November 25th, 2016

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November 25th, 2016

Did you know that this creature lives under my kid’s bed? Apparently so. Or something like it. Maybe a little less vintage, but no less terrifying. Or maybe it’s this creature:

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And it’s definitely able to get in her second floor window. Some nights it’s Frankenstein, some nights it’s just a random creepy claw, scratching across the floorboards. Other nights it’s a scary rat with big teeth that can be seen on the uneven plaster of the ceiling (not even eradicated by a paint scraper and a screwdriver. We tried). What a drag. Even when there isn’t a small person squawking from the other room at witching hour, I am prone to awaken after a couple of hours and lie there blinking at the ceiling. I see neither rats, nor creepy claws, just endless questions about life stretched across the plasterwork – the meaning of, the purpose of, the things to do with, who that person was in the grocery store asking me about it (they seemed familiar), all that middle of the night angsty existential claptrap.

Of course, it goes without saying that my mental state is affected by the sleeplessness, only exaggerated by the dark days as winter creeps in. My friends have started looking at me with slight alarm in their eyes when I talk about the actual amount of lack of sleep and at least three of them have threatened to frog-march me to the local, somewhat-legal, green-remedy supplier to sign me up for special tinctures or oils. I finally, numbly, considered it this week, but instead I read an article about screen-time and sleep. No need to click – you know what it’s going to say. Surprise surprise – the more time you spend on your screen, the less your brain wants to settle down and go to sleep. Blue screens, interactive stimulation, blah blah blah. I’m too tired to read it in its entirety, and I am not sure what is actually news about this news… but regardless it seems on point for me. Being an all-or-nothing kind of girl, I am super tempted to give up technology altogether. Yes, that’s right, all technology, right from the beginning of time. Who needs wheels? Tools for cooking? Bah. I’m that desperate for a good night’s sleep. So while I don’t need the wheel, or my grilled cheese maker, I might have kept Twitter and Facebook. But no! Even they don’t escape. They increase emotional stimulation (duh) – even more than grilled cheese! Hmm… I am not sure where I am going with this editorial, as my brain is too addled to form a cohesive piece, but I will conclude with this; Sleep = good … Technology = bad … Sleep good. Sleep. Good. (Can I keep Instagram? Oh, and the Small Batch List? This stuff is worth a few sleepless nights):

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Looking:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – maybe it’s the times – maybe it’s my sleep-deprived state – but this film was so delightful to me that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It seems like it made me 12 again, and I have even gone online to discover that I am officially a member of Gryffindor – of course! So I have searched around for arty bits and pieces of interesting stuff connected to the movie and came across the graphic design studio MinaLima – a design duo who are responsible for all the graphic design in the Harry Potter films and now the Fantastic Beasts movies. Maps, jewellery, carpet design, books, posters – anything the Wizarding World needs, they design. What a dream job! Their instagram is fun, but these articles are good stuff too:
The Fantastic Beasts interviews: meet graphic design duo MinaLima – from Pottermore.
The graphic art of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – from Creative Review.

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1920s Wizarding World packaging designed by MinaLima for Fantastic Beasts.

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The first prop that Mina designed – Harry’s letter of acceptance to Hogwarts – for the first Harry Potter film. This was created when Mira Mina thought she might work on the Potter movies for four months which then extended to ten years and now beyond.

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Listening:
There was a little sun this week so this song seemed completely fitting. The beautiful Natural Blue, by Julie Byrne, is from her second album Not Even Happiness, out in January 2017.

Here’s a song from one of my favourites, Sylvan Esso. Another sunny one, Kick Jump Twist.

It’s not even quite December but Pitchfork have released their “The 50 Best Holiday Songs of All Time” playlist to start getting you in the mood.

Play the Small Batch List Playlist on iTunes – I’ve compiled every song I’ve mentioned over the last few months.

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Dreaming and Coveting:

This week, in my imaginary travel journal, I am off to Helsinki to visit SALAKAUPPA – “Sala” meaning secret, “kauppa” meaning store. This is the tiny little flagship store for the design company, COMPANY.
“All of the products in SALAKAUPPA are designed by Aamu Song & Johan Olin … and are the result of excursions to very exciting, yet old-fashioned factories around Finland and sometimes to our neighbors around the world. [The] design is purely based on each factory’s story and function. That’s our secret.”

I love this little shop. Here you can see how they renovated it right through to today’s cheerful store.

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Friday Five Favourites – Guest starring: Paul Lloyd
Independent designer, writer and speaker
Most often found at: Paul Robert Lloyd

Dear Internet – thank you for bringing good and interesting people into my life. Paul Lloyd is one of them. I just wish Brighton, England was a whole lot closer. Here are some of his recent favourite things:

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1) Cold Feet
A comedy-drama broadcast between 1997 and 2003, this September saw the return of Cold Feet to British screens. Comparisons with Friends were often made during its original run, yet it somehow passed me by. This time round I was unexpectedly hooked, so after the latest series finished, I decided to watch the first fiveMike Bullen’s story begins just as mobile phones are becoming mainstream, and finishes while the Internet is still a novelty. There’s a dissonance watching these early episodes; a contemporary screenplay takes place among nascent technologies that now appear dated, yet by the end I was longing for their return. Simpler times.

2) The Beauty of Transport
I recently stumbled upon The Beauty of Transport, a blog by Daniel Wright about transport design and its influence on art and culture. This blog does a great job highlighting the often ignored and under appreciated projects, be they a signal boxa multi-story car park, or the ‘flying banana’.

3) The Photography of Hilla and Bernd Becher
When I visited Basel’s newly expanded art museum earlier this year, I came across a collection of photos by Hilla and Bernd Becher (before stumbling across them again a few weeks later at Tate Modern). While their subject matter — Europe’s post-war industrial landscape — could be considered banal, the consistent framing of structures like water towers, coal bunkers, gas tanks forces you to study the design details that give each their own identity.

4) The Adam Buxton Podcast
I’ve long been a fan of Adam & Joe, a comedy duo whose late-night Channel 4 show was essential viewing in the late nineties. With Joe now writing and directing films, Adam is producing his own podcast, interviewing an eclectic mix of guests from the world of comedy and the arts. Buxton’s open and often knowingly naive demeanour makes for interesting discussions, while his earworm inducing jingles have me in stitches every time. Bonus favourite: his ode to Sushi.

