next stop is hanging on your wall

I was visiting a friend’s place over a year ago and the first thing I noticed about his home were the incredibly high ceilings, given its history as an old girls convent. Close to the front door was a long stretch of floor to ceiling wall and hanging on it was an old black and white bus scroll. It was just the right place for this artwork as there was enough room to go through all of the destinations whilst highlighing the height and openness of the place. I thought to myself, when had bus rolls become trendy and befitting for a wall in someone’s home? All I could come up with or come back to moreover was the old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

After picturing my friend breaking into a bus depot, hijacking a 190 Palm Beach-destination bus and cheekily pulling out the scroll, I enquired where he had got it from and learnt of the store Home Furniture On Consignment (HFOC). My friend explained that the store stocked and sold previously loved and second-hand quality furniture and these were available to purchase in-store (Sydney or Melbourne) or online at quite affordable prices. Hopping online I saw more bus scrolls, wingback chairs, ornate antique mirrors, butchers blocks, Persian rugs and a whole assortment of other collected goodies. I have yet to buy something from HFOC but love the concept that there is somewhere central to go in order to give a second-hand piece of furniture, more often than not a branded or collector’s item or someone else’s trash – a new home.

Not long after seeing the bus scroll hanging in my friend’s home, I came across an exhibition in the middle of Bondi Westfield by Print Dolls. Taking inspiration from the original bus and tram scrolls, these were instead printed on canvas and seemingly easier to hang up. I immediately loved the boldness of the typography and the sentiment and nostalgia they created from a list of bus or tram destinations. Never would I have believed as I sat on the 263 bus heading into the city that something so simple as a bus scroll could become a collectors item but who am I to question what people treasure?

leave Thailand and go down the Corridor

Newtown used to be a lunchtime haunt for me as I used to wander up King Street after morning classes at Sydney Uni. Back then lunch was more often at the Green Iguana and then time would pass and I would end up with cheap cocktails at Kuletos. Years later, the Green Iguana has been replaced by a Mexican restaurant, Kuletos still stands strong and Newtown has become Thailand without needing a passport to get there. On Thursday night, I must have walked past five restaurants in a row that were Thai, not counting the three opposite across the road and ones further down King Street. Not only is there restaurant after restaurant but also a large Javanese furniture shop where I am sure you could even buy a knick knack and give it to your mum as a souvenir of your recent travels. Outside of Thailand, Australia has been a massive support to the fragrant and colourful food that we have come to know as Thai and it’s my guess that most people would now know what Pad Thai is as much as they would know what Spag Bol is.

With no desire to go to Phuket last week for dinner, I instead found myself in Corridor – a new pocket rocket bar which has moved into Newtown. Off the back of a recommendation from Bridgie, Corridor turned out to be a two level, more on the tiny side wine bar that also served finger food and more substantial meals, if required. Far removed from the cheapness of Kuletos and sticky carpets of the Marlborough, Corridor was a welcome surprise and similar to a wine bar you might find in Melbourne’s laneways, Surry Hills or Darlinghurst. Wines were mid-range in price therefore leaving behind the student feel you come across in many other Newtown haunts and dinner was tasty with a mix of both pub-style food and tapas-style food available to order.

Corridor was a bit of a gladiator-sandal for me. Trendy, hip, begging to be seen yet comfortable. Go to Corridor with friends. Sit upstairs on the Terrace or what feels like your loungeroom with big armchairs and a busy street view. Leave your suitcase at home, drink and eat local. Jetstar will have cheap flights again next week.

Corridor @ 153A King Street Newtown, Sydney NSW 2042

no-Go #1

I would hate to be a Travel Agent. Sure, you would get good perks with discounted flights and accommodation but having to sell travel when the internet has become the best friend of most would be a hard-sell. However despite the advanced growth of the internet over the last five years, an element of risk still remains when you book online. Photos can make a bedroom look huge and taken at the correct angle and in the right light, can make a dark room seem bright. Some hotels now have video links and they are better but there will always be a percentage that is the unknown factor.

For my recent honeymoon, I completely booked its entirety solely online. The hire car was booked through vroomvroomvroom, flights done through QANTAS and all accommodation was thoroughly researched, compared and booked online through their specific websites. Sites like Trip Advisor help somewhat to guide your decision but ultimately biting the bullet is a solo activity.

no-Go # 1 is the Piermont Retreat, Tasman Hwy. Swansea TAS. 7190

With the route decided that my man and I would fly into Hobart, spend some time exploring the capital before heading up the East coast and Freycinet peninsular and finally inland and flying home out of Launceston, I searched for a “special” place for the mid component of the honeymoon. Piermont met the requirements for its highly rated restaurant which I noted we would need to eat at and I liked the sound of “ecologically sustainable luxury” as per the website description of the overall retreat which was situated steps away from the Freycinet coast. There were enough photos to match the descriptive language and they even had a “honeymoon spa” package. Booked and paid for. In the comments section on the online reservation I recall writing that the reason for our Tasmanian trip was due to our honeymoon and we look forward to the experience ahead at Piermont Retreat.

