30 August 2010

Australian Artist Spotlight: Missy Minzy by Irene Andrews

After all the politics, it's time for a little fantasy. These mushroom illustrations by Missy Minzy transport me to ferny groves full of fairies and elves. Talented illustrator Irene Andrews creates a magical land for her Minzy girl character, full of mushrooms and quirky birds that is very inviting in these complicated times.

Based in Melbourne, Irene is a freelance graphic designer, illustrator and new mother (how does she do it all?). I particularly love her mushroom paper bunting and the "incomplete alphabet" cards featuring birds created with signature Miss Minzy detailing and a lot of love.

Missy Minzy illustrations are available as giclee art prints, ACEO (Art Card Editions & Originals) and other paper goods. The original illustrations are hand drawn, coloured digitally professionally printed on archival paper using archival pigment ink.

You can find Missy Minzy prints on Big Cartel, Etsy, MadeIt (Australia) and local markets. Find out more about Irene, upcoming markets and new works on the Missy Minzy blog.

Images: Missy Minzy

23 August 2010

Hip Products: Wicked Child Designs softies

We've had a rough weekend in Australia with a disappointing result in our federal elections and a hung parliament. If you need a target to take out your frustration, look no further than the hysterical softie caricatures by Brisbane-based Teneale Muir from Wicked Child Designs.

You can choose your very own tongue-in-cheeck Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott doll (the hair! those ears! the budgie smugglers!) complete with miniature canvas and easel to display their cheeky story.

Clever Teneale also has a range of other fun long-legged softie characters including Jesus, Nietzsche, and her original designs. These are the kind of toys that grown-ups can appreciate too. Keep an eye out for more topical designs.

You can find Wicked Child Designs softies in the Etsy store online and at various markets. Check the Wicked Child Designs blog for more information.

Images: Wicked Child Designs

22 August 2010

Cool Websites: lil magoolie

It's the 6 degrees of separation thing. When great kids blogger Maddie from lil magoolie contacted me, we had no idea that we went to the same school, that I was in the same class as her brother and that she was on the debating team with my sister! Since then Maddie has lived in Vancouver, and is now based in Christchurch, New Zealand where she writes about fantastic finds for Mums and kids.

Maddie is also a designer and her site is full of colour, fabulous fonts and glorious illustratative squiggles. Check out lil magoolie for recipes, reviews, real rooms, interiors, parties and some help with baby names, as well as any other fabulous tidbit that Maddie comes across. It's just a happy place to spend some time.

Go say Hi and let her know I sent you :)

20 August 2010

How to love Making The Bed again in 10 easy steps

I procrastinate about doing it as much as the next person – changing the sheets on the bed. It's always so awkward and tiresome. But you have to admit that the end result is supremely satisfying. Ah, new sheets! So here are my top tips to start loving those old bugbears - Making The Bed and Changing The Sheets. Let me know if I have left anything out :)

1.Take off your shoes. Especially if they are slippers or ugg boots. Barefoot is the best way to get the job done quickly, so you can hot foot it around the bed quickly and effortlessly. Shoes/slippers and especially ugg boots slow you down and are a lot more effort.

2.Remove anything hanging around your neck. That includes scarves, long necklaces, anything that can get caught when tucking in sheets.

3.If you can, play some music (that old trick).

4.Get the new sheets out first, so you see them all the time and are guilted into starting.

5.Strip off your old sheets and banish them to the laundry basket. Seriously consider changing the mattress protector (that thing needs a wash too).

6.Start with the easiest step first. For me, that's the pillows. That first step is always hard to take, so make it an easy one. There. Done.

7.If you can, pull the bed away from the wall. Don't be lazy. This will make your job 100% easier. You might consider sticking a little floor protector pad underneath each bed leg to make this easier and protect wooden floors.

8.Now for the fitted sheet (hopefully you've replaced the mattress protector. See step 5 above). This is important – start with the hardest corner first. Usually that's the corner that is against the wall and hard to reach. Then the 2nd hardest corner. Then finally, when you have to struggle and pull that fitted sheet to get those last 2 corners in, you will have lots of space and easy access.

