Nov 30, 2012

Calling all Francophiles...a gorgeous gift idea for Christmas.

For all those Francophiles amongst us, 
Natalie from the delicious Jewel Yet to Find blog
has worked some of her beautiful photographs of Paris
 into some fabulous calendars for 2013.

A delightful idea for an elegant Christmas present. 
You can purchase the calendars from her Etsy shop here.
And if you haven't come across her blog yet,
do check it out because her photography and observations are always thoughtful.

Nov 29, 2012

Black Steel Framed Windows : just simple.

Have always had a soft spot for steel frame windows,
especially when painted in matt black,
as used in houses built around the 1930s to 1950s.
Their judicious use,
especially when contrasted with paler elements like these limestone walls,
creates an effect of beautiful simplicity.
It's a rather lovely space in which to catch a little sunshine don't you think?

image :: toorak house

Nov 28, 2012

Elements of Glamour :: Stylish Dressing : The Cufflink

Now I don't know your thoughts on the matter,
but to me there is only one choice in cuffs for men's shirts as far as glamour is concerned.
French cuffs or forget it. Clasped with a stylish cufflink.
None of these button arrangements. 
Nope, it has to be the real deal. 
And these boys illustrate exactly why the French cuff, 
with an elegant cufflink, adds so much style to a beautifully cut suit.

Nov 27, 2012

The first kiss as husband and wife....a wedding in a vineyard: that's romantic!

Is there anything as romantic as that first magical kiss after wedding vows 
have been emotionally and shyly said?
And is there ever a dry eye amongst the women
(and often, it has to be confessed, amongst the men too)
at such a tender moment?

For in that one exquisite gesture,
all the hopes and all the wishes for a beautiful adventure are gently entwined.
I often wonder whether, if I stumbled upon the wrong wedding by accident,
and therefore did not know the bride and groom,
would I still feel as soppily romantic?
Is it the gesture itself which brings out our softest side?
But that is a test for another day,
because this is the wedding of my darling nephew 
and his truly beautiful, right through to the heart, bride,
who married a couple of weekends ago in a tiny rambling vineyard in the Adelaide Hills.

Nov 26, 2012

Central Axis :: Fabulous Front Entrances...

There's a sense of procession in this Fabulous Front Entrance,
don't you think?
It makes the pathway to the front door incredibly clear.
Everything symmetrical. 
Every element duplicated perfectly, except of course, for the central gable and front door.
Two of those would simply be confusing...

And even when we switch viewing angles,
that delicious symmetry still leads the eye back to the target: the front door. 
And how cute is is the concept of a gatehouse?
As a mini-me of the main house,
 it looks like it may have been the perfect place for stolen midnight kisses in the early 20th century,
when this house was built in an Arts & Crafts style.

Such a romantic thought for a Monday Morning - now it's back to work for me! 

Nov 25, 2012

A Pool overlooking the Ocean in Mexico :: would you love to live here?

Fresh white sea foam crashing against rocks in teasing sea-kisses,
the soul-refreshing salty air of the wild, wild ocean below.
Can you imagine how energising a day would be if this were your morning vista?

Nov 23, 2012

A Christmas Tree with Pink Flamingoes? Summer style...

As Christmas approaches, and the days are getting warmer,
with the sky a little bluer and the evenings a little longer,
my thoughts always turn to wonder as Christmas trees appear in Australian shops and homes
with fake snow, fur-wrapped Father Christmas figures, 
icicles and assorted winter wonderland delights. 

All very nice, 
but what on earth has that got to do with summer Christmas?
(And yes, a White Christmas is charming too, having experienced a few
while on the other side of the world.)
But I reckon that wherever one is, 
one should thoroughly enjoy the moment of the present,
(no gift-like pun intended...)
rather than forever wishing to be somewhere else. 
Grass is never as green in the other paddock,
because when one gets there, "there" is now "here" and "here" is now "there."
In an Alice in Wonderland kind of epiphany of wisdom, that is. 

