Covers: Paper Runway Issue #3

Covers: Paper Runway Issue #3
For people who are passionate about paper, this magazine offers up an impressive cast: hand-cut art on the cover by Mr Yen; illustrations by Grace Lee; hand-cut paper art by Lisa Rodden; Laura Jones in her print workshop; and the whimsical work of Lilly Piri, all held together by a Singer-stitched spine. How clever. Edited by Nikki Buckland and Maree Oaten of Little Branch, issue three, $24.95 and out tomorrow, comes replete with a screen-printed bookmark by Earth Greetings, so you can keep your paper place. You can order a copy here or browse back-issues here.

Girl With a Satchel

Short & Sweet – week beginning October 31

Breaking bread with Geoffrey Blainey's new book.
Let's catch up: Fallen soldiers in Afghanistan and Fair Work Australia stepping in to settle the turbulent fallout from Qantas' grounding of its fleet have the nation in a state of anxiety, with Tuesday's Melbourne Cup a promising distraction (will it be deja vu all over again for the French contender Americain? Do I care?). A terrible sport when all bets are on, I hope to distract myself from Cup activities by doing something such as watching grass grow... or maybe some work.
This week's agenda: Prepare girls' night speech; hit Frock magazine HQs for some sub-editing activity; package up birthday gift for a very special five-year-old.
The Word for the Week: "Do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God you may receive the promise." (Hebrews 10: 35-36)
Quote of the Week: "I don’t need easy. I just need possible." Bethany Hamilton (played by Anna Sophia Robb), Soul Surfer animadvert \an-uh-mad-VURT\, verb:
1. To comment unfavorably or critically.
2. Obsolete. To take cognizance or notice of.
"It is not our business to animadvert upon these lines; we are not critics, but historians." - Andrew Lang, The Blue Fairy Book.
Reading: Geoffrey Blainey's A Short History of Christianity (all 617 pages); two beautiful children's books by Max Lucado; and 'Why are the women fading?' at Qideas. They all have something in common.
The Breakfast Club: A skittish morning chasing internet connection; revert to reliable meal of honey toast and coffee. Happy as a Pooh Bear.

Girl With a Satchel

Bulletin Board: Closing the gap on polio

Bulletin Board: Closing the gap on polio
The gap is closing on Polio thanks to the Global Poverty Project and a generation geared for change.

Girl With a Satchel

Music Review: Coldplay Mylo Xyloto

Music Review: Coldplay Mylo Xyloto

Oh, Gwyneth, how blessed you are. Imagine having Chris Martin sing you the catchy-catchy radio tune "Paradise" as you laid your head to sleep, its lyrics soothing even the sorest of gym-strained muscles and relaxing Hollywood-weary worry lines as visions of sugar plums dance in your head. 

"When she was just a girl, she expected the world," sings Martin, "But it flew away from her reach, and the bullets catch her teeth; Life goes on, it gets so heavy; The wheel breaks the butterfly, every tear a waterfall; In the night, the stormy night, she'll close her eyes... and dreams of para-para-paradise."

You can almost see Martin and Paltrow burrowing into each other as they escape the high-pressure world of their public life; take solace as they contemplate his parents' divorce; think about the world they want their kids, Apple and Moses, to grow up in... one that threatens to go "Up in Flames" as London recovers from its rioting, and as the rest of the world experiences turbulent growing pains.

"Through chaos as it swirls," he sings, "It's us against the world."

Occupation: Tegan, artist, News Travels employee

Occupation: Tegan, artist, News Travels employee

It's 6.40am at Brisbane International Airport and Tegan, 23, is arranging gum in the little newsagency (news travels, as you can see!). From this vantage point, the visual artist has the arrivals gate in her direct sight, where people queue to see their loved ones come into view. Gosh, that must be pleasant, to see couples and families and friends re-united after the longest of times? 

"When New Zealand had their earthquakes, a lot of people with injuries came through here because their hospitals were full – seeing people arrive who had damaged eyes and bandages was pretty emotional," she says. "It was pretty intense."

Film Review: A mediocre but pleasant Midnight in Paris

Film Review: A mediocre but pleasant night in Paris
By Emma Plant

It’s easy to be cheesy, and cheesy and Woody Allen go hand-in-hand like his wax model and Madame Tassaud. Woody’s most recent film noir is Midnight in Paris (film noir is only referring to the word ‘midnight’ here). 

