Thursday, 26 August 2010


Probably not a good idea to try and pack and socialise at the same time.
Sure I will forget something.
Or everything.....

A couple of years ago I posted about the rise of embroidered crafty CD covers, now it appears that cats are the flavour of the month. I dropped in to my favourite music store the other day to find these three arrayed on the shelves. Nathan sprung me taking a Hipstamatic snap and showed me his iPhone series of 'twin' CD cover images (that's where there are two almost identical images used on different CDs). Nerd.

My cat is asleep in a cardboard box. He knows I'm up to something.

The House Elves have informed me that under Workplace Agreements they are fine with cleaning however it is not  their role to pack stuff away and actually make order out of chaos so things are going to have to stay as they are for the foreseeable future. Oh well.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

like a poodle in an op shop

Somedays it all seems too much.
Somedays you feel like you are a wonky-eyed crocheted poodle sitting in an op shop waiting to be adopted.
Thought my head might explode this evening. It's worn off now, less splat, more tired.
It's been a busy month and it's time for a bit of R and R. Fresh air, beautiful scenery, a bit of op shopping, some good fresh food and maybe a bit of 'art play'. 
The house is a mess, the studio is a pigsty and I'm leaving it all as it is and running away. Hopefully the House Elves will clean up and building a massive store room/garage out the back by the time I get home.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

custardy goodness

I'm a little in love at the moment.
In love with a little mound of custardy goodness.

One day I was walking passed Cumulus Inc in Flinder's Lane. I was hungry so I popped in to grab a take away nibble and spied a plate of Cannalés Bordelais. Here started the love affair.

A recipe search later I had read about copper moulds, greasing with beeswax, about leaving the batter overnight..... I thought maybe when I had time I would attempt a go.... or maybe when I had taken out a mortgage for those exquisite copper tins.....

Then one night I happened to be at Ikea and I spotted a non-stick patty cake thing, too high really for cupcakes, probably meant for some strange Swedish delight but strangely perfect for making cannelés! I couldn't resist!

So I've had a little tinker and now I'm quite happy with my faux-cannelés!
P. A. has told me that they were made at wine bottling time to use up all the extra egg yolks (the whites were used for purifying the wine, just like you use them for making your stock clear). 'What is a  cannelé?' I hear you ask, well it's baked custardy cakelette and exceedingly yum.

Heat your oven to 250ºC.
Pop 2 cups of milk (full cream preferably delicious bio-dynamic milk), 3 tablespoons of unsalted  butter and a pinch of salt on the stove to gently warm through and the butter to melt. I like to add a big slug of beautiful Bourbon Vanilla Extract (the expensive stuff that I save for and buy a big bottle of once a year from Simon Johnson) or you can slip a split vanilla bean in will the milk is heating and then scrape out the seeds once it is all simmered nicely. Take the milk mix off the heat to cool slightly.
Lightly beat 2 big free-range eggs and 2 yolks to break them up. Measure out 1 cup plain flour and 1 cup caster sugar and stir to combine. Pour the eggs over the flour and sugar and whisk to combine (don't fret if it is a little lumpy and once mixed don't set aside for later- the eggs and sugar will start to 'cook' and you'll end up with strange sweet scrambled eggs). Pour the milk/butter/vanilla mix over and whisk. The lumps will disappear, don't be scared. I just use a hand whisk rather than bothering with an electric beater. You'll end up with a fabulous egg flip custard. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight. 
(Now at this stage I have to admit I made a batch on Friday and I only left it in the fridge for an hour....)
It's a good idea to pour the batter into a jug to make filling the moulds easier. I love my vintage Pyrex mixing bowls with the great handles that double as pouring lips- brilliant idea!
Grease your fabulous Ikea Cannelé tray well with butter.
Pour the batter in- this amount divides perfectly!
Into the oven at 250ºC for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 165ºC and cook for another hour. Now when you turn your oven down you will have to have a play, the recipe I found said 175ºC but I found it was a bit high, this could be my oven, but in this case under isn't going to be a problem, just leave a little longer or eat and make a new batch....
The Cannelés will do strange things...... they will puff up and rise above the mould, they will turn a deep goldeny brown but don't worry they aren't burnt, they are caramelised!
When your turn them out they will have a yellow dimple in the bottom, sit them on a plate with this dimple now the top. Admire for a minute. Sniff in the heady vanilla smell. Little volcanoes of baked custardy goodness! Scoff!

