Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tropical Linen Palm Tree Cushion Giveaway

Hello Beach Dwellers

Today I have a beautiful tropical giveaway on offer for you, my lovely readers, sponsored by  Sam over at Plumeria Coastal Home.  
Sam searches the world to bring you wonderful bespoke statement pieces to add coastal style to your home. 

What is on offer today, is this lovely tropical palm tree linen cushion, valued at $69 (international entrants, outside Australia, will  receive the cushion cover only, due to high postage costs).  It would make a fabulous addition to a Christmas stocking, or why not keep it for yourself.  I know I would.

To enter you need to do 2 things:
1. Validate your entry, by following me on one or more of the following platforms:
Google Friends Connect (over in my side bar)
Instagram @desireempire
Leave a comment to that effect.  Each extra follow requires an extra comment, to increase your chance to win. If you don't have a blogger account, that's fine, just comment as anonymous that you have followed somehow and leave an email address, so I can contact you should you win.

2. Head over to Plumeria Coastal Home and let me know in your comment, which item from Sam's lovely store you would love for your home.

Terms and Conditions
This competition is open internationally, However international entrants who are not resident in Australia, will only receive the cushion cover, due to high postage costs.
This competition is open from now until 6 November 2012 12pm Australian EST.
The winner will be announced on this blog, Face Book and Twitter and I will contact you, as long as you have left a valid means.  You have 5 days to respond, otherwise the prize will be redrawn.

The winner is Jenny B, please contact me within 5 days.

Good luck gorgeous ones.
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Monday, October 29, 2012

The Best Pick Up Line Ever and a New Party Dress

Being 40 something  certainly has it's advantages.  One that comes to mind, is developing that certain confidence and savoir faire, which is the by product of many years of experience mixing with people.  However, being that age also gains one entry into the regions of mid life crisis territory, and I truly believe I might be having one.

Evidenced in recent days, by the purchase of this vintage Hawaiian dress.  My lovely friend Lisa has started a vintage clothing business and we have been having loads of fun trying on all the stock.  She refers to me as her fun loving size 14 house model.  She is about as lean as Catherine Middleton and needs a more curvaceous body to see how the stuff looks on, well, women with more curvaceous bodies like mine.  At first she tried this number on and I was instantly smitten.  Never in my wildest dreams thinking it would fit me.  She encouraged me to slip it on and it blew me away, because it fit like a glove. You've got to love those stretchy synthetic fabrics circa the 1970's. Suffice to say, I was her first ever customer.  Which is ironic seeing as we intend to team up and take a market stall together.  Her selling her vintage clothes and me, my vintage homewares. 

You'd be forgiven for thinking this is mutton dressed as lamb though.  It's  the best shot the 4 year old could manage to take of me, (Mr Beach House is of course, out on the water today, when I need him) but you get the idea and I for one need a bit more of this and a little less of the constant putting out for everyone else in my life, whilst all my dreams and aspirations are relegated to the back burner.

Which brings me to a great pick up line I heard the other day.  It's way too late for me and believe me, I've been spun a few over the years, so I know a good one when I hear it.  It made me giggle and wish for a moment I was 25 again.  It went something like this:
Boy to Girl:  "That's a beautiful dress you are wearing and it would look great on my bedroom floor"

I think if some gorgeous young thing had said that to me on the dance floor all those years ago, I would have had to think twice.  So now I just need to convince Mr Beach House to take me out in this dress and whisper something like that in my ear.

Yeah right......... cue skidding noise and a 'lifting needle off a record' visual.  Day dream over and it's back to the real world for me.

Have a great week guys.
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Friday, October 26, 2012

Tuna, Avocado, Danish Feta and Lemon Infused Olive Oil Pasta

Hello Desirables

This pasta is known as Favourite Pasta here at the Beach House.  Who knew tuna, avocado and Danish feta could raise such joy and happiness in two under 10s as it does. 

Now just going on my stats.  Yes I confess I look at them lots.  Everyone says not to, but they are so intriguing.   So just looking at them, I know you guys don't respond as well to recipes, as you do to pretty pictures of houses, my better craft projects or when I rabbit on about some of the funny cr*p that is disguised as marriage and motherhood here at the Beach House.  But I had to share this recipe with you.  I invented this one, when I was sitting on the couch, not long after child birth, thanking God that I hadn't popped my first out any earlier than 36 and thankful in the knowledge that I had at least had a life, because boy was it over now.  I don't think I got off that couch for the first 5 months of said baby's life, so I did a lot of thinking back then, about what I had done and of course food.

I'm funny like that, no matter what my circumstances, I demand to eat well.  Even when I lived that fabulously swinging single life, which I was now reminiscing about sitting on the horrible grey leather couch, which Mr Beach House had purchased second hand, well before my watch,  I used to eat well.  I lived alone, but would still cook a very decent meal each night if I was at home and take the left overs to work the next day for lunch. 

