FIVE THINGS TO DO IN BRISBANE | SEPTEMBER

SEE | Ontario born (just like me!) musician Afie Jurvanen of Bahamas play the The Spiegeltent at this month's Brisbane Festival. 

EAT | Now that Showroom is closed on Sundays, I'm making the most of my newfound weekend morning by working my way through this list of Brisbane's best breakfast dishes. I can vouch for #6, #15, #16, and #29 . I'm dying to try #7 and I'd add the curried lentils on toast at Harvey's on James St. Yum.

SHOP | Brisbane's newest farmers markets at Red Hill seem to be taking off in a big way. I've heard nothing but good things from friends who've already been to check them out, so after breakfast this weekend I'll be heading over to pick up my groceries and discover what else is on offer.

EXPLORE | Stradbroke Island. It's still whale season, and you might just be lucky enough to catch sight of a pod off the coast at Point Lookout. 

LEARN | Work-Shop launched in Brisbane last month with a very cool roster of creative short courses (some of which are being taught by our friends). You can check out their offerings here.

The Copper Edit

Copper's popularity continues to rise in the design world, and it's not hard to see why. These pieces are among my favourites in store and online right now and Showroom's customers seem to be loving them too. 

Working with artisans to bring designs from inside my head into life is one of the most exciting aspects of running The Spring Collective. I especially love those moments in store when customers discover something they've not seen anywhere else - that's when the whole design and curation process comes full circle.

My new Moscow mule mugs and julep cups are the latest additions giving me that thrill. I tried sourcing them for the shop for months from another local business in the end never could find anyone making them in Australia from 100% copper. (I didn't reckon copper plated would wear as well over time.) Not wanting to give up on my vision of the perfect summer drinking vessel I decided to look into having them manufactured aboard. Over the internet I found a small workshop in Jaipur that hand makes copper crockery. The lead artisan and I went back and forth via email, working our all the design details to create the perfect shape and finish. 

They've come up perfectly and I can't wait for the weather to turn a little warmer so I can fill them with crushed ice and ginger beer to be enjoyed out on the verandah. 

Your can shop our copper edit online or in store at Showroom, 104 Edward St in the Brisbane CBD. 

The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up

Minimalism, as a concept, appeals to me.

I find clear surfaces soothing. Clutter has always felt chaotic. I believe that when one is encumbered by too much stuff, it's harder to derive joy from things which are truly precious.  

The trouble is, becoming (more) minimalist requires release. Like most people, I find it hard to throw away things that might be useful someday, that I paid good money for, or to which I have an emotional attachment. 

This weekend I read a book that's begun to change all that. Yesterday, riding high on the motivation of Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I began the long overdue process of decluttering The Spring Cottage. 

There are, I'm sure, more relaxing ways to spend a day off than turning my home upside down in order to discard bags and bags of once loved belongings.

But the clutter had brought me to my breaking point. In the wake of Showroom's move from Paddington to the Brisbane CBD, bits and pieces from the old shop that weren't needed in the new one came home with me. Our small house was already bursting at its seams with things N and I have carted from home to home over the past seven years - I can't tell you how much stuff we have from our student days in England still stashed under beds and in wardrobes... Stuff we haven't needed for years and don't even like! The result? Not a whole lot of visible floorspace in the rooms where we come to wind down at the end of a long day.

Marie Kondo's method is for removing stuff in pursuit of a more ideal lifestyle is as sensitive as it is simple, and that's what I like best about it. Here're the basics of her approach.

1. Discard first, store later.

Kondo believes that you can’t organize clutter. The first step is to get rid of everything you don’t need.

2. Tidying is a special event.

What Kondo calls tidying is purging to the rest of us. Her point, though, is that purging excess stuff thoroughly one time results in a shift so wonderfully profound that you'll never end up in a messy semi-hoarding state again. 

3. Storage experts miss the point.

Putting things in drawers and closets creates only the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved. Organised clutter is still clutter. 

4. Sort by category, not location.

Don't tidy room by room. Rather, sort through every item you own by category in the following order: clothes, books, papers, miscellany, then mementos. The idea is to start with the things that are most replaceable with the least amount of sentimental value so you can practice making quick decision about what to keep and what to remove. 

5. The spark of joy.

How do you decide what to keep and what to throw away? Kondo's method is to hold each possession in your hands and think about how it makes you feel. If this item sparks joy, you should keep it. If it doesn’t, don't. NB: Important documents are the one exception to this rule, but there are fewer of these than you’d think.

