Saturday, December 15, 2007

Presenting the Mega-rous Tote

This lovely gold print comes from talented local designer, Lara Cameron. I stumbled onto Lara’s blog in the last 18 months and have become a big fan of her elegant, simple designs. Sitting on top of the Riverside fabric are some letterpress cards with the Birch design also in gold (bah, my glare-y photo does these no justice).

To make my purse’s heart beat just that little bit faster, Lara has recently started printing on a gorgeous linen/cotton blend, ack! Her blog is well worth a visit and if you write to ask about her goodies, she’s helpful and friendly (damnit eh, flygirl? ;p ). Resist temptation if you can!

Since my el-cheapo handbag is beginning to resist all repairs, I decided to make myself a mega-rous tote that would be big enough to hold the papers for my studies (how’s that for procrastinating, huh?).

Anyway, every girl needs a mega-rous tote.

This prototype was simply put together using a length of denim, with a lined outside pocket consisting of the Riverside and a green Amitie fat quarter. The front pocket is split in two with stitching down the middle, and fits a rolled up Good Weekend. Happily, it also houses the good bits of the Saturday Age, my heavy-as laptop or all those damn papers.

I originally made the button flower for a badge, but thought a splash of red wouldn’t go astray. The whole thing closes with a magnetic snap fastener (these things are great!).

For take 2, I might include some inside pockets and a zip for added security (of the cities I’ve travelled, the only place I’ve been pickpocketed is good ol’ Melbourne. It’s sad but true).

When I passed Take 1 on to mum, she coo-ed at the mega-rous size and immediately filled the bag with her water bottle, notebooks, pens and other important stuff.

Maybe this is where I get it from? Yesterday, I read in an esteemed daily rag, er MX, that a chick will, on average, lug around 3kg of stuff. Don't know about you, but try as I might to be minimalist, I always end up with bag full of useless -but potentially useful- s.t.u.f.f. (damnit! ;p ).

Thursday, December 06, 2007


does anyone else have that dizzying uh-oh-everything-is-happening-at-once feeling?
and where did the last 11 months and 5 days go?
i'm asking santa for a big wallop of time, thanks very much!

in between my poor attempts to make up for all that lost time, i've been enjoying my sis' herb garden - looking rather chipper below - and loved Royal Crown Revue at the Corner last week.

the akira fabrics are from his recent annual sale at the gpo. it was fascinating to watch a room of women very politely, but very firmly, pushing and shoving towards boxes of trims and racks of beautiful dresses. the man himself patiently refolded his clothes and chatted to punters about their weddings or how to use his threads.
now what to do with my stash?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

a load of hot air

who would have thought so many people were up before the crack of dawn?

after a couple of false starts due to inclement weather, including a cancellation at the
ungodly time of 3:45am, we finally had the chance to go for a hot air balloon ride (elmo did well to keep this a secret for so long!).
we started at southbank at 4:30am, headed out to monash uni and were in the air by 5:30am. this was the best part of the morning: watching half a dozen giant deflated balloons gently roar to life one by one, the air swirling around inside as they begin to lift off the footy ground.
we waved the first balloons off, then a quick scramble into the basket and away we floated, waving goodbye to the ground crew ourselves. not sure if it was the lack of cawfee or the lack of sleep, but this was a truly magical experience.
despite the low cloud, the view was spectacular. from the air, we saw the synchrotron, trains and cars on the freeways, the racetrack, various universities, many a dream suburban home (so many swimming pools in the eastern suburbs. tsktsk ;p), elmo's old high school, the amazing greenery surrounding melbourne and folks on a morning jog or walking their dogs.

