Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shinzi Katoh Profile

Shinzi Katoh is one of my favourite zakka artists. Ever. I am not one to overuse the word 'covet' but jeepers these mugs make me swoony. Look at the little spot for biscuits! Eeee!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cassette Tote Bag: A Present for Me

Image via eBay

Yup, this is a little RAK for myself... Not sure if that really counts (!) but I adore it.

It's a bag, as you can tell, shaped like a cassette tape, and the handles look as though the tape is unravelling! How cute and post post modern, yes?

I am enjoying, on rare occasions away from my desk, taking this baby out for a stroll.

What is an Aggregator?

Image via kmel

Recently, I have had a few questions from readers on how to access blogs, or rather, how to keep them all in one spot.

Keeping websites in one place is easy - sites like delicious are excellent for tagging and keeping your favourites in the same location, and you can access them from anywhere in the world. Cool, huh?

But an easy way to keep your blogs in one spot (I'm sure there's a 'blogspot' joke of sorts to make, but it eludes me today...) is to keep them all in an aggregator like Google Reader or Bloglines. Once you open up a free account with whatever service you choose, it's as easy as adding the URL of your favourite blogs. When each blog has a new posting, you can see it really easily.

This will stop you from updating a blog or obsessively checking it ever few minutes (yes, I used to do that, too). Instead, you can relax, and leisurely stroll over to your bloggy friends when they invite you!

Hope this helps - please feel free to leave any tips in the comments section below.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pepe and Friends

Bonnie and Clyde Oil and Vinegar decanters
Rif Raf Salt and Pepper Shakers
Sir Randolph Egg Cup

Naughty, naughty Peapods. Here I was, just happily minding my own business. Now I've met some new pals I think would fit in with my Decole Salt Egg just too perfectly. My favourites are the oil and vinegar decanters at the top. Can't. Stop. Thinking. About. Them.

Have a look at the whole range here at your own risk.

Matchbox Labels

Images via Maraid

Everybody needs a treat on Monday, so here are some incredibly beautiful matchbox labels from Eastern Europe in the 1950s and 1960s.

There's something about the limited use of colour within each, and the very modernist, simple images which draws me back to these time and again.

I think most of these could be very attractive posters above a sideboard in a living room, yet they're tiny matchbox labels, which only adds to their charm even more. Imagine crafting such interesting and striking images only to have them on small, ephemeral matchboxes. Makes it all the more amazing that these have survived.

As an aside, as a big nerd, I love the Russian space program commemoration ones below, and the odd happy baby in the stroller in the last panel. What's that about?!

Images via Maraid

Here are some gorgeous modern updates from Designista from Go Go Abigail. I love them dearly.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Russian Book Covers

I'm a big sucker for propaganda images, and loved these - admittedly quite intense! - children's book covers found in the McGill archives. There were many things wrong with Communism, but the adulation of the worker and indeed, the mythology that surrounded the idea of labour itself was, I think, quite beautiful. Michael Ondaatje - a favourite writer of mine - has, of course, said it much better:

"On the west side of the bridge is Bloor Street, on the east side is Denforth Avenue. Originally cart roads, mud roads, planked in 1910, they are now being tarred. Bricks are banged into the earth and narrow creeks of sand are poured in between them. The tar is spread. Bitumiers, bitumatori, tarrers, get onto their knees and lean their weight over the wooden bock irons, which arc and sweep. The smell of tar seeps through the porous body of their clothes. The black of it is permanent under the nails. They can feel the bricks under their kneecaps as they crawl backwards towards the bridge, their bodies almost horizontal over the viscous black river, their heads drunk within the fumes...

In winter, snow removes the scent of tar, the scent of pitched cut wood. The Don River floods below the unfinished bridge, ice banging at the feet of the recently built piers. On winter mornings men fan out nervous over the whiteness. Where does the earth end? There are flares along the edge of the bridge on winter nights - worst shift of all - where they hammer nails in through snow. The bridge builders balance on a strut, the flares wavering behind them, aiming their hammer towards the noise of a nail they cannot see."

-Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion, (pp. 27-28)

Comfort Reading

Image by Beth Norling

Some years ago, I happened upon a series of books by Australian author Kerry Greenwood. Just as Ali mentions the idea of comfort-viewing, these are my comfort reading, and recently I have returned to them like a child does to a favourite bedtime story: with much pleasure and cooing!

Set in the Melbourne in the 1920s and featuring the indomitable Hon. Phryne Fisher (pronounced Fry-nee), these books are detective fiction novels in the genre of an updated Agatha Christie. (Indeed, in Urn Burial, there's even a character called Miss Mary Mead, which is the village where Miss Marple lives in Agatha Christie's mythology.)

My favourite part of all is, of course, the heroine Phryne. A gutsy 1920s glamourpuss with killer green eyes, Phryne drives a red Hispano-Suiza, served in WWI in France, can fly a Tiger Moth plane, has a staff (!) in her beautiful St Kilda home and constantly romances intriguing men. Of course she is also very clever, articulate and pretty.

