Gold polka dots

How cute are these dotted designs below? I think it must’ve been Designlovefest that first got me hooked on gold polka dots. I’ve had their gold confetti pattern on the background of my iPhone for ages now, and from that it must’ve latched onto my subconscious!

1. Glass tumbler 2. Cushion set 3. Wedding cake 4. Washi tape 5. China mug 6. Umbrella

I can see that mug appearing in my kitchen cupboard as well as the tumbler (heads up guys, it’s my birthday soon!) and some cushion covers like the above wouldn’t be too hard to make.. a rainy weekend project perhaps? The spotty brolly would definitely add a little glam to your drizzly day, and I envisage the tape beautifying any gift-wrapping so that’s a cheap and easy must-have!

And oh, that wedding cake.. let’s just say if I was going to renew my vows it might have to be something like this! Swoon!

See how I clearly justified purchasing everything above? Terrible! Don’t worry, most of the time I just look!

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Putting the front garden back in

The biggest thing I wanted to change about our home as soon as I saw it was the frontage. The previous owners had removed the garden and replaced it with bricks (for parking reasons apparently!) and so the house seemed very abrupt against the road, and really did need some softening around the edges. It was a shame really, as the back of the section had been lovingly landscaped, so it did look a bit unfinished.

What we started with

Not a very good picture I know – but the other I had was super grainy. We get a lot of sun out the front in the morning, and a lot of shade in the afternoon – so picking the right moment to photograph it all was quite hard!

What’s actually missing from the below above are the big green planters I put on either side of the door which contained grassy flax. These will now be re-homed on our back deck. Do note the beautiful green reserve behind us (with large spiders lurking), and my lovely bright red door.

The plan

Being a designer, I am a sticker for symmetry. There has always been something in me that has craved a tidy, symmetrical box hedge so this seemed like the perfect time to bust it out. Hydrangeas are also a favourite – we have the most immense blue ones at the bottom of our property which  seem like they flower forever. And to balance out the mix and complement the door? Red camellias. Now we know they will work in the high-wind zone that is our house (and basically all of the city!) as they are very popular on our street.

Here is what I planned using a free online interactive gardening tool. It took me 10 minutes, and is great if you don’t feel like a scribble can do your new garden plan justice!

At the top of my drawing we have the house itself, with concrete steps in the middle leading down to a front pebbled area. Box hedge surrounds the garden which has been mulched, and each side features a red camellia, and white hydrangea. I also left space on the right for the letterbox!

The brick-fest

So, a couple of weeks ago we decided enough was enough and we got our shovels and spades out and had a bit of a brick-festival. After pulling out 400 or so bricks and discovering one very large worm, off we went toPalmers Garden Centre to get our plants, and a trailer for our top-soil and mulch.

Once we had laid out the mulch evenly, we set about placing the plants in their required spots. The guys got busy with the spades, and I helped, making sure everything was symmetrical with my very particular eye!

After about half a day of productive work, we finally had it all finished and it looked awesome. All we need to do now is replace the stones in front of the steps with some kind of easy paving (we’re thinking of busting thisawesome system out) and paint the letterbox!

The finished new garden entrance

We’re so happy with how this project turned out, and it has improved our homes’ curb appeal tenfold. Now to get in the routine of watering the plants every day, and willing all the hedges to grow super fast so they actually resemble what I covet!

Has anyone been busy in the garden over January? Nothing like a little bit of hard labour in the sunshine to get your vitamin D!

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Black & Spiro

On another of my Pinterest hunts, I stumbled across Aussie creative Anna Spiro. Anna has her own interior design practice and boutique Black & Spiro in Brisbane, which she fills with unique and beautiful things she has collected from all over the world.

Image courtesy of Black & Sprio.

Not just a dab-hand with interiors, Anna also has her own line of vibrant geometric wallpaper from Porter’s Paints, which showcases her brilliant passion for colour.

So of course I was a fan.

Round and Round the Garden & Rosey Posey Trellis

Images courtesy of Porters Paints.

What isn’t there for me to love? With three striking designs available in a myriad of colours, i’m having trouble picking a design for my home, and now am completely rethinking the feature-wall I had planned for my front entrance!

Here are some more…

Rosey Posey Trellis & Higgledy Piggledy Stripe

Images courtesy of Porters Paints.

I was pretty excited to hear she has a second wallpaper collection at work, and also a book publishing deal! I can’t wait to see what she produces on both fronts!

If you had to choose one, which would you pick?

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Christmas Pavlova

The humble New Zealand pavlova seems to be notorious in baking circles. It involves scandal (Australia keeps trying to claim it as their own); specifics (it must be beaten for at least 10 minutes on a high setting otherwise it will fall); and tradition (it’s a staple at the Kiwi Christmas table). With all that baggage, it’s no wonder I hadn’t yet attempted it myself!

Supposedly named after famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, this dessert is a sort of baked meringue with a soft, light inside and a crisp crust outside. Usually topped with whipped cream and decorated with seasonal fruit – my favourite being strawberries and blueberries – this dessert has to be nearly at the top of the list of all Kiwi dessert aficionados.

