30 November 2010

excuse me, it's Summer tomorrow, hello sunshine, where did you go??

Greetings all,
Can you believe THAT was our Australian Spring??  Tomorrow is Summer, yes our seasons change on the 1st of each quarter, to keep things simple here in Australia.  So explain to me . . . why i'm sipping on Tania's homemade gingerbread hot chocolate while i'm freezing my bottom off, chopping fabric at the kitchen counter??
 Why i'm wearing tights, leather boots, long sleeved top & a denim tunic today??  I want a hot shower & flannelette sheets back on the bed!!
 Add to that why i want to wrap myself up in a patchwork quilt & just snuggle up with my husband!!  Even the puppy is back inside tonight, ok so he's nearly 3 but still he gets cold, needy & sad when it's cold & wet outside!!
 So much hype & excitement about the Handmade Living book . . . author Tania McCartney offered up a bit of a reveal on her blog tour post today.  What i love about this book is that it's so much more than creative projects to try but how to style your handmade products - with inspirational settings, accessories & adornments.
So here's a sneak peek at how my pencil roll 'how to' was styled, pretty cute non??  As i make these professionally, i made this version a little differently, it's a simple to try with endless fabric combinations, i'd love to see people give it a go.  
Want to win a copy, check out this post, follow & comment, see, simple!! 
I'm sure i'll love the rain when we have a farm, but really, can you just hold off while Handmade Market is on Saturday, i'm outdoors & i'd love to stay dry!!  Love Posie

29 November 2010

entertaining your parents with car craft

Greetings all,
Thanks for the loving & kind response about my parents recent visit.  It was fun, exhausting, wonderful & incredibly sad all at the same time.  My mother's Alzheimer's is hard to pick at times as she cleverly plays along, then she'll ask the same question half a dozen times in an hour.  Very proud of our 4 children who were quite fantastic!!  She remembers our eldest quite well & she took a lot of responsibility by spending time answering her grandmother's questions over & over. 
Also had the chance to show off Shop Handmade, so my father was thrilled & very impressed with the life i've managed to create around a soldier husband & raising children.  He saw the farm we want to buy, the Shop where i spend so many hours, the Handmade Living book i contributed over a dozen pages in, our current home (this was their first visit to Canberra in the 3 years we've been here) & our children's school + next year's high school!!
Knowing we had a bit of a drive on our hands to our chosen lunch spot The Poacher's Pantry, i took along car craft!!  My father thought this concept was sheer brilliance & told everyone (wait staff, my brother, my nephew, school principal . . .) that i was hand sewing while my handsome soldier drove.  Clearly my life would be easier & more productive with a permanent chauffeur!! 
 On the way to school i was sewing in the front & ooppss, had a button accident.
 Gorgeous grounds of Poacher's Pantry.  Remember this girl had a tumble at school & we collected her from sickbay along the way.
 Having the time of her life, she thoroughly enjoyed her own lamb chops while the adults tucked into Poacher's Meat Platters of all sorts of game, stuffed tomatoes, olives, dips, mushrooms & breads. 
 Amazing preserves, sauces & gourmet goodies in the Pantry.
 To the right is a cool room filled with smoked meats & fish.
 After picking up our injured daughter . . . i was demoted to the 3rd row of the car so she could sit next to Grandma, so i happily stitched away in the back of the car.  Clearly it doesn't matter where i am, i'm able to spill buttons & hair clips repeatedly. 
We picked up some fancy chocolates for my brother who i love & adore, his doctor's conference was great, lots of freebies which he shared with my children who love a good plastic heart & lung system you can pull apart like a puzzle.  Check out this delicious Snag Jam (a smokey sausage sauce) from Poacher's.  After last night's juicey butterflied leg of lamb which handsome soldier BBQ to perfection, we opted for BBQ sausages in rolls for dinner tonight.  I highly recommend the Snag Jam!!
If you're cruising blogs, check out my giveaway & the blog tour for Handmade Living where there are more chances to win this incredible book!!  We've hit over 100 entries so the prize has increased to over $200 value, good luck!!  Love Posie

