Archive for April, 2012

Hello, dear English Muse readers! It’s me again, Gulfem from All Happy Things Around. Today, I would like to share with you one of my favourite publisher, Taschen, and how their books helped me to learn, discover and be more well-rounded person.

Before college, I was uneasy with self-learning, especially from books. I was uncomfortable with the feeling of starting something from scratch all by myself and hundreds page long books were not a good help to that. For me to learn something, I did need a personal contact. Luckily, I was good at asking questions.

With college, my personal interests has been diversified and self-learning turned into a must.Important movements in history, 60s, photography, interior design…

My 2 New Taschen Books

I always love novels, but pure didactic books? Hold on a second. Then one day, pure luck decided to meet me and I discovered Taschen book series. They have great books on architecture, art, design, fashion,  lifestyle/travel and many more…

The thing about Taschen books is that they discuss the subject in a way that you immediately get inspired and want to know even more. Taschen books work just fine form e when it comes to self-learning…

I started with their 60s book, then “Pop Art”, “Interiors Now” followed… Currently, I am reading their series on famous painters and major movements in painting history one by one… Done with Dali and Cezanne, I am reading Impressionism now. They are both rich in explanation and visuals…

I soon want to buy their Portrait of a city, Paris book, the cover of it being “Bergstorm over Paris”, a cult photo by Helmut Newton!

I know you love reading books and you all have many different personal interests. Those interests need constant breeding and I wanted to share my cure for that matter 😉 Also, they do have fair pricing, I think!

PS: Directly taken from their website…  “In the year 1980, an entrepreneurial-minded eighteen-year-old opened a comic book shop in his native Cologne to sell and trade from his massive collection”  Interesting start, don’t you think?

Enjoy your week!

(Photo credits: 1, 2, 3)

Gulfem,@All Happy Things Around



Categories: Books | 6 Comments »

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Neon for Spring.

Apr 30, 2012

Morning guys. How was everyone’s weekend? Here in SA we are midway through a long weekend. It is wonderful. In my first post here on English Muse I shared an Autumn inspired palette with you. It has gradually been getting colder here, but I know that most of you are steadily marching through Spring and cannot wait for Summer. So, as requested, today I will be sharing a funky neon palette with you- perfect for the warmer weather.


Categories: Decor | 2 Comments »

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Hello English Muse readers! Karen from A Simple Cup of Tea once again. This week I bring you wise words from Walt. Walt Whitman that is.

It’s hard sometimes I think and very human at the same time. We grow up in a set of values and it can be difficult to keep an open mind.

Exact words can be forgotten but the sentiment is usually remembered. Be kind to people. Seriously. Putting other people down to make yourself feel better is not nice.

Be yourself. Allow others to be themselves as well.

Have a lovely new week!

Categories: Decor | 2 Comments »

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Hello, Jenny here. Puh, what a week it has been. Lots of work and it has been raining every day here in London. I am in need of a colour shock. So when I happened to stumble upon Marimekko’s summer fabric collection while researching a fashion feature, I thought I must share it with you. Hope the weather is smiling at you wherever you are. But if not, I hope the patterns will put a smile on your faces.

How is the weather where you live? Sunny? Rainy? Windy? Cloudy? Snowy?
Have a nice weekend!




Categories: Decor | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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Happy National ‘Poem-in-your-pocket’ Day!

Being a bit of a (wannabe) bad-@ss ballerina myself, I have taken a particular shine to this one by Ruth L. Schwartz. Poetry-related holiday or not, I think I carry it around in my heart and soul. I just love the idea of finding yourself in a poem and anything that mentions a swan conjures up images of the ballet ‘Swan Lake’ for me. I just wish I were as cool as this feathered fowl.

The Swan at Edgewater Park

Ruth L. Schwartz


Isn’t one of your prissy richpeoples’ swans
Wouldn’t be at home on some pristine pond
Chooses the whole stinking shoreline, candy wrappers, condoms
in its tidal fringe
Prefers to curve its muscular, slightly grubby neck
into the body of a Great Lake,
Swilling whatever it is swans swill,
Chardonnay of algae with bouquet of crud,
While Clevelanders walk by saying Look
at that big duck!
Beauty isn’t the point here; of course
the swan is beautiful,
But not like Lorie at 16, when
Everything was possible—no
More like Lorie at 27
Smoking away her days off in her dirty kitchen,
Her kid with asthma watching TV,
The boyfriend who doesn’t know yet she’s gonna
Leave him, washing his car out back—and
He’s a runty little guy, and drinks too much, and
It’s not his kid anyway, but he loves her, he
Really does, he loves them both—
That’s the kind of swan this is.

That’s me- the Swan from St. Louis

Which poem will you be carrying in your pocket/ heart today?

Cynthia Gregory and Rudolf Nureyev (ABT) 1978

“A Bird may love a fish but where would they build a home?” …..Swan Lake!

see you next week– xo- Jess (that big duck!) from Bodies Never Lie

Categories: Things to love... | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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Hello again!  It’s Katie from unwritten, untitled again, here to talk about what I imagine is a common book lover’s problem: reading (and enjoying) books that embarrass your inner book snob.

