Saturday, 30 July 2011

Bedside Tales ...

I'm not the fastest of readers - infact I may well be one of the slowest readers ever,
as just the other day I finally finished reading my xmas present book - John Le carre's Our Kind of Traitor

I've been fan of Mr le Carre for as long as I can remember and I have quite a few of his books in hardback.

I like my dustjackets off! infact they get ripped up and stuck into my scrap books - such is their attractive artwork. I've always preferred to look at my books jackets free! I like the texture of the cloth covers.

and I like to save new words, expressions and quips when I read a book, so I tab over the bottom corner and when I finish the book I make a note of the ones I have gathered. (it only occurred to me to use my camera the other day! duh!)

Our Kind of Traitor was a good read - Mr le Carrre never disappoints! and I noticed a few cutesy animal related quips! so nice to have something so cute from one so serious I think.

I won't say what I felt after finishing the book - because that would give the whole book away! and I don't like spoiling endings, but suffice to say that if you love subterfuge then you will not be disappointed.

this quote has to be one of my favourites from the book. Nippy pilots! how very fitting and descriptive!

In Scotland I've heard the word nippy used in a couple of different ways - for weather it means frosty with a bite in the air, as in - 'och, it's awfy nippy out there today'
and with a person's character it can mean that they are both picky and snappy - at the same time - now isn't that an image to hold only once in your head! (obviously someone is not having a good day!)

so just now I am reading Battlecruiser by Douglas Reeman, another one of my favourite authors.

I absolutely adore sea stories, especially World War II sea stories! and whilst I get as green as a frog and sick as a dog if I even look at a boat, or any sort of sea going vessel, my fascination for these stories is insatiable.

Mr Reeman is ex-Navy and Mr le Carre is ex-British Intelligence, so these authors know their subjects well.

I love my paperbacks to be affordable and appreciated, so that means I will gladly pay 50p ($1) for a book that has been read before.
About a year ago my dad gave me a pile of about 10 paperbacks by Mr Reeman! I am slowly working my way thru them. It's good if your family and friends know your book taste because they can collect on your behalf, and vice versa.

I have plenty of bookmarks here, but I have yet to become so organised that a bookmark will appear by a newly started book! So I tab the pages until one manages to stop by, er, sometimes a few weeks later!
Love my Esme rabbit book mark! by my talented artist friend Pey from etsy shop Peylu

When I sell an item from my etsy shop, even a single $4 card, I package it all up nicely and gift wrap it, and put in my own complimentary 'book mark'

because if you are anything like me, you cannot ever have too many bookmarks!

I use my spare scrap images from my handmade cards and turn them into something for you to keep.
I add a brad, usually a heart shaped one, and some string or thread or long fibre thingy as a tail, so it will hold the place in your tale .....

and isn't it so much nicer than tabbing the pages?

these bookmarks, or what-evers you use them for, are as 'gift with purchase' only from my etsy shop.

Doesn't that sound like a good marketing ploy? I've heard that one before :)
(though I'm the type of bower bird who will buy something just to get the 'free' item with it!)

next up on my reading list will be Cyclops by Clive Cussler.

I've never read him before, or had even heard of him infact! as a friend introduced me to him, and I must admit, I had started to read this book a few months ago and it was all so very exciting but after a chapter I decided to finish my le Carre instead, and then I caught the first ship out with Reeman! so Cussler's Cyclops with the macho and rather irresistible Dirk Pitt is now in-waiting on my bedside table safely under my rabbit.

Hopefully I won't be taking 7 months to finish it this time!

and talking about tales -

well, these little youngsters are nearly out of the nest -

they just need their er, tails and tales :)

happy reading!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

... c'mon! get with it! you Scot, er, Aussie, er, Brit ...

