Friday Five Favourites

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– – Friends and their five favourite things – –

Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Beci Orpin

Amazing designer, author, illustrator, art director, maker and mama.

Beci can be found on instagram, in her amazing house (I have so much admiration for this space!), and teaching a workshop early next month. Her book, Sunshine Spaces is out in Australia on the 1st of April through Hardie Grant, and in the US 11th April through Chronicle.

 

1. This sweater from Aries Arise.
My fashion obsession has had its flame re-ignited in the past few years. Aries is one of my favourite labels. It’s expensive but their quality is amazing and I’m all about saving for the right purchases, and this sweater is that. It has just the right amount of practicality and ridiculous graphic excellence.

2. Dick Bruna 
Yes because he recently passed, but he was always my numero uno since day dot, and would have made it in my top 5 regardless. I was brought up with lots of great books – the Dick Bruna ones were always my favourite. When I was 5, I wanted to change my name to Miffy, and my obsession hasn’t let up since then.

3. Morning ritual
I didn’t think I had one but on further pondering I do. It involves: a very strong good quality english breakfast tea with just the right amount of milk and sugar (not too much of either); making my bed – something I actually enjoy and have time to do now my kids are somewhat self-sufficient teen/primary school kid; walking my youngest Ari to school (catching pokemon on the way); and finally riding my bike to my studio – it’s not particularly picturesque but we have lived where we do for almost 10 years now and I undoubtedly run into someone along the way and that’s a nice feeling.

4. Lunch Lady Magazine
In a time when I am buying less and less mags, Lunch Lady shone through. Excellent articles and down-to-earth advice on kids and parenting, delicious easy (secretly healthy) recipes, beautiful design and some great contributing artists (like me! ). It’s actually more like a cool book than a mag. Whatever you think it is, it’s great.

5. Jalepeno Margaritas
We started serving these in our restaurant Juanita Peaches and it’s become my preferred Friday knockoff, and often Tuesday knockoff. Sometimes Thursday too.

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Jan Robertson

My Mum! Bread is not on her list these days… but check out the sauce recipe. It’s a doozy.


1) On Sydney Harbour 
One hot evening after a 38 degree day we walked down the steps past Wendy Whiteley’s house and her secret garden to a little jetty on the edge of Lavender Bay. Across the harbour a fog was rolling in from the sea engulfing the city buildings…next to us a group of people were practising their tightrope walking on red straps they had tied over the water around an old wharf structure. That was a perfect evening.

2) Tomato sauce 
In country New South Wales, in Binalong, an hour north of Canberra, Donna gave me her surplus tomatoes from this year’s crop…so I have been in full laboratory mode boiling them up to make sauce/ketchup using my friend Ina’s not-so-secret-anymore recipe. Apparently I have modified her recipe so much that I am not breaching copyright laws by linking to it. Since I use empty whisky bottles [with dregs] to store it, it is very double whammy. Zoe up the hill calls it liquid gold.

3) Mick’s Binalong sausages
The tomato sauce goes extremely well with Mick the Butcher’s famous Binalong sausages. He serves his meat from behind a flywire cage…to keep the blowflies out of his shop…lamb chops are sawn from a lamb carcass from his coldroom…he still has all of his fingers…a very dexterous chap…mince for Bolognese is made from beef scraps on the spot. But it is his fragrantly delicious beef sausages (another secret recipe) that compel people to make the 30km detour off the Hume Highway to seek them out.

4) Socks
The colour in my life is the stash of sock yarns in a box in the sleep-out. A friend gave me the original sock pattern book 45 years ago…I have transposed the pattern onto cards…the original is almost illegible now. The most beautiful multicoloured hand-dyed yarn I have is from Alberta and Nova Scotia…this comes in twisted hanks and if I get impatient winding it into a ball I end up with a fearful mess of wool that looks like roadkill. Sorting out the tangle takes almost as much time as knitting the socks.

5) The Shepherd’s Life
While I knit socks I clamp on headphones and listen to talking books courtesy of the library. One of the best I have heard is The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks. His family have had the same sheep farm in the dales of the Lake District in England for 600 years. They raise Herdwick sheep…a tough breed that climb up into the mountains to eat the hardy vegetation on the heights and are brought down by trained sheepdogs to be shorn. The farmers of the dales are fiercely proud of their sheep…giving them facial grooming for the local sheep shows. This is a totally engrossing and charming book…there is a podcast of Richard Fidler interviewing James at last year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival.

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Jason Donaldson

High school drama teacher, musician, improv coach and mentor.

Most often found at GISPA and Instagram.

Speaking of people who are passionate about their work, I couldn’t have found a better special guest for this week. Jason is my eldest daughter’s drama teacher and improv coach at our high school here. He works with enormous enthusiasm and dedication. We feel very lucky to have him in our kid’s life! Thank you Jason for taking time to tell us your five favourite things.