6. Embrace vertical storage. 

Kondo's method centres around taking care of your possessions by showing them respect and gratitude - crushing things at the bottom of stacks is an organisational no-no: it encourages you to keep too much stuff because you can stack much more than you can store vertically and stacking is hard on the things at the bottom. 

7. Learn how to fold.

Kondo is adamant about proper folding technique, which I love because it enables you to store clothes standing up rather than laid flat. The great thing is that you can see everything in a drawer at a glance when you fold this way, which really helps me keep track of what I have and what my options are for getting dressed in the morning. 

For a demonstration of the Kondo method for folding various clothing items, I like this video series: 


Showroom [re] Launches

It's not often enough that we get to stand in a room, surrounded by people we've brought together, who we like and admire, and who like and admire each other. 

That's what I was thinking during and after Showroom's launch party last Thursday night. That and also how worth the trouble this move has been. The new shop looked beautiful, and seeing it come to life really filled with friends, family and laughter really was the actual best. 

images: Anwyn Howarth

Showroom Downtown

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I can't quite believe it's been a month since I last posted - it feels both like an entire era and mere moments have passed since I sat in our Paddington Queenslander, dreaming big city dreams. 

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Over the course of four short weeks last month I decided to close my first store, move the whole kit and caboodle downtown to a 1880s loft space in the Brisbane CBD, fit out the new shop, throw a party, and re-open our doors. It's been a crazy, hectic time and as daunting as the process has been, I couldn't be happier with the result. The Edward St store is even more paired back in terms of its styling and colour palate and fits exactly my taste right now.

I'm also thrilled that our downtown launch coincides with the start of a 6 month pop up by Melbourne furniture designers and manufacturers Tait and the 3 week residency of Brisbane's most beautifully curated online ceramic retailer Antler and Moss.  

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Showroom 2.0 | We're Moving!

For the past few weeks I've been busy like a duck, paddling furiously under the water while on the surface doing my best to get smoothly on with business as usual. Aside from running the shop and building an updated version of it's e-comerce sister site, I've been negotiating a new home for Showroom and The Spring Shop in the Brisbane CBD. My hardball game was strong and now I can finally announce (giddily!) that the deal is done and #teamshowroom is preparing to close down in Paddington and pop right back up in the city all within the month of July!

As it goes with many big changes, this one came about through a combination of successes and failures. And I think it's important to talk about both, because entrepreneurship really is all about the ups and the down. Success, it seems to me, hinges on how honest and responsive we're willing to be in the face of everything our businesses throw up. Changing won't be easy for us (oh, the packing!) or our customers who love to visit us up on Latrobe, but I know it's the right decision at the right time for the business and all the artisanal brands we support. Here's why:

Over the past year and a half since we opened our doors I've grown more confident as a curator with a keener eye for how I want to represent Showroom aesthetically. I'm proud of the warm, welcoming feel of our Paddo Queenslander, but I have made the mistake of adding products into our mix that didn't quite fit because I hoped they'd cater to broader tastes and generate revenue.

Maintaining the discipline of a strong point of view is something I've learned; our new herritage-listed, loft-style city space will feel just as beautifully welcoming as our first home, but Showroom 2.0 will have a cooler edge that reflects our clean, modern take on heritage and hand crafted design. The downtown shop ticks all the boxes for how I want Showroom to look, and, with the addition of air conditioning, it's going to be such a pleasure helping people find the perfect gifts come the holiday season in this bright, airy new space!

Alongside the factors pulling is into the city, there's also a push away from the suburbs. Simply put, it's been challenging to attract enough shoppers to sleepy Paddington throughout the week. In order to make enough money to take on excellent staff and become everything I envision this business to be, I think it's important to move to a more customer-rich environment - the kind of place where a specialised shop like ours can really thrive.

 

There are few, if any, beautiful independent designs shops in the Brisbane CBD, so I hope city-goers will find the addition of Showroom to their midsts an exciting prospect! We'll be at 104 Edward St, across from Metro Arts and sharing a building with Le Bon Choix. Close to Folio Books and equidistant from the Queen Street Mall and the Botanic Gardens, we love this little indy pocket of the city and can't wait to be spending our days downtown amid the hustle and busle . 

Key Dates:

Sunday, July 12 | Last day of trading at 135 Latrobe Tce.

Monday, July 27 | First day of trading at 104 Edward St. 

July First | Oh Canada

Stereotypically on July 1st, Canadians who've left the Great White North for school, jobs, or love scramble to secure an adequate supply of Molson's, maple syrup and beloved Tim Horton's coffee - the essentials for ex-pats celebrating Canada Day. Here in Australia, you can add canned pumpkin to that list. 

