Friday, November 28, 2008

Weekend Warrior

Another big weekend coming up with Christmas Parties tonight & tomorrow night. Also feel it's probably time to start some informal Chrissie shopping & I really would like to squeeze a round of golf in with son #5.

Have also just heard a rumour (from a few of his brothers!) that son #2 may grace us with his presence from Melbourne this weekend. He's just sheepishly informed us that he won't be home again for Christmas this year, as he's leaving on Dec. 22nd for 5 weeks backpacking around Morocco & surrounds with a mate. Last year it was Vietnam & Laos & the year before India & Sri Lanka - me thinks there is a pattern developing here of avoiding Christmas Day ('affectionally' known in our family as Family Feud Day!).

This beautiful terrace looks just so inviting - would be wonderful to prop myself at that table, not move for the whole weekend & let the world come to me. Whatever you are up to, hope the weekend brings you much fun & lots of laughter.

Sleepless in Stirling

Images Millie

We are lucky to live in a koala corridor, & have regular families living in the eucalypts in our side garden. During winter we don't see much of them, but as soon as Spring arrives well, to put it delicately, a boy's got to do what a boy's got to do!!

Just as we were falling asleep last night there was a almighty fracas right outside our bedroom window. After lying there trying to ignore the very noisy goings-on, MOTH had had enough & went outside with the torch to see what on earth was going on. He came back to report that a big boy koala was 'actively' pursuing a girl koala around the garden. MOTH said she was none too pleased, as she had a baby with her, but that didn't seem to worry her 'friend' who MOTH said was relentless in his pursuit. MOTH reckons the boy koala might have had more luck if he'd chucked a Barry White CD on in the background to get her in the mood!!!

I ended up putting the pillow over my head & eventually went to sleep despite the noise & MOTH, now wide awake, ended up in our Home Office doing Invoices until 3a.m.! This morning the poor 'victim' is sitting sleepily on a branch in their usual tree along with her beautiful baby. By the sounds of last night, I would be pretty certain that this time next year she will have a new baby with her!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bridging the Gap

Front aspect - after

Front aspect - before

New rear entertaining area & deck - after

Rear area - before (showing the challenges with the rear land)

Glass bridge spanning the water feature links the original part of the house to the new addition

The bridge's see-through stairs

Sliding recessed doors open up the entire entertaining area on warm, sunny days

The formal living area in the original part of the house with hallway leading to the front door

Casual living area in the new addition

More sliding doors give the deck unimpeded access during summer

I do love a good before & after story - even though at the moment I feel like I'm living in the & space! Half a lovely house, half a disaster zone! This little timber cottage in Auckland is a beauty, but the architects were faced with quite a dilemma. A very big drop-off half way down the sloping block (or 'siction' if you're a Kiwi !). Left brain creativity ruled & a covered glass bridge complete with see-through stairs linking the original part of the house to the new addition was built. I also love the way this then creates 2 distinct living zones, the bedrooms, bathrooms, formal living areas & study in the front & the kitchen, laundry & entertaining area at the rear.

The ultra gorgeous bridge also spans a water feature, adding more visual beauty to the design. Just a fabulous, relaxed home given a whole new lease of life.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Adorable AGA

A thing of beauty is a joy forever! And this is defintitely how I feel about AGA's. We had one in our kitchen when I was growing up, & Mum had a bit of a love-hate relationship with it as it was the original wood-burning model. However it really made the kitchen the heart & soul of the house. Think I might have to do a longer post on the technical specifications & the features & benefits (sounds like I'm at work!), but in the meantime I'll just leave you today with this delightful image to sigh over. A happy day to everyone.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Millie's Christmas List

Image Jane Means

Yay - MOTH has just made the announcement I wait for all year "Millie my darling one, heart of my heart, I want to start carefully choosing your presents now, wrapping them beautifully & ensuring you get everything your heart desires. So my sweet, could you start letting me know what you'd like to find under the Christmas Tree this year, in your own time of course my precious."