other than the odd burst of flame to keep us afloat, it was eerily quiet, so still, so peaceful.
as we neared the cbd, the winds became more temperamental so our pilot, marlon, landed us with a few soft thuds on an unsuspecting school oval. for this honour, the groundsman was more than happy to accept a bottle of champers, a tradition harking back to French pioneers who appeased folks with their local sparkling, when landing in their fields. marlon tells us this also served as assurance that 'balloonatics' were not messengers of the devil.
we ended the morning with a champagne breakfast with our fellow basket ballooners to celebrate various anniversaries, weddings and birthdays. incredible to think we can still experience this technology, and an unforgettable, breathtaking start to the morning (thank you so much elmo :) )

Monday, October 22, 2007

Words and Music

Paul Kelly @ Corner Hotel
20th October 2007

I must confess that my appreciation for Paul Kelly is only new. This is an atrocity given that I’m surrounded by massive Paul Kelly fans (dr b, pierre burkensoir and elmo to name only a few ardent devotees); and that his words and music are so intrinsic to the place and character of Melbourne, the only town I would ever really call home.

My new found admiration comes via his words. When plotting a birthday surprise of tickets to the Corner Hotel gig, I wanted to plant postcards bearing Kelly’s lyrics all around Elmo’s abode. It was through this process that I began to appreciate the universality of his stories and the simple, poetic economy with which he uses language. Kelly says so much without saying anything at all.

As a new recruit, I don’t feel that I deserve to comment too much more. Only to say that the gig at the Corner Hotel was amazing; there was an incredible energy from the crowd. Kelly’s set opened with They Thought I Was Asleep and featured plenty of material from recent album Stolen Apples such as You’re 39, You’re Beautiful and You’re Mine, Stolen Apples Taste the Sweetest, The Ballad of Queenie and Rover. Other treats included How To Make Gravy, Deeper Water, Leaps and Bounds, Before Too Long and Careless.

Support act CW Stoneking and band joined Kelly during the first encore highlight ‘Stumbling Block’; the tuba from CW’s band providing a carnival-esque, ominous sound to the rousing chorus. The second encore featured an acoustic sing-a-long version of Everything’s Turning to White and From St Kilda to King’s Cross, ably backed by nephew Dan (Lovely Dan) Kelly.

The band, composed of established musos, sounded incredible, so crisp and clean, with a driving rhythm section from drummer Peter ‘Lucky’ Luscombe and bassist from Bill McDonald. I was excited to see ex-Even singer/songwriter Ash Naylor, resplendent in a ratty but smart pin-stripe suit, providing appropriate rock flourishes. All the band members variously sang harmonies, of particular note, Dan Kelly’s falsetto during Careless; and it was wonderful to see such a genuine camaraderie onstage.

Kelly’s songs elevate the familiar into poetry, hearing the opening words of Leaps and Bounds, I felt immediately at home: I’m high on the hill /Looking over the bridge / To the MCG / The clock on the silo / Says eleven degrees. I can imagine that ex-pats would feel a pang upon hearing even a flicker of Kelly’s words and music.

No wonder his gigs regularly sell out, the mutual warmth between Kelly and the crowd was undeniable; we’ll be sure to see him again soon.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

in a nutshell: ryan, hoodoo bruise, dig it

excuse me for being slack, i never did end up writing up ryan adams and the cardinals at the palais, or the hoodoo gurus / radio birdman / the stems at the forum {sorry yoss!}.

in a few nutshells:
1. ryan adams has a beautiful, heart-melting voice and his band is amazing, but the evening was lacking a certain something. however, to my delight, the band played plenty of tracks from Cold Roses and their recent album Easy Tiger.

2. hard to believe the stems/radio birdman/hoodoo gurus originally started gigging around in the 80s - they all sounded so dynamic and present. i couldn't believe how RAWK the hoodoo gurus were. ever the consummate professionals, they even happily played requests from the very noisy crowd (this was unlike at the Ryan Adams gig where a Cardinal remarked, "we appreciate your requests. but we will not be honouring them"]
it was an all-killer-no-filler-set spanning most of their recordings and included leilani, like wow wipeout, i want you back, what's my scene and waking up tired.
to my embarrassment, i sustained my first gig injury during the hoodoo gurus - two big bruises on my right foot from the over-excited crowd. not sure if this is a testament to the frenzy whipped up by the band or my own old-aged-ness :)
maybe i'll go and see behemoth and aim for an bruise to brag about!!
[in fact, this is an extremely unfair stereotype that testosterone fuelled bands are more dangerous gigs to attend. we went to see the datsuns a few years ago, and the punters there were the most polite and thoughtful we'd met at any gig. they variously stood aside to let us through, and made sure we could see dolf de datsun striding around on stage.]

