Monday 24 June 2013

My Thirtieth Vintage High Tea Party


Last week I had a birthday. I do not normally celebrate my birthday except with my immediate family, but this year was a milestone birthday. The big 3-0. I decided earlier in the year to mark this one with a vintage high tea. Here are some highlights, all photos taken by my sister Kirsty, who also provided half of the amazing food and helped me create the menu.

Other friends helped make some of the food, and I did not need to do any food preparation whatsoever! I felt very blessed by that, as even though I love baking, the presentation aspect of food is not my strong point, and it stresses me out. 

 I borrowed vintage tea cups and platters from friends and family, and used vintage embroidered tablecloths made by grandmother and other tablecloths I found at the local trash and treasure! 


My sister made a wonderful birthday cake, healthy natural sweetness and delicious chocolate icing.

A friend donated a lolly bar left over from her recent wedding. Those little pink pigs were so delicious!!

Everyone got dressed up in tea party attire from their favourite era. I wore my wedding dress, which I had designed and had made by a brilliant seamstress 7 years ago.


I have an extensive collection of tea and did not need to buy any extra for the occasion. However, I did make the labels for the jars with chalkboard cloth, and decoupage jar lids. (Remember this tutorial?)

I felt so overwhelmingly blessed by the abundance of gifts showered on me. I totally did not expect this, and I just cannot get over how perfectly appropriate every gift was!

A dear friend happened to attend a cooking school on the morning of the party, and made an amazing croquembouche, and kindly brought it along! Doesn't it look superb? It tasted great too!  


I got to do the fun preparation - making vintage floral sheet bunting, fabric covered jars with fresh flowers and candles, tablecloths etc. I had such an amazingly fun day, and felt so very loved. Thanks to all those who are reading this who helped make my thirtieth birthday so very special. Now I need to knuckle down and get several custom orders finished this week!

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Home Again, Home Again...

I've been procrastinating writing this post because it brings up uncomfortable emotions. In fact, it makes me want to stop what I'm typing and run and grab the Tim Tams or corn chips and salsa ( can you tell I'm still struggling with cravings on this healthy living journey?) *sigh* 

But I do want to follow through and process this. Now, I know that taking calculated risks is important in business. I have been working on this, stepping out of my comfort zone in order to grow my little business. Sometimes it pays off financially, sometimes it crashes and burns. Ouch. I'm still feeling the sting of the most recent "crash and burn" scenario. 

As with many things in life, the higher the expectations, the harder the fall. I signed up to do the new high end BrisStyle City Hall market (even though it cost me much more than I could really afford for the stall fee), thinking it could be a really good fit for my products. I was so excited leading up to this market, and threw myself into preparations, including a revamped display. Our whole family came down with a truly horrendous gastro virus the week before the market, and that hindered my preparation more than a little. However, I was feeling well enough to face the market and follow through on my commitment.

The revamped set-up in situ
The vibe on the day was lovely - so many people coming through, and I thoroughly enjoyed stitching and chatting to many lovely people. There was significant enthusiasm about my products expressed rather consistently across the day. I saw many familiar faces and plenty of new ones too. But as I packed up my stall, my heart was dragging along the floor. NOT. A. SINGLE. SALE. Not one.

A bright note to the end of my day, however, was this adorable miniature resin vase from Bravo Juliet Designs, who was my stall neighbour on the day. I'm going to put it on my birthday cake next weekend, and it goes beautifully with my birthday party colour scheme. Plus, I'm always on the look-out for a tiny, unbreakable vase for my darling flower-picking girl.

So now I am left pondering the next step for my business, and have been feeling quite at odds about it all. I've even taken a four-day hiatus from making anything as I reflect and mull over this.

But something up-beat to finish on - if you have not heard yet, I am sponsoring a giveaway over on Hej Juni blog, you could win your choice of blue or rainbow raindrops contented raincloud - which can be worn as either a brooch or a pendant! Head over to Hej Juni to find out how.

Monday 3 June 2013

To Market, To Market...

So here's just a smidgen of what's been keeping me busy for the last week. My set-up for the BrisStyle indie markets at City Hall. I had bought the fabric and started preparing for a black floor length tablecloth I have been meaning to make for many months...then I realised that there were certain requirements for this particular market. One requirement is that every table have a floor-length white tablecloth which must be visible beneath your own signature overlay. Hence the white under the black.

Mock market set-up

I am aiming to have a more streamlined aesthetic for this market than I've had previously - with all my boxes and cases being covered or draped in black fabric, and the new bunting for labelling purposes on each board. (There will also be one for hoop art and one for the rings, they are all still works in progress).

