About Me

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Loving all stylish and wonderful things in life, fashion and interiors. I am English but living my life in the fabulous city of Melbourne in Australia. Welcome and please read on.... (contact me at sjstubbs19@gmail.com)

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve 2009

This is where we are off to tonight to see the New Year in... A great local haunt a short distance from our home - very useful!! We had originally planned to go right into the city of Melbourne for dinner and to watch the fireworks but decided to change plans at the last minute - too many crowded places and I am not too great with loads and loads of people all milling around not knowing exactly where they are going...!

The place above is called Wine@129 - very friendly, laid back and as I mentioned, close to where we live too. Should be great fun. And, on the way back we can always stand on a bridge and look to the city skyline to watch the fireworks from afar - a much better idea...

Whatever you are doing, and whoever you celebrate New Year's Eve with have a happy and safe night! And I'll 'speak' with you all again in 2010....

Oh, and just one more thing. Thank you for a wonderful welcome to the world of blogging - have so enjoyed my last few months with my blog but it would not be half as much fun without any comments and I am so grateful to you, dear followers - and to those who read my blog without following too.........


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Surfing (but not USA!)

From the coast of Australia !!- Phillip Island to be exact....

We had a great day today - it was boiling hot and we watched Beautiful Niece have a surfing lesson - she did well with a group of around 25 and some rather 'hunky' and pleasant Aussie instructors (did she concentrate hard enough I wonder though - did it matter?!) Photographs above show - first photo - THE instructor, second one - getting there and third photo - 'She's Up!!'
And later on I went in for a refreshing dip in the ocean - just a great way to cool off in these days between Christmas and New Year here in the Southern Hemisphere.... - I could get very used to this!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Water works!!

Love this!! Saw a delivery lorry today off loading what we all couldn't do without!! But it did make me laugh too ..... There is actually a bottled water here in Australia which goes under this name 'Another Bloody Water'..... It then made me think about water and unearth some facts as follows :

Nearly 60% of your body weight is water. About 75% of your muscles are made of water.
Our bodies receive water three ways: from food, from drinking and from metabolism.
The old "8 glasses a day" is a fine standard... depending on what size glass you use! We need about 2.5 liters per day.
Drinking alcoholic beverages dehydrates your body.
Water may help suppress your appetite.
Drinking enough water helps many medical ailments: chronic fatigue, allergies, depression, digestive problems, and more.
Drinking enough water actually prevents water retention.
Water helps you improve your muscle tone.
I do try to drink the minimum recommended amount per day but sometimes it is difficult but I know for sure that I always feel better when I do....
What is your daily water intake - are you good? Or, do you hate drinking water?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Presents of all types

Do hope that everyone had at least some of their hearts' desires fulfilled over Christmas with gorgeous goodies in their Christmas stockings! I felt very spoilt and had some lovely presents (maybe we should all do a 'show and tell' post of our favourite gifts later on this week and why we loved them so much?)

Anyway, a human gift arrived last night from UK to stay with us for a while in the form of my beautiful niece and godaughter...... She has taken a few months sabbatical from her teaching job and is here in Australia till April, staying with us a while and visiting New Zealand too. So lovely to have her with us. Photos above show the Cathy Pacific plane bringing its precious cargo and BN scanning the crowd for us!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas Greetings from Australia

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic and happy time with family and friends alike. I couldn't resist this picture of the sweet koala with his Christmas hat ! (Sorry, a bit cliched from Australia I know!)
I also wanted to say how wonderful it has been to be part of the wide family of bloggers over the last 4 months since I began Semi Expat in Oz - and thank you from the bottom of my heart to my followers and to those of you who read this without 'following' too....... And to my mother - chose this photograph as I knew you would love it!
Happy, Happy Christmas - and a huge wish for peace on earth and a fantastic 2010 to everyone.........

Monday, December 21, 2009

Divine Decoration in a Deli

How about this for a chandelier- talk about larger than life !