For me, nostalgia resides less in hometown brands (I don't drink beer or coffee anyway) and more in the kind of hometown cooking that evokes scent memories of lazy summer days up at the lake. All smugness and flag-waving patriotism aside, the long, idyllic days of early summer are the stuff sentimental daydreams are made of and at this time of year I reckon most of us who are far away start to feel the pull.

Since for me life's celebrations tend to revolve around food (who's with me?) I've assembled a collection of links to my favourite recipes that recall Ontario summers down below. Enjoy, and, to my Australian readers... don't forget to hug a Canadian today!

Five Things to Do in Brisbane | July

SHOP | The Finder's Keepers Markets return to Brisbane on July 4th and 5th at the Old Museum in Bowen Hills

EXPLORE | Escape to the country for Warwick's Jumpers and Jazz festival. Queensland's favourite quirky winter festival mixes music and yarn with a dash of Christmas in July - bookings are essential for many of the events on offer, so if you're keen to embrace the Granite Belt chill, be sure check out the full program here

EAT + DRINK | Hot chocolate at John Mills Himself in the Brisbane CBD. It's the best (and t'is the season). 

LEARN | Video is where the future of the web is headed and the most connective medium for telling our stories. Creating good quality clips is a pretty daunting prospect for those of us without much experience planning, shooting, and editing video, so I'm super excited for HOMEROOM's Video For Storytelling Workshop at Showroom on July 17th. Tickets are $395 for a full day's practical tuition and can be picked up here

CULTURE |  Painting With Light, an exhibition of William Bustard's art depicting Brisbane and surrounds, is on at the Museum of Brisbane. Bustard was a 20th century artist, illustrator and stained-glass window designer, whose work portrayed an optimistic view of a changing city and the unique qualities of the Queensland light. Entry is free and there's no real need to hurry - the exhibition runs through January 2016. 

photo  | Anwyn Howarth

The Influencers | Meet Annika & Dean of The Grey Attic

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The Grey Attic is a creative concept that merges styling, creative direction and writing. More than just a blog, Annika and Dean love creating longer form articles with more substantial content. In their professional lives the stylish duo help like-minded brands create beautiful content. I met them recently on a photoshoot at Showroom and we instantly connected over shared passions and experience as creative entrepreneurs here in beautiful Brisbane. Not only did they pen a piece about my business, Showroom, on their blog, but graciously agreed to answer my most burning questions for publication here. Enjoy! 

 

What did you do before starting The Grey Attic?

A | I was a creative director in a fashion retailer’s marketing department. 

D | I did all sorts of things from running my own business to studying engineering, to joining the army. 

 

What are the key elements that go into creating The Grey Attic’s unique vibe?

We’re pretty particular and (borderline) obsessive perfectionists. We bring lots of attention to detail to everything we choose to collaborate on or feature so make sure that everything we put into the world truly reflects our point of view. Our style is minimal, clean and crisp. We’re really interested in shooting concepts and pushing high fashion boundaries. 

 

What do you love most about running your own creative business?

Lots of things. Like being able to work together every day. Creating fantasy lands in photo shoots. Challenging ourselves. It’s so rewarding to starting with an idea, watch how quickly it changes, molding it into something that reflects our aesthetic, and translating it into something that works for our clients. We love having control over all the intricate details that go into creating imagery, so from inception to delivery, it’s key that things feel like they work for us. 

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How do you define your personal style?

We tend to choose pieces that are effortless, not showy. (Although Dean does like his accessories!) Our personal style is more about uniform dressing and exploring concept than embracing trends. 

Give us some awesome tools that simplify your workflow as a creative and entrepreneur:

1.    Our editorial calendar

2.    Our social media plan

3.    Checking emails first thing and keeping our inbox clear

4.    Having regular meetings with each other. 

We still write endless notes and lists, but we input them all into Excel saved in Dropbox. This system’s been brilliant for pulling together all our client sheets, ideas, and schedules. 

We also find it helpful to have structures in place each day to check in on what’s going on, and what needs attention. Free-for-all creativity still needs some bounds so we all know what the end game is in a work sense. When bouncing ideas it’s great to be endlessly creative, but when it’s about putting a project together you need an actual plan. 

 

Which other design / creative brands inspire you? 

A | I’m mostly inspired by print magazines like Acme, Paper, Interview Magazine and Industry Magazine. Large print magazines really inspire me because they’re not so functional – they’re print media as print media was originally intended. There’s so much thought put into the paper, the ink, the binding, etc… I love all those details. 

