Friday, January 30, 2009

paint effects

It's friday afternoon and who would have thought I'd be excited at the prospect of spending another weekend painting? Not this little black duck - but oddly, I am. Isn't it so much nicer doing something where you can see an almost immediate result? It's the attitude I'm trying to take with virtually every task - no matter how horrid or annoying. 

Hope you all have a gorgeous weekend.

short and sweet

My daughter went back to school this week, on a Wednesday, which is a nice day to start. Beginning the school year with a three day week is a lovely way to ease into the school year. See, it's easy to come up with a different hairstyle for each day (v important) and something novel for fruit break (variety, spice of life and all) and a new and interesting breakfast (gotta tickle those little tastebuds). I'm also finally getting used to the quietness of the house and getting stuff done.

The housework's falling down though. Now the new school year's started I think a rough plan's going to have to be worked out. We usually clean together on a Saturday, but this weekend will be spent painting AGAIN. Although, in exciting news, it will be painting the pavilion at the end of the pool! Our speedy, speedy carpenter started on Tuesday and on his first day laid the deck. On the second finished the deck and put up the uprights, then yesterday he did the beams and lined the ceiling (making sure there was space for our ginormous chandelier to hang).

So on the weekend, the white paint comes out and we're slapping it on. The tin on the roof goes on today (pale grey, to match the roof of our house) and he's delivering the timber that forms the slats that are going around three sides so we can give them a coat before they put them up. It's all looking so lovely. My hubby also bought a bar fridge to put in there to keep water (and, ahem, champagne) cool. It's hidden away in the wall of built-in cupboards designed to lock away all the pool stuff.

We also had turf laid in the courtyard and it's incredible what a difference it makes - it really cools the whole yard down. After six months or so of dirt in various guises it's so lovely to see a pretty verdant covering. And once the hedging plants are planted in the boxes along the pool's edges it'll be a veritable oasis.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

sweet scents

My darling sister-in-law, who lives far-too-far-away from me in London, bought me the most divine Peony candle and homespray from The White Company for Christmas (I know - spoiled!) So as I'm sitting at my desk, waiting on a conference call, and for the turf men to finally arrive (yep, they didn't come yesterday, are meant to come today...) I've spritzed my study with this delicious scent and am already feeling calmer and more inspired.

what's cooking

As much as I'm loving on summer for the weather, I'm in need of a change so I can find some new cooking inspiration. I'm done with salads. I came up with some variations this year, which made me happy, but now, I've had enough. I need to start slow cooking again. I want the comforting scents to waft through my home. I want richness and the mouth-filling sensation that comes from layers of tastes in winter food. 

Summer food's light, delicate and zesty - but I'm over it. I'm really going to have to pull out the big guns to overcome my culinary ennui. Perhaps I can do an asian-style salmon, with a cold broccoli salad - dotted with slivered almonds with a rich parsley and anchovi dressing. Buckwheat noodles might also help. 

Actually, on Martha the other day she made an amazing dish with buckwheat noodles, flank steak (I think that's what it was called - it's the steak cut from the ribs and is incredibly tender - apparently) and snow peas. She sauteed the steak for a few minutes, then removed, rested and then sliced against the grain. The she boiled up the noodles and drained. Then the snowpeas were cooked in the pan with the steak juices all stuck to the bottom. She threw in some miso paste and soy sauce and stirred them around for a minute. All were tossed in a bowl, garnished with peanuts, sliced green onions and coriander. Yum... think I've got my inspiration back...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

strap me in

Now these, with a pair of feet to fill them out, are a mighty pretty shoe of the week. Honestly, who couldn't love mary janes cubed? If I were a wee slip of a lass I'd wear them with long socks, but for moi, a thick pair of patterned tights might be more appropriate. They're by Chloe and I like them mighty fine.

french chic

Hef might be testing my boundaries with his twins, and by featuring the likes of Aubrey O'Day in the pages of the US version (yeah, who?) but look at the French version of Playboy. Lily's gone all 60s in this adorable retro shoot. With her Gidet-esque hair and the carousel pony - I'm smitten. 

green spaces

Apparently men are delivering turf to my courtyard today. I say apparently as they were due here an hour ago... but hey, who's impatient? I've learned not to expect anyone until they're actually standing in my yard, surrounded by absolutely everything they'll need to do the job - and let me tell you, that's pretty rare. That said, my carpenter turned up yesterday, with lots of timber and actually constructed most of the deck for our pavilion at the end of the pool! Excitement!! More timber was delivered this morning, and he and his son turned up on-time and got straight into working.

