Wednesday, February 24, 2010

in bloom

My first foray into dahlia growing this year sees me rushing into the garden to check how my flowers are looking.  There have been a few setbacks! Bruno's penchant for chewing up the watering system hose deprived them of water, and then a plague of insects decided that the lush new growth was quite irresistible and set about chowing down. However, with a little love, a barricade, some worm juice, and some organic pest powder, I think my beautiful blooms will be late, but oh so worth the wait! My favourite is this amazing pink cactus dahlia, which I am picking and bringing inside at every opportunity.

I'm off to Sydney for a couple of days. It's trade show time, and I'm looking forward to some new inspirations and ideas. Plus of course a little market research and breakfast at Bills!

Amanda xx

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

moody blues

I love playing with soft shades of duck egg blue, especially when it borders on celadon. So easy to live with. Restful and calm, but not cold. I love that this colour can hold its own amongst whatever interior style takes your fancy - contemporary, upcycled, modern retro, modern vintage or classic with a twist.  So many moods (just like my ten year old at the moment!) - this is one moody blue!

Hope your week is off to a beautiful start.
Amanda xx
(Images Designers Guild, Appley Hoare, lakbdesign)
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Friday, February 19, 2010

could this be mr right?

Amongst these hot possibilities there are some pretty good catches. If you're quick!

Plenty to go around it seems. Please let me know if things work out for you..., although I get the feeling they might still be out there.

Amanda xx
P.S Mike is mine!!!
(Thanks Huffington Post!)
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

retail detail - caravan

It's a vintage lovers idea of heaven. And no I don't mean this as in an old lover. I mean it as in, a lover of things vintage.  Welcome to Caravan. When I'm in Napier I practically haunt this place. Though small, there is so much to look at, all artfully arranged, and beautifully put together, and for a magpie like me, there is inevitably something that goes home with me. Owner Julie Phillips sees beauty where others will overlook it. And her natural gift to tie together a myriad of styles and influences spills over and between, her shop and her home. Annual sojourns to India, and weekly trips to estate auctions, all conjure up the wonderful mix that is Caravan. Industrial pieces, old tapestries made into stunning cushions, glass decanters filled with olive oil and dishwash liquid because they're too pretty not to use. And those gorgeous old woollen blankets. (It is so sad that most of New Zealand's woollen mills have closed.) Julie's work is her life and style. Like me, she has never been into minimal decorating, and loves homes with a sense of history and personality.
This year Caravan closes in April, and Julie and husband Steve, will head off on another global treasure hunt. The plan upon their return involves both a pop up shop, and opening up their gorgeous old villa on Napier's hill as a bed and breakfast. The sort of b&b where you can perhaps purchase some souvenirs of the vintage kind to take home with you. Julie has promised to keep me posted on developments.

Amanda xx 

P.S The lovely old red lantern in this post, which many of you asked about, was a Caravan find a year or so ago. It is one of those kerosene lanterns that would warn you at night of roadworks. Before the days of modern hazard lights and reflector cones!

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Monday, February 15, 2010

channel grazing

For almost the entire time I was away on holiday over January I didn't see television, and most of the time I didn't really miss it. (I say almost, because I did have to invite myself 3 nights in a row to my parents bach when Coronation St finally killed off Liam. And perhaps I saw just a little of the Melbourne tennis.) 
Now of course, I'm back in the city. The television here works, and is not snowy. And although I'm determined not to over-indulge, sometimes I do love to be a couch potato. All the new season series have either started, or are about to start. I've optimistically decided already, with the help of My Sky, which ones I'll watch (The Good Wife, Brothers & Sisters), and which I won't. And one that I definitely will be sitting up bright-eyed to see tomorrow night is The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, starring Jill Scott.


 Last year, when  it was screening in the US and the UK, and was all over the blogosphere I was so jealous. I love Alexander McCall Smith's books, and this series is about the cheerful, eminently sensible Mma Ramotswe, proprietor of Botswana's only female-owned detective agency, for the benefit of those who need help the most. According to Mma Ramotswe, there is no problem so great, it cannot be solved by a cup of bush tea. With Mma Ramotswe's infamous quick wittedness and infallible instincts, the audience are embroiled in the murky world of scandals, misdeeds and skulduggery that come to pass for life in Botswana. Filmed on location in Botswana, the set design & attention to detail is a visual treat.Click here for a great interview with set designer Melinda Launspach, which featured on Design Sponge last year.
So, 9.30 Tuesday night on Vibe. And then I'll get back to blogging I promise!

Amanda xx
(images Design Sponge, BBC, HBO)

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

a little loveliness

As was written, rather poetically, on the bag containing a baguette I bought earlier this week -
"Love is like bread, it needs to be made fresh every day"

Enjoy some loveliness on Valentines Day, and indeed, every day.

Amanda xx
(gorgeous works by Julie Arkell)

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

a colour story - citron

Citrus hues seem to be the hottest trend in the interiors world at the moment. And why not? 
Just like a fizzy lemonade on a hot summers day, adding a little citron to your interiors mix is uplifting, refreshing and great for the soul. 
Saffron, pimento, lime, chartreuse, alchemilla, pistachio, arancia, lemon.
Just add ice and a slice!