Sitting on that couch exhausted,  with that new baby, I needed energy, I needed something that was delicious and I needed it quick.  So this is what I came up with.  I have two not so secret ingredients in there, which I add to most salads and pasta dishes and they really are worth the investment.  Guests to my table, comment often about these two things and I believe they are the secret of my culinary successes.

They are lemon infused olive oil (top shelf in the oil section of the supermarket).  I love the Cobram Estate brand and they didn't pay me to say that.  The other ingredient is Danish feta.  It's creamy and salty and dang delicious.  It is a poor man's version of goats cheese I think.  The Mayers Brand is available at Harris Farm and Woolworths and they didn't pay me to say that either.

Tuna & Avocado Pasta with Danish Feta and Lemon Infused Olive Oil
The following amounts serve 2 children. For 2 adults double the quantities and add chopped parsley to garnish

4 handfuls of fusilli or penne pasta
1/2 avocado cubed
1 small can (95g) of Sirena Italian style tuna (not paid to say that either)
A handful of crumbled Danish feta cheese
Generous drizzle of Cobram Estate Lemon infused olive oil.

Bring salted water to the boil and cook pasta to taste.
Meanwhile divide the remaining ingredients, except the oil between two pasta bowls.
Drain cooked pasta and divide evenly between two bowls.
Drizzle generously with lemon infused olive oil  and mix gently.
Garnish with parsley if serving to adults.

If we are on a self catering holiday, this is always on the menu.  I also ran it by the chilrens' feeding clinic at Westmead hospital when the littlest Beach House Brat was a patient there and they said this was a very healthy meal, as it had shades of the Mediterranean diet about it.
For other easy week night wonders to keep your family well fed go here.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Shopping at Avalon Beach 2107

Hello Ladies
Fancy a little shopping expedition?  Well come on down to beach homewares central. A few of the girls over @ instagram have been asking for some inside knowledge on Northern Beaches Shopping. So I thought I'd give you the low down on that paragon of relaxed coastal style, Avalon Beach.   We are starting with the newest addition to the high street (actually known as Old Barrenjoey Road) and I love this concept.  It only opened last Saturday and is called FOC, a cheeky cute name, but it's not what you think.  It stands for Furniture on Consignment.  You drop your goods off, they sell them...... you get 60% and they get 40%.  There's some lovely vintage, it's beachy and very colourful. It's open Wed to Sunday and they kindly let me in on a Tuesday to take a few shots to show you.

Next up is an old favourite, Rust.  Liz and Michael have moved premises to Avalon Parade,which only reopened on Monday.  But it's still all the gorgeous vintage suspects, plus the addition of a plant nursery and some lovely fashions.  There's more room, so lots of new pieces in the range and it's totally worth a look.

Loved this lovely fountain in the covered court yard.

Now this is Beachwood and it is amazing.  The price tags are to match, but you will find your statement piece here for sure.  The stuff is drool worthy and they seem to have lots of stock, ready for the pre Christmas shopping season.

There are a few more new kids on the block and they are all domiciled in one funky arcade on Avalon Parade behind Andrew Blake Real Estate.  This one is Tiny Bird and it's full of gorgeous bespoke pieces that you may not find anywhere else.

Tiny Bird's neighbour is none other than Louise from Table Tonic.  She has some fantastic vintage framed scarves.  Doesn't she Emma?  The lovely Emma from Two Little Pirates and I were having coffee, when we spotted her birthday present, a beautiful blue and white vintage framed scarf from Bermuda.  You can see that here.

Mark Tuckey also has a little bolt hole in this arcade, which is about the coolest location in Avalon right now.  This store is in addition to his signature retail outlet in Newport, which you will pass on the drive down to Av.

Frank's cafe is also here and it doubles as a wine and tapas bar on most nights at the end of the week.  They do great coffee as well.

As for fashion, my two picks are Ginger and Smart for it's gorgeous colourful range of beautifully feminine clothing.

And for casual beach chic, I like Costume.

My other pick for food, if you need to rest and mull over your purchases, is the Chelsea Tea House.  They have a gorgeous sunny forecourt and the food and coffee are really good.  They also do dinner on weekends.

If you feel like a picnic, you can stock up on baked goods at La Bannette, a lovely French bakery on Avalon Parade.

And if you take a stroll to the top of that grassy knoll right there, you will be right on the edge of Australia, looking out to the Pacific Ocean.

She's a pretty little spot and a great place for a day trip of bespoke shopping and eating, just an hour from central Sydney.  Oh and don't forget to bring your cozzie.

This post is bought to you in its entirety by Desire Empire.  I hope to see you down here soon.
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Coastal Decor, A Coir Twine Beach Lantern

Top of the morning to you Beach Dwellers. 

