Thursday, 21 November 2013

Lost in Translation

                                                                                                                                                               // image: //

I find myself sitting in a in a busy room, full to the brim of fast talking friendly faces. Everyone speaks at once in varying tones and volumes, about various topics, overlapping each other in a disarray of sound and facial expressions. Some people use their hands for emphasis. There is laughter, lots of laughter. The dynamic of the group a tangled feast of words, jumping from one conversation to the next at unwarned intervals, when interest peaks. I follow the smiles, a wink of encouragement, a squeeze of my hand for comfort. Of course, it is a little tricky to follow, the speed, the volume, the mass of voices. Try this in a foreign language.

They say learning a new language over the age of 25 is considerably tricky, I'd like to use the more specific description of ridonkulously challenging! Of course, I should be grateful really, it isn't Polish or Finish, one of the near impossible languages to learn, but it's certainly hard enough. I am determined though, and I have a great reason to want to get this right. Opportunity. Most people in England don't get such a chance to study foreign ways of life, after school. We settle in the comfortable fact that so many places speak English, and learn just enough of the please and thank yous to get by on our holidays. And although at times I complain that its too much, I become overwhelmed with the sheer enormity of the situation and get annoyed with myself that I'm not fluent yet; it's all about perspective. 

I look at my life now, it is so far from what I would have imagined for myself, a total curve ball, so many opportunities I didn't even suspect would appear. But then thinking about it, I'm not entirely sure what I had in mind. I have a tendency to float along with the breeze, and panic as soon as the climate changes, I forget to pack my brolly and get drenched along the way, but can darn well appreciate a rainbow or a sunset. This is where my partner in crime comes in handy. He anchors me to something stable. Sure, I have a vivid imagination and can get lost up in my head at times but he gives me something to hold onto, something real and honest and strong. I'm sure I bend his mind sometimes too, who is this emotional freak? Haha! But life isn't black and white, and I sure as heck am giving him a crash course in reading between the lines.

I am a bit of a head in the clouds, nose buried in a book kind of gal. I have always enjoyed learning, a curiosity for knowledge, giving me the childhood nickname 'input'. This actually comes in handy right now! And although I love reading of exciting tales and explorations across the sea, I truly never saw myself as adventurous! And now look. My little world collides with that of a Dutch medical student. Boy, we have many differences. I like to think I am the sweet to his mean (hihi). Him, the straight talking, no bull shit, scientific minded and stubborn as hell with opinions at the ready, clever clogs doctor. Me? I studied textiles and art and costume design! I worked in theatre and ballet and play with fabric and buttons for a living. I read horoscopes, wear sparkly nail varnish, collect fairy tales and like to draw. Yeah we are pretty different! But I feel we balance each other out at times. Perhaps a spoonful of what we need.

One thing's for certain, I didn't see it coming. Before you know it, you've thrown the dice and life as you know it is gone, and there is no turning back. I wonder, every now and then, how it would have been, if we had looked at the distance, at the differences, and decided it was an effort too much... At times, we butt heads, push each other towards thinking about the 'what if', that never was, but we are like magnets drawn together. So, down the rabbit hole I tumble, phrasebook under one arm, and a tight grip on Richard's hand. I'm gonna kick this languages butt!

                                                                                                            // image: //

Friday, 15 November 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

That's right, I can resist no longer... It's a Christmas related post!

                                                                                                                                                 // Aralia GroenRijk, Hellevoetsluis //

Although the trees are doing their very best, holding onto those last precious sprinkling of leaves, there's a chill in the air and a touch of glitter in the stores that tells us Santa's visit is on the nearing horizon! You know it's creeping into winter when you wake to beautiful blue stretched out across the sky, but the ground sparkles with frost. And really, in my book, there's no such thing as preparing too early for the oncoming holiday!

My gathering of inspiration began several weeks ago, in Holland, with a trip to a very festive outlet, which set in motion the rolling wheel of a production line that Mr Claus's elves would be envious of. 

                                                                                                                                                 // Aralia GroenRijk, Hellevoetsluis //

                                                                                                                                                  // Aralia GroenRijk, Hellevoetsluis //

                                                                                                                                                  // Aralia GroenRijk, Hellevoetsluis //

                                                                          Ornate Christmas village display                // Aralia GroenRijk, Hellevoetsluis //

                                                                          Ornate Christmas village display                // Aralia GroenRijk, Hellevoetsluis //

                                                                          Ornate Christmas village display                // Aralia GroenRijk, Hellevoetsluis //

I walked around this display, of the tiny Christmas village, several times and each time I noticed something different, such detailed features, I was mesmerised!! Really beautifully crafted little houses and shops, children making snow angels, buying Christmas trees. Not only was it lit up, but many of the pieces moved, including a running stream, the awesome cable cars and the windmill! 

