Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday night film selection: The English Patient

A passionate, consuming love story. Told in a manner of the great love stories of the old days. This film rightly holds the title of an epic spectacle.
The acting of the leading actors is supreme and so convincing. The passionate erotic scenes are acted out beautifully and don't come out looking vulgar at all.
I can't help but feel drawn into this tragic story of two people who were literally consumed by the fire of their passion for each other.

I want all this marked on my body. Where the real countries are. Not boundaries drawn on maps with the names of powerful men. I know you'll come carry me out to the Palace of Winds. That's what I've wanted: to walk in such a place with you. With friends, on an earth without maps. The lamp has gone out and I'm writing in the darkness.

The narrative of this movie is very fluid, very poetic with an imminent doom looming over it. There is some wonderful symbolism of light and dark intertwined in the story, teaching us about the true nature of love and possession.
The parallel love story of the young Canadian nurse and an Indian bomb diffuser serves to strengthen the message of the primary story and is not put there to interfere with the flow of the narrative as some suggested.
Over two hours long, this film runs a bit slow but is well worth the watch.

Uneventful Friday

The weather has really been horrible this past week and my health both mental and physical has taken a turn for the worse. I find myself unable to do much, instead I'm just sort of hanging around the apartment, eating plenty of zinc and vitamin C and trying to stay positive.

Today I:

1. Made some lasagna for Mr. C.

A traditional Bolognese/ white sauce / mozzarella cheese lasagna baked in Le Creuset glazed ceramic pan. This pan is my absolute favourite. Nothing ever burns inside and is always baked to perfection.

2. Finished a top I've been making based on the same pattern as my cowl neck dress.

All the outside seams are hand rolled. A time consuming process, but just perfect for my current state of mind. I find this sort of precise and delicate handwork relaxing.

I bought this polyester chiffon fabric while on visit to Timisoara, Romania over two years ago. It's been waiting patiently in my fabric closet for me to decide what to do with it. The top is cut on the bias, so it has a bit of stretch to it eliminating the need for a zipper. I'm quite pleased with the end result. I'll probably wear this layered over a navy blue top. Or maybe I'll even buy a plum coloured top to match it.

3. Had some soy bean stew for lunch

Any kind of vegetable stew is my go to comfort food whenever I feel a bit blue. The soy been come from a friend of my mum's who lives in the same village. Homegrown soy is a bit crunchier than store bought but it tastes about a hundred times better.

4. Watched the Royal Wedding

Yep, I succumbed to curiosity and tuned in for a portion of the ceremony. I have absolutely no intention to ramble on about my feelings about the ceremony, the dress or the royal family. Plenty of other bloggers will do this today.

So there you have it, the less glamorous side of my life. I do try to keep certain aspects of my life private. I hate to whine or look for sympathy but since I am writing this blog to connect with people I felt my readers deserve a more in depth view into my personal affairs and state of mind.
Have a happy Friday!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter eggs and other traditions in Slovenia

Every year my step dad, Mr. C and I decorate the Easter eggs. The brownish red ones are somewhat of a national speciality. They are boiled in red onion peelings that give the eggs their distinct colour. This tradition developed around/after the WWII out of necessity and human ingenuity. After the war the country was pushed into severe economic depression and poverty. With no die available people resorted to this method of egg colouring.

Our Easter breakfast table. This is however not the traditional breakfast, we have made some changes after I became a vegetarian.

This is what a traditional breakfast consists of: potica, Easter eggs, ham and horseradish. In some parts of Slovenia horseradish is simply grated and served as a side dish. But in Štajerska, where my mum is from the horseradish is grated along with apples and eggs and served as a salad.

This is potica. It's hard to describe the significance of potica for the Slovene nation. Made with sweet bread dough and walnut filling it's much more than dessert. This national delicacy is present at all the significant milestones: birthday, christening, wedding, funeral and all the major holidays.

And here are a few examples of traditional Slovene Easter eggs:

This are made in a batik style, wax is applied to the raw eggs that are then consequently died in red and blue colours to achieve the multicoloured effect.

These eggs are first died in onion peelings and the motifs are then scratched onto the surface with a sharp knife.

