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Showing posts from 2017

Japanese Dad Wrapping - Not for Christmas Gifts?

Who wraps the gifts at your house?

I have a feeling that our house is not that different from most in Australia and it's Mum (i.e. me) hiding in the office downstairs on Christmas eve with a pile of presents, sticky tape, scissors and a few rolls of tacky Christmas wrapping paper. I bought all the presents, I hid all the presents, and now I'm wrapping all the presents.

And it is totally unfair because my husband was once a professional gift wrapper. Really.

When the kids were old enough to start getting invited to birthday parties and needed help with wrapping presents they always came to me. And I asked, "Why me? Your Dad is a professional gift wrapper". And of course they looked at me as if I had lost my mind.

"Dad? A professional gift wrapper? Yeah right Mum. There's no such thing."

And yet, that is your father's secret past. When he was at university in Japan his summer job was wrapping Summer Gifts at a department store. He just went to work every d…

Active Kids Break Bones or "Meg's Leg"

I've written before about my daughter Meg and it's usually me showing off about some exciting thing she just did like riding in the Australian Unicycle National Championships, or stilt walking in a parade, or learning to skip while standing on top of a giant ball.

This week she broke herself. Playing baseball. Because that is the least death defying thing she does. Fractured ankle broken in several directions.

It seems that most active kids seem to break a bone at some point. At least that's what I've heard people say my whole life. I've never broken a bone. Probably because I am extremely uncoordinated. You'd think that would make me a prime candidate for breakages, but actually I think it may have saved me. I was always picked last for teams, and if there was an odd number, sometimes I got to sit out. Because having me as an extra on your team would actually be a hindrance. Growing up I played no sport. I couldn't run, I couldn't throw, I couldn'…

Fresh Mint Tea for Fresh Mornings

So, yesterday was Melbourne Cup Day. One of the disadvantages of working at home for yourself is that there is no corporate box, no office party, and not even a day off for most things. I was commiserating about this to one of my retail stockists, the lovely Julieanne at iTea, so we hatched a plan to make our own "Office Melbourne Cup Day".

This year is our second Melbourne Cup Day together, and Julianne booked us into a Melbourne Cup soiree at Steamers Bar & Grill, with a gorgeous view over Wollongong's City Beach. Well, she thought she'd booked us into the special Melbourne Cup Function, but turns out we were just booked into the regular restaurant. No Matter! We took advantage of being almost the only ones in the restaurant and picked the best table by the window with a view of both the ocean and the TV (for the horsies).

Fast forward through the wonderful lunch, very nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc (hats off to our waitress Sarah for recommending it) and superb…

I Want Samurai Gourmet's Greasy Stew

How do food photographers make food look so darn delicious?

The other week I was attempting to photograph sweet little cupcakes, and while they didn't turn out too badly, I'm definitely still a beginner at the food photography gig.

I was thinking about this while watching Samurai Gourmet on Netflix with my son. He's 15 and definitely the one in the household getting the most out of our Netflix subscription. Usually holed up in his bedroom watching on his laptop while simultaneously "studying".

So last weekend when he suggested we watch a Japanese show together, I was pleasantly surprised and agreed to watch it with him. Of course we ended up binge watching half a dozen episodes and kept watching long after I'd finished folding all the washing.

Samurai Gourmet is a strange kind of Japanese drama-ish show about an older gentleman who is recently retired and in each episode seems to find some reason to go out and enjoy food. He has a kind of "imaginary frie…

How (not) to Prepare for a Flat Lay Photo Shoot

Flat Lays are all the rage on Instagram, especially in the "gift & homewares" business. The retailers I supply day to day are all great at what they do. Styling their shelves and store windows into the most appealing and lovely displays. So when they go for a flat lay you can pretty much guarantee it's going to look gorgeous.

I have a bad habit of just flicking through Instagram until I find a lovely photo of our products taken by someone else and just re-gramming it with a reference to their store.

Here's a few I've pilfered earlier.

But I really should be trying to produce some original content, so it's been on my "list of things to do when I have a minute" for some time. Trouble is - styling is not one of my strong points, so it gets left at the bottom of the list a lot more often than it should.

Last weekend my daughter had a "gig" helping out at a circus stall at a local school fete. It was her job to ride around on her unicycle …

The Feeling When You Get a Real Letter in the Post

Not a bill, not junk mail, not a notice that you just possibly maybe almost won a lottery. A real letter from a friend or family member that just says something nice, or has some happy news to share. When was the last time you got one of those?

I remember getting real letters when I was a teenager, which is admittedly an awfully long time ago. Besides thoughtful messages in birthday cards, my friends and I used to actually write letters to each other when we were away on holidays. I spent a good chunk of any trip buying postcards and sending them to my friends. I had boyfriends (it's true!) who wrote me soppy love notes and POSTED them to me. Or at least rode past on their BMX and dropped it in my letterbox. I mean, a letter from a friend is exciting enough, but a LOVE LETTER? That's a whole other level of breath holding anticipation as you tear (carefully) the envelope open.

