31 December 2011

A Creative Odyssey : Looking back, moving forward

In December last year I had the pleasure of taking part in a blog hop organised by Jess from Epheriell Designs, in which bloggers posted about their creative dreams and goals for 2011.  You can read my original post here.  Seeing as 2012 is well and truly knocking on the door it seems appropriate to have a look back and see if I actually achieved what I set out to, and to think about what 2012 might bring in the creative arena.

My first goal was to make the time - all too often I have a head full of creative ideas but don't allow myself the time to make these a reality.  At the end of 2011 I still have an idea book bursting with things I haven't quite made happen, yet I do feel that over the past 12 months I have made the time to craft.   And it's been fulfilling and calming and fun.

Next I wanted to take advantage of the fact that I don't need to turn my craft into a 'quit your day job' kind of business, and I think I have done just that.  I've taken the time to explore new techniques and mediums (although any advance in my sewing skills has been completely stalled due to my obsession with all things paper this year!).  Importantly, I've been doing more 'just for fun' crafting - making my own Xmas cards, getting involved in mail art swaps, and crafting for friends and family.  There will be much more of this next year, I hope!

I also aimed to stay involved in the crafting community, in whatever way I could.  Time is always the enemy, so it's been a bit hit and miss.  But I'm proud of the way my blog has grown; I've had fun (and learnt a lot) from being actively involved in the Etsy Greetings team; and I've thoroughly enjoyed opportunities to guest blog and to participate in group projects like 52 Weeks of Mail and the Creative Collective monthly themes.  What I haven't done is completed any of my own 'big' projects.  They are still just a jumble of ideas and scribbled notes.

I also wanted to take better photos, and I'm pretty sure I can give myself a tick on this one.  I've been reading books and blogs and magazines, and went to a six week 'get to know your DSLR' course taught by the talented Carolyn Maryan.  I've got a long way to go yet, but I'm pretty excited about what I've learnt so far and I'm hungry for more!

Lastly, there were three new skills I aimed to learn.  To make my own note books (fail), to try needle felting (fail) and to learn maedup (Korean knotting - pass!).  So, I only got around to trying one of the three, but at least it was the one I really, really wanted to learn!

So, to 2012...I have a feeling the next 12 months are going to be rather interesting.  I have a feeling 2012 will be a year of thinking and planning and big, life-changing decision making.  A year of treading water and putting things on hold, and of up-in-the-air-ness.  A year of possibilities, fear and excitement; of not much happening but a heck of a lot potentially happening.  Plus a whole lot of really, really awesome travel thrown in for good measure.  

As a result, my blog may suffer (but hopefully not too much!), and my Etsy shop will definitely suffer (but I'm okay with that).  But, whatever life throws at us, in the next 12 months I still plan to: continue to share good things here; guest blog whenever I have the opportunity; make things for others that they'll love; develop my photography, paper art and maedup skills; support you and your creative dreams in whatever way I can; and maybe, just maybe, bring at least one of my scribbled note 'big' projects to fruition!

Does this time of year put you in a reflective mood?  What are your plans for 2012?

25 December 2011

Greetings of the Season!

Sending many warm wishes to you and yours at this festive time - we hope your Xmas is wonderful and lovely and just what you were hoping for, however you might celebrate it!

Elfi, Ferdi + Emily x

22 December 2011

New Traditions #2: The Photo Book

In keeping with the rigorous standards I have established here on Good Things*, last Xmas I started a 'series' of blog posts around traditions.  This 'series' lasted all of one post, before the holiday madness really set in.  So I thought that 12 months later was a good enough time as any to continue the 'series'...

In the first post I wrote about how I love traditions, how I love that they provide both a link to the past and a promise to the future.  I wrote about creating new traditions with my husband and his step-sons and their Mum.  I wrote about the giant felt advent calender which I made in 2009, and which I add to each year (and which is currently up on our wall again this year).   

I love the advent calendar - it was a beast to make but I like that we'll be able to use it for years to come. But my favourite new tradition has to be the photo book.  

Back in 2007 while I was desperately trying to think of something ace to give my ridiculously hard to buy for husband I stumbled across Blurb, the totally ace website that lets you make a book.  I made a little book titled 'Ferdi says hi' - it was around this time that I'd stopped working, so to amuse myself I'd take photos of Ferdi looking ridiculously cute and email them to my husband with the subject line 'Ferdi says hi' - filled with photos or our adventures from the past twelve months.

