teen girl gift guide 2014

Miss E is 12 and can be quite hard to pick pressies for, a little bit grown up, fun loving, guitar playing, and far cooler than her mother ever was at her age.  Thought I would share things she, or her friends, have loved this year.  A few ideas for your shopping list as we go into the festive season.

The Wildwood Chronicles books - its always lovely to get a set to get stuck into ggduring the holidays and Miss E has loved these.
Paint It - Cover It - Artstix nail polish
Bracelet from Pavement
Happy Lab Jelly Bean test tube set
Wild Thing Poster from Black
Sock Monkey iphone cover
Palm tree duffel bag from Pavement

castle rock house...by herbst architects

On a net crawl looking for dream holiday homes I discovered Herbst Architects.  I adore their aesthetic, the spaces are comfortable, spacious, beautiful, but somehow modest and contained.  I love the materials they use, they way they capture the view, the use of built in furniture.  I could go on and on.  Today, with their kind permission, I am sharing Castle Rock House, built on yet another piece of gorgeous New Zealand coastline.  Its well worth following the links back and looking at their other work.

I love the view through the narrow window, and I love the idea of being able to sit up close to it. Just gorgeous.

The creation of living areas on both sides of the home is just genius.  The sea view side has the protected lounge area and the gorgeous covered area (above).  The other side (below) has another another covered area which opens out onto the kitchen.  This means whichever way the wind is blowing there is a sheltered outdoor space for living in, fabulous idea.   If you are anything like me you will spend hours looking at the plan below seeing just what I mean.  
I also love the details, like the sliding door which slides right off the deck in to a specially constructed frame (below left).  

I love how the structure sits into the landscape, the bedroom area offset from the living area, like a craggy outcrop at the top of the hill.  What a position!
All images posted with permission of Herbst Architects, photography by Patrick Reynolds.

Australian inspired Christmas setting...plate tutorial

This year I wanted to bring a little bit of Australia into our Christmas decor.  It seems to me that Christmas decor is all about Northern Hemisphere flora and fauna: deer, holly, snow, pine trees.  Its pretty, but I live in Australia, in the Southern Hemisphere where its sunny and warm at Christmas time.  So I decided to take inspiration from our animals and weather: golden sunshine, koala's and wombats, eucalyptus.  

The photos of the place setting show just how easy the plate setting is to put together.

  • Start with a gold charger and a white plate.
  • Fold a white napkin and tuck the ends under the plate.
  • Cute a length of polka dot ribbon and tie loosely around the plate and napkin.
  • Repeat with a length of gold sequins.
  • Add golden animal figurine.
  • Finally add leaves, here I have used an olive spring but for my final setting I plan to use eucalyptus.

Spraying the Aussie animals was easy to do.  I made a spraying cube out of an old box and applied several light gold sprays.  Turn the animals between the sprays to make sure the gold covers everywhere.

Watch this space to see the entire Australian Christmas concept, and I hope you are inspired to try something a little different at your house this year too.

Past Christmas post round up

I am very excited to share my Australian inspired Christmas setting with you this year.  I will be sharing the setting and all the how to tips so you can get the look too.  
Last years Christmas posts were fun too though so thought I would share them with you all again.  I was delighted when my gold polka dot and pomegranate Christmas setting was picked up by House Beautiful last year.  

Clockwise from top right:
Pomegranates and polka dot Christmas table
Home made Christmas Ice cream - you don't need an ice cream machine for this one
Pink and lime Christmas flowers
Button and butcher twine Christmas wrapping

This year will be a bit different, can't wait to share it, watch this space!

diy mosquito spray made from essential oils

Miss J and I get plagued by mozzies, we must have the sweet blood in the family.  We never go out in the summer evening, or to bed, without putting on lots and lots of bug spray.  They work but they smell as poisonous as they are, I am always hoping its just the mozzies they are poisoning.  So I was thrilled when the lovely Laura introduced me to a home made version based on essential oils and witchhazel.  It smells delicious and its all natural, and best yet it really seems to work.  See below for just how easy it is to make your own.

