Thursday, 31 January 2013

bye-bye january

It's been a funny old month. January's always a bit of a tough pill to swallow after the highs of christmas and new years. This year, we managed to delay the festive come-down by getting on a plane and flying away. But having to return from the best holiday ever certainly made back-to-work-January an even bigger slap in the face than usual. (Reading that back it's like I'm looking for sympathy for going on holiday, ha! Not my intention at all.) *sigh* New York, was that really only three weeks ago? It feels like months since we were stomping around the streets of Manhattan.  But then that's another terrible trait of relentless January stretching out forever, as far as the eye can see!

In some ways it hasn't been a great start to 2013:
Health-wise – I seem to be collecting ailments as fervently as my 8 year old self collected pogs (remember pogs?!)
Financially – damn you mr tax man, damn you!
General levels of energy - I've been knackered ever since arriving at Heathrow (jet-lag definitely played a role) which has effected my mood (uncharacteristically grumpy), my punctuality to work (abysmal), my ability to socialise (slovenly at best), the flat (neglected).

However some truly great things have happened in Jan:
Being in NYC for 8 days of it (duh)
Catching up with a few friends over dinner/drinks
Seriously embracing the crochet (god, it's addictive)
Something else that's pretty exciting which I'll share soon...

So yeah, this was basically a bitch about how January is waaaaay too long but it's fine, the end (of the moan and month) is here – huzzah!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

birthday wish list

Just a little wishing and a-hoping seeing as it's my birthday next week...
I've been wanting this bear cushion for almost as long as I've wanted a new sofa! Both will happen by the end of the year.
Our kitchen is seriously lacking a blender, nothing fancy just something for soups and smoothies - this one would do.
I'm already thinking ahead to (hopefully) better weather, reckon these flatform type pumps would be perfect for that spring/summer!
new year (in terms of me getting older) new notebook - standard. There are so many awesome looking ones on etsy and folksy at the mo, a girl is spoilt for choice! 
Perfume. I'm really loving Marc Jacob's Daisy.
More shoes! V.much want these patent loafers either in the blue above or black.
The Colette 'hazel dress' pattern. I'd like to try my hand at dressmaking with a pattern again. The last time I tried I was so confused but this one's for beginners and it looks pretty simple (famous last words)....
Isn't the neckline on this dress just awesome? God knows where I'd wear it, but that doesn't stop me coveting it.
Something a little more casual but the lacey print and pockets make this dress a winner.
This fabric is quite simply beautiful, even the name of it sounds rather magical '1000 cranes in indigo'. It's currently "coming soon", but not soon enough though! I might try making an item of clothing out of it... it's too good for a cushion...

Monday, 28 January 2013

it's all in the geometry... part 2

To continue on from Friday's enthusing, my love for the geometric pattern knows no bounds!
TWA Airport lounge - stunning. I totally want this in my house.

beautiful hand blocked scarf

Paul Klee, he creates awesome stuff

storm at sea quilt design - one day I'm going to make one

When Love was the Law - lots of mismatched triangles, what's not to love?

Not strictly geometric but the style is very straight-lines heavy - movie posters by Ale Giorgini

I've mentioned it before (and no doubt will do again) – Rachel Parker's work is fabulous. I love these prints on fabric and just look at this wallpaper!

Friday, 25 January 2013

it's all in the geometry... part 1

I have something of a geometric pattern obsession - triangles, repeating shapes, changing colour gradients, you name it, I can't get enough of them. Luckily for me there appears to be A LOT of other people out there who feel the same, so thanks pinterest for bringing us together so we can all obsess over some seriously rad designs (and not do any work whatsoever). Some of my current faves below.
Geometric pattern swoooooon

Andy Gilmore's work is simply awesome.

I would kill for a kitchen floor like this

love this rug

this year I am determined to make some paper art for the flat and this pattern looks pretty damn good. beach towel ever?

Laura Jobling's design for either wallpaper (yes please) or fabric (hell yes)

source unknown.
But I'm pretty sure this is artwork from an album cover. So pretty, it reminds me of quilt blocks...