I've made a book each year since then, and each year they get thicker and thicker.  The thing I really love about this new tradition is that I'm not the only one that gets a kick out of it.  Obviously the wanna-be photographer in me loves putting them together, and I know my husband loves getting the book each year, but more than that the step-sons eagerly anticipate it too - just the other day they asked me if I'd made a book this year!  Traditions shared are the best kind, aren't they?
If you'd like to read about some more holiday traditions, check out this gorgeous post from Bird's Eye View, written in 2010.  Or more recently, there's been some lovely guest bloggers writing about traditions, their own and ideas for yours, on the Creative Collective blog.  Read Charlotte's post here and Kathryn's post here.

21 December 2011

Seoul in the mist

Whilst I have been greatly enjoying the glorious crisp blue sky Winter days we've been having of late, I do quite like those days (like today) when the weather closes in and everything is half seen and half heard.  Mist makes everything seem rather mysterious and romantic, don't you think?  

In other weather-related news, we finally had a bit of snow over night.  It's pretty much all melted already but they're predicting more falls in the lead up to Xmas, so it might be a white one after all - hooray!

ps. For more misty goodness (by photographers way more accomplished than me) head on over to my Snap! board on Pinterest.  You will see that I have a bit of a thing for mist...

16 December 2011

Paper cuts for Creative Collective

Oh look!  My guest post for Creative Collective is up!  It's my first sort of how to type of post, and it's about simple paper cuts you can use to jazz up your festive season.  If you'd like to have a look, click here.  And if you think I should use the word 'jazz' more often, let me know.  I think I should.

15 December 2011

All wrapped up...

The past few days I have been locked in my office surrounded by piles of presents, paper and ribbon, with the occasional trip out to stand in long queues at the post office.  Ah yes, the life of an expat at Christmas time!  

09 December 2011

Mail art to Kimi Kobashi

Quite some time ago I sent my second ever mail art package out to the gorgeous Kimi and now I am finally blogging about it!  I had emailed Kimi beforehand to get some ideas as to what she might like, and the result was a package that combined three themes - femininity, fashion and Seoul life.

I included a fair few magazine clippings (including some from the rather whacky Cracker Your Wardrobe), some postcards and gift tags made from a gorgeous page I found in Paper magazine, and three little envelopes with various bits of Korean-ness in them (including scraps of beautiful handmade Korean paper).  But my favourite thing to make and send was the accordian book which you can see in the top photo.

ps. If you want to see Kimi's ridiculously cute rabbit checking out the package I sent, have a look here.

08 December 2011

Two blog happenings you might like to know about...

There's a few fun bloggy things going on at the moment that I thought you dear reader might be interested in (and which I've been lucky enough to be a part of).  

First up, Jess is currently hosting the Simple Pleasures Week on the Epheriell Designs blog.  Featuring a whole bunch of guest posts on life's simple pleasures - crafting, reading, bubble blowing and more.  As this is all about celebrating the little things that make our days good, I kind of had to take part...you can read my post about the joy of going for a stroll here.  And if you want to share your own simple pleasure on your own blog, please do!  

Then there's the month long bloganza hosted by the always awesome Creative Collective team.  The bloganza is not just a fun word, it's also a month of guest posts on all kinds of festive fun!  There's all kinds of recipes and tutorials and tips for managing stress.  Today's post on using fabric scraps to create gift tags is one of my favourites so far.  For this, I have contributed my first how-to (argh!), and I'll let you know when it's up (it may have something to do with paper!).  In the meantime, head over to the Creative Collective blog and soak up some holiday inspiration!

[The photo at the top has nothing to do with anything, really.  But I like it.  So there.]

04 December 2011

Put a pom pom on it!

Is it just me or can one not click a link these days without tripping over a pom pom?  They seem to be everywhere, yes?  Or perhaps it's just another example of the frequency illusion as I'm a bit pom pom crazy of late...

Anyhoo, pom poms - I've been making them.  I started off using some fancy contraption, but then I realised it was much easier just to wrap the wool around my hands like this.  

I was thinking I'd just use them as they are, as ornaments for our tree, but after seeing this wreath from Big Box Detox (which incorporates fairy lights) I'm tempted to make a bunch more and do a wreath.  I guess I'll wait and see at what point the hand cramping sets in.

Dark blue, yellow and grey - this is the colour scheme I am currently obsessed with.  So our xmas is going to be blue, yellow and grey. (Well, at least my contribution to our xmas will be, I'm pretty sure the step-sons don't follow a colour scheme.  Actually, I'm pretty sure they'd think me slightly mad for following a colour scheme.) 

