little letters...more kindness, fewer facades

Sometimes the universe taps you on the shoulder to send you a message.  In the last few weeks my shoulder was tapped a few times.

First a friend posted this message on facebook.

Then a dear friend said " are you ok, call me if you need me". It touched my heart because my chin was up and the happy face was on, but really I was having a rough time.  She saw me in a very real way, through all the pretty barriers we create for the world.  She is kindness itself.

A blogger I follow wrote recently about how people believed she lived a perfect life, I really hope I don't give that impression.  I like the idea of making the world and spaces we live in as beautiful as possible, with the resources we have available, but it's not about perfection.

This blog is a wonderful escape for me, its not a facade for my real life, its the casual luxe world I would inhabit if time and money were no object.  In reality my life is just like yours, filled with all the normal stresses and pressures, as well as the simple joys and pleasures.
Blogging is most parts fantasy and dream, many parts inspiration, and as many parts DIY as time permits.  

Lastly all around us the bush has been burning, the Philippines have been struck by storms, many people have lost their homes, everything except the clothes they were wearing.  As usual I am blown away by the communities that stand together in Australia in tough times, one of the best of Australian attributes.  And I am reminded that all the pretty things in the world do not make a home or a family.

So yes universe:
  • I will be kinder
  • Family and friends are far more important than finding the perfect corner sofa
  • I will try and live authentically every day, the good ones and the bad

pop up dinner party at home for the festive season

I love the concept of pop up parties, but in reality can be a bit hard to do.  Especially with a toddler in tow.
So I thought how cool would it be to create a pop up space at home -  a little extraordinary in the ordinary, a little bit of fantasy for just one evening.
I wanted to set the table up in the garden surrounded by fairy lights, but some heavy rain storms meant it had to be plan B, our wide hallway.  I threw down a rug and moved our outdoor table and pillows indoors for the evening.  Then I strung the glass doors with fairy lights and lit candles to create a romantic glow of light.
Watermelon and lime agua fresca kicked off the evening, followed by a delicious Mexican inspired menu made by my amazing hubby.  Wraps with lamb, pomegranates and honey coriander yoghurt, or deconstructed chorizo with jalapeno green sauce, chunks of pineapple dusted with salt and chilli powder, and a grapefruit granita with a mojito sauce to finish.   Delicious!
I found gorgeous bunches of natives in yellows and oranges at the flower seller this morning. 
Wax flowers, pin cushions and kangaroo paw form a zesty base that could be Christmas or fiesta.  I made a low arrangement for the table centre with a few candles, finished with white plates and white napkins.  Fresh, fun and simple.
Sitting on cushions on the floor with the glow of candlelight and fairy lights, what fun.

The space was transformed, it didn't look like our house at all.  All the fantasy of a pop up party, with all the comforts of home and a fully equipped kitchen close at hand.  I didn't use anything I didn't already own, I just moved things into unexpected places.
I hope you are inspired!  Go on, string up some lanterns or fairy lights, and throw a pop up party of your own at home too.  Make sure to tell me what you created!

All images by Eva Burgess of Build House Home, except 5th image by Graeme Myburgh.

10 reasons you should visit beechworth on holiday

Beechworth is my favourite town in Australia!  Beautiful historic town centre, lots to do, great restaurants, fabulous local beer and wine.  So if you are planning a Christmas break makes Beechworth your destination.

  • The information centre is staffed by a magician who did magic tricks and enchanted the children.  Seriously every tourist information centre should be run by magicians.
  • Miles and miles of pristine countryside bike tracks on the rail trail that runs through the village.  Built on the old railway the tracks are not too steep, made for a train remember, and run through the most gorgeous countryside for over 100km.  A must for any cycling enthusiast and suitable for the entire family.  Ride one way and book a shuttle to take you and your bikes home, or stop at a local winery, refresh and recover and then carry on.
  • Stop by the Bridge Road Brewers to enjoy a flight of locally made beers on a Ned Kelly styled tray, and enjoy the best pizza in the district.  Sunday afternoons feature great live music and there is even a small playground for younger kids. 
  • Dine on the degustation menu at Provenance.  The best meal I have had in years, fantastic service and some very interesting matched wines and sake.  If this is the only reason you go to Beechworth its a good one!
  • Visit the court house where Ned Kelly was held after being captured in nearby Glenrowan.  Local story tellers will take you on a tour and tell you all the juicy history.
  • Go panning for gold at Eldorado - we found lots of sand and lovely countryside but sadly no gold.
  • Have your Wanted poster cartoon drawn at Splatoons.  $15 each and it will take 2 very impressive minutes, the kids loved.
  • Visit the ancient Butt Butt tree.  It was fully grown when Ned Kelly and his gang roamed the area and was used as a post tree before the mail service started.  Ask a local to point it out to you.
  • Visit local wineries or do a tasting in the local wine bar.  Award winning Giaconda comes from just around the corner and Pennyweight Winery is a short ride from the town on the rail trail.

