Friday, December 20, 2013

Retail Wrapped for 2013

Today marks the start of Christmas holidays for most people. I will be taking a break from blogging for the next couple of weeks, while we build up the photo files again with more exciting stores and things we see out and about.

2013 has been a difficult year for many retailers and they have had to use their wits and initiative to survive and entice their share of the market. Just this week a national kitchen ware chain announced its voluntary receivership.
You may wonder what shoes are doing featured in a Christmas wrap up? Yesterday I witnessed one of the most poignant markers of what a challenging year it has been for retailers. I stood at the accessories counter in Myer in one of Queensland's most successful major shopping centres. It was 10am and 5 trading days till Christmas. From the moment I walked in the main entry via cosmetics, hand bags and accessories I was struck by the eerie quietness in the store. There were hardly any customers on what should have been one of the busiest days of the year. 
As I stood at the counter I watched the shoe department. Shoes will tell you a lot about life. They say a lot about the person who wears them, but also the state of the economy. The shoe department was dead quiet, 3 staff standing around as there was no-one there. If women are not even browsing at shoes, things are not good. Lets face it, women don't need an excuse to buy shoes, but at this time of year that department should have been humming as women look for shoes for upcoming parties etc.
Obviously there were a lot more factors in this story, such as the full to over flowing carparks, the busy cafes, the amounts of people at the cinema complex and the busy cheaper chain stores. It's a scenario that retail analysts can have a field day with, but without heading further into the path of doom and gloom, I will say to all the retailers; well done for surviving another year. May 2014 be a better year for you.

On the subject of wit, this sign made me smile!

Enjoy your break. I've been having some fun with the kids! Sometimes it's the most simple things that bring the best fun. 

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mackenzie Fabrics

It's very easy to appreciate and be inspired by nature and that was exactly the catalyst behind Mackenzie Fabrics. The company is owned by Deborah Jonhston-Booker and her partner David Mackenzie. I have known Deb for over 20 yrs and she is the person I call if I need a specialist paint finish for one of my fitouts. Her partner David is a photographer.

Combining Deb's colour skills and David's photography, they have launched a range of fabrics which feature photo images of Australian tree barks.

I caught up with Deb last week and she showed me the range. They are printed in Australia and she has cleverly grouped them with sheers and some beautiful texture plain linens.

Deb has been playing with the fabric on cushions and lampshades with some interesting effects. Their motto is bringing the bush inside.

 Here's their website for a closer look. Good luck Deb and David.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Carneros Inn

One of my friends describes what she looks for when she's reading interiors magazines or websites. She calls it her "take me there" moment. When you just want to be transported into that image.
I thought this post was rather timely given the end of the year fast approaching and people dreaming of their time off or setting off to another location. This one is on my list as it's my "take me there" location.

Featuring the Carneros Inn, it's located in the beautiful Napa Valley in California- the wine region. Anything in the Napa Valley is gorgeous to start with, but this one is definitely on my wish list of locations for one day.
Join me for a 2 minute escape and dream away.

Oh yes please to the fire pit in the semi indoor outdoor pavilion. Swoon....

My favourite for last- the bocce court. Ha, I think my lawn needs a fair bit more work till it's up to bowling green quality. 

Want more?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Vapiano Albert St

If you happen to be in the city or planning a day of Christmas shopping in there and wondering what's for lunch, check out Vapiano in the Albert St lane way.

It's been around for a few years now, but is just a fun way to have Italian food. It has a similar approach to ordering that many fast food chains use. 
1. order your type of pasta
2. choose your sauce
3. select your add ins. 
It's all cooked right in front of you in a matter of minutes.

The pasta is all made fresh in store, which you can watch as well.

The 2 level licenced premise features a modern interior with quirky eye catchers.

One of the things I love most about the store is the greenery. In addition to this cool tree on the upper dining level there are pots of herbs at all the tables for customers to add into their pasta.

Live plants in a dark interior can be a challenge, but each table has UV lamps over the pots to compensate for this.

My favourite part upstairs is the green house where the herbs are rotated. This has watering troughs and the UV lighting. Dining at Vapiano is a fun experience that all ages can enjoy.

And if this has got you in the mood for pasta, here's a very easy recipe from the Super Food Ideas magazine that I have been cooking for my family for years and it's still one of their favourites.