Pom poms are great - they are such fun to say and oh so easy to make, especially if you make them while there's something fun on the radio in the background.  You also don't really need to have any particular skill to make a pom pom (my favourite kind of craft!).  Also, late at night, when you tweet about pom poms you may for a second see your tweet and think you've tweeted about making 'porn porns' and have a mild heart attack and then realise you didn't tweet that at all and have a little chuckle to yourself about how similar 'pom' and 'porn' look when your eyes are old and blurry.

Oh, and if you're interested in another festive craft project that doesn't involve too much actual sewing or knitting or crocheting, I quite like this twisted felt garland from the Purl Bee.

Hope your all having a happy weekend.  I'm in Hong Kong - hooray!

02 December 2011

Death by Doxie: The Dogs on the Couch (Again) Edition

The dogs on the couch, basking in the warm glow of the television.

I'm starting to think I may need an intervention.  I'm starting to think that 427 photos of the dogs on the couch is probably enough.  But only just.

In completely unrelated news, I wrote a little post for Bess Georgette's ace 'My Vintage Memory' series, you can go have a peek here.

29 November 2011

Photos from Seoraksan National Park

Some photos from another trip we did to the staggeringly beautiful Seoraksan National Park back in October.  On this visit we did a gorgeous (and steep!) walk up to a cave - Geumganggul - which turned out to be a tiny temple, complete with gorgeous lotus lamps, praying Buddhists and a breathtaking view. Quite magical really.  

I've finally uploaded the photos to Flickr, so if you're interested in seeing a bit more of this truly wonderful part of Korea you can have a look here.

28 November 2011

Three non-glossy magazines I'm loving right now...

Those of you who have read my blog for a little while know that I love a good magazine, and lately I have encountered a bounty of printed lovelies!  Kicking of with Remedy Quarterly, a little tome dedicated to 'stories of food, recipes for feeling good'.  I haven't yet delved too deeply into these yet - you could safely say that I have judged Remedy by it's brightly hued covers - but I am already loving the gorgeous colours, layouts and fonts; and the understanding Remedy seems to have that food is more than sustenance, that it's linked to our life and our memories.


Next on my reading list has been Issue No 5 of Anthology - 'living with substance and style'.  I am constantly tearing sheets out of my lifestyle/decor magazines and whacking them in scrap books, but although I am rather inspired by much of Anthology's pages, I don't have the heart to deconstruct it.  It's too pretty and too 'complete'.  

And saving my favourite till last, here's volume one of Kinfolk, 'a guide for small gatherings' (available online, for iPad, and in print - if you're lucky!).  Kinfolk is 134 thick pages of stunning imagery and beautiful layouts featuring recipes, menus, table settings and more. Volume one includes a Summer playlist, a tribute to the cloth napkin, and a 'darn good sandwich'.  Seriously gorgeous stuff.

23 November 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like xmas...

For some reason that I can't quite remember, last year I didn't have the time or energy to do anything xmas card-ish.  Or maybe I did send some out.  I'm really not sure.  I'm a bit tired today.  Anyway...

The year before that, pre-xmas was the time when we were waiting to find out if we'd be moving to Seoul or not (after just signing a two year lease in Hong Kong!), and sending xmas cards was so far from my mind.  Then the year before that, I actually went to the trouble of designing and ordering a bunch of cards featuring Ferdi and Elfi looking ridiculous in santa hats and 'posing' around a poinsettia.  Trouble was, I didn't actually get around to sending them to anyone.

But this year is going to be different.  (I think, I hope).
It helps that I can't decorate the apartment until the step-sons get here in a few weeks, so craft is a good outlet for me to feel the holiday vibe and assuage my envy at all the gorgeous trees I'm seeing going up around the world via Twitter and Instagram and Facebook.  

I don't normally go for traditional colours at xmas time, but I actually like the red and green in these simple paper designs - it gives the whole thing a bit of a retro feel, don't you think?

Things to love about Korea #4: Random Compliments

So, here's the thing - Korean women are beautiful.  I mean drop dead stunning.  Yes, in the photo above the first one is a model, and the second one's a K-pop star, but that third one is just a lady on the street (thanks to The Sartorialist).  The hair!  Those dark eyes!  The style!  The LEGS!  (Now if my husband was writing this post, he'd stop here, because this is one of the things he loves about Korea, but I've got a different story to tell, so stay with me please.)  
[Fun with fashion, K-pop style : Sistar in polka-dots, Miss A in... ]

Yes, I know Korea has something like the highest rate of plastic surgery in the world, and K-pop stars don't eat, but I see ladies like this on the streets of Seoul every single day.  Korean women are beautiful.

