Monday, July 30, 2012

Beach Home Decor Bedrooms and Living Spaces

Lately I have been running a Beach Home Decor series revealing different aspects of the Beautiful Norma House in Palm Beach Sydney. Today we are talking living spaces and bedrooms.  The cottage is modest in proportions, but has been beautifully styled to reflect the Beach House luxe to which many aspire. 

The snug proportions of the cottage have not stopped the decorator going big in contrast.  This bold and beautiful fabric chandelier sits over the dining table surrounded by mirror panelled walls, which assist in magnifying the space.

A similar version of the chandelier has also been used in the foyer to the cottage, as you can see through the French doors. Along with some other gorgeous light fittings, such as this black fabric covered lamp shade, on a glass top and chrome side table, the light fittings in this cottage are lovely.

As we move around to the kitchen hub, which in any self respecting Australian Beach Cottage is now well and truly part of the living space, we see that the island bench is the feature here.  A gorgeous white stone bench top adorns her, complete with under bench sink.  I would have gone double here, but with space at a premium, and this cottage currently used for luxury holiday letting, one sink was deemed adequate. Obviously one does not come here to cook.

In addition to the gorgeous detailing on the cupboard doors, I am very partial to the pressed metal splash back.  Hopefully they are as easy to clean as they are on the eye.

The use of gallery walls in this cottage is extensive and carried out to great effect.  The photographs are very personal and extend back to family members who served in the First World War, to Australian Beach scenes of the 1950s, with the inclusion of many of Max Dupain's works.  They are beautifully framed in an eclectic mix of silver and black frames, which really appealed to my love of vintage and depict a beautiful photographic history of both the the family and the region.

The incorporation of the natural Sydney sandstone, which is extensive throughout the block, has been incorporated into the cottage beautifully.  Here it forms a back drop to the cellar, which is adorned with that great homage to the Widow Clicquot.  I love that so many of the famous champagne houses of France were successfully run by the widows' of their founders.  Girl power has been alive and well for centuries ladies and here it is to be celebrated in the walls of this gorgeous cellar, come second living space.

As for the bedrooms of the Norma House, they are again modest, but beautifully installed with stunning white linen, beautiful mirrored furniture and of course the classic bedroom chair. I believe every room should have a little corner for a woman to sit, to do up her heals and dab a little scent behind her ears, or anywhere else she expects to be kissed.

A strategically placed beach basket evokes all kinds of holiday thoughts

 A seat in the morning sun would set me up very nicely for the day ahead.

Although it would be very difficult to leave this luxury in the morning and make the short walk down hill to the beach, at least it would be incentive for the uphill climb for lunch and an afternoon snooze if I knew I could fall into one of these beautifully appointed beds.

 So there you have it ladies.  A final look at perhaps one of the prettiest beach cottages on Sydney's Northern Beaches.  The house appears to be under contract, which to my American friends means she is all but sold.  I just feel lucky that I was able to check her out before she did.  You will believe me when I say, I truly didn't want to leave.

If you would like to look at her outdoor spaces or gorgeous bathrooms, I encourage you to go here and here
Have a wonderful week!!!!!
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake

We've got a birthday coming up at the Beach House and I've  been looking back in the photo files at some of the birthday cakes I've made over the years.  Actually that pirate cake up there was made by my mum.  She also made a fabulous ocean liner in the pre digital photo age, but when she handed that mantle to me, things got a little less complicated.

I do ask the kids what they'd like, but these days I end up raiding their toy boxes for decorations rather than creating a master piece from scratch.  This Pirates of the Caribbean Cake was a hit with all the little boys at one of our regular sailing birthday parties. I once had 44 people to one of those.  I'm not that crazy these days.

This nautical shark cake you've seen before, but is another example of how easy it can be to throw together a much appreciated birthday cake.  A light house, licorice cut out in the shape of shark fins and some very wonky writing, is enough to make the birthday boys swoon in this house.

Smiles all round as you can see.

This one I made for an end of season soccer party and the team were falling all over themselves to get a piece of this one. I bought the decorations from a local patisserie and the pitch is made with a little green food colouring rubbed into desicated coconut.

