Saturday, 29 September 2012

fine feathered friends

I am really enjoying not having a splitting migraine. My brain maybe a bit fried but at least I don't feel like my skull is exploding.
Sadly it is Grand Final day today which means a rather slow dreary 6 hours in the shop, hopefully we will get some footy widows in. Actually it's not too bad in the shop when it's quiet if you know the reason why there is no-one about, you don't feel quite so unloved. Being the GF also means we will hear the drone of helicopters all day too.
We've had our first bird arrivals this week. You can tell when Xmas is on its way, the birds appear. We've got curly tailed birds and their more demure but slightly cheekier mates. Dell and I had great fun clipping them all over the outside of a birdcage on Thursday afternoon, we get a bit silly at times and I think we may have scared off a customer as we both had a bird clipped to the top of our head.
I've also managed to get those pesky hems handsewn on the Stella skirts and I'll pop them into the shop today. I also need to get the four hanks of handspun I did last week measured and they will go in today too, the weather is nippy enough to make you stay in with a good cuppa tea and a bit of knitting! Whilst every other shop is piling their Summer stock in I actually spent a bit of yesterday making 'hottie' wheatbags as we were almost out of them, we sold a ridiculous number of wheaties and hottie bottles a week or so ago. Summer is close but we still have icy blasts coming in and we tend to feel them more after a few balmy days.
Other shop news this week is the departure of Anna. We are very sad to see her go but it's not like we'll never see her again.... she's going off to Craft to work in the shop and to concentrate on finishing her Masters. You might remember Yem from yonks ago, she is coming back for a little while to help fill in until we sort something out.  We only get Yem in to work when she is pregnant (haha) so please be gentle with her.
Also if you are thinking of getting a satchel...... don't dilly dally!
OK, I better go get ready. Vacuuming to be done. Stock to go out. Cat to wrangle.

Friday, 28 September 2012

deep sadness

It has been a sad and puzzling week and the final news last night about Jill Meagher has shocked us all in the inner north. This devastating event has happened on streets we know, it was Jill who was taken but it could so easily have been any of our friends or family. It has been one of those events that everyone feels personally, it smarts and stings and tears at our hearts. Jill's family must pick up the pieces after this shattering event and we send all our love and compassion out to the living and what they must now face.

Thursday, 27 September 2012


I wrote a post yesterday morning all about heading off to the Show blah blah blah but it wouldn't load and then I raced out the door, somehow it didn't save/load/publish and it is now lost to the wilds of internet heaven. When I got back yesterday I ended up with a splitting headache that has been brewing on and off for the last week and discovered that I actually had no internet access and that there was a pile of unsent emails (now also lost). I had to sit on the phone, half of head split open and oozing brain (not literally, that's just how it felt), waiting for TPG to repair the connection. It was mercifully quick this time.
So now the Headache from Hell is still lingering and I have lost all those words of glory and wisdom I wrote yesterday. I do faintly remember the bit about the Show not giving me any awards but I have a ribbon that proves otherwise (see above) and that Tuesday was a bit of a slow day in the studio but I did manage to start work on the new larger digital print 'tapestry' cushions- lush!

Whilst I was at the Show working out what we had done wrong the latest shipment of satchels arrived. It's really nice to have the brights back in, I hadn't realised how much I missed them. I've made a list of what we have in stock now over on our Facebook page. It's not our extra big shipment which has been delayed until October sometime but we have at least got some stock we were desperate for. 
The headache is creeping back.

Monday, 24 September 2012

life is like a pineapple

Kind of spiky, kind of tart, kind of sweet.
Another media snippet, in yesterday's Sunday Age mag, three in one week, all at once or none at all.
I'm trying to work out what I need to do today. Yesterday was a total wash out as I didn't seem to be able to keep my eyes open and had a case of Sleeping Sickness. I did manage to get the washing done only to have it rained on in the evening. Don't you hate that?!
I had lots to say but things have slipped out of my brain today. I'll report back later if I can think of anything interesting to say.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

disappointment in showland

The results are in..... we didn't win a sodding thing, not even a measly 'highly commended'.