28 November 2010

post market merchandising

Greetings all,
So how can you make your tax deductible small business dollar last forever . . . invest in gorgeous merchandising ideas you'd want to keep on display in your home!!
I do the entrance displays & decorations for the Mathilda's Market in Canberra & this was my double effort today, as we have 2 entrances into the ballroom where it's held.  They are only metres apart so i thought a matchy matchy style subtle Christmas look would work well.
For my regular readers & Christmas-theme-lovers . . . you'll be pleased to see how my bird ornament collection is really coming together & it appears that i love red too!!  You don't have to spend much, sure the trees are new from Bed, Bath & Table, but i waited patiently for their 15% off sale.  The picnic basket was $5, some feathery bird ornaments from a $2 shop & lanterns are $14 from the Reject Shop.  Don't go & buy up all the lanterns in Canberra please, i dropped one in the garage when i got home & smashed the glass.  I need them for next Saturday's Handmade Market as it goes into twilight hours!!
I was next to Red Berry Designs, how gorgeous are these mobiles??  After dinner last night my eldest daughter made origami cranes out of the Haig restaurant napkins, impressing the wait staff & my parents!!  She read the '1000 Paper Cranes' book this year, incredibly sad, i remember doing it in senior primary too & crying in class.
Well i'm exhausted after a very long draining weekend & market.  My husband loved the praise & comments in the last post, now he's making a butterflied leg of lamb for dinner.  No, there is nothing he can't do.Now have you checked out the latest giveaway to win a copy of Handmade Living, a sewing craft kit & fabric . . . follow this blog & leave a comment now!!  Go two posts back.
Have lovely weeks everyone, love Posie

27 November 2010

i'm grateful for . . . my husband & children & flexible life

Greetings all,
Joining in with Maxabella Love's I'm Grateful For this Saturday . . . i know it's a cliche to be grateful for your husband & children but man, the way my husband handled my parents yesterday was a dream. 
We had simple plans to take them to The Poacher's Pantry, world famous smoked game shop/ restuarant/ vineyard/ beautiful farm outside of Canberra, then Shop Handmade, simple, non??  Then my Dad jumped in the car & straight up said "show me this land you want to buy".  So we started the trip, only to have the school ring at 10a.m. "we've had a McClelland take a tumble, she's in sick bay" so we turned the car around to scoop number 3 up.  Turned into a 250km trip but my husband kept driving & driving.  I took car craft, thank goodness, i made over 40 headbands in the 3rd row of the car, i know my place!!
 We tripped out to the farm we want to buy, THEN onto Poacher's, which i can assure you, Miss-Grazed-Hands-Elbow-Knees was not disappointed.  She's our meat lover & ordered lamb chops for lunch, as you do when you're 9, then ate all the rabbit, kangaroo etc off our platters. 
 When we found out the year 6 dinner/ dance ensemble now required a mask (kill me) my husband & big girl started creating this, just the two of them, with enamel paint.  Nothing like watching handsome soldier with his girls, sequins, glitter & feathers!!
 She even let me (as she decided i too could be useful) to make her dress for the dinner/ dance.  I only stuck 2 pins into her directly, we're still on good terms!!  This is saving me $200 on a new dress which wouldn't fit her properly as she's so petite.
 I mean, who wouldn't be extra grateful for a husband who leaves your stove top looking like this after each meal??  He also polishes my leather shoes, ahhh, love some aspects of Army & it's anal cleaning ways!!
 Check this out, my girls are great mates (this won't change in their teens, i've ordered them not to ever stop loving each other) having a sleepover at home!!
I'm truly grateful for my flexible life, i've withdrawn from today's market, so i can spend more time with my family, take my parents to see our beautiful Shop Handmade & help my brother out.  It's stressful, it's hard, it's sad, Alzheimer's just sucks.  Have to say, having a child with us yesterday was a nice ice breaker, as she's by far the sweet one, she played along with being called the wrong name all day & never stopped smiling at her grandmother. 
Lots of follow up posts required on the dress, mask, Poacher's Pantry & healing those grazed body parts!!
To hear more grateful people appreciate how lucky they are, check out Maxabella + don't miss out on a super cool giveaway below!!  Love Posie

26 November 2010

all aboard for the Handmade Living. blog tour + G I V E A W A Y

Greetings all,
Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author
Tania McCartney to my blog. Gorgeous Tania is launching a blog tour for Handmade Canberra’s glorious book . . .
handmade living: a designer collective. Yippee, all aboard, the tour starts here!!
I’m a lucky contributor in this awesome publication & I’m honoured to present . . . a little chat between Tania & myself, spilling the beans on What is Handmade Living.??
Tania: Well, it’s a fabulous new book! But to really give you a sense of what it’s truly about, let’s talk about handmade living in a conceptual sense. Essentially, I believe ‘handmade living’ is the new black – it’s undergone an incredible resurgence, mostly on the back of the internet… blogs and stores like made it and etsy – platforms that have made it incredibly easy for talent all over the world to market and sell their extraordinary wares. You, of all people, know all about this…

Posie: Do I ever!! I’ve been in my Posie handmade business for 10 years, once considered a niche!! Being able to sell online allows you to work the hours which suit your work & family. Ordering stock & materials from websites all over the world can really enhance your unique handmade angle too!! I love that phrase ‘handmade living is the new black’, handmade really is a lifestyle now too, don’t you think??

