black and white headshot - initials

My Own Private Idlings

musings of a dangerous mind

An aid for choosing gifts to celebrate the day of one's birth...
7 kitty sins envy
it is now 6 weeks til my birthday, so I thought I would post a new present wishlist, especially given i did not do one for christmas.
I do not expect presents, but i do like them, and of course any present chosen with love and care will be appreciated.
But for those with choice anxiety here is a list of things that make me have grabby hands.

 - Leanne Kitchen's book series: The Butcher, The Baker, The Greengrocer, The Dairy
 - Kitchen Staple books like How to Be a Domestic Goddess and The Cook's Companion or anything by Maggie Beer
 - Knitting wise, I'd like Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn, Glam Knits and Mother-Daughter Knits
 - Spinning wise I'd like Respect the Spindle

 - Star Trek (2009 film)
 - HP + HBP
 - Whip It
 - 500 Days of Summer*
 - Up*
 - Watchmen*
 - Wolverine*
 - TV: Heroes 3. Private Practice 2. HIMYM 4. Friends 4-10. The Mentalist 1.

Crafty Things:
 - Roving. favourite places are Ixchel, Ewe Give me the Knits, Spindlefrog, Spun Out, A Verb for Keeping Warm, Limegreenjelly, Beemiceelf, butterflygirl designs, pear tree,
 - Sock Blockers (from Needle Food)
 - Yarn: handspun, handdyed, rowan, pretty much anything from here...

Pretty Things:
 - Etsy favourites
 - Handmade things
 - Craft market things

 - Ikea gift cards would be very much appreciated as i will be needing to get new things for the apartment once i move in (March 21)
 - pot plants (lemon tree... herbs... low allergen flowers)
 - pictures and photos for hanging on walls
 - hat stand. omg i want a hat stand. a nice old fashioned wooden hat stand *sigh*

ok... so i think that just about covers it. the most wanted things are the sock blockers and the ikea gift cards, but really, I'm just happy with your love and affection :)

* I managed to miss these at the cinema but i'm pretty sure i will enjoy them, so i won't blame you if i don't. lol.

more blogginess
yarn kitty
Just blogged about my favourite thing - YARN!
and travelling - so TWO of my favourite things!
For anyone wondering JUST how much yarn i bought overseas, you can read all about it here
or you can just look at the photos under here...Collapse )

a few london tales
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or: 'the drinking continues...'

Between the warm up in ireland and the marathon in london I have regained my drinking powers! But lets keep me away from the absinthe!

I didn't do heaps of touristy stuff in london, but the thing I did do were awesome!

v and a, high tea, tower of london and general funnessCollapse )


I'm up in edinburgh now, fringing it up, averaging about 3 shows a day. Will tell all closer to leaving time!!

have to dash into fringe show now, so no photos yet, but london photos are here and RADA photos are here
i have photos from the tower on my phone but have not yet devised a way of getting them from said phone to computer!

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ok, so I got slightly distracted in london, but here, at last, is my dublin update!


I arrived in dublin at around 1pm after getting up at 4.30am in paris, to catch a flight via frankfurt.

anyway, I arrived, but as many of you know, my luggage did not. They assured me it would arrive on the next flight at around 6pm, and I breezed my way through customs lol! Tom, my host in dublin was absolutely lovely and came and collected me from the airport. He was not at all what I expected. He was 40ish and I kind of expected this affable irishman... what I got was a guy with a sportscar, a bachelor pad and a bunch of friends who can drink me under the table several times over. He's a professional gambler!

