Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Card Tree! Gorgeous!

Need ideas for displaying your Christmas cards? This is my favourite so far. My Mum was explaining to me how her and Dad created a Christmas Card Tree this year. It sounded fantastic, so got her to email me some photos. Wow! I was pleasantly surprised at how 'designer' it looked. They live on a beautiful cattle property in Central Qld and therefore have plenty of access to dead trees (which as you can see, has been brought back to life!).

So, they picked one out and spray painted it silver. They then hung red and green baubles on the tree and painted wooden pegs - green and red to match. The cards were then pegged onto the tree and - hey presto - a masterpiece!  Its on my to-do list next year! LOVE IT!

Share your ideas with other Shimi followers. We love to hear from you.

Merry Christmas
Jen and Row

Monday, December 20, 2010

Favourite Christmas Movie

Only 5 more sleeps till Christmas....  And I am still not done shopping.  I have for some reason this year braved the shopping centres and have done my Christmas shopping on foot as apposed to online like I have done for the past few years.  Not sure why, considering I am 7 months pregnant and have two little kids to deal with in the shops....  Call it pregnancy brain.  So I thought I was done today, and have discovered I am short one present and now have to go out tomorrow night - God Dammit.

However in the spirit of Christmas I am not going to moan on about how hard it is to be organised, etc.  What I am excited about is Christmas Eve.  My husband and I decided last year that it was high time we started having some traditions in our family, and last year on Christmas Eve we started one.  We decided that Christmas Eve we would make pizzas, eat together (the kids are invited) on the patio with candles and Christmas music, open a present each, and then snuggle up on the lounge to watch a Christmas Movie.  It was fun, although I think Adrian feel asleep within the first 5 minutes of the movie, but he was there in body at least.  Last year we watched "Elf" with Will Ferrel, and I would say this year will be the same.

Last year I really had to push "Elf" to my daughter - she was NOT having a bar of it, and it took all my power of persuasion to get her to watch it.  It is one of my favourites as I am a bit of sucker for Will Ferrel.  I love Anchor Man, and I could even sit through the relatively strange "Step Brothers" again.  Anyway, now she loves it and I am looking forward to watching it again on Christmas Eve, although we did watch it just a few weeks ago and we laughed so hard we snorted - which is truly the mark of a funny movie!!
Christmas themed movies were never much of a "thing" in my family, so I don't really have any other favourites, although there is always the good old "Muppet Christmas Movie".  I haven't managed to turn my daughter on this one yet, but the challenge is there.  Hensen always had the right blend of child and adult humour in a way that I don't think modern pop culture has been able to match.  Maybe my love of The Muppets and of course Semsame Street stems from my childhood of only having those children programmes to watch, but I can still find the humour in it.  I always love Grover and Gonzo, must be a blue thing....  Now we can add Will Ferrel's Megamind to the mix - again with the blue.

Anyway, we would love to hear what your favourite Christmas movie is or how you celebrate Christmas Eve.

Love Jen & Row

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Amazing What Mums Do....

I did absolutely nothing around the house today.  It wasn't to make a point, I just really didn't feel like cleaning up after two little kids and a husband.  Instead I had breakfast with a Girlfriend and left husband to tend to the kids.  Then I came home and finished sewing some shorts for my daughter, painted some twigs for a Xmas decoration, played with the kids and .... shock, horror, even had a rest.

Needless to say the house was an unmitigated disaster zone.  So it was quite an eye opener to realise that I must spend most of the day picking up after people in order to keep the house in basic order.  Like a said, it was purely an act of laziness today, no point to be made, but I surprised myself.  I know girlfriends and I often get together and lament about how our partners have no idea what we do all day at home, even though we are go go go all day.  The running joke in my house is that I just sit around and eat cream buns all day.  I am very lucky I must add, and have a husband that in no way takes my job as a domestic goddess for granted, so I can laugh at that joke and usually is the one to initiate it.

So whilst I thought my life did not revolve around my house I realise this is slightly untrue.  I do try very hard to not constantly pick up after my kids, because I want them to have fun, and lets face it, when you are a kid mess is fun.  So before we walk out the door in the morning, we have toys away, beds made, kitchen clean and floors swept.  Then even though at times I get a slight twitch looking at toys spread out all over the place, we don't do any clearing away until late afternoon, and I make sure the kids help.  Obviously I am kidding myself that this happens though.

