Sunday 13 December 2009


I have written before about the makeover I had done on my bedroom when I was about 11. I chose a sunny yellow colour paint for the walls and some lovely matching bed linen but I forgot to mention the new paper lantern I got, that hung in the middle of the ceiling. It was big and round – sky blue in colour with white fluffy clouds all over it. I would lie in bed and look up at it - delighted by the fact that it was made of paper and could fold down flat. I can’t remember where it came from – but I loved it and of course that was the beginning of my love of paper lanterns.

I have had various versions of the afore mentioned lantern – in an assortment of colours and sizes over the years and have also bought many of the decorative Chinese paper lanterns and hung lots of them along extended strings across the huge kitchen of an old shop I used to live in. I also think they are great for decorating the house during festive times – especially parties and I’m always on the lookout for different ones to add to my collection. One of the bonuses of course are that they are super cheap.

When I was in Japan – I saw heaps of different lanterns on mass – they were simply stunning and almost magical – when seen all lit up against the evening sky. I have also recently learnt of sky lanterns which are airborne paper lanterns that can be released into the night sky for aesthetic effect at lantern festivals or weddings (as an alternative to fireworks). A similar concept to hot air balloons, sky lanterns are made from a non-flammable bio-degradable rice paper and have a specially designed wick for burning. Once lit, the lantern rises up into the sky creating the most magical and exquisite scene. Then when the wick burns out the sky lantern just floats gracefully back down to earth. I wish I had known about them when I got married – they would have been perfect at our winter solstice wedding.

Paper lanterns have long been symbols of joy and celebration and that is definitely the feeling I get when I see them displayed on mass. They definitely make my heart sing.

Monday 7 December 2009

Laminex Tables

I have always loved laminex kitchen tables. Of course my penchant for colour has probably got something to do with it. The vibrant, yellow, blue, green and red (my favourite) tables with their shiny chrome legs and trim – always seemed to sparkle to me – especially as a child when I was closer to the ground in height.

For years I searched for a red laminex kitchen table with matching chairs….they are difficult to come by these days – at least in the colour and condition I wanted. Finally one day the universe offered one up via a dear friend. The table set had been in his family for years. Bought new it lived in his grandfathers kitchen and then in his brothers kitchen before being adopted by me.

We live in an Art Deco styled white weatherboard house where the kitchen (located in the centre of the house) is definitely where all the action happens. The heart of our home then would surely have to be the red laminex table and chairs where our family sits down to share meals every day, craft activities are executed, cups of tea are drunk and newspapers read, conversations are exchanged and meals are prepared.

The chrome still shines, the table top has been wiped a thousand times and still looks good and the matching red and grey vinyl chairs could do with being re-upholstered but considering how old she is – I reckon she is doing a fine job of making our house a home.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Kitsch Religious Iconography

Yesterday as I wandered around the house deciding which items from my small collection of kitsch religious iconography I was going to photograph for this entry, I noticed one thing in particular. The images I am most attracted to are of mother and child or various incarnations of Devi, the mother goddess.

I am particularly fond of Laksmi who is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity, light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. She is believed to protect her devotees from all kinds of misery and money-related sorrows.

I think I’m also attracted to these images because they portray the essence of female energy and life force (shakti). Every now and then their colours capture my attention and they make me smile…..thank goddess or should I say goodness?

Monday 23 November 2009

Kilt pins

Nothing goes to waste in my studio. I have bags and bags of fabric scraps and of course lots of small pieces of the upcycled felted woollen jumpers I use for my Cast offs scarves and blankets. I am always thinking of things I can make with the scraps – my ultimate satisfaction is to design and make a product from the waste, generated from the affluent society I am fortunate enough to live in.

I have always been attracted to everyday objects that others may overlook. I have no idea why but things like pegs, matchboxes, safety pins, snap lock bags and corks are the kinds of funny things I like and of course I have a fondness for kilt pins.

They are functional and yet beautifully formed. They can be worn in both a practical and decorative manner - such as protecting a Scotsman’s modesty, fastened as a brooch on a scarf or wrap or used to pin your cardigan together.

I had been making brooch like kilt pins with dangly things hanging off for a while – my focus was shifting and I wanted to make a flower type brooch from my wool scraps. I was sitting in my studio snipping flowers in various sizes – playing around with layering them together and wondering how I could join them without using a button sewn in the centre – that seemed so predictable and somehow unoriginal.