My favourites are however these spectacular masterpieces from Franc Grom. Mr. Grom drills little holles (up to 18.000!) creating various lace like designs and patterns. Some of these eggs are then turned into a little lamp.

And finally, a technique I only found out about it last weekend. Raw eggs are cooked in teran for 15 minutes and left to soak in it overnight. The result is a wonderfully rich dark plum colour and little crystalline deposits that sparkle.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter!

I'm off for a long weekend in the country chez maman, where the air is pure, the flowers bloom and there isn't an internet connection in sight.

I hope you all have a lovely Easter celebration!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mr. C's sense of style

I got the idea for this post yesterday after having finished sewing a shirt for Mr. C. A somewhat unusual shirt that got me thinking about the lack of variety in men's fashion today.

When it comes to mens' fashion I'm afraid there really isn't that much to say. A modern man who conforms to today's rules of acceptable dressing is confined to a dull colour palette of black, blue or gray suits paired with appropriate footwear. Accessories are practically non existent. Cuff links, if any, must now be discreet, nothing flamboyant and the only freedom of colour expression left is the choice of tie. Well a somewhat freedom anyway, since a bright hue of magenta or orange might be considered unsuitable for certain professions.
Neither me nor Mr. C consider ourselves particularly sartorial or avantgarde when it comes to fashion and we are unlikely to ever be featured on Scott Schuman's blog. Mostly because Mr. Schuman doesn't visit this neck of the woods we call home ;-)
Both Mr. C and me however have a distinct quirk: we are both to some extent nonconformists and refuse to "follow the masses blindly". Whether it be fashion, where we go on holiday or something as banal as eating spaghetti for breakfast!
As for Mr. C's wardrobe, it would be ridiculous to claim it's entirely up to him. Like every woman (I have yet to meet a woman who doesn't help her partner with clothing choices) I have a major influence on Mr. C's wardrobe. My role is that of an advisor, the final decision is always his.

Here are some of Mr. C's most unusual clothing items:

1. A cravat

Considered by some to be a flamboyant accessory worn only by aged playboys.

2. Brooches, pins

Ever since I saw my hero, Hercule Poirot, wearing a flower pin on his lapel I was convinced men should wear more pins or brooches. And not simply a national flag as is the custom of many politicians but a pin whose function is solely ornamental.

3. Thai fishermen's pants

These pants are one of those love/hate items. It's impossible to remain neutral. We often joke that these would come in handy in case of a shipwreck as they can be used for a mock sail. Still I love them since they present a more original option for homewear as opposed to the dreaded sweat suit/jogging pants.

If anyone is interested here is a link to the pattern: Thai fishermen's pants. Though the pattern is designed for women these pants are actually unisex so one simply has to elongate the pattern pieces.

4. Hats

Wearing hats, both by men as well as women, is a lost art in today's fast paced world.

5. Whimsical T-shirts

These have probably become indigenous to today's youth culture and have become the most common way to express political, cultural, religious... ideas. I usually avoid printed, slogan t-shirts. Seeing numerous teenagers wearing a Che Guevara printed shirt and being utterly clueless abut what he stood for is probably why.
This t-shirt was a birthday present for Mr. C several years ago. Since he's passionate about old cars I made him a somewhat cartoonish car print I copied from a children's book and hand sewn it to a store bought t-shirt. The licence plate bears Mr. C's birth date.

6. Velvet jacket

Velvet jackets are a highly controversial item of clothing. Probably because few men can pull off wearing one without looking ridiculous. Mr. C has always had a wonderful sense of humor at his own expense and most importantly he likes to genuinely have fun with his fashion choices. An ideal candidate to wear velvet jacket and get away with it.

7. Unusual shirts

The shirt that was the inspiration for today's post. Here is a link to the pattern: Burda.

As you can quite clearly see the colour of the shirt is a bright coral red. Mr. C really really likes bright colours and this was the fabric he selected himself. Finding the perfect buttons proved to be a nightmare. Probably because coral coloured buttons for men don't exist.

