Tuesday, 31 March 2009

It's no joke...

Q. What do you get when your toddler vomits in the kitchen, your husband takes toddler away to clean him up and before you can clean the vomit your five-year-old screams up the hallway to get to he kitchen, slips on the vomit, flies backwards through the air and falls on his back and skull?
A. A boy feeling very sorry for himself, in bed with a gold ball sized swelling to the back on his head and needing to be woken every hour to ensure he doesn't have a medium head trauma.

After the car running out of petrol thanks to a newly faulty petrol gauge, and the bicarb soda fire in the kitchen on Saturday, we're thinking these 'weird' times are over.

But there will be lots of cuddles, Easter eggs, Ben 10 shows and all things wonderful for the sore boy tomorrow. Poor thing.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

All together - not too bad

Have had a zippy weekend - its gone like a shot. Where did it go? Surely I didn't live it!

This weekend included:

1. Finally realising I have an intolerance to vegetable oil. I knew that I found it hard to stomach nuts and seeds (even in jam) but I had no idea that includes refined seeds and nuts as well. It was one of those a-ha moments! Evaluated the Helgas bread that set my stomach off - and the spring onion dip from three days before - and voila! vegetable oil. Explain a lot! Weird things like why I can't tolerate popcorn or potato chips. And fish and chips etc. And we use Canola spread! So now I have to set about changing my cooking and eating habits to remove vegie oil and replace it with olive oil etc.
2. Had a fire in the kitchen. Used too much bicarb cleaning the stove top and allowed the bicarb mix to sit in the tray beneath the element - it completely left my brain to clean it up. Upshot? Cooking rice and the element caught on fire. Took a few frantic minutes to put it out, too...horrid things flashed before my eyes like burning houses and the like...horrid
3. Calling RACV for Roadside Assist as my Camry decided to conk out on a road. Upshot? Found out I have a dodgey petrol gauge (including electronics) so I was out of petrol. Lovely man put petrol in car and followed me to petrol station for me to fill up. Fine now.
4. Driving to Melbourne for important catch up with a friend I haven't seen in two years. Decided to eat sausage roll. That's a no-no. So the trip, which should have taken 1.5 hours, took way over two as I had to divert to weird places and weird petrol stations and fast food outlets to use the toilet. A bad experience, I can tell you.
5. Eating yummy lunch at The Barking Dog at St Kilda for the first time in years. Loved it. Even when the toddler threw his scrambled eggs on the floor, in my hair and all over himself. Onlookers were none too impressed, but then again it looked like they hadn't laughed in years :)
6. Driving around like maniacs finding out about ducted heating and the like. Need it! it's getting cold now...brrrr...

Had a jam packed weekend - lots of highlights and lots of lowlights. But it was fab nonetheless!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Earth Hour

Don't forget Earth Hour...please!

Take an hour out of your saturated electric day and enjoy the peace, darkness and silence...and wonder...of Earth Hour. It's so help our wonderful unique planet!

If you're unsure of the event and what to do - read below or visit the website:

Earth Hour 2009 – What Will You Be Doing?

Cuddling up with your loved ones and admiring the stars in the night sky or organising a treasure hunt in the dark? At 8:30pm on Saturday 28 March, people from all corners of the world will turn off their lights for one hour - Earth Hour - and cast their vote for action on climate change. Anybody can participate and join together with millions of people across the globe celebrating Earth Hour.

Earth Hour is about taking simple steps everyday that collectively reduce carbon emissions – from businesses turning off their lights when their offices are empty to households turning off appliances rather than leaving them on standby.

Here are 10 different ways to spend Earth Hour and reduce your carbon footprint:

1. Attend a local Earth Hour event or organise your own by throwing an Earth Hour street party with your neighbours
2. Gather family & friends for a night picnic in your local park and look at the stars
3. Enjoy a family dinner by candlelight
4. Organise a treasure hunt in the dark
5. Take the dog for a night walk
6. Have a candle-lit bath
7. Sit in the dark and share stories
8. Organise a family night playing board games
9. Share a romantic night in with your loved one
10. Upload your ‘on the night’ photos and videos to flickr and YouTube respectively, and then add them to the Earth Hour flickr group and the global YouTube Group.