Who am I?
I'm a Scot, an Aussie and I suppose a Brit (because I'm not so nationalistic a Scot now that I live in the homeland - .... but if I was back in Australia I would probably be more Scottish than ever ~ as is the way ~ )

Anyway - I'm also ex-Australian Army, (Intelligence Corps), and I have resisted social media and posting my photo online for years and years. My identity was purely as my etsy shop - 'Dragon House of Yuen' and never as a 'human'
..... until now....


and so this morning when I sat down with my earl grey and saw that I had a new Twitter follower - BritUS, I checked out their tweets - as one does - and saw this GREAT video above! (thanks BritUS!)
It has the best ever military footage I've seen for a long while!

Well - in my last post I mentioned the excitement of seeing swans fly over, so it was just as exciting to see bigger metal 'swans' in the form of military hardware, in action in this video!
(and - Concorde in flight!! - did you know that concord lives just down the road from me in the Museum of Flight?!)

Plus the song is groovy and a great take on the Brit anthem - and hey! who doesn't love being a Brit? and proud of our soldiers??!

So now you know -
I Tweet,
I blog,
I etsy,

and when my friend Jane from etsy shop The Dog House came round to visit me and the buns the other day and we discussed social media sites - I finally relented and succumbed to the No-1 outlet - FB!

so, I, er, also FB
.... but it is as my shop Dragon House of Yuen, and not me as a human ...

It was great to see Jane again and she brought delicious edible gifts! Cupcakes for me and a carrot for Arabella and Wes - thank you Jane!

As soon as I placed her carrot cupcakes on my plate the reindeer raced over for a bite! uttering something about lichen being over-rated ...

Jane made these absolutely delicious vegan cupcakes! and I was in heaven. They were the best carrot cakes I have ever tasted in my life - and I have tasted Alot! of carrot cakes!
(though I did have to fend the reindeer off, they were pretty nifty in their nibbles!)

Jane has 2 rescued greyhounds of her own - Max and Molly, and she is also fostering another lithe runner called Poppy.
Well, I've been lucky to have met and kissed Max and Molly! and like the reindeer - they love their nibbles too!

plus I am the proud owner of Jane's work as well! (I have this gorgeous tricks for treats bag)
Here is Max inspecting Jane's work to make sure it's all A OK.

and here is Poppy (and boyfriend :) - doing what greyhounds do best - er, no, not running! - relaxin'! :)

Every month I write a post on 'real studio managers' for the In the Making etsy team I am on, and this month it is all about Max, Molly and Poppy - Jane's real managers ... enjoy the read :)

'hey! what's all this about facebook?? I want to know!

... perhaps I can be your face person, er, bun, - here's my best shot !'

Wesley - you could indeed be my face bun :)

'ahem! Ms Tait - I happen to be your facebooker face with my bags, and your etsy shop face and blog face and .... - Wes will have to wait for another social media outlet to hit the big time ...'

ofcourse Arabella! there will be something for everyone, em, I mean ....everybun ...

so the cat is out of the bag!
I have joined FB. I just have to get the hang of it and that could take, er, a few months ...

and just incase you wonder what cat's do when humans aren't watching - such as, er, barking!?!
then check out this very funny YouTube video.

(It came on after the Anton Lorien Brit video, and I was in stitches :)

I rather like this pic of me, and when I get my book published I will probably use it for the jacket sleeve pic, as all authors do, a nice little 'serious' black and white of the author ...

.... and back to the question, who am I? well, er, today I'm a Brit! thanks Anton Lorien - keep up the good work for the troops!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

A Squadron of Swans!

I love swans and I love porcelain so when they are combined I become rather excited!

I have a little swannery infact, in my kitchen display cabinet -

and just recently added a new couple to my Squadron!

Isn't this such an amazing cup?! My earl grey will never have tasted better that's for sure!
It came all the way from America and they managed to fly across the Atlantic in just over 7 days. Now that's good going for swans, because the Atlantic can be quite turbulent at times.
They were awfully hungry when they flew in ofcourse, so grains were scattered .....

and since swans mate for life they will be very happy living here.

