Two hands clasped together.  Waiting.  Quietly watching the world go past from the window of a tram.  Nails clipped to a millimetre of their bed. Coats out.  The rain falls.  Waiting.  There's a calmness and stillness to this photo that draws me in.  Makes me feel like I'm part of it.  A snap-shot in time. 

But I was there, wasn't I? 

Camera down, join the scene.  Take one of those hands in your own.  Together. Waiting.

My response to this week's prompt from "You Capture" - for more head over here.

Woolly Wreaths

Is it too early to be beginning to think about Christmas?  I know it is  still  three months away, but I've already started thinking Christmas.  I have an excuse, kind of, in that I'm going to be in Australia from mid-November to mid-December which means that when I get back from holidays it'll definitely be Christmas and I'd like to have everything ready so it won't be too stressful coming back to work and christmas and the cold. Besides, I like to plan and I love to make lists.  So I've started my hypothetical Christmas List, which involves making and creating many, many things that I realistically don't have time to make or create.  But one of the things on the top of the list  which  I've been wanting to make for a while is this; a woolly Christmas wreath.  This one is made by the ever-so-clever Katie Runnels over at The Constant Gatherer and she has a tutorial for making this wreath.  And I'm going to.  It's on the list.


Autumn Quotes

What do you think?  Thanks for all the suggestions yesterday - I really liked the Ann Frank quote that Jamie suggested and had a quick play with it this morning before heading off to work.  Sometimes it's easy to get lost in the dark grey days that autumn and winter bring - but there's always something to look forward too.  Warm cozy fires, roasted chestnuts, walking through mountains of leaves and hearing them 'swoosh'...

vintage suitcases

28/365 : Suitcases

Yesterday I stopped by one of my most favourite of second-hand shops in Berlin.  The outside of the shop is always covered in old suitcases and travelbags.  At one point in time I had it in mind to buy a couple and make them into a lovely little bedside table.  Sadly the prices are always about double or triple what you would expect  I'm prepared to pay - I guess you pay from someone else doing the hardwork for you.  But if you look in the back corners you can sometimes find a bargain.  And it's all about the hunt anyway, right?  So yesterday I went a-lookin' and I found a few wee little things.  I'll play show-and-tell and  photograph them for you all another day when the sun is shining.  For now, you'll just have to feast your eyes of the beauty of the vintage suitcase and imagine just how lovely my bedside table might have been...
Treasure Trove


What does this need?

27/365 : Dogwood
Day 27: Dogwood

I took this photo yesterday on my way home.  Looks like I'm in the woods, but I was actually taking photos at my favourite florist shop.  I like it, but I think it needs something else to "finish it".  Perhaps a quote?  Something about Autumn?  Leave your suggestions in the comments, I'll choose the one that I like and we'll see how it turns out.

So about that vest

A rainy and quite lazy weekend in Berlin meant that I made a lot of progress on the infamous vest. Many hours later, many episodes of True Blood later, the first front panel is done.  
Fair Isle vest_III
I pinned the back and the front together and we had a little "fitting session".  And you know what?  It doesn't fit.  It fits width-wise and length-wise but Matthias' arm is in the wrong position.  Or more accurately, the armhole I knitted is too small.  It sits too high under his underarm making it impossible to wear anything underneath. Gah!
fair isle vest_VI

Both the front and back panels are going to need to be re-worked with some alterations to the pattern which at the current point in time is doing my head in just thinking about.  So for now I'm officially retiring the project until I can stomach unraveling work that took a season of True Blood episdoes  to knit and  restarting the armholes again. 

Oh, and if anyone can recommend a good TV series, that'd be appreciated too.


Equipment - aka "Gear"

I've decided to start a new series on my blog called Photography Basics.  I want to point out from the start - I'm very much a 'have fun, teach yourself' photography gal.  This is my hobby, not my job.  But I like it and I've learnt a few things over the last year that are easy-peasy and can take ordinary happy-snaps into good looking pictures.  In the blog-world, this is important as people who stop by your blog will often look at the pictures before the words.  It's important to try to tell a story with your photographs and encourage readers to stay a while

First up; equipment.  

I really believe that it's the photographer and not the machine that takes good pictures.  There are a couple of blogs that I read that consistently take good photos for their blogs using camera phones.  

The most obvious phone to use is an iPhone with all its cool apps letting you take some seriously funky photos.  I'm only a little bit jealous that I don't have one of these cute little toys to play with.   Little Suitcase (picture on left is hers) uses her iPhone almost exclusively.  

