Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Mountains getaway

This photo proves that even when you leave the city in glorious sunshine and arrive in the Mountains to rain, fog, mist, hail, wind, cold, and more rain… our family has FINALLY reached the stage where the kids can cope; where I don't go totally (yep true, not even close) insane, and no one got sick. Well nothing bar a sniffle.

Let's just all take a big happy sigh of relief on that one.

Last year I got pretty euphoric buying my last packet of nappies - but this beats that. Past Easters involved everything from communal throwing up to toddlers with broken collar bones (Jesse when he was two).
So this is a milestone that feels worth celebrating!

In the light of our interactions with THE ROYALS from last Easter (click here to read about when Eleanore gave flowers to William and Kate!) it was going to be hard for this year to match the hype.

However, on arrival, this idyllic view always seems to calm the mind and soothe the soul. Yes okay it lacks the excitement of mixing with Royalty, but peace and harmony are not to be sneezed at.

On our annual Easter trek to the Blue Mountains we've stayed for a number of years now in a gorgeous renovated cottage complete with cottage garden filled with lavender, roses, camellias and dahlias. Heavenly! Outside the front gate are spectacular views of mountains and valleys - the kind that tourist buses drive past. Quite regularly.

Exhaust fumes aside, it's the kind of place where you really feel you have escaped from the crush of city life. I quickly forget what day it is as I revel in a place where the grandeur of creation is literally right outside the front door! Not that I bush walk mind you. I enjoy looking at it. That's it really.

Over the long weekend, we attend Katoomba Easter Convention - a christian convention where around 3000 people, many of them families, come together to hear talks from the Bible. This year we were blessed to hear Paul Tripp from Philadelphia, USA. Click here if you'd like to read more.

The kids go to a fabulous programme, run by volunteers. They have a ball.

The last few years the weather has been great. Totally great.
It was time for a change (whether we wanted it or not).  Dark clouds were gathering…

The mists rolled in. I took this (not very good) shot, just as the fog descended and everything went white. There was kind of no point in taking photos after that. My worst moment, which I'll share with you (as sharing the pain is good, right?) ..was while trudging ankle deep in mud across an oval, in the pouring rain, while carrying a crying four-year-old + 2 bags + umbrella I thought that I'd probably had enough of mountains weather. I was ready for some sun.

We didn't see the sun again until the third day (Easter Sunday), which was kind of fitting. We felt joy at being able to dry out and warm up. But the joy of reflecting on the great news that Jesus has risen was H U G E!!!!!!

It is heartening to focus on God over the Easter weekend, remembering all that he has done and is doing in our lives.  Paul Tripp talked about us having gospel amnesia, and I knew what he meant. Life gets in the way. We get distracted by the everyday.  We forget that God's great love is life-changing. That we should be living our lives as if He matters, every single day.

Here's a few more happy Mountains shots:

Eggs ready to be hidden

Dahlia picked from the garden

High tea with friends 

Kids at the lake

Feeding the ducks

Autumn splendour at Grandma's House

Happy Easter Everyone!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Have Courage, Be Kind

It was heartening to take the girls to a movie with a message that was worth hearing. Cinderella was always going to be fun; you expect the sparkle (blue dress and crystal slipper), the loveliness of a girl unjustly made into a servant by unkind relatives, and the righting of that wrong when the (improbable but wonderful) Fairy Godmother appears. And the marrying of a Prince, who recognises true beauty when he sees it...

But this version of Cinderella sought to delve a little deeper. Was there something about Cinderella's character that warranted her eventual rise to attending the ball and marrying the prince?
Why yes, there was.

She had more kindness in her little finger, than most people possess in their whole body! Her dying mother tells her this and tells her that this quality holds power - power that Ella can use for good. Ella chooses to live with these qualities at the forefront of her mind and actions. And as her circumstances deteriorate, it is heartening to see that her spirit is not broken.

