Friday, 29 January 2010

first impressions count

Does anyone else get almost as much pleasure from wrapping a present as they do from making what's inside? You can't beat squeals of excitement and anticipation. My squeals, of course. Giving presents is so much fun!

Quite often the outside of my presents trump what's inside the wrapping paper. This can lead to disappointment. Be careful to balance the inner with the outer for optimum delight when gift giving.

Here's my latest attempt at gift wrapping.

Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favourite things.

Curious about what's inside?  
This awesome book and some handmade crocheted granny star coasters - a house warming present of sorts for my lovely friends Naomi and Anthony who've just bought their first home. I spent the last week visiting them in Melbourne and wished I could live in their lovely spare room permanently, while they make me tasty food, play me fun tunes and entertain me with hard labour. Believe it or not, you can have lots of fun hauling tonnes of bluestone on and off a ute.

Curious about how to decorate your gifts with leftover scraps from your crafty pursuits?
As you can see from the images, it's not rocket science - it just takes a little time and effort. Just a little though! Hand sew scraps of felt or material cut into tiny triangles onto a length of wool with invisible thread to make a bunting garland like I've done below. Saving all the tiny scraps of wool cut off your crochet/knitting projects and knotting them together to make a super colourful, economical, no waste ribbon for present wrapping is surprisingly satisfying. Just think, those tiny scraps could have ended up in the bin but you saved them from certain destruction and allowed them to reach their full potential!

I'm never throwing away my scraps ever again.

How do you like to make a good first impression when giving gifts?

Monday, 18 January 2010

slides from the vault

My mum got a slide scanner for Christmas and has been very busy scanning countless boxes of slides taken on their adventures all over the world and all through the 70s, 80s and even into the 90s. I thought I would share some of my favourites with you.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Sugar Doll Blog Awards

The amazingly sweet and talented Evie from Handmade Romance tagged me a little while back with a Fabulous Sugar Doll Blog Award. How kind is that?! As a result of this award, I have to share 10 things about me - so here goes. Warning - it's kind of verbose and photo heavy, just like me.

1. My name is Sara. You probably knew that already. But did you know it's pronounced Sah-rah not Sair-rah? The pronounciation of my name (or constant mis-pronounciation) has been a burden that felt ever so heavy during my school years but seems to be less of a problem these days. Although I do miss having an entire class yell 'SARA' to a teacher who dared say it the wrong way. It's nice to have the support of friends!

This is me, pretending I'm a celebrity (or still have a Myspace!/!), all glammed up to accept this award.

I have a very special last name too, which 0.01% percent of people pronounce right first go. It's Carkagis. I know, I know, I can hear you all saying "Car....what?' It's actually not hard to pronounce either - Car-cage-is - but most adults still freak out like it's some CRAAAAZY weird last name that doesn't fit into their usual repertoir of Smith, Jones, Brown, Williams etc etc. Kids however, have no problem whatsoever. And yes, it is an anglosised version of a Greek name, in case you were wondering.

I used to hate my name. I wanted to change it to Zara and longed to get married to a man with a simple, common last name but it's kinda grown on me after all these years.

2. I'm fat. It's another thing that's grown on me over the years! I'm certain it's how people would describe me behind my back - but oddly enough no-one ever seems to mention it in my presence. Like the elephant in the room perhaps?!

Standing next to one of my tallest, skinniest, prettiest blonde friends was never going 
to make me look like a supermodel though, was it?

Despite this apparent 'flaw', I have a wonderful partner and gorgeous friends who love me dearly. So I'm fairly certain that being skinny wouldn't/couldn't make me happier. Which is lucky because I'm also fairly certain that I'll never be skinny. I'll never look like Nigella Lawson either, but a girl can dream, right?!

3. I met my lovely partner when we were both 10 years old. We became instant friends. 17 years later we still get on like a house on fire, spend ages on the phone each day listening to each other breathe and laugh at each others jokes and I wouldn't swap him for the world. (Don't get me wrong, he drives me insane, but I give as good as I get.)

Punch drunk love. And also, just plain old drunk.

