1st October 2014
Is it just me or is there just something about photos with a marble background? Call me romantic (or ridiculous) but for some reason marble evokes a sense of elegance, of misty castles and vaulted ceilings, and is able to elevate an average afternoon coffee to a somehow whimsical experience, even if it’s just me, myself and I in a roadside cafe. It’s for that reason that I think marble makes such a perfect background for photos, but who has the dollar bills or bicep strength to use actual marble? Even if you’ve being doing your pump classes and carrying marble isn’t an issue for you, you’ll find that it’s actually quite a very brittle stone and is likely to crack when not treated really carefully. Enter a well kept secret of the instagrammer/blogger out there – the faux marble background created using marble paper. So simple to create and such a neat trick!
To be honest I wavered as to whether to share this or not, it’s really such a good trick and I use it all the time – and I’d hate to think you know it’s just a piece of paper and not real marble, but thought you might appreciate this little behind the scenes!
- A piece of plywood (ours was 50cm x 50cm (20 inches x 20 inches)
- A marble paper with an adhesive backing
1. Measure out the paper on your piece of plywood.
2. Trim to size, making sure to leave at least 2.5cm (1 inch) along the edge.
3. Starting on one side, press the contact paper onto the plywood, working your way carefully and removing the backing as you go so that you don’t have any bubbles. Use a tea towel to press the contact paper down well. A neat trick if you find a bubble along the way, use a small pin to prick the surface and squeeze the air out and then smooth down the bubble.
4. Turn the plywood over and fold the edge over.
5. To finish the corners, trim the folded edge to the corner as shown below.
6. Fold the other edge down into a triangle.
7. Fold that edge up and over the create a clean fold.
Voila! I said it was easy didn’t I?
Although when you KNOW the background is faux it might be a little more obvious, I’ve used it a lot and not once has anyone asked if it was faux. If you feel it might need a boost, increase the brightness of your photo and then also the contrast (I use Afterlight app on iPhone to do this) and you’ll find the marble looks more genuine. And if you make sure to put focus on the items in your photo (whether it be a coffee, a macaron or a necklace) rather than a marble itself, I promise people won’t notice.
29th September 2014
Every year my mother and I travel to Japan, first she visits her friend who lives there and then we meet and see a new city. This year it was the beautiful Kyoto that was the focus for our annual mother/daughter trip, and I have to say, we could’t have picked a better place! Last year Tokyo captivated us with its intense energy and nightlife, but Kyoto was a whole different ball game, more subtle and relaxing than Tokyo, a lesson in zen and the art of imperfections – and a few bottles of wine!
Apparently the best time to visit Kyoto is during Cherry Blossom season (March/April/May) or during the Autumn when the leaves are a flaming red. We visited at neither of those times, instead went in August (i.e. high summer) which was still gorgeous. Although I expected to, I actually didn’t find it too hot to explore and enjoy ourselves, with the help of a shaved ice every now and then.
We stayed in a traditional Japanese house (via Airbnb) in the Nijo area, which was lovely because we got to experience a neighbourhood in a way you wouldn’t if you stayed in the main area in a hotel. This sort of accommodation does come with its own cons – locks that get stuck when you arrive, a loooooong list of instructions which makes you feel a little more like a prisoner than a guest – but overall I have to say it’s a great way to understand a place better. Although, TBH I was reminded how bad my posture is when forced to sit and eat on tatami mats with no couch in sight. However, if you are after a more atmospheric experience, I would recommend a traditional Ryokan, if I ever go back with my boyfriend that’s what we’ll do.
Walk the Philosopher’s Path: We did a walk around and along the Philospher’s path (Tetsugaku no michi), a path alongside a gorgeous canal in the Northern Higashiyama district, on the first day we arrived and visited all the different temples (including the Silver Pavillion) and surrounding gardens and shrines.
Visit the flea markets: We were lucky enough to time our visit when the biggest flea in Kyoto is held at Kitanpo Tenman-gu Shrine. You guys know how much I love a flea right!? The market is held on the 25th day of the month every month, and is well worth planning around with lots of gorgeous antiques, and piles and piles of kimonos at much better prices than in other places. 7:00-16:30.
Delve into Gion : Made famous by the book Memoirs of Geisha (although as many of your pointed out in this post that book is disputed as to how accurate the portrayal is ) this picture perfect area is a series of weeping willows, lanes and canals, with small doors leading into Kyseki restuarants and drinking house. A great place to spend sunset and watch the Geisha come out to play.
