Archive for July, 2012

When I lived in Adelaide, Australia, for a few months last year, JamFactory was one of the first places the locals told me to visit. A beautiful big brick building, it was home to studios and workshops for talented craftspeople, specialising in glass, metal, ceramics and furniture. You can take courses, watch the artists at work, visit exhibitions, and shop for one-off pieces in the adjacent store.

And today I have some super exciting news. JamFactory has just launched a small but oh-so-elegant line of self-branded, handcrafted products for the home. It opened last week and we can all get our sticky little hands (see what I did there? because it’s called JAM Factory?) on the collection via JamFactory’s online shop.

By my reckoning, I have approximately 12 months during which time I can fill my home with a select few of these chic pieces and pretend to all my friends that I am a stylish and design-savvy homemaker, before my baby girl turns into a toddler and smashes them all to bits.

I’ve already picked out six favourites from this line (all rather reasonably priced at under $100 to make up for the imminent smashing), to go on my birthday wish list. My birthday is in October. Hint hint.

What will go on your wish list?

1.    Turf paperweight (Danielle Rickaby) – $98
2.    KINK vinegar bottle (Deb Jones) – $95
3.    Fusion Tumbler (Madeline Prowd) – $77
4.    Aircraft brooch (Christian Hall) – $75
5.    PADDLE Bread Board (Furniture Design Studio) – $95
6.    Husque Bauple bowls (Marc Harrison) – $165 for two

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For the first time in a very long time, I’m actually not reading anything right now. I am thinking about picking up Jennifer Weiner’s new book, The Next Best Thing. Her books always make me happy. What are you reading?



{Incredibly cute image is from here.}

Categories: Books | Tags: | 16 Comments »

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Often I post about artwork that is more inspirational than aspirational. Today I am so excited to feature an artist who sells prints of her work on Etsy.  You too, can have these beautiful images hanging on your wall.

Yellena James is the artist, currently living in coastal Oregon, but she is originally from Sarajevo.

In her featured seller interview on Etsy she writes about how her art education helped her through the dark days during the siege of Sarajevo.

“I was born in Sarajevo and lived there until the end of the civil war, in 1995. During the war, I had to sneak past numerous snipers to attend a high-school that was dedicated to the arts. That’s where I really grew passionate about my own art. The school had electricity most of the time, which meant heat and music, and similar-minded people who just wanted to create and get away from the horrible outside world.”

I love how complicated her work is, the line work draws me in and my eyes keep traveling.

She sells the originals in galleries but has a wide selection of prints on Etsy. Right now she is running a sale on her prints buy 2 get one free! Happy Shopping! All images from Yellena’s shop


Have a lovely Tuesday,

Sarah from Design Flourishes

Categories: illustrations | 4 Comments »

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Subway tile love

Jul 30, 2012

Morning guys. Welcome to Monday. How was your weekend? We spent the weekend working on our new house. It was hard work, but it is really rewarding and so much fun. I am making plans to redo the bathroom and I am also planning a little tile feature behind the stove. I have completely fallen in love with subway tiles.

I love their paired down simplicity and elegance. They are small enough to be striking, yet not too overwhelming in the space.

They look equally lovely in the kitchen and the bathroom.

What do you think of these spaces and the tiles? Love them or hate them?

Have a lovely Monday,


of Beauty and Love

Subway1, Subway2, Subway3, Subway4, Subway5, Subway6

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Inside the clothes

Jul 29, 2012

Hello English Muse readers! Karen from A Simple Cup of Tea once again. This week I wanted to share this quote from Yves Saint Laurent with you all. The man not only was a visionary about women’s fashions – but also had very clear views about the kind of woman he designed for.

Have a lovely Sunday!


PS: the awesome print in this post is from Blimpcat and you can purchase the poster here.

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…happy thought indeed!

