Monday, August 31, 2009

thoughts as a daughter starts going to school


How quickly four and a half years have gone past.

That I don't like dark uniforms on young children. It's true that it could be worse: it could be bottle green. But why not a dainty light stripe, a flippy skirt, a chic A-line dress, or an upcycled jolly curtain? What do French children wear to school?

How difficult it is to buy uniforms that aren't made of acrylic, viscose, and other synonyms for 'uncomfortable'.  Or polyester, which ages beyond redemption in one wash.  A minor word of thanks to Marks and Spencer, who sell some cotton school clothes.

I guess I sound like a Guardian reader now.  That's what covering schoolbooks in clear contact does to you.  Organic rhubarb schnapps, anyone? 

Sunday, August 30, 2009

she flies with her own wings

I rather fancy some of these USA state mottoes, charmingly done in a naive style by Emily Wick of Two Eyeballs Galleries.
I'm thinking maybe the elliptical 'Thus always to tyrants' (Virginia) for the front porch, just to set the scene for visitors.

'By and By' (Washington) would be perfect for hanging above my stack of unanswered correspondence.

'She flies with her own wings' (Oregon) is certainly a candidate, even though there's a touch of Robbie Williams about it. I think I'd hang that over the bath and dwell upon it when I got tired of reading the label on the lavender bath essence.

And here's the full set - you can buy them individually or as one print here. It makes me ashamed to be a citizen of lame old Ireland, which as far as I know has NO OFFICIAL MOTTO, intriguing, inspiring, or even plain and dull (set me straight here, dear reader, if you can).

Doesn't 'Let it be Perpetual' (Idaho) have a fine ring to it? Could we borrow it? It would so dignify our organic cotton shopping bags.

(All images from Two Eyeballs Galleries)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

it's me, on the podium!

Yes, I'm the winner. It's a big day here in Pretty Far West: the postman has brought my very first giveaway prize, and a timely one after I was grumbling that I had never won any giveaways despite having already entered two.


These pretty little birds are courtesy of Cox and Cox via Her Little Place. Thanks, Huma; I like them a lot! The gin is the model's own.

Now I'm on to a winning streak, please drop everything and email me or leave a comment the very second you hear of any new giveaways. DON'T enter them yourself, as you're only diluting my chances. I've cleared a shelf especially.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

a bath with feet, or not?

The next project is the bathroom.  Initial thoughts are that I'd like it to be the sort of bathroom that has a fireplace (but I won't have one), and also the sort of bathroom that has an armchair (and I will have one). So it's time to look for inspiration.

(Photo via Design Heaven)

(Photo via Marley and Lockyer)


I like elements of all these bathrooms, but I'm in two minds about the old-fashioned baths. They are so very in now (or are they already on the way out?) that I wonder whether I'll be the last person in Europe to buy one and still be here dusting dejectedly under it while America leads the way back to fitted baths.   What do you think? 

oh yes, i'm the great moderator

Sometimes, when I leave a comment on other lovely blogs, a message appears telling me that my comment is awaiting moderation. You can imagine how this worries me. Was I immoderate in remarking that their new hatstand is 'very nice indeed'? Would a mere 'nice' have been more acceptable?

So I look at the blog settings on Pretty Far West, to ensure that you, Dear Reader, are getting the full benefit of Blogger's technical flexibility. And I see something like this:


Blogger never thought to add a pink border, so I stepped in and sorted that out. But which one to choose? You're all so sweet and polite that I don't see why I need to moderate anything, but for the hell of it I go for option two. If in doubt, opt for a moderate amount of moderation.

But you came here today to read about bathrooms, right? I'll be back later with those.

Monday, August 24, 2009

what else should the walls wear?

The dressing room currently has a wall of handbags and hats on hooks as clutter chic, but I reckon I can do better than that. Friday's post featured dress art; well how about going a step further and hanging some dress-pattern art? No, not just patterns, but meta-art: paintings of patterns.

I'm rather taken with these paintings I came across by Michael Fitts, in oil on scrap tin.



