags and join up!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
My dear friends, I apologise for my blogging delays. After 4 lovely days in Dubai, a day and a half traveling back home and a serious case of jet lag we are back to almost back to normality.
Dubai was a crazy wonderful city! We naturally spent alot of time shopping... Quite clearly when its 37'c outside its the only thing to do! The malls are simply enormous and if you fancy an indoor snow ski, don't worry, you can do that whilst you do the rounds of a mall. Simply incredible!
We explored the Souqs (markets) and traveled out to the Textile Souq in Sharjah to purchase linen for my new silk screen printed range to be launched shortly! Obviousally not many tourists head out this way to bargain for fabrics. My poor sales man couldn't work out if I was Arabic or Iranian and kept on asking me which one I was. Im guessing blonde haired blue eyed Aussies don't venture into those neck of the woods too often!
One of my favourite places we visited was the Basta Art Cafe located in the Bastakia Quarter. Located next to the gorgeous The Majlis Gallery, this cafe was a cool tranquil peaceful change after the hectic dubai streets. Set in a leafy courtyard the Basta Special Juice of Mint, Lime and Pineapple is simply the most refreshing thing you can find and teamed with a delicious salad with roasted beetroot and fetta it was simply perfect!
So after a long journey home it was wonderful to arrive back in balmy Queensland. On my list of things to do on our arrival was to walk our dog Ruby, who was most excited to see us, although I did get terribly sunburnt back in our harsh australian sunshine! Use our beautiful big bath sheets after lazing in our own new bathroom - the little floor mat sized towels we found in most of Europe really just didn't cut the mustard! And then finally doze in our big comphy bed and reminise about all the wonderful adventures the last 5 weeks - And what a wonderful trip it was, I hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as we have!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
After three beautiful weeks in Italy our time has come to make our way home - So many memories, so much glorious food and so many fabulous sunny days. It truely has been an incredible experience.
We absolutely and totally recommend Trattoria der Pallaro in Rome to eat. 25euros per person for a 5 course dinner with no menu. You take a seat and they bring you out course upon course of that evenings meal of home cooked Roman food plus wine and mineral water. Blissimo! Of all our dining in Italy & Croatoa this truely was our highlight!
The image above is a snapshot I quickly took inside a store front in Rome. Of all the things I have seen and admired, I am so very inspired to go home and work on my first launch of Bespoke Press cards and prints. So many beautiful stubtle colour palletes, incredible typogrography, amazing architecure and gorgeous design. I simply cannot wait to get started!
And to my lovely readers, thankyou for sharing our European experience with us, your lovely messages and kind emails - I'll see you again from inside of the middle east!
Friday, October 17, 2008
We are now on the Amalfi coast - and you think being in the paper business and all I should have known that the Amalfi region is famous for its history in Paper. Turns out, it was a wonderful surprise to learn today!
On a day trip today to the actual Amalfi town ( which is part of the Amalfi Coast funny enough) we discovered a paper mill museum Museo della Carta. I was excited, the history of Cotton paper, oh my... How to contain oneself! 3.50 Euro to enter and a thirty minute tour and history talk on cotton paper was money well spent!!
This paper mill was carved into rock to create man made caves in 1260BC. With the natural spings and rivers from the Amalfi mountains as well as the booming power of the Amalfi region back in the day this are was chosen to create the first European mills using techniques developed in China.
Turns out the Chinese had figured out the whole paper making business in the year 105AD and kept it secret for 500 years until a prisoner was captured and made to teach the Koreans the trade. It slowly spread to through the Midldle East to the Amalfi region of Europe. They held the paper power for many many years until Germany eventually as they were faster and more efficient at it. In its hay day this little Amalfi Town had 61 paper mills in operation. These days there are only 2 left.
This mill was in operation from 1260BC to the 1960's when it was converted to a museum. They used old cotton clothing, hemp and rags which was cut into strips, pulped for 25 hours, mixed, collected into sheets and then dried - as quick as 4 hours in summer, and up to several months in winter!
