Monday, 24 December 2012

i see food

So we are finally here!
This is Xmas Eve.
I was up before 6 to go to the Vic Market. I think I only go because I love the behind the scenes bustle, looking through the backdoors into the seafood stalls. The Prosser boys were going crazy in the laneway with hoses and plastic troughs and prawns sloshing about, back in my cooking days I used to love buying from these strapping lads! I bought some cherries, apricots and grapes and sleepily headed back to the car. I dropped by de Chirico and picked up some bread on the way back, the girl was grumpy because people kept knocking on the door an hour early... hell, it's Xmas Eve!
So back home and back into bed with iced tea and an almond croissant. Of course my crazy neighbour decided to do a huge 'clean' out the back this morning (and last night at 10pm) but I wasn't in the mood for another argy-bargy with him. Our plans for a restraining order has to wait for the new year when we are all less time consumed. Good will to all men....
I'm opening the shop at 10 today and will close once the street empties later in the afternoon. The house is a mess, crap from one end to the other, boxes that need sorting and dust bunnies that need sucking up. I even need to get the couch quilt and cover washed, yesterday would have been perfect had I been more organised!
Is there a storm due this afternoon? I remember a huge Xmas Eve a few years ago when a friend and I got stuck in the shop right on close as rain bucketed down. We had the old front windows then and there was water pouring in everywhere. It seems like Xmas is always good for a downpour.
Anyway enough drivel from me.
We are open todya and then the Cottage will be having a short break and will re-open on the 2nd of January 2013.
I hope you all have a lovely Festivus and eat way too many cherries (I know I will be!). I plan to have a quiet one lolling about and reading the day away.
Much love to you all and thank you for your support!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

twas the day before the night before xmas

Random studio shot from when I was testing the light up there.
I'm opening the shop at 11 today. It's going to be hot hot hot but the shop is usually (relatively) lovely and cool on days like these. Jethro is hiding under the cushion bunk at the moment, he loathes Xmas as the shop is open everyday and it cramps his style somewhat. He views Sunday as a relaxation day, I am promising him a whole week (and a bit) of 'shop closed' as of 5pm Monday afternoon.
So today is 11-4 and tomorrow 10-4 0r 5 depending on when everyone disappears off the streets or I get bored.
I need to get the box of cherries in for the Xmas. The plan is bed, books and cherries, awash with buckets of tea.
OK better go and vacuuming.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

it's not the end... but we are getting very close

This is going to be quick....
Just about to open the shop for the day (keep getting sidetracked by early customers).
I'll be here until 5pm and opening again in the morning (will confirm time...).
Eating Beatrix brioche doughnuts to keep me going (bad I know but oh so good).
You can phone if you want to enquire about anything, email if you have lost your voice, FB if you are that way inclined or just drop in (you will have to decide how you would like to interface with us.... ha ha).
Must dash.
The world hasn't ended so retail goes on.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

i am beautiful, you are beautiful, let's be beautiful together

Jethro and I have just arisen from a nanna nap.
Whoa, the day was ON before we were ON! I didn't manage to eat breakfast and it took me until after 3pm to get it, stone cold, down my throat. I need to be much more prepared tomorrow let me tell you. Jethro is looking at me here disappointed at my lack of organisation. Perhaps I also need a thermos of tea prepared. Better snacks.
I am wondering when I will get a chance to make gingerbread. I tend to do it while I float about as shop reinforcement. Oh well, perhaps I will post it out after Xmas.
On the mail front.... if you are after something I can still Express Post out tomorrow but you must place the order by 2pm so I can wrap and get it to the post office. No promises it will arrive by Monday but you might be lucky.
Our scarves arrived yesterday and I hung them on the wall where we normally have the blanket quilts hanging. The scarves are beautiful. The colours amazing. Jethro thinks they make a worthy backdrop to his posing.
As you can tell I am still deliriously tired and can't string words together, might be best if I sign off now before I dribble on the keyboard.....
I'm attempting to get the shop open by 10am  (11am on Sunday) which means I better get some snooze in and remember to set my alarm.