Talk about a feisty heroine! While the novels might not take your breath away, the narratives rarely disappoint, and the rich descriptions of Phryne's clothes and general demeanour (I think people would have said she had 'pluck' back then!) makes them a fabulously easy and refreshing read.
I also especially love the re-released covers by artist Beth Norling. So glamourous. Ahhh.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New Shop Lovelies!

I have finally gotten around to updating le shop. Here are some new bits and pieces I'd thought I'd showcase here.

First up, some Bambi mini envelopes! These are handmade from vintage Golden Book images of Bambi, and come in the palest blues and gentle colours.

Next up - my new collection of City Stickers. This time, one of my favourite cities ever - Paris:

And New York City...

Random Acts of Kindness Project - It Begins!

They've finally arrived! As I'm on a Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) kick, I've had some vigilante stickers made which I am thoroughly enjoying sticking up in public places. (Yes, I wondered whether that would be like graffiti and therefore a Random Act of Annoyance, but they peel off very easily - in fact, a good shower of rain will get rid of them - so I can rest easy on that count.)

In fact, there were so many great ideas mooted in my Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) competition that I thought I'd get a list going. I'd love you to add any in the comments section!

Random Acts don't have to be for strangers - they can be to people you know as well. And importantly, they don't have to be about money. It's just about surprising someone with a kind thought or act.

* Make a batch of cookies for someone.

* Send a letter.

* Stand up for someone on the bus or train.

* Give money to homeless people/buy a copy of the Big Issue.

*Let someone in your lane when driving.

* Offer to help someone with a project they're already working on.

* Let someone go in front of you in a queue.

* Hold the door open!

* Help people who have a pram and need to negotiate steps.

* Give hugs. And lots of them. (probably best not to practice on strangers, unless you're like this awesome lass)

As for me? I tried to think of a really simple way to impact on people, and realised that I often stress about my parking meter running out. So, I ordered these business cards a little while ago to continue my grand project of Random Acts of Kindness.

I plan to stop by parking meters when I'm walking by, fill them up, and then pop these under the windscreen of the recipient car. The hope is that the recipient will then go on to do something nice for someone else, and email me about what they've done.

I am actually ridiculously excited about this. I'm a big believer in that you have to start small, so here goes...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Happy "Hump Day" Wednesday

Image via Tiny Candy from Jun Ichihara

Tiny Candy is doing my head in! I have been going through their archives (a little bit obsessively, I admit) and couldn't resist posting this beautiful image from Japanese artist Jun Ichihara. One of my favourite things is when Japanese and French influences combine, and this time, they combine with Saarinen, which is incredible!

Anchors Away!

I have been neglecting my crafty impulses recently, and finally decided to rectify the situation. For a long time, a good friend and I used to use the phrases "ship it in" and "ship it out". Broadly, "ship it in" means, "yes please, more of that!" while "ship it out" means, "uh-uh, bad news, get rid of it"...

My Mum and one of her best friends (my second Mum!) have taken to using these phrases too, and giggle uproariously when they do so. So I made them these tea towels (or hand towels, I guess) and as I suspected, there were fits of giggles when I unveiled them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bits and Bobs in Paris

Images from Tombees Du Camion

Honestly, sometimes I feel like the internet is just plain mean. Tiny Candy has posted an excellent list of fabulous places to visit in Paris, including great paper and curiosity shops. Check out these vintage goodies!

Images from Tombees Du Camion

The images all remind me of trinkets and things that I'd love to have in a coffee table, but in little boxes, and covered in glass. Much like these images below. (Minus the naked girl match book, thanks!)
Images from Housingworksauctions

Monday, July 21, 2008

Book Fair Madness

I came back yesterday from a delightfully restful weekend away up at the north coast (which included a trip to see The Dark Knight -oooh!). But the cherry on top of the cake was spotting a book fair on the way home.

I can't quite describe how much I love a good book fair.

Some people like adventures sports, but my adrenaline fix comes from the thrill of chasing down second-hand books in church halls, market stands and op shops. I get my competitive on.

Admittedly I didn't have much of a game plan this time - I just ran in and scoped out the fiction, children's books and reference section. I have written elsewhere about my love of atlases, but I refrained as I simply have enough at the moment. (And somewhat embarrassingly, I already had the various editions they had left!)

Lucky for me, all the books were half-price, so for the bargain price of $17.50, I bought seven novels (7! In near-perfect condition!), and these absolute keepers.

First up, and in honour of my soon-to-be-completed PhD in English, Dick Bruna's "I can read difficult words."

Because, you know, I can!

Happily, "scissors" and "choir" are off my difficult word list, and have been replaced with bigger and well, more difficult words. But this little book will inspire some much-needed motivation over the coming weeks.

And the best buy of all. A 1962 Estonian music book entitled 'Muusika Aabits'.
The cover to this little beauty caught my eye first - it looks like it's screen-printed. And is that a Communist star on her pinafore? I'd like to frame the cover by itself. Inside, the book is filled with screen-printed images of young boys and girls, animals, and piano playing - all in black, white, blue and red.

It seems a bit sacrilegious to cut this one up, but I am already salivating over the thought of making some greeting cards out of these images.

Such a good weekend! How was yours?