Sunday, March 28, 2010

take a seat - rustic is good

Amongst my chair fetishes are many design classics. But sometimes the simplicity and honesty of an old chair is the best kind of chair. No provenance as such, no recognised designer, but a long, and possibly accomplished history. Possibly not. Definitely a full life. Several coats of paint, mostly worn off. A replaced arm. Many chips. Evidence of bora. Heavy, solid and dependable.
I'm sure many would have consigned this chair to the tip long ago. Rescued instead, it sits in semi-retirement in our family room.
Many years of life in the old chap yet. 
Do you have a favourite upcycled piece?
Amanda xx

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

thank you thank you

In her ever so helpful giveaway tips, Mise, the queen of giveaway wins, advises that it is sometimes a fine line between gracious acknowledgement of your win, and shameless gloating. She advises that one mustn't worry if the line is sometimes crossed. Then presumably, she will not mind if I indulge in a little self-congratulatory celebration at my recent giveaway win. 
How happy was I when the lovely Anita from Fun and VJs drew my name from the bowl, making me the lucky lucky winner of this gorgeous Marimekko cushion.  I think this is my favourite Marimekko fabric, and as you can see, it is very much at home here with me!
For those of you who don't know Anita's blog, you must go and visit. Fun and VJ's chronicles the trials and tribulations of the renovations Anita and her family are undertaking on their Queensland home. Plus, Anita has a brilliant eye for some great modernist pieces, and I'm envious of some of her vintage finds!
So, thank you so much Anita, and Mise, I'm sorry for your loss...this time!

Also, at the end of last week I had a lovely email from Maddie of Li'l Magoolie. In the current retail environment, you have no idea how nice it is to have someone tell you you might be doing something right! Maddie's blog is so uplifting and positive and is a great source of inspiration for creative mums and kids. Great crafts, kids rooms, birthday party ideas and so much more. So, I was blown away today by Maddie's fantastic feature on Small Acorns. Wow Maddie, thanks!!

Amanda xx

P.S Yes, I am also officially a dahlia skite! I just knew I should grow those colours to go with the cushion I foresaw winning!

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Monday, March 22, 2010

peg it up

The girls and I love peg dolls. Don't ask me how or why we started making them, but we've had a little collection going for a few years now, and have several 'installations' around the house. Something about their simplicity and quirkiness is very appealing. 
So I asked them if they would make me a few dolls that I could use in an upcoming promotion we are having instore. Small Acorns is having a 'peg doll competition'. Inspired by Project Runway, and our new season Trelise Cooper kids clothes, we thought it might be fun to see how creative our young ones could be.  We will display all the entered peg models instore, and the winner will win Trelise Cooper kids clothes to the value of $250. The only stipulation is that you must be 14 years old or younger.
I needed a few peg dolls that could be photographed to promote the competition and generate a few ideas.
My girls were wildly excited. Could they enter?  They both fancy being let loose with a voucher to choose things Mummy won't let them have.
'Of course', I said....'but you won't win'. 
'Even if our dolls are the best' said Milly? 
'You still won't win'.
'Is that kind of like pass the parcel at my birthday party when you say I won't win either' said Eva?
'Exactly' I said.

But, if you fancy entering, or if you know someone who might like to enter, the need to knows are all here...
And you have a good chance of winning. We'll even send you a starter kit with a peg and a few fabrics if you like.
We'll see you on the runway!