And there you have it: most outrageous, flamboyant, whimsical items from Mr. C's closet. I'd really like to hear from my you, dear readers! Do any of these items strike you as wildly innapropriate? Maybe all? What do you think is the acceptable dress code for men who prefer to stand out a bit but don't want to look clownish ar grotesque?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Anatomy of Beauty

What is Beauty? How do we define it? Is it hidden in the mathematical precision of an unknown algorithm? The golden ratio? To me true beauty is something almost tangible. I recognize it through a feeling I get when in its presence. It is an experience, an experience of Beauty.
Here is a random selection of poems, paintings, songs and other objects d'art that I find beautiful:

1. Celine Dion, 1 fille & 4 types
I eschew the term "best ever" but this album is very high on my ever so small a list of favourites.

De milliers de baisers or Millions of kisses is perhaps to my mind the most powerful ballad on the entire album. It speaks of a dissolution of a love affair and its aftermath.
So beautiful and eloquent, I am left speechless and in awe every time I listen to it.

2. Sandro Boticelli, Birth of Venus

I don't profess to be particularly knowledgeable when it comes to fine arts but I am able to recognize quality. This piece has me mesmerised since I first saw it some ten, twelwe years ago. It is held in Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

3. Cherry blossom

A bloom deemed so perfect it even has its own day in Japanese culture. Hanami literally translates to flower viewing and is a day spent in admiration of cherry blossom and sometimes includes a ritual picnic under the cherry tree.

This photo was taken last weekend at my mum's house and the cherry tree is called Lapin which means rabbit in french.

4. Le smoking

Le smoking was designed in 1966 by Yves Saint Laurent. A tuxedo suit for women was the first of its kind and it revolutionized womens' fashion as much as Chanel's little black dress did decades before.
The iconic photo was taken by Helmut Newton in 1975.

5. Alessandro Baricco, Silk

It is fitting that the title of this story is Silk for Baricco's words are like liquid silk. His style of writing has sometimes been referred to as literary prose.

Although his father had imagined for him a brilliant future in the army, Hervé Joncour ended up earning his living in an unusual profession that, with singular irony, had a feature so sweet as to betray a vaguely feminine intonation.

For a living, Hervé Joncour bought and sold silkworms.
It was 1861. Flaubert was writing Salammbô, electric light was still a hypothesis and Abraham Lincoln, on the other side of the ocean, was fighting a war whose end he would not see.
Hervé Joncour was thirty-two years old.
He bought and sold.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

7000 Bracelets of Hope Blog Hop party

The much awaited Saturday is here! I've been keeping a little secret that I was dying to divulge ;-) Mr. C has also decided to participate and made a bracelet of his own.

Selecting the beads proved to be a daunting task, since blue is my favourite colour and I profess to be a bonified hoarder of blue beads. I decided to play around a bit with various beads and findings to see what works.

Mr. C on the other hand prefers vibrant colours and contrasting combination so he had to go through his entire stash to find something more subdued. He selected two lovely shades of blue satin string (rat tail) and paired them with some lovely metal leaf adorned beads.

Here is the entire list of blog hop participants. I invite you to pop over and take a look of what others have created.

1. Lori Anderson, Pretty Things
2. Jayne Capps, Mama's Got To Doodle
3. Kym Hunter, Creatively Kym
4. Mandy Duffy, Beads for Brains: 365
5. Charlene Sevier, The Bead Dreamer
6. Lisa Boucher, Lisa's Clay Happenings
7. Mary Harding, Mary Harding Jewelry
8. Barbara Lewis, Painting With Fire
9. Amy Severino, Amy's Beads
10. Jennifer Pride, Jewelry by Jennifer Pride
11. Jenny Cameron, Glass Addictions
12. Susan Ferguson, Windrock Studio
13. Mortira vanPelt, Inspirational Beading
14. Brandi Hussey, Brandi Girl
15. Jenny Vidberg, Shyme Design
16. Angela Barribou, Re: Angela Rae
17. Stefanie Teufel, Stefanie's Sammelsurium
18. Sue Hodgkinson, Hello Gorgeous
19. Jean Yates, Snap Out of it Jean, There's Beading To Be Done!
20. Nicki Keller, Nicki's Reef