Heehee. It's rather amusing and will be even more so when we go to the Show next week and get to see the winning entries. If the sponges are the standard of last years then I will feel robbed! I can guess there was a major issue with my sponges, they are about double the depth of the usual entries (although I have just seen this and apparently the entries were poor this year), I can't help it, it's just how my sponges roll. In something like the Show it is all about the specifications and as we had sold out of the CWA Classics cookbook we could check the preserves specs. Being me I tend to use shredded coconut not desiccated, my sponges are too high, blood oranges instead of valencia (bet they thought the dark pulp in my chunky was burnt not realising it was the blood orange bits) and my 70% couverture chocolate was probably a bit to bitter for their tastes. I'm a wanker. If someone has won a prize for a ginger fluff using cocoa I will not be answerable for my actions!

It's been a bit of a busy week- studio, digital printing, skirt making, unpacking boxes, picking up labels, exhibition openings- and I'm looking forward to a sleep in tomorrow! A day to not actually have to be anywhere, anytime, anyhow. I might even bake a sponge cake... hmmm maybe not.... a rest day hopefully with a bit of cleaning tacked on as next week is going to be a busy one. I want to do some bread and cheese reading or rather some reading about bread and cheese.
The ric rac skirts are done and going into the shop today but the Stellas still need their hems sewn up. We've also got a shipment of the cutest tea pots and cups in, they are very retro 70s. The teapots have their own tea leaf cage so no worrying about strainers and the cups are stackable. I'll photograph them and get them up on FB later today. I was trying to hold off putting them out until the Stellas were finished as they go perfectly with the cups on the skirt fabric.

What else? We've had a couple of shipments of Welsh blankets in this week so there will be new colours coming soon and there are new vintage florals arriving in the near future so even more cushions there too. We've printed the 'tapestry' panels ready to make a bigger style cushion  (so there will be 2 sizes) and they are in the pipeline and we will soon be lost under a cushion avalanche. I have a lot of work ahead of me and the first batch of Xmas decorations is about to arrive I hear and we don't have new shelves to put it all on!
Time for a shuffle.

I better get a move on as I noticed Jethro has left piles of fluff through the shop that need to be vacuumed up, there are boxes to pack away and skirts to label. I'm a little disappointed we won't have a Royal Show certificate to go on the wall but really I am more than happy to know my friends got a good week of baked goods and preserves out of it! I know how good my sponge and I may even share the recipe with you one day!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

snippet good

Media snippets always seem to happen at the same time, they come in like buses, none and then three. Yesterday it was bits and pieces seen on D-Files and then in the afternoon the latest edition of Country Style came out with one of our vintage linen cushions in a Spring photo shoot. I'm waiting on new shipments of the vintage linens to arrive, I've got some gorgeous florals arriving. My life at the moment seems to be hunting things down long distance then typing and sending off emails and finally waiting on beautiful things to arrive from far away places. I have always dreamed of being independently wealthy and travelling the world finding fabulous things, sending them back and then twice a year throwing the doors to my Aladdin's Cave of a warehouse open and selling it all off to start again. Ha ha.
I worked away in the studio yesterday but kept getting sidetracked into other things than what I should have been concentrating on. Oh look! Bright and shiny idea floating passed! The Stella skirts are almost there and just need to be 'topped and tailed' (facings and hems). I also made myself sit on the couch last night and I only have two more ric-rac-roo waistbands to sew before they go back to the studio for buttonholes and buttons and a good press.
Better bust a move. Have to be in South Yarra by 10am and I still have the two huge boxes of Welsh blanket cushions that are heading to Sydney to label.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


