Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Kids in the Kitchen

We all know that cooking with kids is a great idea, a fun thing to do, a great bonding experience. Even educational. It may also be your version of hell.

If you're considering getting into the kitchen with your small one, if the guilt has finally gotten to you, coming to terms with the following facts will save your sanity.

1. It'll be messy.

There's no getting away from this. There will be mess. Even the simplest of recipes will make a mess. Flour on the floor. Batter in your kids hair, or yours. Sauce in places it couldn't possibly be. Mentally prepare yourself for a lot of mess. It's all part of the fun. Sorta.

2. It won't be perfect.

If you're a perfectionist, maybe you should just take your kids to the park instead. Biscuits will be oddly shaped. The cake will rise wonky. Something will burn.

3. It will be slow.

Especially with really young kids. Little hands don't work as fast, aren't as strong. Also, they get distracted pretty easily.

4. Your kid will eat all the ingredients before you've made anything.

My daughter eats the flour. The mixture. Any kind of dough. All spices. Butter is eaten in chunks. They will spend most of their time "Tasting".

5. They will get bored.

It's very possible, that after a little while they'll just lose interest and you'll be up to your elbows in chocolate cake, or un-iced sugar cookies. This can be a blessing in disguise.

Still wanna cook with your kids? Then take my advice....Or not.

1. Time it right.

Mid-morning, on the weekend, when you've been sufficiently coffee'd or tea'd into consciousness. You'll be less rushed, and there'll be plenty of time to create and eat your masterpiece.

2. Set the scene.

Clear off as much space as possible. You'll need it. Everyone washes their hands. Everyone dons an apron. Grab a stool for the short people, or if your knees can take it, set up at the kids table. (Move it into the kitchen if that saves the carpet.)

3.Read the recipe.

Make sure you've read the recipe numerous times, especially if you haven't made it before. Kids in the kitchen are totally distracting and it's easy to miss a step!

4. Let your kids actually do stuff.

Measure out the flour. Crack an egg. Stir things. Show them how, but try not to take over. Jump in when they need a bit of muscle, or if you're using electric beaters.

5. Let them taste everything.

Yes, even the flour. It's a great time to get them actually thinking about flavours. Is it salty? Is it sweet? Spicy? Dry or wet? Slimy or smooth?

6. Let them lick the bowl.

Licking the bowl is one of life's pleasures. I know there's hoo-ha about raw eggs etc, but I've never keeled over from ingesting cake batter, have you?

6. Even Chefs clean.

If they haven't already done a runner once the cake is in the oven, get them involved in the clean up. They can rinse stuff off in the sink, wash their hands, put the aprons away. Or just kick them out and do it yourself... you'll be needing a cup of tea by now.

7. Congratulate them on a job well done.

Bang on to anyone who will listen about how the small fry made the scones. They will beam with pride and it will all be worth it.

8. Smile Smugly.

You've earned it. File the memory away for those days when you feel like a totally crap mum who does nothing but yell.

Or is that just me?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Melbourne Coffee Snob

I think we have turned our kid into a Melbourne coffee snob, or worse... a foodie.

If she's not asking for a Babycino, she's asking to go to a cafe for lunch. Or saying things like "I can have wine when I get bigger".
And when I say "we" ... I mean it. I'm not taking all the blame for this! I'm looking at you Mr Frog.

Tadpoles first Babycino was free. The waitress taking our coffee order apologised as she brought our order to the table. "I'm sorry, she's so beautiful I made her a Babycino." Free drinks at about 18 months. I was so proud.

I used to think Babycinos  were the dumbest thing ever and only for the ridiculous Brighton mums who enjoyed pandering to their children and treating them like tiny adults. Hmm... Perhaps I'm still holding some sort of prejudice. Anyway, once you have kids of your own, or even borrow one for a day, you realise that Babycinos are actually The. Best. Thing. Ever.

First of all, you can bribe kids with them. Don't judge.

Second, they're really cute, and sometimes even come with SPRINKLES!

And third... Well they just make her so happy. Just watching her enjoy something so simple, a cup of frothy milk for goodness sake, is one of life's even simpler pleasures.

It does however become a bit of a habit. A nice, albeit, slightly snooty sounding one.