Amanda xx

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

sibella court - etcetera etc

Do you find that sometimes you come across an article or image in a magazine, and without thinking, realise that it really resonates with you? I remember vividly the article in Inside Out which featured Australian stylist Sibella Court's amazing Manhattan loft apartment. This amazing space was filled (to the brim) with very personal, eclectic collections, and all curated with an eye for such detail. In Sibella's own words, 'it's like a museum, without the do not touch signs'. Here was a girl who had an original, vintage bus scroll on the wall, not because it was trendy (how I hate that word), but because it was her school bus route. That magazine article was tucked away in my subconscious until I came across Sibella's beautiful book etcetera etc at the end of last year. I 'recognised' some of the collections and imagery immediately. I am not a crazed stalker, but, my trip to Sydney last month meant that I at last had the chance to visit Sibella's new store The Society Inc, which is situated in an old corner shop in Paddington. Just one of her 'day jobs' - stylist, interiors editor of Grazia magazine, author and paint ambassador for Murobond, The Society Inc is a fabulously eclectic store which showcases Sibella's collections with a stylist's eye for detail. Every thing in the store is curated around a theme, and every 3 months this theme changes, and so too does everything in the store. At the heart of each theme is a 10 colour palette, and accompanying paint range, designed by Sibella. The current theme - Tender is the Night reflects old-fashioned gardens with nasturtiums and geraniums, butterflies and the background hum of cicadas. Everything instore is curated around this lovely rich colour palette. An apparently haphazard mix of vintage & new, hand made and mass made, actually all very carefully & beautifully placed together. The sort of store where something must come home with you.
Sibella's book is available exclusively in the US at anthropologie, and excitingly, she is launching it in the UK this week at the opening of the new anthropologie store in Kings Rd. She will even sign it for you - 2.30pm on Thursday 18th.

Amanda xx
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Monday, March 15, 2010

don, meet barbie

If only Ken had shown some of Don Draper's impeccable style, he may still be around. Just look at Barbie's new friends. Don & Betty Draper, Roger Sterling & Joan Holloway are about to become immortalised as Mattel plans to bring out versions of Barbie and Ken styled after the four 'Mad Men' characters. The limited edition collectable dolls will be launched in July to coincide with the new television season of 'Mad Men'.
I think I just may have found the perfect 'family' for that ever-so-stylish dolls' house.Or maybe not so perfect. After all, Don has a propensity for adultery, Betty is divorcing Don for another man, and Joan was Roger's mistress. It's quite complicated. But oh so perfect for Barbie, don't you agree! 

Amanda xx

P.S I think my original 1960's era Barbie has a distinct 'Joan' look about her, don't you?

(Read the full New York Times article here)
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Friday, March 12, 2010

