31 May 2015

May was...hectic, but in a v.good way

I think this has been my favourite month of the year so far! May has boasted some of the best weekends I've had in ages (seperate post coming on this soon, I have lots of pics). I've managed to catch-up with all my various friendship groups, see a gig at the Royal Albert Hall, go to a London museum I'd never been to before, attend my friends' hen do AND learn how to make origami pigeons! Weekdays have been jam packed too. As well as volunteering at the Saatci Gallery, I've now been at the my job for six weeks and I'm happy to report that I'm feeling pretty settled. I had a bit of a shitty day last week (trying to sort out logistics for events across the country when a national rail strike has been announced isn't fun) but other than that I'm really going it. I'm still getting to grips with my post-work routine though... Blogging (as you may have noticed) has become rather infrequent. I've found that between attending to the garden, meeting up with friends, cooking and eating dinner, my weekday evenings have no room for anything other than watching a TED talk and going to bed. It's not as if I've nothing to blog about, there's currently four half-finished posts sitting in my drafts folder. And as for reading other people's blogs, I am so far behind! It's not just blogging that's taken a back seat, I've done exactly no excercise or badminton since starting my new job, something that also needs to be rectified pronto! I'e decided to be generous and give myself till next pay day to have a better handle on things, afterall June's looking to be just as jam-packed as May - a trip to Scotland, a themed wedding to go to, Jurassic World is out (ohmygodohmygod) and it's Mitch's birthday. No peace for the people who like to plan, eh? Happy Sunday to you :)

26 May 2015

that time I volunteered at the Saatchi Gallery

For five days at the start of May you would have found me wearing a bright blue t-shirt running around the Saatchi Gallery - taking tickets, manning the cloakroom, circling the rooms and being that helpful, smiling face at the information point - all in aid of the Craft Council's annual international art fair: COLLECT.

I'd originally signed up because I was unemployed and needed fun things to look forward to. Luckily when I got my job they allowed me to take some leave to honour the commitment. The exhibition was short (only open four days to the general public) but took over the entirety of the Saatchi which, to me, felt like pretty good value for the ticket price (£12 in advance, £17 on the door) plus there was SO MUCH to see! Around 30 galleries take part from all over the world, representing over 200 individual artists. Incase you haven't worked out what's coming...this is going to be a v.picture heavy post. I was massively impressed, not to mention inspired, by many of the pieces.

 stone whales by Tonino Negri // ceramic babies by Shigeki Hayashi // glass cube by Sabrina Cant (I found this memerising, the picture doesn't do it justice, it looked like a little universe inside a cube!) // giant vases by Felicity Aylieff

stickleback fish by Edouard Martinet (this fish was made from allsorts of metal bits and bobs including a bunch of spoons!) // Archive of elements and orbitals by Louis Thompson

 Universe - S by Shihoko Fukumoto // A path strewn with roses by Serverija Incirauskaite Kriauneviciene (all the holes were drilled through this old VW car door and it's real thread used for the cross-stitch - swoon)

jars by Steffen Dam (one of my favourite pieces from the show, it's all v.cleverly made from glass)

tarzan (necklace) by Rodolfo Ramo Azaro // ribbon desk & unstable stool by Angus Ross // porcelain pieces by Nicola Tassie // porcelain rhinos by Kensuke Fujiyoshi

annoyingly I can't find find the name of the artist but I can tell you it's made from lots of strips of ceramic // black magma egg by Kate Malone // morning trio by  by Serverija Incirauskaite Kriauneviciene (this was another cross stitch one - love) // forged mild steel bowl by Junko Mori

another pic of those beautiful stone whales // the orrery by Steffen Dam

Another of my favourites: a rhino knight by Kensuke Fujiyoshi

Moving Through by Ann Sutton //amore mediterraneo by Ugo La Pietra // Beautiful bangle from the I AM HERE part of the exhibition, alas the Crafts Council failed to include the name of the artists in this section (which as a bit odd) // robin by Edouard Martinet

  stunning mint vase (artist unknown) // tiger family by Kensuke Fujiyoshi // vase by Kate Malone // voilins (made of wood and fabric) by Indra Marcinkeviciene