I don't know if this is the best option, but it works for us.  The kids enjoy their day without me nagging them to pick up their toys, and whilst there is a fair amount of whinging when we do clean up, I think they are learning the value of having a tidy and calm room.

But lets face it when it comes to cleaning, it is always Groundhog Day.  But I found this little book about speed cleaning and anything that makes my life as a "maid" a little easier I will take on board. 

Jen & Row.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Recyled Gift Wrapping

For any parents out there with little ones at kinder, preschool or childcare you may, like me, find that you have endless piles of paintings from your children.
While we love the artwork and try our best to hold onto ALL of it, we just can't. Rather than throw the paintings in the recycle bin (when our kids aren't looking!), I now use the fantastic artwork as gift wrapping paper. I also make matching cards with it.
Just cut a strip of the painting and paste it to coloured card or paper. It makes for a lovely personalised gift. Give it a go!
Got any other ideas on what to do with kids artwork, share it with Shimi followers!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Buying a Swimsuit

Uughhh..... Not my favourite of subjects at the moment. Although I currently weigh 10 kilos more then I like to and am sporting a big baby bump, so my choice of swimwear is maternity togs or maternity togs in the colours of black or black. Although we have found a few select maternity swimmers that don’t subscribe to “only black” look and they are available through Shimi now.

However if you aren’t in the baby way the selection of swimwear available is mind boggling, but what is best for your figure?

If you have an hourglass or curvy figure, own it and sex it up. Curves are beautiful and should be celebrated, so what better way to do that then in swimwear. Retro styles with bikini pants (rather then the itsy bitsy bikini style that hardly covers the bum) look great, with the pant style giving you that little bit of extra coverage that can help us curvy ones feel a little less self conscience. Lots of retro styles are strapless which is a great style for those with bigger breast. Halter neck for the hourglass figure as it gives the breast a lift giving a fuller look. An interesting neck line works really well for the hourglass figure as it draws the eye upwards and creates an interests away from the hips. If you are really self concience, go for black but a really great floral or bright colour can give you the confidence you are needing to rock that swimsuit.

Petite in shape, well I could just bypass you as almost every look will suit you, but lets not discriminate. Possibly stay away from those swimmers that have a shaped bust, as it can be quite noticeable if you don’t fill it out, but there are plenty of ways to enhance the bust otherwise. Again halter necks do a great job of lifting and anything with a frill on the bust will instantly take you from an A cup to a B or bigger. You can wear that tiny bikini no problems, so go for it.

Got an athletic figure and maybe need a bit of help promoting your curves? Choose a swimsuit with an interesting neckline or great bikini bottoms. This will draw the eye up or down and away from the waist. A frill here and there will on the bottom or top of the swimsuit will also give the appearance of having a little more on top or on the bottom which will make the waist look smaller.

I think go with what you are most comfortable in. But if you choose white or pale yellow be aware that the see-through factor is intensly higher and that is never a good look.

There is a style for everyone.  Shimi now has Miracle Suits available, check them out at

Happy Shopping.
Jen & Row

Monday, December 13, 2010

Buying on Line – how to resolve problems

Buying on line.... it is a bit of a gamble for some people as they are handing over money with the promise that someone will send them the product they are buying for. It does take a little bit of time to feel comfortable with this process, however once you have some good results, it becomes a way of life. No crowded shopping centres, no trawling through racks of things you don’t actually want to find what you do want, and all at the touch of your finger tips.

Obviously having an online boutique I am comfortable with the process of buying on line. I also try to support my fellow on-line shops rather than the big department stores. It is with regret that I blog that I have had a bad experience with buying online.

A few months ago I bought two dresses online from different stores. After a month I hadn’t received either of these dresses. I contact both buyers who confirmed that they had sent the dresses to my work address rather than my home address and due to an error the dresses had been sent back to the post office and consequently back to the sender.

I contact both senders and asked them for a refund on the products once they received the item back. I thought this was fair. No special treatment required, I just didn’t want to pay for postage again, as advised both senders that I was more than happy to wait for them to receive the item in return before they refunded me.

One sender was very nice and said that was fine, although she was happy to resend the dress at no charge to the correct address. Great – perfect outcome and very pleasant customer service professional to deal with.