9.Now for the flat sheet. Bed-making styles are usually personal preference, but the easiest in my opinion is to line that sheet up with the top of the bed, and then simply tuck in the end and bottom corners.

10.The extras. A doona/duvet is great for hiding imperfections and throwing on top of the bed. Then pop your pillows on top. And for a luxurious look, add another 2 pillows, and maybe a scatter cushion or 2 in contrasting colours (or 3 if you are me).

And there you have it. One beautiful, freshly made bed with new sheets. Minimal pain, maximum efficiency, and hopefully, an experience you might repeat at least once a week. Enjoy!

Image: Steph Bond-Hutkin

Stylish Kids: Oishi-m kids clothes review

Earlier this year, my friends at incredibly cool kids brand Oishi-m sent me a couple of items to test on the Bondville baby and big girl. (see Bondville article about Oishi-m here).

And boy, have they had a work-out. The two tops were surprisingly soft and the envelope necklines make them a favourite for my big girl to dress herself. The colours and design always get a lot of compliments.

And the jeans. Oh the jeans! You can see from the pics above just how darn cute Baby Bondville looks in her Oishi-m's. The extra-wide waistband means her tummy isn't exposed when her shirt rides up, and the long cuffs mean she will continue to get wear out of them. Isn't that kimono fabric butt adorable?

Thank you Oishi-m for the opportunity to try out your beautiful clothes. Wishing you all the success you deserve.

You can find Oishi-m in the online store (international shipping available and free shipping across Australia!), at stockists in Victoria and online and at upcoming markets.

For more Australian-designed kids clothing, check out Bondville Kids.

Images: Steph Bond

17 August 2010

Deck Chair Reno Project

Oh I'm so happy with how my renovated deck chairs turned out. Mum rescued the originals from Council pickup and all I had to do was sand them back, stain them, make 2 new 'slings' and staple them on. A normal person would expect it to take one, maybe two days. Call it a weekend. But these beauties took me 20 months to complete; during which time we moved cities and had a baby. I can't even tell you how glad I was to cross them off the to-do list! Please tell me I'm not alone in my well-intentioned but snail's pace DIY.

P.S. that's Molly the schnauzer looking not-so-impressed.

Images: Steph Bond

16 August 2010

Stylish Kids: Castlebox

I always find such gorgeous children's clothing designers at the Mathilda's Markets and last week in Sydney was no exception. One of my favourite new finds was the sweet collection from up-and-coming designer Faith of Castlebox.

Based in Melbourne, Faith designs absolutely beautiful French-inspired pieces for boys and girls. I feel a real movement towards more conservative, vintage-feel designs for kids at the moment, and Castlebox is right on trend with lovely liberty prints and smart clothes for little ones.

The range for children 3-10 years is designed and handmade in Australia and includes knitwear, dresses, pants, shirts, tops and skirts. Two of the pieces that really caught my eye were the v-necked Castlebox Classic jumpers for boys with contrasting lined "pockets". Clever and unique. And the lovely little-house-on-the-prairie Matilda dresses for girls. And of course I loved all the accessories that Faith makes. Think headbands with tulle, mirror fairy brooches and other handmade goodies. Paired with a pair of Walnut Melbourne shoes, you've got a lovely little outfit.

You can find Castlebox children's clothes in the online store and at various markets (check the website for details).

Stop by Bondville Kids for more Australian-designed children's clothes.

Images: Castlebox

12 August 2010

Australian Artist Spotlight: Red Parka Designs

I have long wanted an amazing red KitchenAid mixer, but have always had other things to spend the $700+ on. A close second to the real thing is this fun print by Red Parka Designs.

Based in Melbourne, Tasmanian artist Jen of Red Parka Designs creates fantastic wall art for kitchen, nursery, toy room, or anywhere you need a splash of colour and dash of whimsy. Any piece in Jen's range of kitchen art prints would look amazing in my kitchen. And the clever "collective nouns" range of animals are so fun for kids.