Owen Wilson is the protagonist who plays a screenwriter turned novelist, Gil. Gil is engaged to an upper class, snobby blonde, named Inez (Rachel McAdams, who evidently plays an excellent villain). Gil has two main existential crises: he is not sure if his novel writing is decent, and he wishes he lived in the golden years, specifically Paris, 1920. Fate has a magical way of condoling Gil and his concerns. While sitting upon a stair and pondering his problems, the spirit of Paris sends the past (via a car) his way to teach him about what matters.

Perspective: Porn is not great in any shape

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Covers: Country Style, small comfort

Covers: Country Style, small comfort
Lately I've been pondering how the country folk (city slickers and urban dwellers, too) affected by the January floods will be faring this Christmas: perhaps we would do well to remember them and pop over to GIVEIT to see what needs should be met? 

Guest Post: Gerren Taylor, Walking with Confidence

Gerren Taylor (pictured) was bullied as a kid because of her towering height and rail-thin body, but when she started modeling at age 12, she quickly became the toast of the fashion industry, walking runways for Betsey Johnson and Tommy Hilfiger, and starring in a Marc Jacobs ad.

A year later, though, when her figure had filled out a bit, she was told she was too large to book any jobs. It was a big blow, but Taylor had her head on straight. She has since become a motivational speaker who travels the world to talk to young people about self-esteem – and we sat down with her last week: 

I Heart Daily: When did you first encounter bullying?
Gerren Taylor:
It was prior to modeling because of my height, slender physique and curly hair. I was called “Olive Oyl,” “stick,” “bean pole,” and anything else that the kids could think of to describe my tall thin body. I remember on the school bus one of the kids yelled out, "Whoever thinks Gerren is a giraffe raise your hand." All the kids raised their hands. I went home crying quite a bit because of the taunting.

Media: Will you pay it forward for News?

Media: Will you pay it forward for News?

The Queen's Brisbane visit had us in a right royal bother yesterday as temperatures reached 28 degrees and News Limited's Courier Mail tracked her majesty's moves. But in the world of media it was The Australian's online relaunch and paywall that had people talking. 

The big point of contention: will Australians pay for "general news" even if it is classed as superior in quality – the "premium" variety – when they can get it most places for free (including via public broadcaster the ABC) or from a strong overseas brand (The New York Times, The Guardian) for a smaller fee? After all, George Negus is out while The 7PM Project (TV's equivalent to News Limited's stays. 

Working against the paywall launch is also public perception: the organisation under which The Australian exists remains tainted by the News of the World brush. As the paper's Mark Day asserted yesterday in his column on the annual meeting of News Corp stockholders: "There is no way of knowing now what the phone hacking scandal will cost the company. There is also no way of knowing where the next outbreak will be... The battle has been won but the war has just begun. Even the mums and dads, many of whom are superannuants, are raising questions."

Granted, News Limited has done a pretty good job of distancing itself from the British scandal. The Australian media, it has said, is a different beast. But public perception – as any brand manager knows – is everything when you are asking people to part with their money. We will pay for brands we trust; for assurance of quality – we are the land of Vegemite, of Weet-Bix, of KingGee.

Culture: Grooming, greeting, gentility

Culture: Grooming, greeting, gentility 

In a column titled 'Do be on your best behaviour' for The Sunday Mail yesterday, June Dally-Watkins offered up her advice on greeting, conversation, dress sense and eating for royal watchers intending to see the Queen, in floral scarf, float down the murky Brisbane River (on a boat), and those privileged few in her close company. This included:

"Do not be too Aussie or people will start to wonder what type of weird ockers we are. But if anyone happens to slip up tomorrow I'm sure the Queen will overlook it. She wouldn't make an issue of it because that is the kind of person she is. She is well-mannered, thoughtful and considerate."

Thank heavens for the Queen's graciousness! 

Locally, 91-year-old Sylvia, who is six years the Queen's senior and believes the food you eat determines how you look in the end, piqued my interest with her pink hat as she partook in a piece of chocolate cake at the coffee shop.

