One more time, as she said.

Back in Grade 5 or 6 when I lived in Abu Dhabi, we had a section of English class called Comprehensive Literature where we had this thick hard-back book filled with excerpts from books that were brilliant but perhaps too advanced for my age group to read in totality. It is then that we had read an excerpt from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and though I don’t remember much about the story itself, I oddly remember it made me feel very strong. Perhaps it was the illustrative element accompanying the story that I can still recall quite vividly or perhaps it was this quote that my teacher Ms Fitzpatrick explained to us in words that would be relevant to our own 11 year old existence then, but that excerpt, these words and its author have stayed with me through the years.

“Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well, with so much heart, that people can’t take their eyes off you.” 

I eventually did read the entire book and then physically collected her quotes in my journal and when the digital age arrived, signed up for her online newsletters and then of course liked her Facebook page as well where she would frequently post herself, or so it seemed. Her loss to the world is an immense one, because very few people have this magic with words, and words that resonate across borders, colour, race, diversity to sound equally important and real to anyone who reads them. So here is to a life well lived, one that inspires and will continue to do so, because this was one woman, you really couldn’t take your eyes off in how well she lived the life she got.


RIP Maya Angelou.

image credit: Maya Angelou by rocketrictic on Flickr



Life in Pop-up.

Last year, when my sister went to Bangkok she bought Nadi a brillaint pop up version of Jungle Book. We have all grown up on this story and he had only recently seen it, so there was much excitement. Needless to say, that what Nadi likes, Lily also manages to get extremely excited about and so this book became one of those placed-high-on-the-shelf-only-mama-can-read-it-with-you type coveted ones. Its is absolutely amazing in its detail and how its made, and much later after this, when I saw another book by the same artist Matthew Reinhart at a school book fair, I grabbed it without even checking out the title, and Cinderella, the pop up version came into our lives.

I don’t know why I took so long to google him, probably something in the theory that you take people  ( or skill in this case) you see every day four times a day for granted.Today however, when I was requested by my 5 year old boy to make the Treasure Map for the Magic Beans (from Puss in Boots) in true pop up style like in the movie, I was stumped. I remember basic craft classes from way back and I know how to do the most basic stuff but this…this needed to be researched. Of course because I have spent so much time with Matthew Reinhart’s books, his name was the first and as I read his blog, I knew it was something I had to put down in my blog for posterity or reference, whichever comes first.



And if you like pop up, you should also check out some of the wonderful work by Ray Marshall. Since pirates are big in our house currently after Captain Hook (Peter Pan, of course)  and Captain Gutt (from Ice Age 4), I am esepcially in love with The Castway Pirates.

Friday Feel-Good Find: simple love

Complicated, detailed, life-like illustrations enthrall me. I am awed by the talent and skill that goes into producing something real-looking and so very tangible but every time I come across an illustrator like this, with work that takes you back to the very first stroke I am reminded again, why simplicity has my heart and soul.








And of course with The Dark Knight releasing today, how could I miss out this print?Image


Check out her love for pattern and some inspiration here.

The Toledos: where Fashion and Illustration fell in love.

While on the subject of lusting after fashion illustration, I should probably also mention Ruben Toledo whose work I only got to know of when I picked up Nina Garcia’s  The One Hundred, for its illustrations more than the content. Cuban born Rubens work has a magical whimsical quality, so stylish yet so fun at the same time. The more I read up on him and his wife Isobel Toledo (his muse and a fashion designer) the more I have been crushing on their work.

Read their wonderful film-like story here.

Loving this Fashion Wheel.


Silhouettes will never fade. And also don’t you love the period look of the Jane Austen book cover? Modern yet totally retaining the essence of the time. Reminded me of the cover of Night Circus by Eric Morgenstern.

While all these illustrations make my heart beat slightly faster, the communication designer in me is especially kicked to see his illustrations take Nordstrom by storm. Absolutely loving the collaboration of big name gowns with this own personal style of work.







Do check out pictures of their beautiful work space in Manhattan.

Monday Find: Fashion illo love.

When we were little, on long hot afternoons in AbuDhabi, my sister and I would sit at our dining table and have fashion design competitions. We would take our stick figures and dress them up according to genre and then gave ratings. While neither of us grew up to be particularly fashion inclined, we enjoy the design aspect of life madly, both in our work and daily lives. Fashion has always been an elusive love. I love quirky beautiful trendy things, but somehow my personal style stays afffixed on the casual.

Recently I have seen more and more of Izak Zenou‘s work and I love his whimsical style, the free flowing strokes and the personalities his women seem to take. They are hip and young and have an agenda- they are not only doing something but looking great doing it. He has recently launched his own brand and his gorgeous illos are now on scarves handbags laptops and phones, to name a few. His work with some of the top brands retains his personal style and yet embodies the brands look as well. Perfect Monday browsing.



Instagram Lovin’: Monday inspirations

I love Instagram. It’s my new Pinterest. Don’t you love this creative design fads? So much to one day tell my kids about.

I followed several really fun artists and although sometimes it feels like I am peeking into their lives, more often than not, they simple inspire you to add design and frills and detail to your own. I love that even a note to self now looks like it could be a part of a magazine layout. This kind of heightend design life is what everyone should aspire and leave the negative terroristy stuff aside. Spoken in true let-them-eat-cake fashion but hopefully the regulars will understand the tone and fly with it.

So today on this Monday that after yesterday lovely beach trip stretched way long, I decide to share some of my favourite instagrammers here.

I particularly love artists who are parents. They view the world so differently- with fresh new eyes and a kind og giddy joy that other somehow don’t. Or can’t. I love the little things they create to make their kids happy and how that gets intwined with their own creativity eventually. I love that she has a graphic design studio, I love her quirky sense of design. Go brunch with darling.