Visit Kibune & Kurama: This day trip was the highlight our visit to Kyoto, and I’ll definitely writing it up on its own, but for now know that taking a day out of the city to do this is well worth it. Your itinerary will include visiting an outdoor Onsen, hiking the gorgeous mountain paths from Kurama to Kibune and dining on the platforms over the water. A must!
See the temples: Kyoto is famous for its amazing temples, shrines and gardens including the Golden and Silver Pavillions and Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine (a must). If you feel like you just want to see a few, know that you’ll get a good glimpse of them along the philosophers path.
Bamboo Forest: An utterly breathtaking vista greets you at the Bamboo forest, and although you’ll spend hours trying to get a photo of it nothing will compare with what you take away in your head!
Visit an Onsen: Visiting a gorgeous Onsen is a great way to understand Japanese culture and what binds them together (i.e. a need for zen and relaxation as well as a deep respect for etiquette and rules).
Omen – This traditional noodle house located along the Philopspher’s Path (with another at the back of Gion) is the perfect way to end a day of wandering the gardens, temples and shrines. Order a tempura set and sit back and relax.
Okonomiyaki – We absolutely fell in love with this traditional, savoury Japanese pancake with a multitude of fillings that is cooked directly at your table. One place we visited and loved was Nishiki Warai, within the Nishiki Markets.
Kaiseki Ryori – This is a traditional Japanese multi-course dinner and is a must for at least one night you are in Kyoto. It’s not something you’ll forget easily, although they tend to be pricey. We visited Yoshikawa for the most memorable tempura experience, it was utterly amazing.
Wander the Nishiki food market: Check out this mile long enclosed food market in the Downtown area with more then 100 stalls for all the weird and wonderful delicacies that the region is known for.
Kazigen: A gorgeous tea room with delicious sweets in the Gion area, it was the perfect mid afternoon break.
The Cat Cafe: Ok so this was a random thing for us to do but we just had to visit a cat cafe – it was actually kinda creepy and more like a cat play school where you could stumble in and have a cup of tea.
Sangano-yu: A gorgeous cafe in an old bathhouse, we had a delightful iced chai here prior to going to the nearby Onsen.
Lunch on the water at Kibune (heaven much?)
Lanterns in Teramachi Arcade
The gardens of the Silver Pavillion
Our neighbourhood bakery in Nijo.
The Canals of Gion
Visiting the Gardens of Nanzenji Temple
Lunch at Omen
The Bamboo Forest
The Silver Pavillion Gardens
A simple travel outfit
The gardens behind Nanzenji
Wandering the streets of Gion and peering into people’s gardens. As you do.
Lunch in Kibune
Evenings in Gion
The flea markets stalls
Eating all the yummy Japanese sweets
The cafe Sangano-yu in the Arashiyama district set in an old bathhouse
Everything was so cute!
One of everything please, at the flea markets.
The shrine in Kurana (more on this soon)
The Philospher’s Path
Ahhhh serenity… Can’t help but get a district monkey magic vibe!
Shaved ice, every hour on the hour.
26th September 2014
Woven bamboo baskets are an iconic element of everyday life in Hong Kong and Asia in general, obviously they were the vessel of choice prior to plastic knocking them off the top spot when it comes to holding stuff. But even so, there remains a tradition of hand made bamboo steamers (see what you can do with one here), bamboo pillows (yes really) and baskets of all sizes. My favourite stores literally heave with woven bamboo baskets of all kinds, many of them the perfect blank slate for a DIY enthusiast. So in this second (or third, or it is fourth?) episode of ‘fun with bamboo’ today I’m going to show you how to make a set of tied hanging baskets. Read on, it’s super simple!
- 3 bamboo baskets, it’s best if they are tiered in size (i.e. fit inside each other like russian dolls)
- Rope (I went with dark pink rope to add a bit of colour to the design).
1. Cut your rope into three equal sized pieces. Starting with the biggest basket, push the rope through the sides and them underneath and bak up in the middle.
2. Do that with all pieces of rope and them tie in a knot in the middle.
2. Take a piece of rope and add another basket on top, making sure to leave enough room so there’s space between the baskets.
3. Loop that rope through the top end of the basket twice to secure it. If you feel yours might slip down at all, simply tie a knot inside the basket at this stage – I didn’t have to because my holes wedged the rope and kept it secure.
4. Do that for all of the rope. Done-zo!
Now fill with whatever you like – fruit if you put it the kitchen or spools of rope and hanging plants if you put it in the corner of your studio because craft.