Ooops, I think I hallucinated for a brief moment, wake up you silly Millie! In actuality the conversation went along these lines "I've got no bloody idea what to get you. Here, write a couple of things down on this scrappy bit of paper & hurry up about it. Shopping for you is always a pain, I hate Christmas!" Now that's more like the MOTH I know & love.

If past years are anything to go by the scenario will go something like this:

  • A last minute dash into David Jones on Christmas Eve.
  • A quick spin around the perfume counter.
  • Be the Christmas Grouch to all the poor weary DJ girls.
  • Throw the present, unwrapped & still in the DJ's bag under the Chrissie tree.
  • Oh & as he reckons he can never find any gift cards, he'll grab a black Marker pen & write my name on the outside of the Store bag!
  • Grumble intensely when 2 weeks after Christmas, he receives a parking ticket for illegally parking outside DJ's.

Yes, he's one of a kind when it comes to Christmas!

Millie 1, Jack Frost 0

Some of the Christmas Lilies on the old Tennis Court

MOTH trying to make his way through the Lilies last Christmas Day

It is with great relief that I can report that all is well on the Christmas Lilies front at The Hedge. Our coldest Hills winter since 1952 + a run of very harsh frosts, saw MOTH appear at the back door a couple of months ago looking very sad. He'd just been down to the old Tennis Court where all our prized Lilies are sitting in their pots.

"I think we've lost the Lilies Millie" he said, gulping hard as he spoke. "Oh no, what's happened?" I gasped with shock. "The frosts have got 'em love, looks very bad, I reckon they're done for" was his muffled reply. Devastated & shattered, he took my hand & led me down to the Lilies, & yes, things looked grim. The new growth was stunted & black & indeed the situation looked hopeless. Together we made the long walk back to the house, not speaking, just grieving for the flowers that have given us & many others such pleasure each Christmas.

Well, all is not lost ! The Lilies have made a miraculous recovery, & on paying them a visit on Sunday, this is what I found! Not only do they look incredibly healthy, but they have doubled their blooms & it looks like we'll have well over 100 stems this year. So the Lilie god has smiled on us here in Stirling & for that we are very grateful!

Monday, November 24, 2008

149 Neil Road

Images Ong & Ong

Well, I guess it was bound to happen, I had to grab the Kleenex while writing a post. Normally the only other subject of my posts that could possibly have reduced me to tears is MOTH - & those are generally tears of laughter at his renovation 'mishaps' . However the subject of today's post actually bought tears of happiness, because of the beauty I see in these images.

I've been travelling to Singapore regularly for work for nearly 20 years & just love it to bits. I've always enjoyed wandering around China Town & Little India, into the back streets & alleyways where the character of the old city can still be seen. However, over the years I've seen this slowly but surely disappearing to make way for high-rise residential developments & it has deeply saddened me.

So it was with great delight that I discovered the work of Ong & Ong, a group of Singaporean architects who are restoring some of the old city buildings with great care & empathy. 149 Neil Street is actually a shop-house conservation, where the external facade has been lovingly refurbished to its historical glory, while the interior has been remodelled to suit the modern lifestyle of the current resident. This house has great beauty & a quiet stillness, to me its a haven of calm & reflection of past lives lived within its walls. Bravo Ong & Ong!!

Roses from France

Vicki from one of my favourite blogs French Essence has been kind enough to send me these beautiful white roses via her blog - merci d'être si aimable! There is no doubt in my mind who I'm passing them onto - the Brisbane girls have become a daily ritual at The Hedge. Visiting your stunning blogs each day is a pleasure & adds much dimension & inspiration to my life. I'm sure you could all do with a little beauty break following the atrocious weather you endured in Queensland last week, hope these blooms brighten your day. Please feel free to pass them onto whomever you wish.

Judy @ Lily-G.

Amanda @ Oliveaux.

Tracey & Hayley @ Porchlight Interiors.

Clare, JJ & Susie Q @ A Small Bite of Mondo Cherry.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pretty P.O.S.H.