Short & Sweet – week beginning October 24

Let's catch up: It's Monday and I'm pooped. After the Swap Party on Saturday, and a particularly emotive morning at church on Sunday, I decided it would be an excellent idea to have my nieces over on Sunday afternoon for a "Crafternoon"* play date. I love them, but how do you mothers do it? We made 12-days-of-Christmas calendars, played in the park, climbed a Jacaranda tree... phew! I thought it would then be a winning notion to clean the entire house, top to bottom like Mary Poppins. As I was chucking out the dirty water, I looked up to the night sky and saw all the diamonds winking at me and did think, 'Hello, why are you doing silly house work when you could revel in a starry display like this?'. Anyway, feeling flatter than a Gallic rugby player today. Proves to me again why a Sabbath is so important. Need coffee.
This week's agenda: Write thank-you cards; drop by Frock Paper Scissors headquarters to start sub-editing this year's magazine; complete administrative tasks from last two weeks' Too Hard Basket; form an opinion on the new-look and its paywall; write some (hopefully not inane) things; catch up with other blogs; pick up husband from airport (wheeee!).
The Word for the Week: "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" (Mark 8:36) 
Quote of the Week: "You have to keep getting up and keep getting up and when things come at you, you have to keep getting up and believing in the mate beside you and trusting him to do his job and making sure you do yours." - All Blacks captain Richie McCaw speaking after leading his team to a World Cup victory over France. Word of the Week: anomie \AN-uh-mee\, noun:
A sense of loneliness and anxiety; a state or condition characterized by a breakdown or absence of social norms and values, as in the case of uprooted people.
"To me, porn appears to be but one way people escape a gnawing sense of anomie – its power is seen in the ultimately corrosive creation of its own self-validating community." 
Reading: 'Narcissism: Integrating Faith and Psychiatry' by Dr Allan Josephson @ Q Ideas
The Breakfast Club: This is one of those days when breakfast lingers on and on and on, past brunch time and into lunch with lots of carbohydrate and coffee. The ideal fare? Trotski & Ash's "sleepy-eyed" Bircher muesli. 

*Terminology accredited to Liz Burke. 
Girl With a Satchel

Notes: The Post Swap Party Post... with thanks

Notes: The Post Swap Party Post... with thanks

On Saturday a gaggle of ladies gathered at an exclusive location on Mount Tamborine to swap clothes, accessories and stories, partake in afternoon tea and raise money for needs within our local community. Together, we put $1,400 in the coffers (a purple lunchbox!), which will go towards the making of Christmas hampers – what glee! 

From the divine creative styling abilities of Anne Lehmann, whose "barn" (aka the shed) served as the location for the event (her wonderful husband, Mark, will soon return his man-stuff to the space); to the cooking skills and give-me-any-task-to-complete willingness of my mother-in-law; to the organisational abilities of my storm-in-a-tea-cup stylist friend Tori and her daughter, Jordana; to the smiling faces of all the women and girls who handed over their $20 entry fee and bags of pre-loved clothes for the cause... I am overwhelmed, to say the least, with what we managed to create. How good are we women when we get together and share our skills, talents, abilities, pocket money and time? AMAZING. 

I would like to thank Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Napoleon Perdis, Nutrimetics,,, MIMCO, Roadshow Entertainment and EMI Music for your generous donations of product – shoes, bags, DVDs, makeup – for the charity auction,* which added a fun dimension to the day's proceedings and funds to the lunchbox. Sophie Baker – a GWAS loyalist of many years – captured the day via her lens, and I'd love to share some of her images right here (you can see more at her blogspot)...

 "We are labourers together with God..." 1 Corinthians 3:9  

Photography © Sophie Baker Photography

*Unfortunately, due to my tight deadline, some of the things didn't arrive on time, but they shall go towards the next Swap event!

Girl With a Satchel

Profile: The world according to Kaz Cooke

Profile: The world according to Kaz Cooke

Kaz Cooke snapped by the delightful Megan Burke
Every now and then, when you feel yourself getting a bit cocky, you can be sure you'll be sent a timely reminder of your oft-fumbling humanity. You know, like the juice stain on the white shirt spotted after you have been in a Very Important Meeting. Or pronouncing a word incorrectly in front of an author you admire.

