Sunday, August 31, 2014

Weekend Links v.19

Bye, Google Maps. I'm sold!

Do you have an Etsy account? Or thinking of setting one up? Etsy recently launched the Etsy Design Awards, and Australian sellers can win a trip to Etsy HQ in Brooklyn and be featured in Inside Out magazine!

This shop has the greatest Mexican print pillows! I can't decide if I want the Cactus, the Watermelon or La Calavera....

How to apologise properly. Good advice for everyone!

An eye-opening portrait series of scientists as they discuss their greatest fears about climate change.

I just started this course, so far it's a winner! Get Stuff Done Like a Boss: Design Your Workflow and Double Your Productivity in 21 Days.

If you've ever lived in London, you'll know the value of an un-steal-able bicycle. Most bikes in that city have a lifespan of around 8 days ;)

Please tell me someone out there has a pet tortoise - this is the greatest thing ever.

Put an end to Brotalitarianism - be a misfit!

Kelsea just launched her shop with the "Wonderland Collection". Super Kawaii!

In case you missed it on Kitty & Buck:
There's just one day left to enter the AmiMia Etsy shop giveaway!

We made another travel video, this time in the misty, magical Blue Mountains.

How was your weekend? I fell into a post-deadline stupor for a few days, but I'm back on normal work hours again, so looking forward to sleep, exercise and, I don't know... reading a book?

I hope you have a productive and rewarding week :)


Friday, August 29, 2014

Weekend Getaway to the Blue Mountains

For my final #painthetownford challenge, I decided to go on a much needed weekend getaway (computer in tow as working was still required). In the typical fashion of the Murphy's and their silly laws, the day before we were due to depart for a little weekend away to the Blue Mountains, newsreaders across Sydney declared it would be best to stay indoors as "Rainmageddon" was upon us. I don't know about you, but a little apocalyptic rainfall was not going to get in the way of my break. If there's anything that makes the mountains more romantic, it's rain and mist.

I've always wanted to stay at The Carrington Hotel, it carries a decidedly "The Shining" vibe about it, and there's something about the slightly off-kilter grande old dame atmosphere that draws me in. Unfortunately it was fully booked out, so we opted for something on the opposite end of the spectrum, an eco resort called "Old Leura Dairy". There are various styles and sizes of accommodation to choose from at the dairy, we decided on the Milking Shed, which had a lovely fireplace and loft bedroom. The interior is a mish-mash of recycled building materials and found objects which gives it a lovely eclectic homey feeling. I especially loved the entryway, a couple of huge old barn doors that swung open to reveal our cosy cave for the weekend.

As we drove into the mountains from Sydney, I watched the temperature indicator on the car drop, approximately 1ºC for each town we passed through. By the time we arrived in Leura, it was a chilly 7º. Thankfully the Ford Kuga Titanium has built in seat-warmers, so we were none the wiser in our toasty cocoon-on-wheels. Despite the rain, we cobbled together another short film of our trip - I'm thinking of making this a more regular thing! It's such a fun way to preserve your memories.

Since we were unable to have a sleepover in The Carrington, we opted for a quick pre-dinner drink instead. It's the perfect way to soak up the ambience if you're just in Katoomba for a day trip, or prefer a different type of accommodation. The ascent to the front door is accompanied by the most delightful wafts from the flower garden. The only way to make the ground more appealing, would be to install a hedge maze, taking it one step closer to Stanley Kubrick's vision. The barmen were extremely obliging with my unusual request for tea instead of a gin and tonic, and my questions about the VIP room (a very appealing balcony that was built for the Duke and Duchess of York's visit in 1927 - it was never used by them and is now relegated to a structurally unsound temptation, rather than a functional sitting area).

The following day, as tempting as it was to play scrabble in our 'shed', we decided to indulge in one of the best activities to do on the mountains, rain or not: Antique hunting. Oh, and book hunting. Our first stop (always) is Mr Pickwick's on Katoomba Street, home of antiquities, a wide range of amazing vintage clothing, and around 60,000 books. We were lucky enough to find Mr Pickwick himself behind the counter, who kindly obliged our request for a photo (complete with mischievous glint in his eye). I scored a first edition of Alp by William Hjortsberg. If you love kid's books, there is an absolute goldmine of vintage children's literature in the basement book cave.

The lovely township of Leura called us back from lunch, where we shoehorned ourselves into the extremely popular Red Door Cafe. Bellies full, we trundled around the main street of Leura, taking in the sights. We discovered a Japanese Ceramic store which was disappointingly closed. It's bookmarked in my brain for a future investigation.

Since it was early afternoon and the mist was showing no signs of clearing, we decided to brave a wander down to Sublime Point. It's a little more secluded than the big Three Sisters lookout, and we hoped, less exposed to the elements. It was raining, cold and windy, but quite spectacular to see the vague shapes of the mountains in the white void. We didn't linger as the wind was doing it's best to whip our umbrellas into the great beyond and we didn't fancy following them.

Our final stop on the way back to Sydney is the best bookstore I've found in Australia and only second to the incredible backyard shed/shop full of first editions we stumbled across in Woodstock, VT. If you're in the Blue Mountains area, be sure to check in at Lamdha Books. It's a small shop, but packed full of gems. I managed to score a Flann O'Brien book that I haven't seen anywhere else and C grabbed a copy of Fantomas. We had a lovely conversation about jazz with Michael, the friendly owner and prolonged our return home as long as we could. Eventually we couldn't postpone the inevitable and we had the Kuga carry us home one final time before I was relegated back to my vintage Mazda. Thanks for the good times Kidspot and Ford, we had a blast!


