Friday, 30 September 2011

round and round

I see that certain compadres managed to be at the Show on Wednesday too but they got there a bit later than we did and managed to get blown to Kansas in the Big Storm. I was home safe and dry and drinking cups of tea and eating Bertie Beetles in the Cottage with Dell.
I felt quite knackered after all the excitement of Show and Storm and lying in bed yesterday morning listening to the rain neither Jethro or I wanted to get up. After mooching about the house getting bits done I realised that going to the studio was not necessarily going to mean any work getting done and staying at home working on the computer and chasing things up might be a much better way to go. So I did.
It also brought home how disgusting this place is with half done jobs and tools piling up everywhere. Jethro climbed in the sideboard and sat in a toolbox, I am taking this as a silent reproach, so I am off to the studio to avoid it all or rather feel really really bad at how dreadful the studio is.
Everyday this week I have managed to get a job down that has been sitting about taunting me. New keyring purses, gingerbread hearts, crocheting up a mound of felt bead necklace cords, prepping and printed the cards for our Xmas ribbons, turning flowers into brooches, making the 'Wear your Lunch' brooches..... none of which apart from the gingerbread hearts have gone into the shop yet.... but at least things have been done. Yay for me and hence the reason for me looking about at the grot in disgust.
On the Nature-side of Life I have enjoyed popping out to the 'garden' every morning to measure how much the Azores Jasmine has grown since the weekend's feed and tie up. One tendril has grown 10cm in five days, a bit of sun after this rain and the whole backyard should be covered in a month (ha ha ha).

Thursday, 29 September 2011

red leather yellow leather

Whilst I was off at the Royal Show yesterday the new batch of satchels arrived. We have them in red, we have them in yellow (and some green, black, navy, brown). Sadly no fluoro this time but the yellow and red are both really lovely shades, strangely they match my Bertie Beetle showbag booty. Wish I'd bought more showbags.... sigh.... an adult with a showbag is a crazy critter.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

mouse plague

A bag arrived in the mail yesterday. The flap had been prised open slightly. Perhaps they were trying to escape. Marnie's Mouse Army has landed!
They are being lead to World Domination by Slutty Mouse, she's down in the right hand corner slightly out of focus. 'Slutty Mouse' because her skirt is a bit short and we regularly find her flopped down, half propped up drunkenly  on the counter with her legs akimbo and her dress up around her tummy. She's a misunderstood troublemaker, she just needs a good home and someone to care for her.

Monday, 26 September 2011

beached and bleached

No reason for the post title, I was just searching out a photo to use this morning and thought these two went together in some way. The top one is from Mersey Bluff foreshore and the one below from the roadside in the Central Highlands, holiday snaps you know.
A sort of lazy day yesterday. I had the drill out for the second Sunday in a row, hammer drilling into the bricks out the back to put up wires for the Azores Jasmine (finally), and I did a bit of 'gardening' (a very loose term there when the 'garden' is all of less than a metre square and exists in two planter boxes). I managed to vacuum up the brick dust on the decking but didn't manage to vacuum anywhere inside. I did bake the choc chip biscuits that were languishing in the lower depths of the fridge though, priorities you know!
I seem to be faffing the morning away but I need to get off to the studio as I have a fabric agent dropping in and the place is a mess and a half. No time to really clean it but a wash of the dishes and clearing the end of the cutting table might be in order. 

Saturday, 24 September 2011


This week has conspired to keep me out of the studio for hours on end and as usual the 'to-get-done' list (different from a 'to-do-list' somehow) is getting longer as this year seems to be flying by. I did manage to get the first small batch of springy-summery sundresses done, sleeveless, button through, pleated skirted sprigged cotton voile. I also got my hands on the first of the summer cotton cardigans, we have stretchy light cotton crew neck, long sleeved ones and a slightly heavier v-neck, 3/4 sleeve style. Very cute over dresses but really lovely with a t-shirt and a pair of jeans too.
I felt very flat by the end of yesterday. With all the financial doom and gloom on the news, school holidays (to some people that is also doom-and-gloom!) and just a general post-break slump I am dragging myself about. I'm looking forward to a little sleep-in tomorrow, if Jethro lets me, and hopefully a night free of huge adventure dreams that I have been plagued with over the last week. When I dream I dream in full colour VistaDreamVision™ and the story lines are long and involved. I can wake in the morning feeling like I have indeed climbed a mountain, saved the world and been in a heated clinch with whomever is my latest Crumpet (about time to re-do that list I think.... some people have fallen out of favour....).
I managed to spin four hanks of yarn this week so I think I might have to choose another job for my hands today whilst I am shopgirl. We are low on felt necklaces so I should probably dig out my crochet hook and getting going on making some cords. Tomorrow I might even get the kettle on and steam up some of the stunning new flowers that have arrived from New York, there will be floral hairclips and pins ready soon.
We've also got another order of Cambridge Satchels arriving next week, although I have no idea what we are getting! Any satchel is a good satchel! We still have a few left in store if you are after one, they still haven't cleared their backlog of orders so if you want one you may have to wait or compromise on colour.....
Well it is time to vacuum the Cottage, damn this wind, and getting my 'shop head' on.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