This one is in a Deli/Cafe near Mr SE's new offices in Melbourne... and apparently they do a mean coffee ... On Friday nights they transform into a bar as well....

I thought it was quite stunning (although did not get a chance to try their coffee - they had just closed - hence the photograph through the window - apologies for the reflections )

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday - the last weekend shopping day before Christmas

Well, today was the last weekend trading day before Christmas .... Sunday was brisk and busy at Peony - we had Christmas carols playing as our customers enjoyed (yes, enjoyed!) completing their shopping..... Above - one of the flower arrangements in the shop this week... - pretty lilies and a little touch of red with the red roses...

Another little dash of red (above) in these gorgeous glass hand-blown containers for the Cire Trudon special Christmas candle - it's called 'Nazareth' and has been selling really well... The fragrance is very festive - a mixture of clove, cinnamon and orange.

Lastly above my personal favourite - Diptyque's 'coffret' for Christmas - 3 mini candles - Oranger, Feu De Bois and Pine Sylvestris.... The orange and woodsmoke (feu du bois) are just wonderful burned at the same time .

Just thought I would also share a little story with you from Friday..... We were so very busy that day - amazing really - we did not stop , but I digress...! First thing in the morning Jill (owner of Peony) had taken a call from a man in London who was looking for a Diptyque special limited edition Christmas candle - the Evergreen - Sapin one.. (actually you can just see the corner of it in the photograph above, far left of the photo).
Apparently he could not find it anywhere in London as they had all sold out completely and was asking us if we could ship him one from Australia!! Well, Jill said that we would but surely it would be better for him to try and get in from France (and obviously have a better chance of it getting to UK for Christmas day too!)... He replied that France was not keen on helping him - they did not have a website and he would rather buy it from us! I went to the local post office and got prices for him and then spoke with him when he rang back later in the morning. To send it Airmail Express Post was going to cost almost as much as the candle - did he definitely want us to send it? Well the answer was in the positive so that is just what we did- packing it ultra carefully and off it has gone and we have emailed him the 'tracking' number - again, all part of the service ! Now just hope that it arrives there in time.
And whoever the final recipient is appreciates the effort he has gone to!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Flowers

Well, to be techincally correct it is acutally a tree but the flowers of the Jacaranda tree are so beautiful with their amazing blue lilac colour and apparently it has been a very good year for them this Summer... well if this one is anything to go by I totally agree... Took this photograph a week or so ago I thought it looked gorgeous.....

Happy Friday to all - no doubt it will be a busy one and the weekend too!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Beautiful books - great Christmas gifts

Thought I would let you know about two of the many gorgeous books that are stocked in the shop (Peony) where I am helping out during the festive run up..... The first one (photograph above) arrived yesterday and it was lovely unpacking the pristine copies (which we then wrap individually in cellophane) so you receive an 'untouched by others' copy when you purchase at Peony - another lovely touch and all part of the service !

This gorgeous book features unique and timeless French-inspired interiors created by those who have a lifelong love affair with French style. In "Essentially French", antiques dealer and stylist Josephine Ryan offers a glimpse into the homes of antique dealers who have a passion for French style. The homes featured include farmhouses, townhouses and apartments, and their decorative styles may differ, but all have something in common - showing the beauty of traditional French furniture and accessories, and demonstrating the understated elegance of French life. I had a quick peek through (the 'demonstrating' copy only!) and noted several dealers that show their houses and I know that my dear antique guys - who live in France and trade as FONTAINE have supplied some of these people - to see more of Stuart and Kiel's beautiful antiques scroll down to my post of November 17th if you would like to .....

The second book is this beautiful one above...."Flowers for the Home " (Grayson Handy) presents over 100 simple and stylish floral arrangements for both everyday and special occasions. Floral designs are shown from all over the world inspired by different cultures and traditions including as far away as China, the tropical rain forest, to the English countryside, and the American South. Basic design principles are discussed from colour palettes to materials, and step-by-step instructions and tips for assembling many of these displays are shown. The book’ is full of stunning photography too - just beautiful.

