Thursday, 16 May 2013

Over the Rainbow

Things have been pretty dry lately, everyone is crying out for rain. We got a little bit the other day (4mm). It didn't do much, but we are rolling the dice and hoping the odds are good to sow a couple of paddocks.

So it begins.

We need a lot of rain to get our winter feed going, not just dribs and drabs of moisture. We have had a couple of scuds come across yesterday - it is looking much more promising now. We will just have to wait and see.

So while things look brown and depressing at the moment, I have been looking for some inspiration on Pinterest.

So much colour, colour always lifts my spirits. Especially rainbow colour! Hoping for some rainbows here, along with lots of soaking rain.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn Kids and West Elm.

Well that is a super long blog post title!

Unless you have been living under a rock in internet world and blogland, you are sure to have seen the myriad of posts and bloggers promoting Williams Sonoma Inc's new Australian venture.

I was pretty excited to see the news about a Pottery Barn opening in Bondi Junction, Australia. And I have drooled for years over their website full of amazing, lower priced, good quality homewares and furniture.

For years they never shipped to Australia, but recently they started shipping here. I never bought anything, just hoping that they would just open up here, since there were so many fans of their stores and products.

I have done a lot of window shopping on their sites and I concluded that their prices are very competitive, and that a lot of things they source are just things we don't have here.

I am talking lighting and bathrooms here. In Australia we have a squillion homeware stores overflowing with home decorator items, overpriced furniture, expensive (and ugly) lighting. And it is impossible, in my experience to buy nice, classic styled bathroom vanities for reasonable prices

Unless you want modern, or expensive custom made cabinets - this stuff only exists in Recollections and Schots Home Emporium. And it is very limited and fairly expensive too!

Anyway, the verdict........

When I went to Sydney the other day, it coincided with the opening day of Williams Sonoma Inc. I was pretty chuffed that I would get to check it out that day. I didn't make it to the ribbon cutting as I was checking out a school that day (see my last post). I made my way out there in the afternoon when the fuss had died down.

Pottery Barn Kids

By the time I got there, there were still plenty of people browsing and lots of people with their kids after school in Pottery Barn Kids. I spent most of my time in there looking at everything.

They do monogramming in Pottery Barn Kids. They will introduce it in time to Pottery Barn's merchandise. I was pretty excited Because I love anything monogrammed, and I decided to get some towels for my boys done. In my house, they all just grab towels and swap towels all the time. Drives me nuts that they can't remember what colour they have. So if they have their names embroidered on them, there will be no more towel confusion in my house. At least, that is the plan!

H was with me, and he was enthralled just watching the monogram machine. He spent half an hour deciding on a colour/typeface for the towels. I think I will hold them back as presents for Birthdays and Christmas. Great gift ideas!

And the monogramming isn't too expensive, it is  about $9.00 for a line. And the towels were a reasonable $20.00 each. Since it was opening day, they had a backlog of about a day's worth of monogramming to do, so the staff said they would ship them to me.

Pottery Barn Kids rugs -so cute!

On to Pottery Barn.

I spent a bit of time in there wandering about and I love all their styling, they just make all their products look amazing by styling them to the hilt. I love what they do with their bedding, hanging it all knotted over a curtain rod. Better than stuffing plastic sheathed envelopes into a table! You can see and feel the fabric without pulling fabric out of the packet and wrecking the packaging.

Desire Empire

Pottery Barn

Williams Sonoma.

Well, I loved their shop, the cooking school looked amazing! The cookware they sell is fairly upmarket and really good quality stuff. There are some great labels there. Some things you can get here at Peter's of Kensington anyway, I was more interested in brands I had not seen before.

I think this pot is to die for!

 I love the quality in Williams Sonoma, even their oven mitts are super thick and I will be going back one day to get some so I can throw my thin Big W ones away.

When I was there, I didn't see a lot of their branded foods that you can get on the site, mostly Simon Johnson stuff I have seen in David Jones in the past. I hope they are able to import some interesting brands in the future.

West Elm.

I was never a massive fan of West Elm's international site before, I thought a lot of it was super trendy, and I prefer a more classic look to theirs. But it has surprised me how many things I thought were just lovely in there.

It is a treasure trove for quirky things that look so very NY style. West Elm is opening in Melbourne soon, and I think their whole store fit out is perfect for Melbourne style.

West Elm

Georgica Pond

They have some lovely things, the website is up and running with all the things you can get in Australia. We can't buy from the US site anymore, which is a shame. We don't get the range that the US gets, which is also bit of a shame.

I hope as they expand, more products will be added to the stores. Or at least, make them available online.

As I walked through the shop, I talked to a few random people. Someone who lived in the states thought it was much more expensive for most things.

When you know how much our dollar is compared to the US Dollar, it seems a bit ridiculous some of the price points they have set. I understand that the shipping, the overheads, the wages are more expensive than the states, but I think they need to re-think some of their prices, to lure us in.

Shipping is not that expensive when it is done in bulk shipping containers compared to randomly sending items to Australia when we were able to purchase from the US site. Some people who were used to the US stores were unhappy with the fraction of the range we got in our PB Stores comparing to the US.

Some things seemed to be reasonable and better quality than we can get here though.