Vintage wooden numbers from a French flea market

French Sidewalk Chalk Eggs

A collection of vintage French keys

Vintage French Bistro Order Pads

Striped French Baker's Twine

Vintage Hand-made Wooden Tops


Up to a couple of years ago, I had a date with the wonderful city of Chicago every Thanksgiving weekend. I made the long haul from Australia every year for the best part of 15 years to attend the same conference at McCormick Place, & I've always considered Chicago to be my 2nd home.

The spin-off from my November-December conference date was that Thanksgiving always heralded the beginning of the Christmas sales. So I always ensured I had a couple of days at the end of my official working week to hit Michigan Avenue, or most fondly known by the locals as Million Dollar Mile. It is the Windy City's premier shopping precinct & is smack in the heart of down-town. I always followed the same route, walking from my hotel to begin my day of delight at Bloomingdales, then across the road to Brookes Brothers to pick up MOTH's favourite shirts. Then I'd do a bit of a zig-zag pattern until I'd walked the entire length of the avenue on both sides, always keeping the Water Tower in the corner of my eye as a landmark.

Of course this sort of serious shopping excursion could only be done alone, although others have volunteered to come along with me, I've always politely declined. Waiting for those 2 days all year became an almost spiritual nirvana, a trek I needed to undertake alone, without the distractions others may bring to the journey.

I never got to visit the lovely store P.O.S.H. on N. State St., but I love to look at them frequently via the internet. Here's their latest offerings - just so cute!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vintage French Style

Iron Gates Circa 1900

Montgolfiere Chandelier Circa 1930

Set of Brass Andirons Circa 1880

Louis XV Style Bibliotheque Circa 1860

French Window with Mirrored Centre Circa 1880

Oak Draper's Table Circa 1900

Louis Phillipe Gilt Mirror Circa 1840

French Stone Bac Circa 1800

Antiques Avignon is one of my very favourite stores in Adelaide & I love to stop & take a peek each time the owners Elisabeth & John, return from a buying trip to France.

If I could have just one of these beautiful pieces, then it would have to be the long Oak Draper's table - I have so the right place for it along a wall in our Living Room! Every Christmas MOTH drags in the battered old wooden trestle tables from the shed & I struggle to disguise them with metres of white linen cloth. No cloth on this gorgeous table, just all the big platters laid out beautifully ready for everyone to fill their plates from. However, running a very close 2nd are those gorgeous iron gates - I reckon I'd have no trouble designing a whole new house around these beauties!

And what about the brass andirons - blow the appropriate fireplace, I think a very stylish conversion into stunning table lamps would be perfect.

Now my friends, it's over to you to tell me which piece you'd like to see the Courier delivering to your place. And this time I'm not even going to 2nd guess who'll choose what!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

He said Yes!

Right in the middle of my big night out on Friday, a good friend quietly announced to us all that she was getting married. Following all the squeals of delight, big hugs & a few tears (from those of us who'd had a few more Champers than we should have!) we demanded the full story from dear M.

Now I do need to tell you at this point that M. is not your starry-eyed 20 something. She is almost 60, a Mum & Grannie, but a very cool & funky one at that. She & her beau Mr. C. have been happily living together for 14 years & never once has the M. word been mentioned.

However all that changed one evening last week when as M. said, "The Devil made me do it!" She was peeling the vegies for dinner when Mr. C. came home from work, grabbed a beer from the refrigerator & asked how her day had been. Without even thinking she said "Yeah good - do you want to get married?" Mr. C. looked across the kitchen bench at her & in his wonderfully laconic way replied "Yep" & that was it!!

If only everything in life was that easy! So in Feb. they are heading off to Fiji & without any family & friends there to complicate things, they are going to do the deed. That's why we all love M., she's so laid-back!

A large group of her clients & friends have decided to have the ubiquitious Kitchen Tea for her in January. We were a bit worried she'd be reluctant, but when we suggested it to her, she said "That's so good, I hated everything about my first wedding, so this will be soooo much better, let's do it!".

The text messages have been flying thick & fast since then, & believe me, M. may regret agreeing to this! This will be unlike any Kitchen Tea I've ever attended. I've discovered that some of my most valued clients have the most devious & naughty minds! More to come!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


This gorgeous specimen Rosa 'Complicata' greeted us when we first arrived. MOTH couldn't contain his excitement in telling me I had a rose named after me!!!