finally, may i present: the latest project from the shed of jfox.
a camera pouch for a lovely, generous, surprising gift (thank you bellas!). a grey, stripey sock wasn't really doing the shiny digital camera any justice!

although i wouldn't normally plan too much, it was well worth it taking a few basic measurements. this is also the first time i've tried my hand at using quilt wadding (such a deliciously odd/not-quite-right word!).

feel well chuffed with the result, though i'm not quite ready to launch into quilting territory; just not sure about all those florals and pastels ;)

:: almost finished, unplanned stitching begins... {and no idea what i'm doing!}
:: pouch perve...
:: the finished product, a snug-as-a-bug fit

beauty in chaos

collins street ~3:30pm

Sunday, September 16, 2007


i'm extremely bad with surprises; i always ruin them.

if i'm planning a surprise for someone else, i have big problems keeping my big mouth shut cos i can't wait to present the gift.
conversely, if someone tells me there's a surprise coming, i stoopidly guess away until i wear them down, thereby ruining it for myself. i should just learn to enjoy the anticipation huh?

and it's not because i can't keep a secret (don't worry folks! it's all in the vault).

two cases in point: the previous pressie hadn't even been mailed when i posted it... i'm really hoping that a certain someone's track record of only checking this blog when the link is sent will hold true. anyway [lame justification ahead], i needed to ask someone else's opinion on the matter... ...

and now: i can't even wait two measly weeks to give little miss and master buttons away.
a piddlely two weeks.
ended up passing them on as soon as i made them, "surprise!"

the glass-half-fulls out there might say, well that actually adds to the surprise. it all works out, see?


basically, if you like being surprised, never ask me if i have a secret plan, cos it will all come tumbling out. ;)

the pattern and fabric for miss buttons comes from the magnolia square market stash (damnit, the goodies in the maru bag are also meant to be a surprise!). miss b seemed lonely so i used some more of that fetching vintage kimono loot for master buttons.
wanna try? we've seen this pattern around town (eg Meet Me At Mikes) or you can try the original source here , check out the photo gallery of other little misses - it's like an army.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Vintage Schmintage

my friend lisa, whom you may or may not recall as a self proclaimed Bogan, recently went to a recording of Deal Or No Deal. sadly, she didn't get a chance to swap witticisms with andrew o'keefe, but the funny thing about this tv show caper were the rules about dress.

Strictly Smart Casual.
No Denim.
No Stripes.
Apparently stripes or loud patterns don't go across the teev waves too well. And how would a self proclaimed Bogan cope without denim I asks ya?

i was reminded about this quirk of teev land when trying to snap my latest project.
granted, my lazy pics are generally fuzzy but do the polka dots seemed especially fuzzy??
or was it the influence of a double dose of cawfee?

yup, i've moved away from the too-cute prints and pinks to some more muted fabric. i found these in a knitting/japan-o-phile shop in daylesford. the place had only just opened and the shopowner, a former textiles lecturer at r.m.i.t. informed us that these were sourced from vintage kimonos. the texture of the fabric is sturdy and lovely - how anyone could bear to cut them up for patchworking is beyond me!

considering how unplanned it was, i'm quite happy with this spontaneous project. this gift will be winging its way across the oceans to another hemisphere soon... am crossing fingers that the cat isn't out of the bag before it arrives!