1) Cornel West
My interests in philosophy and civil rights are ignited in the Black Baptist cadence, rhythm, vocabulary and intellect of Dr. Cornel West. He makes me listen carefully and think critically and then stop and rewind or reread to double check what I just took in. His scenes in the documentary Examined Life continue to be a source of inspiration for me. I may have never called into question my ‘tacit assumptions and unarticulated presuppositions’ without his influence.

2) Kronbauer Guitars
Trevor Kronbauer makes fine, handmade acoustic guitars. Once upon a time, we walked through awkward high school hallways together and then later along the TransCanada highway, stopping for a while under the goose in Wawa. We hitchhiked deep into Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee and made our way across western Europe together. He is a great friend. He makes guitars with love, fine woods and his bare hands in Armstrong, BC. He is currently in Phoenix mode, rebuilding admirably, after a fire tore through his shop. I have two of his instruments: a beautiful parlor guitar, 12 frets to the body with a silver dollar from my birth year inlayed in the headstock and a magnificent, carved top mandolin.

3) Vancouver Asahi / Ebbets Field Flannels
I am cheating here, two in one, bridging my interests in regional history, baseball lore and aesthetically arresting consumerism. EFF makes throwback replica baseball jerseys focussing on negro league, minor league, international and historic jerseys, hats and jackets. If you don’t know the story of the Vancouver Asahi please check out this NFB documentary. They were the best of the best on the Pacific coast, banned from competing due to racism. When Japanese internment saw many of the players and their families imprisoned in the interior, they continued to play ball. Last year I took my sons on a little historic tour, on an evening when their last surviving member was throwing in a first pitch at a Vancouver Canadians game. We stopped at the old Powell Street grounds to see where they used to play. It was a tent city on that day.

4) Philippe Gaulier (master clown, pedagogue, and professor of theatre)
The story of the Bouffon as told to me: The beautiful people lived in France, they were made in God’s image – obviously. The others, the deformed, malnourished and gimpy, were clearly not made in God’s image. They were ostracised (made to live in the swamps). The Bouffon were happy there, singing and playing music and having babies. One night they wondered what the beautiful people were up to and why they never came to visit. So, they clumpled into a lump and writhed their way into town. Nobody was home. All of the beautiful people had gone out to the theatre. The Bouffon snuck in the back and locked all of the entertainers in the change room. As the curtain opened and the beautiful people fanned themselves they were surprised to see the Bouffon, gimbled in a mass, centre stage. The beautiful people pulled their decorative little pistols out of their hand bags and pointed them warily at the clump. The Bouffon, who loved to have fun, encouraged one another to move forward and proceed with the entertaining imitations and songs they had created. Their wounds were on full display and helped the beautiful people to, um, see their own more clearly.

5) Vancouver Island MusicFest
It clearly marks the start of summer. There are few things I like more in the world then assembling with family and friends at MusicFest. There are people that I only get to see this one weekend a year, but we pick up as though no time has passed. My kids have been raised, coming up underfoot onto all of the awesome that is this MusicFest. We play music. We feast. We listen to amazing music from diverse genres and styles. We swim in the river. We laugh and we carve out this annual family tradition of a very special musical community.

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Abby Glassenberg

Inspiring woman! Sewing pattern designer, craft book author, writer, blogger, podcaster and teacher.

Most often found at While She Naps and Craft Industry Alliance.

The week before last I was a guest on Abby’s podcast and she was kind enough to return me the favour and tell me her five favourite things. Thank you so much, Abby, for taking the time out of your incredibly full and busy schedule.

1) Kara Swisher
Kara Swisher is a tech journalist and I admire her so much. She is incredibly knowledgeable about her industry and has built great relationships with all the movers and shakers in Silicon Valley (even though she often writes hard stories about them). I read her articles on Recode and listen to her interview people on her podcast, Recode Decode, and I feel like I’ve learned so much about how to both be tough and be compassionate and not let people get away with spitting out canned answers to questions. Kara says she loves journalism because she gets a thrill out of irritating people and I couldn’t agree more.

2) Chad Dickerson
Chad Dickerson is the CEO of Etsy and under his leadership the company has done some really big things. He took Etsy public in 2015 and expanded seller services to include Pattern (the stand-alone website builder). In April Etsy will be launching a second marketplace, Etsy Studio, just for craft supplies. Etsy is a leader in both the tech and crafts industries when it comes to diversity in hiring, and they are lobbying in Washington on behalf of tiny businesses like mine. Chad leads in a low-key, smart way, confident way and I always get a thrill when he retweets me.

