Tuesday, February 26, 2013

a little patchwork

I get asked a lot about the patchwork pieces I have in the store and how to go about making them.
As you can see from my ottoman, when it comes to my sewing skills, we are talking only the basic basics. 
Nothing more complicated than some straight seam sewing. About my limit!
In fact, a true patchworker would probably have fifty fits at my mismatched seams and unmatched piecing. But in this case, this bit is intentional.
Though it may look haphazard, I can truthfully say there is absolutely nothing random about the way it all goes together.
I love a mixture of texture - in fact I think this is essential, so use a mix of velvets, silks, printed and embroidered cottons, whatever is in your fabric stash, but make sure you mix it up.
Limit your colour palette - a mismatch needs to somehow feel balanced and harmonious, and if you don't reign in your colour palette, it may just end up looking a little crazy and OTT.
Then I play around with the fabric pieces, moving them here and there like some kind of jigsaw puzzle for some time before committing them to the sewing machine.
Sew your pieces into long strips, and then join the strips together.
In my case, I'm always aiming to create a piece of fabric that my upholsterer can then treat as if it is a regular length of upholstery fabric. My skills are in putting the patchwork piece together, but then I hand the whole piece over to my upholsterer to complete the project.

Why am I telling you all this? Well I know that many of you who fought bravely for the fabric remnants at our store sale today are going to attempt a project along these lines. And all of those silks and velvets are pretty pretty perfect for a little random patchwork fun.
(And if you need more, the sale has two more days to run!)

While you're at it, how about a little wallpaper randomness too?
(Yes, there are still plenty of these samples and offcuts in the sale too.)

Happy patching!
Amanda xx
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Friday, February 22, 2013

(some of my) favourite flowers #52lists

I'm late to the #52lists party - I hope only fashionably so, and not offend-the-hostess-rudely-so.
But I love the idea of a list a week, and optimistically think I just might be able to keep up with this one. After all I do love lists, and they go hand in hand with pencils & notebooks, which are also a big love.
I'm sure some of the lists will take a lot more thought than this one, which is a list of my favourite flowers.
Hmmm. I thought it would be easy, and at first I thought that the list could just go on and on and on. But then I realised that if I thought only about the flowers that I truly wish had a season that lasted a whole year, then I could perhaps narrow it down to these.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. I'm so looking forward to mine. Just for a little down time to be honest. Brunnel has been away overseas again, and maybe it's an age thing, but between work & the girls, life sure has seemed busy.

Amanda x

P.S If you'd like to play along with #52lists you can find out all about it with Pip over at Meet Me At Mikes. And you can play on instagram too. Same #52lists tag.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

quick fix ~ card games

I thought I'd change handbags this morning.
Something I obviously don't do often enough, because not only was there that thrill of rediscovering a favourite Orla Kiely bag, but there was also the thrill of the unexpected treasures lurking in its depths.
Amongst the several hundred old tissues and eftpos receipts was a favourite lipstick, some lovely ribbon trims, an 'I'm sorry for my bad behaviour' note from Eva, a non-winning scratchy, and a vintage set of 'Old Maid' cards that I had bought ages ago, and had seemingly been looking for ever since.
I love old 'Old Maid' cards, and have several versions.
Most of them distinctly politically incorrect by today's standards. 
I have one set where Mrs Punch, the Boxer's wife, is sporting a very obvious black eye.
Anyway, I think vintage games like this look amazing framed, and by their nature, make a unique & fun artwork.

 So quick and easy breezy to do.
Truly, when I played about with the set in these photos, at the beach over summer, it took me longer to pull the back off the old frame, than it did to lay out the cards and stick them in.
Of course, you might take less of a gung-ho approach than me, and actually frame them properly, but hey, I was at the beach, lucky to have some sticky tape, and in the mood for a little instant gratification!
And now I've found another set, I can do it all over again.