Monday, July 16, 2007

for a minute there...

random musical meanderings on the information superhighway while on the microscope this week. and it only confirms that im completely out of the musical landscape loop ;D

:: daytrotter really love the simple line drawings of the profiled artists, though i don't always know who they are so i take it as an opportunity to hear some new sounds with a free download or two ;)

and great feature on kurt vonnegaut (r.i.p)

:: stereogum presents OK_X, a 10th anniversary tribute to Radiohead's OK Computer.

eek! it's already been 10 years! in my youth, this album was a constant in my earholes on the train to uni. when i learnt how to play my mum's acoustic guitar (cos anyone can, right? ;p), i downloaded the geetar tabs from this album and also jeff buckley's Grace.
on reflection, it wasn't as ambitious as you might think and i did manage most of the songs on OK Computer.
Grace on the other hand... mmm

anyway, no surprises that i eventually retreated to the sunshine power pop chords of jason falkner's Author Unknown and teenage fanclub's classic Grand Prix.
diversions aside, download the tribute album while you can - it's all legal and free! i have only just grabbed it so a [ ] yay or [ ] nay report soon!

Monday, July 09, 2007

a scratch to itch...

sometimes i think my biggest lesson in returning to study has been learning how to exercise patience and restraint.
lately, this seems to be mostly derived from frustration *grrr-bah*!
dr b poses a good question: where _do_ all the unanswered emails and phone calls go?
don't worry, i'm ok! i merely diverted some of that frustration-energy into the sewing machine and made a bag using gorgeous fabrics from kimono house (with some help from amitie textiles, and a friendly cup of tea from son ;) ).

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

presto vest-o

The winter cold is killing me! After being spoiled with sunnier climes this time last year, I am finding the current Melbourne weather a bit bite-y and chilly - brrrr! With all the studying and stressing, i haven't found spare time to go shopping for winter duds (and ok, i actually really really hate shopping. do we really need all this *stuff*, more *stuff* and that shiny *stuff*?)

when it was a little warmer, my friend pierre burkensoir hosted a garage sale at his joint for a friend and, like seagulls swooping on a recently vacated fish and chip session, my sis and i got to pick through the leftover dregs.

in this cold shivering weather, i was extremely grateful for the goodget of a grey lambs wool/angora jumper. a few centimetres taken in on the side and a couple of larger snips taken off the arms, it makes for a toasty, fleecey, vesty thing. i wore it for about a week after i made it, such was its warmth (and goodget glow: that feeling kept me warm too! ha!).

you may wonder where this scavenging for the el bargain-o comes from: my mum is the queen of good gets. in fact, we used to trawl after her on saturday mornings at various op shops, and she often passes on random goods from treasure hunting; handbags galore "it was only a dollar!" or skirts to turn into bags " just sew up this bit here, and then add some handles - easy!".

she'd be so proud :D

ps: would anyone like some grey lambswool/angora arm warmers? ;p

Monday, July 02, 2007

creative fix

with the piano at my parents' place, i find myself at a loss without some creative release. all-day-every-day: experimenting, confocalling -scan-scan-scan, writing, experimenting, reading, writing, photoshopping, reading, more writing, procrastinating, experimenting, ... arrghhhhh!

i bought some red fleece on sale to make a hoodie for winter. out of pure laziness the fabric remains all rolled up, hanging in a spotlight bag on the back of my bedroom door. i did manage to pin the pattern pieces on (huzzah!) but the project remains eerily silent, inert. meanwhile, winter soldiers on, taking all with its icy tentacles. every morning i see that fabric as i leave for work and think, gee i should get onto that soon. before winter's really over.. then again, i could use that fabric to sit on the beach... mmmm.
[Procrastinators Unite Tomorrow! i'm currently claiming lack of time. on the plus side, all this practise at procrastinating means i'm going to be SO good at it!]

my current favourite quick and easy creative burst is to play with paper. i looooove paper. cammers and i went to a paper expo at st kilda town hall many moons ago (yup. they exist. and we actually went). we were amazed / somewhat frightened by how many other people really looooooove paper. despite the fact that the majority of the crowd were middle aged women, it was roll-up-your-sleeves, elbows out and into the fray.
and don't think that it didn't cross our minds that we may well have glimpsed our future either!

i like to make cards for my mates: it's so simple and each one is unique. it's really so satisfying! i have finally given this lot away, so they can be posted without spoiling any surprises... ;)

now, back to procrastinating, er.. writing, experimenting, more writing, confocalling -scan-scan-scan....