3) The Longform podcast
I didn’t go to journalism school and until recently had no idea what I was doing when researching and writing stories. Then I found the Longform podcast and my eyes were opened to what it takes to really be a writer. I’ve listened to every episode (and there are 232 of them!) and learned what a nut graph is, how to develop relationships with sources, how freelancers scrape together a living, and so much more. This show never fails to motivate me to get out there and find good stories and then sit down at the computer and write them.

4) Couch to 5K
I’m not a natural athlete. I spent gym classes in school sitting in the outfield with my back to the game picking dandelions and knotting them into crowns. I never played a team sport and failed to build an enjoyment in my body’s ability to move around. Four years ago a friend told me about the Couch to 5K app which I downloaded onto my phone on a whim. I completed the program and have been running 3.5 miles four days a week since. I’m addicted to running outside in any weather and I’m grateful to this app for starting me on the journey.

5) Pocket
Like you, Claire, I write a weekly email newsletter. And, like you, I’m also always busy doing other things (I have three kids and two businesses). Pocket is my ticket to getting a newsletter full of interesting, relevant links pulled together every Wednesday. It’s a free app for your phone and a browser extension for your desktop. Whenever you come across a potentially interesting article or video, just send it to Pocket and it will be there waiting for you when you actually have time to sit down (you can even read offline which is great for travel). Pocket recently told me I’m in the top 5% of their user base and I’m not surprised!

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Rob Pingle

Farmer’s Market Co-ordinator, School Board Trustee and one my oldest friends on Salt Spring.

Most often found on Instagram.

 So, Rob is most definitely not undead. He’s alive and well, but here’s my fancy zombie tie-in; Every Friday afternoon, while our kids are in sewing class, we walk with Rob and his dog Chaz on our nearby trail. We call it the Zombie Trail as it’s through the post apocalyptic landscape of a deserted housing development site. As we wander amongst the piles of weed-covered rubble, unearthed concrete septic tanks, and shabby, graffitied worker’s trailers, we solve the problems of the world. It’s true, we could probably pick a prettier trail, as our island is criss-crossed with them. But we have our timing down perfectly to hoof it around the paths, talk fast, and get back in time to meet the girls in an hour. Okay! Tie-in done. Thanks Rob for taking the time!

1) Family
These are the people that keep me alive! (See? Not a zombie – Editor’s note.) Sue was someone I had known for a long time but when she came to visit me in Australia I saw her in a completely different way and fell in love immediately. So many times over the years I’ve looked at her and gotten that same feeling all over again. Plus she is brilliant and does things that I can’t imagine. We are lucky enough to have two amazing daughters. Anything I say about them will sound corny and cliché, but at the same time I love them to pieces. I hope I can be as awesome as they are when I grow up. My family never ceases to amaze me and I thank my parents for preparing me for all this.

2) Outdoors
Living on Salt Spring Island makes it pretty easy to get outdoors and feel like you are really outdoors. That said I also love being outdoors in a city and walking around looking at buildings and where strange things pop up when you least expect them. Having a dog makes it a responsibility for me to get outside on a regular basis so, if you need more of an impetus to get outside, get a dog. You don’t really need a spotless house or hairless clothes.

3) Podcasts
These things are amazing! Information or entertainment in your ears when you want it. Here are some of my favourites. The Truth: I can’t do better than to go with the description on their webpage as movies for your ears. Headphones are a must. Criminal lives up to its name but in a different way each episode. Reply All uncovers the stories of the people behind the strange corners of the internet.

4) Hayao Miyazaki
I first saw a Hayao Miyazaki film at the Victoria Free-B film festival outdoors in Beacon Hill Park. This was the perfect place to be immersed in Miyazaki’s magical worlds. I love that so many of the main characters in his movies are female and that the environment plays a major role as well. A dream trip for me would be to visit the Ghibli Museum where Miyazaki has produced most of his works. I’m also super excited to know he is working on a new film called Boro the Caterpillar!

5) Music
It’s always been a part of my life and one of my biggest regrets is not having taken actual music lessons in middle school because I thought the teacher was gay. How stupid is that!?!?! Idiot teenage boy! Never be one! Anyways until I learn to play the accordion I’ll continue listening to music and sharing it with friends. So now that I feel like we are friends, here’s your fair share. There was a time when I was worried Canadian music wasn’t Canadian and would soon be eaten up by America, then I heard the Rheostatics. I still love to rock out to this song. In the grand scheme of things I might not be the man I am if I didn’t hear Midnight Oil when I did and end up in Australia where I met Sue. I can’t stop without leaving you with something new and fresh! Go listen to John K Samson. If you are disappointed afterwards I might have to reconsider our friendship.

