Monday, February 28, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

Tea and Books II
Some of my not-so-guilty pleasures :)
One of the main reasons I’ve been neglecting blogging so much recently is, put simply, guilt. It might sound mad but I feel guilty because I love it so much; I love writing posts about pointless things, I love wandering the web hunting for arty treasure to share, and I love catching up with all my blogging buddies. Lately, though, every time I sit down to do any of the above I’m overcome with self-reproach and an overwhelming sense that I should be doing something more ‘constructive’.

For fear of sounding melodramatic, I’ve been feeling rather panicky of late regarding my ‘direction’ and all that carry on. I’m fully aware that we’ve been going though the worst recession for generations, and I am accepting of the fact that I’ve had health issues hampering my quest, but I just can’t help shake this gloomy frustration at my faltering career. ‘Career’? I hate people who whine about their ‘career’! And I do  feel terrible even complaining about it because I realise I have it so much better than BILLIONS of other people and I have no right to moan whatsoever. I’m only mentioning it because this frustration is at the root of my guilt - I feel I always could be applying for another job instead spending time blogging.

Anyhow!  I came to a realisation this evening while taking a break from yet another siege of applications. I’d gone down for a cup of tea and decided to watch some TV to relax. I love films but except from a select few shows I don’t usually watch much telly. I usually read, write or play around with my photos to unwind but, with my head a bit fried from all the ‘hire me I’m great’ begging letters to newspapers and press offices and the like, tonight I felt I needed something a little more mindless. And so I found myself watching Eastenders, the most depressing of all the British soaps (which are all pretty darn depressing to be honest). That’s when it occurred to me that blogging is ‘constructive’!

It’s constructive in that it makes me happy, as opposed to sad, doomed and depressed which is the usual outcome of a visit to those cheery folks on Albert Square. I had been thinking that blogging had become one giant exercise in procrastination for me, but why should I see it that way and then think nothing of consigning 30 minutes of my life to soapy oblivion? I could easily had a blog post up in that time and I would’ve felt so much better for it! Why should I feel guilty about something just because I enjoy it?  From here on I’m turning over a new blogging leaf, folks. This post aside, there’ll be no more moaning and nearly week-long absences. I’m going to strive to find you all the most frivolous fanciful things I can and I’m not going to feel one iota of shame at doing so. See you all again soon!

Oh, and because I hate posts without imagery, here are some more of my not quite relevant photos. Just a few of my favourite things: tea, books and taking pictures :) 

Tea and Books I
I Love Old Books
Book Tower II

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Wizard of Oz

Australia isn’t a country that’s ever been on my must-visit list. I’m not fully sure why, I’ve plenty of friends and even some family down there and I know it’s supposedly spectacular in parts. I’ve just never felt ‘drawn’ to it the way I am to other far away lands.  I think it’s them pesky arachnids that put me off. No, I know it’s the bugs. And the sun. I’m not a sunny person.

All that said, the 24-hour flight, spiders and heatstroke would definitely be worth it just to visit the whimsical world of Bruno Torfs. It is a place of magic, beauty and hope; not just because of the awe-inspiring creations which live there, but also because of the equally inspirational story behind this fantasy garden, nestled deep in the rainforest. A story which is still being written.

I first became aware of Mr Torfs’ magical sculptures last year when they were in the news after being totally destroyed by the 2009 bush fires. Yup, that wonderful wizard above is no more, charred away to cinders by the vengeful wrath of nature, along with almost the entirety of Torfs’ life’s work. It just doesn’t seem right that this special and wondrous place could fall victim to such devastation. But I suppose it would be more than a little naive to hope She would make an exception for art while human beings were dying.  Still, I can only imagine how heartbreaking it must have been for all involved. Here are a few more examples of the beauty that was lost:
Like in all good fantasy tales, however, out of the ashes of doom and despair our hero brings light. For, you see, Torfs’ “passion to share his love of art and the story of life with the world has not been damaged by the fires, in fact you could almost say it has been forged anew by the flames that nearly took it all away”. (Read his own words here.)

Yes folks, last month, less than a year after it was scorched to the ground, Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden reopened. Risen like a phoenix from the flames, if that’s not too cliched a way to put it.  He now has more than 100 new sculptures to share with visitors and you can be sure there’ll be many more to come. Here are few of the recently created wonders:

Anyway, I hope you all found the story of Bruno’s forest haven to be as uplifting as I did. I think if we all had even a fraction of the determination, resilience and vision of this man the world wouldn’t as depressing a place as it can seem these days. Oh, and sorry about the cheesy post title - I just couldn’t resist!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Another Quick One

Alice Daisies

This post has absolutely no point or purpose other than to appease my own guilt at not having called in since my last post, which was equally short but included a vow to return with a more substantial one the next day. So this evening I’m not going to promise an imaginary post that may never materialise, though the chances are very high that I will be back tomorrow with something a wee bit more interesting than my own inane babbling.