This year’s Jane Austen festival did not disappoint.  I enjoyed my cup (or three) of Mr. Knightley’s Reserve, a perfect Earl Grey from Bingley’s Teas, delightful and delicate tea sandwiches and scones, and the most wonderful lavender rum cake.  During the tea, we were regaled with a reading from the wonderful last few pages of Pride and Prejudice by a friend who had thought to bring her copy along, and laughed at the blundering of various characters.

While wandering around the beautiful house at Locust Grove, we noticed the shelving in the bedroom closets and were shortly engaged in a good-humored debate about the various representations of Mr. Collins and his bumbling ways in films.  The scene  that inspired our little debate makes us laugh every time in the original text and in every adaptation: Mr. Collins takes Elizabeth around his home, showing off what she missed by refusing his hand in marriage, and goes on about the shelves placed in the closet at Lady Catherine’s suggestion.  He paints this simple suggestion–shelves in a closet!–in the most glowing of speeches, practically his patroness.

And so I wonder, dear readers: which depiction of the delightfully dreadful Mr. Collins leaves you laughing the most?

Until next Thursday, when I shall return with pictures (hopefully) and a few more good laughs about Austen’s most delightful characters,

Katie (Unwritten, Untitled)

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Jesse Kornbluth, of, here to tell you about a book that’s so thrilling, so full of plot twists, I don’t dare spoil your fun.

It’s #3 on the New York Times best seller list for fiction.

It’s the #5 best-selling book on Amazon, where it’s got 750 reader reviews — in two months.

The movie rights just sold to 20th Century Fox for more than $1 million.

I’m less than fond of mystery/thrillers, and yet I stayed up until 4 AM to finish Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.”

And if I told you too much about it, you’d have to kill me.

You’d have to kill me because you don’t want anything to spoil your reading pleasure. Which does not mean your pleasure in figuring out whodunnit, because in “Gone Girl” you basically have no idea what has happened. Or if something happened. Or, if something happened, what it means. To say nothing of what happens next. [To buy the book from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle edition, click here.]

Let’s leave it at this: Nick and Amy Dunne had a blissful romance and marriage. Then his magazine job evaporated. Then she lost her job writing quizzes for another magazine. Then his mother got sick. So: two unemployed people in New York, one sick woman in North Carthage, Missouri. What would you do? Well, what’s what they did.

Life in a rented McMansion in Missouri: tolerable for Nick, very tough for Amy. Her opening remark: “Should I remove my soul before I come inside?” Make friends? Oh, come on. Amy: “This is a town of contented also-rans.”

And then, on the morning of their fifth anniversary, Amy disappears.

And if something bad happened to her, guess who the most obvious suspect is?

The novel is told from two points-of-view: hers and his. But it’s not like that tired cliché: No two people remember events the same way. It’s more like the line that powered the medical TV series, “House” — everybody lies.

Ooops, that was almost a hint.

And I should limit myself to advice; If you have something planned between midnight and 4 AM…. don’t start this book.

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Drifts of Color

Jul 24, 2012


I am so amazed at creative couples who can work and live together and make amazing art (presumably) without bloodshed. Such is the case with Kate Tedman and Eric Siemens. Together they are Kate Eric, a married couple and artistic collaboration, he from Oregon and she from Oxford, England. They began working together in 2000, and although their earlier work is interesting, the most recent paintings are simply amazing.

No No Uncle 4

They are able to achieve an amazing saturation of color. Against a stormy background the colors just sing.

Melon of the 20 Thieves

Bug War Over Two Blue Mountain

Bug War Over Two Blue Mountain - detail

Many of these paintings are huge, “Bug War” is 90 x 180 inches. That is 15 feet long! I imagine they must be nearly overwhelming in person.

Feeder in Bloom

Frayvs Frizzle

Looming the Hive

This might be serious art, but there is a sense of play about it too. It is a fabulous mix of abstraction and surreality.


Have a Lovely Tuesday,

Sarah from Design Flourishes

images from Kate Eric’s website and the Leila Heller Gallery’s website

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“I believe in fairy tales and serendipitous encounters…”
Do you?

Until next week. xo* ~ Hannah B. 