Did you know that there are at least 26 Collective Nouns for swans!! So I had a good selection for this post's title.
And I'm wondering how impressive it would be to see a whole squadron of swans fly over!

Last year I was lucky enough to see a pair of swans fly over me as I drove along an empty road on a cold winter's day by Dirleton Castle in East Lothian. They were so big, I could hear their wings cutting thru the icy air and they were calling to each other. I got goosebumps! or should I say swanbumps? it really was enchanting and a privilege to see.

I got this swan cup not that long ago. Very romantic and elegant! This was my first swan vessel to alight here in my home, and I wondered whether she may not be a bit lonesome amongst all my hares?


but like all good love stories, her partner came into her life, unexpectedly one day, and now they sit side by side in my cabinet, or, er, wing by wing ...


I really couldn't believe it when I chanced up this 'sugar box' in a thift shop.
So, since I don't use sugar, but I love my loose leaf, he now holds my earl grey and I take a pinch for every cup of tea!

because it takes a while to go thru the tea faffing procedure here, my cuppa sure does taste all that nicer! there is so much truth in the Japanese tea ceremony where the bowl of tea is prepared from one's heart - it happens here!

I have always loved swans, they are beautiful, majestic birds

a while ago I made little swans for my etsy shop and Odette is still there - Baby Swan Odette -

When Odette first poked her head out of the egg she ended up with a fluffy soft downy feather stuck to her beak. It was there for quite a few hours as she gathered her bearings in this shell free world and she became rather attached to it. When mama plucked it off there were small squeals of protest, so it was promptly put back on. Ever since then Odette has been collecting feathers. But not just any type of feathers mind. She prefers the beautiful downy ones, but occasionally she will go for a slim line wing feather or a shed tail one. She finds lots of feathers by the pond’s edge as most of the birds do their preening down there where they get a good view of themselves. How can one preen if not in front of a mirror? So during preening hours the babies must splash at the other side of the pond so as not to disturb the still mirror surface of the water. Odette, ofcourse, is just not interested in playing and instead she pretends to preen too, but she’s really keeping an eye out for those wayward fluffy feathers!

Odette is looking forward to making her herself at home on your side table, or coffee table if you prefer. She will have her collection with her, and has managed to stuff them elegantly into a simple nest construction, so just make sure there are no breezes nearby, nor cats either thanks! She would love the French doors open every day too so that she can make her way down to the preener’s edge of the pond. You are welcome to come along as well, but mind, no dipping your toes into the water lest you cause ripples, and that won’t just be ripples on the water! plus you’ll have to think about doing some type of pretend preening too, simply can’t have you just sitting there, staring!


One of the collective nouns was 'tank of swans'! I wonder under what context that noun would be used? I googled it but couldn't find anything, not even relating to WWII. How intriguing!

Ofcourse I can visualize a squadron easily, and a 'whiteness' and a 'wedge' and a 'royal', so perhaps a 'tank' could be swans on the ground with cygnets, about to charge an invader?

Swans are very protective of their babies and they are one of the biggest and heaviest flying birds in the world, weighing at least 18kg, sometimes more, (behind the bustards), so they are very formidable!

..... indeed very like a tank! ......

~ happy tea drinking ~

Thursday, 7 July 2011

struth! ~ from Australia with Love ~

It's not every day that I receive a surprise package from my former home - Australia!

so the other week I was awfully excited when I unwrapped a beautiful parcel of memories!!

I found a gorgeous kookaburra brooch, a handmade sewn kookaburra postcard, some Aussie native flower stamp postcards and a cup of tea from miss rabbit! all tied with vintage lace!

Wow!! and kookaburra will now get to see the sights of Scotland, but because it's rather chilly here I'll make sure to wear him on warm days only!

Many thanks to, er, .... the hares!!

.... what do you mean 'hares'?

- hares sent you this parcel all the way from down-under??

Yes! they sure did! Mother Hare Empress, her son Baby Hare Snowstorm and Tiny hare!!

