Saturday, 30 October 2010

good things come in twos and toes

Ok- there are actually two chairs. Definitely double the cuteness!
I still need to clean the wood up but I've made the seat cushions for them, from linen tablecloths one Tasmanian and the other Australian wildflowers. A new window display is a must now! I was going to do it this morning but it is so humid I'd probably need a shower after getting all sweaty climbing ladders and vacuuming. There is only an hour until shop time and I am wearing my lovely new white Douglas sandals with my pedicured black toe nails so the window display will have to wait until tomorrow.

Please excuse my toes and another gratuitous sandal photo but they are just so wonderfully daggy (the sandals not my toes!). I'm one of those people who have major shoe issues and the damn things can take months of pain and blisters to finally feel comfy but I have to say my footsies are enjoying this sandally goodness! With the rainy cold weather forecast for this weekend I didn't think I was going to get an opportunity to wear them but it is so ridiculously humid today I've strapped them on. 

Thursday, 28 October 2010

optical illusion

Either Jethro has had a huge growth spurt or that chair is tiny.
He's playing at being a tiger skin rug.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

starting and finishing

I've spent the last few days trying to get a few of my unfinished projects finished. The needle books that I have been slowly handsewing on saturdays are finally done. The owlettes are a little closer to being finished. The new plastic laminated totes only need to have rivets hammered in.

I've started work on a new run of Lettie dresses, a new beach-baggy bag, new notebooks but I am feeling very flat, I just can't get enough energy pumping at the moment. I think it's just that it is always a bit of a drag at this time of year and the lack of consistently sunny weather has put a dampener on things (haha).

Xmas must be on the way though- the new coloured limited edition Hookturn Cups have arrived!
Cheery red and dove grey. Come and get 'em people!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

boxes empty, shelves full

Finally the sandals are in the shop!
They're on the little shelves which meant that all that stuff had to be moved and then more stuff had to be moved to fit that stuff in.....
We've even got a new stool for sandal-trying-on duties.
I'm going to have to wait a couple more days and then move everything in the shop around again, it's looking a little topsy at the moment. And a new window display too I think.

Monday, 25 October 2010

does it come in any other colours?

White, red, black, blue, green.

The second box arrived this morning! It's going to take me a couple of days to get our lovely new sandals sorted but I just had to share. I'll let you know as soon as they are ready to be strapped to people's feet and march out the door.
The shops a mess with boxes and stuff scattered everywhere. It's only 1.30pm but it feels like 5pm- I never know whether I love or hate days like this.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

sandal would

It's raining outside and if it wasn't my rostered day to play shopgirl I'd be quite happy with tea and the papers.
As much as I love grey skies, rain, winter, I have to acknowledge that this time of the year the weather affects the shopping mechanism in people. They want to buy spring and summery clothing but this year Melbourne is just toying with their shopping needs. Look it maybe raining out there people but it will be sunny and warm later.
And I just couldn't control myself......
We've been waiting for a special order to come in and finally half of it has arrived. (It's killing me that the rest of it is out there somewhere! I want it here now!)
For summer we've ordered in a batch of sandals, wonderfully affectionately daggy New Zealand school sandals. These are leather sandals made in Auckland by a family owned business, Douglas Sandals, and they are so cute I could squeal. At the moment the box with the black, blue and half the white is sitting under the table downstairs, the red, green and the rest of the white are somewhere between here and NZ. Normally I wouldn't show you until they were all here and displayed in the shop but I thought you might need something to give you hope that the weather will warm up.

View this as a warning that it is time for a pedicure (I know I need one).

In the meantime there are other things to buy in the shop..... the fake birdies are flitting off to new homes fast so you better so you better fly in and grab some quick-sticks. Jethro has been very well behaved around them, gently sniffing them, lips, whiskers and nostrils quivering. He's rather proud that Stewie the Maine Coon has been measured as the world's longest cat.