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Gold versus Silver

Jul 23, 2012

Morning guys. How are you all? It’s lovely to be back here today. We had a great weekend. My husband and I recently bought our first house and yesterday I made the first purchase. A chandelier! But today I want to ask your opinion on something else. Where do you stand in the good old metal debate- silver or gold? Which one do you prefer?

According to some of the leading trend authorities here in South-Africa, the sun is setting for silver and gold is on the rise. I am seeing gold everywhere lately. In accessories, furniture, trim and objet.

Silver has had a bit of a short run. The last two years have been all things silver, but now we are returning to the warmer metal. Gold doesn’t have to be uber shiny and gaudy. A more understated look is now the order of the day.

Gold van be used i classical, contemporary or modern designs. It’s all about the combination. Here bright purple give a fun zing. Or you can pair it with white, as seen below, for a classy, understated look.

What about this spin on the muted palette? Add flowers in a bright colour to add a burst of life to this look. It’s not quite as bold as the purple scheme, but it has that special something.

What do you think? Silver or gold? I must admit that I am loving these gold accessories and coffee tables. I would love to have something similar in my lounge.

Have a lovely Monday,


of Beauty and Love

Sources Living room, dresser + footstool (this pouffe is available from the awesome Bohemia online store), Neutral lounge, silver and purple,

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Packing for Milan

Jul 20, 2012

Hello lovely readers. Jenny here. I am trying to pack for Milan at the moment and am so confused. After 3 months of non-stop rain in London, I have almost forgotten what sun feels like. I can’t wait to wear shorts and a t-shirt but at the same time I do want to look summer chic, if you know what I mean. So here are my dilemmas:

  1. High and pretty or comfortable but less pretty sandals?

  2. One day or Kafka on the Shore?

  3. Maxi dress or jumpsuit?

  4. Proper camera or Blackberry camera?

Oh, dilemmas, dilemmas. I might just put whatever comes first to my mind in my suitcase and just ignore it. Did I mention I hate packing?



Categories: Travel | 4 Comments »

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Jul 19, 2012

Janeite-ing |’jen īt iŋ|


  1. the act or experience of putting one’s love and enjoyment of all things related to Jane Austen, her novels, and the Regency Era into practice and/or making it public knowledge

  2. attending a Jane Austen Festival every year

JASNA Louisville‘s 5th Annual Jane Austen Festival is this weekend.  My grandmother, aunt, sister, mother, and I have attended every year since it began, and look forward to it every summer.  Hundreds of Janeites and their friends come and go at Locust Grove (home of George Rogers Clark‘s sister and her husband), exploring the rolling hills, the house with a slanted staircase, and all sorts of Regency Era-style vendors, re-enactors, antiques, fashions, books, and, but of course, afternoon tea.  There’s even a gentleman’s duel.

I absolutely cannot wait for Sunday.

I’ll be back next week with pictures and a report on all the loveliness.

Until next Thursday,

Katie (Unwritten, Untitled)


p.s. If you live in or near Louisville and would like to attend, you can find information on the festival here.

[Images are mine, all from JASNA 2011.  More can be found in my album from last year.]

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Jesse Kornbluth, usually of, here to confess a crush — and to invite you to share it.

Alec Baldwin says that Trine Dyrholm is “the best actress in the world.”

Michael Moore has said “Troubled Water” was the best film he saw in 2009.

Never heard of it? Well, The New York Times didn’t review it. If it played in the United States, it was a secret. The movie preview on YouTube doesn’t have subtitles — do you speak Norwegian?

On the theory that maybe three or four of you will want to see it, here goes….

“Troubled Water” starts with a theft: a stroller, with a handbag attached. Alas, there is a little boy in the stroller. He ends up missing, declared dead, and Jan Thomas Hansen (Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen) and his sidekick are convicted of murder.

Jan Thomas Hansen becomes the organist of the prison church services. When he is paroled, he drops his first name — the decade-old crime is that notorious in Norway — and gets a job as a church organist. The job comes with an apartment and a friendship with an attractive, unmarried priest. But romance is not much of a priority for him. Playing the organ is. And coming to terms.