Apparently it was dangerous work and the employees didn't always live that long. Most of the cotton clothing had come from dead people and it often carried all sorts of diseases such as cholera and the plague!! Fascinatingly the rags were soaked in the urine from Donkeys and Horses for 6 hours to bleach them white and help disinfect the germs. One must stop wonder here - how exactly do collect such a quantity of wee from a 4 legged beast??
So being in a town famous for its history in creating paper how blissful to find a town chock a block full of paper stores. Naturally, I did need to stock up for Bespoke Press with beautiful inks and gorgeous papers. Now if only I could carry my Chandler and Price around the world this surely would be a fabulous place to move and set up shop. And did I mention the views??
We are on a no plan holiday, each destination we come to, we pull out our travel book and choose where we should head next. Our time had come to an end in Cinque Terre and I asked my husband to choose the next destination - He said what about Siena? I was like, oh okay, don't really know much about it, but I guess its your turn to choose and will have to do. So off on a train we go.
Turns out he made a fine choice. Siena is just incredible. As a favourite holiday destination for Italians, it wasn't crawling with tourists and it just so happens to be in the heart of Tuscan wine country - Bliss!!
One thing which I wasn't expecting was the excellent shopping and gorgeous shop fronts! Alot of incredible delis, high quality leathers, papers and oh, did I mention Gelato?
So we shopped ( and shopped and shopped) and even managed to find a whole heap of Vintage Italian posters for our walls at home. Turns out Siena is a fine stop and I should start trusting my husbands travel judgement just a little more!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Once upon a time, if you lived in the Cinque Terre and you were a man searching for a wife you had three options. Marry one of the other 200 town residents, row your boat to the next town, or pack your bag and go hiking for one.
A trail was built between two of the towns (Riomaggiore & Manarola) in the 1920s but landslides kept it closed and persistent men with love to give would have to find their own way in search of a wife. After World War II the trails were reopened and it quickly became a lovers meeting point and was called "Lovers lane". Centuries of isolation no doubt resulted in a few post war babies one would imagine.
These days the hiking trails between all 5 towns have become tourist super highways for travelers and one could imagine a man could now find himself a wife from the hoards of tourists walking through the towns each day.
Those who know me personally, would know that I am not one to hike. In fact the last time I did was in year 8 camp to the Blue Mountains where we roughed it and slept in a dry creek bed which flooded in the middle of the night. I'm much more of the arty cafe type then the sensible hiking boots type.
But how could we travel to the Cinque Terre and not make that Tourist pilgrimage and visit each town. We opted for the more leisurely approach and walked the 11.2 kms of mountains between the 5 towns over the course of 2 days. Supposedly it can be done in 4 or 5 hours, but that doesn't sound like much of a holiday to me.
The first day we started at Riomaggiore and walked the lovers lane to Manarola, a 20 minute walk on footpaths. Easy, this hiking business was a breeze. Next town down to Corniglia, 45 minutes, most pleasant, although less romantic until you reach the 350 odd stairs up the hill into the town. Thank god for the clever chap who built park benches along the way. So we were three towns down, 2 more to go. Feeing most proud and fit we debated walking the following two towns, or just kicking back for a siesta. Sleep always wins, so we headed back home and called it a day.
Day 2, Hiking from Corniglia to Vernazza (2 hours) and then Vernazza to Monterosso (2 hours). Life suddenly got bloody hard! A billion steps, narrow cliff edges (did I mention I hate heights?), a significant lack of park benches and alot of up and down and then back up again.
Keeping me entertained the whole way was the amount of people who seemed less suited to hiking then us. We saw a lady in a dress with high heel boots, girls in thongs, strappy sandles and sparkly handbags. I do ever wonder how these crazy people hiked. No doubt they looked beautiful but I would have hated to have been in their shoes. Literally. They kept me feeling brave and tough and hell, damnit, we can do this hiking business.
By the third hour my legs were shaking like losers (surely that is from the asthma medication not from the lack of fitness) and I was quite ready to jump straight into the Mediterranean. We finally arrived in Monterosso, pleased as punch that we had made it, although somewhat not so impressed by my fitness or my hiking abilities, the legs which did not stop shaking for hours or our significant preplanning lack of enough water.
