Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Crazy Exciting Week

I am a virgo, so I am pretty organised for the trip, but my relaxed state is making me nervous.

There is also the matter of the Icelandic volcano which is threatening to erupt and subsequently shut down all the air space over Europe and also a sick kid.
Despite all this, I am hoping to make the plane by weeks end.  When I finally do, I will be kicking back big time.

I have not organised any posts for this week as I already feel like I am on holidays .  I think a little break now will motivate me to bring you lots of photos and posts from France and the UK from next week.

Make sure you following in some way, so I can take you on our journey.

You can find me on
and instagram @desireempire

I am hoping to keep all these platforms updated at least with shots of beautiful French food and brocante.

Speaking of French Brocante, this is how I am packing so that I have plenty of room to fit it in, on the return journey.


I also hope to pick up some clothing bargains in London.

And this is how I will gain access to those suitcases more easily.
Colour coded padlocks.  


Life is all about experience and memory making for me now.  Although I always want to live in nice surroundings, the house is secondary to me these days. I just want to travel and drink in all life has to offer.

See you on the other side.........of the planet that is.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Beach Cottage Decor

Beach Cottage Decor

This beach cottage was rather lovely the last time it came up for sale.  The new owners then set about improving it even further.  They have enlarged the master bedroom.  The living and kitchen spaces have been transformed into a beautiful open plan space flowing out onto a deck over looking the huge north south face block of land and the pool.  This house is classic Avalon beach cottage, encompassing all that goes with the relaxed beach lifestyle.  An easy walk to village and beach completes the picture.  If you are a serious player, this lovely home is definitely worth considering.

You will find a detailed features and a floor plan here.












I hope you have a lovely weekend

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Frozen Movie Party Table


Frozen Movie Party Table

As you know I am not a lover of  traditional sugar laden party food. 

As some of my little charges were staying over for the slumber party, I decided on feeding them a proper dinner, rather than than all the usual party food suspects.  It kept the menu simple as well. We had spaghetti bolognaise, which most kids happily eat. I thought it would be nice for the girls to sit up together and have a kind of dinner party.


That gave me the opportunity to style up a pretty Frozen tablescape, which all the girls were in awe of.  I used IKEA snowflakes and their fabulous snowflake lights weaved in amongst some conifer foliage, to create a Nordic feel.


I made a pretty installation over the table using my chandelier.  Please don't look at the bit that needs sanding on the ceiling.  Again I used those handy IKEA snowflakes and stitched them onto glitter ribbon in silver and blue,which I picked up at Spotlight.  The lanterns were Shmick brand and I picked them up at the local $2 shop.


As for the entertainment, we did pin the tail on the donkey, as provided by Mr Beach House.  Being a boat designer finally came in handy around the house.  Would you believe the tails we used came out of a party set, I had as a kid.  Sometimes it pays to hang on to things.  It was the first time most of the kids had played this game and they loved it.  In hindsight, I probably should have been pin the carrot nose on Olaf the snowman.  Next time perhaps.


The thing that entertained the girls the most though, was this karaoke machine, as supplied by grandma.  I decided to try and get a Frozen CD at the 11th hour, so they would know a few songs to sing.  I didn't hold out much hope of finding the CD, considering how hard it was to get the Else Princess outfit (Warriewood Square on the stall outside Athlete's Foot if you are in the market for one.)  We almost settled on getting the Grease album.  Just as I was about to give up hope, there it was, the last Frozen CD, sitting alone on the shelf.  I picked it up, fist pumped the air and shouted woohoo.  A guy idled up to me in the store and said.  "If I knew you wanted it that much, you could have had our copy and here, take my daughter, she knows all the songs."  It's amazing how the marketing juggernaut captures the interest of these kids and anything associated with the Frozen movie sells like hot cakes.


 The karaoke machine was an absolute hit and filled in quite a bit of time.  One of the shyest kids ended up becoming the microphone hog, which was pretty funny.  Whilst 2 sang Frozen songs on rotation, the others played with my daughter's girly lego set. Perfect.



We also did some beading to make bracelets and windmill crafting.  The kids have all reported back that they really enjoyed the party. With the big trip coming up, I was on a strict budget and determined not to invest in an entertainer.


Want to see how I put the cake together and the lemonade stand we used to greet the guest? Well you can check them out here.

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Feathered Nest Friday

Monday, August 18, 2014

Easy Frozen Birthday Cake For a Girls Party


Easy Frozen Birthday Cake For a Girls Party

In anticipation of the Littlest Beach House Brat's birthday party, I was given the brief as follows.  "I want a Frozen slumber party mum."

I wasn't sure any of the other mums would agree the slumber part was a good idea, but we put it out there and got a couple of takers for a sleep over.  In my mind, 2 guests was the perfect number of  extra little girls to look after overnight, so I set about sorting out all the details for the party.  A couple of other girls came to the party, but didn't feel comfortable staying over, so they were picked up at the end of the night and that worked well too.


