Day at the seaside

This past weekend, my husband and I went to Hastings, which is on the south coast of England. It was my first time there and I was pleasantly surprised. We walked along the boardwalk, had fish & chips on the beach for lunch, and went to the fishing and shipwreck museums, both of which are tiny. Of course, we took lots of photos with our DSLRs. Here are some of mine:

Unfortunately we didn’t see any dolphins.

This photo sums up British summer for me – overcast and cool, but people are determined to eat outside under a fake grass umbrella!

Haha. ♥

handmade developed film

Over the past couple of months, Daniel and I were taking photos around London with a lomo camera + Ilford 35mm black and white film. When it was time to develop the film, we used our connections through our friend Melanie K, and were able to use the Lux Darkroom where I got a private tutorial and I developed the film all on my own! I’m happy to say every photo turned out, but I’m only sharing a handful of them here. As you can see, the results are a bit dirty (literally) but I like the graininess and the imperfections. In the world of digital and instagram (and I confess I love instagram – my username is blackbootsandblackhearts), it’s refreshing to put a lot of work into the photographic process. It makes the end results that much more exciting.


Hampstead Heath

Celebrating the arrival of warmer weather in London, last Sunday we went to Hampstead Heath and it seemed like everyone was out. It was a beautiful day. ♥

Lee Miller‘s house.

Followed by a stop at High Tea of Highgate…Their vanilla rooibos tea is amazing.


UCL Museums

One great thing about a city like London is that you can live here for years and still find new discoveries. The other day I made two, which are both museums on the University College of London (UCL) campus – The Grant Museum of Zoology and the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archeology.

Ten years ago I would’ve hated the Grant Museum, as looking at dissected animals would be the last thing I would find interesting, but now I find it fascinating. I also thought it was cool that there were people freely sketching the animals everywhere in their notebooks. When I got home my friend Mel told me that the (literal) Glass Jar of Moles in the Grant Museum have their own twitter! So I am following them now, of course.

Apologies for the reflections – it was a very sunny day.

monkey skeleton, (literally) hanging around

Then I discovered that there was another UCL museum around the corner, all about Ancient Egypt! Those who know me know that I love Ancient Egypt and when I was a kid I wanted to be an archeologist. So it didn’t take much to find Petrie Museum which “houses an estimated 80,000 objects, making it one of the greatest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology in the world” (Petrie Museum website). HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS PLACE? Doesn’t matter, I know it exists now.

Walking on Gower Street between the two museums….

The Petrie Museum…

Hedgehog artifacts, which made me think of my friend Maria, as we both love hedgehogs. <3

So if you ever find yourself in London and have a love for Zoology, Ancient Egypt, or both, definitely worth a visit to these places. Apparently there is also a UCL Art Museum but I guess I’m saving that for another day. xoxo

Holga photos: April – July 2013

I finally developed some film that was in my holga cat camera. The photos span from April to July of last year, and feature photos from London, Vienna, Prague, Reykjavik and Mankato, Minnesota.

Hope you enjoy them, and I will try my best to take more film photos, and develop them sooner, this year.


Homemade gifts pt. 2

In my last post I wrote about some gifts that I made this Christmas. Now this post is about some homemade gifts I received whether it was made by the person themselves or made by someone else. I have to say I have gotten some great gifts so far and I’m not even done with Christmas yet as I have another one this weekend!

First of all, I received this owl cross-stitch from Ingrid who hosted the Yuletide swap at her blog Let Me See The Colts. I personally haven’t cross-stitched since I’ve been a kid, and this piece is inspiring. I have a ladybug/ladybird cross-stitch pattern that I won from a Shoreditch Sisters’ giveaway that’s waiting to be made…

Then I got a teacup necklace from Melanie K. I think I now have 5 necklaces made by her!

I got a Russian Doll broach from my friend Jo. She bought it on an etsy site, but I don’t know which one.

One of my colleagues’ 9 year old daughter was in our office last week as she was already on school holidays. To allievate boredom, she made these little boxes out of spare origami paper we had around the office, and put a paper crane inside, and drew the peace sign inside the box. So creative.

From Daniel, I got a little bird bowl from another etsy site!

And now that I know that Tatty Devine necklaces are handmade in London and Kent, I’ll throw this one in here as well. This is the Rabbit Sky Lab necklace I wanted! Also from Daniel:

Hope you all are having a good festive season….xoxoxo

Autumn at Kew!

Kew Gardens is one of the most beautiful places in London. Daniel and I are members, so for a fee, we can go as many times as we want all year! We went there this past Sunday and the autumn colours were out in full force. I also enjoyed the giant mushroom sculptures that are currently on display, and the Marianne North gallery. She created over 800 paintings in 14 years and they’re all in this one gallery. Daniel asked me if I could paint that many in 14 years. Maybe. Only if that was my day job, though!