Service or more to the point; Customer Service is an important factor to me. Whether you are on a weekend-away, staying at a backpackers, in a 2-star or 5-star – customer service is an essential for me. On our honeymoon, my man and I were already on cloud 9 and any extras we received were icing on the cake.

Arriving into reception at Piermont Retreat, I was met by a man who I assumed was one of the owners. No hello, no welcome to Piermont, no “how’s your honeymoon been so far?”. I appreciate everyone has bad days but this first impression was gruff, rude and inappropriate. After a mini-dispute over how many nights were booked and paid for, despite by print-out in hand, I was given a set of keys, a site map for the retreat and sent on my less-than-merry way.

I have a good photographic memory and considering how much time I spent researching and comparing places to stay in Tasmania; the room I saw after I turned the key and opened the door was not the photo I remembered. Bare minimum was reality.

Changing our initial plans, we left Piermont Retreat after only the one night to leave behind the only disappointment on our honeymoon. Rude service or rather a lack of, coupled with not getting what we paid for or what was advertised online left my man and I with a bad taste in our mouths.

Thank god for Hotel Islington and Red Feather Inn to make up for it in the Tasmanian accommodation stakes as overall, our honeymoon is an amazing memory, not to be discoloured by one night.

My treasured constant, courtesy of Koukii

After my beautiful heartfelt proposal that I received from my man in Venice last August, I became conscious that not long after I was consistently looking at the hands (mainly the left) of women I passed. Some were friends, some were strangers I walked past on the street but I couldn’t help but notice and take in what they were wearing as a sign of marriage or engagement. Most of these women had a ring on their left hand (due to the historic Roman tradition that the vein in the third finger on the left hand leads directly to the heart) but then some also wore a ring on the right hand. Some were plain gold or silver bands, some were eternity style with diamonds or other gem stones going the whole way around the band and some were quite ornate with engraved inscriptions or symbols. Some women wore their engagement ring with the wedding band and others just wore the one ring. Ultimately this all contributed to the research I was undertaking in order to choose what I would wear and what would have the most significance with me.

The ring that my man chose and proposed with is a unique Jan Logan piece. A white gold princess cluster bordered by a pave setting best describes it however unlike a lot of other rings I have seen, the setting sits flush against my finger. At the time of purchase, Jan advised my man that for a wedding band the options were to cut into the engagement ring for a wedding band to sit alongside or for the wedding band to be worn alone. Both of these options did not sit well with me as post many hand observations; I concluded that I never wanted to take my engagement ring off however I also did not want to cut into it either so at that stage, the solution had not yet presented itself.

Enter Adina Jozsef also known as Koukii Designs.

As a bride to be last August; it was extremely easy to get caught up in the wedding whirlwind that is in itself a juggernaut of an industry. It only takes one bridal magazine to sweep you up and be bombarded with everything and anything to do with weddings and for most weddings, a checklist of tasks arises for you to tick off before the big day. There’s finding the venue, sourcing the dress, flowers, photographer, rings…the list can go on for lengths. I was incredibly blessed to be able to go to close friends for both my photos (Nat Swainston) and rings (Adina Jozsef). Both parts are extremely important to get right as after the day has breezed by the photos colour your memories and the rings are the constant following the vows.

Working with Adina on our wedding rings made finding the solution a memorable journey. Adina has been making jewelery since she was 8 years old and this passion has continued well past this young age. Her creations and designs are unique show-stoppers and her love for what she does is extremely evident. Each detail is executed with care and precision and with each piece, a little part of Adina is engraved and embedded inside. Adina not only did the wedding rings for my man and I, but also designed the gifts I gave to my bridesmaids and flower girls on the day.

My wedding rings are the only thing that I don’t leave home without. I might forget to wear my watch one day or leave my phone behind but my rings are a treasured constant in my life and a beautiful reminder of the commitment that my man and I made to each other on April 10.

Thank you Adina.