Amanda xx
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Monday, February 18, 2013

Living etc

I'm trying hard to play it cool, but in reality I am unbelievably excited that my home is featured in the February edition of Living etc magazine, which hit the newstands here today.
To be honest, I find it hard to believe.
I have always adored this UK magazine, and never miss an issue.
I love the mix of inspirational homes and ideas, and the personality-filled spaces.
And I'm more than a little over-whelmed that they chose to include our home.

The beautiful photos were taken by Larnie Nicholson & the story pulled together by LeeAnn Yare.
Thanks girls!

Amanda x
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Friday, February 15, 2013

fluoro flowers

You'll be thinking I'm going all fluoro this week.
I'm as fluoro as Eva has suddenly gone all crafty.
I just had to show you her Valentine's present to her Mum...

A secret bedtime pursuit of finger knitting & hand-sewing.
Truly, my favourite Valentine's Day flower EVER.
(Not that there has been a lot of competition for best flower in the Valentine's Day stakes over the years (Brunnel!), but even if there had been, this would still be the winner.)
I did wonder why she was outside in her nightie looking for twigs, and she did ask if I would tell a wee white lie & sign her homework diary to say that she had done the thirty minutes required 'reading around the world' homework, when in fact she had been finger knitting.
What could I say?

Amanda xx
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013


My girls have become a bit besotted with pompoms.
Suddenly they adorn our school bags, our key chains & our door handles.
In bed, in the car, in front of TV, we're busy making pompoms.
I guess they are quite compulsive, especially in these gorgeous fluoro pops of colour.
And they truly are so easy to make.
My grandmother first taught me how to make pompoms when I was about Eva's age, and Eva, being the queen of tutorials, thought that maybe it would be a good idea to make a tutorial for the blog.
Naturally, she wanted to take charge, model & direct.

So, without further ado...

1. All you need is some cardboard & some wool. From your cardboard, cut two identical donut-shaped circles. Nothing fancy, we used a cereal box for the card, and a cannister lid & an eggcup to draw our circles. Eva's circles are approximately 9cm in diameter.
2. Cut a length of wool that is manageable & tie it around both circles.
3. Wrap the wool around & around the circles, keeping it neat, reasonably close together & the tension about the same.
4. When you come to the end of your length of wool, simply knot another piece on to the end & keep going around. For a multi-coloured pompom, this is how you add in your other colours.
5. Keep wrapping your wool, overlapping your previous layers. The more layers, the thicker & denser the pompom.
Note that Eva's rings are especially colour co-ordinated for the purposes of this tutorial!!

6. Eva wrapped around 3 layers of wool in total around her circles.
7. Now the tricky part. You need a small sharp pair of scissors. With your hand in the middle of the donut, holding the wool tight, carefully part the wool at the outer edge so that you can gently wiggle your scissors in between the cardboard layers & snip the wool strands right on the edge.
8. Gradually snip all the way around, holding the wool tight with your other hand. Don't let go now!
9. Take another long piece of wool to use to tie your pompom. Once you've snipped, or for a big pompom, while you're snipping, gently slip this between the two cardboard layers, and tie it tightly around the middle. Little ones will need a bit of help with this step.
10. With the middle tightly tied & secured, gently wiggle off your cardboard circles & fluff up your pompom into a ball.
And you're done.
As easy as pie.
We're understandably, quite pleased with ourselves!
Thanks Eva, for all your help. Yes, maybe next time we'll think about the video.
Yes, everyone will love your tutorial, and they'll be busy making pompoms in next to no time.
The photos look good. Well, yes, it might have been nice to paint your nails, but they would have got a bit fluffy, & it is a school day tomorrow, so you'd have to take it off again. Your hair looks lovely. The straightener & the rolly brush thing have worked their magic. No, no-one really sees your hair. Yes, I'm putting the tutorial up on the blog tonight.
Of course I'll let you know what they think!