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Carrie Cogan
Writer, cartoonist and my hilarious friend.
Most often found at Dented Stars and as of like yesterday, also on Instagram

I can’t quite remember how I first met Carrie, but it was most likely in the school yard, or at the swimming pool. She felt like someone I have always known. About a year ago we started sharing coffee, croissants, deep thoughts and laughs on a regular basis. She is a brilliant and talented writer. I am so pleased she has started blogging – and her cartoons make me laugh. She is working on a novel which I know is going to blow our socks off. Thanks for taking the time Carrie. xox


1. Champion Juicer  

I got this years ago for 60 dollars off our island’s exchange (buy and sell), in a swoop of good luck. I will avoid vacuuming or drying my hands at those washroom air-dry machines on account of the Loud Machine factor, but the Champion purrs reassuringly. My sons eat many vegetables via our Champion-made “healthy juice” (as they call it), and in the summertime it gives us soft serve ice cream when we feed it frozen bananas and berries. If you’ve seen me walking around with a faint orange rim around my mouth it isn’t because of a bad lipstick choice and bad application thereof. It is because I have just gulped down my favourite carrot-celery-cucumber-ginger-lemon juice on my way out the door. The colour orange always wins! Unless you add beets, then beet-red wins. Sometimes I pet my Champion when no one is looking.

2. Alice Munro’s Stories  
I recently read (and re-read) 40 Alice Munro stories in quick succession, in a sort of frenzy. I don’t know how to describe what happened, really, except to say that each story seemed to knock a hole in me that only another Alice Munro story could fill. Luckily our island library has 14 of her books for loan. When I tried to read anything else during this time, it seemed at once brash and numb. It told me too much. In addition to what she leaves out, I admire the way her stories travel seamlessly through time, and in doing so make time a less important, more slippery thing. Also, the stories have only gotten better as I age, for the lessons one might glean from them seem dearer: something about how to carry regret, to suspect that everyone has buried layers, to know that the characters in our lives we leave (or who leave) stay with us. Another magical bonus is that by having now lived in British Columbia for a decade (was I unknowingly led here by reading Munro?) I have found myself right inside some of the settings in the stories. Such as this one in “What is Remembered”:
“She arrived at Horseshoe Bay at almost the very last moment, and walked onto the ferry. The last days of May are among the longest of the year and, in spite of the ferry-dock lights and the lights of the cars streaming into the belly of the boat, she could see some glow in the western sky and, against it, the black mound of an island—not Bowen but one whose name she did not know—tidy as a pudding set in the mouth of the bay.”
— From the book Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage.

3. Alphabet Peg Set  
I use this tons, on envelopes, drawings and even to press out an entire little book. The letters lend an air of formality to my otherwise-scribbly style—kind of like putting a Christmas ornament on a tumbleweed, I guess.  Sometimes when I take the pegs in my hand, the letters on them appear brand new and strange to me, and I forget how to spell. Writers (I admit I’m one) are always focusing on sentences and paragraphs, on pages and chapters.  So it feels fresh and reviving to zoom in on the little bricks that make those all possible—the alphabet letters.

4. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “Breathless” Video 
I am including this as a favourite thing because it contains many things I would normally loathe:  off-key flutes, cartoon animals with button eyes, and saccharin lyrics. Nick Cave makes them all cool. How can someone appear to be at once so serious and so loose? How does one acquire eyebrows like perfect illustrations of eyebrows? Before I go out dancing I will sometimes watch this and pretend that, later, I’m going to be standing right where his microphone is. And then I always look better than I would.

5. Running with Fergus in the Forest   
I used to train for marathons, on pavement. Then I got a dog and started running as a we. We run without words or watches, in the forest, up and around a mountain, or even two. Fergus makes many long detours and runs probably triple what I do, and his stump-of-tail wags full force the whole time (does that count as extra cardio?). Just by watching him I’m reminded how fun it is to move. After our runs his fur is full of sticks and leaves and dirt and creek water and sap, so that even when sequestered at a desk I’m never fully trapped inside, as long as he is by me.

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Chris Baty

Author, UX writer, instructor at Stanford University’s Writer’s Studio and founder of the amazing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
Most often found at ChrisBaty.com, on Twitter and lurking around NaNoWriMo.org

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (Australia) I wrote a novel. In a month. It was terrible, and it shall never, ever see the light of day, but I wrote it. 50,000 words. This was wholly thanks to NaNoWriMo, a scheme that encourages writers and wannabe writers around the world to take time out in the month of November to write the first draft of a novel. It’s a kind of bootcamp and I have done it a couple of times since. Chris was the mastermind behind the scheme. It went from being something that he and 21 friends did together to a participating force of 300,000+ world wide. I am so buzzed to have Chris be the Small Batch List guest this week. Thanks for taking the time, Chris!

