Wednesday, February 29, 2012

recce, recce, recce, snap, snap, snap!

a new lease for the linen curtains
This week has been full of reconnaissance missions. I have been out on the road scouting for homes to feature in Sunday Life, and boy, there are some beautiful homes around Melbourne that I can't wait to share with everyone.

More than once I have come home with a serious house crush. No less than four times did I come home and want to weep when I looked at our hideous floorboards that are yet to be sanded and limewashed. And many times I came home with a great idea that I immediately put into action. Case in point - Annebelle's curtains. These linen curtains were bought at IKEA some time before we moved to Sydney, so that makes them about eight years old. They have been great, but were starting to yellow, and I was just a bit over them.  Then at an AMAZING home I saw in Prahran, the clever homeowner had exactly the same curtains which she had dyed black, and the result was gorgeous.  A quick trip to Spotty for some dye to pop into the machine and now the moody, slubby, black linen has given Belle's bedroom a great new look.

ps I am still on the hunt for gorgeous homes to feature so please don't hesitate to contact me if you have one or know of one! hx

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

calm? moi?

my dining room, taken on my iphone this morning
Funny how looks can belie the truth.  Here is my dining room this morning - a picture of calm and serenity. I was mucking about, trying out some looks for a table top shoot I styled here today with the incredible photographer Ben King (nup, no relation!). On the surface all was white, pure and quiet, whilst in my head, a zillion thoughts raged and competed for attention...

-what on earth is wrong with our darling cat Sugar? He's been on a drip at the vet for five days and we just can't work out what is wrong with him.  Things are looking pretty grim.

-will Allie make it through a full day of school today?  She has been wobbly since her e.n.t. operation last Friday (she didn't.  And I think I got a speeding fine on my way to collect her. Grrr, so dumb)

-will those couriers ever arrive? (they did).

-I hope that the beautiful print that is precariously balanced in the back of my car doesn't break. (it didn't. phew).

-Shit - I am on deadline for XXX. And I have to submit XXXX. Like, today.

Sometimes I am so grateful that I can slip into my world of work and shut down the hypertensive,  temple-throbbing world outside. Escapism is good. Even just for a moment. Escaped anywhere lately?


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

the passing of the old-school op shop: a lament...

Endangered species - the proper op shop.
OK, warning, this is a rant. So settle in, if you please...

The situation I am talking about is not exactly new, but it is reaching epidemic proportions. I'm talking about the demise of the old-school, slightly whiffy,  full-of-tripping-hazards, op shop. Yes, they are an endangered species. It started a while back - clothes racks that were once haphazardly stocked with garments of wildly varied styles, colours and sizes, suddenly started to look at lot 'smarter'. Those racks, that once upped the heart rate of all oppy-lovers, have been replaced with neatly divided sections, arranged strictly according to size, style, and colour (sometimes even divided into shades of said colour). Just like a department store. Or Country Road.

It's the same with the kitchenware and manchester areas. Where once, old cardboard boxes, filled with endless potential,  were stuffed onto wobbly shelves, they have been replaced with neatly curated displays - china with china, pillow cases with pillow cases, pottery with pottery.  Is it just me - or has the thrill of the chase gone?

Of course I realise that the oppy's had to get on their game - sometimes really valuable stuff was being snapped up for a song by dealers and re-sellers, and thus, robbing the wonderful charities that benefit from these shops of much needed funds. Op shops need pro valuers to ensure this doesn't happen.  But now, everything on display feels like someone else has had the joy of discovery, like they got there first. You almost know that if you find something interesting it's going to be a fluke!

And I know the op-shops don't just exist for hipsters to get their vintage on - they do serve a legitimate service for people on a tight budget.  Which brings me to my next point - how expensive are so many oppy's now?  And it's dumb stuff that seems to get marked up.  Just the other day I saw a Sportsgirl top, probably three seasons old, priced at only a bit less than it would have been bought for back then. As my daughter Alex said, "as if!".  In many cases now, the pricing is way off the mark.