Affectionately known as a ‘pav’ around here, I mastered my first one for Christmas last year, trying out Annabel Langbein’s delicious recipe. Here it is for you:

From Annabel Langbein

Fantasy Pavlova

To make a pavlova you really need an electric beater and egg whites that are not too fresh. If they are, the pavlova will weep.

Ingredients

  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1½ cups caster sugar
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

 Topping

  • 3 punnets fresh mixed berries, eg raspberries, blueberries and hulled and halved strawberries

Instructions.

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and mark a circle about 16cm diameter with a plate.
  2. Place the egg whites into the clean bowl of an electric beater. Add the salt and beat until stiff. Slowly add the sugar with the beater running. Beat for about 10 minutes at high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy – it should be thick enough not to fall from the beater.
  3. Last of all, whisk in the cornflour and vinegar. Use a big spoon to drop dollops of meringue into the circled area of baking paper. Form into a circle of meringue, making swirls with the spoon on the top rather than flattening to a neat tidy disc.
  4. Bake at 180°C (not fan bake) for 5 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 130°C and cook a further hour. Turn off oven and leave pavlova to cool in the oven.
  5. Pavlova can be cooked a couple of days ahead a and stored in an airtight container, or frozen.
  6. To serve, spoon Berry Compote over pavlova and scatter over mixed berries.

Note:

I made my pav two days in advance to be organized, and it really did keep well in a tin ready for me to complete on Christmas Day. I also didn’t make Annabel’s berry compote above – I smothered my pavlova with whipped cream, then drizzled it with melted chocolate and then chopped up a punnet of strawberries as decoration. Bliss!

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Evie Kemp

Amongst my last minute Christmas shopping last year I came across the wonderful animal prints by Kiwi artistEvie Kemp. A trained designer and illustrator from Auckland, Evie has created a variety of colourful prints featuring not just birds as below, but other creatures with strong personalities too.

Images courtesy of Evie Kemp.

I love how Evie’s prints are so bright and visually engaging – they sure add a certain liveliness to any space! I don’t know what it is right now with bird prints – but I really feel they are doing their thing at the moment with interiors!

So of course I had to leave with these…

Images courtesy of Evie Kemp.

I bought these two above in A3 as I had an ideal pair of gold frames lingering in my home from a school fair a few months back. My pair of swans now live in the hallway, watching over the cat tripping in and out of the cat door.

With Evie Kemp’s artwork featuring in a range of stores throughout NZ you will have trouble leaving with just one print. Not just content with my swans, I even left with a budgie and cockatiel for one of my friends, and she was delighted!

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Last minute gift ideas!

I don’t know about you, but I had all these amazing intentions this year to get the Christmas present shopping done and dusted early. However, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind for me with trips away, a new job and family moving home so I didn’t really get as organized as I’d like! Next year maybe i’ll just get everything done online… less stress!

Here are some cute and funky things I am coveting this year – with lots of sparkle and gold included of course!

My Christmas Wishlist

1. Jonathan Adler Carnaby Zebra Stacking Dish 2. Rifle Paper Co iPhone Case 3. Uashmama Washable Metallic Paper Bag 4. Gold Stained Mug 5. Wallet with Gold Trim 6. Pixel Print Cushion 7. Ecoya Vanilla Bean Metro Jar Candle

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Chocolate Guinness cake

Welcome to my new baking section! I haven’t done as much baking as i’d like lately… but my brand new oven I had installed a few weeks ago will now change that! Expect some more yummy posts in time for Christmas! All recipes have been tried by myself, so you can be assured they’re not too fancy-pants (read: the ingredients can be found at your local supermarket) and do actually work. That’s always a bonus!

I made this amazing cake for my best friends Birthday a few months ago. A big fan of Nigella Lawson, I wanted to make a cake which didn’t have a pinch of something i’d use once and the rest of it would sit in the back of my pantry forever more. I was thinking chocolate, and a few minutes googling later I found Chocolate Guinness Cake – a mouth-watering recipe.

And the verdict? It was amazing. Drool-worthy. A new favourite! And it wasn’t too heavy and sickly like some rich chocolate cakes are – most likely due to the Guinness which made it quite damp. I added a white camelia from our garden for decoration, and it made it look like a million dollars it was so simple. My bestie loved it, which equals success!

I suggest you try this for your next celebration, it is bound to impress!

Nigella Lawson’s Recipe

From nigella.com

For the cake

  • 1 cup Guinness
  • 8.83 oz unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups superfine sugar
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking soda

For the topping

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream (or whipping cream)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/350ºF, and butter and line a 23cm / 9 inch springform tin.
  2. Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter – in spoons or slices – and heat until the butter’s melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and bicarb.
  3. Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.
  4. When the cake’s cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the icing. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the confectioners’ sugar and then beat them both together. Or do this in a processor, putting the unsieved confectioners’ sugar in first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese.
  5. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

Note:

What I didn’t do was add the cream into the icing – I felt this would make it quite heavy, and the icing tasted perfect without it. Also be aware this is a very large cake so use a large cake-tin! Enjoy!

