Wednesday, 31 December 2008

new year

So the bookcases are up. The floor is clean(er). A quiet night is planned (the country celebration has been cancelled due to illness in the host family). Really I hate New Year celebrations, the pressure is too great, behaviour dreadful, really safer to stay at home.

It has been a huge year at the Cottage. So many changes and new beginnings. There has been highs and lows for friends and family, babies born, life changing happenings, people arriving back from adventures in the wide world, all in one short year. We've had the Global Financial Crisis and the philosophies of the Slow Movement and Buy Local making even more sense. Some years just seem to cram it all in. 

To end this year I'd like to quote a great article that appeared in The Age today, a great interview with fellow Craft Victorian Damien Wright about the table he has made for the Koori County Court at Morwell. In the article he talks about 'craft', not of the cupcakey but of the 'skill of the hand' type of craft.
'For Wright, that this can happen is why is important that some things should still be made by craft workers.
"I relish being able to think about the way an object can be both functional and symbolic and political', he says.
That kind of thinking, Wright insists, happens more easily when things are made by hand than in the industrialised process.'

Remember, objects made by hand also come with heart and a story. They can be both functional and beautiful, giving both enjoyment and meaning to even the simplest of tasks. Drinking tea from a handmade cup, sleeping under a handmade quilt, become mediative experiences.

'Art will make out streets as beautiful as woods, as elevating as the mountain-side: it will be a pleasure and a rest, and not a weight upon the spirits to come from the open country into a town. Every man's house will be fair and decent, soothing to his mind and helpful to his work.'
William Morris

Have a lovely New Year, how ever you choose to celebrate it, and may 2009 bring joy and happiness.

Monday, 29 December 2008

ikea bad, bunnings good

Apologies- there may possibly be a spate of cute kitten photos until I actually get a life happening again. I apologise whole heartedly. Just go with it.

Note to self- don't attempt Ikea any time between Xmas and the New Year. Especially at 1pm. The only upside of driving around and around the undercover carpark was actually seeing a plasticky 4wd lose its side panels to a row of metal posts. He must have been spitting chips! (That's an euphemism for being exceedingly annoyed.) 

Bunnings was however much more civilised. Easy parking and hardware- what more could a girl want? So I checked out a few bits and pieces for the home reno project- and bought a clothes line- joy oh joy! 
Then when I got home I noticed Laurie was out the back of his place, with tools, and after asking if he had an angle grinder (see yesterday's post), he popped down and in 2 seconds flat had sheared off the wonky dyna-bolts that were holding up the shonky gate and the Summer Project can begin! Of course this now means that I need to buy 
1. paint
2. wood
3. decking
4. other stuff
I swore after the Big Shop Reno that I would never pick up another paint brush............ but I suppose this is just the tail end of that big renovation, the stuff I ran out of energy and time to do. 
Of course being excluded from Ikea means that I can't get the bookcases I need so that I can clean up upstairs. That's the excuse I'm going with at this point. I suppose I could get out of bed and get down there before the doors open, park in the pick up zone and run in and grab what I need before the crazy Ikea shopping crowd have even made it through the lounge room display area.......... but that would mean I would need to set the alarm and that at the moment is just not in the holiday spirit at all.

PS Jethro has taken to sitting in the dryer, with or without fabric bits and if the door is closed he will paw at the porthole until it is opened so he can pop in and sit watching the world. NO I am NOT attempting to shrink him to keep him kitten sized.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

bidulph the blue nosed reindeer

This is Rudolph's slightly younger brother. He's a bit of a cork-head. 