Amanda xx

(most montage images copyright Designers Guild)
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

my house my castle

Will you bear with me while I tell a little story? 
First - some of the background. Three years ago, Brunnel, the girls, & I, moved out of our much-loved home 'Marjorie' into our present house. I say house deliberately because, although now this house is very much our home, at the time it was an exciting, but difficult move for me. We had lived in Marjorie for over 15 years, and  had completed major renovations (plural) to turn an old 1860's cottage into a home that was a happy blend of contemporary & historic, and now withstood the rigours of family life. We were starting again on the renovation front, moving to a house that was, and still is, very tired, but with amazing potential. 
With some financial juggling, and as a backstop for my mixed emotions, we did not sell Marjorie, but rented her out. Photos of Marjorie, looking pretty good to my biased point of view, appeared in Next magazine (one of NZ's favourite glossys) 2 months after we moved out. I meanwhile, had exchanged my compact, but state of the art kitchen, and beautiful new bathrooms for the outdated 80's glam pad we now live in. More importantly, I left a large part of myself back in Marjorie.
Fast forward to today. Driving past Marjorie recently I had noticed that some of the curtains looked as though they needed some attention. Brunnel mentioned to the property managers that I would like to accompany them on an inspection, and this was duly arranged. This would be my first visit in 2 years. I was so excited as I pulled up outside today. I'd driven that route a thousand times or more. It would be like coming home - except it wasn't. 
Marjorie was sad. Marjorie needed more than tlc. Marjorie was a squalor. 
I won't go in to details, but I'm not talking about wear and tear. And I'm not talking about untidiness and unmade beds, though there were those too. The curtains were the least of my worries when I looked around at everything else. I said to the property manager that I thought it was pretty scungy to say the least. His reply that he would give it a 7 out of 10 in terms of inspection, and that for a house that 5 young professionals lived in, it was pretty good, did little to cheer me up. 'Unfortunately, you can't make tenants clean' he said. 
I said I couldn't believe the state it was in. My emotions came to the fore as I remembered the Marjorie I had lived in, and I didn't cope very well. I came back to the office and cried. I'm still crying now at the thought of it all.
Now I know they say that tenants will never look after a place as well as the owner. And I know that I'm very obviously an emotional idiot whose roots still run deep at this house. But also, we're not talking about renting a run down dump. This is/was a really desirable property in a sought after part of the city. Do they not care? Or do I care too much? What do you think? What do I do now?


(PS Believe me, no-one would steal this style now!)
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Monday, February 8, 2010

I need more than vitamins

It's Brunnel's birthday. Happy Birthday darling! And what do you get for the man who has almost everything, and who specialises in buying the very thing you thought would be quite good the week before his birthday? Well, the girls and I did take him out for dinner tonight. Our favourite - Floriditas. But it would have been a long night in the kitchen doing dishes, so Brunnel paid.
How about a cleaner? A cleaner other than me? Because, even though I take my vitamins, they are not working. I don't look like this after work. I don't look like this before work. My husband is biased, but even he would probably not describe me as 'cute'. (And if he did, I would seriously wonder what vitamins he was taking.) I do not thrive on cooking, cleaning & dusting. And I think Brunnel deserves someone who does.And lets face it, if I have to sacrifice my toilet duck and vacuum routine on a Saturday because Brunnel wants a cleaner who thrives on dust, well, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.
So, today Brunnel interviewed Pat(rick). Now he does sound cute! I wonder what vitamins he's taking!

Amanda xx

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

What is this?

What, I hear you ask, is this pile of kitchen accoutrements? Is she having a cleanout of her kitchen cupboards because the new kitchen is imminent? (Oh I wish...)
Indeed, it is what you all will have guessed...

A lamp! Of course.

Is this the best example of upcycling you've seen! I love it - in all its kooky glory!
(Thanks so much Angela. You are too clever, and I'm wondering if I can join in with Milly's art class this year, seeing as you'll be taking it?)
Think I'd better head back to Whites...

Amanda xx
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Farewell Green Islands

My favourite pieces of public art in Wellington have gone. 
As the inaugural work for the Four Plinths Temporary Sculpture Project, Green Islands by Regan Gentry was always only going to be just that - temporary, but I was kind of hoping they would become permanent. For 2 years they have been part of my regular walking route to the store, and I didn't realise how much I would miss them. Sounds so silly!
I often wondered how much notice visitors to the city took of these 'native plants'. Did they realise they weren't actually real? In fact they are made of No. 8 fencing wire - the artist's response to the lack of real greenery in the waterfront area, and a witty take on kiwi ingenuity, and a symbol of kiwi adaptability and our inventive ability to make anything out of No. 8 wire. I loved these four sculptures, standing proud on the shoreline, oblivious to the wind and weather that swirled around them. Their rawness exemplified the No.8 wire mentality perfectly.
Coinciding with our wonderful New Zealand International Arts Festival, a new 'temporary' work will be unveiled on the four plinths later this month. It too will be in place for 2 years. I wonder if I will get to like it as much?

Amanda xx

(all images by me, except bottom montage image, Wellington City Council)
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