                             Ma and Pa van Balen shopping for snow, mamma and pappa bear   // Aralia GroenRijk, Hellevoetsluis //

I love this time of year, and although this year I am on a bigger budget than ever, rather than let that spoil the fun, it forces me to get even more creative with thinking up original and personal ideas for the gifts to give my loved ones. Christmas really shouldn't be about spending lots of money and how many wrapped items sit under your tree- a lot of people in England really forget what this time of year should be about. The endless adverts luring you to spend spend spend. How about SPENDing some time with your oldies? Playing board games and eating together, Taking the little ones for rosy cheeked walks wrapped up like snowmen and snuggling up together watching movies with hot chocolate.

Making a Christmas wreath

My days have been, (and will be up till the 24th no doubt!) spent creating handmade goodies, and although I don't want to give too much away on here, I've been very busy!!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

"I think I understand, Fear is like a wilder land, Stepping stones or sinking sand"

                                                                                                                                                                                 // image: //

This little post is a tribute to the great Joni Mitchell who celebrated her 70th birthday last week, and remains one of those special contributors to the soundtrack of my own life. Having found Joni during my first real explorations of music, as a teenager, something about her tragic tales, heart breaking blues, twisting melodies and the gritty honest songwriting appealed to my poetic vulnerability.

Starting out on her journey as a musician, Joni Mitchell began busking on the streets of Toronto, writing songs that tell of life, a travelled road, experiences and memories- her music was soon covered by many folk singers, eventually leading to her own record deal in the late 60s.

Joni's lyrics are often seen as poetry, drawn from watching the world around her, unapologetic and unafraid, she tells her story and sings her vision. The singular piano or guitar, used in many of her tracks, accompanies and compliments yet has its own voice, resonating against the spoken word, emphasising the sense of the piece.

"The Dawntreader"

Peridots and periwinkle blue medallions
Gilded galleons spilled across the ocean floor
Treasure somewhere in the sea and he will find where
Never mind their questions there's no answer for
The roll of the harbor wake
The songs that the rigging makes
The taste of the spray he takes
And he learns to give
He aches and he learns to live
He stakes all his silver
On a promise to be free
Mermaids live in colonies
All his seadreams come to me

City satins left at home I will not need them
I believe him when he tells of loving me
Something truthful in the sea your lies will find you
Leave behind your streets he said and come to me
Come down from the neon nights
Come down from the tourist sights
Run down till the rain delights you
You do not hide
Sunlight will renew your pride
Skin white by skin golden
Like a promise to be free
Dolphins playing in the sea
All his seadreams come to me

Seabird I have seen you fly above the pilings
I am smiling at your circles in the air
I will come and sit by you while he lies sleeping
Fold your fleet wings I have brought some dreams to share
A dream that you love someone
A dream that the wars are done
A dream that you tell no one but the grey sea
They'll say that you're crazy
And a dream of a baby
Like a promise to be free
Children laughing out to sea
All his seadreams come to me

Musician, poet but firstly painter, Joni uses creative mediums in many form to express her thoughts, her art speaks for itself and has always been at the fore front of her creative output. Many of her record covers are her own art work, reflecting the nature of the album contents, and reaching deeper levels of connecting with the artist herself.

                                                                                                                                                                                        //image: //

                                                                                                                                                                                      // image: //

Joni Mitchell's music is as relevant now as it was in the 60s, capturing personal, social and political issues, thrusting them before you and peeling away the veil of blind acceptance and revealing truth and abrasive honesty.

Here are a few of my personal favourites, including some tribute covers of her work:

Two distinctively special tracks:

                                                                                                                                                                                      // image: //                                                         

Happy birthday Joni!

Friday, 8 November 2013


Evening fellow online escapists.

Today I was lucky enough to attend the Hobbycrafts & Art Materials Live and Crafts for Christmas exhibition at the nec in Birmingham. With dearest mum in tow we set out in search of inspiration and ideas, revelling in the plentiful offerings bequeathed to us by many a craft stall!

Row upon row of stalls, bursting at the seams with wools, fabrics, card making supplies, hand made Christmas decorations, gifts, soaps, and many wonderful works of art. Resting once for a hot, sweet coffee energiser (ouch burnt my tongue!) and onwards we went into the fray, sharpened elbows to make our way through the bustling crowd of biddies.

After soaking up the creative atmosphere and gathering the spirit of the hand made, I feel a thousand enriched thoughts and ideas swirling around my head, and can't wait to get started on a few projects.

Here are a few of the lovely treasures I purchased today, adding to the mountain of materials and supplies lying in wait for a creative kick up the butt, such as today;

 // Four 'fat quarters' of gorgeous fabric from the lovely Little Laura's Haberdashery //

// Beautiful pastel coloured swatches of soft felt also from Little Laura's Haberdashery // 

// I nabbed these snazzy and distinctive snips // 

// Ooops, not one but two packets of buttons // 

// When nature calls // 

// I picked up a copy of this new creative magazine, jammed full of wonderful ideas // 

Notable mentions of the day:

TOFT Luxury British Knitting
                                                                                               // //

Upon entering this haven of soft, heavenly woolly wonders, my mother and I were mesmerised. TOFT Luxury British Knitting offers hand made products created from the most delicate of yarns- sourced from their very own alpaca farm. This delightful company not only sell garments, interior pieces and toys, but also market kits containing the best alpaca wool, tools and pattern to make your very own knitted and crocheted hats, socks, hippos and more! They also run workshops, tours of the farm and hold events on their static location in Warwickshire. Please please take a look at their website- you won't be disappointed!