Tania: Absolutely. ‘Handmade living’ is about incorporating handmade objects and projects into your lifestyle. People want to make their homes and lives personal, eclectic, ‘different’ – it’s ├╝ber cool to DIY – people are realising that not only does handmade bring a unique flavour and beauty to our lives, it give us longevity, whimsy and collectible history that can be handed down and enjoyed for decades to come – not only in terms of quality and style, but also in terms of posterity.

Posie: Totally agree. This is how my passion for patchwork started - I wanted one for my first daughter & didn’t like the tired & boring ones available (in 1998) so taught myself to make one – traditional craft with a fresh twist & modern style. A handmade home ware is no longer associated with a crocheted purple toilet roll cover your grandmother made . . . it’s something beautiful, high end; made with love & artful detail - you simply can’t get from chain store mass production.

Tania: I’m so over mass-produced products. I don’t buy much any more, but when I do – I want to invest in special. And thanks to this book, I’ve met even more amazing talent to spend my money on!

Posie: Ditto!! Try working in Shop Handmade & not bringing every single item home. Supporting small Australian handmade businesses - people like to know their dollar counts. Speaking of which, Shop will stock handmade living too. The preorder hype has been palpable. Tania, what is the book is about, in a nutshell?

Tania: handmade living: a designer collective is a collection of incredible projects, ideas and inspiration from handmade designers all over Australia. The line-up of talent is just stunning – some of it pure cottage industry, some really established businesses, ALL combining handmade philosophies and construction in their work. Essentially, the book is a showcase of these designers – it’s been a real pleasure to support their individual journeys.

Posie: It’s amazing to see everyone together in one place, all those different styles, mediums, experience levels in ONE book. The common thread, pun intended, is that all these designers share a love for handmade ways, indeed handmade living.

Tania: I know – it’s so exciting. We have artists, foodies, seamstresses, crafters, paper artists, photographers, event organisers, fashion designers, jewellers, sculptors, ceramicists, chocolatiers, screen printers… the list goes on.

Posie: It’s not just for the ladies, my husband can’t wait to trial the chocolate recipes, flicking straight to the foodie section, of course. The images & styling are so delicious & inviting. The variety makes handmade living. so much more than just a craft book!!

Tania: It’s so wonderful to hear you say that – working on this book was a total labour of love for all of us – and I’m so so excited to see people’s reaction. There are so many amazing elements to it and as you said when you first saw it – incredible value for money ... over 70 projects and inspirational ideas in this book for under $40! We feel so proud we can offer such a book to the Australian market.

Posie: My reaction - speechless, eyes bulging, in awe - going over each & every page in slow motion!!

Tania: I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen you speechless! LOL!

Posie: I love how the book is cleverly divided into chapters, brilliant for speedy inspiration. The whimsy of the children’s section, creating things for my children . . . they can pick a project + a fabric from my stash, voila, a new generation truly appreciating the personal touch of handmade. If you’re experienced, just add more detail & your own little spin.

Posie: I was so excited when you first approached me about contributing to the book. I signed up without hesitation of course, my mind spinning with ideas outside of what I sew for my own business. Where did the idea come from, to do a Handmade book??

Tania: We couldn’t have done it without you! As for the origins of the book, it was a natural extension of the Handmade Canberra brand – first the Market, then the Shop, now the Book. I was having dinner with Handmade founder Julie Nichols and some other clever women, when I mentioned writing a book, Julie said ‘let’s make it happen’. So we did.

Posie: As simple as that, a brilliant idea over dinner & you went with your heart & made it happen!! Love that tenacity & drive.

Tania: When we say we’re going to do something, we don’t muck around – I mean, why wait? If you say something, do it! The dinner was late February of this year. By April, we had designers applying to be part of the book and June we were in production. Files were sent in August and our book has just been delivered for the 4th December launch.

Posie: Did it take a lot of people to put this book together; the production side I mean?

