Friday, January 29, 2010

Fabbo Friday and I'm not freaking out

You may have noticed (or perhaps not) that Wednesday vanished from my posts this week. I've had rather a frantic week and apologize for the omission in normal transmission.
I’ve been busy with my daughter starting big school and my agent wanting my mystery that I’ve been plodding away at. She has seen ten chapters and is very happy with it so has given me the nod to get the remainder to her as soon as I can.
I've also been still trying to fix up our cottage, plan a wedding and I’ve had a few health problems. Here are a few fab things that have kept me happy this week.
1/ A Humpty Dumpty cake topper I bought from the US on Etsy. I love his cheerful face. He is meant to be from the fifties.
2/ Barbara Vine's Asta's Book – a really great mystery novel set between different time periods. I love Barbara Vine//Ruth Rendell and I couldn't put this book down. To me it's a perfect read. Elegantly written, memorable characters and a riveting mystery. Asta arrives in London in 1905 from Denmark and begins writing diaries to express her most private thoughts and feelings. It is Asta's granddaughter who has the task of attempting to solve a murder mystery via the diaries and also attempt to find the true identity of Asta's daughter Swanny. This book has been out for quite awhile but it's the first time I've had a chance to read it.
3/ Keep Calm & Carry On from Lark. This picture is from Allison's wonderful online shop Lark. I have two of these prints and I think I need to paper my entire house in them at the moment.
4/ My fascinator for the wedding arrived from the Etsy store loboheme. I had planned on wearing a white fascinator with a small veil but fell in love with this one. I couldn't resist the vintage crochet doiley and it's perfect for my wedding which is Marie Antoinette crossed with grandma. I have to admit that as time has gone on, it's less of Marie Antoinette and more of the 70s crossed with grandma. I’d been planning on wearing white but found a dress I’m in love with in peach chiffon and so I changed my mind totally. The ring has also been purchased – an estate art deco aquamarine ring. It is not traditional and is beautiful. We have also booked a 1940s double decker London red bus to transport us to the church. Slowly things are coming together. I'm not stressed!
Enjoy your weekend. Hope it is filled with love and relaxing times. Thank you for visiting me. xx

keep calm and carry on print image source Lark

fascinator image from LoBoheme

Monday, January 25, 2010

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and Armand and Michaela Denis

I've long loved Armand and Michaela Denis's books detailing their adventures in Africa and around the world. This dynamic couple who were so popular in the fifties are, sadly, barely remembered today. And yet they played such a vital role in conservation and were so influential when it came to nature documentaries.
Their lives resonated with me in a lot of ways. The Kenyan expat community reminded me of my own early years in Papua New Guinea.
Their books make riveting reading as they describe their adventures with lions, the natives, crocodiles and so forth. One of my very favourites is Michaela's 'At Home with Michaela' as she details how she made a beautiful house for herself and what it was really like to be a woman on safari. She soon found out taking lipsticks and cosmetics into the native camps was a sure way to make new friends with the women there. It seems women can have universal interests!
Michaela was a stand-in for Deborah Kerr in the movie King Solomon's Mines and was a quintessential fifties glamour pot. She trained as a dressmaker in Paris and so her life really did take an unexpected turn when she fell in love with the Belgian film-maker Armand Denis. Of course I was always going to have a soft spot for a woman who never forget to apply her red lipstick in the middle of the jungle! She would sneak away many times to dance all night with the natives, and kept her cool whilst being bitten by baboons and charged by wild rhinos!
Both Armand and Michaela were believers in psychic matters and swore they saw a spaceship over the African plains. I also believe strongly in magic and psychic affairs after my time in Papua New Guinea. Michaela's books are filled with fascinating psychic stories of Africa.
The books have a poignant edge as the couple lament the rapid loss of wildlife in the Kenya they loved so much. They would be heartbroken to see the situation today, not only in Africa but worldwide.
Michaela writes beautifully of her longing for a child (sadly which never came to pass, as predicted by an African witch doctor) and of her enormous love for Armand, who she loved so much and regarded as her soulmate.
Although Michaela believed she couldn't live without Armand by her side, she had to as he died in 1971.Michaela stayed in Africa and became interested in spiritual healing techniques which she studied under African healers. She did marry again but her husband died several months after their marriage. Michaela died in Nairobi in 2003.
Although this very special couple often draw blank looks from people when I mention their name and their wonderful books are long out of print, you can still track them down through EBay and secondhand shops.
It was the Scribe who first introduced me to this dynamic, adventuring couple. On Friday I shall post about a wonderful gift the Scribe bought me related to them.
And so for Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday let us pay tribute to the spirit of conservation, adventure and lust for life that Armand and Michaela Denis possessed in spades. May their courage, compassion and sheer guts enter our own creativity and life. And never forget - even if the lion has your scent, don't forget that red lippie!
make every second of this life count. Never feel self- pity - what a vice, what a bore for others!"
Michaela Denis