D | I’m inspired by visionaires like Rick Owens and Yogi Yammamoto who know what they wanted and followed through. I’m also personally inspired by buildings and music. I love light and white. 

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What’s the first website you load when you wake up in the morning?

Gmail. Pinterest. Style.com

 

What’s your favourite hashtag?

A | I don’t like hashtags, but I do search hashtags to find imagery of events I wish I’d seen in real life. 

D | I follow particular photographer’s hashtags so I can see their whole body of work. That’s pretty conveninent. 

 

Do you feel optimistic about the creative scene In Brisbane? Why or why not?

Yes and no. Brisbane is a fast moving market where people are always interested in the next cool thing. From a fashion perspective, it can be competitive in a way that tends to make people somewhat guarded, simply because there isn’t a huge amount of work on offer here. Still, the fashion scene in Brisbane is more open than in Sydney. It’s exciting to see how much Brisbane has grown and how much great talent is coming out of here. 

 

How do you like to recharge creatively? (Where do you go, what do you do?)

A | Yoga. Read. Watch TV shows. Take our dog for a walk and not bring our phones. Red wine.

D  | Petting Arlo our dog. Really loud music. Reading. Grabbing a coffee and walking in New Farm Park. 

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Fancy Toast

Fancy Toast

Fancy toast is all the rage and as dead-simple-but-totally-photo-worthy breakfasts go, I think it's just about the best thing since... sliced bread? Here're four versions I'm loving now, all of which start with a couple pieces of fruit toast and a dollop of fresh ricotta.  

  • Ripe Strawberries & Fresh Thyme
  • Banana, Walnut & Honey
  • Blueberry, Pepita & Cinnamon
  • Fig, Slivered Almonds & Hone
Fancy Toast
Fancy Toast
Fancy Toast

Terrarium Making with That Flower Shop

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I recently hosted a 13th birthday party at the shop for a super fun group of girls. The newly minted teenager (my honorary niece) wanted to do something with her friends that none of them had every tried before, so we decided terrarium making would be the perfect party activity. She loved the idea that everyone would make something awesome to take home and we reckoned it was the kind of activity that'd leave lots of room for chatting, snacking, and singing along to Taylor Swift.  

To make pulling the party together easier, I ordered terrarium making kits from That Flower Shop for each girl. They came beautifully presented in a timber box with each element neatly packaged inside. Doing things this way also turned out to be cost effective, as I didn't want to spend heaps of time and money sourcing large quantities of each separate 'ingredient' from local garden stores and the internet. 

If you've ever wanted to make your own terrariums, keep reading for all the materials and steps! 

 

Terrarium Making Materials:

  • glass vessel
  • plants
  • soil mix
    • 2 parts regular potting soil
    • 1 part peat moss
    • 1 part perlite
  • spagnum moss
  • activated charcoal
  • gravel
  • chopstickes
  • scissors
  • moss
  • bark, pebbles, larger stones for 'landscaping'

How To Make A Terrarium

1. Start with a clean, dry glass container.

2. Add a layer of gravel. The quantity will depend on the height of your container and the look you're after. 

3. Spring 2 - 3 pieces of charcoal. Charcoal whips orders away and your terrarium 'clean'.

4. Soak a handful of sphagnum moss in fresh water. Squeeze well and add a layer to your terrarium. This will create a barrier between the soil and the gravel. 

5. Now it's time to add soil and plants! Give your plants a once over to make sure there're no insects or diseased bits. Remove soil from around the edge of the root ball near the base of the plant and carefully untangle the bottom roots. Place the largest plants first, followed by progressively smaller ones.

6. When all the plants are in, firmly tamp down the soil. Cover with moss, orchid bark or pebbles, depending on the look you're after. Using cover like this prevents soil disturbance when watering and reduces evaporation later on.

7. Plants need to be watered in slowly with room-temperature water. Distilled water is optimal because the minerals in tap water can build up in the soil and leave residue on the terrarium glass. The soil is adequately saturated when it becomes dark all the way through. Any excess water that gathers in the drainage layer should be carefully siphoned off. 

8. Using a clean cloth, wipe down the sides of your terrarium glass. Pop your lid on if you have one, and set your terrarium somewhere with ambient natural light, but out of the way of direct sunlight. 

If you'd like to pick up a terrarium kit of your own, they're available on a custom order basis from That Flower Shop in Alderly. Or, if you'd like to buy a ready made version, they're available and ready to take home at Showroom. 

