29 November 2013

Why we loved November

The Christmas countdown is about to begin. The rain in November reminds me of home, the tashes in November remind me of the 80s. What a month it has been, with only 26 days until Christmas you have been flocking to get an early start on your Christmas shopping and for that we thank you. Here's a look back at Novembers best bits.

1// November saw four special feature posts on some of our favourite suppliers and friends. Oak & Willow, Alice May, Bella Jo & John the Potter all answered our questions. Alice has had dinner with Heidi Klum (omg) and Bella Jo loves chicken necks and long shorts!

2// I had a fab, yet windy afternoon at I heart market, I spent too much, ate too much and loved it!

3// Our oh so popular scarves and vintage scales were back in stock. We had waiting lists for these so ordered plenty.  We still have stock for Christmas.

4// The Ruby Orchard got festive. Tying teeny tiny Christmassy ribbons on 200 cute laser cut decorations was actually quite therapeutic!  We also inspired you with some festive cookie ideas.

5// We sold a stack of furniture this month! 'A' frame shelving units, a vintage couch, tables, workbenches, you have been loving our quirky, upcycled pieces. We will continue to stock the shop with new items and keep our prices as reasonable as possible.

6// Our unofficial online store was launched  For those who live far away and are desperate for a piece of Ruby Orchardness in their home, we make a plan! We have sent scales, wine signs and scarves all over SA, Just ask!

7// Andrea from Clever bird banter visited The Ruby Orchard for the first time, I think she liked it, she has been back 4 times since ;-)  Andrea said 'there is literally not one item I would be unhappy with if I found it under the Christmas tree' in her blog post - Thankyou!  We are excited to be working with Andrea and her new venture - Babybird basics... watch this space.

8// We were featured! House and Leisure blog said our products have a 'country like feel' and Garden and Home magazine reported us as 'The new kid on the décor store block'! And a lovely lady wrote a letter to the local Witness to thank us. Amazingly proud.

9// The highlight of the month - 120 Christmas shoppers joined us for mulled wine, snacks and an evening of shopping.  WOW! What an awesome evening, the last shoppers headed home at 11pm! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for supporting us.

10// We joined forces with Kim and Fil at Ruby & Swallow for a Christmas giveaway.  It was such a pleasure to answer a few questions for their local business post too.

We are staying open until the 24th December and have more stock on the way so don't stress!  Cheers to the silly season... let the countdown begin!

27 November 2013

Feature on creative - John the Potter

One sunny July morning John zoomed into The Ruby Orchard parking lot with a truck full of beautifully glazed ceramics. He was on a selling & promoting road trip around South Africa, something he'd been preparing for all year. This particular visit came with a warning - it was an annual thing and he wouldn't be back any time soon so we'd better stock up big time! And that we did, from little saucers to big salad bowls we filled the store with his delightful ceramics. The success of his products have us hoping with crossed fingers that he will be zooming back into The Ruby Orchard again next year!

Read on to find out how John got hooked on clay....

How did your pottery begin? When / where / how did it all start?
I studied fine art and religion in America and found myself in the ceramic studio more and more.  I spent one semester on the biggest ceramic campus in Pennsylvania this coincided with Americas annual clay bash which happened in Philadelphia that year.  Hanging out with some of Americas best potters got me hooked on clay.

Why do you do what you do?
I have always wanted to be involved in the arts in some way and discovered I am a pyromaniac and pottery brings creativity and fire together, especially in the firing techniques that I use.

When you were younger what did you want to be when you grew up?!
A film director or photographer until I discovered kilns

What inspires you when designing new products?
Experimenting with what can be achieved in the kiln with glazes.

What are your hopes and dreams for your products?
To be used and enjoyed and to make enough of a living to support my family.

About you… 
What’s your - Top Song? Top Food? Top beverage? Top Place? Top movie? 
Top song – swordfish trombones by Tom Waits
Top food – rendang curry
Top beverage – luddite shiraz
Top place – Bettys Bay
Top movie – Dancer in the dark

Imagine you are heading out for dinner with a bunch of creative geniuses - who would be sitting around the table with you?
Tom Waits, Father Thomas Bezanson, Greg Daily and Lars von Trier

25 November 2013

Thank you, Thank You, Thank You

150 mince pies + 1 pan of mulled wine + 48 bottles of wine & 120 lovely shoppers
Bags full of Christmas shopping + 3 Thrilled Ruby Orchard ladies
On Friday 22nd November we invited friends, family, colleagues, bloggers, local businesses followers, likers and regulars to join us for an evening of festive drinks, scrummy nibbles and a little bit lot of shopping. We cannot thank you all enough for supporting us. It was certainly a very very successful evening!

