Friday, 28 November 2008

Something for the Weekend: Edward Steichen

*Norma Shearer (1935)*

These gorgeous photographs were taken by Edward Steichen (1879-1973). Born in Luxembourg Eduard Jean Steichen became a naturalised American citizen after migrating to the US with his family as a child. Steichen was first and foremost a fine art painter until he realised how his skills in fine art could translate into photography to create a new kind of pictoralist art photography. During World War One he comanded the photographic division of the American Expeditionary Force. Viewing the world from above, as director of arial photography, led Steichen to experiment with a new ‘modernist’ photography and after the war he turned to photographing the fashion and film world from new perspectives. Just feast your eyes on these truly beautiful images... What do you think?

Kendall Lee (1925) * Gloria Swanson (1924) *Marlene Dietrich (1934)*

puddings and fairs

Hmm so I didn't find any christmas presents at the fair. But I did buy a delicious looking christmas pudding from Ogmore Farm which had a stand at the fair. It has been steamed for 12 hours in an aga and so just needs re-heating on the big day. It is all bundled up with red gingham and tied with a piece of string. It looks fabulous! Ogmore Farm is in a beautiful spot, right next to this castle ...

which is a stones throw away from this beautiful beach:

It is one of my favourite spots in the Vale of Glamorgan and it gives me great cheer to think our christmas pudding will have come from there!

The fair went really well, it was a charity fair in aid of Ty Hafan which is a childrens hospice entirely funded by donations. It's a really important local cause so I was so happy that we managed to raise a lot of money for them!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Christmas is coming

Today I saw the coca cola advert which signals the start of all things festive for me. Do you know the one?  The jingle goes 'holidays are coming, holidays are coming' as a big coca cola lorry delivers Christmas coke cheer through snow swept lands. This, along with my appalling Christmas shopping experience on Sunday, has started me thinking about Christmas presents.  I need to get cracking.  I'm going to knit a few cashmere hot water bottle covers but other than that I have absolutely no inspiration.  I am so busy at the moment with Christmas cakes, wedding cakes and consultations that I can't set my mind to it.  This must be remedied ASAP.  This Christmas is going to be a bit special as N and I will be spending our first Christmas together.  Hmm yes I know we have been together for 7 years but we've always gone our separate ways over Christmas.  N only normally only gets Christmas day and Boxing day off work and when I was living in London I always wanted to spend time with my family back in Wales over the holidays.  Likewise he wanted to be with his family.   This year, in an unprecedented move, N is coming to Wales for Christmas - I am so looking forward to it!  But I'm a bit worried - will he find our Welsh family Christmas traditions a bit odd?! Hmm it all remains to be seen.  On the Christmas present front I am exhibiting at a Christmas fair tomorrow so perhaps I will see some lovely things there to purchase...

Sunday, 23 November 2008

My Weekend...

My weekend has been BUSY! It has been another weekend without seeing N. He had an accident in his car (someone drove into the back of him - the guy admitted he wasn't looking as he was trying to retrieve something from his glove compartment - idiot!). N is fine, but his car is undrivable until the insurance people get it fixed, if it gets fixed - it's a very old car, and it's done some miles so we are keeping our fingers crossed it doesn't get written off!

On Saturday I had a wedding cake to deliver and set up, followed by two consultations, followed by christmas fair baking, followed by the first part of making a celebration cake for a gentlemans 50th birthday. Apparently this man has a penchant for baked beans and so the instructions were to make a cake which looks like a stack of baked beans cans...!

Sunday morning was spent on the celebration cake. It ended up looking like this! ....

After the cake was finished, my sister took me into Cardiff shopping - ostensibly for christmas pressents but we ended up going into Howells our main department store, ... just for a look mind. K bought some gorgeous silver cutlery in a bargainous sale and somehow I managed to leave with a big bag with a beautiful dress inside. I'm not quite sure what happend. It is mostly a blur. I remember being in the changing room, I rememer ooohing at the lovliness of the dress, I remember my sister flashing her store card and saying I could get an extra 20% off by using it, then all I remember is leaving, bag in hand, with a big smile on my face!