.... and I went a bit cushion mad this week and we have tea-towel cushions stashed everywhere, there's bags of them stuffed under the table and I have to be careful if I open the door to the cupboard, as well as the beautiful vintage fabric cushions I wrote about earlier in the week. There are some stunners!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

captain kangaroo

Think I may have hit the antihistamines a bit hard yesterday. Jethro employed the bite-her and sit-on-the-bedside-table-and-mew manoeuvres this morning to get me out of bed. I could have quite happily slept on and on.
I had one of those days yesterday, standing in the studio and thinking 'oh my, which project to start next...' so I opted for some tea-towel cushions, they are kind of like stretching exercises and I am practising to get in the 'zone' as I have a hell of a lot to do over the next month and a bit. Xmas is coming you know.....
I have decided TNT Couriers are conspiring to send me mad, chipping away at my sanity. It's taken over two weeks and many phonecalls involving me getting very mem'sahib, mainly over conflicting information, to organise to get an account started. I have come to the conclusion that it is one of those businesses which is run with no logic and that includes the courier who yesterday came to pick up two parcels and left with one and didn't return for the other..... See, they want to send me mad!
So off to the studio today and then this evening I'll be going to Magnolia Square to help Miss Ramona sell her lovely flowers!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

totally flocked

We've been invaded.

Budgies have escaped from cages.

Cheeky cockatiels perched on enamel bowls.

Wrens and sparrows and finches and blue jays flocking together.

And a parliament of owls overseeing it all.

There seems to be bowls everywhere full of birds! So many different sizes and shapes and types!
The plump brightly coloured little wrens are so cute but I think my favourites are the little fawn feathered partridges and sparrows, they are sweetly plain and dowdy.
Choosing a handful of birds is like choosing a bag of mixed lollies!
They are going to make the best Xmas decorations!

winners are grinners

I came out of a meeting at Craft Vic last night to find out I had managed to win the second prize in the Project Patchwork fundraising raffle!
Oh my! I never win anything!
Dell and I had been talking last week about which we wanted to win (if we won) and i had offered Dell some of my raffle tickets but she had said 'no, I'll feel bad when I win the triangle quilt...'.
Lucky for me she didn't take up the offer!

Monday, 18 October 2010


I've managed a couple of hours in the studio this morning, mainly because I had to meet the cushion delivery man, but now I'm back at the Cottage trying to sort a few things and waiting to meet the person from The Evil Courier Company to set up an account (oh my that has been a total saga.... it still makes my head hurt thinking about it...).
I had the beautiful new vintage linen cushions sitting at the studio all last week taunting me with their unfulfilled potential. Now they are sitting plumply stuffed in the shop waiting to be put out on the bunk-shelves. Forget all that Marimekko style cotton prints, it's the floral linens that float-my-boat. Yes they are traditional, yes they are nanna but feel the quality of that linen cloth and the muted but luscious colours. These are the type of fabrics that age and grow old gracefully and are all the better for their genteel shabbiness. Much like a Barbara Pym spinster.

Go for a wander today and visit Library Girl and wish her a bloggy first birthday! She owns the best collection of Pym novels around!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

parade of champions

It's been a day of laziness and excitement. Tea and toast and the newspapers and little religion.
Of course the religion is not mine but I found the joyous look on the Mary MacKillop paraders to be quite moving.
I do love a bit of bagpiping too.
People of all nations, Tongans in tapa cloth, Indonesian gamalan gongs, Filipino penguin nuns and South Korean neat-and-prim just all made me smile. I think I was photographed leaning against the magnolia feeling a bit like Zachariah and the sycamore tree (you see I might be a complete heathen but seem to remember a hell of a lot of religious stories). It took a good 25 minutes for the parade to walk passed and probably the only bit that weirded me out was a posse of teenage pimply schoolgirls singing a bad modern 'Jesus loves me' type song.
And the Josephites leading the parade in their bright blue scarves were all so sweetly happy you couldn't help but feel how this really is a special day for them.

Enough with religion.
Time to do a bit of vacuuming.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