Ella even notices and cares for the smallest of the small, the mice who scurry around her shabby chic house (which incidentally, brought out lots of decorating ideas in me - now, just off to find a castle!) Even the mice deserve a teacup table and lacy cloth on which to eat their tidbits.

And just because hunting is what is always done, does not mean that is what always should be done! Yay, Cinderella is against the cruel hunting of the great stag, and not afraid to tell the dashing young man (who yes, is the prince) in the forest her opinion.

Cinderella has lived with great sorrow - the plethora of parents dying in this movie was a little shocking for my soft-hearted eight year old! But instead of becoming embittered, or nasty, or mean - like her stepmother (M'am) and stepsisters - Cinderella has chosen to see the good in the world, and in the people around her.

The difference between being beautiful on the inside (Cinderella) and having beauty on the outside while being ugly on the inside (the Stepmother and sisters) is a point well made. Somehow a little more pointed than the easy to dislike caricature of ugly stepsisters (both inside and out). And the point is again well made when we are introduced to the hideous hag (Helena Bonham Carter does this sooooooo well!!) who Cinderella, though shocked, is still instantly able to show kindness towards.

When the hag transforms into the Fairy Godmother, we see that Ella's kindness and courage has been rewarded, just at the time when faced with massive disappointment and rejection, Ella is questioning whether kindness and courage are worth the effort.

Reminded me how these qualities of kindness and courage are what followers of Jesus also aspire to. Jesus was the ultimate role model in showing kindness and love to the people the world loved the least. He accepted where others rejected and welcomed the unlovely into his arms.

And as Easter is upon us I'm in awe of the courage it must have taken for Jesus to obey his Heavenly Father and submit to such a cruel death. Yes it was to save the world, but did that make it any easier? It's a message worth telling, because it's about a love and courage that is life changing. And world changing. And I think our world needs to know. Don't you?

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Racing To Try a Recipe

Have you ever seen a photo of a dish that you couldn't wait to try?
Something that captured your eye so quickly, and your imagination so completely that within hours you found yourself in the kitchen whipping up a storm??

I did. Yesterday.

You see it was my husband's birthday. I'd already decided to roast a chicken for dinner and was at the supermarket in search of potatoes. And pumpkin. And green vegetables. 

My kitchen is suffering from a vegetable drought at the moment. But having almost exhausted my frozen vege supply and collection of macaroni cheese, cheese on toast and homemade burgers - i needed to restock. If I was going to pull off a baked birthday dinner to be proud of, I couldn't put off food shopping any longer.

On entering the fray, I spied some piles of the free supermarket magazine. I grabbed one with an appreciative glance at the photo on the front. Yum. I love it when food is linked with seasonal inspiration. My Autumn Style story on Houzz included food ideas, but now I'd probably need to revise it with dessert options!

As I headed towards the broccoli, my multi-tasking mind was spinning: Oh crap. Wait a minute. What am I doing for dessert? Uh Oh, hadn't thought of anything. Did I want to make a birthday cake? Not really. Don't have a great success rate with cakes. Why did I already make a lemon pudding three days ago? Can't very well make another one and call it a special birthday treat! Hmm, this pavlova looks amazing and I have had success with meringue of late. Is this something I could pull off? Maybe. What page is it on?

Source *

So as I filled a bag with broccoli one-handed (not easy, I can tell you), I flicked through the pages to the Chocolate Meringue and Poached Pears with Caramel Sauce Recipe. Scanning the ingredients made the decision easy. The only extra things I needed to whip up this pavlova perfection were 4 buerre bosc pears and cream. Everything else I already had in the cupboard and fridge, and in my mind, it was already half done. Click here for the Recipe.

I had to race home as the pavlova needed to cook for 1.5 hours, and afterwards sit in a closed oven for at least 2 hours. Ideally, the rest of the recipe, the poached pears and caramel sauce, could also be pre-prepared, meaning that I'd have extra time (needed) to wrap the dvds I'd just bought and write on the card + prepare the veges and set the table. Oh you know, along with feeding the kids afternoon tea, helping with homework and cleaning up the whole house at the same time. Easy.