A few weeks ago I dragged poor Tadpole with me to do the groceries. I usually do them on a day she's at Kinder but I was kinda hoping to save myself a little me time, so a team job it was.

 We head to Aldi first where I do the majority of our shop. She's getting extra attention today because she's wearing a sparkly dress, sparkly shoes, numerous necklaces, bracelets and a ring, plus some beads on her head like a little boho crown. She looks fabulous and hilarious. And she's well behaved. All good. Next we head to Coles to get the bits and pieces they don't have at Aldi. Once we're done she wants to know where we're going next. "Home for lunch"  I say in my best mum voice. ( You know, wildly optimistic and excited about a ham sandwich).

"No, I want to go to a café".

Yeah. I don't blame you kid.

We love to eat out, although it's not a regular occurrence. When we do, we get really into it. We're all about tasting everything in our house so Tadpole is quite happy to eat stuffed zucchini flowers and the like. And while she'll try most things, most of the time, getting her to sit still at restaurants was once one of my biggest fears. She's really very good ( humble brag) but there's only so much sitting still a three year old can do.

And that's how the Art Pocket came about. ( See what I did there? ) As a solution to a fidgety Tadpole. We had gotten into the habit of taking a little pack of Textas and colouring pages in the nappy bag, but the Textas kept falling out  of the cardboard packet and there was nowhere to keep any finished masterpieces. I designed the Art Pocket to have a slightly smaller zip than the length of the pencil case, so the pencils are less likely to fall out, and there's a pocket to slip in a Visual Diary, plus keep the other random colouring pages she gets given when we're out. Sometimes, when I'm feeling like a  super fabulous mum, I slip some stickers into the pencil case as a surprise. Yeah, I know. I'm awesome. *insert eye roll*

We take it everywhere. And I'm pretty bloody proud of my little invention.

Now you. How do you keep children entertained and relatively quiet in "grown up" spaces?

What have you introduced your kid to that you kinda wish you hadn't?

To see how groovy the Art Pocket is (yes, I said GROOVY), check out this little video I made. Or just watch it and laugh at my annoying voice.
To buy one, or many, or to have me create one just for you, go to Madame Clochette.

A bientôt

Sam, Madame Clochette

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Day in the Life of an International Woman

This morning, I dropped Tadpole off at Daycare, then headed to the local shopping centre to look for dice for Mr Frog, buy some fruit, and post an order.
When I got home, I sat down for a belated breakfast and scrolled through Instagram as I ate.

International Womens Day posts abounded, and I was happy to see it. Then I jumped up, and started a few of the must-do chores in my day. Changed Tadpoles linen d put the washing on (leaky nappy this morning), did the dishes, made the bed. I was juuust about to spray the shower with cleaning product when I remembered. It's International Womens Day! No cleaning for me today! Just the basics. *Foot stomp. Hand on hip.*

And so, I did MY stuff. Edited photos (I'm so fancy), brain stormed promotions, competitions and taglines for my Art Pockets (more on that soon), and faffed around some more on social media.

I'd like to top my day off with a couple of wines with some fabulous women at my mates bar ( The Republic of Elwood, but instead...

I'll pick up Tadpole from Daycare, make dinner (Risotto), put the little one to bed, tidy the kitchen, and then collapse on the couch.

Just the basics.

How did you spend International Womens Day?
Is it something I can be jealous of?

Tell me in the comments!


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Now Or Never - How I almost Gave up, and The Little Black Bag

2015 was the year of The Ultimatum.

Business hadn't been great. I'd been making a sale maybe once every six months or so. I couldn't really make more stuff, and enjoy it, if they were just going to sit in a pile with everything else. Mr Frog had even gone as far as to say "Nobody wants what you're selling".

I know.

But I wondered if he was right. Briefly.

No. He wasn't. I knew it in my bones. But what I was doing, or not doing, wasn't working and it was time to get serious or let it go.

I gave myself until Christmas to improve business. Six months and if nothing changed, well then Madame Clochette as we know it would be taking a break... to perhaps re-emerge in another form, or not.