And so, over fruit toast and tea ("Fake sugar," if you please) with Kaz Cooke, it is that I learn how to say "awry" correctly, and resolve to listen more to ABC radio. It's not "a-wry", my dear, but "uh-rye". But, because Kaz Cooke is a nice person – a true gentlewoman – she is quick to cover my bumbling embarrassment by sharing one of her own recent foibles: finding her dress caught up in her knickers on approach to a podium to give a speech.

"I actually kind of went, 'That was kind of “awks”,' as my 13-year-old would say, 'But there’s nothing I can do about it now. And I’m just going to laugh and keep going'. What else can you do, honestly? And then an elderly man came up to me and complained that I was 10 minutes late and that he’d been asked to give a gold coin donation to charity and he thought that was too expensive and he’d given them 20 cents." 

Kaz Cooke meets all sorts.

Teen Girl With a Satchel - Reflections on Vietnam

While 38 Year Eleven students embarked on Vietnam for a History excursion, for the vast majority of us, the actual historical benefits of the trip were the last thing taken into consideration when deciding whether to go or not. There were beach resorts, and tailor made clothing, hours of free shopping time, bizarrely cheap food and drink and no parental supervision for three whole weeks, but none of us understood the true emotional toll the trip would take.

We began with three days in Cambodia, staying in Siem Reap where we were lucky enough to get the end of a typhoon that caused the entire town to flood on a scale that would cause mass evacuation and panic in Australia; the Cambodians didn’t even bat an eyelid. They continued riding their bikes through the thigh-high floodwaters and just got on with their lives. For our group, fresh off the plane, it showed us just what people are capable of doing when they have no other options.

We visited two orphanages while we were in the country. The second orphanage we visited, in the tourist town of Hoi An, brought me to tears. I spent my time in the room that housed infants and disabled children. A young girl attached herself to me, and I spent the hour carrying her around. Just spending that time with her brought us both intense amounts of joy.

Covers: Frankie issue #44 and polite society

Covers: Frankie issue #44 and polite society
Like mixing your florals with your plaids, this edition Frankie (146 pages, up a book size or two from the usual 122) paints a complex picture of the human condition at the generation X/Y/Z end of town, papered over with a pretty cover, which conceals some of the more "edgy" material that is likely to offend more genteel sensibilities.

Being polite and a spendthrift are two issues I hold dear, and Rowena Grant-Frost tackles both these topics in her pertinent essays (how appropriate in the week of Queen Elizabeth's visit). Often fraught with personal and social tension, the fact is, no matter how hard you try to be either, there are obstacles, such as people and capitalism, that keep one from being virtuous.

As those Wall Street marchers demonstrate, the world can be a bit each-man-to-himself, which isn't very nice and can lead to homelessness and poverty and road rage, but I do think we inherently want to do the right thing – even bankers and stockbrokers and corporate types – and sometimes it takes a financial crisis, a cancer scare, a trip to a war-torn part of the world, or a good talking to from someone we respect, to put us on the right track.

Grant-Frost gets under the skin of polite pretenses and pretendy smiles by addressing those ill feelings towards our neighbour that rise up when we're dealt a blow (like having polyps removed only to find no sympathy at work) or done wrong. Being polite, she says, can lead to a "tension between what is real and what is said; what is truthful and what is polite", which can lead to this. While ultimately Grant-Frost resolves to Keep Calm and Carry On, she's none too pleased about it:

Faith: The importance of engaging with fashion

Faith: The importance of engaging with fashion

"[T]he music and fashion industries are growing ever more intertwined. Music magazines—Rolling Stone, Spin, Vibe, and others—often feature fashion spreads, in addition to the fashion-conscious musicians they profile. VH1 offers the yearly VH1 Vogue Fashion Awards; MTV boasts the House of Style program. As far back as 1986, the Council of Fashion Designers of America gave MTV a special award for its influence on fashion. Fashion becomes an integral part of what young people consider cool, attractive, stylish, and entertaining. Even Newsweek admitted that “Style counts: Teen cliques are more fluid than adults thing, but each has its own distinctive tribal markings, from hippie chic to body art to buttoned down prep.” Indeed, virtually all cultural trends have a fashion component; one cannot adopt a role without looking the part.