OK the real Cannelés are made with rum and the moulds are beautifully fluted but these faux-cannelés are pretty damn good!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

sign of the times

Jen and I went off to the Nicholas Building's open studio event last night.
Wandered around the corridors trying to remember which floor we were on, sticking our heads into studios, checking out the snacks provided, avoiding any that looked interactive in any way (the studios not the snacks, there was a music circle and sitar playing in one.... 'don't let them see you, keep walking!'). Sometimes it was just the view from the window that was most mesmerizing.
I love this sign, makes me laugh every time I see it. Perhaps it sums up today's election.....
I'm shopgirl so once you've argued with the people handing out the how-to-vote cards, voted and bought a sausage at the sizzle, then drop by for a visit. I'll be the one knitting and reading the newspaper.

Friday, 20 August 2010

preservation society

Probably my favourite bit of my whole time away was these shelves of preserves. 
Imagine what you see here x10 and you will picture a whole wall of jams, jellies, chutneys, relishes, sauces, pickles and butters. 
All wearing little gingham hats. 

Thursday, 19 August 2010


Finally downloaded pictures from my camera (rather than the iPhone!) of the Youngblood Market. Nikki and I had out stalls side by side, mine all busy and colourful and Nik's decorated with her husband Anthony's fabulous graphic work. 

Here's Nikki on set-up day unpacking boxes and making up the kits for her workshop classes.

My piles of stuff before I strung up the bunting!

Nikki helping out a workshop participant in her fabulous.....

.......knitting tent!

I have to admit the Youngblood Designer Market was probably one of the most exhausting things I've done in ages! Three intense and long days but I got to meet some lovely bloggers, hook up with some new businesses and even run into people I haven't seen in ages. It was great hanging with Nik and Anth and I really hope that Nik will be able to bring her workshops to Melbourne in the near future...... 
I'm slowly unpacking all the boxes of stock I have left over from the market- I really did go on a big making jag in those weeks before I left for Sydney- and I'm adding them to the stock in the shop. We have new tea-towel shoppers, tea cosies, purses, bracelets, brooches, cards, gift tags......... that's not all but you get the idea I'm sure!


So my day has involved rubber dental dams, drilling and packing and more antibiotics and planning for a root canal and a serious-but-not-root-canal-filling in the not too distant future....
Oh well.
And the little Nissan Pulsar has had to go in for major surgery.
And now I have a chest infection happening.
Oh- freaking- well.
Perhaps a cross between overwork, heaps of driving, being stuck in air-conditioned hell for four days, getting wet, hot, sweaty and running around too much. I think the body has finally given up......
I'm ready for a real break, a mini holiday, absolutely packed full of fresh air and afternoon naps.
But to get there I will have to sort out all the boxes and bags that I have lugged inside, and do a bit of work at the studio to tide us over for a week or two.
Miss Magnolia is in flower, though, and looking beautiful. Pink and white against the grey of a late winter sky. She knows how to put on a grand show.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

honey i'm home!

Away from blue sky sunny Sydney.
Back to grey and blustery Melbourne Town- how I love thee!

More on the Sydney adventure tomorrow (after an emergency visit to the dentist in the morning....).