That’s where my kilt pin epiphany moment comes in. I needed a stem for my flower brooch – but also something that would join the layered flowers together and fasten the flower to your scarf or cardigan. Once I had made a few and worn them a bit – I knew I was onto something. Cast offs Botanical Kilt pins were born and almost 700 kilt pins later…..I think they have been a definite winter winner.

Monday 9 November 2009

Kewpie Dolls

How sweet are Kewpie Dolls! From the moment I first saw one – I was in LOVE – which makes sense as their name, often shortened to "Kewpies", is derived from "cupid", the Roman god of beauty and non-platonic love.

I just think they are so appealing – their cute, chubby little bodies and cheeks. They remind me of my little 15 month old son Milo at the moment – who absolutely LOVES eating but is yet to walk – so everyday he seems a little rounder and once those little legs get going it will all fall off and he will be ACTION toddler. Oh no….what am I in for!

Of course – Kitty and I have a wee collection of Kewpies. Which we love. Some tiny and some big. We are yet however to get a giant Kewpie – which I would totally love. It’s one of those things though…there is always something else to spend my money on!

Kewpie Dolls

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Karmann Ghias

We have just got back from a lovely beach holiday in Apollo Bay. For anyone that knows this neck of the woods – a big part of the journey (my husband says ‘half the holiday is the getting there – so you may as well enjoy it’) is the drive down an amazing stretch of coastline called the Great Ocean Road.

And it is just that – a road that twists and turns along a cliff side overlooking the most beautiful coastline and ocean. The perfect kind of drive to be done in a Karmann Ghia…..which apparently is also known as ‘the poor man’s Porsche’.

The thing with being a Mother of small children though is that cars like Karmann Ghias – are just not at all practical. Let’s face it – the only reason I traded in my beautiful, white 1963 AP5 Valiant (I actually cried when the man who bought her came to take her away) is because I was about to become a Mother. And well, Mothers don’t tend to drive their new born babies around in old Valiants or Karmann Ghias for that matter.

Now that I have two children and a business that requires me to often cart around a whole lot of STUFF – my chances of having my very own red poor man’s Porsche is just going to have to wait………but as they say – ‘NEVER say NEVER’!

Wednesday 21 October 2009


I am a huge fan of travelling to countries where I know someone who lives there. Over the years on my various trips I have been lucky enough to visit and stay with friends and friends of friends who have all been able to show me a side of the country I am visiting that perhaps I would not see if I did not know anyone.

Way back in 2003 – I took myself off to Japan for 3 weeks to stay with my soon to be Brother and Sister-in-law who were living and working (teaching English – as you do) in Tokyo. Using them as a base I spent a few days with them and then packed myself a smaller backpack and took off on the Shinkansen fast tracking my way around the island known as Honshu with stops at Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Hiroshima and Yokohama.

I had always wanted to travel to Japan – ever since we’d had Akiko the Japanese exchange student stay with us when I was a girl. I had also studied the Japanese language at high school for 4 years and of course just adored all the cutesy little things like the Little Twinstars sharpeners, pencils and erasers my Mother had bought for me when I was small. So you see – I was very excited to finally be in Japan.

The main things that struck me whilst I was there were the fact that I felt absolutely 100% safe at all times – even going out by myself at night and walking back to my Ryokan down little side streets and laneways and the striking diversity and beauty of the Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples versus the busy fast paced streets of Tokyo and the larger cities. Both were equally amazing and striking in their own ways. And without a doubt the food! Yum Yum – my mouth waters just thinking about it especially the takoyaki (octopus balls) in Osaka. I was in food heaven!

The photos above are just a small sample of the many I took on my journey. One of my favourite shots is of the cherry blossom decoration I spotted on a grate on the footpath. What an amazing place. If you ever get the chance to visit – I highly recommend it.

Wednesday 7 October 2009


Whenever I get food cravings it is usually for Asian food of some kind – more often than not it is for Japanese food. There is something about Japanese food that really appeals to me – the light delicate flavours, the relatively healthy use of ingredients (unless of course I am tucking into tempura!) and the clean, freshness of its preparation.

Working in the city for so many years meant that more often than not a couple of nori rolls were my standard lunch. Then one day I spied these yummy looking pouches of fried tofu, filled with sushi rice and topped with crab meat or seaweed. Yep – I’ll try one of those thanks. Well – from that moment on I was completely hooked. The sweetness of the rice is a complete delight and well what can I say they are just totally delicious! I was in LOVE.

