About Me

My photo
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)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Back from Sydney

Returned back this afternoon after a lovely time in Sydney. We stayed at a gorgeous Bed and Breakfast place in Woollahra called Kathryns. It's situated on Queen Street and the whole road is full of lovely little shops... Click HERE for more information about the B & B.

Front door - gorgeous tessellated antique tiles on the front porch...

Looking through into the hallway. Chinoiserie wallpaper and chequered black and white flooring... (sorry this photo not brilliant quality though).

My bedroom... the bed was amazingly comfortable - antique white linen and squishy pillows - I slept ' like a log'.

Little writing desk in my bedroom.

And so cute - a tiny balcony leading from the room.

The bathroom. Black and white.

With a shot of colour with the fuchsia pink petunias in the window box.

Such a pretty flower shop on Queen Street.

Flower displays spilling out on to the pavement and arranged outside the shop.

And this was the most FANTASTIC antique shop....

A view through the front door.. wonderful armoire.

And a view out through the the back of the shop.

Antique stone ware, pots, garden furniture and big generous shrubs.

The area we stayed was so delightful - lovely little breakfast cafes and restaurants too... We had a good session at the InStyle Gift Fair taking in all the stands and exhibits at least twice - and I made sure that I took notice of the lovely stand Bianca Lorenne as described by Claire at HAVEN HOME blog... (do check her out - just great)......

All in all a wonderful weekend. Do hope yours was too.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thinking of Easter bunnies ....

Yesterday at Ma Maison we were preparing the Easter window display.... Cute 'moss' bunnies all waiting their turn above....
some had to have their little bows put on them and then

hop into the window along with some egg candles.

Another shot taken through the shop window... do think that they all look rather sweet. Will post a full picture of the window when it is completed.
I am off to Sydney later on today for a couple of nights attending a gift fair - am really looking forward to it and will take some photographs (although do not think I will be able to take them inside the fair unfortunately)...
However, we are staying at the most gorgeous place which I think you will like and I will take plenty of photographs there. I'm not sure about Internet connection though so I may be 'off the air' for few days... Normal service will recommence just as soon as possible!
Meanwhile wishing you all a wonderful weekend wherever you may be ........

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sunshine, Sugar, Happiness and Sushi

I have been a bad, bad blogger and not done what I should have with these very generous awards received over the last few weeks...... Suffice to say I am going to change the rules a bit if that is permitted and the 'blog police' won't arrest me!
So I am going to link back these awards to those lovely and talented bloggers who have been so kind as to bestow them on me (so far, so good - I am following the rules) BUT I am then going to suggest to you all that you click on one new blog to see if you might like to add that to your blogroll. Either the ones who have been kind enough to pass on an award to me or for example ANY of my favourite and inspirational ones on the right. I don't think you will be disappointed...(except perhaps with Naughty Niece has NOT updated hers for a few weeks....'Diary of a Travelling Cool Girl'..!)
So, to begin the roll call, - the Sunshine Award above was given to me by the lovely BEAUTIFULLY50. She is not 50 yet, just preparing her life for the big 5-0!!
The Sugar Doll award I have been lucky enough to have received THRICE (love that old fashioned word). From the iconic Tish Jett and her equally wonderful blog 'A femme D'un Certain Age' , and all the way from snowy Finland I received the same from the delightful METSCAN. It was also given to me by a fairly new but very enjoyable blog - do read it - LA BONNE VIE....

And last but not least from the kind Natasha at '5 Mins Just For Me' - I was lucky enough to receive the Happy 101 award as depicted above........
To all of you a HUGE thank you - a wonderfully talented bunch - you brighten up my day as do all my roll call of blogs to the right.
Lastly just wanted to share a deliciously scrummy lunch with you....
Sushi from my favourite and very modest little Sushi Cafe. It is very dear to my heart as it was the first place I ate sushi in Australia....
All of this for the princely sum of $ 7.50 (Aus. Dollars)... In UK 'squids' (as I like to call them) it is 4.30 and in USA Dollars it is 6.70.

So, not bad eh? I think it classifies as a 'Bargain basement luncheon.'

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Adornment of Toes (and Feet).....