Sometimes–no, often–I feel as if I should devote myself to capital-L Literature.  Do you ever get that feeling, like you must solely read literary fiction to be a true bibliophile?  The stack of books and authors I feel I ought to read is probably higher than my to-read list. The result of this feeling is sort of amusing, though: for every guilty pleasure book I indulge in, I end up reading at least two works of literary fiction to assuage my inner book snob’s shame.  Oddly, I find that my inner book snob only judges me, and never other people’s reading choices–in fact, I’ll often find myself jealous of others who can devour entertainment fiction without feeling guilty.  It’s not that I mind reading extra books, of course, but I’d like to read them with a motive besides guilt.

The process generally goes like this: recently, I plunged through the last published book in a YA series, then read the Pulitzer Prize-winning Interpreter of Maladies and the critically-acclaimed Sputnik Sweetheart (discussed here).  I loved all three books equally and in different ways.  Yet I still felt like I need to read Dostoyevsky or Melville or some more capital-L Lit books written before 1950.  So I went to the dust-accumulating stack of classics on my bookshelf and picked up Mrs. Dalloway, which I’ve started and enjoyed three times but never finished.  It lived in my purse for a day or two before being exchanged for another YA novel, which will start the process all over again.

So I wonder, do you share my bibliophile’s guilt?  Do you have an inner book snob or literary critic?  What are your favorite guilty pleasure books?  And how do you calm that inner book snob when you’ve polished off a few books read mostly for their entertainment value?


[original source of image unknown–I’ve searched for it unsuccessfully. please comment if you know!]

Categories: Books | Tags: | 15 Comments »

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Do you read books just to get a glimpse into life in a particular place?

Books can tell you all about the life, culture, activities and people of a particular place. A good writer can transport you in time and space and take you on as poignant and soulful a journey as any.

Have you seen this poster available at the most amazing Literary Gift Company? (Seriously! You gotta shop here if you love books!)

It is a literary map of the U.S!

And this got me thinking my own country, India.

To say that India is a melting pot of cultures and traditions is an understatement; India is a veritable stew of all that is good, bad, kitschy, and cheeky, split up into 28 states and 7 union territories, all different from each other as chalk and cheese. The languages spoken in each state are different, the clothes are different, the traditional music and dances are different, the skin color is different, and the temperament of the people is different. India is a manifestation of  joy, anguish, and frenzy, amalgamated!

But what amazes me is the power that art, particularly books, has to capture this multifariousness… this mélange.

So until I make a literary map of India for you, here are a few books that embody and reflect the lives and times of the people living in this country. Read these books if you can get your hands on them, and if ever India beckons, come to Bombay and call me! I’ll buy you gulab jamuns till your heart’s blissed out.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy: This dazzling and devastating book offers a peek into Christian life into Kerala in South India. This is one of the first “grown up” books that I fell in love with, and Roy’s lush, lyrical, almost poetic prose made it really easy to do that. In this book, themes of social unrest, colonialism, communism, and casteism are dexterously woven into a story about the pains and pleasures of a pair of fraternal twins.

“…the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again. That is their mystery and their magic.”

Need I say more?

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie: Undoubtedly, this book would be on any list on the prominent literary works on India; it is on most “best books of all time” lists in any case. This is a story of a man born at the exact moment that India became independent, and it is vintage Rushdie: spirited, magical, and full of awesome.

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry: Fatter than most of the fattest books that you would own (I’ll bet you my bottom dollar though, that you’ll finish it in three days if you start.), this book is a magnificent and unabashed reflection of all that is joyous, distressing, laudable, lamentable, heroic, and heartbreaking about life in an India that is recovering from a colonial past and trying to grapple with forming a vision of itself for the future. It is a moving tale of four strangers who are catapulted into a common future and are forced to deal with the vagaries of life in the form of death, betrayal, corruption, and caste violence, when a State of Emergency is declared by the government. Though the time we live in now is far removed from the period described in this book, I could not help feeling that every single thing that Mistry was talking about, happened, and probably to him or his loved ones—his prose is that empathetic. And that is a truly worthy literary victory.

“But nobody ever forgot anything, not really, though sometimes they pretended, when it suited them. Memories were permanent. Sorrowful ones remained sad even with the passing of time, yet happy ones could never be recreated – not with the same joy. Remembering bred its own peculiar sorrow. It seemed so unfair: that time should render both sadness and happiness into a source of pain.”

The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru: I studied this book in school and in retrospect (you are allowed to hate your textbooks), I would like to appreciate what a glorious work of art this book is. Read it, and you will probably fall in love with India. Nehru writes as if he has been allowed glimpses into the soul of his nation and is reveling in it; it is a veritable treatise of his raving love affair with his country. He covers the history of Indian civilization starting from what happened at Indus Valley to the political,economic, and social milieu of his time, and though the text is heavy at times, the lyrical prose makes it altogether worth it.

The Great Indian Novel: Now Shashi Tharoor, the author of this blinding demonstration of his sheer wit and cheek, is possibly my number one literary crush. He is suave and he is fancy and his writing reflects that. A marvelous retelling of the Mahabharata (the greatest epic on Hindu mythology; a tale of ) recast and reset in the context of the Indian Independence movement, this satire is mischievous, piquant, and gloriously irreverent. The story also includes, gloriously intertwined into it, puns and allusions to famous works about India, such as those by Rudyard Kipling, Paul Scott, and E. M. Forster. Just thinking about the book makes me smile! Elephant shoes, Shashi! Elephant shoes!

Now go on, get yourself a Lonely Planet India, and come on over!

