Saturday, August 1, 2015

Travel Diary: Lucerne

When my parents came to Germany to visit me for a couple of weeks I had applied for an internship with an orchestra in Lucerne, Switzerland, so we decided it would be nice to go there for a day and night and do something after my audition. Turned out I didn’t have the audition anyway and although I initially felt bad for dragging my parents to Swizterland with no reason, it turned out to be a lovely couple of days. I think this has to be my most favourite city in Europe now (perhaps only in the summer). The weather was stunning, around 35 degrees, and the skies were blue.

Lucerne has a couple of really old bridges; the most famous of which is the Kapellbrücke (i.e Chapel Bridge). It was built in 1333 and the paintings inside the roof of the bridge are pretty special and date back to the 17th century. However, there was a fire in 1993 which destroyed most of the bridge and the paintings so I’m not sure what was original or not. In any case it was a lovely walk to take and the flowers on the outside edge looking over the unbelievably turquoise water were stunning.

Turning to tripadvisor for tips on what to do in Luzern then led me (and my Dad) to go visit the Löwendenkmal (i.e Lion Monument). It had received great reveiws on tripadvisor but the number of tourists there ruined the mood for us. Mark Twain the sculpture as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world” and I’m sure with an air of tranquility it is. In the end we were there for a total of about 2 minutes. For future travelers I would suggest heading there at the crack of dawn so you might have a chance of exeperiencing the solemnity of this sad lion. It was still very impressive as a  huge sculpture carved out of the wall (it’s 10 metres long and 6 metres high).

Having left Mum at the hotel to rest, Dad and I had rented bikes and were on a mission to go for a swim. With such beautiful weather, and a huge lake, what better to do in an afternoon? We found a great schwimmbad place (now I’ve forgotten the name) that had an upper deck area for lying in the sun. It was built out over the water so that when you get in you’re already in deep water. It was the best view I’ve ever experienced while swimming and that’s really saying something seeing as I’m Australian and have some fantastic secret beach spots.

This log was really hard to get on!
Now having worn out Dad as well as Mum I went off on my own for a walk to explore a bit. I decided to head uphill (not just because it’s great for your legs!) because I’d noticed on our earlier walk that there was a kind of city wall with some towers. I found it and went up the clock tower and walked along the top of the wall (but couldn’t get into any of the other towers). The clock tower was very interesting and houses the Zytturm clock built in 1535 with a pendulum 9 metres long!

The next morning I split off early on my own to ride to the house where Richard Wagner lived for six years from 1866 - 1872. His piece Siegfried Idyll was performed for the first time at the end of 1870 on the stairs of this manor which has been turned into a museum. It was 9 in the morning by the time I got there so I didn’t go in the museum but I didn’t really feel the need to anyway. The view from his house is incredible and the close proximity of the lake is really inspiring. I bet if I lived there I’d churn out some good stuff...

 I hope you can see why Lucerne has climbed into my ranking of most beautiful city in Europe.

Friday, July 31, 2015

DIY: Kindle Cover

This year I made a cover for my kindle because I was worried that it would get scratched in my bag and I was starting to use it more and more. I absolutely love my kindle now (took a little while to get into it) especially as I’m overseas. It’s excellent for traveling and books are pretty cheap. Of course there’s nothing quite like owning a book in print and paper but I found that since I started using my kindle I’ve been reading lots more (kind of an obvious statement but oh well..). Anyway, so I made this case with some fabric I had stored up (I’m quite the fabric hoarder even though I’m not a great sewer). The cute panels come from the bottom of a big pattern of mother goose sort of thing, which I had planned to maybe be a big skirt (although now I’m not so keen on that). The green fabric was just something I thought would compliment it and I just winged it (or is it “wung it”?). I did quite a few layers, inbetween the outside printed ones I put a layer of plain fabric, to give it some cushioning and make for a better protective cover. This made for some not so well fitting things.. like the front flap doesn’t totally cover the front surface. I think it’s a pretty good effort though for just making it up off the top of my head!


Cool gif. that I made with the A Beautiful Mess Party Party app.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Weekly Wish-list

I am addicted to Moda Operandi. It is the only place to go to check out all the latest designer clothes right off the runway. Their trunkshows are always showcasing interesting designers. It’s the perfect way to discover designers I’ve never heard of before and see the clothes and read a bit about them. This is how I came across Blumarine by Anna Molinari (trunkshow link here).