- plus their 'mama' Christabel from etsy shop Zinnia Pea

- Thank you so much Christabel, Empress, Snowstorm and Tiny!

Here is Empress, at home, about to look outside to see who is making all that racket!

Christabel has a blog, Zinnia Pea, which I visit often to gaze fondly at all the photos.

I get a little home-sick for Australia every time I see pictures like this -


- sulphur crested cockatoos having dinner in Christabel's trees! Empress requests that they pipe down a bit! They do get rather noisy at times!

Christabel lives in South Australia, and I used to live there too (many years ago :) so a visit to her blog brings back so many smells and sights and sounds that were part of my life over there. I can hear those cockatoos now! and when they launch themselves off the trees, the whole branch shakes as they are big heavy birds!

Christabel is a talented lady and she upcycles lovely pieces of porcelain and china with witty quotes that she hand inks from her favourite books and conversations!

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
and on the saucer - "I never guess. It is a shocking habit — destructive to the logical faculty."

Now just imagine that - I live 10 minutes drive from the Conan Doyle pub, here in Edinburgh and pass it most days, named after the creator of Mr Holmes! (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) ... though, er, I've never been in - I'm not a 'pub' type person... (but I do like the name Conan - I'm a Conan the Barbarian fan!! :)

I love quotes too, and lots of words stay with me long after I have finished the book. There will always be a use for an interesting quote!

Australia has had a very hard time this year - it was early February when they were hit with the biggest cyclone in history - Cyclone Yasi, and the worst floods ever, especially in Brisbane and Toowoomba. I was glued to the internet for daily news when this was happening. It was sad to watch, but heartening to see the Aussies pull together as they always do when things like this happen.
I've lived in both those beautiful places and they are filled with wildlife!
So it was great to see that the flood rescuers took time to care for these orphaned baby bats! aaaw!


Christabel finds just the right words to put on her china - this cup and saucer has Coco Chanel, an irrepressible, strong woman!

on the cup is 'J'aime le vie! I feel that to live is a wonderful thing!"

and on the saucer is "In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different."

how very true! and I could not agree more with both quotes!! and I think the baby bats would be feeling the same way.

Aussies have always been different, the Aussie spirit is like no other and I grew up watching Gallipoli, Mad Max (remember Mad Max??!) and er, a few episodes of Neighbours ....!
and I like to think that I have that Aussie spirit too.

so when the Aussie coat of arms is in trouble - people step in - and help! these roos are being rescued in the floods. What a hopeful photo!

(I'm sorry, but I don't know whom to credit for the animal pics, but if anyone does leave a comment and I'll add the credit)

and so, you could do no better than to have Marilyn Monro as your tea taking companion!

here she says on the plate '... All we demanded was our right to twinkle."

and on the cup is "Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring."

I would have to say hear! hear! - who is perfect?? I'm sure not! and I suppose I could be a little mad if it is linked to genius perhaps :) and, er, I've never been boring, not that anyone has told me anyway! (... is anyone reading this...??!)
so those roos are getting another day to 'twinkle'! many thanks to that brave chap for rescuing them!

- now if you can't get 5 roos into your dinghy - then hey! just take the one!!

every life is worth saving :)
and my, my, don't they both look so relaxed on the water there, arms out to the side, smiling for the camera!
my hat is off to that lady and her lucky roo companion!

so after a hard day at work, or out and about, nothing could be nicer than sitting down at home with that cup of refreshing tea!

especially in this amazing mug from Christabel with Oscar Wilde - "I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train"

and that would be one of the best reasons ever to start a daily journal!
I watched a Ben Affleck movie recently called Man About Town, and it's all about keeping a daily journal to 'discover who you are'. It has John Cleese in it, that funny British chap! and it's a very funny movie - it had me in stitches and it's also a deeply touching movie. Mr Affleck excelled in this one, it really is a gem.