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Just add sunshine

The other weekend we travelled up North to the beautiful Hawkes Bay with some of our lovely friends, to spend three days taking in the sights and sounds of Napier and its surrounding towns. So far Wellington has been a bit dismal, but man, Napier was stunning! We had highs of 24 degrees, and spent a lot of our time outside enjoying the much-needed balmy sunshine.

Of course we went here…

The batch we stayed in had a wonderfully sunny patio area, where we dragged the cane furniture outside and draped ourselves over it for maximum relaxation. It got me thinking about what accessories are required for a beautiful outdoor setting, and so I thought i’d show you some things i’ve found recently.

1. Pottery Barn Palmetto Egg Chair 2. Freedom Paradiso Cushion 3. Freedom Macrame Pot Hanger 4. Freedom Summer Pineapple 5. Ezibuy Solar Light Chain 6. Shangri La Drink Dispenser 7. Freedom Citrus Coasters

Oh I crave that egg chair! (What is it with me and outdoor chair cravings?!) Too bad it is from a while back so it will never be in my possession. I’m such a fan of bright and quirky for the outdoors, and the items above are no exception.

Freedom has a great range this year (as per usual) but I think the only thing i’ll splash out on this year are the fairy lights.. always a crowd favourite! We have plans to build a pergola over our large deck eventually, and these would loop over it perfectly. I’m thinking solar lights, some climbing wisteria… and maybe a spa… i’ll keep dreaming!

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Tissue paper pom poms

“Dahlia-like pom poms appear to float in the air, imparting a cheerful radiance to a rehearsal dinner, bridal shower, or casual reception.” – Martha Stewart Weddings.

When planning my wedding, one of the first things I fell in love with in terms of decoration were these dahlia-like pom-poms made of tissue paper:

Martha Stewart

Amazing! So simple yet effective! These would be perfect for a wedding, baby shower, or anything needing some decoration.

They didn’t look too hard to make, and only required purchasing a few supplies, so I decided this project was a great idea for table decoration that would keep to my wedding budget. Looking around the web, I found that you could actually purchase these pom poms ‘ready made’ by Martha Stewart herself, but these were pretty expensive when you needed large amounts, and they came flat!

I rounded up my lady-friends

We set about the task of making 80 of these bad boys. Yes, you read that correctly, EIGHTY. Using theinstructions from Martha, and also another more detailed website, we got these down to a fine art and spent many (many) evenings with scissors, tissue paper and twine. We discovered the inclusion of wine didn’t really help in these crafty evenings, but it did mentally!

Our hard work paid off

© Jessica Jones Photography

On our Wedding day we had 80 stunning pom poms to decorate the tables (10 on each table) in pale pink, hot pink, white and orange. We even had a tally to make sure we had an even amount of colours for each table! I am proud to say that was probably my only Bridezilla tendency (although if you asked my Maid of Honour she may say otherwise!)

They looked truly awesome, and we got some pretty cool reactions from guests, in fact many asked if they could take one home! The pop of colour really worked against the crisp white tablecloths, and with the soft candlelight and fairy lights they looked mesmerising.

© Jessica Jones Photography

After our big day, we packed the remaining pom poms up and brought them back to Wellington. They are now sitting in boxes in storage… I can’t bring myself to throw these out after all those long hours!

But alas, there have been some casualties. My not so kitten-ish anymore kitten Pixie did manage to find one box filled with these at the back of a wardrobe, and now uses it for napping. She did look fairly guilty when I discovered her atop the squished pom poms!

Special thanks for Jessica & Paul Jones for the stunning photography above.

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Grouping mismatched objects

Friends! Do you have various knick-knacks around the house that don’t really work wherever you put them? I’m talking about those gold ornaments, note-cards, mismatched candle holders and dishes that you were drawn to buy, yet have no idea where you’ll put them in your home. Well i’m certainly guilty of it. I seem to have magpie tendencies whenever it comes to a bargain, swooping in and picking up a random owl, a pinecone or two and before you know it I have all these little things scattered about my lounge that don’t particularly have something that unifies them, and just look, well, bleurgh.

Well yes, that does sound familiar you say. Well it just so happens I have a magic trick for you today that can unify your random purchases so it looks like you have a well-styled and cultivated collection of objects.

Introducing: The Tray!

No, not a tea tray, or anything remotely that would have food on it (trust me it will never have food on it once you have one!) but, a standard plain tray, preferably made of clear lucite, or a painted wooden one would do just fine.

Group your random objects into said tray (things better work in odd numbers such as 3s or 5s) and pop on your buffet, dresser, coffee table (basically any flat surface) and things will instantly look cohesive, more refined, and as one.

Trays with things I like

1. Emily Henderson 2. Cococosy 3. Rue Mag 4. Burlap and Lace

Of course, you can also use your tray in a conventional way, to hold beverage paraphernalia on a bar cart, or grouping your perfume and makeup on a dresser. Don’t get me started on bar carts, I die!

1, 2 & 3 Apartment F15 4. Stylish Irish

But whatever you do, you now have some sort of order to your space. Easy! Now go off and curate your clutterobjects! You now have a perfect excuse for anything at Typo, because they will go so well with everything in your home.

 

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