March macaron madness – a memory for now

If you just happen to be reading this in Paris, head to Place de la Madeleine and make a beeline for Laduree. Hmmm limone et chocolat. However, if in Sydney forget about Zumbo in Balmain as the best macarons are at Baroque; the new French bistro in The Rocks, Sydney. Here, don’t just salivate over salty caramel but buy a dozen and all your Christmases will have come in March.

the song list

Like Fred Astaire or the Tapdogs; one of our wishes for April 10 was to get people footloose and on their feet, shaking their tail feathers and ultimately, dancing like no one was watching. Music and copious amounts of it is around me daily whether it’s a tune I am humming to myself or a shower song I am belting out to reverberate off the tiles or if I am winding down after a day’s work singing along to Sophie Millman. And most people have a song they groove to where the electricity flows out of their feet and gets the blood pumping as the beat takes over. You might be swaying from side to side, moving your head in a ferocious manner or just jiggling your right knee. Know that feeling? Well, my song is the MJ classic Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough. A hint of the the sound of that intro gets me up in a heartbeat and dancing around like no one’s watching and I love it.

So to choose music for April 10 was more than just choosing an ad out of Bride to Be and ticking a box. A song list was chosen first and every song on it was one that had a memory attached to it in leaps and bounds. There was no limit and with pen to paper, the list kept growing and getting more colourful as it moved through the genres. Next a decision needed to be made between a live band or a DJ. Both presented pros and cons but despite my in depth search, I could not find a band who’s singer sounded as deep as Barry White, had the same melodic tones as Norah or the quick beat of Stevie.

To the DJ we chose, we added the element of spontaneity of a saxophonist who fired up the night with short sharp bursts in all of the right moments. And when the bouquet was being thrown backwards into the crowd, nothing could compete with Beyonce’s All the Single Ladies other than the fighting hands of Kate.

The final song list I look at now and I love the memories attached to each song both before and now after April 10.

  1. Sex bomb, Tom Jones
  2. Ain’t no mountain high enough, Sister Act soundtrack
  3. I wanna dance with Somebody, Whitney Houston
  4. Moondance, Van Morrison
  5. The Way you look tonight, Tony Bennett
  6. Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours Stevie Wonder
  7. Unchained Melody, The Righteous Brothers
  8. Midnight Train to Georgia, Renee Geyer
  9. The Nearness of You, Norah Jones
  10. The Way you make me feel, Michael Jackson
  11. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, Michael Jackson
  12. Come Fly with Me, Michael Buble
  13. My Baby just cares for me, Nina Simone
  14. Best of My Love, The Emotions
  15. Get up (I feel like being a) Sex Machine, James Brown
  16. Love X Love, George Benson
  17. I heard it through the grapevine, Creedence Clearwater Revival
  18. Chan Chan, Buena Vista Social Club
  19. Dancing In the Street, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas
  20. Can’t get enough of your love, babe Barry White
  21. Ain’t nothing like the real thing, Aretha Franklin

If this is on the menu it’s my first choice

I know some people can’t stand to do this. They would rather order something else or even ask someone to do it for them. If you spend too much time thinking about it then yes, it can be disgusting and overly fiddly but my love for them is too great and everything becomes a journey to reach a destination especially when it comes to eating. I’m talking about prawns, fresh ones and the art of peeling them, either by hand or if the flavours are so great and cooked Chinese-style with lots of garlic and shallots then, in my mouth. I think my man thought it was some sort of party trick at first! However, there is nothing I love more than to go to the Fish markets, lining up and buying a kilo of fresh tiger prawns and sitting outside with my sleeves rolled up to peel and eat every one there and then. Lemon, mayo or not, it was a love that Dad introduced me to when I was around 4 years old and I have never looked back. Last year for Christmas I made a huge tray of prawns which were skewered and to prepare for the BBQ were doused in fish sauce, ginger, garlic, fresh baby chillies, soy sauce, palm sugar, coriander and lime zest. I did have help this time to peel 5 kilos of prawns (from my niece – it’s obviously in our blood) but it was by memory, a relaxing afternoon and golly, the end product was magnificent.

Day 1 we arrived into Hobart late afternoon and were famished by 7pm when we waltzed into Flatheads after a recommendation from Hotel Islington. Located in South Hobart, 5 minutes drive from the hotel it is a spot we were told where locals like to frequent and our immediate sight was the fresh seafood that was presented in more of a fishmonger style than fine restaurant. But all the same the fish looked fresh, had ample colour and plumpness and there was a huge variety to choose from. Our menu informed us about the 15 or so types available to eat from the more common barra to a childlike character type called Snotty Trevally (aka Blue Warehou) to one that seemed more like a fundraiser called Pink Ling. Our waiter demonstrated a good knowledge of what was in season, how it was to be cooked and matched our order to a fabulous local wine from Bream Creek.

