breville all in one...I think its purring

Meeting other bloggers is always fun, meeting them for a great cooking demo followed by delicious morning tea is even better.  This is exactly what Appliances Online organised last Monday when they hosted a morning tea for bloggers with a fabulous cooking demo by the lovely ladies of the Monday Morning Cooking Club (MMCC).  I met some lively bloggers like Caro of Caro & Co, had an eye opening discussion with a blogger who has been a dominatrix (I am not telling who, those who were there will have to guess), ate more chiffon cake than was strictly good for me, and generally had a very good time indeed.  

The ladies from the MMCC put on a fabulous spread with no less than three different chiffon cakes (the orange wins for me), salmon and bagels and other freshly baked goodies from the Appliances Online kitchen.  I will tell you more of the MMCC story another day, community memory and story gathering through food, fascinating and moving.  I would love to cook with them myself some time.

During the demo the MMCC used the Breville All In One.  I was impressed.  The double bladed mixer easily ground fresh almonds into almond meal and made several beautiful looking doughs.  I have an elderly Magi Mix given to me by my granny when I left home.  It is showing it's age (unlike me I hope), it works perfectly but the plastic has become brittle and is cracking in less and less avoidable places.  I also have a drawer full of mandolin and stick mixer bits that I can never find quickly enough.  This gadget made me take notice, it obviously worked well in the demo, does everything my Magi Mix, mandolin and stick mixer can, and afterwards it stacked neatly into the storage stand.  Impressive.  So imagine my delight when we were presented with a All In One to test in our own kitchens, with a copy of the MMCC book to give us inspiration.  If only all Mondays were more like this.

I raced home and spent a happy afternoon musing over recipes and mixer attachments, I had to test it that very day.  Now I know you are expecting some gourmand recipe, but really what I made was mashed potatoes.  I wanted to test the mashing attachment, something I hadn't seen before, and (drum roll) result was mashed potatoes in minutes.  Yummy, creamy, easy!  Next I am planning pesto, I have a giant basil bush in the garden.  Or I might make my granny's pecan nut biscuits, very similar to the kifli the MMCC made for us, I will let you know how it goes.

Thank you again to Appliances Online, they are a great resource for the time poor who know what they want and just want it delivered to their door.
And a reminder to my readers that all opinions are truly my own.  I love testing products but rest assured feed back will always be genuine.

vignette my bedroom

My favourite thing in our bedroom is our cow hide headboard.  I bought it as a rug but it was far to small so it has ended up on the headboard.  I was a little worried it would be scratchy to lean on but it isn't.  Its still a work in progress, I want to finish it with a nail head trim, and I need a better solution for the edges, but I haven't quite figured out how to do it.
The little horse has migrated from the spare room to the bedroom, he does roam around the house but has to be kept away from Miss J's curious fingers. 

In this room I am aiming for a collection of textures in neutral shades and tones - soothing but not boring.  The linen curtains are every bit as lovely as I hoped, elegant, light and classic, but still polished.  The rest is a bit of a collectors hodge podge: bedside tables off ebay, lamp bases posted back from a Cape Town holiday, art bought online from KwaZulu Natal, aloes from the neighbourhood.

One day we will get or make a new bed, but its far far down the need to have list.  I also would like a console table for the far wall that I can put a pair of mirrors above, but sadly those too are far down my list.

The photo above was taken by the lovely Maite Robin for Prebuilt.  Our lovely home is fabulous prefab, preFAB to those who know it, and the builders, Prebuilt, asked if they could take some photos.  Enter Maite who took some amazing images which I will share with you in the next few weeks.  I want to pair her work with more intimate images of my own to give you a real sense of our home. 

All other photo's by Eva of BuildHouseHome

doing not the school holidays

This is some of what we have been getting up to this school holidays, inspiration and our 
versions.  Its been a lot of fun, I love having Miss E around more.

I have been wanting to make my own mugs for ages, ever since I saw the diy done by Amanda at Whistle & Whit.  I also did my own version of the Sarjaton mug, particularly pleased with this version.  My porcelain mugs cost $4.50 from Target and the Pebeo porcelain paint was $7 a tube off ebay.  The sarjaton mug in the right hand circle is $22 before delivery - good result all around.