 Ciliege by Ugo La Pietra

In terms of a volunteering experience there were a few lows (being asked to go and get lunch and e-cigarettes for staff members of the Craft Council and spending 2 and a half hours in the smallest most overcrowded cloakroom I've ever seen) but mostly highs (meeting lots of lovely new people and generally just have a good laugh with the other volunteers, Saatchi staff and secruity guys who were also hired to work the event). If you'd asked me after the first two days whether I'd do it again next year, truthfully, I would've said no (owing largely to the cloakroom incident). Had you asked that same question at the end, after Saturday and Monday which were by far the best days (almost to the point where I got very much into the swing of things and forgot that I had another job to go back to), my answer would be a big fat: "yes!" I think when volunteering at events you need to be interested in the subject matter but ultimately, it's the people you're working with that make it a positive experience and I was v.fortunate at COLLECT :)

Being the nosy bugger that I am, I'd be interested in whether you've volunteered for something and what it was like...

24 May 2015

garden update - grow your own

It's been six months since my last little update on our allotment project (aka my nan's garden) and a fair old bit has happened. Weekly visits to the plot did trail off between December and February but since March we've been there - digging, shredding, digging some more and, fairly recently, planting...

Because it's fun, I've got some before and after shots for you. Here's what it looked it like back in November:
..And here's April and May:
Mitch cleared the pile of rubbish and gigantic load of garden waste next to the old garage and it really makes the garden feel bigger. Fortuitously, the neighbours at the back also had a sprucing up session, putting up a lovely new fence and trimming back their trees. The latter of which allows loads more sunlight into the garden.

We planted mustard cress (I'm told is good for the soil) and it thrived which is a v.good indicator that the soil is in great shape! We've chopped it all down now to (soon) make way for some seedlings.

About six weeks ago we planted a whole bunch of things - some of which survived: rocket, basil, two varieties of tomatoes, carrots and, my favourite, a chilli plant! We also put some spinach and potatoes straight into the soil. 

And, just under two weeks ago, we planted another lot of seedlings. It's probably too early to count our chickens (or rather veg) but so far so good for the brocolli and cauliflower, watch this space! 

16 May 2015

Wedding DIYs #2 Decor

The second instalment of our wedding DIYs (which neatly coincides with the fact that we've now been married for 9 months - it's a tenuous link but let me have it) and this was the big one: Decor, wherein I bit off more than I could chew...

We were v.keen on a venue that would let us decorate it ourselves (I already knew that I wanted a lot of bunting). This proved to be not as straightforward as I'd thought. Practically all my initial searches turned up venues which wouldn't allow you to add anything to their "one size fits all" idea of wedding reception decor. So, along with a few other factors (not wanting our venue to pick our food or charge us and our guests a shit load of money for a bar) we realised what we needed was a completely empty shell that would, essentially, let us do whatever we wanted. It was hard work planning and organising everything but I wouldn't change this for the world, I would definitely have started making stuff earlier though!

I knew that I wanted a lot of  bunting and Mitch, being the most laid back person ever, let me go a little bunting crazy. I, along with the much appreciate help of my mum, made over 50 metres of bunting - I lost count how flags we used. We had some in the main hall and in the marquee to cheer it up a bit, which did the trick I think. You can't be sad when there's bunting. I also made some mini-bunting to go on the backs of some of the chairs.

Flower garland
Interspersed bewteen the bunting and made from tissue paper, my mum and I made these together, cutting out and arranging the layers then sewing a thread through the middle which was then tied to a piece of string. Super straightforward and rather pretty I think.