The second questioned me continually on why I had two address, was rude, refused to cooperate and actually name called!! Can you believe it? Of course she is claiming she has not received the item in return and consequently I will be out of pocket. As a consumer all I wanted was for the shop owner to say “No problem, I will look out for the item and contact you when I have received it”. If she had come back a month later and said she hadn’t received it and was still polite, I would have accepted the outcome as a lost in post transaction. Instead I have contacted a dispute resolution centre about this and will reluctantly provide negative feedback about the store owner.

I am sure we have all had a bad experience with customer service, be it online or in person. What I have trouble understanding is how any customer service person can act in such a manor to a customer. I have worked in customer service for many many years, and in insurance at that (not the nicest industry to work in when it comes to customer service) and I can honestly say that regardless of the issue (my fault or the customers fault) I have never felt the need to be rude. In fact I believe it is our job to resolve the matter with a happy outcome or at the very least a reasonable outcome for both parties.

What is the silver lining? I have an even greater willingness to provide great customer service to our customers now. Not only will I never shop at the online store that was so rude to me, I will provide negative feedback on their website, however reluctant I am to do so. The store that was pleasant and did their utmost to resolve the problem – I will return to and shop from again and I have already raved on their feedback forum about how cooperative and thoughtful they were.

So how do you know if an online store is going to provide you with the service you expect? If you are purchasing through somewhere like Etsy (where my little problem has eventuated) or Ebay each seller should have a Feedback Forum. Read all you can on their feedback page. Some feedback can be very petty, so be open minded and read the good feedback as well, as sometimes no matter how much store owners try to resolve problems the customer is never happy. If for you the bad feedback out ways the good feedback, move on.

But how do you rate a store that doesn’t have a feedback forum which most independent online stores will not have (like Shimi). Most stores will have a Testimonial page from happy customers, but of course most Store Owners are not going to put negative feedback on their Testimonial Page. So ask lots of questions. We online owners understand that it is a big commitment to buy online, so most of us are more then happy to promptly answer any question you have no matter how big or small. Any concern you may have ask away and make sure you understand the returns policy if you are worried about being happy with the product. Rowena and I always aim to reply to any question within 24 hours and are more than happy to talk to our customers until they feel comfortable. This should give you a feel for the store owner and hopefully will prove you with a sense of trust.

The next thing you can do is google the stores name. There are numerous forums out their that people can post the grievances on, so should you be dealing with someone dodgy, someone out there will hopefully have shared their experience.

Hopefully this is helpful to you, but remember that you can have just as bad experience buying in person and always trust your instincts. Most online stores are even more helpful to their customers because we know we only have one chance to impress you, rather then the stores that have foot traffic passing them everyday. We hope that on your next online transaction you have a really wonderful experience.

Jen & Row

Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Children's Wear at Shimi

It is so easy to buy for clothing for little girls.  Having a six year old, it as not as easy as it once was as she has very definite taste, but nevertheless I can increase my credit card bill by more then I budgeted when it comes to buying for my little girl.

I must admit though I avoid pink clothes for her.  I much prefer the more unusual mixtures and colours, which is why when we discovered Hopscotch, we had to add them to our Shimi line.

So pretty.....

Jen & Row

Xmas Traditions

Well, as is everyone else that celebrates Christmas, I am in the planning stages.  I have most of the kids presents bought, and only a few of the adults left to buy for.  Cooking and menu planning is now the next big task.  Not being an avid cook I am a little reluctant to do anything about that yet.  However I want to get my groceries delivered as one of my few hates in life is grocery shopping in the busy season.  Two kids and a 7 month bump do not make for a pleasant shopping experience.

For some reason though today the family braved our local Shopping Centre, which is a very popular one.  It was actually a remarkably pleasant experience.  I spied something today whilst looking around that reminded me of one of our family traditions, or more exactly, one of my Dad's family traditions.

Now my Dad is a wonderful man, but an typical male.  Usually he will get me to buy Mum's present for him, or if I am unavailable, it is the same brand of perfume every year.  Not that Mum is complaining about that I might add.  Needless to say, just like it is in my house, Mum always and has always done all the Christmas shopping.  But one thing that Dad used to always do when I was primary school age was buy me a present just from him.  Every year it was the same thing.... you guessed it - Perfume, and it was always a cheap brand.  At the time I didn't appreciate the thoughtfulness, but now I remember that tradition with fond memories.

So, I am now trying to encourage my husband to take up that little family tradition with my daughter (hopefully she is a little more grateful then I was).  However fair is fair, and he will have to think of something for our son now - but that is his job. 

