Wise words

Recitethis screenshot

I’ve been meaning to post about for ages – this site started up last summer and is an exceptionally cool tool for turning quotes, expressions or personal mantras into visually interesting images. It’s oh so simple to use, although may take a few attempts to render the image as it does seem to get stuck on ‘Connecting 0%’ if you’re an Internet multi-tasker (so, top tip: give it your undivided attention for a moment or two). Your creation can then be shared on a variety of mediums including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, or can be downloaded for your own use.

I had a little fun with some Ogden Nash quotations, a hilarious genius if ever there was one.

Candy is Dandy but Liquor is Quicker
Ogden Nash happiness
Ogden Nash parsley
Ogden Nash panther
Ogden Nash waxed the floor
Ogden Nash weaker sex

For a huge range of examples, check out Pinterest for SO MANY Recite This generated images, including a good mix of inspiring and hilarious expressions.

I’d love to hear if anyone has a go themselves!


Hello dear readers! It’s been a while, so here is a giant update on the last month or so. Life has been busy since my ‘radio silence’ warning at the beginning of the month, so prepare yourselves for a long read…

Firstly, so many of you lovely bloggers left really supportive comments and advice when I posted about my recent break-up. Thank you very much to all of you! It meant so much more to me than I can explain here. One nugget of wisdom that really stayed with me was from Michelle, who told me to “keep creating. I really do think it helps us heal”. That pearl of advice couldn’t have been more spot on during that first emotionally tumultuous week when he behaved particularly atrociously – I filled up a whole sketchpad with doodles and words that reflected my emotional state – usually anger! It was extremely cathartic, and probably stopped me from lashing out at a friend, family member, or random unfortunate passer-by. Apologies for the NSFW language!

break up sketchbook

After working through that part of the Kübler-Ross cycle, I began sketching some drawings and patterns in preparation for a screen-printing course at Edinburgh Printmakers, a local arts studio which runs weekend courses introducing you to a range of different screen-printing techniques. I was so thrilled to be learning something new and creative, that was totally separate to the break-up and the seemingly endless flat hunting – until, that is, the course was cancelled with just a few days’ warning. I was gutted. And the stinger in the tail was that the course had been a birthday gift from the recent ex – so no chance of rescheduling, it was just gone. Cue more tears and anger! Oh the drama!

Happily though, I have some really lovely family and friends, and one, Sam, ordered me to visit her in London. And so obediently I obeyed! I took an extra day off to visit one of my sisters, Jenny, and her two boys Ben and (another) Sam. There is nothing like bringing the kid out in you like playing with actual kids. Ordinarily I’m unstoppable when there’s a wooden train set to assemble. It’s like something inside me forces me onto my hands and knees to fit all the pieces of track together in the most complicated railway route imaginable  It turns out I am worse when there’s a marble run. The resulting tower was a marble maze taller than the children, with multiple routes to the bottom and a precarious support system. Thank goodness I don’t design structures for a living, or we would all be surrounded by inter-looping train tracks, rubble, and giant glass marbles.

twins boys and a giant marble run

And so into London, where I seemed to spend a huge chunk of the weekend in various markets. I met up with Sam and Lizzie, two of my best friends in the world, and spent Saturday lunchtime together in Borough Market, the most amazing food market I’ve ever been to. We scoffed wild boar sausages accompanied by hot mead, followed by oodles of free samples of cake and cheese, taking home a chocolate brownie as dense and thick as a brick. And then on Sunday afternoon Sam and I wandered to Spitalfields and bought dinner at Brick Lane market, where even after many stallholders have started packing up you can still get delicious hot food from so many different countries, or in our case, a banana & chocolate Malaysian pancake accompanies by a cup of mulled wine. Yes, a steady stream of chocolate and hot alcohol prevailed! Not good for my Weight Watchers diet, but definitely good for the soul.

On Sunday afternoon we took a trip to the Barbican Centre to visit the Rain Room, hosted by Random International. It is exactly what it sounds like – a room where it rains – except for the fact that movement sensors can stop the flow, meaning that if you move slowly enough for the sensors to catch up with you, you can travel throughout the room without getting wet. I failed to do so, as I’m obviously impatient, so got fairly wet during my experience. But the sound and feeling of rain falling all around you was really magical (yes, more magical than just holding an umbrella), and the dramatic lighting made for some beautiful photographs. The bottom two were definite favourites on my Instagram feed!

Rain Room Barbican
Sam at the Rain Room Barbican
Me at the Rain Room Barbican

I’ve always hated London a little bit, because of how busy it is, how people surround you constantly and all the hustle-and-bustle of the streets and the tube and the shops, but finally that weekend I understood why some people just fall in love with The Big Smoke. That if you let yourself just be part of the madness and not try to push through it and seek tranquillity  it can actually be amazing. Instead of trying to compete with the crowds at the super touristy areas we enjoyed how busy the markets were. And we discovered little havens of calm, like Bunhill Fields cemetery with its seriously inquisitive squirrels, or Postman’s Park, which seems to feature on so many ‘Hidden London’ lists as well as providing a name for Natalie Portman in Closer. When we arrived at Postman’s Park we were the only people there, and only as we browsed the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice did we realise how well timed our visit was – paying tribute to heroes on Armistice Day.