As fashion has grown more intertwined with popular culture, its reach and influence have extended to younger consumers. Children provide an emerging market for the fashion world, and prove an increasingly lucrative one. According to some studies, direct spending by teens and preteens has tripled since 1990; in 1998, children under twelve alone spent over $28 billion, much of it on clothes. Children are more susceptible to peer pressure and fashion fads than adults; their increasing purchase power is a sure sign that fashion advertising—and its institutionalized presence in much of popular culture—will target more and more marketing efforts toward children. As fashion grows more influential, it will direct its statements toward the more easily influenced."

- Cherie Harder, "Why Fashion Matters to You", Q Ideas for the Common Good

The Digital Gloss Files - October 18

...with Julia Low

Condé Nast has appointed Dawn Ostroff president of Condé Nast Entertainment, a newly created division geared towards producing and distributing original television and digital initiatives based on Condé Nast’s diverse portfolio of brands. Ostroff, who is also the former chief of the CW Network, believes digital channels are the future and plans to create content that will go across all platforms. “The goal is to build an asset in this division for Condé Nast and add a revenue stream for them and for the magazine brands, so that they're maximizing the content they already have.”

With Ostroff’s appointment as a fine example, who says the digital industry has to be an all-boys club? Not Glamour magazine. In a Glamour special report featuring the female founders of Polyvore and Flickr, Kara Swisher of discusses the issues faced by female techies and celebrates women in technology.

Is technology narrowing our perspectives? Relevant magazine’s Kristen Tennant believes that in the midst of personalising content, following only niche interests, and editing our world, we’re in danger of losing the joy of discovery:

“True discovery usually involves something new and unexpected—something that takes you by surprise. A discovery makes you step back, pause and consider how to process and maybe even incorporate that new thing, whether it be a new flavor of food, an unfamiliar culture or a different way of organizing and running a business... Ever-evolving, “cool” technology is something we can’t ignore. But as we embrace the advancements, let’s consider what steps we can take in our day-to-day lives to allow for the serendipitous, enjoy the unexpected and preserve the journey of discovery.”

However,  The New York Times editorialises on the possibilities opened up by the tablet: "Every e-book reader seems to come preloaded with a few canonical titles — “Pride and Prejudice” or “Alice in Wonderland,” for instance. But there has never been a better time to be a slightly faded writer just beyond the cusp of copyright, like Edgar Wallace or Hilaire Belloc. Their voluminous works — not easily found in your local library — are now copiously available to the digitally curious."

Plus, Princeton University Press will launch a new digital imprint it calls Princeton Shorts. The series will begin November 9 as extended excerpts from the publisher’s catalog of scholarly and classic works, including 'On Reading' from Thoreau's Walden and 'The Five Habits of Highly Effective Honeybees' from Seeley's Honeybee Democracy. The spiel: "In a world where every second counts, how better to stay up-to-speed on current events and digest the kernels of wisdom great works of the past? Princeton Shorts enables you to be an instant expert in a world where information is everywhere but quality is at a premium."

Profile: Lissane Oliver, organiser extraordinaire

Profile: Lissane Oliver, organiser extraordinaire

"Snow dome collector, creative peep, business owner, collaborator, TV presenter and as my dad says 'The Bradman of Organising'". So reads one-time theatrical agent Lisanne Oliver's email signature.

At 43 and newly married, Oliver is still adorable and still riding high on the success of her 2007 book SORTED! The Ultimate Guide to Organising Your Life.

"It's actually a bestseller and has been translated into four languages," she says. "The loveliest thing is to receive emails from peeps saying how much it's helped them. What a joy! Or when people say, 'Dear Lissanne, I feel like you've written this book just for me', or, 'I feel like you took me by the hand and showed me how it was all going to be okay'."

After rising early (she doesn't use an alarm, but her body clock) and making a pot of tea with a cosy on top before jumping online to read the paper with her cat in her lap, Oliver's daily life involves sorting through paperwork and clutter and setting up systems for her clientele.