You can see more of his paintings on his blog or at the Fraser Gallery.

And I know you're ever so busy and important, but you must (MUST) have a look at the clever and amusing pattern story series by 'A Dress a Day'. Try the secret service mannequins.

Friday, August 21, 2009

dresses on the wall

This summer's rain never gave my daughters' dresses a decent innings. They'll be outgrown by next summer, so I thought I could display one beautiful little dress in their bedroom, and that led me to consider dresses as art and in art.

I initially discovered the Toronto-based artist Holly Farrell for her skilful and nostalgic paintings of books, but she also paints children's clothes (and sofas, for the interiors enthusiasts).


And then there's the wonderful Karen Hollingsworth in Atlanta, whom I've featured before and whose still life clothes paintings I covet.





And a recent discovery via Her Little Place, Deborah Bowness' dress wallpaper.



So I'd like all of those, please, AND I'd like an oldfashioned gilt frame of a suitable size and depth for a two year old's little white broderie anglaise frock. Do you think you could organise all that for me by Tuesday?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

kitchen chair

I'm captivated by this kitchen chair image, by photographer Max Attenborough (lots of other lovely photos there) via Desire to Inspire.



I tried to have a closer look at it to see how it was done, but the eye was inevitably drawn to the tea and chocolate biscuits.

But, thanks to dear Google, here's how to do it, from Queens of Vintage. Could I have a go at this myself at night when the rowdies are asleep? Would mine look less snazzy and would the glue stick to my hair? Would Beatrice laugh at me?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

honest to goodness member of the crochet blanket club



No, I wasn't joking about the crochet blanket; I really do own one.  I'm ever so proud of it. In fact, I see design blogs swopping merit awards among themselves when they're not busy with giveaways* and I consider initiating the 'crochet blanket award' for the most dedicated chroniclers of craft. I guess all I have to do is make a fetching little gif, easy peasy.

But, to be honest, I didn't make this blanket myself. I don't have the patience. My mother made it in my favoured pink and green colour combination, and it's the best blanket in the world, and guarantees a good sleep when thrown over a duvet on a cold winter's night.

*Giveaways are like a lottery: you leave a comment and then the blog owner selects you at random as the winner of a set of handmade notelets depicting baby owls.  I hope and pray I'll win one soon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Avoca legs this autumn


Here are some tasters from the Bohemia Life and Eden Rose boutiques of Avoca's Anthology collection.

If you haven't encountered the lovely Avoca label yet, they excel at the 'arty girl goes to a wedding' look: layers of underskirts, retro cardigans and ballet wraps, and quirkily elegant coats in patterned fabrics, adorned with just the right level of lace and ribbons to be delicate but not fussy.


Bless them, they have a branch in remote Letterfrack, a short and scenic drive through the mountains from here, so I can effortlessly be Helena Bonham Carter at our local meetings of the Flat Earth Society. It looks as though you'll know me this autumn by my coloured legs.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

the right sort of stripes

Clutching on to summer, I'm looking around for fresh, pretty stripes. How about these, from Runaway Coast?

The uniformity of the stripes combines these colours so effectively against the white background.

When I saw the giant floor cushion, my first thought was that I could make my own by filling a lovely duvet cover with all my possessions. Then I remembered that I'm respectable nowadays, and own furniture and life insurance and cacti. So I had to scrap that idea.

Then there's this similar effect from Cabbages and Roses. It's a sun-weathered look, the interiors equivalent of clothes drying on the line on a warm and breezy summer's day.


I came across both of these online shops via Green and Pretty, a recent blog discovery, where Courtney has a good eye for the chalky, timeless look, as well as a laudable yen for a doily rug.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

to market, to market

Since Beatrice, the imaginary assistant, decided that supermarket trollies were not doing her nerves any good, we've been living on mature Gouda and walnut bread from the local market.


Well, ok, lemon curd and brownies too. Indeed, so assimilated am I into all the lifestyle trends delightfully presented by magazines and fellow bloggers that there will soon come the day when I exhibit with a considerable flourish my own crocheted blanket. 

