Wednesday, November 30, 2011

quick fix no.16 - advent style

Sometimes when Milly asks me to help with her maths homework I despair.
Really? 256 divided by 8? The square root of 324? Find the value of x when the moon is in the 7th house?
In my head? In Year 7?
Don't they have calculators for that these days? 
But this weeks was much more fun.
My kind of maths.
I mean, I can at least count to 24.
In an advent calendar kind of way.

So, if you don't have your advent ready for tomorrow, here's a little quick fix to your maths dilemma.
A few downloaded fonts, some cute little envelopes, pinking shears, paper, glue, pegs & string.
And before you can count to 25, it's done.
All ready to fill with little treats.
And we were very pleased with ourselves, and hope to get a top mark!

Can you believe it is December tomorrow!
Santa is on his way...
Amanda xx
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

blooms & ball jars

Thank heavens for peonies.
They are so truly luscious and beautiful, that even the worst photos look instantly better somehow.
(Note to self - Do not attempt photoshop tutorial on a Monday night.
Particularly when photos are revealed as less than brilliant & it is too dark to take more.)

Here's the thing...
I have had more than a few hints dropped about showing a few more images of my (almost) newly completed home on my blog. 
Especially from a few lovely blog readers who have been instore.
And then one of my team reminded me that I had been playing the renovation game all year, so it really was only fair that I show the end results.

Confession time.
I'm a little nervous!
What if you don't like it?
I know that it shouldn't matter.
My home is totally my style, and I love it.
And OMG, it is now worlds from where we started, back in March.  
So here is a little look at the bathroom.
It's a little bit vintage and a little bit new, a little bit classic and a little bit contemporary.
White subway tiles on two walls, oversize wallpaper on another.
Industrial steel, glossy white paint & marble mixed together on the vanity.
My upcycled ball jar light, alongside modern Kartell wall lights.
A bath that is heavenly, especially when filled with bubbles, and a shower that is all business.
So there you go.
Peonies and the bathroom.
Half the bathroom.
The rest is cropped out.
So what do you think?
(Be nice. You'll have to encourage me if you'd like to see more!)

Amanda xx
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

let me tell you a story...

Let me tell you a is quite extraordinary.
A while ago, to celebrate the notion that Brunnel & I had been married for an extraordinarily 
long time, a length of time that easily beat the bookmakers odds, Brunnel, 
very rashly for him, bought me an extraordinarily beautiful ring.
And, even more extraordinary, because, clearly, I am extraordinarily fussy & difficult 
to please, I loved it.
And wore it every day.
A 22ct gold one-of-a-kind handmade piece, like a tiny, wonky princess crown, set all the way around with 14 tanzanite gems. Extraordinarily special.
I wasn't happy when I lost the first stone, let alone the second, but when I looked down two weeks ago to see that I was now missing three, I felt sick. 
Although it had not been purchased directly from the jeweller who had made it, I knew she was the only one who would be able to fix it. I was however, quite worried about the cost, 
and whether or not, insurance would cover it. 
You know how they get about wear and tear and the small print!
Anyway, I went to see Dorthe Kristensen, the jeweller, at her gallery here in Wellington, Vilders.
Of course she remembered my ring straight away. She had only ever made one like it.
And she was as upset as me when I showed her the missing stones.
When she studied it closely, she could see that at least two more were also cracked, 
and about to break loose also.
I was worried it was my fault. Perhaps this wasn't a ring to wear every day.
So here is the extraordinary part.
Without even a moments hesitation Dorthe said that she makes jewellery for life. 
She thought it would be best if she replaced ALL fourteen of the stones, so that I would no longer have to worry about how and when I wore the ring, or about losing any more stones.
And, what's more, if it was all right with me, she would like to replace them with sapphires, which are a much harder, & therefore hardier gem, and that it would be at NO COST. 

I couldn't believe it! 

I went back to Vilders last weekend (just one week later) to collect my ring, 
which is unbelievably, even more beautiful than it was.

So, that is my story, about a goldsmith artist, who has such pride and passion in her work, and makes jewellery for life, and who has won me for life as well with her extraordinary service.

And believe me, coming from the retail world, that is a level of service to aspire to.
Amanda xx

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Monday, November 21, 2011

channeling sibella

Sibella Court's amazing new book Nomad arrived instore at the  beginning of last week.
That same night I brought a copy home with me.
There is only one problem.
It is so lovely, so tactile, so full of inspiration and beautiful imagery and lovely fonts, that I do not want to read it for fear of coming to the end.
Do you sometimes have this same dilemma?
It usually strikes when the book or magazine is long-awaited & very special.
And yet I know too that this is silly, because books like Nomad, and indeed Etc before it, are exactly the sort of book that I pick up over and over and over again, they are well-thumbed and much-loved, and each time I see something different, or the inspiration strikes in a completely different way.

Nomad is all about the pleasure of bringing your travels home. Of opening your eyes to what's around you.
"To have a piece of that experience and memory reflected in your interior - even the smallest incidental that makes you smile and takes you to another place - is what it is all about."
And no, we are not in any way, shape or form, talking about a 'themed' interior.
As with everything, it is about composition. It's an emotive way to style your space and be surrounded by the things you love, and that reflect your personality.
And even if you are not travelling, you can still take journeys and be inspired by reading, by movies, and by opening your eyes to life in your town, wherever that may be.