This is what I came up with, when the request was for an army cake and again our little seven year old guests were uber impressed.

They took off with the soldiers and had their own version of WW2 right then and there, no doubt inspired by the sugar content of the cake.

Now I am moving into the girl phase.  I haven't had any real pressure from that quarter yet, as my littlest Beach house Brat is only just getting to the idea what birthdays are all about.  As you can see here, this Club Penguin birthday cake was as simple as plonking the characters on a home made cake and I can tell you no one was complaining.

The frosting on this one is interesting.  I try never to use red food colouring, but of course it had to be pink, so I whizzed up some strawberries in cream cheese with a little icing sugar to great effect.

Some simple store bought flowers can also look very pretty

This one was a little damaged in transit, but as Mr Beach House and the big Beach House Brat share the same birthday, I had a baker friend copy their photo onto some edible icing for this birthday cake.

You've seen this baby, but I am so proud of her and if you are celebrating the London Olympics in anyway or making a cake for a Brit, this one would be a hit. I show you how to decorate her here

And if all else fails, buy a cake and dress it with cream and berries, easy and this one didn't last long.

So there you have it ladies, no need to stress out over the next birthday cake.  If you have posted about kids birthday cakes, I'd love you to link them up in the comments section.  Have a great weekend
and if you want to do some grown up baking this weekend, check out my Too Easy baking ideas here
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Malaysian Schezuan Eggplant, A Beautifully Easy Side Dish

Malaysian Schezuan Eggplant

Well ladies we are at the back end of the cook book shoot, now test cooking other people's recipes to make sure they work.  Let me tell you, this baby works.....It is simply superb.  I am always looking for new ways with eggplant, as it is perhaps my favourite vegetable and this one comes from the Malaya Restaurant in Sydney.  Lets just say, I would be happy to order it any day.  Yum!!!!!  Don't let the fact that it is a professional's recipe put you off, as it's pretty easy to make.  Of course I have amended it slightly to match what I had in the pantry, but it still works beautifully

Malaysian Schezuan Eggplant

2 large eggplants cut into 4cm cubes
2-3 cups of peanut oil for deep frying 
Plus 1 tablespoon of oil
1/4 cup plain flour
2 cloves garlic chopped
2cm/ 1/2 inch ginger grated
2 spring (green) onions cut diagonally into 3cm lengths
1 long red chilli deseeded and finely diced
1/2 cup of raw cashew nuts
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon caster ( fine) sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Fill a large pan with 2-3 cups of oil and heat until very hot.

Place eggplant in the clean plastic bag with the flour and shake to coat. 

Tap off excess flour from eggplant and deep fry in oil until golden brown.

Set aside on paper towels 

Meanwhile heat another pan over a high heat and briefly roast cashews ( about 1 minute) set aside.

In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and stir fry garlic, ginger, spring onions and chilli until fragrant (1-2 mins)
 Add soy sauce, sugar and vinegar.

Add eggplant and cashews, toss to coat with sauce and heat through for 1 minute.

Serve as a side dish to meat or fish with rice.  And enjoy!!!!

Serves 4 

Ladies if you want to eat restaurant quality food in your own home, that is easy and full of goodness, this recipe is for you.  If you get out of your comfort zone a little, I promise you will be rewarded.

For more fabbo side dishes go here and here

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Beach House Decor, Decks

I visited Norma House in Palm Beach a week ago and today all her outdoor spaces and decks are on show.  The styling is simple but evocative.  This is complete Beach House living luxe.  I adore the cane furniture and the tarnished light fittings.  This is one home that would do me very nicely.  Have a look around and let me know what you think.

Lots of inspiration here.  Makes me want to get out there and tidy up.   Actually, I've been crying over French movies this afternoon.  Little White Lies, with subtitles, if you want to be moved.  It was about friendship and life on the beaches near Bordeaux.  Lovely!!!!!

