Monday, July 30, 2012

flowers in the house

Well, that was the week that was!
The first week back at school for the girls, busy, but uneventful otherwise.
Just don't know what happened on the blogging front other than not a lot, obviously!!
Brunnell is away again, back in his second home (or so it would seem), India.
I offered to go with him. I even have a visa all ready to go. But he declined my offer. Some lame excuse about work. In actuality, he knows I would have him in a tuk tuk, hurtling down some fast alleyway, and 'work' is obviously a less high-risk option. Next time then Brunnell?
So, while the cat's away, the mice will have just a wee play then.
Another orphaned kokeshi has joined our 'growing' family.
She's the plain one in the back. How could I not bring her home?

Milly has been doing a homework project on family histories.
That entailed getting down into the garage and unearthing some of my old family photos.
So many stories. So many romantic myths. So many gaps.
On one side of my family we are Guinness's - yes the brewery Guinness - except my grandmother would never talk about her mother, other than to show us who she is on the Guinness family tree, and she doesn't appear in any photos. On the other side, we are the rightful heirs to a Scottish castle - except there was a fire, and the deeds disappeared. Only to reappear mysteriously in the hands of another relative who claimed everything, disowning us entirely.
I think that last story is more romantic myth than truth, but Mama used to swear it was true, and I did once have a chance to visit the castle in Scotland. It was very Macbeth! And well, when tracing the lineage, there was a fire, & there is a distinct 'name change' that makes one think there could be a tiny element of truth to her story.
The old photo is of my grandfather's family. He is the little boy with the bow! My girls are fascinated by the fact that he was one of 12 children, six boys and six girls, and the girls all had names that were either flowers or precious gems - Rosa May, Daphne, Lily, Ruby Violet, Pearl Edith Olive, & Ivy Camellia. And their mother's name was Camellia.
Milly fancies changing her name from Millicent Amelia to Millicent Camellia!
Flowers must run in the family because when I was small I was adamant that my name was to be Marigold!

So, in a way, it's quite appropriate that I'm linking this post to Jane's 'flowers in the house', which is one of my very favourite linkys, over at Small But Charming.
It's camellias all the way for us this month.

Happy Monday!
Amanda xx
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Monday, July 23, 2012

old signage love

I am sure that it comes as no surprise to many of you, that I have a bit of a 'thing' for old signage.
I have a number of old signs here around home, and also at the bach. 
I love the stories they tell.
Particularly if they're quaint, quirky and home-made.
I'm bound to love a sign if it has any or all of these traits.
The less professional it is, the more I'll probably love it.
And, in my eyes, these orchard signs are absolutely the best.
They're on a stretch of highway that I swear, Brunnell deliberately speeds up on whenever we pass.
I'm not sure why - tempting though it is to dream of hanging them on my wall, I'm not about to try anything underhand.
Oh he of little faith!
Apples - eaters and cookers. Sounds like something my grandmother used to say.
She'd have said they tasted 'corker' too. 
No, I'll just content myself with the photos - for now.
I managed to take these on a trip without Brunnell in the car. 
A u-turn on a main highway, and squelching about in the mud while wearing my city-girl shoes.
Yes, I looked really stupid.
But it was worth it. The BEST sign don't you agree!

One day I might be brave enough to venture up the drive, buy some of those delicious apples, and perhaps ask if they still need the broad beans sign.
Amanda xx
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