Waiting for you with bated breath,

The Indian girl Elizabeth

Image Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Categories: Books, Travel | 18 Comments »

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It’s Marthe from The Freedom Experiment again, and this week it is all about books! If I should have a daughter… I would want her to read these books. I seriously think that these books should be compulsory reading in school. Take out some of that useless (and boring) maths and sciences, and add a little more about real life challenges. Don’t you agree? Anyways, here are my selection of non-fiction books I think that every young woman should read. Enjoy!

Source: via Marthe on Pinterest

1) Women, Food and God – Geneen Roth

If you’ve ever struggled with food (like me), this book is for you. I read it in one day (!) and I learnt A LOT about how I used food to regulate my emotions. Even if you’ve never struggled yourself, I truly recommend this book if you would like to gain a wider understanding of food issues and emotional eating. I think it would be perfect to read this book together with a good friend – and then discuss (and open up).

2) The Creative Habit – Twyla Tharp

A must-read for all creative spirits out there. This book is both truly inspirational (as in you just want to go out there an CREATE when you read it) and educational. I learned a lot about my own creative process (the book has assignments and workbook pages) and I picked up a lot of great tips.

3) Crazy, Sexy Diet – Kris Carr

Not really a diet in the normal sense of the word – Crazy, Sexy is a way of life! This book is one of the best books I’v read in all my life (and that says a lot!) and it is definitely the best (and only) nutrition book you’ll ever need. I need to warn you, though, this book will change how you think about food. It will also change how you look and feel + it is written in a really sassy, funny and understandable language. All girls (and boys too) should read this!

4) The 4-hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss

This book. If you haven’t read this book already, it’s about time. This is another one of those books that will leave you changed, that’s for sure. I read this on the the Tokyo Metro and had to laugh out loud several times. It’s wonderfully well written, full of inspiration and if you don’t close this book with several life-changing ideas – something is wrong with you. 😉

5) The Firestarter Sessions – Danielle LaPorte

This book is fresh from the publisher and is based on Danielle LaPorte’s vbook called The Spark Kit. If you’re only buying one book on this list – make it this one! The book is every entrepreneurs dream, and it’s the only guide you’ll need if you have a small business – or dream of having one. Even if that’s not where you are right now – most of the principles in this book can be used on other areas of life too! This interactive book comes with a workbook, videos + lots of links. Seriously, I’m lost for words on how good this book really is. It has changed my life.

6) Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live – Martha Beck

I love how this book covers everything from emotional health to change cycles. The chapter on synchronicity is a must-read! Really, if you’re stuck, making changes, following your dream or want to learn more about yourself, this book is for you!

7) Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha – Tara Brach

This book is a great read if you want to learn more about self-love, acceptance and living life in peace with yourself. This is another book I think I finished in one day, and I even had to read with a pencil underlining everything I needed to remember. If you’re only reading one book on self-love: make it this one!

8 ) The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron

This one’s for all the artists, creatives and writers (everyone, really) who have ever been stuck, lacked inspiration or who’ve just wanted to develop ourselves. Ever heard of “morning pages? The concept of writing a few pages first thing in the morning – it’s from this book! Written as a 12-week program, this book will help you create and craft. This is one of the books I read again and again.

9) Sabbath – Wayne Muller

I think everyone should read this book about finding rest in our busy lives. In particular, this book helped me realize that I’ll never get done. Which means that I need to make rest a priority right now, not wait until I’m finished with whatever I’m doing. This book is for anyone, no matter your religion. Read this today, you’ll thank me.

10) There’s nothing wrong with you – Cheri Huber

Another great book about self-love, but from a very different angle. This book is a really quick read, but it has changed me immensely (in a positive way). I think I finally realized that I’m worthy, just the way I am.

Have you read any of these? What are your favourite non-fiction books?

*Ps. the links in this post is affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking these links Amazon eventually gives me a gift certificate that I can use to buy even more awesome books. If you’re not comfortable with this, just google any book to go to Amazon or buy it from your preferred retailer. Thank you!

Categories: authors, Books | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments »

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Jesse Kornbluth, of, here again, this week feeling the need of extreme beauty — and finding it.

SDG. Bach put those initials at the end of his cantatas. They were shorthand for “Soli Deo Gloria” — to God alone the glory.

That sounds, in our time, like false humility. Back then, it was not. Pride of authorship wasn’t even a concept in the Middle Ages. The world was tiny then — the borders of your town were the borders of your universe. If you wandered off, you might never find your way back.

Just as fame did not exist, time was not a significant concept; if you were engaged in, for example, the building of a cathedral, you knew it would not be finished in your lifetime, or even the lifetime of your children.

So people stayed home, did their work, prayed to an all-powerful God and died — usually in their 30s.

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) was an exception to every common truth of her time. Not only did she live long, she achieved much — and her work as a scientist, writer and composer has been documented and preserved. She is, I’ve read, “the first composer whose biography is known.” And although she declared her orthodoxy, she was a rebel who founded a convent of her own.

Her story, in brief: As the tenth child, she was — as was then common — given to the church on her 8th birthday. Her education was rudimentary. Her visions were not; as a sufferer from migraine headaches, she saw a glow and colors around people. Naturally, she regarded this play of lights as a spiritual communication from God.


Categories: Decor | 3 Comments »

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How five crows managed to lift a twenty-pound baby boy into the air was beyond Prue, but that was certainly the least of her worries.


And she took off after him…
Into the deep, dark, woods…

I have just finished reading Wildwood, a middle-grade fantasy adventure written by Colin Meloy (yes, he of The Decemberists fame) and gloriously illustrated by Carson Ellis. Have you seen this book yet? It is a journey into a dark and dangerous, yet beautiful and magical, forest.

