Saturday, 30 August 2008

spring in your step

Sweet peas, tulips, freesias.
Spring is almost here.
When I went to get the papers there were people everywhere this morning, having breakfast in the sun, walking.

I've been having dreams for the last few nights about a house, somewhere that I was moving out of (like an imaginary version of the old Brunswick Street place) and each night as I dreamt, it became more beautiful, more empty, all polished floorboards and white walls and the sunlight streamed in through imaginary windows making changing patterns in hallways and corners.

It's been a nice dream and this morning I didn't want to come out of it, so I slipped back into snooze for 15 minutes. When I woke up, I stretched whilst lying down and completely put my back and neck out. Screaming in agony I had to kinda snigger that this is what happens when you try to be a lazy lush in bed when you should be up and about! It's going to be painkillers for me today, so if you run into me today that's why I'll be shuffling about like Quasimodo.


Oh and in shop news we are having a bit of a sale on winter clothing , some of the more wintery cushions and hats and scarves.

As I said at the start Spring is nearly here and next week there will be a new window display, new Spring-y cushions and bags- and if I can get my shit together there will be new clothes trickling in in the next few weeks. 

And I did get a whole run of vintage scarf dresses done this week and they are in-store today. Always good to keep the hands busy when the brain is a bit fried.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

thank you all

Just a quick note to say thank you for all the kind words and thoughts.

(I replied to many of you until my stupid email server decided to stop sending messages through.)

Thank you all and a special thank you to Paula who is missing her friend Baxter.

I know my eyes will stop leaking sometime soon but until then I'll just lie low.

Pen xx

Friday, 22 August 2008

queen spring-clean

Try saying 'Queen spring clean' fast three times!

Christine is having a clean out sale at her studio. Lots of stock by other labels too- all those Melbourne designers she stocks in her shops!
It's in the same building as my studio, 95 Victoria Street in Fitzroy, up the stairs to the first floor (I'm sure there will be signs and arrows to follow!). This Saturday and Sunday.

Sadly I'm stuck at the Cottage, so come and visit if you are in the 'hood.

Thursday, 21 August 2008


Fountains with water. (We have been in drought so all the fountains were turned off.)

Polka dot petals and wet footpaths.

Hidden bowling green at Parliament House. (It pays to be tall sometimes.)

It was cold and rained all day today but being home, snug and warm(ish), is nice. I like winter. This winter has been a bit dreary and everyone has been a bit flat and grouchy but water from the sky is just refreshing. It washes all the leaves and makes one remember when Melbourne was the City of Gardens. Spring isn't too far away.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

the widget has landed

Welcome to the world Maxwell Otis!
Congratulations Beck and Michael!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

cat's in the cradle

Well actually she's taking turns between the couch and her basket in front of the heater.
Spot would like to thank everyone for their best wishes.  
Her blood tests came back fine (in fact very good for a cat of her 'advanced' age) but she will still have to wee into a bottle for a kidney disease check (the one thing on her blood test that was a little iffy).
Let's just say yesterday was particularly stressful for everyone involved and whilst she isn't eating with a nice Spotlike appetite, she is snacking and that is a good sign. In fact she had a nibble of MY dinner and a few licks of yoghurt (a major fav) so fingers crossed she's on the mend.

Monday, 18 August 2008

animal companions- good for stress

It's been a stressful week and a teary Monday. Spot hasn't been well, not eating and getting skinnier and, me, more worried as each day passed .
So off to the vet. This involved a finger and KY jelly, a huge loss of dignity, a shaved neck, vampire bites (where's Buffy when you need her?) and an hour on oxygen when the feline turned blue. Valium (for me) would have helped. Indeed it might still be on the cards. The blood tests will show, hopefully, just what is going on.
Spot enjoyed her new carry-box however, as her stupid human ended up going for the medium sized one as the small one looked too small, and she can stretch out full length on the padded cushion that came with it. 
Sitting in the waiting room wanting to cry and laughing at the same time as they have installed a TV showing animated adventures of a cat and its human called 'Cat-Man-Do'. Very funny, simple line drawn stories that would have anyone who lives with a cat in hysterics. (One involves a couch and a remote control and the other is the cat trying to wake the human up, let's just say a baseball bat was involved- there was even sniggering coming from the dog section on the other side of the doorway.)
Since she has been home Spot has decided eating is OK and has tucked in to a pile of fresh meat. Amazing how a bit of stress and prodding can help with the appetite (I just want huge amounts of chocolate). I do hope that the blood tests are all fine- I don't like this feeling of helplessness. I wish they could talk.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

hat, shoes, gloves..... you know....... accessories

Finally had a chance to deliver these gloves purses up to Eastern Market, in Carlton, yesterday morning. Made from lamb leather gloves handstitched on to silver plated purse frames. One of those crazy things that started years ago for Lucy Pinto who owns E.M.
I feel like I have a split personality sometimes- crafty-mama on  one hand and black/distressed/deconstruction on the other. Although the former is getting less run for the money at the moment. (I am decked out in black today..... but with magenta tights.... see what I mean!?)

