Saturday, December 24, 2011

merry christmas!

Where, oh where has this year gone?
I truly can't believe that Christmas Day is almost here once again.
It has certainly been a big year.
I've been on my own here at home for a couple of days as Brunnel and the girls have gone ahead to the bach. (A bach is the NZ term for a beach cottage!)
The house feels so quiet!
Anyway, having a quiet moment to myself, I was looking around, and I couldn't help but think how lucky I am. Here I am in my beautiful newly renovated home, while today the poor people of Christchurch were enduring yet more strong earthquakes, breakages and liquefaction. It must be awful living on the edge constantly. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be strong enough to cope. 
Over two years ago, when we first started planning our renovation, I used this image as an example of how our house felt. Obviously, it was a gross exaggeration. Aestheticly, our house might have felt like this, but the reality wasn't remotely the same. And using this image has weighed heavily on my mind ever since the destructive Christchurch earthquakes, because a house like this is now a reality for so many people. It was weighing heavily before I received an anonymous comment pointing out this very fact. 
A comment that still came with a smile. I'm suitably humbled. And sorry.
Eight months in Camp David & I have a lovely home.The solution isn't quite so clear cut for Christchurch.
(44 quakes today, 4892 since the most devastating in February. No exaggeration.)
So, to my anonymous commentator, thank you, and oh how I wish calm days ahead for you.
Fine, sunny, beach days.
Simple pleasures.
A cornucopia of all the things you love (just like this inspiration board of mine!)
Merry Merry Christmas all my blogging friends.
Thank you so much for reading, and for making me feel so welcome over at your blog patch.

I'll see you all in a week or so!
Amanda xx
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

tired little pixy

I have decided that being one of Santa's helpers was easier when I had youth on my side.
Back then and working in retail, I might have had a chance to be the perky little pixy sitting on top of the heap.
Pick me now?
I'm the one face-planted into the mat.
(But still smiling see, despite the weariness!)
Nearly there now.
Only a few more days of gift-wrapping frenzy... everyone in good spirits, lots of bantering amongst the team, a glass of bubbles at the counter as soon as the clock strikes five. Tired pixies at the end of the day.
It might be exhausting, but it's still fun!

Amanda xx

(image courtesy maileg)

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

bottles, brown paper & blooms

I'm just going to say this once and for all.
Next year, I think we'll go out for dinner.
This year there was only one place the acorns team wanted to go for our Christmas get together, and that was my place.
They wanted a tour. 
Maybe a tour, drinks and then out for dinner?
No, Brunnel thought dinner at home would be nice.
So did everyone else.

I'd have been fine if I hadn't broken every cardinal rule about entertaining at home.
Especially the rule about never attempting to cook anything that you've never tried before.
My usual go-to repertoire had been gone-to before.
I needed something new, but quite possibly, not so new that I had never actually tried it before.
The only thing pre-planned was the ice cream to accompany the mystery dessert.
I managed to make that the night before, so it was actually frozen (always a bonus).
Everything else was, hmmm, quite spur-of-the-moment-market-fresh that morning.
No wonder Brunnel thinks I turn into someone else in the kitchen!
He was very helpful and went to get his hair cut.

Surely I could dazzle with my table setting, keep pouring lots of wine, and the food, if I was lucky, might be overlooked?
This was the best plan I could come up with.
That morning, I had been given a hilarious old box of stencils, amongst which was a flower stencil.
We rolled out the brown paper, and Milly set to work with her brush and some white paint.
The resulting disposable table cloth was perfect.
We stamped everyone's names on to luggage tags and tied them around the neck of an old bottle with twine to use as place settings.
The bottles were filled with a mix of sweet peas, antique carnations and queen anne's lace and placed on the table en mass.
A last minute napkin panic arose when I couldn't find my old white napkins anywhere. However, a lucky linen remnant and pinking shears saved the day. It was all very upcycled!

Don't be silly! As if there are photos of the food! 
That was far too stressful.
It's stressful just thinking about it now!
It quite possibly sounds better than it tasted -
 Pan-seared salmon with a fresh pea, broad bean, mint and feta rissotto, topped with a drizzle of parsley salsa verde and accompanied by a green salad & asparagus.
Followed by warm caramel & ginger cake with homemade ginger, cranberry & pistachio ice cream.
Oh yes, I can do that restaurant menu-speak quite well!
I just can't quite turn out the actual dishes.

Ah well. Brunnel came home from his hair cut, handed me a stiff drink, and all was well that ended well.
I think....
Amanda xx

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

flowers in the house

When I saw that Jane was having one of her regular Flowers in the House tours, my initial thoughts were, yay, here's something I can do. Now I'm thinking that I need to get over the urge to rush and take better photos because there just isn't time, and these will have to suffice.
This little collection of milk bottles and one of the now ubiquitous mason jars, 
are sitting on the kitchen bench.
Apparently people 'think of me' when they come across treasures like these. 
My lovely neighbour & friend Bridget found the old milk & cream bottles complete with original tops and dust, and gathered them up for me.
And the lovely miss Melissa cornered her milkman in England, and sent me the lovely bottle emblazoned with the union jack, because amongst the other things we seem to have in common, is a shared love of milk bottles. (My girls are a little worried that the milk bottle police might knock on the door at any moment because Melissa's milk bottle quite clearly states that it belongs to a dairy company, and should be rinsed and returned.)
Then, Sarah, my favourite florist rang, and said she'd found some flowers at the market that 'had my name on them'. And no, when she presented me with some weeds I wasn't insulted. She was right! Roadside Queen Anne's Lace is the sort of thing I stop the car for too. And perfect with the stunning lacey hydrangea.

