Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book review

I have been thinking about making a book review a regular thing on my blog; but that means I'd have a deadline for getting through books and that always seems to turn me off reading. I began this year with my Mum lending me her pretend Kindle (i.e: Kobo) and it was loaded with all these free "classic" books.  I started in the A's, and am admittedly still in the A's..

Image from here
The latest book I've finished is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I was intrigued from the beginning with the extreme detail of description put into the characters' personalities and mannerisms. It's set in really old Russia, before it was communist, and throughout the book you can see Tolstoy using particular characters to comment on the political situation of the time (it was published between 1873 and 77). However, having said this, I need a greater understanding of politics in order to get the full value of this book. There were some areas where Tolstoy would go into depth about Russian elections, or the state of farming in rural Russia and peasant conditions, which ended up making the book a struggle to get through. I felt these underlying political additions and comments didn't integrate well enough with the plot and the story. It is a really mammoth book; it took a while for me to get through it and almost became rather predictable towards the end in terms of the love-story plot. I won't give anything away, but if you have time and patience I still recommend reading it. I would love to learn Russian and experience it in it's original language. I can definitely see why it is labeled a classic.

What do you think about a more regular book review? Does this interest you? What are your thoughts on Anna Karenina? I'd love to hear other views and experiences. I am by no means a literary expert..

Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Snaps: Home Sweet Home

I am finally back in Sydney after being in Germany since January and Brisbane for the last couple of weeks.  I am unbelievably glad to be home! There are little things everywhere which make me feel so happy to finally be back: my sewing machine, books in the bookcase, brownies made by mum .. And of course the presence of my lovely family and friends.

I'll be back in the full swing of blogging starting this week! For now here are a couple of random yet aesthetically pleasing photos from the last 10 days I spent in Brisbane with the AYO:

Brisbane is proud of their seemingly never used giant ferris wheel ...

Cool print found on a table cloth at a restaurant.
Other uses for sinks

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Something Old, Something New

Time has just been escaping me this week. Plane delays back home to Sydney, jetting off to Brisbane the day after..  along with a full schedule of rehearsals and concerts. So I know I haven't been blogging but sometimes one has to prioritise.

Something Old this week is the piece that I'm playing with the Australian Youth Orchestra in Brisbane, conducted by Simone Young. "Eine Alpensinfonie" (An Alpine Symphony) is a tone poem written by Richard Strauss in 1915. It is amazing how pictorial the piece is: the storm scene is the best I've ever heard and the feeling I get in the big brass moments is irreplaceable. Apparently it was originally called "The Antichrist" and it comments on the political conditions of Germany post-war. You should really set aside the time to listen to it. If I had to play in one orchestral piece the rest of my life this would be the one I'd choose. It's being broadcast on ABC Classic FM Australia (92.9 in Sydney) at 10am on Sunday 29th of July.

Now it's been really tough trying to find a version of the Something New I'd like to feature this week. It's U2's "Running to Stand Still" from the Joshua Tree album. The song loses it's completely calm feeling when it's played live and recorded from the crowd (I'm sure it's a totally different kettle of fish when you're in the crowd having the experience). So all I could find on YouTube (that works in Germany) were the live performances and so here is this:
I also don't like it when lyrics are rolling on the screen.. but let's not be fussy. I haven't actually watched this video because it doesn't work in Germany and I started this post a week ago or so... It looks like it would just be the song from the original recording playing. Let me know if it works for you and what you think! It's one of U2's lesser known songs. I love the country feeling of the twanging guitar through the introduction.

I hope you have a listen and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Location Location Location

Quick little update and request for you to be patient.  I have been in Germany, Sydney and have just now arrived in Brisbane all in the same week!! I will hopefully have some time to blog later on.. =) How are you going? Please leave a comment if you like.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Arty Farty

Here is a little something to ponder over and wonder about.  A really beautiful series of neon art from the One and J Gallery website. Taken from a show at the Art HK fair by the Korean artist Jung Lee. Truly beautiful and saying exactly what is in my heart sometimes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Weekly Wish-List

This week's wish-list is all about jewellery.  I don't often see a lot of jewellery I like, but some things have popped up over the years that I have found hard to forget.

Image from polyvore: go here
Here is beautiful Natalie Portman wearing Paloma Picasso for Tiffany & Co. tassel earrings.  I really like the colour and the concept! Even though she is wearing these at the Oscars (2011) I think they could be easily translated into everyday life.  Unfortunately, because the year these appeared was 2011, the originals are no longer around.  I have searched high and low around the internet universe and have come back rather empty handed and disappointed in the selection of tassel earrings.
To the left you see my best find.  A different colour but still gorgeous.  I found these here but the site doesn't mention who makes them or where to buy them.
But all is not lost! Tassel earrings are a popular DIY and although they are not the beaded, precious gemstone variety, they are cheap and relatively easy to make. These are probably my favourite because they actually look like earrings and I like that they are navy.

