Book nook update!

Goodness me, it’s been well over a year since I told you what I’ve been reading! Sorry for leaving it so long. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been a bit busy and feeling a bit hot and cold about blogging this year. But I’ve decided to give you a little update on what I’ve loved reading in 2015 (apart from the many, many journal articles I’ve read for Uni).

 

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

BIG MAGIC

Now, I know Eat, Pray, Love has become a bit of a divisive one in many a book club and friendship group, but hear me out here. I’m a bit of an artsy fartsy, creative type but I’m also a bit of a realist. I love to delve into big ideas and the expanses of my imagination, but I also need structure and routine and a good ol’ kick up the ass when I’m getting carried away. This book manages to strike a great balance between all of these things. Liz’s voice is so clear and so kind as well, so it was like having a sassy big sister sharing her worldly wisdom with me. For anyone who’s a combo of analytical/rational and creative/imaginative like I am, this one’s a winner.

Craft for the Soul – Pip Lincolne

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Craft for the Soul is the perfect companion for Big Magic. There are some overlaps, but in a good way – just enough to solidify those ‘aha!’ moments but not too many that they’re regurgitating each other. Pip Lincolne is one of my favourite bloggers (Gilmore Girls!!) so to have an actual physical piece of her work and compilation of her craft projects, recipes and advice makes me so happy. Suss out Meet Me At Mike’s first for a taste of Pip’s awesomeness.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

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I picked this up at Dymocks on one of their 3 for 2 deal days because it had won or been shortlisted for a lot of awards and it had a cute cover and the blurb sounded good and I was feeling impulsive. About 50 pages in and I was regretting this decision. This was a bit of a problem book for me for quite a while; it frustrated me. But theeeeeen I got over the fact that I wasn’t necessarily going to love the characters because maybe I wasn’t meant to, and I started to engage with the ideas that the book was raising and the way that the narrative was being constructed and I got totally hooked. It’s not a light-hearted, fun ride, but it’s worth it. Good for people interested in psychology/sociology/philosophy/biology/nature vs nurture debates.

Funny Girl, A Long Way Down & How to be Good – Nick Hornby

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This year I traded a little part of my Australian winter for a British summer and flitted off to London to study Shakespeare (tough life, I know). While I was there, I went to an author talk by Nick Hornby at Kingston University and I bought a whole stack of his books to get signed beforehand. Apart from seeing About a Boy, I wasn’t very familiar with Nick’s work, or even Nick himself until this point, but I’d heard good things and my hopes were high. Like many authors, Nick was quirky and a teeny weeny bit belligerent but totally honest and completely fascinating. I loved it. The three books of his that I read (listed above) were all very simple on the surface but raised lots of tough questions and were full of wry observations and wit. Would definitely recommend if you’re after a speedy read but don’t want to feel patronised by the author or dumbed-down by the banality of the story.

The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd

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When I was in high school we read Eva Luna by Isabel Allende, and I found it enthralling but really difficult to ‘get’. The Secret Life of Bees had all the beauty and wonder and mystery and brutality that I loved in Allende’s writing but I ‘got’ it a lot quicker. It’s such a classic, and one I’ll recommend to everyone, forever. There isn’t much more I can say about it really. Just read it, if you haven’t already. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get to it!

So they’re all my faves that I can think of for now! I’ll try and update you again soon, as I’ve got another big stack of novels to get through over the summer holidays. Speak soon, lovelies!

Lxx

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E is for..?

Ethel, dahhhhlinks! And who’s behind E for Ethel? Amanda Matulick and Dan Harland, crafty couple, placemakers and small business ninjas. Seriously, they must have some kind of superpowers to get the amount of stuff done that they do. All the way back in May I paid them a visit to try and uncover those superpowers, or at least a few of their secrets about how to build such a well-loved local business. Just a quick heads-up though, we had a looong chat (I couldn’t believe how generous they were with their time!) so this is just part one of my E for Ethel feature… Part one is all about Amanda and Dan themselves, who they are and what makes E for Ethel the special little space that it is. Part two will be all about small business, Radelaide and placemaking!

It was one of the first chilly, drizzle days of May and E for Ethel was (and is) a perfect spot to shelter. I ducked my head inside and snooped around the racks and shelves and various displays of crafty goodness before introducing myself to A & D. Dan whipped me up a delish coffee (they serve them complete with choccie freckle and book quote snippet on the side) and one for himself and we settled in for a chat. First of all, I wanted to know about Amanda and Dan themselves. How did they find themselves running such a lovely nook of sweetness?

Dan: Amanda’s always wanted to have her own space and her background’s in hospitality so it was kinda natural for her. Myself, I was a panel-beater before this and I’d done that for maybe 15 years – straight out of high school – and had never done anything else. Amanda had the idea to open this place about five years ago and we just decided to jump and go with it. I think if you have a big idea like that there’s no point putting it off and then down the track regretting not doing it, or eventually getting around to it but regretting not doing it sooner. I’d always thought about owning my own business but more to do with panel-beating. I’d never really thought of having a retail/hospitality business before because I’d never worked in either of those industries. It was quite daunting actually, and I’m still learning, but that’s the nature of business.

