29 April 2011

Death by Doxie: The Elfi Does Yoga Edition

I try to do a little bit of yoga most mornings - an hour is good but even 20 minutes first thing helps me feel a bit more flexible, stronger, more toned, and just generally better.  And now that I practice my yoga mainly at home, I've come to realise that having two needy dachshunds in the house adds a whole other layer of difficulty.

Whilst Ferdi has decided that pulling out the yoga mat is an invitation for him to have a snooze on it, Elfi seems to disapprove of the fact that I am doing something that does not involve lavishing attention upon her.  She expresses this with subtlety (by just sitting there, watching me, as in the photos above) or, as time goes by, with much less subtlety (by leaping on to my stomach anytime I lie down - good for the core muscles, actually).

And here she is looking a bit dejected, after I have (gently) put my foot down...

23 April 2011

A Day in Hongdae

One of the great things about having people come to stay (aside from hanging out with people you love and having an excuse to drink beer at lunchtime, of course) is that sometimes it forces you to get out and explore all those areas that have been on your 'must visit' list.  So it was that during my sister's recent visit we spent a rather pleasant day in the Seoul neighbourhood of Hongdae.  Cute cafes, affordable vintage and local clothing, amazing stationary shops, rustic home wares...here's a few of my favourites:

i think so : head down the narrow stairs and find a concrete bunker type space filled with wonderful stationery and other bits and pieces.

Market m* : there's a certain look to all the cute little cafes (tiny potted plants, chalkboards, garden labels, black and white postcards...) and this is the shop where they get it all from.  It's a little bit Muju, a little bit Ikea, and their garden section is the best - full of little succulents and wire pot plant racks and black board plant spikes, plus lots of simple storage ideas.

Bricolage : a tiny little shop selling simple but lovely stuff - think twine, kraft paper notebooks, wooden pegs.

Little Farmers : with a focus on eco-friendly wares, Little Farmers stocks more cute stationary, super soft baby's wear, plus a really amazing collection of leather goods.

Joey's Brunch Cafe : I'd read about their 'extra cheesey broccoli soup' on the design*sponge Seoul guide (see below) so we stopped for lunch here when we happened upon it.  The service is friendly and the serves are huge - this is comfort food and a half.  Lots of cheese, cream and fresh baked focaccia, I'll definitely be heading back here next time I want a bowl of happiness.

Pretty much every clothing store we encountered : wearable, affordable, just a little bit quirky; a great mix of handmade, vintage, local stuff.


In case you missed it, Beci has written a post about her visit - have a look if you want to see more of the colour of Seoul and hear about some of her favourites!

Also, lots and lots of thanks go to this guide to Seoul on design*sponge, by blogger Katie Merchant, for many Hongdae pointers!

22 April 2011

Death by Doxie: The Spring Sun Edition

Elfi is a total sun hound.  I think when she retires she is going to move to California, coat herself in tanning oil and loll about on a sun lounge, foil reflector in paw to ensure there's no neck lines.  She is especially happy at the moment because although we do have lots of lovely Spring sunshine (just not today, but that's another story), the grass hasn't quite recovered from Winter yet so it's nice and scratchy on her back.

Here's another view from the outside, if you look closely you can see Ferdi through the glass soaking in the sun on the inside.  Ferdi is very much an urban dog - if it's not paved he doesn't want to know about it...

And here's the view from the inside, looking out - just look at that little paw!

Look! I'm here!

Remember the giveaway I did a little while ago?  And the super nice and talented winner, Chantal? Well, she's just written a really lovely blog post, all about ME!  You can have a look here.  Isn't it the nicest?  And aren't her handmade stamps and prints great?  I think so.

Also, in an example of nepotism at it's finest, Good Things* has also got a mention in one of my absolute favourite magazines - Inside Out.  In the current issue, they asked my sister about her favourite blogs and she included this little thing in the list, which is just way too cool for school!

Thanks as always for reading and commenting and just generally being ACE!