a saint for fitzroy

Sorry if I've been felling flat of late. Miss l'Uccello tells me it's just the October Blahs and I think she might be right. Normally the Cottage quiet time is around August/September but with the groundhog day grand final malarkey and the weather returning to the way I remember it years ago (October and November rain pouring down, meant to be studying for exams but really sitting looking out the window at the irises in the backyard and thinking how pretty they looked all wet) things have been quiet in the shop and I have been getting slowly flatter and lacking in ooomph. It's hard to sell Spring clothing when the rain is coming down and there is snow in the hills! So I am conflicted between loving this weather we are having and wishing for finer days so we can sell our pretties. There is still lots to do though, I am so low on some stock it is embarrassing and I have beautiful almost finished new things sitting at the studio waiting to come in store as soon as one important component arrives.... talk about frustrating!
For years when I lived smack-bang (no pun intended) in the middle of Brunswick St I got to have the fun of the Brunswick Street Festival right outside my door/front window. They were seriously fun times. Now I am up on Gertrude and tomorrow the street is being closed for the Canonisation Parade for Mary MacKillop. From one extreme to the other! How I love Fitzroy!
Somehow I seem to have missed out on the whole religious thing. Not Catholic (although my friends say my sense of guilty is impressively Catholic), not Protestant (except for the 'work ethic') and certainly no Buddhism, Yogic or Eastern Mysticism has ever managed to take. My paternal grandmother became a Christian Scientist after being 'healed' of spinal tuberculosis and tucked away somewhere is a tee-total pledge my father signed at the Christian Scientist Kindergarten (when grandma d died it was sent over amongst other mementoes she had kept). My maternal grandfather was a Penn (and before you ask no that's not why I was named 'Penelope') and I have to admit I would quite like it if there was a link back to Quaker Brother Penn, founder of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, if for no other reason but that I quite like the Quakers. Well, actually I really like their 'meeting houses' and there have been some interesting people who are Quakers.
Oh my!
Look at the time! I better dash, almost time to open the shop!

Friday, 15 October 2010


I would have loved to stay in bed this morning. The rain was sodding down and my bed was warm. Perhaps I should have stayed tucked up tight, reading a book and drinking tea.
Today hasn't been bad but just a bit annoying. A frustrating round of emails and not quite enough achieved. Jen dropped in to snaffle a pile of tea-towel offcuts left over from the Great Bunting Explosion, I got to have lunch with Nik and I finished a couple of new dresses, all good.
Sometimes I just feel a little overwhelmed and tired, but I have a lovely cup of tea and I am starting to relax a little. I need to meditate on the rain, it makes me peaceful and rested. Ahhhhhh.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

big frida, little frida

Muchos excitemento at the Cottage this afternoon with the new box of Frida dresses arriving.
Yes- the black Frida dresses are back! Yes- we have the Frida blouses! And biggest, cutest excitement of all was the oh-so-lovely mini Fridas- just like the big ones only tiny! We have one size 2, one 4 and one 6 (at the moment) so if you want to have a whole yummy-mummy-mini-me moment you better hot foot it in quick smart. I'm annoyed all my friends have had boys over the last few years!
Dell and I went through every dress and marveled how every single one is different, it's so hard trying to choose one. The last batch sold out in a day so you better be quick!

Monday, 11 October 2010

brain melt

I woke up at 6 this morning in a mild state of panic. I knew there was no way of getting back to sleep so Jethro had an early breakfast and I got to the studio by 7.45.
I'm not a morning person.
By 9am I'd almost finished 8 vintage linen cushions, then I realised I had no zips to match and no inserts.  No point finishing them then.
I've had an order for two hundred and fifty metres of bunting niggling at me and as the tape has finally arrived I thought it was high-time to start. Just to keep in with yesterday's nerd theme I worked out the bunting is going to take 280 tea-towels to make.
280 tea-towels.
One hundred metres finished, one hundred and fifty to go.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

a binary day

Today is a binary day. In binary world 101010 equals 42. Yes! 42- the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything!
See I really have my nerd on today!

An early morning, headed off to Camberwell Market (if you ever hear of someone losing it there and going postal it will probably be me- I totally hate that place at the moment....), back for newspapers and buckets of tea, cake in the park with Mr B and family, book reading in bed, more tea, a small drive to pick up some stuff and back for more, more tea and having my toes nibbled by Jethro. A perfect weather day- if the temperature could hover around today's for summer I'd be happy.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

polly's return, pincushions, fake birds and what-not-to-do

I got seven and a half hours sewing in yesterday- finally! Which meant that I managed to concentrate on one thing and get a batch of Polly pinafores done. I've been carting the embroidered bodice panels around from fabric wholesaler to warehouse and I finally matched one run up with a lovely dark brown gingham. Ah bliss! And the blue and yellow embroidery ones are finished as well.

I'm also putting some new things in the shop today (if I get off the computer in time!). New little 'cushions' made from embroidered doilies and Swedish raw linen and stuffed with huon pine shavings. You can use them as a pincushion or pop them in your linen closet to keep the livestock from eating your dowery linens (which I am sure you all spent your teenage years hand sewing whilst waiting for Mr Darcy to turn up). And the box of fake birds have arrived! Now I'm going to have to spend the whole weekend working out how to display them in a way in which Jethro can't steal them!

