Sparkling Flora - a gift for you from my penpal

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust after Christmas, a little package arrived for me in our post office box. It was about the size of a letter, but satisfyingly plumper (plumper? more plump?). There were little drawings on the outside, my address was written in a friendly, swirly script, and washi tape held the corners together. The stamp was from Germany. Drawing on my masterful powers of deduction, I surmised that this was a letter from my penpal Astrid. Also, she wrote her name on the back. I was very excited. Astrid is wonderfully generous and creative, and writes me fabulous letters about her life and family in Germany, and her regular travels in Italy and elsewhere. She fills her letters with lovely anecdotes, as well as little gifts of beautiful stationery, pictures, mementos and ephemera, much of it handmade. You can see some of Astrid's amazing mail packages to me here and here.

Astrid is a much better penpal than I am. I take a lot longer between letters than she does and, no matter how much I wrack my brain, I never come up with anything as clever or imaginative or lovely to send in my letters to Astrid as she does to me.

Case in point, the letter I excitedly tore open just after Christmas. Attached inside a card by a piece of pink tape was a beautiful little pendant. It was a silver cloud and, when you looked closely, one side was covered with pretty little raindrops while the other was clear like a fluffy, white cloud sailing by on a sunny day. Then I read the card, and discovered that Astrid had actually made this! Isn't she clever?

A little while ago, Astrid opened a shop on Etsy called Sparkling Flora, where she sells some of her lovely creations. And today I have a very special chance for you to win one of two prizes from my generous penpal: a rain-cloud pendant just like mine, and a set of three handmade mini-journals. What's more, Astrid will send you your prize ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.

tn_1361662933578 prizesTo enter:

1. Go to Sparkling Flora and Tweet about the page, like it on Facebook or Favourite it (you only need to do one of these but I'll award one entry in the draw for each action, the buttons to help you do this are on the bottom-left of the page)

2. Leave a comment here to let me know what you've done

For an extra chance, let me know in the comments what you like best in Astrid's shop.

I'll draw two winners using a random selector on Thursday 28 February, 2013. Draw 1 will be for the necklace, Draw 2 will be for the mini-journals. Good luck!!

ps. I made the prizes look all Polariod-esque using

UPDATE: This competition is now closed. Congratulations Lisa and Noor.

FREE tickets to see "funny and poetic" LEO

Circus1Circus2 Circus3 Circus4 Circus5 Circus6 Circus7 Roll up, roll up. The circus is coming to town! Would you like to see it? For free? Read on! LEO is not your traditional circus. More like physical theatre, it is intimate, mind-bending, and extraordinary. It's what might happen if the laws of gravity were to suddenly change, and it is part of the Arts Centre Melbourne 2013 Summer Season lineup.

Created by Berlin-based production company Circle of Eleven, LEO was awarded Best of Edinburgh Fringe and has been described as "funny and poetic" (New York Post).

The Melbourne season runs from 15-27 January 2013, and I have two tickets to give away for 16 January! Simply email me (nabulger at gmail dot com) if you'd like to win the two tickets. AND if you blog, Tweet or post on Facebook about this competition, send me the links and I'll give you an extra place in the draw for each one. I'll draw the winner at random at noon on the 15th. The tickets will be available at the box office to pick up on the night.

In the meantime, here is a little taste of what you'll see. Isn't it magical?

1-LeoOld circus photographs at top are all licensed under The Commons on Flickr. Photograph above is from LEO, used with permission.

: : :

UPDATE: I got a little bit confused. Please blame 'baby brain' rather than my general blonde-ness. There are many wonderful shows in the Summer Season lineup, and I'm yet to see most of them. Including LEO, of course, because it hasn't opened yet. On closer observation, based on the descriptions on the website, LEO is not a circus-y show, that's Oh Suivant (which also looks fabulous). LEO is, however, still magical and gravity-defying (just watch the video if you don't believe me). So please enjoy these circus images which actually don't have anything to do with LEO but are awesome in their own right. Oh boy. Confused Blogger Gives Away Awesome Tickets Anyway.

Remember: just email me if you'd like to win two tickets to LEO, and you can give a much more accurate description of this show than I have, after the event.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This competition is now closed. Congratulations Lisa!