Either of these books would make a wonderful gift I think!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Easy Christmas Recipe (and fun to make too!)

This festive cookie recipe from Donna Hay, Australia's best-selling cookbook author, is really very easy to whip up for Christmas - it looks lovely with the red jam in the middle of each little cookie - rather like a plate of pretty Venetian glass jewels.....

6 oz. butter, (185 g.) softened, 1 cup caster (superfine) sugar, 1 egg, 2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour sifted, 1/2 tsp baking powder, Jam (or jelly as it is known in some countries!!) to decorate.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180 deg. C.) Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Add the egg and beat well.
Step 2: Stir through the flour and baking powder and mix to a dough.
Step 3: Roll 2 tsp of the mixture into balls. Place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper, allowing room for the biscuits to spread, and flatten slightly.
Step 4: Press a finger into the middle of the dough to make an indent. Fill the hole with jam.
Step 5: Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Add a little more jam to the holes when the biscuits are hot.
Step 6: Cool on wire racks.
Makes around 60 or so....

Monday, December 14, 2009

Donna's new handbag

I have a dear friend who has for most of her life (well, since I have known her since we were both 14 years old) yearned for, wished for and dreamt about owning a Chanel classic 2.55 handbag....

Yes, you may think, her and most of the women in the world too but Donna has really, really wanted one with all of her being and has held on to her 'vision' throughout all the years she was bringing up her son as a single mother and getting by one way or another but I have to add, also being more than happy with her life.... She totally appreciated anything I could give her during the 80's and early 90's when we were both living in London when she had very little and I was fortunate enough to have more than enough, married at that time to DDD's father.......
This was her dream and she always said that one day she would own one... The year before last, on her 50th birthday many of us gave her Chanel gift vouchers (yes, I was surprised but they actually do offer them!) and she was also lucky enough to receive quite a bit of birthday money and so we thought - at last the dream is about to come true! Unfortunately she had to spend the birthday money on something else, for someone else (her mother) and so the bag was not to be then...

So when I got her text this morning when I woke up to say that she was the proud owner of a 2.55 black Chanel classic bag and that she had not stopped crying the whole day with happiness I also shed more than one tear too.... No one deserves to have a dream like that come true more than Donna....... I immediately telephoned her in UK and we both squealed down the telephone with delight and she told me the story about her day in Chanel (Brompton Road branch in London) - the saleslady could not have been nicer and when Donna actually realised that the bag was going home with her and that it was going to be hers she started crying in the shop and so did the saleslady too!!

HAPPY NEW BAG DONNA - I am absolutely over the moon for you!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Couple of lovely places in Brisbane

Just returned from a very hot and sultry Brisbane (up there for only 24hours) to a much cooler and more pleasant feeling Melbourne... Whilst there I took some photographs to share with you of a couple of lovely places we found .... The first one welcomed me in immediately with the notice board above - just loved the name and the inside did not disappoint either...

Here above is the gate smothered in this beautiful climbing greenery with white flowers - stunning..

Leading to the courtyard - all manner of pretty urns and pots and plants... And a simple but striking fountain.

Thought these ivies looked wonderful growing around the circles and I bought one of the iron Christmas trees you can just see (well half of it) in the pot on the right.

Another general shot of the courtyard above and inside the shop had more gorgeous goodies too. All very tempting.

And then finally had to share this very Australian colourful shop window with you. This is a shop by the name of Spiro and Black not far from the one above and this belongs to a fellow blogger too (although on a far larger scale than my blog!) - Anna. Such a lovely shop and a beautiful blog too... http://www.absolutelybeautifulthings.blogspot.com/

Hope you are all enjoying your weekends and they are both Merry and Bright too!