I met with a woman named Sandy from the City Council Mentor program and after discussing the current situation my business was in, Sandy deemed Madame Clochette to be a Hobby, not a business, and therefore not eligible for a mentor. I was devastated. But she was right. She suggested a range of things to try in order to change that fact and said she hoped to see me in the near future. To my chagrin, all her suggestions were things I already knew had to be done.

Firstly, I knew I needed a product I could replicate, that could be my "bread and butter" as they say in the biz. Looking at my range, all one of a kind, I realised I didn't have what every woman needs; a Little Black Bag.


This bag is the perfect start to your Madame Clochette collection. The fabric will take you from day to night, and the handles will match whatever you're wearing. And because it's not one of a kind, it's a little cheaper for you, and faster to make for me. Everyone wins!

Meanwhile I decided I needed to actually start marketing my product, rather than just list it on Etsy and hope for the best, which had been my "strategy" up until now. So, with inspiration at hand in the form of a magazine tear sheet,(thank you Dior and Natalie Portman) I prettied myself up and spent a toddler free day pretending to be a model..It was pretty crazy; setting the timer, posing and running back to check the results over and over. Some day I'll miss being the model.

I even started playing around with  Pic Monkey. It's a little bit addictive.

 The L.B.B is now available in store at a reasonable $30... and that now includes your choice of simple gold or silver handles. Just F.Y.I....

When I wander around Spotlight, I marvel at all the pretty vintage inspired fabrics and choose the fabrics I love. That's called shopping for your hobby. Shopping for the business needs to incorporate my own sense of style AND what customers might actually want to spend their hard earned cash on.   I came across the Leatherette collection on the racks at Spotlight. Behold! I originally had designs on the white Pleather, ( I know, mental, but Oh My!) yet quickly came to my senses and grabbed the Pewter, because after a Little Black Bag, a lady needs a little Silver bag. I loved the fabric so much that I made some in Black too... including one just for me. I use it everyday.

Instagram shot of my bag in action, pushing the pram to the park.

I was starting to think like a busniess woman. Like a Boss. I started paying attention to my accounts, recording what went out, and what came in. Meanwhile I'd started making a sale a month. Some were  to friends who like my work and can't resist Snakeskin, others to friends of friends or strangers online. One sale a month, instead of one every six. Things were looking up, but I still had until xmas.

Markets for me have always been pretty hit or miss... mostly miss. I just couldn't get a feel for the one that suited me. In December 2014 I tried out the Kingston Arts Makers Market, held at twilight a few weeks before xmas. It was my best market yet and so I was excited to see how things would go in 2015.

I couldn't have been more surprised. I was BUSY. I sold Book covers, Bags and coin purses.

It was so thrilling. And validating. And a relief.

Mr Frog was, as you can imagine, beyond shocked. And very happy for me.
Me at the market, looking pretty bloody pleased with myself.

 So Christmas came and the verdict is in. Madame Clochette is gearing up for a fabulous year. I've got an actual craft room now (a studio if you will) and I'm all set to start re-stocking Cocktail bags, Book covers and Coin purses.

Isn't it amazing what happens when you actually put your mind to something?

What will 2016 be the year of?

Who knows. But I've got a good feeling.

Did you reflect on last year? What did you come up with?


Thursday, October 15, 2015

The "No Gifts" Rule

Let's get things straight. I hate the "No Gifts" rule given by well meaning friends and family. I know it's given as a means of controlling the intake of crap, it's often a heartfelt "please don't spend your hard earned money on us" plea, and I don't know, is there another reason?

Well, I have a loop hole. Homemade gifts.

It can't just be Handmade, like you can't pay someone else to make it, that's cheating and and not covered by the Loophole. The aim is to give a gift that you made. That's the loophole.

The buying of supplies doesn't count, so shop away.

Unfortunately, or fortunately (we are trying to save for a house now. Remember my dream house?) I had all I needed for this little project.

First, I checked with the hostess on the colour scheme for her home. This is when the "No Gifts" rule was proclaimed and I hit back with my loophole (while also promising that I would only make something if I had the time. Pfft! I make time for crafts baby!)

Next I grabbed an inherited-from-a-friend, mini square canvas.

I covered it in a grey/white scrapbooking paper, using double sided tape to stick it down.

Add another strip to that thing and it's covered!

Then I printed out An Irish Blessing, using grey and yellow ink.