Wildwood is a place that is at once both unfamiliar and familiar:

Where animals talk and but bureaucracy still stifles any real action.
Where both sides of a war believe they are the righteous party.
Where magic and wonder sit side by side with lies and even murder.
Where great evil grows inside immense grief, with a façade of stunning beauty.

Once inside Wildwood it is almost impossible to tell truth from lies or learn who to trust. The book’s 12-year-old heroine Prue and her friend Curtis each spend a good deal of time trying to decipher exactly this.

But for all the disorientation and danger in this wonderful story, it’s not a place I wanted to leave. I guess the clue is in the “wild” of the title. You can love a wild thing, but you cannot tame it. Adore it, but beware if you trust it. And woe betide if you turn your back on it!

Wouldn’t you agree?

Yours truly,
Naomi Bulger (delighted to be guest blogging on Tuesday nights while Tina is away)

ps. The second installment in the Wildwood Chronicles comes out later this year. I can’t wait!

Categories: Books, illustrations | 21 Comments »

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Book Art

Apr 24, 2012

Hello, sweet readers!  It’s Luli from The Enchanting Butterfly.  I hope you had a lovely weekend.  I am so happy to be back here again. Tuesday is my favorite day of the week because I look forward to posting something new for you.

So, let’s talk books and art.

What do you think about these beautiful book collages by the talented Alexander Korzer-Robinson? I think they are simply divine!

You can enjoy more of his book art at The Telegraph.

Have a beautiful day.

(Credits: Alexander Korzer-Robinson via The Telegraph.)

Categories: Books, illustrations | Tags: | 5 Comments »

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Good to be back, I’m Gulfem from All Happy Things Around again! My inspiration for this post came from article series of Harper’s Bazaar, My List: A Fashion Designer in 24 Hours. In those articles, fashion designers share their daily routines with readers in a highly detailed manner. I always am interested in finding out more about amazingly creative people, how they spend a day, how they see the world, what they enjoy most and many more, you know what I mean! This is the reason why I love these article series that much.

I love the word, routine, only if it is not used in broader sense. The first connotation of the word “routine” is what you dislike most about your lives, I know. The negative meaning of this word is extremely strong that one can not see the beauty of its more innocent sub-meanings. In broader sense, routines are what make you slave to your own life, you have to speed up for something, notably for the same thing, at the same time with same people and everything. They interfere with the joy that you take from the life.

However, my intention with this post is not to stick with broader meaning of this word but a beautiful meaning that I like..

Coffee,Gingerbread and Vintage Books!
I believe some innocent routines are the unique definers of one’s personality. They are part of you more than everything. They are citizens of the world you built. You love your coffee with just a small amount milk, no sugar, not that hot? You love reading something with the same order each time? You love taking a nap maybe? You are a slow and attentive shopper or a quick one? How do you like your salad/beef?


Do not be afraid to have routines. Just do not be slave to them, keep a reasonable distance between you and your routines, then you are safe. Talk about your routines and you will see that you will discover much about yourselves!

If I would share some of my daily routines with you…

I am true morning person, I usually wake up without the help of an alarm clock. I immediately start playing some of my favourite songs and accompany them with strange moves of course!

Also, I do love reading books at a coffee shop on my own, I can spend hours this day with noticing anything..

I am a professional daydreamer and I do that each and every day!

My daily make-up routine never changes.. A light touch of mascara, pink blush and lipstick.

So, what is your daily routine dear English Muse readers?

PS: My blog finally has a new look after the renovation, you can check it if you like, you are more than welcome! Enjoy your week!

(Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4)

Categories: Decor | 12 Comments »

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Make ‘Em Laugh

Apr 23, 2012

I am sometimes accused of being a cynic. I don’t mean to be; I just happen to value thinking through a situation from start to finish and being realistic. However, this weekend Husband had to remind me several times to look at the positive / keep on the sunny side / look for the silver lining, etc. etc. In that vein, I thought it may be a good idea to start this week off with a few laughs.

So, in the spirit of English Muse, I thought I’d share some of my favorite funny authors. One of the best books I’ve read in the past few months was Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” Although, if you pick up this one up, be warned: you will giggle yourself silly! For this reason, I’d recommend you not read it in bed as it may disturb your bedmate. (A few other picks from some funny favorites: Sarah Vowell, Amy Sedaris & her brother, the very witty, David Sedaris)

Hope you have a *lovely* week!
xo* Hannah B.

Twitter  /  Facebook  / Pinterest

Categories: Decor | Tags: , , | 10 Comments »

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Good day friends. It’s Lelanie from of Beauty and Love here again. I hope you are all well. How was your weekend? Today I’d like to chat a bit about rentals. So many of us rent our homes. Landlords and ladies can be pretty strict with their rules and regulations. This translates into no painting and contending with the weird light fixtures and other oddities of your rental- or does it? Many of us are not happy to just let it slide; letting the décor of our dreams wait until we finally own the house of our dreams. We want a nice place- now. And who can blame you? We spend hours of our lives in our homes. They should be a sanctuary and a place of joy, a place that reflects who you are. How can you achieve this while renting? Well, read on dear friends, it is easier than you think.

