Sunday, April 17, 2016

On Print Swaps, and How I'm Pretty Sure I Got the Best One


So a few weeks ago I signed up for Dianne Tanner's Print Swap because it had all the elements one could possibly ask for in a creative project: the involvement of others, a push to produce, and - most exciting - the CHANCE TO GET MAIL. What's not to like??

So fast forward to last week, when the world's most beautifully-wrapped package comes clattering through my mail slot. YOUGUYS.

It was not just a print, oh no. It was a work of ART. Several works of art. There was a COLLAGE. There was a hand-painted and -bound BOOK that had words of JOY and ENCOURAGEMENT. There was even candy and hot chocolate! I can't even believe it. (Apologies now to the girl whose name I drew. She's going to be like, 'Thanks for the photograph, jerk.') And even though I don't personally know the artist, Helen Jones, I can say this with complete confidence: SHE IS WONDERFUL HUMAN.

 JUST LOOK AT ALL THIS. And when you expand the black square on the lower left, it turns into THIS:

I KNOW. A truly stunning mixed-media work of art. The paint on these pages gives them such a gorgeous texture that I can't stop running my fingers across them. And the vibrancy of the color is incredible. And don't get me started on the words themselves: 'Find what makes you different then live a lifetime of it', 'applaud imperfections.' The phrase 'raptures of delight' doesn't even come close to how I felt as this expanded in my hands. 

It all sits with pride now in the front room and I tell everyone I made it. 

If youguys want to stalk Helen with me, you won't regret it. Here's her writing, her photography, and her etsy page (in case you want to buy something she's created to pass off as your own. I highly recommend it.) 

Helen, I can't thank you enough for this. 

Big hugs and lots of love,

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Ringing in the New Year, French-style


We are back in France. We arrived on Wednesday for a week of Ultimate Relaxation and we're on top of the game: we got enough food at the market to survive a nuclear winter and enough kindling to burn a witch. NOTHING will get in the way of our slippers, our fireplace, and our new years diet of all-day-grazing. It is officially GO TIME. (If by 'go,' we mean 'stop.)

Can I talk about these clementines for a second? There are not WORDS for how sweet these are. They were so ripe the bag itself was sticky from nectar oozing out of their skins. They're so soft you can squeeze them nearly flat (if you don't mind tempting an explosion). When you pop a wedge in your mouth, it's like a juicy citrus sugar bomb goes off and arghoushoqlahoalw

Obligatory Cheese and Charcuterie Board pic. That dried duck though! Why doesn't EVERY place sell duck jerky? They put it on salads here and call it Salade Perigord, the French's nod to healthy eating.

Youguys remember The Great Argentina Road Trip of Death? One thing made it worth it: this llama wool rug we got that's currently in our guest room here. Just LOOK at its thickness, its rough-soft handmade perfection. I can't wait for your feet to touch it when you come visit:
Also check out the view of the church's stained glass windows next door! When those bells go off at seven, this room just SINGS. You will LOVE it.

And now for random Fun Times Photos:

The Dordogne and stuff.

The church in nearby village Beaumont. BEAUMONT! All he wanted to do was dance!

Bergerac, acting all festive with the Christmas lights up, even while everything was shut. And I mean EVERYthing. Don't come here for New Year's Eve, youguys. TAKE MY WORD FOR IT.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's bubble bath time! Happy Sunday!

Big hugs and lots of love,

Monday, December 21, 2015

Poetry Monday: The Hanged Pigeon

OMGYOUGUYS. Favourite day of the week. POETRY MONDAY. This will be the last one of 2015 and it couldn't be a better finish. It's so, so fitting for this year.

Then go and buy Jo Brandon's newest poetry collection because it will give you all the feels, with all the words, that build and make and do.

The Hanged Pigeon, by Jo Brandon

You are more stark even
than the tarot card I turned at fourteen:
the Hanged Man, macabre and ridiculous,
his strangled leg, ankle noose, freefall of hair,
the hard jewel colours I still associate with death
though the book said it represented rebirth 
I heard the elliptical Chorus whisper-sing
first-death, first-death.