5) Force Majeure
The Swedish-language film Force Majeure depicts the tension between a husband and wife after a controlled avalanche threatens their family during a skiing holiday. The strength of the film’s pivotal scene — spotted during a televised awards ceremony — was enough for me seek it out, and I wasn’t disappointed, even though it makes for uncomfortable and excruciating viewing.

 – – – Previous Friday Five Favourites Archives – – –

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Delighting

Five delights for a Friday:
1) Hunter S Thompson writes a letter of advice… “To be, or not to be”: Addressing goals, purpose and what might make a meaningful life.

2) An article about the Gilmore Girls and why we seem to love it so much: Yes. That’s all I’ll say on the topic (apart from squeee!).

3) Look how pretty this quince tarte tatin is.  Perfumy quinces are my favourites. I think I still have some quinces hanging sadly on my tree. I should go and see if there are any that haven’t been infiltrated by sleepy Fall wasps. It’s a nice idea, anyway.

4) What can you do with 11,200,000 feet of aluminium and 50,000 gallons of latex? From the vault at British Pathé: making rubber toys in 1957.

5) “Ok kid, you got the job”: Henry Thomas’ audition tape for the role of Elliott in E.T. As if this kid was not going to get this role. Wow. (thanks Jason!)

BONUS) If you liked Maggie Rogers’ track Alaska posted in the Small Batch last week, you will love this: Pharrell Williams gave a special masterclass to music students, including Rogers, this last July where she played him her rough mix. Watch what happens. It’s definitely delightful. (sadly not available on mobile devices). (thanks Cassandra)

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Back next week for December shenanigans.

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! Last week was Van Morrison – from Astral Weeks… obviously. One of my favourite songs.

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November 18th, 2016

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November 18th, 2016

I have been looking at this little animation a lot. It’s cute, sure, but I am also identifying with it. Really, don’t you? No? Well in brief; What it’s saying to me is that it’s time for my metaphorical-creamer to kick my metaphorical-sugar bowl in the butt so that two delightful lumps of metaphorical-sugar fly out and land in my metaphorical-coffee. And then the coffee will say “two more!” and then repeat. So, really this is just an excuse to include one of my favourite gifs… but yes, change is in the air. There’s stuff to be done. What have you been plotting and planning this week?

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Looking:
A long time ago, when the web was young and innocent, I used to follow artist Sabine Timm (Virgin Honey) on Flickr. She is still updating her account over there, but these days she is also rocking Instagram with her quirky assemblages, animations, illustrations and found objects. It’s all totally whimsical, lovely stuff. Thanks Erin L-F for suggesting this. Good one.

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Listening:
Uh oh – I found one of those songs with which I drive everyone mental, just by playing on repeat. Okkervil River’s Judey On A Street, from their new album Away.

Hopelessness is a harrowing protest record from pop-electronic artist ANOHNI, previously of Antony and the Johnsons, dealing with such topics as drone warfare, torture, extinction of species and global warming. Not exactly uplifting, but unique in its entirety. This song, the more personal  I don’t love you anymore, is beautiful.   (thanks Laura and A Song A Day).

Who doesn’t like a little singing saw on a Friday? Icelandic band Amiina has a new album out today called Fantômas, but you can also enjoy this video from May 2011.

And this. Alaska – Maggie Rogers. Making me happy. Thank you, sweet Claire H.

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Coveting:

These natural history posters by illustrator Kelsey Oseid are charming in their attention to detail and their vintage inspiration. Kelsey’s images come from a project she is undertaking in 2016. Each day of the year, she is illustrating a different species, and each month is dedicated to a different order. She began with the Passeriformes (perching birds) in January and has moved through 10 orders so far. By the end of the year she will have illustrated 366 (one extra?) species. 9 posters are currently available.

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Friday Five Favourites – Guest starring: Pip Lincolne
Most often found at: Meet Me At Mikes

I picked the ever loverly Pip to be my first guest for Friday Five Favourites. Her blog is a shining beacon of joy on the internet. Thanks for taking the time to do this, Pip!

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I’m pretty excited that Claire asked me to be part of her newsletter this week. If it weren’t for Claire’s beautiful blog, Loobylu, I would never have wanted to write my own. Thanks so much for the gift of inspiration, Claire. *sobs*

I’d best stop sniffling and get on with my five things. Here goes:

1. Man At The Helm – Nina Stibbe is a new-to-me writer and I have read all her funny and insightful books this year and adored them. I particularly love Man At The Helm. Not only does it feature precocious children, a stair-climbing horse and an eccentric mother, Nina drops in a few references to a 70s children’s cookbook I used to pore over (My Learn To Cook Book by Ursula Sedgwick) Apple Snow, anyone? This is Nina’s site: http://www.ninastibbe.com

2. Nigella on YouTube: Some people might think I am organised and professional, but very often I do my daily bread-and-butter writing (from 7 to 2) propped up in bed with YouTube rolling in the background. This is definitely one of the benefits of working from home. I gleefully discovered there are hours of old Nigella episodes on YouTube last week. The older eps are so good and remind me of a simpler and more cake-filled, buttery time. Nigella’s kids were still tiny and I think it reminds me of when my kids were tiny too.  I love to have eps playing on the big telly via Apple TV as I write about all the things and get my work done.  After that I promise I get dressed and do more active things. Truly I do.

3. Felt: I have been making a lot of things from felt. I made a Gilmore Girls banner this week. And also some felt Christmas decorations which I haven’t quite finished stitching up yet. I’m making a banner with a Hillary quote on it after that. It’s the one about girls needing to keep chasing their dreams and opportunities. However you vote or feel, you can’t argue with this:
“And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”

4. Stars and the moon: I found an essay my great-grandfather had written online yesterday and I love it so much. I read it after I’d seen everyone online posting about looking for the SuperMoon and it confirmed that we are all united by the natural world and the same beautiful sky, even when we feel that things are a bit fractured or worrying.

5. Curry and rice: When my kids were little we were all obsessed with Malaysian chicken curry and roti. After having it a lot, we sort of went off the boil and moved on to other things: red curry, green curry, butter chicken and the like. This weekend I’m going to make our old favourite again and see if 7 years or so is long enough to get over this particular kind of curry fatigue…  I am hopeful that it is. I never got tired of it, personally. Here is the recipe I am going to use, and a video guide, too.  Here is a chicken knob.