I forgot to tell you about last Friday's haul.
I had one of those strange Op Shop incidents where you really start to think there might be an Op Shop deity, a secondhand spirit. Last time this same thing happened was up in Healesville on the Tarrawarra day out.
So on Friday I was out north picking up some stuff and I thought while I was out there that maybe I should pop into the Mill Park Savers (you might remember the MPS opening). I was wondering around down the back, nothing much of interest when I got a queasy feeling in my tummy and a single word popped into my head.... 'treasure!'. I thought 'oh really?! that's ridiculous' but I turned and headed back down to the front of the store. Near the cash registers there is a wall of framed 'art works' (I use that term very loosely) and as I walked along I snaffled one, no two, no three, four, five, six, seven framed tapestries. Treasure indeed!
Three of them are of them are of the huge plastic moulded framed variety but oh so very fabulous! Deers in forest settings, Italian peasants at a well, a bit of French rococco and the ubiquitous McCubbin bush reproduction. Other shoppers were giving me very funny looks and muttering to each other.
I really  have built up a bit of a stash and need to start making up some new tapestry pouffés but there is a great deal of de-framing that needs to happen first.
So many thanks Op Shop Deity, when you come through you really go the whole hog.

Monday, 19 September 2011

my spirit (level) guide

I had an intense relationship with my spirit level yesterday. Yes sadly I am the type of girl with a spirit level. I had decided that Sunday was 'Install Shelves in the Stock Cupboards Day'. We've been fighting major space issues for the last month (and three years) and I had to do something about shelves otherwise we were all going to go mad..... of course this is going to be a very short lived solution I am sure, I've probably made them all the wrong depth, height, etc but they are rather enjoyable at the moment.

Jethro asking if this shelf makes his bum look big.

And overseeing the project from the top of the divider walls.

So now we have a special shelf for all the boxes of gloves (greengrocer produce boxes, looking a little worse for wear, need to acquire some more) and a shelf for the clock boxes.

We even have a special shelf for the tissue paper reams, now that's exciting. This photo was taken halfway through the re-sorting so things were a little messy. In the afternoon there was boxes and crap strewn from one end of the shop to the other and people were trying to get in even though they could see that I was standing there drill in hand. One couple tried three times to get the door open...... and that was even after they read the opening times on the slate in the window between try #2 and try #3.....
There is a pile of big plastic bags full of stuff that needs to go to the studio and a set of Ikea Gorm(less) shelves that I will have to strap to the top of the car. I'm so tired and sore I am not sure how I will get them up the studio stairs but as they are blocking the shop door I really need to shift them. I had toyed with the idea of leaving them in the street but really I could do with another set to pile crap on. To tell you the truth the studio is so disgustingly messy I am not sure how I will fit them in. Domino effect.
And once I have unloaded the car I still have another couple of loads to take up to the studio. I think it might possibly be turning into my Dorian Grey attic. I also think if I could be bothered I should take a stall at Camberwell Market (bletch!).

Saturday, 17 September 2011


The Royal Melbourne Show window isn't quite right (I seem to have misplaced my window mojo somewhere) having a splitting headache- still/again- didn't help. It's OK, just not great, but it did stop a few people last night I noticed whilst I sorted the shop out. It is still funny that people think they can't be heard when they make comments out on the street, the Power of Glass!
Jethro of course thinks that glass domes with stuffed pigeons and a birdcage with budgies in it is there to tempt him. Cruel of me I know. I was very excited to get the 'money shot' of him looking directly at me and I am sure he's thinking 'really Long Legs, a glass dome, you think that will stop me from release my friends?!'. Please come and buy these birds before someone works out how to break in to them. I've got a couple of extra birds in the cupboard, one black and white and one that would be perfect s(h)itting on a statue. We've got a big selection of domes  and I've pulled out the little ceramic hand painted birds too, I'm dribbling new stock in.

