Hot artichoke dip

hot artichoke dip

Customers will often share recipes and cooking tips with us as they explore our in store bake ware. As a result, we have a mouth watering collection of culinary delights.. it’s time to do the good thing and pass them on!

We are beginning our ‘Merchants Food,’ series with this hot artichoke dip. This recipe has spread like wild fire throughout the team, flavouring various dinner parties and occasions.

Take our word for it, it is an absolute winner!

 

You will need:

2 tins of artichoke – drained and chopped in halves

1 cup of whole egg mayo

1 brown onion finely chopped

3 garlic cloves chopped

½ cup of parmesan cheese

To prepare:

Chop artichokes in half

Stir through mayo and add finely chopped onion & parmesan

cook for 30-40 mins at 165°C, until brown and bubbling 

 

And that’s it! All you need to do now is enjoy and share with friends!

Beyonce’s Brew

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We met Anne McWilliam at our most resent buying trip in Sydney.

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Blossom Blends is a boutique tea shop that was conceived from the memory of cosy shared moments over a refreshing cuppa around the kitchen table. Inspired by her beloved grandmother Nan Mac, Blossom Blends is a bespoke collection of tea blended using only the finest tea, herbs, flowers and fruit sourced and hand-picked from around the globe.

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Speaking to Anne she was so lovely and humble, I was in awe of her success at such a young age. Anne received her big break last October when Grammy organisers contacted her about supplying Blossom Blends Tea for the Grammy goodie bags. Initially she thought it was a joke but before she knew it, her tea was being reviewed in front of the Grammy panel and she got the go ahead!

You may wonder how her tea came to the panels attention. A member of the Grammy organising panel received it as a small gift from an Australian friend. When the time came to create the gift bags for the event the tea popped back into her mind and so she suggested it as something a little different to offer the stars.

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It must be so surreal to think people like Beyonce have held and enjoyed something you have created. It really highlights how anyone can make their mark on the world by following their passion. I guess a little luck helps too!

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We love Blossom Blends Tea and are happy it’s made a home in our store. It will definitely lift our spirits over the coming winter months. Good on you Anne, you are definite inspiration to us all at the Merchants.

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Lisa

Chain reaction

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If you’ve passed by the store over the last few days you may have noticed our new jewellery window display. We’ve never had jewellery displayed in the window before, it’s a pretty hard medium to showcase!

Brainstorming, we came up the the concept of displaying necklaces individually on clipboards. Initially we were going to tie them together with fishing line but then thought they would move around too much. Our in store handy man then suggested we use chain. Genius!! 

It’s one of the easiest things we’ve put together but I think its made a very effective window.

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If you’d like to make one yourself here’s how!…

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Happy crafting!

Lisa

 

“I never dreamt of being a geriatric starlet!”

Presenting to you the amazing Iris Apfel. At 93, this daring textiles designer has become one of the most iconic ladies in the world.

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Chilling in her Manhattan apartment

Chilling in her Manhattan apartment

 

Iris for Mac cosmetics

Iris for Mac cosmetics

ladies who lunch!

ladies who lunch!

Iris with husband Carl

Iris with husband Carl

Standing out in monochrome

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I’m inspired, are you?

Lisa

Feeling blue…

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This is our first in a series of mood boards paying homage to some of our treasures in store. For no particular reason I started with the colour blue. Later in the day I read an article detailing how blue is the most favoured colour in the world.

Eager for more useless information I went hunting with our good friend Google!

Here are some more interesting facts I learned about the colour blue…

  • It makes eating very unappealing, so its a great dieting colour for plates.
  • It is a colour shown to help you solve creative problems.  (while green stimulates creativity, blue is suggested for creative problem solving)
  • Blue can help you stay physically calmer, regulating heart beat and breathing in studies of video gamers!
  • Blue pigment was so rare in nature that historically it was prized in a lavish way.
  • Sick children prefer to be taken care of by people wearing blue (note to moms, dads and nannies)
  • Whereas other colours in nature tend to be a function of pigment, blue colour tends to be created by an object’s actual structure.  Blue, in a sense, is built-in where it is mainly found in nature. How cool and sort of mystical!

It all seems quite positive to me, not sure where the negative saying ‘feeling blue’ has been derived? That’s a Google session for another day!

