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

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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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5 Print Clashing Basics

I love a good print clash. They’re a great way to shake up your look if you’re not comfortable buying into the latest trends (I’m lookin’ at you: midriff-baring, culottes, funnel-necklines, long layers, et al.) but still want to look edgy. My Mum is going to baulk at the idea of this post, as she doesn’t “get” the print clash and she often gives me a very perplexed look when I emerge from my bedroom wearing spots and florals at the same time (an awesome combo, if you ask me). It is, however, a topic I get asked about a lot at work so I thought I’d share some tips and pics with you.

1. Start with monochrome

Black and white are always chic, and usually pretty forgiving when it comes to mixing prints. They rarely look too ‘busy’ and are able to be worn just as easily at work or off-duty. Olivia Palermo rocks this look a LOT.

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2. Keep a classic print as your base

Whilst trends constantly swing between florals, geometrics, tribal, and so on, there are certain classic prints that will be around forever. Stripes, spots, leopard, checks and snakeskin are my top five. They work just as well together as they do clashed against busier/brighter prints because they are often found in neutral tones like black, white, tan, khaki and grey. As I mentioned at the start of this post, I reckon florals work particularly well with spots and stripes.

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3. Pick a common colour

Start with one print and pull out one colour you’d like to highlight. This doesn’t have to be the colour that dominates the piece – in fact it’s probably better if it’s not to maximise clashage (yes, that is the technical term). Your second print should also feature this colour to make it stand out. Finding a common colour between two or more prints helps create some flow through your outfit and again, prevents the busy-ness from being too overwhelming. The pics below are some awesome examples.

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4. Keep styles classic

If you’re just starting out, try not to overcomplicate things. Start with a simple t-shirt/collared shirt on top and slim or straight pants/pencil skirt on the botton and keep your accessories in a complementary neutral tone (black/white/nude and metallics are the easiest). Opt for a classic silhouette and build from there.

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5. Trust your gut

There are certain combos that you would never think would work, but somehow do. Ultimately, if you feel good in what you’re wearing and you wear it with confidence, it’s probably going to work. People will either not notice at all, or (like my mother) still be perplexed, but kinda accept it anyway. Wear what you love.

Here are some other print clash collages/posts for inspiration: 1. and 2. and 3. And here are some of my other fave print clash outfits: 1. and 2. and 3. and 4. Margherita Missoni, Olivia Palermo, Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine and Miroslava Duma are reeeeally good examples of print clashing done right. There’s also HEAPS of awesome pics over on Pinterest if you search “print clash” and refine from there using key words for colours/styles/shapes/prints you already have in your wardrobe or are looking to buy. So there you go! Hope that’s got you excited to start print clashing and given you some confidence to get started!

Lxx

When Lauren Met Clare

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This post, like many I write, has been a long time coming. Over a year ago I attended an afternoon tea/discussion arvo/performance hosted by the blissful Clare Bowditch and her Big Hearted Business (no really, that’s what it’s called). A big group of ladies and a smattering of gents (that’s the correct collective noun, is it not?) gathered at the Nexus Arts Centre. I had donned my favourite big blue coat, the one that makes me feel the snuggliest and sassiest and snazziest of all the coats. I was feeling the kind of uncomfortable apprehension that usually follows closely behind me when I attend events of an even vaguely networky nature. I had been ‘lost’ for about a year and was only just starting to find my feet. I was frustrated: intellectually, emotionally, creatively, socially. I was expecting a nice afternoon out with the best of all of my friends, my Mother, some pretty songs and a good cuppa. That’s exactly what I got, and then some.

Clare spoke eloquently and dreamily all at once. It was clear she was a woman with a soaring heart and a sharp mind to back it up. As she spoke about the need for creatives to hone their business brain and business folk to think more creatively, I furiously scrawled notes in my crisp new notebook. Some of my notes were quotes from Clare, but most were ideas that sparked off in my own mind from what she said. They weren’t all great ideas – in fact most of them were pretty terrible – but there were more than there had been in over a year and they were flowing freely. The creative floodgates were open; there was no going back.

Towards the end of Clare’s speech, she opened the discussion up to questions from the audience. I had so many, and they were swirling around so quickly that I could barely catch one. But I did, and I raised my hand tentatively. Eventually it was my turn, and I asked Clare the one question that had been underlying so many of my anxieties for so long: “Where do I start?” I’m a very expressive, creative type, but also a thinker. My head and my heart are often at odds and it was holding me back. I wanted to do it all, try it all, but couldn’t pin myself down to starting one particular thing. Clare beamed back at me and laughed a knowing laugh. She told me she could relate, and that she would answer me in song. This is that song.