Lauren (me): How do you see E for Ethel as a hub for your community, now and in the future?
Dan: We’ve been chatting about this a lot lately. It’s something we always wanted; back in our business plan we always intended the place to have a community feel to it. It’s something we can’t quite put our finger on exactly how it’s happened, but I guess we just love getting to know anyone who comes in and we want people to feel like they’re at home and the more we try and make people feel comfortable like that, the more it’s going to grow.

At this point, there was a little lull in cafe activity so Amanda was able to pop over and join us.

L: Have you found that community feel has helped you build up a group of regular customers?
Amanda: There’s lots of people that feel so comfortable here and have been coming in for a really long time – or even people that haven’t known us that long but they feel at-home here and that’s really special. When we originally talked about names for the shop, one of the names we liked was ‘The Cosy Cafe’ and that’s kinda what people feel in here, like they’re in their lounge room and they’re really cosy and do things like they bring their dishes back up to us and that’s really cute.
D: Actually, this place was a cafe about 20 years ago called ‘The Cosy Cafe’ or ‘The Cosy Place’ or something.
A: I think it was an Austrian Schnitzel bar or something, so slightly different! It sounds very cute though and people reminisce about it a lot so maybe there’s something in this building that makes it a cosy place to be. This space is somewhere where we can have visits from our friends and family and we have customers who’ve become friends and family and that’s a really beautiful thing.

L: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, especially for Dan, not coming from a hospitality or retail background?
A: When we’d been in to do set-up and we were packing down for the night and we were opening the next day and we were pulling out of the car park, Dan said to me, “Do you know what my biggest fear is?” and I was like, “Nooo” and he was like, “Serving people” and I was like, “How did we get to this point, after two years of research and all of the fit-out and all of the craziness for you to tell me that right before we open?” and he was like “It’s your thing, I’m not going to spoil your dream just because I’m a little bit scared of people.” So yeah-
D: But yeah, you learn pretty quick!
A: But he’s amazing now.
D: Part of that was just that it was doing things that I’d never done before, like coffee and food and serving and I didn’t even know if I could do it so yeah…
A: You can! Hahaha… But other than that, I guess just what every business faces, you know, having to build a brand, build a name for yourself, having to cover your overheads and all of your expenses and making sure that you’re still enjoying it too. If you didn’t love it, you couldn’t survive in business I don’t think; you have to be passionate. Especially in small business. So I think all of the standard challenges, but we kinda see everything as an opportunity, as cliched as that sounds, we can always flip it and go, “So what does that mean and how can we change that and how can we create something different?” just trying to be clever about things.

L: What do you think makes E for Ethel a unique space? And a unique business?
D: I think just what we offer the customer. I mean, obviously it’s different to a normal retail space. We’re a dual business, with the food and retail space – not every store has that. We originally started as more retail and just did coffee but we’ve sort of grown into the space since then. I guess just that we’re still owner-operated too. We have friends and family who help out but if a customer comes in, we’re always going to be here and I think that offers a unique experience in itself. A lot of people talk about the ‘E for Ethel experience‘ as a thing, which is nice. It’s nice that a lot of our customers have that connection with the place. You can even see how big businesses are trying to move back towards that connection, personalising everything and styling themselves like a small business would, which is interesting. It’s a good thing, they should be doing that.

So there you have it, guys! Part one of two of my chat with Ethel’s own Amanda and Dan. Stay tuned for the next and final installment, and in the meantime why not pop in and say hey to the team? Make the most of that community atmosphere; it’s pretty special!

Lx

E for Ethel
Shop 7/116 Melbourne Street,
North Adelaide SA 5006
Phone 08 8367 0312
Email ethel@eforethel.com.au
Instagram @eforethel

TRADING TIMES
Wed to Sat – 9am to 5pm
Sun & Mon – 10am to 4pm
(Tues Closed)

Hey, Hi, Hello

So, you’ve somehow stumbled across this here little blog I call Big Shoes to Fill. Awesome! Rad! Ace! All of those positive adjectives and countless more to you; you’re ahead of the pack. You see, I have might have modest expectations for the reach of my ‘little nook of loveliness’, but I have big hopes for it and even bigger ideas for its content. So consider yourself a trendsetter, a trailblazer and please spread the word about me, if you’d be so kind!

A little about myself, and aforementioned exciting content, before we get started good and proper… I’m a student, retail gal, keen traveller and reacher for the stars from the (underrated, in my opinion) little city of Adelaide, Australia. I love all things fashion, language and literature, theatre, artsy craftsy, foodie, home interiorsy; the list goes on! I’ve just come back from a life-changing 2 month trip traversing parts of Europe (which you can catch up on over at The World Is Her Book) and decided it was time I turned my never-ending notebooks, Pinterest boards and computer files of ideas, lists and loves into something more substantial.

I’ve been inspired by some of the lovely feedback I’ve had about my travel blog as well as the success of some dear friends and acquaintances’ blogs (remind me to tell you about them soon..) to keep writing, so here goes.

I have big shoes to fill and big dreams to chase from my little nook in this little town. I hope you’ll follow me along the way.

Lauren xx

P.S. follow me on Instagram at @bigshoestofill for more!