N.B. this was not in keeping with the idea of Christmas shopping I was supposed to be buying gifts for other people not for myself! I am a bad person. But oh it's lovely and it feels so nice on! Now I just need somewhere to wear it!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

A Blog Award

Nola from the fabulous With Love From New Orleans gave me this award!  It made my day!
How lovely!  Thank you Nola!

The Scarf...

... is finished!  Complete with a dash of winter sparkle!  Here's how to make it  (It's super easy).

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Russian Beauties

On Friday Bonhams, London, are having a Russian art auction, here are some of the beauties for sale:

Autumnal Fishing by Andrei Nikolaevich

Moonlight Reflections - Migirdic Givanian

Sunset by Mikhail Markianovitch

These three paintings are all pre 20th century and to me are so evocative of the grand, romantic pre-revolutionary Russia depicted in 'Golden Age' literature by the likes of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Pushkin. The last reminds me of Pushkins epic poem Eugene Onegin:

Loved Russian winters with great passion:
The sun-lit hoar-frost on frozen days,
Sledge rides, and from the sunset's glow
The rosy radiance on the snow'

Monday, 17 November 2008

My Weekend

My weekend was a busy one. N had a weekend of sporting events - watching England play rugby on Saturday with some brokers from work and on Sunday playing golf with friends, so for the first time in a while we had separate weekends. On Saturday morning I had a LONG lie in - ah bliss! I then picked up my Nana from the Cynon Valley where she lives and drove her to my parents house for the weekend. The valley roads are long and very narrow as they weren't built for cars, and due to bad weather and road works it probably took the best part of 2 hours there and back but it did give us chance to catch up and for me to hear all of her news. The rest of the day was spent eating, shopping and then eating some more with the three generations of our clan - Nana, Mum and my sister - it was a lot of fun! Sunday was a working day for me but I achieved a lot which is great - including making my first gingerbread house for this festive season ... a sure fire sign that Christmas is on its way!

Very excitingly N has booked our gettogetherversary (and christmas present to each other) weekend away in January! Yay I am so excited, we are going to a place called Bibury in the Cotswolds, the hotel looks lovely and he has booked some kind of deal with champagne (I love champagne) and our own outside hot-tub! Very swanky! N's grandmother lives in the Cotswolds in a beautful town called Broadway so we have visited the area a few times and it is so beautiful! I am hoping for snow, I think the hotel would look so lovely with a fine dusting of the white stuff!

Did I mention that I was excited?

Friday, 14 November 2008

Lovely Followers

I have a big smile on my face this afternoon - I have just noticed that I have a whole host of new followers! (I can be a bit slow on the uptake at times!) I am so excited! Thank you lovely Followers for making my afternoon! Here's a bit of Fred and Ginger for no other reason than it's Friday and I feel all happy and dancy! Have lovely weekends all!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Figaro qua, Figaro la, Figaro su, Figaro giu

My sister has just bought a shiny new car, I'm going with her to pick it up next week. She is very excited. I am very excited for her, it's going to be lovely. All this talk of new cars has set me to thinking though. My car is fairly old (10years old to be precise) but it is loyal and never gets into difficulties or scrapes. It's never had any problems or troubles and has seen me through some adventures. It's a good car. But it is not my dream car. This little beauty is my dream car .....

Look how lovely it is... I want one!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Books and Values

I have been tagged by London Bride.  Well to be more accurate, my other blog Posies and Pearls was tagged but Posies and Pearls is misbehaving and not letting me post anything this evening so I thought I would post here instead....!

First off is "The Bookworm".  the rules are that you have to open the nearest book to page 56.  Write out the fifth sentence as well as the following few sentences.  It has to be the closest book,  not your favourite, or the most intellectual!