By the way, I am sure I am getting the same brand of perfume my husband gave me last year......  Must be a man thing.

Jen & Row

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rainy Days

As mentioned before I love rainy days. The rain brings back such sweet memories for me. I was really lucky to have a really wonderful childhood. I lived in a small town where my mother owned a drapery, the place that cultivated my passion for design. A short walk from the main street of town lived my Grandmother, who was the ultimate Granny. She was an ex Home Economics teacher and always had some sort of craft on the go, and when she wasn’t doing that she was cooking delicious traditional food – anzac biscuits, trifle, roast dinners, home made custard, rice pudding, the list goes on. Actually my most fond memory of her cooking was quiche and pizza, there was something in both of those dishes that made it taste so welcoming. I haven’t worked out what is was to this day but every time I put corn in my quiche it gives me a snippet of that flavour.

So, on the holidays I would spend my days at the Drapery helping mum out and when I was bored with that, I would wander up to Grans. In both placed my love of material, sewing, cooking (although that has certainly dwindle now I am a short order cook every night), and learning new ways to create was encouraged. Even when my ideas were are bit mad, both Gran and Mum gave me full rein to give it a go, but when I look back, I was always gently steered in the direction away from disaster. One of the great parts about creating something new was the discussions the three of us had trying to come up with solutions on how to make my wild idea come to reality.

My Grandmother passed away last year at 104. Unfortunately she spent the last 6 years of her life in a home (a wonderful nursing home I must add) with no quality of life. She had lost her sight, hearing and the ability to move by herself and it was very sad to see this once very independent woman be completely reliant on others. My last really fond memory of Grandma was when she first entered the home. The whole family was feeling guilty but we had no choice as she could no longer look after herself and that was the only option. So for the first 6 months she had visitors almost constantly and that never really changed. I travelled to visit her and my mum, aunt and myself spent a week sitting with her all day just chatting and doing handwork. Mum was then an avid patch working, so she spent the days embroidery what every quilt she was working on. I found a tapestry that I thought would be fun to attempt and it was although I still haven’t finished it (7 years down the track). I did get a little despondent about it when all the elderly ladies that came to visit Gran would study my Tapestry and every single one of them told me that a good Tapestry looks the same on the back as it does on the front. They did not appreciate my bulky knots at the back. Anyway I did better than my Aunt who, no matter how often she tries, is no craft person. I think she gave cross stitch a go and it is probably sitting half finished somewhere as well.

It is a very cherished memory, a quite week in a nursing home with my Grandmother, but the four of us had some of the greatest chats we have ever had in that week and rainy days always make me think of that week.

Jen & Row

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Signature Summer Style

It was easy last year to stay up with the fashion trend. It was Maxi dress, or Maxi Dress. This year whilst the Maxi Dress is still popular, it is less of the summer essential as it was last year. For Australian’s this summer is proving to be a little challenging as already we are seeing that our summer is cooler and wetter than it has been in the past 10 years. So what to inject into our wardrobe?

This year we seem to be heading for the natural colours and fibres, like linen and cotton which is perfect for the really hot northern Australian climate as linen and cotton are very breathable fabrics. Linen, whilst a little difficult to get the creases out of, always looks stylish and chic especially in beige and white. A great white linen shirt buttoned low with a pair of denim shorts or jeans will not date and you will feel cool, comfortable and casual without feeling terribly dressed down or up. A great compromise either way. The advantage of this look is accessorizing. Bright beads and heaps of bangles in bright or tribal colours will give this look an exotic feel – don’t be shy with your jewellery, be over the top as only you can do with this look.

If denim is not your thing invest in some great cotton pants, in beige or white. Great with black or white this again is a very simple look that you can inject colour into easily or team with earthy colours for a laid back look. Great dress thongs with this look give it a casual feel, but if you want to dress it up a little, grab a pair of wedges. If it is a little cool, a light summer blazer in beige or white will give you the coverage you want.

The maxi’s out this year seem to be heading away from the really bright colours we saw last year (I can’t even look at my bright pink and orange maxi any more, although I loved it and wore it to death last year) and we are seeing lots of dusty blues, whites, black and chocolates. It is a nice change. The range this year is a bit more versatile as well. Last year most of the maxi’s were fitted to just under the bust, and falling from there. This year designers seem to have added lots of maxi’s with a tapering in waist and even some drop waist looks. Not the most flattering, but great for those who are a little self conscience of their waist or lack of, it is a very comfortable style as well.

