Saturday, 31 December 2011

from the vale of sloth

It is peaceful here in the Vale of Sloth. 
I got up and out this morning as I always do on a Saturday but rather than a quick dash to get the papers, bread, milk it seemed to take forever. Holiday brain in control. I dawdled and wandered and got lost in Piedimonte's  supermarket (would much have preferred being at Leo's but too far to travel this morning). Normally I race on Saturdays to get everything done before I open the shop, today I had plans to go back to bed with the papers and tea but instead I sat out the back on the thunderbox and ate a punnet of the biggest raspberries ever and enjoyed every minute before the day got too hot. 
I have painty fingers and the radio is on, a sure sign the tempo is picking up here as usually this time of year is quiet and music-less. Even with all the windows open this end of Fitzroy can be incredibly peaceful, no café noise, people murmuring quietly as they walk, the sound of a dero yelling in the distance, the trams rattling along. I like this time of year. As I walked home last night after a stroll there wasn't a person to be seen on the street, the sun was long and low and cast a golden glow along the footpath, buildings and magnolias, it was so nice. 
I do need to pick up the pace, I haven't got very far at all. The screen door is a priority to be finished as we need to be able to lock Jethro up when we re-open on Tuesday. I've started packing Xmas away and I have piles of fabric to be carted to the studio and made into things. I must re-jig the window and just sorting the shop ready for trade will take at least a whole day. I've also been very bad and haven't replied to any emails that have come in.... soon I promise. 
Time to get the ruler out and cut some brass mesh.

Thursday, 29 December 2011


I got the bread baking bug yesterday, a nice crusty loaf of rye/white sourdough.  I'm happy with this loaf, it's not perfect but it's yum. I love a good bit of rye toast with honey, Tasmanian CWA creamed honey in this case with Pepe Saya handmade butter, I know, I'm such a wanker.
Today I ventured out to Bunnings, felt like I needed a good nap when I got home. I now have some supplies to start work on the screen door and a bit of painting. I better get motivated, there's a lot to do in the shop, packing Xmas away and moving things about. I do need to factor in an afternoon nap here and there too, I actually haven't had one yet, just a little sleep in now and then.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


After a day of picnickery yesterday the hammer, chisel, paint and brush have come out today.
Just couldn't help myself.
Of course everything I have started has come with the 'oh god, why have I started this....' and now I have walked away from it all leaving piles of crap in my wake. Jethro came downstairs took one look and retired to the thunderbox (last Xmas's project) outside for a snooze in the sun. So far I have ripped the torn flywire off the screen door (thank Jethro for having to start that little job), tested some paint colours on the wood of screen door (I may as well paint it while the flywire is off) and, as the paint brush had paint on it, started painting the outside of the backdoor until I got bored and washed the brush and came upstairs looking for another distraction. The problem is I am surrounded by mess and cleaning up that needs to be done and, as always, I am flummoxed as to where to start. Boxing Day's good intentions have taken to their bed with a good book and won't come when called.
I am also distracted by the idea of installing floor to ceiling shelves in the big room upstairs. As if. I have to keep talking myself out of that project. I'd probably start it in the midst of all the mess already here. I can just see myself tripping over piles of books, boxes, plates with glitter on them, half finished product brandishing the drill and a mitre saw. Perhaps I can control myself until Easter with that project.
I have managed to read two books from my holiday book stash and am onto the third. I'm tempted to hit the bookshops when I finally leave the house (and the hardware store too). It's really quite amusing I always seem to get to about this time in December and I start planning some huge project. This is the up/down side of a blog/diary, checking back and discovering just how predictable I am. Seems the maximum number of days I can go pointlessly relaxing is really quite ridiculously low. Go on have a really good laugh at my expense, I've got painting to finish.

Monday, 26 December 2011


Our new family member, Sam Junior, a little bundle of ridiculousness for Dad to play with. Xmas Day was a mix of turkey, nephews, kitten and crazed weather. I ended up in a traffic jam caused by the storm and sent out a huge thank you to the SES volunteers for chainsawing trees off the roads.
Boxing Day. Sleep, tea drinking, book reading, trashy afternoon TV watching, pyjama wearing all day. Every time I went downstairs for a snack, a tea or a wee I tried to fit in at least one small chore, a few dishes washed, things picked up off the floor, kitchen fan washed. And to cap the day- the Doctor Who Xmas Special, always a tear-jerker.
Perhaps tomorrow I'll dust the shortbread crumbs off and venture out of the house. Perhaps not! I think Jethro and I are just enjoying the peaceful laziness far too much!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

