Saturday, 18 April 2015

Loved Before Book Haul

Hello dearest Earth dwellers! I bring to you today note of my latest treasure hunt findings, this time round in the form of two beautifully well loved books! Feeling the weight of a sturdy hard back book, it's gently curled and torn front cover, the endearingly faded ink and musty scented pages, this here my friends, is indeed buried treasure!

Whilst on a trip visiting home, family, friends and all the Cadbury's I can store in my delightfully round face, my folks and I took a few day trips here and there, making the most of my being in England. One of our road trips led us to a local gem, Lichfield, although some what tiny for such classification, but a city no doubt, (cathedral and all).

Just a stones throw from my parents house, we headed over to the cobbled streets and trinket full shops of this historically rich place. The relevance of Lichfield, historically speaking is intriguing and much can be researched of it's past, including the bustling development of this thriving coaching city during the 18th century, housing some of the greatest minds of their time, like Erasmus Darwin, Anna Seward and also the writer of the first authoritative Dictionary of the English Language; Samuel Johnson. The home of Samuel Johnson stands in the heart of Lichfield and exists today as a museum exhibiting original artifacts from his life and of course, a second hand book shop! Which is where I picked up this little beauty.

This magnificent book is written by Margaret Sanders and titled Intimate Letters of England's Queens shares with us a collection of endearing correspondence from some of England's most notably discrete royals, allowing us a brief insight into captured moments and personal thoughts of these fascinating women. This copy was published by London Museum Press Limited in 1957 and is a first edition, but I found on Book Depository (link above), that it was re released last year! Great news!

Beginning with Catherine of Aragon and ending with Queen Victoria, Sanders has chosen letters for their romantic or human appeal, rather than historical significance, showing the diverse personalities and nature of each reigning Queen, but has also given the reader some fitting background knowledge illuminating this panorama of three hundred years of English history.

I have yet to read this, so I can't really give you a solid review or my own thoughts on the book, but I can however share with you the passage on the back cover, which is enough to make me cancel all plans for the weekend and fall into this wildly romantic notion of peering behind the velvet curtain;

Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne
The Comtesse de Boigne was born in 1781; she died in 1866, having lived through three revolutions and a war that lasted 25 years.
Bought up in the shadow of Versailles, Adèle d' Osmond was the spoilt plaything of Louis XV1 and Marie Antoinette, while in the later years, as Comtesse de Boigne, she moved in the most distinguished circles of the Empire and the Restoration and was intimate with the remarkable men and women who helped to shape the destinies of her country. Writing with wit and a sound judgement of character, she brings to life such illustrious contemporaries as Napoleon, Louis XVIII and Charles X; the prince Regent of England and his daughter, Charlotte; Talleyrand, Metternich and Castlereagh; Chateaubriand and Madame de Staël. 
This book is a fascinating commentary on an age when splendour and tragedy were so closely linked.

On a separate day out with ma and pa, on our way to Worcester for the afternoon, we stopped in one of the local villages at a tiny church fair, with the most curious selection of second hand books on offer. I scored a copy of The Help by Kathryn Stockettwhich I am currently devouring. Despite loving the movie and now too the novel, it unfortunately happens to be a movie tie in paper back version, so not exactly worth photographing for you. One wonderful book I found that I do want to share with you is this extraordinary and subjective look at the mind behind Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll The Raven and the Writing Desk by Francis Huxley.

This copy happens to be published by Thames and Hudson, London, in 1976. Here is a little something from the introduction to this book, maybe it captures your interest or at least helps explains what drove me to wrestle an OAP to the ground in order to buy it;

Anyone who has enjoyed the adventures of Alice will enjoy and be thoroughly intrigued by this brilliant book. So will those with interests in language, psychology and structuralism, who will appreciate the help that a study of Nonsense can give them. And all those who are attracted by puzzles, games and enigmas will want to know not just how, but in how many ways, the riddle can be solved.