Another blog that I really enjoy reading which uses lots of great camera-phone pictures is Pasando.  If you're interested in getting more inspiration on how to take great camera-phone photos, Pasando has a Phonography link-up where bloggers using camera-phones can link-up their favourite pictures of the week.

Unfortunately I don't have an iphone to speak of, but I do have a trusty point-and-shoot that I love.  

This camera is small, trusty and takes good pictures.  It's been with me to the beach and the snow and not failed me yet.  For a long time it was the only camera I used (despite having a SLR sitting in my cupboard) because I liked that I could pop it in the smallest of handbags and take it with me.

There was nothing scientific about how I chose this camera - it was small, cheap and basic.  As it turns out it has great night-time settings which are useful for parties etc when happy-snaps are what you are after.  As an added bonus it has a few neat tricks like selective colour (left) which is just good fun to muck about with.  I'm not trying to sell this camera - I think most point-and-shoots would do the same.  My point is that if all you have is a point-and-shoot this shouldn't stop you taking good pictures.

And now for the more serious stuff.  I'm a Canon girl, and I have a DSLR 400D.  Up until this year, I used this camera with two lenses that I got in my "special offer" - the kit lens (18-55mm f4.0-5.6) and a 70-300mm zoom lens.  For my birthday I got a Tamrom 90mm f2.8 macro, and I recently bought a Canon 50mm f1.4.  Up-grading to more sophisticated lens has really increased the flexibility that I have when taking photographs.  A faster lens (50mm f1.4) has allowed me to take photos in environments where the light isn't so great and also allowed me to focus in on one aspect of a photograph by blurring out the background.  The macro lens is designed to pick up tiny details and also takes wonderful portrait shots.  There is always a wish-list of "bigger, better, fancier" stuff that I want, but what I really want to emphasise is that it's the user, not the machine that takes the photographs.  As one friend said - "you could have some really pretty colouring pencils in your pencil case, but unless you know how to draw, it's still going to look like a mess."

A quick word on post-processing:  Digital photography and post-processing go hand-in-hand.  Almost all professional photographs (and many, many blog photographs) have been edited in some way after the photograph was taken.  At its most basic level, this can be a simple cropping of the photo. At its most complex it's editing out Uncle Albert from the family group shot.  Just like cameras, editing programs range from freely available, to super expensive.

Freely available:

Definitely not free:
Photoshop Elements

As a freely available editing program, I really only know Picnik.  It's pretty good and allows you to do basic edits and photo manipulation.  I'm sure the others probably do pretty much the same - it's a personal choice which one you decide to use.  Photoshop and Photoshop Elements provide you with a lot more flexibility in terms of deciding how much or little to edit, but they cost (a lot).

Well, that just about wraps up my Equipment post.  Next week we get stuck into composition.


Cleaning Kitchen Knives

practical household hints

Cleaning the Blades or Kitchen Knives. - You may try all sorts of cleaning preparations and use various gadgets, but the best way of removing stains and polishing the blade of a knife is to rub it with a freshly-cut piece of potato dipped in brickdust or knife-powder.
25/365 : Kitchen Knives



I stumbled across this site on Wednesday after Anglea at Striking Keys linked to it.  I immediately fell in love with the site and it resonated with me for so many reasons.

I've never been particularly good at choosing words correctly.  I have some hard-wiring issue where I have a tendency to say a word that sounds very similar to the one that I want, but has a completely different meaning.  Now that I'm trying to learn German this seems to have only amplified and I'm often found searching for words and speaking a clumsy form of english.  I caught myself saying "They have often there gone" the other day and was at once both appauled and pleased.  After eight months of struggling with German grammar it appears that I'm finally beginning to "get' word order.  The fact that I'm now using it in English horrifies me.
But back to Save the Words.  This website is a lot of fun.  With words literally jumping out and you and telling you to "pick me" I  felt compelled to adopted a word.  And, feeling adventurous, I had the site randomly select one for me.  You know what it picked? - Logarithmotechny.
24/365 : Logarithmotechny
If someone was deliberately choosing "my word" I'm not sure if they could have done better.  The other thing that I'm not so crash-hot at is simple arithmitic.  The other day it took me a little while to work out why, if I left 30 euro for the cleaning lady and she worked 3 hours plus needed an additional 10 euro from when we were short the previous week, why we still only owed her 10 euro and not 20.  Simple maths - not my thing.  But, and here's the irony.  Logarithms, logistic regression, hazard ratios - that's what I do.  Oh yeah, by day I absorbe myself in logarithmotechny.