Although we wanted some real flowers in the hall, and in the end opted for eight vases of beautiful wild flowers on the window ledges, we weren't overly fussed about having them on the tables. This was mostly due to costs - flowers are seriously expensive (much like all things connected to weddings) - so we turned to a much much cheaper but still effective alternative: tissue paper! I made around 80 for the tables, extra small ones for the bridal and groom party, and 12 large ones which formed my own and my three bridesmaids' bouquets. I'd been collecting glass jars for a while - we mostly used them to put candles in - and they, along with a little bit of ribbon and string here and there, were perfect for the table flowers, not to mention they cost us nothing.

A rifle through our parents' photos turned up some gems of us both looking a lot smaller and cuter. We stuck them in some frames (£1 each from Tiger - that shop is the bees knees) and displayed them either side of the vases of flowers. A really simple bit of decor but I saw lots of people wandering round looking at them.

Probably our biggest decor splurge (apart from hiring the lights). Mitch found the arch on Ebay and I bought some artificial flowers to decorate it. 

Tables - place cards, hearts, cranes
The centre piece on each table consisted of two jars of the tissue paper flowers, two origami paper cranes (which aren't just beautiful, apparently they have a symbolic meaning of luck, love and longevity) and three love hearts. The love hearts were all made from scratch thanks to a friend of my parents' who made a plaster cast and then a mould, which my dad then used to make around 30 of the love hearts before painting them in the colours of the original sweets. A few of the guests took one home and I've saved a few which we can one day display when we buy our own place. Also on the tables were the place names - made in InDesign by me and printed by my dad. That advice about asking friends and family and using your connections could not be more relevant if you're planning a DIY wedding!

Read all about our wedding here and you'll find the first instalment of wedding DIYs here.

12 May 2015

pick me up London

Pick Me Up, London's graphic art festival is now over (this has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while) but I wanted to share some of the awesome stuff we saw anyway. It's held over two weeks at Somerset House and definitely worth making a note of if you're into artsy stuff.
My favourite thing at the exhibition were theese 3D printed dinosaurs designed by Jack Cunningham. If you've been following this blog for a while you'll know that I'm a BIG dinosaur fan so these guys were right up my street.

The joyously detailed pen and watercolour artworks by Laura Callaghan. And this Ice-lollies print.
The excellent 3D paper constructions by Hattie Newman.

There were also workshops and fun interactive things to do, talks and plenty of opportunities to buy notebooks, cards and of course prints :) I wouldn't advise going on the last day as it was pretty busy. Hopefully, next year I'll have some money to spend (and fingers crossed, our own flat to put them in)!
Lastly, I liked this plate from Lazy Oaf a lot :)

10 May 2015

Reading & Seeing 23

The Bees
Set (unsurprsingly) in a beehive and told almost entirely from the perspective of one bee, Flora 717. Starting with her birth, into the lowest ranking kin of the hive, the story follows her journey through hive-life and how her courage and extra-ordinariness set her on a path so far removed from the life she was expected to have as a sanitation worker. I thought this book was incredible largely thanks to the vivid descriptions and serious skillz of the author, Laline Paul. I was completely caught up in the lives of the bees – so many times I wondered whether elements were factual and based on bee research (bee research - that's a thing) or whether Paul's amazing imagination was responsible. It's been called a cross between Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Watership Down which, before reading, sounded totally nuts, but I see what the critics are getting at. I was really rooting for Flora right from the start and found the behaviours of the bees fascinating, particularly as it was fairly easy to see links between both the actions and structure of the hive (are they humanised? Maybe that's just what bees do too) and the way in which our religions and society work. This was Blook Club's read for May and I essentially inhaled it within a week. I would highly reccomend it but be warned, you'll never be able to look at a bee in the same way again.

