Summer Holidays

Happy New Year, readers!

So, what have I been doing? Well, not a lot really, just rolling around and blissfully losing track of time! Which is just what I wanted. We were away over Christmas in sunny Queensland (in some lovely rainforest, see below), but more recently, I went for a little trip locally to the beaches down south.

I’ve always been fond of Kingston Park, a north-facing beach (unusual for Adelaide), though it is sadly losing its appeal with some pretty ugly oversized lumps being constructed. Fortunately, they’re unlikely to touch one of my favourite places to visit there, a terraced group of apartments, probably from the late 1950s or 1960s. Just looking at them makes me hum “I Found My Love In Portofino”! So breezy, look at them:

I think Sophia Loren lived here once. No.

I think Sophia Loren lived here once. No.

Apart from that, I have been relaxing at home, watching the sun rise and sun set with our feline master, Chickpea:

The future is MINE

The future is MINE

But, the holidays are nearly over and I have started to prepare for the year. I have nearly run out of all soap in our store, so I’ve started in earnest, today making a batch of Pink Moon Face Soap. This won’t be available for four weeks. I have a lot of plans for this year, I have some new products to come out and I can’t wait to tell you about them!

I hope 2019 is a good one for you, all the best for you and yours!


I’m at home with palms.

I’m at home with palms.


Velvet Cream - a new soap

I haven't made a new variety of soap for a while.   I've been busy just restocking some 'old' favourites after the Christmas rush.   So, yesterday, I whipped up a log of Velvet Cream.   This soap is made up of the usual olive oil and olive pomace - a great base for soap because it is super mild and gentle.   Added to this is a generous amount of cocoa butter and mango butter.   This will give the soap its creamy, luxurious feel.   Finally, I added a dash of castor oil.  I find that this gives the soap a silky feel on the skin.

For scent, I used vanillin and tolu balsam.  I don't know how this will take in the soap - this is the experimentation part.  I haven't used either before.  The vanillin tends to crystallize, which might be annoying, but has a delicious vanilla scent.   The tolu balsam is soft and mellow and has a rich vanilla/resin scent.   Overall, I think the scent is delicious, so I'm hoping it holds in the soap for the duration!   

Here it is then, in its mould.   I'll have more pics after 4 weeks when it is ready to use.

Christmas Jelly!

Time to get nostalgic

We had a lovely time visiting my parents last night.  We brought food to share and exchanged cards and gifts and while it was a lot quieter than my childhood Christmases, it all felt festive and cheerful.  

While helping pack the special crockery and glasses away, I noticed in the corner of a lowly cupboard a couple of glass jelly moulds.  Glass jelly moulds are always beautiful of course; their weight and the glistening curves, but this pair brought back memories of my grandmother and her small flat filled with bits and pieces of her life in London that so fascinated me as a child.  

I commented on the glass jelly moulds and my mother reminded me that they were her mother's and she believed they came from her mother's mother.  She then gave them to me, a gift I happily accepted because the moulds are both beautiful and full of unseen memories for me.  I know I'm getting a bit of a reputation as a grifter, but I insist this is unfair!   (Only the night before I was at a party marveling at the bowl of pitted cherries, when the gracious host insisted I take her cherry pitter - which I did, it would have been churlish not to!).

Well, here are the jelly moulds in all their sparkling, chunky, Victorian, crystalline beauty!

Merry Christmas, all, and thank you for your interest in Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez!!

That Dapper Market

Dear Diary, today is my first market...

Yes!  Finally Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez will be appearing at That Dapper Market today from 3pm to 9pm.   No, there won't be singing and dancing but there will be plenty of soap - SIXTEEN varieties, no less, plus some beautiful bath salts and room sprays.  Come down and have a look, it's a great little market with plenty of atmosphere and a good mix of vintage, hand-crafted, food (especially vegan!), music and fun!

Pot Painting Tutorial

Putting some 1950s fun in your garden

You will need:
1 x pencil
1 x piece of paper
1 x dress-maker's measuring tape (or a piece of string and a retractable measuring tape)
1 x roll of masking tape
1 x calculator
1 x paint brush or mini-roller
2 x cans of paint, different colours
1 x round tapered pot; concrete, terracotta or fibreglass

Step 1

Choose a plain, smooth pot.  Fibreglass is great because it is lightweight and smooth.  Terracotta and concrete pots may be more problematic as they tend to leach moisture through the sides, which isn't good for paintwork.

In this case, I'm painting a terracotta pot because I couldn't find a fibreglass one, so I'll take my chances.

Step 2

You will need to seal the pot with an appropriate outdoor cement sealer.   I used Bondall 'Pot and Ornament Sealer', and this is readily available from hardware stores.

Give the pot at least 2 coats of sealer, as recommended by the sealer manufacturer.  Apply the sealer to the lip of the pot and to about 10cm down the inside rim.

Step 3

Choose your paint, in two colours.  I have selected some left-over paint from when our house was done.  An off-white and a light blue.  The paint needs to be an outdoor paint, suitable for use on cement.

Use the lighter colour paint as your base.   Paint the entire outside of the pot (you don't need to paint the base), including the lip and about 10cm into the inside of the pot.  When you plant out the pot, you will still get to see the inside lip.

Two coats, at least.   

Step 4

Ugh, the hard bit.  This can be a very painful process, so be prepared.  Don't do this bit when you're just about to go to work or when you're expected for lunch somewhere in half an hour.  Tell everyone to just leave you alone for a good hour!   Of course, you may be a mathematically inclined person, so this might be a cinch for you!

You need to plot the stripes.  As a start, I should say that this is not an exact science.  The stripes will not be perfectly regular, you will have all sorts of weirdness happening, but you need to remember that when the pot is finished and sitting in your garden, the overall impression is perfect!   And I defy you to find any pot this glamorous in a shop!