Sunday, June 10, 2007

St Andrews Market

my good friend jess-bo lives near kinglake, about an hour's drive north west of melbourne. jess is one of those solid, no b.s. country kids and her attitude to city slickers' slickness is refreshing (i also love hearing stories about her animals, she used to own a pet goat with one horn, sad but true - and amusing to a city chick). it was through jess that I found out about the St Andrews market, down the road from her property. she warned us about the hippies, but with my faux-hippiness down pat, it didn't deter us too much.
besides, it was a good excuse to go for a weekend drive.

we should have taken note of the wisdom of jess.
! ha

seriously though, take a few minutes to adjust to the environs and take a walk through the stalls - lots of handmade goodies with plenty of organic produce and great food to eat. you can even get a haircut or a massage! we munched on a frankfurt with sauerkraut/mustard and some pumpkin soup ( which had a dash of chilli, coriander and ginger) with a loaf of fresh rye bread. delicious!

Delicious treat from the cafe across the road

silver linings: wilco, catpower and bjork's latest

maybe it was the anticipation.
maybe it was too much of a good thing.

having had a few listens to the new wilco album _sky blue sky_, it pains me to say that i have found myself skipping tracks. i don't mind a bit of country, i don't even mind the wall of noise experimenting - i could even put up with noodling...for a while..., but i should just accept that i don't dig on the 70s west coast sound.

it's true that i often expect too much (of everything!) but i must confess i'm disappointed. there's still the odd lap steel flourish and tweedy's sighing, melancholic voice is in fine form but the pace feels too slow or too relaxed; there's an intensity lacking. there are more empty spaces in the songs and the arrangements don't seem as sharp. the restlessness and turbulence at force during their recent live performances are starkly missing.

c'mon jfox, i hear you say. this is jeff tweedy as his most chirpy and happy. he's shrugged off his drug addled demons, he has a stable family, a stable band - he's h.a.p.p.y.
why doncha leave him alone!

all i can say is, i'm happy that jeff's happy...maybe it'll grow on me?

not to say it's completely unlistenable. it's a great weekend album, lazing away in bed with the papers and a cup of coffee in the mornings. overall though, this album is not as compelling as their back catalogue. looking forward to the next one...


in the meantime, i have been enjoying cat power's latest "the greatest" in the last few months. it's a summery, warm album with the gentle voice of chan marshall. current favourite track is "islands" which makes me want to jet off to a beach with a pina colada, a good book and a man waving a palm frond over me ;D


also, bjork's new album volta landed in my mitts courtesy of cobs, cheers! it's the first time i've listened to a complete album since _post_ more than a decade ago *gulp*. i don't always dig what she does (the dogme musical??) but i love that she doesn't bow to current or retro fads. in a pop culture landscape that is often monotonous or a cheap tease, the mere thought of bjork forging on and stretching herself is enough to keep searching for something new. i love that her art is undeniably of her spirit.

in _volta_, it's reassuring to hear that bjork remains agitated, dynamic and creative. this is perhaps most apparent in the opening track 'earth intruders' or 'innocence'. in quieter tracks, bjork uses simple arrangements to mix traditional instruments - indigenous or more classical- to complement her voice.

A sense of insistence is created with bjork's trademark angular electronic beats and stylings, a core element of her work and a constant undertone to this album.

it may well be that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but after listening to this latest offering, i'm tempted to revisit her more recent albums _vespertine_ or _medulla_. _volta_ is well worth checking out.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Are these for real?