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Reading & Seeing 8

The Year of The Flood (2009)
The second book set in Margaret Atwood's dystopian world, first visited when I read Oryx and Crake, only the characters in this instalment have a v.different story to tell. Although very much alone as the book begins, the stories of the two principal characters are told in a series of flashbacks - I love Atwood's way of writing backwards, filling in the gaps. Much like the Oryx and Crake, Atwood describes some v.disturbing facts about the state of the bioengineered world before the flood as well as after it. The 'flood' refers to the 'waterless flood' predicted by The Gardeners, a cult very much opposed to all the artificiality and genetic manipulation, who champion the 'back to nature' approach. It is through this group that we meet our two heroines - Toby and Ren. Their stories weave and interlink, resulting in a rather awesome meeting, I can't call it a conclusion as there's a definite sense that there's more to their situation. I read somewhere that there will be a third book to complete this series, I really do hope it's true. There are some clever tie-ins with the first book - we even get to meet Snowman (Jimmy) again. I know I've said it before but I really do love Atwood's writing and could happily read her novels forever.

Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (1974)
Written by another of my favourite authors Philip K Dick. Set in a futuristic (at the time), dystopian world, the story centres around Jason Taverner - celebrity personality and singer with his own TV show watched (and adored) by millions. He is handsome, talented, wealthy with an equally beautiful and talented girlfriend, that is until he's attacked by a jilted ex-lover (with what I can only describe as some sort of large parasite) and awakes from his ordeal stripped of all his personal identification, to find that nobody knows who he is, that he no longer exists at all.... The plot follows Jason, and the interesting (mostly female) characters he meets along the way, as he tries to figure out what's happened to him. The pace is pretty slow which only underlines the protagonist's frustration that he, THE Jason Taverner, is unrecognised and treated with the same indifference as ordinary people. The other main character is Felix Buckman, the Police General who takes an interest in Jason. He's a complicated bugger with a heavy conscience - his incestuous relationship and the corrupt police department for starters. The characters aren't likeable and despite everything Jason goes through you don't feel any sympathy towards him nor Felix; true emotion itself is very much lacking in this alternative world, there's a lack of anything 'true' for that matter. The ending is a bit of struggle (in terms of plausibility and likability) but it's a good read if only to witness how some of Dick's absorbing and rather horrific ideas play out.

Whilst in NYC Mitch and I went to two screenings. On new years day we went to see Les Miserables (incidentally it was easily one of favourite ever Jan 1sts - leisurely breakfast followed by a movie followed by a a three course dinner at an awesome Italian restaurant which, in the time of prohibition, was used a meeting place for people secretly consume alcohol. The food and wine were soooo good). We went to Village East Cinema, a great little place, on 2nd Ave. I absolutely loved Les Mis. Balled my eyes out, but it was amazing - the singing, the costumes, the story. Wow. I didn't realise there was no dialogue in it whatsoever but it didn't need it, all the raw emotion was expressed perfectly through the (non dubbed and in some cases one take) songs. Aside from Anne Hathaway's 'I dreamed a dream' being heart-renching good, one of my other favourite scenes was 'Master of the House' - Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are bloody great. I've not seen it on stage but now I really really want to.

*spoiler alert*
Our second trip to the movies led us to an AMC multiplex cinema (which was awful) to see Django Unchained (which was alright). The first hour or so: excellent - action packed, sharp dialogue and a great premise to get the audience hooked. The film's second half, or last 45 minutes, seriously drags on. Why? Because the best two characters are killed off. It does spark an entertaining all out bloodbath of a shoot out, but after that you're kinda just waiting for the film to finish so you can leave. The real drama is over, the best bits of the script have happened and Tarantino makes an appearance (which is poorly acted and rather cringe-y). The Django character is very two dimensional and his wife is even more so (she being the only female character in the film and who spends the majority of it having a really shit time, waiting to be rescued - I wanted her to save Django at the end, Tarantino has had some arse-kicking female characters in his films after-all, but I was disappointed). Christoph Waltz steals the show as the dentist-bounty-hunter and Leonardo DiCaprio is spot on as the nasty southern plantation owner. Samuel Jackson also deserves a mention, he can be pretty scary when he wants to be. There's a satisfying conclusion it's just a shame it went all around the houses to reach it.