So many of Howick's sceptics said 'another new shop in Howick, they'll never last'. Well we have some news for you, we are here to stay and are loving every minute of it!
It was an extremely busy evening and I am so sorry if I didn't get a chance to introduce myself and talk to you properly.

Here is a quick who's who...
Far left:  Jo (Bella Jo) - This busy little Mum is the maker of the best pasta in the Midlands, she made the hummus, meatballs, dips and salsas that were devoured on Friday night.
Middle Left:  Hazel - The men of my SA family run Howick Mirror and Glass from the same building as The Ruby Orchard.  Hazel runs the admin and HR of that business, she is always in the shop to help you too! 
Far right:  Nicola Tweed - Nicola joined the business in August after returning to SA from London.   She is our full time shop assistant, an IT wizz kid, blogger... you name it she does it.
Middle Right:  Hannah Keppler - Owner, manager, buyer, Wife to Greg, Mum of Jonah, looking a bit pale - I need a tan!

So... what was trending?  What will you be finding in your Christmas stockings this year? Our shoppers were loving...
As a little thank you, all of our shoppers were given a mini 2014 calendar - for your fridge, handbag or desk top. We have a few more left so just ask the girls at the desk for one when you're next in store

21 November 2013

The night before...

Another email, a facebook message, phone calls… if the lovely Keri from Midlands Musings , Jo from Bella Jo Pasta and Nicola Tweed would just stop boasting about their excitedness at being at The Ruby Orchard’s Christmas shopping night tomorrow I might be having fewer heart palpitations right now! How many people can we actually fit in our shop??!!  Just kidding… I am loving all the attention!  It's going to be awesome!
We are hosting our second big ‘do’ tomorrow! The first was our launch party in April… 90 people shopped and drank till 11pm, it was such a wonderful evening.  Since then the shop has expanded, expanded some more and the range of products grown and morphed into what I think is an exquisite range of gifts and Décor, but I am biased!

To make tomorrow night amazing, we have all been working non stop to get the shop full and ready to excite and inspire you.  I am totally passionate that you should all avoid the mall and do your crimbo shopping at local stores and markets. Support the little guys,  get on it and join I heart markets 'I shop local' campaign!

What have we been up to…

My machine of a brother in-law organised a wall to be removed, new security gates to be made and has cut a tonne of mount boards so my prints could be framed for shoppers to take home.
Nicola Tweed has been putting the finishing touches to our homemade Christmas decorations, pricing millions of products as they arrive, carefully selecting the items that we are putting on special offer (for one night only - hunt for the red stickers for 10% off) and generally working her little socks off!

Jo (Bella Jo) has smelt like garlic all week making jars full of her famous chilli salsa… you have got to try it, it will be available to taste and buy!
I have been placing orders, chasing suppliers and begging courier companies to deliver our orders by Friday!  To make my week a little more challenging my 2 year old has tonsillitis, and a lovely lady with the bluest eyes I have EVER seen came into the shop and purchased most of the furniture we have been displaying our wares on (she has great taste).  I have therefore been hunting and gathering new pieces and working my team like crazy to get them stripped, sanded, painted and in the shop.

New server finished today

So… what’s arrived in store this week…

The lovely Janice from Oak and Willow popped up with new stock of their fab wooden boards – love them.

Janice so kindly also delivered a huge stack of Foreva candles, we have some gorgeous new fragrances including chocolate orange – I want to eat it!

A huge stack of crates from recreations - 101 ways to use these by Nicola Tweed coming soon! Ha...challenge!

IF they arrive… I am saying lots of little prayers right now…

The amazing kitchen scales in all 3 colours – don’t quite know how I managed to waggle some more… but I did!

The quirkiest and coolest ceramics Howick has ever seen!
So looking forward to meeting lots of new friends tomorrow and sipping on some scrummy, warm mulled wine with you all!