elementary mixing

I know I've rattled on before about mixing up all those elements in your room so that
the overall feel is one that entices you in, so that the room itself is a perfectly imperfect mishmash of colour and style and eclectic personality and that it's yours and yours alone.
I find that clients often worry about things not going together, or that they'll be out there on a limb, and find themselves far from the madding (interior) crowd.
Why do we worry so much about what others will think?
You know, at the end of the day, when, literally, you walk through the door, all that really matters is what you think.
How your home feels to you.
And if you love it, and it makes your heart sing, then that is what really matters.
Megan Morton has a great quote in her Home Love book that goes something along the lines of
"If you like the things then they'll all go together because you like them."
Which really means that you should relax - no need to worry about anything looking odd or wrong, because it's all to your taste. Particularly if, as you should always, you've followed your heart, and only bought things that you respond to emotionally.
Which is why, in my no-rules guidebook, it is perfectly OK to have a mix of fabrics at your windows. Why not? I know this is scary beyond measure for many, and that's OK too. But this is my home - my bedroom specifically, and I love it. I can lie in bed, gazing at the three different fabrics (a beautiful big floral linen, and two gorgeous stripy numbers), and my heart sings, and I do a little skip.
Sometimes I do a little skip because Brunnell is lying there next to me, but that's a story for another time, & he does a lot less curtain-gazing than me and is quite possibly still wondering if I didn't order enough of any one fabric, hence the mash-up.
But I love them, so therefore they must all go together n'est pas?

 Your home should not look like something from a catalogue.
You need to push the boundaries, and sometimes push yourself outside your comfort zone.
And remember to enjoy the journey.
Great rooms don't just happen overnight. The best interiors will evolve gradually over time.
In fact, are they ever really finished? I hope not.
It would be terribly boring if they were.
Mine are always works in progress...and that's just the way I like it.

Amanda xx
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Monday, July 16, 2012

carnation campaigning again

Happy Monday everyone.
Hope you've all had a lovely weekend.
Such soupy weather here, it was a case of not venturing too far from home, and indulging in as much comfort food as possible!
I'm on the campaign trail again today.
Flowers of course - the instant interior fix, pop a few blooms into a jar or bottle, and instantly your room has a little joie de vivre.
I've picked up a little chatter of late.
Negative chatter about the often scorned carnation.
And specifically, spray carnations.
Not popular at all it seems. More out of favour than ever, and definitely an indicator that your taste levels hark back to the 80's.
(OK, maybe, that's me!)
I'm here to right that wrong, and to try and persuade you otherwise.
Personally, I'm a carnation fan.
And, I love the little spray carnation.
And at this time of the year when, let's face it, mid-winter and all, there isn't a lot going on otherwise (in my garden especially), I've been embracing this cheerful, colourful little bloom.

I want to show you how far you can make just one little bunch of spray carnations go.
Because, this, I think, is their true beauty.
Each 'spray' can be chopped into 4 or 5 little flowers and perhaps 1 or 2 buds, each on stems that are perfect for jars, bottles, small vases, tea cups, you name it. And then you combine these with whatever your garden can offer up to plump out the offering.
In my case, it's parsley that has gone to seed (love those seed heads), camellia leaves & one or two early blooms, some jasmine, ivy, and ruscus recycled from a previous arrangement!

How could you not love these?
So, by my reckoning, I stretched that little bunch into 6 old bottles,
2 lovely ceramic vases, 1 bowl and 2 teacups.
And then I dot these little arrangements all over the house, so that everywhere one looks there is a little joy, and colour, and fragrance.
And that happy feeling that flowers always seem to generate, without even trying.
And, all this for around $7.95.
Have I persuaded you yet that they're really not so bad after all?

Amanda xx
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

my shadow

I have this shadow.
It follows me everywhere.
I go somewhere, so does he.
It drives Brunnel mad that the only other male in the family is such a Mummy's boy.
This week I was trying to take some photos of these cute little postcards that we've just had printed for the store.
My shadow wasn't going to let me do it by myself.
No, he was quite happy to be shut in the bathroom (where this black wall is) while I busied myself with my postcard washing line.
Frankly, it was better having him in there than scratching on the door to be let in from the other side. And his opinion on the styling is always invaluable.
He likes it - every time! I can do no wrong!
But I wasn't so sure I wanted him actually in the photo too.
Photogenic as you are Bruno.
Obviously, starring in one of the postcard images wasn't enough.
He wants to help promote them too!

The postcards themselves are a series of 8 'quick fix' interior ideas. They all feature themes and ideas that we love to explore in our own interiors, and are easy for everyone to explore with a little time and not a great deal of expense. Just for fun, on the back of each card is a recipe that one of our team has contributed - delicious things like Zana's Ricotta Fritters with Hot Chocolate, or Karen's Lamb Curry.
And we're giving them away instore over the next few months.