Well, as requested, I am doing as I am told (!) and here is the Chanel Nail colour 'Particuliere'..... in the flesh so to speak gracing my toes..... sort of a grey taupe with a touch of lavender in some lights. Sorry about the close up but Mr SE (the photographer) said that it was better in order to show the colour.... the things I do for the bloggy blog blog family!
And, talking of adornment or rather, adored adornment - here are my lovely new Chanel Ballerinas that Mr SE brought back all the way from France. I have been meaning to post a photograph of them too for a while! (Three feet pho-'toes' in one post!)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Particularly Partial to Particuliere

Great excitement yesterday. I bought a bottle of the above (they have only just arrived here in Australia - things 'hit' our shores later 'Down Under'!) I totally adore it - matching my watch strap perfectly - it's very understated, smart yet 'finished' too just like a great neutral should be. I am a very happy Semi Expat indeed.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Splitting the infinitive

Why, oh why, does this annoy me? Why does it even get to me and why do I recognise it wherever and whenever I hear or read it ...? The damn split infinitive.
You are probably thinking - why is she 'going on' about this? I am watching the television, - a news programme has just finished and I have heard the news presenter use another one....
I am reasonable at grammar. Not outstanding, by any means and certainly I am not someone who has studied grammar or even (unfortunately, and a great disappointment to me) someone who has a degree.. BUT... I do recognise a split infinitive. At fifty paces. This is because of my dear, late, maternal grandfather - Montague Plascott. Just his name sounds dignified I think and it is because of him that whenever and wherever I am when I hear one I think ... OOOOH, OOOUCH.. not right! It was his absolute 'bete noire' and he taught me to recognise them as "Bad Grammar.. " - at times I really wish that I didn't. Maybe it isn't recognised anymore as 'wrong' and maybe English teachers do not attach great importance to this. I will ask my BN who teaches English to 17 - 18 year olds.
Let me give you a very famous example...
"To boldly go"....... (Star Trek style).
And some other ones.... " To blindly feel" or "To beautifully sing" .... In each one as you will see that the 'to..... do something'... i.e. in the last three examples..' to go', 'to feel', and 'to sing' is the infinitive and it has been split in the middle by (in the examples above) - boldly, blindly and beautifully.
Perhaps it doesn't sound so awful. Perhaps it is only because of my grandfather that this little point of grammar still sounds so wrong when I hear it ...In some ways that is rather nice...
At least it means that after many many years he is still very much 'alive' to me. He died in 1975.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Nightie Nightie or PJ's all the way!

What do you prefer?? Or wear as a rule...?

I am the first to admit that nightdresses or gowns like the one above look very elegant but I would never wear them preferring my comfortable pyjamas with a white tee shirt as bed wear... I think Mr SE would prefer to see me in satin and lace but that just 'isn't me'!

These above are my favourites at the moment which I bought from lovely J.Crew when we were over in USA last November (unfortunately J.Crew do not ship overseas or maybe I should say, fortunately, for the credit card's sake).... They look great, quite smart I think and are cotton and soft - what more could one ask for?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Lavandula Farm

After the post I did yesterday about gardens in England I thought of such a beautiful one here in Australia in Victoria around and hour and half or so outside of the city of Melbourne. We normally go there at least twice a year but I have to say the last time was just over a year ago... feel we most definitely have to go back in the next month. It is a Lavender farm by the name of Lavandula and it describes itself as a Swiss Italian Farm... more from their website HERE... There are the most beautiful gardens and a wonderful old barn from which they sell products they make from their crop ...

There is also a fabulous trattoria serving delicious lunches and teas and it is wonderful to sit outside enjoying your food alfresco... Also you can take a picnic and find a shady spot of your own if you preferred. We have done both and each is equally lovely.

A lovely old building in the grounds .....

and an old 'moi' in the grounds also! I put this one in as I just LOVE the tall pencil shaped trees in the background.

A small excerpt from their Website .......

Lavandula is a very European experience.
It looks beautiful, it’s Italian, it lifts the heart.
Out in the countryside ten minutes north of Daylesford, drive over the creek, walk up a poplar-lined driveway. You'll find around the cobbled courtyard a cluster of farmhouse buildings: the house, the Barn, and the Stillroom. Italian-speaking Swiss immigrants built in golden stone and ran a dairy farm from the 1860s.
Twenty years ago Carol White bought the property and was inspired to re-create the traditional mixed farm lifestyle of those earlier settlers. The stone farmhouse has been restored and lived in. Now you can admire its superb simple rural Italian architecture.
Beyond the rustica is La Trattoria, the café where you lunch al fresco in the ash grove or snug inside a timber building or in the cool stone loggia.
Look up. There’s the garden, lavender fields, farmyard, the olive & chestnut groves, the vineyard - and in the distance the ancient volcano that delivered the good soil. The garden was designed to enhance Lavandula’s Italian style and seasonally grows food for the café.
You can walk, sit, picnic, play boules, or the children can seek out farm animals. At the moment we have goslings. Let's hope the farm dog, Flora Macdonald, protects them from the Basalt eagle.
Explore, relax. Feel the grass between your toes.
Listen to the birdsong.

It really is a most peaceful and wonderful place to go for a day. Oh, and they also have gorgeous accommodation available should you not be able to tear yourself away... Yes, it's high time we went back for a re-visit I think.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How does your garden grow?

The two photographs above and below are of our modest garden in England..... I have to say when I look at them I do miss being there - it's both easy to look after and always looks full of plants and foliage as it isn't huge..... I have been inspired by many garden writers and when I am back in UK I never miss Gardeners' World on television on a Friday evening... I have even seen it over here too in Australia....