21 April 2011

Road Trip: Soundtrack

[image by CubaGallery]

Last weekend we did a bit of a school holiday road trip: caught the train to Busan for breakfast with a tiger and a walk through the fish market; drove to Goseong and Namhae for some dinosaur footprint action, and then headed to Muju and Daedunsan for some spectacular mountain scenery (more about all of that coming your way very soon...).  It was a good road trip, and critical to any good road trip is a good soundtrack - partly because music lessens the monotony of long drives, and partly because I love the way songs become so entwined with memories.

Our car is evenly split between those who prefer audio books and those who prefer something they can sing along to (in one case, sing along perfectly well; in the other (ie. me) sing along sounding like a tone deaf drowning rat.).  And unfortunately those who prefer audio books are the, um, let's say 'more assertive' of the car occupants (plus, one was the driver and the driver always gets the veto vote, don't they?).  So our road trip sound track largely consisted of Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island and David Attenborough's Zoo Quest for a Dragon.  

As much as I adore the dry wit of Bill Bryson I must admit I am a little over hearing his voice, after awhile it all just seems a bit too clever and jolly...but David Attenborough...well, I could listen to his gently reassuring, knowledgeably dulcet tones for ever and a day.  If you're looking for some family friendly car listening I'd definitely recommend this one (especially if you've got kids who are mildly obsessed with natural history like my two step-sons are) - an interesting behind the scenes account of an expedition, peppered with amusing tales and intriguing facts.

And when we weren't listening to audiobooks?  Well, two songs did get a look in.  The husband's choice was Andrea Boccelli's Con te Partiro - not something I'd normally listen to, but it is a beautiful song and brings back happy memories of road trips in Italy, and made the beautiful spring countryside we were driving through (rolling hills, blossoms, new growth, rivers - you get the idea) seem even more beautiful.  

My choice was Adele's Rolling in the Deep which my sister introduced me to when she was here (I am so far out of the new music loop, I live in a veritable fresh tunes wasteland) and which I am currently a teeny bit obsessed with.  If I don't listen to it at least once a day I have a minor breakdown.  I know this obsession will eventually pass, but I like the thought that in the distant future if I do hear this track again I'll remember pink blossoms and Korea.  Anyway, despite an initial degree of wariness from the somewhat risk averse back seat, by day four the whole car was humming along.  Hurrah!

20 April 2011

I've got the bug...

I've got the bug and I've got it bad.  Nope, not the kind of bug that leaves you bedridden and feverish and rambling (though I have been a little bit sick lately), the kind of bug that makes you want to pack your bag and see the world! 

Now I know I've just been on a road trip in Korea, and a few weeks before that I was in Hong Kong, and before that I was exploring my hometown of Melbourne, yet again.  So I'm sure some of you out there are thinking 'get a grip woman! your whole life is travel, how can you of all people have the bug?'. But it's true, I do.  

I guess most of the travel we've been doing lately has been intricately planned - everything is researched and booked and measured out.  Which doesn't make it any less fun, especially considering a lot of it has been with the step-sons, so I think the planning and the booking and the packing of weet-bix and DVD players actually makes it somewhat more fun. But...I have been hit by that massive urge just to go, somewhere, anywhere.  To travel on a whim, to go somewhere new and unknown.  I'm hungering for new tastes, new sights, unexpected discoveries, adventure, chaos, chance meetings.  

So the husband and I sat up late last night, pouring over the atlas and talking of months off in some hopefully not-too-distant future, when we can buy a cheap second-hand car and drive through Croatia.  Or see the sights in southern France.  Or train-hop across Spain.  Or maybe even head a bit further south and get the ferry to Morocco, or some islands, somewhere.  And the dreaming and the scheming help to calm that urge, so that now it's replaced with pleasant thoughts of sunny drives, and free time, and reading maps up-side-down (I have a history...), and all those terribly agonizing decisions - left or right, staying another night or moving on, beer or wine?

Do you ever get bitten by the travel bug?  And if so, how do you cope with it?

14 April 2011

Say 'moo'!

