A Visit to Baroona

Open Garden Scheme

Last Sunday, it was a miserable day and we needed a bit of cheering up so we checked to see what was happening and came across a property in St Peters open to the public as part of the Open Gardens South Australia scheme.

The day before, at the Wattle Street Market, a lady was standing near our stall and appeared to be in deep thought.  We had a chat and she told me that her daughter had brought her to the market "under false pretences". Apparently, her daughter had convinced her to come out and visit a garden as part of the Open Garden scheme. I suggested that she was in a garden and that it was open, but she remained sceptical. I am happy to report, her daughter was enjoying the market. The garden they were intending to visit was Baroona, in St Peters.

So, Baroona it was. With respect, the garden was lovely, though the cool weather this season held back the prize irises and roses, but it was the house which impressed us. A rambling pile with a tower and windows all over the shop.  There was something untouched about it, free from the painful alterations of the 70s, 80s and 90s (and etc!).  Our information sheet indicated it was built in 1901 in "Federation Art Nouveau style" for a successful wool merchant. Such a lot of atmosphere! Here are some of my snaps - excuse grim sky:

According to our information sheet, the house went into gradual decline until the 1940s when it was purchased (I assume) by the Jehovah's Witnesses for members of their congregation. Gossipy types assumed the new pacifist residents were spies and there was some sort of case which ended up in the High Court where the Jehovah's Witnesses won the right for religious freedom. 

We will keep an eye out for another 'open day' at Baroona, it's worth a visit!

A New Obsession


That's all I need to say. Barkcloth. I've been poring over barkcloth samples for the last couple of weeks with a shameless enthusiasm and I can't see my excitement in seeing these beautiful fabrics diminishing in any way. 

Recently, a friend of ours made an amazing skirt out of barkcloth with a scene of deer in a forest. It was gorgeous and she looked swell in this dazzling fabric.  So, it got us thinking...

We have a couple of 1950s TV chairs we would like to have reupholstered and so this started my barkcloth journey/pilgrimage/crusade as we wanted something which melded the 1950s design of the chairs with something a bit older, perhaps a 40s style fabric. Barkcloth was used through the 30s to the 50s for a range of uses but particularly upholstery and curtains.

What particularly appealed to us was the exuberant designs, lavish swirls and feathers, make believe flowers, vivid colours in unexpected combinations.  We also loved the gorgeous modern take on toile, bright scenes of waterfalls, ruins, mansions, forests and yachts. How could anyone resist?

So, here is my first purchase - not even for the chairs! No, this will be for cushions, but look at it!

Apologies for the photo, I whipped it out of its envelope and snapped it as soon as possible!

This fabric is the sort used for curtains along the art deco style hotels of South Beach, Miami in the 1930s, so it doesn't come more highly recommended!

Love Cherish Adore


We are proud to be a small part of an exciting new publication which was released this week - Love Cherish Adore. The new publication is aimed at those lucky folk planning their wedding and has been put together by an enthusiastic team led by the lovely Susie, and, importantly, has a focus on South Australian makers, service providers and venues.

Our Arcadia eau de cologne features on a very attractive layout with a range of gift ideas for grooms and the guys in a wedding party.  Thank you Love Cherish Adore for having us onboard for your first magazine and we wish you all the best for the second edition, to be released in autumn.

What on Earth have you been doing?

Drinking tea and eating crumpets!

It might look like it, but it has not been a quiet time here at Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez! I am not the most organized person, so all of my ideas and plans always take a lot longer to come to fruition than those of...EVERYONE else!

So what have I been doing? I've been re-formulating our lipbalms, organising new signage, (by the talented Magic Jelly, of course!) tweaking some of our recipes and making a ton of soap. We have some big markets coming up in August, which I'm really looking forward to. I miss the face to face contact with customers and those chances to show people our products up close. There will be more on the above over the next month or two.

We have introduced a couple of new retailers too. Welcome to the lovely folk at The V-Spot (an online vegan beauty and fashion retailer) and Style House Designs in Aldgate. 

But of course, I have ensured that I have time to relax and think. While doing all this relaxing and thinking, I've been drinking Prince of Wales tea from Leaf Tea, a small (and cute) supplier in Geelong. I haven't had Prince of Wales for ages - I used to drink it a lot in the 80s, before everyone was born. Also purchased in Geelong, a copy of Chandler Burr's 'The Emperor of Scent'. I haven't had a chance to start that yet, but I'm looking forward to getting into it. 