First up and the entrees presented themselves to be Abalone cooked in a mustard seed-star anise broth for my man and 6 fresh prawns for me with a garlic toastie and aioli. Not the slightest bit fazed, prawns were peeled in a flash and sweetness was instantly savoured. Mains were equally as delightful (my Bouillabaise was the perfect choice for a cold first night) and we left Flatheads with full and warm bellies.

And if there is Spaghetti Marinara on the menu; it’s my first choice. The best so far was from an Italian restaurant on Hastings Street, Noosa QLD. It came with fresh papardelle in a steaming hot paper bag. Once ripped open, the tomato aromas awash with the fresh fragrant seafood was heaven in a bowl.

Flatheads @ 4 Cascade Road, South Hobart 7004.

Still in Hobart…a pop-up discovery

In any new place I go to; I love to roam, purposefully get lost and discover new things. I love wandering down streets and happening across a store by chance. Homewares, make-up and perfume, general womens clothing and gift stores usually entice and beckon me in from the street. The discovery of Luxe on Liverpool Street in Hobart was a lovely by-chance moment. It was both a treasure trove of many brands that I know and already love like Aesop, Camilla and Marc, Fleur Wood and Trelise Cooper and a welcome introduction to a new array of brands like Mimosa and Muccia. Luxe is a store one could spend hours in and its stock speaks for itself as there is obviously a very good buyer who sources unique pieces both locally and on a global scale. Each piece could be a staple as much as a one-off investment but every piece is worth having in one’s possession and it took all of my will-power not to walk out with more than one purchase. I wandered around the corner to peruse in Inside which satisfied my thirst for homewares and then suddenly found myself in a back lane where I was initially walking towards an apothecary-type store advertising perfumes on a blackboard in their window. Instead my eyes diverted to the right and I was lured to the store opposite where there was a small decal on the window identifying it as Hope & Harris.

Through the glass window I immediately saw pillows adorned with bold union jack prints, dark brown oil bottles, wrought iron bird cages hanging from the ceiling, old black and white bus rolls and walls of coloured silk scarves. The air was awash with a lingering vanilla fragrance from a burning candle and as soon as I entered the store I knew it was one of those stores where I would be picking up every object to look at and instantly adore.

I asked the shopgirl if there were other stores around like this only to learn and be educated on the concept of a pop-up store. The lady I spoke to had traveled around the world and bought up stock that took her fancy only to come home and find a vacant space to set up shop for a limited time until all of the stock was gone. Another trip would then happen and a second store would pop up later in the year with more loves to sell in a different location around Hobart.

Walking out of Hope & Harris with a new silk scarf, the concept got my mind twitching as I felt inspired and in awe of this lady who had a dream with no regrets. My only hope is that I keep discovering this pop-up store as I look forward to getting lost in it again!

Luxe @ 134 Liverpool Street, Hobart 7000

Inside Home & Gifts @ 90 Murray Street, Hobart 7000

Hope & Harris currently on Bidencopes Lane, Hobart 7000

When in Hobart; go to Jackman & McRoss

In Tasmania for my honeymoon, the first stop has been Hobart; the quaint fisherman’s capital of the apple isle. Kathy, the welcoming host at Hotel Islington (more on this later) advised my man and I to go and drive around and get acquainted with Battery Point. She said there would be small streets, beautiful timber cottages and in the day on foot, it is an area to get purposefully lost in. So driving around just as it was getting dark we came across a little village reminiscent of Bath with street names like Cheltenham Place, Hampden Street and Dewitt Lane. Backing onto the famous Saturday-special-Salamanca-Place, Hampden Street is the high street in this little pocket of Hobart.

As it was dark, I looked from side to side as we drove passing intricate antique stores, the popular Picalilly restaurant and a brightly lit lolly shop that I needed to re-visit however it was a corner place with large bay windows and a navy and white sign of Jackman & McRoss that caught my eye and I immediately said “slow down”. I recall bakery also helped the instant halt and I penned in my mind that we would be back.

Pushing the door open of Jackman & McRoss, my eyes were immediately met with rows of sourdough, baguettes, a blackboard of today’s pies, strawberry tarts, chocolate ganache pies and bap rolls. Not only a bakery, I saw there was also table service and feeling famished I sat down initially salivating over the thought of a cider beef pie. Hearing the familiar unspoken language that this place served good tucker as it was still busy with people eating all sorts of bits and pieces at 2.30pm, I looked up at the specials board and pondered…and ordered Ocean Trout stuffed with boccocini on a bed of black rice with buttered leeks and a cloudy apple juice. Not really the usual bakery fare…

Late lunch was delicious. The black rice was slightly sticky and a great accompaniment to the subtle trout flavours and the buttered leeks added to the caramelised aftertaste. The apple juice was smooth and opaque in colour and had the right amount of tartness and sweetness to wash down lunch.