Thanks for having me, Claire!! It’s been a DELIGHT!
x pip

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Delighting

Five delights for a Friday:
1) The Wonder of Place: My lovely friend Heather Hopkins writes a blog and newsletter that frequently moves me to tears. You will find so much beauty and wisdom in her words. “These are stories about our sense of place; about how our experiences shape, and are shaped by, meaningful places. In these stories we’ll explore our relationship to places ~ forests and parks, lakes and oceans, neighbourhoods, gardens, and cities, houses and homes, farms, and healing places.”

2) Purpose is the new bottom line: “If there is a question burning in your mind… If there’s a system so broken that it makes you want to cry…”  This Creative Mornings talk is so good. Totally worth your 20 minutes of attention.

3) Blank on Blank – Famous names, lost interviews, animated short films: PBS Digital Studios has a big archive of audio interviews from celebrities of the the past which they have animated and brought back to life. “You may be struck by how some of the themes resonate in contemporary times”.

4) Declare your loveWhat happens when you leave a megaphone on the street with the simple instructions: “Declare Your Love.” Thanks Improv Everywhere, whose channel trailer is super fun.

5) Accidentally Closing Browser Window With 23 Tabs Open Presents Rare Chance At New Life: Why, yes it does!

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Last week’s email subject line quote was from the poem Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, one of my absolute favourites.

Thank you for reading! See you next week.

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line.

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Wild Geese

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

— Mary Oliver

November 10th, 2016

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November 11th, 2016

On Tuesday morning, my Facebook and Instagram feeds were filled with a dozen photos of a beautiful rainbow that dazzled the Pacific Northwest for the best part of an hour. It stretched over our house across a pink sky, and a gentle rain fell on my face as I looked up. It felt like a sign of beauty and hope and awakening. As the day unravelled, and the US election results came in, I kept thinking “that bloody rainbow lied”.

I have written and re-written these paragraphs over and over in light of this week’s US Presidential Election. It’s been a heavy week and nothing seems adequate or appropriate for my newsletter – a place dedicated to inspiration and curiosity. But there are two things that are blindingly clear to me; We need hope, and we need education.

As an artist and a consumer of the arts I want to say: it is the duty of the arts to not only entertain and comfort but also, more importantly, to educate, question, inspire and support – ourselves, and people in need. MAKE ART – now more than ever. Make art that does all those things. Consume art that does all those things. Support art that does all those things. Make beautiful things, make powerful things. Make soothing things but also make uncomfortable things. Make things that push you in new directions and push others too.

Work for what you hope.

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Looking:
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent: One of my all-time favourite paintings. I am adding it to my Art Bucket List – a list of works I hope to see one day. It was the inspiration for a show of illustrations I did in Melbourne in 2005. I have been looking around this morning at some articles about the work and found this great essay about the development of the painting, including pencil sketches, oil sketches and letters from Sargent to his sister discussing the difficulties of capturing the fleeting colours and light at dusk. The Tate has a wonderful video where you can get a clear idea of the beauty and scale of the piece. I also see that the Tate is developing an immersive video game for children (specifically targeted at girls) where they can play in the beautiful garden depicted in Singer Sargent’s painting.

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Souping:
I was once holed-up in bed with a very bad case of pneumonia. It was too painful to breathe so I lay in a weakened state, watching endless episodes of Mad Men and falling in and out of strange, semi-delirious dreams about Don Draper, in some I actually was Don Draper. My mum’s friend brought me a great big container of vegetable soup which I was able to eat and – presto! The next day I was a million times better, but had stopped hallucinating that I was occupying a mid-century apartment in New York City – sadly.

Now it is cold and cough season here, so I have been experimenting with making the ultimate HEALING SOUP. Here’s one of my recipes – tried and tested this week. It’s a little spicy as it’s “thai-inspired” but you can always cut back on the curry paste. You can download a printable version from here.

A few other recipes that inspired me are:
Jamie Oliver’s Jewish penicillin
The River Cottage recipe for bone broth
Bon Appétit Magazine’s recipe for Tom Kha Gai (where I got most of my thai inspiration)
And this one is vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free and Paleo-friendly (but apparently still tasty).

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Listening:

Don’t Fall In – This spoken-word poetry, rap-style track is what I have been listening to, from Kate Tempest – UK musician, poet, novelist and playwright – who is now someone I can’t get enough of. Her wikipedia page is a great summary of a shining light.

Find Me – This feels like a guilty pleasure. For some reason, strains of the old Enya track, Orinoco Flow,  float into my head when I think of it, but Sigma (featuring Birdy) is much, much more 2016 than that.  It’s so 2016 that the video stars Millie Bobby Brown, who plays 11 in Stranger Things. She seems to be feeling all the excruciatingly earnest feels.

Zadie Smith, author of the amazing White Teeth and new release Swing Time, lists her favourite tracks on BBC 6.

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Coveting:

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I’m not sure exactly where I would put this Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni designed radio-phonograph, model no. RR126, but I would squeeze it in somehow. It is part of the incredible collection of designer furniture and modern art that belonged to David Bowie, being auctioned by Sotheby’s this week. Bowie had enormous appreciation and curiosity for the arts; “Bowie’s diverse tastes nurtured his extensive archive of important works from celebrated, and less widely-known, artists in a collection of unparalleled eclecticism.”
View the catalogue of over 400 items. Sotheby’s videos: First Look Bowie/Collector and How Bowie’s Fascination with Art Became a Full-Time Job.

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Friday Five Favourites:

Guest starring: ME
Here’s a new segment. First up, this is my own personal list of favourites, just to set the tone (as this whole newsletter is a list of my favourites). In the coming weeks I will include the lists of special guest stars (friends)… stay tuned.

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1) Roast chicken with gravy and veg on a Sunday night.
My favourite recipe is similar to this Jamie Oliver method. Boiling the lemon is the key!

2) Shabby old penguin classic copy of The Dud Avocado – Elaine Dundy
I love this book. A few years ago I bought a beautifully-designed, limited-edition hardcover, as my old paperback is falling apart. Despite the beauty of the fancy new edition, it is the shabby old one from 1960 that I love the best. It was my dad’s. While proof reading this, he wrote and asked: “Is that my copy? If so, it’s the one I read at the age of 15 while filling in time at the Long Bay rifle range when I was a cadet. A bit of an eye-opener for a 15-year old in those days.” Yes, Dad, it’s your copy. But can I keep it?
The book itself is a joy. “Basically, if you were to set Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady near the Sorbonne, untangle the sentences and add more slapstick, sex and champagne cocktails, you’re getting close.” – Rosecrans Baldwin discusses the book on NPR.