Is forgiveness important? he asks the priest.

Not very, she says, because God forgives everything.

Then what is important?

Atonement, she says.

Well, how high a bar is that? He has never admitted that he killed the boy. He doesn’t believe in redemption, doesn’t take communion, says that when someone is dead no words can help. All he can do is play the organ — brilliantly. And with a personal touch; asked for great church music, he plays “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

Films with symbols are obvious and clichéd. Not here. Water. The blood and body of Christ. Certain hymns. And not much talking. Watch the preview. Even without subtitles, you’ll see…

And now — an hour into the film — we get to the Danish actress, Trine Dyrholm. You may remember her as the wife and mother of In a Better World. That film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. But then, honors happens often for her — whenever Dyrholm is in a film, she gets a prize. She’s the Meryl Streep of Europe. [To buy the DVD from Amazon, click here. To buy or rent the digital download, click here.]

Here Dyrholm plays a teacher. After the death of her only child, she and her husband adopt two Asian girls and forge some kind of functional home. Now her husband surprises her — he’s learned the killer of their child is living in their city, so he’s taken a job in Denmark. They’re moving soon.

But she can’t go yet. She has to know what happened — from the killer. But first she has to find him. Which she does, on a school field trip to the church.

If you have never watched a minute and a half of film without blinking, do it here. There’s no dialogue. It’s mostly a close-up of Trine Dyrholm.

I am in love with Trine Dyrholm — both the actress and her character. I don’t see how anyone could not feel that. No makeup, ravaged by grief, she is nonetheless beautiful. Beauty defined this: you can see into her and share her struggle to keep it together.

This is heavy stuff. And in the last twenty minutes, it gets heavier. I mean, life-and-death heavy. Ultimate truth heavy. Atonement heavy. “I’m caught,” someone says at one point. And that’s true, you think, at layer after layer.

This isn’t an easy movie to watch, especially if you’re a parent. My wife bailed, and I don’t fault her for it. But I couldn’t turn away. These characters suffered and struggled and, in the end, got somewhere. Quite a lesson.

It’s a privilege to watch a movie this great.


Trine Dyrholm began her career as a singer. She’s had a bunch of hits. I thought you might like to see her when she’s not fraught.

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While I’m waiting for my two favorite tv shows (Once and Grimm) to return from their summer hiatus, I’m entertaining myself by watching Downton Abbey (Season 1). If I had known how awesome and addictive this show is, I would have started watching it much, much sooner. 🙂

What are you watching?


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“There you are,” said Bill. “There’s nothing this Puddin’ enjoys more than offering a slice of himself to strangers.”
“How very polite of him,” said Bunyip, but the Puddin’ replied loudly-

“Politeness be sugared, politeness be hanged,
Politeness be jumbled and tumbled and banged.
It’s simply a matter of putting on pace,
Politeness has nothing to do with the case.”

“Always anxious to be eaten,” said Bill, “that’s this Puddin’s mania. Well, to oblige him, I ask you to join us at lunch.”

Hello! This is Naomi Bulger again, coming to you from Melbourne, Australia.

Meet Albert the never-ending pudding, Australia’s first literary anti-hero. Created in 1918 by controversial and bohemian artist Norman Lindsay (better known for painting sexually explicit and often disturbing nude scenes), Albert is the grumpy main character of The Magic Pudding, a much-loved Australian children’s classic.

The book is not only a literary but also an artistic treasure. Its 95 original illustrations are held at the State Library of New South Wales, and they employ unusually diverse media and style throughout the book. The original cover, for example, is a water-colour with ink around the edges. But the title page is different, a kind of fine penmanship; while the page that follows is a looser style of drawing with a wax crayon, and inside you will also find pencil drawings. Albert the pudding has many powers. First and foremost, the more you eat of him the more food you get. (“Me an’ Sam has been eatin’ away at this Puddin’ for years, and there’s not a mark on him,” Bill Barnacle the sailor said.)