Matt and I finished painting the last of the fences last night - at 8pm. It nearly killed us, but thanks to Sara's suggestions on holding a paint brush loosely and switching positions often, my hands aren't nearly as sore as they were the day before. The fence looks spectacular. I'll head out later on and take some photos of it now it's a pretty painted lady - it looked so nude and unfinished before. I'm thrilled it's all finally starting to take shape and the end is soooooo close I can taste it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

brush strokes

Ouch. I have blisters on my hands and fingers from painting the fence - but boy, it looks fabulous. We painted 30 square metres of fence yesterday, which is darned impressive, and only have 29 square metres to paint today. Easy peasy. Once the fence is painted we can plant the lilly pillies which are very patiently waiting out the side of the house in a little straight line. Ignored, except for the couple of times a day I hose them down.

I realised yesterday - about 20 square metres into the painting, that I hold a paintbrush in a very silly manner - the same way you'd hold a pen, which makes for a lot of interesting blisters. I think it's because I've always done the cutting in, while hubby takes over the broader brush strokes of rollering. Today I'm going to load my fingers with band-aids - then try to hold my brush in the manner of a grizzled old house painter - grasped firmly in my palm. Wish me luck.

Monday, January 26, 2009

aussie, aussie, aussie

It's Australia Day today, a drizzly, grey Australia Day, but after Saturday's scorcher I shan't be complaining. I was looking for a pretty lamington image to accompany this post and found the prettiest, but now defunct, blog. It was and while the posts were sparse, they were so pretty and inspirational. Check out her cake stand filled with treats and see if your mouth doesn't water. 

I'm off to the backyard to continue painting the paling fence - does it get any more Aussie than that?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

better late than never

This morning, as I was waving my father and step-mother off from their three day visit I thought I'd just bend down and pull out a few weeds that were poking through the paving in front of the front steps. Then, while I was there, I weeded a few long bits of grass that had straggled into the front bed. That reminded me that yesterday I'd read it was time to summer prune the roses. And oh, did they need it.

The poor things performed valiantly for us this season, but the couple of scorching days we've had, coupled with nighttime rain, and the fact that I've basically ignored them for the past two months meant they were looking straggly, spotty and altogether unwell. So I went all along the front picket fence and pruned them back by a good third. Now they're just sticks again, but I did give them a big meal of chicken manure and a lovely water, so hopefully they'll get inspired to grow and flower again. I've still got the roses up the side to prune - another day perhaps - although they're not looking anywhere near as sickly as the front ones which are exposed to all natures whims and fancies.

Yesterday was a blisteringly hot 39 degrees with unconscionable humidity - so we hired a ute and shoveled four tons of lawn underlay into our courtyard. Not sure if you've ever been introduced to lawn underlay before, but it has a really, really high percentage of chicken manure in it - so it's dead stinky. However, while the whiff factor is high, and we did nearly kill ourselves working in the heat - the area's now ready for the turf men to come and lay some lovely Sir Walter buffalo in the courtyard. Bliss. We also bought 10 lovely lilly pillies to form a three to four metre high hedge behind us, so the pool shall now be surrounded with a delightful patch of green. With the carpenter starting on Tuesday, and apparently knocking over the pool pavilion in a fortnight, we've just got a spot of painting and planting to do before I've got some lovely backyard shots to share with you.

Yay. About to pop a bottle of rosé in the fridge to celebrate.

Friday, January 23, 2009

thinking thrifty

Whenever I read a blog or piece on how to be thrifty I realise how much I just do naturally. Putting myself through uni and living on basically nothing taught me some valuable life lessons, and I'm glad that even when my income's gone up, my spending's still stayed on the frugal side. Of course, I do splurge. A new Chanel nailpolish can do so much for a gal - but I normally only buy one per season. Apart from that - I'm thrift-central.

For a start, if a hem comes down or a button comes off, I sew it back on. Badly, but I'll do it. If a zipper breaks I'd rather pay someone $14 to sew in a new one than buy a new pair of trousers. We do enjoy going out to dinner - but it's rare, and so much more special that way. When I cook it's from fresh ingredients - with the odd sauce from a jar if need be - but my meals come from the ground - not in a box. I always turn the shampoo and conditioner bottles upside down at the end of their life. Then I'll take off the lid, add a few drops of water, shake and get another two washes from them.