So we made it, we hiked the beautiful Cinque Terre. Despite the heat, thousands of steps, narrow cliff tops and a significant lack of fitness, we had conquered. Just!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
After doing all the rounds of the Italian museums, churches and art galleries, we had decided that we needed a break from it all and headed down to Cinque Terre. Meaning 5 towns, this remote chunk of the Italian Riveria is traffic free, museum free its just sand (pebbles!), sun, beaches and gorgeous little hilltop Villages. A perfect place to relax and unwind, its also the homeplace to Pesto, so we also indulged in quite a bit of Bruschetta as well!
White in Cinque Terre, we stayed in Monterosso, the largest and most north town. We stayed in Manuels Guesthouse - a ramshackle guesthouse run by an artist and his nephew. Sitting at the very top of the town, we were lucky to score the room with a balcony and the photos above were our incredible view. It was just perfect, such an incredible little part of the world
We did a quick one day trip to Milan and as soon as we got off the subway and walked up the stairs we were confronted with Milans Duomo Cathedral. With more then 2,000 statues, and 52 one hundred foot high pillars, built to hold 40,000 worshippers, it was an amazing first sight of Milan.
It was a cold, overcast day, yet somehow it seemed to suited to this gothic cathedral built between 1386 to 1810. The most memorable part of the visit was getting to walk around the roof top. Supposedly you can see the Italian alps from up this high but we struggled to see streets below in the hazy weather. You could climb the stairs to the roof for 4 Euro, or take the lift for 6 Euro. Naturally, we paid the 2 Euro more!
After a quick exploration of Milans famous shopping areas, I felt suitably underdressed, suitably poor and really just not suited to the Guccis and Versaci's of the world! So we headed over to the Brera region, which was more Bohemian and more affordable with brilliant antique and interiors stores. Phew. Now thats more my style!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
How we loved Venice. It was worth every second of the 12 hour ferry and 5 hour train trip from Croatia. Struck down with a cold (of all the timings!) we did not get to see all of Venice in our 3 days. Perfect excuse to come back I say!
They say that the best way to see Venice is to get lost and wander the streets aimlessly. That we did, not once, not twice, but at least several times a day. And on these random trips it was indeed when we saw the true Venice the Venetian style. One night whilst looking for a particular Cicchetteria (tapas bar) we walked around for 3.5 hours, only to find ourselves in the exact same position we started. Oh the wonders of Venice!
After two weeks of indulging we decided that it was time for a simple meal and visited Mcdonalds, although no yellow M here in Venice, its the classiest Ronald Mcdonald joint I've ever seen. Ordering a very simple breakfast turned out to be in the true Venetiain style of expensive!! We ate entire dinner meals with drinks for the same price in Croatia as our simple Mcdonalds breakfast! So we decieded, that bugger it. Lets just enjoy Venice for all its worth and let me tell you, the food is delightful! Rows and rows of shops selling indrecible pastries, amazing delis which I would kill to have back home in Australia, and oh the gelato. I have decided that quite obviousally I do have a new found ice cream issue.
We feel in love with gorgeous artwork by Ugo Baracco who does landscapes of Venice using antique methods of etching and aquatints. We spent hours undecided over which print to buy (Poor Ugo, but he was most patient!) before buying a print of a Gondella as our wedding anniversary gift to oursleves in November. Sometimes you just have to live a little!
Croatia now seems but a distant memory. We have been without internet for several days now with our travels from Croatia to Italy and oh the heart palpitations this causes! How pathetic we must seem traveling with our macbook & iphone but no connection to connect us to the world. Quite clearly, we have issues.
But what a beautiful country we found Croatia and of all the memories I will remember the most:
- The incredible stone, its everywhere! It builds the houses, the roads, the gutters and curbs. And inside houses the sinks, and window sills, staircases, shelves and walls - absolutely everything is made of stone. (All I could think about is how cheap kitchen stone benchtops must be here!)
- The cats, here there and everywhere. Oh so sweet but it would seem there is somewhat of a mass breeding issue with the putty cats!
- And finally the icecream and its oh so cheap! 4kuna ($1.50) would buy you a homemade waffle cone with scoppings of delicious homemade ice cream. Oh how I indugled, chocolate, double chocolate, triple chocoloate, hazelnut, pistachio, lemon, coconut... I tried them all!