29 May 2010

Ethical Clothing Pledge

I'm going to deviate a little bit from my normal home decorating blog posts, and talk a little bit about a new commitment of mine.

When I was on holidays, I started thinking long and hard about upgrading my wardrobe. As someone with a tendency towards buying cheap but cute fashion, I had a wardrobe full of stuff that, although cheap, was also poorly made and typically didn't last long. I decided that I'd like to invest in some pieces that would wear better and therefore last longer.

At the same time, I started thinking a little bit more about where my clothes actually came from, and whether I could buy more ethically. Aside from owning quite a few staple pieces from American Apparel (who are excellent for basics like shirts, simple dresses and skirts), most of my clothing had been bought from cheap, presumably unethical companies. So, I started to do some research and, in the process, I was pointed in the direction of Isis in Tasmania and her Ethical Clothing Pledge. In a nutshell, the Ethical Clothing Pledge states that you will only purchase clothing that complies with one or more of the following:

1. Pre-loved
2. Handmade 
3. Reconstructed
4. Made with ethical / environmentally friendly materials
5. Made by a company with strong ethical policy & workers' rights

This is how I've decided to try and purchase my clothing from now on, so I'm officially (and publically) taking the Ethical Clothing Pledge.

Already, I've made some significant progress. I've managed to buy some excellent pre-loved pants from eBay (worn only a couple of times by the previous owner), and bought some more staple items from American Apparel. I've found a local designer, Irene from Wind and Water, who makes her own amazing tops, dresses and pants - I've already bought one item, and hope to buy many more! And I even managed to buy a new jacket (something I thought would be impossible!) from an ethical organic company called Salts, who sell their wares on Etsy. I'm yet to tackle items such as underwear, but thankfully Isis has a list on her website, so I shouldn't have too much trouble.

I've even researched some of the bigger brands, and found that places like Cue and Bardot are certified by Ethical Clothing Australia (which is fantastic given that I've recently bought items from both of these companies). I've also found that Just Group, responsible for brands like Just Jeans, Peter Alexander (my favourite pyjamas) and Portmans, have committed themselves to trying to remain vigilant with regards to the ethical supply of their garments.

I know that, on occasion, I might well fall off the wagon with my commitment and buy something that isn't certified as being ethical. In these cases, my aim is to buy the item that is of sufficient quality so as to avoid having to replace in the near future. I figure that buying a $200 pair of pants in a reputable brand that will last five years is far better than buying a $30 pair of pants from a cheap retailer that will likely fall apart in under six months.

So there you have it, readers. A new challenge for myself, which I hope will be a rewarding one. If any of you are interested in taking the Ethical Clothing Pledge with me, please do leave a comment!

24 May 2010

Mozi products

I have often admired MOZI products, particularly their totally gorgeous olive oil decanters, but don’t own any of their products for myself (aside from a freebie tea towel that my mum gave me — it was attached to Country Style magazine, I think). And today, thanks to a link to the MOZI website posted by Inside Out magazine on Twitter, I successfully wasted (or improved — I can’t quite decide) part of my day admiring their wares.

I think their favourite design of mine is ‘The medina’. I think the reds, blues and whites are a perfect match for our home, not to mention the cute little birdies. Blog readers, my birthday is not too far away, so I’m adding all these to my wishlist.

Oven mitts and pot holder…

The delightful decanter…

An apron that I’d look very glamorous baking in…

Tea towel…
And the side plate, mug and place mat…
Ok, that's enough dreaming for one day...

17 May 2010

New to the bookshelf

Over the last week I’ve received two lovely and unexpected published treats to add to our ever-expanding bookshelves.

The first is from the delightful Jenny Butler, Australia’s writer for Apartment Therapy. Jenny very generously sent me a copy of the AT book Apartment Therapy Presents: Real homes, Real People, Hundreds of Design Solutions. I haven’t had a chance to have a good flick through yet (too many competing priorities now I’m back in the working world!), but I can’t wait to sit down for a couple of hours and admire the beautiful homes from around the world.
Thanks to Rebecca, I am now also the proud owner of Frankie magazine’s second cooking book, Sweet Treats. Get ready for pictures of all those sugary school fete goodies — musk sticks, toffee apples, candy hearts, hard toffees, coconut ice… the list is seemingly endless! Yummo!

