Koskela in Sydney

Welcome to the first Shopgirl Visits column. My name is Jillian Leiboff, and I’m a photographer based in Sydney Australia. For the past 8 years I’ve been working part time as a photographer and whilst I started out shooting weddings, 3 years ago I started shooting shops and food for .

I thought Holly’s readers might be interested in seeing some of the shops I shot, so in June 2009 I reached out to her and she liked what she saw. After that, I started randomly submitting my images to cattledogs with my first recap being of the delightful Donna Hay store in Sydney. Holly has held a longtime love affair and fascination with Australian art & design but like most of you, isn't able to hop on a plane whenever she wants to go see it for herself. Showing it on cattledogs is the next best thing and that's what I can do since I'm based down here though like love to travel so you may see the random post pop up from my travels abroad. You may remember seeing some of my images of the iconic Parisian store Merci on cattledogs, for instance. If not, I'll list at the end of this post all of the stores that I've photographed which have appeared on cattledogs in the past so you can catch up! Please take a look!

A few months ago I was delighted when Holly asked if I’d like to write a monthly column for cattledogs called Shopgirl Visits. I was so excited I immediately began making a list of all the places I wanted to share with you. Each month I’ll be showing you shops (and the occasional artist studio, market and cafe where things can be purchased) that appeal to me and I hope to you. I’m always happy to get feedback so your suggestions are welcome.

For the first Shopgirl Visits column I’ve chosen the Sydney store, . Koskela is owned by Russel Koskela and Sasha Titchkosky and their company designs and produces some of the beautiful furniture you see here. Koskela’s motto is, "Follow your heart, trust your judgment, do it with joy". It governs how they run their business and the types of people they work with and represent.

is one of the few stores in Australia that focuses on Australian designed and made products with a hand crafted element. Koskela stocks a collection of Australian made furniture, home wares, books and artwork for both adults and children. They recently moved from their premises in Surry Hills into a brand new showroom in Rosebery. As well as the showroom, the building is home to, probably the most popular eatery in Sydney - you can see and learn more about Kitchen By Mike in the video below...

The shop is housed in a former canning factory and it’s a huge light-filled space where many of the original warehouse features have been left intact. Koskela also has a gallery space and a workshop where people can learn new skills or crafts. Some of the best of Australian design is represented here and I particularly loved the children’s area. I was sorely tempted by some of the cute lights on display and was trying to think of a compelling reason to take one home with me.

"Follow your heart, trust your judgment, do it with joy"

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning than having breakfast at Kitchen by Mike followed by a browse through Koskela. You can find Koskela at 1/85 Dunning Avenue Rosebery, Sydney. See you all again next month and don't forget to check out all of my shop posts on cattledogs listed below! - Jillian

Donna Hay General Store, Black & Spiro, Bison, ici et la, Empire Vintage, Studio of Ceramicist Samantha Robinson, Anthropologie (London), Merci (Paris), Albion (London), Miljo, The Finders Keepers Market, Cotton Love Home, davidmetnicole, Mud Australia and Astier de Villatte (Paris).

(photos: jillian leiboff with store permission)

DIY Drawer Art

Hello friends! How are you doing and how is your day? I got very good news that a new friend of mine will soon relocate from Paris to Berlin and so I'm very happy as I hope his move will result in us getting to see one another regularly! He is American like me so I am also curious to see how he settles in with learning all about German life & culture. Germany is the place to be more and more, so much is going on over here and the creative energy is amazing, contagious even... I'm so glad I moved here nearly 3 years ago because I really love it. It also makes me feel good when others move here to, it's validating somehow. Do you feel that way about certain things, like your faith in something was worth it? That you felt something and followed your heart? I don't want to rattle on and on so let me show you this DIY project that I made for you. I've been busy working but decided recently to create something for my wall since I wanted to add a little vignette of art to a lonely wall in my work studio. I thought I'd give you a step-by-step explanation as to how I did it because you may want to try something like it at home. I'm calling this Drawer Art. You'll soon see why! :)

If you try this, please let me know - I'd love to see your project. It's nice knowing when things inspire others and also encouraging because then I can show you more little ideas from my workshop. :)

(images: holly becker)

Do You Feel Envy Over Bloggers Getting Book Deals?

Hello everyone and happy Friday! This post is about author confessions, oreos and e-courses but first, I am nearly finished writing my next book so very soon I'll be back full-time again to bring you your daily dose of inspiration. I really miss blogging! It's so hard being away but sacrifice is sometimes needed when dreams are involved so I'm trying to look at my absence in a positive way. I must admit though, some days I'd much rather be right here with all of you dishing about the latest pretty finds than writing copy, but then I just keep saying to myself, 'I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..." and it helps me head up the mountain. That and a little red wine.

