** Warning ** This is a marathon post. You will die of thirst if you attempt reading this without some form of hydration. Drink and Enjoy.
So, without further waffle, here are my 25 favourite things from the past year or so, in no particular order. I hope there are some that are your faves too or will perhaps become new faves.
1. Ink & Spindle - hand-printed textiles, ethically sourced. Three words - Yum, Yum, Yum. Their screen and hand-printed fabrics are beautiful and environmentally friendly. I particularly love this "Cushion Kit" which comes with almost everything to make a 45cm x 45cm cushion. You simply choose one of their fabrics for the front and the rest is included in the pack, including super-easy instructions. You not only make your own cushion, it's completely individual! Love them.
2. Bindle - easily the best, most unique "hamper-style" product I have come across. Their "bindles" (a bindle is a bundle of possessions carried by a hobo) are so beautifully thought out and put together. The gifts are Australian, hand-made, and tailored to a particular theme. I particularly love the above "Get Well Soon" bindle which would be PERFECT to send to a friend or family member if they were feeling under the weather. I recently bought the "Kitchen Sink" bindle, which adds a nice touch to my otherwise boring sink area. I get excited whenever a new Bindle is released!
3. Marley & Lockyer - Ness, the sole person behind Marley & Lockyer - is so uber-talented it's ridiculous. Her ceramic work is gorgeousness personified. From tags, to plates, to platters (the one in the top left, the "Divine Wing Platter", has 80 individually-made feathers impressed into it), to colanders, to earrings, to brooches to drawings on linen. Yes, she draws too. Her work is stunning, perfect and original. I have a very big craft crush, huge.
4. Rebecca Grace Natural Art Flowers - if you live in the Perth area I doubt you will find a more beautiful florist. Rebecca's style is unique and stunning. You can order direct from her website and choose from Stylish, Soft & Pretty, Sculptural, Vibrant or a Mass of One Flower. I have received her flowers and have ordered them for others. They are ALWAYS the standout arrangement - always, every time. Next time you want to send someone flowers, you must stop by her shop or site first. I promise you, you will, like me, fall in love.
Photo credit: Natasja Kremers
5. Country Road - The two words, "Country" and "Road" are not particularly thrilling but throw them together and, oh my goodness, it's my kind of homeware heaven. The sort that gives me goose-bumps every time I walk in ... it also gives me anxiety at the thought of what I might spend. I adore their cushions and their colours, don't you?
6. Coconut Butter - I know you're probably thinking this a strange thing to have on a favourites list and how could it possibly compare to the likes of Country Road and Marley & Lockyer, but seriously it has become one of my favourite things. I love it. I have it in my hot drinks (with lemon & honey if I have a cold, or in my Golden Milk drink), I have it with porridge, I pop it in muffins. I even eat it straight from the jar. But apart from it tasting great, it's actually good for me too. Its health benefits include boosting the immune system fighting off minor infections. It also has natural anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and Scientists are increasingly finding that coconut butter is the best fat in the world. Can't argue with that. Try some - it's good.
7. T2 - how adorable are the T2 tea cups? I love them, love the store and feel oh-so mature and ladylike when drinking my tea from them. My Mum bought me my first one a few years ago and, bless her, she has been adding slowly to my collection ever since. Aren't Mums (and T2) great?!
8. Letter-writing Sets - Writing; who does it anymore? In this rampant social media age barely anyone sends a handwritten letter or note anymore, preferring to email, text, FB or Twitter. Lately I have been feeling a strong sense that I should begin to introduce letter writing to my son so that he understands the value and charm of giving and receiving a letter in the post. This letterpress set from Pulp Addiction has been hand-printed on an antique printing press and includes string & tie envelopes - beautifully old-fashioned.
9. Portmans and their Bright Shift Dresses - One thing I think Portmans has excelled at this year is the "Shift Dress". They are cute, they are bright, they are super-comfy and they are inexpensive. And, best of all, the ones I have don't even need ironing! That's a win right there. Well done, Portmans, have loved your work this year.