Make your own snake finger puppets with the template from Mr Printables.

In other news the Ikea hack is progressing, the cupboards are in but we are battling with how to do the connecting shelves.  Still have to get the shoe shelves from Ikea, they are frustratingly out of stock.  So far I have done one trip to Ikea and two to the hardware store.  Trips to the store are never shown in diy tutorials.
I have also cut most of the fabric for my day bed cushion covers.  And of course we are well into rainbow birthday preparations.  So its busy busy busy at our house right now.  
I will keep you posted on the progress when life slows down so pop back soon.

Modern barn in monochrome

Yes I know you have all seen the lovely images of Ellen Degeneres' gorgeous ranch in Elle Decor already, but when I saw the interior it reminded me of some of my other favourites and I wanted to see them all together.  Vaulted ceilings, lots of white painted wood, and black or worn wood details all seem to do it for me.  
The rooms above and below are from Ellen's ranch via Elle Decor.  I think the triangular cowhide rug in ivory from Pure Rugs would be a perfect match.  I know I want it!
I wonder what the circle is on the far wall, something found and perfect. Another vaulted white wood ceiling, but this time with concrete floors.  This is a favourite room from a favourite blog, Emma's Design Blog.  I keep my eyes peeled for trees being taken down because one day I will make a tree stump stool on casters like this one.  It just needs this chevron cowhide in ivory to be soft under foot, from Pure Rugs again.

Above is a favourite home, I could move in tomorrow.  Lots of white with black details. This is one of my most favourite favourite kitchens, and that hat rack...perfection.  They are from a villa in St Barths and it's worth popping in here to see it all.

Who wouldn't love being in these open pared back spaces.  Just enough to be comfortable, worn and comfy and ready for living in.  

little letters of the season

Autumn is my favourite season, clear warm days, crisp mornings, and cool evenings perfect for fires and cuddling.  Sydney has been glorious this year.

Posts may be slightly slower the next two weeks, its school holidays and there is lots to be done.    I will be attempting my first Ikea hack, finally tackling the shoe problem at the front door.  Miss E and I will be decorating mugs, testing a pin I have had on my diy board for years, and of course there is a birthday to celebrate.

I mentioned before you can now follow me on Bloglovin.  I have been using it myself and am very pleased with how its working - it doesn't spam your mailbox, in fact you can choose not to receive emails at all.  You get a sneak preview of each post, not the entire thing, I like it.  So if you are keen, click here to follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Enjoy the change of season where ever you are, and feel free to add your little letters too.
Dear neighbours don't think I am odd when I collect the leaves from the sidewalk, I am adding them to my compost heap and you should too.
Dear Ikea why can't I order online, I know what I want and I don't have the time for a long ikea trip, especially in school holiday.
Dear school lunches I am enjoying this time apart, there are only so many cheese sandwiches I can make without getting really bored.
Dear Fender why do cats want to play at three in the morning!  Its a good thing you are so cute because being waking up with a cat on my head makes me grumpy.
Dear Ikea hackers you are amazing, I am feeling very inspired and very handy after reading all your posts.  Lets hope my hack is a success and not a pinstrosity.

living with marble in the kitchen

Would we put in marble kitchen counters if we built again?  If you are trying to make the marble vs other counter tops decision I can give you a little feedback.
We have lived with ours for just over a year, I still love it but here are my pros and cons.

We love our marble counter tops because:
They are gorgeous, they are just as beautiful as we imagined, a hard surface with a timeless patina.  Centuries of European kitchens can't all be wrong, it gets worn, but that only adds to the patina and beauty.

Does marble scratch and etch?
Marble does scratch occasionally when something is pulled along it, and yes it is etched slightly by acids like citrus juices and tomatoes.  By etching I mean you will be able to see the ring where a cup was, but only very slightly, in the right light and from the right angle.  Not so bad really.  You do not walk in and just see etch and scratch marks, and you use the right products these will fade away.  