A right arse of a day yesterday. I really should have stayed in bed I think! Frazzled and fried and frustrating. Then my iPhone melted down and had to be restored and I lost a pile of messages and photos...... and, in fact, in the restoration a huge pile of old photos seem to have been put back into my phone. This is not a good time of the year Technology for you to play havoc with my brain space! I'm sure there is a built in chip that makes these things play up when you are least in the right frame of  mind to deal with it. I am currently attempting a HUGE phone photo download and scrub, fingers crossed it doesn't send the phone into further conniptions.
I've also had a shouting match this morning with the crazy neighbour from down the road who thinks he is garbage monitor. The Holiday Season, what fun thou art. Whilst I am all for peace and goodwill to fellow men/women/animals, around here things can get a little inner city/mental health challenged/challenging.
After this bad start I am trying to meditate and relax as we head into the Final Countdown! A stressed and annoyed me is seriously not a good thing to have about. I am well aware of this! We need laughter and lighthearted amusements! Mugs of tea and snacks! Jethro high jinx! And perhaps a bit of present wrapping.
I have to pop off now and get the shop in order, check what we might be desperate for and whether I need to go to the studio and do a bit of making. The cushions are in a right tumble and they need a good sort out before we open the doors this morning. Cushion re-arranging is a difficult job with a shop full of people!
Anyway sorry to have bored you with phone talk and neighbourhood tensions.
This was written earlier today, about 8.30 in the morning.
Lets just say by about 1.30pm things had gone pear shaped.
On my way back from a meeting I ended up being verbally abused by the Crazy Neighbour (now spelt with capitals) and blocked from entering my own shop. I dialled 000, yep, police, the whole hog (so to speak). And out of their shops came the whole of the street, all my good neighbours, coming with support and reports. The police were great but I was, after all this, just a bit shaken and stirred. We are talking Restraining Orders and police reports.
People describe this time of the year as the 'Crazy/Silly Season', I've decided it's actually an understatement, it should be 'Right Bloody Nutcase of a Season'. Some years just seem worse than others. Friends have reported bad drivers, loony pedestrians, frayed tempers and general madness. Be careful out there on the roads folks. Look both ways crossing the street. And take it easy.

Monday, 17 December 2012

avoiding retailmas (unsuccessfully)

I've opted for a calming photo of Jethro the Cat today.
Lying in bed this morning I thought these posts were probably getting frightfully Xmas-centric and needed more cat-pics. So here's my housemate sitting atop a ladder after I closed the shop yesterday... argh trading on a Sunday, so uncivilised! Jethro knows the days of the week and loathes having the shop open on our usual day of rest. He sat on the other side of the screen door and mewed pathetically and later resorted to jumping on the mesh and hanging there staring at customers. We are looking forward to Xmas Day.
I am off to the studio shortly. There are some things to finish and some special orders for customers to do.  I must get to Officeworks too- remind me please! So here I am trying not to talk about anything Retailmas but to be honest it's just not going to work, life is centred on that at the moment. I'm planning which bills I will pay each day after the banking comes through, this is the way of the Xmas. And I am hoping to get some gingerbread baking in too although I am not feeling too hopeful on that front as it will involve the cleaning of the kitchen as well.
Ok better bust a move. I still have the shop to put to rights as I walk out the door.

