BE MY VALENTINE

What thoughts does Valentines Day conjure up for you? It seems to be quite a polerising day. Some just love it, a chance to spoil and be spoiled. Others see it as nothing more than a commercial ploy to make us buy more. Me? I simply think it’s the perfect day for me to buy something to treat myself and then explain my shopping to my husband in a way that makes him think I’m doing him a massive favour, spearing him from having to rack his brain about what to get me. Surely a win-win yes?

Here’s what I’m thinking of getting on behalf of my beloved…
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Starting bottom left:
All You Need Is Love print from Paperplane: I LOVE this print, instantly it makes me hum the Beatles classic hit (oh and think of that amazing scene from Love Actually!), the gold foil adds some glamour, you could either frame it in a plain black or white frame, or even use simple black washi tape.

Lindi Kingi Bracelets: I can’t get enough of Lindi Kingi’s designs, and this triple cream Howlite and gold bracelet is the perfect arm candy.

Lonely Lingerie: For you girls who don’t know, this is the beautiful lingerie line by the talented designers of Lonely Hearts. My pick is the Bonnie underwire bra and brief set, so damn pretty.

Adore from Collected: Adore is a beautiful hard-cover book filled with colourful interiors that would look gorgeous on any coffee table (and yes that’s important, I’m totally judging a book by its cover).

Fine Rings from Kirstin Ash: The best fine rings in the biz, there are so many gorgeous designs in her range, she has also recently bought out some knuckle rings that are on my wish list.

Lucky me, he totally nailed it this year don’t you think!

THE FIVE BEST INTERIOR PLANTS (& HOW NOT TO KILL THEM)

I’ve had a checkered past when it comes to plants. My mother can attest to having to rip out my entire vege patch and replant it more than once due to my inability to keep anything green alive. However I do have a strong love for interior plants, you may have noticed that in every room of my house, there are at least a couple. They are the perfect cost effective way to add colour and soul to a space, well not so cost effective if you have to replace them as regularly as me. I’ve managed to kill some from forgetting to water them, to others dying from being over watered – I didn’t even know that was possible?!
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In an attempt to improve my green thumb game, I’ve done a little research, hopefully this new found knowledge will ensure my plants live a long and happy life. Here’s my five favourites and a couple of pointers on how not to kill them…

cactus real finalCactus & Succulent
I love the huge variety of shape, colour and texture available in cacti and succulents. Another massive bonus (and vital given my past) is how super low maintenance they are! More so than you may imagine, you only need to water them every couple of weeks in spring and summer. Wet the top of the soil thoroughly, but be sure not to drown the plant and use room temperature water so the roots don’t get shocked. During the colder months you can water them even less, and let the soil dry out between watering. Keep in bright, but not direct sun light.

snake plant finalSnake Plant
Otherwise known as Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, Snake Plants are a succulent plant, which means the leaves retain lots of water. Snake plants will thrive in a sunny spot and need to be watered each couple of weeks in summer and less in winter. Wet the top of the soil thoroughly, but be careful not to over water as the roots could rot. Snake Plants height and narrowness mean they work well styled in most places around your home without taking up too much room.

fig leaf final Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree
I love these trees! They are just stunning, it’s definitely the next on my list to get. Fiddle Leaf Figs prefer bright light, but not being directly in sunlight as it can burn its leaves. Due to its beautiful large leaves, it tends to gather dust so make sure it’s wiped off so it can ‘breath’. You need to water it when the top inch of the soil becomes dry, the easiest way to check this is to put your finger in the soil, you will soon know how often to water it within your homes unique environment.

areca palm finalAreca Palm
These beautiful palms are perfect when you want your home to have a coastal vibe. Areca palms do best with bright light and last longer with some direct sunlight. Like many palms, they are sensitive to overwatering, so let the soil dry out slightly between waterings.

philodendron finalPhilodendron
Hanging plants are the new black, they seem to be in every interior magazine. One of my favourites is the philodendron. Conveniently it is also very low maintenance, so it suits me perfectly. Philodendrons enjoy bright, indirect light the most and you only need to water it when the top inch of soil becomes dry.

string of pearls finalString of Pearls
So I know I said that I’d give you my top five indoor plants, but hey everyone loves something for free right!? And how cool is this plant, I love how unique and delicate the String of Pearl is. It looks perfect on a shelf so the pearls can cascade down, I have one in my kitchen and it’s a wee stunner. They like bright light, even sunlight and need watering every couple of weeks in summer and once a month in winter. Like other succulents, String of Pearl can get root rot if you overwater, so be careful.