The first Christmas we were in the house my father segmented about 5 oranges on the marble counter and left a very large square etched mark from the bowl he was using.  I took a deep breath and decided not to let it annoy me.  Instead I would think of my dad and that Christmas every time I noticed them, trying to be positive right?  The funny thing is a year later I can't find  them even when I am trying to.  They have simply been buffed away with cleaning and use.

Does marble stain?
So far so good, we are fairly diligent about cleaning up spills, especially red wine.  We had a dinner party a few weeks ago and several bottles were left on the counter overnight with red drips along the bottom, they cleaned away easily the next morning.  Who leaves large spills to sit on the counter any way. 

How to care for marble
Clean your marble with warm soap free water. The worst thing you can do is use an ordinary dish washing liquid or worse a scouring agent on the surface.  Acid and alkaline both cause damage, so make sure any product you use is PH neutral.

To protect and nourish my marble I use Du Pont Daily Stone & Tile Benchtop Cleaner, and the Granite & Marble Benchtop Cleaner + Protector.  It makes the marble shine and is safe to use on unsealed stone.  When I notice etch marks I spray on the cleaner and let it just sink in.  I am sure doing this repeatedly makes the etch and scratch marks fade over time.

This product is worth tracking down.  The Du Pont sales team were really helpful when my normal retailer stopped stocking it, they found my next nearest supplier, made sure it was in stock for me, and even sent me free bottle to keep me going until it was back in stock.  That's what I cal service!!

Why are kitchen manufacturers so anti marble?
Kitchen manufacturers never recommend marble but you have to think about their motivations.
They don't like comebacks and granite and composite stones are certainly hardy.  People are less likely to complain, and that's what they want, no complaints.  
Composites and granites are often pricier, is it any wonder they want you to buy them?  They are thinking about what is going to make the most profit, not what you really want.

Marble durability tests
Sealed and unsealed marble was really put through its paces in this post on The Petch House. 
Good before and after photos for citrus, tomatoes and red wine, when the results were in it held up well.

Should you choose marble?
Over all if you want a perfect surface then marble is probably not for you, choose a granite or stone composite that is scratch and etch proof.  If want the warm patina that only marble has, and don't mind a slightly worn look, then go ahead and indulge your marble desires, you won't regret it.

rainbow party...a little inspiration

Miss J is turning 2 - how time flies - and Miss E and I are planning all kinds of rainbow party treats to make her day special.  We have been pinning all kinds of rainbow ideas, but we will be giving them our own special twist of course.  

My mum used to make my sister and I rainbow layer cakes, its quite funny to see how fashionable our childhood treats have become.  I have made them for Miss E too, they are pretty and easy to do, and it will be perfect this year because Miss J has just learned her colours.

I am hoping to do a better job of icing this year, its not my forte, let me know if you have any tips or good tutorials.

Flower straws |  Bon bon bracelet |  Rainbow centrepiece |  Marshmallow sprinkle pops |  Rainbow cake

Don't you love...products with real meaning

This Mothers Day give the special women in your life a LiveFashionABLE scarf.  This is not just a gift from you, its a gift of hope to the women who make them and their families.  
Its not a donation, its not a handout, its a sale that will keep the business sustainable, and a sustainable business will give the weavers and their families a future.  The crux of this business is empowerment, and what its employees are ABLE to do with their lives, these are some of their stories.

Frehiwot scarves in Marigold and Rose Red.LiveFashionABLE employs women who were forced into the sex trade to support their families, a question of survival not choice.  Anybody who has lived in Africa knows that women are the heart of the continent, they keep their families alive through good times and bad, with love, dignity and very hard work.

Saba infinity scarves in Citrus and Rose.
Two scarves I designed were finalists in the competition LiveFashionABLE ran at Alt Summit, I am hoping one of them might make it into production later this year, I will keep you posted.  The winning scarf has just been released, called the Genet for the weaver that made her, and for the Janette that designed her, its a sophisticated black and white, perfect for the coming winter season.

