29 July 2011

Guest Post: Sara loves Sirens Swimwear

My dear friend Sara went to an amazing Sirens Swimwear pop-up shop/trunkshow at her friend's house in Sydney last week and shares the details of this great Australian swimwear label with us:


Hello, summer!

Sydney may have been blowing an ice storm outside, but at the Sirens Swimwear trunkshow Sally and Margie (see pic of the sassy gals above) were bravely walking on sunshine in their gorgeously retro swimsuits and high heels.

It was a girl’s night with a difference at my pal Emma’s home. Racks of flattering – yes, flattering – swimsuits vied with glasses of champagne, nibbles and chit chat. The perfect antidote to the dreaded pre-summer swimsuit shopping dilemma.

If you’ve said goodbye to the string bikini but you’re not quite ready to hang up your va va voom, Sirens Swimwear is for you. With a strong dash of Esther Williams screen siren glamour, Sally and Margie have taken inspiration from their mothers’ swimsuits to design a range with incredible built in support.

They describe it as ‘Nancy Ganz meets Ava Gardner’. And every girl in the room, whether a lean and lanky size 8 or a curvaceous 14 plus, looked amazing in the results. We all loved the polka dots and cheeky gingham prints as much as the clever tummy-hiding ruching and ruffles.


Thanks Sara for the inside info. I'm all about the gingham. You can find Sirens Swimwear in the online store. If you are interested in hosting your own Sirens trunkshow, contact Sally.

Images: Sirens Swimwear

28 July 2011

New Alimrose Squeaker Designs

Alimrose Designs squeakersAlimrose Designs logoAlimrose Designs squeakers are a must-buy baby shower gift or present for newborn in Australia - a kids design classic (see my Alimrose post from last month).

Jennifer from Alimrose has shared a sneakpeek of the new designs to be launched at the Melbourne trade shows next month. Which is your favourite? I love that little prince - just perfect for a chubby grip.

27 July 2011

Low-Guilt Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

Low-Guilt Chocolate Raspberry MuffinsLow-guilt muffins! I wanted to make a moderately healthy muffin/cupcake with my girls and with my stash of Belgian Callebaut chocolate, and a bag of frozen raspberries in the freezer (for our morning porridge) I went hunting.

Well, I found this great Chocolate Cherry Muffin recipe over at Passionate About Baking (amended from this recipe at Cooking During Stolen Moments), and started experimenting. I've made these muffins six times now and they are always great. The recipe is super-easy (my 3.5 year old makes them with my supervision), requires no sifting, no beating, no butter, only one egg, and includes wholemeal flour.

My changes:
I replace the 1/2 cup dried cherries with 1/2 cup of frozen raspberries.
I reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup.
I increase the cooking time to 25 minutes.
I have taken out the cocoa (also successful), and used only wholemeal flour (grainy on the tongue - not so successful).

I bet this recipe would also be great with fresh cherries, frozen mixed berries, white chocolate, nuts, etc. Let me know if you try it!

(PS: hemp screen-printed placemat by Blossom Creations)

26 July 2011

Tiges and Weince home decor for kids

My lovely sister-in-law in the US was recently searching for a fun doorstop for her 3 year-old daughter's bedroom, and came upon Melbourne-based Tiges and Weince.

Kylie Loy designs and hand-makes a range of home decor for kids including door stops, personalised cushions and fabric wall decals, wall art, bunting, softies, iron-on transfers and magnetic bookmarks. I'm particularly fond of Kylie's owls and love that there are so many choices for boys too.

You can find Tiges and Weince in the Etsy and Made It (Australia) stores as well as stockists in Victoria and online.

PS: we got the Whimsy garden design door stop shown above for our little niece. Too cute!

25 July 2011

Red Chalk clothes for kids returns

Do you remember Red Chalk, the lovely Australian kids clothing label that I wrote about back in 2008? Well after a brief hiatus, Kate Perry is back designing and the offerings are even cooler. I'm so excited to welcome Kate back - she is truly one of my favourite Australian children's clothes designers. You won't find pink or purple here - just great bold, colours, cool unisex illustrations and fantastic quality material.

Kate has been illustrating up a storm in her Woodend, QLD studio with a whole new selection of designs. A fantastic feature of the Red Chalk label is longevity; the fabric quality is selected for hard wear and the cut of the clothes is designed for kids to grow into. Red Chalk clothes are importantly made in 100% in Australia - you'll notice the difference in quality. The Red Chalk range is sized for babies, boys and girls 0-12 years.

You can find Red Chalk clothes and accessories for kids in the online store. You'll also find on the site homewares (with more to come) and a link to Kate's clothes for Mum. (oh, and did I mention that Red Chalk supports the RSPCA?) Love it all.

For more Australian-designed fashion for children, head over to Bondville Kids.

Images: Red Chalk

22 July 2011

Otobi art prints

Otobi Apple and Pear printOtobi logo

Otobi tea cup printOtobi car print
Otobi flower and ladybug print

Clever Frances Moran is a Melbourne-based freelance textile and surface pattern designer who also creates beautiful art prints for little ones and Mums too under the Otobi label.

