Wednesday, June 30, 2010

my house my castle

I've taken a few days away from the store this week. Aside from school holidays, we have a family working bee going on at 'Marjorie'. You may remember my story about our beloved former family home which was showing signs of neglect. Well to update you, after the inspection back in February, and taking all your advice on board of course, we decided to give both our tenants and the property managers notice. Marjorie was handed back to us on Monday afternoon. We have five days to spruce things up before new tenants (vetted and heartily approved of by ourselves) move in. So it is indeed a 'family' working bee. My Dad is chief painter, and my Mum is feeding the troops, while Brunnel and I clean. The girls are having a fabulous time trying to remember living there, and doing their darndest to persuade us to move back. 
Was I over-emotional and overly hard on the tenants? I think the experience brought home to me that on the whole, no-one will look after your home in the same way that you would yourself. And that's a part of renting out Marjorie that I have to get over. So yes, I was emotional, but no, I don't believe that I was overly hard.
Two days into the working bee and Marjorie is starting to smile again, and so am I. 
Hope your week is going well!
Amanda xx
(image Tamar Mogendorff)
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Monday, June 28, 2010

a sneak peek to start the week

I hope you all had a great weekend. Wet, grey and really cold here. So what better to put you in a fabulous frame of mind to start the week, than a wee peek at a few treats from the new Designers Guild Zephirine collection. You saw it here first! As tight-lipped as Designers Guild are about a new collection, I had heard to expect 'bold and different'. Well, it certainly is all that and so much more. Now, I know I am a Designers Guild groupie, and I'm bound to be biased, but yet again they've raised the bar with another stunning collection.
How much gorgeousness can there be in a photo? Skywood House has had another amazing makeover.
Just imagine sitting in that beautiful room, surrounded by those brilliant florals - wallpaper, fabric and real, and gazing out on to the lush green garden outside. I should be happy to park myself in that room forever. Although I suppose I could stagger up to the other end of the room and relax on the quite plush looking stripey velvet sofa, gazing at the flowers on the wallpaper panels, which are literally spilling over the edge. 
Instead I'm going to have to content myself with gazing at the photos of my imagined life, zooming in on all the little details such as the flowers, books and cushions. I am not well!
Happy happy Monday!
Amanda xx
(images copyright Designers Guild, with permission)
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

here comes the sun...

I think these images are proof positive of the uplifting effect that a burst of sunshine yellow can give to a room and indeed your spirits. The zing of the Eames chair and the flowers, against the soft dove grey Designers Guild Nash grasscloth wallpaper is just gorgeous. As are the textured fabrics on the lovely retro chair.
You can feel the warmth of the sun! And that's a nice feeling on these grey wintery days.

Amanda xx

(images Designers Guild)

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

for the love of a scone

Are you good at scone making? I am not. It seems I have not inherited the genetic know how from my mother who is a great scone maker. And her mother before her. My sister seems to have it. I have not. And it's not for lack of trying - although I will admit I haven't tried in a while. The dough-boy rocks that were the last attempt are not forgotten easily.
But I do really like scones. And fortunately for me I have recently made two fabulous discoveries.
In my humble opinion, and after much taste-testing, the best scones in Wellington are made by Floriditas. Yes, them of the best brioche, best lamingtons, best cheese straws, and best cakes.You may remember I talked of them here . Well, they have just released their first cook book. And it's fabulous. The book really brings home to me how Floriditas is many different things to many different people. Called 'Morning Noon And Night', the title sums up the unique Floriditas approach to serving food continuously at any time of the day. Three menus, morning, noon and night. The kitchen never closes. From the amazingly creamy cinnamon porridge in the morning to the more formal meals at night, each menu determined by the freshest of seasonal ingredients, Floriditas responds to the whims of its diners. And we love it! And we can now attempt some of the 'classic' Floriditas dishes at home, thanks to those who are prepared to share the goodness.
Believe me, this book is about so much more than a scone recipe. But, there were many in the Acorns team who were very happy to hear that this gem was going to appear in their book. And I have such 'faith' in Julie's recipe, that I am prepared to roll up my sleeves and give them a go. And, with Julie's permission, here is her scone recipe...

Date, Honey & Pistachio Scones
Scones are best made and eaten within a couple of hours.
The trick is cold butter, cold hands, and not too much kneading.

450g flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
100g butter diced cold
350g chopped dates
1/4 tsp rosewater
2 tbsp honey
250ml milk

1 tbsp honey, melted
30g chopped pistachio nuts

Sift the dry ingredients. Add the cold butter and mix in until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the dates and stir to coat the dates with the flour mix.
Mix the honey, milk and rosewater. Add to the dry mix and allow to just come together. 
Shape into a circle and score into 8's like the spokes of a wheel. Brush with milk & sugar. Bake at 190C until cooked. 
Remove from the oven and paint on the honey. Sprinkle with pistachio nuts. 

