Hiatus

Hi All,

It’s been some time since I posted and I thought it would be best to let you all know what’s going on, especially in the light of today’s events in Brussels.

I’m going to take a little break from my lovely Bazaar Collective community for a bit. I’ve already told our close team and they’re so sweet and supportive. That’s not to say I’m going to be totally anti-social, I’m still going to see everyone on the ground here in Brussels, but I have less time for organisation get-togethers and less time for creative work at the moment. There is an awful lot going on at home and it’s taking all of my energy just to stay on top of it and stay sane.

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This is my garden. It’s all mine. And The Belgian’s, of course. We bought it and will spend the next 20 years paying for it and it’s my small little slice of heaven. Once I get through the next few months, I will lock myself away here for a short while to recover. I am going to garden, cook, eat, read, do some office work in the mornings, some house repair in the afternoons, and not much else besides for just a few months. I hope to burst out the other side full of energy.

I’m writing this today in Brussels, a few hundred metres from the Maelbeek metro station where a suicide bomber just blew up a metro carriage, killing a number of people. This morning three bombs went off at Brussels Airport. Looking out my window, it’s a glorious evening and there are people walking around a sunny park and cars going up and down the street. Those weird Brussels wild parakeets are flirting in and out of the still-bare branches, concentrating on forming their next batch of crazy offspring. If it wasn’t for the sound of the sirens and the constant text messages from my family back home, I would not have the feeling that anything catastrophic had happened in Brussels today. Catastrophic doesn’t even cover it, this changes our lives completely. It changes how we see Brussels, ourselves within the city and our own daily actions. I find it all so elusive. I can’t grasp the events or their consequences. Since November we’ve not only been expecting something like this but I’ve thought about it daily. My new commute involves that same metro line. I think about it constantly and am often anxious when I’m pottering about on the tram or metro. Now that it’s actually happened it doesn’t change anything, only justifies the anxiety somehow.

How do we manage this? I had already stepped a little back from my creative world because of other pressures, but if I step back from the world any further I’ll become a hermit. And this is not the way to deal with this new world we’re in. But how to deal with it? With platitudes and “show them no fear” slogans and pictures of beaches with the words of Paulo Coelho in some godawful font? No thank you, that’s not my style. For the last few years I’ve been dealing with fertility issues. I initially took a step back from the blog and from creative work because I’ve just been so exhausted trying to manage that. It’s three years later and we’ve moved no further on that, so I’m quite destroyed by it all. Around November last year I sat back and said no more for a while. No more drugs, no more tests, no more 7am hospital appointments, no more tears. We’re now about half way through an adoption process that we had started last summer, which would mean a child brought into my life within the next year or so. The idea fills me with equal parts delirious joy and abject fear. I desperately want a child in my life but how do I manage that if events like today become a European norm? I have absolutely no answers. When I was a kid, I thought my parents had all the answers. My Mum gave birth to me when she was 20 years old, 13 years younger than I am right now… Any child arriving in my life now would have every right to expect that I have all the answers but here I am, asking you…

So, excuse me for a while, I’m going to hunker down with The Belgian and create a nest where we can feel safe together and from which we can fly. I’m posting pictures of the renovation process on our old townhouse apartment, which is fun but also total madness. We had no idea what we were getting into! If you’re interested in following that process, please have a look

Otherwise, give me a while and I’ll be back. Probably unchanged, with as many questions and fewer answers. But hopefully with a little more calm.

a x

PS this is a good piece by Deborah Orr in The Guardian today on Brussels. If the government could see their way clear to sorting out their petty disputes and forming a common ground, we’d be right behind them in support.

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Back to normal

Today was a super productive day and, given the current outpourings from media, a surprisingly positive one. I’ve been reading a lot lately about climate change and climate emigration. I think I said this before, it makes for scary reading. But today was one of those gems. The kind of day when you start to believe it might just work out. We might just be able to pull together and take care of each other and our futures.