I know I'm going to sound like a total 'back-in-my-day-er', but when I see the new branding of op shops and the styled-up window displays and in-store merchandising, I am left cold.  Freezing in fact.  Even the re-located Salvo's store in the old Patterson's Cakes building on Chapel street, with its industrial-chic fit-out, does nothing for me.  It's cool, but I don't want my op shops to be cool.  I want dead bugs in the window, alongside knitted toilet roll holders, torn copies of old knitting patterns, and creepy looking dolls.  I want to get that old buzz, when you could practically smell some gold in there.  Something unique and special that you had to get down on your knees and dig for.

So, if you're a passionate op-shopper like me, and you find yourself down the back of the stores, straining your neck to get a look inside the 'Staff Only' area, just knowing that the good stuff is all out there, you are not alone.  We have entered the era of the sanitized, curated op-shop. Sob.

a fab old fringed table cloth, picked up for $3 today the Arthritis Foundation oppy in High Street Malvern.  Now that is what I am talking about!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

the love letter...

I love taking the Sunday Age M magazine Savvy Shopper shoots out of the usual studio setting to a beautiful new location. This one was shot at the amazing Franque, where importer Sarah Hook showcases her finds from France and Belgium in a beautiful apartment overlooking Port Philip Bay. The theme of the shoot was an inspirational setting in which to pen an intimate love letter.  How beautiful are those wood and plaster angels? They once formed part of the frame of an ornate mirror in a chateau - can you imagine how amazing that mirror would have been?

If you'd like to known where to buy any of the products on the page, please email me.

on the page yesterday

Photography by Mike Baker, writing and styling by me, copyright owned by Fairfax Media.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


awww, romance, as seen on Albert Park lake this morning
At this time of the year, it's not hard to see hearts everywhere you look. Yep, the annual retail event to celebrate passionate love is here again (l'll post my Valentine's Day Savvy Shopper page later on today).   But even old valentine-cynic me had to stop and swoon at this PDA on Albert Park Lake this morning.  These lovely swans were doing an almost Bolero-esque dance sequence - either that or they were about to do battle - cos it's hard to tell sometimes!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

too far?

You know you're losing your mind when you wish the cat would sit on the green chair, as redheads always look their best in green.

Random thought as I walked down the hallway today.  Fab vintage paddles are from Nyary 64.


Monday, February 6, 2012

My life with Laura...

I rocked some serious Laura Ashley in the 70's. Knee length; floor length; yards and yards of sweet little cream floral prints on olive green and drab brown backgrounds. I remember Peter Pan collars, and long layered skirts. There may have even been a straw hat involved. And if I could be arsed climbing up into the cupboards I could give you some embarrassing photographic evidence, but frankly I think you can live without it.

In the early 80s I had the Laura Ashley home crush, bad. Metres and metres of festooned pale yellow and white vertical striped curtains draped every window, held back by huge tasselly, swaggy tie-backs. There were way too many over-plump cushions on the couch.  My bed linen was so busy that it would give me bad dreams if I tried to sleep under it now. Ooh, and I remember many wallpaper borders -anywhere I could whack them. And dried hydrangeas, Or was that just me?

And here I am in 2012, loving Laura again.  These images of the latest home collection are super-cute and retro-inspired and I think old Laura's descendants are doing a really good job of keeping her brand current.  I want me some.  Even if only so I can have a giggle at myself in twenty years time.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

my wake up call...

wake up to Chrissie and Jane tomorrow
I am not a massive morning radio listener. It's all a bit, you know, early, for me.  But now I, and all of you lucky Melbourne chicks, have a great reason to tune in to 101.1. Tomorrow morning, from 6am 'til 9am, (and every weekday morning after that!), my very lovely and way talented mate, Jane Hall, and her very lovely and way talented mate, Chrissie Swan will grace the airwaves with their all-girl breakfast radio show on Mix. I have a very good feeling about this - and I don't know if it's kosher to say it, but if this show is anything like the breath of fresh air that The Circle was to morning TV, then it is a sure-fire winner. These girls are known for their style, sassy intellect, warmth and honesty. I saw them in action getting celeb vox-pops at the Chorus Line premiere last night - and they crack me up. They will be joined by the extremely onto-it anchorman Jamie Rowe - and man, will he have a job getting a word in edgeways!  So, whether you're are making brekky, doing school drop-off, or (as many of my friends are) rostered on for the rowing training run, here is something worth listening to  - Go girls!  Can't wait.