Friday, September 28, 2012

Keep on praying dog people

I think this line by Angela from The Office is one of my favourites. Of all time.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What we have been reading


I just, as in on Friday night, finished reading The Marriage Plot. I didn't know Eugenides also wrote The Virgin Suicides until I saw the cover, but I've heard a few people talk about Middlesex over the years (I got it mixed up with Middlemarch once when chatting to someone about it, whoops). I enjoyed the book and I think it had some interesting insights into people, men and mental illness.

Based on the cover Gareth thinks it is about: A man decides to open up a banana factory in the town of Marriage with his good friend Plot.


Gareth read The Thing a few months back, a very hard to find novel based on the film (they write those?). He said it was more faithful to an early draft of the screen play so it was a bit different to the film.

Based on the cover Anna thinks it is about: A blow by blow account of the film The Thing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

2013 Calendars are now on Etsy

We have just listed our 2013 calendar on Etsy. Here is some information about the calendars:

  • We currently have three designs; Melbourne StationsSwimsuit (shown above) and a Kitty Calendar.
  • They are printed onto a lovely stock that is 190gsm (the front page is 300gsm) and it is a 100% recycled paper that is from post consumer waste.
  • It is bound so it opens right up to double A4 size (top to bottom) creating a pretty big calendar. This means more room for the actual calendar area and more room for the images.
  • I did lots of new drawings for these calendars.
  • The swimsuit calendar is ALL new drawings with nothing based on any card designs (except a drawing that is sort of based on this card).
  • We plan on doing some more designs in the next few weeks (we will do a boy and a girl one again of course).
  • If you're wanting to send them overseas for gifts we can do this for you, and we can wrap them and add a card as well. Just let us know when you are checking out that it is a gift and what to say on the gift tag.
  • Did you know: Thirty days has September, April June and November, all the rest have 31 except for February who decided that was all too mainstream and cut down on a few.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Things we found on Etsy

A: Waxed Canvas seems to be the perfect material to make bags from. It looks aged, it looks like it would age well and also be super durable. This rucksack is from Infusion.

B: Turns out my eyes are not working as well as they should be. I blame the hours of screen time I give them. These vintage frames are from Vintage 50s Eyeware.

C: These knitted mittens by Sarah McNeil are pretty much perfect.

D: If you got this Ukulele by Celentano Woodworks you could only be allowed to play Atomic by Blondie on it.

E: Arrows for you hair by Little Teeth Marks. I think I wore chopsticks in my hair to my year 12 valedictory, these would have been much cooler.

F:A pretty necklace for Spring by Rachel Loves Bob.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cats at the office

Last week I mentioned on the blog how we are all a bit cat obsessed in the Able and Game office. We have a few cats that hang around the place and this little guy ended up just coming into the studio. He must have felt like a celebrity because we were papping him left, right and centre. He had pretty green eyes and was a total fluff pot. I'm hoping he will turn into business cat very soon.

Friday, September 21, 2012

George A. Romero at The Astor

We got some new postcards printed up and they arrived this week ready to give away with our online orders and at market stalls. We decided to go with a design we have had for a while now, the zombie card and we had a good reason to select this design because one of our favourite Melbourne cinema's is hosting a George A. Romero night next month.

If you're a fan of his films then you need to put October 28th into your diary as The Astor are playing Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead back to back to back. From 6pm until 11.50pm you can get your fill of zombies and choc tops.

The Astor is a pretty amazing place, they have a resident cat (mega tick from me) and lucky for us will remain open after a Melbourne businessman purchased the building. Next week they are playing Lawrence of Arabia all week long and I think it would be the perfect place to see it, second of course to the time your history teacher got lazy and you watched it over 6 periods back in the early '90s.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cows don't get milked in a diary

Over the years a few people have asked us if we could make a diary. This was something I have always wanted to do, but in terms of production it was always daunting. Finally things have occurred to make this year the year we make a diary for next year. We have a new printer that makes it all a possibility, now it is just up to me and my brains and hands to get to designing it.

I made a mock up yesterday due to being a big old visual learner as I needed to have something real in front of me. There is lots of things to learn with the process which is fun, hard work, sometimes frustrating and you learn from lots of mistakes along the way (which is another way I love to learn). Once I had the mock up in my hands I felt so much better about the whole thing, suddenly it was possible. As it is just me doing all our design work I find things take a lot longer than you expect and you need to concentrate really hard to get them finished, a hard task when there are cats on the internet and cats running around outside. (There is an unspoken rule in our office, if you see a cat outside you yell out CAT CAT CAT and everyone runs out to look at it or sometimes if we are lucky, them. The cats will not let you pat them FYI).

