Monday, August 30, 2010

it's a giveaway!

In the general disorganisation that was my week last week, my 200th blog post came and went. Who would guess, when I started this little blog just over a year ago, that I would find so much to ramble on about. And what's more surprising, that I would find myself enjoying my rambles so much so, that I suffer from 'blog withdrawal' when unable to blog myself, or catch up with the happenings on the blogs that have become an essential part of my day and week.

People who don't blog don't get it. And until I blogged myself I'm sure I probably thought the same. How is it that you can have these disparate relationships with fellow bloggers, whom you've never met, and most of whom you never will meet, where you genuinely feel some kind of connection? Where you get the idea that given the chance to all sit around the table together, eating and talking, laughing and sharing, you really would get along like a house on fire?
So this giveaway is my opportunity to say a thank you to all of you for welcoming a shy girl into the blogging community. Thank you for all your encouragement and support. Thank you for the inspiration and wisdom, your creative ideas, your beautiful blogs, your lovely comments and for the many laughs.
And in a way, timing is everything. Because this beautiful new cookbook by my favourite New Zealand foodie, Annabel Langbein, was only launched yesterday to coincide with her fabulous new TV series, The Free Range Cook. Episode One screened in both New Zealand and Australia on Saturday night. 
As an advocate for gathering friends and family together around the table to catch up over simple, stylish, seasonal food, Annabel's book and style embraces all that we would ever need, should that opportunity for a bloggers get together ever eventuate. And because it showcases good food and our New Zealand lifestyle and scenery, I thought it was the perfect giveaway. I hope you do too! Of course, I shall be buying you another copy, because already I am too attached to this one to give it away.

I shall be very happy to post all 320 pages of it, plus a little Small Acorns surprise, anywhere in the world. This giveaway is open to everyone.
To have one chance to win....simply leave a comment on this post.
To have two chances to win....become a follower, or tell me if you are already a follower.
To have three chances to win...please let me know if you post about this giveaway or put it in your sidebar.

I will get my girls to help me draw the lucky winner on Wednesday September 8th.

Good luck! And thanks...
Amanda xx

(P.S These images, other than the jacket image, are not from the book. They're mine. The images, the recipes, everything in The Free Range Cook is so much better!)

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

the wood and the trees

I know I've been a very bad blogger this week. The truth is that, more than anything, I'd like to hide away in a bedroom sanctuary as lovely as this. Cocoon myself amongst the feathers. Stealing a look at your lovely blogs. Favourite books and magazines close by. The reality is I'm swamped with other 'things'. A few surprises, some super exciting and still brewing, and some considerably less so, have conspired to hijack my time this week.
I feel as though I can't see the wood for the trees. Bear with me...please...
Amanda xx
(image Designers Guild)
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Monday, August 23, 2010

easy breezy - quick fix no. 8

"You know you're soaking in it". 
When I was trying to think of a little snappy copy for this blog post about dishwashing liquid, this was the first thing that sprang to mind. Madge the Manicurist and the Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid advertisements from the 70's obviously made a lasting impression!
So much for the snappy copy. What I was trying to say was not so much about the dishwashing liquid, but more about the container it is in. And, rather than have this pretty crystal decanter hidden away in a back cupboard somewhere, I've given it a new role. I love to use things in unexpected ways, and this is a perfect example. After the whisky for Brunnell & my Dad, the brandy for my Mum, and the gin for me visitors, the next best role for a decanter in our house is for the dishwashing liquid - and it's never looked so good, or felt so important.The key is to use things in unpredictable and unexpected ways for a little twist to your decorating.
And if you need a little reminder of the original Palmolive ad, here it is...
I'm showing my age! Happy new week.
Amanda xx

P.S I feel a giveaway coming on...

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

a room of one's own

I was reading Megan Morton's fabulous book homelove recently, and one of the ideas she ponders is that of a room of one's own. You know, the room of your dreams that is yours and yours alone. To be shared only by invitation. The space where you have your most special things, your most treasured mementos, your favourite books and magazines. Beautiful fabrics, a special chair. An open window, sunny and light, a view. Flowers & fragrant candles. A space decorated by you and for you. As Megan says, it is an elusive idea, but one that nevertheless is still held dear by many of us. Are you lucky enough to have such a space? I think when our style of living embraces the open plan as it does so much these days, that unless you are blessed with many a spare room, it is more likely that we have a favourite spot, but not necessarily a whole room to ourselves. And perhaps the ideal is not just about the space, but also the time to oneself to enjoy it. A little undisturbed me-time. I was thinking a little about this today when I was enjoying my lovely office. It's possbly the closest I'll ever get to a dream hideaway. And although I'm sure that the room of my dreams definitely doesn't have business dashboards and spreadsheets pinned to the walls, other than that, my little office has much potential as a 'me space'. My inspiration board, favourite photos, things my girls have made, my Bertoia chairs, some lovely ceramics and art, flowers, some fabulous wallpaper, my favourite interiors books and magazines, a courtyard outside. On paper it sounds perfect. What more could a girl possibly want? Just more than one day a week to enjoy it. How impossibly selfish does this sound! Oh, and I need to remember that I'm meant to be working whilst there, not just dreaming!
Do you have a special place of your own?