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The Bazaar Creative Sunday group met for the first time since the summer break. As usual, some people couldn’t come and we had new faces. So it was a lovely mix of old and new faces, old and new projects. Next month, if you are thinking of joining us, we will meet slightly later because of the Brussels marathon that morning. I’ll send an email closer to the date but about 1.30pm next month, I think! Lots of lovely positive vibes, shared experience, helpful advice and knowledge. Perfect!

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Amy and I worked on a banner that we took with us to a big public meeting at the Brussels refugee camp later this afternoon. The meeting was really impressive. The idea was that all of the people interested in volunteering at the refugee camp should come together to be organised into groups. The help has been a bit scattered and ad hoc until now so it was a great initiative. Myself and Amy have joined the animations group to organise some activites in the camp as long as it lasts. There are many people doing logistics, food, communications, fundraising and lobbying. We feel it’s also important that we bring something of the host city to the camp while people sit around waiting for their fate to be determined.

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The banner in situ at the camp this evening! For anyone else interested in volunteering, the organisers are communicating through the facebook group Platforme Citoyenne de soutien aux refugies Bruxelles. They will publish information on how the groups were organised today. Anyone who is interested in joining myself and Amy in our activities are more than welcome. We’re searching for small textile ideas that don’t take a lot of time but which can be distracting/engaging for both adults and kids. And for all hands on deck! This was the first weekend that made it clear that there is a crisis to be solved, but it won’t end here and it would be wonderful to have helping hands once the initial buzz fades.

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I’m listening to the radio as I write and just now on the BBC news at 6pm, I heard that the Austrian chancellor spoke today about the situation saying that the open gates policy, ignoring the law that states that migrants must register in the EU country where they land, needs to be rolled back. He said things must “go back to normal” now that the initial crisis has passed. (I literally heard this on the news 5 minutes ago and can’t seem to find a news reference to link to. I’m sure there’ll be more in the papers tonight.) It’s amazing to me that a man in such a position should think that we could ever go back from this point. This is the new normal. This first wave of refugees fleeing death in their own lands is not the last we will see of the mass movement of peoples. I mentioned above I’ve been reading a lot about climate change, and there exist already in the world, large groups of displaced peoples. They have been forced out of their lands, either because land has become inhospitable as a result of fossil fuel mining, or because their land is literally disappearing. (This is one of many links to articles you can find with a quick google search…) Here and now. This is the beginning. I believe the sooner we adapt to this new situation, the better it will be for everyone – for those fleeing famine and war, and for us preparing the welcome them. We will be stronger for it.

The guy speaking in the photo above spoke on behalf of the refugees. Of the few short words he said, one sentence stuck with me. “We are not dangerous. We are endangered.” As a society we cannot fear this change, fear these people. They are desperately in need of help. We are strong and well able for what will come, as long as we stick together. Come along to the next meeting and see how comfortable and joyful people are as they’re working to help others out of a bad situation. See their hearts open, wide open.

I have family all over the world – Australia and the USA mostly, but other places too. And it’s not because Irish people are addicted to travel and can’t wait to get away from their lush green island. Over our long history we were forced to flee not once, not twice but many times. The Great Famine (‘Great’ is a dubious choice of word but I guess it was named in an era when ‘great’ meant impressive/enormous and not awesome) saw a quarter – A QUARTER – of the Irish population flee overseas in search of a life in which they would not be forced to watch their children starve to death. Again in the 1950’s the Irish economy took a nose dive and people were forced to journey to the UK and Australia to find work. There are many great Irish nurses in English and Australian hospitals as a result of that flood of emigration. And let’s not forget what the Irish media have taken to calling Generation Emigration. I’m one of these myself – I emigrated to find a more sustainable life, in which I could expect to live in a big city and afford a life that won’t drown me in debt forever. But here’s the catch, I’m lucky enough to have enough money in my pocket to earn me the title of Expat, not immigrant, on these Belgian streets.