{I've been dwelling on the dreadful 'how-to-get-look' hints in I/O and really need to say that I had NOTHING to do with them. They are not anything I would even utter. Don't wash your fabrics before making up, especially if you don't know what you are dealing with, if something smells musty hang it outside in bright sunlight, if you've got a tea-towel cushion, for instance, wash it inside out so the print has less chance of rubbing off. That whole pyramid display comment- forget it- I don't plan how things go up, they mainly get chucked on any handy horizontal surface and pictures get hung higgily-piggily as they come into my life. If you want to use pressed tin you will have to cut it yourself, use a stanley knife to score it then bend it until it snaps along the score (bit of a scary job and works better with some designs than others). My instructions for decorating? Make it up as you go along, it's your home, you have to live in it, copying a look from a magazine or a book is never really going to work, it will only ever look forced and fake. Wonder if I could write a how-to book that said that..... hahahaha. OK I feel better now.}

Ok I'm off to display some birds.... glass jars perhaps......

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

printed matter

The wait has been sending me crazy- hence the nervous energy expended on the weekend cleaning and painting and moving stuff around.
Finally it's out.
Finally it's here.
The new November/December Inside/Out magazine.
With my home in it.
A huge thank you goes out to the lovely Lucy of The Design Files fame for organising the whole shebang!

It's weird and freaky and totally strange.
It's my home and it's not my home.
And there is a really dodgy photo of me with toddler hair.... but I am wearing a Mexican embroidered dress!

Just ignore all the 'how-to-achieve-the-look' stuff please.

Freakin' weird!!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

jethro is two

Well the little fur chap turns two today.
As I wrote this time last year it's weird knowing Jethro's DoB! He doesn't get any presents but we had a run around the house and a cuddle this morning. He attempted to catch a dove that was on the upstairs front window sill.... lucky the screen was in place otherwise he may have turned into a flying kitty briefly before plummeting to the ground.
I didn't manage to get a ladder portrait of him this year so it's just a couple of snaps of him 'helping' me on Sunday. He is still running vertically up the shop doors and doing stupid tricks on the top (he expects me to catch him if he falls...). He still loves his green beans and dragging his feathered kitten ticklers around the house (I sometimes wake in the morning to find he's brought his toys to bed). I really don't know whether we will be able to trust him to hang in the shop (he ran out the door the week before last scaring Anna who had to chase him down the street). I love the Maine Coon in him, he's quite silly and strong and adventurous, but he's also very sweet and just likes to hang. He's fan club is ridiculous and he wins hearts everyday.

Monday, 4 October 2010

spring clean

I have spent the last two days painting and cleaning the shop and I am about as knackered as can be.
It always starts out small and just blows out into a huge job!
I went out yesterday looking for a little shelving unit and found one but it needed a full paint job, so off to Manfax to look for this green I have been dreaming of for months. Gloss paint- it's a love/hate relationship, in the end I just slather it on, I'm not one for prepping and all that guff and I've been known to paint in cobwebs rather than clean them off! Once the little cabinet was done I took the paint brush to the 'little red table'... which is now the 'little green table'. Then of course the walls needed patching and everything had to come down and be moved around.
By about 6.30 this evening as I vacuumed the shop for the 50th time and mopped the floor and got tangled in power cords I could have cried. The backstage area is still a complete shambles and the stairs are still doubling as a dust covered filing system. There are still piles and piles of work to be done. The washing machine is beeping to be emptied. The car is full of stuff to be carted up the stairs to the studio.
But at least the shop looks a little brighter and smells of freesias and fresh paint.
An early night is a luxury around here but I think it is time for bed.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

groundhog day

As any cook will know it's very hard to 'rebuild a wobbly pie'.
It's also very hard for a small business to carry yet another quiet day in retail due to another goddamn Grand Final Day. So yes today is a Groundhog Day. If you are worried about coming into town because you think it will be bumper-to-bumper let me tell you you could have parked anywhere you liked last Saturday! That's the amazing thing about Grand Final Day in Melbourne- it's a fabulous day to go shopping!!
On a chirpier note it's a beautiful Melbourne Spring day out there and I ventured out early to run my errands. Newspapers, apricot and walnut bread from Dench (my new addiction), gorgeous scented white freesias (my favourite flower), a cannelé for afternoon tea and some Bundaberg ginger beer for later. Perfect.
I seem to have got everything done in record time this morning. I'll probably end up dawdling and then been suddenly shocked to find it's 11am and be all rushed and frazzled. Still got half a bucket of tea to drink and then I might go vacuum.