merry whatsit

I've just dropped a cheesecake on my big toe. You'd think that wouldn't be the most painful thing but said cheesecake was in a Fowlers Vacola jar and has split my toe open and left a bruise. Non-usual food in jars is my latest obsession. Except when they land on feet. Cheesecake did not survive but it did manage to hold most of the jar together so it was a bit less dangerous as I limped about in agony.
So here we are at Xmas Eve. I have presents to wrap, biscuits to bag, a shop to vacuum, a cat to wrangle (he definitely knows we are entering the Zone and has been galloping about like a pony on cider apples) so I probably need to keep this short and sweet- like the cheesecake only less painful.
I hope you and yours have a lovely holiday season. That you get to eat lots, feel bloated, eat some more, yawn, drink buckets of tea, get through your stack of novels, watch all those dvds you promised yourself, sleep in, have afternoon naps and generally have a relaxing time. As you may have guessed this is the plan Jethro and I are hoping to follow.
The Cottage will be closed until the 3rd of January 2011 when it will be business as usual. You can leave a message on the phone if you like, I will check in occasionally. You might see me in the shop painting and moving stuff about, it is the revamp time of the year. I'm not planning on building a deck out the back (jeez I wish it still looked like it does in that photo!)  this year but I really should fit in a bit of cleaning and sorting.

We are open today from 10am until.... well.... maybe about 4- 4.30pm, it just depends when everyone disappears off the street. Call if you want to check. Yes we still have some satchels but colours are limited.

Have a lovely day tomorrow and I will see you on the other side.

Pen and Jethro

Friday, 23 December 2011


I just raced out the door this morning to realise I didn't know why I was running around like a mad thing.
The bank wasn't open, I didn't need to go to North Fitzroy until tomorrow morning, nowhere else I needed to go was open, so I did a U-turn and headed back here. A symptom of Xmas I think, furiously buzzing  like a bluebottle in a jar. I have vacuumed the shop ready for opening, I am munching on an apricot danish from Babka (they don't make them very often) and about to drink a bucket of tea. That should put me to rights.
It is Xmas Eve Eve and once Dell arrives I will swap my shopgirl hat for an apron and get the last of the baking done. I'm not doing a huge lot this year although I know that I really should get another batch of ginger hearts done as certain people I know will snaffle as many as they can. I've also made 'Xmas Chaff' (granola) as I am sure everyone will need a good roughage clean out after the festivities.

I got an email last night to say this article is up, all about 'make do and mend' and modern thrift. If you have popped in here from the links expecting to find some crafty earth mother type blog then you will be sadly disappointed. We may make and mend around here but we are never dowdy! And if you are interested in the 'Make do and Mend' book that Lindy quotes in the article we still have a few in stock and will be getting more in next year. The Cottage bookshelf has been pillaged this year but we still have a few copies of the CWA Classics cookbook left (sadly sold out of the Tasmanian CWA one, more in soon), a new stack of the Op Shop Guide is in, a few Marjorie Blighs left and there is also the Banana Skins thrift book as well. Next year I will seek out some more pertinent titles for your perusal.
Anyway I better go wrangle the cat and take a deep breath- it is the beginning of the end.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

bakeback mountain

Afternoon all.
Been on the go since sparrow's fart. Actually that's not true- having put clean sheets on the bed last night Jethro and I slept a lovely sleep and only got out of bed when we really really had to, so a quarter past sparrow's fart is probably more accurate.
The Cottage got in yesterday's edition of Broadsheet. To our amusement the writer thinks we sell knitted hats covered in flowers..... crocheted tea cosies...... hahahaha. Like we always say- we don't mind what you do with them once you get them home!
I'm trying to bake biscuits, field questions, make gift tags, keep Dell hydrated with buckets of tea and generally be a pest. I've had to shut down the Big Cartel Cottage Industry site and if you are after a  Cambridge Satchel Co satchel please call the shop and we will let you know what we have in stock, and if you want one posted out for Xmas Day then you really better dial now as we will need to get it to our post office by 4.45pm today. Of course then it is out of our hands and you can blame Australia Post if it doesn't arrive on time.
Better get back to the baking.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

our shops in the middle of our street

We are a nice little community along here. Visitors even say we are the nicest part of Gertrude Street. We have magnolia trees and little cafés (Sonido, Radio and Breizoz Creperie). We have been known to hang out on the footpath and chat, we send customers to each other if we don't have what they are looking for and we just compliment each other very nicely.
If you are heading west from Brunswick Street then you will hit Amor y Locura just next to Radio. Mandy started by bringing in stock from South America and now she has a big range of pieces from Mexico. Religious, colourful, traditional, modern, Mandy mixes it all together, she's got decorative homewares alongside more collectable antiques. It's like a technicolour holiday right here in Melbourne (and you know how fashionable Mexico is at the moment, just check out all the restaurants in Melbourne doing tacos!).

