HOT Alert: Week of 23 November 2009

This coming week is filled with travel, rock, films, shopping, food and parties!

Unfortunately there’s only one of me, which means I’ll be missing these other great events on this week:

Less than a month till Christmas!

HOT Alert: Week of 16 November 2009

HOT being the operative word. Lordy me, I’m definitely not a hot-weather person, hopefully this week gives us all some respite. Anyway, a bit of sweatiness isn’t going to stop this week’s social calendar:

This week’s little slice of Melbourne comes courtesy of a Smith Street warehouse. Your profound thought of the day:

 HOT Alert: Week of 16 November 2009

HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

DSC06335v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

I’m an early-bird but there’s not many events that would have me bounding out of bed, grabbing a stupendous strawberry, white chocolate and coconut muffin from Proud Mary and lining up with hundreds of other people at 8:45am at Southbank.

But this was one very special garage sale. The Melbourne Theatre Company were moving, and everything had to go for one day only. I wanted to be part of the fake food buying frenzy!

DSC06376v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

The main area in the large warehouse was taken up by furniture and props, but I (and a million other people) made a beeline for the clothing section. Oh. My. God. It was like walking into one giant dress up box explosion. We’re talking racks and racks of super-cheap period costumes, contemporary clothing, shoes, handbags, scarves, gloves, stockings and fabric. I was trailing a woman behind me who I think must have been a vintage store owner, because she was putting literally every second item into her voluminous bags without looking twice. In a panic, I thought I’d miss out if I stayed behind bowerbird woman so I too started shoving stuff into my plastic bin bag.

Amongst the more unusual and interesting items on sale:

This man lined up at 7am and scored this Naboo turban. Later I saw him with a big black cape as well. Cool.

DSC06343v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

I like this enterprising girl’s approach. Wear the giant hooped skirt you’ve picked up while sifting through the other clothing. Then you can knock any other contenders out of the way.

DSC06348v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

A rack of Robyn Nevin’s pyjamas (presumably from August: Osage County)

DSC06353v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

Horses hooves! Great with skinny jeans.

DSC06358v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

Toilet fittings for Marcel Duchamp inspired interior decoration.

DSC06339v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

Crucifix and coffins. Perfect for your next Halloween party.

DSC06388v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

This big pink hippo was going to be re-gifted.

DSC06350v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

Fake food! I’ve found our perfect wedding cake. Noice.

DSC06363v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

Styrofoam map of Australia. They even remembered Tassie.

DSC06367v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

Magical angel’s wings.

DSC06380v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

One dusty ride-on mower.

DSC06393v11 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

Beautiful light fittings. If only I owned a restaurant.

DSC06361v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

DSC06371v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

DSC06387v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

A tired shopper taking a break from the mayhem. She was up for sale too. Along with the chair. And the stuffed bird, the helmet and the crutches.

DSC06379v1 HOT: MTC Garage Sale, 129 Ferrars St, Southbank

My haul was very sedate by comparison and consisted of various wollen scarves, delicate leather gloves, a cummerbund, a Ted Baker replica of the Audrey Hepburn little black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, an ivory chain-mail Oroton handbag with a deliciously bright purple lining and a massive frilly collar/neckpiece. The best thing – it cost $5.  It was definitely worth getting out of bed.

HOT: Point & Shoot Camera Basics, Centre for Adult Education, 21 Degraves St, Melbourne

jk bne thumbnail HOT: Point & Shoot Camera Basics, Centre for Adult Education, 21 Degraves St, Melbourne

My trash TV confession – sitting through 12 cycles of America’s Next Top Model. But now it appears that all those hours have been time well spent! I’ve absorbed quite a bit of knowledge on photography and light while watching ‘fierce’ Tyra Banks and a bevy of model wannabes.

That’s not to say I didn’t learn an overwhelming amount of new information on my one-day Point & Shoot Camera Basics at the Centre for Adult Education. Photojournalist Debra Plueckhahn from InView Media started off the day with a meet-and-mingle exercise which highlighted the gaps in our knowledge: what are the main elements of a camera? what’s a depth of field? what’s the most essential ingredient in creating a photograph? Umm…..

Then it was onto the nitty-gritty, learning about the technical aspects of a camera and photography –  depth of field, f stops, shutter speeds, exposure and ISO. Some particularly interesting facts and tips:

  • what is snapped on my point and shoot camera and what is seen is slightly different due to the position of the viewfinder;
  • automatic light meters will average out the exposure to 18% middle grey (around skin tone) when setting shutter and aperture combinations, risking over-exposure for shots like forests, dusk and dawn and under-exposure for shots of beach or snow;
  • I can half-press the button to lock in focus and exposure in order to compensate for the automatic light detection, helping with ‘dark face with light background’ shots and off-centre subjects;
  • I only need to be familiar with three automatic camera modes – Portrait for minimising depth of field (sharp foreground, blurry background), Landscape to maximize depth of field (sharp foreground, sharp background) and Sports for freezing motion;
  • don’t use a flash to photograph things at a distance, like trying to capture a game at the MCG at night;
  • ‘forced/fill’ flash illuminates foreground subjects where the background is light and brightens up harsh shadows, useful for shooting a person outdoors on a bright sunny day or sitting in front of a sunny window;
  • ‘slow synch’ flash is useful for low light situations where you needed to balance foreground and background light in order to capture mood and ambience, such as snapping friends in a dark bar; and
  • the different qualities of natural and artificial light and why Automatic White Balance is not always the best, for instance  if you’re trying to capture the colours of dusk on a white building.