Tania: It took a small team a lot of hours. Julie Nichols ran production, Tina Snerling created illustrations, graphics and templates, Louise Hall managed admin, plus we had some amazing contributors – along with your sweet self, we had Shop Handmade’s Rachel Evagelou, photographer Hilary Wardaugh, Rosalind Grace for proofreading, some beautiful adult and child models. I took care of writing, editing, photography and the layout, design and typesetting. Phew!

Posie: I can only imagine the long hours, meetings, emails, proofing - with everyone putting the pieces together. I was thrilled to contribute my projects, collaborations & props for styling. I have been collecting vintage craft supplies & toys forever; knew they’d come in handy one day!! It’s all in the detail.

Tania: I agree – and this book is full of detail. Honestly, it’s like nothing ever seen on the market before. Not only is it packed with original and revamped handmade project ideas, it’s also a glorious peek into the creative minds of some really talented people – and I know those in the crafting world love to meet and learn about talent. It’s such a networking thing… the handmade community is so supportive and generous – I love it.

Posie: A customer at Shop Handmade was preordering a copy & said it sounds like “the perfect coffee table book”. It’s a beautiful book filled with photographs brimming with ideas for how to display your handmade product after you’ve made it or bought it. I do this for a living & I’m inspired from the quirky styling details in handmade living.

Tania: It’s also really exciting that the book has sections that would attract everyone… kids can get busy embellishing a plain white tank top or foodies can create an exclusive recipe from a master chocolatier… Homelovers can choose from divine decorating ideas, amateur photographers can receive tips from the best in the biz, and fashionistas can learn how to create a wedding dress using three different embellishment ideas. And that’s only a handful of what’s on offer. It’s creative nirvana!

Posie: Tania, it’s been such fun chatting about the this incredible book, congratulations. I’m so excited about the imminent launch & know more people are inspired to be ‘handmade living’ with a copy of the book in their hot little hands. What do you hope handmade living will give its readers?

Tania: I hope handmade living not only showcases the amazing handmade talent we have in this country, but that it will inspire readers to slow down, appreciate and enjoy the process of making something by hand . . . I hope it inspires them to do some handmade living.

Handmade products carry such a whimsical, loving spirit within them and creating something from scratch is truly heart-fulfilling, ecologically sound and so appreciated by the recipient. I hope this book encourages people to pass on handmade ways to their children before these time-honoured techniques are lost in a barrage of soul-less technology.

& now for the official word . . . handmade living: a designer collective will be launched at Canberra’s magical Handmade Christmas Market at the Kamberra Wine Company in Lyneham on 4 December (11am to 7pm). See www.handmadecanberra.com.au for more details. The book will also be available at Shop Handmade on 4 December and Australia-wide from Monday 6 December . . . you can order one from Posie too!!

A callout for designers will be made mid-January 2011 for the spectacular Christmas-themed handmade living book. Keep an eye on Handmade Canberra for more.

& did someone mention a G I V E A W A Y??  Just follow this blog & leave a comment here for your chance to win a copy of Handmade Living. + a cute crafty sewing kits & i'll make up the prize value to over $100 with the latest quirky & vintage fabrics to get you into handmade living!!
 Oh, imagine how stunning a Handmade Christmas book would be, let me at it!! 
Thanks everyone, have gorgeous weekends, love Posie
EDIT: if we get over 100 comment entries i'll make up the g i v e a w a y to over $150 worth of fabric, prize total over $200!!  So go get your friends to enter too!!
Winner announced Friday 3rd December, just so you know if you need to buy one from the Handmade Market, Shop Handmade or me after it's released!!  Good luck everyone!!

25 November 2010

my creative space 'for the love of washi tape'

Greetings all,
It's a short & sweet & sticky Creative Space today, as i'm so incredibly distracted (thanks for your warm & meaningful comments in my last post about my mummy, deeply appreciated) . . . & have to duck into Shop Handmade for a few hours today, so . . . just thought i'd share a little snap shot of what the children & i have been playing with - this is only part of my collection of Washi Tapes from Japan.  I seem to be missing a few of my favourite Japanese patterned ones, hmmmm, must raid the children's craft boxes while they're out!!
While i've bought some wholesale from Lark (MT brand), some on line from etsy + some locally from Kikki-K & Typo.  So much fun, you can write on them, they are a nice addition to packaging detail, which i know we crafty folk all love.
Stay tuned for tomorrow - i kick off the Handmade Living blog tour, if you're not already a follower, you won't want to miss this giveaway, it's going to be HUGE!!  I'm off to squeeze those oranges as my husband has allowed me to sew uninterupted & taken the children to school for me, ahhhhh . . . love Posie