Heroes Wall

Back in Edinburgh, and flat hunting has proven to be a challenge. I have visited so many box rooms described as ‘cosy’, uninterested strangers described as ‘friendly’ and total dumps described as, well, habitable. I’m sure there are many people prepared to sleep with a noisy boiler next to their head, or in flats that reek of burned cooking oil, or who don’t care if a five-bed flat has a tiny kitchen, one bathroom and no communal living space. But I am not one of those people. Eventually, after turning down a couple of nice flats with friendly people but minor problems that meant they weren’t totally perfect, I found the home I’d been searching for. A lovely three bed flat in a quiet area half way between work and the centre of town, sharing with two friendly ladies who love films and books and tea and cake. I’m not moving in until the beginning of January, which gives me a chance to sort out and streamline my many piles of paper and clothes and ‘miscellaneous’ drawers. And I look forward to giving some updates on the new space I’ll be inhabiting in the new year! How crazy is it that 2013 is just around the corner.

In other news, I’m learning how to knit. I joined an Edinburgh meet and make group and we enjoyed some communal craft magic over cups of tea and scones at the lovely Mimi’s Bakehouse in Leith recently. Until that point my early ventures into knitting had been entirely YouTube taught, without any success at all. Casting on seemed so difficult! But thanks to instructions from the very patient Abi of Knitnicks I will one day own a scarf that I will have made with my own two hands (and some knitting needles, and some wool).

And that’s my not-so-brief update! There is of course always much more in the works which I am busting to share, but since I fear this post will already have resulted in oh so many TL;DRs, I think that’ll do for today. See you in the not too distant future!

Google celebrates its 14th birthday today with an animated birthday cake Google doodle. I LOVE the Google doodles, they’re fun and creative and add a little interest to what should be a straightforward search function. They also flip the usual logo conventions around – branding is all about creating a distinctly recognisable visual for customers or users to associate with your company or product, so it’s normal that a company’s logo should be consistent and not changing regularly according to local festivals or birthdays or anniversaries! But then, being unconventional seems to be typical of the Google approach to business. They’ve taken a simple idea for an internet search page and become an international recognised brand producing a huge range of software and hardware. I use Google constantly to organise my life, and I love that it’s become not just a dictionary-recognised verb but a naturalised verb to boot – no matter which search engine is used, most people refer to online searching as ‘googling’.

So today’s ‘wise words’ come from the Google co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who set out to revolutionise the internet while retaining their ethics and morals. I’ve illustrated these quotations using a variety of free to use fonts that were lots of fun to play with:

“We have a mantra: don’t be evil” – Larry Page, co-founder of Google

Don't be evil Larry Page Google quote

“Obviously everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical and ultimately making a big difference in the world.” – Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google

Sergey Brin quote Google everyone wants to be successful

Helen Gurley Brown, editor of Cosmopolitan magazine and author of Sex and the Single Girl, died today aged 90. She changed perceptions of women in the 60s and beyond, in the household, work place and bedroom. She was a fashion icon, a feminist, and a fabulous business woman.

She said and did many things within her lifetime to champion equality for women, but she’s probably best known for representing the truth about women and sex; that women also enjoy sex, that it isn’t just about pleasing a man, and that single women, even the good girls, have it.

In her words: “Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.”

Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish industrialist who died 93 years ago today at the ripe age of 80 years old. Born in Dunfermline, just across the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh, Carnegie moved to Pittsburgh at the age of 13 and gradually worked his way up the ranks of industry, investing in and developing different endeavours until founding the Carnegie Steel Company, which was eventually sold for $480 million (and that was back in 1901!). He was the second richest man in history, and an incredible philanthropist during his career and in retirement, with great focus on social welfare and education, which involved establishing many free libraries, including in Edinburgh – now the Edinburgh Central Library on George IV Bridge. According to all reports, in addition to being a shrewd industrialist and a kind-hearted philanthropist, he was also charming, witty and intelligent.

I first read about Andrew Carnegie about a year ago and discovered a huge bank of amusing and inspiring quotations of things that he’d said in his lifetime. A few of my favourites:

“People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.”

“A sunny disposition is worth more than fortune. Young people should know that it can be cultivated; that the mind like the body can be moved from the shade into sunshine.”

“No man can become rich without himself enriching others.”

“Concentrate your energies, your thoughts and your capital…. The wise man puts all his eggs in one basket and watches the basket.”








– Andrew Carnegie, November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919