Apparently Inari-zushi (stuffed sushi) is named after the Shinto god Inari, whose messenger, the fox, is believed to have a fondness for fried tofu. Lucky for me the fox is happy to share.

Monday 28 September 2009

Haighs Chocolate Frogs

For years I worked in Melbourne’s CBD – everyday I’d make the journey into the city by train, walking from the station to work and back again. One of the hazards of this journey was passing the Haighs Chocolate shop on Collins Street and if I went up to Chinatown for one of my favourite lunches - Dumpling noodle soup – I’d journey past the Haighs shop on Swanston Street.

From my first ever taste - those chocolate frogs became almost an obsession. I would buy a bag to share with work colleagues during afternoon tea or a meeting….supposedly to keep the morale of the team up, but all it did was made me crave them even more.

Friends and colleagues would buy me a bag for my desk drawer so that I could have a little pick me up if I was feeling low….the problem with that though is you get into the habit of having a little ‘pick me up’ nibble everyday and before you know it….well we know what happens to ‘pears’ if they indulge too much…..they become ‘oranges’.

Now that I work from home – I don’t have the opportunity or it seems the time to even think about eating chocolate frogs – so they have been put in the ‘treat’ category. It seems the only time I really get to eat them is if some kind, lovely, generous person buys me a bag as a gift….hint, hint…oh and I LOVE the super-duper giant green foil wrapped ones too……..

Monday 21 September 2009

Grass Roots Magazine

I was about 15 when I discovered Grass Roots Magazine. It really appealed to my burgeoning inner hippie and over the last 20 years of reading it – I have learnt all matter of things pertaining to living a self sufficient lifestyle. Everything from keeping chooks and growing veggies to composting, cooking and building using alternative materials like straw bales. I am torn you see – between the life I live in the city and the romantic life I dream of in the country.

When I was 19 I took myself off with my dreadlocked surfer dude boyfriend to live down near Warnambool for a year. Thirty km from the nearest shop – we lived very simply in a small house on 5 acres of bush land with no electricity or running water. I spent most of my time tending my large veggie garden, restoring antique furniture for myself and others and making beaded jewellery which I sold at a couple of shops in town. We ate eggs from the chooks and veggies from the garden and made all our own bread.

I have such fond memories of this year – I was young, idealistic and full to the brim with enthusiasm. My few years of reading Grass Roots had given me the basics of living a simple wholesome life and here was my opportunity to have a good go. As it turns out the year went quickly and the reality of my life journey ahead meant that I had to return to the city to begin my studies in Interior Design and well my story just goes on from there really.

I have lived in the city ever since and have often thought of a move back to a lovely country town. I don’t think I would choose to live without running water and electricity again (especially not with children) but I have thought that a move to the country would bring about a simpler and somewhat less stressful lifestyle. Having said that though – I totally love living in the city and the opportunities that come with that. Perhaps as they say ‘the grass is always greener’ and I should just try to be happy with where I am right now.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Grant Featherston Furniture

Back in the late 90’s I completed a Diploma of Arts in Furniture Design, predominately a hands on course of study – my time was mainly spent in the workshop mastering the use of various tools and honing my design skills. I had done woodwork in High School and had always been attracted to making and restoring furniture….my previous studies and working life in Interior Design meant that this was a natural progression for me.

Whilst studying the History of Furniture Design, I learnt of many amazing 20th century designers that I loved but in terms of admiring our local talent – Featherston completely won me over.

Around the same time – I paid a visit to Coral’s house - one of my Mother’s friends. In her Living room she has an original R160 Armchair and Ottoman and a R152 armchair all upholstered in the original beige vinyl. From the moment I laid eyes on them - I was smitten and have desired them ever since. It is no wonder that they have become an icon of Australian furniture design.

Every time my Mother visits Coral or in fact even mentions her name to me – I can’t help but say….can you ask her if she will sell me those chairs! And then one day not too long ago - Coral sent me an email telling me that “One day our Lord may bless you with them…..” I can only hope…….”Pretty please God….can I have those chairs?”.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Golden Books

I have loved Golden Books since I was a little girl. At one stage in my youth I had quite a good stack of them – but my Mother in one of her cleaning up and sorting out phases got rid of them. I don’t think I ever quite got over it. It’s the Bower Bird in me. So of course when I discovered op shops and old golden books……well there was no stopping me!