The other aspect of the class was learning about composition. The basic error of most amateur photographers is not getting in close and engaging the subject. For interesting photographs it’s important to fill the frame and leave out white space or extraneous detail and not centre objects. Consider where the lines converge, repetition of patterns, whether colours are discordant or harmonising and have a clear, single point of interest.

Now it’s time to get practicing….

HOT: T2 Tea Too, 340 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

As my regular readers will know, I’m getting married soon – and as a Chinese bride it is traditional to have a Chinese tea ceremony.

So, another thing to tick off the wedding to-do list was to find a tea set. I wanted something that was vaguely Oriental, without any gaudy gold leaf or dragon/phoenix motifs. Fortunately Jetsetting Mum found just the right set for me at the funky tea store, T2. Ivy is a blue and white tea set with a curlicued design which is reminiscent of typical Chinese porcelain. Unfortunately I can’t show you what it looks like at the moment as the cute teapot ($20) and handle-less tea cups ($4 each) are packed away in T2‘s distinctive Asian newspaper gift-wrapping. (If you want to stickybeak at what else we’re doing for our wedding, check out Telegramstop).

hand hook yarn 297x300 HOT: T2 Tea Too, 340 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

On a completely different note, I got talking to the friendly shop assistant at T2 who told me that she’s actually a crafter. Berri Drum designs a collection of crochet accessories under the label Hand.Hook.Yarn. The photo above shows her winter collection and for summer she’ll be selling collars made from cotton rather than wool and in more vibrant colours. You can check out Berri’s work at the following upcoming markets: Rose Street Artists Market (1 and 22 Nov), Thread Den’s market (15 Nov), the Shirt and Skirt market (29 Nov), the new Blackbird Market in Fitzroy (5 Dec) and Craft Hatch (19 Dec).

HOT Alert: Week of 26 October 2009

Can you believe it’s the end of October and they’re erecting the Christmas tree at City Square already? Events this week:

HOT: Robotica by Kyle Weyburne, Rose Street Artists Market, 60 Rose St, Fitzroy

scrabble1 251x300 HOT: Robotica by Kyle Weyburne, Rose Street Artists Market, 60 Rose St, Fitzroy

Most of the time I’m a sweet, unassuming, ladylike girl who is never critical, sarcastic or competitive. But get me near a Scrabble board and I transform into a ruthless Gordon Gecko type who crows triumphantly at every 7-letter word placed on a triple-word score.

cufflinks 300x180 HOT: Robotica by Kyle Weyburne, Rose Street Artists Market, 60 Rose St, Fitzroy

These Scrabble cufflinks are from Rose Street Artists Market regular stallholder Kyle Weyburne (he also has a stall at the Sunday Esplanade Market in St Kilda). Kyle is a painter and writer who makes quirky jewellery on the side. I bought a pair of vintage 10-point letters cufflinks for RM so that he could use them against me in times of desperation (a 100-point difference has been known to occur), a pair of cufflinks made from mahjong tiles from an antiques dealer in Thailand and a pair of vintage typewriter keys Kyle made himself. RM now has three pairs of unusual cufflinks (but not too novelty), at only $25 a pair.

HOT: Valhalla, Arts Centre Forecourt, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

 HOT: Valhalla, Arts Centre Forecourt, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

 HOT: Valhalla, Arts Centre Forecourt, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

In Norse mythology, Valhalla is a majestic, enormous martial hall housing the chosen dead.

I didn’t know this fact when I entered Valhalla, Callum Morton’s new work for the Melbourne International Arts Festival. I knew that the desolate, pock-marked, concrete crumble was a three-quarter scale replica of Morton’s childhood home and I knew that some lifts would be involved. But when I pushed open the frosted glass door, I saw a janitor lying motionless and spread-eagled face down, as if he’d been bludgeoned from behind. I was so shocked that I froze and forgot to take a photo – and by the time I’d gathered my senses he’d already stood up to start mopping the floor, push lift buttons and swing backwards in a plastic chair.

 HOT: Valhalla, Arts Centre Forecourt, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

After that, I stood in the corner and watched the reactions of the other people as they entered the claustrophobic corporate-style marble foyer. People faced the lift doors in silence, carefully avoiding eye contact with each other or held whispered conferences in pairs. Everyone’s reflex was to stare up hopefully at the flashing lift lights at the sound of the lift’s ‘ding’. It was amusing to observe that even though people knew that the lifts didn’t exist, everyone still reacted to the space as if it was their reality. I met some other visitors outside and we all started laughing at our experience.

