Category Archives: Family and Life

Time flies when you’re de-cluttering!

My autographed photo of Daenerys Targaryen, one of the major characters in the Game of Thrones series of books (played by British actress, Emilia Clarke) finally arrived from the collectibles dealer in France.  I am now reading book 5 and have watched the first season of the HBO adaptation.  I’ve loved the sci-fi and fantasy genre since I was 11 years old and after more than 25 years of reading good/bad and downright boring books, I am really impressed by the detailed portrayal of characters in the series.

Emilia Clarke is also becoming one of my favorite actresses.  It takes some guts to do some of the scenes she did for the role, but mostly I like the gentle way she portrays the character and also how she subtly displays the maturity of Daenerys’s spirit.  I’m looking forward to seeing the next few seasons of the show!

I found a lovely deep beaten aluminium frame at a French decor shop in Mall of the Emirates which was the perfect size for her photograph.  I like the colour of the photo itself, and this is one where her autograph is properly visible (unlike some of the other websites I viewed).

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Antique Objects of my Affection

This is a lovely little reproduction of a classical Greek bust, literally!  Her breasts are very balanced and look lovely – but as I’m living in a Muslim country with potential house buyers viewing my house on a regular basis, I thought it best to cover up my little lady’s attributes.

She is currently wearing a bronze or brass neck-piece with various imitation-coins, beads and glass gems that I bought at a souq in Karama, Dubai, a few years ago.  The shopkeeper told me this was a part of an Afghani formal outfit, usually sewn on the dress itself, and dating back to probably 20 years ago.  I have no real way of verifying this information, but I fell in love with the piece and had no way of displaying it properly – until my little Grecian beauty came to live with me.  I consider this a win-win combination, and at least she is not flashing anybody anymore!

I collect all kinds of weird, wacky and downright bizarre items.  Pictured here, is my little steel shopping cart.  I find consumerism a very fascinating topic of study.  Apart from immersing myself in it when I did my first year Bachelor of Visual Arts at UNISA (not complete yet, sadly, because I moved to Dubai), I still like to observe people performing their daily rituals during the act of consumerism.  The ultimate symbol of consumerism is the SHOPPING CART.  I use mine at Amazon quite often!

In the little shrine to consumerism is my antique ostrich egg.  I helped my uncle clear out our great-uncle’s (by marriage) storeroom a few years ago and found this egg.  It has two dried up objects on the inside, which rattle around in the sealed egg.  I wish I could take it for an x-ray to see if it is a little ostrich in there, or just the dried up yolk itself.  Eggs symbolise potential, which is why there is an egg in the new South African coat of arms.  You can read more about it on Wiki:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_South_Africahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_South_Africa

I love books!  And here is my oldest book, a very worn third edition of A New Method of Chemistry; including the Hiftory, Theory and Practice of the ART: Tranflated from the ORIGINAL LATIN of Dr. BOERHAAVE’s ELEMENTA CHEMIAE, As Published by Himself, To which are added, NOTES; and an APPENDIX, shewing The NECESSITY and UTILITY of Enlarging the Bounds of Chemistry. With Sculptures. By Peter Shaw, M.D. F.R.S., The Third Edition, corrected, Vol II and printed in the amazing year of M.DCC.LIII – which translates (if I remember my Roman numerals correctly) into 1753.

I derive much enjoyment from reading the entries in their original print-form with the bizarre letterforms replacing the common letter “s”.  Some of them use an “f”, while others use a curved s-shape, but elongated like a flourish “f”.  These always make me laugh, especially in such a serious scientific work – for example:  “glafs-veffel” is “glass vessel”, but try to read out loud a whole page of serious scientific instructions in this typographic format WITHOUT laughing!

This is quite a unique book, in many respects.  Boerhaave’s Chemistry is available in current edition format from Amazon and is still in use today.  I bought my copy from a little vintage shop in Pretoria for about R400.00 a few years ago.  I just saw a good condition Volume I for sale on the internet for about R5,700.00.  I don’t know if my copy would be worth as much, because the back cover has torn loose, there are child pencil scribbles on the inside covers and the overall condition is “poor”.

But the most amazing aspect of this little bit of history:  this book was published in 1753.  Marie Antoinette, the doomed Queen of France, was only born two years later!  Not that she would have read it, but as a contemporary object it occupies a special place in my heart.

Mad Hatter… we’re broadcasting live

Is this fashionable enough in today’s plastic society?

I love my birthday present from my dearest friend.  She knows me so well.  When I saw this little cutie-pie in the shop, I literally couldn’t put it down.  A few days later, she took me back to go and buy it – I was so happy!

It really is a very versatile hat.  Apart from being able to receive all kinds of interesting signals from outer space, it also protects my head when inspiration strikes…. heehee.

When I brought it home, my husband seriously thought it was a bizarre hat.  I’ve been known to add some pretty wacky designs to my collection.  But even he was floored when I revealed what it REALLY is….

… the funkiest baby bottle drying rack design in the WHOLE WORLD!!!!!   Beaba has some really interesting designer baby items on their website, but this one is just fabulous.

This little object is such an inspirational design piece.  Some days I like to imagine that it’s an alien pot plant, hybridized to be immune to my black thumb.  Always in bloom and never needing watering, it is the ideal flower for my study.