At any rate, I was super duper delighted to happen upon this fabulous Christmas tree,
laden with summer's tropical bounty,
in one of the most fabulous little boutiques in my local village of Mt Eliza. 
It's an upscale recycle boutique,
where gorgeous gowns sit alongside classic skinny jeans in darkest indigo,
and dotted amongst them are colourful wares of giant silver spoons,
striped hammocks and woven basketware. 
I always love walking past Sissy's on my way to the post office,
because I just never know what on earth will turn up in the shop window next.

With nary a reindeer in sight, 
the Christmas decorations are an explosion of imagination, 
summer style. 
Impossibly huge flowers, 
as befits a tropical garden,
wildly-coloured birds from the Amazon jungle and the Australian rainforest,
all gently ordered by the bright lime green frog princes,
resplendent in their royal crowns,
just waiting for that magical kiss.

And looking at all the bright colour,
on a golden day when the cicadas are chirruping away
and the water on the Bay is a turquoise shade of blue,
suddenly it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...
summer style.

images :: snapped on my iPhone,
so while dodgy, the colours still dance

Nov 21, 2012

A Tangelo Topaz Top Hat Cocktail? Um, yes please!

When Janelle McCulloch from the Library of Design
suggested I create a cocktail to mark each month's birthstones,
my mind started whirling with delicious potions.
Now, it never take much of an excuse to start throwing around delectable liquids
in my "is it cocktail hour yet?" mind.

So in honour of November's twin birthstones of Citrine & Topaz,
this is a seriously good cocktail with the same golden amber hue as the stones,
and a flavour to match the gem's reputation for fire.

Why St Germain? Well, the base of elderflowers makes it rather perfect,
because in flower language elderflowers represent fire,
just as the Topaz does.

The Drambuie brings in the sweet honey notes of warmth
and Grand Marnier adds a rich depth.

Of course, if you don't want you guests to fall about,
(because this is a heady mixture)
just tactfully place the soda bottle next to them with a gentle disclaimer.
We added varying amounts, and liked it with quite a lot of soda.
But then this is spring, 
and in the simply perfect balmy weather,
these delicious cocktails refreshinglly epitomised the warmth of a twilight evening in the garden. 


fred astaire in top hat via 

Nov 20, 2012

The Topaz + Citrine of November :: Quietly, warmly glamorous in burnished amber...

Honey, mustard, amber and gold.
These are the colours of the November birthstones, 
the warm golden Topaz + the clear golden Citrine.

Actually, the Topaz can come in quite a few different colours,
(including blue, yellow, pink and pale green)
but it is this amber version, known as Precious Topaz, which is the traditional birthstone.
Precious Topaz also answers to the name of Orange Topaz,
and it's easy to see why.

Nov 19, 2012

Fabulous Front Entrances :: the wrought iron arch...

While it's out of current flavour,
(fashion being such a fickle thing)
I have always loved an arch doorway,
especially when used as a front entrance.
These gorgeous entry arches are clad with festively-ornate wrought iron doors,
marking the ceremonial entrance to the porch.
It creates that delightful in-between space,
neither in the garden nor in the house,
but a delicious transition between the two.

And while this custom dates from an earlier time,
being used as a screening device,
it's still a clever way to provide security while appearing welcoming, 
as well as a rather charming celebration of the entrance.

Where you live,
are these sorts of wrought-iron screened entry porches still used?

images :: 1: property for sale at 12 lansell rd, toorak, melbourne
2: wrought iron inspired gown 
3: property for sale at 76 clendon rd, toorak, melbourne

Nov 16, 2012

R.O.Y.G.B.I.V.: all the colours of the rainbow in flowers from the garden

Do you remember the old acronym R.O.Y.G.B.I.V.,
an easy way to remember the correct order of the colours of the rainbow?
Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, Indidgo, Violet.
Well, I thought it would be fun to see if I could find flowers in each colour
growing in my garden at the same time.
So, I present, for your colourful pleasure, all the colours of the rainbow in flowers from my garden.
Starting with the happy, bright, gorgeous azalea: batting for the red team.

