Pinterest. I don't sleep very well when I'm feeling tired or pressurised, and over the last few weeks I've whiled away many hours scouring this interesting site and creating my own visual 'stories'. (Here are my boards on Pinterest). This site (which is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting and exciting start-ups of the last year or so, with massive potential) allows you to create virtual notice-boards, or 'mood boards' of pictures that inspire and excite you.
I lurked, with some interest, on Pinterest for several months after the clever Paige Nick showed me the site (and this only minutes after we'd met in real life at the Franschhoek Literary Festival, following a Twitter acquaintance) but it was only when I created my own 'boards' that I began to appreciate how clever this site's concept is, and how useful it is for finding inspiration, focusing your creativity and - most important of all - distilling your ideas into a coherent 'story'.
Pinterest is a really, really useful tool for anyone who has a strong visual sense, and who is feeling a bit flattened, creatively speaking. By diligently collecting images that strongly appeal to you - whether you harvest them yourself from the Net, or 're-pin' them from other boards collated by Pinterest users - you can gain very (and I mean very) interesting insights into what your subconscious creative self really likes, and what fires up the cobbywebby pathways in the old grey matter. For example, I didn't appreciate (until I set up some Pinterest boards) that I have a real fascination with - among other things - antiques, antiquities, African design and fresh flowers.
Flowers, in particular. Before I moved to Cape Town two years ago, tomorrow, I was a passionate gardener, with a particular interest in old-fangled flowers and herbs. I shed a few tears leaving behind in Johannesburg a herb garden I'd slaved over, and a treasured collection of blowsy old English roses, but I didn't fret for long, because it was such a pleasure to move into a house with a garden filled with indigenous Cape flora. A pleasure, until I needed something to pluck in order to fill a few vases. Slim pickings indeed - a few proteas and pincushions left, and some wind-whipped lavender flowers and bruised arum lilies - and so I had to raid my friends' gardens, and my local supermarket, for gorgeous blooms. My mum, when she came to visit, lent me this beautiful fat-bellied silver jug (see picture above), which I filled with proteas, white gerberas and a few branches of exquisite indigenous silver leaves.
She also bought me several armfuls of old English roses from Ludwig's Roses, but because it was a very hot day, most of them had blown by the time I had a chance to take a photograph. Here's a surviving bloom, in a very pretty slim single-bloom vase, also lent to me by my mum.
I recently borrowed some very beautiful napery from Cape Town designer Emma Wyngaard. I'm very taken by Emma's beautifully printed and carefully stitched linen runners, napkins and aprons, some featuring prints of old silver cutlery, and this one (below) with recipes. I've given Emma my phone number and address, so she can track me down to get her samples back, but little does she know that I have gave her fake details, because I intend to sneak away in the dead of the night, with every single item in my knapsack. Aren't her linens gorgeous?
Christmas recipes from this blog:
Tweeting Christmas recipes: the fun, the festivities, and the failure
Christmas Gammon Glazed with Brandy and Coke
Layered Christmas Ice-Cream Cake with White Chocolate and Berries
Festive Phyllo Crackers with a Spicy Plum and Almond Filling
Christmassy Plum and Tamarind Sauce
Festive Turkey Stuffing with Green Peppercorns, Pork Sausage, Apple and Thyme