And amazingly it did prove to be well, not quite easy, but achievable. The meringue actually worked. The pavlova didn't flop (happened before, lots of times). The pears came up beautifully, almost toffee like. Possibly more toffee like than I'd intended due to forgetting about them on the stove and taking a long time getting Arch out of the bath and in to pjs… And yes, I over whipped the cream. I had to use a bright filter to stop it looking buttery yellow, which it was. The caramel sauce was fabulous. I halved the amount because these recipes always seem to produce way too much! Doh! Why did I let myself halve the amount?????

So here is the finished product via my instagram worthy shot:

What do you think?
It was delicious. Even fine if you tactfully ignore the sort of burnt spots on the pears. The Birthday Boy declared it was his new favourite!! WIN!

Here's a shot with bad light and sparklers!

So this recipe is definitely going in to my unruly but trusty folder of go-to desserts suitable for celebrations and a definite Autumn (or anytime) inspiration!!

What are your favourite celebration dessert dishes? Have you ever made something impulsively based on a photograph? I'd love to know..

* Please Note: It's not my normal practice to endorse certain supermarkets and I'm not intending to do that here either. I don't discriminate when it comes to the FREE handout magazines that our major supermarkets produce, mainly because they are FREE. As a magazine addict from way back, heck, if a glossy mag is free, I'll generally take it!  The supermarket mags have really stepped up in terms of photo quality and their easy cookable recipes are generally yum. They can also be a welcome relief from the more high-brow ingredients and dishes contained in many food mags you have to pay for. Although I love those ones too!

Thursday, 19 March 2015


Disney’s latest version of Cinderella is currently in pre-release/release and I am bursting with excitement and anticipation fit to bust! For those of us who grew up with this magical tale (I was addicted to a British cassette version - with the most wonderful voices and songs - and a pop-up book where the blue sparkly ball dress kept me mesmerised for hours!) there is a fairy tale streak inside of us that naturally draws us to crystal slippers, gilt mirrors and all things enchanted. 
Not everyone gets it. That's fine. Just don't try and dampen our sparkle over this. 
We love all things to do with Cinderella. The End.

Click here for the trailer
Except that it's not the end. It's only the beginning! 
So many things to talk about, it's hard to know where to start. I've watched the trailer so many times. It's wonderful. If you haven't seen it yet, stop right now and click on the link above. That's a Royal Command.

Initial thoughts (it's a sort of question + answer format, where I've answered my own questions!): 
  • Do we need another version of this story? Yes we do. Enough said.
  • Does the movie look amazing, romantic and thrilling? Yes it does!
  • Is Cate Blanchett ("our Cate" as we refer to her in Oz) really ready to play the Evil Stepmother? Oh yes, she really is that scary! 
  • Was making Helena Bonham Carter the Fairy Godmother an inspired move? I thought she would always be Bellatrix Lestrange to me, but she can turn her wand to anything (evil or good) and frankly I'd rather have her good than evil. She was too darn scary in Potter!
  • What's that great song? My Blood by Ellie Goulding is the song played during the trailer - it sounds perfect.
  • Can we get decorating (and fashion) ideas from the sets of this movie? OH YES WE CAN!!!
So, as I bite my nails in anticipation, here's a few decorating ideas to get my mind off the fact that I haven't seen the movie yet...

How to Rock the Fairy Tale Vibe 

at Your Castle Home (Part 1)


Want to turn your room into a fairy tale scene? One of my favourite Pinterest boards is Today Was a Fairytale. Have a look for some fairytale inspiration..but in the meantime:

Romantic Colours and Fabrics: Rose pinks, royal blues, regal purples and plush magentas with splashes of gold and silver - and preferably a mix of more than one to add layers of richness. Brocades, velvets, quilted and pin tucked, it sounds fussy but it doesn't have to be. Even some of the geometric prints of recent seasons could be worked in to the mix. This diamond embroidered cushion is $25 from Target.


