Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Link Love: Some Inspiring Things Around the Web #1

A few things that have made me smile this month.
Hot Cross Bun Easter Inspirations from Around the Web: With Easter right around the corner, this mini master-post of delicious Hot Cross Bun Recipes will surely come in handy.
9 Beautifully Quirky Foreign Words That We're Jealous We Can't Say In English: I always love coming across foreign words and phrases which have no English equivalent. I can relate to the above especially...

The Art of Authenticity: A Conversation with PostSecret's Frank Warren: Over the years, I've frequented the PostSecret website on and off, and I am always amazed by the project. It's heartwarming to know that there is still an appreciation and recognised need for the art of hand written letters and snail mail.
The Postcards that Picasso Illustrated and Sent to Jean Cocteau, Apollinaire and Gertrude Stein: Speaking of snail mail, you can't help but wish you could receive postcards from Picasso if he were still alive.
Artist Ren Ri Collaborates with Bees to Create Sculptural Honeycomb Maps: As with most of my artistic discoveries, I found out about Ren Ri via tumblr and have been fascinated with his most recent work, titled "Yuansu Projects" since.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tiny tales from Paris #3: Montmartre

<<Être parisien ce n’est pas être né à Paris, c’est y renaître>>

"Being Parisien doesn't mean being born in Paris, it's being reborn there." Sacha Guitry

Catching up with friends over the past few weeks, I have been met with the same question numerous times: "How was your trip?". I always struggle to accurately describe my experiences in Paris. I usually resort to simply saying how enriching it was and that I am already planning my next trip. If I wasn't so fearful of sounding terribly pretentious though, I would probably respond to the question with the above quote. I really do feel like a part of me was reborn during my visit. I see the world with more inspired eyes. 

The summit of Montmartre in particular was a place I felt most at 'home', or where I can imagine living someday. It's a pipe dream, I know, but inevitable to think such things in a place that was once home to some of most distinguished artists such as Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh and Dali. Montmartre has so much character and soul. I visited three times while I was in Paris, all of which were rainy days, but not even the weather tainted its beauty, although it did prove a health hazard what with the steep and slippery cobblestone streets! Never one to be deterred, I was still able to see quite a lot of Montmartre asides from the stunning Sacré Cœur, including the restaurant pictured below, La Maison Rose, the market stall that featured in Amélie and metro station Abessess. If you ever find yourself in the 18th arrondissement, I recommend taking your time. Stroll the narrow streets, have your portrait sketched by a local street artist and delight in the simple pleasure of cracking a crème brûlée in a nearby cafe. C'est une belle vie after all.
Montmartre, restaurent Poulbot

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Magazine of the Moment: Oh Comely

Oh Comely Magazine, magazine of the moment, insightful magazines
Oh Comely Issue 23: The Great Indoors
I don't consider myself to be a frequent magazine reader and I don't subscribe to any publications. However, I do hold a high appreciation of a good magazine when I come across one. Now, what I define as a 'good' magazine is a number of things, but namely, I look out for ones that have a lasting shelf life, unlike gossip magazines that can be flipped through in a matter of seconds. To me, a magazine excels itself if I feel like the content never fails to inspire even on the second, third or fourth reading. I particularly enjoy magazines that focus on the lives of ordinary people, but through their stories, you are able to discover just how extraordinary the 'mundane' really can be. The first publication of this sort that I came across was Frankie magazine, and from there, I found myself craving other intelligent magazines that bring depth and hope in a media landscape largely dominated by stories and images of doom and gloom.  

So, due to my love of finely crafted, well thought out and well put together magazines, I decided to begin what I hope will be a series of posts where I will discuss a magazine that I have recently discovered and enjoyed reading. Hopefully I can provoke some awareness to the inspiring material that is available.

The first installment of Magazine of the Moment is Oh Comely. Oh Comely describes itself as 'a lifestyle magazine with life...a magazine that makes people smile, full of quiet moments and stories'. It is quite a well-known magazine, but despite this, I have had trouble getting my hands on a copy in the past, at least locally. However, I was finally able to get my mitts on an issue during my recent trip overseas. It wasn't until I returned home again that I was able to read it in full, and I discovered that Oh Comely is everything it claims to be.

The theme of my issue, issue twenty-three, was The Great Indoors. Having come home from the aforementioned trip, a whirlwind one at that, I found it hard getting back into the everyday routine of work, study, and university. I still reminisce every single day and wish to be back travelling. But Oh Comely reminded me that so much comfort and excitement can be found just within the home life; the simple things, if you will. Short stories about memories of home are both poignant and nostalgic and touching in their simplicity, in their description of distinct sights, smells, feelings and atmosphere. An article, in the form of a recipe, titled 'a nearly impossible meal' made me remember once more how much fun adventures in the kitchen can be, despite how messy or complicated they can get. Another article about a literary journal, which receives handwritten letters from authors all over the world, was inspiring and served as an important reminder of the power of the written word. Then there are interviews with artists, musicians and actors as well as the everyday person, with each interview taking an interest in the inner life of the interviewee, their passion and their craft. A personal favourite of mine was a story about a grandmother who loves pot plants, and her granddaughter, a photographer, who keeps track of her story. After reading Oh Comely from front to back, I could tell that it is a magazine that I will keep reaching for over the coming weeks, months and years. It is a lighthearted but also insightful read that is best enjoyed when you have time to yourself. Reading it, I was able to refresh, rejuvenate and reevaluate the little things that matter the most.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tiny tales from Paris #2: Shakespeare & Co. and The Abbey Bookshop

“I stepped into the bookshop and breathed in that perfume of paper and magic that strangely no one had ever thought of bottling."

The above quote, written by one of my favourite authors Carlos Ruiz Zafron, was the first thing that popped into my mind that memorable day I stepped foot into Shakespeare & Company. Being an English major, I knew that there was no way that I could leave Paris without a visit to the famously romanticized bookshop, and it didn't fail to cast me under its spell. 

Another equally enchanting but lesser known bookshop, The Abbey Bookshop, which was founded and continues to be run by a Canadian expat, pulled at my heart strings in a similar way that Shakespeare and Co. did.  There's something about narrow passageways, walls of books, creaking staircases, dim lighting and piles upon piles of books that comforts me in a way that I can't quite put my finger on. It's an amalgamation of things, I think. The endless possibilities presented through the vast array of reading material, all in one tiny space occupied by other literature enthusiasts and 'tumbleweeds'. The knowledge that in these spaces one can spend hours upon hours, slipping into a dream like state and putting any worries on hold. In a foreign city, bookshops like these made me feel at ease, made me feel at home even, in the sense that the universality of literature brings me comfort and happiness where ever I may be. It struck me in general how many bookshops there are in Paris compared to my city, where an alarming number continue to close. It brought me so much joy to see that they are still highly revered in French culture.  This is just one of the reasons why I have proclaimed Paris as my soul city. I ache to return, but for now, have been cherishing the souvenirs I bought from these two fabulous bookshops; The Secret History by Donna Tartt and Ada or Ador by Vladimir Nabokov now take pride of place on the top of my bookshelf.

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