Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hall stand: before and after

Here's a closer look at the hall stand makeover as promised in yesterday's post on the painting of our entry hall. Yes, it's Dulux Domino again! I have not tired of this colour. It can look black, charcoal and navy depending on the light and I'm happy with all shades.  I also like it against the new Taubmans Mink Scorpio walls.

After sanding, applying 3 coats of paint and spraying with a lacquer, I replaced the knob on the little drawer with a black and white striped one from Provincial Living, just as I had used on the lamp table in the living room. These pieces can both been seen from the entry so it ties the spaces together nicely.

The hall table is another eBay bargain that I picked up for about $40 when we moved in last year. It needed to be narrow to fit the small space, and while the rounded corners are a little daggy in a country furniture kinda way, they are ever so helpful in avoiding bruises from sharp edges when stumbling to the toilet in the middle of the night! You have to consider these things! The mirror is great for checking that you are properly clothed as you dash out the door and the little drawer is handy for keys and little odds and end that otherwise get strewn near the front door. This leaves the surface clear for little cheerful displays to greet us and our guests as we enter. Here I've used a yellow orchid from The Flower Shed in the shade that makes my heart sing the most - yellow!


Linking to:
Thrifty Decor Chick
A Beach Cottage

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Making an entrance (painting before and afters)

Today I'd like to give you a little before and after of our entry hall. It feels so nice to put our little stamp on the house for us to enjoy each time we come home.

The hall table has had a makeover too in my favourite shade of charcoal black (Dulux Domino). Stay tuned for before and after pictures of that!

Both our living room and entry hall have dado rails painted in white with walls in mint green. While the green is not the style we're going for, I love the contrast between the wall and the rail so I wanted to ensure there would still be a difference between the two after changing the colour. I love white trims so we kept the dado white (Dulux Whisper white) and I looked for a pale grey for the walls. As part of making our small living room something special, I'm going for a base of black and white that we can add touches of colour as desired. Problem is our couch is neither black nor white but it is in great condition so I can't justify getting a new one. It's a colour called sultana, which is almost a chocolate colour but a big lighter with almost a subtle hint of aubergine (I'm not good on colour names so you can see it for yourself in the background of photos in posts here and here). To make it blend in, I chose the wall colour to complement the couch. The flat, industrial greys would have not only make the room feel cold but they wouldn't look as if they belonged with the couch. After buying a few test pots and painting hidden patches of the wall, I settled on Mink Scorpio in quarter strength from the Taubmans Endure range. In some lights it has a lavendar tone, which doesn't sound great but I'm hoping it will go nicely with the couch. Painting the hallway first was the test. Last night we finished painting our study/3rd bedroom in the safe and trusty Dulux Whisper White so now we really have to take the plunge and paint the living room in Mink Scorpio. We like our entry but is this what we want in our living room? Argh, decisions, decisions.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sartorial Sunday: J'adore Cadel

Sartorial Sunday: J'adore Cadel

Sartorial Sunday: J'adore Cadel by Ellise Whyte 

To celebrate the final day of the Tour de France and Cadel Evans' brilliant win, I'm using the yellow of his winning jersey as fashion inspiration. I've loved the scenery in the TV coverage, the comforting sounds of the commentators, the Taste Le Tour segments by Gabriel Gate and of course, the talent and determination of Cadel as he finally clinched the Tour. Can't wait to hear Advance Australia Fair on the Champs Elysee!

Cafe Love: Cafe Bali, Seminyak

Its been a few months now since our visit to Bali, but gastronomic memories come flooding back regularly when I see our holiday snaps. You see, I had expected to eat pretty well at very decent prices but I was blown away at the cosmopolitan cafe and restaurant culture. I guess I had naively thought it would be a lot of Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) served in casual, outdoor eateries or warungs so I was surprised and delighted that there were so many foodie experiences to be had in Seminyak where we were staying. There were places with exceptional food, top service and delightful settings - my holy trinity of the eating out experience - although not always all three at once.
The place that tops my list of interiors is Cafe Bali located on Jalan Oberoi (also known as Jalan Laksmana) in Seminyak. After recommendations from my sister-in-law and a friend, I should visited earlier, but I left it until quite late in our trip so only had the chance to go once. 