Use a mix of vintage, thrifted and store-bought pillows and bedding to make your bed a dreamy wonderland. An eclectic look seems to suit the fairy tale vibe more than a generic (dare I say, Disney?) style of print where everything is maybe a little too sugar sweet. This mix of cushions (most from Room Seven) will have a long life, basically because if my girls ever get sick of them, I'm putting them on my bed!

Then, if one was to go slightly over the top, there's always this lovely bed..


Gilt Mirrors: "Mirror Mirror on the Wall, who is the fairest one of all?" Has there ever been a more ominous question asked in a fairy tale? Leaving all things ominous aside, large gilt ornately framed mirrors add instant castle-vibe to any room, it might be just what your room is lacking - the kingdom touch! 

If you want to read a truly hilarious tale about a woman far more obsessed with "Kingdom Mirrors" than I, read the blog of Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. She is hysterical.

The gold mirror I hung in the girls' room is not overly ornate, but I loved its rounded shape and oversized feel in the room. 

Display Your Finery: Do you own a tiara? Don't laugh. Some of my friends do, and I've certainly toyed with the idea of wearing one on the school run. Whether it's past wedding finery, or for a ball your Step Mother allowed you to attend - sparkly crowns, necklaces, rings and bracelets are too fine to be hidden away in the bottom of your undies drawer. Here's some whimsical ways to put your gorgeous gems out on show.

This is an Art Nouveau Goddess Cabinet. Enough said.

I love the idea of displaying and storing jewellery in a vintage suitcase. It can be a real feature of your room or dressing area, and is also able to be placed on top of a cupboard or under the bed if you needed to put it away.


Shoes: Sadly, high heels are in the same league as tiaras when it comes to suitable attire for the school run. But it's hard to think of Cinderella without focussing on the total amazingness (!) of the glass/crystal slipper!

So I looked for some fantastical examples of shoes that might fit the bill, and gorgeous ways to display shoes too. This room just gleams, and the shoes look so pretty in their glass fronted cabinet. If only I had room for this!!! Why? Why??? 

Yes, I think we can all agree that this person owns way too many shoes. But I'm loving the glamorous chair so perfectly placed for putting them on, don't you? Again, there's the space issue..

So enough with the lack of room already. Let's just focus on the sparkle. Because there's some serious sparkle going on here.

Or with these by Givenchy

Or these…May have to revise current foot ware choices for the school run. Suddenly feeling totally disillusioned with my new patent leather black birkenstocks…. Even these sandals are looking like a better option, although not so much for Autumn/Winter...

So stay tuned for Rocking the FairyTale Vibe Part 2 - there is SO MUCH MORE to discuss…

Tell me, are you planning on seeing Cinderella at the movies?

What is your favourite fairy tale?

If you are going to rock the fairy tale vibe, just a little, will you do it through decor or fashion?

Friday, 13 March 2015

Copper Crush

I didn't think anything could ever shake my total commitment to mercury glass. I place it in the same category as certain John Farnham albums, and my sparkly Christian Dior tights from the early 1990s. Some things surpass the ravages of time and trend. And I'd like to think that my decorating style is anything but fickle. But there I was, suddenly madly pinning pics to my new HOUZZ IdeaBook and Pinterest board: COPPER CRUSH. So it must be a thing...

Alarmingly, my treasured collection of polished nickel, antiqued silver, and blackened shiny mirrors, frames, lamp stands and tea light glasses of every shape and size felt like they were starting to lose a tiny bit of their lustre.

I even found myself studying a footed bowl on my sideboard, and wondering why I'd left something so christmassy out when I found I was liking my battered copper heart cake tin just that little bit more. It is March after all. Autumn has arrived.  Yes, that's right, it's Autumn - season of fiery colours and rich flaming tones (no silver in sight!)  - I've always found the season totally inspiring, and it seems right that COPPER should be everywhere..