 HOT: Valhalla, Arts Centre Forecourt, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Read The Age’s interview with Callum Morton here

HOT Chat: Alex Hume of Eco Fashionista

This week’s HOT Chat comes from Eco Fashionista. Alex Hume chatted to me about fashion, living eco-conscious and being a business-owner with a young toddler.

DSCF0981 586x1024 HOT Chat: Alex Hume of Eco Fashionista

Alex, how did Eco Fashionista come about?

Eco Fashionista was launched almost a year to the day my son Max was born. Max’s arrival (and the huge sense of responsibility that arrived with him) was the catalyst for me to make a bigger commitment to being “green” – and, ever the keen shopper and fashionista, I realised the “greening” needed to extend to my wardrobe!

As I began to explore whether there was such a thing as “designer eco fashion”, I became so excited about the amazing labels I was unearthing – many of which weren’t available in Australia and in the one shopping destination. If I was going to seek out these chic pieces for myself, then why not share the love and let others in on my discoveries? I believe most people want to be eco-conscious about their lifestyle, but they also don’t want to give up the things that matter – such as style, quality and individuality. And that’s where Eco Fashionista comes in….

With so many fashion designers out there, how do you select the stock for Eco Fashionista?

A lot of brand research lies behind Eco Fashionista‘s collection and the designers must demonstrate serious design and eco credentials.  How they achieve their “eco fashion” mission differs – from using organic, sustainable or vintage fabrics,  eco-friendly production, making small quantities to order or by hand and ensuring fair work conditions. We have given “eco attributes” to each piece in our collection with these symbols.

key HOT Chat: Alex Hume of Eco Fashionista

Where do you turn for eco-fashion inspiration?

I’ve always devoured fashion magazines, and it’s wonderful to see titles like Vogue, Madison and Marie Claire now turning out green glamour and eco chic issues. I also read the stylish Australian eco fashion magazine Peppermint, and inspiring eco fashion blogs –  Eco Stiletto and Green Lashes and Fashion just to name two. For high-end designers with a conscience, it’s hard to go past Philip Lim (who launched his “Go Green Go” line in 2008) and Stella McCartney.

What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?

Three words have guided me over the last few months  – patience, perseverance and perspective. Having a clear vision of your business and its direction is essential, but equally important is the flexibility to adapt to the challenges that will be inevitably thrown at you. I’ve also had to learn that sometimes I am not the best person for the job! You need to concentrate your energies on your strengths, and in areas where you lack experience or skills – delegate or outsource if /where you can.

What are you wearing at the moment?

I’m wearing one variation of my “home with Max” uniform – Good Society jeans, Sublet Courtney top and  Beyond Skin Tilly floral ballet flats. It’s all about comfortable style these days.

I do love to dress up when I get the chance though! My fiancé and I have a rare dinner date tonight, and I’m looking forward to wearing my Minna Maria vintage print dress, accessorised with a pendant from fair trade jeweller Fifi Bijoux and Ashley Watson’s super-soft recycled leather oriole clutch.

What are your tips for what’s HOT in Melbourne?

We love our morning coffee, and breakfast is really the only meal we go out for these days! Our local favourites are Mixed Business (486 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill +61 3 9486 1606‎) and Palomino (236 High Street, Northcote +61 3 9481 0699) which both make a great soy latte and exude an arty community vibe.

A little further afield, we recently discovered St Ali (12-18 Yarra Pl,South Melbourne +61 3 9686 2990) – a funky converted warehouse with specialty coffee blends and chocolate brioche, yum! Joe’s Shoe Store (233 High St, Northcote +61 3 9482 7666‎) is a very small bar with a whole lot of atmosphere – enjoy a glass of red with pizza from next door at Pizza Meine Liebe (231 High St, Northcote +61 3 9482 7001), along with a game of French boules out the back.

For something more special, we love Cumulus Inc (45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne +61 3 9650 1445) for fine wine and adventurous food in a vibrant setting.

HOT Alert: Week of 12 October 2009

My foodie friend from London and the Jetsetting Parents are in town this week, which means fewer social events and a LOT more restaurant reviews. Look out for posts on Grossi Florentino Grill, The Press Club, Yu.u, Mr Price’s Food Store and Nobu.

Also, don’t forget on Wednesday 14 October it’s National Ride to Work Day. In Melbourne Bicycle Victoria will be offering free breakfast at Federation Square and hopefully enough fluorescent velcro bands to go around as I’ve lost mine. It’s a pity my super-stylish Yakkay bike helmet won’t be delivered in time from Denmark.

This week’s photo is thanks to Guy Vincent, who alerted me to the sad demise of the Centre Place artwork which forms the colourful, instantly recognisable header for MEL: HOT OR NOT. That’s right – the street art has now been replaced by a dull concrete and glass box. NOT!

 HOT Alert: Week of 12 October 2009