Tag Archives: books

Friday Finds – Growing Books.

20 Jul

Wow, this Friday Finds has me a bit excited.  Those who know me are aware of how much I love, and I really mean LOVE, books.  So, what do you get when you cross a love of books with a love of trees and a desire to repurpose, reuse and reinvent things?  A Book Forest.  Fallen trees have been reclaimed and reinvented as public bookshelves on the streets of Berlin.  Utilised by Book crossers (I have written about book crossing here if you need a refresher), the book cases are not only a practical but also a beautiful way for people to exchange books.

This is not only a great idea in itself, but it was also born from a very innovative organisation.  Baufachfrau Berlin are an educational institution for women in the building industry.

BAUFACHFRAU Berlin e.V. is a recognised educational institution for women working in the building enterprise. It develops and executes employment and qualification projects on a local, regional as well as European level.

The association emerged from the idea of interconnecting designers, artisans and environmental engineers to improve the occupational opportunities of women in technical fields.

BAUFACHFRAU Berlin e.V. qualifies women working in the building enterprise and trains cabinetmakers. Since its foundation artisans, architects and environmetal engineers plan and execute jointly ecological, social and environmental education projects. In doing so the association gained wide experience of the vocational education of persons of different educational level. In this context cross-generational participation projects in the neighbourhood and the project work in schools as well as intercultural communication play a crucial role. Guiding theme of all projects is the promotion of resource-saving and sustainable construction.

All I can say is Wow!

Sam.

Photos from BAUFACHFRAU, Bookshelf and Inhabitat

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Pages – Kitchen Gardens of Australia

23 May

I have been looking for inspiration in the form of kitchen gardens. I have a client who is planning to renovate and create a conservatory kitchen which will open onto a kitchen garden space. While most of my research is done on the internet, I also spend a bit of time in the local library. There’s nothing like turning the pages of real books. I love the small sense of anticipation as you open the cover of a new book, hoping that it lives up to it’s promise delivered in the cover.

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I found this gem of a book today at the library. Kitchen Gardens of Australia by Kate Herd profiles 18 productive gardens throughout Australia. The profiles include plans, photos, interviews with the gardeners and hints and tips learnt from each garden.

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I love that the garden profiles tell the story of the garden and the gardeners as well as providing the more technical specifications. The photographs by Simon Griffiths are inspiring and showcase the gardens perfectly.

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I’ve only had a chance to have a quick
Look and to read one garden profile, but I already know that this is a book I would love to add to my library. There are so many lessons to learn from these gardens and design ideas to adapt into future garden designs.

Hint hint for Christmas Mr Perfect!!

Sam

Oliver Jeffers at Sydney Writers’ Festival

21 May

Last week Sydney hosted it’s annual Writers’ Festival.  It’s the largest writers’ festival in Australia (which isn’t too hard), and the fifth largest in the world, which is kind of impressive given how far away we are from everyone else.  I have always watched the festival from afar.  I’ve never managed to get myself there, just wished and regretted when I hadn’t quite made it.  This year there was a reason to go.  My favourite children’s author was talking.  He also happens to be the Drama Queen’s favourite author too.  Every time she has to choose a present for a friend or cousin she goes straight to his books.

Oliver Jeffers creates beautiful children’s books.  I’m so glad I had children because without them I might not have discovered his books.  When I saw him listed as part of the festival I knew that I had to go and see him talk.  Fortunately Mr Perfect gave me a day off, so I ventured out on my own, such a rare treat.  Another bonus was that the Festival is held in Sydney’s Walsh Bay, on the historic finger wharves.  I love this part of Sydney.  To reach Walsh Bay from the bus I had to walk through the Rocks.  I’m not sure if its the historic architecture and atmosphere or the memory of too many nights mis spent in the pubs, but I always feel happy in The Rocks.  I love imagining the society that grew up around this area, Sydney’s oldest and probably most interesting.