Anyway, here are a few snapshots from the day..

Daniel, by me

Me, by Daniel

Marianne North Gallery

People’s plant memories…

This peacock just posed for our cameras.

Hope this weekend treats you all well…xoxox

The November Care Parcel Swap

About a month ago I signed up for Oh Comely magazine‘s November care parcel swap. I was paired up with a girl in the Midlands, and I got her tea, sweets, a couple gifts from Copenhagen and made her a watercolour painting (see my last post). We sent our boxes off to each other yesterday, and I got my box from her today! Well, she wins an A+ on presentation. I was blown away on the aesthetics of my care parcel, and was really touched she put in the time and effort.

It was a little bit like Christmas when I got home from work tonight:

I already had some of the hot chocolate tonight in my favourite mug. x

How did this girl know that I really love chai, cinnamon and mulled wine? I’m so pleased.

If you are interested in doing a swap like this, I’m pretty sure Oh Comely will do this again next year. For this year, look around, you still may come across one for the holiday season. xoxo

The Tour of Oscar Wilde

Yesterday I met up with a friend visiting from Australia and we decided to do the Oscar Wilde walking tour of London. I used to be a huge Wilde fan and my Aussie friend is also no stranger to his works. My only compliant about the tour was it was too long – 2 1/2 hours. It could’ve been an hour shorter and still give all the information about Wilde that one can remember. However, the tour was also interesting as I learned more about Wilde than I ever knew before.

Our jolly tour guide in action

The tour opened with the little known fact that women were more attracted to Wilde’s company than men! The tour guide joked that while he’s doing this tour for 20 years, never once has he had more men in the group than women. So even in death, women are more partial to Wilde.

One thing I learned about Wilde is that he was more of an excessive spender than I thought! He managed to spend over £5,000 at the Cafe Royal during his life. £5,000 may sound like a reasonable amount to spend over a lifetime at your favourite place, but this was the late 1800s. The average working class person made £2 a week. The most expensive gourmet meal for two was under £4.

One of the former hotels where Wilde stayed. One of the few where the original building is still there.

Elaborating on Wilde’s excessiveness, we visited Fox of St. James, a tobacco shop founded in 1757. Wilde bought the finest Turkish tobacco from there for his cigarettes, which were gold-tipped and had “Oscar” inscribed on the side. He smoked about 80-100 of these per day. With this habit, on top of all his excessiveness of living in posh hotels and holidays to Monte Carlo, it’s easy to see that Wilde spent more than he earned.

Wilde artifacts on display at Fox of St. James

Another thing I learned is that Wilde dying in Paris of syphilis is a myth. He actually died of an inner ear infection, after he fell on the floor in Paris and bacteria got into his ear. The syphilis rumour started as Wilde hated his teeth so he always talked with his hand in front of his mouth. The only treatment for syphilis in Victorian times was a shot of mercury which turned your teeth black. So people assumed Wilde had awful black teeth and therefore he must have syphilis. Also some thought his appetite for young men was a “crazy period” which also must be caused by syphilis. Again, completely wrong. He just liked young men!

The Royal Arcade. This place held the florist where Wilde bought many dozens of green carnations for his lapel. The green carnation became the symbol for queer men to recognise each other in Victorian times.

Overall, the tour was informative, as you can imagine. If you are really into Wilde, it’s a nice few hours out. However, by the end I was so hungry and tired, when we got to our afternoon tea at Drink, Shop & Do, I was really, really glad to be warm and indoors.

Paint like you’re a kid again

Art and a book made by one of my godchildren.

Last night at my painting class I was getting pretty frustrated over my final project, which won’t be finished for a couple weeks. For some reason I found it easier to paint what I wanted in previous classes but now that the pressure is on, I wasn’t happy at all.

Well, it turns out, I may be making a friend in the class. We go on our tea breaks together and she’s very nice. I had her laughing when I said “I hate painting noses!”. She understood. She also told me to forget the pressure, and to paint like you’re a kid again. She made some really great points about how it’s unfair how artists put pressure on themselves to create something great from the first brushstroke, and that instead you should be having fun. Remember what it is like to be a kid, and approach art this way. Also keep in mind that your painting is going to be ugly before it even appproaches beautiful, and even your favourite artists have not always produced great work. Also, by the way, what is considered great? Great art is in the eye of the beholder.

So after our tea, we went back upstairs and I painted like I didn’t care…and guess what? The frustration went away and I was back on track with my project. So, whatever you do, whether it’s painting, photography, scrapbooking, etc… Remember: don’t take it so seriously! Just have fun.