Earth Hour Executive Director, Andy Ridley, is encouraging people to participate in whatever way they choose and to think beyond the hour.

“There are no hard and fast rules surrounding participation in Earth Hour. We only ask that you flick that switch and have fun doing whatever you choose to do during that time.

Make Earth Hour work for you. Families with young children should feel free to turn their lights off earlier than 8:30pm and for those having too much fun in the dark during the hour, don’t feel you have to limit yourself to one hour and switch back on at 9:30pm.”

To find out more about Earth Hour, visit the official website www.earthhour.org, sign up and join millions of people in more than 1,400 cities and towns in 80 countries throughout the world by turning off your lights for one hour at 8:30pm on Saturday 28 March.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Argh - the joys of websites...

Argh. The website is down. Doesn't even exist. You type it in and there's nothing. Bah. Like we're not even here. Who are we? (start Twilight Zone music here)...

Hopefully back on deck soon...

Monday, 23 March 2009

Specialisation - how are you unique?

When I was ye olde copywriter working on St Kilda Rd in the wanky advertising industry there was one thing we had to constantly think about with every client "how are they unique?"

Every business - small or large, every brand - known and unknown - has a unique selling proposition to enable it to position itself individually in the market place. For example - some businesses are the first, biggest, have the widest variety of apples etc etc. Other businesses specialise - some businesses specialist in soft drinks, for instance, and this can be driven down even further to specialise in soft drinks/sports markets/rejuvenation.

Other businesses find it hard to differentiate themselves from their competitors, but if you evaluate the business enough, there is always something that makes them unique.

With Retro Age, we specialist in fabric/vintage fabrics/craft or collectable. And we could drill down even further - we post worldwide/we offer personal, fast service/largest collections for people to purchase from etc etc.

So - if you have a small business - you must get to know yourself. Start by asking - what makes me/my business/my product unique? What is my unique selling proposition (USP)...

I'll discuss more about mass markets and slim 'USPs' later...

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Admiration and recent things

I wanted to get outside of my comfort zone and tell you about someone I greatly admire. I read a lot of blogs (when I can), but being the insular person I am I rarely leave comments and prefer to 'lurk'. One blog I often read is written by Leslie and it's called Onegirl.

I dare say you've probably already heard of her and are a fan of her blog and wonderful work. It must be a 'slightly emotional day' (ahem)...but I just felt the urge to say this is a lady whom I have never met but who I adore reading about and who I think would be a wonderful person to know. We go through her highs and lows on the blog, she doesn't take life too seriously, is so grateful for the peeps she has in her life (including her gorg little girl! - so, so cute!) and who always seems to stive to live a better day, one step at a time. I hope I have her right :) - in any case, its a blog I would highly recommend written by a lovely lady. And look at her Oobees! Isn't the one above retro heaven?? I absolutely love it - if you love retro and you've got a little one, consider 'layla le oobee'...she's available for sale here.

I've had a busy day getting ready for a normal return to operations day tomorrow, considering I am around 90% better and the flu has moved on to some other poor person. Above is a hilarious side shot of the banana cake I made today - it's a primary school snack favourite at the moment (stacked with bananas - I squish four into this cake!) so I have been making it every Sunday. The recipe is from the book called Cookery the Australian Way (yes - hilarious title!). I got my copy for my 21st from my Grandmother and I have to admit it's become a staple in my limited supply of recipe books...

One of the highlights in an otherwise average flu week - Justin bid on this for me at auction and proudly brought it home. It's an original Weeping Rose print by Tretchikoff - whose works I collect. This is a huge print and signed on the rear and thankfully in it's original frame and behind glass...have to figure out where to put it now...

And in the workroom situation we have the arrival of one of my favourite textile pieces. I found her years ago and she is a part of my own textile stash. Now she's proudly (finally!) displayed on one wall and may be framed when I get around to it. It's an original Finnish weaving by the renowned Maija Kolsi-Makela and is called Ku Ku. She is complete handwoven and just divine. She simply brightens my day!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Laying the business foundations with Tadao Ando

I am in a time of change. I know it. I can feel it. Not girly change or anything immensely profound, but a time when I am needing to change things to make them better.

