27 February 2015

Death by Doxie : Elfi's Couch

Up at the very top of our house is a little room where most of these blog posts are written. Actually, it's not that little; it's our attic space and it's awesome. I've got my desk up there, along with all my various craft supplies - stamps and wool and paper scraps. It's where I keep all the Jorpins Vintage stock, and where the husband stores our best red wine.

There's also a fold out couch. Ostensibly it's a spot to put guests when the house is full, but mainly it's so that Elfi has the best bed possible while she keeps me company throughout the day. The couch is most definitely hers, I wouldn't try to tell her otherwise.

ps. These photos were taken a few months ago, Elfi's cushion collection has grown significantly since then. 

26 February 2015


My childhood was full of dogs. And cats. And goldfish. And one very unfortunate guinea pig. I feel so blessed to have had that experience, of growing up with animals. 

Yes, if you think about it (and if you do the environmental maths), pets are a horribly selfish middle class extravagance. But they can also be the best teachers, counsellors and friends. They can teach you about unconditional love and pure joy, and about death, and cruelty. They can drag you out of yourself when you want to hide from the world; they can just be there, a warm constant presence, when you need them. Also, they can be ridiculously cute, which counts for a lot in my world. 

I can't ever imagine not having a pet, not having a dog. 

My first pet that I can sort of maybe remember was a sheep, called Lamby because we were very original with names. I was under six years old, and we lived in a big hippy commune, in a large old house, which was (somewhat incongruously) in a leafy wealthy suburb in Melbourne's inner east. One day someone left the gate open and Lamby got out and was hit by a car. Pretty sure we had roast lamb for dinner that night. 

Actually, to be honest, I don't really remember Lamby at all, but there's so many elements of that story I love. How could I not tell it?

My actual first pet memories are all about Jackie, and Julie, and Warragul. 

Jackie was a black Kelpie, and I think of her as my first dog. She was patient and gentle and smart, and I find it impossible to think of growing up without her being in the picture. That's her below, on the top left, with a grey muzzle and a spring blossom tucked into her collar. 
Along with Jackie I also grew up with Julie, the family cat. We found Julie as a teeny tiny kitten mewing in the lane that ran along the back of our house (we'd moved on from the commune by this stage). She really was the tiniest thing. I remember when we found her, my step-dad was adamant she wasn't going to stay with us. We didn't need another pet, and besides pets were an elitist affront to his socialist / communist politics. Pretty sure within 48 hours he was cooking her special meals and quietly hoping no one would come to claim her. 

Then there was Warragul, my dad's dog. Warragul is definitely the most amazing dog that I've ever had the privilege to meet. Warragul was a dingo cross something, maybe some kind of shepherd? He was a beautiful dog, with coarse black and tan hair. He was a bit of a mutt but he was mainly a dingo. He was ridiculously smart, and loyal, and very talkative. He was always a little wild - you'd never try to put a lead on him or take him for a 'walk' in any normal sense of the word. He'd follow you to the park though, because he wanted to, because he was happy to. And he'd tell the whole neighbourhood how happy he was about it as well. 

He loved my dad fiercely. Sometimes if Dad went out without him, he'd chase the car for ages hoping we'd stop and pick him up. And sometimes if Dad went out without him he'd go looking for him. He'd turn up at building sites that Dad had worked on months and months before. He'd turn up at friend's houses, 10, 15, 20 kilometres away. He remembered all those places over all that time. Amazing. Sadly I have hardly any photos of Warragul, but you can see him above, in the photo on the bottom left. Handsome fellow.

Later, when I was at an age where I wanted my own space and my own things, I got myself a gorgeous chocolate brown kelpie cross (labrador, I think) from the RSPCA in Burwood. Coco Marley. That's her above, in the bottom right. Just look at those eyes. Coco was the best dog and the worst dog. She meant so very much to me, she saw me through some really tough times. And she forced me to make some really tough decisions, too. If I write much more about her I'll get a wee bit sad, so I'll just direct you here if you want to know more. 

Right now we get to share our adventures with Ferdi and Elfi. They are hilarious and handsome and have such distinctive personalities. We love them; they are family. But like all pets do, one day, too soon, they will die. Hopefully they will die peacefully, free of pain and after a long and happy life. 

My husband can't bear to even think about it, but I know that day will come. And I know it will be indescribably, horribly sad. But I also know that before too long I'll be itching for a new companion, for another pet in my life. Every pet owner knows that this urge isn't about replacement - each dog or cat (or guinea pig) is so unique the idea of replacement is ridiculous. 

Instead, for me, every new pet is a celebration and remembrance of all the dogs and cats (and guinea pigs) that have gone before them. They offer a new friendship that is at once the same and yet always so different; a new bond that forms part of a long bittersweet line. 