Get a map, look it up, and plan your holiday!

All photographs by Eva Burgess

playroom in progress

More storage for the playroom has been on my to do list all year, finally with Christmas approaching I have made a start.   The original inspiration was for a long low cabinet that the tv could sit on (see the post here), but I realised this was never going to deliver enough storage.  
The version below has a lot more storage, taller cabinets with a shelf on top creating space for display, books and instruments.   I think it will be far more practical.  We can still add another shelf or narrow cabinet above the shelf if we find we need even more space.
Next step was to remove the old furniture.  The tv was in a lovely but very deep, impractical oriental cabinet (already gone below), and the old Ikea cabinet as you can see below was literally bursting at the seams.  Note to self, taking apart Ikea cabinets seems to take longer than putting them together.  
Then it was off to Ikea for a very bulky shop: three Besta cabinets (128cm high) and a Besta tv cabinet with drawers and space for all the technology and cables.  
An industrious weekend later and we are looking more organised already!
Of course no DIY is ever accomplished without at least one mistake or set back.  This was the first time I have ever had trouble with Ikea, one of the cabinets was faulty and only went together after a LOT of pushing and pulling and many shavings with my Japanese handsaw.
When that hurdle was finally over I attached the right hand cabinet to the wall, forgetting that we have a pocket door behind that wall.  Hmmm, the result the two neatly drilled holes in the door you can see below.  It could have been worse, I could have screwed it permanently open.

So that's how it's looking right now.  Its been a busy week and I haven't managed to do much more.  I will keep you posted on our progress, can't wait to get it all done.

Project 82

In the search for a modular sofa I discovered Project 82, a great little store tucked away in Surry Hills packed full of wonderful things.  Try out the most comfortable sofa to date, the Lennon, browse through the Armadillo rug selection, the wall papers designed by Quercus & Co, interesting light fixtures, really good value wood framed modern mirrors, and tons of other little bits and pieces.  I love the styling and the sofa's are good value, and really really comfortable, see more about my modular sofa hunt here and here.
A glimpse of the showroom with the goodies in store at the moment.  Tapestry wall paper on the back wall, see more examples of this wall paper by Quercus & Co below.

flower delights by amy osaba

Sharing some floral candy by Amy Osaba floral design today.  I love the loose arrangements that look as if they have been gathered straight out of the fields.  Their design epitomises the casual luxe aesthetic I am aiming for.

Love these fresh colours, and ranunculas are always a favourite.  All these flowers are by Amy Osaba via: Style me Pretty (photographed by Rylee Hitchner above) & Amy Osaba (photos by Heidi Geldhauser) below.
 I am looking for Christmas table inspiration, I am planning a rustic wooden trough down the center with lots of greenery and pomegranates.  Very inspired by the amazing centrepiece below (photos by Heidi Geldhauser).  I found a great tutorial from the Amy Osaba team on how to create their look here, worth going to just to look at the pretty pictures. 
Photo below from the same Parisian wedding, via Style me Pretty photographed by Rylee Hitchner.
Love the fantasy of this washi tape flower wall, I wonder how long it would last.  Don't think I could really bear to let the gorgeous blooms die.  From a truly amazing shoot featured in Magnolia Rouge (photos by Ali Harper), well worth looking at the whole feature the images are so lovely. 
Doesn't the day just feel better for looking at such gorgeous colours?  Imagine how lovely they would smell.  If you haven't had quite enough stop by the Amy Osaba website for more.

Guest cottage essentials...beautiful basics and luxe delights

I dream of having a little cottage in the countryside where we can retreat from the city a few weeks a year.  One day when this dream comes true, I plan to share it and rent it to other country loving city dwellers.  As much as I love renting other peoples cottages, there always seems to be one bit missing from the kitchen, bathroom or bedroom that I miss from home.  So I thought I would put together my essential list of beautiful basics and luxe extras.
Eat & drink Essentials:
  • Jars of tea bags and sugar are so welcoming, everybody wants to pop the kettle on for a cuppa when they have just arrived.  The glass jars from IKEA (top left) have a rubber seal and will keep dried goods fresh and ready to use.
  • I really don't like mismatched crockery and cutlery.  I would rather have a whole set that is clean and simple than several more expensive sets combined together.  Is this just me?
  • Guest houses often forget to include a salad or serving bowl with serving spoons, always annoying.  And they also often forget smaller bowls to serve snacks in.   Just because I am on holiday does not mean that I want to eat straight out of the packet.
  • I would also make sure the fridge contained: fresh milk, fresh eggs, a pat of butter.