Ready for some coastal craft, Beach House style? Well you have come to the right place.  It's a little skew whiff, but I have to say, I kinda like it.   You may know how much I love to make beach lanterns. I love nothing more than to dot them around the deck on a hot Summer night glowing away, as we sit around in the balmy evening enjoying each others' company and sipping on something cool.   The more the merrier. I like it that the candles don't blow out in the sea breeze, which often whips up in the early evenings around these parts.  And am always up for new ways to make my lanterns look vintage and beachy.   I've stuck doilies and shells to them in the past and now I am tying coir twine around them.  This is basically macramé 101. I discovered the ease with which it comes together recently, when we used it to make aboriginal dilly bags at school with the kids.  I used to front up to class most Mondays last term, to help 28 kids tie string to sticks and make these cute little bags, which were big enough to carry a sweet potato.  I don't know that the aborigines ever had sweet potatoes  in them in their original state, but anyway I found the tying of string very therapeutic.  I was toying with the idea of going big on a dilly bag to make a beach bag, but decided to start small and see how this turned out first.

I think I could now go a beach bag, but would need loads more coir twine.  My first attempt at this was a complete cock up, as I cut my twine too short.  Thankfully the girls over at instagram came up with some great tips to make it work.  Thanks you to Rachel at  Hip Brown Things, who said to make the twine length 3 times the length of the jar.  I made it even bigger at 110cm.

So once you have six lengths, Double them over in half and place the loop at the back of the string collar you intend to tie around the top of the jar. Space them about 2cm/1 inch apart evenly around the jar (I used the biggest vegemite jar)

Put the ends through the loop and pull tight

Once you have your six lengths in place, tightly tie the collar around the top of the jar and grab 2 separate lengths as shown above and make a double knot.  Moving around your jar, repeat this pattern until you reach the bottom of the jar, using a similar tension for each knot, so it is as even as possible.

Pull the twine down tight as it tends to ride up.  Turn your jar over. Take some similar coloured cotton and a needle and hitch up all the knots around the bottom, in a circular motion.  Tie it off tightly around the bottom of the jar.  The knots at the bottom should pull under the jar making it sit level when it is upright. 

I then got out my sand stash and poured a little into the jar

Popped a tea light onto the sand

and there you have a rustic little beach votive, several of which would look fabulous down the centre of a beachy table, or on its own styled up with some other coastal characters.

So there you have it another little bit of coastal craft to add a pop of beach to your home.  If you would like to check out my other coastal craft and styling ideas, go here.

Have a fabulous week
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Friday, October 19, 2012

Beach House Decor : A Lamp Shade Make Over in Blue and White

Hello Beach Dwellers
I have to tell you that for several reasons this Beach House decor project scared me a lot. But actually, once I felt the fear and did it anyway, I can't tell you how happy it made me.  I was so buoyed by it, I gave my kids what they wanted for dinner, danced around the house to their squeals of joy, inspired by my good mood and was even kind to Mr Beach House, which is not always on the menu round here.  I was worried about the solvents in the glue melting the rice paper of the original shade covering, of cutting straight and mucking up some of the prettiest fabric I have seen in ages, but it got to the stage where I needed content for the blog after mucking up another project, which you will know about if you follow in instagram and I just had to jump in.

I intend to make two of these to sit at either end of the sofa in the media room, but wanted to see if I could put this together before I spent money on a matching lamp shade.  This lamp shade was surplus to issue, after installing what I am calling my Moroccan chandelier over the dining room table.  I had the lamp stands from Laura Ashley, when this kind of thing was all the go in the 1990's.  I've been that close to chucking them that many times, but actually I think the darker wood fits nicely with blue and white fabric.

It was so easy in the end and I am so proud of how it turned out.  If you don't look too closely, you'd think I paid top dollar in a designer store.

So here's what you will need for this project.  I only ended up using the adhesive spray.  I thought I'd need the PVA for the join, but didn't bother, as the spray worked perfectly well without any mess.

So I bought a metre of fabric and folded it over, ironing the seam to ensure I cut it straight.

I also ironed the end seem so I would get a nice finish at the back of the shade.  I measured it in three places across the seam, to ensure I ironed a straight line. My seam was 3cm/1inch.

I cut the overhang where the wire stays were, so it was easy to stick it down on the inside.  I did this on the other side too even though there were no stays, as it just made it easier to manoeuvre the fabric into place inside the lamp shade.  Before you start with the glue make sure you decide which way is up with your lamp shade and which way up you want your fabric to sit.

It's important to get the right tension on the fabric so it doesn't buckle and look bumpy.  The glue was pretty forgiving and stays tacky for a while so I pulled it off once, to ensure all areas were smooth.  That bit worked remarkably easily.