This is the accessories sales assistant at Eastern Market. She's a tawny frogmouth but don't say it to her face, she'll scratch your eyes out.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

how many virgos does it take to change a light globe?

That's OK I'll just sit here alone in the dark, it really doesn't matter.


About 9pm last night the power went out.
Therefore the heaters stopped, the TV died, the computer went to sleep, the phones didn't ring, the whole world crumbled.
Not really of course. It was just dark and cold and I realised that I only had two candles. One that made me sneeze (scented) and one in the shape of a skull (black). Note to self- buy some candles (unscented and not looking like they should be used in a black mass).
The power came back on after 11 and I heated up a wheat bag, turned everything off  and went to bed to read my book.

Monday, 11 August 2008

small things

The highly talented Katherine Bowman is having an exhibition at Pablo Fanque in Sydney. 
Opening this Tuesday night with drinks from 6 'til 8pm.
OK not much warning- sorry!
But if you are in the 'hood drop in.
Say I sent you.
You won't be disappointed! (Check those rings out- how gorgeous are they?!)

mistress fate strikes again

Twin full arc rainbows over Gertrude Street.
I had to race home from the studio to proof-read a letter for a friend. It was that strange light under the clouds as I got to the car, raining as I drove up the street and parked. Then as I walked around the corner there was this.
I'm taking it as a sign that maybe my dark mood might find a silver lining.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

afternoon pick-me-up

There has been a few afternoons at the studio where I've had a bout of the 3pm slumps. A couple of times I've wandered around to Zakkaya. It all so peaceful in this sweet lil store. There isn't much stock and here it works really well. It means that you can concentrate with a zen-like calm what they do have. (I fantasize sometimes that they have shelves out the back groaning with stock and only bring out one piece at a time.)
I was so excited when I went in on Friday afternoon and found these. They are enameled cutlery. I am such a sucker for enamel. I've scored some seriously good pieces in my time- like the vintage teal blue soup tureen and ladle. I like modern enamel too and am often to be found loitering in hardware shops and disposal stores. And I love Reiss enamel too- except I am not sure I want to cook a stew in a lavender coloured casserole pot..... that kinda turns my stomach.
This cutlery though is gorgeous. The spoon and splayd are only 14cm long and the little fork 11cm, they are like a little picnic set. I think the spooon would be really lovely to eat King Island vanilla yoghurt with.

that explains everything*

Mr Porcelain and I- stupidly- decided to go trash-and treasuring this morning. Well the only thing we got was cold noses. What a totally foolish idea. Although I did suggest Daylesford and if we had we probably would have got to see snow which would have been a bonus. I have been snow obsessed this winter. Not snowfields snow, but country-town-open-fireplace-snow.

Not looking forward to the studio tomorrow. It'll be bitter in there.
I'm feeling out of whack again but that could just be the result of thwarted trash-and-treasuring, it just breeds frustration. 
When I got home I dragged the 'new' cupboard inside and then had to face all the work I need to do to it. I stripped the wallpaper out of the inside and cleaned up the top. The wood is actually quite nice and I now need to decide whether to hit is with a sander. This could be a problem as my miniscule backyard has no cover (which is why I had to drag it inside out of the rain) so I'm going to have to choose my moment, and of course it is, now, the rainy end of winter. It is sitting in the tiny hallway between the shop and the kitchen along with the extra stock rack, the vacuum cleaner and other sundry bits and boxes.

OK I'm a collector and hoarder. But I do put (most) of it to work. My major problem is genetic- it appears in my family that we all have an inability to keep horizontal surfaces free of clutter.
But if I fix up the cupboard then I can pack my clutter away......... 
That's the idea anyway. 
* Of course this title is ironic. Nothing is explained. If it was I wouldn't be feeling like I've stuffed up somewhere along the line.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

in all her glory

Magnolia Doilii is looking quite superb at the moment.
There are little bright green leaves showing through, so you better be quick and come visit before the petals drop.
(Don't you love the police car in the background- so Gertrude Street!)

mistress fate

Sometimes, just as you start to wonder is Mistress Fate is using you as her butt-monkey or at least just messing with you for a bit of idle fun, she goes and puts things in your path. Good things.
About a month ago she sent me to Preston Bunnings on a Monday afternoon and  I ran into a dear friend I hadn't seen in about 8 years. We were so excited we were both near tears. Sometimes she give you big things and sometimes little rewards.
Today she gave me a little something. I was going to walk up to the little newsagent on Gertrude but felt for some reason that I really had to get in the car and go to the Brunswick Street one (admittedly bigger, better and more of a fix for a magazine junky like me..... except that I have a pile of unread mags sitting here.... but that is another story). On the way back home I have about 5 little side streets I can opt to take to get to the back of the shop and our parking. I turned in to the last one and sitting there was the bottom cabinet of an old dresser! Screech to a stop. Reverse. Jump out and make the hasty decision to jam it in the back of the car (thankyou little hatchback!). The old lady watering her garden over the road rolled her eyes.