Often when I have a job to do I imagine it finished so my brain automatically feels like it is done, but then when I have to start working on it I do all these silly jobs that make me feel like I'm accomplishing things when actually I'm not. I often feel bad about doing these things but I've come to discover they can be helpful in the whole beast that is THE CREATIVE PROCESS. Take for instance the front of the diary of the mock up in the picture above. That isn't the real front, I just spent time drawing with all my colours, having fun and avoiding the real task at hand of actually designing the real cover. Even though it isn't going to be the good copy I will use some of the ideas from that to create what will be the front. Hopefully it will be ready in time for 2013.

PS: If you want to follow us on Instagram we are ableandgame and we don't post photos of our lunch and we like every single cat photo that comes up on our feed. 

PPS: If you're after updates about the diary you might want to join up to our mailing list. The newsletter comes once a month and has new products, silly drawings, giveaways, things we like and other stuff like that. On the left of our blog there is a spot where you can join.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What we've been reading


I just finished Murikami's Sputnik Sweetheart a few weeks back. It is the second Murakami I've read, the first being The Windup Bird Chronicles. This was much shorter which made me a little sad as I think I wanted more from the story. I still enjoyed it though and there was another mention of a cat which I always like.

Based on the cover Gareth thinks it is about: Russians develop space sex dolls.


Gareth just finished Bone In The Throat by Anthony Bourdain and said it was an easy to read Mafia story, with culinary overtones.

Based on the cover Anna thinks it is about: I already know it's about cooking and the mob so I'm guessing that it is about a restaurant that is taken over by the mob who force the chef into offing people by feeding them a meal that will make them choke, so it looks accidental. A rookie cop with a pet pig investigates.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Art Class

Next week I will be teaching an illustrating class at Do Re Me in Elsternwick. The class is for school age children and you can book online here. Last school holidays I taught a similar class and I was a little bit daunted by the idea of primary school aged children. The secondary teacher in me got to writing my lesson plan and I suddenly worried it might be too difficult, too fast paced or not fast paced enough and I would run out of activities. Lucky for me the girls in the class were clever, funny and creative and they kept up with the many tasks I gave them and did a huge amount of work in the 3 hours. I was impressed with how hard they worked, they almost filled the little sketchbooks they were given.

People often ask if I still miss teaching and I always say I miss the kids. You can be silly with them and have fun interesting conversations and they keep right up with the silliness. We had a great time in the last class drawing some very strange and odd situations (a man riding on a dog who is riding a motorbike) to get their creative minds going. At first they were a little surprised about drawing such odd situations but it really helped to set the scene and get them thinking about things differently. So if you have a school aged boy or girl (last time it was all girls so I would love to have a few boys!) then book a spot and they can impress me with their drawing skills.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Things for Spring

Time to do a little change of season retail therapy and dust away the winter cobwebs.

//ONE// Pretty yellow cardi from David Lawrence.

//TWO// A cute bird mobile from Snug Studio to move around because you can now leave the doors and windows open.

//THREE// Have a party, get a piƱata and fill it with lollies (not just for kids).

//FOUR// Get a nice floral bag for all your shopping from Depeapa.

//FIVE// Bright bowls for the kitchen from Wind and Willow Home.

//Six//  Fluoro dotty leggings from Harvest Textiles.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Deep Fried Charming Potato Blocks

Over the road from our office is an old school takeaway sandwich shop that has probably been around for 30 years. When we get lazy and don't pack a lunch we pop over to get something to eat, usually a sandwich but sometimes something from the 'hot' section. Gareth loves it because they are the type of place that when you ask for one potato cake you get 3 (Gareth covers his with vinegar and says they are the closest thing to 'Scottish Chips' available in Australia).

We drove past yesterday as they were closing up and I said to Gareth, wouldn't it be fun to have a take away shop where everything has a silly name. Gareth came up with the name for hot chips and there is a little nod to Flemish/Dutch and Scotland in there as well. When I showed Gareth the deep fried pizza drawing he told me that it should have been called Tasty Crispy Oil Sponge.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Brains and stuff

This is how I'm feeling at the moment due to printer settings, duplex, 2 up, double sided and flipping paper around when it comes out of the printer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

D. Shrigley

David Shrigley is one of my favourite artists. When we were over in Scotland almost two years ago they had some of his work at the gallery in Glasgow and it was good to see them in real life rather than on the interwebs. We also got his book Man In A Room mentioned in the above video in the US. It's been sitting in the secret back pocket of my bag, still in its cello bag for about two and a half months. I like knowing it is there.

