Project: Ombre Flower Clutch

I’ve been on the search for an ombre bag for a few months now. I searched everywhere but couldn’t find what I was looking for. There was a very clear picture in my head of what I wanted: embellished, feminine, not too dainty. Anything I found online just wasn’t right. Wrong colour, wrong fabric, too big, too small…

What do you do when you can’t find it? Sew it yourself! So I did:


I love it.

Here’s how I made it…



Masterchef Synesthesia

I’ll warn you now – you’ll have this stuck in your head for years. I like the base…


You Need This

You need this. I need this. We all need this. This is what the internet was invented for. Not worldwide communication or advancement of the human race. It was so everyone could get access to ten hours of a ten second edit of a Nickelback song.


First Dress: Bodice Mockup

read that it is helpful to make a toile (also referred to as a muslin) before starting your actual garment. You essentially create a mockup in cheap fabric before you commit to the good stuff. It’s supposed to reduce waste of your precious fabric and, if you do it right, give you a better fit.

Some people rely on finished measurements supplied with a pattern and skip the toile altogether, but I decided to take the extra step. I really struggle with standard bust measurements in shops, so I liked the idea of being able to see how it fit before I made the commitment.



First Dress: The Fabric

I could have been a responsible adult and used something from the many piles of fabric in my house, but I just couldn’t help myself getting something new. It’s my first dress, after all! If you can’t treat yourself to new fabric under those circumstances…



First Dress: Pattern Pieces

I’ve never used a predefined pattern before, especially one with so many different markings. Thankfully, the McCalls pattern (variation D) was quite straightforward and had just six pieces to cut out.

Neither you or I could have predicted a time-lapse video of me dumbly tracing shapes would exist, but here it is. I’d say sorry, but I had to sit through it!

First Dress Project: Pattern Pieces from Narelle Gibbons on Vimeo.



New Hobby Alert

My hobby is essentially collecting hobbies. In the last two years I’ve done handbag design, watercolour painting, sewing, wooden furniture, crochet, singing, knitting, baking, needlepoint, short stories…. I’ve lost count.

I think it stems from my obsession with being handy if a Zombie Apocalypse comes. Web development isn’t exactly going to be the most sought after skill, unless you’re talking Matrix style Apocalypse. I could roll programming and knitting into one really cool offering there. I’d fix so many holey jumpers in Zion, the rave scene would look like a GAP advert.



Sad Affleck

You’ve probably seen this beauty already, but give it another go. This is why I love the internet.


Digitally Naive

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. It’s full of absolute rubbish, but I like to keep an eye on how my family and friends are doing. From time to time I find myself angry as I scroll through my timeline. Like today, when one of my relatives liked and shared this post:

Oh come on. Seriously? That’s a photograph? Of the Pope and Mary? Really? REALLY?

It was then, as I hunched over my phone scrolling through hundreds of comments to find at least one other person who thought it was hilariously fake, I realised why it had angered me.

Facebook is a place where intelligent yet digitally naive are exposed to a world they don’t really understand. It’s hard to watch. I think I’ll take a break from it for a while.



Spoiling the Makeup Magic

I don’t normally wear makeup to work, mostly because my lazy priorities lie in getting that extra time in bed. I’ve never been a morning person, and flip between jealousy and annoyance at those who have themselves together before 8am.

Sometimes I try to pretend I’m an organised morning person and take advantage of a quiet train to put some makeup on: coverup, mascara, blusher. To ‘frame the face’, as Jeremy Renner recommends. Nothing crazy that requires two sponges, a paint brush and the the support of the entire Kardashian family – less than a two minute job normally. And never on a packed train.

The reactions of fellow passengers can vary. Most people don’t care or aren’t conscious enough to notice. Some other women take it as a cue to pull out their own makeup. Then you get the odd man, normally in his 20s-30s, who can’t seem to handle it.

They look over constantly and seem to get very uncomfortable. I’ve even had a few tut their disapproval (this morning, for example – hence the blog post).

I’m petty sure I understand why.

They don’t want to know how sausage is made.

By sausage, I mean my face.

By my face, I mean the thin cover of lies that pretends I’ve got actual colour in my cheeks and eyebrows that don’t have gaps like a morse code training book.

It’s like that time I watched a YouTube video of how caviar is made. I knew roughly what it was made of, but seeing it actually happen up close… not cool.

It spoils the magic. I guess that makes us the Penn and Teller of the makeup world.


1000 Musicians Learn to Fly

I was surprised at just how good this sounded. 1,000 musicians play Learn to Fly together and nail it.

The Perfect Puppy

The Perfect Puppy

I’ve been a dog owner for over a year now and I love it. It feels natural to look after the tiny, fluffy, living creature that I essentially keep captive in my house, but it wasn’t something that came easy. I was really worried – I had no previous knowledge of keeping or training a dog. Growing up, my family were more goldfish people!

As I like to do with any new project, I spent weeks researching what I’m supposed to buy, prepare, and expect. I think it’s fair to say that there is a lot of information out there, and everyone has an opinion. It was pretty overwhelming, so I ended up going back to basics and looked for a book.

