Sunday, December 28, 2008

Laid back luxury

Do you have some time up your sleeve over the Christmas holidays and feel like getting away? How about whisking yourself off to Marrakech, Morocco and staying at the Dar Seven?
After the chaotic hustle and bustle of the maze like streets of Marrakesh, come back to the tranquility of the Dar Seven, where dinner awaits you in a candlelit courtyard.

After a hard day of hitting the markets and haggling for your own little pieces of Morrocco in the form of exotic lamps, mother of pearl in laid mirrors and sequined slippers, you will be able to slip into these soft sheets.

Or these. Note the exquisite metal work on the windows and the gorgeous shutters. Over looking a street with donkey drawn carts passing by and street vendors shouting out their wares, no doubt.

But not before you have a bath....or a massage or treatment by Fatima.

Check out this light fitting below. I'll be searching the markets for one of these to take home.

Well, I've picked my room. Light the candles, I'm arriving soon.....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas blessings

I'm terribly fickle. After having bought a whole bucket load of deep red, matt baubles this year, I think I'm going to go for a restrained white, green and silver theme next Christmas. So the red baubles might stay packed away next year, but they'll come out another Christmas.

I think visiting all the ethereal, white white white Swedish blogs have inspired the more restrained palette. These lovely pictures helped inspire me too....

All images from Better Homes and Gardens

An understated doorway sets the scene....

Mercury glass baubles....
A twinkly tree, all aglow in white and silver...
...white cashmere stockings, lots of mercury glass candlesticks and baubles, and a dash of tasteful beautiful.....

A black sideboard set with silver, glass and white crockery....fabulous.....

A room with just the subtlest touch of Christmas greenery.....

A simple pinecone in some snow-like substance with candles all aglow....

But now I have to be honest with you, people ....I'm a bit of a Christmas Grinch. The over-commercialisation of Christmas gets to me, the crowded shopping malls drive me barmy, and the fact that I only get to see my son for part of the day makes me feel sad and lonely. I also only get two Christmas presents - a $20 family Kris Kringle, and a $10 work Kris Kringle (which I usually end up donating to charity...naughty me). And this year is my first Christmas without my father who I loved so much.
But you know what? If that is the worst I have to contend with, I'm doing pretty well. There are so many people out there who have so much less than me and would tell me to stop being so ungrateful. So this Christmas I'm counting my blessings......
I'll be spending time with my son who I adore.
I have a well enough paid job that enables me to lavish my little fella with lots of fantastic presents which I know he is going to love.
I'll be with my lovely mum and my family.
We will have a bountiful table and we'll be eating yummy white chocolate cheesecake for desert (made by moi). I'm a white chocolate fanatic!
I'll be able to have a sleep-in on Boxing Day because my son will be tuckered out and sleep late.
I earn enough money to buy my own fabulous Christmas present!

I hope you, my lovely blogger friends, who brighten my day, every day, have lots of blessings to count too.
Merry Christmas to you all.
Catherine xx

Monday, December 22, 2008

Now that's a window seat

Like half of the people on this planet, I'm rather busy preparing for Christmas, so this will be a short post today. After I've done this post I'll be wrapping the last of the Christmas pressies and then making cheese biscuits. My grandmother always used to make cheese biscuits at Christmas time, and when she passed away I picked up the tradition. They are like a savory shortbread - melt in the mouth with a sharp cheese flavour. Yum!

Anyway, I spied this window seat in the current edition of Australian House and Garden, which came out today. While I am not a fan of louvred windows (a little modern for my tastes), the soothing natural colours and the stunning sea view took my breath away.

Enjoy, Catherine. xx

Friday, December 19, 2008

Aussie Christmas

Christmas in summer must seem strange to those of you who live in the northern hemisphere, but to those of us born into it, warm weather and Christmas go hand in hand.

Lunch tends to be casual, often a great big buffet of seafood and cold foods, although I do like the traditional hot turkey lunch myself. And Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a huge bowl of cherries to dip into.

Some people even head off to the beach for lunch, with a game of cricket afterwards to stave off the afternoon sleepies.

While others just have a barbie in the backyard, with champagne and beer in plentiful supply.

I'm loving this table setting here below - with the gum leaf table centrepiece and gum leaf star in the background. Very Australian! I have been looking for ages for a eucalyptus wreath, but no luck yet!

One day I hope to have a white Christmas. But in the meantime, I'll put on a summer dress and some thongs (translation: flip flops), help myself to a long cold drink and sit back and enjoy another warm Christmas Day.

Images from Tara Dennis, Viva Terra and Australian Better Homes and Gardens.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas

There are three companies I know of that specialise in selling all things white. The first is London's The White Company - the original and the best. They sell high quality products, all white or pale toned - right up my alley.

Here's what's on my wishlist from the The White Company. First up is crisp white cotton sheets (see above). Great sheets are a true luxury you can enjoy everyday. But I'm also wanting.... least three of these simple, ribbed glass votives.....

.....some gorgeous fragrant oils for the bath, so beautifully packaged I probably couldn't bear to open them......