23 November 2010

the roller coaster of my beautiful life mixed with mental illness

Greetings all,
Wow wee, this time of year is always out-of-control with wrapping up the school year, Christmas shoppping/ planning/ comprising, making stock for markets . . . but this week i've been riding the roller coaster of life, truly UP & down down down. 
I have so many wonderful things around me, handsome soldier, happy children, a thriving home business.  Now we're looking at land to start a farm, build a homestead, private school . . . i can't wait!!
I have these amazing books to review - Beloved Homes produced by IKEA (details soon) & the much hyped & anticipated Handmade Living, which i'm so proudly involved with.  Ahhhh, dreamy life, non??   
What else today . . . these amazing fabrics arrived, a mix of French Provincial, wordy fabrics, bright girlie patterns & Golden Book prints, oh & some Christmas prints!!  Bliss.
So why so down down down??  I'm the happiest person around!!
Well i've spoken of my mother's struggle with Alzheimer's before, it's getting ugly now & really affecting my father.  My brother, the doctor one, is bringing them to Canberra on Friday for a visit while he's at a medical conference.  I can't stop thinking about how mum will be, how dad will be, how i will be??  This is a horrible nasty unfair disease which takes your loved ones away from you long before they pass.  I can't stand it.  My mother said, upon her diagnosis 5 years ago "i wish it was cancer, something i could fight & something i could hate". 
In the contributor write up in Handmade Living, it mentions that i learnt all my craft skills from my mother.  Sigh, she can't remember.  She can't read this book & think, "forget the science degrees, Jennie is in this book because i taught her something money can't buy, i passed on a skill from one generation to another".  It would make her so proud, my dad is proud, i want both of them to be proud. 
I'll leave it there for now, i'm so anxious how this week will wrap up . . . & i'm an incredibly relaxed person.  I just want to pretend it's not happening, show my mummy our beautiful Shop & how her skills transferred into my products . . . & talk like we used to.  This amazing woman has been married for 55 years, 4 children, 14 grandchildren, she's a chef & can do absolutely anything around the home, a true 1950's housewife.  To be stripped of her memory just kills me. 
I have two markets on this weekend, deep breaths, so distracted, mental illness sucks. 
Thanks for listening, love Posie

& the winner of the Riley book giveaway is . . .

Greetings all,
Thank you for entering the blog giveaway on the weekend to win a copy of Tania McCartney's new children's book Riley and The Curious Koala.  It's a gorgeous book, the launch party was incredible (check out the cake for starters) & one lucky winner has a copy coming their way.
scary koala mask as a result of too much sugar in my boy after the candy bar at the Curious Koala book launch, he cut out his second mask a tad horror-film-esq
Congratulations Monet Paisley.  If you haven't seen the Monet Paisley blog, well it's totally sweet & her vintage swim suits are simply adorable.  Please email me your address & a book will be on its way to you.  Thanks everyone for entering, i know Tania's advice of expanding your brand was greatly appreciated & bookmarked by many. 
Something people say frequently to us at Shop Handmade & Handmade Market is that we're all so open & willing to support each other, promote each other & shop with each other, spilling secrets & sharing the passion.  Ditto for Tania & her writing tips, her blog tour was incredibly informative & applicable to small business.  I think in such an organic & creative industry such as handmade - we just understand . . . if people 'copy' i mean 'use your product as 'inspiration', it's their own spin on the design & twist on the product (well that's what you hope, sure some are unoriginal & shamelessly the same, bad karma to them).  I just know that in 10 years of business the more i share & encourage others to DIY handmade, the better my business sales go, so good karma perhaps??  Handmade Living. book exudes this, it's simply fantastic & a fresh approach to modern life, 70 'how to' projects for under $40, supporting handmade designers & sharing them with the world.  There are Thanks for everyone who has preordered, let me know if you want a copy too!!If you like winning books, check out The Canberra Times for your chance to win one with a Posie sewing kit (which they foolishly shot closed, instead of open showing off all the totally cool fun crafty bits inside, sigh).  A copy will be up for grabs on this blog next week so stay tuned, yep, with a sewing kit too!!  So follow now so you don't miss out.  What a lovely score before Christmas.Thanks everyone, have a lovely evening, love Posie