The shirt dress is still quite popular this year as well. My only gripe with the shirt dress is you have to iron it and as soon as you sit down you are creased. Still it is a pretty small price to pay I guess, ironing is just a pet hate of mine. Again, go for white, black or natural colours.

Last but not least, although not one of my personal favourites is the harem pants. That is not to say I don’t own a pair..... I just bought myself a pair yesterday. They are extremely comfortable and as long as you wear a tight singlet or t-shirt with it you can get the right look. They definitely work best if you are tall, which I am not so I think I will be restricting harem pants wearing to under my own roof. Can’t deny the comfort factor though.

Go to Shimi Signature Looks” for a selection of these styles to choose from. We have picked the best from our favourite designers for you and at great discounted prices.

Happy shopping
Jen & Row

Michael Kors Runway Watch Review - Best Stylish Watch Buy.

I haven’t worn a watch in years; mainly because I found when I had my first baby I spent the whole time nursing her worrying about scratching her with my watch. After 6 months you start to realise that babies are a little more resilient then we give them credit for, but I had gotten use to not wearing a watch, so when my mother bought me a new watch for Christmas a few years back I formed a new found love for wearing a it and the convenience of it. Unfortunately, whilst I thought it a very good brand, the insides of my watch completely fell apart about 2 days after the warranty ran out. So my search for a new watch is on, and I have found it.

As I have gotten older I have realised that it is better to pay a little more for a quality product rather than quantity, so I looked into brands that I knew were renowned for their craftsmanship. With this search I came across Michael Kors Watches. I really liked that most of Michael Kors women watches are edging towards the masculine rather than being uber feminine. My pick is the Michael Kors Runway Watch. The tortoise shell wrist band is ultra chic and is a stylish favourite, has been for years and will be for years to come. Even though this is a 2010 model, it is timeless and will take you through the years.

Some of the features of this watch are:

• This Michael Kors Watch has a round face with the dial window material type being mineral.

• The Display type is analogue.

• Clasps are fold over clasp with double push button safety.

• Its metal stamps and case material are stainless steel.

• The case diameter is 38 millimetres and the case thickness is 13 millimetres.

• The band material is gold plated stainless steel

• This ladies watch band length is a women’s standard, and the band width is 20 millimetres.

• Band and dial colour is gold.

• The special features of this Michael Kors women watch are its chronograph, dual-time-display and second hand.

• Its movement is Quartz.

• The water resistant depth is 330 feet.

This is one of those ladies watches that you will find people stop and complement you on. It has the runway look and at a very reasonable price for a designer watch. The warm colours of the tortoise shell accentual the gold tones. The Michael Kors Gold Runway Watch has three sub dials and a date window with Arabic numerals. It also has three-hand chronograph movement.

Amazon readers and buyers have given this watch a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5, so there is very little to complain about with this style. Here are just a couple of reviews however click on this link to head to Amazon to read all their reviews.

“The ladies watch is beautiful and very stylish. Yes, it's definitely larger than an average ladies watch, but this is the midsized version, so it's not huge like the oversized one.

This watch is incredible. It's honestly not too big at all ... the oversize goldstones version of this is much bigger. EVERY time I wear it out, I get compliments on it from girls AND guys. I love that it's waterproof so I never have to take it off when washing dishes, at the beach, etc.”

“Warm, wonderful colours light-up this MICHAEL Michael Kors timepiece. Goldtone three-link bracelet and champagne dial with Arabic numerals. Three subdials and date window. Three-hand, chronograph movement. Water resistant to 100 meters.”

If you want to look stylish this is the watch for you, with the likes of Fashionista Victoria Beckham being a fan. This watch is currently available through Shimi and Amazon for less than $220 I believe, although this may change I guess depending on the demand of the watch. Head over to the following link to purchase or find more details about this beautiful
Michael Kors Runway Watch.

Ella Moss Girlswear

I have fallen in love with these beautiful new dresses from Designer Ella Moss.  Pretty and simple and a true girlswear (rather then the inappropriate clothes that I am seeing the chain stores).

We have a range of sizes available through Shimi today.  There is nothing more fun then shopping for your little ones.

Happy Shopping
Jen & Row

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Coat Hanger Art

I found this little idea in a magazine yesterday and thought it was cute and a really good way to use up some remnants of material that I really don't have enough to do anything much with, but can't bring myself to throw away.