Slowly slowly.
The ric-rac-roos still aren't finished but are getting closer, just a lot of handstitching to do (decided against machining part of the waistbands) and buttonholes and buttons. Late yesterday though I got cutting and the Stella skirts are back in production. Of course in my procrastination I had forgotten what a joy they are to make- duh. I've picked up zips and thread and hopefully I'll whizz through the pile today and feel miserable at the end when I see I have even more handsewing to do!
I woke up to the D-Files this morning and a shoot of Lisa and Dean's house. They live around the corner and their house 'Boston Villa' was my dream home for so long, I used to stand at the gate in its derelict days and imagine what I would do with. Then it sold and renovation started, my heart broke (from jealousy, envy, annoyance) but I have to admit they've done a grand job. And I'm lucky to say that if you look really closely you might even see some Cottage product tucked into those images. A Union Jack WWI bunting cushion, a corner of a Welshie on a chair, a stripy linen glass cloth quilt on a bed..... pretty chuffed! And I do love that Bauer Pottery (like I need more ceramics in my life...).

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

sleeping booty

Walking into the city last night I loved the way the creepers around the edge of parliament house had grown and twisted around each other (just like the creeps on the inside of parliament house...). Very Sleeping Beauty. Which reminds me I don't think I have told you the story of the Parliamentary Pomegranates have I? Can't remember. Let me know if you I have/haven't.
Well I didn't get very far with my plans to finish those ric rac skirts first thing Monday morning. Instead I drove around dropping off lamingtons and marmalade to poor lamington-and-marmaladeless friends and drinking cups of tea. (In case you are wondering Show results will be posted online on Saturday.) Today I really will get those skirts finished... unless something else pops up.... no, I will.
Better stop dillying and dallying.
Things to do.

Sunday, 16 September 2012


I know you are all probably sick to death of the Trials of Showland but we are almost at the end.
Early this morning I loaded the car and set off to deliver our entries. Drew managed to stuff up slightly and went down the coast to celebrate his birthday and forgot to drop his onions off to me (he's going to attempt a sob story tomorrow and see if they will accept his pickles). Dell, even stressed and overloaded with her exhibition opening this week, dropped her pickles and preserves off to me yesterday (she's like me, when there is too much on we both procrastinate with cooking!), pair of jellies, exhibition shred marmalade, pickles and 'whore's radish' (as I like to call it) made from the plants she grew from the horse radish roots I brought back from Tasmania last year.

 I boxed up my sponges, labelled my lamingtons and truffles and basket-ed up my marmalade and jellies. Once I got to the show grounds it all happened so fast, everything was barcoded and swiped in and trays of preserves were whisked away. As I pulled my plain sponge out of its box and the girl who was checking me in gasped and said quickly 'oh my god, that looks amazing!'. Chuffed. Then as I left one of the judges came over to ask my name and wish me luck. It really was all so fast I didn't even get to check the competition but there was all sorts of different types of people dropping work off and I thought that was interesting and fabulous. I'm going to make you all participate next year!

So the Show starts on Saturday. Wish us luck!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

upping the dates

Sadly the ric rac skirts aren't going to make it into the shop today. I worked really hard and all the skirts are sewn up but it got so late that the thought of attaching the waistbands seemed overwhelming. A job for first thing Monday morning I decided. Do them all in one hit fresh at the start of the week (haha).

Royal Show update. 
Totally stuffed a batch of sponges last night, I used a different brand of organic free-range eggs, slightly smaller and one that when I have used it in the past I've noticed has a really rank smell in a plain egg based cake like a sponge. I've been out this morning to get the type I used the other day for my glorious passionfruit sponge. Fingers crossed as I am now a bit behind on my baking schedule. All I want from this batch is for it to rise to about 4cm so I can use it for the lamingtons. Tonight will be the plain sandwich and the ginger fluff.
I've made up the truffles. I should have put more salt in the mix to counteract the 70% bitterness and the taste of the raw leatherwood honey isn't really there but I've sneakily mixed some Maldon sea salt in with the hugely expensive Valrhona cocoa and it seems to have done the trick. Lush. Fingers crossed here too.
On the preserves front the jellies seem to have set, which is a relief, and, as sad as I am about not being able to submit my beautiful cumquat shred I am happy with the chunky cut blood orange marmalade.
I'll have to be up bright eyed in the morning to load the car. Dell and Drew are delivering here today for me to drop their creations off too. Can't wait to see their hard work!