20 November 2013

Special Feature: Bella Jo Pasta

Today's special feature is the lovely Jo from Bella Jo Pasta. Jo is the most energetic & fun person you will meet in the Midlands and a complete machine in a pair of running shoes! This creative foodie is the face behind that delicious Bella Jo chilli salsa and, good news, she will be at our Christmas Shopping Evening this Friday. Jo will have a range of pastas, salsas and dips available for sale - the perfect Christmas gift for food lovers.

1. How did Bella Jo begin? When/Where/How?
I started making pasta in my kitchen at home when I was pregnant. I have always loved fresh pasta, the texture and simplicity. Flour, eggs and salt with such a wonderful outcome. Way better than the stuff we get in supermarkets. I always wondered as to why we don't eat this pasta at home and why no one is making homemade pasta. Thus I started Bella Jo, we started with the pasta in a variety of flavours including Plain Egg, herb, sundried tomato, Tricolore, Olive and Squid Ink and then started a gluten free range after becoming aware of how many people suffer with wheat allergies. I then made an accidental 'Chilli Salsa' which has become a hit followed by a Basil pesto, frozen meals and spinach pies made with homemade phyllo pastry. It's great to be able to make what I have grown up eating at home and on holidays spent in Greece.

2.Why do you do what you do?
I believe that us as adults and our children should all eat a variety of good food in it's simplest form, none of this preservative and colorant filled rubbish that we are exposed to everyday e.g. fish fingers, chicken nuggets, twinkies!!! Don't get me wrong I like a treat myself, some dark chocolate now and then but overall I like to eat and feed my family tasty food that's well balanced but also exciting. I love plaing around with recipes and being a bit adventurous with ingredients so doing what I do is my way of being creative. Creating new products that people will like to try such as our Squid Ink tagliatelle. I guess cooking is my passion and I want to share that with others.

3.When you were younger what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a lot of things. My mind changes on a regular basis, even still today. I would like to be everything but one thing I do remember is that I always wanting to be some kind of superhero, I used to watch Zorro and take my dad's black tie, cut holes where my eyes were and make my little sister carry me around on her back. She was my horse and she had no say in the matter.

4. What is your favourite restaurant?
Ok so this might sound corny but to be completely honest I would have to say my favourite restaurant is my home. I often find that I criticize food when I go out. I find the prices ridiculous and instead I just imitate the recipes when I get home and enjoy it a whole lot more. I think it is also the comfort of being at home especially with a three year old. You can't expect a toddler to sit at a table throughout a whole dinner without a peep. I just feel relaxed at home. But if I must say Taste of Thai in Hilton is a treat for me as I cook more Mediterranean food.

5. About you...What's your - Top Song? Top Food? Top Beverage? Top Place? Top Movie?
Top Song - Safe and Sound by Capital Cities
Top Food - Definitely seafood with lots of garlic.
Top Beverage- Red Wine ALWAYS!
Top Place - Mozambique
Top Movie - Always has been and always will be Pocahontas

6. What's the best thing about your job?
The best thing about what I do is being able to be creative in my own way and to do what I really enjoy. I also get to move around a lot which is great for me as I am a bit hyperactive and I think it would be my worst nightmare having to sit in an office all day. I would probably be quite a mean person. When we make pasta or pies I am always fiddling with dough or kneading or moving racks. It's a lot of fun sometimes.

7.What's the toughest thing about your job?
Sometimes I really don't feel like cooking or looking at food and I still have to do it. I remember once having a tummy bug and the last thing I wanted to do was smell food but I just had to and the worst part was I still had to go home and cook. But that is very rare. I also think that the industry I am in is quite competitive so I always have to be one step ahead. Well I try to be.

8. What is the most exciting case/project you have ever worked on and why?
Learning about pasta and chatting to a few old Italians was very interesting. It's just so fascinating how so many people have different views on the same thing. I mean it's not terribly exciting but it was motivating, also experimenting with different flavours for our pasta. Perhaps most exciting thing is still to come!

9. If a movie was being made about your life, which actress would you want to play you?
I think it would have to Cameron Diaz or Jennifer Aniston. They just seem like a lot of fun, a bit ditzy but funny.

10. Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Most probably Leo, my three year old. We are both so active and I think being stuck in a small place would be chaos.

11. Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself.
I like chicken necks
I am a bit OCD
I love long shorts

15 November 2013

Teachers Gift Guide

I was a teacher for almost 9 years, one of the most rewarding, but exhausting professions in my opinion.  My best friends are teachers, I admire each and every one of them and the hours they put into the profession, because I know they don't do it for the money.  The majority of my time was spent teaching 15-18 year olds and I was occasionally greeted with a gift from a student or parent to say a little thank you. 

Thank you for sitting every Sunday afternoon planning exciting and interesting lessons, Thank you for organising that once in a lifetime school trip (which takes hours!), Thank you for those extra lunchtime sessions you ran leading up to my exams, Thank you for taking us to the sports fixture on a Friday evening, Thank you for always marking my work on time, Thank you for always smiling, Thank you for listening, Thank you for making lessons funny and engaging, Thank you for inspiring me.

Here are a few end of year gift ideas, if you know a teacher who touches the heart of a little one, make them smile.

To all the teachers out there... it is nearly the end of term... Keep going... the holidays are coming... you deserve every second of your break xx

14 November 2013

Christmas tree cookie inspiration

We have plenty of these cute Christmas tree cutters in stock. A set of 4 in a cute tree shaped tin for R120.

Here's some inspiration... get festive!



13 November 2013

Feature on Creative - Alice May

Alice May is the genius behind the gorgeous dippy egg boards we have in store. In week 2 of our 'Feature on Creative' we ask Alice what her hopes and dreams are, what inspires her and even her favourite drink.   Read on to find out more about her history in shoe design and her dinner with Heidi Klum! Wow lucky girl!

How did Alice May Stationery begin? When /Where / How?
I studied graphic design in Cape Town after school but somehow I got into making shoes with a local cobbler and selling them part time. I did this while I studies using Alice May as my shoe and handbag label.  I then moved back to Durban and when I got the job as the shoe designer for a well loved local leather show brand for 6 years.  While I loved my job, the entrepreneur and creative soul in me was jumping out my chest and Alice May was born again as a paper and wood brand!

Why do you do what you do?
I love the freedom of creativity and to express my ideas in beautiful useful ways

When you were younger what did you want to be when you grew up?!
A vet! I adored animals growing up and thought I would be a vet... biology class cured me of that when live frogs were involved.

What inspires you when designing new products?
I love working with paper and wood so I do look to nature for ideas of shapes etc.  I like to be on trend so I'm always watching clothing fashion and even home interior trends to figure out what gals are after.

What are your hopes and dreams for your products?
I would love to be the Crabtree and Evelyn of paper design if that makes sense.  When looking for a beautiful hand cream or bath oil for a special gift, from the product to the packaging, Crabtree is an instant idea.  I would like to be known for that in my paper and wood product ranges.

About you... What's you...
Top song - Our wedding song 2 months ago - Shaun Jacobs - Love Can
Top food - Anything from Sage in Salt Rock! Just beautiful food cooked from scratch and I can sit back in beautiful scenery and have my glass of wine and the world is a perfect place.
Top beverage - pimms and gingerbeer in summer
Top Place - Salt Rock, love my new home town on the beach.
Top movie - Hard one! Haven't seen a good movie in forever.

Imagine you are heading out for dinner with a bunch of creative geniuses - who would be sitting around the table with you?
I actually sat at that exact table you speak of when I was in Milan for a function with Heidi Klum, Roberto and Eva Cavalli and Dinae VonFurstenburg and Sarah Flint. Ain't nothing going to beat that conversation :)

Alice Mays Dippy Egg boards made from solid Oak are beautifully finished come in 5 quirky designs and are available at The Ruby Orchard for R175.

Alice May New range of Gift Tags - Hoping to have in stock in 2014!

11 November 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Snowflakes, baubles, reindeer, stars & tress.... yup it's definitely almost Christmas time! We've decided that with just over 6 weeks left till Christmas it's definitely the right time to put out the Christmas decorations and included in our Christmas range are these, exclusive to The Ruby Orchard, laser cut tree decorations... just perfect for adding something a little bit different to your tree this year! 
Pop on over to our facebook page to check out the other gorgeous goodies we have in store just in time for Christmas.

08 November 2013

A trip to I heart Market - 2nd November

In search of new products, fresh ideas and just a lovely family afternoon out - on Saturday 2nd November we took a trip to I heart market on the lawns of the Moses Mabhida stadium. Despite a crazy wind blowing through the bustling marquees, we mingled our way through the crowds, browsed cute handmade and homemade crafts,  checked out rails of fashion and accessories and soaked up the trendy vibe that you do not get in Howick!