Very simple, and took me all of 40 minutes to complete.  All you need is:

Wire Coat hanger
15mm Stripes of material about 15 cm long

Simply fashion the coat hanger into a shape of your choice, I have chosen a heart.  Then take your stripes of material, which I tore rather then cut because I wanted the more rustic look, and it onto the coat hanger until it is full.

I have done mine in a Christmas theme.  I probably wouldn't have them hanging for a long period of time, but for the festive season I am happy with these little burst of colour.

Happy making
Jen & Row

Wardrobe Malfunction

I said to a girlfriend just the other day that I always seem to buy something quite outlandish wardrobe wise when I am on holidays, like a caftan or wooden clogs, when I get home I look at it and think “Why”. Well I think I have done it again. This time I bought a pair of white harem pants. Crutch down to my midcalfs and extremely full in the leg it is lucky they were cheap. They are very comfortable though, and at this stage of my pregnancy comfort is certainly winning over style.

I think once they baby is born and I have a few minutes spare I will chop and change them into a little white skirt. I have bought quite a few maternity clothes this pregnancy that I can renovate once baby is born, but most of them will be changed into skirts, which is a bit of a shame because I am not a skirt person, but maybe I will become one. Otherwise I have some friends that I am sure will appreciate my handy work.

What fashion disaster trends have you followed?

Jen & Row

Monday, December 6, 2010

Calling all Artisians

We currently have positions available at Shimi for Artisians and arts and crafters to display there beautiful creations.

If you are interested in selling your handmade and handcrafted works of art, please contact Jennie or Rowena on  We would love to hear from you and discuss this possibility of working with you.

Jen & Row

C&C California Fashion

If you like comfort but still enjoy want to stylish clothing, C&C California is the brand for you.  Lounge wear has come a long way in the past 3-4 years, with fashion evolving from Lounge wear that was really just tracksuits and baggy t-shirts, to a whole new style.  Be it leggings, a beautifully cut over sized t-shirt,  or a simple long shirt, this is the style you want to lounge in.

I am not much of an ironer, and in fact the kids and I generally just through on our clothes in the morning and hope that with body heat the wrinkles have ironed themselves out (my husband is a little more conscience and does iron his work shirts - but only his work shirts).  Usually we look pretty presentable, but occasionally I have to take the iron to something.  This is why a love Lounge Wear, most of it doesn't need any attention, just wash, dry and wear.

What is your favourite look for lounging around the house?  We would love to hear from you, tell us how you remain stylish but comfortable.  You never know when someone you might want to impress will knock on the front door - be prepared anytime.

Drop into Shimi to check out the great Lounge Wear we have available now. 
Happy Shopping
Jen & Row

Eight Sixty Fashion - Great New Find

I recently came across the brand Eight Sixty which is popular is the US.  I am loving it, perfect for the Australian summer, with lots of cute dresses in bright colours.  The dresses are short but not fitting so whilst they would look great with a pair of heels for a night out on the town, they would look equally great over a pair of togs at the beach.

So, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to add Eight Sixty to Shimi.  These items are sent to you directly from the US so allow a little extra time when you order and don't forget to convert the price from US$ to AU$ (although with the current exchange rate, there is little difference).

I am currently going through summer very pregnant so short dresses are not even a slight option for me at the moment, but they are the new maxi dress this season, so get that spray on tan on your legs and show them off.  Most of the Eight Sixty products available through Shimi are at least half the recommended retail price - so they are a bargain.

Happy Shopping
Jen & Row

Childhood Memories

We are a big reading family.  My children have a big bookcase in each of their rooms and the books are on high rotation.  It gets a bit frustrating reading the same childrens' books over and over again as any reading parent knows and there are certain books I silently groan at every time one of the kids brings them out, but mostly I enjoy reading to my kids and watching their little faces at the uncertainty of what is to come.  I ask lots of questions when we read as well, like "what do you think is going to happen next".  This is a really easy way to keep myself entertained as I read the book for the 100th time, as it doesn't matter if they know the outcome or not, the kidlets come up with a different answer each time.

So when my son pulled out "A Fish Out of Water" today I will admit that I did the silent groan.  However I originally bought the book for my daughter when I spied it in a book shop because it had been one of my favourite books when I was her age.  I wondered why and it dawned on me tonight.  It is a little book about a boy who feeds his fish to much.  The fish grows and grows until eventually the Fire Department have to take him to a swimming pool.  However the Fish Salesman comes to the rescue and dives into the pool with a little black box and suddenly Otto the Fish is back to his normal size.  How he does it, he will not reveal.  This was the magic formula for me, and it seems it is so for my kids.

