Saturday, October 31, 2009

the wardrobe (closet) - canal+

For your amusement! Who doesn't love a good story....
Have a great weekend everyone. Thanks for your visits & comments this week.
Amanda xx
(found via Brunnel & his twitter!)
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

chalk it up

Is it just me, or does it seem that in the hurly burly that is the lead up to Christmas, the world speeds up, everything gets ultra-busy and hectic, overbooked, double-booked, stressful, and it is a constant panic just to keep up? (You can see that my blissed out long-weekend is a thing of the past!) Why do I not know that Milly has swimming at the same time that Eva has tennis, that Brunnel is awol, Bruno is due at the doggy parlour for an appointment that I booked, & I have an appointment for a brazilian (ha ha!), when it should be an appointment to have my head read? Oh, and work - that little thing needs to be fitted in somewhere too when there's time.
I need a calendar like this. How cool! I love it! And not just because I have a thing for blackboards. It is front and centre. I would look at it without fail. I could chalk up all those very important dates, hopefully not get them all on the same day, and I might even get there on time.
Amanda xx

P.S No need to be alarmed. There are still 57 days to go until Christmas.

P.P.S Did you know that chalkboard paint need not be confined to charcoal & black? We've just ordered chocolate brown for the office, but you can have lipstick pink, green, blue & a range of stunning colours to match your interior. See Porters Paints, and have some fun!
(image Marie Nichols)
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009


In this day and age it is almost incomprehensible that there are still places where you truly can get away from it all. Our bach is one such place. No cellphone coverage, no internet, no shop, no newspaper delivery, television reception that doesn't try very hard, not even a radio, because my grandmother's trusty old transistor proved old rather than trusty. It was only on the drive back to Wellington today that it occurred to me that I had heard no 'news' (other than relayed important things such as rugby results) since leaving the city on Saturday. I confess that I did try to get cellphone coverage. But other than climbing out on to a rocky outcrop with the surf pounding below, it was a no-goer. And other than upsetting my blogging addiction, I decided that a long weekend without modern communication was actually quite nice, and probably very good for me. I enjoyed burying my head in the sand, literally.
Maybe we could revert to sign language? The signs in this image are on our wall at the bach. They refer to the past-life our bach enjoyed some 40 years ago, long before we bought it. Believe me, it was a chequered history! I'll save that story for another time. I found the signs all over the valley and 'collected' them! I love their 'one of a kind' appeal & the story behind them.
And as we drove over the hills today, and our phones beeped to let us know we were back in the land of connectivity and instant availability, I was secretly quite pleased when I discovered I had forgotten to charge my iphone, and I had at least the 5 hour drive ahead of me, without having to answer to anyone, except the family of course.
Hope your week is going swimmingly! I have missed you - truly...
Amanda xx
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Friday, October 23, 2009

happy long weekend!

It has been a big week! Yay - long Labour Weekend ahead. I'm off to the beach. It has been too long since our last visit to the bach, and we're all really looking forward to a little r&r. I have a good book, some new saved-up magazines & some coffee beans in my bag. Brunnel assures me there is wine. I shall be very happy indeed.

I just thought I'd show you this picture I took on a job today. Thankfully, it is not an everyday occurence when you require abseilers to hang your curtains! But the stud height here gave us no other option. It was quite nerve-wracking, and I wasn't the one hanging around up there.

Have a lovely weekend everyone, and thanks for visiting this week. I've loved your comments.
Amanda xx
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

(interior) style file

I love this mix - graphic and classic black and white interspersed with a little fuchsia pink detail. Statement wallpaper on a feature wall. And a fabulous space, furnished with a mix of contemporary, iconic and upcycled vintage pieces. I could curl up with a nice glass of vino & a few magazines, and be very happy indeed.
Amanda xx
(all images Designers Guild)
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

trick or treat?

This one's definitely a treat! The Acorns team as you've never seen them before. We just love singing, dancing, dressing up and making fools of ourselves - so here we are in a special Halloween production, as directed by the lovely (& worryingly hirsute) Becky. No wonder she's been giggling all day! The fact that I'm cast as the mad scientist is something of a worry. Is this how my team really see me? 

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!
We're a graveyard smash. Have a giggle and monster mash yourself!
Amanda xx
P.S I do quite fancy my hair do though. What do you think?

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Monday, October 19, 2009

toy story

A little psychedelic for you on a Monday morning? Imagine it after a few drinks!
This kitchen uses more than 20,000 pieces of Lego to turn a basic Ikea kitset into a work of art.
You just woudn't want the kids to start turning it into something else!