Well I do have to say it's been rather nice NOT DOING ANYTHING. I had a slightly pang of guilt about not opening the shop yesterday when I left the house for the sales and saw that Little Salon and Robio were open......... but then I thought 'bugger it' and went off to buy some new mugs (to replace the last one that Jethro knocked off the bedside table and broke) and a knife (to replace the good one I accidentally put in the oven and melted the handle of). I did get to bump into Max who had taken his parents shopping for saucepans and I attempted to wheel his perambulator down a flight of stairs to see how cross-country those new fangled 3 wheelers are (heehee). 
Apparently the Boxing Day Sales were complete mayhem and all the sales assistants were still  looking a bit frazzled the day after. Many years ago I got in the front of the crowd at a sale as the doors opened. I didn't plan to actually go in and buy anything, it was like an inner city version of the Pamplona Running of the Bulls. Once inside I turned around and walked out much to the amusement of the security staff. 
Every Xmas holidays I go to bed with a pile of books and basically only surface to venture out to buy more. When the TV was in the bedroom it was also supplemented with a pile of DVDs but now that's in the Big Room and it isn't so much fun. Also the lack of cleaning has made the Big Room the Big Mess. Jethro's new sport is running from one end to the other whipping up a flurry of paper in his wake. I can not tell you the amount of joy the little feller can get out of a brown paper bag from the Brunswick Street Bookstore. He is loving me being home and at leisure. If I'm typing on the computer he's curled up on a pile of papers on the desk snoozing. If I'm lolling around reading on the bed, he's curled up on the top of the Depression Era blouse drawers. He is also quite good at playing fetch.
I've managed to go for a few strolls, lug some rubbish out to the bins and get the washing on. Not bad really for some one who is DOING NOTHING and was feeling very tired and exhausted. The vacuum has made it to the top landing (not plugged in) so I feel that actual vacuuming may happen sometime in the near future........
I do need to venture out to Ikea soon, a real clean up and sort can't happen until I get some more bookcases. Tomorrow maybe. And Bunnings. Got to go to a hardware barn definitely. It wouldn't be a holiday break without a bit of a home reno project- more on that one later. 
Slight hiccup on that front which may only get under way with a bit of angle-grinding action...... bugger.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

always burn the last biscuits

For some reason I always manage to burn the last 1/2 tray of ginger hearts every Xmas. I think it's  a sacrifice to the cooking gods.
Our first Cottage Xmas is over. It was strange and sad not being at Brunswick Street, after 16 years, spending the lead up to Xmas with the girls of Ditto Day. New and exciting things are often tinged with a little sadness for what went before.

I'm taking a little break between Xmas and New Year- well earned I think!
I'd like to thank everyone who has supported this little endeavour over this huge year. All the lovely people both in the blogverse and the real-verse who have popped by for a chat. 
Thank you thank you thank you and see you in the New Year!

Lots of love
Pen and Jethro

ps you never know, we might blog occasionally over the holidays, as the mood takes us....... maybe photos......

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

thank god it's almost over for another year

I think exhaustion has set in. Still bits and pieces to do but it's been quite peaceful in the shop- in other words......... slow. Maybe everyone has finished their shopping. Or the over 30º days have sapped everyone's energy levels. Or the GFC has hit. Or everyone is spending their Rudd Bonus on plasma screens and beer. 

Jethro, as you can see, has about doubled in size in the last two and a half weeks. All legs and tail and teeth. He likes taking showers, sitting in the refrigerator, attempting to get out the shop door and stealing angora glove off-cuts. 
The house is a complete mess from the frantic making and then physically collapsing from sheer tiredness. Upstairs is also coated in a fine layer of silver glitter from someone's discovery that the glitter container makes a great toy when knocked off the table. As young Imogen has termed it- 'disco pigsty'.

I had that minute last night, standing in Leo's Supermarket, of feeling like I wanted a good cry. Normally it hits about Xmas or Boxing Day but it's been such a big year that it's come on a bit early. I haven't had the opportunity to stockpile mountains of homemade jams and ginger heart biscuits so I feel all out of whack- I'm still not at one with the new kitchen and stove which makes it all very  much more draining to whip some treats up like I would normally do. And it really doesn't feel right not have all that sugary goodness to give away. I have even been told by a few people that they were wondering whether preserved goodness would be happening this year. I'm thinking I'll just have to IOU everyone. It's coming just not before Xmas.......

Well I need to go find a few presents. Unlike everyone else I haven't had a chance to do any shopping (or making) of my own.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

a very toy society xmas

Four Toy Society toys to be found around Melbourne...................

