the My Heart Wanders book cover…
Posted in my heart wanders, pia's photos December 24th, 2010 by pia

Being able to share this with you today is a very special moment for me. For those who have been part of this journey from the beginning, perhaps you feel it too. I wanted you guys to be the very first to see it.

Joyeuses fêtes mes chers amis, see you in the new year! xo

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you have my heart, snowy amsterdam…
Posted in amsterdam, pia's photos December 23rd, 2010 by pia

Amsterdam is so breathtaking these days, I find myself lost in its beauty. Icicles have formed on all the eaves of all the homes and all the boats. Our little boat looks like a floating gingerbread house, with layers and layers of thick icicles dangling down in front of the windows. Come dusk, the street lamps, canal lights and festive garlands twinkle against the deep blue sky and reflect in the dark, smooth water. Magic seems ever-present, and it makes me wonder if it’s not this very city that inspired favourite fairy tales from bygone eras.

On Sunday we took ourselves off across to the north of the city, to immerse ourselves in a different kind of snowy wonderland. Taking the little ferry across to buiksloterweg, we then walked along the edge of the florapark and on toward D’Admiraal windmill. The houses along the canals are ridiculously charming…

It was a dark and icy cold day – reminiscent of my winters in Montreal, when the freezing air was unrelenting, being sure to bite through to my bones. Before heading back on the ferry, we decided to stop in to this lovely place for a warming drink. We sipped and read our books as the dark day turned to night, and the menu looked so good we decided to stay for dinner…

The food was fabulous, as was the service and the setting.

Dear friends, I’ve decided this will be my last post for the year. It’s been such an intense yet exhilarating last few months while finishing My Heart Wanders – I’ve been running on adrenalin with very little sleep, working by day and having meetings at night (australian time). I’m delighted to finally let you know it’s all finished and is now in the hands of the printers. Celebration time! In the next few days, champagne will be poured and glasses will be raised to toast the end of all the hard work – my only regret is that I cannot share the champagne toasting with the team at Murdoch in Sydney who have been working so hard with me – it’s not easy working on such a book from opposite ends of the globe, but it is kinda exciting to know that with all the technology at our finger tips these days, it can be done. Cheers to that!

With the book launch in April and various other events already being scheduled throughout the year, 2011 is going to be busy but I’ve decided already, it’s going to be a whole lot of fun. Before that though, there are going to be some big changes in the coming month and as much as I want to share it all with you now, like a sensible girl I’ve realised I need to conserve the little energy I have left and focus on getting through it.  So I will be signing off from the (blog)house for the coming month or so, but when I come back, there will be lots of fabulous news to share with you and many wonderful posts. Even though I won’t be in the (blog)house for the next month, you are still very welcome to wander through at your leisure – I built this house for you guys to enjoy as much as for me, so please do enjoy. There are recipes in the kitchen that perhaps you haven’t tried, and books in the library you might like to peruse; you can take a stroll through the neighbourhood and see what everyone is up to; or listen to some music; or take a virtual tour through one of my 3 favourite cities – amsterdam, paris, and sydney.

Next year I’ll be adding more features to the (blog)house – perhaps even do some renovating, or maybe add a room or two? It’s an ever-growing house, one that I feel very lucky to be sharing with all of you.

Thanks again for another year of fun. I wish you a wonderful, wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year. 2011, here we come!!

xx

PS. I have one last thing to share with you, something that I am beyond thrilled to be able to post before the year is out. coming up next…

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‘made by hand’ holiday shopping in amsterdam…
Posted in amsterdam: made by hand, pia's photos December 22nd, 2010 by pia

Well, it’s the end of another year. I can hardly believe how the months of 2010 have flown by. I fully intended to curate a holiday gift guide for you this year but I realised by November that I was not going to get all the things done on my all the things to do before the end of the year list. However, there seemed to be a plethora of fabulous online guides out there so hopefully you found some lovely gift ideas via other bloggers.

I don’t usually buy christmas gifts – my family back in Oz are pretty laid-back when it comes to the holiday season, and my friends know I’m not big on gift giving at this time of year – I prefer to just give randomly throughout the year, or go out for special dinner dates.  But sometimes christmas is unavoidable, and this year is one such time – Romain and I are headed to France for the holiday season and his family celebrate Christmas. As much as I have my (many) reasons for not being big into Christmas, it’s just plain rude to turn up empty handed. So, yesterday Romain and I took to the streets of Amsterdam for a spot of gift shopping – my way. I chose a selection of boutiques from Amsterdam: Made by Hand for us to visit , and with list in hand, we spent the afternoon wandering around in the snow, hopping from one handmade treasure trove to the next. Within only a couple of hours we had completed our holiday shopping, and I have to tell you mes amis, it was so. much. fun. Never before has christmas shopping been so enjoyable! There were no line ups like there would be in department stores, there was no rushing, nothing was overpriced, everyone was super friendly and welcoming, and we found everything we needed, and then some (for me). And of course, everything was handmade and utterly gorgeous. I took pics along the way as it occurred to me during our journey that you might have liked to join us. Yes? perhaps for those who have Amsterdam: Made by Hand, you could follow along with the page numbers…