Monday, 9 August 2010

travelling cottage style

What a crazy day.
It's late now and I feel very disorganised.
The early start is looking like a not so early start tomorrow. It ended up being a very busy afternoon with people coming and going, wholesale people dropping in, stock being dropped off, friends coming by to brain-storm. 
The final job I had left until this evening may not actually get done. Bugger. And oh well.
Most of the boxes are packed, they just need a final once over and I have yet to throw some clothes in my backpack. I'm sure it will all come together..... 'be alright on the night'.
Jethro has spent the evening jumping in and out of boxes, playing with the security rings off the dye jars and generally being super cute. He knows I'm up to something!
I'm looking forward to catching up with Nikki and seeing her fabulous knitting tent.
So Friday, Powerhouse, Young Blood Design Market, see you there! I need you to come and buy stock so I don't have to lug it all home again!

car mad dad

It's absolutely chopping Dad up to lend me the Volvo station wagon.

I hot footed it up to Romsey to make the car swap this morning and he had to take me through the ins-and-outs of the burgundy Volvo's quirks ('this light will come on if you do this but just ignore that, if this light comes on press this button, the aerial motor is broken so don't use the radio, I never do anyway....' etc). Having a car proud father has been both a burden and a boon. 
I'm sure I'm going to get back to a bollocking about the state of my little Nissan Pulsar, which I have left up at Romsey for a little holiday. I'll miss its zippiness, it loves the open road, but the Volvo I must say has a bit of grunt and seems to enjoy stretching its tires. And the station wagon aspect..... let's see how much of the Cottage I can roadtrip to Sydney!


Sunday, 8 August 2010


Jethro's mornings are spent catching a bit of sun. He loves climbing the window grills and lying on the top of the sashes. He's done it since he was a tiny kitten and now he's so big he likes to lean against the bars. Sometimes he sits up and rests his chin on a horizontal to look down at me.

I changed all my plans around this morning, trimming my day back to basics, cutting away what was really superfluous. A trip to Bunnings to pick up plastic boxes, dropped into my electrician to get the bound flex cords for the lampshades, caught up with Charlotte and Joe for ten minutes, dragged everything out of the store cupboards, started sorting stock, made a few new things, cooked a dreadful dinner (again.... I'm having trouble with food at the moment...).
There is still lots to do. Bed looks good.......

Saturday, 7 August 2010

found object

How quickly the Saturdays roll round.
I woke this morning and had to think hard what day of the week it was and what routine I needed to click into. I've done my Saturday errands (plus a few others) and am sitting in front of the computer with Babka raspberry danish and bucket of tea. 
Tomorrow there is a full day planned (no lolling about sadly) and I need to spend some time trying to sort storage for boxes of bags and bags of cushions- we seem to have them stashed everywhere at the moment and you have to be exceedingly careful opening the doors to the storage cupboards in the shop! While I was at the studio this morning I was thinking that everyone needs a Dorian Grey attic in their lives (both metaphorically and physically!) somewhere to shove all the stuff you don't need right this minute. This thought was brought on because I've had to clean out the laundry at the old home on Brunswick Street this week (I moved out two and a half years ago but....). Most of what was in there went into the bin but a carload went up to the studio where it now sits cluttering up what was an 'empty' area. After the last few weeks furious making, the studio looks like a bomb has hit it but I don't have the time or energy to do anything about it before I go to Sydney. Not looking forward to that job when I get back.
I really think hoarding is a necessary part of the type of making I do. You never know when something is going to come in useful and often you need to purposefully hoard/collect before you start actually thinking about making. It stews and festers away in the back of you brain, you 'make' it a thousand times before you ever lift your scissors or turn on the sewing machine.
If you want to see the fruition of a hoarder's imagination then pop into Craft Vic's exhibition  as part of Craft Cubed- Jenny Bartholomew (Ben's mum) has created a fabulous installation and Ben even gets a starring roll in a little video (very cute), Jen's ability to repurpose is just amazing, recycling at its most imaginative. I do love a 'found object'.

Friday, 6 August 2010

are we there yet?

Jethro is a little annoyed.
His favourite tapestry pouffé was sold out from under him this afternoon.
It went to a very good home though.

I've managed to get through today (with a few tears mid afternoon). I'm just plain tired and would love to spend a week having afternoon naps. The afternoon nap is a truly magnificent thing. Cats definitely know how to do the nap and I am planning on Jethro being my napping mentor in the near future.