But not yet.  There are another 6 or so self-improvement books to get through first. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

surveying the territory

After spending a few months flitting about in blogland, here's what I have noticed as I browsed:


How nice it is to look at images. I was always too much of a word person, and blog posts, part of the flickering rush of the big Internet, are a good exercise in the balance of words and images.

That google ads always look a bit lame, and that I never, ever click on them unless it is out of conscious goodwill toward their host website.

That there is a good sense of immediacy and evolution in being part of a community of people who are interested in ephemeral matters.

That I don't particularly like wallpaper, decals, brown, dark blue, unedited emotion, busy femininity or the mid-century look.

That I like white, order, the courtesy of strangers, considered enthusiasm, a well-turned phrase, minor opulence and soft chalky hues.

That it's a pleasure to have a medium in which one does not have to be conclusive.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stomp

I had expected to spend August swanning around in pretty vintage dresses, but no. The rain makes me inclined to stomp, so maybe it's time to look forward to autumn and buy some new boots (Oxygen Volga boots, from Raw Shoes).


No spiked heels. Tick. A good stomping height? Tick. Not over-adorned. Tick. But is another pair of black boots a bit boring? Hmmm.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Great Western Beach

In theory, I'm painting more of the upstairs floors white, as the furniture likes the sensation of floating away on a bright cloud. In practice, however, I'm shirking duty and reading The Great Western Beach.


This is Elspeth Hallsmith's memoir of her childhood on the beaches of Newquay: Towan for the gurriers, Tolcarne for the smart cocktail set, and the Great Western for the middle classes. It's Guthrie, Elspeth's thwarted and enraged father, who creates this sense of class consciousness and gives the book its fascination: he yearns to be famous, but has to settle for being, above all else, perceived as a gentleman. Janet, her mother, had the misfortune to lose three fianc├ęs in the war and her character is so overshadowed that this almost careless loss seems to define her.

But this isn't a modern memoir of a dysfunctional family. There's no sense of soap opera, but something more subtle: the careful detail of a children's book - the Tea Rooms and the Misses Clark-Ourry who run them, the dresses that had to make do, the pasties and Fyffes bananas scrupulously administered after a swim, set amid a world of grown-up trouble that forms a fog around the idyll, so that Elspeth's wide stretch of beach is closed in upon by oppression and the need to study the tactics employed by her elder brother and sister as they too grapple with family life, aided and hampered by her sister's stubborn lack of fear and her brother's weakness.

And now they've just had a visit from the unmannerly and famous TE Lawrence (of Arabia), who struggled with his large motorbike, and there was a vague altercation and her father stormed off, and although I know that not much will happen, I feel as though I have a deckchair on this beach and must keep a watchful and powerless eye on Elspeth, and my half-painted white floor and the sea will sweep around us in sepia until I've finished the book.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

while the rain holds off

While the rain holds off, the heap of rocks is turning into a wall, and we get to play on the tractor and hide in the long grass.






Monday, August 3, 2009

no more elixirs of youth please

Imaginary magazine editors the world over like to start their day with a quick look at Pretty Far West to see what's what. Sirs, Madams, here's what's what: lovely fabric samples.
 

I steal away to a quiet corner with The Gloss or Image or some such magazine every once in a while.  And what I don't want to find is free samples of face cream, even with compelling assertions that 17 out of the 20 women on whom they were tested found it made them look a bit younger. 

What I'd like is some fabric samples. Samples from dresses and duvet covers, coats and curtains, skirts and sofas. 

A lot of my shopping is on the internet, you see, as I live on the edge of my page in the atlas, but choosing fabric goods online lacks the tactile element. So if you provide the samples, I'll notice your magazine AND I might buy the products advertised.  

But there's no way I'll buy the face cream; I'd only feel foolish and exploited and that I was letting down the 3 out of 20 women who had stood their ground and said, "no, this facecream makes me feel much older."
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