Top Tips for Plant Care
1. Repot the plant after you buy it. Ideally pots should have drainage holes, but many these days don’t, meaning you have to be extra careful with watering levels.
2. Get schooled up on what level of light and water your plant likes best. Try creating an alert on your phone for watering times if you find it hard to remember.
3. Mix a small amount of fertiliser with water for watering over summer months.
4. Repot the plant if / when it gets too big for its current abode.
5. Play your plants late 90’s hip hop, they love it.

With the huge increase in popularity of indoor plants, naturally plant pots and holders are also popping up everywhere. Here’s a round up of my favourites from design stores Flux Boutiqe, Paperplane Store and Collected, but don’t forget to check the likes of The Warehouse and Kmart for even more budget friendly buys.
fluxmontagecollected montagepaperplanestoremontage
The Design Twins are an Australian based brand I’m kind of obsessed with, it’s been a long distance, one sided affair thus far, but that’s all about to change, I’m super excited as of March they will be available from their first New Zealand stockist, Republic in Auckland.
design twins montage

You could always try your hand at a little DIY, terracotta pots are only a few dollars from Mitre 10 and Bunnings, using painters tape and some test pots in your favourite shades you could turn them into your own stunning designer pots! Here’s a couple I did for my kitchen. diy pots final

KHAKI: THE NEW NEUTRAL

My wardrobe is full of neutrals – black, white, grey and denim, but I’m thinking of making them make space for a new friend. Mr Khaki. So understated, yet stylish. I think he’ll fit right in with all my usual favs.

I’ve already got a pair of khaki skinny jeans, they were perfect last winter with ankle boots, striped tee and my leather jacket and this summer I’ve been wearing them cuffed with a loose tee and Havaianas. Next on my list is definitely a slouchy khaki jacket, the perfect trans-seasonal piece, and perhaps some boyfriend style khaki pants. To ensure you don’t end up looking more army cadet than cool, skip the camo and stick to plain khaki.

Here’s some inspiration on how to work khaki into you wardrobe…
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All images are from my fashion pinterest page.

FIVE THINGS EVERY ENTRANCE SHOULD HAVE

I absolutely love open plan living, the space our extension has given our living, dining and kitchen area, with four sets of large sliding doors wrapping around the space blurring the lines between indoors and out is fantastic, however there is one issue.

There is no front door. Not only do visitors get a little confused about where to go when they arrive (a future mission of mine to fix), but inside the space there is no clear ‘entrance’. Somewhere to drop your keys or check your lippy before you leave, somewhere that’s both practical and stylish. I’ve been looking forward to finally making our ‘entrance’, and I’m so pleased with how the space came together.

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Here’s my guide to the five things every entrance should have…

1. A Small Tray for keys, loose change – There are many beautiful small trays in most design stores, you can pick up something perfect for under $30. Mine is actually the bottom of a hurricane lamp, I loved the perforated design etched into the white metal.

2. Storage – I love cramming as much storage as possible in every room in the house. It is the only way to keep the clutter at bay. For us, I was finding several pairs of shoes waiting to be tripped over near the door each day, so these baskets from Freedom Furniture were the perfect way to hide them.

3. A Mirror – Allows you to have a final check you’re looking amazing (or at least have nothing in your teeth) before leaving the house. This Kmart Mirror was a steal at just $25!

4. Something Green – I like to add something living to every space, it adds colour and vibrancy. I’ve added a mix of succulents, Sansevieria trifasciata otherwise known as Mother-in-law’s Tongue and Pothos all varieties are very hardy (vital when I’m looking after them).