Book Shelf: Women's Stuff by Kaz Cooke

Book Shelf: Women's Stuff by Kaz Cooke

Tough love, that's what you'll get in Kaz Cooke's thumping new compendium to modern womanhood. A 774-odd page tome, Women's Stuff ($59.95; Penguin) is an impressive encyclopaedia of, well, women's stuff. Ostensibly a guide to good living, covering everything from confidence building to conception and choosing a career, Cooke's signature investigative crap detector skills are on high alert, taking aim at pharmaceutical companies, "bonkers new-agers", homeopathy, "pop-porn", reluctant feminists, lazy journalists and Tony Abbott, to name just a few bugbears.

In a world saturated in information, with commercial interests clouding even the best of intentions, Cooke takes to the task of sorting through the confusion to find the truth with missionary zeal. Her quest? To do the right thing by women by separating fact from piffle. Does she succeed? For the most part, yes, depending on your politics. While Cooke makes no apologies for her point of view (it's her book, after all), there's something about her approach to reporting on women's issues that resonates broadly.

The proof's in the sales. Cooke's previous books, including the pregnancy guide Up The Duff, child rearing guide Kid Wrangling and teen girl guide Girl Stuff, are best-sellers, housed in homes around the country and passed on to daughters, sisters and friends. (As an aside, make sure you buy the latest edition, she suggests, as not all the information is timeless – science and opinion can date faster than seasonal fashion!)

Short & Sweet – week beginning October 17

Let's catch up: Chasing my tail, that's what I'm doing all about town and the 'net today, like the tourists who flocked to Mount Tamborine over the weekend following the Scarecrow Festival trail (apparently, Better Homes and Gardens were up here filming!). The weather took a most foul turn, and many sodden scarecrows didn't make it through the storm, but this fellow, who reminds me of my husband, seems to be in tact (I like the more traditional scarecrow; others just freak me out).
This week's agenda: Catch up on pending posts, mark university assignments, organise Swap Party (including product to auction off: can you help?), maintain sanity, spend more time with God (those latter two are surely linked).
The Word for the Week: “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” - Proverbs 19:20-21
Quote of the Week: "I just came in for broccoli, I'd rather not be told to smack my bitch up." – Kaz Cooke, Women's Stuff Word of the Week: etiology \ee-tee-OL-uh-jee\, noun:
1. In Pathology the study of the causes of diseases.
2. Any study of causes, causation, or causality, as in philosophy, biology, or physics.
"I had the privilege to discuss the etiology of one writer's world view over toast and tea last Thursday."
Reading: "Cool to be kind", Nikki Gemmell, The Weekend Australian Magazine; "The Martin Luther King Memorial Dedication" @ The Washington Post
The Breakfast Club: Gluten-free toast with butter and honey and a flat-white over emails. Delicious.

Girl With a Satchel

Bulletin Board: Swap frocks, small change

Bulletin Board: Swap frocks, small change
Swapper, The Clothing Exchange
The Clothes Swap came back into vogue a few years ago on the back of the sustainability movement, spawning many pop-up-shop-style events around the place. A way to update one's wardrobe without outlaying significant amounts of cash and/or to raise charity funds, too, they appease the consumerist and eco-conscience all at once while also creating safe-havens for women to gather and share their stories and wares without hideous change-room lights and mirrors (you can leave your shame at the door and self-esteem and credit card intact!). There are three swaps for your immediate attention...

Melbourne-based fashion collective The Clothing Exchange is partnering with Red Cross to host a National Swap Day across Australia on October 17 (that's Monday!). The events will be hosted in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra, with thread-lovers in regional areas also being encouraged to host their own swaps. Swappers are encouraged to bring six garments or accessories to swap in return for six buttons – they can then peruse the clothes racks for clothes of their choice in exchange for these buttons. The Melbourne swap will be happening at 6:30pm at The BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne. Go to to view all the details.

The Creative Industries precinct at QUT, Brisbane, together with The Stitchery Collective, will host a Clothing Exchange & Sustainability Evening on Tuesday October 18 (tagline: "It's just a little give and take"; ethos: "Give and you shall receive!"). Located at The Glasshouse, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, it will run from 5pm to 8pm with no monies exhanged. You are to bring five garments to trade from 10am, for which you will be able to procure something new. For more information and to see a video of last year's event, please see the Facebook page.

