Friday, August 31, 2012

happy weekend

Gosh this week has flown along!
And tomorrow it's Spring - officially - and long may this gorgeous weather continue.
I'm popping in quickly as I have a school disco to prepare for. Oh dear.
It's fancy dress - 50's style - and both girls are absolutely mortified that not only are their parents coming to the disco, but that we're embracing the fancy dress thing.
Well, isn't that parents pay back?
I sure remember my parents doing it to me!
The girls are very worried about Brunnell and his dance moves.
Frankly so am I!
 I have my 'pink lady' a la Grease outfit all ready. 
It's hidden under the bed for a little last minute surprise. 
(And don't worry - there's no hint of Olivia Newton John. I know my limits!)
I have promised I won't sing.
I might dance just a little, nothing embarrassing.
I just sure hope that the other parents are dressing up too.

Have a lovely weekend.
Amanda xx
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

dusky grey & magnolia pink

I realise these images may not make much sense.
You're wondering what it is you're looking at.
In its entirety, there are so many beautiful elements.
Capturing them while squashed into a corner of the shop window, not so easy!
It's a simple combination.
Plush dusky grey velvet on a beautiful deep buttoned sofa.
Dip-dyed ever-so-slightly-crushed charcoal linen in the background, fading from almost black to chalky white.
And these stunning magnolia branches.
Hints of pink amongst the grey.

And this is work you say? 
A little fluffing at the store!
Don't we all have days where we need a little fluff.

Amanda xx

PS Jane - does this count as a Flowers in the House, when it's more a flowers at the store?
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

quick fixes for an (instant) spring

I gave myself a little pat on the back when, back in April, I managed to organize myself and plant some bulbs.
I imagined that come August/September, my true Martha Stewart self would be rewarded with flourishing pots of beautiful daffodils, freesias and hyacinths.
I smiled to myself when I saw those little green shoots pushing their way through the soil.
The mere thought of spring, longer, warmer days and...somewhere in the not too distant future, summer, spurred me on. I cheered on those brave little bulbs.

Except that, the next time I went to check on them, something was not quite right. 
What was that protruding from the soil? And why was everything dug up?
How he had managed to 'plant' his bone in a gigantic pot twice as tall as he is, I have no idea.
But there it was, in all its mould-ridden, smelly glory, poking up in the middle.
The bulbs were all over the show, growing down into the pot I think. 
What's more, my Plan B, the 'other' bulb pot, was showing obvious signs of not enough water.
No more nice green shoots. A lot of brown.
Spring was not looking so hopeful after all.
Martha was a failure.

But thankfully, all is not lost.
I love those pots of pre-sprouted bulbs that one can buy at the market.
A quick transfer into one's rustic olive tin, and 'voila', it looks as though one has spent much much much time and effort with her hyacinth bulbs in the back of a dark cupboard.

Except she didn't! Five minutes with her tin and her potting mix was about all it took.
I think even Martha would approve.

Oh, and I have salvaged as many of the original bulbs as I could.
They're on their merry way again - spring will just be a little later.
Amanda xx

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Monday, August 20, 2012

sorted no.2

When I was, ooh, probably a teenager, I vividly remember my mother saying to my sister & I that we were to tell her if she was turning in to her mother.
And then I remember that when we did tell her, that she wasn't very happy with either of us.

And now the worm has turned.
I have become my mother.
Without warning I suddenly hear myself saying exactly what she would say.
(Brunnell especially thinks it's frightening.)

One of Mum's many mantras...  (and she still says it)
'don't put down, put away'.
It used to drive us crazy.
Except now, I hear that self same saying coming from me.
'don't put down, put away'.

When everyone ignores me, I resort to, wait for it, Virgo's unite - my etc drawers.
Old steel filing drawers in a past life.
Oh yes, you can snigger, but these little drawers are the answer to the don't put down put away. 
They keep my Virgo intolerance of mess, tolerant.
You see, there are three 'etc' drawers.
One for Milly, one for Eva, and one for everything else (mostly Brunnell).
Anything that gets dumped anywhere that it's not meant to be dumped goes in to the etc drawers.
And if you have kids, then you know that this could be anything and everything and all at the same time!
Once a week I threaten that anything left in the etc drawer really will be dumped, although I confess I've never actually gone through with this promise.
I love these little drawers because though not put away, they satisfy the don't put down part of the equation, and the family love them, because they can usually find their stuff without having to look too hard.