5. A Rug or Mat – this helps to define the space, especially important if it’s in a open plan or multi purpose space like ours. This is next on my list to purchase and I think a black and white striped mat is the way to go.shelves collage

Although in magazines I see homes with hooks for bags and coat racks styled with the colour matched, fashionable items look stunning in an entrance, in real life it’s more likely to be piled with not so fabulous coats, kids hats and old umbrellas – so I prefer to keep all that at the back entrance instead.

get the look entrance 2

INTERIOR DESIGN: INSPIRING CAFES

One of my very favourite things to do is while away time in a cafe. The best obviously have amazing coffee and mouthwatering food, but also without a doubt they have inspiring interiors. I have often wanted to replicate different aspects of a cafe’s design into my own home, from lighting to open shelving and tiled splash backs. Despite zero industry experience, my husband and I have spend way too much time day dreaming about opening our own cafe, solely so we could design the fit out (well ok having free flat whites for the rest of my life would also be ok). Here’s some of my favourite designs I’ve seen, what a dream it would be to travel around the world visiting them all!

One of my very favourites is Hally’s, a Californian inspired cafe in London. There’s so much I’d love in my own home from the white washed brick, to the floating wooden shelves and the dip dyed wooden chairs.
ahallys1hallys montage 1

Next is Portrait Haarlem in Amsterdamn, housed in renovated stables it’s a truly beautiful space. I love the use of layered neutral finishes and textures rather than bright colours.aPORTREIT-HAARLEM3haarlem montage

I’m not sure about the name of this Melbourne cafe- Barry’s, but I am sure I love the colour palette! If anyone knows where I can find some espresso cups like those I will owe you big time! They would look just perfect next to my new coffee machine.a ltvs-barrycafe-01a ltvs-barrycafe-13

What is it with random cafe names in Aussie? This one made me laugh, Hams and Bacon in Sydney has a gorgeous vine covered exterior and I love the yellow subway tiles!hams-and-bacon-1ham-and-bacon-2hamsandbacon 3

Here’s a few more bonus pics too good not to share…

Holy Belly Cafe in Paris, a combo of exposed brick and festoon lights will win every time. holybellycafe in paris

Restaurant Story in Helsinki, the 10 metre high ceiling is epic.restaurant story in helsinki

And finally on our worldwide cafe tour, Hueso in Mexico somehow makes bones beautiful, not an easy task.hueso mexico

MY STYLE: IN TEN MINUTES

I’ve been asked by lovely readers what my normal morning style routine is, I was going to call this post from bed to ‘not bad’ in ten minutes which is more accurate but it didn’t have the same ring to it!

I don’t enjoy copious amounts of uninterrupted time to style my hair just right, try on several fabulous outfits before settling on the perfect look and then primping my face with every primer, contour and highlighter on the market, what woman does?!. My morning reality looks a little closer to ten minutes of making myself look decent while my two year old draws over herself with my favourite lipstick. What I’ve discovered is with a little plan, it really is achievable to leave your house feeling fab in just minutes.

THE OUTFIT
Normally woman waste so much time just choosing something to wear, gazing into their wardrobe seeing nothing inspiring. If you followed my guide to how to give your wardrobe a makeover, you would have found that choosing an outfit each day is now easy, because all your favourite, go to pieces are laid out in an organised way. For me it’s more often than not denim, a tee and casual comfy shoes, in summer that means my trusty Havaiana’s.
aa tenminute styleHAIR & MAKEUP
Blow drying and waving with a GHD is my preferred method to style my hair, but usually I don’t have the time and it’s a case of checking if it looks passable down naturally and if not I chuck it up in a top knot.
10 min style 2My makeup routine is quick and easy. I know it would be quicker to skip makeup all together but to be honest I feel a lot more confident when I do wear it. I got introduced to MAC Cosmetics when I worked in fashion, all our events and photo shoots were done by MAC and I’ve been a loyal fan ever since. Each morning I add concealer under my eyes to combat my usual lack of sleep and cover any blemishes (it’s not right to get both wrinkles and pimples right!?). Next I fill in my eyebrows using MAC Eyebrow Pencil in AC3 and lashings of MAC Mineralize Multi Effect Mascara in Black. Lastly I add subtle blush Estee Lauder in Sensuous Rose and lip gloss finishes the look, my favourite is currently MAC Cremesheen Glass in Deelight, a beautiful natural shade. If I’m feeling a little fancy I add my favourite MAC eyeshadow Sweet Satisfaction, it’s a beautiful shimmery sand colour and really suits blue and green eyes, and then a great little trick to look more refreshed, a little MAC Shroom on the inner corner of my eye. Try it, it really makes your eyes pop. Keep your daily makeup routine in its own wee bag to eliminate the hassle of finding your favourite items. I then throw on my everyday jewellery that works with any outfit I own- Lindi Kingi bracelets and Kirstin Ash rings and finally a spray of my favourite Jo Malone fragrance, English Pear & Freesia.