There was a buzz around Walsh Bay that I hadn’t witnessed before.  With a diverse collection of writers speaking, I witnessed the whole spectrum of the book loving community.  There were babies, kids, adults and seniors, all equally as excited to soak up a little piece of knowledge and inspiration.  I wish I could have seen some more writers, Roddy Doyle was also speaking, but he clashed with the Daredevil’s birthday, so I had to give him a miss.

After queuing in the rain, which was so much fun as I taught people how to make hats out of newspaper, the doors were opened and we filed into the space that would provide us with an hour of Oliver Jeffers’ time and inspiration.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I knew he was and Irishman living in New York, kinda cool, but when I saw a very creative looking soul in a hat, vest and jacket I knew I was in for an interesting hour.

I wish I had the memory to recall Oliver’s stories word for word, but I was too mesmerised by his Irish accent tinged with the slightest little bit of New York, and can only remember the feeling of happiness that I felt as he told us how his stories are created.  He doesn’t consider himself a writer, he is an artist first, and it’s the weaving of words and images that make his books so interesting and attractive.  It may be the fact the the books are not created for children, not really created for any audience besides himself that might be the real reason that they work so well.  Oliver Jeffers doesn’t write children’s stories, he creates picture books, picture books he would like to read, and I’m another reader who is hooked.

The best part of my day was that I got to take a little piece of Oliver Jeffers home to the Drama Queen.  I picked up two of his books and got them signed for the munchkins. When she opened the book and saw her name, she couldn’t believe that Oliver Jeffers had signed a book just for her.  She asked me to say thank you to him and tell him that he wrote her favourite books.  The good news was that I had already told him.  So, if by the odd chance that you happen to read this post Oliver Jeffers, you made a 4 year old and her much older Mum’s day.

If you haven’t read any of Oliver Jeffers books, you really should.  You can find them on his website here.  The Drama Queen’s favourites are Lost and Found and Up and Down (she has a bit of a thing for the penguin), though she is also rather fond of The Heart in the Bottle and the Incredible Book Eating Boy as well.

Sam

Back to the books

6 Mar

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I am amazed at how tech reliant I have become. So much of my life seems to revolve around what I need to e-mail, research, or communicate on line. But what happens when mother nature strikes? In this case literally, and your portal to your online world is zapped?

Sydney has been experiencing some very un-summery weather, and for about a week we had some very impressive electrical storms. Unfortunately it seems that both our computer and router were fried in one of the storms, and we’ve been without them for about two weeks now. Frustrating and inconvenient? – yes! The end of the world as we know it? – no way. An opportunity to reconnect with an old school way of doing things? – Definitely!

I’ve talked about going slow before. You can refresh your memory here. The difference is that last time it was voluntary and this time it is an enforced tech-out.

I have had to come up with some creative ways to get plans finished, prepare quotes and research and select plants. I have a fantastic library of books, and the lack of computer has given me the opportunity to open the bookshelf doors and reacquaint myself with these old friends. I had actually forgotten about some of the books, so it was like a little walk down memory lane.

Some of my books were bought while I was travelling, some when I was at University, and others were gifts. It was the books that were gifts that bring back the best memories. My Mum has given me a mountain of landscape books over the years, she knows me well. She also has a great eye for books, and having been the wife of an architect and mum of a landscape architect she’s learnt a few things about design over the years. I’ve spent a bit too much time flipping through the books she brought back from the US, or the gorgeous Australian Garden Design book she gave me a couple of years ago, but it was the Collection of Australian Wildflower Illustrations that made me stop and think.

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Mum and Dad (or should I say Santa) gave me this book for Christmas when I was 10. Long before I was a landscape architect, before I think I had even considered it as a career choice. I remember spending hours flicking through the pages and savouring the delicate water colour illustrations. Could it have been this book that started me down the path I’m following? Could it have sown the little seed that has grown into the garden of my life?

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I’m quite enjoying my tech exile for the short term, my books are keeping me company, and reminding me of my roots, but I can’t wait to re-discover the convenience of the world at my fingertips.