And so to Cottage news.
Well no ric rac skirts yet but Ann, Crochet Queen, has sent down a packet of goodies and there are new tea cosies. More 'cottage garden' but also her fabulous 'strawberry' cosies and some 'black rose' ones as well. She's also been busy on some rugs and the first one to arrive is a vision in pinky purple-y creamy tones.
Hmmm, what else? We've had a pile of new Welsh blankets arrive this week but I haven't had a chance to start work on them, we do have some new cushions though that were made for the commercial fit out in Sydney that didn't fit into the colour scheme.  The Welsh invasion continues.
I have a lot I need to do in the coming weeks and months.
Jethro is running about like a loon. I won't let him watch this because I know what he would convince me to make for him. Go on, take 5 minutes out to watch it, it's really cute, a guy and his best mate cat is always heartwarming (and Billy is local which is really nice too).
OK. I better dash. The sponges are about ready to come out and a have a shop to clean and re-arrange before opening bell.
And by the way  I'll post pictures of the tea cosies on our facebook page a bit later. Please be-friend us, I'm feeling a bit sad about our stats, pathetic huh?

Thursday, 13 September 2012

out of practice

A day in the studio with an order of Welsh cushions to be finished to go off to Sydney for a commercial job. Sometimes I am so out of practice, it's only been a couple of weeks since I did the last batch, I shouldn't be so slow. I managed to slip in work on the ric rac skirts and I'm hoping that I get a few finished and ready to go into the shop for Saturday. I need to dig out buttons, mustn't forget.
It's almost impossible to move in the studio, next week I'm promising myself to do some sorting and packing things away. Four bags of cushion inserts have just arrived and things are pretty dire! Lots of making needs to happen to use up as much stuff as possible, it's far more satisfying than just folding everything up and shoving it in boxes.
I also need to stop eating sponge cake......

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


A day in the kitchen today.
The Royal Show entries need to be delivered on Sunday morning and as I have had a couple of very slack preserving seasons I am having to make up for wasted time.
I've tried to repair the not quite jellified pomegranate jelly and cooked up the blood orange jelly- fingers crossed they set properly. I did a batch of cumquat marmalade before I went to Tasmania but discovered today that I had made 'exhibition shred' instead of the 'breakfast chunky' that I had accidentally entered. Luckily I had a batch of blood orange marmalade ready to cook up so now I have a spare batch of very beautiful and delicious cumquat marmalade going spare. Dell says the blood orange tastes like sunshine in a jar.
Now I've got the oven clean and holding temperature spot on and have bought new sponge sandwich tins it was time to do a test bake. I used my usual sponge recipe and they turned out fabulous- so we had to eat one for afternoon tea! Whipped cream and passionfruit icing. Very proud of my sponges and I will have to make a plain and a ginger fluff and whip up a batch of lamingtons. Really wondering why we have signed up, competition cooking is hell!
And there is the chocolate truffles too. I made the mix today but used a different leatherwood honey and a slightly different chocolate, I'm not so sure about them. Oh well. I'm sure everyone will enjoy eating the leftovers.
My hopes lie with my sponges (jinxed myself now).

rickety rackety

Spring is doing its thing. Balmy days, nights full of heady scent then rain and chills forecast. It's just the Summer I dread.
I had a bunch of freesias delivered, picked from a friend's front yard and they are sitting in a jar with some beautiful pink roses I nicked from the maximum security old people's home down the back. Lovely lovely lovely.
I've come over all floral. The last two days have been in the studio. Monday was hard and I felt like my brain had shrivelled, cutting the simplest pattern was like climbing Mount Everest but then I changed tack (to mix metaphors) and I got the 10 gore skirt started. Five different florals and a mess of French cotton ric rac. These skirts are super pretty, perfect for twirling...... are they too cute though? No, they are quite lovely just definitely not fluoro yellow and pink. Oh well, I must march to the beat of my own fashion drum.
Working in the studio is a bit hard at the moment, it's even pretty hard actually getting the door open to get into the damn place. I'll have to work with blinkers on until I get through this week and then I'll have to plan a clean and sort attack. Mind you I have a delivery of cushion inserts on Thursday and I have no where to stash them, that will be fun.
I'm working from home today, well not actually 'work', more getting the stuff for the Royal Show a bit sorted. The oven is fine, thermometer checked and it appears it was actually the bloody recipe that was wrong (my gut had told me it was a bit weird but more on that at another time). Once I've got this written and packed up the pile of Welsh blanket cushions in the shop that are going to Sydney to decorate a bar, I'll be heading out to get supplies in.
I'll report later on my progress!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