So there you have it, two rather unusual finds but super fascinating subjects with beautifully eye catching covers, tenderly looked after by their previous owners. I look forward to learning more as I read these books, but for now I will be happy to have adopted them into my care.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Spring Fever // Sewing Wish List

As the fluffy clouds gradually sweep across a brightening sky, becoming bluer and bluer with each passing week, I feel more than ready to dust off my trusty sewing machine and whip up a storm. And by storm I mean get back into sewing for myself and attempting a few fresh and spring like pieces!

The styles that have really caught my attention lately seem both seasonally appropriate, figure flattering and have a simple silhouette that can be created in a super wide variety of fabrics. Woop!

First up on my Spring sewing wish list is a gentle shirt / blouse with short, capped or sloping sleeves, something light and breezy, not too fitted. Perhaps one button up and one loose over head style. Collar or none, I simply can not yet decide, maybe I will see where the fabric takes me (nice way of saying I'll wing it!). Here are some stunning examples of the type of beauty that I'm jabbering on about:

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The second item whizzing round my busy mind is a dress. Again, short, bracelet or cap sleeve (is this a longing for warm weather?), fitted top but not tight tight with a slight kick to the skirt. Not long but not short is my usual go to with dress length. Nothing too fussy, nice and easy form constructed from possibly a cotton denim fabric, something light but with a bit of hold. Here are my visual prompts showing a variation on said silhouette:

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Lots of gorgeous shape and design inspiration, next thing to do is narrow down ideas and source a fabric. First things first however, is to finish the pair of knitted socks I am in the middle of (birthday present for my boyfriend), before I begin any new projects!! Are any of you guys guilty of unfinished business? I'm awful for having too many ideas at once and letting that stop me from completing things. Naughty.

Here's to some sunshine! We can hope, can't we?? : )

Saturday, 14 March 2015

End of Winter Book Reviews

After setting myself a few reading goals at the beginning of this year I have been steaming ahead into my 'to read' pile and found myself super pleased with most of the books read.

Having, or more specifically making that precious time, in a jam packed day, to really sit back and enjoy a book, was my first and foremost literary goal, and already flying through the third month, setting sail for Spring, I find myself actually dedicating parts of my day for this purpose. Gone are the excuses and distractions that used to keep me from indulging in reading. Having that ridiculous pressure of 'what should I be doing/ what am I missing out on' etc was blocking my way, and by pushing those negative and dragging thoughts away I have fallen in love with reading once more.

These are the books I have read and enjoyed over this fading Winter:

A Feast For Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4) by George R. R. Martin - 5 stars
I don't have a review of such for this novel for several reasons. One reason being that it is such a beast of a book that I wouldn't know where to begin, another would be for fear of spoiling an essential plot twist for fellow Game of Thrones followers, but also because I doubt my ability to do the story justice. I will say though, that although it was a little slower getting started than the previous three, I really enjoyed it and towards the second half of the book found myself unable to put it down. If you're already a fan of the series, of course you will pick it up! Enough said.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman - 3 stars
"Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria Forester, even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village it's name. Beyond that stone barrier, Tristran learns, lies Faerie... and the most exhilarating adventure of the young man's life."

I hate to say this, but I really couldn't enjoy this book, despite it ticking all kinds of boxes. The story was adventureful, the characters were odd and wonderful and the worlds were interesting and had my curiosity tightly gripped... But... I just couldn't get on with how it was written. I feel I may have missed something. I really didn't enjoy the tone or the style and couldn't therefore appreciate the novel, as I had hoped.
I think this book, with it's witches and unicorns and wonderfully fairytale happenings, will capture the imagination and hearts of many people yet to read it, but sadly I speed read my way to the end, feeling a light relief as I closed the book.

Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O' Porter - 4 stars
Set in the 90's, Renee and Flo are an unlikely friendship paring but find kinship together throughout this nostalgic read. Following their teenage dramatics this book shows a peek into the lives of two small town adolescents and the entanglement of friendship.