14 May 2010

Last chance to win a portrait session!

I don't often blog about other people's competitions, but this is a good one - a mini portrait session with Rowe Timson Photography! Rowe's work is lovely, and although she photographs lots of kiddies, she's happy to shoot anyone!

The lucky winner will need to be in either Sydney or the Gold Coast for the shoot - I know if I win I'll be dragging my husband along to the Coast!

The competition closes at 9.00pm Australian EST today (Friday 14 May). Visit Rowe's blog for more information.

13 May 2010

Back in the real world!

Well, now I’m back at work after eight lovely weeks off. And, while I did my fair share of lazing around the house not achieving much (ahem, three seasons of 30 Rock), I also managed to achieve some constructive stuff (including some things on my 2010 to do list!).

Aside from the big event of getting married to my lovely husband, the painting of our bathroom is now all but complete, aside from a few edges. I’ll expand on that hopefully this weekend once I’ve managed to take some decent photos. And, of course, our stunning planation shutters were installed in the living room and bedroom. That’s two things struck off the to-do list!
I also decided that my more formal ongoing studies (a Bachelor of Arts with a triple major in Literary and Cultural Studies, Film Studies and Australian History) were not enough, so I enrolled myself in an interior decoration course. I’m not really looking at following this as a career path, but simply looking to improve my skills in this area. I decided to go with the Brisbane-based Beaumont School of Interior Design and Decoration, run by Tracie Dunne. Even though I am enrolled as an external student, Tracie was kind enough to let me sit in on one of her classes during my time off.

If anything, my studies will certainly help my blogging activities, I hope! And, who knows? Maybe one day I’ll marry my newly acquired skills with my years of editing and publishing expertise and land a prestigious position with Inside Out or Real Living!

05 May 2010

Crafty minx...

Just when I was starting to feel like I was well and truly wasting my last week of freedom before returning to work next week after two whole months off, I discovered my crafty side. I'm not the craftiest person in the world; in fact, I don't even come close. I have grandiose plans of learning how to sew (once I learn how to thread the machine properly), and I've dabbled in some very basic knitting and crochet, but that's where it ends.

In my first week of leave I purchased ten canvas tote bags and attempted, unsuccessfully, to use the Sukie iron-on transfers I got for Christmas. The failure wasn't entirely my fault - the fabric browned (i.e. started to burn) under the iron, and the canvas was not very good at bringing out the colours of the graphics. Fail.

So, with eight tote bags left, I decided to do something else within my limited cabability. I rummaged through John's art supplies and found some leftover acrylic and a brayer, and then wandered around the yard looking for some patterned leaves. And, behold, here is my leaf tote bag protoype!

It worked! The next step was to get some more paint and buttons, so I ventured off to Toombul to find some. The Lincraft there was a huge disappointment, but I found what I needed at the newsagent and the discount store (including some coloured waxed cord). I collected some more leaves on the walk home, and then made some more!

This next one is a little bit smudgy...

And this one is probably my favourite. It's not quite centred, but the detail transferred perfectly!

What do you think? Amateur? Or can I officially (finally) call myself a crafty minx?

03 May 2010

Banana and blueberry muffins

I was in a baking mood this morning, so I had a look through my Frankie Afternoon Tea book to see if I could find anything with minimal ingredients (as, being Labour Day, all the supermarkets are closed). I had most of the ingredients for the banana muffins, with the exception of buttermilk - I decided to improvise with low-fat organic milk, and it worked just fine. I also added some frozen blueberries and rolled oats to make them extra healthy.

Most of you will probably recognise the tea towel - it's the Rob Ryan-designed one that comes with the 10th anniversary issue of Inside Out, available now. This issue I finally got my act into gear and posted in the subscription form, and I'm looking forward to my copy arriving in the mailbox every two months!