Let’s start with my favourite piece from the trunkshow which I just adore because I’m in love with cotton dresses with a flouncy feel. This looks absolutely perfect for summer worn casually without a belt. The belt is nice if you want to add some structure (although the belt they’ve styled it with here wouldn’t be my choice). Here it is, the Embroidered Flounce Dress:

Direct link and images source.
Next is this Leather Dress with Embroidered Lace. I love the concept of this with the lace panels but I would definitely definitely wear a slip. I know the model is wearing tan underwear but I think for real life it would be better to see a slip instead of the shadow of the shape of the thighs making people stare at the wrong places. Lovely colour and I’d be interested to see how the leather feels (it looks almost suede-like, and how does one get goat leather to go to this vivid colour?? A question I probably don’t want to know the answer to..).

Click here to zoom in and check out the model's tan undies.

I love this designer so much that I like complete looks! Look 18 is one such look. I love the top: Balloon Sleeve Shirt with Lace Details, for the same reason I love the first dress ^above, and also because the balloon sleeves are pretty awesome! The skirt, Floral Embroidered Mini Skirt is also a classically excellent miniskirt shape getting classed up with the pretty embroidery. I wouldn’t necessarily but the both together like they have in this look because I have a thing against pairing a pure white with an off white.. If the skirt was a different colour then sure! 
Shirt close-ups.
Skirt close-ups.

Now completely confirming the idea that high fashion is functionless is this Volant Sleeve Coat. Yes, coat. It’s short sleeve and I don’t know if there’s a whole concept for summer coats or what.. This would be a pure indulgence for me and I’m once again sucked in by Molinari’s masterful sleeve-making. I wonder if it has pockets? 

Take a closer look: the fabric is definitely of the coat variety.

Last but certainly not least is the sparkling creation that is the Rose Embroidered A-Line Dress. I’m a sucker for really pretty stuff (explaining my addiction to Alannah Hill). I'll let the picture speak the thousand lovely words I want to say about it:

Zoom in to be amazed by the detail.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Well, today’s tune is pretty heavy.. but I think it the most beautiful thing I have ever heard. Big statement, I know, and maybe someday in my life I might retract it but right now I can’t imagine that day. I love music that is heartbreakingly beautiful and so here is Verklärte Nacht: a string sextet by Arnold Schönberg written in 1899, inspired by the poem of Richard Dehmel. It is played in one movement but is divided into five distinct sections (indicated by tempo markings in the score) which correspond with the five stanzas of the poem. Here is the poem translated:

I pulled the poem translation from wiki; original english translation by Mary Whittall. Below are the movements and their timings with the following YouTube video as well as their corresponding stanzas.
  1. Sehr langsam.  Two people are walking through a bare, cold wood ..
  2. Etwas bewegter. 2’47”  "I am carrying a child and not by you ..
  3. Schwer betont. 13’14”  She walks on, stumbling..
  4. Sehr breit und langsam. 15’45”  "Do not let the child you have conceived ..
  5. Sehr ruhig. 25’25”  He puts an arm about her strong hips

This recording is an all-stars one:

Janine Jansen, violin
Boris Brovtsyn, violin
Maxim Rysanov, viola
Amihai Grosz, viola
Torleif Thedéen, cello
Jens Peter Maintz, cello

It moves me to tears every time, especially the moment at 15’45” with the cello. Please listen to all of it because the story it creates is stunning. Best listened to in a dim room with quality headphones.

Album cover. I think it's sort of poor form to only have Janine front cover girl.. There are 5 other players.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Outfit Misfit

Today’s featured dress has moved right up my ranks to my most favourite dress ever! It’s from Kinki Gerlinki, a Melbourne based independent label, and when I first saw it in store it was love at first sight. Because Kinki Gerlinki is only in Melbourne, every time I’m there I make it a must that I visit them. They’ve got some very quirky clothing and this dress is no exception. I adore the cut with the ruffle at the top and general loose fit, and the pattern of grey with pink/navy stripes making a check. You can still get the dress online in red and black, both on sale. I had amazing luck on that day in March and found this dress on the sale rack for a total bargain of $45!! How could I resist?

Welcome! to the lovely Sarah Weeber who is a very talented photographer and kind friend who took these pictures.

How cool is this graffiti wall in Stuttgart?