Summer lovin' the arts

The Arts Centre Melbourne is absolutely killing it with its summer season lineup this year, in this blogger's humble opinion. Who popped in for one night only on the weekend? Just Gotye, that's who. Oh wait, you want more? How about seven choreographers, 12 street dancers, three break dancers and some local talent, in the international street dance sensation BLAZE? And one of the best parts, to my mind? On performance days during the run of this show, the public spaces around Hamer Hall will be turned into venues for free music, dance and street art performances.

There will also be some Christmassy shows, the iconic New Year's music festival Summadayze, a bunch of stuff for kids (Giggle and Hoot's first ever live show, anyone?), and Oh Suivant!, a funny, arty and rather intimate circus-clown performance.

In fact there's a show on every day and every night of summer, except Christmas Day.

I'm hoping to out to a number of these shows this summer, and I'll definitely be heading off to see The Key of Sea live concert, which is on this coming Friday night.

This concert sounds amazing and I can't wait. Produced in association with The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival Inc, and principally supported by Amnesty International, it is a one-night-only opportunity to hear some of Australia's leading musicians who have paired up with musicians from refugee and asylum-seeker backgrounds.

They have released an album (actually two of them, this is the sequel) from which all profits go to Australian refugee and asylum-seeker charities, and Friday is a chance to hear some of them live in concert.

Here is a little video to tell you more about it.


Melbourne friends, do you want to come too? The Arts Centre is giving away a double pass for The Key of Sea, this Friday. Just leave a comment below saying you'd like to come along and I'll draw a winner at midday on Thursday (13 December).

For extra places in the draw, tell your friends: Tweet about it using the hashtag #summerseason, and share it on Facebook, making sure you let me know you've done so. One extra place in the draw for each.

All images of performances (from top: Leo, Oh Suivant!, BLAZE), and rehearsal sessions from The Key of Sea, are used with permission from Arts Centre Melbourne. I am not being paid for this post, however, I did receive two tickets to see The Key of Sea.

UPDATE: This competition is now closed. Congratulations Andie. And The Key of Sea was amazing! If they do it again next year, I highly recommend you go!

A very Australian Christmas, plus a giveaway

Target has designed a range of beautiful Australian-themed Christmas ornaments this year, for sale exclusively in Target Australia stores. I've bought two of each!

As a blogger, and as a person who has lived for some time on the opposite side of the world, I am lucky to have friends in many places and from many cultures. And when Christmas rolls around, I am almost always asked "How do you celebrate?" by my northern hemisphere friends. Here's a taste.

Long, lazy summer school-holidays, Daylight Savings, the smell of jasmine, Carols by Candlelight in every park. Stockings for Santa on Christmas Eve, a great big pile of toys and tinsel and wrapping paper and smiling children on Christmas morning. For some families, Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve or Church on Christmas Day. Ham and trimmings in some houses. Seafood platters in others. Food comas by mid-afternoon in almost every home.

What else happens on Christmas Day?

Water fights in the back yard. Christmas crackers with silly hats and bad jokes. Christmas carols playing on repeat. Watching the Queen's Christmas Day message in the hope that she will say something as hysterically funny as "annus horribilis" again so that you can make more crude puns. At least one broken toy. At least one uncle or family friend drinking too much and turning obnoxious.

I photographed these adorable Christmas ornaments in the park this week. They were designed exclusively for Target this year and, with prices ranging from $4 to $6, they're very affordable too!

They'll make great gifts for overseas friends and I plan on pulling together an Aussie care-package or two, adding in some other items new to Target this year, like Australian-themed crackers, glass baubles painted with Australian flowers, and a range of rather tasty sauces made with native Australian ingredients.

While we're having this conversation, did you know that Target now stocks a range of high-end fragrances, like Marc Jacobs, Bvlgari, Issey Miyake and Versace, at discount prices? This was news to me until recently, but very happy news when it came to hunting down Christmas presents while watching the budget.

Competition time

Last week Target contacted me and asked if I wanted to give you guys a $40 gift voucher. Since we're heading into Christmas, I thought that would probably be one of the handiest things you could have right now, so I said "of course!"