Lisa

 

 

 

Egg-cellent achievements! 10 of the best Easter World Records

Its Easter weekend, the most important festival in the Christian calendar, and one also marked with chocolate eggs, hot cross buns, egg hunts and general overindulgence!

To get you in the mood for the holiday, here are ten of the best Easter-themed world records.

1.The largest chocolate Easter egg weighed 7,200 kg (15,873 lbs 4.48 oz) and had a circumference of 19.6 m (64 ft 3.65 in) at its widest point and was made by Tosca (Italy). It was measured at Le Acciaierie Shopping Centre, in Cortenuova, Italy, in 2011.

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2, The most expensive non-jewelled chocolate egg sold at auction for £7,000 ($11,107) and was created by William Curley, Amy Rose Curley, Alistair Birt, Sarah Frankland, Melissa Paul, Rhiann Mead (all UK) and Suzue Curley (Japan). It was sold at the Royal Courts of Justice, London, UK, on 20 March 2012.

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3. Good Friday in Bermuda is marked with colorful, multi-sided kites made of sticks and tissue paper dotting skies all over the island. The highest altitude by a single kite was achieved by Richard P Synergy (Canada) after achieving an altitude of approximately 4,422 m (14,509 ft) above the point of take-off on 12 August 2000 near Kincardine, Ontario, Canada. The kite, a high-tech delta, had an area of 25 m2 (270 ft2) and was designed and built by Synergy himself. At its maximum altitude the kite had 7.31 km (4.5 miles) of woven kevlar line connecting it to a winch on the ground. The record-breaking flight lasted 8 hr 35 min. 4. The largest Easter egg hunt consisted of 501,000 eggs that were searched for by 9,753 children accompanied by their parents at the Cypress Gardens Adventure Park in Winter Haven, Florida, USA, in 2007. 5. Similarly, the most entrants in an egg hunt competition is 12,773 and was achieved by The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt, as part of World Record London, in London, last year. 133355_-_Most_entrants_in_an_Egg_hunt_competition_1.jpg 6. The record for the largest easter egg tree was set by Zoo Rostock GGmbH, Rostock, Germany who decorated a tree with 76,596 painted hens eggs on 8 April 2007. 106907-4919442(1).jpg 7. The largest chocolate rabbitweighed 3,850 kg (8,488 lb) and was made by Brazilian company Senac-RS, for the city of Gramado’s annual “Chocofest” earlier this week. Chocorabbit story full.jpg

8. On a similar big-eared tip, in 2007, community leaders in Delta, Ohio organized the largest bunny hop in honor of Delta High School, whose mascot is the rabbit.

A record 3,841 participants formed one continuous line and hopped like rabbits for a full five minutes to ensure they earned they’re place in the history books.

9. The largest hot cross bun weighed 168 kg (370 lb 6 oz) and was made by the RSPB in conjunction with Greenhalghs Bakery (both UK), in Bolton, UK, on 5 April 2012.

10. Finally, here’s a big bunny to end our list. Darius, a Flemish giant rabbit owned by Annette Edwards (UK), was found to be 129 cm (4 ft 3 in) long when measured in April 2010.

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Happy Easter everyone!!

Lisa

As eggspected, we’ve had an “EggShellent” idea!!

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If you have driven or walked past our window over the last few days, you may have stopped and expressed your shock at the army of bunnies which have taken over! You may have even popped in store to check that it is still being manned by gift wrapping humans. Fear not, it is!

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One major component which remains missing however are… THE EGGS!!

This year we thought it would be pretty snazzy to give you guys a chance to be apart of our window. We have a devised a cunning craft activity which can help you achieve said stardom. The aim is to fill the window with as many hand painted eggs as possible. You can blow out and decorate your eggs at home, pop into the store and direct us as to where you’d like your eggs to be displayed in our window. It’s EASY! Even better, the best egg wins a $50 gift voucher. Eggs aren’t the greatest of shoppers so I guess the owner can spend it on their behalf. Happy days!!!

We had some fun in the store today.

Here is a brief “How to Guide” on blowing & painting your eggs…

          STEP 1 – SHAKE IT UP BABY (twisting and shouting is optional)

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This is an important step. You may look a bit silly but it will be SO much easier to blow out the yolk once it’s all broken up.