I realise I’m not under any obligation to blog everyday or anything, but I can’t help feeling like a slacker when I don’t. And I hate making promises and not keeping them! I did have an unexpectedly busier than usual week, though, and then we had visitors staying all weekend, and now it’s Monday again it seems like I didn’t actually get anything done for all my flustering about last week and I’ve got even more nonsense to sort out than I did before. Argh! The needs of the bureaucracy are expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy and all that carry on.

On another note, it looks like spring is finally here! Which, of course, means that every speck of dust in the house is jumping out at me screaming to get put on top of my to-do list. Will it ever end? Ah, I suppose I could have worse things to worry about than a dirty house. At least I have a house to live in! Though if I don’t get back to these forms that might not last for long… Nah, I jest. Still, I really should get back to it. Hope you’re all well folks and have a lovely evening!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Quick Note

Hi folks! Just stopping in briefly this evening to point you in the direction of my guest fairy post over at The Whimsical Cottage. I’m a wee bit slow off the mark with this one since it’s actually been up there since yesterday. It was my birthday, though, and I was otherwise occupied :) I must admit I’m feeling a little fragile this evening, with that inexplicable imposing sense of doom that only ever follows a few too many glasses of red wine. Twas worth it though! I’ll be back tomorrow when I’ve recovered but for now I’m off to find a blanket to crawl under…

Monday, February 14, 2011

Some Scandinavian Daydreams (…and an awkward aside.)

I went to Norway last week. I got there on a little fishing boat I borrowed from the pier one morning. I sailed up out of our lough, rounded the Scottish isles, and by the evening I was watching the sun set behind me from the edge of a fjord.   
That night I slept with the stars as my blanket and the moon my pillow.
The next day I went into the forest. There I met an elven lady who, with her sweet dog Mira, took me on a tour of its moss and mists. We ate apples and mushrooms and got pine needles stuck in our shoes…

 Ok, so sadly I didn’t really steal a boat and take off to Norway last week and most of the above story isn’t actually true. The part of about the elf and her dog is, though, and I certainly feel like I’ve been off exploring the wild woods of the north. I just didn’t have to leave the house to do it.

Nope, all I did was log into Flickr and happen to stumble upon the most beautiful fairytale of a photostream I’ve yet had the pleasure of viewing. At first I was speechless (which anyone who knows me will tell you is a rare occasion indeed) and I’m still finding it hard to put into words exactly what it is I love so much about these verdant glimpses of Nordic idyll brought to us by a girl named }~T~{. Which may partially explain the silly little whimsy above.

Anyway, here are a few more of her photographs, just a brief selection of the many, many fantastic images she has in her Flickr stream. (Well worth a wander!) The lovely lady also has a great blog if you fancy calling round for some forest tea.

Oh, and one other sort-of-related thing I just want to add (something of a wee mini-rant I’m sneaking in at the bottom here). I mentioned several of posts back that I have one main problem with Tumblr and how some people don’t use it fairly. I’m not prepared to comment on the reasons why I think they do it, but one thing I’ve seen happening a lot is bloggers posting others' photos without any links or acknowledgements. Besides the obvious copyright infringement and what not, it’s really frustrating on a less illegal level.

Take T’s beautiful work, for example. When I did finally discover her stream I realised that I had been a fan of her work for some time and hadn’t even known. You see, when a photo is properly uploaded from it’s source onto Tumblr you should be able to click right through it back to its owner’s page. Unfortunately a lot of the time the only place your click gets you is back to the person’s blog who uploaded it. And that’s what happened here; I remember coming across one of her photos months ago but when I tried to find out more about who it came from I simply couldn’t. Very annoying! 

Anyhow, I don’t know why I moaning to you guys since most of you aren’t on Tumblr. Rest assured I’ve already ranted plenty over there too, it even lost me a few followers. They can be a more fickle bunch at times, them Tumblrs! Though most are very lovely :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Little Fairy Music

Fairy Fiddler

In response to all your requests following my post last week I’ve a couple of pictures of The Dress for you tonight. Before that though I just wanted to share my first proper attempt at digital collage. I was going to call this ‘Ceol na Sidhe’ when I uploaded it to Flickr, but considering most of my contacts on there are neither Irish nor fans of the fae I decided it might be a bit too obscure. If they were all like you folks then it wouldn’t have been a problem :)

I was actually going to save this post for my turn at fairy blogging over at The Whimsical Cottage on Tuesday, but I’m not really that pleased with how the picture turned out. Plus, I was planning on including links to some nice fairy-fit Irish folk music but couldn’t find any good stuff on YouTube or the like. The search made me realise the only way anyone should ever be allowed to listen to Trad music is in a packed pub with a few jars in them. Listening to it sober just reminded me of the boring ceilis I used to go to when I was wee. So instead I’m going to direct you to this lovely little written piece by Lady Wilde on the magical beauty of  the ceol-sidhe.  Hope you like it!