21 November 2010

a brilliant book launch indeed

Greetings all,
Today i sponsored the book launch of Riley and The Curious Koala & boy was i extremely proud to be part of this amazing event. 
 Liz from pARTy cakes made this amazing ensemble of iced perfection, the moist chocolate cake was delightful & i was enjoying myself nicely until my eldest daughter ran to my husband & said "Dad Dad Dad, OMG, Mum is eating cake on her diet".  FYI she's a Daddy's girl & is off to see Harry Potter with him this afternoon, good riddance.
 Tania put on craft entertainment for the children, at the closed cafe next to Dalton's Books, before a book reading.  Look at my crafty girls helping each other out. 
Even miss about-to-start-high-school got into the fun!! 
 The last thing Tania emailed me last night said "i don't do things half-arsed" & boy is that true - even the lamington wombats had little feet underneath.  Hello, meringue Sydney Opera Houses anyone??  Remember she's an author & mum, not a professional dessert bar or event organiser!!  Her children's parties are equally incredible & amazing (& exhuasting!!) 
 Euc juice, squeezed from the leaves of gum trees!!
 Check out those baby blue eyes of my middle girl.
 The cake top deserves a close up for Riley's adventures around Sydney.
Tania in full flight, she puts in 150% in her animated readings & they're so much fun!!  We even won a door prize from the National Library, pretty thrilled with that.
For you chance to win a copy of this book, check out 2 blog posts back & leave a comment there.  Good luck & have a lovely week, love Posie

20 November 2010

i'm grateful for . . . the simple things in life

Greetings all,
Joining with Maxabella Loves 'i'm grateful for' today . . . for me, it's easy, the simple things in life.  My darling husband loves freshly squeezed orange juice & you can imagine, it's not on the menu at a desert Army base in Afghanistan.  He's back from Brisbane (yeah) & early this morning he tripped to the local produce market & grabbed a 10kg bag (as that's what we need for the family, we're orange maniacs, juiced, frozen, chopped, cake, sorbet) then took our eldest & youngest to Little Athletics.  So armed with my twin helpers, we got chopping & squeezing.
'tis the season, these few super juicey oranges made over 1L!!
Fresh & delicious, i've added ice so when handsome soldier comes in before lunch after a hot morning by the long jump pit . . . he can enjoy a long glass of dreamy chilled orange juice.  It's also one of my tricks to stretch it out, as these carpal tunnel hands are aching!!  I know i know there are juicing machines but really, all those fiddly parts, i'm happy to twist, squeeze, use my tummy muscles & tone my upper arms (ok, talking myself into it) & toss the Tupperware in the dish washer, job done, with love!!  Plus he appreciates the handmade effort.  We have 3L now & chilling . . .
Want to win a copy of this cool new children's book, Riley and The Curious Koala??  Leave a comment at yesterday's post!!
Want to chat to the author today??  Get your children involved, click here & leave Tania a comment, she's on live all day!!  It's really fun & hey, it's all about making your children feel special right??!!
Tomorrow is the book launch, so excited, my girls are already trying on outfits, just in case they make the newspaper!!  This afternoon though, we're checking out more land for our dreamy farm future . . . so i'm seeing shorts, Ts & converse sneakers instead.
Have wholesome weekends everyone, love Posie

19 November 2010

Riley & the Curious Koala, tips on extending your brand + book G I V E A W A Y

Greetings all,
I'd like to introduce you to the latest in author Tania McCartney's Riley book series, Riley and The Curious Koala.  This series of children's books have been a huge hit, beautifully written, gorgeous photography & illustrations, so enjoy the latest release & get all 3 books!!  While you're book shopping, grab a copy of her hilarious Beijing Tai Tai which i could NOT put down & you know i'm not a reader of grown up books, this was brilliant!!
Be a follower & leave a comment to go into the draw to win a copy of this super fun book, winners announced Monday 20th November 2011.  I'm super excited about the launch on Sunday as Sydney is on the cover - my home town & i'm so thrilled to see what adventures Riley gets up to in Australia!! 
Now for the official word, this blog tour stop is all about e x t e n d i n g your brand!!  Read Tania's wise words below . . . they are applicable to any small business with a good dose of ettiquette & common sense.  Take it away Tania . . .

