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Archive for the ‘Cool Things’ Category

 

I bought a vintage pith helmet.

I offer no excuses other than…it spoke to me. It made me buy it. And I will forever treasure the look of resignation on Pete’s face when I put it on. Just before he let out a deep, deep sigh.

We were visiting our friend Arnold at Potts Point Vintage at the time. When we’re all allowed out again, do pop in and visit his shop. You honestly never know what you’re going to find in there, and Arnie is one of the nicest, most genuine people we’ve met in ages.

Neither of us are sure how old the helmet is – it probably dates from the 1960s but it could possibly be as old as the 1940s, because I found a listing to the label in the archives of the Imperial War Museum in London. It’s in brilliant condition for its age but doesn’t really work as a sunhat (I’ve resisted Small Man’s advice to soak it in water which is apparently what they did in the jungles – the cork would absorb the water and keep the wearer cool as he hiked). So…um…I just wear it around the house occasionally, while harnessing my inner Jack Black…

The hat of exploration of the teacher Shelly Oberon (Jack Black) in Jumanji : Welcome to the jungle

I have to say though, that my hat is much, much better than his.

If you’ve got spare time, visit Arnold’s website for some window shopping. There are more recent photos on his Insta feed as well. It doesn’t compare to the real thing, but it’s great fun nonetheless! ♥

 

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It could have lasted a thousand years…if it hadn’t accidentally been dropped and chipped while someone (who shall remain nameless) was unstacking the dishwasher.

Pete bought me my Steve Sheridan tea bowl at the Brewery Yard Markets in late July 2015. He was being kind – I’d picked up the bowl while walking past Steve’s stall and had been unable – quite literally – to put it back down. It was made of porcelain with a blue celadon glaze, with a bamboo pattern hand carved on the outside. There was something incredibly soothing about how it felt, cupped in my hands, and I was completely enchanted by the wee frog in the base. It cost $55 – five times more than I’d ever spend on a cup or mug before. I baulked at the price, so that wonderful husband of mine made the decision for me.

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I brought it home and had a cup of herbal tea in it that afternoon. It was never a piece to save for “good” – I used it at least a thousand times before it broke. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but I used it nearly every day for the four years that I owned it. Sometimes I’d use it several times in the same day.

Over the years, as we’ve become friends with lovely Steve and his gorgeous wife Trish, we’ve learnt more about the process that goes into one of his pieces. We’ve talked about how he sources his clay and glazes, all from our home state of New South Wales, how each bowl takes him about an hour of hands-on time to make, and how firing is a finicky process that can be unpredictable at times. Every conversation made me treasure my little froggy bowl even more. How often do we get to know so much about our “everyday” items?

Because I’m an early riser, I’m often awake hours before the rest of the family. It’s usually a gentle, peaceful time for me (though if I’m honest, recent weeks have been less calm).

My early mornings are mostly spent pottering around quietly – mixing up dough, putting washing on, unstacking the dishwasher – and then I’ll sit down with a hot drink in my tea bowl. In the summer months, sunlight hits our dining room windows around 7am, painting the walls with miniature rainbows as it passes through the various Swarovski ornaments I’ve made over the years.

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I’ll sit at the table, cupping my tea bowl in my hands, reflecting on how blessed I am. I particularly treasure my morning ritual at this tumultuous time – it’s a little moment of mindfulness that allows me to take a deep breath and refocus on the day ahead. Over the years I’ve bought other pieces from Steve, but this little bowl was my very first and I’m going to miss it. It won’t be gone forever though – my friend Kevin is going to turn it into a candle for me. I’ll be sure to show it to you when it comes back.

Last year I commissioned Steve to make me a couple of very special pieces which I never got around to showing you. Stay tuned for another instalment soon! And if you’d like to admire Steve’s beautiful pieces, have a look at his website here. ♥

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Hanwriting

Have you ever heard of postcard embroidery?

It’s been around for a little while, but artist Han Cao takes it to the next level!

I think this piece of hers – Parenthood – reflects how everyone who is trying to homeschool right now is feeling…

Han finds vintage postcards and old photos and embroiders them to create very unique contemporary art. I find it incredibly appealing!