Now here are some big'uns!  The first pair with the stunning contrast of red and blue stones are a pair of Miu Miu earrings found here (I also like the earrings below these ones).  I have been a tiny bit obsessed with big, sparkly costume jewellery since the Prada resort campaign for this year, a favourite example of which you can see in all their soft green and pink glory from the Prada website.  I used to a pair of flower studs which I wore all the time, but the addition of the hanging gems is stunning.  I particularly chose this green and pink pair because it is one of my favourite colour combinations.

And just one more pair of earrings!  These are a bit more modern in appearance and are from the House of Lavande collection on Moda Operandi a while ago.  I am not too enamoured by the rest of the collection, but these earrings are quite simple, yet still a statement.

Time to talk bracelets: my dear friend recently came across a piece of vintage jewellery that blew my mind (see right).  I am so jealous that she found it first! It is a bit of a statement piece, but absolutely gorgeous.  Even though it could well be seen worn with a ball gown, it's first outing was to an american style diner where we ate burgers and fries and drank hard-shakes!

Speaking of ball-worthy bracelets these cuffs are stunners.  The woman who they were made for is Daisy Fellowes: the granddaughter of the man who invented the sewing machine.  She originally asked for a cuff to match her existing "Manchette" bracelets (which were emerald beaded and diamond fringed) and the Maison of Van Cleef & Arpels went all out and made these two cuffs.  They are really special and can be joined together to make one choker necklace.  Personally I would wear them both at the same time, not as a choker, but on each arm; reminiscent of the genie cuffs in Aladdin but way more stylish. 

Now I feel it is my duty to present a bracelet that is within reach (i.e not part of a private collection and able to be bought without selling your soul) and shamelessly promote Australian designers: feast your eyes on the Alannah Hill beauty to your right.   This "Stone Cold Heart" bracelet is found on the Alannah Hill website or go in store if you're in the greatest country of all (so I'm a bit homesick here in Germany..)  I would definitely be buying it if it was coloured, but for now it is staying on the 'I'll have to think about it for a little' list.

I'm not big on wearing necklaces, so sorry for not featuring any here in this post.  As a stringed instrument player I find they conflict too much with the instrument and it would be annoying to continually take it off and on (although having said that; all those earrings above would probably conflict too..)  So as a short-haired gal I love a good headband.  They help keep my cut feminine and give me a sense of choice when I wake up in the morning; seeing as I don't have the choice of whether I should wear it up or down.  So here are a couple of gorgeous headbands to gawk over; both courtesy of the genius that is Miuccia Prada.
Miu Miu: found here
Prada: found here

Diamonds Anything sparkly is a girl's best friend!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Outfit Misfit: shoe edition

I feel like it's a bit of a cop-out only doing shoes for an Outfit Misfit.. But they're such an essential part of an outfit and should not be purely for function. Having said that, I do admit to having a slight problem with buying some shoes that just aren't going to be good for my feet.. I just can't resist the pretty things! These are the shoes from my last Outfit Misfit post, on special request from a special friend. They are a bit too big for me.. but I bought them anyway (again: 6pounds!!). For anyone who hasn't been thrift shopping before you're missing out! The moment when you stumble across these treasures and find them for such a bargain is something else. But the downside (and actually upside) of it is: they're completely unique. No asking the salesperson if there's a size smaller/bigger. So I'm going to insert an insole into these babies so I can wear them a bit more easily.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


As my time in Germany comes to an end, I feel I want to share with you some highlights from my time in Europe in general. In March I embarked on a huge adventure to an unbelievable number of countries over the one month. Join me in reliving the journey with some piccies from Norway. (Half of these photos were taken through the window of a bus!)

What a perfect picture of wintry trees, boughs laden with snow.
The weather was so stunning! Sun shining + snow = awe-inspiring.
I like this picture so much because it's like a desert island/oasis, only snowy.
Reflections: both in the water and the bus window (the latter less desired/intended)

 I adore the houses in Norway (well, in the Lofoten Islands..) I hope they are as cheerful and sweet as these ones all over Norway. Confirmation from any Norwegian readers?

I found myself so inspired by the scenery of Norway. It's so magical and majestic; the sweeping mountains with their snow-caps. Yet still so humble with it's quaint little houses in brave colours. Definitely on my list of places I want to revisit.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Weekly Wish-list

Wednesday has finally come around again. It feels like I've lived through a whole other life since last Wednesday! Today on the wish-list is a maxi dress. Friends have heard me say, each summer, that this summer will be the time I buy and wear a maxi dress. Well.. I haven't got one yet. But this year is the year! (I absolutely promise..) The problem is that I'm not a very tall person, and it pains me to publicly admit that I have short legs; so if I get a maxi dress I will most certainly have to take it up. I would never get a baggy maxi, where the fabric falls freely from the straps to the ground. It definitely needs to have a bit of waist-cinching-action going on or it just looks shapeless.

The one that has been consuming my thoughts of late is not a casual summer-breezy number. It's closer to the ball-gown end of the spectrum.

This gorgeous "He Stung my Soul" gown from Alannah Hill is stunning in both black and white! If I were to get it, which colour?! As my sensible friends kindly reminded me: where would I wear it? Well, I would definitely wear it to a recital. Or to the opera. Or the ballet! (because I do all those things on a regular basis ...)

