Thursday 18 October 2012

Visit me at Finders Keepers!

New Cute as a Button Vintage Button cushions

I've been super busy of late working on a whole brand new range of button inspired products and a few Sundays ago I launched the whole range at a fabulous market up here in Ballarat called The Design Exchange

It has also been an exciting time as recently my work was featured on the cover of a book - Crafty Girls Talk and Jennifer Forest the author interviewed me about what I do and what inspires me. This joins the stories of a number of other crafty girls from around the world who craft for fun, for profit and for others. Each story is an exploration of that crafty girl's world, what they make and where they have taken their passion for creating.

Today I have packed the car to the brim and am heading down to Melbourne to have a stall at the Spring/Summer Finders Keepers.

This is truly one amazing market - held in the beautiful Royal Exhibition Buildings in Carlton - the line up of stallholders is awesome and if I get the chance I will attempt to do a spot of early Christmas shopping whilst I am there.

I will be showcasing my new Cute as a Button range of products and also selling Crafty Girls Talk plus heaps of other handmade crafty goodness. The market starts runs from 6pm to 10pm tonight and tomorrow from 10am to 5pm so if you are in the neighbourhood - do pop in and say Hi!

Saturday 29 September 2012

Good old fashioned fun

During the week we took the kids to the Royal Melbourne Show. I think I've been pretty much every year since I was a kid myself and you know if you turn a blind eye to the cheap and nasty stuff that is for sale and try not to get too overwhelmed by the crowds of people and the queues for rides - it is actually quite fun!

Of course - I love going because I get to have the best scones ever at the Country Womens Association (CWA) cafe, coo over baby animals, relish the amazing crafty talents of the work in the Arts & Crafts pavilion, ride the giant Ferris wheel and generally enjoy the delight of my children who love a good show bag (didn't we all when we were kids).

This year my highlight was meeting Norm from Norm & Elsie's Art Safari. They have a gorgeous vintage caravan that has been converted into a mobile art gallery filled with art and artifacts from South West Victoria. Truly amazing! It was love at first sight and Elsie's cabinet of curiosities in the caravan was filled with all sorts of treasures and a number of cute ceramic   squirrels - I was totally won over!

There is nothing quite like a good dose of old fashioned fun and in the name of making the most of it we spent about 9 hours there!
I can highly recommend a visit! Just make sure you take your inner Nanna with you....oh and your inner child!

Thursday 13 September 2012

It's Sale time!

This is the 5th year in a row now that I've had my annual Spring Sale at the Maribyrnong Makers Market.

And guess what?! It's on tomorrow! I have been cleaning out the studio and have packed it all into the car ready to drive to Melbourne first thing in the morning.

The best thing about having a sale is that you get a bargain and I get some more room! So come along and visit me!

Bargains to be had include Mumma & Baby Bushkas for $50 (normally $100), Scarves for $25 (normally $96), Rainbow ceramic necklaces for $40 (normally $76) and the list goes on....lot's of stocking fillers, Kris Kringle type gifts, cheap cards and lots more.

Sunday 2 September 2012

An outing for Fathers Day

We started a new family tradition yesterday in honour of Fathers Day. Kitty and I decided that we would cook Sam and Milo breakfast in bed and they in turn have to cook us breakky in bed when it’s Mother’s Day. Pretty good deal I reckon…but when you are 4 like Milo – it’s pretty hard really to balance the tray and everything on your lap and try not to spill it all in your parent’s bed (and stress out your Dad) and so I think a small stable table might be in order!

Whilst they gobbled up their cooked breakfast I suggested we go on a Sunday drive. It was just what we all needed – a beautiful sunny spring day and a family outing. My husband Sam – loves baking bread and I had heard lots of good things about a bakery located in the picturesque goldrush town of Trentham in Central Victoria. Apparently RedBeard Historic Bakery is famous for its 140 year old woodfired Scotch oven and of course it’s delicious bread and so off we went on a mini road trip with this as our lunch destination.

To get to Trentham we had to pass thorough Daylesford and so we broke up our journey by having a quick squiz around the trash ‘n’ treasure market….not much gold to be found by the time we got there – but always fun to look nevertheless.

Rumbling stomachs got the better of us though and off to Trentham we went in search of good things to eat. It was pretty busy when we got there but a table became available soon enough and after much deliberation and a bit of a wait – we finally got down to business – the eating good food kind of business. All I can say is YUM! We sat out in the courtyard in the sunshine and read the papers and enjoyed. My idea of bliss on a sunny Sunday.

Exploring Trenthams main street and beautiful waterfall after lunch was a lovely way to walk off our tucker and as we strolled I was struck by the quaint and very typically Australian architecture of the little township and the gorgeous greenery of the surrounding bush – well worth a visit I must say and at only 70mins from Melbourne it is easily doable.