21. JJ Jacobs, Coming Abstractions
22. Stacey Curry, Star Hitched Wagon
23. Carrie Tahquechi, Carrie T
24. Deci Worland, Gem Trails
25. Debbie Goering, Prairie Emporium
26. Staci Smith, Staci Louise Originals
27. Francy Inman, 8 Second Studio
28. Linda Landig, Linda's Bead Blog and Meanderings
29. Cherin Poovey, Lanyard Lady
30. Deb Price, Green Shoot Jewellery Designs

31. Suzette Bentley, Ellies Bijoux
32. Mallory Hoffman, For the Love of Beads
33. Shirley Moore, Beads and Bread
34. Kate Gardenghi, The Tropical Blonde
35. Marina Dobrynina, Savon Feutre
36. Molly Alexander, Beautifully Broken Me
37. Linda Djokic, Lutka and Co.
38. Cory Celaya, Art With Moxie
39. CJ Baushka, 4 His Glory Creations
40. Tracy Bell, Copper, Glass, and Recycled Trash

41. Sandra Richardson, Sandy's Coloring Box
42. Sandi Volpe, Sandi Volpe Designs
43. Kim Roberts, Bahama Dawn
44. Hilary Frye, FryeStyle
45. Emanda Johnson, Artemisia's Studio
46. Lisa Kavanaugh, Beading Bliss
47. Sue Kennedy, Sue Beads
48. Raquel Amaral, Raquel Amaral
49. Robyn Hawk, Daily Jewel
50. Linda Inhelder, Must-Haves Jewelry

52. Krista French, French Elegant Jewelry
53. Andrea Robinson, Madame Magpie's Shiny Things
54. John Rasmussen, Rasmussen Gems and Jewelry
55. Breana Fry, Vault 31
56. Erin Prais-Hintz, Treasures Found
57. Cyndi Lavin, Beading Arts
58. Dot Lewallen, Speedie Beadie
59. Hope Smitherman, Crafty Hope
60. Heather Pyle, Aquariart

61. Adrienne Campbell, Adrienne Designs
62. Dee Gordon, Runako Designs
63. Judy Glende, Judith B. Designs
64. Susie Hibdon, Vintage Susie & Wings
65. Tania Spivey, Moobie Grace Designs
66. Norma Agron, Norma's Clay
67. Ana Novak, Cat's Pajamas, Dog's Tuxedos You are here!
68. Johanna Rhodes, Fire Phoenix Creations
69. Raida Disbrow, Havana Beads
70. Christa Murphy, Adventures of One Beady Woman

71. Holly Westfall, Silver Rose Designs
72. Catherine Pruitt, Boo Beads
73. Deana Hager, Just Deez' Art & Life
74. Lupe Meter, Gem's PC Corner
75. Valerie Norton, Hot Fused Glass
76. Janet Bocciardi, Honey From the Bee
77. Kitty Durmaj, Perles and Life
78. Rose Noble, Lady Noble Design
79. Sally Russick, WireWorked
80. Margot Potter, The Impatient Crafter

81. KJ, KJ's Beadacious Beads
82. Lana Kinney, Something Unique by Lana
83. Melissa Meman, Melissa Meman ... Art, Life, Love
84. Karen Bien, Everyday Gypsy
85. Rebecca Anderson, Songbeads
86. Cyn Gagen, Creative Edventures
87. Niky Sayer, Silver Nik Nats
88. Deb Beechy, Beetique
89. Marian Hertzog, M's Place
90. Kerry Bogert, Kab's Creative Concepts

91. Judy Riley, Three Red Beads
92. Charlene Gray, Gray Girl Studio
93. Erin Fickert-Rowland, Elysian Fields
94. Sharon Palac, Sharon's Jewelry Garden
95. Maryse Thillens, Glass Bead Art
96. Christine Altmiller, One Kiss Creations
97. Eileen Bergen, The Artful Crafter
98. Bobbie Rafferty, Beadsong Jewelry
99. Rebekah Payne, Tree Wings Studio
100. Mari Aparicio, Mis Amores

101. Tracy Statler, Make Bracelets
102. Marcy Lamberson, Studio Marcy
103. Kim Stevens, Picking Poppies
104. Karyn White, Releases by Rufydoof
105. Elisabeth Auld, Beads for Busy Gals
106. Lisa Hamilton, Simply Irresistible Jewelry
107. Serena Trent, All Things Made Jewelry
108. Sharon Driscoll, Right Turn Artwerks
109. Debbie La Rue, For the Love of Beading
110. Maggie Towne, Maggie's Bead Towne