Now it's time for some confessions and a few oreos. I read on someone's blog recently that she gets frustrated by bloggers who seem to be handed book deals. It made me sad to read that. I felt attacked in many ways. I almost wanted to comment on her blog that she had nothing to be envious of or worried about because behind the glam facade, it's really hard work - especially to go from blogger to author, because writing a blog and writing a book are so completely different that the sheer shift alone in going from writing so spontaneously to realizing that what you are writing for a book will forever be carved into stone, well, that's a lot of pressure. I think any author can tell you that. It's so much more than just typing text... and no one is handed a book deal unless they are totally famous or have insane connections or sleep with someone at the top. Being an author requires a great deal of inner strength and courage. I don't always have that though on the outside, you may think I do. Another thing about writing a book... Some think fitting your thoughts into 180 characters (wait, 140!? 140!? No wonder I have such a hard time!) to form a coherent tweet is a nightmare. Sometimes it is! Emptying your entire brain onto paper, having to edit all of that - your entire passion on a single topic - into chapters and sections and WORDS, words that are supposed to make as much sense on paper as they did in your wee head, THAT is completely, amazingly, never-imagined-it-be the hardest part of writing a book. It's like writing one massive tweet that will appear on a billboard along the freeway with your name in the biggest boldest text ever.

Aside from dealing with the stress of what others assume and feeling a bit drained from that - I started crying last night because I was so completely consumed by the whole process of writing so much lately and feeling really, really stressed. Then I sort of cried myself to sleep (thankfully my husband can sleep through the end of the world so it's all good for him) only to wake several hours later, in the middle of the night, eating Oreos in my underwear in kitchen thinking about.... What do you know? My book introduction.

Then I got up at 4:00 a.m. in a cold sweat feeling pain in my chest because my deadlines are looming and decided that I should really go make a tea. By the time I went into the kitchen I forgot what I was in there for and just went back to bed. This morning I woke up wondering how it was that I went to bed in my nightgown but instead had only underwear on, and why I had mascara stains on my face - then I remembered my very long slightly stupid night. I decided to kick my own butt by giving myself a pep talk, took a shower and went for a walk in the rain on this very overcast day. Into the forest I went. Muddy boots, hair pinned up, mind filled with words -- Words, words, words. An occasional sentence. Mostly words. I found myself speaking blocks of text out loud - like a mad person - reciting color theory and the difference of tints, tones, shades and what a hue was or shall I say, is. I wondered if people would really CARE to read that in my book. I wondered some more. Then I went home and started writing again. I felt better but I still feel a little stressed out and overwhelmed. I'm human.

Everything worth having requires a fight, some blood, a little sweat and a bunch of tears. But you keep going forward, don't you? You roll forward, sometimes you drag yourself forward, but the important point is that whether you are crawling, being dragged by someone stronger than you, limping... that the word FORWARD is always part of the scenario. As long as you are moving forward you are making progress. My grandmother once said that she doesn't care if she gets to heaven in a wheelbarrow, she's getting there. Good for you, grandma.

Enough about that though. I thought today that I'd share what I'm working on OTHER than my book because I'm working on a bunch of equally rewarding projects - albeit stuff that won't keep me up at night or talking to myself in the forest (let's hope!).

First, I'll be teaching again in June only this time, the anticipated 2.0 version! I'm excited because even though my dear friend Leslie needs to take some time out for her kids on their school vacation (sad frown), lovely Jeanette Lunde from will be co-teaching with me for 2 weeks during the 4 week class (big smile). If you don't know who she is, we have a very similar aesthetic so I thought for this class working with her - a skilled graphic designer, photographer and stylist from Norway, would be really nice for us all. I'm SO HAPPY to have Jeanette because she will teach you all about styling, talk about photography and get into the lovely world of e-magazines and how it works to publish them. Of course, that is in addition to all of the content I am bringing to the table that you can find . This self-paced online class will start June 1 and end June 29 but you will have the entire month of July to catch up on materials so there is lots of time to enjoy what Jeanette, Thorsten and I have in the works. I'll miss Leslie but we are about to embark on another project soon so we'll still have nice things to share with those who enjoy our work in the very near future!

As for BYW 2.0, I'm teaching all new lessons and so for those who already took BYW (the one I've been teaching for over three years as an e-course) should consider BYW 2.0 because it's going to be a really fun class! I've also hired an amazing , Mark Wilson from in London, to design and build an all new class site, so students will learn in a new environment. I can't wait! Learn more about BYW 2.0 and . He is also designing the all new cattledogs blog scheduled to roll out within the next month, too. We've been doing a lot of work behind-the-scenes to make your visits to cattledogs more enjoyable and I look forward to rolling that out. The anticipation is sorta killing me at the moment!

