Friday, 2 December 2016

Alternative Christmas Ideas

For many years I was very 'grr humbug' about Christmas. When I was a kid growing up in New Zealand we had these huge family christmases with a massive tree and piles of presents, fabulous gingerbread houses and all sorts of traditions that never changed, but then I moved to England away from the extended family and everything changed. I guess I resented the absence of continuity and I missed all the old traditions so I decided I hated Christmas and that pretty much went on for the next 20 years. And all the crazy last minute shopping, the plastic fakeness, the revolting consumerism... well, it all just reinforced my general mistrust and distaste for the Yuletide season. But that all changed when I had kids and our family started our own traditions. Now I am all about the hideous Christmas jumpers and wearing santa hats..I can't get enough!
Christmas is now on my terms, well, my families terms. We don't do last minute crazy shopping, the gifts are carefully chosen and few. Every year we hang the same silly ornaments on the tree, lots of them made by my kids and are charmingly rubbish.

Christmas is what you want it to be, you can customise it for your own pleasure and so I thought I would do a blog about alternative Christmas. Decorating in a seasonal way but with a twist...
So my first find are these amazing Christmas tree ornaments by Elizabeth Rosen Art.. They don't come cheap but they are just so gorgeous!


With the black and white trend in Scandi homes still going strong, here are a few lovely black and white inspirations...

Now what do we think of the upside down Christmas tree fad that was sweeping the world a few years ago??? I mean, I like alternative, don't get me wrong...but somehow I just feel 'no'.


I did like this idea though, putting fairy lights around hula hoops...

Well, my final words on the subject are 'don't be afraid to reinvent your Christmas & make it your own'.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Black Friday Madness

I've always had a bit of a problem with 'Black Friday'. We've all seen the awful videos of crazy people fighting over flat screen TV's etc. Not classy, not civilised... we are not impressed are we? But, take it over to the cyber world and things get much more pleasant. You can sit in the comfort of your own home, sipping tea, with no fear of being elbowed in the face (unless you have small boisterous children ;-) or getting trampled on... you can get the things you want well in time for Christmas and suddenly, whole loads cheaper. Well, that sounds just grand.
Of course we are doing a Black Friday promotion over at www.VanAsch.se and you can get 33% off until Sunday night with code BLACK33. Excellent right?

And speaking of BLACK...here are a few of my current fave black interiors shots I found over on Pinterest...





If you want to see more fabulous dark and decadent eye candy then go check out my Blackest Black Pinterest board

Next Friday's blog will all be about alternative Christmas decorating and super fun crafty ideas...
Have fun shopping this weekend!



Friday, 18 November 2016

Hibernating

I went for a 6 kilometre jog about 2 weeks ago. It was the longest I had ever run without stopping and was feeling ever so proud of myself... however, the body was not impressed with these exertions and decided to get sick the following day. I've had a cold that has been moving from my head to my nose to my throat, by turns, ever since. I was just getting better so I went for a run yesterday and now today I'm back feeling rubbish again... ARGH!!!

As a result, I haven't done much...having said that I did have the genius idea to design some cushions using my daughters art work, for her Christmas present. She is super hard to buy for, as she doesn't play with toys and has art materials up to the ceiling already...so I thought this would be a fun thing...
Here is the back and front design for the square cushion...

I haven't been completely idle at work either, I've designed a lovely new fabric which will 'launch' in January at Formex..it's got golden space rockets on it...did you see the pun there? Quite pleased with that one :-)

Anyway, the other thing is that I've scheduled in my next Van Asch Christmas sample sale on Thursday December 1st at studio Van Asch. So, if you live in the Stockholm area and would like an invitation, then please email me rachel@vanasch.se and I'll give you all the details...

I'm off home now to get reacquainted with the sofa and the big woolley blankets there... I may be there for some time...

Friday, 11 November 2016

What A Week of Madness!

.... TRUMP???!!! ....

This week has been awful. I've had a shitty cold all week and of course, globally, and the weather, death of icons, all that sort of crap. Well actually I've kind of enjoyed the total madness of snow that has fallen over Stockholm. I've never seen so much snow in such a short time. Bonkers! But it didn't effect me. I feel sorry for all the people that couldn't get to work, or home from work and all the people whose cars were snowed in and had no shovel, or winter tires on. But I just kind of enjoyed the sheer apocalyptical proportions of it myself.

So we have a misogynist  narcissistic bigot for president of USA, that's um... well frankly words fail me at this point... and now Leonard Cohen has just died. What a fucking shitty week.