Sarah Raven has probably been the biggest influence and inspiration.... She has appeared on Gardeners' World and is also a wonderful writer and has published several books on gardening, both ornamental and also on vegetable gardening and she works from her home - a lovely place in East Sussex - Perch Hill Farm where she runs both gardening days and cookery courses from the school there... (Click HERE for more information from her website). I have been lucky enough to go on one of these courses entitled "The Bold and Brilliant Garden". It was extremely informative and great fun and a delicious lunch was provided too. She has a wonderful catalogue and an online shop from which she sells, seeds, plants and many other related gardening and cooking paraphernalia.

Sarah Raven

Above and below two photographs of Perch Hill Farm and the gardens.

Books that I own by Sarah Raven... She has published a few others too - a great Christmas book and I think she is about to publish a new cookery one too. (The veggie one above was given to me by my friend Sue aka 'Matey Batey'!).

And two more interesting facts... 1. She originally trained as a Doctor. And 2. She is married to the writer Adam Nicolson who is the grandson of Vita Sackville-West who created the breathtaking gardens at Sissinghurst Castle Kent. If you visit England you just must go to Sissinghurst if you are at all interested in gardens.... And the 'house' isn't bad either - it's stunning!
(Perch Hill Farm - Sarah Raven's garden is also open to the public but at special open days throughout the year - details on her website http://www.sarahraven.co.uk/ )

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Very Happy Valentine's Day to you

Wishing you all a very Happy Valentine's Day...

I took this photograph in the fantastic, CAPITAL KITCHEN in Chadstone, - in the newest area of the shopping Mall I wrote about a while back HERE - where Chanel etc. have just opened... It is a fantastic new restaurant, casual dining cafe with a wonderful open feel and great interiors... As well as the cafe they also have kitchen / home section where they had displayed the beautiful heart above constructed entirely from different kitchen utensils, bakeware etc.. (all red ) - so simple, so pretty and really unique......

I will do a longer and more in depth post about this place at a later date, I promise. Meanwhile here is a glimpse above of one of the shelves... Sigh... so gorgeous.... - have a lovely day everyone.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Selling houses the Australian Way

If you are Australian and reading this then you'll wonder why I am writing about House Auctions but I have to say that I find them an absolutely fascinating way to purchase a house and that is how quite a few houses are sold here. And they are quite a spectacle too.

It is quite a different matter in England. There your house goes on the market..... you have appointments for potential buyers/ viewers - at all times (no fixed day) and then maybe/hopefully an offer. Then negotiations back and forth between you, the estate agent and the buyer and when a price is agreed it goes to solicitors... The legal process goes on and on (and on!) - maybe up to 3 months and at any time in all of this before you sign on the dotted line at the end of it all and contracts are exchanged and completion takes place your buyers can pull out of the whole deal, leaving you back to square 1.!! Here I think it is far better.... Essentially there are two ways....

1. You can have a fixed price for the house and invite offers (a private sale) and not have an auction and then offers are gathered up after several 'open days' (where the house can be viewed by potential buyers en masse) and hopefully an agreement met between buyer and seller on the price. When that is decided 10% deposit is put down by the buyer after which they decide whether the balance is produced in either 30 days or 60 days usually. End of contracts... you have bought your house...Or ...

2. You can go to Auction.. This is by far the most exciting but also nerve wracking for both seller and potential buyers....

Today Mr SE and I attended a house auction near us... (photo above, sorry not brilliant - taken with a phone ) ... You will also see that outside the house there is large board with photos of the interior .... also on the board are the opening times of the house (fixed) and the auction date and time... Usually there have been around 4 open inspections (where again you all look round en masse)... Sometimes there is a guide price, other times not, just an idea of what other sales have been achieved in the area recently.

So today the house was open prior to the auction for one last time and then on the dot at 1.30pm the auction began...

The Estate Agent stands outside the house and addresses the assembled crowd there (hoping that everyone wants to buy it and of course that will push up the price) . Usually people (like us) want to see the spectacle of the whole thing and the auctioneer too, as it is quite an art and today there were lots of people ... So, as I said he addresses the crowd and firstly 'bigs up' the house and the area and the fact that it is close to shopping facilities and the train station (with no mention of course of the train track which runs directly behind the house of course)...

And then he starts... "So ladies and gentlemen, what do you give me to begin - do I have an offer to start on this lovely house... ?" Deathly silence... "Surely you have not all come here today just to watch me? " (seemed like we had!) ... So then he begins and says that he would start at an offer of $875,000 from the vendor (don't know what that meant ... maybe that was the minimum they would accept?) "So, who is going to offer ? - I will go up in $10's (of thosands) if it makes it easier - any offers ladies and gents, any offers?" . "$900,000" shouts a man in a bright white shirt and green tie...... Again, Mr Estate Agent tries to get someone, anyone, to offer more, and keeps asking for more offers... None coming.. So in the end he says, "Selling once, selling twice, etc " and just before he says SOLD then decides he would have to go inside the house and confer with the vendor... !!