3) Corner of my dining room
Including a weird old 60s print that belonged to my grandmother (artist unknown), our painted cabinet from Tibet, SONOS speaker (which would also make it onto my castaway-on-a-deserted-island list, if the deserted island had power and wifi), plants that I haven’t killed yet, wooden percussion instruments / ornaments that belonged to my other grandmother, a paper apple made by one of my kids and a bunch of geese bowls found at Anthropologie years ago.

4) Mixtape from 1990
Made for me by my friend Dom, who opened my eyes and ears to music. This was one of many mixed tapes for which I am forever grateful. What a great tape that was, full of completely different (for me) stuff. Metallica? Black Sabbath? Rush??

5) Tiny little seed and the tiny little elephants carved from ivory that live inside: My childhood best friend travelled the world and brought this back from India for me when I was 9. The seed is about the size of a cherry pip. Those elephants are about the size of a ladybug wing. I remember he brought himself back a medieval-style, chainmail glove from Nottingham after he had visited Sherwood Forest. He was the coolest.

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Delighting:

1) Dalai Lama: Behind Our Anxiety, the Fear of Being Unneeded: “If one lights a fire for others, it will also brighten one’s own way.” Words of encouragement and hope for better societies from the Dalai Lama.

2) Walt Disney’s MultiPlane Camera created complex, beautiful animations with great depth and atmosphere: It’s an enormous and complicated piece or machinery, and Walt’s film from 1957 explaining its workings is fascinating. (thanks Ward).

3) For all you people with weird Jessica Rabbit fetishes (you know who you are): This one’s for you. It will make you feel a whole lot more legit.

4) This man owns only 150 items and wants for nothing: An admirable exercise in a zen practice of minimalism and simplicity. I could learn a lot from him.

5) I Chop Up Faces Every Morning, and So Should YouCollage for inspiration. (thanks Erin L-F)

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“The note of hope is the only note that can help us or save us from falling to the bottom of the heap of evolution, because, largely, about all a human being is, anyway, is just a hoping machine, a working machine…the human race will sing this way as long as there is a human to race” – Woody Guthrie, Notes about Music, 1946.

Don’t forget that you are welcome to email me with any random thoughts you might like to share, or a link you think might work in the newsletter. For me, the email feedback is one of the best parts of doing this thing. Thank you to those who do.

Until next week…

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. This week it’s a whopping 250 points for guessing the slightly obscure quote in the subject line. It’s the third line of one of my favourite poems. Do you know it?

p.p.s. That iguana snake chase footage was incredibly cool.

 

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September 30th, 2016

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September 30th, 2016

It’s been a quiet week on our hill top as I have been submerged in illustration work and the kids are fully back into the swing of school. After a bit of a bumpy start where we missed appointments (dental), forgot homework (Math, English), forgot dinner (just one night – I swear it!) and missed a meet-the-teacher evening at the elementary school (it’s okay, we met have them already), we have created highly complex and brightly coloured google calendars for every member of the family to make sure we have everyone going in all the right directions.  Huh! It seems like those organised people are actually onto something. Other highlights from this week (though it is hard to beat a good google calendar) include rescuing a woodpecker from our wood-stove, seeing a band in a barn, the seasonal return of the great horned owls hooting in the night, making incredible soup (see Delighting, below), and then all this good stuff on the internet…


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Looking:

Floors:  My favourite instagram account this week is all about floors, but they are Parisian floors, so it’s all romantic and beautiful. Thank you to SBL subscriber @emage for alerting me to this gorgeous account. Escapism and tiny tiles!

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Inking:

October has been re-dubbed “Inktober” around here. Last year I picked up my paintbrush, cracked open a small pot of black ink, joined a bunch of other keeners around the world, and set about to paint a small something in ink every single day of the month. What I discovered after 31 days was a) I can actually finish an online project and b) I love ink. Crazy love it. Who knew? This was a surprise to me, a girl who has spent most of the last 20 years attempting to make digital art look hand-drawn – for fear of doing the work by actual hand. No command-z (undo) when it comes to ink. Starting October 1, I will be back with the Inktober hashtag, fingers stained and curses flying with every micro-mistake.  Follow my progress via my instagram – and why not join me and all the other happy, inky people?

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Reading

To brighten those dark moments: This is just what I need! Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa. My inner critic is such a big jerk, with a big, fat, loud voice, always up in my face being a jerky-jerk. It’s time to kick it to the curb. Danielle hosts one of my favourite weekly blog and podcast pitstops, The Jealous Curator. For years she has been directing her artistic envy into upbeat and thoughtful writings and interviews with diverse and interesting designers and artists. I have loved her other two books, Collage and Creative Block, and I am already loving this new one. It’s out in October.

“This book is duct tape for the mouth of every artist’s inner critic. In ten wise and encouraging chapters, Danielle Krysa offers readers ten truths to silence that jerky voice once and for all. Truths like: Everyone Is Creative; Excuses Are the Enemy; No One Can Wrestle the Pencil Out of Your Hand; Labels Are for Canned Peaches, Not People; Failure Leads to Genius; and more. ”

I see that Chronicle Books has a give-away (US residents only): The first 100 people to preorder the book, from any retailer, between now and October 10, will receive a mug with the cover illustration on it (so cute!). Follow the link here.

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Watching:

I’m planning on some more tree hugging: A friend recently sent me a piece of her writing about forests and trees and our relationships to both. It was such a good piece and I am hoping she puts it up somewhere soon where I can link to it. But at the bottom of the piece she included a link to this new documentary Intelligent Trees. I think it might be worth checking out. “Trees are so much more than rows of wood waiting  to be turned into furniture, buildings or firewood. They are more than organisms producing oxygen or cleaning the air for us. They are individual beings that have feelings, know friendship have a common language and look after each other. This documentary explores the various ways that trees communicate with each other – from a forester’s observations as well as through the microscope of a scientist.” What the what? Watch out, the Ent-filled Fangorn Forest might not just be a Tolkien thing of literature. Go hug some of those trees! (I really hope there is some truth in all of this, and this is not just like the epic paper I gave in first year Archaeology concerning the existence of Atlantis, based on a book by a complete quack. I had no idea!).