Right, so back to the dress. It’s living over in my mum’s house for now; it’ll probably be a while until it’s worn so it’s better not having it lying around here for Himself to try on when nobody’s home (hey, it’s unlikely but you never do know!).  I only managed to get a brief moment to grab a couple of snaps of it today and the ones I got are a tad dark and blurry. Just take my word for it that it's much more pretty in real life. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long to get to wear it!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Czech Wonders

“Asoka was an enlightened Indian king. Something like Rudolf II in Prague, and yet not quite like that. Because, of course, India is a land distant, and utterly strange…”
The words of a young Czech man named Benjamin Schmidt and, I have to say, the most wonderful introduction to a design company's website I’ve yet to come across! Mr Schmidt happens to be an old friend of mine, so I suppose this could be counted as one of those ‘shameless plug’ posts. Though when he sent me a link to his webpage a few days ago my first thought was of you guys.

The site is primarily an outlet for his design services, and if any of you are in the market for a professional page builder then by all means give him a shout. It was, however, his art gallery that caught my eye and which I thought you folks might enjoy also. You know, I always knew he was a creative soul but I was quite taken aback, and most certainly impressed, by the rather twisted feel to most of his work. Delightfully dark indeed!

Anyway, I just thought it would be selfish not to share him with you. Call over to his place for a proper nosy of his pictures and to find out more about the lovely fella. Feel free to say hello when you’re there!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Italian Whimsy

Ever have one of those days when you really want to be anywhere except where you are right now? Well that’s me this evening, metaphorically at least. In the literal sense there’s somewhere quite specific I’d like to be - Italy. In Livio de Marchi’s Venetian studio to be exact.

Don’t get me wrong, anywhere in Italy would do. I’m bloody well in love with that country; its art, its history, its landscape. It’s also where we got engaged and where we intend to wed. I think it’s a combination of buying my dress last Saturday and the fact I’m going to miss the marriage of a dear friend there shortly (for various annoying reasons!) that’s instilled this longing in me. And as for the wonderful Mr de Marchi and his whimsical wooden creations, well they’ve been on my Italian must-see list since I first started keeping one.

Since he’s actually world renowned I’m sure a very many of you will already be well aware of his work, but just in case any of you aren’t I thought maybe you’d like to be. Either way, I just felt like posting these images tonight because they make me happy and, well, that’s it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Matter of Opinion

I did something a little mad today. At least some people might call it mad. Personally I think they’re the mad ones (the people who’d probably think I’m mad). It’s really just a matter of opinion, and not that mad at all if you ask me. You’re probably wondering what it is I did that’s so mad, or not mad as the case may be.

Right, well this afternoon I was walking up the street with a friend when we decided to call into a little vintage shop that’s only opened on Saturdays. It was my first time in it since it’s only newish and I instantly fell in love; the woman who owns it travels all over Europe and beyond gathering up hats, clothes, jewellery and all other sorts of other wonderful things then brings them back for sale in the shop. Just like one of those places you find in the hip and cool districts of big cities, not on our wee town’s main street!  Anyway, it also sells wedding dresses and twenty minutes after going in for a ‘quick nosy’ I had bought one.

Yup, totally broke and with no plans for even setting a date for the big day, I walked in and bought the first wedding dress I tried on - ever! If anyone cares, it’s a little French vintage tea-length number with pretty sleeves. It’s made entirely of cream lace except for a lovely little satin ribbon at the waist. I love it. Think something like this only shorter and with more lace:
That’s a photo I’d saved on my computer from when I first got engaged, back when it looked like the wedding was going to happen sometime this century.  Unfortunately I can’t find the link for where I found it right now, but I can remember it was a posh London shop that specializes in vintage bridal wear. I can also remember the price - around £3000 if I recall correctly. Mine cost 80 euro. Go me!

Anyhow, it’s not the fact that I’ve bought my dress even though I may still be yet unmarried and living in sin by the time I’m collecting my pension that’s a bit mad. My (eek!) dress probably hasn’t been worn for manys a decade, so I’m sure it’ll keep for another few years. The mad part is how quickly I went from seeing it to owning it. Is this not supposed to be some sort of important decision or whatever? Maybe I should’ve thought about it if for more than a few minutes, but I doubt that would have made me like the dress any less. And now I don’t have to worry about having to get one whenever we do get round to organising stuff. It’s one less expense and thing to stress about in the future, which is really quite wise if you think about it!