Amanda xx
(image marie claire maison)

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

turn on the light

I'm starting to think my fetish for lamps and all-things-lighting is starting to rival that of my chairs. Just like a moth, I am inextricably drawn towards the light. And like that same moth, I flitter and flutter from one lamp to the next. I am extreme in my likes - contemporary, retro, industrial. I like them all.* So although I have a collection of industrial pendants ready to be upcycled into my new kitchen, at the other end of the scale, I love the mix of these fabric and wallpaper shades too. Be they huge tapered pendants, the very gorgeous mix of silk mini shades clipped on to a chandelier, or the retro-inspired orange linen. A lampshade like any of these is always going to make a statement. And of course, because they are all tailor-made, it's a personal statement at that. Meanwhile, I'll keep flitting between them all.

Amanda xx

*No Dad, this doesn't mean I now like the terrible pendants inherited with this house. They will still be going, with much love, and no regrets, to your place if you like them so much.

(all images Designers Guild)

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Monday, August 16, 2010

get thee to a garden centre

Yes, get thee to a garden centre pronto. For it is time to plant your dahlias (in the southern hemisphere). The tubers are in, if a little depleted at my local, after my buy up yesterday. And as a reminder of the type of skite I was last summer when it came to my gorgeous blooms...

and just one more...
How could you forget! 
So imagine how prolific my dahlias will be this summer, now that I count myself as an 'experienced' dahlia grower, and have how-ever-many-more varieties of pom pom and cactus to hopefully show off and inflict upon you all. You've been forewarned!

Amanda xx
(first image Designers Guild, all others mine)
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

a little frippery

I love this chair. For all its decorative silk-wrapped, bobble-bedecked, flowery silliness, it is frippery at its best. And don't we all need a little frippery in our lives. To remind us not to take things too seriously. And I could well do with some distractions of the frivolous kind at the moment. Far too much on my mind!  

Amanda xx

(image Designers Guild) Pin It

Monday, August 9, 2010

a few things about me...

I've been a little remiss when it comes to my manners of late. The lovely Lou of Lou, Boos and Shoes gave me an award. And it's not that I am not grateful, I truly am. But the rules of the game mean that I am to tell you seven things about myself. And frankly, not only do I fear this will bore you to tears, but talking about myself is not something I love to do, even if I have the comfort of my computer screen to hide behind. So, look away now, or you have been warned...
Lou asked me to chat about seven random things, as if we were having a cup of tea at her kitchen table.

one...So, I guess that's the first thing you should know about me - I'm a coffee girl through and through. And though I try my best to enjoy a cup of tea, I can only manage about half a cup at a time (hence my family call me 'half cup'). Coffee on the other hand I can enjoy almost every which way, depending on the time of day. But my 'usual' is a cappuccino in the morning, and a long or short black (or both) in the afternoon.This is sounding fussy, and I don't mean it to be! Suffice to say that if you offered me instant, then I'd rather try the tea bag again!

two...I qualified as a pharmacist and worked for a long time in both hospital and retail pharmacy, even once I had started Small Acorns. However after hedging my bets both ways on careers that were poles apart, I decided that I really needed to focus on one or other in order to give my best, and despite it being one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make, I gave up pharmacy and concentrated solely on Small Acorns. And despite the current retail and business environment, I have absolutely no regrets. I'm doing something I love every day.

three...Spiders and I, we never have, and never ever will get along. The silly thing is that I don't particularly mind other creepy crawlies such as wetas and stick insects, and I can deal with rats and mice if need be. But, I am petrified of spiders. All spiders. Big, small and in between. I don't think it is my father's fault, but as a child he possibly didn't help. His sense of humour would go so far as to 'arrange' a dead hairy spider on top of the egg carton when it was my turn to cook breakfast. Or worse, on top of my orthodontic plate in the bathroom. He truly did think this was hilarious. Brunnel blames me for passing this fear along to the girls, but I swear that I try to be casually brave if a spider comes between us. And the vacuum cleaner, extended as far as possible is my friend in need.

