For anyone who has not ever had the fortune of visiting or living in Melbourne, please allow me to share with you one piece of advice: the months of January through March are the time to come. Why, you ask? One word: festivals. 

If this beautiful city knows how to do one thing well, it's celebrate. From the Midsumma Festival and Chinese New Year, to the St.Kilda Festival and the Melbourne Fringe, us Melbournians will head out in droves to anything that screams 'art', 'craft', 'culture' and 'environment'. And that's why I love living here!

This weekend saw one of the highlights of our festival calendar come to town- the Sustainable Living Festival. This 3-day show, which raises awareness around the issue of sustainability in all its manifestations, is filled with practical workshops, interesting talks, great performances, gastronomical delights and some of the year's best shopping opportunities. And did I mention it's free?

As any proud urban hippy did, I too headed to revel in SLF over the weekend. Ok, I did more than revel; I moved in. In fact, I have spent the last three days doing nothing but soaking up the inspiring world of people who are changing the world for the better in a crazy and creative number of ways. Bliss!

One of the absolute highlights of this year's program was the gorgeous Slow Fashion Show.  Now, before you cringe at the very idea of the misogynistic, self-absorbed industry that is mainstream fashion, know this: the Slow Fashion Show was the exact opposite of just that!

The models were stunning, 'real' women and men; the event was open to all members of the public and was free; and best of all, every single item on the catwalk had a light environmental footprint. There were four key categories: Fairtrade, Sustainable New Materials (such as organic, unbleached and hemp items), Locally Handmade, and Second Hand/Vintage. I felt very proud that Pepperberry & Co. would fit into two of those four categories... if only we did fashion!

After delighting in the creativity and eco-goodness of the Show, I headed off to Re-Mixed Re-Worked Re-Fashioned, a workshop aimed at giving sexy new lives to sold favourite, op-shop gems or shocking Christmas gifts. There, I spent five hours doing some of my favourite things: laughing with fellow crafters, chopping up second-hand goodies and making a present of funky and stylish 3/4 pants for Sharon.

The highlight of the workshop, however, was discovering a true gem of the crafting landscape: Social Studio. The Studio is an inspiring concept that fuses the creativity and wisdom of Melbourne’s refugee community with recycled and excess materials from local industry to create original fashion garments.

In a nutshell, some of the most disadvantaged members of our community are welcomed into a space where they learn, create, craft, build long-lasting relationships and gain employment. It just makes my little former-Social-Worker's heart go all fuzzy! The Studio is located in Collingwood and runs these types of workshops every Saturday, and worldwide shoppers can also support this brilliant cause through their Etsy shop.

What did you all get up to on the weekend? Were you also spoilt with some crafty goodness?

Receiving a request for a custom item can be many things: exciting, challenging, flattering, and fun. Unlike the production of regular stock, a custom order presents you with the opportunity to get back to your roots and... shock!... get creative. 

There's the mind-boggling, mathematically-loaded logic puzzle that is figuring out the pattern...

Then there's the trial-and-error process of making, fixing, remaking, fixing, remaking, wanting to cry, and then fixing it again...

And finally, there's that precious moment of putting it all together in the most beautiful fabric you own and being presented with the final piece...

A Pepperberry & Co. Luggage Tag

Which comes out beyond all of your expectations and makes you feel all warm and gooey inside. And is that, ladies and gentlemen, not exactly why we craft?


Ok. So, I may or may not have not blogged for... please cringe with me... nearly two months. And I may or may not now be too petrified to return to the world of blogging. But, fortunately for me, I am surrounded by a group of beautiful Melbourne crafters who have promised me that writing a blog post after so long will be nowhere near as scary as it seems... so here I am! Peeking out from under my little hat of blogging laziness and hoping that at least some of you will still be peeking back. 

Seeing as this is my Official Return To Blogging, it seems quite essential that I update you on all the a-happenings over the past two months! With that in mind, please sit back and enjoy a very speedy, super-succinct Top Ten Things in Two Months:

Wee-hee! You may remember that I posted about our beautiful renovation and impending house sale, and the brilliantly exciting news is that our house sold within one week of being on the market for $100k more than it was valued at! Needless to say, we were just a little bit over the moon. 

That's right! We've settled on our beautiful 20-acre lot in Hurstbridge and now our heads are buried in a crazy amount of information about water tanks, septic systems, fire safety, solar panels, wind power, insurance, planning permits, and a million other things we've never dealt with before. So exciting!

Not being homeless is always such a nice feeling, and luckily for us, friends of ours have just bought a new home and are renting their old one to us whilst we build on our land! There's room for all of our pets (6 at the moment!) and even for us. 

Ok, so I don't know if that deserves an exclamation mark, as it really wasn't that exciting. But it sure was painful! In a momentary lapse of concentration whilst sewing at the highest speed, the needle managed to go right through my finger, pick up the bobbin thread, and bring it back through. I then panicked and pulled away, which resulted in the needle ripping through the entire tip of my finger. EEEWWW!

That's not my actual finger (mainly because there was so much blood I couldn't take a photo!) but that's exactly what my finger felt like!

This has got to be one of the most exciting things to have happened since I started this journey- I now have people working with me! They are a wonderful team who deserve to be introduced properly in a blog post, though, so I'm just going to leave you with that tantalising bit of information and tell you more later!

6. WE GOT A Wii!
Ok, so it's totally unrelated to craft and my business, but WOW! How much fun are Wiis? I've already pulled my shoulder muscle playing tennis, peed myself with laughter doing obstacle courses, and felt proud to be 20 years old one day and 40 the next. Seriously addictive.

Yes, this is the most boring member of the list. Bur possibly also the most important! January was a crazy month that saw me open a Business Bank Account (all growed up now!), get an EFTPOS machine (endless excitement!), finally get an accountant and call the ATO (scary!), and get my income and expenditure into order. Phew! Good luck to everyone else out there trying to do the same...

Christmas itself was a delightful pleasure, but the 17 markets we did in four weeks were a little less so! Of course, meeting all the lovely crafters and crafty lovers from around Melbourne was a highlight, but working every Saturday and Sunday, getting up at 6am, packing, unpacking, keeping on top of stock... well, that was that was not quite as much of a highlight. We survived, however, and had a blast along the way. Here's to many more Christmas periods of madness!

We've seen them all! Our little possums from way back when are all grown up and almost ready to be released. We rescued a very fat lizard who had been hit by a car and she gave birth to fifteen (FIFTEEN!) babies (ouch!). Whilst walking on our block a really fluffy bush moved and it turned out to be an echidna. And then a mummy wallaby with a little bub bounced past!So much cuteness all at once.

I haven't read a single blog in two months, or emailed friends, or facebooked, or tweeted... and I miss you all! I miss laughing out loud at your crazy blog posts, being involved in your crafty projects, hearing all the inspirational stories, and most of all, getting to know you better and better through back-and-forth emails. I can't wait to get back into it!

See you soon...