111. Cassandra Watsham, Designs by Cassandra
112. Mary Ellen Parker, BeeTree by m.e.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday night film selection: Finding Forrester

One of those quiet dramas about an unlikely friendship and how it comes to define the people involved and change their lives. This time between an ageing writer whose first and only book became such a stellar success, he was consequently afraid to publish another as it will inevitably disappoint so instead he chose a life of recluse. On the other hand a young black male high school student whose talent for basketball is equally brilliant as his writing. Yet he chooses to remain hidden behind his C average grades. Afraid his dreams of one day leaving the poverty and desperation of his home neighbourhood are unattainable.
The chemistry between Sean Connery and Rob Brown is spine tingling spectacular and I was surprised to read that Rob Brown never attended any acting school. His presence on the screen is quite natural and his acting very unforced. Kudos to Anna Paquin whose performance was equally brilliant. Though I was disappointed how the director wanted to squeeze some romance into this story. The scenes, though beautiful, add nothing to the plot and distract from the real message.

One of my favourite character traits was the young man's brazen sense of humor and his courage to stand up for himself and others.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

7000 Bracelets of Hope

On Saturday I will be participating in a charity blog hop for 7000 Bracelets of Hope. First of all a blog hop, organized by the lovely inimitable Lori Anderson, is a blogging event where all participants post a blog entry on a particular subject on a certain date.
The 7000 Bracelets of Hope is a charity event organized by The Global Genes Projects whose mission is to raise awareness about the need for research and education on rare diseases, especially those that inflict children.
The object of the charity is to make an adult size bracelet in a predominantly blue colour that will be sent to one of the 7000 families whose children are suffering from any kind of rare disease.
So why am I participating, for no I nor any member of my family or friends is suffering from a rare disease? First of all: I may not know rare disease but I do know disease in general. Those who know me or read my blog will know that I have just survived the Winter from Hell with an ear infection so resilient it took me a good three months to recover. So I know disease and I know pain.
The thought that kept me going during these three months was the conviction that this will eventually pass. Reading about the Bracelets of Hope got me thinking about all the people that don't have the same luxury as I did. Their condition is permanent and they have to live with it every day. Every day! With a myriad of complications that grossly reduce their quality of living. Chronic pain is a daily companion to most of them.
And these people are children! The ones we desperately try to protect from all the harm and harshness of the world. And yet in this case we are helpless. Our hopes lie in researching these diseases, putting pressure on the proper authorities to ensure the research is actually carried out and raising awareness about this issue. So that we may never have to hear: "This could have been prevented if we had only known!"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Having fun in the kitchen

My favourite cocktail is Gin and tonic. In fact I'm notorious for infuriating the waiters at a bar with a complex set of instructions on how I take my gin&tonic. That's why I prefer the ones Mr. C makes, he knows exactly how I like them.

About a month ago we purchased this novelty ice tray called Gin & Titonic, ice cubes have the shape of an ice berg or a ship. Quite cute and whimsical and just the sort of thing to get me ridiculously excited.

And then I had a brilliant idea! Let's put some food colorant into the water and make blue ice cubes.

And there it is: Blue gin&tonic. It doesn't taste any better for it but it is a lot of fun. I imagine coloured ice cubes would be all the rave at a summer picnic party. Or maybe a Christmas dinner party with red and green ice cubes in the shape of pine cones.

Just watch you don't stain your fingers as well. The food colorant washes out of dishes and kitchen utensils effortlessly but it does take a bit more scrubbing to get it off the skin.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My obsessions with...small vases

I've recently realized that I don't have a lot of large vases in the house. Just a bunch of small ones that I like to buy in a set of three. Hmmm...

I really don't have a reasonable explanation for this behaviour. I only know I love to place my vases in a repetitive pattern: three vases in a straight or triangular line.

The other option is having just one small vase like this blue one from Ikea. But the only reason I bought it is because Ikea has two other vases and together they form a trio.

Next time I go to Ikea I will probably buy both.