09 December 2014

Rewind : Handmade Holidays

Despite xmas sneaking up on me like a very sneaky thing, I'm definitely feeling the festive spirit this year. I think a lot of that's to do with having a house, a house that we love. 

Last year around this time we were very much not moving into our house, despite wanting to be in 'before xmas'. (Pro tip - never say those words to a builder, architect or recent renovator, unless you want to trigger some kind of PTSD). I was having regular melt downs over deadlines and contracts and tradies and money. 

We didn't have the dogs with us, or a great kitchen to cook in. We did have suitcases and a storage unit and xmas in a box. But this year the house is finally finished and we've settled in nicely. We have a place to decorate, to entertain in - somewhere to hang the stockings and put the tree. It's pretty ace. 

I know lots of people that are feeling quite a bit bah humbug about it all this year, but just in case you're not here's a round up of xmas craft how tos from the past few years of Good Things* (can you believe I've been blogging for four and a half years now?!!), plus some slightly tongue in cheek tips for stress free entertaining. 

Right now I'm in the midst of making a new pom pom wreath, red and gold are this year's colours. At the rate I'm going I'm pretty sure I'll be done before xmas day. Maybe...

05 December 2014

Death by Doxie : Elfi Loves Laundry

The dogs have had a longstanding love affair with laundry, clean and dirty. When Ferdi was a pup I'd often find him nesting in the laundry basket, and Elfi's favourite days of the week are bed stripping days - when we throw all the sheets and pillow cases and doona covers into a big pile and she clambers on top like a mountain goat. Even better if there's a patch of sun around. Sometimes she looks so content I delay the washing by and hour or so. 

It's fine when it's all going in the wash anyway, but when the hounds decide to cover a freshly laundered, freshly folded pile of washing in dog hair, as happened the other day, well...that's not so fine. But it's my own fault really, leaving the clothes on the floor for all of five minutes as I did. Rookie mistake. 

(But look at those Elfi eyes! How could you be angry? Clearly I wasn't as the first thing I did when I saw her was run and grab my camera. Pretty sure that's not in Dog Training 101.)

03 December 2014

The Kindness of (Almost) Strangers

Seven years ago, maybe more, when Ferdi first came into our life, when he looked like this (ie. freaking adorable), we lived in an apartment in Potts Point. I'd always had dogs, and those dogs had always slept wherever they wanted, even if that meant my bed. But my husband hadn't had a dog since he was a kid, and he was of the view that dogs should sleep on their own. So we put Ferdi to bed in the laundry, then headed upstairs to try and get some sleep. 

He was just a little puppy, so he cried. Oh man, did he cry. All, night, long. But there were two solid doors between us and his cries, so we managed to block it out, mostly. 

He'll learn soon enough, we thought.* 

What we hadn't realised was that there was only a thin wall between Ferdi's night time spot and our poor neighbours, so whilst we could tune the cries out they were pretty much stuck with them. We hadn't been living in the apartment all that long, so we really didn't know our neighbours. But we had kept them awake with puppy howls. For a week. Not good.

They could have written an angry, abusive note. They could have made a complaint to our landlord, or to the council. But instead they came and knocked on our door one day with a big fluffy soft toy. They said they'd heard a puppy crying, and they thought it might provide some comfort. I was horribly apologetic of course, and embarrassed, but I was also incredibly touched. Wasn't it the nicest, kindest, most thoughtful approach ever? 

I've been thinking a lot about this recently - the kindness of almost strangers. I don't know about you but I'm in the midst of a pretty teary fortnight, and not all of it can be blamed on hormones. I adore social media, I really do. It connects me to all kinds of people all over the world. But it also connects me to the tragic, unfair, horrible, nasty, inexplicable and just plain sad things that can happen to those people. 

Lately it seems every time I check Facebook or Twitter I end up shedding tears over the death of someone's dog, or grandma, or dear friend. I hold my breath as a domestic tragedy unfolds, or a health scare freezes a family in their tracks. Not to mention the relentlessly depressing news - the treatment of refugees, the funding cuts, the arrogance of those in power. 

And then I tear up again when I see the online community, this community of almost strangers, band together to offer their love and support, and hope, and passion. (Good lord I am getting sentimental in my old age. Cynical teenager me would be horrified right now. But not activist pre-teen me, she'd be cheering.)

There's so many people doing so many thoughtful things, big and small. There are people making awesome stuff so they can raise money for things they care about, there are people organising donations of gorgeous handmade things for kids who really need them, there are people putting out their batsThere's the friend who gave her postie a bucket of homegrown broad beans (and who got a thank you note scrawled on her mail the next day, complete with recipe). And there's the online community creating a special secret surprise for someone who is going through a pretty tough time right now. There's fellow dachshund obsessed loving people, helping each other out. There's my Mum, banding together with other Grandmas to do this

There is so much kindness out there, it's humbling. And it reminds me - it's a choice we make, to be kind and thoughtful and generous, in whatever way we can. It's a choice to ignore the cynics and do something, however small, even when we are feeling distant and helpless. So, what do you choose? 

*In the end we caved and now both dogs take up more room on the bed than we ever do, but that's another story.

28 November 2014

Styling, Food + Photography at The School

A few Sundays ago I had the pleasure and the privilege of attending a food photography workshop as a guest of Olympus. It was two hours of fun at The School, led by the gorgeously enthusiastic Megan Morton and featuring some serious styling and photographing talent from the drool inducing Delicious magazine. 

This was a workshop in the true sense of the word. No sitting watching endless power points and taking endless notes - after a quick intro outlining some basics it was straight into an hour of styling and then an hour of shooting. I fumbled about looking slightly confused in the first hour. Even given the amazing surrounds and the treasures of The School's prop cupboard I struggled to style anything. Let's just say I have a new found respect for stylists and all of you vignetters out there in Instagram-land. 

I felt a bit more at home in the second half, the photo taking bit. It was heaps of fun playing with backgrounds and lighting; and picking the brains of people who do this each and every day. That's actually my favourite part of these kinds of things - the opportunity to talk to a professional, and to watch how they work. 

I learnt some stuff too. I realised I often get stuck in a rut; I reach too easily for the lighting and colours and angles that are known and comfortable. I need to break out of that. So I'm going to work on taking more vertically oriented (portrait) photos and trying different angles (not everything has to be shot from overhead!).

Here are some of my favourite photos from the day, taken with an OM-D E-M10 which Olympus lent to us all for the two hours...

20 November 2014

Jorpins Vintage on Etsy

Now that the renovation is finished (or as finished as these things ever are), and we're pretty well settled back in Australia, I've been turning my mind and my time to some new projects. One of which is Jorpins Vintage - my new store on Etsy where I sell retro goodness. 

Channelling my love of all things mid-century I'm focussing on the 1950s through to the 1970s. Each piece is selected for its good looks and excellent condition. I won't list anything with chips or cracks. I have a rigorous quality control team on board (ie. me).

Currently I'm selling kitchen and dining ware, plus a vase or two, but I will also be listing some amazing vintage frocks in the coming months. The number of items in stock right now is slowly growing, so make sure you add Jorpins Vintage to your favourites!