I went into the main city and had a wander around in the late afternoon, got my bearings and all that, before coming back and being taken out drinking.



adventures in pear cider and other dublin talesCollapse )</div>adventures in pear cider and other dublin talesCollapse )


tour de l'europe part deux
knit textures

and so, i finally get on to the tales of prague, berlin and dublin.
i believe when i left you i had arrived in prague and gorged myself on cheese - a rare occurance on bothe counts.
prague... berlin...Collapse )

i had one last day lazing around in paris with laura and lulu and co, doing washing and eating sushi and organising taxis for 4am in order to get to the airport in time before i headed to Dublin on monday the 6th. because i'm flying star alliance and lufthansa is the major european carrier, i had an 8am flight from paris to fricking FRANKFURT, where i transfered to a flight to dublin. completely understandably, whilst i made it to dublin more or less on time, my suitcases did not. mind you it's a good way of getting through customs quickly. after sorting out that the luggage would in fact arrive on the next flight from frankfurt (in the evening) and giving the relevant contact details, i headed out into the arrivals lounge and met tom, my dublin host...

my irish adventures will have to wait, i'm afraid... class tomorrow!
photosesCollapse )

berlin - aaaand for piecesofalice , a lego giraffe

tour de l'Europe...
before sunset
well, here is the long overdue europe post!

i headed out of paris on monday june 22nd, and went to agen via bordeaux to visit smange  and thornae . there was a bit of a hold up in bordeaux... i was frantically looking for the train to agen and i went to ask what platform it might be on, and the man shook his head took my ticket and handed me another ticket - for an hour later. *sigh* so i range Ange, ate some pringles and read the time traveller's wife. I finally got to Agen at around 10, a half an hour late, where bruce and ange met me and took me to see their new place which we toasted with champagne! it's a cute little 2 floor place and will really suit them. then we headed to the 'mansion' where ange cooked hamburgers *nomnomnom* and bruce plied me with leffe ruby. omg that stuff is good (if you don't like 'real' beer lol). We talked late into the night, eating french brie and drinking beer, and then bruce and i swapped avi files until about 4am. oooops. he was a grumpy grump in the morning apparently! bruce and ange saw me off at around midday when i caught another train to Toulouse.
toulouse, venice, vienna...Collapse )

so... i'm going to write a new post for prague, berlin and dublin... need to go eat dinner!
i'm now in london, at the college. i have a phone, so email me if you need the number at all, have regular internet (although i have to be ethernet cable connected ick) and have unpacked all my stuff. i have two days before the course starts so will attempt to get up to date with updates and flickr photos! love you all :)
selected photoses...Collapse )

viva la france
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JC found me absolutely awesome people to board with in Paris – except they weren't there! They were in italy, but after some very awkward phone calls in french I got the address from their sort of house sitter, Laura, who had been told about me, and made it to the most awesome french apartment right in place de clichy. Laura is a 19 year old student, the daughter of more bridge players, who comes to the apartment in summer to stay in paris and feed the cats. She had a few friends staying too, including Lulu who spoke very good english, though the others were all pretty decent. So we had some great conversations in franglais! The cats are adorable – one is a bit mad and very strange, but very affectionate – she slept on my bed most nights. The other is a birman and super gorgeous but a bit aloof.

I went to the musee d'orsay with joanne, one of Laura's friends. Finally. Everyone always ways – what! You didn't go to d'orsay? Well, now I have! It's a lovely museum. The Art Nouveau section is fantastic, lots of furniture and homewares and wall decos as well as tradition art forms. The impressionist section is very impressive, though I find most of it a bit wishy washy emotionally. I like van gogh :) and they have a great selection of monets. I really like the sculptures, though joanne was not so keen on them. We walked past the restaurant. It's just stunning, but too expensive to eat there for anything other than a special occasion, even as a tourist. They also have a decorative arts section with an amazing ball room – so ornate!