So off he goes and then returns outside again and says to the only potential buyer at the time that he was going to ask the crowd again for offers (as the vendor had insisted he did)... Immediately another lady (Blonde and sunglasses) comes into the whole thing and offers $905,000..... Mr Green Tie goes straight back at $915,000..... Blonde sunglasses offers $920,000, Mr Green Tie, $940,000. Sunglasses $945,000. Green Tie (obviously hoping to 'nail it') $960,000 .... Sunglasses shakes her head.... Auctioneer tries to encourage her to make another offer and asks us all if we would like to offer ... "Maybe another $1,000, - could be the best $1,000 you have ever spent in your life, -you know the house is worth it!"...... No more offers... He keeps on trying to get someone to offer and then eventually.... Going once, going twice, going three times... then 'For Luck' (so he says) he repeats the going once, going twice routine (I would have been very cross if I was Mr G.T. at that point) and then FINALLY... SOLD.......!! Green Tie gets the house and Mrs. Green Tie goes "Wheeeey haaaa" or something similar and rushes up from a way back and hugs Mr Green Tie ! (Maybe it was a Valentine gift! Ha! ) And we all clapped! Pure entertainment really.

(Mr Green Tie would then have had to stump up is 10% then and there decide with the vendor whether they would get the rest in either 30 or 60 days.. And that was that ... job done, one sold house.)

Such fun and quite a show.... - for all of us watching... However, I would be feeling quite sick if I had wanted the house or if I was selling it but I have to say I think that overall here it is a far, far better way of selling houses.

Ed.Note : I hasten to add that we only rent here...! Our only house is in UK...... at the moment.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Flowers (with the upcoming Valentine weekend in mind)

I know I have written about this company before BUT this is the MOST wonderful flower company. EVER. In the world.....
Only problem is that it is UK and I am here this weekend... Ah well... never mind. I have been very fortunate to have been the lucky recipient of a few of these divine bouquets over past years from Mr SE... They come in wonderful dark green boxes tied with moss coloured satin ribbon... Here are a few images from their website to wish you a wonderful Friday and a great weekend too....

See what I mean...? Gorgeous aren't they? To see more (or to hint heavily to someone if you are in UK!) - the website is http://www.realflowers.co.uk/

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mini Eiffels...

I am doing a few extra days this week at MA MAISON and yesterday unpacked a small delivery including these gorgeous sets of book ends... little Eiffel Towers... aren't they just the cutest?
And not long after I opened the shop this morning I sold a pair to a lady who also bought a sweet little make up bag with Eiffel Tower images on it.... We are also expecting Eiffel Tower umbrellas next week - I will keep you posted... And we will need them in Melbourne - had such a downpour this afternoon - see, - it is not all sunshine every day in Australia!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

FONTAINE - wonderful French Antiques

is the name of a absolutely great company owned by my dear friends, Stuart Atkinson and Kiel Shaw.... I used to work for them years ago running their shop in East Sussex whilst they went off to search for more stock in France.....(they now live there). I had the most fantastic fun there - such good times - and when they returned with fresh 'loot' I would 'use up' all my wages before I had earned them if you see what I mean!!

Angel 'Wings"

Selection of French Sheets

Gorgeous white china


Fabulous mirror

French 1920's leather club chair

I know I have posted about these guys before but quite simply they are the best and my most favourite antique people IN THE WORLD... and not because I know them. They now have a website which you can look at so you won't have to take my word for it only! Click HERE to see more.....

The following info. is taken directly from their website and I have shown a few images from there too - they have an enormous selection and it is well worth contacting them directly if you are particularly looking out for something special....

About Us :
...'France offers some great decorative country antiques, some items could be one-off apprentice pieces, a single work of art or a naive carving made with a labour of love - but all of them show provincial craftsmanship at it's best - honest and not pretending to be anything more.... this is what we love'

Stuart Atkinson and Kiel Shaw's taste is broad - from naive 18th Century to contemporary 1970's, from rustic one-off to formal bespoke pieces. They are predominantly Decorative Dealers, with a wide range of clients and over 30 years experience between them of travelling through France and buying at brocantes, antique markets and auctions, they buy for themselves first but of course with their clients in mind, so you are always ensured of a relaxed look with an informal and personal approach that is at place within any interior.

Fontaine is based in France and exhibit regularly at the Battersea Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair. They also exhibit at the Bath Decorative Fair.

They are happy working alongside trade buyers, private clients and interior designers equally.

I miss them so much... will hopefully be catching up with them again when I am back next in UK.....