I love the happy, retro-leaning graphic style of Frances' artwork. How cute are those wormies! Otobi art is printed on beautifully textured 100% rag, acid free watercolour paper using archival inks, which comply with the highest archival standards.

I was also thrilled to hear that you can choose buy Otobi prints already framed by husband and collaborator Simon, with beautiful eco-friendly mouldings from eco CHOICE (timber sourced from managed plantations, carefully grown and controlled using sustainable forestry techniques; finish is water-based and solvent-free).

After hearing about these frames, I can't bear to pick up a cheap frame knowing that it is likely made from rainforest timber. [sad face]. Thanks Otobi for providing a great alternative. [happy face].

Look out for 100% recycled greeting cards and cushions coming your way soon.

You can find Otobi art prints in the Otobi online store.

Images: Otobi

21 July 2011

Maui 2011

View from Papakea Resort in West Maui
our view

Mai Tai at the Barefoot Grill, West Maui
Mai Tai at happy hour at the Barefoot Bar, Whaler's Village, Ka'anapali

Red Ginger at Papakea Resort, West Maui
red ginger plant at Papakea Resort, Honokowai

snorkelling in Honolua Bay

Penguins living at the Hyatt Regency West Maui
penguins live in the lobby at the Hyatt Regency, Ka'anapali

lots of fabulous things at the Maui Aquarium

Sunset from the Papakea Resort, West Maui
Sunset from our balcony, West Maui

Sunset over the ocean from West Maui
sun going down with Moloka'i on the horizon

We're back! We had a gorgeous week away in Hawaii getting some sunshine and spending time with family (a great half-way point for family from the US). Would you like to see some happy snaps taken with my little point-and-shoot?

We stayed at a great apartment in West Maui that I would recommend as it's easy to go north for great snorkelling, south to the resort area and Lahaina, and has a supermarket, natural food store, good coffee shop and farmer's market in walking distance.

We did a lot of eating on the trip - fresh ahi tuna poke from the Lahaina Foodland Farms, Maui Gold pineapple, sweet Maui onions, cheap bananas!, interesting 'lunch plate' local cuisine. The aquarium was great for the kids (and us too). Snorkelling was beautiful at Kapalua Beach with the turtles; Honulua Bay looked even better. There was a cute art and craft market on under an amazing old Banyan tree, planted in 1973, in Lahaina. I picked up some nice jewellery. And it was hilarious to see penguins living in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Ka'anapali (we visited just to see them).

My most memorable moments were probably relaxing at the Barefoot Bar at the Hula Grill, Whaler's Village, right on the beach at Ka'anapali. Palm leaf-covered tables sit in the sand so you can slip off your shoes and enjoy a Mai Tai or Plantation Lemonade at happy hour (3-5 pm), listening to a local Hawaiian musician on the ukelele, and nibbling on macadamia and crab wontons with wasabi dipping sauce. The kids loved the markers and colouring sheets and listening to the music. Take me back!

20 July 2011

Party Ideas: Justin's Football Birthday Party

Liverpool football club cake
Soccer buntingPopcorn and fruit skewers
Soccer cookies and drinks
Soccer cookies and drinks
Soccer cake and candles
Bales Park hall, Willoughby Sydney
Soccer party popcorn
Dog close-up
playing at a Football birthday party
Soccer birthday party
Our friend Justin celebrated his 4th birthday party on a cold, windy morning in Sydney recently. That didn't deter the kids, who got into the spirit of the Football/Soccer theme with gusto.

Clever Mum Bron enlisted a football expert friend from Football Development Australia to set up lots of self-play ball activities for the kids at a local park. The parents warmed up with cups of tea and coffee before heading indoors to the park hall for candle-blowing and goodies.

Bron made a cake in the shape and colours of Justin's favourite football team (Liverpool) with soccer ball candles. There were football player gingerbread men on sticks, football cookies, popcorn, fruit skewers, football patty cakes, and warming hotdogs of course.

All the kids were given whistles to practice referee skills. Liverpool team coloured bunting and balloons completed the decorations. So many great ideas. And the kids had a ball. Happy 4th Birthday Justin!

17 July 2011

Kula Jungle pressed flower jewelry

Here's a little something special that I've found on my trip. Joan Mercer is a floral artist and gardener who moved to Maui from mainland US for the good life - lured by the lush tropical climate and year-round growing season. During 20 years managing Protea flower farms, Joan unleashed her artistic side and has developed a beautiful form of flower preservation.

Using colour retention and coating techniques, Joan presses and preserves flowers from her own garden to make into beautiful jewellery and decor under the Kula Jungle label. Her range includes earrings, pendant-style necklaces and stunning Lei-style necklaces that are breath-taking. Joan also creates hanging pieces that make lovely mobiles for babies and big girls.

I was so happy to find a little piece of Hawaii to take home that I know I will wear again and treasure.

You can find Kula Jungle jewellery and art at the Lahaina art and craft markets in Maui on Saturdays. Keep an eye on the Kula Jungle website as it is developed. You can also contact Joan by email on jmercer (at) hawaii (dot) rr (dot) com.

Image: Steph Bond Hutkin
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