It is the unknown that I loved as a child.  Not only did I get a great book, I could then go to sleep at night imagining all the possibly ways the Mr Carp managed to make Otto the Fish small again.  These sort of books let the imagination run wild.  "A Fish Out of Water" is a Dr Seuss book (although written by Helen Palmer) and he is the master of recognising that children don't want to be told what to imagine, they want to be given the tools to start the story in there head and let the story make it's own pace along it's own road in their head.  I remember pouring over my Dr Seuss books for hours as a child just looking at the pictures in wonderment.  So strange were the machines that they could have a million uses.  And how many times did you look at the buildings Dr Seuss draw and wondered where those set of stairs ended up.

What was your favourite Childhood book?

Jen & Row

Day 3 of our Holiday

Well the weather has changed and I am currently sitting in the unit watching the rain fall in the pool. My kids and husband are braving the rain and still swimming but they do have a hot spa to jump in and out of which, being pregnant, is off limits to me.

This is general for Queensland I guess, sunny one day, miserable the next and it seems to be that way every time we go on holidays. Although I enjoy the rain, it reminds me of my home town which had more rainy days then sunny. Great excuse to stay indoors and sew and paint, or hole up in the craft room.

But that wasn’t going to be the case on holidays. As much as our kids hated the idea of going to the beach (strange creatures, what child doesn’t love the beach) we finally persuaded them to make the 200 mtr trek to the beach and despite the weather we all had fun. The kids played in the sand and buried dead jellyfish whilst my husband and I played with a huge kite. I am pleased to say I am quite the expert kite flyer, whilst my husband is not! Not that I begrudge him being good and something, but he is very sporty and coordinated and constantly makes fun of my lack of coordination. So it was a silent and sweet revenge when I was able to keep the kite up in the for longer than a couple of seconds.

Anyway frustration took over for him and we ended up with a terrible tangled mess that took me the good part of a hour to sort out. So when we could take the miserable weather no more we trekked back to the unit and the kids spent the next two hours jumping from cold pool to hot spa. Kids can endure anything to have a bit of fun - I wish sometimes I could live by that motto.... "the house will still be untidy after we have fun, the mess can wait".  I think that will by my new mantra every morning.

In  the meantime I am enjoying sitting poolside (out of the rain) reading my Burda magazines for the umpteenth time decided on what handmade project I will tackle next.  I think I will try this paper twirl bowl.  I am a bit sceptical.  There are definitely projects I have tried that have been photographed really well but look pretty amateurish when complete.  But it looks pretty simple with just paper, scissors and a rotary cutter needed, and if it looks like the photograph it will be a nice addition to the table for a little while.  Paper is probably the safest with a house of young kids and cats anyway....

Jen & Row

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunshine Coast Holiday

We are currently enjoying our 2nd day of holidays at the Sunshine Coast is Queensland (Australia for our international followers). It has been magic, with cool afternoons and hot mornings. So by 10.30 this morning we had taken the children to the beach and enjoyed a nice long swim in the resort pool. This afternoon has been pretty much the same and I hope the remaining 4 days following in this vein.

The Sunshine Coast reminds me quite a lot of my home town – Cairns, which is probably why I instantly relax when we arrive. It has the same beachy, casual feel that Cairns does, like you could walk around in your bikinis and sarong for the day and no one would notice. In fact in Cairns, if you dress up above jeans, thongs and cute t-shirt to enjoy dinner out, you are overdressed! I would say the Sunshine Coast is probably a little less casual but don’t overdo it thanks.

The Sunshine Coast has an amazing community of artist's here as well so I am in heaven wandering through little boutiques finding interested handmade craft, great artwork and some really different and interesting fashion. (Although isn’t funny, some things you buy on holidays don’t get worn again till the next holiday – it’s like we lose our inhibition when we are not in our home town). They also have amazing markets here, which I am sure our wonderful designers would appreciate.