You see I was on the phone to my favourite antique dealing friend yesterday begging him for a cabinet for the shop and last night while working upstairs I was pondering the need for a dresser type cupboard for upstairs to store all the stuff I need to make things in. 
It going to need work, I don't have much free time but somehow I'll get it done. Or maybe it will just be a clean and half sand (definitely not shabby chic though).
Thank you Mistress Fate. 
(I wonder if I go back tomorrow if the top shelves will be there....?)

Friday, 8 August 2008

it's not a patch on....

Today's studio work was finishing off the patchwork (other people's craft) cushions.
I also found a piece of Red Ensign flag that was kicking around the studio (left over from making a corset a few years ago that ended up as part of a wedding dress) and made that up to. It was so beautifully faded and I matched it to some Japanese indigo- lur-ver-ley!

It's been a week for clocks and I've had to make more tonight to keep up with the demand. We have new designs and they have been very popular. So much to do. No rest for the wicked, etc.

The rain tonight has been nice. The day started off with no coat and ended with hat, scarf and coat. Ah Melbourne. Better get some scarves finished tonight too. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


In the past 5 minutes I have attempted to burn the kitchen down (by tossing a tea-towel onto the electric stove top which I forgot was on- gas is best, at least you can see ON), drop a chocolate cake on the floor as it came out of the oven, burn three fingers, thumb and tip of tongue. Klutz.

Today was flat out from the start. New retailers in from Sydney, racing around in the car and work in the studio. I had to go to Auburn so went to Est and met Carolyne, raided a couple of op shops and went to the wholesaler to get leather gloves to make purses for Eastern Market (I'll take some shots to show you if I get them done in time). Then back to Carlton to pick up some dye from the Handweavers and Spinners Guild and couldn't resist these socks. Hand-dyed, handspun, handknitted. Think they will be known as the 'Fire-bird Socks' after tonight's mishaps. 
The house still smells of burnt tea-towel. Lovely.

Monday, 4 August 2008

more than just a paper bag

I've been meaning to write about the newspaper carry bags we use in the shop ever since the Cottage opened but time just ran away from me. Probably it is also because whilst the story is very uplifting it comes with a downside.
So let's start with the bad, it always makes the good taste sweeter.

Anyone who has ever set foot in India will tell you how the sheer number of people is mind blowing. Confronting and overwhelming in every way. But take this a step further. Look at the migration of people from the country to the city, all looking for a better life, and this isn't just adults, this is also children. It is estimated that a staggering 300,000 children live and work on the streets of Delhi. These children are often, originally, from rural areas, lured by the 'romance' of the big city, sometimes running away from difficult or abusive situations, or just ending up in the city through no fault of their own, and this city can be a frightening and dangerous place. Girls are often lured into the sex industry and boys into a life of crime and abuse. Yes, this happens all over the world and nowhere is safe, but the size of India's population makes this horribly shocking.

Now this where it gets better.

On the outskirts of New Delhi there is a  home called Karm Gaon. It was started by a non-government organisation, Karm Marg, to provide a loving home for children and young adults who have been through such traumatic experiences. In this safe environment they are provided with an education, therapy, health care and vocational training. Karm Marg translates as 'Path of Work and Action' and the home's philosophy extends into the surrounding community, providing training to disadvantaged rural women and through the establishment of an organic garden and community kitchen. 
This philosophy also puts the running and maintenance of the home into the hands of the children (with support from elders) giving them an active and important role in their own future. Part of this is the Income Generation Project, in which products, created from recycled materials, are developed and manufactured.  
And so we get to our newspaper carry bags. They are made by the citizens of Karm Marg and Karm Gaon.
But the story doesn't end there.
When I first contacted Karm Marg about their bags, they put me in touch with Somar and Kristy who have a shop in Maleny in Queensland  called The Industree. These lovely people have a plan. By bringing the Karm Marg bags into Australia they planned to finance another charity. This charity would be in Kochi (Cochin) providing support to an orphanage that cares for children who are mentally or physically impaired. These children currently do not have access to regular medical aid and lack extras like physiotherapy and psychotherapy. By working in conjunction with another charity called 'Raksha', in Kochi, Somar and Kristy hope to organise ongoing aid to the orphanage.

So, you see, a simple recycled bag can carry much more than your latest purchase. 
It can carry a whole community, half a world away, into a brighter future.

(Please check out the Karm Marg website for full details about their projects and philosophy and photos of the home and children.)

Saturday, 2 August 2008

look mum- no hands!

So this why they are called ringtails.
Or maybe there is another possum on the other side of the branch holding onto his tail.

....and sluttier......

I like 'even more quirky'.
This just in from Vogue Entertaining + Travel's 3 day long weekend in Melbourne feature.

media slut

This was in the City Leader last week. Took me a week to actually get to see it. For once the photo was nice (I hate photos). 
Media slut. Heehee. Every little bit helps.