1.    Wall papered panels.

You might not be able to create that feature wall in your dining room the way you wanted, by why not try this alternative instead; Buy rectangular Masonite, hardboard or pressed wood planks from your local hardware. Simply apply the wall paper you desire as you would have done to the walls and voila’- you have a feature. Go for one large one or go for three smaller panels to create a feature. Hang this on the wall, lean it against it, stand it on a dresser or prop it up behind a couch.

2.    Give your furniture personality.

If you can’t personalise the wall colour, than go for the furniture. Introduce colour by painting old wooden furniture in bold colours. Alternatively, apply pattern and texture to a few pieces. This will liven up the room and give it your personal stamp of approval.



3.     Amazing bedding.

So, your dreams of a stony grey feature wall behind your bed, has been tossed out the window? Why not get the look another way? Invest in amazing bedding; go for colour, texture, pattern or plain. This is an easy way to add the colour you wanted without making your landlord’s blood boil. Make sure it is something extra special; very soft, comfortable and totally you. A bedroom is the most sacred place in your house and should be a retreat. Consider investing in custom bedding; knowing it was made just for you, gives it that something extra.

4.    Statement lighting.

Why be stuck with that old fashioned, weird or just plain unsightly light. It is very simple to replace light fittings. Mr. Price always has a large variety of chandeliers and other lights that are reasonably priced. You could even consider Chinese lanterns front the China mall in Braamfontein. Just make sure you keep the original light and all its’ pieces safe, so you can put it back when moving out.

5.    Wall décor: framed collections or wall stickers.

Consider spicing up your walls with a framed collection. Frame items that are of sentimental value to you, things that remind you of good times. It doesn’t all have to be photos. Use frames to add interest and depth. Or consider a wall sticker. These are very cost effective, come in all shapes, sizes and colours and are fully customizable.

Highly framable

6.    Loose carpets and mats.

As mentioned in this post, these are key elements to any décor scheme. A simply mat can completely transform a room.

7.    Multi-function storage.

As mentioned here, a nice room divider can do wonders. Most rentals have an open plan dining and living area. A modular unit is ideal for defining this space. Plus, it adds extra storage and is a great way to exhibit special items.

The joy of decorating.

These simply suggestions can turn a rental into your own personal sanctuary. Let me know if any of these work for you. What have you done to personalise your rental?




of Beauty and Love


Categories: illustrations | 5 Comments »

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Hello English Muse readers! It’s Karen from A Simple Cup of Tea again. This Sunday I’ll be talking about the art of doing nothing.

Let’s get real here: I am awful at doing nothing. I get restless, I start fidgeting and then as if to make up for a bit of doing nothing I watch a movie and surf blogs, answer email and listen to music all at once. It’s not a pretty sight.

So for this weekend I’ve decided to chill out. Yes, I’m in Glasgow and yes, there’s loads to see. But I didn’t want to be running around like a madwoman trying to see everything in the two half days I actually have here. Yesterday I had a lovely (and sunny) wander around the shopping district and Merchant City and then I decided to do nothing in the evening.

This morning was… nothing again really. It was so refreshing to be lounging around doing nothing in particular without that nagging in the back of my mind telling me that I should get up and DO SOMETHING. Yes, my mind often shouts at me in capital letters.

I’m sure that one day with a bit of an epiphany isn’t going to make me much better at the art of doing nothing so I tried to think of ways to make this easier for me. My game plan, so to speak.

  • Spend five minutes each day doing nothing. No music, no computer, no tv. Just sitting and breathing.
  • Whenever your mind wanders to things you’re ‘supposed’ to be doing focus on breathing and close off.
  • Smile. A lot.

That last bit is important. Really, it is.

I hope you all have a wonderful – and relaxed – weekend.

Picture credit: 1 & 2.

Categories: Decor | Tags: , | 6 Comments »

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Hello! Jenny here. I hope you had a nice week. Today I want to talk to you about style. How did you find your personal style? Were you inspired by fashion magazines, street style, the nature, your friends, your parents or maybe movies and music?  I remember one summer, when I was 7-8 years old, I was so excited by fashion, that I created  a whole schedule of different types of clothing combinations I was going to wear every day. I just loved experimenting and being creative and I guess I loved dressing up.

As I grew older, however, I started feeling the need to conform and admired what other girls (the cool girls) in my class were wearing. And the same thing happened when I started reading fashion magazines. I was never happy with my own style. It’s not until I actually started university and moved to a bigger city (Copenhagen) that I started experimenting again. The more I tried out, the more I learned about who I was. Today, I think I have finally found the forms, colours and materials that I feel comfortable in and that is a great pleasure. But having said that, I also love looking at other people’s style choices  and getting inspiration from cool, independent women with unique style (the ones we often see at Garance Dore and the Sartorialist). Here are some of my favourites, I hope you like them!


Beautiful image, amazing colour coordination, the perfect amount of see-through and THOSE shoes 

This woman exudes happiness and comfort in her own skin 

I love her casual but preppy look and how the red accentuates her features

I admire Emmanuelle Alt because she can pull off any look in her own way, without caring about age, status or critics. That, and also that she wears white jeans in winter and looks great in them.

This last picture is me outside one of my favourite shops in East London. My friend took it for the Zara People! website last year.

 Whose style do you admire?
Have a nice weekend and see you next week!

(You can find all picture credits here)

Categories: Fashion, illustrations | 7 Comments »

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Bon Iver

Apr 20, 2012

Bon jour!

Today’s post will be short and sweet, I hope–this week’s been crazy-busy and I am looking forward to the weekend. My plans? Good books, good music, cooking and going to book readings. What are your plans for the weekend?