Second, Albert can be any flavour of pudding you choose (“Bill cut slices of steak-and-kidney from the Puddin’. After that they had boiled jam roll and apple dumpling, as the fancy took them, for if you wanted a change of food from the Puddin’, all you had to do was whistle twice and turn the basin around.”)

He can also talk (and does so frequently and rudely most of the time), and runs around (and away) remarkably fast on a pair of spindly legs.

As you might expect, poor old Bill Barnacle and his friends spend a lot of time protecting and rescuing the pudding from the puddin’-thieves (“that snooting, snouting scoundrel, the Possum, and his snoozing, boozing friend the Wombat”) who want all this free food for themselves.

It is a joyous, raucous, irreverent delight.

Categories: Books | 3 Comments »

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Jul 17, 2012

As the seasons turn over on each other I love seeing the way that nature moves in predictable patterns. We sometimes think of nature as random and messy, when it is actually mostly predictable and precise.

Russian artist, Tatiana Plakhova’s work takes photographs of natural forms and overlays them with geometric patterns of dots and bits of light.

The result is a mix of shimmering, yet systematic, forms. The heavily controlled and the seemingly random are both beautiful.

Some of her work is more abstract than others, but the kaleidoscope of light and shadow is similar. She says that her work takes elements and inspiration from science, energetics, space, various kinds of “nets”, as well as biology.

I can see all those influences in this work, as well as something a little extra.

Her computer-generated images seem to radiate with life. It is both beautiful and a little eerie.

Have an otherworldly beautiful Tuesday,

Sarah from Design Flourishes


All images from Tatiana Plakhova’s website

Categories: illustrations | 3 Comments »

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Hello, Monday!

Jul 16, 2012

I am completely in love with this picture of Jayne Mansfield; if that doesn’t look like a great way to christen a summer afternoon, I don’t know what is! Just a friendly reminder to persevere this week, drink champagne and, when necessary, work those feminine wiles! {wink}

P.S. I got some great reading recommendations last week!
You can check out a full list here: What Are You Reading? 

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Morning guys. It’s Lelanie from of Beauty and Love, here to welcome you into the new week. I am currently working with an awesome couple. The aim is to help them merge their different design styles and to create a homely space for their family. She loves bright eclectic and he is mad about high-contrast modern. So, where to from here? How about Modern Eclectic? This is a great style and almost anything goes.

There are different ways to get this look.

But here are some key pieces that could help you get a unique, personal look. Mid century modern, vintage and unique pieces work really well when creating this look.

What do you think of Modern Eclectic style? Too quirky or personal- just as you like it?

Have a lovely day, Lelanie.


Lightning Dhurrie, Chevron table, Ice bucket, elephant table, Prints, Mid century chair, map, ceramic deer, side table, lamp, scatter, Skinny scatter, Red scatter,

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Off to Italy

Jul 13, 2012

After two weeks of running errands in Berlin, I am off to Italy for two weeks. This is a gift to myself for taking a year off from life and finishing writing my Ph.D. It is not a two-week vacation, mind you, but a two-week conference devoted to literature and theatre. What is in store for me? Papers, lectures, discussions, readings, plays. But also: Italian food three times a day (and I am planning, in an Elizabeth Gilbert manner, to really have a relationship with my meals there!), excursions to towns in Piemont region, and much quality time spent talking with new and old friends. I can’t wait and am giddy with anticipation all day today, as I am flying from Tegel tomorrow at dawn.

I remember I was dreaming of Italy last year and thinking it was about time I went there again: I spent a magical New Year’s Eve ice-skating in Milan once  and had a couple of gorgeous weeks in Tuscany in the summer. Exactly on my birthday in dreary November I received an email saying I’ve been offered a scholarship to attend this conference in Italy and I thought life is good and I’m one lucky girl. Ever had experiences like that?

Happy Friday!

Smiles, Marta.

P.S. I’m rehearsing my Italian pronounciation today by listening to Eros Ramazzotti and Andrea Bocelli. Enjoy!