4. I'm a night owl. And consequently - NOT a morning person. I also love to sleep but mostly during the day. Cat naps rock my world. A cat to cat nap with is even better!

Montalbano only looks cross because he doesn't like having his photo taken, not because he is being held under duress.
Late at night I like to read, watch black and white films on ABC or World Movies on SBS or while away the hours listening to music and drinking whiskey.

5. I cry. Frequently. I cry when I'm sad, when I'm happy, when I unexpectedly hurt myself, when I see/hear about/think about animals being hurt or dying, when I hear songs that I love, when I think about how awesome Harry Potter is, when people show kindness and love to me, when I don't get the dinner I want, when I'm watching movies or reading books.

It's my first birthday party and I'll cry if I want to.

I cry in public a lot too. Like reading on a train on my way home. And sometimes I like to have a good old cry in the shower, then wash all the tear stains away.
If I feel like I'm going to cry - nothing in the world could stop that salty discharge from leaking out.

This morning's tears are dedicated to not getting a job I wanted and losing an item I was meant to pass on to my mother in law. Incidentally, taking photos of yourself when crying is the quickest way to stop them, very strange seeing yourself in such a state! Next time you feel sorry for yourself, take a photo and you'll change your mind quick smart.

6. I love to laugh. In fact, it was recently pointed out to me that I'm a giggler. I'd never thought about it before but it's true, I giggle a lot. After most sentances in fact, if I'm having a friendly conversation. But I don't limit my laughter just to giggles, I like to laugh loud and hard sometimes. Or just one big HAH! Followed by a booming HAH HAH HAH HAH haaa oh man. I'm pretty sure the neighbours are used it by now. I don't mind the occasional laugh snort either, if the mood takes me. But I never LOL or ROLF or LMAO. That is for cats only.

This is me, far left, in the throws of laughter.

Still in a fit of laughter.

And dearest Jen, on the far left, along with the instant gratification of the digital camera, is the reason for such laughter.

Other things I have been known to laugh at mostly include boys - Wes Anderson, Arrested Development, Simon Pegg, The Office - both versions, my brother, my boyfriend, fart noises, Dylan Moran, Shaun Micallef, The Flight of the Conchords, my dad, Seinfeld.

7. I can swear like a sailor and do so, often.
 I mostly manage to tone it down when I am around my parents (yes mum, I'm afraid I swear about 90% more when not in your company) and after seeing Fantastic Mr Fox I am hoping to replace my heavy dependance on certain swear words with 'cuss'. So now my most frequently used phrases will be -
"Are you cussing kidding me?"
"What a cusswit!"
"Get cussed, you mothercussing CUSShole"
"Cuss off, you fat cusser" (this one is always said with a scottish accent)
"That is cussed up"

It's an appalling habit and terribly unladylike, I know...but swearing, I just can't quit you.

8. I don't have an ipod, or an imac or an iphone and I don't know how to use any of them either. It's not part of a concious decision to be anti-mac or anything, I'm just immensely uncool and poor.
I went to a private school and painfully remember the desperate desire to own everything in designer or brand names like I felt all the other kids had. I eventually grew up and realised what a crock of cuss that was, embracing opshops, second hand goods and best of all - handmade anything. I know you can't make your own mobile music player, computer or phone but having what all the cool kids have doesn't concern me like it used to when I was 13.

9. Guilty pleasures include visiting art galleries and heading straight to their shop, buying books in bookstores even though I have shelves full of books back home which I haven't read yet, lounging around all day doing very little then hurriedly tidying up the house and doing laundry in the hour before my boyfriend comes home so it looks like I had a busy, productive day and hiding at home alone when I could be out socialising.

10. Women whom I admire/look up to/want to be like when I grow up/have made me who I am/inspire me include:
My amazing mother, Frida Kahlo, Amelie Poulin, J. K Rowling, Enid Blyton, Zadie Smith, Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, Justine Clarke, Tiny Fey, Gertrude Stein, Margaret Atwood, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Xena Warrior Princess, Judith Butler, Beth Gibbons, E. Annie Proulx, Salma Hayek, Liv Tyler, Ashley G, Elloh, Nigella Lawson, Princess Buttercup, Kate, Alex, Pilgrim and as it happens, it's to those last three lovely ladies that'd I like to pass this award on to!

