Thursday, December 16, 2010

Scent of a house

We all know that flowers bring colour and freshness into a house and a scent that can't be replicated even with the most beautiful candles. Last week I was privileged to have a magazine come to photograph my house and between flowers that I'd bought, flowers I picked from the garden, and flowers they brought with them, the house looked like a mini-florist! We had lillies and roses and berries and gladioli and liseanthus on tables and mantlepieces. They weren't all used in the photographs (and the ones that were were certainly styled better than in my happy snaps above!) but they provided a lovely feel to the house and have lasted throughout the week. If only they lasted indefinitely but I guess that's the charm of them - temporal beauty and new types always in season!

Gorgeous and girly

Away from the main shopping streets of Ballarat is a little gem packed with frilly and feminine treasures. The Vintage China Company sits on the corner of a busy roundabout and is a labyrinth of little rooms filled with dainty aprons, beautiful English teacup trios, French Provincial jugs, Robert Gordon pottery and pretty ornaments. I bought some little Christmas presents and they did the most sublime girly gift wrapping. The shop also houses a beautiful little tearoom, perfect for a girly get together and high tea for any occasion. I haven't sampled their cakes but they look delectable with a great range of tarts and cupcakes and slices. Oh, and there's a newly opened spa on the corner opposite so you could easily combine high tea with beauty treatment indulgence. The Vintage China Company is on the corner of Doveton and Macarthur Streets at 451 Doveton St North, Ballarat. And no, I didn't get paid for this little advert - nor do I know anyone who works there! For all my girlfriends, this could be the place for my next birthday celebration! See

Monday, December 13, 2010

A feast for foodies

We went to the Ballarat Lakeside Farmer's Market on Saturday and there was a palpable feeling of festivity in the air. Not only that but there were so many beautiful berries and summer fruits for sale. Who can resist two large containers of strawberries freshly picked by the berry farmer and then sold to you by the same person? Or locally made fetta cheese or huge bunches of mint and coriander that you can smell metres before you get to the stall? Farmer's markets are all over the place now. We lived in Middle Park in Melbourne in 2008-2009 and used to love the Gasworks Market in Port Melbourne. Now we're a bit closer to the land and the people selling the goods have often only driven a short distance from the farm. Inspired by the fresh produce and seasonal delights, we cooked a lovely meal for friends on Saturday night. It was meant to be a BBQ but the weather just wasn't reliable so instead we made lemon chicken and cous cous, kofta with a yoghurt and mint sauce, fetta, tomato and bean salad, potatos roasted in sundried tomato oil; and then we had oversized fresh strawberries and lemon delicious pudding for dessert. Yum Yum! Dinner was made all the more special because we were eating off plates that used to belong to my Nanna and other old English ones that I'd sourced from a local market.  
The festive season is upon us! If you're local to Ballarat, the farmer's market is on again next Saturday morning. And elsewhere I'm sure there's a plethora of other markets showcasing Christmas and summer treats!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A message for the festive season

Can you believe it's the 1st of December? I thought as we enter the silly season, the season of spending too much money and eating too much, that we should remember to keep calm. Of course the original 'Keep Calm and Carry On' posters were intended to raise optimism and a sense of solidarity and normality for those stoic Brits during WW2. An inspiring message for any occasion really. And don't forget to enjoy yourselves as you rush around and battle crowds in the Christmas rush, as you bake, as you decorate the tree, as you go on holiday. Take a few hours, if you can, to make some gifts or decorations and you'll feel all the merrier for having been creative. I for one am making Christmas cards this year.