Photo credit: 1

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , | 7 Comments »

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Jul 12, 2012


We all have those days: tired, heart a little roughened, a slump in the shoulders, a sigh ready in the ribs.  Those days are the ones in which people are irritating, frustrating, or sometimes mean, in which we encounter reminders that the world is not exactly the place we want it to be or feel it should be.  We want to shake our fist a little, say, “Hey, world, be better!” and sometimes we flounder and wonder what we are doing with ourselves, and sometimes we wonder why.

The books that nurse our flustered spirits on those days are hard to name.  I never know what it will be: an escape into some YA fantasy, a tried-and-true classic, a heartbreaker, a heart-lifter, or poetry.  I do know, however, a few books that have comforted me before, and find I return to them when I need them.  I can name one of each category: A Great and Terrible Beauty, anything by Jane Austen, After You’d Gone, Love Walked In, and Dickinson’s collected works.  I have two rules: one, sad endings are permitted, but nothing hopeless; and two, I must be filled up again by the time I close the book.

What books do you turn to when you’re frustrated with the world outside of literature?


until next Thursday,

Katie (Unwritten, Untitled)


[image 1: “am i supposed to say where am i,” inspired by J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey/image 2: “She was pursuing a phantom,” inspired by Lonfellow’s “Evangeline,” both by Bevin Valentine, available in her Etsy shop.  Don’t they both make you want to fly into the pages of a book?]

Categories: Decor | 9 Comments »

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Jesse Kornbluth, of, this week wrestling with a moral conundrum as a brilliant song puts me on the spot.

It’s embarrassing. No, really, it’s humiliating to admit this, but somebody wronged me in 1989 and I still haven’t dealt with it. I’ve tiptoed right up to the door of a conversation I need to have with this person, a close friend who very nearly cost me the best job I’d ever had, but I’ve never taken the final step and told her that I know what she did and asked why she did it. I have my reasons — I mean: I have my rationalizations — and first among them is that I knew from day one why she did it: She was desperate, there was something she had to have, and it made no difference what lie she had to tell about a close friend to get it.

One could have compassion for someone so over her head that it didn’t matter who she had to burn to survive. But for more than two decades, I haven’t been able to forgive this person. When I think of her — and it’s not often — I’m suddenly sitting on a powder keg of fury, with no way to locate compassion or forgiveness.

In a moment like that — a moment of loathing for her and self-loathing for myself — I heard a song from Brandi Carlile’s new CD, “”Bear Creek.” It’s called “That Wasn’t Me,” and it’s about addiction — not hers — and dealing with it, and that person changing, and friends wanting to believe in that change. It’s about love and compassion and hope, emotions that Brandi Carlile can access with astonishing speed. Of course I bawled when I first heard it — the way I know something is Art is that it makes me cry — and I got teary all over again the next dozen times I heard it. So I stopped playing the CD. For a never-before reason: It was too good. [To buy “Bear Creek” from Amazon, click here. For the MP3 download, click here.]

But now there’s been an event — you don’t need the details — that has reminded me of this long-distant betrayal. And the wrong done to me has been gnawing at me. Often. So, seeking solace in somebody else’s drama, I put on “Bear Creek” again. And, in “That Wasn’t Me,” I heard the words fresh: “Do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet?”

And you know what? I don’t. It’s not obvious that I don’t, because I can fake it as well as anyone in this city, but it became very clear to me that as long as I’m holding onto this bile, I’m treating everybody I deal with just a bit more defensively than I ought to. That’s got to stop. And I’m gonna stop it.

Why tell this story?

I’m not minimizing the importance of entertainment — life is hard, a good night out is to be cherished — but some entertainers are healers as well as performers. And over three CDs, I find qualities in Brandi Carlile that are worthy of admiration. Healing qualities. And not, I’d bet, just for me.

These deeper qualities are not immediately apparent. She has a powerful voice — when she lets go, she’s right up there with Janis Joplin — and that showmanship dazzles.