In addition to the e-course in June, I'll be giving a two hour class/lecture in a castle located in Germany for this amazing food styling & photography workshop. That's another project on my plate for summer that I'm really, really looking forward to taking part in. For those who are not attending, I'll blog about it upon my return so you can see what we did -- I'll be there for the entire weekend workshop so I'll come home with lots to tell you about!

In July, I will open my home studio space to those who want to come to my house in Hannover, Germany to learn more about blogging and social networking with me in an intimate, supportive and creative environment. The class will be a day class on Saturday, July 28th and last from 9-6 with snacks, lunch and afternoon treats. I'll only be able to welcome 15 of you, but I'd love to have you! For those who may want to fly in from another part of the world, I will add a second class for July 29th if you'd like - just ask me. It will be loads of fun and more information will follow within the next few weeks. Please drop me an email: holly @ cattledogs.info if you would like to attend on July 28 or if you want to attend July 28 & 29.

SO! That's what I have on my work calendar at the moment. What are you up to these days? Busy? Bored to death? On the verge of something new? Let me know, I always like hearing the latest!!!

Now where are those oreos?

xo, Holly

(images: Jeanette Lunde)

Justin Timberlake and Designer Estee Stanley Launch HomeMint

Hello everyone! I'm , an interior designer from New York. I recently met Holly at the , here in New York. It was a great weekend filled with inspiring stories and creative energy. Meeting Holly and her guest teacher Leslie Shewring, of , was a highlight, as I've been reading their blogs for quite some time now. Little did I know I would wake up one rainy New York morning to an email from Holly, asking me to cover the launch of for cattledogs since she was unable to attend.

is a home product line designed and curated by musician and actor , and his interior designer and friend, . Before I jump into the details, I have to tell you that this was an amazing opportunity and I am so grateful that Holly thought of me.

Wednesday morning was pouring here in New York, and I was not looking forward to the disgusting commute to work. But when I stepped out of the shower, Holly wrote on my Facebook - "I just sent you an email - please respond as soon as you can!" In my inbox I saw the subject, "Are you free to meet Justin Timberlake for me?" Are you kidding me?! Hell yes! I was going to meet Justin Timberlake! You can try and act super cool, and pretend you won't be excited by such a thing, but once the moment hits, you are so excited! So thank you Holly for making my day, and week, very memorable!

This was a total VIP event. Justin and Estee had decorated a suite at the in HomeMint products. The line is comprised of many accessory items from a variety of sources, all hand picked by the duo. When asked if they every "argue" about what should be included int he line, they said no, they don't argue. Instead they question each other, and that their design process is always a continuous conversation. The suite was covered with HomeMint rugs, pillows, baskets, throws and blankets as well as tabletop items and ceramic canisters. It wasn't hard to see their vision as soon as I stepped into the space. Estee and Justin both noted that the collection reflects their personal styles and that their styles are very similar to each other, so it worked out easily.

This is an edited collection, and Justin was quick to point out that as in any other form of art, interior design is never really complete. Up until the very last minute, both Justin and Estee tweak the line, changing and deleting items. One of the most memorable points Justin made was that the design of a room should be constantly changing. Furniture should move, pillows should be switched out, rugs should be replaced. If not, the room does not feel lived in. The pair doesn't believe in feng shui, instead they feel there is no right or wrong when it comes to design. Justin never tries to "balance" a room as it limits his vision. "Unbalanced looks cool." Yea it does!

I asked both Justin and Estee to pick out their favorite pieces of the collection. Obviously that's hard to do as so much time and effort was poured into perfecting the collection, but I pressed them. I really wanted to know! Estee pointed out her favorite pillow, which is her favorite because of the nubby textured fabric which has random streaks of color running through it. Justin was all over the place, and really had a hard time narrowing it down! He mentioned the artwork at first. Two pieces in the art collection are images of New York he shot himself. He spoke about the art for a bit, which are all from artists you won't normally find work from. The pair wanted affordable artwork available to the general public, which wasn't "just another map." Yes folks, I think the map trend is really dying out now! He moved on to the baskets and blankets but finally settled on the rugs. The rugs, are Justin Timberlake's favorite! FYI, Estee let us know that this, talking in circles, was the difference between men and women. Hilarious! She also said, that these differences are what made the collection really work - having a man and woman work together on a home line. They both agreed that more masculine items are the dinnerware and wooden cutting boards.

The line will change throughout the year, mostly seasonally with a few new items added each month. The goal of the line overall was not to have everything match. Justin and Estee both wanted to push forward timeless, trendless pieces that will "go" with anything that you have, and will not be considered 'last season' a month from now. They've done a great job.