Burial Rites
Iceland 1829, convicted murderess Agnes Magnúsdóttir is sent to live on a farm with the local lawman, his wife and daughters to await her execution. Based on true events – there was a young servant woman named Agnes who was sentenced to death for murdering her ex-lover and master – author, Hannah Kent, has coupled the facts and research with her imagining of what might have happened to Agnes. I really enjoyed this book - the pace, the descriptions, the mix of Agnes' life at the farm intertwined with her account of what happened - which was only enhanced by the fact that I started reading it just before I went to Iceland and completed it a few days after I got back. There is definitely something to be said for reading books set in the place you're about to travel to. Again, I would highly reccomend this, even if you're not off to Iceand soon :)

Elizabeth is Missing
Another impressive debut novel, this time about Maud, an eighty-something year old suffering from severe memory lapses, possibly Alzheimers. The narrative swings between the present day when Maud is increasingly concerned about the whereabouts of her friend Elizabeth, to her post war childhood around the time that her older sister disappears. Emma Healey has created an excellent unreliable narrator, Maud's mixed-up memories and confusion is very well done, so much so that it really made me think about what my nan might have been experiencing before she died - her dementia was quite far gone. Clever and v.readable, definitely another book I'd reccomend.

Agent Carter
If you've seen Captain America (or have read the comics) you'll be familiar with Agent Carter. She's the smart, ass-kicking Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) agent who the Cap had a bit of a crush on (which was v.much reciprocated). In Agent Carter, Peggy isn't only fighting the bad guys, she's also dealing with the shit-loads of sexism and male chauvinism that post-war America is full of. It's only had one season but I'm hoping it returns. Hayley Atwell is ace as the lead and Jarvis, Howard's Stark's butler, makes for an excellent side-kick. Oh yeah, and the costumes are freaking luuuuuush. Deffo worth a watch.

Avengers: Age of Ultron - a fairly decent sequel but nowhere near as good as the first film, gratuitous fighting scenes (particularly between the Hulk and Iron Man) and a running time of 141 mins did it no favours. Death to Smoochy - comedy centred around two kid's TV program presenters Ed Norton (who is hella cute in this) and Robin Williams (who actually plays the 'bad guy' and gets almost all the best lines), it's a little weird but pretty funny. Play It Again Sam - how had I never watched this before??!! I loved it! Woody Allen plays the awkward type who's wife has just left him and is finding it really hard to successfully date new women. To boost his self-confidence he calls upon the advice of an imaginary Humphrey Bogart. As you'd expect with a Woody Allen movie, the script is clever, quick and v.amusing. A great little film that I know I'll want to watch again.

5 May 2015

fun breakfasts #9 #10 + #11

 Thanks to the long weekend, it's a triple fun breakfast instalment.

chocolate chip American style pancakes
maple syrup

soft boiled egg + soliders

half an apricot danish & half an almond croissant (because sharing is caring)

Good breakfasts at the weekend?

3 May 2015

experiments in dressmaking - Bess top

Last week I stitched up Imagine Gnats - Bess top. Ta-da!
I've been meaning to sew more tops for aaaaages and this pattern was pretty great. I bought it as a pdf and it was v.straightforward to construct - both paper pattern and actual top - helped immensely by the fact that it's comprised of just two pieces and no darts, yay!

I used a couple of off cuts that have been hanging around in my stash for years, the check was left over from my pj bottoms and the plain from when I was making my parents' quilt. This was very much a practice go at the pattern (my top stitching is much to be desired) but I think it's wearable, although, next time I need to adjust the neckline to make it less wide, it felt a bit gape-y at the front. I fully intend to make a more of these as well as try out the tunic and dress lengths, so stay tuned :)

2 May 2015

thought of the day

I originally started writing this as "goals for May" post but then, earlier, I saw this quote at Goldhawk Road station and I thought: damn right! So yes, you won't find any goals here. I'm still settling into my job, getting back into a routine and figuring out how I might need to budget each month now that I have income again. I can think of a handful of things I'd like to achieve in May but it's really not a big deal if they happen or not. Right now I'm of the mind that the next four weeks could really do without a to-do list looming over them, making me feel pressured to complete them rather than just doing, what Sid kindly points out, that thing called life. Sod goals for May (and quite possibly June and July and the rest of the year, I'm not sure yet, I'll see how I feel when I get there), all that's planned is this:

E N J O Y  Y O U R S E L F

oh, and buy a tent.
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