1) Trees in Paradise
This is a history of California, told through four kinds of trees—redwoods, eucalypts, orange trees, and palm trees. If you just fell asleep reading that last sentence, I totally understand. But this book totally sucked me in. Did you know, for instance, that one of the reasons California is covered in eucalyptus trees is because doctors in the 1870s claimed blue gums prevented malaria? Or that one of the reasons that fire destroyed so much of San Francisco after the 1906 quake was because people wrongly thought the redwood used in most of the city’s buildings was fire-resistant? These factoids AND SO MUCH MORE await you in this fine book.

2) My Blue Sunglasses
I was walking to work a couple months ago when I passed a guy promoting a new start-up by giving away sunglasses. I’d lost my sunglasses on BART the week before, so I grabbed a pair. My personal style can best be described as “tidy invisibility,” so there was something oddly exciting about sporting loud, candy-colored specs with a webinar company’s logo on the side. I’ve worn them every day since, and they bring a little bit of goofy summer to the rainy winter we’ve been having.

3) Atlanta
I love the way this tale of a struggling rapper and his even-more-struggling manager mixes absurdity and sincerity. If Jim Jarmusch and Outkast had a baby, it would be Atlanta.

4) My Powell’s Books mug
My wife and I went to Portland, and we made a pilgrimage to Powell’s Books. I got so overwhelmed by the majesty of the selection that I didn’t buy a single book. But I did get this great mug, and it’s become my mono-vessel. Can you really use the same mug for everything you drink? Yes, it turns out you can.

5) Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist 
You probably already know about this playlist—Spotify updates it with 30 new songs every week based on things you like. I’m not sure what genius robot DJs are working behind the scenes to tune the algorithm, but it’s almost too good. The playlist has introduced me to countless new songwriters I love (hello Frankie Cosmos and Stephen Steinbrink) AND old stuff that I’d completely missed (like Funkadelic’s “Biological Speculation” and Joan Armatrading’s “Woncha Come on Home”).

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Amelia McCluskey

Student by day, epic sleeper by night. 14. Hilarious. My kid.
Most often found at school or looking at YouTube in her room.

Amelia took a little time out of exam week to write this for me. Like a true millennial, she sat next to me on the couch and composed the whole thing on her phone. Thank you, Amelia. You are one of the sweetest human beings and an absolute gem.

1) Frankie Magazine
I discovered Frankie Magazine on a sewing summer camp 6 months ago. Every day at lunch time, after we had spent several hours hunched over sewing machines, making clothes and sweating like the Dickens, the camp leader took us into the woods where she lay down on a picnic blanket and fell asleep for 45 minutes. She brought a cloth bag with her full of magazines for us to look at while we waited for her to wake up, and in this bag I found three issues of Frankie Magazine. An Australian publication full of photography, fashion, pictures of things you didn’t know you wanted and fantastic articles by fantastic writers, Frankie comes out with six issues a year, and it is always chock-full of excellent stuff. On the days when I come home from school and see that sealed plastic bag with my name on it and a thick, beautiful issue inside, I am forced to spend hours not doing my homework. I flip through the pages and jot down names of ceramic artists and shoe-makers so I can look through their etsys and drool later, hoping that one day Mum will give me a little more allowance so I can afford those robins-egg blue clogs.

2) Improv 
I saw my first improv show when I was in Grade Four. One of my friends was having a birthday party and had chosen to take us to see the high-school improv team perform in the evening. I don’t think I even understood what improvisation was at the time. I mean, at that point I was still telling my best joke, over and over again. (“Why are pirates scary?” “Because they ARGGGGH!”) Onstage, the kids performed a scene where they were all a giant stapler. I was totally awestruck. The idea that they were working cohesively as a group to create a completely made-up scene on the spot astonished me.

Now that I’m in my first year at the high-school, I actually get to be on the team, rather than just seeing some of the members in the grocery store and wishing I had the courage to ask them for an autograph. It’s so much fun. Soon my team will be going to compete against the other schools in the region and, maybe one day, we too will make a giant stapler.

3) My Ukulele
I’ve recently discovered how much I like writing my own songs, and my ukulele is the perfect instrument to sing them to. (I call her Stephanie. She has been known to steal boys’ hearts and make grown men cry.)

I love the Ukulele for how small and easily transportable it is, and for how easy it is to pick up. For beginners, the only notes you need to know are C, G, Am and F, and you will instantly be able to play pretty much any song. (Riptide, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Little Talks, the list goes on.)

Stephanie will always hold a special place in my heart, although secretly I’m saving up for this babe (she’s electric).

4) Watching TV With the Fam
My constant running commentary through pretty much any show that I watch is incredibly entertaining. (Mum and Dad might disagree.)

Even when I’m home alone, I won’t hesitate to make clever observations and tell tangential stories, only to realise there’s no one sitting beside me on the couch. (Even so, that doesn’t stop me.) Recently I have been loving Mozart in the Jungle, Please Like Me, Gilmore Girls, West World, The Crown and A Series of Unfortunate Events.