And go to The Toy Society to get the WORLDWIDE (!) map of drop off points.
Good luck hope you find one!

(Remember to let The Toy Society know if you have found a toy.)

Friday, 19 December 2008

fingers to the bone

There has been a lot of work to do around the Cottage. We have been very industrious. Jethro has been helping to finish purse orders for Claude the Bird in Malvern.

There's new cushions going into store on Saturday morning. There are some great Melbourne ones, other capital cities too and lots of vintage tea-towel florals and swans and patterns.
And best of all the CWA Cushion Collection (I've been pondering a collective noun for a pile of CWA cushions..... what do you think of a 'scone of cushions'?), there is a Victorian, a West Australian and a Queensland. Fabulous!

My hands look atrocious at the moment. Blistered, broken nails, peeling skin, cuts and scars. It's been a tough couple of weeks and I think by this time next week they will look like cramped talons. It's hard work on your hands all this crafty toil, but we are almost there. 
And there is other new stock in as well. Granny purses made from vintage obi fabric, vintage fabric zip purses and hairclips, and Madame du Barry will be dropping more Xmas gift tags in as well.
Time for bed- I have to be up early in the morning....... remember tomorrow is The Toy Society Xmas drop. Go to the blogsite for Bianca's treasure finders info.

Monday, 15 December 2008

water pistol target practice

Typing has been a difficult occupation of late. Apparently Macs are designed to enable kittens to lie between the stand and the screen and to swipe the typist's fingers and hit the keys that make applications disappear, turn the sound up or down or just make life frustrating and difficult for said kitten's human.
Human has resorted to a small but effective water pistol. Guess what? It worked. When the little furry head appears over the top of the chair back- squirt! Kitten jumps, races around the room and finds something else to play with. Everyone is happy. Top result!

The somewhat intermittent posting is due to the long hours of work at the moment. There are long days in the studio and then home to do more work. Hours at the sewing machine have stuffed up my sciatic nerve again and I managed to pull a muscle getting out of the car tonight. On top of last week's black eye (dropped a sewing machine on my cheek- true!) and stitching the end of my finger on the sewing machine. I know all these silly little twinges are due to being overtired and overworked. I'll just muddle through.

Our gorgeous Dell got her gorgeous brooches on Michi Girl today! Go have a look.

Our favourite Punk Pensioner, Elsie, has been off travelling and has started posting photos of her favourite older street fashionistas.  I love the Japanese pink wearing ladies. I particularly love the visor/scarf hat thingies that I often see Japanese tourists wearing. Go have a look.

And dear Katherine Bowman has joined us in the blogverse. Go and have a look at her beautiful work and her photos from her recent travels.

I had lots of things to write about but I've gone and forgotten them all. Tomorrow.

(Jethro just attempted a computer invasion. Got him with the water pistol at close range. Rather sad, cowing, little kitten made me laugh and feel really bad at the same time. He's currently  hiding behind the fax machine, which he normally likes to walk all over, making the buttons beep.)

Sunday, 14 December 2008


With all this rain I thought I better start building an Ark.
It looks like the clouds have lived a bit and it would have been nice to spend the day in bed reading and listening to the putter-patter of rain but I'm shop-girl again today- I know it's Sunday but it is a week(and a bit) out from Xmas. So if you are in the 'hood the doors to the shop will be open.

Saturday, 13 December 2008


I think in all the frantic pace of this week I forgot to mention that the little fellow has been named- Jethro (and not Deathrow, as some smart arses have 'misheard'- although if this morning's antics have anything to go by, this name may come into play occassionally!).
Jethro is so teeth-achingly cute I can't believe he hasn't appeared off the lid of a biscuit tin. Perhaps this could be a new Cottage Industry line- merchandise showcasing Jethro.
He did manage to totally upstage me on Monday in a shop photo shoot...............

We were lying in bed this morning listening to the rain. I had a deja vu moment and was thinking of snow and drives in the country. But no, it's the new Melbourne tropical rain. I'm hoping no one comes in today moaning about the rain, we need it people and it's nice, although I'm not looking forward to a bit of sunshine because then it really will be humid and sweaty.