......a mother of pearl bowl, just because I love mother of pearl. This would look great on a small table in a bedroom, filled with a string of freshwater pearls......

....a peony-scented white candle.......

....and finally, some beautifully scented laundry products, to turn the mundane and everyday into a pleasurable ritual.

There are two Australian online companies that have followed The White Company's lead and specialised in all things white and pale. They don't have anywhere near the same breadth of products, but still offer some interesting items. First up is White Home. I'll take this silver platter......

....or perhaps this one instead. Imagine it holding a group of candles of different heights and votives....

....a wickedly indulgent cashmere throw, for when those afternoons reading on the lawn gets a little chilly.....

....and a white butler's tray. Always come in handy.

Last but not least we have Whiteport. Here's what's on my wishlist from this company....

......some soft-toned candlesticks.....

....a grouping of white jugs......

.....and a vintage-style clock.

Now I would be a happy woman if I got any one of these products.
Know of any other companies that specialise in white? If you do then let me know.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wishing you a rusty Christmas

I love things that are old and battered and well loved. They add character to a home. So I think that's why I have a love of all things rusty - they look time worn and earthy, even if it they are simply manufactured just to look that way. I have a few rusty things in my home, so one day I'll do a post on them. But in the meantime, here's a bunch of cute Christmas decorations, all rusty. I haven't come across anything like this in the shops near me, so if you live in Adelaide and know of any shops that stocks stuff like this, please let me know! I guess I could get all crafty and paint some things with oxidising paint.

Here's the cutest little advent calendar....little buckets all lined up in a row. Image from Boxwood

And an almost identical find from Aspen and Brown . I can't decide which one I like better.
The simple words 'Noel' would make a lovely, simple Christmassy addition to your home, resting on a mantelpiece perhaps. Image from Boxwood
Some cute Christmas decorations for your tree....from Aspen and Brown

Now these next two images are taken from a gorgeous Swedish blog, Granne med Selma which translates as "Neighbours with Selma".
Using google translation I could roughly work out that the little hearts on this tree were handmade by the owner of the blog, using tin plate that was soaked in 'spirit vinegar' for half and hour then sprayed with water. Clever!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Window seat wishes

I have to admit that this year has been a rather long one. I've been trying to 'save up' my annual leave as I am planning to go to Europe in July, so the only time I've had off was when my dad took a turn for the worse and then passed away. So that wasn't exactly a holiday. But now my resolve to save up all my annual leave is seriously wavering, as I'm desperate for a break, and I think my son needs one too.

I yearn for a quiet place to rest and contemplate, read and rejuvenate. I'd particularly like to stay somewhere that has a window seat. I love window seats! The idea of curling up with a good book, while watching the birds flit around or the rain pelting on the window sounds like absolute pleasure to me. One day I will build my dream home and will have at least one window seat somewhere, but in the meantime, I will look at these lovely pictures.

This picture, from Australian Home Beautiful, shows a window seat in a boy's room. I think being a kid and having your own window seat would be the best! I like that this room has a decidedly boys bent, but it's quite grown up looking too.

Another picture from Australian Home Beautiful. I imagine this window looks out to a stunning sea view. Love the brown ticking on the cushion.

Now I'm not sure now where I found this picture, but it definitely has a Swedish feel don't you think? Pure heaven.

I love this one. Again from Australian Home Beautiful. Love all the squidgy cushions to sink in to, and the French feel. But being the ever practical person that I am, I would have built this with drawers, so that you can use it as storage for all those bits and bobs we tend to collect, without having to whip all the cushions off to open it from the top.

This one from Nancy Fishelson looks divine. So restful and peaceful looking - you could do some serious nestling here. And this is a quality window seat - note the pull out drawer and the lovely moulding.

So in the meantime, I'll just have a little chill out on my couch and pretend it is a window seat.
Enjoy your evening people!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Easily distracted....

I went Christmas shopping on the weekend, and managed to knock over quite a few things on my list. However, I kept getting sidetracked by all the wonderful Christmas decorations.

I bought some deep red, matt baubles with silver tops and velvet ribbon. I put some on a small antique pewter plate....

.....and some on a black wooden pedestal bowl.

I bought some baby red shiny ones to match and put them on the tree..... well as some pearl garlands for a little bit of romance.

Then I took off some of my old baubles and put them in a glass jar in my hallway, because I like to keep my tree looking a little spare.
So there you have it, I couldn't resist!

The rest of the weekend was pretty busy, as we also had an early family Christmas celebration with my brother's family, who were in Adelaide for the weekend. I made a chocolate berry pavlova for desert.
This was a Nigella Lawson recipe. I love her recipe books, as much for the writing as for the recipes themselves. She describes the chocolate pavlova like this:

"The crisp and chewy chocolate meringue base, rich and cocoa and beaded nuggets of chopped plain chocolate, provides a smooth sombre, almost purple-brown layer beneath the fat whiteness of the cream and matt, glowering crimson rasperies on top: it is a killer combination".
I just love the way she writes. I don't think my clumsy attempt quite met up to Nigella's elegant and evocative description, but it was appreciated by the family nonetheless.
Not many sleeps to go now!