Five Journals We Love

There's nothing quite like nestling deep into a lounge chair with a mug of something hot and your favourite magazine. They're a great help in distracting from "that thing I haven't done yet that I should probably be doing right now", and take you away from the monotonous everyday to exciting places and introduce you to fascinating people. I use each precious moment with a beloved mag as an opportunity to soak up fresh inspiration, to hear and see the world outside, and simply to relax. I put together my top 5 favourite journals of all time, a couple you may know and love yourself, some that might bring new inspiration of your own.

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1. Kinfolk

Founded in 2011, Kinfolk is now the leading independent lifestyle magazine for young creative professionals and also produces international editions in Japan, China, Korea and Russia. Published quarterly, Kinfolk maintains a vibrant contributor base from Copenhagen to Cape Town and hosts hundreds of global events that bring the community together. It is my main port of call for imagery inspiration. 

Smith

2. Smith Journal

Smith Journal is a quarterly, Australia-based publication that takes unexpected, interesting, funny and sometimes complicated stories and tells them the way you would to a bunch of friends at the pub. The minds behind Smith wanted to create something they'd be happy to read themselves. That smart, creative people could peruse without shame, slap down on the coffee table, whack in their favourite old satchel or display proudly on the toilet reading rack. A mag that looked really good, but had substance, wit and inspiration. Smith isn't obsessed with the latest stuff or being first in line. While it does keep an eye on what's current, it's much more intrigued by things that stand the test of time. Smith isn't about being nostalgic. Admittedly, it does love plenty of things from the past but knows that nostalgia can be toxic, so it's constantly looking toward the future too. It happily confesses to knowing nothing, but considers that a positive, because it means it's fascinated by everything.

 

Made

3. Made

MADE Publishers are a boutique periodical and book publisher with offices in Melbourne (Australia) and New York (United States). Founded in 2007 by partners Thomas Williams and Amber Hourigan, they produce editions and books dedicated to design, photography, fashion, art, architecture, health & lifestyle. With an emphasis on quality content and high production values, their publications have been recognized internationally with various awards and accolades. Whilst MADE are committed to producing the highest quality printed publications, they also embrace new technologies and continue to explore the increasingly growing sector of digital publishing, adopting a ‘hybrid’ publishing philosophy that both print and digital can exist in harmony, often enhancing and complementing one another in unexpected ways.

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4. Cereal 

The magazine, published twice a year, is divided into city-specific chapters. Each chapter comprises features on places, people and products, paired with striking photography. An interlude section, included in every volume, features a selection of style and culture articles. As well their physical publications, Cereal have written up city guides, providing a tightly edited selection of beautiful places in a number of cities around the world. Each online guide comes with an introduction to the city alongside essential information, and features anywhere from 10-20 locations and laid out in an editorial style. Their imagery is to die for.

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5. Fete Press

Fête regular issues – four per year, fête/kids – an annual special issue dedicated to celebrating parenthood and the joys of everyday life with children and fête/holiday – an annual special issue, a go-to guide for busy people wanting to celebrate the Christmas season with easy, achievable entertaining and gifting ideas. Each of their titles are created for people who love to enjoy the small things and good times in everyday life. They write for readers that are on the go, showing them how life can be beautiful in a simple, authentic and achievable way. With a strong design aesthetic, fêteincludes interviews with inspiring everyday people, their workplaces and homes as well as a variety of articles that will inspire you to improve your quality of life and relationships. Delivered in a sensitive and lighthearted narrative, the stories in fête are all personal and real.

The Ultimate Avocado on Toast

The Ultimate Avo on Toast

I'm a big fan of a good Avocado Mash. There is so much to love about avocados, such as their high levels of potassium and fibre, as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Over the years I've tried variations on the classic ranging from average to mind-blowing, but this right here has knocked 'em all out of the water. A little bit of Danish feta mixed into the avocado creates a deliciously soft texture, pepitas and shredded mint leaves adding an unexpected zing and pickled strawberries stealing the show with a fruity bang. 

Avocado Toast with Pickled Strawberries

  • 4 slices of sourdough
  • 1 avocado
  • 20g of Danish feta
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 Tbs of pepitas
  • Jar of pickled strawberries
  • 2 tsp of shredded mint leaves
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Mash together the avocado, feta, lemon juice and seasonings. Spread thickly over toasted sourdough, then sprinkle with pepitas, mint and strawberries. Grab a magazine and a cup of tea and enjoy! Serves 2.