5) BØRNSDopamine 
Dreamy, talented and a little bit full of himself (for good reason though!) singer and occasional ukulele player Garret Borns’ album Dopamine (on Spotify and on iTunes) was probably my favourite of 2016. The songs Electric Love10,000 Emerald Pools and Fool are all must-listens, but first check out Seeing Stars which isn’t on this album but is a song that makes Mum and me clutch our hearts and sigh every time it comes on in the car.

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Laura Gluhanich

Community Manager, Rock Climber, Owner of a small, cute dog and the person I steal all my good music suggestions from.
Most often found at A Song A Day, Twitter and GluFactory

I have never actually met Laura, she is my internet-imaginary friend and I have been keenly following her ideas and suggestions for years. I feel when we actually meet one day (you never know!) we will get along like a house on fire. I couldn’t resist asking her what her Friday Five Favourites are because I knew they would be excellent. Thanks Laura!

1) A Woman to Know Tinyletter by Julia Carpenter: 
AWtK is my favorite daily newsletter (as opposed to weekly, ahem). It is so affirming to start each day reading about the fascinating women history overlooks. The cadence of one per day is just right, and Carpenter’s commitment to showcasing diverse perspectives is refreshing.

2) Silent Book Club:
#Humblebrag – I am a cofounder of SBC. Even so, it is a favorite online online community and IRL meet up, filled with readers of all ages and backgrounds across various social channels and cities around the world. I can’t wait to see where it goes in 2017.

3) Elaine Page singing Nobody’s Side:
It seems like a good time to brush up on US/Russia history, and what better way than through musical theatre? Elaine is such a powerful performer, she leads the entire orchestra and outshines the forgettable 80s video recording to boot. I love this performance and come back to it regularly. In fact, I just included it in my Stronger Together playlist, highlighting strong, female-led songs.

4) Cards by Hailey
My favourites of these keep changing. I want all of these delightful, punny cards.

5) Franny & Zooey by JD Salinger: 
I read this book at least once a year, and have gifted it numerous times to friends and family. I love the humor, the characters, and ultimately, the optimism that pervades, despite covering Big Subjects.
Incidentally, it’s clear that Wes Anderson would not exist as the filmmaker he is if not for Salinger, and specifically, Franny & Zooey.

Thank you so much Laura!

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Alex T. Smith

Author, Illustrator and owner of many small dogs (and a brand new house!)
Most often found at alextsmith.com, Twitter and Instagram

Alex is the talented force behind the Claude books which, excitingly, will be coming to TV next year. I’m so stoked he agreed to give us his five favourite things.

I’m so excited to have been asked by Claire to be a part of her newsletter. I’m such a big fan of Claire’s work and have been a keen follower of her blog for years. This is a real thrill, even though narrowing my favourite things down to just five was really tricky!

1. LORE Podcast.
http://www.lorepodcast.com/about
I found LORE when I was looking for new things to listen to while I’m head-down at my drawing desk, and what an excellent discovery they are. Brilliantly written and produced by writer/presenter Aaron Mahnke. Each episode (released weekly) delves into a strange and mysterious non-fiction series from around the world, and touches on folklore, history and the darker side of human nature. It’s fascinating and a touch on the scary side, and Aaron’s delivery is pitched perfectly. The show has been described as a “campfire experience” which I agree with. It’s like listening to a friend telling a ghost story on a dark and stormy night.

(Excitingly, Lore is making the move to TV in the new year! It’s been picked up for a 10 episode run and is being made with the producer of The Walking Dead and the show runner is the X-Files writer/ producer Glen Morgan. I can’t wait!)

2. My Vintage Norwegian cardigan.
I picked up this handknitted cardigan from a vintage shop when I lived in the north of England a few years back. It was constantly FREEZING ( one winter it snowed so much my chihuahuas completely disappeared when they went out into the garden!) and my then studio was like an icebox. This jumper was a life-saver – so warm and cosy, and I love the fair-isle style pattern. I do have a bit of a thing for vintage/ patterned knitwear, but this is still my absolute favourite.

3. The Swing by Jean-Honore Fragonard.
After a lot of thinking about it, I’ve decided that yes, this my favourite ever painting. I’ve always been fascinated by it and can remember spending ages pouring over it in an art book I had when I was younger. It’s got a really interesting story behind it (bit saucy too!), but besides all that, it’s just a really lovely, narrative painting to look at. I love the pink dress against the greens in the background, the beautiful outfit she’s wearing and the frivolity of both the swing itself (so fancy with its crimson velvet cushion!) and her shoe flying off and through the air (is it going to clock that man in the face?!)
In recent years, the painting has popped up in some lovely and unexpected places. It inspired the look and stylings for Disney’s TANGLED and a copy of the painting pops up in the background of FROZEN.

