Friday, 28 October 2016

One Grumpy Mum Needs a Good Book

I've been suffering from awful PMT these last few days. I hardly know myself really... I get so angry so quickly and have been just truly horrendous to live with, but last night I had a dose of my monthly bookclub and it put me right back up on my perch, so I thought I would write about it...

An evening of laughter with lovely ladies and chatting about all sorts of interesting topics was just what I needed, and I had to get myself away from my poor family so it was the perfect balm to my grumpy soul.

The book we chose to read this month is Wool by Hugh Howey I've downloaded the omnibus 5 book edition so I'll be reading this stuff for a while but it looks super interesting...

'Life is good in the silo. The people are friendly, food is plentiful, healthcare is readily available when needed. Those in charge are democratically elected and take their office on the top floor. A skilled IT department keeps channels of communication open throughout. And the whole silo is kept ticking over by the engineers in Mechanical, deep in the belly of the Earth. Just one look at the screens projecting video images of the bleak, uninhabitable landscape outside, and the inhabitants of the silo know how good they've got it. There are always some crazy folk who question this from time to time. How did the silo get here? What exactly is out there, out of view of the lens? These ungrateful dissenters are punished by being cast out with a woolen cloth to clean the cameras so that everyone else can continue to enjoy the view - fated to certain death. But one day sheriff Holston, the sensible and much-respected warden of the silo, joins the dissident ranks and chooses to go outside. This sets in motion a chain of events that shake the foundations of the entire community.'

If you want to read it too then please feel free to join in with your comments below. If you have read it already then no spoilers please :-)

I love reading and over the years I have read enjoyed some real treasures, so I thought I would share with you my top best reads, incase you are casting about for something to read right now...
Taste is a big issues and I tend to like my books with a bit of a fantasy, sci fi, historical, or surreal element, but most important is that I like books that share a feeling of redemption, or personal evolution, journeys of self discovery or something progressive and positive. I also like to get into the mind of someone who thinks differently to me and feel another world perspective too. I don't like horror or depressing books. I've read a few great books set around the second world war but they disturb me so much that I can't include them to be uplifting to some extent. The only exception to that are the thrillers like 'Gone Girl' and 'Girl on a Train' which I really loved but you've probably already read them because the whole world has read them. If you haven't read them though, get out from under that rock you've been living under and do it, they are brilliant.

 'The Signature of all Things' by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I found this such a beautiful uplifting book...

'From the moment Alma Whittaker steps into the world, everything about life intrigues her. Instilled with an unquenchable sense of wonder by her father, a botanical explorer and the richest man in the New World, Alma is raised in a house of luxury and curiosity. It is not long before she becomes a gifted botanist in her own right. But as she flourishes and her research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she comes to love draws her in the opposite direction - into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical.

The Signature of All Things soars across the globe of the nineteenth century, from London and Peru, to Philadelphia, Tahiti and beyond. Peopled with extraordinary characters along the way, most of all it has an unforgettable heroine in Alma Whittaker.'

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell just took my breath away...

'Set in the 21st century - between 20 and 60 years from now - The Sparrow is the story of a charismatic Jesuit priest and talented linguist, Emilio Sandoz, who - in response to a remarkable radio signal from the depths of space - leads a scientific mission to make first contact with an extraterrestrial culture. In the true tradition of Jesuit adventurers before him, Sandoz and his companions are prepared to endure isolation, suffering - even death - but nothing can prepare them for the civilisation they encounter, or for the tragic misunderstanding that brings the mission to a devastating end. Once considered a living saint, Sandoz returns alone to Earth horrifically maimed, both physically and spiritually, the mission's sole survivor - only to be blamed for the mission's failure and accused of heinous crimes.

Written in clean, effortless prose and peopled with memorable, superbly-realised characters who never lose their humanity or humour, The Sparrow is a powerful, haunting fiction - a tragic but ultimately triumphant novel about the nature of faith, of love and what it means to be 'human'.

The thing is, if you read this book you have to read the sequel, Children of God because the first books ends very  tragically and needs the second book to make sense of it. It is, in the words of Amazon, '...Dazzlingly imaginative and philosophically provocative ...'

Another spacey book I loved was 'The Martian' by Andy Weir. It was made into a film with Matt Damon and you've probably seen it, but if not, do read the book, it is unputdownable.

So those are my tips. If you have read any of them and want to tell me what you thought about them I would love to hear.

Have a wonderful spooky weekend and if it is a damp rubbish autumn day where you are, then curl up with a hot drink and good book...

Oh! I nearly forgot.. I have to add my favourite non fiction book too! 
I read a lot of non fiction, mostly about geopolitics, philosophy, economics and such but this beauty kind of covers it all. This book got mixed reviews from the people I know who read it, from same as me, loved it, to boredom and bewilderment, so I guess it depends on what kind of person you are. Ultimately I felt like I understood the world better as a result of reading this book so I wholeheartedly recommend it, but it is not light reading, be warned...

'Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind' by Yuval Noah Harari 

'Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. In just a fraction of that time, one species among countless others has conquered it. Us.
We are the most advanced and most destructive animals ever to have lived. What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us Sapiens?
In this bold and provocative book, Yuval Noah Harari explores who we are, how we got here and where we’re going.
Sapiens is a thrilling account of humankind’s extraordinary history – from the Stone Age to the Silicon Age – and our journey from insignificant apes to rulers of the world'

Friday, 21 October 2016

A Peak in to my Customers Homes

As promised, this blog is dedicated to my lovely customers and their beautiful homes...
Maybe you have been featured?

 I really love the message on the wall art in this picture. I totally agree with all that yummy positive vibe stuff and the placement of our Lilac 403 cushion is a gentle reminder that we only have one life so we better go out and live it...


If you love purple then you will love Jessica's fabulous home...

 Here is my best furry friend Mr Boycie the handsome dog immortalised in cushiony form in the home of BVN Designer Isabelle. They sell those cool pictures on the wall too!

BVN Design also made some gorgeous dining room chairs for the home of Laila Bagge using out 2 Halves Makes a Whole cushion covers.

 And lastly, a cozy pic of the Mr Boycie cushion again... this looks like the perfect cozy spot to sip a hot drink and look out at the autumn leaves falling...

Have a wonderful weekend and if you have any pictures of Van Asch in your home then please email them to me or #vanasch on Instagram to be featured in one of these blog posts in the future...

Friday, 14 October 2016

My Wonderful Creative Crafty Customers!

What would Van Asch be without you? 

This is a showcase of my customers clever crafty creations with Van Asch fabrics and cushions... Maybe some inspiration for you this weekend, get out your old dining chairs and give them a facelift!
Thats what Kajsa has done from IceQueen Crystal Design

And speaking of dining chairs, I just love the combination Rina has used with our Esoterica fabric and these super gothic carved chairs...

And she is rocking our new Victorian Gothic fabric on these dining chairs too... and using off cuts as framed wall art.  Check out her inspiring instagram page @skrangla1

Martina from MyHouseInColour has done a lovely armchair with our Spring Cottage Fabric.

And following the soft pink theme, I just can't get enough of that colour!!... Here is our Golden Skulls & Edwardian Gothic fabrics at conference centre The Dream Valley

I've been working with Isabelle From BVN Designs for years and she keeps doing awesome things with my cushion covers! You don't necessarily need fabric by the meter to cover furniture, you can use cushion covers instead...
Here is our 2 Halves Makes a Whole...actually finally making a whole!

And using our very bohotastic Crystal Mandala cushion covers..

You can use the off cuts for arty projects too.. check out what Glada Ungmön has done with our Edwardian Gothic fabric

And more conventionally with our Buddha fabric, elegant but bohemian...I like it!

but I want to leave you with these 2 great pics because they are a bit different... firstly this super cute hat by Tant Camilla Millens from our limited Edition stretchy Golden Skulls fabric, and one of my customers who passed by me at the last Formex wearing a dress she had made with a panel from our Edwardian Gothic fabric. Sorry I cropped your head out of the picture but I don't didn't get your name and I want to protect your anonymity...but I was very impressed!...very crafty ladies!


Next Friday I'm going to do a blog all about your homes! Yes, pictures of your Van Asch delights in your home! If you would like a chance to be featured then please mail pics to or #vanasch on instagram. Anonymity guaranteed ;-)

Have a wonderful creative weekend !

Friday, 7 October 2016

We're living in a Giant Echo Chamber

I was reading a blog about the various Pantone colour palette for 2016/2017.... yes, I'm mad about colour... no this blog is not going to be about colours....much.... It is actually a comment by the Vice President of Pantone that got me thinking...

The world has become an increasingly polarized place. As Pantone’s Vice President Laurie Pressman notes, on the one side are aspects which almost fade into anonymity (n#4 INVISIBLE) , while the other has a strong, stand-out-and-be-seen attitude. Looked at from another perspective, consider the dichotomy between yoga and mindfulness and the race so many have joined for status and social positioning.

Fact of the matter is that we do live in an increasingly polarised world because we curate and filter all the information that comes our way, and we hang out with people that think the same way we do ourselves. What the means is that our world views hardly ever get challenged, we almost never have cause to look again at what we think and try to see things from a different view.
I found this very noticeable during the 'Brexit' nonsense. When it was announced, 99% of my Facebook friends were horrified and incredulous, but that doesn't reflect the actual position of the nation, just all the London middle class broad minded lefty types that are my mates...and me, if I'm honest... And it really notices when you see how popular Trump is in the US. Again, everyone I know can't believe that this circus has come so far and struggle to understand what anyone could possibly see in that ludicrous man. Yet, he stands a very real chance of becoming the next president, so clearly there are loads of people out there that think really differently to me. 

But because I'm surrounded by people that think the same way as me, it just entrenches my views to the point where I wouldn't even spend 1 nano second trying to relate to Mr Trump as a sensible choice for the Presidency.

Life didn't used to be this way, before the internet, there was no facebook's eternal feedback loop of self confirming reality. The giant echo chamber... 

It's confusing, being a grownup.... 

Mr Boycie doesn't need to worry about this stuff....