I flipped your card walking through the park
on a day when the sky was too blue
to be anything other than an illusion;
you hung like a bauble on a tree, a faded Robin maybe
whose claws should fold easily over the branches, rigid as tradition,
but has slipped upside down – and now nothing looks right 
strung up with tangerine mesh you were an omen
of something.

You wished so hard to avoid the predictable
that your wings had started to come away,
and all the vinegar and glue and brown paper
salvaged from those park bins
couldn’t have put you back together again.

You might have appeared to me as Icarus or
a penny dreadful, but you struck me as the Hanged Man;
not so serene, not so willing to give yourself up as deeper meaning.

As I spoke to you, tried to soothe you up in your tree
I could have been in a fairy-tale asking boons
of any unbelievable creature; you might transform,
burst from your pigeon chrysalis or you might grow still
and provide a medieval spectacle for nine-to-fivers on lunch.

A comic strip of heroic deeds ran through my head; ladders,
broken branches, clambering, soft landing, gasps, free-flight

–  I left unsure of what I did and didn’t do to rescue you.


Big hugs and lots of love,

Monday, December 14, 2015

Poetry Monday: Istanbul

OMGYOUGUYS. It's another Poetry Monday! I can't get enough of these. I don't want to sound like I'm mad bragging or anything, but I know some insanely talented people and their genius has got to rub off on me at some point so REMEMBER THIS FACE.

Today's work of art comes from the indomitable Claire, professional writer, cook, and karaokyer.

Istanbul, by Claire Bullen

We wake sucking on the milkfat mornings,
the hour in its last stage of night-bruise.
Like emperors, centuries ago,
who woke to find their jaguars and take 
them strolling through the rosebushes.

Now the city wakes with a riot of sheep
in the basement, a dusty football, and
taxis that speed up the uneven hill.
We breakfast like emperors: sucking on petals
in tea and cakes and smoke.

On a ferry over bright-dark Bosphorus,
we fly faster than emperors could dream, 
savouring the word like rose candy: Bosphorus, 
Bosphorus, Bosphorus, past the blooming
buses that drop their sweating cargo into Asia.

In the evenings, campfires spill across highways
and birds wheel, crazily, around the minarets.
Like emperors, we sharp-laugh into the night 
from the vantage of our temporary palaces.
First we are timeless. Then we are cargo.


Big hugs and lots of love,

Sunday, December 13, 2015

On France and all the noel

OMGYOUGUYS. We came down to France for the weekend and it turns out it is crazy beautiful in the winter. Who even KNEW. This time last winter we were knee-deep in reno work and dust so we pretty much slept in coats fully clothed and it was all What on Earth Were We Thinking Oh God It's Never Going to End Oh Whyyyy, so there was certainly little to no gallivanting around or enjoyment of the surrounds. But this year the work is nearly done and we have the freedom to beauty that only quiet allows.

When we woke this morning, the back fields and gardens were covered with frost, and in the minutes before the sun crested the hill with all the glorious saturation at its disposal, the world was black and white, glow and shadows. 

Speaking of reno work, we officially installed our wood burning stove yesterday! We got one with some magic level of efficiency and once you get it going, the heat it produces can be felt in the cheeks and toes and you start to get all pink and ruddy like some ice skater in a Dutch children's book.

Not pictured: ice skates, children. Tulips.

Curtains finally up! We're no longer a show for the neighbors!

Yesterday we took a walk around the village and this is the view from the front of the mairie. See the little house immediately to the right of the church? That's ours! 

I like to think before we had curtains the mayor was the one watching our show.

The front of our house is what was historically the market square, and as a result, all SORTS of shenanigans can happen there. This is what we were greeted with upon our arrival on Friday:

This pretty much trumps any decorations we had in mind. Also, is Santa supposed to act as the angel that's traditionally over the nativity? Well played, Mayor.

In a few minutes we're off to check out the village Christmas fair! Doesn't this look awesome? It's clearly sponsored by Microsoft Word Art. We don't actually know where the barn is, but you've seen the size of the village, how hard can it be to find?

Famous last words. If you never hear from me again, look for the clowns.

I hope you're having a lovely Sunday!

Big hugs and lots of love,