4. My leopard print Vans and my bright pink socks.
I took this picture of my shoes the other day and the combination of the colours and pattern makes me really happy and cheers me up on grey days! What’s not to love about a spotty shoe and a fiery pink sock?! I love the combination so much I’m about to give an old chest of drawers in my house a much-needed, neon-pink make-over and am on the hunt for something suitably leopard print-y to perch on the top. If all else fails I might just pop these battered old shoes on display…!

5. Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
This is hands down my favourite book I’ve read all year. I read it in the spring, but still find my mind drifting back to both the story and the characters. Set in WW2, it follows the odd couple story of two strangers thrown together during the war.  One is ten year old Noel. He’s an odd little chap who has no family and has, until recently, been living with an elderly, wonderfully eccentric aunt. When he is forced to be evacuated out of London, he ends up living with Vera (Vee) Sedge, a thirty-something single mother who is drowning in debts and is constantly looking for ways to scam money she desperately needs. She’s completely useless at it on her own, but when Noel becomes involved, they become a team. However, unexploded bombs aren’t the only dangerous things in wartime Britain, and soon Noel and See find themselves in danger.
It’s a brilliant, eccentric, funny and moving book. Excellently written with a Mitford-esque style and full of wonderful characters and details. A real gem!

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring David Corbet
Dancer and Doctor
Most often found at Davidcorbet.com and Twitter.

I first met David when standing on the beer-soaked carpet of the Empress Hotel in Nicholson Street, Fitzroy just after his 90s band, Cuddlefish, had played a set. We later worked together on music reviews and laughs at Melbourne University’s student magazine and have kept in contact over the years. I’m sad to say that I have only seen him dance once in all this time but that’s on my wishlist for the future. Maybe a Canadian tour is in order? Thanks David:

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I feel like I might have done a little bit of arm twisting to get onto Claire’s Newsletter, but nonetheless here’s a short list of some favourites.

1. I have no idea who Dave King is other than he’s a drummer with an “instructional series” on YouTube that features “tips, tricks, inspiration, and industry secrets”, the first episode I watched had me in tears. Part sociocultural philosphical lecture, part stream of consciousness, part drumming – what’s not to like?

2. I’ve never really liked OKGO’s music that much but I have always admired their videos – that combination of science, maths, primary colours, and clever ideas never fails to make me smile and provides an element of wonder. And somehow they keep managing to make them more and more interesting. I thought the use of zero gravity was a bit of a pinnacle, but they’ve just released a new one using high frame rate shooting to capture almost the entire 4 minute clip in 4 seconds. Impressive. For something from a completely different realm, but no less impressive, The Avalanches and Soda_Jerk have made this sample based bit of art – The Was – and a good read on it is available too.

3. The ocean. My work can be pretty stressful at times, and I’ve struggled with finding a bit of balance in the last few years. But there is nothing that makes me feel better than spending some time in the ocean. The water where we live is still a bit cool, but going for a bodysurf regularly helps keep me sane. Being in the swell and surge of the ocean and catching waves always gives me some perspective on my worries and the world. If you haven’t seen Come Hell or High Water it is a beautifully shot documentary about bodysurfing that explains something about what it’s like to be in the water.

4. One of my favourite things in medicine at the moment is the new Hepatitis C treatments (well, actually not that new, but the Australian Government has only made it available on the PBS from March this year – which subsidises the cost, making it accessible). It’s a form of Direct Acting Antiviral therapy that has an excellent cure rate and a low side effect profile. This has changed the face of Hep C treatment. It used to be that Hep C treatment could only be undertaken by Hepatologists or GPs who had done further training, but now it’s available for prescription directly from your GP – again, what’s not to like? More people have been treated in the months since March than in the last few years.

5. Kicking the footy. I grew up not liking Australian Rules Football. I was a fairly nerdy kid and did like sport but found AFL too rough. So I never really followed it until my son started getting into AusKick (and my daughter does now too). After a few years I became quite obsessed with footy. It’s an amazingly fast game that requires elite level running, precision hand/eye/foot control, agility, poise and strength. And working as a team. I really don’t think there’s anything else quite like it. The AFL is launching it’s first national women’s league next year, which is great for the game. My son has become a pretty good footballer and won a best and fairest award last year – that’s him in the picture. Anyway, come and have a kick sometime. It’s fun. https://www.instagram.com/p/7chisNN940/

6. I know it’s meant to be five but I also wanted to mention my dad. And my mum. Dad has had a torrid time in the last 18 months or so – being diagnosed with bowel cancer, having major surgery and being extremely unwell, recovering, feeling well, traveling the world, and more recently, sadly, having a recurrence of his cancer. After finally recovering from the surgery last year I wanted to do something special for them – and somehow through the interwebs I stumbled on Orly Faya. She paints people into the landscape. I love my parents dearly, and it is so so painful to live with knowing that my dad will die due to this cancer in the not too distant future. At the same time, I feel so lucky to be able to spend time with him and have such joy about his life and what we still have to share. So this sixth favourite thing is simply life, and what it so often unexpectedly brings… to challenge us, to inspire us, to move us, and to constantly change us if we can be open to it.