And although she can rock, she can also do country, which is no longer a genre that seems to allow for much real feeling. But most of all — and this requires some careful listening to notice — as a writer she can communicate very directly: “I want to leave this town/ Fake my death/ Never look back.” I’ve been there. You?

Old fans are divided about this CD. They’re partial to The Story and Give Up the Ghost — “authentic” Brandi. They fear she’s lost her edge in this outing, that she’s reaching out to the pop music arena crowd. I’m impressed by their ability to read her mind and know her goals.

Me, I hear cellos amid the guitars. I hear harmony. I hear a woman in her early 30s writing her diary. And at the end of “Just Kids” — the last song on the CD, a song that, not accidentally I suspect, bears the same title as Patti Smith’s book — I hear these lyrics: “Over the rainbow, out in the snow / Learning to walk with sand in our toes / Long to be tall, kissed when you fall / Hoping that someone will come when you call.” And then, as the music fades, I hear … frogs. Recorded by the creek near the studio. In these hellacious days, that strikes me as beauty.

Categories: Decor | 3 Comments »

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To Catch A Thief

Jul 10, 2012

Grace Kelly’s grandson, Andrea Casiraghi, is engaged to his longtime girlfriend, the lovely Tatiana Santo Domingo.  The wedding news made me think of Grace Kelly and how happy she’d be for the young couple.

My favorite Grace Kelly film is To Catch A Thief (1955).   Have you seen it? It is a charming Hitchcock film, complete with breathtaking scenery, the handsome Cary Grant and, of course, Grace Kelly’s incredibly chic wardrobe.

I hope your week is off to a beautiful start.


Categories: photographs | Tags: | 3 Comments »

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Hi there, Naomi Bulger here, happy to be back on English Muse after a short break, during which I had a baby girl called Madeleine, we found out she was sick, but we determined to stay positive no matter what. It’s been a busy time!

Meanwhile, the weather in Melbourne, Australia, looks like living up to its reputation this week with wet, wet and more wet on the forecast, so we will be bunkering down for some solid indoors time. And in between feeds, nappies, a few freelance jobs and the odd bit of cooking and cleaning, that means two wonderful things for me: reading and writing.

Reading because it is such a glorious escape, especially now that I most often do it with a warm bundle of love asleep on one of my shoulders. And writing because in my head, I am already devising wonderful stories that I will write for Madeleine to enjoy when she is older.

When I went into hospital to have Madeleine, I was reading Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, and I read part of it aloud to her while we fed (until I decided it got too depressing for a three-day-old). Now that I’m back home with my little one, I find I’m drawn more to children’s stories, adventures into which I can imagine my baby girl stepping.

So I’m reading my way through the Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke. Have you read these books? I am simply in love with the concept of characters from a story stepping into our world… and us moving about inside their storybook world. And the sense that while the author dictates what happens in a story at first, characters can just as easily run away from the author and carve their own destiny. Certainly that has happened to me when writing fiction. It puts me in mind of Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder, the discovery that we are but characters in a bigger story…

Do you ever wish you could live (at least for a little while) between the pages of a book? Which book would you choose to visit first?

(All images are screenshots from the 2008 film adaptation of Inkheart)

Categories: Books | 4 Comments »

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Golden Leaves

Jul 10, 2012

When I saw these paintings by Brad Kunkle my jaw dropped. They are so beautiful and seem nearly too perfect.

He used a mix of oil paints and gold leaf. The bits of real, metallic gold shimmer within the images. In an interview he says this about the gold leaf in his paintings:

“As one walks across a room or dims the lights, they are affecting the painting and the painting is affecting them.  The paintings become a living, breathing thing to me when the leaf is shifting and the oil is quiet.  The art literally becomes interactive and can give the work a supernatural quality.”

I love how the figures are completely encased in the leaves; they look something like water, or air made visible. His limited color palate gives the paintings a dreamlike, antique feeling.

This is truly romantic work…


Have a Lovely Tuesday,

Sarah from Design Flourishes

All images from Brad Kunkle’s website

Categories: illustrations | 6 Comments »

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