Just like that ten minutes are up and I no longer feel the need to cringe if I run into someone I know at the supermarket looking like I just rolled out of bed.

10 min style 1 a

HOME DIY: BEDSIDE TABLE MAKEOVER

I have so many ideas of what furniture I would love to find and restore for our home. The problem is I really have no idea how to do it, so I’ve been procrastinating and have yet to do anything! So I’m starting small, I found this old wooden bedside table at a garage sale for just $3. I figure if I completely stuff up, it’s not too much of a loss. I am hoping it transforms into a gorgeous and unique bedside table for our wee daughter Ava.
cabinet you will need

THE BEFORE
CABINET BEFORE 2

THE PREP
The first task is to sand all the vanish off the cabinet, so I was left with a smooth even finish. Thank god for an electric sander! It was actually really fun to use. Using a hand sander to finish off all the little corners and edges wasn’t so fun. After you have finished sanding use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the majority of the dust, and then a final wipe with a cloth. Don’t skip doing this process thoroughly as the quality of your final product really depends on how good your preparation is.
cabinet after sanding

THE PROCESS
1. Primer
Paint the cabinet with the primer-sealer, let it dry completely, and then give the cabinet a light sand all over before repeating the process. I used Zinsser Bulls Eye 1.2.3, it dried in 30 minutes and I could recoat in one hour.
cabinet paint to use
cabinet sealer

2. Paint
Paint the cabinet with the semi-gloss water based enamel, just like with the primer I let it dry then gave it a light sand before giving the cabinet a second coat. I did notice that you could still see some brush strokes in the paint, this could have been improved by using a more expensive high quality paint brush. I’d definitely invest in better brushes next time.

3. Design
Ava’s got a huge obsession with bunny’s so I knew I wanted to somehow incorporate that. I really loved a bunny print I had seen on a pinterest image, and tried my best to replicate it onto the front of the cabinet door. To make it a little easier I first sketched the image on a piece of paper until I was happy with it, then cut it out and placed the template on the cabinet so I could trace around it lightly with a pencil and was left with a basic outline of the bunny, this made it a lot easier when painting it.cabinet bunny

I have a lot of left over paint test pots from other art projects in Ava’s room, so I played around with the colours I had until I was happy. This ensured the colours I painted the cabinet would blend well with her existing room. Paint test pots are inexpensive and can be bought from any Mitre 10 or Bunnings. I had initially wanted to create an aztec pattern but gave up thinking it would be too tricky, I instead chose to do different width stripes. Using painters tape to mark each stripe it was extremely easy, make sure you press well on the tape to ensure the paint doesn’t ‘bleed’ through under the tape.cabinet test pots
cabinet paint strip collage

THE RESULT
I am so happy with how it has ended up!! It looks so adorable in her room and the colours blend perfectly with her existing furniture.
cabinet complete frontcabinet after montagecabinet final in roomcabinet after in room frontcabinet after in room

BEFORE / AFTER
cabinet before after

BRINGING RETAIL TO LIFE

I’m loving a new concept in retail that is being seen around the globe, where entire houses and apartments are being created and then styled full of amazing finds with everything in the space from books and linen, to art and furniture for sale.

The Loft in Amsterdam is the brainchild of The Playing Circle. Let’s take a moment to just appreciate those windows. Wow.loft3loft5 I love the picture ledges, the stripped cushions, the parquet floors, the vintage leather armchairs…who am I kidding, I love everything in this space, I can’t fault it.loft4loft2This bedroom is almost to much to deal with, it’s so so stunning, the muted tones and mix of new and vintage furniture is inspiring.loft7

Closer to home one of my very favourite Australian blogs, The Design Files presents The Design Files Open House each year. This year they built an apartment within a huge warehouse space and filled it with a carefully curated collection of furniture and homewares, all available for sale.designfiles6designfiles1designfiles2designfiles5designfiles7designfiles8designfiles10