Jen also has a real 'thing' for elephants. For every elephant greeting card sold from her website Red Parka donates $1 to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, a great organisation that looks after orphaned elephants. What other excuse do you need, next time you're looking for a card?

You can find Red Parka Designs art prints and greeting cards in the online store as well as at various markets around Melbourne.

Images: Red Parka Designs

9 August 2010

Hip Products: m2matiz barcodes prints for kids

Oh and I LOOOOOOVE this! The clever design team at Melbourne-based m2matiz (see post below) also have a genius kids product that I thought warranted its own profile. These 'barcodes' personalised prints are a unique and contemporary way to display your child's name and birth details. Only for the coolest of kids!

The m2matiz team will custom design a barcodes print to display your child’s name, place in the family, date and time of birth. You can choose from six colours and the artwork is printed on envirocare 100% recycled stock. The prints measure 290×390mm [11.5" x 15.5"].

You can order the barcode prints from Mariana directly via the m2matiz website.

Images: m2matiz

Hip Products: m2matiz t.lighthaus© lanterns and photography

These t.lighthaus© lanterns are such a clever concept by photographers, graphic arts and designers m2matiz. Melbourne-based Mariana and partner designed these chic translucent lanterns to be placed over a tealight candle (preferably in a reused glass jar), creating a soft glow and highlighting the beautiful photographic design.

m2matiz also sells a range of stationery printed and handcrafted in Melbourne including gift cards, gift tags, journals and prints, showcasing the gorgeous photography of the m2matiz team. I'm of course partial to the very Australian eucalyptus blossom photographs; always a great gift for overseas friends and family. And wherever possible m2matiz reduses, reuses and uses recycled materials in the range of products.

You can order m2matiz products through designer Mariana directly (check the website for details), on Etsy and from stockists around Australia.

Images: m2matiz

6 August 2010

Hip Products: OK, Let's Sew! patterns and kits

My friend Lisa from The Red Thread is such a clever thing. I've written about Lisa's SushiBird Tiles and her Sweetie Petites before and now there are two new gorgeous sewing patterns to add to the OK, Let's Sew! collection.

The Ooshka Babushka doll pattern makes a doll 41 cm tall - great for cuddling or as a pillow. Ooshka Babushka Pattern Kits include a gorgeous face panel printed on linen/cotton blend fabric, a sewing pattern and instructions. You can choose from a cute blonde, redhead or dark-haired doll, and there are instructions for an applique face if you want to create your own.

The Hello Birdie pillow pattern makes a generous 44 cm x 34 cm bird with quilt-like feathers. And if you're not the sewing type, keep an eye out on The Red Thread website as finished pillows will be available to purchase soon.

You can find these OK, Let's Sew! patterns and kits on The Red Thread website and at various stockists around the world. If you're in Sydney this weekend, you can also find them at the excellent Mathila's Markets in Riverview on Sunday from 9am - 1pm (look for The Red Thread stand). See you there!

Images: The Red Thread

1 August 2010

Hip Products: Lucy Vanstone ceramics

I bought a gorgeous pottery beaker/vase with a crackle glaze interior at Biome last year and have been trying to find out more about the artist, Lucy Vanstone since then. I even visited Lucy's Wheel Of Life studio in Brunswick Heads, NSW, but alas it was closed on the day of my visit.

Luckily, the fabulous Shannon Fricke styled Lucy's work in a November 2009 Country Style magazine article, and I was able to find out all about the artist and her work. It's a lovely read, especially the story about the salad bowl that Lucy nonchalantly uses worth 10,000 pounds (and made by relative of the family, British potter Michael Cardew).

Lucy's range of pottery and fine art ceramics includes bowls, cups, mugs, pots, jewellery and sculuptural pieces. I adore crackle glazed pieces and all the screenprinted fish, reeds, fairies and pixies designs. I'm sure that Lucy's work will soon be as collectible as her famous relative's.

You can find Lucy Vanstone ceramics on her website (where you can order pieces from Lucy directly) as well as at various markets and stockists, also mentioned on her website.

Images: Lucy Vanstone
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