Saturday, 15 December 2012


It was so dark at 8.00 this morning I could have crawled back under the covers, even the birds were doing their 'let's all hunker down' singing. I ventured out of course, got soaked in a tropical storm that only really lasted 5 minutes and came home to scoff hot Babka baguette lathered in butter, well worth the drenching.
I was a busy little mailchimp until 1am last night but finally managed to get the Xmas mail out down. It dawned on me this morning that I should have used 'socks' not 'jocks' in the subject line but it was late and I was tired. And I've just realised that all this will make no sense if you didn't get it via email.... duh!... it went out with that famous childhood Xmas carol with the doctored line of 'the shepherds washed their jocks/socks by night'. I've never been sure if it was a mondegreen or a result of sniggering childishness.
If you are feeling the need for a bit of Xmas crafting there is an article in today's Age newspaper that I submitted stuff for, 'Sixpack to spark creativity'. The fabulous Carolyn Fraser and lovely Kim Hurley from L'Uccello were also part of it. (The online links are a bit all over the place but I am sure you know where to find all of us.) I did two styles of market purses and there are some handy hints included in my instructions (hopefully surviving editing!) like not clipping corners when turning through the purses. They are simple but work out lovely and are great for kids to do with a little help. Let me know if you do them if the instructions were easy to follow.
So I'm ticking a few boxes. Mailchimp send out done, budgies unpacked, trade bead necklaces dyed and drying in front of the oven, shop floor mopped,  restocked the satchels that have sold, pianola shades picked up and in the shop, a few Xmas presents sorted, CWA Classics cookbook back in stock and we've also got copies of CWA Cake, Biscuits and Preserves now (they are the chapters on these subjects from the big CWA Classics printed as separate cookbooks, great for vegetarians who might get freaked out by the mutton bird stew recipes in the big edition).... there is a lot more to do this week.
Like make gingerbread biscuits.
And work in the shop.
And sit in front of the fan and curse the stupid humidity.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Wednesday. How did that happen??
I spent most of this hot day in the car (don't I wish I had aircon...) and ran around picking up stock and supplies. We've got a whole new batch of pianola shades in finally, I've made a new range of floral tea towel cushions and our fabulous Queen of Crochet has sent down some tea cosies for our little enamel tea pots. She's also made us some new little 4x4 square afghans perfect for use on prams and cuddling little people and also a few 6x6 ones as well.
The Cottage is like a crazed floral rainbow (?) at the moment, the satchels, the cushions, cockatoo lamps, embroidered tops..... amusing really as once upon a time by designing was all about black, black and a touch of grey. Colour- I think it's all from having Dell Queen of the Rainbow around!
I'm trying to get a newsletter out but I keep changing my mind or not concentrating and now time is ticking. Tomorrow I must do it! I must also get studio stuff done, go to the dentist, get Graham the Garbo in, make more stuff as from next Thursday I will be full time shopgirl right up until 5pm Xmas Eve.
Wish me luck!

Monday, 10 December 2012

dog day

After a right shit of a weekend we opened the shop door this morning to a wave of lovely customers. People who smiled and said hello and chatted and laughed. Thank you.
Then I hunkered down to await the delivery of the rest of our satchel stock. Fedex you really suck sometimes but you do make up for it when you know you having been bad. many phone calls later a lovely delivery lady wheeled three trolley loads full from around the corner where she'd been lucky enough to find a parking spot. The satchels priced and the boxes carted upstairs and I am now living in a room with its own cardboard fort. Jethro is not sure whether it is a giant scratching post or a play fort which he climbs and surveys his kingdom from (Jethro and his own little Game of Thrones).
We've got so many colours and sizes of satchel we don't know where to put them all. It's all a bit crazed in the shop...... perhaps we are lucky that the pianola lampshades are still not delivered.
OK. Here are the satchels.....
11" fluoro yellow, fluoro green, fluoro orange, fluoro pink, cobalt,purple, green,red, yellow, pink,vintage brown, oxblood
13" fluoro green, fluoro pink, fluoro yellow, green, red,oxblood, vintage brown, yellow, cobalt
14" fluoro pink, fluoro yellow, fluoro green, red, cobalt,green, yellow, dark brown, black,vintage brown, oxblood
15" fluoro green, dark brown, vintage brown, red,cobalt,oxblood, yellow,green, purple, pink, fluoro pink

Time to go do other things.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

sunday morning sermon

Sunday morning.
Shattered after a night of nightmares and fraught feelings.
I'm a fairly quiet type, all for the peaceful life and sometimes I find being on public show at the shop quite overwhelming. Well yesterday managed to be one of those days that knocks me about. It seems we got the overflow from the Big Design Market and being the first shop they get to I got all manner of unpleasant behaviour.
Everyone who has worked at the Cottage has  commented on how lovely our customers are, how different from other shops and maybe it is because of this, when we get someone nasty it hits like a sledgehammer. Yesterday I had the woman out to copy stock, a couple more who wanted to pick fights and be nasty, strange comments about the shop and about BDM, people who walked into the shop three paces and then huffed and walked out.... it just went on all day. Luckily I had a few friends and old customers who came by to sweeten the mix.
In situations like this I put peoples behaviour down to different styles of shopping. Most people I know shop local, shop independent and are aware that the person in the shop is quite probably the owner and works long and hard to create a retail space that is very close to their heart and personal and that having a small business is a very stressful thing. It also seems that many people at the moment think that it is OK to ask for a discount (thank you media) and those attending markets still think with a bargain hunter's market mentality. A chain store can handle a discount because, guess what, they factor it in, do you think they don't make money when a sale is on?
Anyway, here finishes the Sunday Morning Sermon.
I'm in the shop from noon to 4 and I'm not in the mood to deal with anyone's crap.
Maybe everyone will be better behaved today now that the cool change has come through.