The colonial style interior with plantation shutters and high whitewashed ceilings had me excited from the entrance and it didn't disappoint inside. We ate on the front verandah where the tables were covered in bright pink, yellow and teal floral tablecloths and decorated with bowls of floating flower petals. Large white light coverings made for a relaxed yet festive vibe.

Inside the cafe proper, the large floor area is made even more spacious with soaring ceilings lined with exposed beams.

Several styles of chairs add to the shabby chic vibe. With unique displays in every area, I could easily pass a few hours here.

I love the eclectic display of antique mirrors providing sparkling reflections along one wall. 

A wander to the bathroom was surprisingly full of delights at every turn!

Stepping out the back of Cafe Bali, a little oasis awaits in the form of a pool nestled against the back wall painted with Moroccan-influenced floral motifs. Calming teal (of the water) is again paired with pinks and yellows, carrying on the colours used inside.

Turning to the stair alcove, a hand-painted balustrade cheers the climb to the facilities.

The charming black and white bathroom at the top of the stairs is one of my favourites of our ten day holiday. Is that strange? To have a favourite bathroom?!

Checkered tiles, a chandelier, wallpaper, pops of pink petals and a healthy dose of charcoal - what's not to love?

Back to reality at my table, time to get my head out of the gutter and eat some food. The menu here is diverse with soup, sushi, pasta, steak and asian dishes.

To start we shared the siomai or shrimp and chicken dumplings for 28000 rupiah (approx $AUD3). These were not as light and flavoursome as I had hoped and the meat appeared highly processed but they were ok.

The smoked salmon blinis with capers (55000 Rp.) made for a nice, simple lunch in the afternoon heat. Nothing particularly special about these but enjoyable all the same.

The Mister had Indian chicken curry served with saffron rice, lentil dahl and naan (59000 Rp).

As my comments indicate, the interior overshadows the food at Cafe Bali. The menu appears to be trying to include a bit of everything with no obvious specialties. The prices are really reasonable and the atmosphere is lovely, so even without standout food, I would come back here in a heartbeat just to inhale the design and fitout. I'd highly recommend a visit for anyone visiting Seminyak. It's a little French, a little Moroccan and a whole lotta modern, relaxed Balinese chic!

Cafe Bali
Jalan Oberoi (also known as Jalan Laksmana)
Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia

Cafe Bali page on Trip Advisor 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Donna's cafe-style triple choc cookies

Years ago I was sitting on a bench along a busy shopping strip in Essendon talking on the phone to my now sister-in-law Donna and I just happened to get her special triple choc cookie recipe out of her. Who knows why we were talking cookies while I was out in the Saturday morning sunshine, maybe I was having a post-workout craving that only a fellow baker could help satisfy. I scribbled the recipe on a receipt from my handbag and promptly copied it into my recipe book when I got home. Some things I forget at lightning speed, yet this I remember like it was yesterday.

Donna works in the food business and is a baker extraordinaire so if she gives me a recipe I know it will be good. For years I've guarded this "secret" recipe, even after making countless batches and hearing how good they are. Too good really. Crunchy on the outside, a little soft and chewy inside and choc full of, you guessed it, choc!

I mentioned to Donna on Sunday that I had just made "her" cookies with the "secret recipe". She basically laughed and I wonder does this mean she has found a new, improved "secret" recipe? Maybe she has a new cookie that trumps what I thought was "the" cookie?! Maybe this secret recipe is not so secret? Maybe it was just funny because we have married into a family that used to joke that we couldn't have certain recipes until we married into the tribe. My questions remained unanswered for today but one thing I do know is that Donna gave me her express permission to share this recipe here.