As both a published and self-published author, it’s been really interesting experiencing the difference in publishing when ‘going it alone’. Of course – when you’re only one person and you’re trying to publish a book to compete on the market with books that have an entire publishing house team behind them… well – you could say it’s an uphill battle.It’s not un-doable – it’s the typical marketing battle. It’s just uphill. And hard work. And oftentimes lonely. And did I mention it’s hard work?
Cue: support teams. That’s where you come in. You and Posie and many other people like you – the blogging community are an incredible support in both the publishing world and every other world you can think of – from crafting to raising baby. There’s never been a finer time in history to take full advantage of tangling oneself in the virtual web that is the internet – and entering people’s home and hearts like never before.
I have experienced first hand that the route to expanding my brand is squared firmly in the world wide web. Of course, I create tangible products (books) and eventually they need to enter the real world, to connect with kids and hopefully warm their hearts – but the vast majority of even these real life interactions has found its origins in the internet.
My current (enormous!) network of crafting and publishing contacts, for example, has been sourced and maintained online. Essentially, we’re all in it together, and the support we give to each other on an hourly basis is truly exemplary. Anchoring myself firmly in this online community (and making some wonderful friends along the way) has been a key achievement in marketing myself or my brand – but how exactly do you create a ‘brand’ out of yourself?
I have witnessed many authors and other creative professionals who finally get to stack a book on the shelf then sit back and wait for the money to roll in. Even with a major publishing house behind you – proactivity is everything when branding yourself. Whether your ‘brand’ is a product, a service or you as a person (with regard to authors, this is often the case), its upkeep needs constant care, and in my many years of structuring a marketable future for myself and my books, I’ve learned much (including how to make the best gin and tonic, like – ever). I’m hoping that some of these ideas will help you brand and market yourself and your products more effectively. And if you have your own suggestions, leave a comment!
• Do everything with the utmost of professionalism at all times. From wording emails correctly (never use SMS-talk!) to printing gorgeous business cards to dressing the part.
• Be polite, generous and approachable when dealing with potential clients and media.
• Never shirk on quality. Create with excellence. Offer up big.
• Always always always honour your word.
• Research your market and watch it intently for shifts and changes. Be on the lookout for market niches and pounce. One example: me and twenty other women I know have whinged for years about the lack of affordable and whimsical tween girl clothing ranges (ie: something to compete with expensive brands Country Road, Fiona and Seed and something that doesn’t look like it’s been attacked by a lace-wearing vampire with a fluorescent pen). Has anyone done anything about this lack? No! Why? In my humble opinion, it’s because people are slow off the market in identifying market niches, and opportunities are quickly lost. Whoever corners this market will make a squillion.

• Think outside the square – create something unique and think of an unusual way to present it. Be creative and unexpected.
• Don’t copy someone else’s idea. People WILL know and you will quickly lose credibility.
• Keep up with latest trends – postcards are so in right now, as are blog tours!
• Consider creating complementary or auxiliary products to your range. You might produce amazing dolls, for example. Why not have them photographed and printed on beautiful greeting cards that can be used when gifting the doll?
• Pay to have superb, professional photographs taken of your product. Have a really fantastic self-portrait taken, too. If you can’t afford it, track down a friend or ask someone whose work you respect, and work out a deal.
• On that note, contra-deals are a marvellous way to secure services you need (like a photographer) for no cost. For my book launches, I ask sponsors to donate prizes or services in exchange for exposure for their business – via the use of their logo on all my advertising blurb and websites, and mentioning their name and providing their brochures or business cards at the launch. Oftentimes, this kind of advertising exposure is worth even more than the product or service they provide you – so it’s a great way of sharing the marketing love.
• Network. This doesn’t mean visiting blogs and pestering them to visit your blog. It means interacting, offering something of yourself and making your presence known in a valuable way.
• Events. They are an extraordinary way to attract attention and have people get to know you and your product. They’re also great fun and the media are more likely to cover an event than a product.
• Have giveaways, especially in local magazines, radio and newspapers. Get involved in local charity and school events and offer your products as prizes.
• Approach national magazines and local media frequently with new product. The cost of an item and its postage is minimal when compared with the exposure you may receive. Never expect to be featured. Don’t pester.
• Set up an amazing website that’s beautiful to look at and is CONSTANTLY maintained and updated.
• Have purchasing capability on your website to bump up sales.
• Consider approaching stores or online stores with your product.
• Be prepared to work harder than you ever believed was possible. Be prepared to lose your social life and never have time to wash your hair. But do take care of your body and mind.
• Be relentless. Don’t give up. Ever.

Tania McCartney is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, book reviewer and mango devourer who loves writing, celebrating and supporting children’s literature – and literacy. She is the author of the Riley series of travelogue picture books, as well as several published and self-published books. Tania is also an experienced magazine writer and editor, is the founder of Kids Book Review http://kids-bookreview. com and is a Senior Editor at Australian Women Online http://www.australianwomenonline.com/. She lives in Canberra with a husband, two kids and a mountain of books.
See www.taniamccartney.com for more.  Click here for her fun blog!!