Happy Monday!
(image The Cool Hunter & Courtney)
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Friday, October 16, 2009

the fishing expedition

This photo is a much talked about childhood memory. Here we are at the beach, us kids all on the back of the Hol-doon as we used to call it, and heading off on one of our many fishing expeditions around the rocks. Apart from the roman sandals I'm wearing (what was my mother thinking) these are really fun, happy memories.  And look at what we used to catch...

These days we're really excited if there are one or two crayfish in the pot!
And the point of my story? In his great new book 'Go Fish', Al Brown has some similar photos from his family album. More than just a cook book 'Go Fish' is Al's homage to fish. It's about the joy of fishing, respecting the catch, our oceans and enjoying the best New Zealand has to offer from catch to cooking.
Al is a chef, fisherman, family man, tv presenter, food writer & co-owner of the award winning Wellington restaurant Logan Brown. If there is such a thing as a New Zealand celebrity chef, Al is it. So how on earth do I find myself heading out to Al's house yesterday so that he can sign copies of his book for Small Acorns? I do not really know Al. I am hardly going to ring him up, in the midst of his book launch and his rather busy life, to say 'Hey Al, will you sign some copies of your book for my Acorns customers?'
No, I'm not. But I have a husband who is the exact opposite of me. He talks to everyone, knows everyone, waves at everyone (& likes to think he knows everything too.) Brunnel asks Al if he would sign our books.
And, because that's the sort of guy he is, Al says sure!
And so I find myself driving to Al's house to get my books signed. At this point I'm regretting telling Al, some months ago, that I was pleased the mockup cover of a skeletal dead fish, wasn't in fact the final book jacket. It turns out that Al liked that cover. Really liked that cover. Argued for some time with the publisher about that cover. I wonder if he'll remember this conversation. He does. Now he knows who I am. And I am no longer semi-anonymous netball woman with chatty husband. He still prefers the first cover. Good. We're off to a great start. I try again. Favourite recipes in the book, how long it took to write, great man-cave/office. I am thankful that he is such a nice 'bloke'. I should stick to my day job, and leave him to his I think, quite wisely. As he says, keep it simple.

Get in quick for an autographed copy of this great book. Check out Al's website for some great recipes and foodie advice. He's currently filming a new series called The Coasters which will air on our screens next year.

Amanda xx
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

pushing up daisies

I have decided that blogging is a very good thing for a shrinking violet like myself. I can't for the life of me imagine that six months ago, when this all started, that I would be snapping photos all over town, and introducing myself to people that I previously might have been too shy to, because I now have a blog, and in the vague hope that one or two people, other than my parents, may be interested enough to read it! So, in the spirit of blogging, last week I plucked up the courage to ask the lovely Sarah from Daisy A Day, one of Wellington's best florists, if I could interview her. And, she said yes!
One of my favourite tasks each week is the flowers for the store. We have several displays dotted around the store, some merely a single flower & a leaf in a teacup, & some larger containers or vases. I confess that the flower budget for the store sometimes has to be fudged a little! I cross town to Daisy A Day, where we have developed this lovely relationship with Sarah and her team. I wander in, smitten with the beautiful flowers on display, & proceed to help myself to whatever takes my fancy.

There's always a lot that takes my fancy! Because as well as the best of the commercially grown flowers, Sarah also has a mix of hard-to-find blossoms that she sources herself, according to the season of course - alliums, solomons seal, rhododendron, & huge bunches of jasmine were all there on the day I visited with my camera. Sarah's personal favourite flower is, like my current obsession, the dahlia, and she laments that in New Zealand, very few are grown commercially. (So, if you have a fenceful come summer, you know who to call - after me of course!) The current trend, Sarah says, is back to a 'pretty pretty' look, thankfully a lot less structured, and almost old-fashioned. She loves the look that volume of the same flower produces - a huge bunch of parrot tulips, roses or freesias en mass. A tumble of viburnum, that crisp lime green with delphinium spires. And whenever she can get them, old-fashioned roses, which are always what brides ask for. It seems that the romantic flowers are still bridal favourites - lots of white, with a mix of hot pink & red.
Apparently, when giving flowers, most of us still ask for a mixed bunch. Maybe we need retraining! However Sarah stresses that instead of taking that bunch home, and plopping it straight into a vase, we should think about breaking it up - making many smaller displays from one large bunch. And the cardinal sin - leaving the wrapping on the flowers.