neighbours from hell

Dear Neighbours,
I wish to apologise for that little disturbance last night. You may have thought for a moment that the comic fire brigade had indeed revolted from their arts festival shop window. Instead it was a comedy of errors playing out at our house. And the fact that it happened at around 2 in the morning, and went on for some excruciatingly long time, perhaps half an hour - well, I am not sure how to explain. 
Suffice to say that our house alarm roaring into life at such a time, in the middle of a nice, quiet, albeit rainy, Wellington night, was as much a surprise to us, as I'm sure it was to you. And believe me, we were indeed home, we just didn't know how exactly to turn it off. And yes, I know it got progressively worse. I heard it too. Up very close and personal it was. You see, I too was fast asleep, Brunnel snoring alongside me, when there was indeed a loud and rude awakening. Even Brunnel heard it, and believe me, that means it was loud. We staggered up wondering what the cacophony was. Is now a good time to confess that we hadn't actually heard our house alarm ever before? So you see, it took a small befuddled moment to register that the noise was indeed coming from the siren on the front of our house. From an alarm that was certainly not set. It took another befuddled moment to realise that there had been a power cut, and then there was a moment of panic as we staggered around in the dark wondering how to turn off an alarm that in theory wasn't on. But, as you, dear neighbour, were well aware, it was on. How do you turn off an alarm when there is no power to the keypad, and not one light showing on said keypad? And no, we don't have a remote, or a key.... I tried hitting it. This did not work.
Just to check we were all awake, suddenly in the hall, a noise that at first sounded like a strangled budgie, also roared into action. Yes, that would have been the internal siren that you then heard above the noise of the external siren. Brunnel, in his undies, was a sight to behold. He was outside, in the rain, in the meter box, frantically turning off switches. I reminded him gently, that there was no power. I didn't think that turning off a power switch in the meter box was going to be much help. He didn't appreciate my help. Meanwhile, thinking we had a full-scale emergency, Eva had a meltdown, and Bruno the dog, joined in. Sensible cool-headed Milly, found the torch. Encouraged by the panic, the internal siren gained strength. Now we had two sirens screaming. Brunnel, wobbling on a stool, up in a high cupboard, had remembered another 'alarm box'. It was full of wires. I reminded him, gently again, that there was no power.
Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the external siren died. I'm sure you were relieved. However, the siren in the hall had unfinished business. Amongst the crying and the dog howling, it just went on and on and on. It became quite apparent that the only way to 'shut it up' would be somehow getting it off the ceiling and disconnecting it. No easy thing when this is 3.5 metres high. We needed our trusty tool kit and a ladder. Brunnel put his jeans on to run down to the garage. We didn't need to upset any more neighbours, should any of you chance him in his undies. Slight problem. No power, no garage access. The tool kit became a knife & a phillips head screwdriver. We needed the other kind of screwdriver.
Up on the very top of the ladder, his finger in a hole to deafen the siren ever so slightly, Brunnel was not happy. The knife was being difficult and I was not holding the torch in the right place. Some long long minutes later, and we were victorious. The siren was overcome. Your relief was palpable. The silence was golden.
It was short-lived.
The power came back on, and with it, what sounded, alarmingly, like another siren. What the... ?!!  Did we know we had another internal siren? Who needs two internal sirens? Us apparently. Motivated by a surge of power, this siren was really piercing. Oh yes, you know that. Sorry. 
Back on the ladder. At least we knew what to do this time, and we could see. Another finger in another hole. Some more choice words. More dog howling...
It was a long long night. When silence was once again restored, Brunnel and I needed a scotch. And how we enjoyed it too.
Will you forgive us, and allow us to live amongst you once more?
Yours truly.

P.S Have a great weekend. We're having a quiet one...
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

living in a small world

I spent hours playing with my doll's house when I was young. No ordinary doll's house, my Dad made it for me. Living room, kitchen dining room, up the stairs to two bedrooms and a bathroom, and two bedrooms in the gabled attic. Wall to wall purple carpet, lino in the kitchen, a brick fireplace, matchstick framed paintings on the wall, one a beaming portrait of my Dad (his sense of humour, I don't remember thinking it funny at the time. Actually I don't remember it at the time. I think it may have sprung up more recently!)
For me it was all about the decorating. I would make my miniature furnishings and objets and then spend forever arranging and rearranging. (Some things never change!) The dolls' house was stored, until recently, under my parent's house. And although the dolls' house itself is in brilliant condition, I have absolutely no idea what has happened to all its furniture. It is as if the owners moved out, leaving only the fixed chattels. Oh yes, they left behind the purple carpet, which has definitely survived 30 plus years under the house.
Anyway, when I saw this beautifully decorated dolls' house in a recent Elle Decoration I was instantly smitten. And I had decorating envy. I wanted to move in. Contemporary-vintage style, and a treasure-trove of design inspiration, it is the work of Emily Chalmers & her friend, wallpaper designer Deborah Bowness. I've been coveting one of Deborah's works for some time. Miniature versions of Deborah's wallpapers which I adore, adorn this house from top to bottom.

Much of the furniture is vintage, and it has real lights. I'm sounding like 'our Else' in my favourite Katherine Mansfield short story 'The Doll's House', when she says 'I seen the little lamp' - but just look at that chandelier.

I'm thinking I might have to move the purple carpet on, and lavish a little love on my dolls' house. Of course I'll keep Dad's portrait. Just perhaps give it a gilt frame. 

