HOT: Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy (1)

Lark Store has been synonymous with cute homewares and party supplies since it opened its shopfront in Daylesford four years ago. They’ve now closed their Daylesford store and have decided to take the show on the road at various pop up locations, starting with a residency in Fitzroy until February 2014.

Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

At Lark Fitzroy you’ll find a selection of covetable goodies from their online store – and anything that’s not in store physically can be bought online and collected for free at the store. Alternatively, you can buy in store and then have it giftwrapped and shipped direct to the gift recipient. Talk about seamless bricks-and-mortar/online service!

Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

They even serve you fresh lemonade at the counter.

Some of my favourite items from the Fitzroy store include:

Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

The mint green bike in the front window. OK so it’s not for sale but it is a Beg Bicycles bike from the UK which is rarely found in Australia (I particularly love the coolbox that goes with the bike).

Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

Their range of party decor. Very helpful for those with zero styling credentials as it all matches and has a super cute/retro feel, from the paper straws down to the pom pom garlands.

Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

The pastel coloured carry tins, great for storing small items like bobbins and thread or little girl’s treasures.

Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

The fire engine red metal bread box which I think is a bit of a bargain at $39.95. Even Allison, the owner, thought she’d get one for herself when she did a double-take of the price!

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I might also return for the ‘Yay Biscuits!’ tin because that’s exactly what I think when I see biscuits.

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I love these retro milk bottle holders – for me they evoke long summer days and garden parties. I really want one but can’t think of a single use for it!

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For those on Instagram if you visit the store and Instagram a photo (tagging @larkstore and #larkstorefitzroy) then you’ll receive 10% off your purchase! So get snapping.

Lark Fitzroy, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

Monday to Saturday, 11.00am to 4.00pm

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HOT: Signature High Tea, Where a Girl Goes by Cristina Re, Cnr Langridge & Oxford Sts, Collingwood

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Where a Girl Goes is the flagship store of Melbourne stationery designer Cristina Re and it’s well-named – it’s an unabashedly feminine place, full of pastel colours and frills and flowers and butterflies.

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The large space has a retail section displaying Cristina Re‘s stationery, crockery and bath and body products, but most of the floor  is dominated by a high tea parlour. The parlour is filled with white replica French Provincial furniture and vases of pink roses (rose is the favourite flower of Cristina) and it’s a very pretty space to indulge in afternoon tea. It demands dressing up in your best frock and a bit of lipstick!

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You can even book a semi-private area if you have a large party.

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Gourmet Chick and I were invited to try their signature high tea and on a weekend the tables were all booked up with hen’s dos and baby showers. The signature high tea, which goes for 2 hours,  includes two hot beverages plus savoury and sweet treats for $49 ($59 on weekends). You can upgrade your signature high tea with flutes of sparkling wine, apple or pear cider, a cocktail or even include  include craft activities and astrology/tarot card readings in your booking, making it a more unique experience than your traditional afternoon tea.

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The tea selection has a list of about a dozen options from Cristina Re’s signature tea leaf range, or you can choose a Belgian hot chocolate, Belgian hot mocha, espresso coffee, chai latte or juice. Of course with afternoon tea you should try one of the teas but for your second beverage I highly recommend the creamy and rich hot chocolate.

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The food offering consisted of a mini vegetarian quiche (in our case, one mushroom and one roasted capsicum) with a few sprigs of rocket as garnish, plus a tiered tray.

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First impressions are always important and thus I tend to form an opinion about the quality of an afternoon tea based on the sandwiches. While the sandwich bread and fillings here were fairly standard (cucumber, chicken, smoked salmon) they benefited from the fact that they were very fresh. My pet hate is stale, pre-prepared finger sandwiches.

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The middle tier had a fat, fluffy scone for each person accompanied by some chantilly cream and some very fruity raspberry jam.

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The top tier was my favourite – some petite sweet vanilla cupcakes with different flavoured frostings, a selection of handmade Belgian chocolates and some excellent miniature macarons demonstrating a lightness of touch in their making. You can also purchase the sweets to take home.

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For a place which doesn’t really specialise in catering, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and beverages at Where a Girl Goes.  I particularly liked the fact that the afternoon tea is served on  Cristina Re‘s elegant gold-rimmed High Tea Collection porcelain along with 24 ct gold plated cutlery.