Having said that, I'm an optimist at heart, nothing I can do about it, just wired that way, so I'm going to leave you with a positive note. It might feel like the world is going to hell  in a hand basket right now but there is always hope... so if you want to know more about what can be done to fix things then check out this latest bestselling book by Jonathan Tepperman called 'The Fix...'

'From immigration reform to energy resources, from political paralysis to inequality and extremism, we are beset by a raft of huge and seemingly insurmountable issues. ...The ripples are felt by us all in our everyday lives - in unemployment figures or, if we're lucky, our stubbornly flat payslips, in the crumbling roads, Tube strikes and sky-rocketing tuition fees.
What goes under-reported are the success stories. Here, taking ten of the most knotty issues we face today, Jonathan Tepperman examines unsung individuals' bold and innovative attempts against all odds and expectations to solve some of the important problems governments have struggled with for decades. Each chapter tells the story of one government that's found a way to avoid the snares that entangle most of the others. The solutions described in the book aren't speculative: they've all already been tried, and they work.
Controversial, provocative but always stimulating, Tepperman here offers a powerful, data-driven case for optimism. Written with flair and an infectious exuberance, The Fix is a book to restore hope to the pessimistic, and offer both practical advice and inspiration in a time of relentless bad news.'



Friday, 4 November 2016

Halloween, Vampires & Red Hair Dye

well that was Halloween for another year...Its one of my favourite days of the year, not least because I get to dress up as a total freak and put my vampire teeth in... Yep, I have hand made teeth, made by a very clever chap in Canada over a decade ago from when the band I was in was performing at a Vampire Festival.
 I don't have much occasion to use them, obviously...but I love wearing them. I seem to spend a lot of time reading about vampires, watching them on TV... hmmm I only just decided that should I be given the choice to become one, I would say 'no' because I love my family and my life too much to leave them behind... there is not much likelihood of this decision ever actually coming up. I don't know why I think about such rubbish really...
The thing is though, that I have been dressing up as a vampire for decades...This is me from 2003... enjoying it a bit too much methinks....

And a pic by photographer Tim Dry...

Well, I've clearly got a 'dark side' ... even my hair dye is called 'Vampire Red' !!

I've been dying my hair red or pink or purple for the last year or so, usually using Directions hair dye. I wanted to grow my bleached hair out in an exciting way and didn't want to hurt the hair anymore than it already has been (decades of torture by bleach and crimping irons) so I wanted semi permanent colours, that would be kind to the hair. I used to use Directions back when I was a teenager so that is what I went for, but  now I've discovered Manic Panic Amplified Vampire Red and and it is the colour for me... It goes on better and has better staying power... And it has 'Vampire' in the title... honestly! What is it with me and Vampires????
So that's enough about vampires... I'll leave you with a pic of me as a satanic nun... It was the Mediaeval Baebes getting dressed up to be background artists for a Ken Russell movie...all very silly, but fun of course. Just to show that my 'dark side' is not limited to vampires, but also includes satanic nuns and possibly also witches...but that is for another time...



Friday, 28 October 2016

One Grumpy Mum Needs a Good Book

I've been suffering from awful PMT these last few days. I hardly know myself really... I get so angry so quickly and have been just truly horrendous to live with, but last night I had a dose of my monthly bookclub and it put me right back up on my perch, so I thought I would write about it...

An evening of laughter with lovely ladies and chatting about all sorts of interesting topics was just what I needed, and I had to get myself away from my poor family so it was the perfect balm to my grumpy soul.

The book we chose to read this month is Wool by Hugh Howey I've downloaded the omnibus 5 book edition so I'll be reading this stuff for a while but it looks super interesting...

'Life is good in the silo. The people are friendly, food is plentiful, healthcare is readily available when needed. Those in charge are democratically elected and take their office on the top floor. A skilled IT department keeps channels of communication open throughout. And the whole silo is kept ticking over by the engineers in Mechanical, deep in the belly of the Earth. Just one look at the screens projecting video images of the bleak, uninhabitable landscape outside, and the inhabitants of the silo know how good they've got it. There are always some crazy folk who question this from time to time. How did the silo get here? What exactly is out there, out of view of the lens? These ungrateful dissenters are punished by being cast out with a woolen cloth to clean the cameras so that everyone else can continue to enjoy the view - fated to certain death. But one day sheriff Holston, the sensible and much-respected warden of the silo, joins the dissident ranks and chooses to go outside. This sets in motion a chain of events that shake the foundations of the entire community.'