The last time I was here I went to a Sunday market and tried Sugar Cane Juice. You would think it would be intensely sweet, but it was absolutely delicious, and quite a subtle flavour. I haven’t been able to find it since – my search will hopefully end on this holiday.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Paper Artwork

Paper Artwork

Lately I have been becoming more and more interested in art – or more exact, affordable art. I have always loved going to art galleries and appreciating others talents, but with a young family, mortgage, etc, art for my own house is usually last on the shopping list. First of course, are foods which after cooking, slicing and dicing I usually end up throwing in the bin after arguing with my children to eat them. But that is a whole other subject!

However, I have found some lovely artwork lately by some very talented artisans using just paper, covered buttons or fabric. The art is very simply – white frame, white background, white edging board, with 9 identical items in beautiful paper or fabric in the case of the buttons spaced out. Very simple, but effective, and more importantly for me - very achievable for little cost. There is an art to it but like anything, with time and experience one becomes more inventive and is willing to experiment that little bit more. Of course you don’t have to use the white background that I refer to – but a simple background seems to work best.

I put this into practice when my little ones broke a present from my sister-in-law. My lovely sister-in-law brought for me a little chain of wooden cats. The kids loved it because it was bright and the cats were cute. There was a bit of push and shove between the cat chain and two children and the cat chain went to splitsville. Rather than throw it in the bin, I simply glued the cats to a small white canvas and hey presto art work created.

Now days with card making and scrapbooking such a huge pastime there is incredible paper available that really does not need a lot of tampering with to create visually effective wall art. Anyone who sews knows how hard it is to walk past fabric. I recently put a ban on myself buying any more fabric, but like dieting, as soon as I put that ban on, I seem to have an abnormal impulse to buy. Fabric art is a great way to indulge in this fabric passion without having to buy metres and metres to alleviate this need. I also have a hard time throwing out those little scraps of fabric that I am sure I can use for something. Hoarders now have a purpose to keep!!

I am sure there are lots of techniques, but I simply work out my design, but the appropriate material, stick with a good quality glue and then when that is all dry, give the whole surface a couple of coats of varnish.

Give it go!
Jen & Row

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Max and Cleo, need a party dress?

With December fast approaching, or have we already gotten there, it is Christmas Party season.  Whether you have work Christmas Party's to go to, school break-ups or just a get together with friends to celebrate the Christmas cheer, you NEED a great party dress.

Whilst I don't have too many nights out - it is a bit hard with two small children and another on the way, I love to have a new dress for the Christmas holidays.  I really love dressing up on Christmas day as well, a tradition which my daughter and I follow but I cannot get my husband or son to get excited about this.  I guess my husband has to dress presentable every day at work, so I can let him off the hook for this.

Max and Cleo is a brand that is becoming more and more popular.  It is affordable but still looks very stylish and chic.  And if you did buy for a special occasion, most of the styles are versatile enough to change from a stylish evening dress, to a great summer frock - just pop on a pair of sandals to dress it down.  My favourite is the Sleeveless Pleated Faux Wrap Dress - so summering, and it comes in white and blue.  Although I also love the Boat neck Empire Waist dress.  It is very Jacki O and would be very flattering on most shapes.

Have a look at the new stock available through Shimi today.
Jen & Row

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

French Connection Casual Chic

I unfortunately don't get out much at night and due to that I find it hard to spend to much money on evening wear because I know it is such a long time between drinks so to speak.  However I am not opposed to spending money on my casual clothes.  I am a clothes horse, I love fashion, and I am not one to wear the same outfit for years on end.  Clothing that suits me makes me feel happy when I put it on.  It may sound shallow, but I will own that.  It is just like putting on a spray of perfume in the morning, it is just one little thing to lift the spirits, and if that is going to enhance your day - why not?  We have one life to live people, let's do all we can to make it fun!

However that is not to say I spend A LOT on my casual clothes.  I have a range with everything from the very discount department stores up to well known designer brands.  I love French Connection for their casual range.  Whilst a little more expensive then the average (but not by much) they last really well and have a very timeless feel.  But they are a little unique and that is what I want for my day to day clothes - still wearable, still comfortable, but I am not going to pass 15 people in the street wearing the same thing.

I love the Dandy Voile top by French Connection for just this reason.  This little top would go with jeans, shorts or a cute skirt, and the sleeves make it a bit of something special.  A great white shirt is hard to pass up, but the sleeve ruffle really give it a feminine edge.  Another favourite is the Candy Stripe Ruffle sleeve dress by French Connection.  Hmmm, when I'm not pregnant.........  Until then I have to be content with my limited maternity wardrobe.  Oh well - 13 weeks to go.