You will also need to trim up your overlapping hem to about 1 inch or less.  My overlapping bits were longer as you can see and when I turn the light on, you can see where the hem is.  That doesn't bother me so I left it, but I did wonder what it was when I first turned the switch.  This may not happen on thicker lampshades, but because mine was made of rice paper, it left a distinct line with the globe shinning behind it.

Once she was done, I styled it up with a faux pineapple and some lovely thrifted Hardy's silver.  I mean how can people throw this stuff out I wonder.  I added some coral for a little coastal pop.

Along with  $5 thrifted bamboo mirror, we have a coastal Hamptons, tropical, coastal thingy in motion and I for one love it and can't wait to complete the lampshade for the other end of the room.  It's not perfect, but it cost me very little and has certainly lifted the room in a big way and that's what we are all about here on this little blog people.  Looking good on a budget.  I've lived by that rule all my life and today it's working for me.

Have a beaut weekend 

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

10 Tips to Save Money on Gifts at Christmas Time

If you are anything like me you are already beginning to dread the holiday season.  I do generally love it, don't get me wrong, but it is also a lot of work for mothers. And from today it's only 68 days to the big one.

I get no help whatsoever from Mr Beach House apart from his lawn mowing abilities, he just turns up on the day.  You can just make out his lawn mowing skills here.  I do the garden and basically everything else........  Just to elaborate a little here, there was the one year, not so long ago, where I had a 5 month old and was dog tired.  The night feeds had really taken their toll and I could stay up no longer.  Santa never arrives until we are well into bed, so I gathered the presents from their hidey holes and put them on the front deck under a towel, so if the Big Beach House Brat  got out of bed, Santa would not have yet arrived.

 I asked Mr Beach House to bring in Santa's presents before he went to bed and lay them around the fire place, trusting that this was one task he could manage.  The next morning the Beach House Brat, who was then just 6, ran into our room crying that Santa had not been. I will never forget the look on his face. I think he believed all those threats, that Santa only visits good children, had come true and he was devastated   Yes that's right, Mr Beach House had left Santa's presents on the front veranda under the towel.  So as you can see,  I can ask and trust that he will rise to the occasion, but it just doesn't happen.  I've had to accept that over the years.  I had to think fast and made up something about grandma having disturbed him when she got up in the middle of the night, so Santa had to leave the presents outside.  Phew!!!!  Luckily, the year I took this photo, there were no such interruptions and he came down the chimney, which is so much easier on everyones' nerves.

So as I do it all pretty much on my own, anything that can ease the load is great.  And along with all the work involved, I am also conscious of the budget. So here are 10 ways to source your gifts without blowing the bank balance.  I guarantee you these are all things I have done in the past and believe me, people have been known to rave about the gifts I give:

1. Garage sales are great for toys, plants and vintage.  Kids don't care if they don't come with packaging or instructions. Ditto for ebay, Gumtree and all the other online auction sites.

2. Op shops.  Mr Beach House's cousin still raves about the oddly shaped Italian made $8 white salad bowl I gave her for her 40th.

3. Kris Kringle: Oh how I wish my immediate family of 20 ( all Mr Beach House's, apart from my mum and kids) would adopt this policy.  You buy one gift, that someone really wants because you ask them about it, for $50 to $100.

4. Markets - I once bought my 4 teenage nieces a beautiful beaded bracelet for $5 each

5. IKEA and K Mart.  My sister in law got a cushion and a salad bowl from me last year.  Total cost $7.50.  She told me she thought I had been too generous.  If only she knew and if she is reading this, she now does.

6. Keep back presents from kid's birthday parties and regift them at Christmas time.  This one is great for younger kids. They get so much stuff, so spread it out a bit.

7.  Regift- when I get something I don't want, which is often, it goes in my gift cupboard and is given again.  Just because I don't want it, doesn't mean others don't.  

8. Make something.  I've made beach votives, chalk boards or baked gifts which people have absolutely loved.

9. Potted herbs are a great and much appreciated gift.  Pot them up in a vintage colander or teapot and they look fantastic on a kitchen bench. See how to make that here.

10 Have a look at the $2 shop.  They are getting pretty sophisticated these days and have some very reasonably priced toys and giftware.

And a bonus tip as always.

11. Agree not to give a gift to each other this year.  I do this with my friends and the sense of relief can be liberating.  This sounds a little sad, but I have to say I am over getting stuff I don't want, made  from limited resources, because my friends and I are on this guilt tread mill. Invite them around for morning tea instead.  Give them your time, the best gift of all.

So what are your tips for saving money on gifts this Christmas?  I'd love you to leave me a comment and let me know.

I've put a button up in my side bar with Easy Christmas Ideas .  It's a page with all sorts of easy projects for Christmas.  I'll be adding to it over the next 68 days, so be sure to check back and see what's new.

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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