Like many of us, Sarah's career path hasn't always involved flowers, but it is ironic that she returned from a stint overseas to Daisy A Day, the florist where she persuaded the original owners to give her her first job. She has been at the helm now almost 3 years, and has most definitely stamped her own creative flair on the business. The displays always look amazing, beautifully colour co-ordinated, and in a crazy mix of fabulous containers. It is hard to leave empty-handed. And, being a busy girl, come Sunday morning, you can find Sarah on her market stall at the City Market. A few treasures for the vases at home!

Sarah's top tips for making your flowers last longer:
  • always retrim the stems, about 2-3 cms, on an angle
  • remove all the wrapping & any leaves that will be under water
  • except for spring & soft stem flowers, place the flowers into warm water first, & then into cold
  • give them a big drink of water
  • use flower food if you have it
  • change the water every 2 to 3 days
  • recut the stems again after a few days
  • flowers like hydangeas & viburnum love a spray of water too
  • ask your florist how the flowers have been treated
So, there you have it! All the tips from one of our best. And thank you Sarah for chatting to me so willingly!

Amanda xx

(all images taken at Daisy A Day by me)

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Monday, October 12, 2009

the fun theory

Something lighthearted and yet thought provoking to start the week....
What do you think?

Have a fabulous fun-filled week!
Amanda xx
P.S I can't get this screen to 'shrink' so I'm going to think 'fun' thoughts & move right along....!
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Friday, October 9, 2009

roses are red, violets are blue

I have garden envy. Don't get me wrong - I love love love living in the heart of the city, with the sort of garden that comes with a city section & home. But yesterday I took a drive up the coast to visit a client in Otaki. She has a rose nursery which specialises in heritage roses. I was there to do a measure up but was mesmerised by her garden.
Acres of lawn - all of it flat, a stunning potager garden, all marked out by box hedge. Amazing artichokes in flower, along with lots of aromatic herbs, strawberries, beautiful flowering borage. A lemon tree so laden it was almost on the ground. Birdsong. An old pear orchard. Chickens. A tumbledown barn (only held up by the clematis & roses which entangle it, says Karen.) And of course roses & perennials - everywhere.
'Would you like coffee outside?' asked Karen.
'Well actually I'd quite like a tour' I replied.
So, as the rain had managed to stop, we wandered the garden, coffee cups in hand, while Karen talked me through all the different vistas and areas of the huge garden that she and husband Grant have rescued from an almost overgrown wilderness.
My garden envy is somewhat tempered by the reality of the amount of work required in a garden this size. I tried the cottage garden once, fancying myself as Vita Sackville-West. Despite the pocket size garden I had, I soon realised that I could grow borage, lots of it, but not much else could be left to chance!
I left Trinity Farm Rose Nursery with 3 beautiful Mutabilis roses to plant, and the promise to return in November with my camera when the garden will be at its most prolific.
And back home, despite the still sub-zero conditions outside, the aphids on the roses in my garden are showing no signs of giving up their obviously succulent perch. I'm going to try Karen's recommendation - a spray of garlic and dishwash liquid. Ha - take that you wee varmints!
Providing you're not an aphid, I hope you have a lovely weekend.
Amanda xx

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

retail detail: world beauty

This wasn't the post I was going to write tonight, but sometimes you just get so caught up in the moment don't you?
It has been a busy day. Beetling back across the city, swatch books in hand after a long session with a client, my mind in a million places, realising I have double quadruple booked myself for tomorrow, I haven't emailed my bank manager as promised, I have not had lunch (again), my phone telling me I have 3 new messages & several missed calls, when suddenly I spy new goodies in the window of one of my favourite Wellington stores - World Beauty. I reassure myself that I deserve a 5 minute respite and in I go.

This store is almost retail heaven for me. I've been a skincare, cosmetics & fragrance junkie forever, and I'm crazy about quirky antique treasures. The unique World Beauty combination of boutique beauty brands such as Aesop, Darphin, Demeter, Fragonard & Guerlain together with quirky, mostly french, vintage finds together under the one roof is brilliant. What makes it genius in my humble opinion is the merchandising.

Now, I'm known to be fairly picky about the merchandising and displays at Small Acorns. Just ask my team. (No, don't - they'll tell you that I'm actually quite anal about them, not merely picky!)
Well, the beautifully displayed goodies at World Beauty just invite you in. Come linger awhile they whisper. And so you do. They are hard to beat. And if you're lucky enough to strike Jay instore when you visit, then you will quite possibly linger even longer. Every retail store should be so lucky to have someone on their team as affable and so passionate about the goodies they are surrounded by as Jay. I had a gorgeous guided tour of the new old things, and wafted around in some truly stunning fragrance. He possibly thought I was a stalker.