What a sweet and funny book. It is what it is, no frills attached and certainly doesn't claim to be poetry, but for a nostalgic and often hilariously cringe worthy glimpse back at life as a teenager, this little novel was marvellous. It's the honest insight, the unforgivably brutal happenings and the awkwardly familiar emotions that really make this book. I recommend this to anyone looking for a blast from the past, to squirm in their seat and to laugh at and with the characters and themselves whilst remembering days gone by!

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent - 4 stars
"A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story of the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829."

Soft, enchanting, gentle paced story full of intrigue and emotion. Emotion made stronger by the moment you realise this tale is based on true events. Cleverly led and delicately delivered, I was captured by this touching story and felt submerged into it's world. One for solitary souls seeking a glimpse of a foreign time and place.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - 3 stars
"Young, handsome and fabulously rich, Jay Gatsby is the bright star of the Jazz Age, but as writer Nick Carraway is drawn into the decadent orbit of his Long Island mansion, where the party never seems to end, he finds himself faced by the mystery of Gatsby's origins and desires. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life, Gatsby is hiding a secret; a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon, this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel."

Ahh Mr. Gatsby. A finely spun tale of decadence and consumption in a time so fittingly equal. An honest review; I didn't fall in love with this book. I think the story line is wonderful and clever and full of awfully honest romance. But the telling, (sorry Fitzgerald), just didn't jam right for me. It was however, a perfect insight into the times of excess and showed a distinct window into the 1920's. The characters are also fantastic and believable, flaws and all. Over all this book gave great story and captured the essence of the decade but for me personally I fought my way through the writing style.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - 4 stars
"A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after a prolific event, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms and threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild." (I was purposefully vague whilst selecting this summary... Go into this one with little insight as possible!)

What a truly fascinating idea! I loved the entwining elements that run throughout the story, the pacing all the way along, the focus on various characters and their individual stories merging into a whole. I really loved the thoughts this book provokes; the reflection upon ones own existence, priorities and importance when looking from a greater height.
As the story moves back and forth between what are in the end two worlds, the parallels made between this and the comic book, also between the world on stage and real life, was really quite something.
I did start out with a 3 star rating opinion, but as the story developed and unfolded I found myself sucking into it, as each character drew closer to some revelation I was also handing onto the end of each chapter.
One thing I couldn't personally groove with; within a paragraph made up of several sentences I could all too easily notice the repetition of stand out words or phrases. Such a minute thing to point out but now and then I found it noticeable enough to distract slightly.
Other than that I really enjoyed this book. An original telling of a classic 'what if' scenario.

I am very much looking forward to choosing and turning to the first page of my next book, and hopefully continuing to allow space in my day to really consume the story. What have you guys been reading lately and do you have any suggestions or recommendations for me, based on my reviews?

Friday, 6 March 2015

Play Bill // Alternative Design Movie Posters

There are some seriously talented people out there in this creative curioso of a world we live in and a handful of those people have caught my beady eyed attention through the form of stunning art work for some of my favourite films ever! The magic of the movies is captured with such vivacious design and imagery in these alternative offerings of classic pin ups.

These crafty designers and illustrators have whipped up such genius posters, some seriously minimalist, some beautifully sketched, all totally awesome. I enjoy the visual aspect and movie references so much that I have created an ever growing pinterest board dedicated to them! If you share my love of these witty play bills then feel free to head over to my board, as I struggled in short listing a handful for this post, you can feast your eyes on the rest over there!

Some of these beauties are even up for sale, so follow the link down the rabbit hole to it's origin and go wild snapping up a print or two!

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At least as grown ups we can celebrate our love of art and entertainment with these beauties framed and pride of place to spruce up a stuffy office, rather than those pull outs from Top of The Pops and Sugar magazine... And the mess that blue tac leaves on the walls!! (Anyone else have nostalgic memories of that??!)