After reading a ridiculous number of book reviews, I settled on the number one book for Dogs on Amazon (with 300 x 5 star reviews): The Perfect Puppy by Gwen Bailey.

It took me a couple of days to read it cover to cover, but I came out of it with so much knowledge and confidence in what was to come. The main questions I had were:

  • What should I expect on the first night?
  • What happens if he tries to go to the toilet in the middle of the living room floor?
  • When do I feed him?
  • How do I teach him what’s right and wrong?
  • When can I take him for a walk?

The book covered everything I wanted to know and more. One of my favourite sections was the suggested routine, something I was quite worried about:

The Perfect Puppy

I didn’t go for the exact routine they laid out, but just knowing what was needed (a LOT of pee breaks) really helped.

I won’t go through the book page by page, but if you have a puppy and are looking for something simple to read to get you started, this is it. It breaks down all the training into easy chunks, and answers the stupid questions you’re afraid to ask.

Among the many things I took away from this book, two things stood out for me:

  • It’s all about patience. Just keep at it and your puppy will get it eventually.
  • Never punish, only praise. Dogs don’t understand why you’re shouting, so there’s no point.

A year down the line, this still holds true.

The book is also bursting with cute puppy pictures. This was my favourite, his little face is adorable!




Are you sure? Are you really sure? We have an app for that!

I can’t be the only one who gets irritated with this. You find an interesting link on your mobile, click through and are faced with this taking over your entire screen:


Hey, I’m all for promoting apps. It’s a great thing, and sometimes I didn’t even realise you have one. But don’t push it in my face like that one aunt at the party who tries to get you to “try the quiche, you’ll love it”.

All I want to do is read your article titled “17 reasons Zac Efron’s left arm looks like Deirdrie Barlow’s throat”. I don’t think that necessitates a full app, nor I do I have the time or the attention span to download it.


Lights Out

I forgot all about this short horror film until today. It’s under three minutes long and is really well done. Give it a watch, unless (like me) you’ve just moved into an old house and have an overactive imagination… I’m never sleeping again.

Lights Out


Aah, Paul Masson!

There are few YouTube videos that I could watch again and again, but this is a true gem.

Orson Welles must have sampled the product a few times before shooting this advert for Paul Masson.



(Don’t) Tell Me About It

I’m a big fan of old people, they’re brilliant. They’ve survived a lot of shit, so they deserve respect. But there is something that irritates me, and it’s quite universal by the sounds of it:

Their gory detail of ailments and surgeries.

They love it! Nothing excites them more than telling you about their neighbour Isa’s knee surgery, or the helpful yet sweaty support of their orthopaedic tights.

I’ve listened to an in-depth explanation of how a relative had been constipated for two weeks, the consequent surgery and a description of “the results”, all while at the dinner table. There was beef gravy available, but my roast remained dry that day.

Without fail, I hear more detail than I want to. As a generation that doesn’t do the “Facebook inner thoughts 24/7 365 broadcast” approach, I would have thought they would be a bit more reluctant to divulge personal information.

Not when it comes to health issues, it seems.

Where does this morbid fascination come from? Is there a point in the ageing process where a switch goes off in your head and you think “Know what’s cool? Varicose Veins”!


Nature Crowdsourcing

This is a really interesting project from Nerds for Nature:

On September 8, 2013, 3,111 acres around the summit of Mt. Diablo went up in flames. While the charred landcape can appear alarming, fire is actually a natural part of the mountain’s ecology, and many plants actually require fire to reproduce. We’re trying to monitor how the landscape is changing and recovering after the fire by taking pictures from fixed locations for 1 year after the fire.

People are asked to take photos from fixed areas around the location. I think it’s a great use of crowdsourcing – I’d definitely take part if there was something that like that where I live.


Unwelcome Train Buddies

I’m currently on a train carriage that looks like this:


We just pulled up to a station where five people got on the carriage. One of them sat right beside me.

Right. Beside. Me.

The train, from my seat, now looks like this:


And yet someone is now on the seat next to me. She is elbowing me in the side as I type this.

Are these people creatures of habit? Is that her “regular” seat? Does she ache for the body warmth an (angry) stranger on the train will provide? Or is she just thick?

For anyone who does a daily commute, you will know what it’s like being squashed together in a big can twice a day every day. And you will know the unbridled joy when there’s a quiet train and space to move in. There’s etiquette. Simple etiquette. If everyone pays attention, we can all have the space we need.

What’s so hard about that?

People just ignore this, though. It keeps happening! Either they’re right beside you or right across from you so you both have no leg room, even when they can sit diagonally and you’ll both be happy.

Listen, general public. Personal space is a big thing, stop ignoring it. If there are a multitude of free seats, don’t fuck it up by sitting next to someone when you don’t have to.

Think of it like a urinal, nobody wants neighbours when there’s no need to.

If it was a urinal, I’d probably piss on your shoes.