 Now here I am with Big Blue Bird:

Patting Mr Fox:

And some jumping shots for fun! The first time I tried this the hem flipped up and showed my undies.. so this is a very strategic jump.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Recipe: Lemon Cake

I first made this lemon cake for my flatmate’s 30th birthday party. We had quite a lot of people invited to the apartment and so I wanted to bake two cakes; one a traditional sort of birthday cake that I could ice her name onto and the other a free cake. Flatty requested chocolate for her b’day cake so what better than a citrus cake to contrast? I went to my favourite cooking blog Smitten Kitchen and searched for a lemon cake. A few came up but this one looked delicious. It was a huge hit because of it’s really lemony flavour; it practically hits you in the face with it. It’s now in my repertory as one of my favourite cakes that everybody loves. I even baked it for a friend who came and helped me with German tax paperwork (even more boring than it sounds). This recipe makes a lot of cake, which isn’t normally a bad thing just be prepared with your tin. I’ve never made it as anything other than a bundt shape (although the Smitten Kitchen lady writes it also for two loaf shape cakes). The bundt shape is really lovely and very German and dresses up this cake when the icing doesn’t really do that for itself. Even though this cake is very large, it lasts for a long time (cough cough: sugar content).

The 175+50mL of lemon juice is basically the juice of the whole lemons. Another attempt at watercolour illustration.

I’ve pretty well transcribed the recipe as it is but I’ve added some tips learned from my own experiences * with an asterisk.

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C (350F) and grease the bundt tin. *Tip: grease it well and sprinkle a little flour in there, I am yet to extract one completely whole.
  2. Cream butter and 400 grams of the sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Mixing at medium speed, add eggs one at a time and lemon zest.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 58mL (a third of the 175mL) of lemon juice with the buttermilk and vanilla. Add flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the butter and sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour.
  4. Pour batter into the bundt tin and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a skewer comes out clean. *Mine has always been an hour or more.
  5. Towards the end of the baking time combine the final 100 grams of the sugar with 116mL (the remaining two thirds of the 175mL) of lemon juice in a small saucepan cooking over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
  6. When the cake is done let it cool for 10 minutes. Invert onto a rack set over a tray and spoon the lemon syrup over. *Do this gradually so more can soak into the cake without just running over the sides.
  7. Whilst the cakes cool completely, combine powdered sugar (aka confectioners’ sugar/icing sugar) and the remaining 50mL of lemon juice in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cake and allow for decorate drizzle down the sides. *I find this yields plenty of icing so maybe start with half the lemon juice quantity and add powdered sugar gradually until you get the desired consistency (like honey).

Review: Cinderella Movie

There is an obsession with reworking fairytales in Hollywood of late, for example Alice in Wonderland in 2010, Maleficent in 2014, and Into the Woods (which was terrible by the way). This year saw the release of Cinderella in March. The amazing thing is that people, including myself, are watching movies with stories they already know like the back of their hand.

The thing that pulls me in and made me really want to watch it, is the cast and the fashion. In all of the reworked movies there are big names; Alice in Wonderland has Johnny Depp, Maleficent has Angelina Jolie, and Into the Woods has Meryl Streep. The draw card for this version of Cinderella was Cate Blanchett. Even though CB, the wicked stepmother, isn’t the main character she was the star of the movie for me. She had a presence that was undeniably threatening, right from the beginning. The first scene (that she’s in) where she steps out of the carriage and walks into the house with her cat Lucifer we see first her ornate black boot with shiny green embroidery, then her full skirts, then her back as she ascends the stairs into the front entrance of the house. Even once she is in the house we don’t see her face which is masked by a huge black hat. The moment when she turns and the hat angles change to reveal her face (which only breaks into smile later) is amazing and immediately I had the feeling I couldn’t trust her.

I got these images straight from the trailer
The fashion throughout the film is amazing. First of all, obviously, is the famous blue dress Cinderella wears to the ball (which is the cover shot for the movie). Not to be mentioned less though is the dress that Cinderella wears for her wedding, which I actually prefer. The ball dress is too strong a blue for my taste. The wedding dress is beautiful with coloured flower embroidery; I just love a not-fully-conventional wedding dress.

The movie garnered such fashion buzz that Harper’s Bazaar AU hosted a premiere party at which Australian fashion illustrator Megan Hess created a collection of original Cinderella-inspired artworks. 

Image from Megan Hess' instagram.

This video explains more about Megan Hess’ partnership with Disney and a fashion discussion of it with editor of Harper’s Bazaar AU Kelly Hush: 

The formidable Cate Blanchett and couture gowns: what more could you want from a film?