Mr Yippee?One bean at a time?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Rock and roll is not a specator sport, baby

Hands down, that is the best line I’ve ever heard at a gig. This week was bookended by two local bands that couldn’t be more disparate.

13th May 2007
Architecture in Helsinki
w Muscles
Prince of Wales

AIH from the Car Park Festival, 2005

The week began with Architecture in Helsinki at the Prince supported by Muscles and Soft Tigers. Part of the appeal of live gigs is checking out the punters, figuring out what tribe they belong to, making outlandish assumptions about what they might do during the day or what other bands they might listen to. In keeping with AIH’s art school cred, the Prince was decorated with the cardigan/specs/kooky nerd look – male and female youths alike.

We arrived late due to an extremely long wait for dinner - an hour and a half for a shellfish stirfry and bad attitude from the staff. Steer clear of Claypots St Kilda until they get their service and kitchen up to speed with their newly expanded premises.

I really tried, but I just didn’t get Muscles: one man, a machine and a mike. It was all LOUD shouting and LOUD beats and NO dynamics – just a steady stream of LOUD. Louis had just been to see him the week before and Freddy reckoned there might be some influence of The Streets. I guess I need some melody and form in my sounds so I personally didn’t find Muscles particularly compelling.

Fans of Architecture in Helsinki would say that their mashed up sounds of horns, machines, vocals and random percussion is creative and fresh. I’ve not had an easy relationship with this band, when I saw them a couple of years ago at the Carpark Festival, I had to retire to the bar with a hotdog. Their music seemed too random and a bit amateurish and their mish-mash sounds were divergent rather than cohesive.

Since this time, they have lost a couple of brass players and gained a funk influence that provides a stronger framework for their hodge podge noodlings. Drawing largely from their current EP _Heart in Races_ and their previous album _In Case We Die_, it was interesting to hear how they have developed and the addition of a decent bass line is just enough to make their songs more listenable. I was pleasantly surprised (fellow carpark fest attendees mike and mel, I know. But it’s true, they were actually kinda ok).

However, diehard fan Freddy found their new sound too different to what had brought him to the band and seemed disappointed. It’s a shame: Freddy is a Bostonian who is returning soon to the US after a year in Melbourne and had been hanging out to see AIH in their home town. Although most people responded well to their new material, at one point, Kellie Sutherland had to say (paraphrased), “I know we’re in Melbourne, but get up and have a dance”.


18th May 2007
w Hell City Glamour, The Shine
Corner Hotel

Which brings us to Airbourne, The Shine and Hell City Glamour capping off the week at the Corner Hotel. None of these bands had to ask the crowd to dance – the punters were going absolutely bananas.

We caught the tail end of Hell City Glamour, whose lead singer provides the post title quickly followed by The Shine, an entertaining, rollicking, slightly glam in a bogan kinda way outfit. They announced their imminent support for the next instalment of Wrestlerock, the perfect indicator of their loud, fun, noisy RAWK.

But nothing compares to Airbourne. Don’t go for the music, there's nothing too imaginative or progressive in this department. Go for the intense, no bull, LOUD AS HELL show. Joel O’Keefe and the boys are dynamic and intensely strong performers, with O’Keefe pouring shots into the mouths of rabid punters at the front in between crowd surfing while striking his guitar all the way to the bar and back.

With all the dramatic lights, giant amps, frenzied guitar waving and head banging, it felt like at a stadium gig had been transplanted into the humble Corner Hotel. The gig was just as much fun for atmosphere as there was a wide range of testosterone present, from the original AC/DC fans right down to the younger, flannel-clad, uni crowd. And what a delicious pleasure to note the array of Metallica, Poison, Slayer and Motley Crue tees dotted amongst the punters. Like Dr B, I was cursing myself the whole night for forgetting my camera.

See them for the atmosphere, see it to revisit your (lost?) youth, live vicariously through the kids letting out their aggression in the mosh - just make sure you see them!