To be in the draw to win a $40 gift voucher to spend at any Target, Baby Target, or Target Country across Australia, simply leave a comment below and let me know how you celebrate this holiday season in your family.

For a second chance to win, Tweet about this competition and use the hashtags #targetchristmas and #targetlovesbloggers.

For a third chance, share this post on Facebook, and let me know about it.

Overseas readers

These gift vouchers are only valid in Australia, but I don't want you to miss out so I'm going to give away a second prize.

I'll randomly select one overseas person to win some of these lovely Christmas ornaments, plus an assortment of other goodies that I can gather together, and I'll post them all out to you anywhere in the world. (I might even make the mail look pretty, like this). Just let me know what country you're from in your comment when you enter.

Both prizes will be drawn at 9pm on Tuesday 11 December (Melbourne time). Good luck!

This post was sponsored by the lovely folks at Target. Perfumes and Australian-themed ornaments sold throughout Target Australia. Baby drool comes separately.

UPDATE: This competition is now closed. Congratulations Amber!

Spring giveaway

Dear friend,

This is the easiest giveaway you will ever enter, because you are guaranteed to win. I'm giving away a copy of my award-winning novella Airmail to everyone who subscribes to this blog. And if you've already subscribed, you can still get the freebie anyway.

Just go here for more details and to enter. I'll pop your free book in the post.

Tell all your friends! These ladies are dancing for joy.

Yours truly, Naomi xo

(image licensed under creative commons, from here)

UPDATE 5 July 2014: as of today I have run out of copies of Airmail to send you. However I would still love to send you something nice by snail-mail to say thank you for reading this blog, and I will still do my best to make it look pretty. If you have subscribed to this blog (or you want to), simply fill in your postal details on this page. And if you're still keen to read Airmail, there's a list of stockists here.

And the winner is...

Congratulations to Sonja of Big {Blue (print)} Ball, a blogger I've followed and admired for some time, and the winner of my book-iversary competition. This is me picking Sonja's flowers.
A big, warm thanks to everyone who entered. I promise to make the next competition even bigger and better, and to get my act into gear to give out extra prizes. Meanwhile, here's a screen shot of the random selection I used.
Update 5 Jan 2012: I made a little video to go with this post but as I am YouTube challenged, I had some problems and had to take it down. Sorry!

Chocolate + books + ceramics + more = GIVEAWAY

I have some news. This month is my six month book-iversary, six months since Airmail was published. I'm so grateful for your support and encouragement during this time, so today I want to give something back to say thank you. I've decided to celebrate with a veritable giveaway bonanza, including a signed copy of Airmail as well as some wonderful paraphernalia collected in France and Italy, and of course mementos from my home country of Australia.

To enter: 1. Subscribe to this blog using one of the buttons on the right 2. Leave a comment below to tell me you've done so

Additional chances (+ 1 for each): 1. Get a friend to enter and make sure they credit you when leaving a comment 2. Like Airmail on Facebook and leave a comment here to let me know you have 3. Blog, Tweet, email or Facebook about this giveaway and let me know it

The booty: 1. A signed copy of Airmail 2. A ‘travelling copy’ of Airmail with the little bookplate I painted, so you can give it away, send it out, leave it behind or post it off, if you want to 3. An antique postcard from Paris 4. A piece of handmade lace from Venice 5. A wonderful little photography and art book by Riceboy Sleeps 6. Two handmade, hand painted, ceramic bowls 7. Flowers from my garden 8. A square of vintage yellow floral fabric 9. A box of deliciousness from chocolatier Haigh’s, which first opened down the road from me in 1905

All this, AND any other ephemera that I may choose to make, collect, unearth or sacrifice when I put your little package together.

Extra information: This competition is open internationally, and ends on Monday 31 October at midnight (Adelaide, Australia time). Please remember to email me if you don't leave a link in your comment, so that I can contact you if you win.

Thank you! I am continually honoured and humbled that people are reading my little book, and taking the time to tell me when they liked it. When I receive emails or comments from people who have read Airmail, they absolutely make my day. No, my week! It still blows my mind that total strangers from the other side of the world are entering my stories. If that is you, THANK YOU, friend.

Here's a link to some of those lovely comments, in case you're interested.