Happy Father’s Day Sam – you are loved.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Tiny drawers

I originally started this blog because I wanted to share with you 100 things I loved and why. It’s taken me a while but I’m now up to post 87 in things that make my heart sing and this one is definitely a favourite. Tiny drawers…yep…you heard right…I LOVE tiny drawers.

Over the years I have gathered quite the collection (funny that) of all sorts of tiny drawers. My favourites amongst them are various fabric covered ones I got in Japan. Also too the little sets of plywood drawers from Ikea have always been a favourite and also some I have made out of matchboxes stuck together – so cute.

However it was a recent gift of the 1950’s (made in japan) beauties above that really got me going. Originally doll house furniture – the tiny dresser with the movable mirrors and polka dot decoration on the drawer is just my idea of true gorgeousness!
Small drawers are for small things and one of my favourite sayings (seeing I am only 5ft2) is good things come in small packages or in this instance small drawers!

Wednesday 20 June 2012

The sound of my children laughing

I have to admit…there are a lot of silly shenanigans that go on in our house. We are generally a pretty silly lot and there is often something that happens that will set one of us off on a bit of a giggle.

I particularly love the sound of the kids laughing in delight. It is such a priceless noise and so hard to capture a recording of (believe me I have tried). I think the tricky thing is – once you have heard that sound and the kids have cottoned on to the fact that you are trying to record it – the sound of the laugh changes and becomes more put on. They do love a bit of a performance and really with parents like us it is no wonder!

There have been moments when I have witnessed a bit of rolling around on the ground in laughter and I remember this feeling when I was little – it doesn’t happen a lot in life that something takes your fancy so much it makes you cry – but when it does it feels really good and some of our day to day stresses and concerns are momentarily put into perspective somehow.

The sound is like pure delight. I think that’s why I love it so much.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

The number 22

Do you have a favourite number? Most people do. Mine is 22. I love things in pairs, doubles, even numbers. Two peas in a pod so to speak.

It just so happens that I am born on the 22nd day of the month. Often when I look at the clock it is 11.11. Eleven plus eleven is 22 – go figure. My daughter was also born on the 22nd.

I have over the years been interested in numerology and tarot and these give certain meanings to numbers that I have found to be fairly true for me.

Apparently the number 22 symbolizes the principle of precision and balance. When it senses its full capacity it can achieve what is hardly imaginable. The 22 can turn the most ambitious of dreams into a reality. It is potentially the most successful of all numbers (yeah baby!).

It is unlimited, yet disciplined. It sees the archetype, and brings it down to earth in some material form. It has big ideas, great plans, idealism, leadership and enormous self-confidence (don’t know about that one!).

Very family-oriented, the number 22 person will often stay in situations rather than move on. They dislike confrontation, but with the right support, can become one of life's great success stories and accumulate a lot of wealth (Yes please!!). Many inventors are a 22 Day Number.

People born on the 22nd love to work with their hands. As children they love building blocks, LEGO, and any mechanical gadget keeps them occupied for hours. As adults they enjoy creative endeavors. 

Sounds like my number and I are a pretty good match. Just the 2 of us!

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Confetti Scarf

Every year for the last 6 years or so - I have made a special scarf for the Scarf Festival run by the National Wool Museum in Geelong in partnership with Craft Victoria.

I always look forward to the opportunity to create something that is one of a kind, as mostly my day to day is about replicating products in my ranges.

This year's theme is - The Journey and the idea for the scarf maker is to create a textile exploration of what it means for each of us to travel. Inspired by daily trips, happy holidays and special sojourns, the theme examines the paths we choose and the extraordinary discoveries we make along the way.

Of course - the theme has been swirling around in my mind for months now - with all sorts of concepts and techniques I could use to express my thoughts. I knew I had to be true to my love of felted woollen jumpers and recycled materials and knew that the best way for me to conceptulise my thoughts was to go in to my studio with a dedicated time slot and play. 

My offering to the theme is called Confetti Scarf and here my artist statement reflects my thoughts;

Confetti Scarf
Confetti, confetti  - up in the air
Confetti, confetti – everywhere
My journey, my life - filled with memories of moments and passages of joy.
Colours, imprints and formations of impressions left on the subconscious by experience.
My marriage, the birth of my children, everyday laughter...shared minutes with those I love.
These are my confetti moments.

You can visit my scarf and hundreds more at The National Wool Museum, Geelong from 16 June to 2 September.

Friday 27 April 2012

The Beatles

Over the years – I’ve heard the theory that you’re either a Stones fan or a Beatles fan. I would have to say – the Beatles won my heart at a tender age.