On my way back from

BRISBANE - have been up here overnight attending a Christmas 'do' with Mr SE..... will post as soon as I get back to Melbourne...
Am in my favourite place at the moment - a Qantas Lounge at the airport - something cold and bubbly to drink and a little something to eat - air conditioned and quiet - Bliss (wonder if I could move in to one??)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

White Christmas

Today my Dearest, Darling, Daughter, Poppy leaves UK and goes to France to begin a sojourn as a Chalet Assistant (known in my day as a 'Chalet Girl' - apparently totally un-pc to use this term now though!)

This is part of her 'Gap Year' before University next September and she is there until April next year - I know that she has mixed emotions about going - she is first and foremost very excited and looking forward to it all but also obviously apprehensive about embarking off into the unknown to experience a new way of life and a job she has not done before, not to mention leaving friends and family behind. I am so proud of her especially as it means Christmas out there too.

All I do know is that she will be guaranteed (well 99% certain of) a white Christmas at Chalet Boomerang in Les Gets.... (photo of the Chalet above) .... From what I can gather though the company seems very 'jolly' and I think there is definitely an Australian theme going on (sort of a clue in the name I would imagine!) and so therefore I think she will be in for a great time too..... Bonne Chance my love....

She has promised to do a blog also whilst there - but so far (despite cajoling from me!) there has only been one post - see my page on the right - 'My Time in France as A Chalet Girl'..... - this was the getting ready part - hopefully will be updated more regularly when she arrives!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Very Special Bears - the 'FLATOUT' Bear

I am in LOVE with these gorgeous and extrememly soft 'one dimensional' - i.e. FLAT, sheepskin Australian bears... They come in several colours including of course the iconic Koala bear and in two sizes... They are as soft as swansdown and the photos do not really do them justice they are just so lovely. We have given them as gifts to new babies and to adults (who love them) - I am secretly hoping that 'Santa Mr SE' may get the hint and bring me one this Christmas!! The following information is taken from the official 'Flatout Bear' website http://www.flatout.com.au/ (And don't you just love the sound of the colours listed below: milk, honey, latte, licorice, chocolate, koala grey and rosie... The colour of the one above is latte, by the way)

Soft, cuddly and flat, the FLATOUTbear is made of 100% pure Australian sheepskin shaped like a teddy bear. They are just gorgeous. They're natural, plush and luxurious - perfect for babies, kids, grannies... What can we say, everyone loves FLATOUTbears.It is no wonder the FLATOUTbear has a star studded fan base including Princess Mary of Denmark, Brooke Shields and Hugh Jackman. Sarah Jessica Parker termed the FLATOUTbear "charming and adorable", Tom Cruise had it on his baby wish-list, Jennifer Garner "loves it". The FLATOUTbear is now seen around the world.If you have a FLATOUTbear already, read no further because you know how fabulous they are:
Hand made from 100% Australian sheepskin
30cm x 25cm or 12" x 10" (this may vary slightly as each bear is hand cut)
5cm or 2" flat
Easy care - warm hand wash and dry in shade
Baby Safe Eyes and Nose - meets Australian and International toy safety Standards.
Colours available - milk, honey, latte, licorice, chocolate, koala grey and rosie.
A "please phone home" stitched in label with room for your phone number. FLATOUTbear is a unique product used as a baby's toy and comforter. Saying that, we know lots of adults that won't leave home without one! The ultimate luxury teddy bear. We believe every child deserves a FLATOUTbear.

Ed Note: And, I think every Semi Expat does too!! Now, which do I love the most?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Trish Deseine - My new cooking heroine and France's answer to Nigella Lawson

I totally ADORE Trish Deseine... She is down to earth, laid back and beautiful and cooks so well.... and lives in France.....