Two weeks ago I discovered this song and am playing it on a loop ever since. Never heard of Bon Iver before that and I just learned the band, in various lineups, has been around since 2007!

Bonne écoute + Smiles, Marta.

Categories: Decor | Tags: | 8 Comments »

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Hello again!  It’s Katie again, back with more bookish inspiration for your Thursday.

I have a rather problematic book accumulation habit.  My “to-read” stack is enormous, and gets added to almost daily.  Pesky little things like eating, working, and sleeping get in the way of reading all the time.  Yet books are my greatest source of creative stimulus; stories make me see the world differently.  Who knows what windfall of creativity would come if I finished that great stack of to-reads?

It seems I am not alone in wanting to and wondering how to squeeze more of the printed word into my life.  Better World Books played a hilarious (to me, anyway) April Fool’s joke with an imaginary new product–the hands-free book–claiming that “manual preoccupation was the major factor keeping readers from multitasking effectively.”  I do sympathize with the plight of needing my hands to do things besides holding a book and was slightly disappointed that the product was not only imagined but rather improbable (except for audiobooks, perhaps).

Then I came across a little post on wikiHow that’s a little more grounded in reality. The post is a guide to making time to read, with twenty-three idea, a handful of tips, and three warnings (along the lines of “pay attention to the road when you’re listening to an audiobook in the car” and such).  My favorite tip is something I wish I did more consistently: keep a list of the books you read, perhaps with notes about them.  Goodreads makes it pretty easy to do this, but you could also keep a simple notebook.  It’s a small adventure to see where your reading has taken you in your life.  When I look back at my lists of books read over the years, I almost always remember both the emotions I experience reading a work and the things I experienced in my life at the time I read it.  These memories, in turn, can become stories, projects, and a spark of creativity.

Have a  happy Thursday, friends!  I’m devouring Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies right now, which I picked up at the library last week.  What are you reading?  How do you think you will remember it?

p.s. I’m sorry I didn’t get back to any comments left here last week.  I had some serious computer problems and spent all weekend fixing them, so I’m still catching up.  I’d love to start a conversation about books, so please do leave a note and get the conversation going!

[Image: Ocean Books Instant Library, by Andrea of Sorrythankyou79 on Etsy, also featured in the FOSSIL spring catalogue]


Categories: Books, illustrations | 6 Comments »

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Jesse Kornbluth here, editor of, today considering a change of life — my own.

We may be moving.

For a dozen years, we’ve lived in a small, circa 1929 building, You’ll picture it easily: brick and balustrades, a small lobby with Oriental carpets, and, until recently, a lobby painted library green. It’s so tasteful, so Ralph Lauren, that you can walk by it without being aware of it. I say of our building, quoting the alleged dandy Beau Brummell, “If you noticed me, I wasn’t well-dressed.”

Our décor is a match for the exterior: quiet, traditional, unpretentious. We bought chipped antiques so we didn’t have to chip them. The chintz is faded. Nothing stands out — the room is a stage set for the people who live here and the people who wander in.

So where do you think we’re moving?

If it all works out, to a new glass tower. A total change. Dramatic architecture, maybe a pool, maybe a gym, and something our daughter loves to joke about: “available parking.” There will be fewer bookcases, less storage — we’ll have to streamline.

I’ve lived this way once before, in my bachelor days, when I had an apartment at The Apthorp, a block-square building with a large courtyard. It’s venerable to the max, built in 1908 by the Astors. But I didn’t honor that pre-pre-war spirit — it was the late ‘70s, and I opted for white walls, almost no furniture, and black industrial carpeting in the bedroom. Crisp? My place crackled.

I had never heard of Jennifer Post until I read about her book party in New York Social Diary. The cover had few words: Pure Space. Elegant Minimalism. The cover photo had a wall of glass. A penny dropped — this book held clues for our next home.

I googled Jennifer Post. And discovered at “an home” piece about her on the same site. Turns out that she lives in a mostly white, stripped bare apartment in The Apthorp — her apartment is a lot like the one I had, just a zillion times better done.

Better believe I rushed to get my hands on “Jennifer Post: Pure Space.” [To buy the book from Amazon, click here.]

Post’s signature is minimalism of a very high order. Her white paint isn’t what you buy at Home Depot, it’s a special, secret formula. She knocks walls down and repositions them, and not for the feng shui of it. Given her druthers, she banishes baseboards. And most furniture. And, for that matter, possessions.

“People think that minimalism is cold, but I show it as elegant, sophisticated, warm and inviting,” she says. “My rooms are happy rooms — whoever lives there is happy, People begin to realize how much more freedom they have. Once I’m done, they appreciate how much easier it is to live without two or three sets of plates.”

And make no mistake: Her clients pay for the privilege. There are no scholarship cases among them; she’s got Simon Cowell and Jennifer Lopez and zillionaires who look down on us from the heights of the Time-Warner tower. As she likes to say, she’s not a BMW: “I’m a Bentley.”

What do her clients see in white rooms with no wood in sight?

Peace. Serenity. Relief. And — let’s say it bluntly — every kind of distance from the world and its vulgar little people.

What’s in these 240 pages for us vulgar little people?

To quote Jennifer Post: “I think you have a lot more freedom and time without all the clutter.”