It's been a busy week of long days in the studio and evenings working at home. I still have so much stock to finish and a short time in which to do it. I loathe doing production and try to cheer myself up by making piles of finished stock. Or by eating chocolate. Or both.

animal adoption

Being the complete twit I am, I forgot to post  this for yesterday. Danielle Lu (aka Coconut Lu, Princess la Nutt) and Jess Morrison are having having a studio sale. You can go along and adopt one of their crazy lolly bright animal trophy brooches. These crazy critters have a appeared on Michi Girl and you can find them in Fat, Douglas and Hope and Craft Vic.
I think there is also other studios open at Carlow House this weekend,  Level 9, so it might be well worth the trip! One stop Xmas pressie shopping.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

what about the lost toys?

As you know I love The Toy Society, bringing toys to the unsuspecting, but one evening I came across this little feller. Over a couple of days I saw him a few times, each time he had been moved and repositioned around the Pax Invictis memorial at St Peter's Eastern Hill. I wondered about all those lost toys and what happens to them. Is there anyone out there to catch them when they fall, living on the streets, separated from their loved ones? 

Monday, 8 December 2008

xmas bonus

I've been meaning to post about this since I first heard about. Craft Cartel is having a 'make your own Xmas card' happening in the Bourke St Mall today. They setting up a work table and you can come along and make your own Xmas cards. 
Check out their website for a great list of were that Mr Rudd's $1,000 Xmas bonus will go if you spend it in the Big Stores and how much more of that money will go into the community if you shop locally and handmade. Let's hope there isn't a rush on Wiis and Plasmas today. 

Sunday, 7 December 2008

dreadfully sorry

There was a bit of a mistake in the article today- sorry to anyone who turned up expecting us to be open. We don't open on Sundays until next week and the opening hours will be 12 noon 'til 5pm.
He Who Might Possibly Be Named (just seeing how the name fits) has found his favourite spot, it involves comfort (think Princess and the Pea), warmth and a spot of people watching.

(I'll try and keep cute kitten photos to a minimum. It's really hard though- he's sooooo cute.)

sunday (media) sluttage

The old saying 'Never on a Sunday' certainly doesn't apply around here. We are quite happy to be a Media Slut any day of the week.
Today it's The Age M Mag Xmas edition, 'Wrap it up- Melbourne's best gift shops revealed'. Whoa-hoah! (Pump the air). Nice lil write up and we are all tucked up next to Third Draw Down. Perfect!

I was intending to get into the studio today but a quick inspection of the homefront made me realise that a bit of domestic order was in urgent need. Of course to create order you need to create even more disorder first. There is also a little someone who embodies the whole concept that there is an inverse ration between size and destruction. He-Who-Has-No-Name (still) has managed to demolish the display in the front window 3 times. Twice in the space of half an hour last night and this included dragging a 65cm square cushion out of the antique Turkish dough trough. I am considering installing a door between the shop and upstairs. Having the 'kitten sillies' he isn't very smart about open front doors, the battery is either ON or OFF (currently recharging on a pile of blankets on the floor in the bedroom). I knew I should have got that door at Steptoe's back when I was renovating- damn and double damn. Another job to sort.
I do have to say, that while the work load hasn't let up (and has in fact increased massively) and that I have a pile of appointments that will keep me away from the studio, having a smoochy little stress relieving fluff ball around is nice. It's made me think a lot about Spotty and how calm and self-contained she was.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

wild thing you make my heart sing

Yes it's true. We'll all be hanging at Utopian Slumps on Friday night. 
Dell and Adam have been encouraging us to Grow Wild.