Now I think I have almost 200! My daughter Kitty of course loves them too – but not all of them. The other day she went though the two giant stacks and sorted them into the ones that she wanted to keep and the ones that I could get rid of or use for craft. Kind of her I thought…and pretty funny. Reminded me of my Mother.

Somehow when Mum gave away all my Golden Books I managed to save one very favourite – ‘The night Before Christmas’. Each year on the night before Christmas (I confess – even as a grown up) I have read this book just before going to sleep. I just love the illustrations and my inner child gets terribly excited about the prospect of Santa coming and filling my stocking. Now of course I get to share this tradition with my own children - which makes it even more special.

Thankfully I have come up with a lovely way to ‘recycle’ some of these treasured Golden Books and now turn them into – Golden Book-marks. This year too – some of my treasured books will become Christmas cards. I can’t believe I am already talking about Christmas!

Monday 31 August 2009

Gingerbread Houses

My introduction to Gingerbread Houses was in the story Hansel and Gretel , my Mother read to me as a child. The illustration of the sweet decorated little house that Hansel and Gretel couldn’t help but have a nibble on was enchanting. Of course I wanted to have a little nibble too! There was something so wonderful about a little house made of sweet bread and decorated with lollies – like a little dolls house but better.

I took some time the other day to have a look at photos in FLICKR of Gingerbread Houses to see if I could find a good one to go with this entry. I must say - I was totally overwhelmed! I had no idea that Gingerbread Houses were taken so seriously…….the people who are really passionate about making them are like Architects of dough. They go all out to make theirs the most fancy – there are even ‘Modern’ Gingerbread Houses for those that don’t like all the fuss of swirly icing and Gingerbread House Exhibitions – were the makers get to show off their expertise.

The gorgeous felt house in the photo I eventually settled on is by a New Zealand Artist - Cuckoonest. I found their creations on a fab website called Felt – which is a NZ version of Etsy. Well worth checking out and much better for my waistline.

Thursday 20 August 2009

Morgan Wills on SALE - up to 60% off!

Morgan Wills is having a SALE! For the first time ever!

Come down to the Maribyrnong Makers Market on Saturday 29 August to get yourself a bargain!

Select Scarves, Mumma & Baby Bushkas, Bushka rattles, Bushka hairbuttons, Botanical Kilt pins, Greeting cards, Headbands & more! Nothing over $50 and most things $10 or under. One day only!

Saturday 29 August 10am to 3pm only at the Maribyrnong Makers Market!

Seddon Uniting Church Hall
Cnr Gamon & Mackay Sts, Seddon
Mel Ref: 42 A7

Love to see you there!

Thursday 13 August 2009

Gina Garan Dolls

I had seen Blythe dolls in books and on products like badges and purses but it wasn’t until I went to Japan that I saw my first Blythe doll in real life. They were amazing and seemed to be everywhere I looked. I was tempted to buy one – but there was so much for me to spend my money on and in the end she lost out to the ridiculous amount of other things that caught my eye….and I can tell you the $800 in excess luggage they tried to sting me with at the airport put my negotiating skills to good use – I think I managed to halve it – but still what a shocker that was. Anyway I digress…..

A few years later I caught wind of some exciting news – the photographer Gina Garan, of This is Blythe fame, had designed ‘ginagirls’ in collaboration with the well-known Australian artist Christina Gordon.

I had to have one….and of course, I wanted them all – but that was ridiculous, for anyone that knows me….my life is already somewhat cluttered with the trinkets I have found in my travels, and if I adopted all the girls – well, where would they live? So, my husband being the lovely man he is – chose Nico (the ginger girl) and gave her to me for our second wedding anniversary.

She now hangs out on the mantelpiece (with lots of my other very special treasures) in the living room on her own custom made silver chaise lounge and recently has acquired, by way of a gift - a miniature Louis Ghost chair by Philippe Starck……..if you don’t mind. She is one stylish girl!

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Handmade in Melbourne

Tonight is a very exciting night for me. I have been invited to the official launch of ‘Handmade in Melbourne’ - a guide to 200 of Melbourne’s fine artisans.

It celebrates all things handmade, and the passion of those who have made handmade their life’s work. I am lucky enough to be featured in this book and I feel honoured to be showcased alongside so many wonderfully talented people.