At Alt SLC I met Barrett who is the force behind this amazing company. Its always inspiring to meet someone who is really making a meaningful difference to our world.  The scarves are priced from $36, for just $36 you can make a real difference too.

Don't you love...Shared rooms

The Easter long weekend and school holidays make me dream of a little getaway of our own.  Something small and simple and surrounded by lots and lots of nature and not many people.
With a sweet sunny small room for my girls to share.  
A favourite room of mine by House Beautiful; fabric from Raoul Textiles.
I had fun pairing pretty fabrics with my shared room inspirations.  A tiny bit of fabric goes a really long way with simple furniture and white walls.
Gorgeous shared room by Caitlin Wilson via Design Sponge, fabric from Raoul Textiles. 
Although I love the quality and designs, the Raoul Textiles are extremely frustrating.  You can only find them at the agent in Australia, and then you must buy through a designer, even worse you can't even view the range online.  Its the worst business plan I have ever heard of: "lets design the most gorgeous fabric range that comes in ever shade and tint of colour, and then lets not market it! Lets hope some interior designer will think to promote them to their clients."
Anybody else confused?

Fresh blue and white room from Coastal Decorating, fabric from Raoul Textiles.
I almost didn't include these frustratingly gorgeous fabrics because of this nonsense but they are so right for these projects that I couldn't leave them out.  Lets hope the company catch up to this century soon.

Left - my favourite attic room again; Right - pretty vintage feel bedroom via Shared Design
Whinge session over, back to dreaming about gorgeous shared rooms with matching wooden beds, simple linen and gorgeous cushion covers, and finding the perfect piece of furniture to go between them.
Gorgeous white and purple via Bloom.  Indian Pear cotton by Robert Kime
How cute is this tiny attic room.  Miss E would love it, and Miss J would love it because her sister is in it.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
I have decided to join Bloglovin to make it easier for people to keep in touch with my posts.
I hear good things from fellow bloggers and  readers, no spam in your mailbox apparently.  Let me know what you thing of it.  I was amazed when I logged on to see I already had some followers on Bloglovin so some of you must already be liking it.  Let me know what you think.

vignette the front door

I stopped at a house on the school run and asked if I could cut some of the aloes tumbling onto the pavement for my garden.  The owner was happy to say yes.  I feel I should take him something back from my garden to say thank you - a gift of basil, rainbow chard and chillies perhaps.
Love the succulents shapes and forms with the cheap glass vases from the $2 shop.
Our local $2 shop is really fabulous for simple vases, candles and lanterns.  You can buy similar things at Country Road for four times the price - got to love bargain shopping!!
Cast bronze bracelets from Benin - bought many years ago at Greenmarket Square in Cape Town.

The best thing is since I created this vignette nobody dumps anything on the table anymore.  I plan to keep it full from now on!!

All images by Eva of Build House Home

vignette the spare room

My vignette practice continues.  I have scoured the web, books & magazines for ideas, I am determined to do this better.  A good friend who is a fabulous stylist tells me its about looking at the textures of the objects and creating a textural story.  She believes in me.  I believe I need practice. 

I realise I need:
- several decorative trays in different sizes
- a flat silver bowl that can hold several candles
- some small low bowls 
- many many more vases
- flowers, flowers and more flowers
What worked no. 1 - my little horse
I recently put the little horse netsuke on this little wooden plinth, part of my 2013 drive to display what I have better.  He looks great, you are sure to see him popping up all over the house.
What worked no. 2 - matching the book covers to the painting
For this vignette I matched the book covers to the colours in the painting.  Yes I know its rather obsessive but its what the experts say to do and I like the harmonious look it gives.
The painting in the background is by my mum.  Lucky lucky to have an artist in the family.

All photographs by Eva of BuildHouseHome.

I also realise how you can edit the vignette with photography.  All these images are of the same space, some are zoomed in, or cropped, or taken at different times of day.  Even the colour looks totally different.   Cropping is excellent for removing noise, if I had swung the camera around you would have see the Voice of Reason's very untidy desk.

What do you think?  Constructive criticism welcome.