I love these with milk, hence the inclusion of my vintage milk bottle in these photos. Isn't it so cute? On the front it says 'Milk For Health OAKES MILK Pure Rich Safe'. If I lived closer to Castlemaine, I would enjoy these cookies with a coffee made by Donna herself at the The Coffee Bean (scrap that, if I lived closer to The Coffee Bean, I would probably be putting my baking on hold and ordering a coffee and cookie...).

Donna's cafe-style triple choc cookies
125g butter, chopped
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup self raising flour
1 tsp bi carb soda
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk choc bits
1/2 cup white choc bits
1/2 cup dark choc bits

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Beat butter, vanilla, sugar and egg. Don't over beat. Stir in sifted dry ingredients (this takes awhile as it seems very dry at first) then choc bits. Tablespoon mix onto tray allowing 5cm between each. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Stand on tray for 5 minutes before cooling on wire rack.

Simple and delicious! My only tip is not to be tempted to keep cooking for too long. They will seem a little undercooked at first but you won't get that wonderful soft centre if you return them to the oven.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Imitation designer prints complete!

Hallelejah! The six black and white paintings for the living room are finished! I've been imitating designer prints as part of our living room makeover. Two of these were painted years ago from Florence Broadhurst prints and in March I took some advice from Naomi at Live Breathe Decor and started working on four more.

At that point, I was working on another Florence Broadhurst and went through the process of stencilling designs by Kravet and Kelly Wearstler (see that post here). For the final design, I recently chose a Greek key pattern to tie in with the trim on the curtains in this room. After some deliberation, I went with a Jonathan Adler key as it fitted the bill as a bold, graphic print by a renouned designer and it was simple enough to imitate. The full list of the six designs is as follows. Top from left to right: Florence Broadhurst Tropical Floral, Kelly Wearstler Imperial Trellis, Florence Broadhurst Aubrey. Bottom from left to right: Florence Broadhurst Circles and Squares, Jonathan Adler Greek Key, Kravet Velvet Gate Tuxedo.

No project like this is complete without incident. Of course, my little incident occured on the home straight, just as I was thinking what a great choice the Adler Greek Key was. Compared to the finer, broken lines of Circles and Squares, it was a walk in the park. It was set to be the quickest painting of all and I was starting to smell the finish line. Then, alas! I realised I was painting black where I was meant to leave white. Parts of the key were now in reverse. That teaches me for getting distracted by the beautiful scenery in the TV coverage of the Tour de France (I paint with a small canvas propped on my lap in the living room)! As annoying as this was, I carried on and finished this hodge-podge imitation then started with a fresh canvas. Hours and hours later, I had seven canvases. In the photo below you can see the poor, rejected canvas to the right. 

I'm not planning to let this canvas go to waste even though it won't make it to the wall with the other six. I have got so used to the look of a canvas propped on a lamp table that I'm thinking of putting this one there. 

Once again, I have used our hallway as the backdrop for these photos (wall painting is now complete in there!). Currently only three paintings are hanging and the others are propped on the mantle and lamp tables until the wall painting is complete and new picture hooks are installed. I'm hoping all will be put in place and revealed soon (plaster restoration in progress!).

Linking to:


Friday, July 8, 2011

Mowiekay - new online food magazine

Today I discovered a wonderfully styled online food and travel magazine called Mowiekay. I love these words with this image from the back cover. This is its first edition and I'm appreciating all the summer food images even though it's freezing down here in Melbourne. Check it out here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cafe Love: +39 Pizzeria

Situated between Hardware Lane and Elizabeth Street on Little Bourke, +39 Pizzeria is nestled conveniently in the heart of the culinary mecca that is the Melbourne CBD.

As you can see from the photo, the team at +39 claim that pizza is sexy, and with a menu that boasts dessert pizzas, I have to agree. Look at all that divine Nutella would you?!