9 artists all pondering wild things.
Michelle Arcila
Adam Cruikshank
Penelope Durston
Natasha Frisch
Nathan Gray
David Keating
Simon MacEwan
Niels Oeltjen
Dell Stewart

25 Easey St
Opening Friday 5th of December 2008
Exhibition 6- 21 December 2008

Monday, 1 December 2008

mainly monday

I can't believe how tired I have been today. It was a big day at the Melbourne Design Market yesterday. Early start and a blur of people. I was so tired last night I couldn't move off the couch to go to bed. 
Today was all about sorting deliveries to go out and another day not in the studio. Oh well I probably wouldn't have been very effective there anyway. Sometimes when I flog myself for not studio-ing I have to remind myself that there is other parts to running my business- like scooting down to Spotlight in South Melbourne..........

me: Hello, could you help me? I'm looking for a bottle of Fabric Stiffener.
saleswoman: What are you looking for?
me: A bottle of Fabric Stiffener.
saleswoman: What does it do?
me: Ummmmm......... it.......... ummm.........stiffens fabric............
salewoman: So you use it to stiffen fabric............ what is it called?

OK I might be the world's most impatient person (according to my mother) and I do not suffer fools well but really............... it's funny in hindsight but I was totally dumbfounded by the whole exchange.

Well it's the First of December today and mild vibrating panic is the order of the day. Check up in the corner for a daily Advent Calendar- what will it be chocolate or craft?

Saturday, 29 November 2008

tea lights

Handmade soy wax candles. Lightly scented with lavender and rose geranium. Vintage tea cups. In a box. As Madame du Barry said 'very Martha Stewart'.

Friday, 28 November 2008

i op there for i am

Some days you just get in the car and end up miles from home (studio).
It was unintentional, kind of, sort of.
I've been noticing that so many op shops these days have been cleaned up (and out) and they don't have the same atmosphere (smell). They have new carpets, less stock and high prices.
Then I pulled into the carpark of this one. A tin shed. Walk inside and enter an old-skool op shop. Perfect. I didn't score a huge amount, I don't check clothing as it isn't what I'm interested, but I managed to find a great glass container (that I managed to break within a minute of getting home- bloody concrete floor!), a couple of books and an armful of doilies. Really it was just the joy of stumbling across an honest oppy.
As I looped back between Melton and Gisbourne I came across this little chap ambling along. He almost tried to cross the road, I came to a stop as he got to the gutter, pulled in and put the hazard lights on. He almost caught it when a car overtook me but they noticed him in time, he did a u-turn and headed back up the slope. I love echidnas.

So much to do at the moment. The feeling of panic is beginning to get overwhelming. I'm shop-girl tomorrow and on Sunday I'm helping out Mr Porcelain at the Melbourne Design Market. Don't know how that happened- oops! At the moment it's the choice of which job to do first. I spent an 'exciting' Friday night mopping the shop floor and working on a new product (stay tuned, in store tomorrow hopefully), making purses and getting work ready for the exhibition...........

Thursday, 27 November 2008


It was sad news to come home to tonight. Killings and mayhem in Mumbai. 
(At my favourite hotel too. I love the old Taj, I love hanging in the Shamiana Bar for breakfast, the bookshop and the fabulous shop where you can buy fabric made from peacock feathers, watching crazy Indian weddings and slapping around on cool marble. Not PC I know to say how much you miss a hotel when people are dying but this old place is just so evocative of the extremes of the sub-continent. How I love India and how sad I find it when this sort of thing happens.)
Yes, that is a shocking old photo of me on the balcony of my room in the old part of the Taj Hotel, overlooking Gateway to India. Sigh.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

brown paper packages tied up in string

I love getting mail (except bills) and I especially love getting packages, which is why I love sending parcels. I love the thought of someone at the other end being just as excited as me when the mail arrives. One of these parcels is off to Sydney containing a faux-tache and the other is flying off to the UK- a winter care parcel for someone from the Antipodes.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll get a chance to do a bit of a shop update. I've been pushing s**t uphill lately. Barely getting 1/2 a day in the studio if I'm lucky and too much to do. Fingers crossed I'll get there. Where? Xmas of course!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

ground control to major thom

This is Amory Cormac Duff upon hearing that he'd been upstaged by the (fashionably late)arrival of Ramona and Alan's Thomas. Amory is only 9 weeks old but a week's a long time in infant politics (I've gotta stop all this politicking..... Rudd getting posted twice in one week...).
Although I think the tears were actually because Amory just doesn't like me. He's had a hectic couple of weeks the poor little tacker, he's racked up more frequent flyer points than most of us would in 10 years. 
Let's hope Thomas settles in to his new home and appreciates all the crafty goodness his gorgeous mum will shower on him. Born at 7.45am 24th of November............. phew I think he's the last of the bubs for this year.......... and all boys!