Notice my new bunting as labels for each board (to be completed!)

My custom orders example folder on display below the hoop art board

My new earrings display board and handmade fabric roll ring display

New necklace display board

A close-up of the necklace display
I am hoping that the work I am putting into preparing for this market will hold me in good stead for future markets. Perhaps I won't even need to completely redesign my set-up every single time - here's hoping!!

P.S. - You can find me at the BrisStyle indie Markets at Brisbane City Hall this Saturday, 8th June from 9am - 2pm.

Saturday 1 June 2013

You can do more than you think you can.

It's only Saturday night here, but I've had a rather enlightening weekend so far. Or rather, an enlightening Friday and Saturday, which has been quite wonderful in spite of my expectations of difficulties galore.

I'm relearning a lesson I've “known” at some time in the past. Or heard again and again, and occasionally put into practice, but not consistently enough to actually change my long-term habits. I'm talking about the power of a positive attitude.

Something I have really noticed about myself in recent years (probably since having kids), is that I am actually quite a pessimistic person. I did not used to think of myself as such, but I am realising more and more that what I used to call realism is often negative expectations. Example – my darling needed to go away for two days for work. I know, only two days, really not that big of a deal. But in my little world, it felt like a big deal. By Friday, I am usually just holding out for Saturday, for a brief reprieve from the usual routine and sole responsibility of caring for the kids. Just to have a little breather and share those tasks with my dear one. Somehow, through repeating this weekly pattern over and again, I have come to believe that I cannot manage without my hubby, especially on a weekend. Or that I can manage but it will be fraught with frustration, exhaustion and downcast spirits.

As I write this, it is only an hour or two until my darling is due to return. The kids are in bed, so in essence, I have survived the trial. And the funny thing is, we've had the best couple days that we have had in a while! The kids were more fun, played more happily together, whinged less and actually ate their dinner both nights (without any tantrums). This is quite extraordinary. Enough to make me stop and reflect, certainly. As I reflect, I can't help but recognise that the difference is not so much in my children's behaviour as it is in my own.

Because I knew I was the only one available, I didn't put off unpleasant tasks – I just did them to get them out of the way. Because I knew I would have less energy in the afternoon, I prepared dinner earlier in the day. Because I knew that the kids would be needing more input from me, I prepared in advance a “What Can I Do Box” (thanks Becca for that wonderful suggestion!!), so each time my sweet but oh-so-needing-stimulation daughter asked “Mummy, what can I do, what can I dooooooooooooo?” we could go and get something from the special box. The stuff in there is not special per se, it contains a variety of activities that she already does on a fairly regular basis, but it just helps her see the options before her and make the decision for herself rather than the usual:

Her: Mummy what can I do what can I dooooooo?
Me: How about play-dough?
Her: No, I don't want to.
Me: Ummm...drawing?
Her: No, I already did that.
Me: Puzzles?
Her: No.
Me: Collage?
Her: No. I can't decide, you decide for me.
Me: Ok, I decide colouring.
Her: Noooo, I don't want to do that!

Does anyone else get stuck in these frustrating conversations? Usually I am focused on something else at the time, a household task or trying to write an email or whatever. Going together to the “What can I do box” helps us to break the cycle of frustration.

But back to the reflection on how I was different these last couple days. I was focused, yes; I was organised, yes; but more than that – I was positive. So often in the last few years, I have found myself getting caught up in the “I can't” thought trap. I've talked about some of that before – you know, “I'm so tired, I can't get by without a chocolate fix!” Or my favourite, “I just can't deal with this right now!” Ummm...toddler boy has just pooped in the bath AGAIN and I am saying I can't deal with this right now? How is that helpful? I know that I am actually going to HAVE to deal with it, as I can't fob it off onto anyone else. Why not bypass that unhelpful negativity and just go straight into action mode? Perhaps even with a smile and a game. Playing hard-done-by does not do anybody any favours.

Of course, I know all of this in theory, but this negative thinking habit just sneaks up on me. I really want to kick the habit and replace it with a more positive and helpful way of thinking...I try to teach my kids that any chore can be made into a game by how you choose to face it, now I just need to practise that more myself.

If childbirth taught me anything, it's that I can persist in a difficult task through much more pain and exhaustion than I ever thought possible. And what helped me most when the “I can't...” thoughts threatened to derail my focus was my darling chanting in my ear “You CAN do this, you can DO this!”

Oh, and then there's this old song from my childhood that just popped into my head. “I can do all things, all things, all things! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13!” Thanks DonutMan! It is true - with Christ as my strength, I can face the challenges of each day - and perhaps even smile through it all. :-)


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