You want an amazing life
But you can’t decide
You think you have to be fully formed already
Don’t you?
You want an amazing life
But you can’t decide
You do not have to be just one thing
But you have to start with something

I had to start with something. I knew that already, I think, but this was confirmation. This was me seeing through my fog and choosing to start. Rather than waiting for ‘inspiration’, I had to make conscious decisions to make little efforts in one direction. And so I did. I started jotting down phrases in notebooks with no real end goal, purely for the satisfaction of writing – creating something directly from the clash of heart and brain that was already going on. I started writing about my travels, and then when I came home I started this blog. The little words of encouragement from friends and strangers alike spurred me on, and soon I started submitted my writing elsewhere. I’ve had lots of love from the ladies who edited this year’s volume of On Dit in particular. They’ve published everything from an open letter to asylum seekers to cabaret reviews to a celebration of single lady-ness constructed entirely from Beyonce and Destiny’s Child lyrics. Because even as a writer, I know that I don’t have to be just one thing, but I had to start with something. And I started on that blustery winter’s day last year, with tears in the corners of my eyes and Clare’s words echoing in my mind. So really, I have Clare to thank, but also myself. Because those words were already there, they just needed to be spoken (or sung, in this case). I think that’s all we really need sometimes, don’t you?

Book Nook: The Wishlist

With the proliferation of digital content and e-readers and immersive media, there’s something special about holding a hard-copy book in your hands; the feel, the smell, the specialness of it all. My shelves are currently overflowing with all sorts of titles – some for study, some for leisure, some for inspiration, some I’m not even sure why I bought them. I’m hanging out for Madre to finish her Ph.D. at the end of the year so she can clean collection out a bit and maybe I’ll be able to find some spots for my ever-expanding collection on the many, many bookshelves that fill our home. I thought I’d make a little list of some of the titles that I’m currently longing for, firstly to remind myself to actually buy them, and also to (hopefully) provide a bit of inspiration for you to expand your own collection*. Here goes…

Frankie Spaces, Volume 2

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Unfortunately I missed out on getting my mitts on a copy of the first volume of Frankie’s Spaces book, so I’m desperate to get stuck into this one. I just love getting a peek into people’s homes, especially those of creative types. Those of you who know me will know how homewares-obsessed I am, which is just plain silly for someone who is unlikely to be able to move out of home for at least another five or so years. But then again, at least I know that when I move out I will know exactly how I want to decorate my own little space, with the help of this here compendium and my mother’s many, many homey mags.

My Heart Wanders – Pia Jane Bijkerk

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“What would happen if one day you decided to follow your heart? Where would it take you?” That’s the question Pia poses in her divine travel memoir/photo diary, My Heart Wanders. Now, I am not in the slightest bit a spontaneous person. I hate feelings of insecurity – in my surroundings, in my future, in myself, in those around me. Yet I often find myself drawn to all things whimsical and risk-taking and ‘follow your dreams’-y. Perhaps I do have a less sensible, logic-loving side to myself, and perhaps I should be paying more attention to it… If that’s so, this book will be my perfect source of inspiration. Click here for further glimpses inside this gorgeous little number.

What Katie Ate – Katie Quinn Davies

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I have a penchant for buying recipe books for their perceived usefulness, and then never actually using them. Katie Quinn Davies’ food photography is all kinds of lovely, so I’m hoping this book’s aesthetic appeal might actually convince me to cook up a storm more often (although I’m sure my family would be happier, and safer, if I didn’t). If a book can get the thumbs-up from both Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop website and Martha Stewart, it’s gotta be pretty decent, right?

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls – David Sedaris

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I first stumbled across this curiously-titled collection of essays at a local gem of a book store/cafe/book club hub, The Mockingbird Lounge. I wasn’t game to snap it up then, but I sure am now. I’ve never read any of Sedaris’ work, but if there ever was a sign that I’ll like a particularly quirky book it’s this: The Sydney Morning Herald wasn’t a big fan. It’s had good responses on Goodreads though, and I think the look of the cover will complement the other picks in this list (yes I am that shallow).

The Fictional Woman – Tara Moss

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Tara Moss‘ appearance on Q&A a couple of weeks ago proved to me once and for all that the woman is nothing if not well-informed. She knows her stuff, and makes a point of doing so. She showed up most of the other panel members on this front, which impressed me mightily. I’m interested to see whether she conveys her messages as eloquently in print and to see if I have as many “YESSS, ME TOOO!” moments reading this memoir/social commentary as I did listening to her on the tele.

Anything John Green

With the new movie, The Fault in Our Stars, proving uber popular amongst my fellow not quite teen/not quite adults, I figure I’d do well to give some of John Green’s stuff a go. I usually find adolescent fiction characters a bit too self-indulgent and melancholy, but perhaps that’s what adolescence is like… I’m undecided, but maybe Green will help me make up my mind.

*This has nothing to do with the fact that my 20th birthday is fast approaching. Nothing, whatsoever.

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!