I'm close to being done with all the making, just a few small things to sort out, and then I'll start getting everything together and boxed ready to go. It's like Christmas production has come early around here with all this making! It's been a complete shock to the system!


I've entered the overtired and teary stage.
My back and hip are out. 
I need to have a serious whinge, a sniffle and a good long nap.
Damn and drat.

Apart from that things are coming together (and what doesn't will just have to be left behind).
Of course at this stage a checklist will have to draw up, just to make sure everything gets loaded into the borrowed Volvo stationwagon come Tuesday morning.

I'm heading into the studio for a couple of hours this morning to finish some cushions and other bits and pieces,  then a few quick ups to do and back here to dye more gloves. 
It's a big operation when the Cottage hits the road. Why don't I have roadies?!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

please turn to page 30

First of all you need to pop down to your newsagent and grab a copy of the latest edition of INSIDE/OUT.

If you turn to page 30 you'll see this! A weekend out and about with the lovely Beci Orpin! There's the Cottage!

Then flip back a page to 29 and there is one of our reversible quilts on the bed!

Once you've read the lovely profile about Beci and Raph and the boys shuffle over to page 40. I'm guest blog editor! Five of my favs! (Although the got my description of the last one wrong...)

OMG and all that guff!

And if you have finished reading the magazine and feel like watching a bit of tv then switch on Channel 10........... keep your eyes peeled for the 'Offspring' ads....... and the Cottage's green door!
If the actors could just move to the left.....

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

memory jar

It's a busy week in Craftdom this week.
Not only am I under the pump with the Big Market Make but Craft Vic has all sorts of stuff happening. I committed myself to make a piece of work to go in an affiliated off-site Craft Cube exhibition at my friends Suzie and Gordon's shop. With the theme for this year's C3 being 'Childhood' Suzie asked us all to look back on whether there was anything as we grew up that inspired us to be the designers we are today. Did today's furniture designer make chairs out  of matchboxes? Did the ceramicist play with mud pies?
For me the answer is a square of cotton velvet and jars of buttons, my earliest memory, clear as a bell. Sitting at our big kitchen table (which is my kitchen table today) with a piece of cotton velvet marvelling at how if you stroked it one way it was smooth and the other rough, looking at the back, looking at the front, staring closely at the little bits that frayed off the edge. And jars of buttons, cut from worn out clothing and saved to put on new homemade clothes or to replace a lost one. In amongst the tiny shirt buttons, the coloured dress buttons and the giant buttons for coats there was three emerald green glass and gilt buttons, the survivors of the day when aged 2 I shook the tin that contained the glass button collection- my stomach churns to think what I destroyed in my innocence, bad 'Childe Pen'. 

Monday, 2 August 2010


There is a camera crew outside my window.
If you have been in Fitzroy over the last few months you'll have seen a filming unit and their trucks taking over whole streets. It's a new TV series called 'Offspring' and they are intending to do to Fitzroy what 'Secret Life of Us' did to St Kilda. Ha!

Thanks to everyone who popped in over the last few days and sorry to all those people who tried to batter down the shop door yesterday- but we aren't one of those shops that are open seven days a week. 

I've had to stay home this morning as the electricity meter was being upgraded to 'smart'. It took three blokes to fit it- the young electrician, his apprentice and an overseerand Jethro was very excited to have three tradies to play with. Now I'm waiting on the man from the bank to deliver another eftpos handset to take to Sydney- the usual time frame of anywhere between 9am and 1pm.....

Now as you know I am heading up to Sydney next week to participate in the Young Blood Designer Market and if there are any people out there who are intending to come and have stock suggestions of what they might like me to bring please leave a comment. I am going through the brain twisting gut wrenching process of trying to figure out if what sells here sells there. And how much stock to take for three days trading. And what if I forget something. And just what I need to take. And how I will fit it all in. And.... you get it all I'm sure!

So glove dyeing is on the cards for today and I need to sort out the new postcard design and get it to the printer and do some other errands this afternoon- wish me luck I can cram it all in!