When we spoke about how to mix up a room, Justin said he tries not to think of one furniture piece as an absolute. He will take that coffee table and move it to the other room to see if it feels right. Estee described alternate uses for many pieces in the line. A blanket can be used as a table cloth, and napkins can be used as hand towels in a bathroom. Always keep your eyes open and see what you can do differently.

I asked Estee where she looked to for inspiration for this line. It's her first product line, and it's a huge task to get started. She used manufacturers she uses when decorating a home, mostly manufacturers that the general public doesn't know about. She wanted affordable yet unique items in her first collection. was one of them, which I am very familiar with. Andrew Corrie, the owner of Canvas, was in attendance and it was a pleasure to speak with him a little bit about the line. He worked closely with Estee to develop the table top and dinnerware portion of the line. The baskets are made by and the bedding, towels and linens are made by . While both Estee and Justin worked closely with these vendors, the items they supply are available exclusively at HomeMint.

It was easy to see the two were comfortable working together. Justin explained their long relationship as having "good shorthand." Justin described his personal style as simple, while Estee described hers as living in neutral with pops of color. And that, my friends, is what the essence of this collection is. Neutrals, with pops of color. What a great day! - Tina

---- Thank you Tina for covering the HomeMint launch for me in NYC! I can't believe that I missed THE opportunity to meet Mr. Timberlake but I'm thrilled that you were able to go and bask in his loveliness yesterday. :)

So readers, I wonder what your opinion is on celebrities launching home decor lines? I see more and more these days springing up and wonder if you have an opinion on it and also, what do you think of ?

(images: homemint and )

May Meringues

Hello everyone! It's Emilie and I’m back with the May edition of . Thank you for your warm response to my first post, it’s wonderful to see the joy that food brings! I believe food is all about sharing. I’m glad to see you think so, too.

Today I decided to work on two desserts, both based on French meringue.

I love working with this stuff. You can create all kinds of shapes, it’s sweet, decadent and easy to colour ! I’ll start by showing you how to make little meringues that you can make for a gift (or eat yourself!). As with my first Playing with food post, I’ll just give you the broad sweep rather than step-by-step instructions. Please feel free to ask me any questions you have in the comments below! I whip my egg whites into peaks with castor sugar, and then fold in icing sugar with a spatula to stiffen up my meringue nicely.

I then spoon the meringue, that I’ve colored with a bit of powdered colorant into five exquisite pastel colors, into little pots. (Make sure you don’t get your pots mixed up!) Add more colorant to make your colors brighter.

I make my meringues using a piping bag and put them in the oven on a very low heat for about one hour and 30 minutes. The result: a delightful assortment of crunchy and pretty pastel-colored meringues!

I arrange my meringues in a little box lined with a doily, and close it with a charming piece of string, a colorful card and little pompoms. What a deliciously boxed gift!

The second dessert is a pavlova. Ohhhh.... ! This dessert is truly decadent! With meringue at the bottom, velvety cream in the middle, sweet gariguettes garden strawberries (one of the best varieties in France, yummy!) on top, and a bit of coulis, it is simply divine! It’s crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth and fresh – everything I love!

Makes you wish it was teatime, doesn’t it? I hope you enjoyed reading this post! I’ll be back next month with new treats! -

(images: emilie guelpa)

What Liberty Ate: Issue Two

Prepare to feast your eyes! Last year I announced the launch of , a gorgeous digital magazine based in Romania founded by talented and foodie Gabriela Iancu. Today she has released issue two and I simply had to pop in on a Sunday to bring this to you because I know you'll enjoy it. Gabriela brings heaps of passion and love for cooking into this magazine that you can't help but fall in love. Together with her contributors who are based all over the world, this magazine has a genuineness to it that I appreciate so much. Here are a few of my favorites below - from the layouts to the interviews and recipes, it's altogether yummy!

I love this understated spread, no photos, just a gorgeous smattering of pink watercolor. It's a really nice visual break.

An interview with food blogger Aran Goyoaga.

The array of type in this magazine is gorgeous.

"Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots". - Frank Howard Clark. So true!

An interview with food blogger and now book author, Béatrice Peltre.

"In the second issue you can read gorgeous interviews with Aran Goyoaga and Béatrice Peltre and you will find here affordable recipes with focus on seasonal ingredients and inspiring photography with emphasis on home feeling. Equally, you will discover enthusiastic Romanian food blogs, such as Just love Cookin', Alison's trials, Gatherings of the World, and their vision about food and photography. We also featured a wonderful haute couture house found in Bucharest by the curious team of Designist. The art and joy of the perfect tea has been presented to us by Miss Babacilu, a costume jewelry designer." Great job Gabriela, nicely done and so inspiring for all!

(images: what liberty ate)