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Dreaming:

This week I am off to New York in my imaginary travel journal: I was chatting to a friend during the week about this incredible exhibition, Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS (above), by Margaret and Christine Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring, on now at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. I was extremely excited to drop the words “hyperbolic geometry” into the conversation as she is a knitter but also a math teacher. We decided that a field trip was in order. She also wants to take in the Museum of Math and I thought finally seeing Matilda on Broadway would be great. (but ugh! Final performance on the 1st of January!).

My favourite author in the world (favourite because she is brilliant and also because I happen to illustrate some of her books), Jen Storer, just posted her first newsletter and linked to this wonderful video by the fabulous artist and illustrator Maira Kalman. It just makes me want to go to New York even more. Even if you aren’t particularly interested in New York, watch that video, because it is quite wonderful.

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Coveting:

Sweater Weather: London-based designer Donna Wilson always creates the quirkiest of goods, whether it’s textiles, stuffies, clothing or ceramics. This week, due to my need for sweaters generally, I am coveting her beautiful new knit range inspired by Iceland and Scotland. Also, added bonus: Sweater Weather. 

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Delighting:

1) Bon Iver’s 22, A MillionI have been loving all the tracks released so far and am pretty excited about today’s album release.

2) Guffawing at podcasts: My brother highly recommended the podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno and now I am recommending it to you. When a young guy discovers a piece of pretty terrible erotic fiction written and self-published by his dad, and then reads and critiques it with a group of friends, it’s pretty enjoyable listening.

3) Hey, this looks good: 20th Century Women, I don’t know anything about it but I like that trailer. Set in 1979 – Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning all star in a new film by Mike Mills. I really liked his film Beginners.

4) Soup season: This! One hundred times this… River Cottage’s Curried Sweet Potato Soup. I made it with this stock which really makes the house smell incredibly good.

5) Happiness. It’s as easy as this, apparently:  Ancient Wisdom Reveals 6 Rituals That Will Make You Happy. So yeah, just do that.

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If you ever have anything you’d love to share with me that I might like to include in this newsletter, don’t hesitate to drop me a line! I have been getting a few suggestions and I love seeing what inspires you.

I’ll be back next week with October business. Thanks again for the juicy feedback and be sure to whisper the words The Small Batch List in your friends’ ears.

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
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xo

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September 16th, 2016 #3

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September 16th, 2016

This is an illustration of me finding some watermelons in the garden, not of me laying giant green eggs – as it might first appear. Sometimes I confuse the two. This week I am overwhelmed by garden produce again. This time it’s beans. Scarlet runner beans, ugly, lumpy, green climbing beans and some quite nice yellow bush beans.  The trouble with beans is that if you turn your back for even a moment, they get enormous, tough and stringy. Instead of doing anything constructive with them I am just letting them get freakishly large with the bright idea that I might dry the beans out to replant again next year. Yeah? Is that a thing? I might try. Every year around now I hit this point of garden fatigue where I am completely done with thinking about how to deal with the enthusiastic over-planting we did in the spring. I would prefer now to think about watching endless reruns of The Mindy Project or maybe write that YA book I always meant to write. And then there’s always the internet. I found some stuff – I hope you find something to enjoy in this lot:.


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Exclusively for you:

A subscriber exclusive: A goat-led tarot reading, especially for Small Batch List readers!  I am getting a little tarot guidance most days from a goat in Portland. Because, well, why not? One of Heather’s goats on Milk Barn Farm pulls a card from a pack to give you all the spiritual assistance you might need for the day, via Instagram. Kind Heather has provided a special reading by Marigold (above) for Small Batch List subscribers. Perfect internet perfection.

Photo by Heather Champ

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Reading:

Roald Dahl had remarkably bad (and quite entertaining) school reports for English Composition: Author of such classics as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and the BFG, Roald Dahl was such an incredibly original author, and would have turned 100 last Tuesday. He died in 1990 leaving behind a great legacy – his books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide. I have found some of his old school reports for English Composition and they are not what you would expect:

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Summer Term, 1930 (aged 14).
“I have never met a boy who so persistently writes the exact opposite of what he means. He seems incapable of marshalling his thoughts on paper.”
Easter Term, 1931 (aged 15)
“A persistent muddler. Vocabulary negligible, sentences malconstructed. He reminds me of a camel.”
Summer Term, 1932 (aged 16)
“This boy is an indolent and illiterate member of the class.”

So there is hope for all of us! I also can’t help but think that there must have been much more leeway for teachers to have some creative fun with school reports in those days.

Illustration by Quentin Blake.

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Dreaming

Notes from my imaginary travel diary: This week I am not in imaginary Paris, but on a road trip down the coast of California with a stop at Glass Beach – just near Fort Bragg. This was once a local dump for all kinds of non-toxic garbage, dating between 1949 and 1967 — now all that remains is a beautiful beach of salt-water-buffed glass pebbles. I have a penchant for sea-glass, with a small pot of it on my kitchen window sill, but this is just lovely.
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Looking:

An exquisite collection of glass sea creatures: just the thing to go along with our beach of sea glass. The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY currently has an exhibition of these amazing glass models made meticulously by Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolf, in the late 1800s. Thousands upon thousands of these marine invertebrates were created and distributed for scientific study around the world.

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The exhibition looks inspiring for sciencey-arty types: “Paired alongside the father and son’s drawings, archival material directly from the Blaschka studio, and videos of living invertebrates, these delicate models inspire us today as we continue to explore the intersections of art and science. The nearly 140 objects displayed in the exhibition are drawn primarily from the collection of The Corning Museum of Glass and Cornell University’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, with loans from a contemporary artist and select national and international museums.”

Fragile Legacy: The Marine Invertebrate Glass Models of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka
Corning Museum of Glass in Corning May 14, 2016 – January 8, 2017

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via Atlas Obscura 

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Coveting:

Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer: Our beautiful, precious, apple-green kitchen aid standing mixer packed it in this last week, dramatically. Something has gone horribly awry and now when you set it to mix, it does so for about 20 seconds before the whole metal bowl launches itself out of its supposedly snug bed. If you are not standing right there to catch it and quickly turn it off, the sound of crunching, slamming and then clanging metal is terrifying. As this is our Summer (approaching Fall) of Frugality, we are now just playing with this fun little online quiz to choose the perfectly coloured kitchen aid to match your personality. Mine is Buttercup.