four...If you didn't know it already, I'd probably spend my last dollar on fresh flowers. 

five...Despite not throwing caution to the wind quite so much these days, it would probably surprise my friends to know that when I was younger I earnt my scuba diving ticket, and horrified my parents by sky-diving ( and not in tandem.)

six...Brunnel & I have been married 21 years. Say no more. It's a life sentence. I could pretend I was a child bride, and maybe in this day and age I would be, but I wasn't really. As far as Eva is concerned, I'll be turning 39 again this year. But she's starting to figure out that I'm the oldest in my family, and even my 'younger' brother has turned 40 now. Darn it!

seven...I love Wellington, and all that this vibrant little city offers, but when we want to get away from it all, our bach at the beach is such a haven. Possibly the most lovely thing about it is how unchanged it is since I was growing up there myself as a child. I cannot NOT remember a summer that wasn't at the beach. How unbelievably lucky is that? And our girls are now enjoying holidays with the children of the kids I played with way back when. And they love it as much as I do.

I pass this award on to:

Amanda xx

(all images my own, except for Miss Muffet)

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Friday, August 6, 2010

ghostly flowers

Yesterday I had the opportunity to view an amazing old building in Wellington. A building that I have long wondered about. It's the sort of building that I could have very big plans for - if only I could win Lotto. Suffice to say that my visit only upped the ante on my curiosity. I want to know more about it, other than its most recent history as a massage parlour. And when I do, I'll post on it again. Sadly, behind an amazing facade, the building is practically derelict. Falling way, way short of earthquake requirements, it is untenantable & well beyond unlivable. It has stood empty & unloved for some years. A building with as long and colourful a history as this must have a few ghosts. It certainly has mice & pigeons.
I feel sure that it is a long time since fresh flowers graced this once majestic abode. So, I took some jasmine with me. And although I think that flowers are the answer to almost every decorating dilemma, here, this was a big ask. But there was certainly some magic in the old place. Something in the shadows maybe?
Have a lovely weekend everyone. I cannot believe it is Friday again already! Where has the week gone?

Amanda xx
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

easy breezy - quick fix no. 7

I've always had a bit of a thing for blackboards and chalk. Maybe because my big claim to fame, until recently, was winning second place in a pavement drawing competition aged about 6. I drew a house, complete with garden path, flowers and smoke coming out the chimney. I'd show you the image (courtesy of Geriatric Productions), but my sister might not thank me. Not one of her most ladylike poses. The art prizes and the artistic talent dried up, but maybe chalk was always my medium! The girls classrooms just aren't the same without a blackboard. How can those interactive white boards possibly enhance the learning experience in the same way, and how do the teachers get a class to quieten without dragging their fingernails across the blackboard?
Nowadays, I content myself with blackboards at home, blackboards at work and blackboards at the bach. In actual fact, the board at work isn't black, but a lovely dark chocolate brown. Chalkboard paint these days can be any colour you want it to be. Small Acorns plans for world domination prohibit me showing you that image too, so plan C are these images (badly) taken at the bach over summer. As you can see, a scrawl of lists, jobs to do, drawings, remnants of hangman, recipes, phone numbers, and a note to pay the Inland Revenue Department by Jan 15th. Hope I remembered that one!

Amanda xx
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Monday, August 2, 2010

monday monday

These beautiful chrysanthemums fascinate me - they are the most perfectly imperfect perfect blooms. Those lush petals, that beautiful chalky white against the dark green leaves. Just the thing to share for a little Monday morning cheer.
Did you all have a lovely weekend?
Wellington's beautiful weather yesterday forced an 'inside' day upon us. Sometimes that's a nice excuse to have. And I was certainly pleased I did my grocery shopping early before the storm hit. Mental note to self - don't try and activate new credit card by phone in middle of market queue. Dagger looks and long glares from other shoppers don't make the Westpac computer voice any easier to bear, and at the end of it all, 'she' still couldn't verify my details. Perhaps because by then I was looking considerably older than the birth date I was giving. Australian bank retaliation for an amazing All Blacks win maybe? 
Perhaps it was the weather, but chocolate was the order of the day, and for once the girls may have something in their lunchboxes worth swapping - chocolate fudge slice, chocolate chip cookies, and even for dessert, those yum gooey chocolate pot puddings. Back on the Floriditas scone diet today!
Happy Monday!
Amanda xx
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