Amanda xx
(Images Elle Decoration)

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Monday, March 8, 2010

retail detail - printemps

A respected blog reader has suggested that I dispense with my dating and relationship advice, and get back to my day job. And he even had a few ideas which he suggested I check out.
So Dad, I didn't know that you were on the mailing list for 'Printemps', the most beautiful department store in Paris, and I would have to say that I am somewhat impressed. And yes, you are right. The storewide displays created to co-incide with the release of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland are amazing. The store has truly become wonderland, complete with a Mad Hatter's Laduree Tea Party. 
Catch some of the inspiration here...

Fancy a macaron croque en bouche anyone? Now I just need to get to the actual movie!!

Amanda xx
(And Dad, thanks for the link.)

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Friday, March 5, 2010

still looking for mr right?

I have a sneaking suspicion that despite the wealth of talent available on the dating scene, some of you may still be looking for l-o-v-e.
I hate to be so blunt, but perhaps it is your technique that needs a little sharpening?
Never let it be said that I don't do my best to help.

The art of meeting men. Wow! Watch and learn. Have a giggle, throw a few drinks, and have a great weekend!

Amanda xx
(Thanks again Huffington Post)
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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

playing dress-ups

 Today it was time to decide on the delectable Trelise Cooper kids collection for summer 2011. Hard to believe I know when we are only 3 days in to autumn 2010. I always feel a little over-whelmed and under-dressed when I visit Trelise's showroom! After all, it is a veritable mecca for anyone remotely interested in New Zealand fashion, and her team always look amazing. Even the sample sewers look as though they've stepped from the pages of a fashion magazine. I studied my Fashion Quarterly on the plane feverishly. All this and I'm buying kids wear! 

For those of you who don't know of Trelise Cooper, she is one of our most successful fashion designers. Her upcoming uniforms for Air New Zealand may be contentious, but no doubt they'll turn heads. 
Her kids' range is both pure fantasy & fantastical. Every little girls idea of the ultimate dress-up. (If you missed it, I blogged about her AW10 kids fashion week parade here.)
I thought you may like to see a few images of the dedicated Trelise Cooper kids store. A children's wonderland, from the life-sized blossom trees at the front, down past the 'tea party' where special fluffys are served in beautiful teacups with multiple marshmallows, to the dressing rooms at the rear. Each dressing room is different - one all mirrored, one a soft fairy dell, one an all out party pad with ultra thick, red shag pile covering all four walls and floor, and the one I'd like to take home - a padded cell, also red of course. But the centrepiece of the store, other than the clothes, is the glass storybook floor. On my last visit it was The Wizard of Oz portrayed in miniature beneath the glass that had everyone spellbound.

As Brunnel dropped me at the airport this morning, his last words were 'Don't buy too much'. He wasn't talking about the kids clothes...
After all, what is a girl to do when she is allowed to choose a few treats for herself from Trelise's 'wardrobe'!

Amanda xx
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Monday, March 1, 2010

all the fun of the fair

I'm back! Perhaps a little worse for wear, but all in one piece, and with plenty of new ideas. I think that's possibly one of the best things about visiting the trade shows. Even if you don't necessarily find lots of new goodies, it is the perfect opportunity to pick up new ideas, look at how others merchandise, & get a feel for some new directions. And, as well as buying some special new treasures for the store, dare I say it, it also gives me an idea of what not to buy.  I often don't want what everyone else seems to think is fabulous. I'm still not sure if this is a good or a bad thing! But I have learnt after how ever many years, that I only ever buy the things that I love. It's my golden rule. And I have learnt to trust my instincts. I just have to hope that my darling Small Acorns customers will see things my way!!
And the nicest thing about a trade show, especially a boutique event, is catching up with the talented creatives, artists and makers behind some of the beautiful niche ranges we are fortunate to stock at Small Acorns. I'll have more for you about some of them later in the week. 
Now, it's time to catch up with some of your blogs! I've missed my daily fix!

Amanda xx
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