Mrs Jones it's your turn to do the flowers next week and fill the tea urn.
Tea and cake will be served in the vestry and could the last out switch off the lights.
Thank you.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

hot sauce

I'm sneezing like.... ummm.... a kitten whose been playing under a couch. There is heat on the way today and a wind that is kicking up dust and pollen from all the plants that have gone wild from all their rain encouraged growth spurts and flowering. Hayfever in December.
It's been a crazy week at the Cottage. The excitement of the satchels arriving, the disappointment of 11 boxes delivered and 9 taking a slow boat from China (they will be here on Monday first thing supposedly....). The excitement of the bilums arriving, the disappointment of them sending the wrong ones (the ones we received are great just not the style I spent 6 months emailing about....). We restocked our enamelware after selling out on some styles/colours and a new batch of anodised milkshake beakers came in (new violet colour, still waiting on red....).
What else? I finished the scarf dresses made from vintage scarves, whipped up some tea towel cushions, made new vintage floral linen cushions and a pile of our industrial felt oven mitts (now with black, hot pink, orange, bright yellow and turquoise binding) and put out our new range of 'make your presents attractive' Xmas ribbons.
I went to the Big Design Market yesterday to check it all out. I visited all my favourite people there and looked at a lot of stuff a friend of mine described as 'same same but not different'. There is a strong sense of incestuous copying going on, it would be amusing if it wasn't also more than a little disheartening for those people who design and create excellent product. I'm wondering whether and when there will be a shift away from the marketeering approach to retail and the type of products sold in that type of environment. Anyway, there was tacos available at BDM, which is always fabulous, although I burnt my mouth in a hot sauce accident with a Taco Truck fish taco and my tongue was still numb hours later. The high price to pay for pigging out on tacos at 11 in the morning!
Damn! Where has this morning gone?? I better get moving! Shopgirl today and tomorrow. We have half our satchels in so please drop in if you want one (or two or three) and lots of other stock too!

Friday, 7 December 2012

and a cockatoo too

At the end of a fractured day yesterday I finally got into the studio and worked until sunset. When I had studios at home late nighters were common but these days my work is often split between things I do in the studio in daylight hours and things I do at home in the evenings. Once I got over the grizzly hump of wanting to be at home vegetating on the couch I settled into the work. I took comfort in my plastic cockatoo friend who kept watch from the windowsill.
I left a note in the wheatbag display tray yesterday apologising for running out so they were one of the main reasons for doing a sewing cram last night. Done. And we needed tea towel cushions. Done. And we were low on linen floral cushions as well. Done.
This morning, as Fedex has broken my heart (the other half of our delivery has got 'lost' in transit again and I'm waiting to hear if it will appear today as promised) I'm going off to the Big Design Market to have a stickybeak and chat to lovely people I know. Once again I had a moment of 'crap, should I be doing it?' when I ran into someone I know who is going to be there. I really should stay away from some people who mess with my head.So the market is on up the road and I will be in the shop all weekend, come and visit if you are in the area!
I'm doing my pre-Xmas retailer's panic if you haven't guessed. It's compounded by the bloody satchel slow-boat-to-China style of delivery and six months of plans falling through. Please forgive me if I seem frayed around the edges. I'll calm down soon. Perhaps I should just stroll around stroking a plastic cockatoo clutched in my arms. Or rock gently back and forth sitting outside under the magnolia tree. Ha!
OK, I'm starting to giggle now. Just not sure whether it is in amusement of my own wit or that the top is about to blow off my head. If you hear a steam whistling sound and a pop-and-splatter you know which it is.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