I also went to the Dali exhibition at montmartre, something I really wanted to do last time and didn't get a chance to. It's mostly sketches and illustrations, sort of experiments and precursors to his best known works, as well as a lot of biographical material – photos and videos as well as the written information. There were also a lot of sculptures based on wax moulds he made of his favourite images - the melting clocks, the piano with the dancing legs, the elephants from temptation of st anthony... I really loved it :) Afterwards I wandered around montmartre and the sacre coeur which is one of my favourite places in paris, despite it's being completely touristy. The only thing I don't like is the stream of portraitists asking to draw me – usually I don't give in, but I was flattered into it by an italian brazillian who said he wanted to draw me for him and I didn't have to buy it. He also managed to flatter some little kisses out of me. Not sure how he managed that! I started to feel uncomfortable though, which he was quite understanding about, and we parted ways.

My really big excursion was to the palace at versailles. It's so lush and ornate and gorgeous and opulent and rich... the socialist in me thinks it's a testament to the terrible gap between rich and poor, but the rest of me just goes, ooooo pretty!! I went all through the palace, the king and queen's chambers, the dauphine's apartment, the king's mother's rooms and the hall of mirrors. The chapel is very impressive as is the hall of mirrors. All the furniture is so incredibly lush and even the freaking wallpaper is like plush lol! All the rooves are painted with either the same or contrasting designs as the wallpapers, or with beautiful expansive paintings with angels and cherubs and other ridiculous things, all nebulous and ethereal :)

the special exhibit was on the robes of state and fashions of the era. Yay clothes! They had a note that most of the clothes of the french royal family were not preserved, so they showed clothes from the other european royal families, most of which were made in france anyway. There were the big official portraits of the Louis-es in their state dress and sketches of various livery and heraldry. There were also examples of jewellery, fans and other accessories. Pretty! I can't believe how big the panniers were on some of those dresses though. And seriously none of the dresses could have been for a woman taller than 5 foot. Soooo tiny! With itty bitty shoes!

I walked around to marie antoinette's estate at petit trianon – unfortunately I couldn't walk though the gardens because it was the first night of their summer water and lights show. I saw a bit of it through the windows of versailles, but still disappointed. Marie Antoinette's estate is tiny compared to the main palace, but so lovely. It's just that little bit rustic :) there's a music room and her sleeping chambers and a sitting room and two dining rooms, all on a floor that's probably not much bigger than a three bedroom modern home. Quite sedate really for a woman of her stature! Outside are the petit trianon gardens, all lush and green and beautiful with marie antoinette's grotto and the music belvedere and a lake and an orange orchard and the 'temple of love' which is a dome in the gardens. I wandered through the greenery to the queen's hamlet. I'm not sure of the history of the queen's hamlet, but it's totally adorable. These quaint houses that make me think of sort of germanic construction (I guess that's why it's a hamlet?) and I would think are older than the main estate from the architecture. They're tiny little buildings – a house, mill, tower, guard building, reheating kitchen, billiard room, sleeping quarters and a little farm. All surrounding this gorgeous pond with carp and swans and water lillies. Just so peaceful and tranquil. The only bad part were the raspberries and red currents in the kitchen gardens just out of arm's reach. I was STARVING!!

Speaking of food I had all the french delicacies – escargot, frog's legs, confit de canard, tarte tatin, coq au vin (not as good as mine :P) and a few non french things, like the enourmous pile of spaghetti bolognese I made for the girls and the fricking awesome tunisian tuna salad that lulu and her cousin made. Boy was it piquant though!

As you all can probably guess if you didn't already know, I love paris. I really really love it. Except for the yarn stores. I ended up only going to two because the reviews I'd heard about most of them were pretty terrible – except for la droguerie, which means hardware store. This shop is a one stop crafting heaven and it's awesome. I loved it. They don't have a huge yarn range, but they have amazing colours and it's all on cones so you buy the weight you need. I bought some pure linen, a linen bamboo blend and some alpaca. I'm hoping I have enough of the linen bamboo to do a summer tank top. The other store I went to was in montmartre and it was pretty much what i'd expected from what i'd read online about parisian yarn stores. Limited range, a lot of man made fibres and no touching. I mean seriously. What the? No touching? No fondling, sniffing, rubbing and petting? I left within 10 minutes. When it comes to yarn, bring on germany!