We are also in the midst of some major renovations at chez Shanghai and you'll be shocked to hear that this is stressful! But boohoo me, once it's over, I'll have plenty of space for my supplies and products! Also, more room for tea paraphernalia, books and things.

So, big things are coming for us at Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez, and we're getting ready for it, fueled by tea!


For Gardeners

New Plans

Autumn is a great time for gardening. Sweeping the leaves, tidying the shrubs and planting out bulbs. Not good on your hands, though.

from Handbook of Bulbs and Perennials - R.E.Harrison

from Handbook of Bulbs and Perennials - R.E.Harrison

So, I'm working on a hand balm, for gardeners!  Something warming, soothing and moisturising. I have made a couple of sample pots and I'm trying them out. The one thing I'm not sure about is what scent to use.  I have an idea for something, but wondered if anyone out there has a suggested preference? Feel free to comment or message me!

Fontaine de Violette

Introducing our new scent

It has been some time in the making, but I am very happy with the results! Fontaine de Violette is our new fragrance, just released in time for autumn. 

The violet is one of my favourite plants. I say 'plant' and not 'flower' because it is the whole kit and caboodle with the violet! Anyone familiar with the way a violet grows will know how it scents the space around it, even when not in flower. The leaves and roots have a deep, earthy green scent, mixed with a hint of its flower's scent and it is this beautiful combination that I have tried to capture with Fontaine de Violette.

The opening notes are tangy, green citrus, on the dry rather than sweet side. The scent of cut grass and crushed leaves is blended with cucumber notes, which provides a velvety pillow for the floral highlights - iris and violet. Violet is sweet by nature, but I don't find this cloying, it's as fresh as a walk in the woods!

Fontaine de Violette will be available to try and buy at Gathered on Saturday, 30 April and Sunday, 1 May, between 10 and 4. Gathered is in the old Queen's Theatre, Playhouse Lane, off Light Square, Adelaide.  Tester cards will be available in the near future.

The lovely label is by Magic Jelly.  I hope you love it as much as I do!

Autumn Revelry

A Weekend of Making and Dreaming

There has been a lot going on at chez Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez in the last month, so it has been a pleasure having a long leisurely weekend, catching up with friends, doing a bit of reading, a bit of gardening and a bit of making.

Autumn is probably my favourite time of year, though by the end of winter, I'm probably saying the same thing about spring. Now the sting of the heat has gone, but there is still warmth in the air and soil, everything seems to rush forth in a last burst of growth before settling down for the winter.

I have been replenishing my stock of perfume this weekend. I'm very happy to say that my perfumes have been quite popular recently and so there is a lot to catch up on. I now have a new batch of Sleepy Lagoon, Nightshade and Arcadia brewing and these will be ready for our next market, Gathered, at the end of April.

Also, I will finally be able to release our new scent - Fontaine de Violette. I have written about this new scent previously, and I am so happy with it! I can't wait to share it. To give you a bit of a mood for Fontaine de Violette, here's something which I used to love to read in my younger days, which reminds me of this time of year, is dreamy and best of all, is a pleasure to read out as it trips along your tongue so smoothly - the whole poem is perfect:

'From the meadow your walks have left so sweet
That whenever a March-wind sighs
He sets the jewel print of your feet
In violets as blue as your eyes,
To the woody hollows in which we meet
And the valleys of Paradise.'

From Come into the Garden, Maud - Alfred Lord Tennyson

I'm also reading Daniel Chamovitz's "What A Plant Knows - a field guide to the senses".  Naturally, it's a fascinating read and I love the chapter on "What a Plant Smells"! If you've ever wondered why an avocado ripens when next to a banana, here is the answer - and it might surprise you! It's an easy read, but one which makes you think.

Well, I hope you're enjoying a lazy long weekend like I am!

King Penguin Books

An Inspiration

We like to collect stuff and more often than not, our collections come from items made or designed between the wars. Our small, incomplete collection of King Penguin books is an example. We can spot one of these beauties across a room full of aggressive bookworms at a book sale! Printed between 1939 and 1959, the series ran to 76 volumes (sigh) covering a diverse range of topics from the natural world to antiques. The text is usually very worthy but the covers are brilliant! What does that say about me! 

The colours and designs are a rich source of inspiration.  I was going through the books and it made me think of autumn and lying in the grass under falling leaves. I know this might sound like a shameless segue, but it did prompt me to make another batch of our woodsy Arcadia eau de cologne.  Such are the links in daydreamy trails of thought.

British Reptiles and Amphibia. Edible Fungi. A Book of Ducks. English Ballet.