Agreed. But unlike Ms. Post, I don’t mean that esthetically. I mean it as a practical matter — as a political-economic decision. As follows: I know they talk a good game, but I don’t believe for one second that the gasbags, idiots and greedheads currently leading companies and governments and “serious” television shows have the least interest in saving the middle class. I think we’re in the last reel of the Titanic movie: every man for himself. And I think, therefore, that it is better to cash out, store up nuts for the winter, and live light and simple before the next wave of bad news hits and we’re tossing furniture into the furnace for fuel.

In the story of Milarepa, perhaps the greatest of Tibet’s saints, there’s a lovely anecdote. At the end of his life, Milarepa retreated to a cave to meditate. His diet was nettles. His chest hair turned green. People who saw him thought he was a caterpillar. His one possession, a bowl, cracked. Milarepa’s response was to bless God for showing him the folly of possessions. When he died, the sky was filled with angels.

Our destiny may not be to become angels. But it is certainly not to live as hoarders. Jennifer Post has given us 240 pages to dream on. Somewhere in that dream may be an idea you can use to create a small patch of heaven.

Categories: Decor | Tags: | 2 Comments »

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Note to self: Never again take Beauty Advice from Hermione Granger!

Actress Emma Watson is the spokesmodel for a line of Lancome lipstick and was quoted saying that ‘Midnight Rose’ Rouge in Love was her go-to shade.  In an act of pure brilliance, I bought this product after trying it on under the shiny flourescent lights of Sephora and not in a normal situation( like a Yule Ball or anywhere with non-laboratory lighting). I figured, ‘She’s pasty fair-skinned, I’m pasty fair-skinned, and this is the girl that aced Arithmancy. Surely she can work out an acceptable beauty regiment.”

Pure fiction! At least as it applies to me. This shade would indeed probably be nice on someone with a neutral skin tone who can wear both warm and cool tones like Ms. Watson, but I think it’s a bit too bright for someone with my level of blue undertones in the epidermis. Do you think she could transfigure it into a better color for me?

Perhaps because I’m a dancer, I love the idea of playing a character and being in costume even in my everyday life. Unfortunately Hermione’s color scheme doesn’t work for me, so I’ll take a leaf out of her book in another way- hot-off-the-runway! A look I call, ‘Fresh From the Library’.

This little book-turned-bag comes from artist Karla Staley and her line ‘Bagitude! Handbags with Attitude’. Each individually designed creation starts with a book cover, magazine, game board, playbill, or even album record and is completed with lining, closure,  and a choice of beads or strap for handle.

One of the best things about being an arts writer is having the opportunity to collect a jumble of playbills and programs from the many wonderful shows that I’m able to see. When I particularly enjoy a performance, I tend to hold on to the paperwork as a memento of the experience. I’m considering sending a few of these to Ms. Staley to see if she would make a laptop-sized bag for me, all of my books, and all bad makeup decisions. I want to carry all of my favorite characters and performers around with me. If Ms. Stanley could partner up with Hermione and enchant said bag to be weightless, it would sure be a load off of my shoulders!

Which fictional character would you take beauty advice from?

See you next week- or come visit me! x0x0- from Jess and Hermione


Categories: Fashion | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments »

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Hey everybody! 🙂 Hope you’ve all had a lovely week thus far. This is Lizzie from Whims and Fancies writing to you in the wee hours of the morn because Tina is a taskmaster and she wants me to  publish my posts at 6 PM Pacific Standard Time, which is around 6 AM where I am at! Humph! (Nah, I’m kidding. That’s what technology is for. I, of course, write it ahead of time and schedule it for publishing.)

So, have you heard this Dinah Shore  song by Ray Evans and Jay Livingstone?

East is east and west is west

And the wrong one I have chose

Let’s go where they keep on wearin’

Those frills and flowers and buttons and bows

Rings and things and buttons and bows.

How perfect is this song! Any time I hear it, all I want to do is go where they wear frills and flowers and ring and things and buttons and bows! (These are a few of my favourite things!)

Songs, like all other art, perform such an incredible and irreplaceable function in our lives. They reflect our consciousness, as individuals and as a collective, and also guide and shape our thoughts. They make us better people and also tell us that there is another person separated in time and space who feels the same as us; someone who wants to go somewhere simply because there are buttons and bows and frills and flowers there. Sigh!

Hakuna Matata? 

Yeah. It’s our motto! 

What’s a motto? 

Nothing. What’s a-motto with you?

It’s a problem-free philosophy, really! How could you not laugh and sing along when you listen to this song

Aow, so loverly sittin’ abso-bloomin’-lutely still.

I would never budge ’till spring

Crept over me windowsill.

Someone’s ‘ead restin’ on my knee,

Warm an’ tender as ‘e can be. ‘ho takes good care of me,

Aow, wouldn’t it be loverly?

Loverly, loverly, loverly, loverly

Eliza Doolittle sang the truth of a lot of hearts with this one. Life’s simple pleasures… when songs celebrate that, they are rendered timeless. Listening to these songs, troubles melt like lemon drops and you really do start believing that the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

And I, for one, could dance all night listening to these songs.

How about you? What are the songs that take you away on a journey… that lift you up and make you more than you are on your own… that make you smile, make you weep, make you dream, and make you sigh…

What are your songs?