Thanks Claire for a chance to share my favourites.

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Five Friday Favourites- guest-starring Daniel Bogan

Web nerd and lazy illustrator wannabe (and yes that’s really my last name).
Most often found on Twitter and at The SetUp.

Thank you to Daniel for taking some time out of his busy life to write this up for me!

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1. The Apple Pencil
It’s the closest digital thing I’ve found to drawing with a pen on paper – every time I pick it up it continues blows my mind (at least until I have to charge it, anyhow).

2. A Fortunate Life, by Albert Facey
The fascinating autobiography of an Australian living through some amazing hardships shortly before World War I, we were forced to read this in high school and so of course I resented it, until I discovered my probably-accidentally-not-returned-school-library copy a few years later and re-read it. I want to come back to this one every decade or so.

3. Café coffee
You could save a few bucks and make it at home, but I love befriending the people at the local café – that little buzz from becoming a regular, people knowing your drink, knowing the people that make your drink, being a small part of a community.

4. Angry women singing
The first concert I ever attended was Babes in Toyland at The Metro in Sydney, and that was it for me. Hole, Bikini Kill, L7, and all of their friends, screaming into my ears forever, loudly.

5. Being a dad
Finally, someone my own mental age! It’s the best.

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald

Boss lady, repair enthusiast, maker and remaker of fun things
Most often found on Instagram and at The Daily Fix.

I first met Erin in an elevator in the Melbourne University Student Union building in 1997. If you remember that elevator you will know that friendships were made within because it was always a life-and-death situation. There was always a chance the doors would never open again. Plus it took so long to get up just one floor that conversation was a total necessity. Anyway, she told me she liked my hair, so I knew I had a friend for life. I am pleased she agreed to come along and share some of her favourite things, because she always finds the best stuff.

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1) OK Go’s music videos
OK Go’s music videos make me cry happy tears because they’re so good, and because so much joy, creativity and planning goes into making them. Whenever they release a new video it feels like Christmas. If you’re new to OK Go, start with Here It Goes Again, aka the treadmill video, which propelled them on their crazy creative path 10 years ago. Most people don’t remember their song titles – their newest, most ambitious video will be known in future as ‘the one filmed in 4.2 seconds‘ — but the videos are pretty unforgettable. My favourite is the one with choreographed umbrellas, filmed with a drone, but I also love the one in zero gravity, the one with dogs and Ikea furniture, the one filmed through a glass floor, the 18-hour time-lapse one and the optical-illusion one! If you have kids you can watch all the videos together, then watch the making-of videos that go with them.

2) Olympia
Melbourne artist Olivia Bartley, aka Olympia, is my favourite music discovery of 2016. I saw her play twice at a music festival in Tasmania – the first a rocking set where she shredded on the big stage, and the second an intimate late-night set, outdoors in the forest, under the stars. It was one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. Her debut album Self Talk is consistently good from start to finish –  Smoke Signals is the super-catchy single, but my favourites are piano ballad Biscuits and Self Talk, a song about Lawnchair Larry and the stories we tell ourselves. She is funny, too, and often posts weird animated videos like this and this on social media. She is destined for superstardom.

3) Visible mending
Visible, colourful, fun repairs are now a thing, which is great news for those without the time and/or talent to mend things perfectly. It’s hard to say which I like more – visibly mending something or scrolling through #visiblemending on Instagram (it’s my happy place). We also feature visible-mending projects on my site The Daily Fix, over here, if you want to have a go yourself. (Warning: it’s addictive!)

4) Magic letterbox
Leah Harcourt sells letterboxes with space at the front for creating dioramas. Since we got a magic letterbox, neighbours and strangers have been stopping by more often and we just got our first fan mail. Eee! It’s so much fun. You can see what all the magic letterboxes are up to here (the T-Rex playing the piano is particularly good).

5) My Son, The Prince of Fashion
This article, by Michael Chabon for GQ, is the best thing I have read in ages – a tale of self-discovery and of a father discovering what makes his 13-year-old son tick. I love a well-crafted story ending and this one is magnificent! I am still thinking about it weeks later. {runs off to reread it now}

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Guest Starring: Paul Lloyd
independent designer, writer and speaker

Most often found: Paul Robert Lloyd
November 25th, 2016

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:

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 where 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.

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Guest-starring Pip Lincolne
Writer, Crafter, Blogger
Most often found: Meet Me At Mikes
18th November, 2016

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!

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Guest starring: ME
11th November, 2016

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.