When was the last time you received a hand written note in your letterbox?

My mother used to write a h…

Why do Pinterest Buyable Pins have to be in US Dollars?

So I've procrastinated enough and I have to get on with actually running my web business.

The UniNats are over, school is going back tomorrow and I am trying to get my head around Pinterest Buyable Pins.

The first hurdle was to get Paypal by Braintree set up. I've had PayPal available for my customers for years, I've got credit card facilities with a major Australian bank, and I've got Square online and mobile payment facilities set up. But Buyable Pins need Braintree, so let's set that up too!

Only these guys are serious about their security checks. It took about a month of sending document after document to prove I had a legit business to get Braintree approved. And then I got a bit lazy about the whole thing and left it another month to try and actually set it up.

Now I've spent a drizzly Sunday afternoon clicking back and forth between my website, Braintree's Control Panel, PayPal, Pinterest and whatever... and now I have to wait 48 hours for another ap…

The Perks of Being a Bit "Different"

Last time I wrote I was negotiating with my daughter about which essential event on her 12 year old social calendar was most essential to attend. The events were Comicon, for which she had sewn her own costume, or The Australian Unicycle National Championships. Both on the same weekend in Sydney. Typical. The winner in the end was UniNats.

Meg had already worn her Astro Boy costume to four events earlier in the year and won all the prizes at three of them. So even though she had been looking forward to Comicon for months, she decided that was enough of that and UniNats was the thing to attend.

Leading up to UniNats 2017, we got onto their FaceBook page and looked at the events we might go and watch. Turns out there were a lot of events Meg could actually enter herself. There was a Junior category for riders aged under 14. This is the perk of choosing a "sport" that not many people do. I sent a message to the organiser and got a lovely message back telling us that Meg would n…

The Dilemmas of Raising Talented Children

When I say talented children, I mean all children. They are all talented at something - or at least interested in things that we as loving nurturing parents encourage them to pursue. And by encourage them to pursue I mean empty our wallets and spend hours driving them to and from practice, games, training, performances, tournaments etc etc.

Now one of my talented children has caused me to have a serious dilemma.

There are two events on one weekend and now we have to decide which is more essential to attend.

Now I know this is just one child with two events she really wants to go to. It's easy to say to her, "Sorry you can't be in two places at one time. Laws of physics and whatever." What happens when you have two (or more) kids and they want to be in two different places and you are just one parent with one car? There have been times when I've hoisted my children onto another parent in the team, or I've dropped one and scooted off with the other and then tu…

How to Blog and Become an Influencer

I hope someone out there knows and is willing to give me all the hot tips. Will I ever reach the lofty heights of "micro influencer"?

I started out writing this blog, because a blog with regularly updated quality (?) content will improve my website search rankings and someone out there might actually find my little website.

I'm here! (jumps up and down waving arms) We have beautiful things! (waving and pointing at beautiful things). Is anybody out there? (gets Pink Floyd song stuck in head for the rest of the afternoon even though that's not the actual lyrics).

Also, I like reading and writing. I read lots of other people's blogs and think, "If I had a blog..." and then only think of about 3 actual articles I would write before I get writer's block. This being my tenth blog article so far I am doing better than I expected!

Still, the point was to blog about things you can do with our Kimono Daisy Japanese cotton fabrics. To give you great ideas for …

Kimono Fabric Necklace - Totally Fashionable

My daughter begs to differ but I think fabric necklaces are cool. I mean, what do teenagers know about fashion? I certainly had some very questionable fashion ideas when I was a teenager in the 80's. As did everyone in that decade.

Anyway, I was browsing Pinterest during a particularly productive Friday afternoon and spotted some really awesome fabric necklaces and bracelets. Some were Japanese fabric with handmade glass beads. Some were African style with multiple fabric cords, wooden beads, or metal clasps. Some had no added extras, just a fabric cord tied into a lovely knot. I pinned heaps of them on my "Let's make it one day" board, where I pin all the inspirational things I may or may not get around to trying to make. Here's a few that caught my eye.

Naturally I hit up Google for some instructions and found a few YouTube videos, most of which were a little long and boringly detailed, but I fast forwarded to get the essentials and decided to fudge my way thro…

Teaching children life skills finally pays off

Personally I hate "advice" about how to raise children. We all have our own ideas and methods. Handed down from our own parents, because you know "I turned out OK", or learned from the examples of friends and other relatives. Or - showing my age - gleaned from the pages of parenting BOOKS, or more commonly now - the internet.

I know parenting advice from the internet is not always the best advice - but sometimes it's all we have. And here I am handing out some more.