Sam

Changing the world one book at a time

27 Jul

I always like to think I could save the world, but I’d be happy just to change it a little.  Make it more beautiful, a bit greener, a little happier and a lot kinder.  My littlest sister knows me well, and a couple of Christmas’ ago she gave me this book…

Michael Norton's 365 Ways to change the world - a great Christmas present

The book is set up with a suggestion a day for making a change in the world, and they have a website too, you can check that out here .  Some tasks are big, some are small, and some are things that you are hopefully doing already.  Admittedly I keep picking it up, reading a couple of ideas and then put it back down.  I think about putting some of the ideas into action, and then something else more pressing comes up and it gets put to one side.

There is no way in the world that I would be able to implement each idea every day, some I just don’t have an interest or motivation to tackle, others are just a little too big for me at the moment.  But as I unpacked the mountains of books that I have collected over the years, I put this one aside and decided it was time to actually implement some of my good intentions.  In the words of Mahatma Ghandi it is time for me to be the change I wish to see in the world.

The book categorises the actions into different themes, and I’ve been gravitating towards the environment, community and neighbourhood and culture and creativity sections.  They seem to encompass some of the issues I care most about.  I’ll be able to address a lot of the ideas for change through my work with Drawn Outdoors, particularly the environmental ones, so this fills my heart with lots of warm and fuzzies.  But there will also be things outside of Drawn Outdoors that I would like to pursue to generally make the world a better place, and for these I will need to make just a little bit of effort.

So with this aim in mind I became a Book Crosser.  This was the idea for 11 December (yes I’m either really early or really late), and the idea is that you share your book with the world, creating an informal public library.  By registering your books on the Book Crossing website before releasing them you can track the progress of your book (providing those who find it add to the book’s online journal).

My first two Book Crossing Books ready to release into the wild!

The Book Crossing label providing instructions for Book Crossing - yes that is the Daredevil's hand getting in on the action

I released my first book into the wild today, and it was snapped up!  I was so excited to see that the person who picked it up took the time to go to the website and register the book pick up.  I released a bit of chick lit – I know from experience this is a great read on public transport, and as I was releasing the book at a bus stop I thought it would be a good fit.  I’m going to release my second one tomorrow, and I hope it has the same result.  Such a small act, but I’m sure it made the book finder smile, and it definitely made me happy.

The second part of the idea is to encourage others to try Book Crossing – So, try it, give it a go.  I’m sure you have books that you can afford to share, I know I have plenty.

I’ll keep you posted on my other world changing activities, but in the meantime, how are you going to change the world today?

Sam

Borrowing inspiration.

20 Jul

I have a new addiction.  It’s my new favourite place with some of my old favourite things.  I have fallen in love with my local library.  So has the Drama Queen, she thinks it’s a magical place full of some of her favourite things – books and DVDs.  Even the Daredevil is in love with the little dog seats they have in the kids section – he does a bit of rearranging and redecorating while the Drama Queen is picking out her books.

We lived too far from the local library at our old place, public transport with 2 munchkins and a pile of borrowed book was a little bit daunting.  So our first trip to our new local library was both the Drama Queen’s and the Daredevil’s first trip to any library.  We are really lucky to have a brand spanking new library at our disposal,  so every thing is new and shiny and oh so very exciting, even for me.

The library was an integral part of my childhood and I’m sure that’s how I managed to become such a huge bookaholic. So I’m really glad the munchkins are falling in love with the library as much as I am. We have made it a weekly outing and even had to take Mr Perfect to have a look, on the insistence of the Drama Queen.

I have borrowed a pile of landscape design and gardening books that I have only just started to delve through.  Design books are expensive, they are addictive and beautiful but they are very expensive, so to be able to borrow and “try before you buy” is perfect.  I think I might even add a bit of a regular book  review bit to my blog.