And the second discovery? If you're up bright and early, these scones and all the delicious variations that Floriditas make (the cranberry and lemon is my all-time favourite), are available now at Moore Wilsons - where you can also buy your copy of Morning Noon And Night. So, it's just a wee detour on the way to work. But be warned, you have to beat the crowds. (And the Moore Wilson team who are also quite partial to a wee scone!)
Breakfast is tasting oh so sweet! (And I'm starting to look like a scone.)
Amanda xx

(I'm playing with Hipstamatic for my images.)

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Monday, June 21, 2010

easy breezy - quick fix no. 3

A little office organisation for you today. As if it hasn't been obvious up until now, I'm one of those 'a place for everything and everything in its place' type of girls. A true Virgo. I can't get down to work until I've tidied my desk three times. And arranged the flowers. And sharpened the pencils. (Yes - a true Virgo. I'm fanatical, fussy and also great at procrastination!) I'm a pencil girl at heart. All my grand plans are sketched out and noted in pencil. Together with my lists - to dos, pros and cons, wishlists and grocery lists. Just your average meanderings really. I like my pencils all together like this. It implies more dedication to the task at hand than there often is!
So if, like me, you need a place for all your desk-ly possessions, here is an easy quick fix and an upcycle all in one. The tins (tomato, spaghetti etc) have very simply had their labels soaked off, and then I've painted them with blackboard paint. Then you can label them with chalk. Great for the kids bits and pieces too.

Happy Monday!
Amanda xx
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Friday, June 18, 2010

lucky lucky me

Our postman must have tripled his load this week. I do hope his back was up to it! Usually the only mail he delivers to us is a torrid mix of bills and political party statements addressed to the previous owner of our house. This week he was carrying parcels, correctly addressed, to me. And it's not even my birthday.
But it is my lucky day, or month. I am a giveaway queen. 

Firstly, I need to thank the very clever Sarah from Molly's Maison (and Molly herself for chewing my name out of the bowl). I am so very happy to have won this beautiful one-off pendant made by Sarah using a piece of vintage lace and an old optometry lens. I adore jewellery with a past, and this piece really is so very special. Thank you so much Sarah. And if you don't know Sarah's blog, then you must visit her little slice of Tasmania. I think Sarah & I started blogging around the same time - somehow she found my blog, and I have loved and appreciated her comments ever since.

And then these little scented delights arrived, all the way from Ireland. We shall all be so much more fragrant now thanks to Mise and her 'important soap giveaway'. There is something to be said for winning a giveaway from the agony aunt of giveaways. You see, I was a good student. I listened and learned. And won. Hurray! And, just as Mise's blog is always full of surprises, so too was my little parcel. I have hidden the 3 bars of special award-winning Irish chocolate from husbands and small children until I feel like sharing. And the ever so sweet pocket mirrors are a big hit with both big and small girls. We have chosen one each. Thank you so much Mise. And I shall continue to look forward to your wonderful blog posts, which never fail to make me laugh. I mean - just check out this one... 
 And finally, my little 'camper' bird by Ann Wood. His name is Pip, and he has taken up residence on my desk. No, I didn't win him, but one has to be quick to snap up one of Ann's beautiful little handmade creations, meticulously made from vintage materials, and so indeed, lucky lucky me! Don't you love his little acorn hat.
Have a fabulous and lucky weekend!

Amanda xx
(pendant image via Sarah, soaps via Pretty Far West)

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

on your (orla kiely) bike

If you gave Orla Kiely free rein to design a bike, what do you imagine she would come up with?
Well, it would be this gorgeous little number in sunshine yellow, all decked out with pannier bags in one of her gorgeous prints, a co-ordinating seat, and a wicker basket lined with a brown stem print. And, if you're very quick, you still have time to bid on the special one-off prototype model made to Orla's specifications for UK National Bike Week, and up for auction to raise money for charity.

Isn't she beautiful! I could see myself doing an awful lot more cycling if I had this amazing two-wheeler. A little retro-chic has never been more appealing!
And, to add to my ever-expanding Orla wishlist...

Orla's first book 'Pattern', due to hit the bookshelves in September.  Giving a personal account of what informs her work, and inspires her creative process and designs, she looks at pattern in all its manifestations - the impact of scale and proportion, rhythm and texture, and the all important dimension of colour. With 300 glorious photographs, without a doubt, this book will be an inspirational treasure. You can see Orla talking about the book here...
I think we need to beg Orla to somehow put the bike into production too. Complete with matching helmet. Heck, I'd even be happy with helmet hair.

Amanda xx
(book images Conran Octopus)

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Monday, June 14, 2010

a colour story - vintage warmth

On a cold grey-ish day, a Monday especially, there is nothing like a little vintage inspired pink to gladden the spirit. Even better when that pink is teamed up with a little red and orange. And vintage because each one of these images has a little retro sensibility. A nod to interiors which evolve organically and have soul. A little of the past updated into the present. And I've been so restrained with my colour palettes lately. It's time to break out. I wouldn't be myself without a little vibrancy in my life!