Ingrid Wagner
                                                                                                     // //

This lady's stall was the mother of all knitting displays. Ingrid Wagner is a textiles wizard, having developed her craft exploring techniques and materials, her glorious array of products were drool worthy. All made from re-loved fabrics, finding a new home in the form of beautiful rugs, bags and even Christmas stockings. But the show stopping factor to these wonderful creations, were the ginormous knitting needles she cleverly composed. The genius size of these pins allow for such speedy construction, that you can produce a work of art in one day! There were also giant crochet hooks, and fantastic balls of fabric, with which to stitch together. Her website explains the origin of this creative idea, and holds information on workshops and tutorials from the master herself, plus you can buy online and have a go yourself! 

If you fancy indulging in some arts and crafts exploration, and are looking for a little inspiration or some supplies to start, then the exhibition is at the Birmingham nec until Sunday. I'm looking forward to diving into my workbox and starting a new project soon!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Silver Spirit

Ladies and gentlemen, behold!! The beauty that is...

//Minnie for short//

My generous colleagues at my old job with the ballet, gave me some really lovely leaving gifts, including some pennies for a bicycle! My parents added a little extra and Richard and parents helped me choose (boy what a stress I created with that!! Ha!), therefore I am happy to introduce to you my beloved Minnie! Known on super adventures as 'Silver Spirit'.

I rode this badboy round town, on mini sewing supply runs, to the grocery store for biscuits and on some really amazing trips with Rich, around Hellevoet and to other nearby villages and towns. One trip however, almost crippled me, before we knew it we had cycled 44km / 27 miles!!!!! And boy could I feel it the next day! (My butt never forgave me).

I'd like to share a few images I captured on my travels, many more to follow!

I miss my dear little bicycle and am experiencing some heavy withdrawals from speeding around like lightning!! And I'm proud to report I didn't fall off OR cause any serious accidents, like previously predicted (thanks dad). 

Sunday, 3 November 2013


//The shed, home to my wheels//

Well, that was my three months in Holland. I can hardly believe how quickly the time passed, it really makes me want to squeeze the life out of every moment, for fear of blinking and losing it. But my what a time it was! I have learnt so much! About the area, about my Dutch family, about my relationship, more of the language, all sorts!! And since being home, I've been caught up in a whirlwind... To be honest I couldn't even tell you what the date is right now!

I have so many ideas for posts, so many things to share of my adventures, and of course, my crafty creations! But first, a few snaps of the last two weeks, to get us up to date.

For now, I have to say goodbye to Hellevoetsluis. I'm in England for a few months, but shortly back to gorge on cheese from the market and to drink vast amounts of coffee. So temporary fair wells were order of the day;

//Evening stroll watching the zonsondergang with R//

//Tucked my little baby away for the winter//

//R's last attempt at embarrassing me during a meal out with the family//

It was wonderful returning home to see my lovely family though, I got squeezed to within an inch of my life by my ma of course, and told many tales of my Dutch travels. Everyone had lots of questions and stories of their own, and the catch ups continue as I make plans to ambush my friends these next few weeks. But the most cuddles I received were from my buddy Charlie;

//He does, however, miss R's feet and is eagerly awaiting his visit December//

Upon returning home I discovered some lovely parcels waiting to be opened (eeee post!); inside one envelope lay the first four issues of Lionheart Magazine, which I can not put down. It is such a beautiful collection of illustrations, literature, interviews, photography and much more, really worth checking out if you are in search of inspiration. My first Sunday home I found myself reading these with a cup of coffee and the sun pouring through the windows.  The next package was a bloomin' prize! I only won the raffle giveaway over on my most favourite of blogs Tori's Tales! This blog is written by a gorgeous peach of a gal and will have you laughing along with her contagious sense of humour, lovely photography, informing insights into her life and is such a great place to discover new blogs. The prize contained the most wonderful of goodies, covering all bases- some pampering products (ahhh heavenly smelling), literature and a movie, sparkletastic Crown and Glory slides and some stationary bits! And a rather festive treasure too;

//Happy bunny with my new reads//

//How jammy am I?!!//

//Getting festive!//

After being away for a while, most of my week back has been spent nesting back into my living space, big clear outs and organising'a mondo- which meant treating myself to a couple of clever ways to hide my sewing junk;

//Thank you TKMaxx//

Aaaand to round the week off I tried out a scrumptious recipe from a fantastic food blog mbakes. The browned butter cookie recipe was just the thing to munch on, accompanied by a cold glass of milk, whilst making some Christmas gifts! 

//A naughty treat//

All in all, a relatively busy few weeks! Add in some skype dates, some Dutch homework (including Donald Duck and his sailboat) and lots of creating, and we fly through the days, hurtling towards Christmas! I'm incredibly sorry for the poor quality of my photographs, I am relying on my darn phone at the moment, but will be investing in a lovely new camera shortly!