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Pencil Me In // Etsy Buy

Dearest friends of the internet, please let me introduce you to my new scrummy treasures, purchased from a wonderfully sleek and quirky Etsy store DubuDumo **big dreamy sigh**

When surfing the tumultuous waves of online delights, it can be super tricky to choose that special piece of desk wear that will organise your chaos, keep you up to date and hold your hand, leading you through a new year, with ease and style!

There are so many gorgeous designs, beautifully sumptuous papers and all manner of notation devices that when you see one (or the two, in my case!), that really jump out at you, then you just know it's meant to be! Hey, I take my stationary seriously...

This leather covered academic monthly/ weekly planner (or journal as I will be making FAST use of this beauty), and it's cute partner in crime, the standing weekly scheduler found their way into my greedy little hands through the Aladdin's cave that is Etsy, specifically DubuDumo. Seoul based but shipping worldwide, DubuDumo sell all kinds of organisational wonders and stationary delights, from sticky note macaroons to animal shaped wooden business card holders, so good I had to buy two pieces!

Both of these planners were exactly as described online and if I dare say, even better in the flesh. The soft buttery fabric used for the blush pink diary is beyond gorgeous and the quality paper used for each of them is such great quality. The desk planner sits perfectly sound and displays two pages, ready for your weekly notes, reminders and important dates, not forgetting space for your all important to do list! The smaller slim diary has the perfect combination of a year review spread over two pages, monthly sheets and of course the ever useful daily slots. There are also a great amount of empty pages that always house the odd phone number, blog post idea and doodle procrastination!

A gentle push to get my shiz together, to keep on track of up coming events and to remind myself to record more of my thoughts and ideas but also daily happenings. Now, where do I buy a purdy pencil with which to write upon my shiny new pages...

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

To Do

Get back in the saddle and reacquaint myself with my sewing machine, set new challenges and projects.

Keep chugging through my Dutch book, set a study timetable, search for fresher study material, watch more Dutch tv.

Write some blog posts in bulk and start scheduling posts, get organised, become more frequent (without setting dates), make time for photography.

Prepare and pack for my trip to England!

Build up some productive playlists on spotify //blogging, studying, travel, crafting//.

Purchase a new hard drive and back up!

Plan places to visit around SW Germany for our holiday in March.

Squeeze every day out of my birthday month, begin with planning all the baking!

Organise and file photographs, clean up and edit, label etc.

Frequently journal and document (my memory sucks), daily tasks and recorded thoughts, ideas etc.

Move more. Source motivation and quit the sofa. Make use of my yoga mat daily!

Write a clear plan for my shop, begin with prototypes, organisation, paper work, build up pattern network.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Lipstick On Your Collar

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You know that expression 'it's all in the details'? Well after diving into a fashion packed inspiration sea of fine detailing and clever little touches, all I want to do is update my wardrobe with these beautiful collar led looks!

Something so simple can really update an outfit, allows you to express creativity and personality and sets you apart from a crowd of crew necks. This look is so easily achieved, even when layering up to survive this chilly weather, in fact, these sweet collars look especially cute when peeking out from under a jumper!

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Printed blouse, scalloped edge or fastened with a vintage pin; there are so many ways to work this style and each one gives a special twist to an otherwise regular get up. If retro is your thing, pair your pretty blouse with a fitted knit and second hand brooch, or perhaps you prefer a more masculine fashion, working the sharp edge of a classic white shirt worn with a beautiful pair of brogues, or go for cutie pie with a peter pan curve under a checked pinafore.

Scattered across the wonderful world of internet, there are many fab tutorials for re shaping an existing collar into a fun new shape and also DIY videos for knitted and crochet pieces, such as this beaut of a post by Erin from The Halfway Point blog.

What are your thoughts on the peek a boo blouse? Are you a fan of fine detailing an outfit? Do you have any other great tips on how to achieve something similar?