Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Katharine Morling

Always nice to discover a new ceramicist. Today's work is by Katharine Morling. She started her studio in 2003 and has been going great guns ever since. I really like this latest series of work in black-and-white of everyday objects. This is a small selection of the series, some of which is available to buy (images after the typewriter all up for grabs). Check out her website for more. 

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Rill Rill

Well if these don't have 'Lelly' written all over them, I don't know what does. Love the materials: marble and copper.
Love the one above: the middle piece of black marble looks like a skull. Rill Rill jewellery is designed by Portland-based Katie Freedle. You can follow Rill Rill's Instagram account here.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Heading Into The New Year With New Standards

A few days ago I saw this New Yorker popping up on my Facebook feed a lot. Her name is Lauren Singer and she lives a zero waste life. Which I initially thought was bollocks, given the amount of trash our household generates on a daily basis, but reading through this article from The Daily Mail and her blog posts I can see how she's eliminated a lot of it. Though she is single and has no kids, the latter I think might be a greater challenge for a regular person. The time needed to be so prepared...hmm, not sure if I could manage it but maybe it's all about forward planning, as Lauren says. Though you also need good local suppliers, and I'm not sure if I have anywhere in my neighbourhood I could purchase unpackaged food in bulk. Picture below is Lauren's bathroom cupboard.
One thing my household has noticed since the move to NYC is the difference in produce; meat has been good and is cheap, and veggies have been great. But there is corn syrup in almost everything processed. Fruit drinks contain so much crap it's crazy. Yoghurt is highly sweetened – even the brands targeted for babies. Some have 2 or 3 spoons of sugar – per serve. That's crazy. And bread; most bread we have found is really sweet, and some to the point it's completely inedible. It's a bit of a minefield, but gradually we're finding the stuff that works for us. I did do one online order from Fresh Direct, but although the food quality was good, it was expensive and came with almost an equal volume of packaging. Unlike my supermarket in Amsterdam where they deliver in recyclable crates. Anyway, back to Lauren. In my efforts to downsize, reduce the amount of 'stuff' we have, and lead a healthier and simpler life I've found a few ideas from Lauren's site Trash is for Tossers I'm going to give a whirl.
There's a handy sections called Zero Waste Alternatives, which I like the idea of replacing make-up remover wipes and eye make up remover with coconut oil. I always wondered about putting such chemical-heavy items near your eyes, and so maybe this is a good alternative. I'm wasn't sold on the organic cotton pads; they look scratchy in the pic above, but on further research they actually seem very soft. You can get them here from Juniperseed Mercantile via Etsy (also nice to support a small business). I'm almost out of the eye make-up remover I brought over with me from Amsterdam, so I'll try the coconut oil next and let you know how the result it. The cotton pads I still have a tonne of, so I think I'll try the new ones after I've used those up in about half a year; another perk/trap of American life, you can bulk buy pretty much everything and then it costs you almost nothing. But you end up with a cupboard full of stuff. Side note: just came across this app called Think Dirty, which allows you to scan the bar code of a beauty product and then it'll tell you what chemicals are actually in it, and gives you alternative suggestions. Watch the video here to learn more. I haven't started using it yet as I literally downloaded it last night, but I intend to head on up to my medicine cabinet and start scanning today.
Other ideas for reducing the amount of chemicals in your home are using soap bars instead of body washes, which we already do. Switching from bleached loo paper to un-bleached natural. Lauren recommends Seventh Generation brand, which I see a lot of here but it's more expensive. I also try and use a reusable bag instead of getting the plastic bags at supermarkets. Love my Baggu bags. Switching cooling utensils could also be a good idea. Aside from preventing toxins leaking into food, the metal and wood ones Lauren has look so much nicer and will last way longer:
I think my biggest achilles heel would have to be bottled water. I drink a lot of sparkling water, not because the tap water here or in Amsterdam wasn't healthy, but it just tastes foul. That's the downside of growing up in Tasmania where we had natural water to drink; it tastes amazing, like water from a fresh stream. I just can't do tap water anywhere else since. So this one would be tricky.
One last tip I like; replacing conventional dish soap with bulk castile soap. Which, I have to admit, I had never heard of until I read this blog. Also these bottles are far more aesthetically appealing than the Parmolive bottle (actually the same one in the picture above) sitting on our kitchen bench. This is appealing to the designer in me as well as the mum and (gradually) more socially and environmentally aware person I am. Thus, I might get one little one for the bench top, and a large to top it up with. They also have hand pump soaps too.