Then there is Saint Cloud, all bikes and stuff to go with bikes, Nick is always busy with the passing pedallers. We have fun sitting under our magnolia watching the fashion stylings of St Cloud customers, they are a mixed and amusing lot. We also like to critique peoples chose of rim and frame colour combinations- yes this is where you come to customise a bike. This is bike styling heaven. We've even seen people who have matched their bike to their car! But mainly this place is for those Melburnites who spend their commuting time on human-powered two wheels.

Little Salon is the oldest shop of all along here. Geneine started her shop back in the days when Gertrude Street was a little bit wold and woolly (mind you it still can be!) and calling it an institution is meant as a compliment. It's been lovely watching the shop grow and develop, they still design and make the main core of their stock and this I think is a major part of Gertrude Street's charm- so many maker/owners.

I made Janita pose for a silly photo in her sequined top!

Next to Little Salon is Sonido, all Colombian food and coffee, and then there is us.
You know all about us.
Can you see Anna being silly in the photo below?

Now you have to walk a bit further along Gertrude Street to get to our final shopping port of call. Sadly at the moment there is a bit of an empty gap but there is treasure at the end- Miss Victoria Mason! (I wouldn't let her take off her tuck shop lady apron for the photo.) Vic is known for her jewellery featuring miniature things from everyday life but she is developing whole ranges at the moment- collaborating with Ghost Patrol, adding to the geometric range and the summer 'hot potato', her lovely colour spot earrings.

So this is our community of little shops. We make the  stuff we sell, we hunt the world for things to fill our shops with, we give good service! We aren't a faceless money sucking entity on the end of your credit card. We will smile and chat (if we aren't too exhausted) and wrap your booty and give you hints and suggestion on where to go for coffee. When you come into our shops you know that by buying something from us you are helping to pay our bills and put food on our Xmas tables. Supporting small businesses and local traders brings life and vitality to an area.
And we are all open up to Xmas eve- then it will be time for a relaxing break! Please come and visit!
Occupy Christmas!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

come and get me......

Jethro has picked up on the Xmas vibe. He really doesn't like 7 days a week shopping, he doesn't like the feeling of being excluded on the other side of the screen door and he is curious about all the fussing and high energy. Yesterday morning he went out the back quite happily but then when I closed the screen door he sat and screamed at it and finally threw himself against it until the door popped open and he ran into the shop like a crazed knife wielding psycho. Luckily we weren't open yet- and it really was quite amusing.
Last night he slept in the shop instead of coming to bed. He took possession of it. Today he has alternated between playing, sleeping on the tea towel shopping bags and now hiding as far under the bunk as he can. He knows there is a point between the bunk and the window display that is almost impossible to reach. We are out of bonito flakes (he knocked the jar off the fridge and was found the other night sitting in the midst of broken glass delicately nibbling flakes) which we resort to in times of cheeky behaviour as a tempting treat.
Since starting to write this post he's finally given in and has retired upstairs. He's leaning against my ankle or climbing on things under the desk as I type.
The shop is open and I need to get to the studio to work on some stuff.
I also need to find baking time.
And hunting for nephew presents.
Oh crap.

Monday, 19 December 2011


I ran off to the city today. I needed some time away from the shop and I desperately needed to run a few errands, like buying a new pair of jeans and getting my eyes tested. Choosing a pair of glasses wasn't fun, rather like trying on bathers, someone really needs to develop new mirrors and lights for shops like this. Do I really look that ugly and blotchy? Sigh.

Poor Anna was left alone in the shop to be bombarded with customers and their questions. Crazily we even had customers who flew down from Sydney just to come buy satchels at the Cottage. And a woman in from Hong Kong clutching a guide featuring our little shop, I'd forgotten all about that reporter and photographer.