I love the idea of scrapbooking and I may have attempted to delve into that world once or twice but really you feel more than inadequate when you see some of the fantastic stuff being made out there and the people who are truly doing it justice. Check out Gluestickgirl on instagram for her daily fun updates.

I had been following Mati Rose blog for a while now and imagine my excitement when I found her on Instagram.  Her posts are always so uplifting and her artwork has graced my desktop for years. I love that sense of child like imperfection in her work- the kind of unpressurized stroke we are aiming for that we see in our own kids. She has recently released her book called “Daring Adventures in Paint” and despite not being a paint person at all, per se, I am excited by it.

I came across KP most recently. It was a cross reference connection from another Instagrammer and I loved how all these creativer crafty people knew each other, had connected and were all supporting each other’s Project life series. Talk about creating and building a community of like minded, life loving people. Very inspired. Who wants in with me on this side of the globe?

I think something I really get a kick out of seeing (and doing) is anything with attention to detail. Where the font and the corner curve and the colur and the background are in some kind of chemical sync and totally effortlessly pulling the whole idea along. I love Amy Tangerine’s Scrapbooking Kits (she is on Instgram too!) and Studio Calico has paper pads with patterns to make you high.


Looking at all this happening on my Insta feed has obviously triggered much itchiness in me to try and do soemthing along the lines also- so when we got back from our holiday this year, instead of putting up my usual captioned photos, I added a scrappy twist to them. I think it looked fun and now I only need to look at the picture to know exactly what I was thinking and feeling right then at that moment.

all images (except the last 2 which are my own) have been shamelessly borrowed from the blogs of the people mentioned and therefore all credit goes to them, of course.

Mid-week meanderings: commitment to a project.

I have recently admitted- to myself and others- that I have a deep love for documenting. I love writing things down, putting a photo with a a caption away, writing letters to the future me and making time capsules to open in ten years because to me all these undertakings, these projects, are little legacies we leave behind of lives well lived. I am on a perpetual hunt for projects like these, that capture life and inspire you at the same time.

We (the Ostrich and I) tried one earlier this year with The O&B. What started with a bang ended with a fizz. Do we rely too much on public feedback to keep a thing going? Or is simply doing it for oneself enough? I am still struggling on whether I write to hear myself think or to be heard. In either case, this project is still close to my heart and I am not packing it in just yet.

One project I loved was 365 Days of hand lettering. I cannot imagine anything more tough and more exhilarating than trying to experiment with a handwritten font every single day. I would want to pack away the kids, the cat and the life and simply sit at my table, overlooking those trees beyond the alcove and scribble away on the iPad., swirling, twirling letters to do my bidding. Check out Lisa Congdon’s Day 179.

If you are an avid scrapbooker and love the idea of documenting life in a fun creative and memorable way, Project life is one thing you must check out. Love the idea that I can open up a page and be instantly and visually thrown back to a day I want to remember. And those days you want to forget that I want to remember too.

I keep blaming life moving too fast for all the things I have yet to do. I have procrastinationary (is that even a word? well, it is now) measures and excuses ready to let you know exactly why that thing we talked about last year has not happened yet. It’s demoralizing, it’s debilitating and what is scarier is that it becomes a part of my everyday truth. I don’t like it. So to shake myself out of the undertake and quit mode, I too undertook a daily creative commitment- the Five Year Happines Project and I am pleased to report that so far,  I have only missed one day, when try as I might I simply could not remember what the day was about. To know I have to sum up my day in a thought has made me more conscious of the day’s details. I look for more, and perhaps because I look for more, I find more too.

friday: feel-good finds

Find Number 1.

Don’t you just love it (or not!) when you stumble across a website that makes you jealous because it just grabs your attention and keeps you hooked for hours on end on the first visit? I am a bit screen eyed over this one- it has so many interesting links and visuals that I am somewhat drained and completely buzzed at the same time.

Find Number 2

I have always loved and avidly watched shows on TV where a bunch of experts get together and help someone  look  their best by suggesting new palettes, colours, and hair dos to them. Remember that one Oprah episode where the daughter writes to Oprah about her mothers depression since her husbands death and to help her rediscover herself? I got goosebumps when she  burst out crying in happiness at her widowed moms new improved look. Come on, everyone loves a happy ending.

So one of my favourite blogs features  lovely (both design and thought wise) makeover stories. I am inspired to do a local Khi-town version of this by using normal everyday people and teaching them how to best be themselves by looking good. Don’t you just love how shes put the stories together also?

Find Number 3

Food makes me feel good. And if its sweet, it has a special place in my heart. And if its nutella, I am sold.
With the Karachi heat only just about bearable, I stock up on Jet Sports but last year on our Singapore holiday I picked up a little lolly maker. And then promptly forgot about it. This year, feeling freshly inspired by this awesome post, I have taken it out of storage and am heading to the kitchen right now to whip up some icey fun. (Ok I am not really, I am just going to finish this post and go hang out with the kids- but I AM going to do this tomorrow. Seriously)

Find Number 4.

It’s not really a find this one, but something that the husband got back from a recent work trip that makes me feel good. I love these little paper clips and I will never ever use them. In fact they will now reside in my precious Red Box filled with notebooks and other wonders, where I hoard all the lovely things I find on holidays and some days when the day has been tough I secretly take them out at night to stare at them to feel better.

Find Number 5

On our trip to Bangkok just two weeks ago, I fell in love. This shop was like a manifestation of all things beautiful vintage and designed and since then I have been inspired and browsing more vintage than ever before. So inspired by that look, I have set out to create a small corner in my own home which dates back, and I will  post a photo of it in just a few days (along with the lollies). Happy weekend.