So,  we started at Leidseplein, headed for  Tesselschade (pg 147). They have a great range of hand-knitted baby ware, smocked dresses, and handmade soft toys. We found everything we needed for the little ones in the family (hand knitted baby booties with little white ducklings on the tops; tiny strawberry hats; a penguin; bib…) –  all handmade, and all very reasonably priced.

Then we headed to La Savonnerie (pg 85) for some handmade soaps and did a spot of sight-seeing while we were in the area…

We then strolled to Dutch Quilts (pg 103), for some special Dutch fabrics that I know Romain’s mother will love…

…and then back toward the Jordaan. On our way we popped into The Otherist – although I was not able to include this fab boutique in Amsterdam: Made by Hand, it’s one of the ones that I hoped people would spot while they wander from handmade boutique to boutique. It’s a gorgeous shop, and in here we found a beautiful bamboo carved necklace for Romain’s oldest niece.

We ended the afternoon with a glass of christmas ale (for him) and port (for me) at the super quaint Cafe Thijssen with some friends.

I hope this might inspire you to do a similar holiday wander in your local area – there are so many incredible small boutiques, handmade markets and ateliers popping up all over the world these days, I urge you to go out there and discover them! It’s seriously the best way to rediscover & get to know your home turf.

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spaces by frankie…
Posted in books, interiors, the houseboat December 21st, 2010 by pia

A few months ago, friend and photographer Alan Jensen stopped by to snap some pretty pics of my floating home for Spaces, a fabulous mook by frankie mag. Yesterday, the mook arrived in the mail and I have to tell you, it is gorgeous. If you love peeking inside people’s creative spaces and private homes around the world, then you will adore this 256 page publication. Me and my home are featured on page 194-199, nestled in between illustrator Anja Mulder’s super cute Groningen apartment, and interior designers John Loeke & Jason Oliver Nixon’s charming Hobart, New York home. You can buy a copy online here, or find it in your local store (australia state & worldwide stockists list here). For Amsterdammers, Spaces is sold at Restored which is one of the lovely handmade boutiques/ateliers featured in Amsterdam: Made by Hand.

Thank you frankie for wanting me to be part of your fab mook, and thank you Al for taking great, summery photographs of my home.

xx

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fiction: rock music to my ears…
Posted in music, pia's illustrations December 17th, 2010 by pia

It’s all a-buzz here in le petit bateau because today my partner Romain – aka French Boy –  has just released his first album. It’s been a year in the making –  while I’ve been working intensely on my book, he’s been working on his album, rocking the houseboat down. How did we manage to both work from home on two completely different projects without a hitch? I have no idea. But it’s been wonderful, a year we will never forget, for all the right reasons.

So “fiction”, what’s it all about? Well, Romain is a rock and blues guitarist, and this self-produced album is a collection of instrumental songs which take their inspiration from various decades of pop, blues and rock. This is definitely an album for guitar enthusiasts (it ain’t mainstream music) and for those who love to rock on! Believe it or not, I am one of those people  – even though I play mostly classical piano, I love to listen to loud, feet stompin’ rock. “Fiction” is exactly that. I have lots of favourite songs on the album, including ruffianjungle path and la loue (which was inspired by one of our walks along the river loue in France, where Romain is originally from), but I think my favourite favourite is the album title song fiction – a fab mix of pop, synth rock & blues. I also love lawlessness 1 & 2 – Romain composed these for a dance piece titled “restlessness” choreographed by my dear friend Heidi here in Amsterdam earlier in the year. And the colour purple & stone are pure, beautiful head bangin’ rock.

A big congratulations to my french boy for taking his passion to the next level and producing something wonderful. Please be sure to spread the word about “fiction” to all your guitar-loving friends, and to listen to the songs, you can click here or listen to some of them on his myspace here. The album & individual songs are available for purchase on both itunes and cdbaby. For those interested in purchasing music the good ol’ fashion way – that is, on a CD – Romain will look into it in the new year.

And my contribution to the album? Yes, it’s the cover. I made a few different versions but this was the one we both loved the most. I hope you like it too.

xx

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