The nearest book to me right now as I am lying on my bed with my ibook is Love In The Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  I first read this book many moons ago while I was at university studying Literature.  It's a lovely gorgeous book - if you haven't read it, read it, please please please!  The prose is amazing and beautiful and romantic.  I've been re-reading after I went to see a new opera called 'Love and Other Demons' at the end of the summer which is adapted from one of Garcia Marquez's short stories.  Oh my goodness the opera was strange - completely a-tonal with no melody at all but it was dramatic and dark and strangely fascinating.   (I was also very excited as Kevin Spacey was sat behind us).  Anyway I digress!  Here is page 56 sentence 5 onwards:

'But her father's strict regime soon provided an irremediable difficulty.  Unlike the other students, who walked to school in groups or accompanied by an older servant, Fermina Daza always walked with her spinster aunt, and her behavior indicated that she was permitted no distraction.  It was in this innocent way that Florentino Ariza began his secret life as a solitary hunter.  From seven o'clock in the morning, he sat on the most hidden bench in the little park, pretending to read a book of verse in the shade of the almond trees, until he saw the impossible maiden walk by in her blue-striped uniform, stockings that reached to her knees, masculine laced oxfords and a single thick braid with a bow at the end, which hung down her back to her waist.' 

Second Tag:

Six Things I Value
  1. My lovely Man who is my best friend and my lovely family who are truly wonderful: crazy, loopy, odd and wonderful!
  2. Creativity: in whatever field - art, dance, music, drama, literature, fashion, life.  Innovate - do things differently and express yourself. 
  3. Kindness.  A simple act of kindness can change someone's day for the better
  4. Laughter.  Everyone needs to laugh every day
  5. Freedom:  I am very aware that I have a completely different life to those of previous generations of my family.  So many opportunities are open to me which never were to them.  I intend to make the most of every opportunity!
  6. Time: time to spend with people, time to spend with myself, reading, drawing, cwtching up and relaxing

Six Things I Don't
  1. Rudeness
  2. Spitefulness
  3. Self-centerdness:  I go by the brownie-guide law 'think of others before yourself'!
  4. Being cold ... brrr - don't like it!
  5. Bad service:  I was once in a hotel and it took them one hour to bring me two slices of toast! I was not a happy lady!
  6. House prices at the moment ... please fall, N and I want to buy a house!

I am supposed to tag six people, so I tag:  Rachel,  CeeCee, Miss Meep, Mila, Nola and Brazen

It's raining, It's pouring ...

Cheer yourself up with one of these lovelies:

* Guy de Jean * Bella Umbrella * Pare * Nestorama *

Friday, 7 November 2008

Ode to sleep

Today I feel a bit like this lady I photographed in Castries, St Lucia. I've been working until late all week and last night was no exception. I was nose to the grindstone in my studio and didn't realise time was passing by so quickly until I looked up at the clock and saw that it was 1.00. It took me another half hour to clean away and another half hour again to pack myself off to bed. When the alarm went off this morning at 7.00 I felt surprisingly sprightly and jumped up and went on my merry way to my little office to do some paperwork. But now it is lunch time and I don't feel so sprightly any more ... I am so looking forward to a lie-in tomorrow!!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Remember remember the fifth of November...

*Fireworks at Cardiff Bay - Photograph Welsh College of Music and Drama*

"Remember remember the fifth of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot

I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot"

Today is an historic day in the US and indeed across the world. Here in the UK, whilst many will celebrate Obama's landmark victory, this evening people will be celebrating for another reason too. Today is known variously as: the 5th of November, Guy Fawkes Night, Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night. Today we celebrate the foiling of a plot in 1605 by Mr Fawkes and his comrades to blow up the houses of parliament during the state opening of parliament (in order to kill the king and most of the ruling aristocracy). The plot was stopped when Guy was discovered with his barrels of explosives underneath the houses of parliament. Guy Fawkes was not the ring-leader of this group of religious dissidents, he was just the explosives expert, but he's the fella we remember.

Tonight villages and towns around the country will host packed celebrations, at the centre of which will be a bonfire where a 'guy' (a stuffed straw man made to look like Guy Fawkes) is ceremoniously burnt. Crazy catherine wheels will spin around emitting light and sparks which will leave small children agog; sparklers will be waved around in circles by gloved hands creating bright 'O's' in the gloom; and then of course there will be a fireworks display. Children will munch their way through toffee apples and people everywhere will cast their gaze skyward letting out gasps of 'ooh' and 'ahh' over the beautiful light shows taking place above their heads, momentarily oblivious to the cold night air.