 

 

  STEP TWO – PIERCE THE TOP AND BOTTOM OF THE EGG AND BLOW

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If you feel like you are about to pass out just shake the egg a bit more, or take a casual break. Try not to break the egg though.

 

 

        STEP 3 – WASH OUT YOUR EGGS AND DRY

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Feel impressed that you only broke TWO eggs!!

 

 

STEP 4 – CUE THE BEAUTIFUL LADIES FOR THE BEAUTIFUL WORK

                                         (no offence Mike!)

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You can decorate your eggs with poster paint, ink, food dye or anything else you can get messy with! We used chalk markers here which we use for drawing on our windows. We found they work really well as we could put in some detail and they weren’t so messy.

 

 

STEP 5 – TAKE YOUR EGGS TO THE STORE AND WE’LL DISPLAY THEM IN OUR WINDOW

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Now you are a local legend..you can tell all your friends!!

 

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Just in case you’re still feeling that this task it too hard, here’s a picture of Mike and his       eggs inspired by the Fremantle Dockers and the hit TV series True Detective…

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See…you can do it!!!!!

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Happy crafting!

~Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where there’s a Will there’s a way!

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If you have visited our kitchen department downstairs, I do hope you have come across our lovely Will. Tall, ginger and knowledgeable in all things kitchen, Will is your go to guy for factual information about most of life’s mysteries….especially kitchen gadgets!

Will’s absolute favourite is the zucchini shredder.. last year it was the apple/corer/slicer but he’s keeping up with current trends, moving on to bigger and greener things. Will will always manage to convince me to buy his latest top find, in turn I spent a sizeable amount of time poking fun at said obsession, it’s a good balance.

Last weekend however I almost literally ate my own words!

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A lovely lady came in store, during Will’s passionate speech about the shredder a spark was struck and soon Will learned that there was someone else out there who shared his love of zucchini. An hour later Will’s partner in crime arrived back in store with four of the most massive zucchinis I have ever seen, picked from her garden!

Lucky for me, Will invited me around for dinner after work!

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In some extraordinary feat of telepathic kitchen wonder, Mel put together a similarly delightful dish for her guests!

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So all the hours of mocking presented itself in the most beautiful form! As I left with my belly full and my heart happy, I apologised to Will for giving him such a hard time.

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Lovely zucchini lady, may the force of nature’s goodness be with you!!!!

Have a great long weekend!

Lisa

Two environmental scientists and a hardware store…

merchants logoYou’ve been to lots of gift and homeware stores before, but I am 99% sure none have had a story quite like this! Mike and Amanda met in America, both working at an environmental youth camp. It took some time but eventually, Mike’s Bear Grylls style survival skills wooed Amanda and she brought him back to Australia, her greatest holiday memento to date!!!

The pair married and had a beautiful little girl Chloe who is possibly one of the coolest small people I have ever met. At the age of six she can tell me about the majority of the animal kingdom. She often imparts interesting facts like “did you know the preying mantis is unique among insects because they can turn their heads a full 180 degrees!” This particular fascination also led her to dress up as said insect for her school assembly when all the other little girls in the class chose to dress as cute ladybugs or butterflies.

The final line out was quite a sight!!!

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Amanda’s folks ran their own hardware business for over 30years with the family home based upstairs. Mike and Amanda jumped at the opportunity to start their own business when the time finally came for the hardware to close its doors. They didn’t stay shut for long, in three weeks Mike and Amanda turned a concrete stained workshop into a dream home and giftware store.

Today Merchants takes over the two floors. It celebrates the Hardware shop by keeping a gardening section and services such as key cutting and knife sharpening.  It also draws on the memories of the old family home, by keeping its structure upstairs – where you will find toiletries in the bathroom, bake ware in the kitchen, toys in the girls’ rooms and many more treasures.  

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This is now our till area!

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Amanda with Dad and little sis. This wardrobe is now open and full of gorgeous ladies clothes!

img010This is our living room which displays homewares, jewelry and books.

A retail story like no other??

If you haven’t already please stop by and say hello, we can’t wait to meet you!

Lisa 🙂