Clicked On :: an Edwardian Villa with a Modern Graft...

When faced with adding an extension to an older character home, 
one can replicate the style which is in the original, 
or one can have a bit of fun creating a contrast between old and new.
In this house at Malvern,
BKK Architects opted for the latter, 
calling the project the Clip On House,
deliberately exaggerating the contrast with a parapet roof line & timber cladding. 
It's currently for sale,
so let's have a look at it...

Here's the Edwardian front facade, relatively unchanged...

And here's the extension to the rear,
built in 2008. 
I do rather love that timber lined soffit,
and of course the swing is just begging to be used.

Nov 15, 2012

Such cleverness: a hanging lemon tree...

Isn't this one of the most fun ideas? 
A living lemon tree, the roots carefully wrapped in a moss ball,
suspended rather more as sculpture than as horticulture.
It's by the imaginative Jenna Spence,
who makes and sells other fabulous hanging plants too through her store Mister Moss in Melbourne. 

Absolutely love Jenna's Christmas trees,
also wrapped in a moss ball and then bound with string.
I have been pondering what sort of a tree to have this year, 
and think this may be quite the ticket. 

Now I cannot grow Kangaroo Paws for love nor money.
(Think I smother them with love, kindness or maybe just water. 
It always ends tragically. For the Kangaroo Paws.)
But maybe, this version may work. Even for me.

Apparently you just dunk them in water once a week and they are good to go.

The lemon tree is in her own home, 
and you can see more, and discover more about Jenna on the inimitable Design Files here

images lemon tree: design files  // christmas tree + kangaroo paw: mr moss

Nov 9, 2012

A garden, a paddock, a pool, a view...oh and it comes with a house too!

One of the most heavenly spots in Australia are the gently rolling hills
of the Mornington Peninsula. 
Bound by harbours on each side,
this narrow stretch of land is blessed with rich soils and regular rainfall,
and combined with the gentle maritime climate of mild winters and summers,
it is a veritable treasure trove for farmers, vignerons and gardeners alike.
Until I moved to Melbourne 6 years ago,
I had never set foot on the Peninsula which lies about an hour to the south of the city
- for me it was a world waiting to be discovered.
And now I'm smitten.

Nov 8, 2012

Just Something Gorgeous :: the utter femininity of Alannah Hill

If there's a girl who knows how to make a girl feel girly, 
it would have to be Alannah Hill. 
Delicate fabrics, generous bias cuts, textured details, embroidered lace and lashings of wit,
these new pieces from the "last girl standing" collection for 2012/13 summer
capture the very essence of femininity.

Nov 6, 2012

Hats, hats, hats :: all the colour of the Melbourne Cup

Oh yes, there's something about a horse race on the first tuesday in November. 
But there's also something about the most fabulous hats, 
which appear on the first tuesday of November in this city.

Today's Melbourne Cup was as elegant and as glamorous as it has been since 1861,
with such beautiful horses, at their absolute peak, 
and a glorious collection of colourful confections under the general category of "hats"
upon the heads of the happy race-goers.
See which is your favourite...

Nov 2, 2012

Baking :: Walnut + Almond Baklava, redolent with Citrus Syrup....

Layers of flaky, buttery pastry,
the crunch of sweet Australian almonds and freshly cracked Californian walnuts,
all utterly drenched in star-anise-tinged citrus + honey syrup.
I'm talking about baklava,
and despite being one of the most sublime pastries on earth,
perfect with a little espresso or two,
it's actually rather easy to make...

Nov 1, 2012

Simplicity of Line :: concrete, white oak, sunshine...

If you like your houses cast in golden sunshine,
where overscaled windows allow daylight to play upon floors of creamy travertine,
where walls of pre-cast concrete and ceilings of soaring heights create a simplicity of line,
then this little number by Simon Stokes Architects may just tickle your fancy.

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