Tomorrow I need to run more errands and I must get to the studio at some stage for a couple of hours work. I feel guilty leaving the girls to deal with the Xmas mania but then we have so little room behind the counter for two people.

I found this faux fish in a window if a Japanese restaurant and he just seemed to link back to the Xmas decorations I photographed in the shop before I went out- sequins and scales.
So there is five shopping days to go people.
Don't leave the satchel purchases to the last minute please!
There are other things to buy in the shop.... tea cosies, knitted toys, Frida dresses, baubles and spangles, purses and cushions and shopping totes.... and some chickens that need to be adopted!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

coo coo coo

Normally I try to get a nice Saturday type photo for a Saturday blog post but I just haven't had the time or energy this week. I've just spend 15 minutes trawling through old photos and phone photos to decide on a pic of the necklace Dell made for me. Everyone needs a bit of spectrum in their day. You should see the one she's been sporting! Spectrum on steroids!
Anyway, it is the second last Saturday before Xmas and I am taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly. If you come into the shop and find me in the corner rocking backwards and forwards just wave the pretty spectrum necklace in front of my eyes and coo gently. There are pigeons nesting in the gutter outside and on a quiet morning you can hear this soft cooing vibration through the house. Very relaxing.
So shop stuff of the week has included new indigo tops, new wheat bags, new felt oven gloves in fluoro yellow (as sold out at the DFiles Open House) new tea towel cushions, new feathery Xmas animals and birds and of course the final Cambridge Satchel Co delivery of the year. What a week!
I think one of the things I love most about the lead up to Xmas is getting mail on the weekend. I'm easily pleased.

If I had my way today I would be taking a leave out of Jethro's busy schedule......

Friday, 16 December 2011

shiny xmas baubles

After whipping up the Chutney Club hamper shopping bags I raced off to delightful (not) Derrimut to pick up the last batch of Cambridge Satchels for the year.
Look what we unpacked!
Little 11" satchels in gold and silver foiled leather!
These babies have only just been released and were only available online but we were asked if we would like some and of course we had to say 'yes please!'. They won't be sent out to other shops until next year but we've got them! The Cottage has them! Lovely little 'evening satchels'!
And there are other satchels in too, like 15" navy and 14" fluoro green and 14" fluoro orange, but really these little shiny beauties are making us squeal like 10 year old girls over Bieber. Well maybe not quite that bad........

There maybe 8 more shopping days until Xmas but if you are after a satchel to go under your tree you better hurry!
I'm about to pop a couple of the shiny shiny ones in the online shop if you are interested.


I'm running horrendously late now. When I woke the computer this morning the dictionary screensaver said 'irksome', perhaps it can be a new form of horoscope, interpret it as you will.
I managed to turn my phone to silent and lose it in the bedclothes after a friend texted this morning at a time that is early for me and not so early for a farmer's wife.
I fell back into that deep weird morning sleep that you wake from feeling disorientated and crusty.
I managed to get three things on the manila luggage tag list done yesterday, bunting, lavender bags and wheat bags and also finished a few more tea towel cushions as an added bonus, yay for me. Now I need to sort a few things out here and get off to the studio quick sticks.
Photo shoot #1 happened last night, props for photo shoot #2 go out this afternoon. I really dislike this time of the year for the sheer level of intensity it carries. No time to catch up on anything. Like going to buy a new pair of jeans because the arse has fallen out of your non-repaired pair and you have no time to even patch them, let alone patch your two patched pairs (try saying that after a couple of sherries!). You know what I mean..... frantic.
Anyway instead of blathering I should bugger off and get things sorted out.
I'll try and be more together in my next post.
And definitely less irksome (both to you and to myself).

Thursday, 15 December 2011

before midnight

I actually forced myself to go to bed before 11pm last night, rather than the usual after midnight, and I have to say it was worth it. I drifted about in SleepyLand® and although Jethro mewed and stomped on me a few times I managed to pretty much get a good night's snooze. I am looking forward to the morning I get to sleep in until afternoon.....
I've actually written a list of things I need to get made, it is small and is on a manila shipping tag. Bunting, wheat bags and a couple of other things that have slipped my mind now. I have a photo shoot in the shop tonight after work (quite amusing- we only knew about the article when the photographer rang to make a time and then yesterday the writer turned up out of the blue) and I have to get the bunting done and all the props together for another shoot that's happening on Monday. All of this at crunching Xmas time too.
I forgot to say I've made more Indigo tops and they are in the shop, lovely indigo, coral and white prints in this batch. I need to sort more tea towel cushions too, hmmm, better get dressed and off to the studio me thinks. I might have more interesting things to report tomorrow...... perhaps not.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

silver bullet!