And most of the time I can appreciate the beauty around me and be mature and not fall in to that terrible, terrible comparison trap.  But every now and again I have one of those days.  You know the ones - maybe you had a massive fight with your husband/BFF/dog last night, or perhaps you haven't had a good nights sleep in weeks, or maybe you're completely stressed out and your skin has decided to let the world know about it (or maybe even all three).  

And on those days when I venture out into our neighbourhood - which just happens to be an area where pretty young Koreans flock to get their fashion fix and to flaunt those legs in the shortest hemlines - I can't help but feel a bit frumpy, a bit tired and old, a bit chunky.  

And in that sea of shapely thighs and glossy locks sometimes I start shaking an angry fist at my lack of willpower and my Western love affair with pasta and bread, and cursing my parents for not having a single shred of Korean DNA to pass on to me.

And then, out of the blue, some random shop assistant will say 'you are very pretty'.  Really!  You see, whilst in my home town I wouldn't cause whiplash walking down the street, as a foreigner in Korea I am still a rare and exotic flower.  (I know of another ex-pat who lived in Seoul for several years and was constantly being told she looked just like Nicole Kidman.  Now this lady is lovely and gorgeous and all that, but she'd be the first to say she is not Nicole Kidman's twin sister.)

And what I like best about this, aside from the fact that it is rather lovely to be paid a compliment (we don't do it often enough do we?  Go on, go pay someone a compliment, I'll wait for you), is that it gets me out of my own head.  

I'm actually very, very good at living in my own head (it's generally quite a lovely place to be).  But those out-of-the-blue compliments that are so far removed from the way I'm feeling at that moment make me remember in a flash that not everyone sees the world through my eyes, that sometimes I need to not live in my own head so much.  

That maybe the reason I had the fight with my husband/BFF/dog is because I assumed they knew what was in my own head, and maybe I need to actually talk them through it, and reassure them that I do in fact love them.  That perhaps I haven't had a good night's sleep for weeks because there's all this stuff in my head that I should let out every now and again.  That the thing I'm completely stressed out about is probably totally solvable, if I took the time to share it with someone.  So thank you, random shop lady, for reminding me there's a wider world out there.

Do you live in your own head sometimes?  Does the world have a way of telling you to get out, every now and again?

20 November 2011

An ode to the humble sandwich

Sandwiches are the unsung heros of our kitchens.  Too often they are underrated, easily dismissed, overlooked for things that we think are less 'every day', more complicated.  But I think a sandwich is a wondrous thing.  Yes, it's a complete and easy meal, but more than that a sandwich can be something of exquisite tastiness; a delicious harmonious blend of flavours, at once comforting and exciting.

We recently procured a meat slicer.  It's like the ones you see at the butchers or in a deli, but made smaller and less lethal for the home kitchen.  As a result we have been roasting many of God's creatures (pig, turkey, cow), thinly slicing the meat and mixing it up in all kinds of sandwich.  Our most ambitious to date has been our take on the hoagie (a 'seriously oversized sandwich' according to The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches).  Ours had ham, turkey, a soft and mild cheese, mustard, mayo, crunchy iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced red onion, capsicum, spanish olives and dill pickle on a chewy baguette.  Yum.

ps. If you're in any way interested in the humble sanger I'd highly recommend The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches.  It covers all the classics - croque monsieur, club, roast beef - but also includes such intriguing concoctions as the Elvis (mashed banana, bacon, peanut butter), the 'spamwich', the 'fluffernutter', the all-in-one breakfast sandwich (bacon and eggs wedged bewteen two waffles), and the doughnut sandwich ('not for the faint of heart', apparently).

ps (again). Do you love a sarnie?  What's your favorite thing to throw between two slices of bread?  I'd love to know!

15 November 2011

Death by Doxie: The Dogs in Costume Edition (Part 3)

Sooo, this makes three 'dogs in costume' posts...too many?  Am I perhaps losing the last few of you who were defending my crazy dog lady status?  Well, it's a risk I'm willing to take because really, have you ever seen anything more patently ridiculous than Elfi in a hanbok?    

Dae han min guk!