You will need:
  • Witchhazel - available from pharmacies
  • Eucalyptus lemon essentail oil - 60 drops
  • Other essential oils to taste - I used 20 drops each of orange, black pepper and lavender
  • Spray bottles - found these pretty ones on ebay

To make:
  • Decant the witchhazel into a large bottle.
  • Add 60 drops of Eucaplyptus lemon oil
  • Add other essential oils.  I added 20 of each and then adjusted until I was happy
  • Shake well to combine
  • Pour into spray bottles

Shake well before each use.  It certainly seems to work in Sydney although I wouldn't trust using 
just this in a malaria zone.

Build House Home on Houzz Australia

Very excited to be featured on Houzz Australia today!  Did you know Houzz has now got an Australian branch?  They are planning to feature Australian and New Zealand designers, architects, and other creatives including bloggers.  All of us who like making the world prettier. 
 It was a good excuse to take some updated photographs of my home to share.  Pop by and see the full interview, and lots more photos!   Plus leave a comment on the Houzz post by Sunday 23 November to be in line to win a $50 voucher from Adairs.  Can you tell that I am a little bit excited?

an ebay bargain gets a makeover with Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan

I loved how my first Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan (TM) turned out (see the laundry basket make over here) and I was very excited to test the paint on a piece of furniture.  I needed clothes storage for the girls room at the cottage, on a budget of course, so I hunted down this lovely ebay bargain.  $57 for a cute dresser with ample drawer storage and a cute mirror as a bonus.  Now it's transformed into a gorgeous dresser which is one of the star's of the room.  With Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan (TM) it was easy.

It didn't start out lovely, it was a tired cream with gold handles and detailing on the mirror.  I was specifically looking for a piece with elaborate detailing to try and get the french provincial furniture look once the piece was finished.  
I chose to mix my own paint colour, equal portions of Old White and Paris Grey.  Paris Grey on its own was a little to dark.  The result is a perfect French grey, cool but not cold, slightly blue but still grey. This is the French grey I have been searching for for years, and wasted countless tester pots on.  I am thrilled with it.  

The paint went on like a dream.  The best thing about Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan (TM) is there is no prep, no sanding back or priming required.  You can get straight onto the fun stuff right away.  Two coats of paint was plenty and the whole piece was fully painted in an afternoon.  I used the Annie Sloan paint brush which is lovely and soft and really gets into the crevices of an old piece like this.  

Getting the distressed look on the drawer handles and mirror detail was also simple to do, see the lovely results below.  After I had painted each drawer I used a soft cloth to gently rub the paint on the handles away.  If I took off to much by mistake I just repainted and did the process again.  Honestly it was easy and the result is very professional.  I love the way the gold glints through the grey.

I finished the dresser with a few coats of clear wax to protect the paint and the furniture.  Don't skip the waxing, it doesn't take long and it definitely is the final step in lifting the project from home painted to professional finish.  I could not be more delighted with my $57 investment.

A word of warning, painting the drawers can make them stick as they pull in and out, it makes them just that little bit thicker than they were before.  To prevent this I sanded the drawer edges back a little before painting, it made them slide better anyway and was worth doing, won't take long with the electric sander.

I highly recommend you give these paints a try.  If you have a piece of furniture around the house that could use being reloved, pick up some Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan (TM) and give it a go.

#country cottage...bathroom inspiration

Our little country cottage has a really ugly bathroom, and I mean really ugly.  I am talking aqua blue bathroom suite dating to the 1950's, and not the fashionably 1950's, huge old geyser in the room, and a nasty nasty old vanity.  So I am dreaming of redoing it, a really small budget renovation of course, and frankly I don't know if we have the budget, but I can dream right.  So if I find the budget this is what I want to do, take out the bath and replace it with a shower and make a small, bright, white, fresh and clean wet room.  Something along the lines of the rooms below.

Above: Bright, white and light via The Design Chaser, pinterest (can't find the original credit), House & Leisure.  That shouldn't cost to much should it?  

Below: Love the clean lines and herringbone floor in this grey bathroom.  The lining board walls are very achievable, and budget friendly too.
I love subway tiles, I have them in the bathrooms in my home already, but would love to use them in a herringbone pattern on the walls.  

It may be a dream, but its a pretty one.