Slowly I am packing Winter away and getting the Spring ball rolling. I had these giant rosettes made for the display and we'll be selling them once I've worked out the prices and labelled them all. I've also picked up the new flowers from New York so they will be heading into the shop very soon too. 

Also half of our new sandal order arrived yesterday (deliveries around here at the moment seem to be coming in halves, half our satchel order, half our sandals...) so we are fully stocked for sizes 3-7 in blue and green. The rest will hopefully arrive on Monday and as we are down to 2 pairs of red they better get here then otherwise I might stamp my foot in annoyance!

Friday, 16 September 2011

tramping the boardwalk

Really really didn't want to get out of bed this morning and neither did Jethro. I love it when I wake up to find him stretched out fast asleep and I especially love it when he grimaces in annoyance when the alarm goes off.
I got a few more Show cushions done yesterday and didn't get a chance to photograph them before someone else snaffled one of the new ones, my friends like to do a 'sneak and grab' occasionally. I'm off this morning to pick up the stuff I ordered last week for the window display so tonight (no headache hopefully) I'll be ripping the old (very old) display out and installing the new one. I need to raid Bunnings whilst I am out too. Hope it all goes in smoothly as I don't think I have the energy or patience if it is one of those hard to resolve set ups.
I feel a bit stressed at the moment, juggling a few behind the Cottage financial issues and looking at the weather reports to see we have +20ºC days on the way and I haven't got that much Spring stuff sorted yet- although nothing unusual there! Dell and I discussed yesterday what is going to be packed away and I was amused to see how many woollen socks, wheat bags and hot water bottles we have sold this week (a lot).
I am happy that I have managed to get a few Gingerbread Hearts done this week, stock going out for Xmas photo shoots spurred me on there, and the the heart wall is looking much healthier if not completely covered. We have new hearts this year made from the quilt top offcuts, they look very pretty if I say so myself.
Anyway I better dash, got some measuring to do before I jump in the car.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

best of breed

I'm getting bits and pieces done, here and there, little by little, in between squinting through blinding migraine-y headaches. I had to lie down this afternoon in my bedroom after an attack that felt like I was being hit around the side of my head with a cricket bat. Perhaps I am allergic to Melbourne.
I finished the first batch of these 'Best of Breed' cushions yesterday. They aren't even in the Cottage yet and the 'Tasmanian Ladies Kennel Club' has already been snaffled. Hopefully I'll get a few more done for our new window display, I just need to pick up a few more props and it will be ready to be swapped over.

I stayed up late last night finishing new bracelets, our lovely fabric covered ones in lovely Liberty prints and a few vintage vintage lawns, they have been one of those procrastination jobs sitting next to couch taunting me. I'm also working on some new 'gingerbread hearts' in our lovely embroidered tablecloths but also a run in vintage patchwork, I need to make up a big bucket of our spice pot pourri.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

you can see for miles and miles

I love the road from Bothwell to New Norfolk. As you drive down through valleys and up again, you spy long vistas across rolling hills to jagged wilderness. At Hollow Tree there is a fabulous late Georgian grand house that was in the process of renovation last year (no picture as I annoyed the ute driving behind me by slowing down to gork, so you have the abandoned farmhouse instead).
Studio yesterday, 50 metres of bunting that was all cut out and ready to go thankfully and a start on the new batch of Agricultural Show and Kennel Club Best of Breed prize ribbon cushions. I broke the day up with de-frosting the freezer in the studio fridge (very satisfying, why is that?) and a bit of vacuuming (not quite so satisfying but necessary). Of course the whole 'I've been away, now I am back' came crashing in, I know, it's not like I was away for a month or more and was somewhere exotic but everything is relative, in my case 'where do I start? there is so much to do etc.....'.
Anyway I've answered the morning's emails, had a bucket o' tea and now need to get dressed and off to salt mine again.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

pressing matters

I've managed to fall behind with archiving all the press stuff that has been popping up over the last few months.We've had mentions on interwebworld type places like Mr and Mrs Smith but I never seem to find the time to collect them all in one spot.  The hard copy stuff is a bit easier and I have a box of magazines and tears jammed in the corner.
The latest edition of inside/out magazine has one of our vintage First World War recruitment bunting cushions in it that Lisa Gorman bought for herself for Xmas last year. I've managed to score the last of that bunting so there will be a final batch of those cushions coming shortly.