Amanda x
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Thursday, February 7, 2013

one-offs & yabberings

I love Abigail Ahern! If you're not a follower of her blog then I urge you to sign up now.
In her own words, she likes to yabber on all day about bucking the trends, and doing things that go against the supposed rules of interior decorating. I find myself nodding my head, and pretty much agreeing with almost everything she says. I only wish I could have been in Sydney this week to hear her yabber on at Decoration & Design, but alas, it couldn't be justified. I have ordered her new book Decorating With Style for the store, and can't wait until its launch next month. (Yes, lucky Australia has launched it already to coincide with her visit.)

Anyway, often times Abigail's yabberings (love that word) are about individuality when it comes to your interiors.  The idea that you don't need millions of dollars to create a cool interior, but that you do need to think outside the box when it comes to creating a look that is completely unique & individual.

The best & most inviting homes do not look like something out of a catalogue.
Yes, of course, mass-markety things are fine & a part of everyday living, but what can you do to that Freedom shelf or that Big Save sofa to take it to the next level?
It's the little things you put around them or the junk shop finds that sit alongside them that will elevate your space, & turn it into something that is all about you.

A couple of images to sort of illustrate my point.
These are at the bach, where half a shoestring was the decorating budget.
Common-garden bed & side tables.
Old Indian cut-work bedcover. Embroidered rug carted back from Turkey.
Wallpaper drop hung on a branch with pegs. Books & flowers (in an old bottle) of course.
Junk shop finds on the windowsill. All much-loved finds.

 My signs on the wall in the living room.
In its previous life, our bach was a rentable holiday cabin, and these signs advertised it up and down the valley. I rescued them off fences and power poles, and one was only revealed after a flood one year when the flood waters receded.
They tell such a story, to me anyway, and I love them to bits.
All unique & individual.
These are the sort of things that you won't find overnight, and often they'll mysteriously find you, but isn't that the joy of decorating? After all a room is never done!
(And now that I look at that bedroom again, it's a bit too matchy maybe. Time to rethink it!)

Amanda xx
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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

dahlias in the house

Oh my goodness, I was so excited when I realised it was time for Jane's monthly 'Flowers in the House' post today.
Because of course aside from being a skite, and accidental grower of astonishingly beautiful dahlias, this is the time when they are truly looking beautiful, and are still prolific enough to bowl me over each time I see them holding court in the garden.

 Dahlias in the bathroom, along with a little gone-to-seed dill, and a lacey hydrangea.
Nature never fails to amaze.

Dahlias in the garden. Dahlias in the entrance, and dahlias in the hall.
Dahlias in jars. Dahlias in bottles. Dahlias in teacups. Dahlias in beautiful ceramics.
Can one ever have too many dahlias?
I don't think so.

Dahlias in the store.
There are plenty to go around - for now.
I confess that I am desperately trying to keep them flowering for the house tour, and I fear that I'm losing the battle.
Come March 1st and I'm afraid that the only things in the garden will be big fat dahlia-fed caterpillars. Plus I can tell the flowers are already smaller, and don't have the staying power they usually have.
Any advice from real gardeners gratefully received!!(Please!)

Don't worry though, I'll enjoy them while I can!
Amanda xx

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Friday, February 1, 2013

happy weekend

Apologies for the lack of posts this week.
Blame it on the weather.
Wellington has been basking in some unprecedented spell of the most glorious weather. 
Days on end of not just warm, but hot, sunshine. And perhaps more tellingly, no wind.
I have never seen so many people swimming at Oriental Bay ever.
It's as if we've been transported to a tropical oasis.
Normally, Wellingtonians joke that we don't choose to live in this city for the weather.
We love our little city, but the challenge of standing upright in the wind can be a little wearing at times.
However, we also have another saying - that you can't beat Wellington on a good day.
And I can't help but think that the cruise ships that have been in this week, and the thousands in town this weekend for the huge party that is the rugby sevens are absolutely seeing Wellington on a good day.

Have a lovely weekend!
Amanda xx

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