She has had 3 different series of cooking programmes on television here in Australia - Trish's Paris Kitchen, Trish's Mediterranean Kitchen and Trish's French Country Kitchen and I think these were made for RTE (an Irish TV station ?) as I had certainly never heard of her when I lived in UK and never seen any of her programmes there either.... However, I am now a keen fan and never miss a programme (when I am not here Mr SE records them for me too and then I have a blissful afternoon catching up with them all one after the other - just heaven!) Even the music she has in the background and at the beginning of each programme is wonderful and so catchy... (as I type the theme tune is going round in my head - Da da dat da darr dat da darrrr! - sorry but you would know what I mean if you have seen a programme!)

I decided to delve a little deeper and learn a little more about Trish who is in fact British and was born and brought up near Belfast. Astonishingly she was unknown in UK until recently when she wrote her first book for the UK market - 'Nobody Does It Better', - a collection of recipes and an exploration of the French style of cookery. She does agree apparently that it is a provocative title - she says "But French home cooks ARE better than English ones" ..... Amazing then it seems that she has got away with 'telling the French how to cook' in the form of ALL her earlier cookery books - she has sold more than 6000,000 of them and, amazingly all in French!! Bestsellers such as 'Je Veux du Chocolat' have now been translated into eight languages and have won several international awards. She has been featured not just in main French specialist food magazines but also in the mainstream Paris Match and Figaro too.

She says that the French see the irony in her writing cookery books for them . They call me an OVNI [French for UFO] because they can't classify me," says Deseine. "But they think all Brits are eccentric and they admire that, like they admire our passion. And they are fascinated by the trends coming out of the UK. London is a real style capital for them."
Trish Deseine has been in love with French food since she worked as a teenage au pair in the Vendée. "The mother was a fantastic cook and showed me how to shop well, build relationships with shopkeepers and care about quality."
While studying French at Edinburgh University, she fell in love with a French businessman. They moved to France, married and Deseine became involved in her husband's mail-order company which sells professional-quality food to the public.
She developed recipes using the products and was demonstrating them at a trade fair when she was spotted by the publisher Hachette.
Her book of simple, accessible recipes, 'Petit Plats entre Amis', was an immediate hit, a breath of fresh air in a market chock-a-block with heavy tomes by professional chefs.

Now separated and with four school-age children, Deseine entertains frequently. Small extra efforts go a long way, but that doesn't have to mean slaving away in the kitchen, she insists.

Does anyone else know about Trish Deseine and if so, what do you think? I for one am totally hooked!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Full Circle (and a Feather one!)

Yesterday, (Sunday) I had the pleasure of being back at Peony, to help out again........ As some of you may know I began this blog back in August when I looked after this lovely business when the owner was away in Europe - hence the title of this post - Full Circle.....
Anyway, from now on Peony is going to be open every day till Christmas and for those of you who would like to have a look at the website of this beautiful boutique perfumery the link is http://www.peonymelbourne.com.au/ I promise you will NOT be disappointed. I took a few photographs whilst I was there - above is the feather circle / wreath - such a lovely taupe colour and so unusual - they've been selling well, nearly all gone now!

A general shot above of the tables in the middle of the shop- don't you just love the giant cloche with the huge Cire Trudon candle? And the poinsettias look particularly festive in their silvery huge buckets.

Diptyque's Christmas edition candles - they come in Benzoin (which is a kind of myrrh/ frankincense fragrance) - left, Marron (a toasted chestnuts smell) middle candle and on the right an Evergreen Pine fragrance... Just beautiful (and Peony carry the whole range of Diptyque candles too)

Above, Miller Harris fragrances and lotions too - from perfumer Lynn Harris of London - very popular especially the Citron Citron - so fresh ... we also sell Miller Harris fragrant candles too at Peony....

Above a little French corner - no doubt readers of her wonderful blog will recognise Vicki Archer's fantastic new book on the left - selling like hotcakes! (Its on my Christmas list for a definite!) ......

The last white peacock left in the shop and he is reserved for a customer to pick up this week... cute!

And how about this wrapping paper? Black and white 'Old map of Paris Paper' tied with black or red ribbon - all part of the service at Peony...