Now to organise the cake.  I decided on a square cake. We were inspired by the end of the movie when the snow begins to melt.  So all I did was frost the cake in white and then create a bit of blue frosting with food dye and created a little part of the sea in one corner, so as to suggest the snow was receding. 


I used pine trees and IKEA snow flakes from my Christmas decoration stash and had also sent off for a set of six cake toppers from a link on ebay here.  The cake toppers only cost $10 AUD and took about 3 weeks to arrive, so this is not a cake you can organise in a week.  The candles and "Happy Birthday" sign were from Coles.

As usual we pay alot more in Australia.   If you buy the equivalent cake toppers in Australia they are over $30.


Someone really loved it.

Madam also wanted to use the lemonade stand I had put together months ago and promised she could have at her next birthday.  So we set up some cupcakes and lemonade for her little guests to receive upon arrival.


Princess Else loved the whole affair and I shall reveal more in my next post, when I show you how I set up a Frozen party table and decorative installation over the table. Also how I entertained the kids, without spending a bomb on an entertainer.

Edit:  See the Frozen party table here.


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Friday, August 15, 2014

Kensington Boat House London


This West Kensington converted Boathouse has views across the Thames River and Hammersmith Bridge.  Beautifully appointed with some original Georgian features, this abode is completely stunning, with 6 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, sleeping 9-12 people.  This would be a lovely home to rent for a family or group booking in London.  Imagine dropping in for a drink at the ancient Dove Riverside Tavern, or taking in a play at the Hammersmith Apollo.  Make sure you read the full story on this lovely home when you drop by to find out more.


















I hope you enjoyed a tour of this gorgeously stylish home in London.  Have a wonderful weekend.

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Weekend Rewind

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Easy Spinach Pie with Filo Pastry




Considering the rate at which I cook now, it's hard to believe that by the time I was 24, I had literally only cooked  about 5 main meals across the course of my life.


That's what happens when you have a mum who is a fabulous cook and is happy to cater for all your dietary requirements, without making you lift a finger in order to eat well.
I had basically moved out by the time I was 22, but living and working in ski lodges also meant that the chef usually did all the cooking for me.


It wasn't until I set up a flat at about 25, that I had my own kitchen and finally had no one else to do the cooking but me.

As a parting gift, my mother gave me a Women's Weekly Basic Cook Book and wished me luck.  As she handed it to me, she said, `If you can read,  you can cook.'   and she was right. Mum probably thought I would be back, but I never did return home for more than a few nights at a time. I have now lived more of my life away from my first family, than with it, which probably means, I am all grown up.  



I hate to reveal my true age, but apart from all the usual suspects like how to roast a leg of lamb, or poach an egg, the basic cook book also has recipes in it, like lambs fry and tripe.  I have still never tried those dishes, but I made the easy spinach pie alot back in my single days.


So when I saw some lovely bunches of English spinach on sale at Harris Farm the other day,
my mind turned to that old recipe and I thought I'd dig out the cook book I hadn't used for years.

The pie was still as fabulous as I remembered it and was such lovely comfort food on a cold Winters night.  This one is a great family meal and very healthy too. Although not at all low in fat.

I have changed it out a lot since the original, but it is still delicious and completely simple.  


Easy Spinach Pie with Filo Pastry
serves 4

1 bunch of English spinach, or packet of baby spinach
Small knob of butter butter
1 small onion diced
220g or 3/4 cup danish feta crumbled
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 eggs
8 sheets filo pastry
Large knob of butter, about 60 g

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F
Over a moderate heat, melt the small knob of butter and saute the onion for several minutes, until soft.
Trim the English spinach of stems and cut into 2 cm / 1 inch strips.  For the baby spinach, don't bother trimming.
Whisk eggs in a large bowl.  Add cheeses, nutmeg, cooked onion and spinach. Mix well to combine.
Grease a 13cm x 23cm ovenproof dish.

Melt the large knob of butter and brush 4 sheets of pastry.  Place each pastry sheet in the oven proof dish as you go, buttered side up.  Carefully press it down into the dish, allowing the sides to overlap the edges of the dish.

Place the spinach mixture on top of the pastry in the dish.
Brush the remaining 4 sheets of pastry with butter and place over the top of the spinach mixture.
Crumple overlapping pastry together to form a rustic looking pie and brush well with butter.

Bake for 40 minutes.
Serve with a green side salad and enjoy.

For more easy family meals go here.


Things are hotting up here re our trip.  Not long now.  Connections willing, I plan to instagram, facebook and blog our trip.  I hope you will follow along on our dream journey.  

I have decided that I have very little ambition around house and home these days.  My goals are all centred around experiences and travel is front and centre of that now.  I figure it's only money and you can't take it with you. My dad died way too young, as he was just on the verge of spending a year in France.  He never got to do that and it was the kick up the ass I needed, to inspire me to seize the day.

Watch this space.

If you would like Desire Empire posts to come straight to your inbox every ten days or so, you can sign up here for my Newsletter.

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Today I am linked up here
Wow Us Wednesday
With Some Grace
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