I also feel blessed to have been able to pursue my creative interests throughout my life. Using my hands to craft – whether it be a piece of furniture, the sewing of a scarf, the taking of a photo, the writing of my blog entries, the drawing of my designs – all of these pursuits and more truly make my heart sing. And when my heart is singing, I am happy.

Tonight is the bringing together of Melbourne’s creative heart. Well done to Geoff Slattery, the publisher for putting together such a fantastic guide.

Tuesday 28 July 2009


I was first introduced to Antonio Gaudi in my History of Architecture class when I was studying Interior Design. His work belonged primarily to the Modernist style (Art Nouveau) and Gaudi was famous for his unique and highly individualistic designs. I LOVED the undulating, organic curves in his work, the use of mosaics and the highly decorative style of his designs.

My Dad had recently been to Spain on holiday (and bought me a book on Gaudi as a gift)……he told me of seeing his work – I had to see it for myself. Years later – off I went to spend 7 weeks traveling the entire Spanish countryside. What an adventure! My favourite part of the trip would have to be the two weeks I spent in Barcelona – what a fantastic city and of course everywhere you look is Gaudi’s work. I was in heaven.

Two highlights I remember most are taking the photos above from the top of one of the towers at Sagrada Familia - the detail of the mosaic work is astounding considering that they are 170 metres high! And the hot summer night when I went to a Flamenco concert on the roof top of Casa Mila (La Pedrera) and sipped champagne and gazed across the city’s rooftops. The vibe was incredible. What an amazing man.

Monday 20 July 2009


It was my 23rd birthday and I was out on the town with those nearest and dearest to me – whooping it up and generally partying until the wee hours - as I was prone to doing way back then…….when one of my dear mates Dru bought me a ‘birthday drink’ to celebrate. It was one of his favourites and I had never tried it…..needless to say from the moment I had my first sip – I was smitten…..a shot of Frangelico on ice with lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice. What a treat!

Apparently the origins of Frangelico date back more than 300 years to the existence of early Christian monks living in the hills of Northern Italy. It is made by crumbling up hazelnuts and combining them with cocoa and vanilla. What a heavenly nectar!

Thursday 16 July 2009

Fornasetti Faces

I can’t remember the first time I saw the face of Lina Cavalieri (a famous soprano who sang opposite the great tenor voices of the early 20th century in New York's Metropolitan Opera) but what I do remember is that I have never forgotten her face.

Neither did Piero Fornasetti (1913 - 1988) who I’m not sure ever met Cavalieri, but saw her face in a magazine, and apparently couldn't erase it from his mind. He just kept painting it - on no fewer than 500 of his design works.... my favourite of which are the plates – which at about $250 a pop stop me from having a wall of them…..instead I have this set of canvas’s that I picked up from a stall at the Shirt & Skirt Market years ago when it was in East St Kilda.

It was one of those moments where by from quite a distance away I spotted them and I was off….making a bee-line to claim them for my own. They now live on the mantle-piece in our living room and every time I walk into the room – Lina’s there, with her classic beauty and enigmatic smile.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Felt Beads

My love affair with felt beads started with a necklace that my husband bought me for my birthday a few years ago. It is in varying tones of pink and orange interspersed with gorgeous glass lampwork beads and has been much worn and loved and commented on.

There is something so tactile and delicious about felt beads – I love the shapes and the texture and of course the colour! When I make my heart-felt necklaces I hand knot (with ribbon) the individual felt beads along with some gorgeous resin beads I have found in my travels.

Here are the basics of how to make your own felt beads……

What you’ll need:
- A little carded wool (called wool roving or wool top)
- A bowl of warm water with a little dish soap added
- A towel to protect the surface your working on

1. Start by pulling a little piece of fleece from your roving.
2. Wind the wool in a little ball shape like you would with yarn. Try to wind it tightly to avoid creating wrinkles in the finished bead. Your bead will shrink during the felting process so you have to start with a bead slightly bigger.
3. Dip your dry ball in the warm water and start rolling it gently between your palms like you would with a clay ball. As the bead starts to felt you can add a little more pressure. When your bead is firm and felted, and has reached the size you want rinse it well in cold water and let it dry.
4. To make oval shaped beads, just roll the bead flat between your palms instead of in a circular motion.

Happy felting!