Ah yes, it's school holiday time and that means there is so much going on at the moment that it's hard to find time for blogging because of all the doing, which is a good thing of course and means I have lots of surprises up my sleeve.  School holiday time also means I am forced to have a proper lunch at a proper time every day because there are two ravenous children in the house, but as much as I don the apron and try to play the role I really struggle to get lunch organised before 1.30pm...but no one seems to mind if lunch is a little late if it's delicious Women's Weekly Cookbook crepes with ham and gouda, and maple syrup for later.  Delicious!

Anyhoo, that's all a bit off track.  What I wanted to tell you about is that yesterday we went to the 63 Building in Yeouido, apparently the tallest building in Seoul and the tallest art museum in the world (which is kind of an hilarious gimmick, don't you think?).  It has some spectacular views of the sprawling city, and down in the basement there's also a pretty cool aquarium, interesting but compact so you never get to the point of thinking 'oh yay, another fish...'.  

The penguins were regal, the otters cute and the spider crabs suitably creepy but the real star of the show is that little guy right up the top there - the cowfish.  And seeing as how the cowfish is possibly the cutest animal I've ever come across, and how the curious little critter  actually seemed interested and intrigued by my iPhone when I held it up to take it's photo, they may have just overtaken the mouse deer as my most favourite animal ever.  So here is some more cowfish goodness for you to soak up (apologies for dodgy iPhone photos, I did take my super fancy camera but of course I left it in the car...)

ps. One of the fun things about going to zoos and aquariums and amusement parks around the world is seeing how they are kind of all the same but kind of uniquely of the culture they are from at the same time.  For example, this aquarium had all kinds of wonderfully obscure objects placed in the fish tanks - like oversized snow globes filled with miniature african animals, or a giant blue seahorse sculpture.  But this one below really stumped me...so if anyone, anyone at all, can explain why there is a frog in a nazi uniform in one of the tanks at the 63 Building's aquarium I'd really appreciate it:

13 April 2011

My Creative Space

A little while ago I was contacted by a bride-to-be who saw the gift tags in my Etsy store and wanted to use something similar on her wedding guest favours.  So, after working with the customer to create the right design, I am now neck deep in production mode on 200 gift tags, which means taking over the dining room table and ignoring the encroaching repetitive strain injury!  I feel completely and utterly honored to be a part of someone's special day in some small way, and I'm so excited about shipping this package off to her when I'm done - I really hope she loves them!

12 April 2011


Due to the thoughtful, inquiring, hard-hitting kind of approach to life that I so clearly take, I've been wandering lately if there is enough pink in my world.  I've never been a big fan, but lately my eye is being drawn away from the long-time favourites (blue, green and orange) to all things pink.  Coral, fuchsia, salmon, rose - I'm all over it.  And I adore the soft, dusky pink hues of these Persian Buttercups (bought for me by my super lovely sister on her recent visit) - just gorgeous don't you think?

And ps. keep it to yourself please but I may have even bought a neon (and I mean neon) pink mini skirt from Zara recently.  In my defense it was really, really cheap and I'm pretty sure I'll never wear it in public.  It does add a rather bright note to Sunday breakfasts at home though...

10 April 2011

Are dead parrots funny?

[Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy wooden peg people by Randomly Generated]

Ok, so last night I was having a conversation with my husband which is a conversation that I've had many times with lots of different people over the years and yet it's something that I still have no answers on.  Hence I am turning to my trusty brain bank (that's you) in the hope that you may be able to shed some light.

The thing is, said husband and two sons really, really love A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Between the three of them they've read the book countless times, listened to the audio book another bunch of times, and watched the TV series way more than once.  It's the same with Monty Python. Every movie watched again and again and again.  Python quotes are thrown in to the conversation at random intervals.  Python documentaries are procured and yes, watched repeatedly.

I kind of get it.  Douglas Adams was funny, John Cleese a borderline genius - they did some good, nay great, stuff. But I've read the book, seen the movie, and I don't want to keep going back there. On the other hand, there is a handful of comedy shows that I would happily watch over and over again (Like Black Books, or Fawlty Towers, or new favourite Modern Family).  