Artworks that contain lists, observations or collections of things are particular favourites of mine. Looking in people's studios is another favourite as I love to see where people work, what materials they use, how messy they are and what they stick on the wall. This video ticks all the boxes. This picture of a pizza David took also made me laugh as it does remind me of food in Glasgow, although maybe with a batter. I so hope deep fried battered chip pizza is a thing when we go back there.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Are we making 2013 calendars?

A few people have been asking us if we will be doing calendars for next year. We have been a bit slower in getting them ready but I'm happy to announce we have three (Melbourne, Kitty and a brand new Swimsuit) finished and they should be ready to go very soon. It has been a fun process designing them but because we have a new printer it has been a little more time consuming because nothing is on auto pilot at the moment!

Here is a sneak peek at one of the pages for the cat calendar above. I put the original drawing up on Instagram a few weeks back and asked people to guess what it was going to be called. I wish we could have called it The Great Catsby but there is already a Korean Comic with the same name so I stuck with the original.

This image was loads of fun to make and it feels a lot different to my usual style. I'm tempted to turn it into our next tea towel design which I'm about to start working on. I'm wanting it to be cat related and have been thinking of doing I touched a cat, but I think this one would really look great as a screen print.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ian and Brody

We started watching Homeland last night and every time Damian Lewis's character Brody came on the screen he reminded me of homeless Ian Beale from Eastenders.

Gareth has gone and done a big whoopsie and got me slightly addicted to Eastenders. It has only taken a year and a half for it to happen and although I am not fully converted I have gone from refuse to watch it to if it is on I'll pay attention. Looks like I'll have to make a new version of this card.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Recipe: Beetroot Salad

Like most Australians born in the '80s I'm a little ashamed to admit that my only understanding of beetroot was the canned variety. Growing up on a farm with a father who had a substantial vegie patch for most of my childhood I'm not sure why we overlooked beetroot. I think we must have thought it couldn't possibly get any better than the sweet pickled variety that came in such a canned convenience.

The first time I had it in its natural form was well into my 20s as part of a roast dinner and I think in my total naivety I thought it couldn't be done. I was wrong, the stuff was delicious and since those days I've become a bit of a beet convert. It stores well so you can have it on hand pretty quickly, has an amazing colour and I'm sure stains your insides like you wouldn't believe.

My favourite way to eat beetroot is a little different to how most people have them (at least that I've spoken with) as in I like to have them raw. Now before you turn in horror the same way I did when I first saw roast beetroot you need to understand it is all in the way it is chopped. I'm always amazed at how different vegetables taste depending on how you chop them and that is certainly the case with your old pal beety, you need to get a fine shred going on.

A few years ago we invested in a Borner V slicer like the ones you see on daytime TV. We didn't buy ours via the TV, but the kitchen shop in Bentleigh where we did get it had a TV next to it showing a video demonstration, so it was almost the same. The assistant did the usual sales spiel, assuring me it was high quality German made and that she personally swears by them, however it was one of those occasions where the sales lady could have called me a rude word and slapped me across the face, I wanted it bad. I also got convinced into buying the the roko shredder and this is the thing that changed salads from a good friend to my best friend for ever in the whole world. What it does to beetroot and carrot it like a miracle that no course edge creating vegetable grater will ever be able to do. This is the thing that makes raw beetroot into the star of the salad show, plus I've read raw beetroot is a superfood or something, but all that doesn't matter because this stuff tastes good. It also will stain your clothes.

Beetroot, Feta, Mint and Almond Salad

Serves 1 for lunch or 2 as a side

(quantities are just a guideline)

1 beetroot finely shredded
Beetroot is the healthy, pretty, stainy star of the show.

1/3 of a cup of toasted flaked almonds
These are vital for adding crunchy goodness.

80 g of feta cut into cubes
This is the creamy salt kick to get everything tasting better.

10 - 15 mint leaves roughly chopped
Adds the herby yum flavour as well as a pretty green to offset the red.

You're favourite salad dressing (EVOO + Balsamic works well)
Like everything else this is vital for getting all the flavours to work. The 3:1 ratio works well. For an actual recipe go here.

Salt and Pepper
Watch your salt because of the salty feta.

Peel your beetroot in water to stop it staining your fingers then shred using a roko slicer or a grater. Pop into a bowl and add some salt, pepper and salad dressing to taste.

Toast your almonds on a fry pan, paying lots of attention to them as they can quickly burn. Let them cool for a bit.

Cube up your feta cheese and roughly chop some fresh mint, add both of these to your beetroot.

Add the almonds when they have cooled a little. If you're not eating the salad right away keep almonds separate and only add when you're about to eat the salad otherwise they will lose their crunchiness. If you don't like your feta stained pink add this in at the end, but I'm partial to some pretty pink feta.