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fabbo Friday and a fab froggy film

I know it's not French, art house, a Cocteau, or featuring Johnny Depp. Several mothers I've spoken to have hated it, but surprisingly enough (and this is the year I hope to surprise myself) I enjoyed this children's movie far more than I thought I would.
It was my daughter's first ever cinema experience. We had given up hope that The Wizard Of Oz was going to run in Sydney on the big screen. I am not a big Walt Disney fan by any means but reading that this pic was hand-drawn in the old style of animation interested me enough to escort Daisy and the Scribe. The Scribe was eager to see how Daisy enjoyed her first trip to the pictures, which of course was the only reason he came along!
I found the movie charming although the soundtrack a bit of a disappointment to what I had been expecting. I loved the ethos of 'it's okay to wish and believe but you also have to work hard'. And the voodoo scenes were great although perhaps a little scary for small ones.
Daisy, I hastily add, wasn't afraid at all of the bad spirits, being far more interested in the popcorn. I also enjoyed the scene where Ray the firefly loved the star who he believed to be a firefly. I can hardly believe I've written that on a public Blog. But my favourite moment - which did bring a tear to my eye (yes, total saddo that I am) - was when Mama Odie the Voodoo good magic mama says to distinguish between needs and wants. Then the heroine, Tiana, is told that her much-loved father who never achieved his dream of opening his restaurant didn't get what he wanted but he had what he needed (his wife and daughter). Such a lovely sentiment! And a really great topic to muse over yourself - what is the difference between what you want and what you need?
The Scribe thought the whole thing was pretty pants. I suspect he did like the alligator Louis who wanted to become a professional jazz player and having been to New Orleans he enjoyed seeing how accurately that beautiful city was drawn. Daisy I know was more interested in the popcorn than the film although she has talked about it a lot and recited dialogue from it constantly And of course, Tiana is Disney's first ever black princess and heroine. Can you believe it has taken so long?.
I was interested to read that Oprah Winfrey plays Eudora, Tiana's mother. So fitting this great American lady was involved; the themes are close to her heart. The movie has been so successful for Disney that they plan to release regular hand drawn animations. And of course the merchandise has already hit the shelves: cookbooks, Tiana's costume, tiaras and kissing frogs.
Do you enjoy any children's movies? I loved The Wizard Of Oz and watched it just the other day. I also want to see Mary Poppins again but I want to read the book first. I am looking forward to watching some great old classic children's films with Daisy.
Enjoy your weekend. I hope it is filled with joy and buckets of creative fun. Thank you for visiting me. There is a link below to the UK Independent which has an interesting article on the hand drawn aspect of The Princess and the Frog. I welcome this return to Disney studios of the art which they previously scrapped. Hand-drawn animation contains true magic in my opinion.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chit-chat Wednesday - Unlocking the Sun - Key One

Little bird, you are holding the key in your mouth. Rusty, ancient, it will unlock the sun releasing yellow fire and the never-ending stories from tellers since time began and the first campfire's flames and ashes.
Trust Me. Be not afraid.
My love. My feathered wise one.
Even the smallest bird knows the meaning of everything.
January is moving too quickly. Don't you agree? I want to hold onto her. Stop time in my hand.
Special thanks to the lovely Duchess from Rose Tea Cottage for awarding me the Most Royal Blog award. Thank you Duchess. I am sure to join you for afternoon tea soon. What a fab award!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and Mo Hayder

