An afternoon with Michelle Lau

bloggingworkshop-2 bloggingworkshop-13 bloggingworkshop-1bloggingworkshop-7 bloggingworkshop-8bloggingworkshop-6bloggingworkshop-1-4 bloggingworkshop-3 bloggingworkshop-4 bloggingworkshop-11Blogging is a truly rewarding creative experience that often draws on both imagery and text to draw in readers, and can reach and be read by people all over the world. It is unique in that it is an outlet for personal expression and blog topics can range from food to fashion to politics to religion to deeply personal stories, there are few limits. As you can tell, we really dig it.

Last Saturday, Perth-based blogging maven, Michelle Lau, ran a small-group workshop during which she shared her experience and expertise in The Art of Blogging. Michelle hails from much-loved lifestyle blog, A Minute Away From Snowing. She also has the coveted job of blogging for vogue.com.au and is the social media curator for The King Street Precinct. In terms of mastery of the blogosphere and social media clout, I’m pretty sure Michelle’s your gal.

The workshop was held in the uber-hip uber-delicious Raw Kitchen in Fremantle and was organised by none other than the dynamic stylist, Stacey Clark, as part of The Creatives initiative which she is spearheading. The Creatives is a network for people in the creative industry in Perth and so far a number of wildly successful workshops such as hand lettering and leatherwork have been run in various roaming locations around the city. There is promise of seasonal dinners as well, and I personally can’t wait for these!

We had the honour and pleasure of attending as the day’s photographers and to take portraits of the workshop’s participants for use on their own blogs! Everyone was so willing and brought their own personalities to the shoot, it was such an enjoyable experience for the two of us. We’ve not had many chances to take portraits of people other than ourselves and having the chance to play with different lighting, different backdrops and different faces was a true pleasure.

To find out more about Michelle’s upcoming workshops and for other workshop inquiries by The Creatives go here or contact Stacey at stacey@staceyclarkstylist.com.

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Take me back

broome-2014-1broome-2014-2broome-2014-5broome-2014-3broome-2014-6Ah Broome. The warm and sunny town reminds me of a time when life was simple. I was sent here last year for work, initially apprehensive and somewhat discomposed, then six months down the track found myself embraced by the community and way of life, and truly sad to leave. The unhurried pace was curative and a real tonic for a soul that previously searched for meaning and gratification in busyness and seemingly important jobs with very long to-do lists.

Things are different up here. Yes, there is work, but there is always time to catch up for a drink on Friday afternoon, time to take that bike ride around the port, time to go to that gym class on Tuesday evening, time to have a dip at the beach, time to watch yet another breathtaking sunset (or moonrise!), time to cast a fishing rod off the rocks. And that time isn’t the never-arriving tomorrow, it is today. Yes, we have our jobs and we do them well, but time is made and set aside to tend to ourselves. We make time to chat, consolidating old friends, connecting with new ones. There is a term frequently used up here – to have a yarn – which from my observations means to have a relaxed but meaningful exchange, with no fixed time limit or agenda, finding out more about each other, going wherever the conversation may spontaneously flow. The focus is on the person and where they are in life, often not necessarily asking them the questions that seem to be so commonly asked to define and categorise a person (like my personal unfavourite, “What do you do?”).

I spent six days in Broome just a couple of weeks ago, with the only purpose being to do just that. Have a yarn with some very dear friends and acquaint myself with some new ones too.

Let me not forget nor lose sight of the truly important things in life.

Baby it’s cold outside

cranmore-outfit-2cranmore-outfit-1cranmore-outfit-8cranmore-outfit-9cranmore-outfit-6cranmore-outfit-5Wearing – Ryder dress, thrifted coat, Pigeonhole scarf, Muji tights, Madewell boots (similar), Elk earrings, Naomi Murrell rose gold and resin ring, Alister Yiap hexagon gem ring

Chilly mornings call for big ol’ coats and chunky scarves wrapped a minimum of three times round one’s neck.

I’m contemplating making one of these but might just be a lazybones and buy one instead.

I wish I could be as cool as her.