Skillet Blueberry Galette

There's something about baking in a skillet. The sturdiness of it, the feel of the rugged cast-iron handle, a reminder of soul food well earned by the most intrepid of explorers, land workers miles from civilisation, and those who searched for home in the conquest of America's West. Somehow the skillet is charged with these stories of people who worked hard to achieve the things they believed in, and like the passing of the torch, holding it in your hands comes with a sense of possibility and expectation.

The other week, I made up something pretty special in this black beauty that had the whole house in a trance from the heavenly scent of cooking berries and pastry. I thought I'd let you all in on the recipe, you can thank me later.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • 24 Tbs. (3 sticks) plus 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into cubes 
  • 3/4 cup ice water 
  • 4 cups blackberries, blueberries or a mixture 
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 3 Tbs. flour 

Directions:

Mix the dough 
In a food processor, combine the flour and salt and pulse briefly to mix. Scatter the butter over the top and pulse just until the mixture forms coarse crumbs about the size of peas. Drizzle the ice water over the flour mixture and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Wrap and place in the fridge for half an hour. 

Roll out the dough

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celcius. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 30cm round. Fold the round in half, transfer to the skillet and unfold round.

Fill and bake the galette
In a bowl, lightly stir together the berries, lemon juice, sugar and flour. Spoon the filling onto the dough, then fold the edges up and over the filling, forming loose pleats. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

The skillet is very hot and heavy when it comes out of the oven, so make sure you have a clean, heat-friendly surface to set it down on nearby. Serve immediately with ice-cream.


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5 Things to Do in Brisbane in June

Apple Picking in Stanthorpe

Well here we are, 3 days into the month of June (and the season of Winter, woot woot!) and let me tell you some pretty cool things are happening in Brisbane. It's difficult for those of us in the hustle and bustle to keep up with the groovy events that go on occasionally around our local cities, so I thought I'd do the research for you and found 5 fun things to in Brisbane over the next 30 days. 

Meet Brigitte May | #teamshowroom

 

Brigitte May is a Sydney-based illustrator, and the creative genius behind the stunning illustrations that decorate Nest the Label's fine bone china teacups and saucers. We had the opportunity to speak briefly with her about her brand.

1. Give us your elevator pitch: 

Nest is about adding a touch of creative sparkle to everyday things that might otherwise be overlooked. 

 

2. What did you do before starting Nest?

We began Nest just after Audrey and I had both graduated from Fashion Design at the Whitehouse Insitute. After three years of intense sewing and clothing focus, we each needed a break from that scene. 

 

3. What made you start this business here and now?

Nest was conceived in a business class at school. And we just loved the idea! Our business teacher, who is now our business mentor, gave us so much encouragement and motivation; she really spurred us to turn the dream into reality. I also think being fresh out of uni is a great time to launch yourself into the industry. You're fearless. 

 

4. What are the key elements that go into creating Nest's unique vibe? 

Nest will always be artistically based. Whether it's my own artwork or Audrey's calligraphy and graphic design, illustration is a key element in the aesthetic. We also love golden, silver and copper accents. Maybe this is a phase, but I know we aren't ready to lose that child-like love of precious metals for a while yet.

 

5. What do you love most about running your own creative businesses?

I love the freedom that comes with the role; not being dictated by some higher body. I'm also really grateful to be a part of such a supportive creative community and being able to pursue collaborations with like-minded makers.

 

6. If you could go back in time to tell your younger, inexperienced self one thing about starting a creative business, what would it be?

Time manage, and only take on what you can physically get done within the time frames. Not that I would have listened! I have a terrible habit of being unable to say no. It has earned me so many all-nighters (but also lots of incredible opportunities).

7. Give us three awesome tools that simplify your workflow as a creative and entrepreneur:

+ Focus- Until recently, I'd let myself be immersed in up to ten various projects each day. It was unproductive and really made my mind chaotic. I now only work on one thing at a time- sometimes this one thing may take days and I appear slack in keeping up with emails or keeping in touch with clients. But in the end, it's more time efficient and achieves the best result. 

+ Lists- I write lists upon lists. I always have my notebook at the ready as I feel it's so important in ensuring work flows in the right direction. I'll jot down potential collaborations, ideal financial situations, the bigger picture, and what I have already succeeded in. This last one is of particular importance. We need to nurture our own spirit and celebrate every little success.

+ Social Media- Being present and authentic in my social media accounts ensures that the people who reach out to me are aligned with my morals and approach to design. Fortunately, this means that I build beautiful relationships with my clients, and don't have to worry about sorting through which jobs I do and don't wish to take on. They're all up my alley!