Oh thank you! You shouldn't have! It's just what I wanted for Xmas! How did you know? My very own Airstream! Brilliant (in more ways than one)!

I spied this on the way home from the studio last night. Glinting in the sun. It's just a medium size one but that's fine. If you want to ogle it it's behind Labour in Vain on the corner of Moor and Brunswick Streets- until I steal it that is.

sublime → ridiculous

Things have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous around here. The unsold stock is back from the DFiles Open House, the butcher's twine delivery has arrived, there are boxes of Xmas feathered creatures with nowhere to roost and today I need to get a whole pile of tea towel cushions made and stuffed , where we are going to put the damn things I have no idea. How did the shop get so chock full?

I stayed up late last night and got a batch of clocks done finally. New annuals covers! I'm not a lover of tennis but I do love the tennis cover, she's so fun, I'm much more the girl in the armchair with a pile of books and a box of chocolates. The tuck shop one is inspiring me to get a batch of ginger beer up and running.

Is there something that comes after the ridiculous of  'from the sublime to the ridiculous'? I've just answered the door to our parcel postman and a new batch of tea cosies has arrived...... Ann has been frantically hooking and we now have new versions of the cottage garden flowers and native Australian flora cosies in, they are so beautiful but I'm wondering if it is possible for the shop to pop like an overfull balloon.
The maraschino cherry on the top will be when the latest (and last before Xmas) batch of Cambridge Satchels Co satchels arrive next week. There is something very special coming in this pre-Nativity shipment, something we were exclusively offered........ stay tuned!

I'm off to buy a replacement steambox iron. The organ transplants of the other week took but sadly the iron had other medical issues and burst into flames on Friday afternoon. It will be making an organ donation of any working parts, that is I'll cannibalise it and shove all the parts in a box and then lug them about for the next 10 years until in annoyance I throw them in the bin to only need them a week later. Steambox served me faithfully for a very long time but now I'm off to get the newer, shiny, same-price-even-after-10+ years model.

Sunday, 11 December 2011


Around here Xmas means one really important thing....... it's time for the Chutney Club annual fundraising raffle. Over $900 was raised last year and all the money went to KIVA and Oxfam. If you pop over here you can actually follow the KIVA loans, they really are a donation that keeps on giving, it really is amazing.
The draw is coming up shortly so pop over here are buy some online tickets or come into the Cottage when Dell is about (thursday and friday this week) and pick up a ticket or three.
Not only will you have a chance to win a hamper of chutneyesque goodies but there are other treats being donated as well (including the new Trotski and Ash calendar and perhaps a special Chutney Club shopping tote or three.... hmmm I better get sewing this week).

Being charitable never tasted so good!


I'm here in front of the computer shovelling arepa con huevo  and chorizo, also known as 'latin eggs and bacon', down my gullet and getting my head around being shopgirl today. I've vacuumed and found places for the new batch of pianola shades that arrived yesterday evening. Jethro is running around like a loon, he knows it isn't a normal Sunday and I might need to leave an extra 5 minutes allocated to get him wrangled and out the back. He's already had a photo session in the window with a passing family this morning so he is a bit self absorbed.
The food has started to kick in and I am slowing down a little, not quite so frantic and manic. Another bucket of tea should return me to a state of equilibrium.
Now if it was a usual Sunday I could retire to bed with the weekend papers for a read and a snooze.
If you should visit the Cottage and find me behind the counter snoring, just shake me gently and apply chocolate as need.

The photo above is a piece of work in the Fresh! exhibition at Craft Vic. Sorry I can't remember the maker's name but I love it, it's a fabulous concept. The floating coloured bits in the jars and bottles are photographic portraits of people, it is kind of creepy and beautiful at the same time. A little like the novel 'Perfume'.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

squirrels and owls and indigo cloth are some of my favourite things.....