Jackie enjoying the Victorian Alps with us. Note how Beci is rocking the mom jeans and desert boots, whilst I am rocking the...um...nope, I've got no idea what the f**k I'm wearing either. 

ps. When 'researching' this post I came across this Tumblr, which suggests that maybe Communism and pets do mix...

ps. I also realise that I neglected to tell you about my many goldfish (one of which was called Mystic Astro Geek. True Story.). And I didn't tell you about that unfortunate guinea pig either. Next time, okay?

The My... posts are a way to get me writing more throughout 2015. There'll be one a month, each with a different My... prompt. You can play along as well, whenever and wherever you want. This month's prompt (February) is My Pets. Next month's prompt (March) is My Morning Routine. Interpret each prompt however you like - a story or a jumble of thoughts, fact or fiction, personal or not. Don't feel too constrained by the months either, if you like a prompt then have a go. And make sure to let me know if you do join in!

24 February 2015

IGEC : Illustrators

There are so many talented illustrators and artists on Instagram, it was a near impossible task for me to pick just three. This will be a theme that I'll revisit, for sure. 

I've followed Chantal Vincent (@chantal__) on the internets in some form or other for many years now and I've had the privilege of watching from the sidelines as she's discovered the joys of sketching. Her landscape and building sketches are always wonderful - she has a great eye for detail and colour - and her portraits really capture the personality behind each face. Recently she even sketched one of my Instagram photos, very cool!
Next is a slightly newer illustration crush for me, but man have I fallen hard. One look at Jo Chambers (@chambersjo) work and you'll see why. Her gorgeous florals are so vibrant and bright. The colours! Swoon! They remind me of the best kinds of vintage fabric. And then there's the wonderful hounds! And the hounds surrounded by flowers! I am smitten I tell ya!
Helena Leslie's (@hellohelenaleslie) work is deceptively simple. I adore her single colour girls, with their round cheeks and slightly sad eyes and every lovely line. And her paintings with their lush backgrounds are gorgeous too. For some time now I've been toying with the idea of getting her to draw me, but I'm uncomfortable with the thought of being the subject, the centre of attention. Must get over that.

Instagram is chockfull of the some of the most inspiring, creative, hilarious, clever people I've ever had the pleasure of encountering on the internets. IGEC is my chance to share some of those inspiring, creative, hilarious, clever people with you! Oh and you can find me on Instagram here. 

19 February 2015

15 Things in The Year of the Sheep

It's a brilliant tradition I've started here, isn't it? Writing a list of stuff that I want to do each year, and then not quite doing it. But I really love it. Because a) lists and b) life.

Lists because I'm an organiser and a writer and it just makes things feel better when it's all written down. And life because when I don't quite get things done it's normally because other awesome stuff has happened instead. Last year I wanted to assist on some photo shoots, and I didn't. But instead Olympus and Kidspot knocked on my door and said "hey, do you want a camera?". And I said hell yes I do. And I also didn't hit my goal of six blog posts a month, but I did go on two of the most amazing holidays ever.

So, yeah. Lists are good, but sometimes life is better. With that in mind, here's my 15 things to do in the Year of the Sheep. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

1. Read more. Specifically, read at least fourteen books in twelve months. Which is hilarious as last year's goal was twelve books in twelve months and I didn't hit that. Lets call this one a s-t-r-e-t-c-h goal shall we?

2. Read more blogs. Hands up if you don't read blogs like you used to? I know I don't, and I miss it. I miss the discoveries and the different voices, all the pretty things and thoughtful things and all the connections.

I want to get back into the habit of reading blogs regularly, and commenting on them too. And because I'm an ex-corporate type who knows that goals should always be measurable, I'm going to randomly quantify this one. Let's say - three thoughtful comments a week. (I've just done this weeks! Hurrah!)

3. Blog more. Specifically, blog at least six times per month. (Anyone getting déjà vu?)

4. Write more. About everything. Specifically, write a My... post every, single month in 2015. 

5. Related, pitch at least five stories to magazines. This may not sound like a lot, but it's the right number for me right now.

6. Finish my 365 project on Instagram. (You can follow along at #jorpins365.) And continue to grow my followers in the process. (No, I'm not telling you what my goal is on that one!)

7. Hit fifty sales in my Etsy shop, Jorpins Vintage

8. Finish three walking events. I'm looking at one medium length trail walk (22km), one fast paced short walk (10km), and one long and steady walk (50km). The trail walk is coming up in two months. Eeep!

9. Walk 1500 kilometres by the end of December. That's only 30km a week. Easy.

10. Sort my health out. Living overseas it's easy to neglect things, to put off the visits to the dentist and the pap smears and the skin checks. It's time to sort all that out. Find a good women's health GP. Actually go to a physio and a chiro like I've been saying I would for, oh, at least three years. Stick with the plan my awesome dentist has put in place. (I can't believe I just called a dentist awesome. You have no idea how huge that is for me. Dentists normally make me cry. A lot.)