Tuesday 30 June 2009

Empire Line Dresses

In an alternate reality, I would love to live a Pride & Prejudice life. A life where I could dress up (or be dressed) everyday in long swishy Empire Line dresses – made from the finest silks in the most delicate of colours. I would swan around my mansion, drinking tea, reading novels, playing the piano and hand sewing little embroidered hankies and the like.

Because (as I have previously confessed) I am short and pear shaped, I find Empire Line dresses to be very flattering, as they create the illusion of length and skim the body (or should I say hips…) in the loveliest way.

When I got married – I took the opportunity to work with a fabulous dress maker to realise my design. We chose the most beautiful pale pink silk and lined the dress with cream antique wedding kimono silk that I had been given in my twenties. The dress took on many of my favourite clothing design elements – a cross over top, an empire line, bell sleeves and generous layers of fabric.

We got married during the Winter Solstice in a dusk ceremony in the Sherbrooke forest in the Dandenong Ranges. It was absolutely freezing but such an amazing and quite theatrical ceremony and a perfect excuse for me to swan around in my Empire Line dress and play ‘lady’ for a night.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Dress ups

My Sister Kelly and I loved dressing up when we were kids and doing ‘performances’. Mum filled a basket with some of her old ‘pre baby’ cast offs – one of which was a very slinky, early 70’s halter neck mini dress with red, blue and gold stripes and a ruffle around the hem. Very Brazilian Mardi Gras or perhaps I should say 70’s disco, anyway that was definitely one of my favourites! I would love to know what happened to it!

I think life is in some ways like a big game of dress ups. Whether you are ‘dressing up’ to go for a night out on the town, or to a wedding or even just to go to work or to take the kids to the supermarket. Choosing and putting clothing on your body is the everyday ‘art’ of dress ups. When you don your ‘outfit’ you are choosing to present yourself to the world in a particular way (or fashion) and different outfits can allow you to behave in different ways or to feel different in or about yourself.

When I was in Tokyo I marveled at the girls who chose to dress themselves up as Manga like characters or Walt Disney meets Japanese punk rock characters – it was so ‘out-there’ and yet so refreshingly creative and brave. I admired them (and took photos of them!)

From the moment my daughter Kitty could walk and talk she has been a keen partaker of the big dress up basket I made for her. The thing I love about her dress ups is that she doesn’t hold back. Often she will come out in some amazing layered creation where she has a bit of everything on and sing me a song, tell me a story or just dance around. The photos above show just a small snippet of her fun dress up times and before I know it baby Milo will be joining in on the act! What fun to be had!

Monday 15 June 2009

Dr Seuss

When I was 3 or 4 I absolutely LOVED Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss. I must have asked my Mother to read it 100 times. So many times that I learnt which words went with which pictures and memorized it. Then I told my Mother I could read and sat her down and read her the story from cover to cover. I think I tricked her for about 5 seconds – then she worked out what I had done. Still it was the beginning of my love affair with reading. I think I just devoured anything I could get my hands on when I was a girl but Dr Seuss has always remained a firm favourite…..even as a grown up!

Now that my daughter Kitty is 4 she is up to the same tricks I was and there is a particular Dr Seuss book she loves called ‘Oh the Thinks you can Think’. I think this is because in it there is a bit that says – ‘You can think about Kitty O’Sullivan Krauss in her big balloon swimming pool over her house.’ As I read the book she pretty well reads with me and when we get to ‘her’ page…well…she definitely knows that one off by heart!

Over the years my love of Dr Seuss has meant that aside from the books I have acquired since a child I also have Dr Seuss Board games (one of which my Dad gave me for my 25th Birthday!), Cat in the Hat toys, plates, cups, videos, dvds, stickers , puzzles…the list goes on and on! I love sharing Dr Seuss with my children. What a clever man he was!

Monday 8 June 2009

Doll Houses

When I was a little girl we had a handyman called ‘Vick’ who used to come to the house to fix things. He would have been in his 70’s and was such a lovely man. While he was there ‘fixing’ he also made me a fantastic pair of stilts – which I absolutely loved, a guinea pig house for ‘Spike’ and a dolls house. It wasn’t a very fancy dolls house. Just four rooms and a pitched roof – but I LOVED it. When I think back though, it wasn’t so much the house that I loved – it was the decorating of the house, particularly the furnishings. Funnily enough as I grew up I studied not only interior design & decoration but also furniture design.