I stuck it on my covered canvas with tape.

It looks like it's coming off, but I assure you I fixed it!

Then wrapped a yellow ribbon around it, taping it all around.

Cute enough to display and small enough to stash in the cupboard if they hate it.


Wrapped it with some inherited-from-a-friend wrapping paper, tied a bow with a strip of scrap fabric, and That's it!

I love this green paper... but I only have a little bit left *sob*

Gratuitous bow shot.

I did fail to make a card, but I wrote on the back of the canvas. That'll work.

What do you think of the No Gifts rule? Do you bend it, or smash that sucker?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Creative Life and Writers Block

I have some serious writers block.

I'm sitting here staring at the blinking cursor in front of me trying to put together a witty sentence about making Compote, or even a vaguely amusing anecdote about any kind of creative endeavor I've pursued over the last little while.

It's not even a little while. This is some serious blockage.

While it's true that I've always got something creative on the go, writing about those things doesn't always come easy. Maybe it's because I don't always feel that my crafty shenanigans are all that interesting. Certainly not quite interesting enough to use the term shenanigans. Perhaps I've overdosed on Social media and actually don't have anything left to say...

Pfft. Nah... that can't be it.

For now, I'm going to do what any blocked blogger would do and hit you with a bunch of photos that never made it into a proper blog post.

Chopping like a crazy lady because the French in the family like to eat compote... a lot.

Fruit plus water, plus a little cinnamon. Simmer till soft. Puree. Voila. I'm SURE I had a picture of massive batch all jar'd up, but who knows where it is.

I drink tea the way I'd like to drink wine. All. The. Time.
I made fancy tags for when I do markets. These are the new and old. HUGE difference!
All my Bridal bags (and custom made bags) come with their own dust cover... blatantly branded of course.
Playing with my market set-up. Again. I'm never entirely happy. This time I added some fairy lights and I think I'll try and incorporate light in some way in the future.

Marketing, Pub Style

The Evelyn Pub, Fitzroy, Melbourne. The site of my last market.

There really has been more going on. I swear. I'm sure. I think.

Check my Instagram feed... I'm sure I'm managing to at least post on there, where words are optional.  


I'll be back just as soon as I get clear.

Do you get writers block? Do you have any tricks to get rid of it? Share you greedy bugger!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Motherhood, Creativity and Drudgery

Now that I have the Tadpole in day care one day a week, I have time to do my stuff.
MY stuff.
Not the cleaning, the cooking , the groceries or what have you. (Although let's be honest, the dishes have to at least get done! Does it ever stop?!) I have from about 8:30am until 4:45pm and it's mine to do what I like with. Lately, I'm all business. And although my time is finite, I generally get a lot done in those hours. In Rachel Power's "Motherhood and Creativity - The Divided Heart" many of the women interviewed say that having less time actually made the time they did have, even if it's half an hour, more productive, not less. Now that I've put my business hat on my creative little head, I find the same is true for me.

However, sometimes motherhood, creativity and flu germs collide.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have had a pox on our house. The Lurgy has been hanging around for what seems like forever.
It started slowly.
We barely registered runny noses or phlegmy throats. But it built and even I have succumbed. I'm always the last to go down, and being Mum means no sick days. Poor Tadpole missed two days at Child care (over two weeks), which means I have missed  two of MY days of what I am trying to call "Work", without using quotation marks.

Whats a creative gal to do with a sick family and itchy fingers?
Create, any way she can.


I made Lemon Cordial, again.

I made Lemon Salt (a new thing I quite like the idea of)
I decorated and labelled my Preserved Lemons
There are days when even my never ending supply of lemons gets shafted. Some days the only creative thing I get to do is mend.

Mr Frogs jeans, now definitely not for public consumption.
Once in a while, the lemon creations give way to the creation of a birthday hamper.
Because let's share the craziness.

  Often though, motherhood and creativity collide in the sweetest of ways.

Tadpole and our collaborative effort on a floor collage.

Now, we're back into the swing of things.

Tadpole is back at Daycare making Fathers day cards.

Mr Frog is back to work for the end of term.

And I'm starting a new, very exciting, and important project that's a little out there.

Stay tuned.

How do you merge Motherhood and Creativity?