10. Shannon Hamilton - Shannon is a Perth-based semi-abstract Artist whose paintings I have admired for years. Her style of broad brush-strokes and boldness create the most beautiful, vibrant, captivating pieces of work and I feel so privileged to own an original of hers. Most of Shannon's work centres around the beach, often depicting a Mother and Child. She also does commissions and will paint from a photo. I have the perfect pic of my daughter & I down the beach just waiting to be painted by her. One day. One. Day ...
11. Plan Toys - I came across Plan Toys when searching for environmentally-friendly timber doll-house furniture for my daughter. I steer clear of any timber out of Indonesia because of illegal logging and the ongoing deforestation of wildlife habitat. This is what Wikipedia has to say about them:
"Plan Toys is a toy manufacturer located in Trang in the south of Thailand. It was founded in 1981 and makes its toys out of rubberwood, a sustainable by-product of the latex industry's harvesting of trees used for natural rubber production once their productivity declines. Using the trees as a resource in this way for wooden toys made by Plan Toys is considered environmentally responsible. Plan Toys also uses preservative-free rubberwood and non-formaldehyde glues, as well as recyclable packaging and water-based ink. Their products are marketed as "green," and are recognized as such by various buying guides endorsing green products for children."
My daughter will definitely be adding to her collection this Christmas!
12. Kikki-K Sticker Books - Every year I buy one or two of these sticker books and they come in so, so handy throughout the year. I use them on just about all kids' birthday presents, in cards, on gift tags or for general craft use. They are bright, cute and quirky and always add a special little touch wherever they end up.
13. Elk - Oh, Elk, do you know I love thee? I have this bag, and love it, and I even have those boots - because when a very lovely friend notifies you that they're 70% off you really do not have a choice but to race online and purchase those soft, leathery babies. Am I right, or am I right? Did you know they do jewellery too? Yes they do. And did you know it is equally as divine as their bags and boots? Yes it is. Do you know I heart you, Elk? Probably not.
14. MAP Coffee Machine - this little gem, this little saviour, this little piece of caffeine greatness has been the biggest surprise to me ever. I never wanted a coffee machine because I love the whole take-away coffee "event". I love the takeaway cup, I love the taste, I love that I get to leave the house to buy myself a coffee and I love that I can sip on it for as long as I want and still drink it long after it goes cold. BUT, my husband bought me this little ray of sunshine for Mother's Day a couple of years ago and it has fast become my bestest friend in the whole house - seriously. As soon as the kids go for their afternoon sleep I hit my friend up for a really good, decent coffee. It's my Knight in Shining Armour, it really is. And in case you need any more convincing, since having this machine my husband, who hadn't touched coffee in about 37 years, has started drinking it and now uses the machine more than me. He calls it his "cup of personality"!
15. Old Suitcases - I love old suitcases and have two under the hall table in my entry. I'm not exactly sure why I have a thing for them but it probably has something to do with the fact that they are well travelled, could tell a story or two, are full of character and charm and are, like me ... old and leathery!!
16. Cloth Kits - If you have always wanted to sew but haven't got a clue where to start, a kit from Cloth Kits is the perfect answer. The sewing pattern is actually printed directly on the fabric - no fussy paper patterns required, no guesswork and no tracing. It's all ready to cut out and sew. The kit contains everything you need - printed dress fabric, lining fabric, beautiful shell buttons, quality sewing thread, and easy to follow instructions. This particular dress pattern is hand screen-printed too. Totally dig, diggity-dig this concept!