Changes you can make:
  • Carrots can be substituted for the beetroot.
  • Pine nuts can be used instead of almonds.
  • Rocket can be used to bulk it out and will make it look pretty with the contrasting colours.
  • Cooked DuPuy lentils are another great addition to create an earthier more filling salad.
  • If you're cooking for vegan friends just omit the feta and maybe add some marinated tofu instead.
  • Play around with different ingredients. The good thing about a salad is it isn't an exact science and lots of different ingredients will work just as well.

As a side dish what does it work well with?
My favourite thing to have this with would be a Middle Eastern style tagine dish. We had it with Karen Martini's Syrian Chicken the other night, along with some rice and it was a good addition to the meal. Gareth even approved and he is a cous cous hating, deep fried pizza loving bearded man.

Do I still like canned beetroot?
Oh yes.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day Trip

Last Sunday Gareth and I took an impromptu tram ride to Albert Park to enjoy some sunshine and sea breeze. The tram out the front of our place in Brunswick takes us right to the beach so we jumped on with no real plan on what we would do. We snapped some pics to send to Gareth's Nephew in reply to a sweet email he had written and thought I would share them with you.

View up Collins Street. When I first moved to Melbourne I got a bit confused as to where the Paris End of Collins Street was. I thought it was down around King Street and only later learned it was the Spring Street end. Oops.

Gareth is obsessed with this game Drop 7. I also like it a lot, but not the levels of obsessed that Gareth is exhibiting. It is one of those super simple games that hook you in. You can get it on iPhone and Android but you can't get the hours you have wasted back.

We went to Nshry for lunch, a place I wanted to visit after I read they won The Burger Adventure's burger of the year award. We had a couple of beers and enjoyed the sun (but not so much the wind) and enjoyed seeing a different part of Melbourne. Due to winter and post overseas saving I feel like we haven't left Brunswick very much the last few months so it was good to get out and do some exploring.

Some people were pretty game and were in the water. Although it looks all blue sky and lovely it was still a cool 18 degrees so not quite swimming weather for us. My highlight of the day was a golden Afghan hound running around on the beach. Those dogs are amazing. I know I go on about cats all the time but if there were more Afghans around I could dip at least one toe into dog territory.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What are you doing this weekend?

After a few months of having most Sunday's free since July we have a full market schedule this weekend. This Saturday the 8th of September the Sisters Market returns to the Brunswick Town Hall, running from 10am - 4pm and we will be in our usual spot in the Atrium. Also on Saturday we will be at our usual spot at Rose Street Market from 11am - 5pm.

Then on the Sunday we are over to the North Melbourne Market from 10am - 3pm. If you're been to this market previously they have now got rid of the $2 entry fee.If you pop by come and say hello.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jacana Get Better Than You

We have a few new Melbourne cards available and Jacana Get Better Than You is another one. We have been meaning to make this one for a while. I've been using Illustrator a lot more than photoshop recently for card design and I've been enjoying creating patterns to use in clothing. I designed this Hawaiian style shirt that I think pairs really well with his chest hair.

Monday, September 3, 2012

What is the deal with boybands these days?

I don't watch much reality singing/talent/dancing shows but they seem to be filtering into my world a bit more than usual. They seem to be manufacturing boybands like we manufacture cards (grab six designs that work together and package them up) and they seem to appear so quickly.

It got me thinking about the boybands of my youth. I think they really missed out on the Beatlemania hysteria that seems to have resurfaced recently with bands like One Direction. I'm a little jealous because although from the outside it looks odd can you imagine how much fun being fully embedded inside a screaming frenzy would be?

When I was around 11 I liked NKOTB and I found the image above from a TV Hits mini book on pop artists circa 1991-1992 that I have still kept. My sister and I used to quiz each other on it so we know random facts like Vanilla Ice's real name is Robert Van Winkle and that Prince sleeps less than 4 hours a night.

I remember first seeing You Got It (The Right Stuff) on Video Hits and getting excited. I liked the formula of the tough guy, the goofy guy, the normal guy, the facial hair guy and my particular favourite, the cuter than a kitten guy (hello Joey McIntyre!!!). If you want to remember how awesome the early '90s was take a look at Step By Step.

In no particular order here are some of the things that go zing to me: dungarees, USA themed shirt, double breasted suits, dancing in unison, doing arm curls to build up the guns, when Donnie throws what looks like a perfectly good peach on the ground and grabs another from his pocket (?), Jordan singing step three it's just you for me in falsetto and finally Donnie's platted rats tail. Wow there was a lot of zing to unpack in 4 and a half minutes!