Riley and the Curious Koala: A journey around Sydney
Riley and the Curious Koala is the third in the Riley travelogue series of picture books, taking young children on a journey to far flung destinations. Riley’s first adventure began in Beijing with Riley and the Sleeping Dragon, continued on through Hong Kong with Riley and the Dancing Lion, and now enters home turf, with a fun-filled adventure through the beautiful city of Sydney.
Will Riley find this terribly elusive and quite curious fluffy creature amongst the gorgeous watery vistas of one of the world’s most beautiful cities? Panda, Dragon and Lion from earlier books join this little aviator on his sensational Sydney search… and their discovery is a curious (and funny!) one, indeed.
Using stunning black and white photos, pictures of a real life tin aeroplane and hilarious illustrations by illustrator Kieron Pratt, Riley and the Curious Koala is perfect for experienced travellers, armchair travellers or for those wanting a fuzzy little adventure.
Part of the profits for Riley and the Curious Koala will go to the Australian Koala Foundation https://www.savethekoala.com/.
Available Australia-wide from 22 November 2010.

Well i sure have a few new things to work on (website upkeep for starters) & i hope Tania doesn't loathe the fact i used different fonts on this post!!  I'm pretty sure it's a writer no no, but me-sewing-designer-type, i think it looks eye catching, non?? 
Have lovely weekends everyone & good luck with winning a copy of this fabulous book!!  Love Posie
EDIT: Ok so i've updated it with more colour & page breaks, couldn't help myself!!

18 November 2010

my creative space 'framed embroidery'

Greetings all,
In my quest to find more hand stitching projects to do on the lounge at night next to my husband (who has coincidentally gone interstate again) i picked out these goodies + some embroidery tape & linen cloth to create some simple festive & homey inspired framed embroideries.  It's a nod to the way Red Stitch Designs uses natural colours with a hint of red & white to create beautiful things.
 I'm not happy with my embroidered letters, certainly NOT kootoyoo standard, which i had to do backwards as the embroidery tape (acting as my guide) is on the back of the linen.  More practise required & better laid out plans, i totally winged this & you can tell it's freestyle embroidery.  
The frames are very shallow, as in, they are box frames but the glass is positioned at the back so i struggled to put it all back together with the layer of linen & thread - the tree is stuck to the outside of the glass.  Oh well, the glass wasn't necessarily the feature, i just loved the idea of a frame with some stitching & a wooden ornament.  Concept in progress.  I have other natural shades of linen; red & white frames + different ornaments, words, felt & embroidery threads to trial.  Shall keep me busy for a while.  Next time i'll polish the glass too, damn finger prints!! 
Happy creative spacing, love Posie

16 November 2010

handmade from the pages of a magazine . . .

Greetings all,
Running early & carefree this morning, i almost left a face print on the glass door of the Post Office as i vigorously attempted to push it open, not seeing the "sorry we're closed" sign on said door at 9.05a.m.  Hmmm . . . i wasted some time at the bakery & newsagency before attempting the Post Office again.  So glad i did as i treated myself to the Inside Out magazine Christmas issue.  I really want to nail a good handmade Christmas wreath for the front door this year, voila, inspiration (read: styles i can totally copy).
 the beautiful cover didn't disappoint
 ahhh, whimiscal version of an advent calendar
 pretty garlands, i'm working on my own style
 & the wreaths!!
Did you read the words on that first page "if you make your own decorations they have soul & meaning & can become family treasures" . . . lovely sentiment.  I've been making these fabric penny wheels with a silver jingle bell for Shop Handmade & markets, tie to a tree with red & white twine.  Even my handsome soldier muttered "are you making these for our tree too??"  He likes!!  & yes, i will, plus birds of course!!
 I've not answered many magazine shoot call outs this year, kind of busy without a husband for 9 months so just not a priority.  But when Shop 4 Kids was doing a handmade child feature, i couldn't resist.  So i'm sending some bird bunting & a mix match baby wrap, lined with Tshirt jersey for a pram blanket.

As a mathematician & spatial person, i find it unnatural to piece patchwork together that isn't lined up precisely & completely orderly, planned, um . . . perfect, so this was a little experiment into a direction i'd like to try over Summer for next Autumn's quilts . . . it was liberating!!
Ok, after making this wrap last night (machine pieced with hand stitched edges) i got an order for a robot one at Shop Handmade today!!  So finishing that one off right now.  Love Posie