I know that there are issues with lighting, so what they sell will have to be converted, or they will have to buy a range that they can sell just to Australia. I think the biggest thing missing from The Aussie shops is the lighting and the bathroom vanities. I am a bit sad that they don't have them available yet. hoping they sort those issues out and start selling those items, or PB and the rest will just be another Bed Bath and Table to many here.

Pottery Barn vanity - please add to your Aussie stores PB!

PB Lighting, gorgeous and reasonable in the US

I am especially sad that Williams Sonoma don't carry linens yet. I am in love with their monogrammed and gorgeously embroidered sheets. I am hoping that they will fill the gap in the market with the things we miss out on living in Australia.

Williams Sonoma bedlinen we can't get here!
Damn.... should of bought while they still shipped to Australia from the US Site.

There is more on the website, than in store because they would not be able to carry the whole range in the Bondi Junction site. Perhaps a PB Warehouse would be a great addition to their lovely stores to stock the full range, so we can touch and feel items too?

They ship Australia wide for a fairly reasonable fee. Depending on what you purchase of course!

For all the ho hum's, and the price difference gripes, I don't want to end on a bad note! For all the things I thought we would be finally getting on our shores, there are plenty of things that will hopefully give our retailers the kick they need, to start trying a lot harder to get us to part with our hard earned cash.

Great customer service, styling and beautiful fit out of their stores are their strengths.

Take a look at  Georgica Pond's and  Desire Empire's  posts on all the stores, they did very comprehensive posts, and you can see what the shop fit out was like. I didn't want to get my camera out instore, it was really busy, and I always feel funny unless other people are snapping too.

I will probably pop in there soon to buy more towels!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Another trip to Sydney

I got back from Sydney last night.

I have a million things to do today, so I really shouldn't be blogging right now. I should be rectifying my mountain of washing, doing my overdue BAS, cleaning the green algae filled pool and getting on with painting the meathouse.

Also, I have to help my son with writing a speech for school and helping my other son with some NAPLAN revision work.

Insane times!

My week started off with my very first red-hot go at being canteen mum for the day. So while I was trying to take all the information and not stuff it up in the process, I was wishing I was home to pack up and do stuff before the long drive to Sydney the next day.

Canteen was good, and I was lucky it was a quiet day and I only forgot to put one pie on (which was quickly microwaved without a drama).

Next morning I drove to Sydney with my oldest son H for an entrance exam for a school that we are hoping to send him to in year 7. He will be boarding there and I booked him in when he was about 6 months old. I heard that it is quite hard to get in as there are so many people vying for spots and the demand is quite high.

So, I am not the best driver in Sydney. I have no idea where I am going most of the time. We usually drive to our spot where we stay and walk/catch trains/monorail everywhere.

This was a test for me, to see if I could drive to Sydney all by myself and also to get to the prospective school on time.

I woke at 3.00 that morning too jived up to sleep anymore, lucky I had a good book with me to keep me company!

I decided that we would get up at 6.00am. We were ready to go by 6.45 and I thought we should get going as I didn't know my way around well. I thought if I got lost, I would have time up my sleeve.

I had plenty of (too much really) time up my sleeve. We arrived there with an hour to spare! So we had a wander around before the exam.

The view of Sydney Harbour is magnificent from the oval. I had been there once before for a friends wedding about 12 years ago, I had not had a proper tour of the school though. So H was taken away for his 3 hour exam and I was taken to an auditorium to the parents presentation.

I was very impressed with all that I saw that day. It is an impressive school anyway, there is so much that they can do there, and so many opportunities to excel in so many things. It was quite fabulous!

It is my pick so far. I have not looked at the other school we thought may be a good fit for our boys as yet. But I don't think you can really compare the two. I sort of wish that I had not had a good look around now, since it is like drinking Vueve Cliquot for the first time, and then having to go back to drinking XXXX Gold.

Very expensive school, but absolutely the best I have seen. H was fairly blown away by it all. Just the size is mind blowing, a bit different to our cute little school at home.

After his test, I thought that since we came all that way we should go and look around ourselves. I met up with a couple of other people from the country who were there for the exam too, and we gave our boys a tour of the boarding house.

There are only about 30 boarders in year 7 which makes it feel lovely and like a family setting. And they are fussed over a bit in their first year to let them adjust (and parent too).

It was a lovely day!

We will see what happens, if we can do this for our boys or not.

I managed to get lost coming back though, I got in the wrong lane in the tunnel and ended up taking the scenic route trying to not be swept onto the Harbour Bridge and Anzac Bridge. Somehow it worked out....

We then (H an myself) went to check out the new Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn Kids stores that had opened that day.

I missed all the fanfare of the opening time and Barry O'Farrell's appearance too. And I missed all the bloggers who have been so excited about this launch for months too.

Anyway, the store was packed at 4.00pm when we arrived. I was quite impressed and bought a few towels from Pottery Barn Kids and I got the monogrammed. They were a day behind, so they said they would send them out to me free of shipping costs.

I might do a post on PB by itself later.

Soccer, birthday parties and a trillion tonnes of washing to put away today. Looking forward to a quiet Sunday for sure!

Off to bed now.......