unclotted and unset

Things have not gone right today.
I stuffed the clotted cream, the pomegranate liquid boiled over and I lost half of it all over the stove, then the pomegranate jelly hasn't set (I forgot that I should have used pectin), I burnt the expensive Black Pig bacon and have ruined all the good work I put into cleaning the oven and the new window display is pretty lame. A full and tiring day.
Now the pomegranate jelly has been a failure I need to get my act together and work out another for the Royal Show as the entries need to be delivered this Sunday. The oven is also not holding the right temperature and I'll have to pop out tomorrow and get a new oven thermometer. A bit scary when there are sponges to be baked. Royal Show baking is nerve-wracking.
I hope the rest of this week isn't dogged by any more hiccups like today's.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

on top of the world

Because it's Saturday I've decided we should have some calming Cradle Mountain scenes. Imagine being rugged up snug in your jacket, beanie on head (or on this day two beanies on head), scarf around neck, listening to the wind whispering, the waves of the lake lapping, leaves rustling and birdies tweeting, breath in deeply, feel the icy crystal air fill your lungs....... joy!
Anyway, that's how I spent my birthday day. I think everyone should have a birthday by themselves every now and then (or in my case every year!), it's actually very good for the soul to not have to deal with the expectations of celebration. It's a very calm place to be once you embrace it. Especially when you are surrounded in a truly glorious day like this one.

And now back to earth with a thud.
It's Saturday and I'm shopgirl today. After the balmy start to the week we are back to cold, which I am fine with, I need some breathing space to get some Spring-y clothing made. The cardis are starting to move and lots of comments on how lovely they are, remember to be quick with these as we don't buy in  a huge amount and they are very hard to re-order. I had an appointment yesterday to choose next Winter's wool cardi and sweater styles and colours, brain drain on that, so hard on a limited budget like ours!
I need to re-do the shop window tomorrow I think. Time perhaps to take the gloves down, sort of like petals dropping on the magnolia tree now Spring is definitely on the move. A bit of a Spring clean in fact, well more a Spring shuffle of stuff. A list may even have to be written (arrrrggghhh).
OK time to sweep and shop out, damn this wind, and get the day under way. I've been out to the shops, got the papers (not that I really ever get to read them these days), popped the cream to be clotted in the oven (that is a post for another day) and had words with Jethro for putting gloves outside. I'm looking forward to an 'off' day tomorrow.

Friday, 7 September 2012

op shopper's regret

Two days and two nights at home and I am getting less 'zingy', easing back into the real world.
And I regretting not buying that chair at a Devonport op shop, op shop buyer's regret. I just couldn't be bothered re-packing the car and I think by that stage I was just ready to get on the boat and get sailing. Sometimes the thrifting brain just can't be bothered thinking the logistics through.

I've been thinking for a while that I should start a project based on all the things that I wouldn't adopt from the op shop. Those funny but ultimately repulsive treasures you discover tucked somewhere in amongst the Tupperware and cracked crockery. The two toilet paper dolls above were in that same oppy a year ago, I think it unlikely their Prince Charming is going to come collect them soon.... The bear with the Coca Cola bottle is actually an antique shop resident, he has a nasty case on mange and appears whacked out on a less legal form of coke. Some collector will one day stumble on him but he really is the stuff of nightmares.

I know fluoro yellow is in but I am not sure about the yellow lipstick with her skin tone. She really is fashion forward (how I hate that term) with her pink bracelet.