Trawling through books full of beautiful pictures and handy horticultural advice is the best way to get a bit of inspiration when you’re lacking a bit, and lacking I am when it comes to our courtyard.  The amount of rain Sydney has had in the last 3 months has really put a dampener on the progress of  my dream garden, although lots of chances to make Mud Pies!!!  The library also holds some great magazines that I need to make some time to flick through.  Inspiration alley here I come!

Short post day… books to immerse myself in!

Sam

When you can’t get outdoors

17 Jun

After last week’s weather curse, I’m hoping this one brings us some gorgeous sunny weather so we can all head outdoors and shake off the hibernation shackles.

Let’s face it, sometimes you just can’t, or don’t want to go outdoors.  It might be wet, cold, miserable, and if you’re really lucky it might be snowing.  Or, you just don’t want to go out today, you feel like a little bit of indoor entertainment.  That’s fine, I understand.  I’m not generally like that.  I start to get a bit stir crazy if I don’t venture out the front door.  There’s a world out there and I love being in it, but sometimes I do want to cocoon, to hibernate and to just sit at home for a while, generally that mood hits on rainy days in winter, so I have a feeling that we might be having the winter mood this weekend after the week of horrible rain, wind and cold that we’ve had.

When the winter mood hits, my creative soul doesn’t generally take a break.  I like to make things.  I try to make as many of my birthday and christmas gifts as I can, and any new babies can generally expect some hand made goodies too.  I have a fabric obsession that is verging on the insane, and I probably have the supplies to kit out a small haberdashery store.  So here are my top 5 things to do indoors, when you can’t or just don’t feel like heading out.

1. Craft it up – This is my number one favourite thing to do indoors.  It also becomes an outdoor activity in summer when I can grab a picnic blanket (hand made) and stretch out in the sun and create.  Lately I have become seriously addicted to the sock animals designed by Craft Schmaft, they are so easy and look so good.  I have made flocks of owls who have flown the nest to many appreciative babies.

Some of my sock owls before they found a new home.

I was making owls before I was a Bizness Babe, and it turns out that Craft Schmaft is a Bizness Babe business too – such a small world! There are so many more Craft Schmaft patterns to choose from, last Christmas I branched out into sock dogs too!

The Daredevil loving his Craft Schmaft dog

2. Read a good book – This is something that I’ve had less and less time for.  I traditionally devour books, regardless of the genre, and have been known to spend a whole day just reading a book that I can’t put down.  Mr Perfect tells everyone about the number of books I took, and the amount of time I spent reading on our honeymoon.  I have a soft spot for good contemporary Australian fiction, with Tim Winton being an obvious favourite.  With time at a premium, these are the books I have been gravitating to, though I have just started reading a classic, I’ve picked up To Kill a Mockingbird again.

3. Become a domestic goddess – a la Nigella.  I love cooking, and winter is a great time to try out new recipies.  The Oven being on warms the house and the food warms the soul.  I make a killer chocolate brownie, and don’t mind trying my hand at cake decorating.  The DramaQueen and Daredevil have had some fantastic cakes.  But winter is the best time to try out puddings, chocolate, caramel, sticky date, crumbles… all yum with cream and ice cream melting over the top!

The Drama Queens' Butters cake made for her 2nd birthday

4. Take a bath – Another thing I haven’t had a huge amount of time for lately, but there’s nothing better than running a warm bath, lighting a few candles, adding some bath oils and relaxing.  Fantastic for a bit of alone time, and to recharge. I have to give a little plug for a fellow Bizness Babe – Felicity at the Karma Soap Company has just launched her website and it looks fabulous.  I’m thinking her new body scrub would be a great addition to a relaxing bath, or any of her handmade fresh goats milk soaps for that matter.

5. Cheese and wine – Well, lets face it, these are good any place any time, but they seem a bit nicer when you’re sitting around an open fire.  My sister is the queen of cheese, check out her christmas cheese platters.

Lou's Christmas cheese platters

Most of these things go very well with an open fire and a nice quilt to rug up with. Maybe you could make one??!!??

Sam

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