Happy wife, happy life.
Amanda xx
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

china blue

I'm feeling a bit like a one-armed paper hanger this week.
Those days where you go around in a circle, come back to the start, and can't remember what you set out to do in the first place!
I guess that's why this store window took two days to pull together instead of one.
I started again on Day 2 - day one's effort was so bad!

The daffodils & jonquils save the day!
A joyful burst of spring amongst the indigo china blues which are my favourite interior fix right now.
A rummage down in the garage produced some of my old blue & white china plates - complete with plate hangers and dust from when they must have last seen the light of day!

Vintage japanese indigo fabric from my stash, traditional indian block-printed indigo fabric from my recent trip, and the latest beautifully woven Designers Guild linens, silks & indigo wallpaper. 
These indigo blues span at least 150 years.
I guess some colours have and always will inspire.

Amanda xx  
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Monday, August 13, 2012


I am not a minimal sort of person.
'Really', I hear you say. 'We would n-e-v-e-r have known that. Yawn.'
'Tell us something we don't know.'
'Like, how do you balance your obsessive-compulsive, overly fussy, attention to detail, OTT, mess detesting, drive your family bonkers Virgo self with the obsessive-collector magpie, who just can't help herself when it comes to gathering 'stuff'?'

Quite simple really.
A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Example no.1 - the old postal cubbyhole sorter above.
This steel treasure has been around the traps. 
It has known Errol's and Frank's and Milly's and Eva's - because Errol and Frank had both carved their names on it, loud & clear, and more recently, it entertained my girls for hours at our office, because it contained cubbyhole after cubbyhole of makeup testers.
After ten years on makeup duty, I thought it deserved a little bit of a makeover itself.
A visit to the powder-coater, a smart new uber-dark grey paint job, and my postal sorter has a new role in life.
It sorts all my little treasures - rulers, kokeshis, peg dolls, and all sorts of ephemera. 
Lots of little things that I move in, and move out again. Little things that, depending on how you look at them, could tend towards 'clutter' if spread out everywhere, but are kept in check by their allocated cubbyhole. Little things that in themselves are not remotely cohesive, but look so, because they're all 'sorted'.
Oh, and did I mention the magazines? Look how perfect it is for my magazines.
Inside Out, Elle Deco, Living etc, all in their piles, and easily accessible - you see, a place for everything, and everything in its' place!
Who said I was overly fussy?

Amanda xx
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Friday, August 10, 2012

it's peg doll time...

It's no secret... I love my peg dolls.
For those of you new to my blog, they are something of an obsession!
I love the idea of taking something as simple as a plain wooden peg, and with a little imagination, some glue, and a few scraps of fabric, ribbon and paper, suddenly you have this little doll with personality.
My girls and I have made them together since the girls were small.
Then, a couple of years ago, it struck me that if we loved peg dolls, then surely other kids would love making them too. And so the Small Acorns peg doll competition was born.
And, just like Topsy, since then, the idea has sprouted.
That first year, we had to explain what a peg doll was to so many. Now they all know.
That in itself is reward in this tech-savvy world of toys that we now have.
Last year, sensing that not just the kids wanted to have a go, we introduced a 'grown-up' category to the competition, and wow, that was amazing too.
The youngest entrant was 2 years and 3 months old. The oldest 64 and counting.
Simple and naive or detailed and ornate, all the dolls were special in their own way.
Our window had over 300 peg dolls decorating it.
More than anything else, almost everyone told us how much fun they had had making their little dolls, and that's what makes me smile the most.

And now, it's time for this year's competition.
Can you tell I'm excited!
I'm like a clucky mother hen when it comes to these peg dolls.
I take them all under my wing while they're instore.
(And give them a home if they're unclaimed after the competition. The dolls in the image above are all adopted.)