All Eat & Drink Essentials are from IKEA, except the kettle and toaster which are from Appliances Online.

Prep essentials:

One of the joys of holiday is having time to cook and enjoy a meal with family and friends.  I almost always miss something that I think is essential from my kitchen.  My basic necessities are just that, the bare bones that I need to cook enjoyably, and holidays should be about enjoying yourself after all.

  • Prep cannot even start without a good chopping board and a sharp knife.  I almost always wish I had brought my own super sharp knives along, cutting a tomato with a blunt knife is no fun at all.
  • I am always using my microplane zester (far left).
  • The rest covers most dishes from breakfast to dinner, baking to casseroles.  
  • I should probably have included some mixing bowls too...

Every thing except the microplane available from IKEA.

Cooking essentials

  • When it comes to cooking you can't beat a good set of pots and pans.
  • I can't cook with out my tongs anymore, how did I ever turn something on the grill before, or serve pasta for that matter.  
  • You have to include an egg slice for those lazy cooked breakfasts.
  • Lots and lots and lots of clean dishtowels.  

Every thing here from IKEA.

Luxe additions: 
A good casserole pot would be a good extra addition, I do love a casserole in winter.  
A few disposable roasting pans, nobody likes cleaning up on holiday.

Luxe items you will find in my cottage's bedroom and bathroom:
  • Lovely soaps at every basin, in the shower and at the kitchen basin. (I was given my Molton Brown by The Home but you can find them online)
  • Trinket boxes to store your jewellery, watches and phones in at the bedside on on the bathroom cabinet. (Dante boxes from Country Road)  
  • A thick plush bathrobe for every guest, they don't cost much and make you feel so pampered. (Soybu Spa Robe)
  • Lots of a clean towels.  When they are frayed and marked they must go (a pet hate).
  • Hurricane lantern to create safe candle light in the bathroom or bedroom.
  • Lovely bedlinen, this selection is from Pottery Barn.  Its worth buying new sets every year to make sure your guest know they will always have a bed that is fresh and inviting.  Watch out for good deals to replenish your sets on The Home, even if its simply for your own bedroom or guest room.
Luxe items for the kitchen:

  • A good olive oil, local if possible - this one from Coriole
  • Salt and pepper, I love the packaging of these grinders from Nomu  
  • A few concentrated stock pots, these ones from Knorr are my personal favourite
  • A Nespresso machine and milk frother.  I really love my morning coffee and all people need to is bring pods of their own choice.  Love this red version, the Pixie

One day when I have a little cottage of my own, these are the essentials it will have.  Let me know if I have missed any of yours.
One day...

Pinkspiration...only a touch of pink will do

Like Audrey Hepburn said "I believe in pink", but just a bit is enough.

Amazing black and white photo and a pink Eames Vitra chair via Hanna Mac 
Left: Love this space as a playroom or family studio, photo by Caroline Coehorst.
Right: Amazing grey and pink couches - Quadrant sofa from Koskela (via Ish & Chi on Flickr)
Left: Wonderful shared room with just the right amount of pink and yellow (via Twiggy & Lou)

Hope your day is fabulous and somewhere along the line it includes pink bubbles or pink milk (depending on your age and sensibility) for all of us.

Nursery update inspiration

Little Miss J is transitioning from the "tiny wee wee bed" as she calls it to a big girl bed, and I thought it was time to give her room a tiny wee wee update too.  Nothing dramatic, just some little additions more suited to her age.  

I don't want to change the pale blue rocking wing back chair, and am thinking of adding a touch of pink and gold to the existing white furniture, walls and curtains.  I have ordered some pink and gold dot decals, just like the ones below from Urbanwalls, and I have bought some cute bedding from Pottery Barn to turn into some pillowcases.
Triangle wall decals by Urbanwalls + Simply Grove, love the pink lettering too.  
Crochet cushion and mat via la casa de coto, great shades of pinks, not to sweet.
Gorgeous wooden knobs available from Chocolate Creative.
Love all these products designed by Empire Lane, gold pineapple decals - how fabulous, and I love the cushions too.
Details of a gorgeous bedroom by 91 Magazine featured on sokeen.  Love these ice cream colours all together, especially the pom pom fringed pillow.

The gold and pink decals available at Urbanwalls, featured in this gorgeous nursery which you can find on Babyology.

Watch this space - mini makeover coming soon.