Monday, November 21, 2011

Sneak peak: Christmas stocking and advent calendar

This week I'm trying madly to find time to sew Christmas stockings, including mini ones that I hope to use as an advent calendar. That means sewing 25 by December 1! Pictured here are my first attempts with fabric from Spotlight. I grabbed a few Christmas prints from the 'Scandi' range that they have in stock this year and have been excited to get started for weeks now.

I have made a couple more tonight in the other patterns and they are sooo cute. I'll take photos and reveal them, perhaps on December 1 when I have set them out with little treats inside. 

Last year, I made my advent calendar from red and white noodle boxes. Each day there was a different note (mainly things to do to get into the festive spirit, IOU vouchers and notes on the meaning of Christmas including Bible verses!) and 1-2 little treats (mostly Christmas chocolates and lollies or silly things like new socks). The lucky Mister and I had great fun opening them each day.

I was really keen to make a rusty bucket advent calendar last year (like this one below from Ornamenta) but I didn't have any luck finding tiny tin buckets in a short period of time. 

I didn't have a sewing machine either last Christmas so I couldn't make the stocking advent calendar I really liked (see it in an old post here) but this year I have no such obstactle. Yippee.

I love Christmas for all the traditions and the effort we put in to show our family and friends that we love them. We do this in many ways - spending time visiting or inviting loved ones to our homes, making and sharing food, and giving gifts. I love all of these things but in the lead up to Christmas it is the decorating that I love most. Traditions are so important to Christmas decorating as what we do at this time of year is often very much related to what we've done in years gone by, and the special ornaments and rituals are intrinsically attached to our memories. Christmas stockings hung on the mantle for Santa to fill were an important part of my childhood Christmas and each year we used the same ones. Even now, my mum gets out our Christmas stockings and fills them with tiny gifts and chocolates or lollies for us. Seeing them takes me back to the magic of Christmas when I was little and I just loving seeing them each year. For my own stockings, I had my mum trace the shapes of our childhood stockings (we had multiple stockings in two styles) and mail them to me so mine will have a hint of nostalgia in the familar shape.

Now that we have finished re-doing our fireplace and mantle, I am even more excited to make stockings to hang along here and decorate for Christmas (I am such a nerd now and have stashed a few decorations away from the January sales and more recent early season finds). Plus advent calendars are so fun to put together. Collecting little surprises and then having someone else excitedly open them each day makes for a very festive December. Is anyone else doing a DIY advent calendar? I would love to hear about it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book Banter: My Heart Wanders

My Heart Wanders - Pia Jane Bijkerk
A celebration of taking risks, letting go and making a home wherever you are

Last month, when visiting my cousin Amy, the talented designer and letterpress printer of Saint Gertrude fame, she excitedly recommended Pia Jane Bijkerk's illustrated travel memoir, My Heart Wanders. The imagery is immediately beautiful - somehow moody, peaceful, reflective and inspiring all at once - and the words on the cover are captivating (A celebration of taking risks, letting go and making a home wherever you are). Sounded like perfect holiday reading to me so a few days later I ordered it from the Book Depository in readiness for our trip to Broome, Western Australia.

Holidays are the perfect time to reflect and dream, so reading this while far from home enhanced the book for me. It stirred anxieties I have about not having the time or space to do everything I want to do in life and it highlighted recent feelings of uncertainty in areas I am usually content and sure of where I'm headed. This may not sound like a good thing but I truely think it is good to delve deep into your inner thoughts from time to time just to check you are happy on your current path.

The author is a stylist, photographer and writer - a true creative who even plays the piano. As you do with good authors, I felt an affinity with her and with some of her restlessness, contradictions, attempts to appreciate the present moment (and not always succeeding), tendency to be 'too' honest and even the way she found meaning from connecting random dots, particularly in the world of nature.