And then there are the peonies.
So very beautiful. And the season so short, and over almost before it has begun.
Last weeks tall peony is this weeks short one.
Once they're all blousey I love to enjoy them a little longer by floating them...

...or popping them into an old tin. Peonies and olives...such a natural pairing!
I know none of these are very Christmassy. Well, not in the northern hemisphere anyway.
But here, in this house anyway, anything goes, including peonies in an olive tin, and it is summer.

A few lovely glass decorations in the hall, amongst more old bottles, and an oliga-whatsit flower. (I'm not good with names as you can tell!)
Can a bottle fetish get out of hand? 
I'm not sure, but the postman did just deliver some more found on trade me! I have some table-decorating to do when the Acorns team comes for dinner on Thursday.
No clue whatsoever what I'm feeding them, but at least I have a few ideas for the table.

So that's my flowers in the house this week.
Weeds, old bottles and a load of rubbish. 
(I know that's what my father is thinking anyway!)

And the winner of my giveaway is..... KathyR.
Yay!!! Email me with your address Kathy and I'll get these little brown paper packages sent to you right away! Thanks to all for entering.

Amanda xx
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

the silly season gets silly

Thanks so much for so many lovely lovely comments over at my giveaway.(You can still enter here.)
I think I'd like you all to win! And I love it when something prompts so many 'quiet ones' to have a say.
I'm just popping in, ever so briefly, to apologise for not being around much at the moment - either here, or visiting at yours.
The silly season is just a little silly.
As well as trying to amass that Christmas spirit at the store, I have visitors staying at home all week, and it is that crazy last week of school for the girls.
Tonight we had the school carol service at the Cathedral.
Oh yes, Milly takes her choir singing very seriously. But it seems all those 7.45am practices pay off when you hear your favourite carols and those young voices sounding so lovely.
It's hard not to join in lustily.
And I only had to poke Brunnel awake once so that is something.

But look what is stirring out in the garden!
The first dahlia of the season.
As you may or may not know, I am slightly crazy about these flowers.
Well after the success of last year's plantings, earlier in the year, a friend referred me to a specialist grower, and I was able to order online.
I may have gone overboard. In fact I ordered so many tubers that the grower quite possibly thinks I have a garden the size of a park. Not the handkerchief sized few square metres that is the reality of my backyard.
And because of our domestic situation, when the boxes arrived, the garden was still very much the domain of big builder boots and rubbish and weeds and mud, so the tubers were really late going in to the ground.
Every night after work I rush outside to see the daily growth!
Not long now...  
(Can you tell I'm quite excited!)

Amanda xx
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Monday, December 5, 2011

ho ho ho - it's a giveaway

Could there be a more gorgeous way to say 'it's Christmas' than with the 'I just want it all' maileg range?
I don't think so.
Our pixie advent calendar is a much loved Christmas tradition in this little family, each pocket filled with a little treat.
I also think a little giveaway is a lovely way to start the week. Hope you agree!

I have some gorgeous maileg decorations for you to hang on your tree, and a little pixie, who I think will become your friend every month of the year, not just at Christmas time.
And see some of those little parcels wrapped in brown paper & tied up with string?
Yes, I have some little surprise treats for you to enjoy too.
But you will just have to be patient to find out what they are.
Because I love a little surprise! 
All this for one lucky friend to win.

So, are you in?
Hope so!
All you have to do is leave me a comment, and let me know that you're either already a follower, or have just become one. Then you'll be in the draw. 
Yes of course you can enter if you're an email subscriber too! And I'm happy to post worldwide.
I'll announce the lucky winner next Monday, December12th.

Good luck!
Amanda xx

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

happy weekend

It's been a busy little week in the store this week, and I'm looking forward to a day or so at home.
It's that time of year when the race is on to complete lots of interior work for our clients, and I feel as though I'm juggling a lot of balls, and trying really hard not to drop any.
I'm feeling the urge to make this house a little more festive, and not just devote all my 
decorating attempts to the store.
Because we have Christmas itself away at the beach, our Christmas tree happens at the bach rather than here but a little Christmas spirit anywhere is always nice isn't it? 
And I'm looking for any excuse to bring some of these vintage glass decorations home, so it may be time for a wee 'play' over the weekend.
I'm sure the girls will help.

Thanks for all your lovely comments about my bathroom, and wanting to see more.
Those of you who know me will know I wasn't trying to be smart or coy, but genuinely a little hesitant.
I promise that with better photos, I will gradually reveal more of our lovely new home.

Have a lovely weekend!
Amanda xx

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