And, lastly, GWAS is hosting a Swap Event, too! Taking place in "The Barn" on Mount Tamborine on Saturday October 22,  it will raise money through an entry fee and charity auction, for pressing community needs as we come into Christmastime – the most wonderful time of the year for many, but very challenging for some.

So if you are a product manager, book publicist, beauty PR or generally ace person with access to surplus loot that might fetch a decent price, please email for a mailing address and details (gosh, I'd love to hear from you). Should you be able to provide some item for the cause, you will receive a rapturous blog applause and good tidings as we come into the most wonderful time of the year. Hurrah! A full report to come.

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom. Sell all your belongings and give the money to the poor. Provide for yourself purses that don't wear out, and save your riches in heaven, where they will never decrease, because no thief can get to them, and no moth can destroy them. For your heart will always be where your riches are." 
- Jesus (Luke 12: 32-24)
Girl With a Satchel

Humanity: Women for peace

Humanity: Women for peace

"Women as creative and courageous peace activists have always been crucial; what would the American Civil Rights movement have been without Rosa Parks, for example? But this 2011 prize underlines that today women are in the forefront as leaders directly making the change, and also, and equally important, they are bringing their own creativity, including their faith creativity, to this work as they sit, stand, march, pray, blog, and sometimes suffer harassment, beating, arrest and even death for a more decent and humane world. Peace is genuinely women’s work today. Of course, in many ways, it always has been."  
 - Susan Brooks Thistlehwaite, 'Nobel Peace Prize 2011: Peace is women's work', The Washington Post, in recognition of the awarding of this year's prize to Yemeni journalist and human rights activist, Tawakkol Karman, the first elected female President in Africa, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Liberian author and peace activist, Leymah Gbowee. 

Culture: Beyonce beyond pretty

Culture: Beyonce beyond pretty

My husband, mother-in-law and I were mesmerised by the sight of Beyonce on Sunday Night in the debut of the film clip for her new single, "Love on Top". While I lamented out loud, in my best passive-aggressive feminist voice, that her black leotard and tights ensemble detracted somewhat from her face, it was refreshing to see her thighs – those powerful, muscly legs – dancing up a storm.

Inasmuch as it feels somewhat counter-intuitive to post the video, it also seems counter-cultural to even comment on Beyonce's appearance – a precarious zone for parents of girls, in particular, for whom we are well aware that words of admiration and approval for non-physical attributes can help keep them from formulating a self-image entirely dependent on their form.

And now Beyonce is pregnant, a life stage when the extraordinary capabilities of the body hits home for many women, the celebration of her changing form will likely continue to be part of the global entertainment media and gossip media discourse.

Faith: Jesus and The Girl Effect

Faith: Jesus and The Girl Effect

"I was at Bryn Mawr – Katharine Hepburn went to Bryn Mawr – and I am in this room with the elite of American society and I did one of the stories, Mary and Martha. And one of the women said, ‘I had a little trouble with Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet’, and I said, How wonderfully ironic that you would have problems with that, because Mary dared to sit with the other male students, to listen to the rabbi. This was a huge social embarrassment – the other (male) students were going, ‘There’s a woman sitting here with us, could you tell her to go away?’ – and Martha came to the rescue and said, ‘Could you just tell her to come back in the kitchen and help me like a woman should?’. And Jesus didn’t just say, ‘Oh, let her go this one time’; he said, ‘She’s chosen the better part.’ And Jesus’ treatment of women, especially in listening to the rabbi, could well be one of the foundations of Bryn Mawr coming into existence. It was Christians who said women need to be educated and treated equally, because Jesus in the first century Middle Eastern culture treated women as equals. Radical, radical in that culture!”

Bruce Kuhn, Broadway actor/storyteller/teacher speaking to Rachael Kohn on ABC Radio National's 'The Spirit of Things', October 9, 2011. So you might say, Jesus was a pioneer of The Girl Effect (education = empowered women with choices) and, Kuhn, like him, is passing the batten on to women (men who are champions of women should be applauded).

After watching Kuhn perform (his current act is The Gospel of Luke), one female drama student (Nina Thiel) took it upon herself to bring the women of the Bible to life in the same theatrical way. In the hands of some men with self-interest in power and domination, the Bible for women often become corrupted; but you leave the women and girls out of the picture, and you miss half of the Gospel of Christ.  