Anna and Dell have been encouraging me to pull my finger out and start making some clothes for the shop. I keep telling customers they are coming (.... like Xmas blah blah blah...) but I finally managed to get some done yesterday after the aborted start in the middle of the week. That was until the iron finally attempted suicide and had to be unplugged and raced outside. Guess who has to find $750 to buy a new one? Oh well. Even after the repairs of a month ago I suppose it was definitely on its way out, 10+ years is a pretty good run.
So there are two new summer tops on the go, a cotton voile one and this one made from vintage Japanese cotton indigo printed kimono fabrics. It's a variation of one I did about 9 years ago, I'd been thinking about it and then about a month ago a customer came in wearing one of the originals, still in beautiful condition and she asked me to start doing something similar again, strange the way that happens! The first run in this print will be in the shop today and then more next week. I'm going to try to get as many garments done next week as I can. I promise. Truly.
After my arse-about weeks over the last month (lots of running about, hanging around the shop, being called out on weird errands) it felt really good to just spend the day making. Things that frustrated me earlier in the week came easier and problem solving wasn't a problem. I've said it before.... I need to be creative or I fall into a mushy heap of the sads.

We also have some new shop friends. Snowy owls and feathery squirrels. They are in l-u-r-v-e. They are going to get married and have babies.... squowls or owrels, we're not sure which. I think someone was a bit peeved that he'd been chucked over for a squirrel, hope he gets the pea green boat in the divorce settlement.

The shop will be open until 5pm today and remember we'll be open tomorrow too, noon to 4pm-ish.

*We have satchels in stock, not all colours and sizes but a fair whack of them, and we are hoping if Fedex doesn't get totally slammed before Xmas that we will be getting a new batch in in the next week or so. If the Xmas fairies are with us we will also have something special coming in too. Fingers crossed!

Friday, 9 December 2011

not a dirty word

There has been a bit of discussion this year about glitter. Seems some people just don't think glitter is a serious material for professional crafters to use. I've got to say I do love a bit of glitter, I was going to say used sparingly but then I remembered the year I was commissioned to do three shop Xmas fit outs for Ipanema. Everything was covered in glitter and I was shitting glitter for a week after doing that project. Friends left my house covered in glitter, there was a trail of glitter through Fitzroy for months afterwards. It was a very messy business.
And very very amusing.
I used some of the props in my first Xmas window here at the Cottage and a friend sent through a photo a couple of weeks ago of one of the glitter dressmaking dummies sitting in her kitchen. I checked this morning to see if there was a word for 'glitter phobia' (type in glitter phobia name'), suggestions came up included 'sparkalaphobia' but I liked the person who suggested 'loonacy' (sic). A little or a lot, glitter is just great (except when I keep knocking over jars of the stuff and watch it being trampled into the rug). I used to buy the stuff by the kilogram and by the 5 kilo bag. Miss l'Uccello has special real silver coated glitter, the high quality 'uncut' stuff, no filler or additives there.
I think the only no-no with glitter is that it should never appear on the skin of anyone over 18.

Glitter, it's not a dirty word.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


You can always tell if I'm a bit over stretched at this time of year- I start baking. In this case I have developed an addiction to perfecting a decent loaf of sourdough. A fair chunk of this little loaf was devoured with my other addiction, artisan butter, slathered on the top.
I managed to get a chunk of today in the studio but I can't say with any confidence that anything worthy actually came out of. I did grade the scarf dress pattern which was a bit of a bugger to get my head around. I played with a new design but really how could something so simple be so hard to do?! I'm out of condition!
It was a bit crazed in the shop today and I am warning you if you are hankering for a satchel for Xmas you better get your skates on, we are already out of some colours/sizes. We've now entered the end of the year count down and I really should be getting myself in gear to finish a few things, I've left a good deal of things to the last minute.

And I keep forgetting- we will be open from noon until 4pm for the next two Sundays. Please visit!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

satchel madness

Yesterday afternoon there was a mad dash to Derrimut again to pick up 4 huge boxes containing our lastest satchel order. Amazing what I can get in the Nissan Pulsar hatchback...... especially as I had actually cleaned the back of the car out this time unlike last time. I almost ran out of petrol in the darkest Derrimut but was lucky enough to notice the mileage (petrol gauge is wonky) in time to pull into a station and fill the little warhorse up.
Once home I dragged the boxes in, all 60+kg, and annoyed Anna with boxes, satchels, marking off stock and generally being all over the place and stressed. I then left her boxed in and went off to a meeting in the city but my penance was having to spend 3 and 1/2 hours when I got home sorting it all out and finding somewhere to put it all. I even managed to pop some of the damn things online at cottageindustry.bigcartel at about midnight last night! Not everything we can sell online is up yet but amazingly some of it is!!