Well! The folk who know me are probably wondering why it took me several months to get around to featuring Mo on my Monday posts. Truth to tell, I could pop Mo there every Monday as she gives me so much inspiration.
It's common knowledge how much I love, admire and respect this fab, intelligent, softly-spoken Englishwoman. And Mo is the perfect example of NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER. She may look like a model who would write genteel, literary, worthy poetic books. But she actually writes extremely dark crime books that happen to be poetic, intelligent, literary and haunting. Mo's characters will play with your mind for years and her plots will definitely keep you up at night as you think about them for a long time afterwards.
My very favourite Mo book of all time is TOKYO - an unforgettable, spinechilling, gutwrenching read. But I also love her Jack Caffery series with the tormented and charismatic DI Jack Caffery.
Here comes the brag and name drop. I was lucky enough to meet Mo and do a workshop on writing with her in Sydney a couple of years ago! Yes, there's the photographic evidence above! As you can imagine, I, the humble Tale Peddler, was terrified at the prospect of meeting a writing idol. Other writing heroes had disappointed severely in the flesh with their inflated egos. But Mo is so charming, personable and damn likeable that you feel totally at ease in her company within seconds.
And (another major brag coming up) Mo put my daughter Daisy in the dedication of her fourth Jack Caffery novel, SKIN. Of course I was totally elated at Daisy being in the dedication and used as a small part of one of Mo's characters. And Mo restrained herself from doing anything too nasty to her Daisy character!
Yes I love Mo because she writes like an angel. She's a wonderful mother and writing friend to have. She's kind and has beautiful manners and she has no fear when it comes to writing.
That's why I admire her so much. Her honesty and lack of fear. It takes a lot of courage and honesty to write in the manner that Mo has chosen to do. We could all emulate that unflinching courage in our own creative efforts. And so for Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday I salute the wonderful Mo Hayder!
If you would like to learn more about one of the UK's best selling crime authors her website is HERE.
Thanks for visiting me! Hope your week is filled with lovely creative moments and you are given the strength and courage of a MO when creating. xx

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fabbo Friday - the fab four and an award

How quickly this year is speeding by! It's scary to think we're nearly half-way through January. Here are four fab things I've enjoyed this week.
1/ Frankie Magazine's Afternoon Tea cookbook. Today my daughter and I baked a cupcake recipe from this lovely book. This cookbook is pure Frankie. Lovely vintage linens china, photographs that make your eyes ache with their nostalgic prettiness. It reminds me of my Nanny and her ever-ready overflowing cake-and-biscuit tins filled with homebaked love.
2/ Lazybones. How I love Lazybones and their very pretty, comfortable frocks and nightgowns. I have picked up a couple of frocks from this Australian-based company. My last purchase was the Alice Paris print. Seen here worn by the lovely redhead. Of course I had to have the Paris print!
3/ Revlon Red Matte lipstick. If it's good enough for Nigella Lawson to rave over it's good enough for me, if slightly more orange toned than I'm used to wearing. I normally like a blue tone red. However, I do love the fifties feel and look of this lippie and the price is much sweeter than my usual LancĂ´me red.
4/ Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson. My Magic Hat Bookclub read and a very enjoyable romp it is! If you feel like a few laughs then I'd recommend. I must or bust see the Johnny Depp film now.

In other news, I have been awarded another lovely award by the beautiful Kesenya at Alice Jean's Guide to Vintage Living Blog . This is the beautiful Bloggers award and I'm chuffed to receive it as Kesenya's Blog is terrific and a real fave of mine. I love her vintage Australian take on things. A very talented doll and if you pop in do say hello to this lovely lady.
And there are only a few hours left if you want to enter the giveaway at another talented Australian. Sophie's gorgeous literary whimsical Blog Her Library Adventures is having a giveaway. Always cause for a celebration. Here's a link, so run don't walk!
Enjoy your weekend. Hope it is filled with beauty, inspiration and more than a spoonful of magic. Thank you for visiting me. xx

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chit-chat Wednesday and Don't Judge a book by its cover