Day 23 : Sun Flare

22/365 : Steps

a poem on thursday : phenomenal women

A bit of woman's empowerment for the day...
Phenomenal Woman 
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
- by Maya Angelou


what I've been making

Vest in Progress

Remember how I lost that knitting book a little while ago?  Well, I gave up trying to find it and bought another.  I was too far in and had made too many promises to frog the whole thing and start over with another project.  With the cooler weather I've got my knitting mojo back and have made considerable progress.  The back is done (huzzah!) and over the weekend I finished the colour work on the right front panel.
Vest in Progress
Yep, pretty pleased with that!  My first attempt at proper fair isle knitting.  And to prove that I am an absolute and total knitting geek I will proudly tell you all that I knit this double handed - yep, one hand was doing continental and one was doing "regular" knitting.  First time I've done that too.  Felt like I was riding a bike for the first time (look, Mum, two hands).  That fact that my mum doesn't knit and will likely roll her eyes when reading this matters little.  I am exceedingly proud that I can now knit with both hands.

I even showed Matthias - he wasn't very impressed either. 


day 20 and thoughts on the 365

20/365 : Roses

This 365 Challenge is harder than I thought.  I'm find it tough to fit it in amongst work and with the days getting shorter, it's harder to get good photos before the sun goes down and the light turns to crappity-crap.  I'm struggling to think of "creative" things to photograph. I'm hoping it's a little like starting any new thing - I was once told that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Well, 21 days is almost up, so hopefully the photo-a-day thing is about to become a habit and not a "oops, I've still not taken a photo and it's almost dark" thing.

On the up-side I think I'm learning what I like and don't like.  I'm actually not much of a fan of photographing roses, but I had fun processing this photo in different ways.  I like strong colours although I'm also drawn to vintage processing.    I like photographing the street and I'm getting better at putting me in the photo.  

If you want to see my 365 you can pop over here, or visit my Flickr stream here.


Day 18 and 19

So, I meant to say yesterday that that little 'stale bread' tid-bit was from a book called "502 Practical Household Hints to Save you Time and Money", written in around 1946 and gifted to my great-grandparents  'upon leaving England' in September 1946.  It has somehow made it's way back to the continent and is now sitting on my shelf in Berlin.  I plan on posting a few more of these little gems over the next few months - if any of you try them out, I'd be interested to here is the tips actually work.

Anyway, how was your weekend?  I had a great time pottering around Berlin and spending a bit of time on the S-bahn commuting between east and west Berlin.  Matthias and I had our first dance class over in Charlottenburg.  We're planning on going to a Viennese Ball in January and are keen to know the basics before stepping out onto the dance floor.  This week we learnt the basic steps for Fox Trot, Cha Cha and the Waltz.  At the moment we can only move in one direction (no turning) but I'm hoping by the end of the eight week course we'll be able to navigate around the dance floor with some dexterity.  And in case you were wondering - we're still talking despite me trying to lead for most of the 90 minute class! 
18/365 : time

So two Deutsche Bahn related pictures.  The second picture I took while the train was arriving.  It's a little crazy, but I love how it looks like a double exposed shot with the reflections of the train and the trees through the train all blending into each other.
19/365 : train arriving


502 Household Hints to save you time and money

16/365 - Bread

Making Stale Bread New.-Sprinkle the loaf with milk-water will do-and wrap it in a damp cloth.  Stand it in a quick oven for five to ten minutes.  Then, take it out, remove the cloth, and return it to the oven for another five minutes.  The result is a new loaf.


winter wardrobes

Spring and summer shoes have been put away.  I have my ankle boots out and have made a list of essentials that only just made it through last winter and now need replacing.  I'm resisting knee-high boots until I really need the warmth.  On the essentials list are some funky woolen tights, long-sleeve tops, gloves and a winter skirt.  I accidentally washed the woollen skirt I bought from Anthropologie last winter and it's now felted and significantly smaller than I am.  There may have been tears.  But I'm past that now. Sniff. Really.

It still shocks me that I will need a completely different wardrobe to take me through the next six months.  I have really only ever had "one" wardrobe.  Sure I had boots which came out at winter and a jacket that I'd wear on the coldest of Melbourne days, but gloves and hats were fashion accessories and not necessities.  I got myself into a bit of a funk last winter, completely bored with wearing the same coat, gloves and hat day after day.  This winter I've decided I'm going to branch out and knit/buy some new ones so that I can mix and match and feel like I'm putting something new on every now and again.