I painted and wallpapered that house and made little chests of drawers and beds from matchboxes, tables and chairs from toothpicks and corks, used scraps of carpet for the floor and raided Mum’s fabric stash for suitable curtain and bedding material. It was so much fun.

When I studied furniture design in particular – one of my favourite aspects was the making of mock ups or scale models of my furniture prototypes. There is something about ‘mini’ furniture that is so cute! Especially the designer classics you can get now. I’d love a mini Arne Jacobsen Egg chair – actually I’d love a big one too!

The photo above is by Canadian artist Heather Benning who transformed an abandoned farmhouse into a life-sized dollhouse. What a cool idea.

Anyway – all this talk of dolls houses is making me want one again. I have seen all these ridiculously expensive modern ones whilst searching for a good photo on Google and I’m all inspired……stay tuned – when I work out which one I want and where I’m going to put it – I’ll let you know!

Thursday 4 June 2009

Dinosaur Designs

My favourite shop in the whole wide world is Dinosaur Designs. Whenever I get a chance to pay them a visit I am like a kid in a candy store. The way they showcase their pieces in different colour groups really appeals to my sense of what is beautiful. I’d like a bit of everything and if I could I’d have a shrine set up in my studio showcasing their work….a place where I could sit and reflect on the direction of my own craft - I would surely be in heaven!

One of the reasons I think I am so inspired by their work is partly because they started off as craft market stallholders, molding their designs out of polymer clay and partly because they are well, just so bloody clever! There have been so many Dinosaur Design imitators over the years…but never have I once seen anything made from resin that can compare to the quality of design, texture or colour in their work. Also the fact that 25 plus years down the track with signature stores around Australia and their work sold in 40 countries around the world they still hand finish each piece. That is saying something.

Thankfully I have been lucky enough over the years to acquire a few pieces of my own…some as gifts and some I have splashed out and bought myself. These are mainly things that adorn my body but also some that decorate my home. If you ever have a chance to visit one of their stores I highly recommend making an afternoon of it.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Dark Chocolate

I have been excited about writing this week’s blog entry all week because – yep, you guessed it……I love dark chocolate!

As I sat down this afternoon to write - I received an email from my husband at work entitled ‘YOUR AGE BY CHOCOLATE MATHS’.

Well normally he and I come from pretty well the same school of thought on this one – we highly dislike (I won’t say hate) junk emails – so if we are going to send them on – we either had to laugh out loud ourselves or we had to think it was pretty clever and worthy of sending on. Anyway – I did this one as it was serendipitous to my topic and I must admit it is pretty cool……I never know how these things work though – must be a maths geek thing.


It takes less than a minute.

Work this out as you read.

Be sure you don't read the bottom until you've worked it out!

1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to have chocolate (more than once but less than 10).

2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold).

3. Add 5

4. Multiply it by 50 -- I'll wait while you get the calculator!

5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1759........... If you haven't, add 1758.

6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.

You should have a three digit number.

The first digit of this was your original number (i.e. how many times you want to have chocolate each week).

The next two numbers are……..YOUR AGE! (Oh YES, it is!!)


Tell me if it doesn’t work for you!

Thursday 21 May 2009


Last Sunday we had a beautiful Baby Blessing for our son Milo. We held it up in a place called the Dandenong Ranges which is about 1 hour from our house in the city.

We held it there partly because my in-laws (George & Joy) have a beautiful home and garden there where we could host the gathering but also because it is a totally magical place. I think if fairies were going to live anywhere – they would definitely live here.

George & Joy love gardening and hence have half an acre of the most beautiful meandering garden. Dotted all around where we set our stone circle for the blessing were miniature alpine cyclamens – just popping up through the autumn leaves. Absolutely stunning.

When Kitty was born – we were given a beautiful cyclamen plant and every year since, Sam has harvested the little seed pods and nurtured them into a new plant. We now have quite a number of pots of different coloured cyclamen that around this time are just starting to bloom.

Kitty and I believe that as the cyclamen flowers open a tiny cyclamen fairy is born. It is definitely one of my favourite times of year.

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Cubby Houses

Cubby houses as a kid were something that I naturally built and created. Little homes or nests where I felt cocooned and safe. I had a good one under the balcony of my house – it was kind of dark, musty and a bit spider-webby but when I packed my little yellow school case with my belongings and left home (at the tender age of 6) this is where I went. I probably only stayed there for about an hour though before I got hungry and snuck back inside to raid the pantry.