I want to know 10 things about these amazing ladies - and hereby present the Fabulous Sugar Doll award to...
Kate at Craftastrophies
Alex at Whole & Happy
Pilgrim at Draw! Pilgrim

You should check out what Evie wrote about herself too! And her shop, it's awesome! Thanks for the excuse to crap cuss on about myself even more than I usually do too!!

So that's it. 10 things about me. Any questions?! Hahahahahaaa

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

pep talk

I need a pep talk. Does anyone else? Is anyone else feeling as low and guilty and pathetic as I am right now?

Everything/one is ever so inspirational and full of good intentions post new years and I am trying to take it all in and be positive and active but...being unemployed is so...draining. In a "can't leave the house, have to save all my money, must apply/sell oneself on endless job applications but procrastinate and end up watching tv for hours on end" kind of way. I'm a night owl - so I'm up all night pottering around and then sleep most of the next day - and feel endlessly guilty about it. I can't even be bothered to get dressed most days. It's truly pathetic.

I always knew I worked better under pressure - when life is super busy and you have a million things on your plate and you just have to buck up and get it all done otherwise it will all fall apart - that's when I get stuff done. Well, just because I'm no longer juggling a job, gym commitments, social life, endless household chores, making stuff, reading things etc it all seems to have come to a grinding holt. But the only thing missing from the equation is 'job'. So why can't I keep the rest going?!

Because I have no self dicipline? No self respect? Because I'm crippled by laziness, fear, self doubt?
All of the above?!

But you didn't come here to read my rants about being pathetic and filled with self loathing now - did you? It's hardly inspiring, or uplifting or even interesting to read. My sincere apologies for indulging myself, yet again.

This post is titled PEP TALK and a pep talk we shall receive.

Starting with Bette. This cover of a Bob Dylan classic is playing on repeat on my computer right now. It's so powerfully moving it makes me wanna stand up on my chair and scream and yell and fight and dance and run and jump with my heart thumping with hope and confidence and love.

"I see my life, come shining, shining, shining, from the west down to the east. Any day now, any day now, I shall be, I shall be released."

Wish I knew where to purchase a copy of this track, itunes only had the soul-less studio version, watered down and stripped of it's raw emotion. If anyone does know where I could get my hands on a copy like this, please let me know!

And moving on to my sprouts. See how they've grown! They were only this big before, remember?
If these guys can flourish in 3 grains of soil, a glimmer of light and a drop or two of water, then there is surely hope for us, right?!

And finally - some wise words from H. G Wells.

“We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and a mystery.”

So whether you decide to sing it, see it, say it or all three, I hope you're suitably 'pepped' now. I'm going to have a shower, get dressed and step in to the light of the sun.

Friday, 8 January 2010

how do you organise your bookshelves?

I've just spring cleaned the bookcase. This true, but unappealing message, prompted a late night dusting phase that swiftly grew into a de-clutter, cull and reorganisation of all of my books 24 hour marathon.

Why would someone who loves books throw them away? It's a question I've asked myself in the past. I can't even bring myself to use a library anymore, I have to BUY the book, so it's mine to keep forever. I grew up in a very pro-reading house and I was never denied any book I ever wanted, even though mum did protest at a proliferation of Babysitters Club books when I was 11 or 12. I got up to #41 before the spell broke. Slow learner?

Ever since I moved out of home most of my spare dollars or even most of my not so spare dollars would be spent on books at Ariels or Berkelouw. It was a cool 20 minute walk down from my apartment to these Paddington institutions and many a late night would be spent ambling through the aisles before the doors shut at 12, browsing must read classics, contemporary darlings and staff recommendations. I've never left empty handed.

But how many of these books will I ever read again? How many are just posers, sitting there for street cred but will doubtfully ever be read? In the spirit of the new years resolutions and starting afresh in 2010 I decided it would be a healthy experience to de-clutter my bookshelves, returning long lost books to their rightful owners, offering no longer needed uni texts and gifted books that I would never ever read and 'read-but-will-never-read-again' novels to friends and family. I'll post a list soon of the books up for grabs, then the rest will head to Vinnies.