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Delighting:

1) Gloria Steinem Doesn’t Drive: a short biographical video over at The New Yorker. I love the part where she explains that her childhood taught her to live with uncertainty, because her father’s philosophy was; “if you don’t know what will happen tomorrow, it could be wonderful”.

2) My favourite pigeon: New-York Historical Society is exhibiting The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems until September 25th. Original art, sketches and inspiration behind such great books as the Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!and the Elephant and Piggie stories. “[the exhibition]…displays the efforts behind the effortlessness, the seriousness behind the silliness… His ability to crisply weave together life lessons and humor creates artful volumes that speak to all, regardless of size.”

3) Michael Gondry shares my love of drawing in steam on glass shower screens: And also of this White Stripes song. “[the video] … beautifully captures the solitude of heartache and the drifting memories that surface during our most private moments, as well as the fleeting nature of life itself.”

4) There is a couple of wonderful bookshops on our island: The one I am most fond of is Salt Spring Books. We are very lucky that such a store can exist and thrive in our small community. Local author Kevin Patterson wrote some good things about it (amongst other good things) in last week’s Globe & Mail. Now I know you really want to come and visit.

5) And lastly… One more sea creature link. It’s this truly inspired giant isopod teabag.

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A minor correction from last week’s Small Batch List – The 23 Days At Sea residency that I mentioned in “Delighting” is not through the Vancouver Art Gallery at all, but through Access Gallery and The Burrard Artist Foundation and Contraste Agence d’art. Apologies!

I want to give a big shout out to my dad for doing all my proof reading. He is the best. He can spot a split infinitive from miles away. He has to really watch me. (That one was especially for you, Dad).

Have a good week and thanks for reading. Also, thanks for all the feedback. I love to hear what you think!

And yes – please tell your friends if you are enjoying The Small Batch List.

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
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September 9th, 2016

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September 9th, 2016

School’s back (hear the collective sigh of bitter-sweet relief). While I miss the pots of cheesy pasta “soaking” in the sink, the clump clump clump of giant Doc Martens in the hallway, the piles of junk all over the house, the alarmingly violent nerf wars in the garden… Who am I kidding?…I am not complaining in the least. I’ve got things to illustrate! Newsletters to send! Silence to sit in! Despite knowing it will be a good ten months before we hit the languid lakeside days of summer again, I am particularly fond of this seasonal turn. A lovely PNW grey has settled in outside, bringing with it an urge to hunker down. There’s plenty of firewood stacked, soup’s back on the menu and of course; woolly socks/boots/bonfires/scotch/books/cheerful family board games (under duress)/netflix etc. Yep. Autumn – Bring it.


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Looking

Instagram favourite of the week:  This week I highly recommend experiencing NYC from an entirely different view point; pondlife_pondlife takes us down the microscope to peer at the “single cellular life of New York City, one pond at a time”… The tiny little creatures are quite beautiful in their translucency and the short videos capturing their wanderings and interactions are intriguing.

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This is “A grouping of Cyanobacteria with a diatom. These guys are magnified 1000x”.

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Watching:

#GBBO — Where have you been all my life? :  How have I not tuned in to the The Great British Bake Off before this season? Screening in the UK on Wednesday nights is season 7 of this Master Chef style reality-show. 12 amateur bakers gather in a marquee in the grounds of a beautiful Berkshire estate where they undertake 3 tricky baking tasks each week in hopes of winning the crystal cake-stand trophy. You might think it sounds naff*, but honestly it’s some of the most delightful tv I’ve watched in years because firstly – cakes and bread (duh) and secondly – the people are just so generous, unassuming and funny. It’s a long time since our entire family has sat down to watch the same show with equal amounts of glee. It’s not unusual for the cheering and shouting (pillow throwing, loud swearing) at the tv screen to get out of hand. There’s also a lot more shoving and clattering going on in our own kitchen as the limited bench space is in hot demand. Bread dough is being pounded, upside-down cakes are running riot and cookies are lining in up in terrifying misshapen forms. I can see it’s going to be an autumn of comfort eating.
*Because it’s a British reality show this was a deliberate use of the word “naff” but I also contemplated using “pants”, my other favourite Brit adjective.

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Reading

Well then, I’m reading a book… Right now it’s an old copy of Martin Amis’s The Rachel Papers. The interesting fact about this (to me, anyway) is that I am reading again. Thanks to Pip’s Ten Pages a Day challenge.

What’s in your bookcase, huh? Lily and I have just finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and have moved on to Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. You can tell a lot about a person from their bookcase, as the super cool Australian blog, Hello Bookcasewill agree. Lily’s is a good example. In her worn, blue-painted shelf there is a lot of Roald Dahl, hinting at her wicked sense of humour and her taste for sublimely warped characters.

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Hello Bookcase is such a inspiring and fascinating site…  “Each fortnight Hello Bookcase will introduce someone new and share with you their shelves.” — with interviews and beautiful photographs of such luminaries as Paul Capsis,  Anne Summers and, one of my favourites, Akira Isogawa (above, photo by Kathy Luu), there is much to explore and more to come.

“So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall.”  – Roald Dahl. (That’s all very well, but then how would I know what they are making in The Great British Bake Off?)

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Listening:

Gimme something new to listen to…  A Song a Day is a music recommendation service curated by real, alive and breathing people.  A thoughtfully handpicked song chosen by one of my favourite music-loving online friends, Laura Gluhanich, arrives in my inbox every weekday morning. Choose a curator whose music tastes match your own and expect to be delighted.

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Coveting:

So yes, this week it’s baking-inspired coveting…  I want to know all the secrets to perfect bread so I can whisper them to the rising flour and yeast.

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I feel Flour Water Salt Yeast is a book that will help me figure this out and now that I am reading so much, I can dedicate some of my ten pages a day to this delight. I am also now coveting a trip to Portland to visit Ken’s Artisan Bakerybecause – look at those croissants! I think I must be hungry.