If you followed that Alannah Hill link and saw $649.00 and freaked out: boy have I got a whopper for you! Let's dream a moment and take a little look at Moda Operandi and Valentino.

Isn't it just breath-taking?! I wish some mysterious-millionaire-secret-admirer would surprise gift this to me. Even with my $150 discount/gift and paying half before and half after deliver the 14,445 Euro is probably a little out of my price range ... Still, the flower beading and soft garden colours can be safely admired through the internet window.

Ok time to take a step back and look into some realistic options. Realistic in the sense that I could wear them of a day time, and that they won't put me into a debt depression.

Well proving that great maxi-dresses are hard to come by I only have 2 selections that I think I could actually wear.  On the left we have "Blissful Roses" maxi dress from Ruche and on the right "Into the Eve" maxi from Anthropologie.  The Ruche dress has a lovely cinched waist and I like that the floral print doesn't come off too grandma-y. I also like the way it's cut at the sleeves; I know it doesn't suit everyone, but I am quite happy with it. The Anthropologie dress is a really nice simple white number with some lovely embellishment. Perfect white dress for a smoking hot day.

So look forward to the Outfit Misfit in Southern Hemishperean summer where I am wearing a maxi dress!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Something Old, Something New

This week I'm getting a bit more dramatic with my choices for Something Old, Something New.

Starting with the classical first, as per usual: today we have Death and the Maiden, the String Quartet No.14 by Schubert. Schubert is one of my absolute favourite composers with his knack for making melodies that make my heart want to sing (a particularly special one coming in a later post of Something Old Something New). This quartet was composed in 1824 while he was suffering through a serious illness (syphilis) and facing death. The quartet is actually named after the second movement, but today I'd like to share with you the first movement. I love listening to this movement with my big headphones walking very purposefully through a busy street towards an important appointment. I listen to a recording by the Emerson Quartet, but here is the recording of the Takacs Quartet on YouTube with quite a suitable picture for the video.
If you have time you should definitely listen to the other movements. In some quartets I find there can be a dud movement: one which doesn't catch my attention or hold me in a trance, but this quartet is all gold.

Now for Something New this week we have Montezuma, from the album Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes. I adore Fleet Foxes and have 2 of their albums and love them both. They have quite an interesting choir sort of effect. I don't have much to say about this song, just go and listen to it!

This animation is really beautifully and painstakingly done.

I hope you're spurred on and inspired to do something on this Monday!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Outfit Misfit

On top of everything else I have lost a photographer! So I have tried to do these photos self-timed.. I hope the idea still comes across!
Today's outfit misfit comes from Freiburg, where I'm living, featuring a "vintage" skirt.  I found it in a vintage shop in Belfast: The Rusty Zip while I was traveling there in March, on high recommendation from the friend I stayed with in Glasgow. I say it's "vintage" because it's probably from the last few decades and not incredibly old.. although I'm not a very good judge with these things, any vintage experts out there care to date it? When I saw it on the rack I fell in love right away; I think it's the combination of colours and pleats. Although it was a bit too small for me I got it anyway (for a steal at 10pounds!). I like to wear it as a high-waisted skirt with a plain singlet, to showcase the colours that start right at the top with blue. It has a sort of pastel-rainbow look to it and I like to pair it with my pastel pink blazer from H & M (bought in Stockholm). There was a huge pastel trend through the SS 2012 collections, seen through Louis Vuitton as well as Dolce and Gabbana, Miu Miu .. I try not to jump on the trend band-wagon as I feel they are probably short-lived, but I seem to have with the choice of clothing here. It certainly doesn't stop me wearing my brightly coloured clothes though!
Here I am looking slightly stunned and not ready for the camera self-timer to go off..
 Something about Germany which I really love is all the street art. In Sydney it tends to look really tacky and awful and artists graffiti-ers tend to tag all over other people's work. Here there seems to be some kind of respect for the work of others and generally good pieces don't get tagged over (though maybe around). This wall is just part of a series of street art panels near the straßenbahn (tram) station right next to the Musik Hochschule (conservatorium).
Now I've timed it perfectly and am doing a plié.
So I'm trying to showcase the skirt here, while practising my plié.. Gorgeous colours right?! And you gotta love pliés (fantastic workout for your legs and bum apparently).
Now here is a shot where I really wished I had a photographer. It was difficult to get the camera to focus when there's no-one there! So, I'm a little blurry but the graffiti looks great. Oh well, it's through trial and error that we learn.
And here's the obligatory close-up of stunned self.

To the left you see the close-up of my stunned self so you can see the details a bit better.

While we're on vintage I'd like to draw your attention towards the shoes! I also found these in the Rusty Zip and for years I have been searching for the perfect preppy high-heeled penny loafers after I saw them in Vogue Aus once (and these were only 6pounds!! One of the many pros of vintage/thrift shopping). I don't have any close-up pictures to offer here but I will be doing some "Outfit Misfit - Shoe Edition"s soon, so keep on the lookout!

Wearing: vintage skirt, blazer from H & M, singlet from Dotti, belt from other dress, vintage gloves, vintage penny loafers, hairband home-made.

Thoughts? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Photographer volunteers?