The real dilemna was not what to keep and what to give away. It was how to put all the pieces of the puzzle back together. How do you organise your bookshelves? Alphabetical? Genre? Colour? Dewey Decimal System?

I read this post in the Guardian, which was amusing but not particularly helpful. I asked twitter and facebook and everyone said to organise by colour. I usually love colour coordinated anything, so I gave it a try but I just wasn't moved by the results.


I did find this gem amongst the dust. Despite the fact I will never want to read this Perry Mason Mystery, The Case of the Restless Redhead is staying on my shelves. Exeption to the rule.

So I settled on a mixture of colour blocks and genres chosen by me. I wanted to make little signs for each section but that idea was strongly contested by Tom. What a pain it is, cohabitation and compromise.

From the top, left to right, we have: 'The Board' - my top 3 authors whom all other books are compared to (J.K Rowlings, J.D Salinger and Kurt Vonnegut), Post Colonialism, Post Modern American Classics, Art/Photography, Fluff and Amusement (I hid the Twilight Saga at the back of that section but have elected to pass Bridget Jones Diary on. Sign of the times. Shake your heads...)
Second Row: Well Red, Brit Pop, Childhood Memories, Australian Authors, Latin Americanos,
Third Row: Notable Women, Murder She Wrote, 20th Century Classics and European Masters, Medieval/Myth/Pagan Housekeeping, Travel and Adventure
Fourth Row: Cookbooks, Languages, Texts and Theory

How do you organise yours?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

all sorts of lovely

Today was all sorts of lovely - in celebration of my lovely mum's birthday!

We opened presents, lunched at Nielsen's Park in Vaucluse (my absolute favourite harbour beach), played board games all afternoon and headed to the local pub for dinner.

There may have been tears and tantrums during the board game part but a little bit of drizzle didn't dampen spirits at the beach.

Happy Birthday Mum! You're all sorts of lovely!

If someone you know is all sorts of lovely you should get them a lovely Able and Game card too! Isn't it sweet? Or wrap them a gift in that cute budgie calico bag, I bought that from Cotton On for $2! Best wrapping paper ever. I do love wrapping presents!

Friday, 1 January 2010

"Your life is an occasion. Rise to it!"

We sure did. It was a quiet affair, watching the fireworks on the harbour and bondi from our rooftop. Felt a bit cheeky, seeing the lights from the comfort of our own home, no line for the loo or the bar to worry about or hailing a taxi in the wee hours to get home!

Thinking back on how Tom and I spent New Years Eve 10 years ago, we certainly have mellowed in our old age. We celebrated the end of 1999 by hosting a mammoth party in his parents house (who were away, luckily for us/unfortunately for them) where an entire couch was burnt on the bonfire in the early hours of the morning and the sun arose on a very drunken, boisterous, egotistical bunch of 17 year olds.

This year we just quietly passed out on our couches, and I got up around four and toddled off to bed, spending a good portion of new years day there too.

I hope wherever you were there was love, laughter, champagne, emotional happy tears (my favourite kind of tears!) and that 2010 brings more love, laughter and happy times to your table.

I feel like I've grown up so much this year - not in a world weary and wise sort of way, but in a 'on a journey and learning about the world and how I fit in it' kind of way. I've learnt some new skills, I've made some wonderful new friendships and strengthened some old ones, I've spent time with my family, been on holiday, lost my job and whilst it hasn't been dull I don't really think I rose to all the challenges I faced this year. I'd like to do better next year.

I saw Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium for the first time just the other day. Mr Magorium is a wise and wonderful character and his words to a young woman struggling with her talent and her purpose made me realise that I too have the power to run a magical toy store, metaphorically speaking!

"Your life is an occasion. Rise to it"

Motto for 2010 - sorted.

Thank you for following me this far on my journey - I do hope you'll join me again in 2010, help me grow, learn, discover, laugh and love life! You're all such brilliant sources of inspiration and motivation for me, did you know? Happy New Year!

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