If I have a bored moment, I can always take it off its base, stick it on my head, and see if I can tune into any inter-galactic broadcasts or cross-pollinate my fertile imagination from the universal consciousness!  And if you think I’m totally off my rocker for admiring a bottle drying rack, think again:

Marcel Duchamp changed the art world and shocked the Establishment in 1914 when he presented a wire bottle rack as a “ready made piece of art”.   Dada refers to the art movement of anti-art and anarchist works that ridiculed the meaninglessness of the modern world.  The above image is from the Marcel Duchamp World Community at http://www.marcelduchamp.net.

I rest my case!

Little House on the Cabinet

I have a “thing” for doll houses.  I’ve loved miniatures and miniature houses since I was a little girl.  I saw this doll house for sale on Dubizzle (yes, I browse their classifieds every day!).  I was so excited about it, I actually asked the lady selling it, to remove the advert immediately, before anyone else could see it and try to buy it before I could get to her house.  Obsessive – who me???  Anyway, the ad stayed up and thankfully, no other buyers called.

She had the house custom-built, at a carpentry shop in Hong Kong.  It’s made of wood covered with wicker, with a roof that lifts up to reveal an attic room.  The front doors hide four rooms, built in a cross formation.  It is a very basic design, almost similar to my doll house that my grandparents made me when I was 7 years old.  I’ll try to find a photo of it, so that you can see the similarities.

Here is an inside view of the doll house with the four rooms.  I’m using it to store my recipe books on the lower rooms.  The books are very heavy and have to lean towards the inner column, otherwise they push the structure out of alignment and the doors cannot close properly.  It’s amazing the structural knowledge I’ve picked up over the years from my design engineer husband!  I’ve stored the odd bundles of chargers/cords and various electronic ephemera that always clutter my dining room, in the upstairs rooms.

Since the doll house is easily accessible to my girls, I don’t want to keep anything breakable in there.  I still have space to store more things in the upstairs rooms and the attic.  It is a bit too low to use as for bottles, otherwise it would have made a pretty cute drinks cabinet.

The lady apologised for the paint being chipped from play, but I like the white, weathered look and won’t change it.  The only distraction is the open windows.  I’ve come up with an interesting solution though!  Ikea have these small wooden frames, cheap and cheerful, that would make great “window panes” for the doll house.  And I can choose what scenery I want to display in them.  Voila – it hides the contents and showcases something more artistic and quirky.  I’ll post photos of the finished window “dressings” after I make a trip down to Ikea during next week.

The little cabinet with drawers is also from Ikea.  I have a few of those in my studio.  They make excellent storage for stamping pads, rubber stamps, dies and templates for my Ellison Big Shot die-cutter and various papers, game boards and quirky bits and pieces.  Deep drawers are such a waste of space, I prefer shallow drawers so that I can see the contents at a glance, without having to dig through piles of stuff.

And, if you’re wondering:  the silver vase is metal and was previously displayed in a friend’s boutique until they closed it.  The silver branches were originally painted brown when I bought them from Home Center in Mall of the Emirates.  It was very difficult to find interesting shaped fillings for the vase, it is very tall and very deep.  I spray painted the branches with chrome, to make them more interesting.

Lastly, the black wire mandala on the wall was also bought from Home Center.  I’m still mulling over some ideas for it, but all I’ve got so far, is an idea of using photographs as leaves, flowers and berries on the “branches”.  It is a striking piece, so I’m enjoying it as it is – until some other wacky idea pops into my head!

A few years ago, a trusted friend of mine looked around my living room and said “You have the most bizarre tastes and collect the weirdest crap, but somehow you make it all work in your house decor”.  It was the nicest thing she could have said.

Long live the quirky decorator!

Hello brain!

This September is very symbolic to me.  Apart from the tragedy of 9/11 which haunts me whenever I see 09:11 on any clock, it is also the month in which I gave birth to my youngest daughter, Vivian.  A very bittersweet month indeed.

Two years have now passed since Vivian’s birth, and I can definitely feel the hormone levels stabilizing.  Hopefully I will have my brain back to full working capacity very soon.  I often joke with my friends that my ob/gyn removed my brain along with my placenta.  Do not laugh, but last week I threw the teaspoon in the rubbish bin and put the empty yogurt pot in the kitchen sink!   Fortunately for me, the bin was still relatively empty.

And a dear friend of mine made me a “genuine Halal ham” sandwich – with such a convincing face that I actually found myself reading the label to see for myself how on earth they managed to get pork certified Halal*.  I felt so silly, but then I couldn’t stop giggling for the rest of the afternoon.  She really got me with that one!

(*Note to readers:  Halal is the Muslim word used to indicate food is considered safe for Muslim consumption, similar to the term “Kosher” for Jewish foodstuffs.  Pork is banned in both religions.)

I have so many exciting and interesting things happening in my life all the time, it is too much to share individually with all my nearest and dearest friends.  Hopefully, I will be able to share my experiments, adventures, triumphs and completed projects through this blog.

So, apart from starting this blog on the first day of September, another reason why this month is special:  the school starts soon!  That’s when Shannon (my eldest daughter) will return to her Foundation 2 class and Vivian will start nursery.  It was a very long, hot, humid and dusty summer here in Dubai and we are overdue for cooler weather and shorter days.