My life is wonderful. I feel blessed to have the family, friends and surroundings I have. But I am always thinking of ways to quietly grow out business. By quietly - I mean slowly, little steps and, in the end, I don't want to rule the vintage fabric world! I just want a nice little business that ticks over, makes people happy and makes us happy, as well :)

The problem is, we're incredible time poor. Our lives are constantly on the move with myriad things - whether that is work, parenting, renovating, loving and just generally living.

And when you're time poor procedures and protocols that you thought you set in place start to crumble and get pushed to the side.

So, when I spoke of 'structure' earlier this week you can tell I was thinking of procedure, protocol - you know, the stuff that makes business chug along as the pace you're happy with, the stuff that gives you the software to make sure you're not giving stuff away etc etc. The stuff that makes a small business tick. Like direction. Like goals. Like positioning statements, that type of guff.

And today I realised that without the proper business foundation then the structure I am looking to build just won't work - or, it may work for a short period, but it will end up crumbling.

So I am currently working on the business foundation. Not business plans as such (already have one of them - must update!) - but the foundation of the place we work. It has fabric everywhere. On shelves - 35 to be exact - and in copious amounts of boxes. Boxes everywhere. Can't even reach the sewing machine anymore - that's how bad it is.

So - like the new age peeps say - clean the space you work in and you'll work with a cleaner mind.

So I have set to it. I am slowly structuring our work space to ensure all fabric is on shelving - and my ultimate goal is to have all fabric we have here for sale on the website. Cos it's not - no-where near it. I haven't even booked in fabric we purchased in late 2007 - shocking, isn't it?

So - no more grand plans, no more sewing, no more buttoning, no more extending the wares...just good old cleaning and neatening and tidying to set up bigger and better plans for the future.

Foundations before structure in small business. Makes sense - I just forgot it along the way :)

BTW - isn't this image amazing? Tadao's architecture is sublime - breath-taking - view some here. His architecture is representing what I want our workplace to be - clean and simple but with creativity!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The fear and loathing of the Brown Paper Bag

I journeyed out into the real world today. Had flu cabin fever - but even with my headache, nausea, sore throat and general malaise I just had to get out and do something. So I thought I would drive everyone to pick up the primary school boy from school.

Found out he is getting an award tomorrow for being good, using his 'listening ears' (never ceases to crack me up, those words) and for reading really well. So am going to lift my sorry bottom off the couch and see him awarded - and then return to the couch. Amazing how small exertions take a while to recover from...

On top of that the primary school kid has requested a 'lunch order' for the first time. Oh my. A lunch order. I know what that means - bad food! But it wasn't so bad - and I did weaken and allow him to order a sausage roll with sauce as long as he ate his fruit :) - and poor J and I have been hunting around for approx $2.40 he needs to take tomorrow to pay for it. It needs to be $2.40 EXACTLY - not a cent more or less. And we don't have $2.40 on us so we're hunting around the house to come across rogue coins for said sausage roll.

The lives and times of being a parent. I tell you - there are no better times :)

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Current favourites and reasons why

I am totally into wool at the moment. I have never really held a fascination for old wool until recent weeks - I think as these two pieces arrived together and they just had that 'Audrey Hepburn' and Chanel feeling about them. Both are original 60s wools - much finer than they appear in the photos - and I wish I was wearing some glamourous suit made of them, I can tell you! The pink and yellow is just so dreamy....

Every now and then a cotton really takes my fancy. It's gotten to the stage that I have 'design-o-phobia' - meaning, I see so much great textile design I have become numb or immune to great pieces. But not immune to super standouts like the butterfly piece below.

The designers has captured the flight of the butterflies beautifully - and the colourway is lovely, too. I am not a particular fan of butterflies - I like them and all, but wouldn't have a pin collection or anything - but this fabric sure does make me want to sew up a skirt and fly away from the 'flu :) This fabric is already on the website here.