The vintage gems are sourced by Meredith from European Antiques. If you live in Auckland and have never visited her gorgeous treasure trove jam-packed house (by appointment) then  pick up the phone. The rest of us have to get our thrills via her great website. And then there are the pieces she displays at World Beauty to tempt me in! Today it was some beautiful old french kitchen enamelware. How could I resist?

So, a little retail therapy, and an enjoyable time was had by all! I still haven't finished the quotes marked down for tonight, but I have sent my bank manager a cheery note! And for my family, who always say I am the hardest person in the world to buy for, when you need a few Christmas ideas, I'll be ready.
                                                                          Amanda xx

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

flight of the conchords

Brunnel & I love Flight of the Conchords. So when my lovely blogging friend Deborah from Kickcan & Conkers alerted me to this funny free paper toy download of Bret and Jemaine from Morgan Gleave I knew I had to share it! Instead of playing Paper Toss on your iPhone, you could get all creative!

And, just because every time I see this video it makes me laugh, my favourite favourite Flight of the Conchords song...

Have a giggle for good times sake! How I love that 'sexy dance' bit! Brunnel thinks his is better...
Amanda xx
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Sunday, October 4, 2009

the villa

It's been a poopy day today - freezing cold, windy, hail, rain. Spring weather? I haven't even ventured outside. So much for the gardening that was planned. Maybe this cold will freeze the aphids off their perch on the roses. Anyway, I've had the perfect excuse to hunker down with this beautiful new book 'Villa - From Heritage to Contemporary' by photographer Patrick Reynolds, heritage architect Jeremy Salmond & magazine editor Jeremy Hansen, which arrived instore this week.
Built by the Victorians & Edwardians, from New Zealand's native forests, the villa is the quintessential New Zealand house. Other than my childhood home, all the other houses I have lived in, including the delapidated student flats, have been villas. And apparently I'm not the only one. More people in inner-city suburbs throughout New Zealand end up living in a villa than a house of any other architectural style.

I currently live in inner city Mt Victoria in Wellington, a suburb which features numerous times throughout 'Villa'. I laughed when the authors imagined a modern day developer pitching his vision for Mt Vic.
"...I propose a suburb in which we allow builders to chase fast bucks by slapping up rows of near-identical houses separated by mere centimetres. Forget about off-street parking: neighbours will be forced to get to know one another by leaving their cars exposed to the elements in almost impossibly narrow lanes. Furthermore, I believe the modern desire for privacy is overrated. To enhance the sense of intimacy in this development, each house will be best situated about a metre back from the road..."
Obviously, it would never fly. And yet this higgledy piggledy suburb is amazing to live in, and now enjoys council protection as a character area.
This book details the history of the villa, typical characteristics, the many pitfalls and the virtues, and then it looks at the villa today, and how many are being renovated to meet the requirements of 21st century living. It is a beautiful book, from both a historical and a design perspective, crammed with photos and well-written text.

 (I love this original wallpaper, featured as endpapers in the book.)

Ngila Dickson, whose home is one of those featured, has this to say 'Villas have this feeling of history. People have lived in this house and it's evolved. It has a lot of life in it, and it's not just because we live here.'
I so agree - in our previous house I always felt safe, watched over perhaps by the previous inhabitants, and that we were mere custodians of the time. Even our current, poorly rundown, almost-unrecognisable-as-a-villa, villa, still has that lovely feel about it - a warmth that certainly can't be explained or put down to good design!
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Friday, October 2, 2009

happy weekend!

I'm hoping to get into the garden this weekend - if the weather would just give me a break! The garden sure could do with some help. Maybe these little chaps could give me a bit of a hand? Aren't they cool - gnome candles!
Have a lovely weekend everyone, where ever you may be!
Amanda xx

(image Living etc)
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

lonny magazine

The long-awaited and much anticipated Lonny magazine launches online today. Sometimes there are advantages to being on this side of the world - we get to see it first!! 195 online pages of fabulous decorating advice and ideas and inspiration, and all at the touch of a mouse. Pour yourself a wine or make a coffee and sit back awhile. And you can read more about the magazine's creation and the creativity behind it here on Michelle's blog. ... Enjoy!
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