photos of franceCollapse )

oh canada...
yarn kitty


adventures in a northern landCollapse )


start spreading the news...
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nyc - this is long!Collapse )

chicago, chicago...
rose (pink)
chicago was lovely.

i didn't do heaps, but i did go to the shedd aquarium and the field museum and to the top of the john hancock observatory - it's about the same height as the empire state in NYC. the view was amazing and it was a very clear day. the information on the audio (narrated by david schwimmer) was great too. did you know the ferris wheel was created by mr ferris in chicago for the world fair in like 1890? it was designed to rival the eiffel tower. the ferris wheel that's now at navy pier is modelled on the original. also, the city was raised by fire in the 1890's (like so many cities) which allowed it to be the skyscraper city it is now. however, it also has strict laws on lakefront developement, so the shores of lake michigan are beautiful!
i was amazed by all the parks in chicago. i walked the many blocks from the top of grant park (millenium park) to the field musuem, through beautiful green parks, and past the buckingham fountain and along the waterfront. and the museum itself is huge! very impressive. i really should have gone back and seen more there, but i did see Sue the T-rex (any other dresden fans out there?) and this truely awesome exhibition on pirates - i totally think they're even cooler now that i understand the politics! similarly i should have allowed more time for the aquarium, but the oceanarium was closed anyway, and i got to see the coral reef dislay which was really really detailed. chicago is a place o'learnin'!
i went to lincoln park which is north of downtown, and went to the free zoo- which given it's free is totally awesome! although this was one of the miserable rainy rainy rainy days :( the weather alternated between gorgeous and miserable. the coolest thing at the zoo was the great ape house where i was literally standing on the otherside of a windowpane from these gorillas and chimpanzees. the gorillas were being totally adorable... snuggling up to each other for snoozes. a mummy gorilla pulled her baby to her for a cuddle and a feed. just heartwarming.
i took in quite a few shows - Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll at the Goodman theatre, Twelfth NIght at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and Broadway in Chicago's Legally Blonde the musical at the Ford Oriental theatre. they were all fantastic! Rock n Roll was the sort of thing that you would get at the state theatre companies in Aus, but with a gazillion more dollars in the budget. Twelfth Night was beautifully done, but i've realised i don't love the play. i do really like the subplot though and that was done with such comic genius. it was really interesting to  watch shakespeare done with an american accent too! Legally Blonde was just SO much fun. i bought the cd, since i actually liked the music, especially the law lecturer's song - Blood in the Water. It was totally enjoyable and very afforable (though i was in the last row lol)
JC in toronto set me up with someone to stay with in downtown chicago - two blocks from the loop. Steve was a fantastic host and he has two adorable dogs - Eli the sheepdog and Paris the Briand, who kept me company when steve was at work in the morning (he left before i woke up!)
Steve could only host me until the end of the week, so i spent the weekend with Ben's (Sajee's friend Sarah's fiance gareth's friend) parents in Glen Ellyn, about 40 minutes out of downtown chicago on the train. Peta and David were so awesome and it was lovely to spend some time with some aussies. mmm vegimite. why do i crave it when i can't have it lol. peta was kind enough to take me to a few yarn stores where i partook in rather expensive stash enhancing exercises... camel and silk, pure silk, silk and wool... *drool*. On sunday we had dinner at a friend of their's place... RIBS! so delicious. omg. and i saw a chipmunk! eeeeeeep so cute. never realised they were soooo teeeeeeny.
so i have now seen a raccoon, squirrels and chipmunks!

on monday i flew to NYC, but more on that later. i will just say that i spent the weekend upstate just north of the catskills with my cousins and had a wonderfully relaxing time (perfect timing too as i had a very mild cold over the weekend and could genuinely rest and recouperate, whilst still having a great time- srsly people s'mores = win)

ok, so photoses...
spring in chicagoCollapse )

stay tuned for more adventures of jen - next edition, new york!

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