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From the outside Where a Girl Goes may seem intimidatingly pink and frilly but inside the setting is unique, the atmosphere and the service staff are warm and inviting and I think it’s a perfect place for a girly get-together

Signature High Tea, Where a Girl Goes by Cristina Re, Cnr Langridge & Oxford Sts, Collingwood +61 3 9495 6222

Wednesday   10:30am – 5:00pm
Thursday    10:30am – 5:00pm / Workshops & Consultations 6pm – 8pm
Friday     10:30am – 5:00pm
Saturday   10:30am – 6:00pm
Sunday     10:30am – 5:00pm

HOT: Crop at Lightly Showroom, 3 Glasshouse Rd, Collingwood

Melbourne loves pop up design shops and this weekend there are three worth your attention – The Design Files Open House,  The Cool House and Crop at Lightly Showroom. Not to mention the popular twice-yearly Melbourne Design Market at Federation Square. Make that four!

Design studio Lightly have opened up their two-level warehouse and showroom to 25 other Australian designers showcasing jewellery, homewares, stationery, accessories and toys. They even have free wine tasting by Jamsheed Wines to get you in to the shopping mood.

Here are some of things that caught my eye…

This decorative sculpture, a Christmas nest, by Wona Bae. I’m not sure that it’s for sale but it would certainly make an eye-catching Christmas wreath for someone’s massive door. She has also made some miniature hand-tied Christmas trees in the same organic sculptural style which are for sale.

I loved these Jumble macrame rope plant holders by Jessie Tucker but as I was on my bike I couldn’t figure out how to get the poinsettia home.

This teepee from Gather. I want one for my back yard!

These sustainable cork and rubber placemats by Lightly come in a range of designs, sizes and colours and are named after the founder’s grandmother’s bridge playing friends (cute!). I bought a red one and green one for my festive table. Also note that during Crop you get to save 20% off all Lightly products.

To match my new table setting, some reindeer glass place by Fi Fy Fo Fum.

And finally, my gifts beautifully gift-wrapped. Thanks!

Crop at Lightly Showroom, 3 Glasshouse Rd, Collingwood

10:00am-7:00pm Friday 30 November
10:00am-6:00pm Saturday 1 December
10:00am-5:00pm Sunday 2 December


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HOT: The Finders Keepers, Royal Exhibition Building, 9 Nicholson St, Carlton

The fabulous twice-yearly market The Finders Keepers is back in Melbourne today!

Inside the vaulted halls of the beautiful Royal Exhibition Building you will find a delightful array of independent and local artists and artisans – cute, handmade, whimsical, colourful is the name of the game.  There’s so much to see that it’s actually a bit daunting so here are my picks.

My favourite clothing stall was by North Fitzroy local Mariska Thynne under the label The Professor’s Daughter. She makes brightly hued tailored garments with a retro, glamorous feel. A very Mad Men / vintage airline hostess look which can still be styled in a modern way.

I loved her clothes so much that I bought a winter wool coat from her – I don’t care that summer’s coming, I didn’t want to miss out!

Marina from Marcue handmakes every shoe in her collection according to your size and in any colour combination you desire. Actually, I loved the shoes that Marina was wearing most of all!

Everyone on my Christmas list is getting a personalised Christmas ornament from Kylie Johnson of Paper Boat Press from me this year – imagine them as reuseable gift tags for boxes of home made baked goodies. This is Brisbane-based Kylie’s first Melbourne market, so show her a grand Southern state by visiting her stall.

This custom-made kid’s deckchair from Brunswick’s fable baby & nursery wins the cutest item award.

I really liked these berry baskets and paint-your-own Matryoshka dolls from Blank Goods. In fact, I liked a lot of their other crafty items too such as twine, miniature wooden pegs and washi tape.

The sculptural accessories by Renee Saliba of Maple and Gray were a departure from the general cuteness and whimsy on show.

My favourite stall set up was by Angus and Celeste. Their elegant hangings along the Swiss chalet border perfectly showcased their delicate handpainted work.

The Finders Keepers Melbourne Spring/Summer 2012 market, The Royal Exhibition Building, 9 Nicholson Street, Carlton
Friday 19 October 6pm – 10pm
Saturday 20 October 10am – 5pm

HOT: The Design Files Open House, 40 Little Napier St, Fitzroy

What’s better than a pop up shop? A pop up house!

Melbourne design blogger extraordinaire Lucy Feagins has brought her blog The Design Files out of the interwebs and into real life. With the help of The Project Agency’s Esther Navarro-Orejon, Lucy has turned a swoon-worthy Fitzroy warehouse conversion into an even more swoonworthy display home – where everything is for sale!

That means inside The Design Files Open House all of the furniture, artworks, homewares, textiles, plants and food (and in theory even the Mini) can be popped into your shopping basket. Here’s your chance to bestow the gift of good design to your friends, family or let’s be honest, yourself.