Back in London, we saw Silver Linings Playbook. Lord knows why this film was in the comedy category for the Golden Globes. Granted there are some funny bits and the odd amusing line, but comedy this 'aint. I remember the ads and trailers packaging this as if it was some sort of rom com but thankfully it wasn't. Mental illness is very much on the table and there are some dark moments throughout the film. Bradley Cooper, in a very different role to his usual stuff, was convincing as was his co-star Jennifer Lawrence playing a messed-up young widow (I swear she can do no wrong - she's awesome). The dance competition part at the end is super up-lifting and the performances all round are great.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

under the weather


London and pretty much the entire UK was blanketed in snow this weekend, turning the grubby old city into a winter wonderland. One thing you gotta know about me: I love snow. But what really sucked was that this snow coincided with me being all kinds of ill which peaked on Friday - a sprained knee, a seriously bad cold and conjunctivitis - I tell you now, it was not pretty. So, unable to go outside and enjoy the snow I spent the majority of the weekend drinking lemsip max and getting on with a bit of sewing. My parent's quilt top is almost finished (yes it was supposed to be a christmas present but hey, who doesn't like a late present? Jan and Feb are notoriously depressing) and I made myself a case for my ipod as it desperately needed one (I should not be trusted with expensive things). I also got on with my new favourite thing - crochet! I've been wanting to learn for a while now and over Christmas my nan taught me the main stitches. It is addictive and soooo therapeutic. I'm only making granny squares at the moment with the view to stitch them all together to make a blanket. It's going to take me forever but that's cool, crochet is the perfect thing to pick up as and when I fancy it. Today I did venture outside for a snowy trip to Essex to see Mitch's parents. The countryside looked beautiful and I even put my wellies to good use stomping around in the untouched (20cm deep!!!) snow in their garden - well happy. 

Monday, 14 January 2013

so good they named it twice

 Brooklyn Bridge

(This had been intended for last Friday but my god it's been a busy weekend!)

Last Tuesday Mitch and I returned from our 10 day jaunt in the Big Apple. Needless to say it was unbelievably awesome. Where to begin? 
 New York Public Library 

Rockafella Centre

Ghostbusters' Headquarters

The sights - I guess anyone who's been to Manhattan, aside from residents, must have a felt a little like being in a movie whilst walking the streets and avenues of the iconic city, I know I did. It was all v.familiar despite the fact that it was my first time to New York (to the US even). We did lots of touristy stuff (naturally) my favourites being The Top of the Rock (and I mean the, none of this glass around the edge business), The New York Public Library and the Guggenheim Museum - all of which are truly fabulous buildings. We walked a lot, partly to work off all the food we consumed (see below) but mostly because it meant we could take in all the sights of the city - the flat iron building, Battery Park, The Chrysler Building, The High Line, Chelsea Market, Soho, Ground Zero, Central Park - where I might have got us slightly (read very) lost, Madison Square Garden, Times Square...the list is endless!

A rather snowy central park

Times Square 

outside the Blue Smoke restaurant and jazz bar - the chicken wings here were soooo good.

The food - everywhere we ate the food was fantastic from fancy Steakhouses and restaurants where the waiting staff belt out broadway numbers to the tiny deli home of the fattest pastrami sandwich I ever eaten and the 24 hour diner which became our local brunch spot. We ate a lot of meat over the 10 days (I'm having a little detox from it now that I'm back) - burgers, ribs, BBQ chicken wings, steak, I was even asked whether I'd like some bacon with my pancakes! Which brings to me to the breakfasts. Oh my god the breakfasts. New York/the US certainly knows how to do breakfast. Yoghurt, granola and berries, buttermilk pancakes, pumpkin waffles with cinnamon butter, banana and walnut pancakes and, my favourite, nutella french toast courtesy of Penelope's (a v.excellent establishment - we may have gone back to it more than once...).