+39 is the international dialling code for Italy so what better name for name for a Melbourne Pizzeria with strong connections to that far away land, right down to the sing-song accents of the staff.

The Age Epicure has awarded them Pizzeria of the Year on more than one occasion and with that sort of kudos, it has become my safe choice if I am asked at a moment's notice for a good, casual place to eat in the city. Recently we took our teenage cousins visiting from the country to +39 for lunch and introduced them to the wonders of dessert pizza, not before we found some savoury delights to pass as pre-dessert of course.

There are plenty of ciabattas and ready-made options in the display counter but we're here for the pizzas.

First up, a classic choice, the margherita ($16) to curb our appetites. Simple but tasty.

My pick of the lot, the Gamberi with prawns, zucchini, mozzarella and cherry tomatoes ($25). The little dish of chilli oil beckons from the table and a drizzle on the prawms made them all the better.

The Salsiccia was the choice for the meatlovers of the group with Italian sausage, porcini mushroom, tomato, mozzarella and parmesan ($25). Personally, I found this a bit rich and sausage meat doesn't appeal much to me.

Then the pièce de résistance, the Maxi sweet pizza with strawberry and Nutella $20. Oh. My. God.


I live for pizza like this oozing with hot, melted Nutella and topped with strawberries and ice-cream for a refreshing, cool contrast. Be still my beating heart. Any pizza place without dessert pizzas is turning their back on one of the greatest food inventions. It's no rocket science but they are always the most memorable part of a pizza meal so I urge all present and future pizzerias to ensure there are sweet endings of the pizza variety available on their menus. At +39 I was left feeling sweet and warm. Comfort foods have the power to make the world a better place. Bellisimo! 

+39 Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sartorial Sunday: Skirt sewn by moi

Since taking up sewing classes I've been asked a few times what I've made so far and, truth be told, this is a difficult question to answer as we spent the entire eight-week sewing class making just one garment. The class was called 'Sewing a simple garment from a commercial pattern' and was a follow-up to the beginner's sewing class I did earlier this year at the Yarraville Community Centre.

Smiling at my imaginary friend in the first skirt I've ever sewn!

We were able to choose our own material and pattern for a simple skirt (mine is New Look 6433), although the teacher gave a few suggestions of patterns numbers that could work well. The material I chose is a fine plaid suiting for the bargain price of $7.99 a metre from Brunswick Fabrics in Paisley Street, Footscray. The two hour classes flew by and I found myself putting the finishing touch of the hook and eye on after the final class. Finally, I had something to show of my newfound hobby and I paraded it around at work as soon as I could (these photos are your virtual parade!). I still cannot say I find it easy to read a pattern with their scarce, confusing instructions. A few mistakes were made along the way and I had to unpick more than one seam to fix them but in the end I did it! My childhood memories of sewing are filled with tangled bobbins and needing mum's help every two minutes so it feels good to be making new, happier sewing memories. 

I pity my poor colleagues who have to put up with my little show and tell sessions, but I thank them all for indulging my need to share my passions. I should work on developing more humility! On the same token, life is for sharing. The downs seem to come on their own accord so you have to find the ups. That's what this blog is all about - the things that make your heart sing. Hope yours is!

Little side note: These photos contain a little sneak peak of our new wall colour in our hallway. It's called 'Mink Scorpio' by Taubmans and we did it in quarter strength to get a light grey above the dado rail in Dulux Whisper White. These shots were taken after an undercoat and one coat of colour. This weekend we did the final coat including the dado rail which had only been sanded in these shots. Now we have to do the same in our living area. Argh, more sanding and painting coming our way but I sure am liking saying goodbye to the mint green in these areas. If you're interested, you can see the original colour in the background of a previous Sartorial Sunday post here. I will get around to posting a proper before and after one of these days.

The DIY Show Off



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