Finally, this is what I wore to work yesterday (hmmm, looks as though I need to apply a little more sun stuff moisture lotion on my legs - looking a little pale and serious too - don't know why the latter!) When I first began the blog I did 'catalogue' what I wore to work each day and did not know whether I would do it again but.... Mr SE was around and he took these two photographs so I thought I would include them! OK... so.... am wearing - plain white T. Shirt by Bonds of Australia, with cashmere asymmetric front cardigan (3/4 length sleeves) from Marilyn Moore (UK make), Dainy Sawatzky linen black 'paper lantern skirt' - Australian designer (this was the skirt my mother-in-law was so rude about if you remember, earlier followers, - see post dated September 6th for those of you who did not see first time round - think you can just scroll down!!) and finally new flat slingback shoes from Kate Spade bought in LA last week and greatly reduced in Sales!

And bargain brooch - cost next to nothing (one pound fifty pence!) from Primark (a.k.a by DDD and I as Primarche!) ( UK shop).
I have today off but will be back in the shop Tuesday..... Can't wait!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Summer Blues - Friday Flowers

These beautiful blue Agapanthus flowers never cease to amaze me here in Australia - they almost seem to grow 'wild' in most streets along the grassy verges or in front of houses..... Coming from UK where we 'coaxed' and 'cajoled' them in anyway possible to bloom in our Summer gardens they seem a miracle in their abundance. Today these caught my eye looking fresh and co-ordinating so well with the blue of the picket fence behind them.

Just had to get in closer for a better shot!

Happy Friday to all whatever you are doing or wherever you are.......

Thursday, December 3, 2009

From Late Spring to Autumn and back Again (all within a week)

Well, we are back again in Melbourne after a week of seeing beautiful Fall in California like the photograph above and now we have scenes more like the one below....
We had such a fantastic time in Los Angeles - it seemed as if it was only yesterday that my friend and I had seen each other but in reality it was over 25 years... We had loads to catch up on and did not stop talking the whole time .... Mr SE and I were totally spoilt and enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and truly I am so very, very thankful that have seen her again - and hopefully it won't be long before she comes to Australia !! Now we have an Australian Christmas to look forward to and this will mean Summer Days, being outside, barbeques, floaty dresses, beaches and a whole different mindset.... So, rather than for example these - egg nog drinks .....

it will be Summery pink champagne ......

Well, that is something I can easily adapt to !!
In fact, I am enjoying a glass as I type this as a pick-me-up, well that's my excuse, (well it is 7.35pm here!) - got to get back into the spirit of things after all!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nobody Does It Better

than America I think for Christmas Decorations... All kinds really - The sheer exuberance of the beautiful abundance of little white lights in the photograph above .... Or, what about this reclining green reindeer with his bow-tie sitting on the giant red bauble below...

He certainly seems extremely jolly!

Not quite so happy, however, was darling little Bella when we put this Christmas ensemble on her. Bella is my friend's sweet Yorkshire Terrier... She (Bella) drew the line at the hat but I bought her the dress and she forgave us and wore it out attracting many admiring glances and smiles too!

And finally, my own little stash of Christmas goodies bought at Crate and Barrell - I could have gone CRAZY there (not enough space in my case alas and the 'good sense' of Mr SE preventing me!) .... I was really quite restrained but I am delighted with the reindeer napkins, the snowflake decorations, the snowflake tea towel and the mini gingerbread man decoration.

But now I have just realised that there are only just over 3 weeks to go and really I am not ready at all! Have not sent half my Christmas cards back to UK yet and there are several parcels I need to post off there too - I'd better get a move on!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Out and About Los Angeles

Just loved this Christmas Wreath against the grey paint on this door - very simple but so pretty with the brown velvet ribbon against the plain bluey-green foliage....

And we could not go to LA without visiting the Pacific Ocean and Venice Beach in particular - it was a lovely warm November day and we sat outside to have some lunch ........

And lastly, this painting on the wall caught my eye and really made a statement- Charlie Chaplin and friends......