- so after your 'sensational' day - just imagine who would believe you, if you wrote ..'I saw a frog taking a ride on a snake thru the Aussie floodwaters ....' ... yeah!? yeah!?
(and I can say thanks to Armin for taking this photo!)

ofcourse the frog and snake might actually be more than just transport & passenger - perhaps they are united in matters of the heart? .... hmmmm...

if so then they could do no better than to sip from Christabel's Jane Austen's cup and saucer here!

the cup says "You must allow me to tell you.."

and the saucer
"..how ardently I admire and love you."

now that would be a special match made in heaven!!

I've been lucky to have met Christabel online and had the opportunity to read her blog, and seen a little of the beauty that surrounds her and what inspires her and most of all I am honoured that she chose to give my hares a forever home! ~ from one lady who loves words to another! ~

This is a mama possum that visited Christabel!
Isn't she beaut! (as the Aussies say :) and I have to agree, possums are the prettiest little marsupials ever! I had them in my garden in Brisbane. They would come out late at night and rustle away in the trees and eat the fruit. aaahh! memories!
(...er, at first I thought they were burglars but when the police came to investigate they soon pointed out the 'culprits' and the truth! sheesh!)

and one last pic from Christabel's blog - this is Mount Alma in South Australia!
Just look at those gum trees!
Australia really is a very special place and I've not been back for 16 years! (time flies eh?)
but thanks to the hares and Christabel I was given a delightful sojourn!

and I enjoyed every minute of it!! :)

Friday, 1 July 2011

Elegance and Fraoch choose their 'persons'

Here I am with Mama Hare Elegance and Baby Hare Fraoch - they are very excited and ready to see who will be their 'persons' - because as we all know - you don't choose the fur-person in your life - they choose you!

Many thanks for everyone's superb ideas about where to place my up-coming book in a book shop!
it has given me plenty of food for thought because I'm real crap at marketing my own stuff and can't see the wood for the squirrels and hares and ... er, ... well, you get the picture!

so, without further adoo ....
(ps - those tartan trews are for indoors only, here in Scotland, otherwise I may be mistaken for a tourist!! though when I lived in Australia I wore them everywhere!)

names were written on scrap Arabella print outs, and put into an a very old glass jar that once belonged to my grandmother!

Fraoch and Elegance insisted on choosing their humans - so to make it easier for them, they were happy to have a tiny patch of double sided sticky tape adhered to their furry noses (ow!)

Elegance was first ...

and very, very eager to get her nose into the jar!

I just had to give the paper rabbits a jumble first ...

and before you could sneeze - she was in and out!

and had her prize stuck on the end of her beautiful nose!

and it's Mandy! from Bijou's Whimsy!! yay!!

congrats Mandy! Elegance is chuffed as she knows you have 4 rescue buns for her to meet and play with!

and from nose to ear - Elegance has packed already and will be expecting much assistance in Mandy's garden this summer amongst the blooms!

little Fraoch is excited to get her turn!

She is so small that my mum kindly lent a helping hand and tipped her into the melee!

and she finds her prize in no time at all and gets it stuck real good there!

and it's Val! from etsy shop Pillowville!! yay!!

congrats Val! Fraoch will be more than pleased to road test, er, couch test your etsy pillows! (or as we say here in Scotland - cushions :)

and from nose to ear ...

Fraoch is already packed and she has some new ideas about pillow colours and maybe even words on them, being the talker that she is! plus she'll be telling you about her name too, mind!

so many, many thanks to everyone who entered!

my idea for my book cover is over a year old (I'm a bit slow with some things!) and I rather like a small size book, but I'm open minded really and will readily adapt to the market (when I get there!)
and that's me in my stepping-out trews, a nice meadow plaid colour. No tourist 'tartan smiles' for me :)

Mandy and Val, I shall have these hares in the post pronto! considering they both actually packed their bags a few weeks ago!

and now I'm busily working on my book! watch this page .....

thanks so much to everyone!
that was fun!

.... and, er, those tartan trews once more :)