 

8. Which other design / creative brands inspire you? 

I'm inspired by Blacklist, Spell and Zulu and Zephyr- labels who have strong, confident branding and achieve cult-like followings because of it. 

 

9. What’s the first website you load when you wake up in the morning?

My emails. Boring, I know! I always check though, in case my client has had any changes of mind in the project I'll be working on that day.

 

10. What's your favourite hashtag?  

#handmade

 

11.  Do you feel optimistic about the local handmade / #shopsmall scene? Why or why not? 

I definitely do. I'm not sure whether I just associate with similar people.. But I see a huge shift in consumerism. People want to know the story behind the product they're buying, and they want to support friends and friends of friends who have begun their own brand. There's still a long way to go in growing awareness and mindfulness of ethical shopping, but I see it gathering momentum in the years to come.

 

12. How do you like to recharge creatively? 

I go to the garden, the ocean, the bush. I think the best way to recharge creatively is to ground yourself in nature and let that natural energy seep into you.  

Catherine's Own Sweet Potato Gnocchi

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This gnocchi is the closest thing I have to a party trick. 

When my girlfriends and I get together for dinner, wine, and conversation that isn't all about work, this is the dish they always request. To me it's elegant comfort food, perfect for sharing on cosy nights in this time of year.

I like to make gnocchi when I have the luxury of plenty of time to turn up my music and enjoy pottering around the kitchen. And I always double this recipe, because as much as I like serving it up to a small crowd, knowing I have a reserve gnocchi stash in the freezer - and that this particular dinner is always less than 15 minutes away from the moment I cross my kitchen's threshold - is something I'll admit to relying on to restore my equilibrium at the end of the most harried workdays. So yes, this meal is habit-forming. You've been warned.  

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easy_sweet_potato_gnocchi.jpg

Catherine's Own Simple Home Made Gnocchi Recipe

Ingredients For The Gnocchi:

1 large sweet potato 
1 cup ricotta (I use full fat)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 cup grated parmesan or cheddar cheese
3-4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

1. Stab the sweet potato five or six times with a fork and pop it on a plate in the microwave for 6 minutes. Flip over, and microwave for another 6 minutes so the potato steams in its own jacket. Set aside to cool.

2. When the potato is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop out the insides. Measure 1 cup into a mixing bowl or food processor. 

3. Add all the other ingredients into the mixing bowl or food processor and stir, or pulse, to combine. The mixture will be really sticky, but the goal is to add as little flower as possible to create a dough which can be shaped. 

4. On a well floured surface, turn out the lump of dough. Working with one small handful at a time, roll the floured dough out to create a long snake shape the thickness of a 20 cent coin. Cut the roll every 2 - 3cm to form the little gnocchies. 

5. OPTIONAL - If you want to make the gnocchi look more traditional, roll them over the tines of a fork or a wooden paddle like I have to create little ridges. 

6. I often make a double batch so I have leftovers to freeze. At this point, place the gnocchi you intend to save for later on a parchment lined cookie sheet, making sure each piece is well floured and not touching. Freeze them like this, then transfer to a ziplock bag to store in the freezer. This ensure they won't come out as one big lump when it's time to defrost. 

7. Turn two burners on high & put a pot of water on to boil and a skillet with a generous drizzle of olive oil on to heat. Let the gnocchi simmer for 2 - 3 minutes then using a slotted spoon, transfer to the pan to crisp, using tongs to turn them over until all sides are golden. Add in herbs, butter, cheese, and whatever toppings you like (my gnocchi 'dressing' is coming up below' until everything is heated through and serve. 

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Ingredients For The Dressing:

500g red onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
a handful of fresh thyme
1/2 cup sun-dried tomato strips
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions For The Dressing:

1. Using a mandolin (if you have one) or a sharp knife, slice the red onions as finely as possible. 

2. Put a large skillet on low/medium heat, drizzle generously with olive oil, and add in the onions. Leave to cook down, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes. (This can also be done in a slow cooker if you don't want to stand over the stove... when I cook onions this way, I throw the garlic and thyme in right at the start and let it all cook down for 4 - 6 hours without any intervention. I usually have a jar of these cooked onions in my fridge because I use them in so many meals and having them ready to go makes getting the dinner I want on the table really quick.)

3. When the onions are soft and stringy, add in the garlic, thyme and artichoke hearts. Cook until the artichoke has caramelised on each side, then add in the sun-dried tomatoes and turn off the heat (they burn easily). 

4. If you've made this dressing ahead, keep in an airtight container in the fridge until you're ready to use. If you're ready to eat, add it in to your pan frying gnocchi (or toss with any other kind of pasta). Garnish with grated parmesan and fresh herbs, to serve. 