Last weekend I was feeling a bit worn out having had a very busy week at work, following a big trip to a trade show and all the lead up to that. So actually it was more like a very busy month at work and I was wrecked.

So it was Saturday morning and there were no children's sports games, and no band concerts, and no birthday parties or other events that needed a Mum-taxi until at least late afternoon, so I was taking my time getting out of bed.

By some miracle my daughter Meg got out of bed all …

DIY Beeswax Wraps - the easy way!

It's well into the school holidays and we finally dragged ourselves out of bed before lunchtime and got to work on making our own beeswax wraps.

I'd been meaning to try this for months but we had a hold up with buying the wax. I wanted to get genuine beeswax from a local Australian bee farm. Not some watered down dodgy version from China. So I got online and ordered some through eBay from a nice local bee farm in Wollombi, NSW. And then it got lost in the post! I wanted to give it a bit of time to be fair and ended up waiting an extra 3 weeks, but no wax. Luckily the seller was very kind and sent me another block of beeswax, which finally turned up about a month after I originally planned to try making my own beeswax wraps.
So, after much online research, Meg and I decided that simple is best and we were going with the most simple way to make our own beeswax wraps. Beeswax + Fabric = Wrap. We may try something fancier later if we get enthusiastic.

First - we gathered our suppl…

Eggplant Chocolate Brownies - with Recipe!

I don't often follow recipes. And when I do I often fudge the ingredients depending on what's in the cupboard, or what I like/dislike.

I saw a recipe for Chocolate Eggplant Brownies on SBS and thought, "Hey, I have an eggplant in the fridge!", but I didn't have coconut oil or almond meal or pitted dates, which were also required. So I forgot about it.

Then I went to Aldi that afternoon and lo and behold I spotted some almond meal and organic coconut oil, which reminded me about the eggplant brownie recipe. It must have been a sign! I didn't see pitted dates, but honestly I didn't look for them. Gross - I'd just leave those out anyway.

So, back home I looked the recipe up again and got to work. I decided since I was leaving out 60g of pitted dates, I should add an extra 60g of dark chocolate. You know, to make sure there's the right amount of stuff in the recipe even if it isn't the right stuff.

The family were very suspicious that I had accide…

Head colds and old fashioned handkerchiefs

I've been thinking about the good ol' days when I used to use a handkerchief to blow my nose.

Right now I have a head cold. It's awful. It's a good thing I am typing now, because if we were speaking to each other it would be all "I hab a head cod" with multiple sniffles between words. And you shouldn't come anywhere near me because I have germs pouring out my nose like someone turned a tap on.

Kimono Daisy's Japanese cotton squares (available here), are often called "Japanese handkerchiefs" , but the way a Japanese person uses a handkerchief and the way I used to (a method handed down from my English father) are completely different.

I used to blow my nose into a hanky, then fold (or screw) it up and put it back in my pocket. When I needed another blow I would take it out again, find a dry corner and blow again. At the end of a full day of nose blowing I would throw it in the wash with my other clothes.

The first time I traveled to Japan on …

Is Matcha better than Kale? Which Green rules supreme?

Disclaimer: In my day job I sell Japanese teapots and tea cups through

So, you've guessed right that I like tea. I drink a lot of tea. Especially Japanese green tea. Here is my gigantic Japanese tea mug (about 500ml). I am already half way down my second one of these for today.

I get asked a lot about the health benefits of green tea. Because I sell teapots and I drink tea, so I am obviously an expert.

Yup - it's good for you. Apparently. According to some scientists who studied it. And a whole bunch of people obsessed with matcha (or macha?) at the moment.

I once read an article that said if you drink 5 cups of green tea a day you will lose 5kg within a week.

Well that's nice. I already drink 4 or 5 cups of green tea a day. Do I have to up it to 10 to lose the 5kg? Or did I already lose that 5kg ages ago? I have a sneaking suspicion that you only lose 5kg if you now drink green tea instead of 5 glasses of soft drink. That would totally work. Sadly when…

I have Confidence in Sunshine!

This post has not much to do with Kimono Daisy fabrics, and everything to do with being a proud Mum who wants to show off. In my defense, it does have to do with Japanese culture (vaguely) and includes sewing - which is totally fabric related.

The reason I have not had time for a real blog post is that I have been busy helping my daughter Meg (age 12) finish off her Astro Boy stilt walking costume for Comic Gong, a festival of comic art held in Wollongong just down the road from us. Not that I actually helped much, I was mostly in charge of rushing out to buy extra supplies and passing the pins etc. Also, I discovered that Free Comic Book Day was the weekend before Comic Gong, and stupidly suggested to Meg that if she finished her costume a week early, she could enter the cosplay competition at our local comic store, Comic Cafe, as a test run.

Well... as any parent with children on a project deadline knows, it can quickly turn to tears. Firstly, being new to the whole sewing machine t…