I'm really only just starting to learn about this "living in the snow" business.  The concept of it taking 5 minutes to put on your "outside" gear drives me crazy.  No just nipping down the street for some milk - although the fact that we live on the 5th floor of an apartment block without an elevator negates that fact anyway.  Anyway, this week I feel like I'm preparing to go into battle , I'm taking a big breath of the "last summer air" and diving into long nights and lots and lots of inside time.  For all the seasoned winter people out there, what do you do to keep yourself going through the dark cold months?


Autumn Rains

12/365 : Rain

Playing around in the rain this week.  It's rained all week and I've had to push myself to experiment with taking photos in the darkish damp - good preparation for winter I guess.  This picture was a bit of a happy accident, I was holding my handbag, umbrella and camera while trying to adjust the exposure while keeping everything dry.  The umbrella fell at the last minute, the camera refocused on the umbrella (now in the frame) and not the shops  in the background and I ended up with an artsy photo with some lovely bokeh! Plus I even managed to keep everything dry. 

a poem on thursday : socks

The seasons have definitely turned around here.  I came home on Monday to find the fig leaves on our little tree completely golden.  We managed to get one tiny (but oh so delicious) fig off the tree before it started dropping it's leaves.  The rest of the fruit is slowly dropping off, unripe, along with the leaves.  Not such a great success at trying to grow a Meditteranean plant on a balcony in Berlin.   Better luck next year perhaps?   

But onto the poem.  

This week's prompt was "comfort".  To me, autumn means the beginnings of nights spent sitting on the couch, listening to the rain and feeling like knitting under a blanket is the only sensible thing to be doing.  I found this lovely war poem by Jessie Pope and loved the rhythm of the words intermixed with the knitting pattern, you can just imagine some mother, wife or girl-friend finding comfort in knitting socks for their 'fella' off at war.  



 Shining pins that dart and click
In the fireside's shelered peace
Check the thoughts the cluster thick - 

20 plain and then decrease.

He was brave - well, so was I - 
Keen and merry, but his lip
Quivered when he said good-bye - 

Purl the seam-stitch, purl and slip.

Never used to living rough, 
Lots of things he'd got to learn;
Wonder if he's warm enough - 

Knit 2, catch 2, knit, turn.

Hark! The paper-boys again!
Wish that shout could be suppressed;
Keeps one always on the strain -

Knit off 9, and slip the rest.

Wonder if he's fighting now, 
What he's done an' where he's been;
He'll come out on top somehow - 

Slip 1, knit 2, purl 14.

- Jessie Pope


Historic Istanbul

Yep, I'm still posting about Istanbul.  It was really very magical.  Here's a low-down on the "must see" tourist sites.  We were lucky enough to have a guide for the two days that we visited Aya Sofya, the Blue Mosque and Topaki Palace.  He was very passionate and proud of his city and overwhelmed us (me) with information about the places.  

Topaki Palace
Topaki Palace was the home to the Sultans for most of the Ottoman Reign.  It is a huge complex of buildings that is on prime real estate over-looking the Bosphorus.  I always like to imagine myself as a princess or queen living in these places when I visit, but after hearing about life in the Harem, I decided that even though it was beautiful, it was perhaps not the most friendly place to live.  Castrated men (eunachs) were on gaurd 24 hours to prevent escape, and one Sultan was rumoured to have killed his 280 concubines by drowning them in the Bosphorus when he got sick of them.  Nice, huh?

Aya Sofya
Once a church, then a mosque and now a museum, Aya Sofya is an incredibly interesting place full of strange bits and pieces - including (if you believe it) grafitti from Vikings!  

The Blue Mosque
I can't really remember much about this mosque except that it was incredibly beautiful.  It's dome is surrounded by blue leadlight windows and the walls are covered with intricately decorated mosaic tiles.  It's a lovely place of worship, although the day we visited it had more of a party atmosphere with thousands of Turkish families visiting for the sugar festival.  Kids, high on sugar, were running around everywhere and doing cartwheels on the floor which somehow detracted a little from the overall solemnity of the place.  But beautiful, none-the-less.

Cisterna Basilica
This underground cistern was built by the Ottomans using old bits and pieces of ancient Greek and Roman architecture.  There's a Medusa head supporting one of those pillars!  It sits under the site of an old church (hence the name) and at one stage provided most of the water for the city of Istanbul.  Now it's just a pretty cool tourist attraction.

And that wraps up the major touristy bits of Istanbul! Back to regular blogging shortly.