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Five More Gift Wrapping Ideas

A few of the images from our Pinterest W R A P board that inspired our Winter Wrap Edit earlier this week. The first photo is ours and to discover the sources of the rest, just click on the pic. Happy weekend! 


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Meet Madonna Gott of Anise Skin | #teamshowroom

Madonna is the founder and creator of Anise Botanical Skincare, and a firm believer in sourcing organically. Founded by passion over 15 years ago, Madonna's Business draws on her Scandinavian roots with its simple, clean lines and minimalist values. She produces with only the finest, pure ingredients and botanical essences, her skincare contains no artificial fragrances, parabens, sulphates, petrochemicals, pesticide or herbicide residues, synthetic preservatives, fillers or whiteners.

It’s a simple philosophy that I appreciate - as well as how beautiful the packaging looks on my bathroom shelf. So without further ado, meet Madonna, and the skincare that's making my skin glow as winter draws in. 

1. Give us your elevator pitch: 

Produced in Australia from the finest, pure ingredients and botanical essences, Anise Botanical Skincare is a pure and chemical free range of skincare suitable for the entire family. Our simple philosophy is mirrored in our functional glass bottles and matt-white labels. Designed for a modern Australian lifestyle, our products are as beautiful in your home as they are on your skin. 

2. What did you do before starting Anise Botanical Skincare?

I have been making natural skincare for over 15 years but this particular range was launched only 5 months ago. I started my first business at 25 and haven't looked back since then. 

3. What made you start this business here and now?

I wanted to create a range of skincare that was not only pure and high quality but also looked amazing sitting on the kitchen sink. Its not just skincare but a lifestyle and homewares range that suits many different purposes. The products are designed to be multi-use and our labels come with suggestions such as blending our cream and wash together to make a mild face cleanser. It harks back to our pure and simple philosophy.  

4.  What are the key elements that go into creating Anise Skin's unique vibe?

My family on my mothers side are Swedish and I have always been drawn to Scandinavian style and simplicity. This design aesthetic is mirrored in our packaging - simple amber glass with matte white labels. Beautifully functional, pure & simple.

5. What do you love most about running your own creative businesses?

I just love the process. I think a lot of creative people would say the same thing. In the beginning its not really about commerce. You create something you love like you are fulfilling a deep need within yourself and when people respond positively to it then it becomes something you can make a living from. Being able to make money from something that you create with your own two hands would have to be one of the most satisfying things there is. I'd like to say that the hours are flexible and I get my weekends off but its not that glamorous yet. It's a lot of hard work and hopefully you get some little wins along the way to let you know you're on the right track. 

6. If you could go back in time to tell your younger, inexperienced self one thing about starting a creative business, what would it be?

Have some faith! When I look back, I see a person who was always in a hurry to get somewhere - to be 'successful'. I have achieved some really great things both personally and professionally but I was in such a hurry to move to the next stepping stone that I missed a lot of the enjoyment of those experiences. Slow down. The beauty is in the details and some of my biggest mistakes have led to some of my most fortunate situations. Trust the experience.

7.  Give us three awesome tools that simplify your workflow as a creative and entrepreneur.

+ I use Shopify for my website and online store and I am constantly finding more apps and add ons that help me to do the most amazing things. They also have a great blog with lots of business tips. 
+ I use quickbooks online and have the app on my iphone. It is such an easy to use bookkeeping and invoicing program. 
+ I use pack and send online www.packandsend.com.au to send my wholesale orders. They give you a choice of up to 6 freight options with prices so you don't need to be tired to no freight company for all of your needs. 

8. Which other design / creative brands inspire you? 

I am constantly inspired by Yumiko Sekine from Fog Linen www.foglinenwork.com . Her amazing quality linens and simple design aesthetic is just beautiful, I cant ever have enough of it and her style never fades.

9. What’s the first website you load when you wake up in the morning?

My emails and my own website..the back end of it anyway. I like to check over the orders I have for the day ahead.

10. What’s your favourite hashtag?

#naturalbeauty I like to think that we attract the kind of customer who aspires to be a natural beauty in many more ways than one..

11. How do you like to recharge creatively? (Where do you go, what do you do?)

I spend a lot of time alone in my business so I love to meet up with friends who also have creative businesses, share ideas and catch up. I always come home with renewed focus. I am a serial internet researcher as well so a lot of my recharge time comes from seeking out inspiration from this amazing world of creative people that we all live in. Often at 2am and always with a hot cup of tea..