(As you can see in the background, Amory chose a metrosexual lavender sock monkey as his childhood companion.)

Monday, 24 November 2008

Sunday, 23 November 2008

super tuesday

'Tuesday is the second day of the week according to international standard ISO 8601, and is situated between Monday and Wednesday'. 
(I had to check this on Wikipedia. I love the Wiki. I could spend hours hopping from topic to topic.)

Back to this topic though- we are opening on Tuesdays as of this week! 
Come and visit!
Xmas has arrived!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

quirky schmirky

I worked in the shop yesterday, Friday. I've only been doing Saturdays for the last few months and now have to work again today. Which means today feels like Sunday and with the rain and grey skies and the swishing of cars along the street I feel like curling up in bed and snoozing.

Pip tagged me the other day. 6 Quirky Things about Yourself (non dirty). 
I'm not a big fan of the games of the Blogverse (they always bring to mind Groucho's remark about not wanting to be a member of any club that would have him) and to tell you the truth, I'm not a big joiner-in-er. I try to stay under the radar as much as possible with such things. I think it's also that they are the younger sister of the Evil Chain Letter ('if you do not send this letter on you will die a horrible painful death and will not receive $1,129.00 by return post').
Although I do have to say that I look forward to receiving letters from Mrs Lovely Ngimbo from Nigeria. I feel dreadfully sorry about the death of her husband and somewhat guilty that I can not send her through my bank details.
I think the whole thing about a lot of tagging is that it's all a bit fluffy and feel-good for me, and plays on people's need to join in and their feelings of guilt and exclusion if  they don't. 
Sorry just had to run off and look at the hail that was slamming down, it's really raining! All those water-tanks filling up! Hope the wedding isn't washed out this afternoon.....
..........back to business...........
I had to laugh as today's aphorism is 'Know thyself? If I knew myself, I'd run away'.
Spot on Herr Goethe!

Anyway I thought just this once- and only time- I'd join in. I may not be able to do 6.......
*I once belonged to the Doctor Who Fan Club (I also have NERD tattooed on my arse- oh that's right- non-smutty)
*I hate pumpkin soup with a vengeance. I have had some wonderful pumpkin soups in my time, don't get me wrong, but it is one of those things that everyone thinks they can cook...... let me tell you this isn't true. If you really want to feed me pumpkin, roast it until it has caramelly burnt bits and I'm yours for life. 
*I love freesias, their smell makes me all trippy and, yes actually, happy. It's only the whitey/creamy/yellowy ones, the old fashions that have the intense smell. I've been know to sniff out freesias at a 100 metres in old graveyards. 
*I am very bad at choosing Boyfriends, 'nough said on that topic.
*I am unable to have an open packet of biscuits in the house- all or nothing is the motto here.
I have a friend who eats biscuits in 1, 3, 5 or the whole packet. Maybe it has something to do with prime numbers.
*Hmmmmm #6.......... how about things like....... I'm quite good (if the wind is in the right direction) at Cryptic Crosswords (the only good thing one Ex-Boyfriend ever left me), I like reading Crime Novels, especially 1930s ones by Georgette Heyer, Ngaio Marsh, et al............ which leads me to the real #6- I'm a Completist, yes, I'm one of those people who has to have all the CDs by a musician, read all the books by a writer. 
Is a Completist different to a Collector? 

So I don't know how 'Quirky' I've been, except to reinforce I'm a huge nerd, and I repeat this is the one and only time I will ever join in a Tag.
Thank you and I better get the shop ready for the day.
Come out in the rain and visit. It's a perfect 'wintry' day to come in and choose pretty Xmas decorations. Xmas was really designed for the dark of winter, with glowing lights and snow......... well today you could pretend.