There are many other things I could say on this subject, but I’ve already bored my friends to tears, and I don’t want to do the same here. Just read this one for the feels!

a x

 

Silver Jewellery Workshop this weekend

This weekend instead of the usual Bazaar Craft Sunday we have arranged for a brilliant jewellery artist to come and give a workshop on Silver Clay Jewellery. It’s a new technique that I haven’t come across before but it seems like it will be cool! Iris will be taking care of opening up shop this weekend because I’m going to be quite late coming on Sunday.

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(Photo from The Jewellery Academy)

If you would like to take part in the workshop we still have a few places. The workshop will cost €60 and that includes a four hour workshop, a 10g piece of clay and two precious stones to put into your piece. The workhop will be in the same place as usual – the lovely Den Teirling space on Rue Maes. Send me an email for the details!

Otherwise, I have some news coming this week that I’m quite excited about! Watch this space, wheeeeeeeeeeee!

a x

 

Today is the day! Christmas Market 2014

Yesterday we spent the day preparing the hall for the Christmas Market and honestly, it looks amazing! So warm and cosy with a Christmas glow. We finished the photo booth, where you can take your own Christmas photos! And of course we had to sample it! This is us, the Bazaar Christmas Market team!

Market Team

Today is going to be just brilliant fun! There will be paper-craft workshops at 2pm and 4pm, homemade cakes by wonderful baker Amy and so many handcrafted goodies on sale! Below you can see the test samples, which were deeeelicious! Do come and say hi 🙂

Cake Prep

In addition to being the big market-prep day, yesterday was also the Feast of Saint Nicholas here in Belgium. In some ways it’s bigger than Christmas day, and children prepare for it weeks before. I started the day preparing my first-ever Assiette de St Nicolas for The Belgian. I think by the delighted expression and cleared plate when I got home last night, it’s safe to say it was a success!

Assiette St Nicolas

 

Hope to see some of you today!

a x

Free Workshops this weekend!

Hi all!

As a part of our brilliant Christmas Market this weekend we will be offering free paper craft workshops for all ages!

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The Christmas market team spent this afternoon testing models of wonderful snowflakes and other Christmas decorations. If you would like to take part in a workshop with the Bazaar team, drop along to Den Teirling (Rue Maes 89, Ixelles) at either 2pm or 4pm on Sunday(7 Dec) and grab a pair of scissors and some coloured paper!

a x

Freeeeeeezing!

It’s that time of year again people and my apartment and workshop is soooooooo cold! I have a small wee cat curled up on my lap as I write, but even his incessant purring can do nothing to help the cold seeping into my bones. Sigh! I guess I should probably just turn the heating on then…

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I spent last weekend in Ireland visiting my family and we took a long drive up a hill where my Dad used to work years ago. It was stunning up there. The dramatic colours made the icy wind worth stepping out of the car.

Pile of cushions

We’re going into full gear here, prepping for the Christmas Markets. In addition to Bazaar’s market, I’m also participating in one in Wallonia in November, and another in Brussels in December. So evenings and nights are spent working on “the pile”, which is how I’m referring to my awesome storage method for my silk cushions… I know, I need to sort out this stock storage situation. Preferably before the Belgian has a melt-down!

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Christmas Market preparation also includes creating a costume box that will go into our Photo Booth for the Bazaar Christmas Market. Yes, yes, that is a santa outfit for a RAD tiny dog. So if you have a tiny dog (or a large cat who will stand still in public) bring them along to the Christmas Market on the 7th December! It’s going to be FLY! (I was listening to 90’s tunes in the car with my sister last weekend, I’m so sorry for all the references… Why on earth is that guy speaking German in the first two seconds of that video?! The 90’s, huh?)

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The upside is that I’m getting to work on all of the gorgeous scarf fabrics I’ve been stashing in the wardrobe. They’re real beauties!