We collected our order from Foreva candles - a huge stack of the most delicious smelling candles are now in store.

I checked out the new stationery and party products range from Milla Mae - so pretty... watch this space.

I purchased a summery frock by Dandelion designs - cannot wait to wear it this week.

There are so many markets scheduled from now until Christmas, sometimes I wish we lived closer to the bright lights of Durbs to get my fix of crafty shopping more often.

06 November 2013

Feature on Creative - Oak & Willow

At The Ruby Orchard we continually seek to find beautiful and unique products for the store. We enjoy hunting craft markets, using social media and looking at what is on trend in the UK & worldwide to select our stock for the next season.

We love all our products in store but what we love even more is the talent behind the products...
And so to show our appreciation for the talent we have decided to create a new Wednesday creative feature on our blog to introduce you to the talented people that ensure The Ruby Orchard is stocked with amazingly beautiful products!

Our first 'feature on creative' are the gorgeous creative couple from Oak & Willow. We discovered Oak & Willow at 'I heart' Market and now they supply us with the most beautiful and effective wooden signs adorned with lovely sayings and quotes.

Here's what Janice had to say...

When / where / how did Oak & Willow begin?
This is how our business started... Nick proposed to me and three months later we were to have our wedding. Me... being the fussy pants that I am wanted decor exactly how I could see it in my mind. Luckily for me I have a super crafty Dad who loves making anything and has worked with wood for many years. My parents and I set out to hand-make-it all, from the wooden hearts hanging above the dance floor to all the wooden signs.
At the wedding everyone was instagramming this décor and asking where we got it. And it was then that we realized we may have a feasible business on our hands.  So we simply decided to start a little business by hand-crafting wooden décor,

Why do you do what you do?
Because we love being crafty and seeing final products made.  This isn't our full-time jobs actually... we do this on the side simply because we love too.

When you were younger what did you want to be when you grew up?!
I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I LOVE animals but when I realized that you deal mostly with sick animals I learnt that I wouldn't be the best for the job as I would get emotionally-attached to these animals.

What inspires you when designing new products?
Hopeful quotes. I see a quote I love - we make it.  It's as simple as that really.  I also love up-cycling so that also inspires me.

What are your hopes and dreams for your products?
I'd love to see them in more shops like The Ruby Orchard. I'd also love to work alongside wedding planners and brides and help the bride create the most beautiful wedding, I'd also love to be "in the know" with all interior decorators.

About you... What's your - Top Song? Top Food? Top beverage? Top Place Top movie?
Top song - All songs by the Foster the people - great band
Top Food - Hamburgers
Top beverage - Tea
Top place - USA
Top movie - The Notebook

Imagine you are heading out for dinner with a bunch of creative geniuses - who would be sitting around the table with you?
Blake Mycoskie from TOMS shoes in USA, Amy Venter from Jane Sews, Scott Harrison from Charity Water in New York, I wish I could meet Steve Jobs from Apple, and my friend Jess Swart - I love her innovative spirit and ability to dream big.

Below are a few pictures of the Oak & Willow signs that are available at The Ruby Orchard...

05 November 2013

Remember Remember the 5th of November

On the 5th November 1605 Guy Fawkes' plot to blow up the House of Lords in London failed, an anonymous tip off led authorities to the Parliaments cellar where they found 36 barrels of gunpowder.  Guy Fawkes plan had been foiled.

On the 5th November 1989.  Hat, scarf and gloves on,  crackling bonfire, warm glowing faces, cold feet, whirling sparklers, waiting, watching... fingers in ears,  Oooos and Aaaahhs, 'Was that a rocket Dad?', the smell of fireworks hanging in the air, a hog roasting on the spit...my lovely childhood memories.

It is fireworks season... Diwali the festival of lights and the celebration of Guy Fawkes. Enjoy x

04 November 2013

Retro inspired kitchen scales

There is no doubt that this product is worth every inch of the surface space it will occupy in your kitchen. These retro inspired scales bring a little vintage nostalgia and a pop of colour to your kitchen and a definite talking point when you guests come round for tea.

We have 3 different colours in store, Ivory, Red and Blue. They are R435 each and are well worth every little cent!

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