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If you’re in need of a little pick-me-up, here are five:
1) I ignored this when it was all over my facebook stream this week but luckily I was finally talked into it; this musicless version of a Mick Jagger and David Bowie classic is stupid-funny. When you start imagining that they are two mates walking home from a big night out it gets even funnier.
2) And Famous Authors Reply to Your Unsolicited Dick Pic. – McSweeney’sgold.
3) Also, in case you were wondering, I am still dreaming about Paris and this time it’s the rooftops.
4) The Vintage Girls of New York City in Harper’s Bazaar (via Messy Nessy)
5) I have been closely following the unfolding tale of British artist Rebecca Moss who is on the Vancouver Art Gallery residency 23 Days at Sea. She is currently stranded aboard a vessel off the coast of Japan due to the financial receivership of her Korean shipping company — no harbour will take them! (via my Editor at Large, Carrie Cogan)

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Okay! That’s it for this week.

Last week I took down my solo art show which was up at Auntie Pesto’s Cafehere on Salt Spring Island for the month of August. If you are interested you can have a look at the work here. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to purchase any of the remaining pieces.

Have a good week and thanks for reading. All feedback is welcome and do tell your friends if you are enjoying The Small Batch List.

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
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September 2nd, 2016

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September 2nd, 2016

Welcome to the first edition of the The Small Batch List, my sparkly, brand new newsletter.

In a spur-of-the-moment, caffeine-fuelled decision, I am committing to bringing you some interest and joy every Friday. I hope you enjoy it.

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Eating and Drinking

Summer Harvest Overload – Got Plums? Our plum tree is exploding with ridiculous amounts of fruit. Ridiculous amounts. It seems to be an island-wide issue so next year I am going to suggest to the Chamber of Commerce that we have a plum pop-up shop called “Plum Outta Luck”, or “Plum Crazy” or “Plummer’s Crack” or something… with exclusively plum products. Until then there’s a whole lot of bubbling and hot sugar going on in our kitchen. We picked the last of our little purple ones last night in the twilight with a family of peevish raccoons looking on. Now I have another full box sitting on the counter and the question is Pie? Cake? Torte? More jam? Freeze them? Or leave them there in a massive pile until a squadron of fruit flies move on in and make it home-base? The best thing I have made is some plum cordial which was exceptionally easy and really delicious in cocktails.

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Speaking of cocktails…  As summer winds down, I am slowly but surely (considering) cutting down on my alcoholic beverage consumption. “What the what?” I hear you cry. Yes, really. The decision is fuelled by health and finances but this week I also read Giving Up Alcohol Opened My Eyes to the Infuriating Truth about Why Women Drink: Kristi Coulter writes about female drinking, feminism and sexism in Enjoli on Medium.  “That’s the summer I realise that everyone around me is tanked. But it also dawns on me that the women are super double tanked — that to be a modern, urbane woman means to be a serious drinker. …I see that booze is the oil in our motors, the thing that keeps us purring when we could be making other kinds of noise.”

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Dreaming

A Guide To Wes Anderson’s Paris:  “Did you know Wes Anderson lives in Paris? When he’s not off making one of his beautifully idiosyncratic films, the director keeps a low profile in his Parisian apartment and office, no doubt decorated as charmingly as his movie sets… I thought I’d take an educated guess as to what a day spent with Wes Anderson in Paris might be like…” . One of my very best friends is in Paris at the moment (oh envious me) and I just sent her this old article from Messy Nessy — lovely stuff. I’m booking my imaginary plane ticket immediately.

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Reading

Not reading, preordering: Former screen writer (including Arrested Development and Mad About You) and all ’round wonderful woman, Maria Semple has a new book Today Shall Be Different coming out and it’s now available for preorder (follow that link to sample the first chapter). I have been waiting for this book ever since I closed the back cover of her last book, Where’d You Go Bernadette.

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Her voice rings clear, funny and true. Its release date is October 4th. And speaking (previously) of Wes Anderson – his brother and illustrator Eric Chase Anderson has created artwork for the book – a 12 page graphic novel. If you preorder now you can register to receive a print signed by the author and artist.

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Living and Breathing:

Teen drama: Our teen kid has just been away at Improv Camp for seven days, on a distant PNW island which required her to travel there and back on two boats with three other equally nervous friends. It feels like a turning point for her as a young adult and us as parents.  What Teens Need Most from their Parents in the WSJ : “The new longitudinal research is changing scientists’ views on the role parents play in helping children navigate a volatile decade.

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Once seen as a time for parents to step back, adolescence is increasingly viewed as an opportunity to stay tuned in and emotionally connected.”  Perhaps we should have held her hand all the way. Uh, no.

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Coveting:

Pretty, practical, perfect: Hobo Wallets – My favourite wallets ever… and secretly, between you and me, I now have two and I’m coveting another. They are beautifully made and come in a rainbow of gorgeous colours. Mmm.

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Available from one of my favourite local haunts; Twang & Pearl.

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That’s it for this week.

 I’ll be back next Friday.

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
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The Small Batch List
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Friday Five Favourites:

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Guest starring: ME
Here’s a new segment. First up, this is my own personal list of favourites, just to set the tone. Next week I will include the list of special guest star (friend)… stay tuned.

1) Roast chicken with gravy and veg on a Sunday night.
My favourite recipe is not dissimilar from this Jamie Oliver method. Boiling the lemon is the key!

2) Shabby old penguin classic copy of The Dud Avocado
I love this book. I recently bought a beautifully designed, re-release hardcover as my old paperback is falling apart. Despite the beauty of the fancy new edition, it is the shabby old one from 1960 that I love the best. “Basically, if you were to set Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady near the Sorbonne, untangle the sentences and add more slapstick, sex and champagne cocktails, you’re getting close.” – Rosecrans Baldwin discusses the book on NPR.

3) Corner of my dining room
Including a weird old 60s print that belonged to my grandmother (artist unknown), our painted cabinet from Tibet, SONOS speaker (which would be on my deserted island list), plants that I haven’t killed yet, wooden percussion instruments / ornaments that belonged to my other grandmother, a paper apple made by one of my kids and a bunch of geese bowls found at Anthropologie years ago.

4) Mixtape from 1990
Made for me by my friend Dom, who opened my eyes and ears to music. This was one of many mixed tapes for which I am forever grateful. I love some of the titles! Metallica? Black Sabbath? Rush??

5) Tiny little seed and the tiny little elephants carved from ivory that live inside
My childhood best friend travelled the world, and brought this back from India for me when I was 9. The seed is about the size of a cherry pip. Those elephants are about the size of a ladybug wing. I remember he brought himself back a medieval-style chainmail glove from Nottingham after he had visited Sherwood Forest. He was the coolest.