Architects and Heroes

architects-heroes-13 architects-heroes-5 architects-heroes-9architects-heroes-1 architects-heroes-2 architects-heroes-7 architects-heroes-8 architects-heroes-4 architects-heroes-10 architects-heroes-11 architects-heroes-12 architects-heroes-16 architects-heroes-17 architects-heroes-18 architects-heroes-19 architects-heroes-20Ron and Lyly are the enterprising duo, the face and hands, the yin and yang, behind the hippest coffee spot in Subiaco, Architects and Heroes. The northern end of Rokeby Road has honestly been lacking a bit of pizazz of late, and these guys are turning that tide. With an impressive combined experience of over 16 years in coffee and hospitality, it’s no surprise that they know what they’re doing and they’re doing it right. We popped by during a cheerily busy Thursday lunch service to have a chat with the owners.  Ron was in the back area of the petite coffee shop testing out his latest batch of teas and beckoned us to come over and have a taste. No need to ask me twice!motifSo, what’s in a name?

Architects and Heroes really describes how we (Lyly and I) work so effectively together. An architect is someone who tends to work behind the scenes, not necessarily getting the credit for something he or she ultimately designed, which is how Lyly works. She has the eye for design and interior decorating, the brain for the business side of things, and also has her hand in the menu choices and the kitchen! Although she’s not front and centre talking to customers, she’s tirelessly working to make sure everything comes together and operates smoothly and effortlessly.

As for me, I’m the barista and front of house so suppose I’m more of a “hero” – someone whose face is recognised, gets the acclaim (sorry Lyly!).

The unmistakable wall art in our store was painted by our good friend, Dipesh “peche” Prasad, from Peche! Designs. We gave him the brief and off he went, we absolutely love it. If you look carefully, each entity represents someone who incorrectly received credit for work they didn’t do! For example, there’s Galileo who is often thought to have invented the telescope (he only significantly improved upon an existing design) and the unmistakable characters from MAD magazine’s Spy vs Spy whose cartoonist preferred to cryptically “sign” his work in Morse code.

Tell us more about your coffee. You clearly love it!

To me, coffee is indispensable. And I think that’s true for many people. You’ll see people try and save money by cutting down on going out for dinner or not buying so many pairs of shoes, but no matter what, everyone seems to make allowances for that daily, necessary cup of coffee. And it gives me so much satisfaction to brew a perfect cup and see someone simply enjoying it.

There are so many different ways to prepare a cup of coffee, each with its own distinct taste and appearance, and I’m driven to precisely perfect a number of these. In our store you can try pour over, cold drip, espresso, and siphon coffee brewed by the amazing high-tech Steampunk machine, which is the first of its type in Western Australia and the second in the entire country! The Steampunk allows me to set exact parameters like water temperature and brew time so I can achieve incredibly consistent results or even explore different flavour profiles. Our coffee beans come from Melbourne-based roasters and good friends, Code Black.

The coffee scene in Perth is slowly changing and I’m excited to be a part of it. People are starting to care more about the quality of the beans they are drinking and beginning to appreciate how much better a properly and precisely brewed cup of coffee tastes.

Apart from being obsessively good at brewing coffee, what else do you guys do?

If you do happen to feel like something apart from coffee (i.e. if you’re craaaaazy or already have a coffee-induced tremor) then we’ve also recently added a sublime collection of premium farm-direct teas from Min River Tea, based in China. These come in limited batches and the latest on offer include jasmine and Szechuan bamboo leaf.

There is, of course, our seasonal menu with light to substantial bites that Ayano and Lyly prepare in our flameless kitchen. We feature a 63 degree cooked egg which we recommend you try! It’s kinda like the ultimate poached egg, except that it isn’t poached! (Sarah tried it. She liked it. A lot.)

If you had to choose a favourite child, which method of brewing coffee would it be?

Ohh…That’s a very difficult question, but I’d have to say the Steampunk! It’s so precise, way too fun to play with, and I sure don’t mind taste-testing all my trial-runs! And I know you said I had to choose only one, but I can’t go past a Chemex pour-over coffee either. So much love and labour goes into preparing a cup of coffee, and you have a lot of control over the final product’s taste.motifRon in his element is similar to a scientist in a laboratory, compulsively fine-tuning variables and revelling in the products of his experiments. The back bench of the coffee shop is covered in coffee-related paraphernalia I have never seen before. Ron is keen to show them all off and happily explains how they work. He reminds me of my high school Chemistry teacher, except way younger and way cooler. He chats to us whilst tasting four different teas, precisely recording notes concerning the water temperature, brew time and exact weight of tea leaves in each pot. To attest to his greatness there is a beautiful, shiny metal contraption on display in the shop which he won in a “latte art smackdown”.

At the end of our chat, Ron manages to coax Lyly inside to say hi. Although less keen to be in the limelight, there is no doubt she is the backbone of this tightly run operation. What a delight to meet a couple who go together so well, in work and in life!