graffiti from the High Line

seriously big and old (1300 years!) sequoia in the American Museum of Natural History 

gazing out at Lady Liberty

Hoboken NJ and Brooklyn - We ventured over to NJ for an afternoon and evening - it's a very quick crossing either by train or ferry - and wandered along Washington Street. As well as excellent views of New York City, Hoboken also offered some great pizza, quirky little shops and plenty of drinking holes. I really liked it there, it was a little more village-y, however I still don't get the riff between new yorkers and new jerseyers (pretty sure that's not a word). I loved Brooklyn. It's not quite so hectic as Manhattan, the buildings aren't as tall so you can actually feel the warmth of the sun PLUS it's home to the Brooklyn Flea - a totally rad market set up in the Williamsburg Savings Bank (awesome building) selling anything from up-cycled furniture and kitschy memorabilia, to vintage clothing, maps and prints, as well as work from modern designers and crafters, we even had a delish slice of s'mores pie. The market was easily one of my highlights from the holiday - there was so much I wanted to buy.

all is fair in love and brooklyn 

despite the encouraging sign I refrained from buying any of the scantily clad women pics from bygone times. Brooklyn Flea.

Just outside Prospect Park

The people - everyone we encountered in Manhattan, Brooklyn and NJ (save for the guy in Tiffany's) whether we were eating out or asking for directions, everyone was v.friendly and helpful. The service in NYC was excellent - I felt like a queen - and the majority of our cab drivers were v.chatty, one even gave us a load of restaurant recommendations!

The weather - it snowed on our first full day in New York, not a lot, but enough to blanket Central Park in about 3 inches - so pretty. The rest of the time it was bright sunshine, clear blue skies (the exact opposite of what was happening in London I've been informed) and v.cold but nothing that multiple layers couldn't handle.

Inside the Guggenheim

Wool swoon in Purl Soho

And of course, New Year's Eve - I'd been warned that Times Square for NYE would be a huuuge mistake (massive crowds pushing and shoving and nowhere to pee) so Mitch and I saw in the new year, 5 hours after all our family and friends, on the Brooklyn Bridge after walking along the promenade and taking in the spectacular night time views of Manhattan's skyline. 

View from our hotel's rooftop

good advice in hoboken

Disappointments: Macy's (what is all the fuss about?), Tiffany's (a rude sales assistant is technically to blame) and tea. I cannot fault the bottomless coffes in NY nor the insanely refreshing spring water that comes from their taps but the tea was shit.

Celebrities spotted: Alan Rickman across the street from Chelsea Market. Mitch and I were both star struck and so said nothing and stared at him, he gave us an extremely puzzled look. Opportunity wasted.
We went to the What Not workshop in FAO Schwartz and Mitch designed his very own muppet!

People were surprised when we told them we were going to New York for 10 days, yes it did and continues to financially cripple me, but it was worth it. Mitch and I didn't want to rush around and cram everything into 3 or 4 days, we wanted to take it easy. For the first few days we went a little crazy but then we settled into New York, treating it less like a holiday and more like somewhere we lived -  leisurely brunches, wandering downtown, catching a movie - and it was great. There was plenty of stuff we didn't get round to: Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty (these were both off limits due to the damage done by Hurricane Sandy), Coney island (I think this shuts down in the colder months), watching a game of basketball in Madison Square Garden, ferry tour around Manhattan, watching a gig in one of New York's famous venues, the Botanic Gardens. I reckon you could spend a month in NYC and still find stuff to do, the extensive 'things we missed' list means we'll just have to go back :)

Thursday, 10 January 2013

3 weeks later

A v.belated Happy New Year and whilst we're on the subject of merriment, I hope you all had lovely Christmases too! The pause in posts has been partly due to a lack of internet access but mostly because I've been seriously enjoying my three weeks out of the office wherein I had an excellent christmas, filled with food and family in the New Forest followed by New Years and 10 amazing days in New York City (more on that tomorrow as well as some v.exciting news I have to share!). Tuesday and Wednesday were lost to jet lag so today I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. There's plenty of catching up to do - it feels like I've been away for aaaages!

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