I am almost old enough to remember (gulp) the last big moment that copper had in the 1970s, because in my parent's home at the time, was a large copper domed light fitting (on a spring - ooh if only we had it now!) over the dining table, and a large copper range hood over our open fire place (apparently terrible for keeping the heat in the room, but looked mighty fine).

So what is it about the gleaming warmth of this soft metal that is so beguiling? I think it's the gleaming warmth. It has pink tones that resonate with the autumn palette and i just can't stop thinking of how rosy and satisfying it is in so many of it's guises, whether in decor, fashion, homewares, even cars! Really, I'm not a car person - but have spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking about whether buying a 2014 Range Rover Evoque in copper would be a foolish (hypothetical) move were the copper crush to dissipate any time within the next 15 years (which is about how long we keep our cars…); or wondering who's been brave enough to buy the copper coloured kitchenaid mixer? A lifetime purchase if ever there was one! So are the proud owners nervous that they fell for a passing fad and should have stuck with pistachio or candy apple red?


ONe of my favourite ebay buy art deco light fittings needed a tiny bit of restoration when we installed it in our tv room. Copper paint was the obvious answer, and I am just casting my eyes over the rest of the house to see what else might benefit from a quick spray of copper paint!

In the meantime, here's a few of my favourite ways to add a touch of copper to your decor. See if you don't start falling for it big time too!



LAMPS: Freedom Australia has some great ones, in a mix of mainly industrial styles.

Light fittings remain one of the places copper can really take centre stage, bringing a rosy gleam to your living areas in a way not many other metallics could.




And for those of us not confident we can afford a full set of Downton Abbey-worthy copper saucepans, there's always the measuring cups for $29 from West Elm:

Freedom Australia also has a great range of copper accessories, for bathroom, kitchen and living areas. The wire baskets are particularly fantastic for holding everything from magazines, to linen to fruit. And then there were these copper topped pump pack jars - kitchen or bathroom? Perfect.

And because I now wear copper-coloured glasses, these gorgeous girl's denim overalls jumped out at me in Target - with copper hardware! $25! Sizes 1-7. Feeling slightly irate that no one in my immediate family now qualifies..

So what do you have in copper? What would you like to have? Do share...

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Inspiring Women (in books)

In honour of International Women's Day (March 8) I'm listing some of the books that have inspired me over the years - by women and about women.
If I have the gumption I may even be able to give you reasons that explain my choices.

Caddie Woodlawn - pioneering girl with lots of spunk
Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder - the Christmas they were snowed in and knew there would be no gifts. Then Mr Edwards (?) fought his way through the snow to their cabin and gave them an orange each. Think it taught me about appreciating small things.
Little Women - by Louisa May Alcott - loved Jo and Beth, was never sure which one I wanted to be, which explains a lot about me.
The Hiding Place - Corrie Ten Boom - yes there is real evil in the world. Can it win ultimately? Not when trusting in God and the power of forgiveness overrules.
The Road to Coorain and True North by Jill Kerr Conway - loved the trajectory of her Australian childhood and identity. Loved even more her bravery and comittment to achieving her intellectual potential and happiness.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - from the red room through to her running away from her thwarted marriage to returning to love Mr Rochester on her own terms. I will love Jane forever.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - lizziebennett gives one hope that girls can still have brains, be outspoken and fall in love with someone who appreciates them for all of that (oh and he must be dashing).
Esther - the Bible - courageous and determined, faithful and wise. Esther captured my imagination and heart from an early age. Hence have always believed that God uses women as an integral part of his saving plan.
My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin - Australian feisty heroine not afraid to be different and find her own way in the world.
Maya Angelou - God gives women the inner strength to rise above their circumstances, the expectations of others, even of their own fears to have a not perfect but rich and wondrous life.
Rose Scott - discovered her in my uni days and couldn't believe in 13 years of schooling I had never heard of this great political warrior and tireless advocate for the rights and welfare of women. Seriously NSW education dept? This is not okay!
Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery - who doesn't want to be Anne? To know your own voice and heart is a precious thing. To be strong enough not to be poisoned by bitterness. To take joy in the beauty of nature and to make the everyday special. 
Seven Little Australians - Ethel Turner - I may never get over the death of Judy. Just saying.