She kindly gave me permission to share a couple of her works with you – I really like this one too. It’s called The Falls, Infused With Sunshine

All photos belong to the artist. And if you’d like to see more of her work, visit her website here or check out her instagram feed! ♥

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Every day brings a new story…grab a cuppa and let me tell you about our Persian rug.

30 years ago, when we were young and stupid, we bought a deceased estate federation house. It was in a seriously dilapidated condition – no inside toilet, no hot water, no laundry, no shower. The tiny kitchen had just half a metre of bench space, divided into three sections. It was partitioned into pokey rooms for use as a boarding house and in such a state of disrepair that it had lingered on the property market for 14 months before we bought it. Even so, we could barely afford it – if it hadn’t been for my parents’ legendary generosity, we wouldn’t be here today.

We were coming from a little unit, so of course, we needed furniture. We borrowed an extra $3.5K to cover this, which in hindsight was a small fortune.

Anyway, we walked into a cool shop in Ultimo called Nomadic Rug Traders and…we both fell in love with this Meshkin Kilim runner from Northern Persia (Iran). See, it really IS a Persian rug. An antique, tribal, handwoven runner from circa 1900. At five metres long and over a metre wide, it fit our hallway perfectly…but it cost $2,500. Yup. Madness, I know. We had to furnish the rest of the house, including appliances, wardrobes and lounges, with the remaining $1,000. We sat on beanbags for a year!


But oh, how we LOVED our rug. It lived in the hallway for ten years and made us happy every time we walked on it. When the kids were little, they rode bikes on it and dropped crumbs all over it. Then Small Man developed severe eczema – at its worst, his skin was peeling off in sheets – so we had to roll it up and put it away. No fabric furnishings allowed, the dermatologist said. I sewed a cotton bag to store it in, then we packed it carefully in mothballs and crossed our fingers, hoping it would survive.

Today, more than 30 years after we bought it, we pulled it out of storage. I nearly wept when I saw that it was still in the same condition as when we’d rolled it up all those years ago. We washed the underlay and vacuumed the rug before returning it to its rightful spot in the hallway.

It’s amazing how much more I appreciate it now than I did back in the 90s! Over the intervening two decades, I’ve become increasingly fascinated with tribal and handmade textiles, but this is where it all began. And it speaks to the adage to buy once and buy well – it was an impetuous and mad purchase, but 30 years on, it still brings us so much joy! ♥

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Bone Conduction Headphones

I have a problem with in-ear headphones.

Specifically, an earwax problem. My brother-in-law CC (who’s an ENT surgeon) suggested I try bone conduction ones instead, and they’re the bomb. I bought them in Singapore for about $200, but I believe they’re also available here in Australia. I bought the lighter weight ones – the kids bought the titanium model which is about $50 cheaper.

As you can see from the advertising photo, they sit against the side of your face rather than in or over your ear, transmitting the sound via vibration. Monkey Girl told me that the technology was originally invented for folks with hearing loss, as it bypasses the eardrum completely. According to the AfterShokz website: “Transducers guide mini vibrations through the cheekbones to the inner ears, delivering sound without plugging or covering them.”

I’ve now been using these for a month, so I can offer the following personal feedback:

  • they don’t give me an earwax problem, which is fantastic. They also don’t get gross like earbuds.
  • the sound quality is astonishingly good. It blew us all away from the moment we tried it in the store.
  • the microphone is excellent and phone calls made on them are clear.
  • they don’t work well on planes or other places with lots of ambient noise unless you’re happy to use them with earplugs (which I’m not).
  • they cause my cheekbones to ache if I wear them for too long. The tops of my ears as well, although that’s probably because they’re sitting on top of my glasses.
  • they’re much safer for walking and exercising out of doors, because you can hear a bike horn or an approaching car.
  • they’re not great to use while eating, as the chewing disrupts the sound transmission.
  • they’re hard to wear lying down, as the band is solid, so when you lie on it, the pads are pushed out of place.
  • they’re quite discreet, so if you have long (dark) hair, you can hide them quite well and ignore boring conversations without anyone noticing (my niece taught me that one).

As you can see, I’m still quite excited about them! If you’re interested in these, I’d recommend trying them first to see if you like the sensation – it takes a little bit of getting used to!

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