As a well-known food-lover amongst friends and now post bride-diet, I am satisfyingly in foodie heaven and have not held back sampling my way through warmed spiced apple mead, fresh sheep’s milk porcini pecorino and warm porridge with braised rhubarb. So far I have only seen and tasted the freshest ingredients possible and have witnessed first-hand the abundance of good food available to use in cooking and to eat. The lunch I ate today at Jackman & McRoss was superb, a blend of complex ingredients plated simply in a bakery cafe and it was only $9.80. And that is the icing on the cake consistent with other Tasmanian restaurants and providores. In Hobart I have suprisingly seen that you don’t have to pay for the name here but just for the quality of food and the returns on flavour received inevitably have you paying more and more until you just can’t get enough!

So, here’s to more discoveries of fresh flavours tomorrow!

Jackman & McRoss @ 57 Hampden Road, Battery Point Hobart TAS 7004

a lingering fragrance

I love flowers. I love having flowers all around the house. I love receiving flowers and I love to give flowers. There is something about a bunch of fresh flowers that brings a smile to my face. I am a spring baby so maybe that has something to do with it. I love their myriad of colours, the shapes and most of all for some, their fragrances. My nose tends to be drawn to roses or lavender or the freshness of jonquils. I love that the fragrance of particular flowers lingers in the air and is either so overpowering that it’s the first thing you smell as you walk into the house or it can suddenly waft by and catch you by surprise.

When I was a little girl, I used to stand by my Mum’s dresser and count the number of perfume bottles she had lined up. And then one by one I would take each lid off and inhale each fragrance. To this day, a whiff of Estee Lauder’s Private Collection makes me think of my Mum. Like mother, like daughter; I too loved perfumes from an early age and I remember it was Elizabeth Arden’s Sunflowers which was my first purchase. Over the years I have worn and collected many a fragrance. I am the type of girl that likes one for the day, one for evenings, an atomiser for the handbag and a couple that are “just because”.

Often like shoes, I like to bring new bottles of perfume home with me from a holiday and not just because of duty free but because they remind me of a memory. Recently I was in Capri, Italy and went to the profound perfume house Carthusia. Immersed by the history behind their fragrances, I came home with one as a gift for my girlfriend and I also now wear Via Camerelle during the day.

I get married tomorrow and one of the last things I organised was finding myself a fragrance I will eternally know as April 10. A couple of weeks ago, one of my bridesmaids asked me if I had a perfume for the day? A perfume that would tie me to the day and if I was to ever wear it again or smell it in the future, then it would bring me back to April 10. I contemplated; do I wear an all-time favourite like AOD’s Lostmarch or find something new? Hunting around and realising too late that I should have carried with me a stash of coffee beans to neutralise my sense of smell each time I tested one, I went from woody to citrus, to sultry to fresh. I smelt classics like Chanel’s Coco and Estee Lauder’s top seller Beautiful. I found the new Balenciaga fragrance to resemble toilet cleaner and I thought Kiehls’ Original Musk was not special enough. I was looking for an instant love affair, a smell that would whoosh me off my feet and immediately envelope me and my senses. I was mostly getting drawn to the floral fragrances but desired one that was not too flowery or an inevitable headache.

In Mecca Cosmetica, I fell in love with Antonia’s Flowers Floret. The shopgirl sprayed my wrist and for the rest of the afternoon I walked around, occasionally taking a sniff and loving the fresh yet playful scent. As the hours wore on, the fragrance lingered and didn’t fade and made me think of fields of fresh flowers and warm spring days. I came home and googled Antonia’s Flowers and read that “Antonia” was so inspired by French flower markets and their translation in art that she opened a florist on New York’s Long Island. Quite soon afterwards she developed fragrances to try and capture the scents she was surrounded by each day. Floret was “inspired by the rambling sweet peas in her grandmother’s gardens, and convinced of the power of the ‘living flower’, Floret was created to recapture the memories of her childhood.” Floret has layers of marigold, rose, apricot, lily of the valley and tuberose.

Floret will now always be my April 10 and as I spray it on my wrist and other pressure points tomorrow, I look forward to discovering the special memories that will be forever attached to it and conjured up when it is sprayed in days to come.