And so I've been channeling my inner Sibella.
Except my inner Sibella has a lot to learn.
(I think lessons in Photoshop might be on the agenda for the new year!)
But Photoshop frustrations aside, Nomad has my eyes wide open to all sorts of interior possibilities, and that could be both exciting (if you're me) or worrying (if you're Brunnel!).

Amanda xx
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

excess baggage

 Hi all!
I was dismantling a display at the store today which featured these beautiful old leather suitcases.
And you know how your mind wanders? Even though I've had my old suitcases for years now, or perhaps because I've had them for so long, I really hadn't looked at them properly in a long while.

Maybe it's because Brunnel & I saw 'Midnight in Paris' last night, but I couldn't help but think of where these suitcases have been, and the stories they might be able to tell.
Just look at their luggage labels.
These suitcases have been around the world, and in style.

Good thing excess baggage wasn't an issue in those days.
They weigh a ton... and that's before they have anything in them!

Amanda xx
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

there is an island in the sun...

I think the pictures say it all really.
If it looks as though there was no-one else there, that's because that's how it felt.
Lush, tropical flowers, water so blue and so clear, balmy warm temperatures, and a beach that stretched forever. 

And then there was my sister's wedding...

...which was more than lovely.
Happy bride, happy groom, happy flower girls, happy happy day.
I'm sorry about the photos.
I'm sure there are many taken by other guests which will do the bride and groom proud.
All I can say is that it is hard to juggle cameras and flower girls and bridesmaid duties at the best of times.
The stilts made it even harder. If you look carefully you can see them in the top montage. I'm afraid it was too far down to bend and take a photo of the actual height!
I thought I was doing OK with the wearing part until the official photographer had the bright idea that a 'jump' on the beach in them would be good.
Not so good...
Thank goodness everything else went swimmingly!
And yes, that frangipani in the bouquets looked and smelt every bit as beautiful as it looks here.

And now I'm looking forward to catching up with all your goings on while I've been away.
Except these photos have taken so long to 'do' that bedtime will have to come first!
And hello to some new followers too! Welcome along..

Amanda xx
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

sun, sand and stilts

I know you all thought that the wedding of the year was Kate & William's. 
Not so. For our family, it is that of my sister, this weekend, in tropical Rarotonga.
We all go tomorrow.
The girls are wildly excited. 
Not only do they get to spend a week in the sun with their cousins, but they are all bridesmaids.
I am the matron of honour. My job is to calm the bride, & get her to the beach on time.
Except that she is making me wear the highest shoes I've ever seen in my life.They are not just high, they are stilts. I'm not sure that I can walk in them, let alone gather up the bride & her five bridesmaids average age 8, and, get us all to the wedding. (Yes, this being Rarotonga, apparently I may also have to be the driver.)
I've pleaded for a ballet flat, a lower heel, a jandal.
But my sister just reminds me of the outfit she was forced to wear when bridesmaid for me.
I have no comeback sadly. It was the eighties after all. (Think of 'The Wedding Singer', multiply those outfits, that hair and makeup by 10 and you still might not be close.)
Stilts it is.

 Of course an island wedding means accelerated summer preparations.
Amongst everything, I forgot to book an appointment for a bikini wax.
Never mind said a friend. Ring up the beauty therapy school, and see if they can fit you in. I had my waxing done there yesterday, and it was brilliant.
So I ring up, and yes, I can dash across the road to see them at 11.30.
I get there, and am ushered in to a room full of people. It is like a hospital ward.
I'm starting to wonder if this is a good idea, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
The therapist holds up a handtowel to give me some privacy while I undress. A handtowel!
Unfortunately I have quite tight skinny fit trousers on, and they don't want to come off easily. I feel sorry for the person in close proximity to me trying to have a relaxing massage, while I am bending over trying to get the trousers over my feet.
Isn't it great that it's 'dollar day' says the tutor.
I ask why my bikini wax will cost only a dollar.
Because it is the students first session she says. Their first time with a real client.
Does she see the panic in my eyes? I look around me.
There are facials and massages and manicures. A group beauty therapy session.
Not much waxing going on. Just me.
My poor student therapist looks nervous. 
How does she think I feel! 
I think positive thoughts - like thank goodness it is just a regular old bikini wax. Definitely not the time to go wild and have a Brazilian!
The tutor suggests a screen at the foot of the bed might be good.
I think so too.
There are some things that the poor lady opposite me just did not need to see.
And on with the wax...
As it turns out, my student was overly cautious and did a great job, and it truly was (relatively) painless.
And while I certainly felt that all eyes were 'down there' with much pointing and discussion, all's well that ends well. 

I'm ready for sun, sand, & swimming. And a nervous bride.
See you next week!
Amanda xx
(image with permission Designers Guild)

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

sweet dreams

I'm dreaming in black and white tonight.
Or is that charcoal and chalk?
Black and white sounds crisp, and this beautiful bedroom is so much softer than that.
The mix of elements, stunning wallpaper, a little rustic wood, wonderful tiles, the painted ceiling (this apartment in Barcelona was an art school in a former life) - it all works together with this lovely muted palette.
Plus I have a bit of a thing for pure linen bedlinen at the moment, creases and all.
This is indeed a bedroom for sweet dreams.
Alas, my own dreams may not be so sweet tonight.
It seems that Brunnel, coming down from the exhilaration, joy and conviviality of six weeks of uninterrupted rugby, and all that this entails, has succumbed to... a 'cold'. 
A man with a cold.
Oh joy indeed.

Wish me luck!
Amanda xx
(image with permission Designers Guild)

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