On another note, it turns out Himself doesn’t have much faith in me. When I told him of my impulse purchase he was a little too under-whelmed for my liking and when I impressed on him how much I loved the dress he told me that, in fact, was the problem. I dress like a granny apparently. My fashion sense has been likened to Dot Cotton in the past, but I’ve always taken that as a compliment! He, on the other hand, is a tad sceptical about what I might possibly have chosen, and thinks vintage simply means old and ditsy. I should go out and find the frilliest, most obnoxious one I can and leave it lying about for him to ‘accidentally’ discover. That’d get him worried alright. Good enough for him!

Well folks, just thought I’d share my news with you. I’m really a big girly at heart and I’ve been on cloud nine all afternoon :) Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Inspirational Findings

These days when I come across art or photography that really tickles my fancy I often just click on the ‘share on tumblr’ button in my browser. Mainly because it’s so handy - it uploads the image straight from its source and includes all the proper titles, links and credits. Used properly, it’s a really easy way of blogging someone else’s work with all due acknowledgment. (Unfortunately it isn’t always used properly by everyone, but that’s a story for another day.)

I often feel quite lazy and anonymous, though, silently blogging into the Tumblrsphere. So this evening, due to the guilt I’m feeling about neglecting this blog in favour of that oh-so-convenient  honey trap, I thought I’d give the work of this lovely lady a proper post - using words and everything :) 

Working under the name Vintage Findings, I stumbled upon the Californian gal on Flickr a yesterday while on one of my inspiration-seeking quests.  Her photostream is wonderful and extensive, with hours worth of wandering potential through her beautiful photography and stunning digital collage.  It was, however, her art journal set which first grabbed my attention.

As I perused her pretty pages, my first thought was to my own poor abandoned journal lying in a pile on the floor behind me somewhere. I had an urge to turn off my computer, forget the plans I had for trying stuff out on Gimp that night,  and get the glue and scissors out. Then something rather exciting came to my attention - her pages were digital! I honestly didn’t realise at first, they’re so well done. Later when I found her webpage I discovered she prints them in such a way they look like pages from a book.

On her website you’ll also find a link to her blog, which isn’t just inspirational - it’s educational too. Here she often explains her methods and sometimes even brings you on a step-by-step tour of how she created her work.  A wonderful resource for someone like myself still learning about layers and textures and such things. There’s tons of tutorial sites out there on the web, but a lot of those are written by fellow amatuers yet only learning themselves. At the Vintage Findings blog you get an insight into the creative of process for some really quite excellent art!

All in all, I think yesterday was quite a good day at the Flickr office. I’ve often thought about trying out digital collage but the furthest I’d ever got was making my blog header and buttons and stuff. Now I’ve found Vintage Findings I’m thinking of giving it another go! If I ever manage to create anything even a fraction as fabulous as these I’ll be a happy bunny.  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

F is for…

…fabulous fantastical fae fun & frolics! How you all doing today then folks? Sorry, I seem to have broken a new record for blog-neglect recently. And I notice I’m not the only one; my dashboard has been a little sparse recently if you don’t mind me saying so.  All that’s about to change, though, thanks to the ever wonderful Danni over at the Whimsical Cottage who’s throwing the bestest blog party ever. For a whole month!

All February long Danni is going to be pimping out her blog to us fellow fairy lovers, hosting guest bloggers and posting fae-tastic loveliness everyday for the next four weeks. I myself will be joining in, but more about that closer to the time. All you need to know for the moment is that you shouldn’t be here reading this post, you should be over at the Cottage RIGHT NOW joining in the fun. Here’s a link to the first post of the party,  where you can enjoy a little drop of fairy tea no less!

You know, this party is exactly what I need to get back in the blogging grove. Since the new year I’ve not been spending much time online, and when I do log in I find myself hopelessly drawn to that spellbinding entity known as Tumblr. Tis evil, I tells ya! So many pretty pictures, and so bloody convenient.  From here on in I promise to pull my socks up and get back to proper blogging. Shouldn’t be too difficult with all the fae festivities!

p.s. There’s still a few spare dates floating about if you wish to contribute your own guest post to the party. For more details just click on the little link below Danni’s lovely artwork above!

p.p.s Happy St Brigid’s Day/Imbolc, depending on your spiritual persuasion. If I’m honest, my lasting memories of this day are of gathering rushes for school and getting the day off lessons to make crosses. We were like a little sweatshop making those things, as far as I recall!
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