If you think about it dispassionately, it is, quite frankly, a bit odd: I read this fabulously funny post by an American living in Cardiff yesterday and it did make me chuckle to read an outside perspective on the whole event. Nonetheless, 403 years on and we still mark the occasion a group of dissidents tried and failed to change the way our country was run through violence and aggression. Today America has democratically voted for change. I cannot pretend to be fully appraised of Obama's political agenda, I cannot pretend to fully understand the political implications of his appointment. But today is a first, a victory that will truly reverberate around the world. It is a message to many that what seemed impossible, even a generation ago, can become a reality. A message of hope and perseverance. Another good reason to remember the 5th of November...

Monday, 3 November 2008

A bit twp ...

In Wales, by law all signs must be bilingual, English first, Welsh second. Unfortunately as a fair proportion of Welsh people are not Welsh speaking this does not always go to plan! This is a classic! N's brother sent me the picture. This sign, near a supermarket in Swansea (or Abertawe in Welsh), reads 'No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential Site Only' in English ... In Welsh it reads: 'I am out of the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated'!. A hapless, non-welsh-speaking, council worker had sent an email to an in-house translator with a request to translate the sign from English to Welsh. The translator was out of the office and so the email bounced back with an out of office reply in Welsh. The council worker thought he was getting a speedily efficient translation and without checking 'the translation' got the signs printed up and erected. It was only after some time had passed that amused Welsh speaking passers by let the council know their error!!

Beautiful Things I Would Like To Own ...

*Silver Console table - Brissi* *Silver Bath - Brissi* Chaise Longue - Sweetpea and Willow, Teapot - Mariage Freres*

The Weekend

I'm back.  It was a whirlwind of a weekend but lovely. On Friday we did go and see Quantum of Solace. Even at the 22.00 showing it was so busy N and I couldn't get seats next to each other :o( rubbish, but as soon as the film started I completely forgot I was sat on my own as I was lost in the ever so blue eyes of Daniel Craig (is that bad?). Now I can't quite put my finger on why I like him so much, he has after all, got a bit of an odd face and at certain angles is almost a bit ugly but oh my goodness he is gorgeous! It's not a classic Bond film, far from it: Bond does not win the girl, there is no out and out plot to plunge the world headlong into destruction and it is of course the first sequel. It definitely has some plot flaws, but the cinematography was gorgeous, especially during the opera scene, which I thought was expertly crafted.  I have to say I really enjoyed it.  But then I'm a big 007 fan. What I did think was awful though is the theme tune! Have you heard it? I am all for going for something a little different but blimey this has to be the most forgettable non-Bond theme tune ever made!

On Saturday morning N dropped me at Westfield to meet S on his way to Hertfordshire. It's only a 10 minute walk away but I am lazy and it was raining! I wore my new red tights and my sparkly red 'fireworks' (not literally it is just red and purple and sparkly gold) scarf in homage to pretend bonfire night, but spent a considerable amount of time worrying that my legs were a bit too red and standoutish. Westfield is absolutely enormous (and fantastic!), we walked around for about an hour before we even started shopping and even then our efforts were a bit pitiful: I bought gloves and a long black cardigan and S bought a rather funky skirt and a bracelet.  We were just so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of purchasing possibilities that we didn't know where to begin,  I found some really lovely things but couldn't bring myself to buy anything for fear that there might be something even better in the next shop!  We did manage to have a few free glasses of bubbly though as shops were giving it away, oh and we did take in a fashion show:

It was a lot of fun! As we left the rain started to pour and it was pretty cold. S headed back to Hammersmith and I limped my way back to the flat, my shoes pinching like mad (I packed in such a hurry I forgot to take comfy flat shoes, silly girl). Back in the flat I kicked off my shoes and put the kettle on. N got back about 10 minutes after me with his funky new glasses (v nice indeed). We looked out of the window together ... it was still raining :o( We didn't say anything but both of us were thinking the same thing ... could we bear to leave the lovely warm flat to head all the way to Battersea (about 45 min bus journey) to watch the fireworks in the rain. We both thought about how lovely it would be to spend a night in but then decided that the other would think it lame to suggest not going ... and then the phone rang. Our friends had all decided it was far to wet and cold and had collectively decided it was a no go ... did we mind? Not at all ...! We stayed in and had this chocolate dipping adventure from Hotel Chocolat (a gift from a lovely friend):