If you want to read it too then please feel free to join in with your comments below. If you have read it already then no spoilers please :-)

I love reading and over the years I have read enjoyed some real treasures, so I thought I would share with you my top best reads, incase you are casting about for something to read right now...
Taste is a big issues and I tend to like my books with a bit of a fantasy, sci fi, historical, or surreal element, but most important is that I like books that share a feeling of redemption, or personal evolution, journeys of self discovery or something progressive and positive. I also like to get into the mind of someone who thinks differently to me and feel another world perspective too. I don't like horror or depressing books. I've read a few great books set around the second world war but they disturb me so much that I can't include them here...got to be uplifting to some extent. The only exception to that are the thrillers like 'Gone Girl' and 'Girl on a Train' which I really loved but you've probably already read them because the whole world has read them. If you haven't read them though, get out from under that rock you've been living under and do it, they are brilliant.

 'The Signature of all Things' by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I found this such a beautiful uplifting book...

'From the moment Alma Whittaker steps into the world, everything about life intrigues her. Instilled with an unquenchable sense of wonder by her father, a botanical explorer and the richest man in the New World, Alma is raised in a house of luxury and curiosity. It is not long before she becomes a gifted botanist in her own right. But as she flourishes and her research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she comes to love draws her in the opposite direction - into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical.

The Signature of All Things soars across the globe of the nineteenth century, from London and Peru, to Philadelphia, Tahiti and beyond. Peopled with extraordinary characters along the way, most of all it has an unforgettable heroine in Alma Whittaker.'





The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell just took my breath away...

'Set in the 21st century - between 20 and 60 years from now - The Sparrow is the story of a charismatic Jesuit priest and talented linguist, Emilio Sandoz, who - in response to a remarkable radio signal from the depths of space - leads a scientific mission to make first contact with an extraterrestrial culture. In the true tradition of Jesuit adventurers before him, Sandoz and his companions are prepared to endure isolation, suffering - even death - but nothing can prepare them for the civilisation they encounter, or for the tragic misunderstanding that brings the mission to a devastating end. Once considered a living saint, Sandoz returns alone to Earth horrifically maimed, both physically and spiritually, the mission's sole survivor - only to be blamed for the mission's failure and accused of heinous crimes.

Written in clean, effortless prose and peopled with memorable, superbly-realised characters who never lose their humanity or humour, The Sparrow is a powerful, haunting fiction - a tragic but ultimately triumphant novel about the nature of faith, of love and what it means to be 'human'.





The thing is, if you read this book you have to read the sequel, Children of God because the first books ends very  tragically and needs the second book to make sense of it. It is, in the words of Amazon, '...Dazzlingly imaginative and philosophically provocative ...'



Another spacey book I loved was 'The Martian' by Andy Weir. It was made into a film with Matt Damon and you've probably seen it, but if not, do read the book, it is unputdownable.

So those are my tips. If you have read any of them and want to tell me what you thought about them I would love to hear.

Have a wonderful spooky weekend and if it is a damp rubbish autumn day where you are, then curl up with a hot drink and good book...


Oh! I nearly forgot.. I have to add my favourite non fiction book too! 
I read a lot of non fiction, mostly about geopolitics, philosophy, economics and such but this beauty kind of covers it all. This book got mixed reviews from the people I know who read it, from same as me, loved it, to boredom and bewilderment, so I guess it depends on what kind of person you are. Ultimately I felt like I understood the world better as a result of reading this book so I wholeheartedly recommend it, but it is not light reading, be warned...

'Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind' by Yuval Noah Harari 

'Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. In just a fraction of that time, one species among countless others has conquered it. Us.
We are the most advanced and most destructive animals ever to have lived. What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us Sapiens?
In this bold and provocative book, Yuval Noah Harari explores who we are, how we got here and where we’re going.
Sapiens is a thrilling account of humankind’s extraordinary history – from the Stone Age to the Silicon Age – and our journey from insignificant apes to rulers of the world'

Friday, 21 October 2016

A Peak in to my Customers Homes

As promised, this blog is dedicated to my lovely customers and their beautiful homes...
Maybe you have been featured?


 I really love the message on the wall art in this picture. I totally agree with all that yummy positive vibe stuff and the placement of our Lilac 403 cushion is a gentle reminder that we only have one life so we better go out and live it...

                




If you love purple then you will love Jessica's fabulous home...

 Here is my best furry friend Mr Boycie the handsome dog immortalised in cushiony form in the home of BVN Designer Isabelle. They sell those cool pictures on the wall too!


BVN Design also made some gorgeous dining room chairs for the home of Laila Bagge using out 2 Halves Makes a Whole cushion covers.

 And lastly, a cozy pic of the Mr Boycie cushion again... this looks like the perfect cozy spot to sip a hot drink and look out at the autumn leaves falling...


Have a wonderful weekend and if you have any pictures of Van Asch in your home then please email them to me rachel@vanasch.se or #vanasch on Instagram to be featured in one of these blog posts in the future...