When the luscious Lucy of D-files fame dropped in the other day she showed us the computer version of this page in House and Garden so of course we had to run out and get it. This time Luce is in front of the camera not hiding behind it! And the Cottage got a mention and that's one of our Welsh blanket cushions down there in the right hand corner. Lucy is a gem and has always been very supportive of the Cottage and I can't say how much it means to me. Of course I had to tease her about being on the other end of the lens!

I'm back as shopgirl today, that will be a shock to the system (as will being back in the studio on Monday). Jethro is happy to have me home and I watched whilst he 'talked' to two dogs through the glass door this morning, first a Boston bulldog that was about the same size, both of them noses up to the glass, and then a very large whiteish Alsation thing who put his paw to the glass. Jethro takes it all in his stride, of course no glass it would be a different matter, and that is probably why there is rarely a interspecies confrontation.

Better get the vacuum out, it appears that moulting season is upon us, time to kick start my morning.

Friday, 9 September 2011

the phantom unpacker

A rather weird picture of Jethro.
We have had more boxes arrive, it really is a bit like Xmas around here at the moment (although it's not all Xmas stuff that's being delivered). Nothing beats parcels turning up on your doorstep and our shop postmen are both lovely and conscientious, that's saying something for Australia Post contractors, we can always tell when they go on holiday. Jethro actually 'stole' one of these hearts out of one of the boxes this morning, very delicately and carefully, it was a joy to watch.
Today's haul, apart from Xmas decorations that aren't going out yet, include a new batch of Kelly's Op Shop Guides and a box full of stuffed budgies. On the bird front we also have a stash of feathered friends in the cupboard that I haven't had a chance to put out yet but we are thinking of a Royal Melbourne Show window so hopefully I will get a moment to prepare for it in the next week.
On the email front I am slowly getting there but I keep getting side tracked by cups of tea and slight migraine-y headaches. There was a few days there at the end of the 'holiday' where the black bags under my eyes disappeared but sadly they are back with a vengeance.

silver grey day

It's Friday now I haven't quite worked my way through all my emails and computer chores. I'm going to see if I can be a bit focused today and get all of it done. It's raining outside and there has even been a few bouts of hail so generally perfect bunker-down weather.
I'm drinking tea and eating creamed honey on toast. I just had to buy a tub of creamed honey at the CWA shop in Hobart, it made me all nostalgic and I had vivid memories of going to the pantry as a kid and getting out the little tub of Barnes Creamed Honey. It tastes different than ordinary honey I swear and Dell says air makes all the difference (think meringues, marshmallow, sponge cakes, chocolate mousse....) and, I suppose, it is the air in Tasmania that sends me back down there for a 'holiday' every year so she must be right.

We are still surrounded by boxes and piles of stuff here and I am feeling even more hemmed in than usual after having stayed in hotel rooms for two week. I really really need to pick up all the clothes off the bedroom floor, pack away shoes and have a damn good vacuum. I have a dreadful ability to edit out my environment and ignore piles of crap for months, stepping over, walking around, pushing it aside as I need to. I'd love my desk to be twice the size it is but that would just allow room for an Everest of detritus to mount up, an incoming tide of paperwork flotsam and jetsam.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

windmills of my mind

It's not much fun to come back to a spinning head but the craziness of the last few days has left me with migraines and a jumpiness that has nullified what was meant to be an R-and-R break. Oh well, think how bad I would be now if I hadn't had some time away!

This is Callington Mill at Oatlands, all restored and spinning in the wind. They've done a wonderful job on it and there is even a lovely parterre garden that has been planted at its foot. Normally when I get to Oatlands it's all horizontal rain and slate grey skies, this time was wind but blue sky from horizon to horizon. I got to do the tour of the Mill but also got to hang out with Ben Paulsen the Miller. We talked flour and art and machinery as a living being, I had a ball! Less than a week ago and I feel my time stream slipping away.....
I think that I could quite happily live under the sales of a windmill, how lovely it would be to watch them spin from your kitchen window as you did the dishes.