And this little chap is quite sad, I kind of wished I'd adopted him, even if that branch is just a bit weird.

It's Friday. It's windy and cold and we have things to keep you warm in the shop. The Spring warmth may have tried to fool you Winter is over but there will still be nippy times ahead.
I'm tired and still have a mountain of emails and letters to write today. I've an appointment in an hour and errands to run and a plan of attack for all that studio work to devise.
And I still have preparations to make on my Royal Show entries.s
Joy oh joy.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

freesias and blue eggs

Jethro has kept me under close supervision since I got back and was very grouchy when the alarm sounded this morning. I can understand that, returns from holidays should happen with a few extra days at the end where washing and bag unpacking can happen and you can settle back into the swing of things. Being thrown in at the deep end yesterday was not much fun at all. I am still a bit grumpy today for feeling like 10 days of peace got shattered in under 12 hours (actually 3 is more like it).
Hilariously I've also come back to Gertrude Street having one of its 'dero out of control' phases, funny because of this load of twaddle that was published last Friday. Yesterday we had addicts stumbling about the street carrying needles, drunks trying to belt the crap out of each other, trams stopped due to people trying to kick their mates off the vehicle (and I mean 'kick' as in one party kicking the other in the chest whilst standing on the top step), bottles of alcohol thrown..... the warm weather and crazy wind always brings them out. Rather like the first swallow (of beer) of Summer. Welcome to Gertrude Street! Hahaha!

A far cry from old fashioned freesias and 'easter egger' bantam eggs from the Hobart CWA shop, yes those eggs really are blue and very very beautiful and those freesias were superb.

Anyway I better get moving as I have to be shopgirl today. This wind has blown all manner of detritus under the door and I still have boxes of stuff to find a home for. All the new Summer Slade cardis are in, the missing box arrived late yesterday along with a new shipment of fabulous wooden bobbins- I'm thinking of changing the shop name to 'Bobbin Industry'. We have a few 12" rope bobbins, absolutely stunning, and some metal bound ones in various sizes. 
OK, gotta go sweep.
Come visit if you are in the 'hood!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

tasmatic touring

Hello my lovelies!
You may have noticed that I have been away. Perhaps not. Maybe relieved that there has been a lack of drivel sprouting from this little blog.
Anyway I am back, 10 days on the Apple Isle, not that I ever visit there in the real apple season. It would be lovely to see the blossom but I am always a little to early for that.
I arrived back on the ferry at sparrow's fart this morning and spent from 7am until the shop opened putting things to rights, unpacking the car, doing the washing, displaying new stock that arrived whilst I was away. Now it feels like 5.30pm instead of 2.30pm. I am heading towards that shattered-post-holiday-email-frantic-catchup-ness that makes all that fresh air and vistas shrivel into a dream.
I might bore you with a few photos over the next few days but they will all be moody Hipstamatic type images as I barely pulled out my real camera the whole time I was away (I think there might be a couple of shots of a wallaby and joey that got snapped at Freycinet but that's about it). I kind of enjoyed taking these Tasmatic pics as they made me think of old postcards and slide shots. More 'holiday-y'.
On the shop side 3 of the 4 boxes of new Slade Summer cardis, that arrived a couple of days ago, have been unpacked. We've got fine cotton cardis in V-neck 3/4 sleeve and crew neck full length sleeve and I suggest if you are thinking of getting one (or two or three) that you do it quick sticks based on how popular the Winter ones were. I missed the  hot flushed days at the start of the week and now the wind is threatening to blow us all away. I've packed the last of the woollen sweaters and cardis away but if you want any just ask and we can pull them out. I do think the wool lace tights are a perfect Spring accessory- I never trust that day will stay truly warm at this time of the year!
Sorry to be mixing shop shit up with holiday ramblings but the wind seem to have me vibrating a bit to much and jumping about like I'm shocked full of static. I will settle down after a night in my own bed. I'm also shopgirl tomorrow whilst Dell is still away. Normal service will be resumed shortly.