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9

Categories: Things to love... | 8 Comments »

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Happy Wednesday! It’s Marthe from The Freedom Experiment again, this week with another visually stimulating (and hopefully inspiring) post! As so many else, I’m hooked on Pinterest, and I’ve spent hours and hours pinning images of dream homes and beautiful cakes (who hasn’t?). However, Pinterest can be used in so many ways, and I thought I’d give you my favourite creative and alternative ways of using Pinterest:

1. Gather inspiring quotes and make it a habit to go on Pinterest and read them every time you need a pick-me-up.

Here’s a little secret for you: I’m struggling with a nasty mental disorder and Pinterest is actually on my emotional crisis safety plan. Yes, you hear it right. When faced with the question “how can you help yourself when you’re feeling emotionally stressed and overwhelmed?” I answered “Pinterest.” Because reading uplifting quotes really helps to lift my spirits. Maybe reading quotes can help you too?

2. Gather visual inspiration for a creative project (and share it with your tribe)

The photos above are from my Inspiring Photos board, and I’m using these images to design the new layout on my website. I find that having an online inspiration board makes it all a lot easier – you can share it with your tribe and ask for feedback, inspiration and thoughts. Also, if you’re working with a designer, being able to show him/her what you’re after and what kind of style you like is invaluable! Which brings us to the next tip;

3. Gather inspiration for a new haircolour (or tattoo maybe?) and show it to your hairdresser

I actually loaded this board on my iPad and brought it along for my appointment. I showed my hairdresser what kind of look I was after, and she totally nailed it! This approach is so much better than telling someone that you want a “brownish red, not too bright, not too orangy and not to signal red”…  So much easier, and so much more fun!

4. Pin the images from your website and promote yourself and your work

Pinterest can be used for promotion too, just do it with style and grace. For example, you can pin your own images (once) to your own board so that your followers can decide if they want to re-pin or not. It’s also a great resource if you want to get an overview of the visual image you have on your site! Seeing all the images together can show how your readers perceive your style. Do you like how the images go together, or do you need to change your direction?

5. Make a board and pin images that represent your dream

Speaking of changing directions… A great way of using pinterest is to make a board that represents your dream life, your values or who you want to grow into. Took at it often and feel the rush of energy! As you can see, my dream is to live in New York City. Every time I come upon a nice picture of NY that I like – I pin it. And then I use it as inspiration to make it happen! This summer, I’m going to make it my Freedom Experiment to live in NYC for 4-6 weeks. Will I see you there?

6. Pin some recipes that aren’t just visually stunning, but something that you’d actually make. Try one new recipe every week!

There are lots of tempting cakes and visually stunning food photographs out there, but instead of pinning what looks good – try to pin something that you could actually make! And do it! I’ve tried lots of reciped from Pinterest, but I find that the best looking pictures don’t always result it the best food. Make it a habit to look for food, not cakes. This way you’ll never run out of dinner ideas!

7. Make a wishlist and share the link to your board with friends and family

Wishlists are great, but the written ones are so boring to look at! I’m sure your friends and family will love having a visual list in good time before your  birthday comes up. Make a board and start adding too it right away! Whenever you buy or receive something – delete the pin or write a comment underneath with details.

8. Gather images of things you find comforting and soothing. Have a look at your board every now and then to make sure you remember what you need when harder times hit.

This is another approach I’ve been using together with my emotional crisis plan. I have identified that I can easier help myself through challenging times if I’m wearing warm socks, drinking tea and lighting candles. Anyone else feel the same way? Well, the thing is – I tend to forget all this when I’m in the middle of a difficult situation. I find visual reminders work better than a list telling me to” do this or do that”. Pinterest is the solution! Oh, and in case you wonder – I’m not an emotional mess all the time, I promise. 😉

How do you use Pinterest?

ps. if any of the images above strike your fancy, you can find me on Pinterest here.

Categories: photographs, tech geeks | Tags: , , , | 22 Comments »

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Colour bombs!

Apr 17, 2012

A guest post from author, journalist and curator of the lovely and the bizarre, Naomi Bulger

At the end of winter, on the last full moon day of the lunar month, Hindus across many parts of the globe celebrate by throwing coloured, scented powder and perfume at one another.

The festival is known by many names. The best known is Holi, but it is also called Dolajāta, Dol Jatra and Basantotsav. In English, we call it the Festival of Colours.

I have read that during Holi, the divisions of caste, wealth, status, gender and age draw back somewhat. Together the rich and the poor, those of high caste and low, fill the streets with joy.

If that thought is not enough to inspire you on a Tuesday evening, sail with me now, under perfume and colour, through this glorious, weightless video. Isn’t it just like a dream?

Photo from here

Categories: Travel | 16 Comments »

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Hello, sweet readers, me again.  I hope your week is off to a great start!

Just for fun, here are some fun and inspirational facts for your Tuesday:

Did you know that Josephine Cochran invented the dishwashing machine? Ms. Cochran unveiled the first dishwashing machine at the World’s Fair.  Supposedly she exclaimed, “If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine, I’ll do it myself.”

Lady Ada Lovelace (daughter of Lord Byron) invented the binary systems of numbers.  I’ll be honest, arithmetic is not my forte and I don’t actually know what binary systems of numbers means, BUT her invention makes her the first computer programmer! And that’s cool in my book.

And, did you know that women also invented the windshield wiper, the bra, the jockstrap, coffee filters and chocolate chip cookies?

PS. I learned all of the above facts from reading Backwards in High Heels.

We owe women our thanks for chocolate chip cookies!

Ladies, let this be your inspiration. Now go and invent something!

{Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4}

Categories: Decor | Tags: , | 5 Comments »

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