British Reptiles and Amphibia. Edible Fungi. A Book of Ducks. English Ballet.

Postage Costs

How much fun can you cram into one box?

I love shopping online. I have time to consider my purchase, I can stalk a number of retailers to make comparisons and I can do all this while wearing my pyjamas!  I don't mind paying for postage as the cost is usually about the same as a return train trip or a carpark in town. Some retailers offer different price points for postage, so I like to know what I can buy to stay within a particular price point. 

So, with that in mind, I'm going to explain something about our postage and what you can get for your money.

We have two postal rates on offer, $10 for up to 500g, and $12.50 for anything above.  To give you an idea of what can fit into a 500g box, here are a couple of options:

Two soaps, two lip balms, two solid perfumes and a face serum.

Two soaps, two lip balms, two solid perfumes and a face serum.

A soap, a face mist, a serum, two lip balms and two solid perfumes.

A soap, a face mist, a serum, two lip balms and two solid perfumes.

These are only examples, of course. You can select any number of items from our store. The postage is all calculated by weight not value, so if you happen to want 18 lip balms, these will fit easily into the smaller box. Of course, if you exceed 500g, the price goes to $12.50, but you can buy whatever you like!

Works in Progress

New Scents Coming Soon

Now that the Christmas frenzy has eased, I have time to relax and reflect.  It has been a very busy year for Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez with a number of new products, wholesale orders and more markets.  Hopefully, we will continue to grow in 2016.

This relaxing time also means I can plan and prepare.  I have a number of new products lined up including a perfume or two, an eau de cologne, some scents for the home and new lip balm flavours! 

One of the new perfumes has reached a point where I think it might be ready soon.  I have been experimenting with a violet based scent for some time, but violet is a difficult scent to contain (for me, anyway!) and I haven't been overly happy with the samples I have made. The latest sample is a blend of cool, green notes, sharp citrus and violet.  While it is yet to really settle (it takes about 4 weeks to really settle down), I can report that the sample starts out with notes of unripened citrus and black tea; as it develops, the florals come out, the green violet and soft hyacinth notes. On dry-down, the violet remains but it is lying in a bed of freshly cut grass. The opening is the only thing I'd like to play around with a bit more, but it probably needs to mellow out a bit. Fingers crossed!

I hope also to release a couple of linen sprays for the home. Linen spray has been the most requested product recently so I am excited to have these products to offer. Given the cost of bed linen, I am keen to ensure the product does not 'leave its mark'. I have seen some linen sprays using quite a bit of essential oil and I just wonder about the oil content and the effect that might have on, in particular, pale linen. Also, I'm not personally fond of strong scents around the house. I prefer scents to be subtle and to be stumbled upon here and there as a pleasant surprise rather than have my senses swamped. So, our linen sprays will be delicate, natural (of course!) and beautifully packaged. I can't wait to show you!

The Scented Gauntlet

A friendly challenge!

One of our loyal customers visited us last weekend at our Red Umbrella market stall and laid down the scented gauntlet.  We often have chats about a range of things, and one subject we talk about a lot, naturally, is scent.  Our friend brought in a gift for us; a sachet of dried herbs and flowers. 

Our friend explained that every year she dries a selection of herbs and flowers, in this case lemon verbena, deep red rose, mock orange and mint and she has generously given away a portion of her precious stash to us. But it has come with a challenge - to create a scent reminiscent of this dried blend.

Now, I should point out that I'm usually quite quiet and modest as a person, but the need to speak out sometimes unexpectedly drives me to levels of bravado seen only in the foolhardy!  I accepted the challenge almost dismissively - 'why yes, of course I can make that' and so on. A grotesque sight, I'm sure!

But we spent a little time discussing possible essential oils to use - it seems straightforward, but our loyal customer may be trying to catch me out with a scented wildcard - and so I will make a blend, a cologne perhaps, based on our lovely gift and see if it meets with approval.

The blend itself is very aromatic. The sweetness of the lemon verbena with a touch of rose is countered with the fresh green herbal notes of the mint. The mint itself is, as they say on those never-ending cooking shows, the star, and is a lot more subtle than you might think (I wonder whether minted peas have poisoned people's minds against mint generally...).  It is green and soft, not hot and cold like peppermint, a lovely accompaniment to the floral notes.  Overall, it has a fizzing, sherberty type of scent, which I love.  I may have created a rod for my own back with this, but I can't lose face, I will make something wonderful!  Oh, no, the bravado's back...