MY STYLE: LOVIN’ A LITTLE LACE

lovin a little laceThis summer high on my wish list has been white lace. And although I totally swoon at exquisite red carpet handmade lace looks , what I’m loving is something a lot more wearable, by mixing boho inspired lace trimmed pieces with more casual elements of leather, stripes and denim.
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I picked up this Wish Dress for just $50 on sale at Dfusion in Christchuch (worth checking out for their other lace pieces), and although my husband thought it was slightly ‘Little House on the Prairie’, I absolutely love it! By mixing it with black leather accessories it stops it from being more costume than cool.market1market3laceblog5

I’m now lusting after this lace trim blouse from Bohemian Traders (thanks to a reader who told me about this beautiful brand!).get the look, laceI’ve also found some other stunning and wearable lace pieces at Free People and The Iconic (all on sale!), enjoy! xx

FASHION 101: HOW TO SHOP A SALE

how to shop a sale header

The word SALE can send the most sane women into a confused, excitable, unable to make smart decisions mess. Too often you’ll end up with items that will never see the outside of your closet because they are too small, too out there, too not you, too so last year. Fear not, there is a way to beat the sale, you just need a plan, and I just so happen to have one for you.

1. DO YOUR RESEARCH

YOUR WARDROBE: After clearing out your closet (see guide here if you need) you should be able to see what items are missing. Do you have enough separates to mix and match with each other? Do you have the right shoes to complete your outfits? Are there any of your essential or basic wardrobe pieces that are getting a little worn and will likely need to be replaced soon? Make a list of those pieces.

FAVOURITE STORES & DESIGNERS: Now it’s time to make sure you sign up to your favourite stores and designers email newsletters and follow them on Facebook so you are first to know when a sale is starting. Look at these stores prior to sale season and find specific items that fit your most wanted list, remember to keep note of this.

2. CHOOSE YOUR METHOD

ONLINE STORES: I really don’t like the frenzy of a sale, I much prefer shopping from the comfort of my own home, with a glass of wine if I need to relax a little! Also by shopping online I have so many more options, there’s a smaller amount available in the physical stores where I live. If you also decide to do your sale shopping online, if possible make sure you know your size in most designers first, as obviously you won’t have the opportunity to try on clothes before purchasing.

PHYSICAL STORES: If you do decide to go into the store to shop, go soon after the store opens so it isn’t too busy and make sure you wear comfortable clothes that are easy to remove, slip on shoes and if possible wear a bag that goes across your chest so your hands are free. Yes this is serious business.

3. SALE DOS & DON’TS

DON’T settle for items that are close to your wish list but not quite – if you wouldn’t choose it full price, don’t now.

DON’T buy trend based items because they are ‘in’, you won’t have enough time to justify the cost before it’s ‘so last season’, remember the price per wear rule. Of course if you LOVE it and couldn’t care less if it’s a trend or not then get it.

DON’T be tempted to buy items that are a little too small or too big because of the discount, you won’t wear them. The exception to this is if you could alter it easily to fit. And for the love of your feet, don’t ever think you can fit into a size too small pair of shoes because they are just so stunning! I stupidly once bought gorgeous Marc Jacobs heels that were down from $900 to $400, I justified it as I was attending Australian Fashion Week and the shoes would be just perfect with everything I owned. The problem was they were a size too small and all the stretching in the world in the next week before I flew to Australia didn’t help. My feet were literally numb after the first day wearing them. Cost per wear = $400, ouch.

DON’T kid yourself. I’m sorry to break it to you, but the theory if you save 50% off a fabulous $400 dress, you are actually making $200 is not true. Money will still disappear from your bank account. And if that fabulous dress is a floor length evening gown, when you spend your days watching Peppa Pig and thinking up creative ways to hide vegetables in dinner, chances are you aren’t going to get a lot of wear out of it.

DO make sure you fully understand the returns policy, often you will find you can’t return sale items. However if you can, you may be more likely to buy those items you are a little unsure of, knowing you can return them if you decide they aren’t going to work.

DO google an item before you buy it. You could find it even cheaper at another store. I was so surprised when I googled a pair of $300+ Loeffler Randall sandals that I saw on Tash Sefton from epic blog They All Hate Us. I soon found a pair for just $65 from Amazon of all places, I didn’t even know they sold clothing or shoes?! You want to make sure you are getting the best deal before you finalise the purchase.

With this powerful new knowledge, you are now ready to go forth and shop, shop, shop…just keep calm and repeat – if it isn’t on the list, if it isn’t my size, if I don’t LOVE it, I WON’T buy it!