Here are some of my favourite picks:

Baggu backpacks and totes in an array of colours.

A coat rack from Tractor Home that reads in rainbow colours ‘It’s beautiful here’. Very Miranda July I thought.

Maiike softies and Made by Mosey fabric mobiles. Awww.

I am obsessed with lamps. And my current obsessions is with these Workroom lamps. See them here…

..and here….

….and here!

A festive table full of kitchenware and sweet treats from Phillippa’s.

And when you’re done shopping and browsing, hang out on the rooftop under the  Basil Bangs umbrellas and enjoy some coffee and sweet treats from Coffee Supreme/The Abbotsford Club.

The Design Files Open House, 40 Little Napier St, Fitzroy

Thu Dec 1 – Sun Dec 4, 10am-5pm
Online from Mon Dec 5 – Sun Dec 18

HOT: Melbournalia Home, Level 1 Rear 126 Franklin St, Melbourne

Stuck for a unique, Melbourne-themed Christmas gift or holiday souvenir?

Then make sure you get to Melbournalia, a series of pop up stores open now in the lead-up to Christmas. Over the next few weeks four Melbourne CBD venues and one repurposed newspaper stand will host displays of Melbourne design goodness, with HQ being at Melbournalia Home in an out-of-the-way laneway (naturally) off Franklin St.

Melbournalia Home is a stylish converted warehouse filled with stationery, jewellery, homewares, fashion, coffee, art and design from some of Melbourne’s best-loved boutique design brands.

My covet list includes:

Gorgeous Neighbourhood throw and picnic rugs from Otto & Spike and make-your-own mobile from Ink & Spindle.

Tram roll cushions from Poulier & Poulier.

 Mattt cases for notebooks and laptops.

In 2011 our kitchen calendar is by The Design Files. In 2012 our calendar will be the designed by the giggle-worthy Able and Game.

Tonight Melbournalia Captains opens at Captains of Industry (Level 1, 2 Somerset Place, CBD) with a launch event 6-8pm and everyone’s welcome! Enjoy some wine and browse the Captain’s selection of Melbournalia gifts for the modern gent.

HOT: The Cutting Table, The Social Studio, 128 Smith St, Collingwood

Since I wrote about The Social Studio almost 18 months ago the social enterprise has grown and developed.

In terms of their cafe, it has moved from the back of the studio (where it was cute but small and hidden) to a bigger, brighter and more prominent site right next door. I’m so glad that they’ve taken over the forlorn Eatz and Treatz and jazzed it up to turn it into The Cutting Table. The cafe is part of The Social Studio enterprise and it provides hospitality training, work experience, employment and pathways to employment for refugee youth.

The menu has expanded too to encompass burgers galore. Eight African inspired burgers to be precise – from beef to chicken to lentils to tofu. The burgers are a variation on a theme – some sort of protein filling, some sort of sauce (shiro, spicy lovers sauce or tahini yoghurt), salad and all sandwiched between a Turkish roll. The menu states that all meats are halal and they use free range chicken and free range eggs.

I decided to go for the tofu burger marinated with spicy lovers sauce ($10). The burgers are not for elegant eating – mine was a hefty two-hander containing several slabs of spicy tofu. As with all the burgers it came with a small side of home-style African potatoes which were cold and frankly an unexciting mix of boiled potato, chopped carrot and a very mild sauce. I washed it down a smoothie ($5), a very vibrant purple coloured mix of berries, bananas, oats and cardamom, the spice taking it above the norm.

At lunch time the cafe was fairly busy so there was a bit of a wait on the food, but I would have expected dishes to come out much faster since most menu items were very similar. In fact, if you’re in a hurry at lunch time this is not the place for a quick feed – the service was a little haphazard but I understand that comes with the territory of it being a training business.

Besides the burgers they also have daily specials which commonly feature some sort of African stew. Seeing the other (African) patrons gnawing on drumsticks and cleaning their plates with injera bread makes me think that next time I’m going for the stew.  I also like the idea of returning on a Wednesday night for ‘African night’ which features an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, music and food.

In more Social Studio news, this Thursday 8 September they are launching their Magic Tent Collection at BMW Edge as part of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. The gala event will feature fashion, food and music and tickets are $55 ($45 for Craft Victoria Members. For more information, click here.