Today I am linked up here
Coastal Charm
Wow Us Wednesday
52 Mantels
Transformation Thursday
Feathered Nest Friday
My Romantic Home
Foodie Friday
Weekend Wrap Up
Seasonal Sunday
Metamorphosis Monday
Take a Look Tuesday
White Wednesday
No Minimalist Here
Fine Craft Guild
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Atlantic Salmon Asian Style with a Slimmer's salad

I get lots of questions about how I have lost 15kg since September last year and the real answer is, eating this kind of food.  Lots of salmon and salad.  I kid you not, after eating this for dinner a few nights ago, my body tingled all over.  This meal is packed with so many great tasting nutrients I wanted to share it with you.

Baby Spinach, Roast Beetroot and Danish Feta Salad

1/2 a packet of baby spinach
1 peeled and cooked (roasted or boiled) beetroot diced into 2cm squares
1/2 an avocado diced into 2cm squares
Good handful of Danish feta crumbled
Handful of raw macadamia nuts
1/2 Spanish onion diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (Bertolli is my sponsor and I recommend it)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Combine salad vegetables and nuts in a bowl.
To make vinegarette  combine oil and vinegar in a jug with Dijon mustard and whisk until combined.
After dressing the salad, sprinkle with crumbled Danish feta.

I usually make a bottle of vinegarette at a time, as we eat lots of salad and it's very convenient.  To do this fill 2/3 of a salad bottle with extra virgin olive oil and the remaining 1/3 with white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard.  Shake to emulsify.

Asian Style Atlantic Salmon
2 Atlantic Salmon cutlets
1 brown onion
1 clove garlic
2cm (1/2 inch ) cube ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
juice of one lemon
Bertolli oil for spaying
1 teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice powder for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180C to 350F

Place all ingredients except the fish and Chinese 5 Spice Powder in your food processor of choice and whiz to a paste.  I do this with my stick blender in a tall jug.  Pour a small amount of the paste on a small  oiled baking tray.  Arrange fish on the paste.  Pour the remaining paste over the fish.  Sprinkle the Chinese 5 Spice Powder over the fish as shown.
Bake the fish on the top shelf of your oven for 17 to 20 minutes.
Serves 2
Source: Adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe

This dish tastes amazing and I guarantee it will become one of your staples

Check out my other easy recipes here
To check out my other weight loss tips for losing weight realistically go here
Today I am linked up here
Seasonal Sundays
Sunday Showcase
Coastal Charm
Wow Us Wednesday
52 Mantels
Transformation Thursday
Feathered Nest Friday
My Romantic Home
Foodie Friday
Weekend Wrap Up Party
Fine Craft Guild
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Beach House Decor, A Vintage Mantel

I've been doing a little vintage hunting lately.  Gee whiz it soothes the soul.  I don't think you can beat the patina of  some roughed up pieces to add  real character to your decorating.  This rose bowl was a black mess when I laid eyes on it.  A little bit of polish and look at her now.  I am constantly at a loss as to why people trade up from this kind of stuff, to the  mass produced fashion of the day.  Fashion is one thing, but style is another all together. Frankly I would prefer the 'lovingly produced' of yesteryear in my Beach House.

The rose bowl sits beautifully amongst my other treasures.  These pieces have a story.  I won't kid you dear reader, if it hasn't come out of my family vault, I have no idea what it is, but it has to be better than.  "Hello my name is generically produced objet d'art and I have just come from a production line in China.  I smell a bit of chemicals, but you'll get used to it"

The only thing this beautiful  brass and cedar fishing reel smells of is the salty sea.  I love it all over back and front.

The little latch still works and Mr Beach House is talking about taking my new friend on his next fishing trip.  That will not be happening ladies!!!!

I do make an exception for mass produced, when it comes to IKEA though.  How could I not, this little enamel pitcher another garage sale find, looks like it was made 100 years ago in a French factory.  I question why it was an entrant in the garage sale anyway, but there you go!!!!!!  I couldn't go past this baby for $2 now could I.

So what do you think ladies?  Are you a vintage or a modern kinda girl?

All those years of being dragged around to antique stores as a kid, has rubbed off on me, placing me squarely in the vintage camp.  Now, I am so nostalgic for it and love to be surrounded by these little pieces of history.

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