And lastly, replacing a lot of cleaning products for white vinegar. Which I use as instead of softener already, not yet to actually wash clothes. Might investigate what other options there are. In Amsterdam I was using bio liquids, which I haven't found locally here yet. There are lots more tips on Lauren's blog, and in you live in the US, there's a handy section on Where to Shop.

Alrighty, long post. And maybe timely as we head into a new year ready to make some New Year resolutions, goals, and set new standards for ourselves. Hope you find this helpful. Please add any tips you've got to the comments field!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas!

It's Christmas!! We're having another lovely family Chrissy here in Brooklyn as my Mum and Dad are still here to spend it with Edu, Oscar, Dash (rockin' Chrissy from the inside), and I. Last weekend I got my bake on and made these gingerbread biscuits. I adjusted the tried and tested Australian Woman's Weekly recipe (from the old Beautiful Biscuits book, a 1982 classic). Only thing I did was to add some grated lemon rind (not that you can really taste it... maybe more next time), and then a fair whack of lemon juice to help bind the ingredients.
I thought I'd have to modify the recipe as it uses golden syrup and I thought I'd have to switch it out with molasses, BUT shock-horror, my little local supermarket had Lyle's Golden's Syrup. Two tins, so I snavelled them both. I also cheated a bit and and got ready-made icing. Saved a lot of time. They didn't have white though, which was a bugger, so my biccies are a bit multi-coloured, but no matter! The icing set really nicely. Pretty happy with the bake in the end. We left one out for Santa, naturally... Happy Christmas! Hope everyone has a lovely day xxx

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Windows

Here we go, a few shots of the Anthropologie Christmas windows at Rockafella Centre from a quick Sunday trip to the city. These windows are always the best Anthropologie windows. I love this store for inspiration, but I find the clothing and other home items too ornate for my style, and pretty expensive. I did a quick round of the store, found a little mug I liked and thought, yes! I'll have that. Until I saw the $60 price tag. Seriously, who spends $60 on a little mug? Looking online there were some even more expensive, one was $74. I kind of want to just hang around in the store and see who would buy it. Maybe I'll wait for the sales and see if it drops, oh, I don't know, 80%-odd. Anyway, maybe they need to charge so much in order to make these lovely windows. I have a few crafty friends who I know will like these photos, so these are for you, Mandy and Liv!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Brooklyn Flea

Another city, another flea market. Now we're settling in in Brooklyn it was time to check out the flea market. There are a few choices around the city usually, but not so many this time of year. As luck would have it the Winter Flea & Holiday Market is but a stone's throw from my house in Crown Heights. It was bitterly cold out, but we braved it for treasure.
There was a lot do vintage, but I have to say, most vintage stores were all carbon copies of themselves; vintage bunting, Christmas ornaments, signs, etc., and all things I have enough of.
One store I did like was Dan's Parents House. They had a lot of junk, mixed in with treasure. But way less hipster curated so a bit more interesting. I got the old Snoopy pull toy that needs a little TLC, because Oscar saw it and went bananas for it. And the little phone is an sale mans model I couldn't resist. Donkey Golden book thrown in for free! The other two items I got from a guy I bought a Halloween decoration from the weekend we arrived. Inflatable Santa and yacht! Oscar tested out the yacht tonight in the bath; liked it, but did not want his little ducks going for a joy ride in it. They got hurled out immediately.
There were lots of food stores for lunch and items to take home. I had a Japanese vegetarian curry; a far cry from the bitterballen in a roll I usually have at the Ij Hallen. And my beloved poffertjes were switched out for a donut from Dough. I can live with that one. All in all, interesting to see, and I'll be back, but on the whole a bit too commercial. I like more other people's junk. That's the real kind of treasure hunting I like. 