So, over my short life I've been conducting a highly scientific experiment (assuming that by 'highly scientific' one means not scientific at all) and it seems this comedic division runs largely along gender lines.  I don't like to emphasise gender differences, I was happily bought up by a rabid feminist who was always going on about girls being able to do anything and men being a bit pain-in-the-arse-ish at times, and as a reaction to that I tend not to see things through the male/female prism.  But this issue is too important to keep ignoring!

My husband has suggested that the humour of Python et al is largely based on concepts, rather than characters, which puts women off.  He also suggested that women are just not exposed to comedy from an early age, and asked if there was an equivalent female comedic author in the world.  Surprisingly, I did not hit him.  I did however suggest that Python et al is adolescent...

Clearly, I need some answers!   Are you female and watching Life of Brian on a loop?  Is it just me? Do I not 'get' something?  Or do you see this gender divide too?  And what's your theory on why? Help!

09 April 2011

Hong Kong: Inspiration Overload

Being in Hong Kong recently with my sister (which was so much fun, by the way) made me think a bit more about why I love the place so much.  Every time I land there I get that excited feeling - you know the one that us travelers are always trying to chase, the one that wakes you up even if you've just got off a 16 hour flight and it's 4am back home, the one you felt the first time you went to New York or Paris or Tokyo.  

And I'm sure part of that excited feeling is because I'm already planning out what delicious things I'm going to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner over the next few days.  But it's also because Hong Kong gives you that feeling that you're in a place where things are happening!  Exciting, vibrant, new things.  And all these things are just a short ferry or train or walk away.  

But mainly, Hong Kong is a total feast for my senses - everywhere you look there is inspiration, whether it's the jumble of stuff piled high in the stores around Cat Street; the neon orange and blue colours of the street stall signage; the crumbly, washed out pinks and greens of the old apartment buildings; or that amazing sign out the front of a bird shop which makes you think about how good it would look as an embroidery design (don't you think?).  The noise, the smell, the shops, the bustle, the everything everywhere, the little glimpses of green...it's inspiration overload every time I visit!

Update: if you want to hear more about our Hong Kong adventures Beci has just put up a Hong Kong post too!  The family that blogs together, etc etc etc.  You can have a look here.

08 April 2011

Death by Doxie: Elfi Sleeps In

Sometimes it's just all too much for a dog.  And whilst everyone else is up and about, working and cleaning and blogging and hoping-to-make-the-bed-ing, sometimes Elfi likes to head back to bed and just lay there awhile.  I never like to disturb her, because I kind of totally completely utterly understand.  Bed!  Is there anything better?

07 April 2011

Hong Kong: The Sevens

Oh the Sevens!  The crowds, the beer, the Pimms!  The roar, the dancing, the loosing-ones-voice-ing!  The costumes, the wigs, the sad sick moo cows on the train home.  The men in drag (oh, so many men in drag).  The quick quick games between Zimbabwe and New Zealand and Korea and Mexico and France and Tonga.  And Japan, the valiant, heartfelt, on-your-feet-cheering, Japan.  The hope and joy and disappointment; and when Hong Kong plays, every single person in the stadium wishing them well.  The excited happy people, the young-uns running amok, the ugly messy don't-know-your limits people (steer well clear of those).  

See you all again next year, I hope.

05 April 2011

Etsy Spotlight: Pata Pri

I'm back from my short blogging hiatus with a rather special Etsy Spotlight!  Pata Pri is the Etsy store of Japan based graphic and textile designer Yuko Uemura, and it features her designs printed on to Japanese 'imabari' towels - 100% cotton, super soft and very absorbent.  And, until 13 April, $5 from every towel sold is being donated to the Japanese disaster relief efforts.

As much as I love the simple, fun designs of Pata Pri it's the beautiful, washed out colour palette that really gets me, so very lovely!  Anyway, enough chat - go get yourself some towely goodness, now!

Etsy Spotlight is the Good Things* seal of approval.  You can read more here, and find all the posts here.