October 21 2016

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October 21st, 2016

Every other morning I go for a run on our treadmill. I look out the window into the trees, watch the occasional raccoon squeeze through a gap in the fence, listen to a woodpecker bang on the outside wall, and run like the bloody clappers, on the spot, for 20 minutes. This is so I can be the fittest, hottest hermit on our hilltop. And, oh yes, also to extend my healthy lifespan etc, blah blah blah. But I certainly don’t enjoy it. That would be ridiculous. There are things I do to distract myself from the pain, the mental and physical pain. The best and easiest thing to do is put on a funny podcast and just laugh a lot. I am always at risk of laughing so hard that I might topple to my certain death (I link to one culprit, the great Maria (heart!) Bamford – see below).

Apart from that, I will sometimes work on my stand-up comedy routine. Seriously. I am hilarious on the treadmill. I kill it. I am working on an excellent bit about a twitching thumb. I will, no doubt, tell it one day to a friend on Facebook Messenger. I also come up with great retorts for imagined hecklers. If not imagining myself on stage at Largo in Los Angeles, or if I am feeling slightly pensive, then I work on my 11 minute Ted Talk. It’s about creativity, and the hermit lifestyle, and maybe the health benefits of soup. I have noticed that around the 14 minute mark of my run, as the endorphins kick in, the brilliant ideas just start to fly into my head. This is the point where I compose excellent (but quickly forgotten) tweets, screenplays, emails to make my mum laugh (also quickly forgotten), travel plans to distant places, menu plans for the week and I think I probably even dreamed up this email newsletter one day in August at 14 mins, 1.123 miles. By this point I am untouchable and love everyone, everyone in my life (and probably yours). A keen sense of enthusiastic productivity lingers for about four hours afterwards, so the rewards are high. It’s such a good feeling and I wish the memory of it was enough to get me to feel less reluctant to do it again the day after tomorrow. Okay! Enough said. Here’s the list:

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Looking:

I am such a huge fan of Marlee Grace’s Instagram account, Personal Practice. Every day, for over a year now, Marlee takes a short video snippet of her daily dance practice and posts it to her public Instagram account for a growing audience. It’s a powerful body of work – a document of ritual and commitment. Each video is shot casually yet thoughtfully and with a definite emotional character – always changing in subtleties of body and movement.  It has been so interesting to witness this process. Marlee is also in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to publish a book about her first year of the project. With only a few days to go, you can find it here.

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Listening:

Agnes Obel, live, on the BBC’s 6 Music. Find the stuff around the 22 minute mark and then again at approx. 46 mins. Thanks for the heads-up @lauraglu! She’s the best. (Laura and Agnes). Agnes plays with a full ensemble – looping chellos, keyboards etc. I played her album Aventine over and over a couple of years ago until my studio mate asked me to please stop. (“Oh God, Claire. Please, please, no more”). Obel’s new album Citizen of Glass is out today. Here’s an interesting article about her and the album in The Guardian.

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Watching:

The 100 Years Show : The profile of prolific (and very old) Cuban-born American abstract-minimalist painter, Carmen Herrera, is now streaming on Netflix. Herrera has now reached the age of 101, and only started to find fame and fortune since her “discovery” by the art-world in 2004.  This doco is too short at around 30 minutes to cover such an interesting and full life, but it’s totally worth watching.

Looking it up just now led me to an article from The New York Timesfrom last year: Works in Progress. Find 11 profiles of “a very smallsampling of the female artists now in their 70s, 80s and 90s we should have known about decades ago.”

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Islanding:

I live on a little island. Sometimes it feels remote, but not this remote. These incredible photographs of the world’s most remote populated island make me truly appreciate all the mod-cons we do have, and how quickly we can get to the nearest city if we need to. Tristan da Cunha is a long way from anywhere else. “The islanders went 10 years without contact from the outside world until a ship stopped to inform them that World War I was over. After that, only six more ships passed by within 12 years.”

Speaking of islands, you can see a little snippet of our island in the trailer for this tv show coming out soon: Island Diaries. Our island’s particular episode will feature my editor-at-large. (I keep calling her that, in hopes that she will eventually writes something for me, as promised. But now, with her burgeoning tv career, fat chance).

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While looking through Instagram I found that the work of illustrator Katie Scott is now featured in a beautiful new book by Malachy TallackThe Un-Discovered Islands. “Gathered in this book are two dozen islands once believed to be real but no longer on the map. These are the products of imagination, deception and human error. They are phantoms and fakes: an archipelago of ex-isles and forgotten lands.” That sounds good. I should have put this book in my Covetingsection.

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Coveting:

Some weeks when trying to come up with something I am coveting I think “huh, I really don’t want anything this week. Maybe a hot bath?”. This week I was feeling a little that way, when I remembered I wanted to check out Forage Studios, from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Oh boy – now I want all the stuff. Bright, cheerful ceramics with off-beat decorative illustrations. I love the mugs most of all.

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Delighting:

1) Dinner Party Download Soundtracks: I like the Dinner Party Download podcast very much as the magazine format suits my very short attention span perfectly. Each show includes a “dinner party soundtrack” where a guest (usually musical) presents four songs which they would play at their own particular dinner party and talks about why. I have discovered some great gems listening to these.

2) Guffawing at podcasts: As promised, the most charming and so very funny Maria Bamford (Lady Dynamite) was interviewed on the Nerdist podcast.

3) The Lost Boys soundtrack was once one of my favourites: (I am full of terrible admissions today). The A.V. Club gives us a rundownwith a little bit of history, a little bit of nostalgia and a little bit of sexy sax from the 1980s cult classic. (Both Coreys! Remember?)

4) Deep concentration: Deep work in practice: reimagining my workflow for radically less distractionsounds dry but, seriously, there are some good tips in here for getting the work done in this age of stimulation and distraction.

5) The Illustrated interviews – in the New York Times: These interviews seem to have been running for a while now, but I have never seen them before. I’m so pleased to have stumbled across them. Celebrities from the world of arts and entertainment answer simple questions with their own quick sketch illustrations, animated for our pleasure. Yoko Ono, Andy Samberg, Helmut Lang, Grimes, Richard Branson, Tavi Gevinson and Tim Burton, just to name a few.

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That’s it. Back to reality, until next week.
I have been receiving suggestions for posts from readers and I love it. If you have something you think is worth sharing or reviewing, do let me know.

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line!

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