I'm participating in the #paintthetownford challenge as part of the Kidspot Voices 2014 competition. Ford has provided me with a Ford Kuga Titanium for six weeks as part of this challenge. This is the final post of three in my series, you can read the previous posts here:
All opinions expressed in this post are my own. You can follow along with the other bloggers participating by searching the hashtag #paintthetownford and #voicesof2014.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Giveaway with AmiMia! Win €30 to the AmiMia Etsy Store

I'm so pleased to introduce you to the lovely Amanda today, along with her adorable Etsy store, AmiMia. As you may have guessed from the introduction image, AmiMia is filled with the sweetest crochet creatures, from bunnies to kitties to *squeee* bumble bees! You'll find out a little more about Amanda below, and after the interview, you'll have a chance to enter to win a €30 gift voucher to the AmiMia Etsy Store! You can choose to spend it on something listed in the store, or commission your own project for Amanda to whip up for you once the giveaway is over.

Can you tell us a little about how you got started creating your cute little animals and developed your hobby into a handmade business?
Its hard to find the beginning point. I always enjoyed crocheting and knitting. At some point some of my friends and family members started to ask for toys and it turned out to be a wonderful project. I wouldn't say it is a business yet (although I hope it will grow); it is still my hobby and additional income at the moment is just a bonus.

Nevertheless, without people around me encouraging me to put my little animals up for adoption I probably would still make them just for my friends and wouldn't make big future plans about them.

What inspires you creatively?
People. I love seeing others do creative things and succeeding, it inspires me to go for more than I expect. Also long conversations and discussions; whenever I feel stuck in creative process I meet up with someone for a glass of wine and get my mind open for the craziest ideas.

Most importantly changes; when things are changing, I am changing and my environment is changing. Routine and calmness are my creative enemies; I don't like to be stuck at one point for long.

You are originally from Latvia, do you have any travel tips for the folks out there on places to see?
I come from Latvia but last 5 years I have been living in the Netherlands where I work and study. Latvia is a wonderful country and it will always have my heart. Most of the tourists usually visit Riga, the capital city which is hipster paradise. A lot of nice cafes, live music almost every night and a great Jugendstyle architecture.

But I suggest to go further from the capital city and visit Liepaja (my hometown) with the beach and club Fontaine Palace which has its own special aura. On the way it is obligatory to stop in the Rudales Palace and go along the Baltic sea shore to see the cliffs (well, those are cliffs for Latvian people). The farms and country living is much different and worth paying a visit also. And most importantly, go on top of every church you see to see the city from above. It is a possibility almost everywhere so use it!

Almost everyone in Latvia speaks English and are very friendly and will be happy to show you around.
By the way, at the moment there is a possibility to enter a contest to get a paid weekend in Riga with one of our celebrities, just check out

How would you spend your perfect weekend?
At the moment I would really love to be in some music festival with my best friends or simply spend a weekend at the beach in my hometown, sleeping in, having drinks with my friends, swimming in Baltic see, listening to good music and catching the last of the sun this year.

When you're not creating cuddly creatures, how do you spend your time?
Last couple of month have been crazy for me and I don't really have had any free time. We have just moved to a new house (which means a lot of new ideas in any possible sphere of my life) and it takes most of my time. I am also working my student job, building up my portfolio and preparing to start my Master studies in September. Additionally to that I am always in constant explosion of thoughts what else could I do. I guess I could say, I keep busy so I don't have free time; if I do, I sleep.

What do you do to relax?
I crochet. At least for now it is still the thing I am looking forward the most when I am stressed out at work or tired from running around. Its a thing where I count my hooks, listen to music and turn off from everything around; then it is just me and my soon-to-be animal.

If you'd like to see more from AmiMia, you can visit and follow along over at the Etsy Store, Blog, Facebook and Twitter. Before you run off though, pop an entry in for the giveaway so that you have a chance to own one of these sweet friends handmade in the Netherlands!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Weekend Links v.18

A French-trained Japanese pastry chef has made the most adorable teddy bear cookies. Full Stop.

A fascinating look at how sleep improves your ability to learn a new language.

Mind. Blown. This electronic makeup video is incredible. Even though I do some projection work for my job, this is still amazing to me.

I could get lost in the Flickr feed of Japan photos for hours...

I want to believe.

Understanding the Google Analytics dashboard - so helpful for anyone bamboozled by that big interface.

The appeal of unhappy cities - US based but still so interesting. Looks like living in Louisiana is the bomb? Any LA-ites out there? Do you concur?

Wowsers. This ring is so beautiful.

D'aww. Get a custom made polymer clay 'portrait' necklace or brooch made of your kitty!

There's utility in your bad ideas.

I hope you had a good weekend! I'm just wrapping up a huge job, so things should be more normal around here from now on! Fingers crossed :)


Saturday, August 23, 2014

DIY | Shibori - Japanese Fabric Dyeing: Guest Post

step by step Japanese fabric dyeing

Kittenhood is one of my favourite blogs, so when Daria asked me to help out with a guest post while she was on vacation, there was no question in helping her out. If you're interested in fabric dyeing, Japanese style, head on over to Kittenhood to see my guest post. Even if you're not, check out Daria's blog, it's a fabulous concoction of DIYs, fashion and cats. You'll fall in love, I'm sure,