For a great tasting cup of coffee that is made with scientific precision and a whole lotta heart, make your way down to Architects and Heroes.

Architects and Heroes / 25 Rokeby Rd, Subiaco / Monday to Saturday 6:30am – 6:30pm

Cranmore Home Winter Workshop

cranmore-winter-workshop-36 cranmore-winter-workshop-3 cranmore-winter-workshop-5 cranmore-winter-workshop-4 cranmore-winter-workshop-2 cranmore-winter-workshop-6 cranmore-winter-workshop-7 cranmore-winter-workshop-8cranmore-winter-workshop-13 cranmore-winter-workshop-14 cranmore-winter-workshop-9 cranmore-winter-workshop-11 cranmore-winter-workshop-10 cranmore-winter-workshop-12 cranmore-winter-workshop-15 cranmore-winter-workshop-16 cranmore-winter-workshop-17cranmore-winter-workshop-1 cranmore-winter-workshop-20cranmore-winter-workshop-18cranmore-winter-workshop-19 cranmore-winter-workshop-21 cranmore-winter-workshop-22 cranmore-winter-workshop-23cranmore-winter-workshop-1-2cranmore-winter-workshop-30cranmore-winter-workshop-25 cranmore-winter-workshop-24 cranmore-winter-workshop-31 cranmore-winter-workshop-27 cranmore-winter-workshop-33cranmore-winter-workshop-32cranmore-winter-workshop-34cranmore-winter-workshop-26cranmore-winter-workshop-35 cranmore-winter-workshop-37motifThere are very few things that will get me out of bed willingly before sunrise. There are even less things that will convince me to leave the warm embrace of my friendly doona on a 2 degree morning. And yet, on a morning that fulfilled both of those usually dealbreaking criteria, I spritely hopped out of bed and out the door with Jinn on one arm and a hot thermos of coffee under the other. The promise of a day filled with hands on creativity and a chance to meet some of the most inspiring craftspeople in Western Australia filled us with barely containable excitement (and uncharacteristic morning cheer).

We set off up the road, admiring the sunrise through the foggy hills until we reached Cranmore Home, the picturesquely sprawling family homestead of Tracy Lefroy, the host and mastermind behind the Winter Workshop. After some time meeting, mingling, and obligatory caffeination, the workshops were underway! The workshops on offer were:

Ink Drawing
Laura Wortlock of Once Was Lost Studio

Textile Block Printing
Emma Grace Hawtrey of Woodpiles & Wishbones

Home Apothecary
Katrina Snowden of Peaches & Clean

Reclaimed Timber
Spencer and Marie-Clare of Maeker Studio

Floral Art
Rebecca Const of Fox and Rabbit

Tin Flower Making
Natalie Tonkin of Natalie Tonkin Design

Styling and Composition
Meghan Plowman

The workshops gave each of us the opportunity to learn from a local expert and were highly participative! During Rebecca’s floral art class, we traipsed around Tracy’s vast property foraging (read: pillaging) for beautiful foliage and wildflowers, incorporating them into our very own floral masterpiece which we got to take home. Mine is still going strong! All this physical and brain activity was sustained by a regular flow of hot drinks and a sumptuous long (loooooong) table lunch set under the branches of some pepper berry trees and catered for by the culinarily-gifted Jodie Fairclough from To The Woods Cafe and Ferngrove Wines.

What an undeniable success the entire day was! We joked over lunch that it really should be a two day long Cranmore Winter Camp, but we weren’t really joking…I really didn’t want the day to end. We brought home my very own portfolio of ink drawings and a personally arranged vase of some of my favourite flowers, a new Tasmanian oak laboriously shaped, sanded and waxed by Jinn, and a screen-printed tea towel that he literally made with his own blood and sweat (left index finger vs lino cutter). But more than that, we came away having had the chance to meet and connect with a bunch of really great folk who have a heart for championing the local artisan and a huge appreciation of how much work goes into what they do.

A bucketload of congratulations and kudos to the big-hearted and broad-smiled Tracy Lefroy, and of course her indefatigable behind-the-scenes designer, Rebecca Walsh Johnson (edited!). And for all the endless Instagrammable moments, massive applause goes to Meghan Plowman and Bec Tougas for impeccably styling the event. Shout out to Maya from House Nerd – so good to meet you!

Tracy Lefroy / Cranmore Home / Online store / tracylefroy@cranmore.com.au

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