Monday, 22 December 2014

Use It Or Loose It: The Wreath

Part 2 of my Christmas project #useitorlooseit – the Christmas Wreath. I had a bunch of felt, mini ornaments I really didn't need on the tree, red bows from Bless I couldn't bare to part with, and some felt snowflakes that were part of Anthropologie's Christmas wrapping a good 14-ish years ago that I have hung onto knowing on day they would come in handy.
I made a circular base out of some grey felt, cut around 60+ holly leaves, sewed a line down the middle of them to give them a more leafy look, then decided how to arrange them. I was going to do them in clusters but it looked messy so ended up for a more traditional wreath design; leaves going around from the bottom to the top of the circle. Pinning everything on first to make sure it was going to work, then tacking the leaves and other decoration into place. Pretty pleased with the result! Nice and bright wreath to enjoy for years to come. And, of course, have actually used a pile of stuff that's been sitting in a box for years...

Friday, 19 December 2014

Use It Or Loose It: Christmas

Today's post is about making mistletoe. Pictures of the work-in-progress throughout and the reason behind it I'll explain now. Ok, so since the move I've discovered that I have a lot of stuff. A lot. After arriving in Amsterdam 13 years ago with just one suitcase and a carry on, I now have a lotta crap. Crap I love, obviously, but don't really need. I tried to downsize before we left Amsterdam, but time was short and there were only so many cupboards, draws, shelves, attics, and boxes I could go through. I did manage to take a serious look at my wardrobe; a stack of clothes were shipped off to my little sister, a pile given away to some girlfriends, and the rest dropped off into the charity box. I was ruthless. Felt good.
Now I'm continuing the same hard line with the remainder of my stuff as I unpack boxes on the other side of the Atlantic and take a good hard look of what I have and what I need. Within reason. Let's not get too crazy. So, first things first. The other day I went through my stack of tear sheets. These are pages from magazines I've collected since moving to Europe. In my effort to at least not have a decade worth of whole magazines lying around, I decided just to rip out the pages I really wanted for reference. Good theory, right? Good, but in reality I never really looked at them and there were a good 400+ pages, which is actually a lot of paper and thus quite heavy. So, managed to go through it all and cull to about 20 sheets of really handy stuff, or a few pieces of beautiful references. I also found an interior article featuring a friend's Amsterdam apartment before they bought it. I'll pop that in the mail for them as a surprise. I've gone through all my novels, art, design, fashion, and coffee table books, and other random stuff, and currently have four boxes full to the brim ready for a tag sale next summer. Maybe after new baby Dash has outgrown some basics and I can purge some baby stuff too. See, I'm on a roll.
So, where does felt and Christmas stuff come in, you ask? Well, I have a lot of Christmas decorations – check out last years post on The Tree for a glimpse. That's one of my biggest and most loved collections. But, with this new ruthless mindset, I took a good hard look at the ornaments as I unpacked them and culled a good two shoe-boxes worth of decorations. Ones that don't really fit my retro vibe, or that I had duplicates of. Then I grabbed my pile of felt and decided to make something with the rest of the stuff I had; a Christmas wreath, and a switch of mistletoe. You've now seen the mistletoe spring to life though this post, and final result below. I'm quite happy with it. I used up a bunch of felt, including a beautiful piece of muted green that Ms Olivia send me a gift in once I couldn't bring myself to throw away (it's handy felt, after all) which was the perfect dark green for my foliage. And love having another crafty treasure to bring out each year. Next post #useitorlooseit challenge number 2 – the wreath.