One of my earliest childhood memories are of my Dad strumming the guitar and serenading me with ‘Eight days a week’. As I grew older and worked out how to use the record player – all the records my parents had collected in the years prior to children were tested out. 

Lucky for me there were a number of Beatles greats like Abbey Road and the White Album. In my early teens I took the limited edition A4 posters of the boys out of the White Album and blue tacked them to my bedroom wall (along with tear outs from Dolly magazine) – now all these years later, I have inherited the album but where o where are those posters! Deary me!

As an older teenager – a boyfriend I had, had perfected the art of singing and playing ‘Blackbird’ on his guitar and my love for those Beatle boys grew. It was only in later life that I learnt the true meaning of the lyrics to that song and that 'bird' is British slang for girl, making 'blackbird' a synonym for 'black girl’. Apparently McCartney was inspired to write it as a reaction to racial tensions escalating in the United States in the spring of 1968. There you go!

Over the years I have got to see lots of great musicians in concert – I only wish I could transport back in time to go to a Beatles concert (can you imagine all the screaming though!)….oh well, I’ll just have to console myself with singing along in the car and rocking out with the kids!

Monday 16 April 2012

Tea Towels

I've been collecting souvenir tea towels for about 10 years now. I'm not sure what got me started...probably just the beautiful colours and images and the fact that there are just so many different ones out there!

I could always tell when an op shop had received somebodies collection as there would be a big stack all folded in the same way - straight out of the linen press. A collection gathered from here, there and everywhere on the holiday makers travels.

When I moved up to Ballarat just over a year a go now and I had to pack up my stash - the tea towel count was up around 400 - amazing really how it came to be that many...anyway as I packed them up and started to go through them I noticed that a part from my criteria of them being new and unused - there was a real assortment of designs - from stunning floral ones to kitsch animal ones and everything in between.

I'd had some ideas kicking around about some products I wanted to make with them under my Cast offs range but I new that I had collected more than I would ever use - so in the name of sharing the love I went through one by one and sorted out which ones I wanted to use for my new products, which ones I wanted to sell in the shop and which ones I would just hang on to and keep collecting for the moment (like calendar ones) when I had really decided what they were going to become (I think a quilt).

Today is a gloriously sunny day in downtown Ballarat and just the perfect day to haul out the next lot of gorgeous tea towels that are destined to become cushions. In order to get those super linen cupboard creases out I take them outside and swish them around in a big bucket of water - hang them on the giant clotheshorse I have and then whilst they are still damp, I iron them with the setting on linen. It seems to do the job pretty well and I don't  lose that stiff starchy quality that I like.

Stay tuned for the next batch of cushions - I know it's going to be hard to part with some of the tea towels especially the Australian native flora & fauna ones - they are my favourites. x

Thursday 5 April 2012

The Grand Easter Garage Sale

Finally - I have a chance to let you know about this fantastic sale that is happening on Easter Saturday - yep you heard right! This Saturday in the picturesque town of Daylesford...I am packing up shop and joining my friend Allison in having the biggest garage sale you have ever seen!

I have gone through the Crafty Squirrel shop, the shop store room, my office and sewing room, my studio and various other places I have stashed crafty bits and bobs away and have come up with the most amazing pile of vintage tea towels, aprons, table cloths, fabrics, sewing notions and of course lots of my very own Cast offs winter woollies like scarves, kilt pins, head bands and hats - samples and seconds. Plus lots of treasures from the shop at 50% off and lots of other cute stuff at great prices.

It feels so good to have such a big clean out and now I need your help to come and make it your own!
So...make a day of it and see me there! You won't be sorry - this is one sale you don't want to miss!!

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Tea cups and Trade fairs

Some of my crazy tea set
Petits Fours at Craigs Royal Hotel

Well it’s that time of year again – when my focus and time has been completely gobbled up by my stand at the impending trade show Life in Style. This will be my second time showing in Sydney and I am excited (and somewhat tired) having been planning and making stock for what seems like months now.

As a treat I decided that it would be nice to indulge myself with an afternoon tea with various lovely ladies I have met since I moved to Ballarat. We gathered on Sunday afternoon in the grand dining room at Craigs Royal Hotel and whilst chatting and catching up we dined on lovely finger sandwiches’, scones with jam & cream and delicious little petits fours. Yum yum!

Gatherings of women combined with delicious things to eat – seems to be something that I enjoy (although I must admit I do not do often enough). It reminds me of the kitchen tea we held in honour of my impending marriage. The guests all brought along a tea cup and saucer as a gift for me and the story of where it came from (the op shop, their own collection, new or antique) and why they had chosen to give it to me was written in a special book to commemorate the occasion and the beginnings of my crazy tea set were born.