I am sitting in our local medical centre. I am surrounded by little birds reading out-of-date magazines as I wait for blood tests and arrange for bone density tests. This is not how I planned to spend our January holiday time together. We had thought of picnics, art galleries and beach trips. Life always likes to surprise me.
I like to be surprised by people. I love it when I see young Goths reading from Bibles in the street, old women with tattoos and big tough mean-looking guys who do voluntary charity work. People who don't fit the stereotypes and are true to themselves are people who inspire, amaze and surprise me.
Last week, the ever-cool writer and musician Talie Helene from the Blog A Girl Made of Truth & Wild Horses awarded me The Creative Blogger Award which I was totally TICKLED PINK and chuffed with. In her little blurb about me she said something along the lines of 'don't be fooled by the Victorian scrapbook lavishness of her Blog this woman writes some really killer crime fiction.'
I am so grateful that Talie didn't judge me by my cover. Yes, I do write some very graphic and dark crime and sometimes horror but I do also love pink and girlie frou-frou things.
Several years ago, I won The Scarlet Stiletto Award which is quite a prestigious award for crime writing in Australia. A disgruntled short-listed finalist and her charming boyfriend heckled me as I accepted the award drunkenly whining that 'I didn't need to win as I was already rich (!!!) and 'It was a set up, as I wouldn't have written anything dark enough'.
This little tantrum from the pair gave the Scribe and me much amusement for months and we still get a good laugh out of it. I wish more writers would have public dummy spits! And of course my winning story was very dark. It was called Birthing the Demons and it was about how mothers are often blamed in society for violent acts performed by their children. It was inspired loosely by the James Bulger case and you don't get much more distressing and dark than that.
I'm a Scorpio and fascinated by death and violent acts. But I do love my pink, my pretty, my vintage toys and dolls. I'm not about to start wearing black and baying at the moon to suit other people's perception of what I should look like or write. Don't you think we are rather more complex people than that? I hate limitations set by others or by our ownselves.
And as a writer, I know too well the folly of judging books by their covers. I was never fully satisfied with the covers of some of my published books. Believing their images never matched my words and the tale I was telling. A couple of reviewers even wrote, 'ignore the covers as these books...' etc, etc. Sadly, an author in my position doesn't have a lot that will be listened to when it comes to their covers.
And so Talie's award was even sweeter for me because it meant that somebody out there didn't judge me for my cover. That means a lot.
I am still slowly adding my awards to my Blog and so if you have been kind enough to present me with an award and wondering where it has gone it should be up shortly.
How about you? Do you like to be surprised by people and literature or do you judge books by their covers?
Enjoy your week my sparrows and swans. xx

Monday, January 11, 2010

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and Pip Lincolne and Neil Gaiman

Hmm, not sure if Pip and Neil have ever been paired together before but there you go. A first time for everything at Tale Peddler!
Of course both Pip and Neil are worthy of Monday posts on their own and no doubt I will do so in the future. I talk a lot about Pip on this Blog; I do love her chirpy, clever, crafty Blog. I particularly love her recent list of New Year Resolutions which I know a few of you have seen already. If you haven't here it is:

1. Listen to some new music :: Check out your local independent radio station website for playlists and suggestions. Or ask your friends for their tips! Or look at a list!2. Read a new book. Or an old book. I found these lists :: here and here : write the ones that sound good in your notebook so you know what to pick up at the bookstore!3. Grow something. Something on the kitchen bench (not mould!) or something on the window ledge or something in the garden. Try not to kill said something.4. Cook a new recipe! Look here or here or here or click the recipe tab above!5. Learn a new thing! What do you want to learn? Visit the library for ideas! Or look for instructional videos on YouTube!6. Make something crafty. Look here for ideas! Even if you think you're not crafty! This is your year to have a go!7. Improve something little every day. Even if it's just making your pencils nice and sharp or changing the light globe that has been out for weeks. Little improvements are the schizzle, I'm telling you. Totally doable and cumulative.8. Devote time to yourself. You can combine this with point 1 or point 2! Or you can do something else like take a walk or watch a movie or take a long bath. Try to do something every other day for you. Please do. I do. You do it too.9. Notice the good stuff. You don't have to write it down. You can if you like. But notice something good each day. I bet you can find one thing each day. Yep.Happy New Year!If you want to read her list with links then you can find it HERE at her lovely, fab Blog Meet Me at Mikes!
And whether you love, hate or are saying, 'Neil who?' I loved his New Year benediction which I found on Terri Windling's magnificent Blog Drawing Board. You can see his clip HERE but here are a few words from it taken from his journal:

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. -Neil

But finally I have to say I agree with my wise and beautiful Blogging friend Chez Pinry about New Year resolutions and setting ourselves up to disappoint ourselves. To paraphrase, we should really live every day to the best of ourselves and not be so caught up in the chronological time illusion. If you want to read her far more articulate version you can find it here at Chez Pinry.
My word for this year was ORGANIZE. Huh! I know that's not exactly the most original aim of this year. But as Pip said, I want to improve things even in a small way every day and as Neil says, surprise myself.
Oh yes - surprise myself. Watch the Neil broadcast if you have time. I think it's lovely. And in case you're worried, Pip does have a whole face. That's just my pants computer skills.
Thanks for popping in. I hope you have a magnificent week. xx

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fabbo Friday and a fab flick - Miss Potter

The eternally fab, crafty Pip from Meet Me at Mikes did a blog about the movie Miss Potter recently which reminded me of how much the Scribe and I enjoyed this film on Christmas Night. I love Christmas Night when magic still hangs in the air but all the hard work and hectic pace is over. I can think of no better way to spend it than snuggled up with the Scribe, a box of Christmas chocolates, a glass of wine and a good 'Christmas type film.' By this, I mean a movie that's not too heavy but something that contains a touch of magic to complement the day.
I had avoided seeing Miss Potter as I'm not a big fan of Renee Zellweger. However, I have to admit that I enjoyed seeing this movie. It made me curious to read more about the real Beatrix Potter. I loved seeing how her characters took over her mind and life as I've often felt the same way when I'm writing, and the early scenes of Beatrix as a child reminded me of my own daughter. I also enjoyed seeing how her publishers got it so totally wrong with their contemptuous attitude towards her 'bunny book'.
The Scribe and I visited the Lakes District but shamefully didn't get to view Hill Top Farm. We did go to Ruskin's marvellous house however. Next trip we will have to visit Hill Top. It is interesting to ponder how different the Lakes District would look if it wasn't for Beatrix Potter taking on the evil developers.
Enjoy your weekend. I shall be spending mine resting this back. Be kind and keep creating. Thank you for visiting me. xx

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Hello my cherished sparrows and swans,
I have a crab in my lower back. He has claws of fire and every few minutes he gives me a good pinching. Yes, my back has gone out to celebrate the start of 2010 and I've spent the last couple of days lying on my daughter's bed staring at her vintage fairy curtains, feeling terribly sorry for myself whilst the crab does his nasty work. To cheer myself, here are a few of my favourite 2009 Christmas gifts and memories.
It is always exciting to see Chanel wrapping when you undo a present. And I can think of no better way to spend an evening than snuggled up with the Scribe watching Mad Men. We now have series one and two And Sophie Dahl not only has the best cheekbones ever but also her cookbook, Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights has some terrific recipes with lovely photographs and very entertaining tales of what it's like to live life as Dahl.
And the lovely Carola from Boxwood Cottage made me two beautiful vintage Christmas ornaments which arrived from snowy Germany and are treasured in humid Sydney. The ornaments which you can see here are just are just as enchanting as Carola and her Blog.
But my very favourite Christmas moment was watching my daughter in bed Christmas Eve, face in her hands, wailing "I hope I don't see him!" It really brought back all my magic memories of being half-terrified, yet half-yearning I would see Santa Claus in action. And now all I want is for my pain-killers to work and kill that vicious crab. Enjoy your week. xx

Monday, January 4, 2010

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and Cinderella's Godmother

Whilst friends are on safari or at beach shacks, we are holidaying at little Brick Cottage. Our writing shed (now grandly named Chateau Sparrow) is being given a make-over. Flower prints have to be hung and fairy-lights installed as the never-ending renovation continues. We are loving our time together in our brick nest. Cozy, snug and chirpy before the year cranks into action. Adieu, adieu, 2009, we are pleased to see the end of your careworn face. Welcome 2010 with your mischievous winks and hints of exciting times to come. Not that I believe in chronological time.

I have my New Year's Resolutions bound with a peacock's eyelash and I am busier than Cinderella's Grandmother. School labels, school shoes, a birthday to plan, house to renovate, fairies to book, books to finish and a wedding to plan.

Yes, the Scribe and I are going to finally formally ritualize our love in March. Our wedding will be simple, vintage and low key. Think Marie Antoinette meets your grandmother in a country cake-shop, waited upon by fairies and you get an idea of the story I have for the ceremony.

All will be well. All will be well.

I hope you can join me in 2010 for the ride. xx