We pay our mortgage fortnightly, and pay more than the minimum in order to pay it off quicker. If ever we get an unexpected windfall (pay-rise, tax refund...) that goes straight off the mortgage too. I'll also walk an extra block or two to use my own bank's ATM - I loathe paying the extra $2 you're charged for using another bank's machine - and it can add up too.

I'll also buy big ticket items on sale - or negotiate my butt off for the best possible price and then pay cash to get even more off. My clothes virtually always come from op-shops or sample sales and if I feel the need for a fashion fix I'll buy some cheap beads, a lippy or nail polish in this season's hottest colour.

But I don't do this to feel virtuous - I just do it because it feels right. There's no point in cutting costs and scrimping if it makes you feel deprived and awful - you just need to make cuts in the area where it doesn't matter so you can save enough to spend a little more where it does.

holy sheet

So, I saved up, waited for the sale and bought 1500 thread count white cotton sheets. They're so crisp and look gorgeous on the bed, but, oh, they're loud.

A friend of mine did warn me about this (after I'd bought them!) but I thought he must have just had overly sensitive ears - but no, they're loud.

I think I'm going to have to wash them a few times to soften them up - or learn to sleep like a log. Tossing and turning is annoying enough, without such a noisy soundtrack!

Despite this, once I've fallen asleep I've had some mighty restful nights - and for an occasional insomniac there's nothing sweeter than sleeping through the night.

Ps - not my bedroom in this shot - but spookily similar. I have the same coloured walls and a bay window with a 1920s french cafe table and love heart chairs inset. Instead of a little plate, I have two gorgeous little images of Marie Antoinette I found in an antique store in the most darling of frames on each side of the bay window. I'm thinking I need similar curtains though - how pretty. I also have netting billowing down behind my bed - after all, it's what every princess needs.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

simply stunning

Oh. Marion. Dior shoes. That chaise. Her hair. Her face. That frock. The va va voom.


a real page turner

Sometimes it's easy to think grandiose and contemplate over-embellishment (or is that just me?)

Whenever we've discussed floor to ceiling bookshelves in the study we've thought mouldings and complexity but this image (from the same house as the kitchen I believe - damn, do the people who live here walk around hugging themselves in delight? I would if this were my home) shows that simple can be stunning.


a touch of green

Next week the carpenter's coming to build the structure at the end of our pool. I'm dreaming on white painted floor boards, white slatted walls, a white roof, my enormous white chandelier - and white furniture. However, to give it a kick, I am loving on this shade of green in these chairs. For cushions perhaps?

PS - how well would you cook if this were your kitchen? I found this on Homes & and think it's achingly pretty.

wave of beautification

Hello my pretties - would you like to come and live on my feet? Wow, I found is quite tough this week finding a shoe I deemed suitable for this spot. I frowned, I 'euwed', I pouted, I frowned,I sighed until I stumbled upon this pair of Prada perfection.

Honestly, some times it seems like the shoe maker's have run out of ideas, particularly when you flick through Caroline Cox's Vintage Shoes book and realised that what we consider avante garde was actually de rigeur in the 1930s. So I was very pleased to see a shoe with all the bits I like, but with a twist - or a wave in this case. Personally, I think it would be hilarious if I were to wear these - the colour and shape of the shoe matching the colour and curls on my head. However, I can only dream. Which I will...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

magnificent morsels

Hey, you know how I'm going alcohol-free in February? Do these pink champagne truffles count?

afternoon delights

One of the things I'm most looking forward to, once our back garden is complete, is bringing out our antique french iron furniture. We've got a gorgeous curved bench -similar to this, but in an amazing rusty cream. Plus there's an art deco chair and table set, with the lovehearts naturellement. Picturing them on the green grass in the courtyard makes my heart sing. High tea will taste so much better in such pretty surrounds.


bedtime stories

I was checking out Martha Stewart's site, looking for a little home inspiration when my heart skipped a beat or a thousand. Now, my dream is to have at least one wall in my study lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves {if not all of them...} but oh my, wouldn't this be lovely in the boudoir? As I cannot possibly fall asleep without a chapter or two this has to be a booklover's dream does it not?