Girl With a Satchel

Girl on all the Covers: Emma Stone

Girl on all the Covers: Emma Stone

By Emma Plant

Plain flour name, not a plain Emma Jane at all. Crazy, Stupid Love’s Emma Stone is sending everyone straight into a charm coma. Miss Stone is front-covering every popular magazine around the block. This month’s Cleo, Girlfriend, Nylon and Teen Vogue all have Miss Em looking the part.

She is the Hollywood duchess gracing all corners of entertainment media at this very moment. The antithesis to fellow flame haired Lohan, Stone is seen as ‘genuine, unpretentious and hilariously goofy’. Stone is whom we Australians might endearingly label a dag.

Covers: Anna Gare for Sunday Life magazine

Covers: Anna Gare for Sunday Life magazine
It was a case of double-yes! when I opened up this week's Sun-Herald and found not only the gorgeous Anna Gare, host of Junior MasterChef, on the cover, but also that Nicole Elphick had penned the cover story. Elphick was deputy editor for Total Girl and news editor at Cleo before heading off overseas. I like her work. 

In the three-page cover story, Elphick reveals Gare has an interesting back-story: before being lured to Junior MasterChef (she was also approach to host MasterChef but turned down the opportunity to attend to her family in Perth), and after discovering a childhood passion for cooking, she started a band called the Jam Tarts with her sister and two friends. They toured Australia, New Zealand and Britain for ten years before opting out of the lifestyle to be a mum.

She "accidentally" started a catering company and was offered a backstage role on Ian Parmenter's Consuming Passions after she "whipped up a rustic feast" that impressed him. From there, it was stints on The Best in Australia, Quickies in my Kitchen and Junior MasterChef

"I never really planned [my successes]," she tells Elphick. "I'm driven and I try to do my best, but it's not like I said, 'I want to be on TV.' I've naturally just fallen into it. I follow my passion. If you're doing something that you love, then you usually do it well."

I suspect that's a professional philosophy she shares with Elphick. High fives all 'round!

Girl With a Satchel

Short & Sweet – week beginning October 10, 2011

Small comforts: humble breakfast and Maggie Alderson's new book, Evangeline
This week's agenda: recover from influenza, deliver lecture, read mammoth book in time for author interview, make notes for book launch emceeing gig, compose answers to interview questions, compose blog content, bid husband farewell before he flies off to Thailand, plan clothes swap party, catch up on emails. After a morning involving one dead car battery and one volatile internet connection, one has no alternative but to submit to the throes, steady-as-she-goes.
The Word for the Week: "Pleasant words are...healing to the body." Proverbs 16:24
Quote of the Week: "Man is capable of as much atrocity as he has imagination." - Parcher, A Beautiful Mind Word of the Week: milquetoast \MILK-tohst\, noun:
A very timid, unassertive, spineless person, especially one who is easily dominated or intimidated. 
"Under the generic 'anonymous' pseudonym, the most obsequious milquetoast can transform into a zealous, vigilant, hateful detractor with little thought given over to the repercussions for one's words and actions." 
Reading: 'The moral ambiguity of free speech' at Eureka Street. 
The Breakfast Club: Lacking culinary enthusiasm and wary of a weakened stomach, all I feel like consuming when I am ill is toast, tea and lemonade. Last night, I tried to convince myself that I was up to normal consumptive fare. Wrong. Note to self: give your body what it really wants. Hence, today's breakfast fare – a rather uninspiring return to toast, jam and tea – petit dejeuner de ja vous? Oui.

Girl With a Satchel

Life with Christ – forgiveness blesses back

Tuning into last night's Sunday Night brought home the reality of true tragedy and living Christianity. The story focused on the story of a family, the Blake family, whose daughter, Emily, was involved in a bus crash in 2009. The accident left Emily with multiple skull fractures, severe brain injury, lung contusions and a fractured left femur.

The documenting of the family's love and care for their daughter – the happy, pig-tailed, nine-year-old primary schooler who hopped on the bus one day only to find life as she knew it curtailed – was a beautiful thing to witness; yet another reason for parents to celebrate the gift of their able-bodied, healthy children.