11. Cook at least one new meal for the family each month. We've been in such a terrible cooking rut of late, time to haul ourselves out of it.

12. Related, attend two cooking classes. I've booked in for the Kenkō Kitchen one, any ideas on the second one gratefully accepted!

13. Watch twelve movies. And blog about them.

14. Organise my office, and keep it organised. I'm half way there, but the final push has been somewhat delayed for lack of motivation. I want a place for everything, so I can keep everything in its place.

15. Do more road trips! When we lived in Asia I travelled all the time. Back home to Australia, meeting up with the husband when he was off on business trips, taking advantage of being so much closer to the rest of the world. In Hong Kong, we'd travel to Singapore and Macau. In Korea we'd drive to national parks, historic towns and ski fields all over the country, and occasionally I'd pop over to Tokyo. We really did travel a lot. One time we even flew to Amsterdam for a weekend! Crazy!

Anyway, I adore my life in Sydney but I do miss the travel. So I'm going to do more road trips, more getaways. Just a night here and there, maybe on my own, maybe with the hounds. Most definitely with loads of country op shops and photo stops along the way. I'm a bit excited about this one!

16 February 2015

14 Things in the Year Of The Horse : A Final Update

Remember 12 months or so ago when I wrote a list of things I wanted to do in the Year of the Horse? And then remember a few months ago I gave you a slightly depressing update on those goals? Well, the lunar new year is nearly upon us so it's time for a final update. And yes,  that does mean it's also nearly time for a new list of things to do which I probably won't do but I'll write the list anyway. Stay tuned, it's gripping stuff.

1. Read more. Specifically, read at least twelve books in twelve months. C+. I've read nine books. Close but not quite. But I'm feeling positive about continuing with a reading goal, and about achieving it.

I'm generally a systems orientated, list writing, organiser type. I've finally realised this is the approach I need to apply to reading too. So I've been making sure I have dedicated reading time every day. I also have two books on the go - one by my bed and one in my handbag / backpack, so lately instead of reaching for my phone whenever I'm caught in life's dull moments, I reach for my book.

2. Blog more. Specifically, blog at least six times per month. C-. Things were looking grim, but I said I'd finish strongly and I did. Hit this goal for the last three months. Yay me!

3. Make Typography Tuesday a monthly thing. F. Five out of twelve. Not even half way there...

4. Do something with my 500px account. D-. Well, I did something with it. I've uploaded some shots, and even added some to the marketplace. And then kind of sort of ignored the whole thing.

5. Assist on at least two photography shoots. F. Nope.

6. Enter more photography competitions. D+. Again, things were looking grim. But I just submitted three photos to Head On (in the mobile category) so yay me!

7. Make a little book or zine. And sell it. F. Nope.

8. Develop some Instagram projects. B. As you may know, I freaking adore Instagram. I've got a few projects on the go - #morningwalkswithferdiandelfi and #jorpins365 are the two big ones right now. I've also re-embraced the square, and I'm loving it!

9. Send more snail mail. F. Nope.

10. Send cards to family and friends for every, single birthday. D-. Completely fell apart at the end there. I'll get back on the horse though. Next month. 

11. Corral my clutter. C+. After concerted efforts early in the game it started to slide a little with the madness of the festive season, but I feel like I'm back on track. My office / study / attic hidey-hole is looking vaguely organised (just one more set of IKEA drawers to assemble...) and I'm sticking to my one in / one out policy on clothing and shoes. I've stopped buying CDs and DVDs, which are just unnecessary when everything is online, and I only buy magazines if they're really, really beautiful. Yep, I'll never be a minimalist but I don't feel owned by my clutter anymore.

12. See more movies at the cinema. Specifically, see at least eight movies on the big screen. D-. Nope, not even close. Although we have been watching a lot more movies at home, which has been most enjoyable.

13. Proofread more. B+. Yep.

14. Eat better. And yes, there will be blog posts! B (for eating better), (for blogging about it). Although truthfully it should really be a C- for eating better - the husband and step-sons have been around a lot over the past few months, which means way more red meat and deep fried deliciousness in my diet. But I still start the day with fruit and yogurt and nuts, and have a salad almost everyday, so I guess I'm still doing okay!

10 February 2015

Jorpins365 : January Favourites

A month and a bit into my 365 project on Instagram and I'm thoroughly enjoying the challenge. Here's a few of my favourites from January - hounds, food, flowers, beach, beach and more beach. Sydney in summer is just magic isn't it?

Find all my daily #jorpins365 posts here.