The amazing dolls above were all entered in last year's competition.
Miss Stella (top right) was selected as the overall winner. Her creator was age 5.
The beautiful rosy creation (bottom centre) was our 'grown-up' winner.
Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, selected 14 of our entries last year to go in to their permanent collection. How incredible is that! They have recently gone on display in their very own display case for a year, and online they are here.

So, are you, or your little ones, going to enter this year?
You can find out everything you need to know about this year's competition here.
And we'll accept entries from near and far.
I know that so many of my blog friends are so very creative.
I'd love you to enter!!
And you'd have so much fun - I promise.

Amanda xx
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Monday, August 6, 2012

bloomin' lovely

My lovely husband sent me some flowers last week.
'What a greaser' my Dad would say.
And yes, perhaps he was feeling just a little guilty for being in Hawaii without his wife.
But, in his defence, Brunnell has always been quite good at sending flowers, especially, for no reason at all, other than that he knows I love them, and they're bound to earn him a few extra brownie points.
And who doesn't love to receive flowers?
Little bunch of joy that they are.

Mind you, I remember the first flowers I was ever sent.
From a boy named Rodney.
We were at high school, and, well, to put it nicely, he wasn't remotely on my radar.
And I had absolutely no clue that I was on his.
I didn't think girls in general were on his radar, if you get my drift.
Out of the blue this huge box of blooms was delivered to the door.
Long-stemmed red roses - two dozen.
Lovely - except.... they were fake, something about everlasting love in the note.
Oh my goodness. It took me a while to live that one down amongst my friends!

The flowers that arrived last week - fortunately, an entirely different matter!
Having a florist who knows exactly what to put in the bunch is also most helpful.
And this particular bunch were so simple, and yet the most beautiful combination -
pink ranunculus.
They looked beautiful, and smelled amazing.

Of course the first thing I did was split the bunch up into several smaller arrangements.
That way I can enjoy them throughout the house, and not just in the one vase.
Here are a few sitting on a 'new' old stool, that has just happened to make an appearance while Brunnell has been away.
I wonder if he'll notice that he now has somewhere to put his wine glass?
Will he notice any other changes?
Probably not, but I have been amusing myself moving things here and there.
I've switched around artwork and played with some of my collections.
Nothing major - not this time! 

Have a lovely week.
Amanda xx
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Thursday, August 2, 2012

reading matter

I sometimes think Brunnell & I are like chalk and cheese. 
The perfect example of opposites attracting, or my 'mix not match' interior theory, if it were applied to relationships.
A case in point? Our choice of reading material.
He left me a few 'goodies' to read while he is away.
I know what you're thinking!
No - not Fifty Shades of Grey.
His selections are carefully photocopied, and my name is highlighted in the corner, especially marked for my attention. See?
It's like homework!
Brunnell's selections are all in the interests of sales and marketing.
The gospel according to his gurus - Dan Kennedy, Bill Glazer, Michael Gerber, Tony Robbins et al.
(If I went through his book case we'd be here for a l-o-n-g, l-o-o-o-n-g time.)
He's photocopying me my own Sales 101 course. All in the interests of Small Acorns of course.
He'd really like me to have progressed beyond 101 by now, but I'm proving a challenge.
And it's not that I think I know everything, or that I don't appreciate his efforts, or even that I don't enjoy the (odd) photocopy. I do enjoy just the odd one. I have picked up a few ideas. I have done some of my homework. I know only almost everything!
It's just that, well, visually, these are a little on the dry side.
Why do they all seem to frown on a little visual inspiration?
Does the odd pretty picture harm?
Which is why I am alternating my course material with a few items from my bookcase.
My gurus - Tricia Guild, Sibella Court, Megan Morton, Terence Conran et al, and the combined efforts of all the team at Elle Deco, Inside Out & Living etc. Not to mention the blogworld.
I do believe in a well-rounded education!

So, I have another week to finish my homework, and then Brunnell will be back with what I'm sure will be some more interesting reading snippets for me.
Something he has gleaned while reclining on the beaches of Hawaii.
Oh yes, his round trip to India, managed to include some 'meetings' in Hawaii. 
Sounds torrid doesn't it! 

Amanda x
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