... There's plenty more but I don't want to bore you with just my choices.

Tell me what books have inspired you?! I'd love to know..

Friday, 27 February 2015

Fashionably Worn - Trawling for Vintage Treasures

My love of vintage started in high school. Maybe the vintage fairy happened to wave her magic (tarnished but still slightly sparkling pre-used) wand over me one day because I developed a heartfelt longing and appreciation for old books, old china and old clothes. Pretty soon my modestly sized bedroom was filling up with all three. Pretty soon I couldn't imagine life without these things!

Then over the years of trawling through opshops, scouring markets and styling what others (not kindred spirits obviously) might describe as junk - has been an at-times seemingly full-time and always enjoyable past-time!

So when I had the opportunity to review a decorating book for I dived straight into my bag for this gorgeous tome! 

Leigh-Ann Pow is an ex-associate editor at Australian Vogue and definitely a kindred spirit - she shares her secrets and tips on the best way to find, use and display vintage treasures. And probably because of Pow's extensive magazine experience, this book is a visual feast. It's as if we've been allowed to borrow her Filofax (remember those? The paper diary is probably considered to be vintage these days) and luxuriate in her anecdotes, notes, witty quotes, pics and collected cards from her favourite haunts. 

It would also make a great gift - who's thinking Mother's Day?!

So click here to read my review - I'd love it if you liked it and shared it with your friends!

And just last week I did something Pow would be proud of. It was council cleanup. In our suburb the Council allocates a week four times a year where householders can put their unwanted goods/furniture/junk (yes rubbish, but not the sort you put out weekly in your ordinary bin), out on the footpath. Sometime during that week big trucks will come to collect and crush the piles and take them away. Until that happens it's pretty much a free for all. Those of us who love rifling through other people's stuff look forward to this week like others might look forward to a birthday. We have been known to screech the car to a halt beside a promising looking pile, jump out, find something and do a small victory dance before hopping back into the car and zooming off. I'm sure I'm not the only one..

I spotted something a few houses away. It caught my eye because we have a lovely old table  in my room that we use as a dumping ground work desk. The chair we use with it is not that old, certainly not comfortable and most importantly, not that attractive. 

The girls and I carried it home (the timber and metal base is dead heavy - thank goodness we didn't have far to go) and we have been admiring it in the back room ever since. (It's actually not the first time I have found a chair on the side of the road - the last one was an arm chair I adore! Read more here.)

My husband was cautiously pleased. It does needs a little bit of work however, and his pleasure is likely to diminish if I don't get it fixed up before, I think he said Christmas.
I'm sure he said Christmas. There's no way he said Easter. 
Unless he meant 2016? ... 

And then, because Arch and I always like to keep an eye out for cute new stuff to add to and integrate with our vintage treasures, here's a few things we've found in our travels.

Okay, I am thinking Easter decorating here. Rabbit cushion anyone? Currently on sale in Myer.

Or these lovely cushions, in white and peachy pink with gorgeous gold foil spots. Only $10 each at Kmart. I actually added these to a spot-themed wedding gift I was giving to friends. They match the Robert Gordon china perfectly, don't you think?

Arch, who has inextricably taken a strong liking to Freedom Homewares shops, particularly liked this (on sale) Armchair, which looks to be straight out of Alice in Wonderland in my humble opinion. Personally I'd change the colour of the legs to walnut, or metallic. Just saying... 

And then, to end with vintage, I found this sweet gold banded etched glass jug for $5 in a local Vinnies, that fits in very well with the beautiful gold banded glasses we inherited from Jonathan's Grandma. 

Because life is too short not to sparkle!