Did you have a great weekend? Saturday was a blur as our little Eva celebrated turning seven. (This means she is now officially a 'kid'.) And being the totally disorganised mother that I am, Saturday morning saw a whirlwind grocery shop in order to begin the party food that was being served at one. As my brother remarked today - 'This is the best tasting birthday cake I've ever had - obviously you didn't make it'. Thanks Moore Wilson for the Floriditas Chocolate Fudge Cake. At least I am resourceful & practical. (And honest!)
Happy Monday.
Amanda xx

(Images Living etc, Designers Guild, Appley Hoare, Elle Deco, Darling Clementine & myself)
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

pull up a seat

Wouldn't you love a seat around this table? Actually I'd like several of them. Any of these would be welcome at my place, but I'm especially partial to the classics - the Tulip chair, designed by Eero Saarinen for Knoll in 1956, the DSW chair designed by Charles & Ray Eames in 1950. And of course, the most copied chair of this era, the Series 7 ply chair by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen, which originally debuted in 1955. The new kid on the block is the lovely ash Bac chair by Jasper Morrison for Cappellini - a mere 2009 toddler alongside the others.
I love mis-matched chairs around a table. They seem to suggest an informality, and a welcome to all. Kind of a 'pull up a chair, there's room for everyone' attitude. And I love lots of convivial food and wine at any time. And in this lovely room I should imagine that I could start the day with coffee and the newspaper, and perhaps just hang around all day, waiting for conviviality to drop by.

Amanda xx
(image Elle Deco)
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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

easy breezy - quick fix no. 2

Flowers are my instant quick fix for almost anything. I cannot imagine my home, my desk, my store, my anything, without them. Last week at the market, without my cash card, a quick tally of my trolley contents vs my wallet contents meant that something would have to be put back. Would I sacrifice that darling bunch of poppies? No way. I am ashamed to say that it was the sausages that were left behind. Who needs dinner when you can watch poppies literally burst into flower as they pop open.
Any interior space, inspired or otherwise, is all the better for the addition of flowers. And of course, by flowers, I am including anything nature-inspired. At the moment here at home I have rosemary by the acreage in the garden. I have picked great bundles for my big, old crocks and little jugs. The fragrance is an added bonus whenever you walk into the room, and I love the burst of green. 
And look at this lovely image. The much maligned carnation, looking impossibly cheery in an upcycled tomato can. I think I should start a campaign to help bring the carnation back into favour. Gorgeous colour and fragrance, and lasts for ages. Other than aligning itself with gypsophila, I can't think that it has done too much wrong!

Amanda xx
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Thursday, June 3, 2010

what is upcycling?

Last week I was asked to style a bedroom for an upcoming feature in The Dominion Post. In the course of talking about what I had done and why, I mentioned the word 'upcycling'. 'That's an interesting word' said the journalist. 'What does it mean?'

Hmmm. What does it mean to someone not immersed in the interiors scene? I'm not sure that I articulated my answer all that well. What I was trying to say was that I like to use everyday objects with treasured collectables to decorative effect. I like to think outside the everyday or the original purpose of an object, and use it elsewhere in the home. And I like to mix modern & new with vintage & quirky with design & classic. The result is original and personal. 

Not necessarily thrifted items, although many of my personal favourites are. Sometimes the object has just caught my eye, and is too lovely to be recycled. So I upcycle it instead.

Thus, the olive tin becomes a bedside vase.
The 70's peacock chair gets a vibrant new coat of paint.
The old door becomes a fabulous table top.
The old sign becomes art.
And my old apothecary bottles become vases.

I know that to most of you upcycling is second nature. But apparently not to everyone. I guess some will never see an olive tin as anything but, an olive tin.

Amanda xx

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Naturally I had other 'prettier' things planned for my blog post tonight, but somehow, domestic duties intervened. Lets just say that arriving home to find the dog shut in the laundry was not a good sign. And neither was the fact that his tail was firmly clamped between his legs. And dealing to this particularly unpleasant task is something Brunnell absolutely refuses to do. It is not, apparently, his job. It apparently is mine - by default. I won't go in to graphic detail. The 'job' involves a bucket of soapy water, rubber gloves, much toilet paper, usually scissors, a bath, and a shaggy spoodle called Bruno with the propensity for the odd 'dag' or two. It is not pleasant. Anyone who has ever complained about changing a babies poopy nappy has not had to clean a spoodle's bottom! So, I'm sorry, the tone of the blog will improve tomorrow.

Amanda xx

P.S It is not Bruno's fault. It doesn't happen often (thankfully) and most of the time he is 'mummy's good boy'. And, it isn't that he is so very small, but the bone in this image is so very large!

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