17. Peonies - need I say more?
18. Sunrice's Steamed Rice & Quinoa - This innocent little packet of wholesome goodness has been my find of the year! You won't know this (unless you're a member of my family) but I am terrible at making lunch for myself. I always make sure the kids eat a healthy, balanced lunch but when it comes to my lunch, I just find it to be a distraction and an interruption to my day. Lunch-time is the only time I get to myself during the day, my son is at school and my daughter sleeps, and while I know I should eat lunch there are always so many other (more interesting) things that I prefer doing - so often I forget, on purpose, to have lunch. It's bad, it's dumb and it totally goes against my healthy eating ways but it's me and it's what I do ... that is, until I met my new love. Rice & Quinoa in a packet! Yes, a packet, says she who has a phobia about packaged foods. This is an exception. It is preservative and pretty much additive-free (there are two additives, 307b & 471 but they're not your typical baddies), it is healthy and wholesome and it only takes 90 seconds in the microwave. 90 seconds for perfectly cooked rice & quinoa! I then add in whatever I have on hand but it normally goes something like this - red caps, red onion, spinach, celery, parsley, basil, coriander and then either squeeze over some lemon or make up a simple balsamic dressing. It is so very good and is exactly what my body needs each day so, thank you Sunrice, you are my find of the year!
19. Rubber Stamps - I find having rubber stamps in the tool box so useful and you just don't know when they might come in handy. I am using them this year for my new Advent Calendar, which I am hoping to have finished by December 1st although I'm only half way done so let's not hold our breath. I also use stamps on cards, gift tags, in clay, maths practice ... they're just so darn versatile. Mwah, love me a rubber stamp.
20. Oxfam - Well, who doesn't love and respect Oxfam? Take this very Aussie little station wagon made out of recycled tin cans on the island of Madagascar. When you buy from Oxfam you know you are buying fairly traded goods and are helping communities all over the world. This is a feel-good, community-spirited, environmentally friendly gift that any boy would love to have in his collection. It is absolutely a fave.
21. Cailyn Eyebrow "Pencil" - if you are a regular eyebrow tinter, then listen up. This pretty little thang will save you money and time. It will save you money because your eyebrow tints can be stretched a little further and it will save you time because you will make less trips to see your Beauty Therapist. I don't know about you but I've never been very good, useless in fact, at using an eyebrow pencil - my brows always ended up looking very "Morticia-like" - but this is different. It's not a pencil, it's actually a brush and is applied using short, light strokes. It's called Gelux, which has a similar feel to a creamy blush, it has 24-hour lasting protection and is waterproof AND it comes in a very classy looking gold container. It really does make for very happy eyebrows!
22. Paperboat Press Quote Pencils - these make me smile whenever I see them and they just look so lovely sitting in a bunch together. One of my favourites is "The years teach us much, which the days never knew." Sure do.
23. Bloesem Kids Jewellery - I bought this necklace for my daughter about two years ago and it remains my firm favourite. It's colourful, it's bright, it's cute and it's so not run-of-the-mill. I love it, my daughter loves it and compliments abound when she wears it. Bloesem has the prettiest, most unique, range of jewellery for girls and is handmade by founder and designer, Irene Hoofs. Some of her range features real pearls, amazonite, jasper, citrine and other gem stones mixed with silver, silk and gold. They are not your everyday pieces, more for a special occasion or an heirloom piece. I think her site may be down for maintenance at the moment but check back again soon if you're in the market for hand-made, unusually stunning necklaces for you or your little lady.
24. Sewing Books - I didn't realise it but I have become a bit of a collector of sewing books. I love seeing them on my bookshelf, I love flicking through them at any opportunity and I get all tingley at the content and photos. Now I just need to get time to sew something from them!
25. String & Scissors Set - Apart from my MAP coffee machine, I would say this is the most used thing in my house. I use string mostly for wrapping gifts, and finish all of them off with string, but it's also very versatile for crafts, to attach gift tags or for hanging things. Having the scissors on hand at all times, and what cute scissors they are, is a bonus. Such a good looking little piece. Brown paper packages wrapped up in string, THIS is one of my favourite things! Did you see what I did there?!
So, there you have it. 25 of my very FAVOURITE THINGS. Are any of them your faves too? Or will any of them make it onto your gift or wish list this year? What are your all-time favourite things?
Oh, and if you look under your seat now you might just find a Portmans Shift Dress or a Recycled Tin Car there ... then again, you may not. Actually you won't. So sorry. ;)