The satchels drive me a bit crazy sometimes and especially when I have to deal with people's obsession with them. Yesterday a customer made me cry when she got shitty when we offered to help her open the satchel and suggested when she refused our help that she place the satchel on the counter to make it easier. She walked out say she'd get it online and then walked back in to vent with 'I'm an adult you know!'. We like to help our customers with the satchels as they can be tricky to unbuckle when new and when you are balancing one in one hand whilst juggling bags and keys and phones. It's also not just display stock but stock we have to sell so we don't want it getting damaged in any mishap. They are pretty tough but like any leather product  they can get marked and of course customers want to buy a pristine one not one that is soiled in any way.
I really think modern retail has a lot to answer for. I think people hanker for the days of customer service and yet at the same time get annoyed when help is offered. It's a conundrum. I think most of our customers (the nice ones)  like the advice and help we try to give them here at the Cottage. We will never talk you into something just for a sale and we are always honest if we feel something doesn't fit or suit a customer (in the nicest possible way of course) and will try to find a better alternative.
Xmas is just the hardest time for people's fraught expectations and demands.
And my family wonders why I just want to be left alone in my room reading and snoozing on Xmas day.

And have I told you the Cottage has a Facebook page.......? I'm not a huge fan of the social media (I find it a bit like the popular girl at school collecting friends and acquaintances) but go on make us feel 'loved'!

Monday, 5 December 2011

cockatoo too

Why is it that on a Sunday when I can sleep in and I end up awake before 8am and on a Monday when I should be up and out I am still lolling about under the covers? It probably didn't help this morning that when I did come upright for the first time I had a splitting headache arcing over my left eye. My head went back on the pillow after that rude awakening. Jethro, who always likes a good lie in, did his nagging best to get me out of bed, not for any food related reasons but because he knows which days are work days and which are for snoozing and lazing.
I don't seem to be getting very far today. We have an extremely large shipment of satchels sitting out at Fedex in Derrimut and I am working out whether I can strap 4 quite big boxes to my Nissan Pulsar to get them back here today. It's like waiting to unwrap your presents at Xmas, I just can't wait! Three in the back, one on the roof rack? Two in the back, two on the roof? Hmmmm.
Talking of presents, I've been lusting after one of the Heico cockatoo lamps ever since I first spied them. I should have snaffled one from Alison at Markit but it all seemed to busy and crazy. Of course it worked its way into my brain and by last Monday I had ordered one. He's my treat to myself for doing Markit and getting stock to TDF Open House. Here he is talking to plaster cocky, I love him.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

bursting at the seams

Yet again last night I spent hours unpacking boxes and moving stuff around in the shop. I don't have enough horizontal, vertical or any other type of space. I made some new vintage linen cushions yesterday and now the lower level of the bunk is chock full, next week I start the tea towel cushions and then we really will be in trouble. Bursting at the seams indeed.

To top it all off Mr McEwan delivered a box full of the most beautiful brooches late yesterday. Simon works to his own clock and sometimes there can be a bit of a wait but when they arrive (no matter how overdue!) they really take our collected breath away. Who could not fall in love with a moonlit owl on the hunt? Simon has been ripped off and copied by shops like Top Shop and Dangerfield who have bought pieces from shonky Asian sweatshops but with his original handcut pieces (yep that's right they are all handcut not laser cut) you fall in to a dreamworld of chiaroscuro beauty. In the Minuet range we have Barn Owl, Bandicoot, Elephant and Rabbit and we also have some of the wood series and the lapel pins. The lapel pins are tiny and often very amusing, a polar bear on an iceberg, a glass of milk, bees and birds and miniature fox stoles with tiny handcut noses and silver eyes.

There was a another delivery of wooden deer and extra large glass domes too and these gorgeous deer ornaments. They look tiny but the larger one is about 18cm high and the smaller about 13cm. They are made of heavyweight resin and are really rather beautiful. Definitely not Bambi but a bit more Art Deco in a strange way.
OK people it's now time to officially start the Xmas hunt. I need you to come in and make some room in the shop for me by taking stuff home. We have a HUGE satchel order arriving early next week and I need to find room for four very large boxes. Once those boxes have been unpacked we will start calling everyone and let them know what colours and sizes we have available.
Guess who's going to be moving stock around in the shop yet again?

And! As well! Also!
Don't forget last two days of The Design Files Open House and last day of Marché Rouge at L'Uccello!