I love my crazy tea set with all the different cups and saucers, cake plates, tea pots, sugar bowls and milk jugs. Of course I do not use it often – but when I do, I remember that afternoon when all those women most dear to me gathered to celebrate my special day. It was fun, it was loud and there was lots of laughter.

Perhaps when I get back from Life in Style I will get out a gorgeous tea pot and tea cup and make myself a lovely cup of tea. Now there’s an idea!

Sunday 29 January 2012

Down on the Farm

Clearview Farm

Kitty collecting eggs

I think one of the best parts of the summer holidays when you are a kid is that they seem to go on forever and by the time it is all over – you are well and truly ready to go back to school and see all your friends. At least that’s how I remember it.

In the lead up to Christmas it was all go, go, go here with birthdays, end of year performances, picnics and get togethers for everything, not to mention managing the shop, wholesale orders, online orders and markets. Phew……I am exhausted just thinking about it!

By the time it got to Christmas day – I was glad I had, had the foresight to celebrate Christmas at home – in a small way – our first Christmas in our new house. The children enjoyed lazing about all day playing with new toys and we had a lovely lunch just the four of us.
Milo collecting eggs and Kitty with a baby chick
Having been all systems go all year I really (in fact all of us) needed some time out and a good holiday was required. So I shut the shop for the whole month of January and we settled in for a well deserved rest.

First cab off the rank was a week at the beach in Warrnambool – were we lazed about building sandcastles, eating yummy cafĂ© lunches and ice creams, going to the movies and of course spent lots of time exploring all the op shops and vintage/antique shops looking for treasures. And I must say – I was pretty chuffed with my haul!

Back home again and the realities of being self employed mean’t that really even though the shop was closed there was work to be done (what’s new!). So in between days at holiday care – the kids and I tried to do lots of fun things together. Catching up with friends, going to the movies, outings to Melbourne, picnics, craft activities and of course visits to Sovereign Hill.
Going for a family walk in the third Gully

And then over the Australia Day long week-end we headed off down to Clearview Farm which Sam’s parents own in the Strzelecki Ranges down near Warragul.

We hadn’t visited for a while and I knew the kids were old enough to really enjoy it. An organic farm – with extensive apple orchards and lots of chooks – the gardens are rambling and filled with gorgeous flowers, trees and ferns.

My in-law’s Jim and Carole always cook amazing food – so a lot of eating was done, mixed in with some egg collecting, picking fruit and flowers and exploring various ‘secret’ gardens (much to Kitty’s delight). A big family walk down the third gully – walked off a little of the decadent morning tea and a few hours where Sam & I took off on our own for a lovely lunch and spot of treasure hunting whilst the kids hung out with Grandma Eggs and Poppy Apples was great.

So all in all – the summer holidays have been fun. Kitty is back to school on Thursday and The Crafty Squirrel re-opens on Friday. Preparations are well underway for my tradeshow stand in Sydney in Feb and the year is well underway!

Tuesday 3 January 2012


A special Cava tin I bought whilst in Spain

Wow! What an amazing year 2011 was! Friday 6 Jan makes it one year officially since we made the tree change to Ballarat and just over 6 months since the opening of my corner shop The Crafty Squirrel.

In the lead up to Christmas we caught up with some dear friends for a nice drinks and nibbles (as you do) and being the well-traveled lot they are the drink of the evening was Spanish Cava (Cava is Catalan for "cellar" and is produced the same way as champagne but can't be called champagne…)

Anyway…this reminded me of my fantastic trip to Spain all those years ago (before I had children) and I wined and dined my way around the country. I have always been a big fan of sparkling wine so of course Cava was often on the menu as was a selection of tapas to keep me going until I had dinner at 11pm as the Spanish like to do.

Mmm…tapas….yum….tapas….I love tapas… fact - I love any kind of eating that is made up of lots of different things – primarily eaten with your fingers. The kids and I call this kind of eating a ‘picky dinner’ because we all get to pick little bits of different things to eat. Yum!

Not long after our Cava evening – my husband Sam came home with a Christmas gift for himself – two Jamie Oliver cookbooks. One of the books is based around his interpretation of well known favourite foods of various European countries with Spain being first cab off the rank.

Jamie does...Spain, Italy, Morocco, Greece, Sweden & France
Croquetas were one of my favourite tapas – naughty, but so delicious you just can’t help yourself. Of course Jamie has a recipe which I am inspired to try myself and I know the addition of this tasty morsel in a summer ‘picky’ dinner - al fresco in our garden is definitely on the cards…along with another glass or two of Cava to wash it all down.

Here’s Cheers! Salud! Happy Summer everyone!