It's been crazy here with all the satchel madness going on. We only have a few bright coloured ones left at the moment but there are still some 'Melbourne' black and retro brown ones left. People seem to quiver and get all befuddled when they see them, it's quite amazing. We do have more on the way. Soon. Fingers crossed.

In non-satchel shop news I've put out a new batch of super cute children's 'Frida' dresses so if you have a little one that you want one of these Mexican hand embroidered dresses for then there is something other than satchels to get you into the shop!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

visiting old friends

I had to visit the little park in Hobart, it's tradition now. Princes Park on Battery Point is a lovely park, it has a view, rolling green grass, lovely trees and well behaved teenagers seem to like hanging there.
It's always exciting when I arrive to find my bit of doily-ism is still gracing the magnolias. This one above is still there from 2009, it's directly across the path from the gardeners' tea hut which amuses me no end. A bit of stitching has come loose at the bottom but I decided not to repair it.

This one is last year's (2010) as you walk in the entrance gate on McGregor St/Battery Square.

And this is this year's one. Should I tell you where it is? No, I'm sure you can find it.

There is one long trunk and a few smaller patches.

I stood in amongst a patch of violets to sewing the doilies on and the smell was beautiful.

There it is on the left. Those three teenagers never queried what I was up to and pretty much ignored me, I tried to work out whether it was through politeness or complete disinterest and self absorption. I was amused.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


I've been keeping this one under the sombrero for the last 5 months..... finally I can unveil our fabulous Cambridge Satchel Company satchels!

It has involved a hell of a lot of back and forth and proving we were worthy of stocking these beauties and then the very long wait for the first batch to arrive. Cambridge Satchel Co has received a mass of press overseas and they have been swamped with orders so they have had a bit of a struggle getting these orders together. The wait has been killing me! So while I was off on holiday I had to stay up late waiting on emails and sorting out all the rigmarole that accompanies getting things shipped in from overseas.

About midday today two big boxes arrived. 
We've only received half of our order and we have more arriving (some time soon we hope.... and more later too.... we really really hope....) and we sold a quarter of them today..... so if you want to get yourself a satchel you better hotfoot it in!
I popped three fluoro ones in the window and a lovely lady driving by almost had a car accident when she spied them and did a U-turn. Lucky she didn't have a prang and she scored the lovely 15" fluoro pink one.


I have to apologise if this post makes no sense as I have been up since 5.30am and it has been one huge day.
We've been unpacking and selling satchels, unloading the car, sorting and washing, tripping over boxes in the kitchen, boiling the kettle dry, putting the rubbish out and catching up on all the things that have and are happening...... I think I may collapse into bed tonight.

This arrived as well, the fabulous reprint by the Imperial War Museum of the  'Make Do and Mend' book from the Second World War. It a wonderful little hardback book and there is some fabulous tips in it. I think we might have to get more in as a great stocking stuffer.... yes it's all about Xmas around here at the moment.....

i'm home!

I'm home and I am feeling rather like the lady in the picture.
A bit disheveled and lopsided.
Jethro is talking to me and has exceeded his Cute Quota (apparently he has been a bit depressed and over the shop girls for the last couple of days) and has attempted to climb in bags and play with things as I unpack.
Now the unpacking is a bit of a problem. I've only managed to bring in my big backpack and a carry bag, that is 'the washing'. We have a bit of a space issue here at the Cottage at the moment, just before I left and whilst I was away we've had masses of boxes arrive. The kitchen is so full it's ridiculous and we have more boxes arriving either today or tomorrow. So you see I haven't even got to unpacking the car (aka the mobile storage unit) yet.
There has been lots of exciting stuff arrive and I have also to trawl through my emails to sort out more orders that got put on hold until I got back. You'll probably be seeing holiday and Cottage-y posts all mixed up for the next week or so. I didn't take that many snaps whilst I was away, sometimes I just can't be bothered, but there will be some I'll be sharing no doubt.
I'm ready to swap my hiking boots for something a little lighter and probably need a shower (mind you there is a mountain of boxes I need to move to actually get to the shower....) and I must get the washing on.
It's nice to be on holiday but sometimes it's even nicer to get home.