Friday, 21 November 2008

get thee to an op-shop

After my moan about Tuesday's lack of op-shoppery I headed off to the Mother-of-All-Op-Shops to see what they had collected for me. My timing has been out all year and if I hear 'oh you just missed a batch, we packed it yesterday', I'm going to scream. 
But it was a good scarf haul and I managed a few tea-towels (hee hee). Also someone's whole collection of knitted (yes knitted) doilies, which I might try to photograph at some stage over the weekend. They all look like 'ring shawl' patterns to me. 
I thought I'd share with you the tea-towel above. As soon as I saw it I thought 'I have to make it into a cushion for our favourite political pundit'. It is now a cushion and hopefully this afternoon I'll get to give it to Amory's father, along with presents for Duff Junior himself and huge hugs for Amory's mum. Andrea, Cam and Amory are back in the country after 3+years in Canadia. Hooray! 

Now the thing about this tea-towel could probably be best summed up by the old saying 'a week is a long time in politics'. 

Not so long ago this man won an election (well a year ago but it seems like less) and now he has been relegated to the op-shop. 
The op-shop is a great leveler. 
How fickle is the souvenir tea-towel trade! 
Is this the fate of all the great Obamacraft that was around a few short weeks ago?

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

highs and lows

Today was one of those that starts well but somehow goes a bit awry.
The new batch of shibori lampshades arrived. (High.)
I ventured across the river to Malvern to visit Kim in her lovely new shop, Claude the Bird, in King's Arcade. She has a lovely branch with bird's nest in the window. We chatted and laughed and I managed to leave things behind and had to go back to visit to pick stuff up. (High.)
Decided to do a little bit of opping whilst I was out and about. Atrocious. Not a god damn thing. Chose all the wrong places to try and my heart was just not in it. I was feeling dizzy and dragging myself about. I drove in the wrong direction. I got to shops that were closed on a Tuesday. It was as if my in-built sat-nav was kaput and my gold medal championship winning op-shopping skills were rusty. (Low. Low. Low.)
I'm hoping that the thrifting gods are giving me a bad time because I'm about to hit the op jackpot. (Hoping.)
Or maybe I'm suffering from an attack of hayfever or a 'summer' cold, as I'm feeling creaky and sneezy (and I don't mean two of the seven dwarves). (Haha.)

Monday, 17 November 2008

i has bean

Mmmmm- homegrown broad beans.
They were a pressie. Mmmmmm.
Why is it that I don't mind cleaning the house on a Monday evening but cleaning on a Sunday is anathema?
Managed to get 2 cardis and 2 jumpers washed, boxed up a whole pile of afghan rugs and winter stuff so I can store it away, scoured the house for newspapers and recycling, 1/2 cleaned the kitchen (haha), wrote a pile of emails, put washing on, sorted the car out, made some dinner, all in about 1 hour..... weird. Perhaps I should never attempt any cleaning on a Sunday. I still have a mess of a house but I feel a little virtuous. I think (touch wood) I'm about to do a job on the piles of paperwork. Procrastinator Supreme but maybe this time I'll get a handle on the 'office' side of life. I will have to sort out some horizontal surfaces first, just to make room.
Perhaps I'm trying to make some order because Andrea, Cam and the Duff junior are due to arrive anytime and Andrea will definitely enjoy laughing at my mess. (Cam gets a bit twitchy about my disorder I know!)
Note to self- never attempt cleaning on a Sunday.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

yes virginia, it's xx days 'til xmas

Have totally given in to Xmas.

This is the shop Xmas tree. Yes it is a ladder but the shape is right and it's made of wood.
It's a bit hard to see (and I'll post pictures later if I can get some good ones done) but check out the decorations! Remember back in about August when I did the doily window and everyone wanted to by the stiffened doilies? Well the Xmas decs are crochet stiffened cotton. We have snowflakes, singularly or in strings, balls and even tree toppers! Love them!

And there's handmade garlands made from vintage buttons that you can wind around the tree, twist to make a table centre piece, just hang on the wall or a window or drape along a mantlepiece.