More anon when I allow a break from the machine!

a x

Verrrrrry exciting news!

I’ve been sitting on this for a few weeks now, but I’m finally able to tell you all – this year we will host the first ever BAZAAR CHRISTMAS MARKET!! Whoop!

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We’ll be hosting it with our friends in Den Teirling and it’s going to be a community-strong event with workshops, homemade food, workshops for all ages… the works!

Firstly, we’re looking for more sellers to come and use the chance to sell your beautiful work. If you’re interested in selling, please send an email to me at bazaarchristmasmarket@gmail.com and I’ll send you on a registration form.

This is going to be awesome people!!!!

The Christmas Market has it’s own website page and Facebook event page so please spread the word !

a x

Brocante this weekend!

Just a very quick note ! This weekend the neighbourhood around Flagey will host the first ever FLAGEY’BROC, a brocante encompassing rues du College, Maes, Malibran, de Vergnies, Couloir and Scarron. It’s going to be huge and it’s going to be great! A whole new field of sellers in the Ixelles area!

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(Photo stolen from the Flagey Cultural Centre‘s website because I don’t have time to run out and take one myself today!)

Sunday 28 September
09h00 – 18h00
Quartier Flagey
Ixelles

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it because of a family engagement, but I love seeing the treasures other people find so feel free to post links to photos/blog posts below!

a x

Building stock

I’m reclaiming my evenings and my energy and pouring it into creative work. This morning I woke at 7am on my morning off, pffffffffff… Anyway, I used the extra time to get stuck into some of the cushions I had started during the week and also to try a new experiment with zipped backs.

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This is the first scarf I turned into a cushion cover, not a complete stuffed cushion. Honestly, I wasn’t mad about doing it. It took a lot longer, it’s fiddly because I don’t want to actually cut the scarf so I can’t use a serger, and I’ve always found the top end of zips a pain to keep neat. I know that last part is just practice but it drives me nuts putting in a zip.

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In addition to the extra work, the finish is not quite as bouncy as I like. Because I’m dependent on the size of an insert, I can’t get the nice roundness in the top that I aim for when I stuff them and close them. Anyway, I’ll work on a few more like this and who knows, I might just find the knack for it…

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This one I adore! It’s the old technique, so I stuffed it and sealed it. And it’s HUGE! It’s hard to see from the perspective in the image but it’s about 75 cm wide. Beautiful.

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So my stock is growing and I hope that by the time I start doing markets again later in the year I’ll have a decent enough stock to show off… I’ll try to get a few of them up on Etsy too, although my issue with Etsy is how on earth am I going to put these in the post……? All of the cushions I’ve sold to date have been in person, so I’ve not yet had to deal with the logistics of posting one of these monsters! One of the solutions could be just to make covers, but then I’m really going to have to speed up my technique for inserting the zip. We’ll see!

I met with my fellow Etsy Belgium team leaders today too, which was a pleasure as usual. It’s very quiet at the moment and we’re trying to think strategically for September onwards. I hope that with the new change of rhythm in my life I’ll be able to dedicate more time to working with my team and pushing Etsy in Belgium. Expect great things of us this Autumn!

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And here’s the monster, as usual, watching me work. We’re having a lot of behavioural problems with him lately and it’s really upsetting. We haven’t changed anything in our lives, except perhaps that we’re working one or two extra evenings but he’s suddenly started doing terrible things like peeing in the plants instead of his box. Today he did a poo in the middle of the floor while I was out in the afternoon. It’s the first time he’s ever done that and I can’t fathom what’s wrong. I’m guessing that maybe he is struggling to adapt to the really hot weather, but perhaps it’s more likely something we’re doing? Perhaps he’s just bored. I really can’t figure it out. Any advice/tips on sudden changes in cat behaviour are much appreciated!

By the way, most of the photos I use are Bazaar Collective Instagram pics. If you’re on Instagram say hi !!

a x