So, here goes.  Measuring the circumference of the top outside rim of the pot is difficult if you try wrapping a dress-makers measuring tape around it.  So, I recommend just measuring the diameter of the pot, as best you can.  With the measuring tape, stretch it across the top of the pot at the broadest part.  Measure the distance between the outside rim of one side and the outside rim of the other side.

Multiply this amount by 3.14 and that will be your circumference.  (This is where the calculator comes in  unless you're a brainbox). Write this down.

Repeat this exercise by turning the pot upside down and measuring the bottom circumference.  Write this down.

You need to determine how many stripes you want (and I mean stripes of both colour).  I suggest being fairly generous with the width of the strip unless you really want to spend a lot of time painting narrow stripes.  And make it an even number.  Odd numbers will leave you with two stripes of the same colour next to each other.

I chose 10 stripes for this pot.  To mark out where the stripes need to be, start with the top of the pot.  Divide its circumference by the number of stripes you have.   This will give you the distance between each edge of a stripe.  The space between two marks is the width of your stripe.

If your pot has a seam, you are lucky, and you will find out why shortly.  If not, it doesn't matter.  Make a small mark with a pencil on the outer rim of the pot, where you want to start (if you have a seam, I'd start here).  Then, you need to mark out each point on the pot.  Using a measuring tape to do this can be tricky because it is hard to hold and mark at the same time, so I suggest just getting your piece of paper and folding it so one side is as long as the figure you have just worked out for the width of each stripe.  Then, starting with your first mark, place the paper with one edge on that mark, and mark the point where the paper ends.  Do this around the circumference of the top edge until you arrive back at the first mark.  It may not be perfect!   If you are quite a bit out, say by 2cm, you need to increase the width of each stripe by a couple of millimeters.  This can be time-consuming and frustrating, but stick with it.

To repeat the process on the bottom, you need to make sure that you align one of the top marks with your first mark on the bottom.   If you have a seam on the pot, you won't need to do this, just start the measuring on the bottom at the seam.   Otherwise, using your measuring tape or string, start at your first mark and hold the tape or string so that it drops in a fairly straight line downwards.  As best you can try to mark the bottom outside rim of the pot where the tape or string is.  This will give you a fairly close alignment between the top and the bottom and hopefully, a straight stripe.

Then repeat the process of marking out the smaller circumference.

Step 5

It helps a bit to mark with an x which spaces you will be painting with your second colour. 

Using the masking tape, you need to block out the stripes you do not intend to paint with your second colour.  Start at the bottom.  Allow a little of the tape to fold over onto the base of the pot.  Align the edge of the tape to the left of one of the marks and draw the tape upwards to its partner mark on the top edge, making sure it is aligned to the left side of the mark.  Moving towards the next mark to the right, repeat this, but align the tape to the right of both marks.  In other words, the space you have marked with an x will be fully exposed, while the stripes either side of it will have the tape on.

Repeat this, moving to the right, for the remaining marks.

I suggest running your finger along the tape to ensure it has fully adhered to the pot.  This will help ensure a crisp line when you paint.

Step 6

Paint the spaces you have masked off with your second colour.  Don't rush it, be careful you don't paint over the masking tape and onto one of the base colour stripes.  It's no big deal if you do, as you can touch it up afterwards, but it only adds to the amount of time and effort you spend on this.

Two coats, at least.

Step 7

The fun bit.  Gently remove the masking tape.  Your pot is now beautiful and ready to plant!

These pots look fantastic planted out with bright annuals or geraniums.  We planted a small lemon tree in ours, but the options are endless!  Enjoy!

New! One Fine Summer

Now available for your purchasing pleasure

I am a big fan of this soap.  It looks great - I love that soft green from the botanic colouring (chlorophyll), and the scent is wonderful.  Very evocative of bright sunny days and I've never come across such a scent before! 

This soap is made from a luxurious blend of olive oil, coconut oil, olive pomace, macadamia oil and shea oil, with a touch of castor oil for that silky-skin feel.  

One Fine Summer is packaged in the most summery box you'll ever see - a beautiful lemon yellow, and labelled with one of a broad range of gorgeous patterns.  Take a look in-store - the button is top right.

One Fine Summer

A new soap!

If you're a daydreamer, you'll understand how the first days of summer hold a special resonance in your vivid imagination.  Whether it be lying in the grass looking up and pondering how blue the sky gets, exploring the pine trees by the beach, or sipping your first Pimm's No.1 for the season, it's a bright and happy time.  

And bright and happy really does describe this soap!  Starting with a base of olive oil and coconut oil, it is further lavished with macadamia nut oil, shea oil and super-charged with olive pomace.  A superb blend of oils to condition your skin, with a dash of castor oil to make your skin feel like silk.  

One Fine Summer is gently scented with green geranium and Madagascan tagetes, a green floral with sweet citrus notes.  A sweet and youthful scent.  Natural chlorophyll colours the soap a perfect soft green.

One Fine Summer is all-natural, vegan and pure luxury!   It will be available in Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez's shop in two week's time.  

The Last Day of Summer

While there will still be warm weather ahead, the edge has been taken off the heat now.  The days feel shorter and, sometimes, mistier.  While autumn is one of my favourite seasons, it is sad to see summer fading.  Sad in a melancholy way.  And don't we love a little bit of melancholy?!  

Here is our (newly mown) garden in the last rays of summer:

A bit of Harinezumi 2+++ camera madness.  Speaking of which, look at that edging! I'll be out there this weekend with a pair of lawn clippers, or at least, someone will be...

Farewell summer!