The Cutting Table, The Social Studio, 128 Smith St, Collingwood +61 3 9417 2143

Café hours     7am-4.00pm, Mon-Sat, 6pm-9pm – Wed African Night

HOT: Fitzroy Market, Fitzroy Primary School, cnr Napier & Chapel Sts, Fitzroy

As if Fitzroy didn’t have enough markets already, on the first Saturday of every month the carpark of Fitzroy Primary School sprouts the Fitzroy Market.

What makes this market special? Well, it is small enough to enable dedicated browsing at every store and it has a lovely chirpy community feel to it. The market also raises money (through its gold coin donation entry fee) for various charities in the neighbourhood – Cultivating Community, the Fitzroy Learning Network and Live Wires programs.

It’s pretty much a car boot sale and I found the vintage/secondhand clothing and accessories on offer to be interesting and of good quality. I’m not much of an expert op shopper but in the space of my half hour visit I found a couple of gems, which pretty much never happens.

Pretty vintage girls dresses in excellent condition from the 80s (which makes me vintage too!).

A lightweight coat with a broderie anglaise like hem. There are stains on the front of it but for $15 I thought it was worth the gamble to take it to the dry cleaners.

Some homemade jam from the St Marks Church stall. I went for a large jar of plum jam $6.

Spotted – sequinned hotpants, leather handbags and a barrow full of terracotta tiles, all in one stall!

For market-going sustenance, a vegan, gluten-free black forest cupcake made by Carla, blogger at Easy As Vegan Pie, as part of the Vegan Bake Sale to raise funds for RSPCA Queensland. Vegan never tasted so good! (PS Carla just got accepted by CAE to teach vegan cooking classes so maybe she can teach you how to make these amazing cupcakes.)

Happiness by the Melbourne Ukelele Collective!

HOT: Finders Keepers, Shed 4, Victoria Harbour, North Wharf Road, Docklands

I thought it was amusing that the Finders Keepers markets were actually quite hard to find in the nether regions of Docklands. Once you did draw up to Shed 4 after a bit of searching, there were lots of treasures to be found at the  handmade, crafty, designer market.

Out of the 120+ stallholders in the huge warehouse space, here were my highlights from the pick of clothing, stationery, jewellery, home furnishings and toys:

Beautiful letterpress stationery from Bespoke Letterpress.

Innovative leather and silk accessories from okt-ober dee.

This tea towel from Able and Game made in giggle! In fact, lots of their cute cards made me giggle, including a series twinning cute illustrations with puns on Melbourne train stations – You can ring my BELL, You are my SUNSHINE, I’ve got my heart SEDDON you. Guffaw.

Chalkboard placemats from Sand, F, beautifully presented in a muslin bag with a sweet sachet of (dustless) chalk included. I bought a set of six to liven up my dining table, but I also thought they’d be great for keeping score during boardgames, as signage and of course for kids to play with.  They also had packets of chalkboard stickers, perfect for labelling jars and tins.

Cutesy-tootsie handmade leather shoes from All About Heidi.

Last but not least, blog favorites and previous HOT Chat interviewees Make Me Iconic and The Rabbit and the Duck.

The next Melbourne markets will be held in the same location in October – see you there!

Portabello Bride Boutique Wedding Market giveaway

Happy Monday! What did you get up to on the weekend?

My weekend was full of weddings. On Sunday it was my one year wedding anniversary and RM and I had our first baby-free evening out, although we still had dinner at the parent-friendly hour of 6:30pm. Thank you Kat’s Cakes for our unexpectedly large one year anniversary cake too!

And in a nice turn of events, on Saturday we attended the wedding of a friend which was held in the same location as our own wedding a year before, the Portico Balcony of Melbourne Town Hall. Melbourne turned out a gorgeous sunny day, the bride and groom looked very happy and the father of the bride teared up. Oh I do love a good wedding :–)

So today’s giveaway is well-timed, as I reflect on my wedding and weddings in general. Portobello Bride is a website and blog that features wedding suppliers who are cool, unique and interesting rather than the frou frou and once a year they hold a boutique wedding market. While I have a fear of bridal expos generally, I know what it’s like to work full time, have a busy social life and still try and fit in wedding planning. The Portobello Bride Boutique Wedding Market contains a curated selection of 30 or so stallholders in one place who will hopefully provide you with some creative inspiration beyond the norm.

For brides (and grooms) to be out there, I have 5 free tickets for the market on Saturday 26 March 10am-5pm which is being held at St Kilda Town Hall (cnr Carlisle St and St Kilda Rd). All you have to do is leave a comment below and the first 5 responses will win. If you miss out you can still purchase tickets for Saturday or Sunday here or at the door. Good luck!