Hope your week is going beautifully.
Amanda xx

PS That black wall! What a find huh! As soon as it was revealed I knew it wasn't going to be covered up again. But I had to work hard to persuade my architect that this was going to be the case.
Sure, it did require some kind of sealant to stop it 'crying', but just look at it now - and the black is such a great colour.
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Monday, July 9, 2012

bits and bobs...just saucers

Hi all!
I'm joining in with my friend Sarah from Molly's Maison, and her new post theme entitled 
'bits and bobs'. The idea is that we all post an image that features a little collection with some kind of cohesive thread. At least that's my interpretation of it anyway, so I'll go with that for now!
Oh the dilemma of choosing just one collection for a self-confessed magpie!
And then finding something cohesive in it...
So, I've rounded up some of my old saucers.
They are all New Zealand logo-ed in some way - in this image there are a mix of New Zealand Railways, Army, Defence and Government Tourist Board.
Part of a collection that has been amassed over some time now, and yet I'm still excited when I find another one, especially if it is 'new' to my collection.
Who ever knew how many 'NZ-somethings' with their own tea-room china there used to be!
I am lucky enough to have cups that go with the NZR railway china, but the other saucers are all on their lonesome.
I put them to good use as soap dishes in the bathroom, as resting places for 'bits and bobs', and of course, any excuse I can think of to serve them up somehow with or around food.
As a little detail, wherever they pop up around my home, they add that little quirky touch that I always think is so important in any interior.
Perhaps especially in the bathroom, where many of the surfaces are, you know, quite sleek.
A little unexpected layer of detail.

My little ode to another era.

Happy Monday!
Amanda xx
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Monday, July 2, 2012

the jaipur flower market

I was allowing myself a little indulgent moment or two this afternoon, as I
attempted to sort through the trillion and one photos that I took in India so that I can get some printed. 
I can't possibly print them all, and yet the memories are still so fresh, 
and so vivid, that it is tempting to try! 
One of the most memorable experiences of my trip was an early morning visit to the 
Jaipur wholesale flower market.
I had read that this was one of those unforgettable must-do's in the (to be highly recommended)
So, alarm clock set for the up with the birds early start, and Brunnel, Prem (our driver) & I set off.
I was of course especially excited, and not only because this was a first for me, but in 32 years of driving tourists in India, this was a first visit to this market for Prem also. 
I loved that my flower-madness was an excuse to show the seasoned local something new! 
The city was just waking as we set off.
But the farmers and growers must have been up for hours already.
The milk bazaar was bustling as we passed.
And after asking for directions to the flower market, we parked our car, and joined the throngs, passing through the incredible fruit and vegetable market on the way.

I'll let the pictures tell the story.
The over-whelming fragrance of tuberose and roses, mixed with coriander and mint. The old sacks and old saris bursting full with marigolds and roses. And the hustle and bustle of commerce.
As one trader told me, his family had been growing flowers and bringing them to sell at this market daily for 300 years. 300 years!! 

Most of the flowers come to market as flower heads only, no stems.
This is because they are mostly used as offerings in the temples and shrines, or strung into incredible garlands as decorations for ceremonies and weddings.
After purchase from this wholesale market, where they were sold and bargained for by weight, they were loaded up on to carts, bikes, tuktuks, donkeys and heads, and taken to be sold door to door, or on a stall outside a temple.
And every day is the same. All over India.

I was the only tourist within coo-ee, and stood out a mile.
With Prem to translate, the locals were only too happy to answer my questions and tell their stories.
Although she looks fairly fierce in the image above, as soon as I had taken this photo, this woman rewarded me with the biggest, most beautiful smile, and took my hand.
The experience was amazing, and never to be forgotten really.

And then it was time for a steaming hot masala chai and a paratha for breakfast, before the rest of our day got underway.

Thanks for letting me indulge in the memories! I hope you like the photos. They are my favourites.
I tell you, colour comes oh-so-naturally in India! This is what you see at every turn.
Amanda xx
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