half a shipment better than none

So it appears that half our satchel stock hopped on a direct flight from Paris and the rest took a slow boat to China, then Singapore and is making its way leisurely to Sydney ⇒ Derrimut ⇒ Fitzroy. Hopefully it will all be here by Friday. It was great getting the stock today though and we've unpacked a whole pile. CamSat have got their act together and they now have lovely perfect sized cartons with inserts and they even list all the stock in each box on the outside- after the lunacy of past deliveries this was absolute heaven! They were an easy size to lug around and I don't think I've put my back out too much this time.
While waiting for the delivery I loaded a pile of stock into the new online store, enamelware, milkshake beakers, satchels, cushions, purses, salt and pepper shakers..... We have worked out postage into three prices depending on the total and all shipping in Australia is via Australia Post Express Satchels. If you want to order from the Rest of the World we will work out the shipping and let you know the total. We are using PayPal at the moment as it's always been the easiest way to go. If you have a special request we can set up a sale just for you, just drop me an email!
I worked hard in the studio yesterday and got the scarf dresses done finally, they are in the shop, a few in each size. We've been waiting since June for the satchel order but have also been waiting for our bilum order to arrive. Dealing with intermittent email access in Papua New Guinea has been an absolute pain in the patootie. Yesterday the shipment arrived. I'm going to do a post all about the bilums when a get a little time in the next few days.
OK that's it for the business-y stuff.
Time to go read my book and get some sleep.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

leicester, stansted, paris, stansted, poyle, stansted, paris.......

Seriously this Fedex tracking app is driving me crazy. Our satchels seem to just be bouncing between Stansted and Paris, with stop-overs in Leicester and Poyle. I have visions of satchels flying in formation, like birds going north/south for the Winter/Summer, wheeling and dipping over the countryside, a huge V of leather-y goodness, their buckles glinting in the light.
They are meant to be here by Friday, as in 'here, in shop', I'm thinking that is slipping out of our grasp each day. Come on Fedex! Pull your finger out! I want my satchels here NOW!

Monday, 3 December 2012

tied, tired, tried

There may have been a bit of a sleep in this morning. Monday morning between 8 and 9 is now my Sunday. Thanks to everyone who dropped in yesterday and also thanks to the people who crossed the river from TDF-OH to buy things as apparently they had sold out of some of my stock. I seem to have quite a bit to do in the studio this week. Today though I have to catch up on ordering and tracking shipments and answering emails.
The huge satchel order (20 boxes I believe....... gulp!) is on its way but the online tracking is scaring me a little as the damn things seem to be jumping backwards and forwards between various airports in Britain and occasionally popping up in Paris. I'd been hoping like the last big shipment that this one would magically appear in 2 1/2 days.... a watched shipment never arrives.... the other shipment we are waiting on is stuck in Brisbane it seems. I am not sure that online tracking is a great thing, I just get even more impatient watching as shipments circle the globe!
Better get started on things.
Lots to do and catch up on.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

thud (a girl can dream)

A quick sprint up country yesterday. I didn't stay long but I got to see one of my favourite derelict houses, perhaps not so derelict as a new roof went on a few years back.I love its big sash windows and its sunbleached weatherboards (makes me think Kevin McCloud 'the larch cladding will fade to grey'). I imagine this house with a veranda/deck running around it, sitting as if on a raft in a sea of meadow/paddock. Pretty much what you see here, except I am living in it.

Back to Earth.
Saturday shopgirl.
Still humid but much cooler (weather not shopgirl....).
A sore wrist from lugging a bag of stock around in a very stupid manner.
I've misplaced my current favourite necklace, annoying, and need to make more of them for the shop.
We are in a 'holding pattern' at the moment waiting for shipments to arrive. We have now entered the countdown until Xmas and it is always a bit scary! Do we have enough stock, do we have the right stock, will people come, are we open long enough, when can I get my Xmas baking done, will I be civil enough to work the four days leading up to Xmas by myself?
We got our tea towel cushions and silver satchel in yesterday The Age (Melbourne) Magazine 100 Gift Guide.... what a mouthful.... pictures are over on FB. Be warned there aren't many metallic satchels left so you better be quick, not like last year when we had the green in the gift guide and a guy turned up on Xmas Eve expecting there to be one left, you could see the panic in his eyes when we said 'no, sold out weeks ago'.
Xmas shopping hours start today so that means we are open everyday up 'til 5pm on the 24th of December. That means I have to get out of bed tomorrow and open the shop- 12noon until 4pm- not too arduous really. Please come and visit. I must remember to change all of the times in all of our 'social media platforms' (ha).
OK time to get a move on. See you when I open the shop at 11am.