Towards the end of the book, I was delighted to read that Pia is a fellow blogger. In that moment, I realised at least one of the reasons why Amy had recommended it and why it resonated so well with me. Perhaps this is more a reflection of that fact I was reading it on an adventure far from home, but the book enhanced my inner gypsy - the repressed desire to cut off from the safe path that I've planned (and worked towards so diligently and responsibly) get in a van and circle our country or uproot to a foreign land. But there is something inherent in me that keeps me here - perhaps it is the ingrained responsibility of being one of the "big kids" in my family, or it could be that my life and career plans are not as flexible as I tell myself, but more likely it is my love of home and being surrounded by the people and things I love. Whatever the reason, I feel I am where I'm supposed to be.

Of course, I adored reading about the nuances of creating home comforts far from home (or close to it) but the big things I took from this book were about accepting yourself, embracing your creativity and learning to follow your heart. A wonderful read and a visual treat.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lucky me

Life works in mysterious ways, does it not? Just when I'm feeling very unlucky with the amount of work I have on at the moment, things turn around and I am reminded of all the lovely things that I can be grateful for.  There are times when I don't make enough time for the things that make me happy and winning the gorgeous watercolour above on Samantha's Black Velvet Chair blog served as a timely reminder that I need to get back to devoting more time to blogging (among other things). There are so many creative, like-minded and supportive people in the blog community and Samantha's generous giveaway made me realise I have missed being active in this space - my indulgent creative outlet. 

Not to mention that pretty things are just good for the soul! This pink floral watercolour is called 'Bouquet in Flow Blue' and is from Driftwood Interiors. I've admired this piece and others by Brisbane artist Kerri Shipp for some time - I can't wait to find a place for her work in my home. Thank you so much Samantha for this lovely prize and for the many memorable reads on your blog. Even looking at it online makes my heart break into song and you can't ask for more than that.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sartorial Sunday: colourful holiday blocks

Its been awhile. Longer than my self-imposed twice weekly blog schedule. I've been on week's holiday to delightful Broome in the far north of beautiful Western Australia. On my journey I took a suitcase full of clothes, jewellery, cosmetics, books and our laptop computer, and despite this weighty load, I tried to leave behind expectations and plans for the time away. Of course, this is not easy and I unintentionally took with me an expectation that I would write up numerous projects and reviews for the blog. Fate intervened.

This was a break I needed and was craving after a hectic, stressful month and a busy year (hasn't it just flown?). At the airport before our departure, I was still cramming in last-minute work emails and was hoping to work on a few unfinished tasks while away. Frustratingly but fortuitously, the service on my Optus iPhone was non-existent in our accommodation at Cable Beach. So no emails on my phone nor the ability to use my phone as a personal hotspot for my laptop.

A week of virtual web-free bliss ensued! I did use the Mister's iPhone to connect briefly several times (he has remained with Telstra despite their premium pricing, purely because their service has always been superior in our experience meandering off the roads most travelled) but there is something about not having your own set-up that makes it less attractive and I easily slipped into life with limited internet. The longer I lived without it, the more I wanted to navigate life without the constant ability to look up everything and anything instantaneously. It makes life simpler and forced me to live in the moment - just what holidays are all about.

Slipping on something fun and simple without getting out an iron, hairdryer or make-up also enhances a holiday if you ask me. In her column The Rules today (in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspaper supplements), Maggie Alderson wrote about the joy of frocking up and 'how good it feels to cast off the comfies and dress up every day'. I agree wholeheartedly, but the opposite is also true. It feels so good to cast off co-ordinated outfits and/or workwear and dress down every day on holidays, even if you only iron haphazardly, slap on a little make-up and quickly dry your hair most mornings like I do. Holidays are for taking breaks from your everyday - from your work to your grooming.
Tomorrow it's back to work for me and that entails make-up, office wear, time on the computer and with my pal, the internet. With all the colour blocking in vogue today, it might be easier to bring a sense of holiday fun into my outfits even when I am office-bound. My love for red, blue, yellow and coral items continues, with recent cheap and cheerful additions (pictured below) promising a good start to the coming summer and festive season. Bring it on!

Country Road Ikat T-shirt
Cotton On Tegan Oversize Tee in Milk/Cobalt stripe
Just Jeans Stretch Chino in red
Country Road Crop Jean in ultramarine
Yellow belt similar to mine from Sussan (couldn't find on website)



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