The divine Madame du Barry, whilst in confinement in her chateau, has run up some cards for us. The images are from a box of vintage Xmas decorations. Photos don't do justice to show how lovely these cards are. It's taken all year to find an image and we were very excited when we realised this one was just perfect. Good things come to those that wait (and let me tell you I've been waiting.....).

And I'll be getting more vintage decorations out today.
Hurry- first in has the best dressed tree!

the andre rieu tour souvenir cushion

Couldn't resist a bit of schmaltz on a Saturday morning!
New vintage scarf cushions backed in waxed linen. There are 4 cushions that go beautifully together and look superb.

Also managed to get a new batch of vintage linen cushions done and a couple of the vintage linen ric-rac bags that have been so popular.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

flood, blackout and fire

Thursday week ago it was water pouring through the ceiling at the studio. Yesterday it was a power black-out (ended up coming home in frustration) and this afternoon it was a fire in a skip just around the corner from the shop. Two fire crews later............. (this picture was taken after all the fun and smoke and smells).
So really I need to get some work done! All these interruptions are driving me crazy!
I've got things to do you know!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

the school of life

I am in lurve with this place. I was very annoyed when it got into the travel pages of The Age on the weekend. 
What is it?
Well it's kind of a philosophy shop. It's in London (bugger) and it makes me laugh and smile.
They have sermons by guest lecturers on topic such as punctuality ('latecomers will be admonished'), seduction, pessimism, curiosity and even 'loving your neighbour' and they serve tea and sticky buns after.
They do holidays with such titles as 'Around the World inside the M25', 'Philosophy on a Bicycle' and (my favourite) a weekend at Heathrow Airport, which includes dinner at the Sikh baggage handlers favourite Indian restaurant!
They also have services like 'Experts' (you can hire an expert to run ideas pass) and 'Bibliotherapy' (book prescriptions, a made to order reading list).
You can sign up for a 'Daily Aphorism' and check out the blog.
I haven't laughed so hard in ages.

What is an aphorism?

I like work: it fascinates me.I can sit and look at it for hours. (Jerome K Jerome)
I believe the glass is half full, of poison. (Tim Collins)
A pessimist is an optimist with experience. (P Clements)
Imagination. You can't imagine life without it. (Jacqueline Oliver)

remembrance day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Monday, 10 November 2008

parade of champions

Today was my last day in at RMIT for the year. 
I love this message that I found on a whiteboard in my class's studio.
The highlight of the day was the First Year Fashion Parade. The little dears organised a full parade with DJ, film and stills photographers, make-up/hair, models, everything! They did a fantastic job and we were all very proud of them. Kick-arse job guys! Lots of proud mums and dads and friends attending their first fashion parade- they better get used to it, there'll be more to come over the next 3 years.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

thief in the night

I had to laugh when I went downstairs last night and noticed that someone had nicked one of the lengths of bunting from outside the shop. They had been there earlier in the afternoon when Gale had been in collecting stock and she'd asked me if how long it had been up and whether anyone had tried to steal it. I said to her at the time she'd just jinxed it, considering that it had been hanging there since Easter and no one had tried.
I must have noticed not long after it was taken and I wondered if someone had pulled it down and chucked it on the ground but, no, can't find it anywhere so I'm hoping they stole it because they liked it and took it home rather than just being destructive.
Just to put the wind up me, newspapers and TV started the '45 days 'til Xmas and counting' mantra yesterday. Like I'd normally care....... however now I must care as we've just had a pile of stock go out and I need to build stock levels up again. This is the biggest -and scariest -thing when you are a maker/wholesaler/retailer, just keeping on top of it all. One more day of RMIT marking and I'm free to spend as much time as I can scrape together in the studio. Once I'm in there working I'll be complaining that I'm stuck there.................

*Bunting update! 
Strangely, as the bunting was in one continuous piece, the thief CUT OFF only half and left the rest. I would have thought they could just have pulled the whole thing down........ maybe they only wanted 4 metres........... seriously trippy.