The Rose Arbour was one of our most favourite features of the Winterwood garden. As normal MOTH was right under the structure examining the construction. To his amazement it just consisted of recycled timber posts with heavy galvanised chain strung loosely between them, to resemble a garland. The roses were then trained along the chain. What simple, but effective ingenuity!

More of the Rose Arbour - just breathtaking!

The garden is heavily mulched to preserve moisture & as there is no drip irrigation in place, hand watering with buckets supplements the annual rainfall - talk about a labour of love!

Big, bold, multi-clustered rose blooms around every corner.

Aphis have been a big problem this year for roses in the Hills, but the Kuchels have also noticed a larger than usual number of ladybirds & parasitic wasps in the garden, which has solved the aphis problem without the interference of chemical sprays.

Most of Merilyn's roses have come from a local grower in the Adelaide Hills town of Woodside. Some Suppliers dig up their roses, surround them with a sawdust mix, wrap them in plastic & then wait for a buyer, all the while the poor rose root ball is slowly, but surely drying out . When you order from Thomas for Roses, you arrange a pick-up date in advance & the day before, they are freshly dug, so are still moist & healthy on your arrival.

Walking alongside the rose arbour - it was lush & cool & soooo beautiful.

Iris, Roses, Oriental Lillies, Allum, Shasta Daisies, more Roses & much, much more!

Pink Watsonia sitting prettily under the awesome Irish Strawberry tree.

Purple Convolvulus cascading over a dry-stone wall along the driveway.

This really is a Sara Lee garden - layer upon layer of garden - just delicious!

Another lovely Rosa Rugosa species.

The traditional row of old roses bordering the vineyard area. The perfume from them was a total knock-out!

Underplantings of roses seem to be thriving despite the lack of direct sunlight.

Merilyn believes that random garden areas such as this planting of green & silver grey foliage allow for a greater appreciation of leaf forms & foliage contrast without the distraction of bright floral displays.

The garden shed is made from recycled bricks & contains Tim's wine-making equipment & a studio area for Merilyn to write. 'Golden Bunny' has been gently trained along the front wall & looks just fabulous basking in the full sun.

Tim's planted Pinot Noir on land that was once a Tennis Court. As you can imagine MOTH came home & immediately wandered down to our old Court area & started pacing out for vine plantings! Well, I guess that's one way I might finally see the end of his dodgey vegie garden & piles of scrappy fire wood scrounged from the Stirling Dump!

Clematis climbing up the wall of Merilyn's Potting Shed.

MOTH was totally enamored by this group of 5 Silver Birches planted symmetrically in a lawned area in the rear garden.

The Copper Beech, Gingko, Irish Strawberry, Cedar & Fir trees were all planted by previous Owners in the mid-1950's & provide such a pivotal anchor point for all the later plantings.

The meandering garden paths were carefully designed so as not to disturb the roots of all the old trees that have stood on the property since 1900.

We both fell in love with this gorgeous creature - but weren't able to find out what it is. If anyone knows please let me know!

MOTH furiously taking notes - this is Rosa 'Wedding Day' & we loved that it was growing so vigorously in a shaded position under a large tree. Boy, have we got just the spot (x 50!) for this beauty at our place!

At the end of Winterwood's driveway is the quintessential Aussie Gum tree!

All images Millie

On Sunday MOTH & I escaped the renovations for a couple of hours to visit the most wonderful garden a couple of streets away from us here in Stirling. Winterwood is owned by Merilyn & Tim Kuchel who are locals, & they've spent the past 15 years totally making-over their house & cottage garden. Merilyn has been involved with the Australian Open Gardens Scheme for many years & is one of the most passionate & dedicated gardeners I know.

After wandering around, we left totally invigorated - with lots of ideas & much inspiration. Their daughter Eleanor is getting married in the garden of Winterwood on New Year's Eve & wow, what a stunning environment to have such a special celebration.

I hope you enjoyed this stroll around Winterwood as much as we did.
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