Some of the other cubbies I remember were of course – ones built with sheets and blankets over tables or the backs of chairs. With lots of pillows and cushions inside to make it all snugly or the naturally occurring one I discovered in the tea-tree bushes along the coastline of Mt Martha Beach. I could ride my bike down and hang out in my little nature pad – I loved it.

There was one day though I remember going to visit the home of some family friends. The daughter was quite a few years older than me and out in the back garden of her house – she had a real cubby. From the moment I saw it – I was enchanted. It was like a real little house. With a front door, glass windows that opened, curtains, mini furniture, a sink, tea sets and toy food and wait for it…I think it even had power – and a functioning light switch! I absolutely LOVED that cubby and I just thought she was the luckiest girl I had ever met. It was definitely a case of cubby envy.

When I was looking for a good cubby photo – I came across this one, which I thought was pretty special. As an adult I have no hesitation in saying that I am attracted to living in a tree house and would seriously consider doing so – well…perhaps in an alternate reality (one where I didn’t have quite so many belongings!). It is kind of amazing don’t you think….the ultimate of cubbies but with the added bonus of being a tree house. I’d love to have an afternoon or two there, playing house with my daughter Kitty and drinking unlimited cups of smartie tea (milk with smarties stirred in) and eating the chocolate brownies my Mum used to make.

Tuesday 5 May 2009


The art of crochet or should I say ‘craft’ of crochet has always fascinated me. When it is done well – it is truly amazing I think.

As a girl my mother always knitted….she could knit the most complicated stitches whilst watching tv – it was incredible, and also for a period of time (in the 70’s) was very skilled at Macramé. The whole family wore her fancy knits and the house was adorned in amazing beaded macramé wall hangings and decorative owls.

So…having told you this…you’d think that I too would possess these skills….but ohh… no…not me…..

I cannot crochet, I cannot knit and I cannot macramé. And it is not for want of desire to or trying. You see it’s all in the tension. My tension is tight. I have been taught how to crochet and knit at least ½ dozen times over my life and it always ends in tears.

I start out on a positive note, but just when my project seems to be going along nicely –somewhere from deep within, I doubt myself and my tension tightens and then well, its all downhill from there…..

Therefore, I can really, really appreciate the ‘fine art’ of crochet when I see it and the example above (for my apple collection) is a fantastic piece, spotted by my husband at the Maribyrnong Makers Market on the week-end. Crocheted by the very talented Rosalinda Casamento – who gets a gold star from me for executing her skill so well.

Tuesday 28 April 2009


Well, I have spent a good part of the last week trying to find a suitable photo for this week’s - Creek entry. Actually I like the sound of that…Creek Week, but it’s Creek Week and I have no photo!

It’s because I have in my mind so many special memories of playing in the creek near our house as a kid – that I wanted an actual photo of the creek – or of the creek I can see in my memory. In real life I think the creek is actually called Balcombe Creek.

I grew up in what used to be a little seaside village on the Mornington Peninsula – called Mt Martha. Now I think it’s some fancy pants suburb but back when I was a kid it was paddocks and cows (& the odd scary bull), magpies that swooped you on the way to school, field mushrooms as big as dinner plates, heaps of pine cones that we would collect and burn in the open fire, dirt roads, going to play with my little kindy friend Ella under the big Pine tree in the paddock that separated our houses, lighting fires in the driveway (ok…I only did that once and I was testing out my ‘newly learnt’ girl guide building a camp fire skills), feeding the horses after school, fanging round on my bike with my pink or was it yellow? Stackhat (remember those? What a great name – ‘Stackhat’) anyway I digress. This entry is supposed to be about creeks and how they make my heart sing ……the photos above I’m sorry will have to paint the picture for you on my love of creeks.

The walking track photo was taken at the summit of Mt Martha and reminds me of the bush I used to spend hours exploring (now I think back – I would disappear for almost a whole day and my mother would never know where I was – but now I am a mother – my daughter Kitty isn’t even allowed to play in the front yard by herself….mmmm, how times have changed or is it just where we live?).

Anyway the other photo is of me – aged about 8 or 9 I think. The one thing that really struck me about it – was that I have no shoes on and really dirty feet – sums up nicely the fun I had as a kid I think. Poor Kitty is not even allowed to walk outside without shoes on…..makes me want to bundle her up, take her to the bush (somewhere with a big beautiful creek), take her shoes off and splash!