Monday, 16 March 2009


As I have time on my hands at the moment I have been thinking, as I am want to do :). Having the flu has been awful (and I am not out of the woods yet, by a long shot...boo hoo) but it has given me time to evaluate life. Things. You know - how to improve things, what else do we want to get up to...that type of thing.

Firstly - our retro home has the most hideous carport near the front. An original structure that has to be upgraded or has to go. It's electric blue at the moment. Yes - that's right - brighter than the sky and uglier than a carport should be. I love interior design and real estate and loved looking at the reno job on this house pictured above. I love the sloping simple carport and the simplistic nature of the design. It's given me some ideas about the type of carport structure I would like to run with for our home what hasn't the space for a garage :)

And another thing I need to give some structure to is this blog. It's higgeldy-piggeldy and that part drives me nuts. So I need to give it some walls, a roof, a floor and some space to grow....so, I am starting with changing my Monday posts to being only about small business - our business - and how we run it, what strategies we implement and how we grow it day to day. I don't profess to know a great deal about business - but I do know (roughly) about marketing and growth, so I thought I would try and help peeps who are growing their own business...

Starting next Monday - I'll talk about 'specialisation'....ooohhh errrr....

And hopefully I won't have the flu with me, either :)

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Day five

Just a quick drop in to say I am still here. On day five now of the flu and not feeling much different to Thursday. I am getting a longer burst of 'energy' (if you could call it that) in the mornings but then I am reduced to a nanny-rug hugging moaning thing lying like a statue on the couch.

Am blurgh. But still here. Returning to normal vintage fabric programming soon...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Reverting to the original

In my sick haze thoughts have come to me. I have been frustrated with the business 'paperwork' and have been ruminating on strategies and ideas to streamline it. Enter an ugly diary on sale in the post office. Exit the vintage fabric woman from said post office with diary in hand. Now comes the daily entry of fabric purchases, postage and sales. Out goes the bloody E-tax thing from the Australian Taxation Office and it's complicated requirements. Booked in 40 fabrics today. Unheard of. Need to book in around 400 more but I'll get there...

Does the Universe always provide an answer? My personal thought is if you think hard enough the answer always presents itself :)

Heading back to normal programming - we're all still sick (sounding sexy with gravelly voices, mind you) - but new arrivals are definitely there waiting to go onto the website when my energy returns!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

We'll return to normal programming soon :)

One by one the household has been knocked down by a virus. Started late Saturday after returning from a trip to Melbourne (hello Peta! - hello Scienceworks!) and now I am the last one to get it. Horrid thing. So having a little fever, Panadol and 'moaning Myrtle' break and shall return to blogging soon :)

Hope everyone is well!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

New vintage fabrics for sale!

I found some time. Can't believe it. It may be late but I got some new fabrics onto the website - small pat on the back for me :) To view them click here - it's a great little selection, from Sanderson to trippy prints to Sunday Market bargains (like the 80s kitsch bird border print above)...enjoy!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Maternal mother

I am not the natural maternal type. You know - the woman who has wanted kids her whole life, loves kids, adores kids, wants to be with them all of the time type people. I wasn't supposed to be able to have kids, either - so that, coupled with being a spoilt only child, probably made me less of a maternal woman than I really was.

I am still not overly maternel, as I would call it. I adore my kids, adore some other kids - but, in truth, apart from my own boys, I much prefer the company of adults :)

You would think I was not the type of woman to buy the the Australian Women's Weekly one week after my first son was born. But I did - I was hormonal - it was the only issue I have ever bought. And you would think I am not the type of woman who is enjoying baking up a storm in the kitchen every Sunday to ensure her prep son goes to school with preservative free healthy snacks. But I am. Must have maternal feelings somewhere - as the husband says, they're there, latent, hiding behind the rubble of life, business owner, freelancer, wife, lover, mother etc...and gosh they make me feel good...

The photo up top is one of my bread loaves (they were delicious but didn't rise very much - I think I let them sit too long!) and the yummy rock cakes are below. I love a good rock cake!