Aug 26, 2014

Easy Luxury

I don't exactly remember the first time I decided I liked Darren Palmer and his style.
Was it when he appeared on TV as a contestant on homeMADE back in 2009... or later when he became the new, enthusiastic (and according to Neale Whitaker, 'self-appointed nice'!) judge on The Block? Either way, it means he has seen both sides of the reality TV juggernaut which encapsulates Australia's love of home renovation and interior design, and I watched the beginning of a career from the comfort of my greasy-kid's-fingers-stained sofa, surrounded by flat, mismatched cushions.

We've both come a long way. I now have lovely new sofas and gorgeous, well co-ordinated cushions (although the kids still live here), while Darren is now an established member of The Block team (and occasional mentor to contestants), busy working on interior design with his own clients, and excitedly celebrating the release of his first book, Easy Luxury.

         Darren's book, on my sofa, with my cushions

In Easy Luxury, Darren covers everything you need to think about when designing, revamping and styling your home, and does so in a very amiable, practical and inspirational way. He knows there is no single answer to what makes a home perfect, nor should we take design culture too seriously... "No one lives or dies by my choice of linen".... but simply shares what he thinks works. 

From the big spaces in living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms, to the less obvious but equally important aspects of lighting, focal points, wall art, reading nooks and stacking books ("I know books are supposed to be for reading and educating and transporting you to another place but they're super good as decoration too..."), Darren has tips to guide you, no matter what your taste or budget allows. He wants us all to find the courage to use colour (a man after my own heart, I don't 'do' white), look at materials we may have never considered, and recognise the opportunities in our own homes. And he does so without preaching any set rules. "When it comes to what is right for you, the only person who can tell you is, well, you."

Easy Luxury is also a visually beautiful book; the wonderful photography by Felix Forest capturing shots as diverse as whole rooms with stunning views, to smaller, elegant vignettes. 

So if your home is suffering from 'greige' paralysis - stuck in a grey and beige holding pattern - or needs a bit of style tweaking, or you are starting from scratch, Darren Palmer's Easy Luxury might just be your solution. 

It is the perfect coffee table book, but not one which will gather dust. You'll want to continually return to its lovely pages of advice, encouragement, style and practicality.

I must thank Darren for being a friendly, engaging bloke on all forms of social media, and for the fact I will never have floppy, unchopped cushions again.
(and nope, I'm not explaining that, you'll have to buy the book!)

Easy Luxury, by Darren Palmer
Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99

Aug 24, 2014

My Favourite Room

Early last week I entered a photo of our kitchen in a My Favourite Room competition with the Better Homes & Gardens tv show, through their Facebook page.

And then I thought no more about it. And planned to think no more about it.

Why, you may ask. I'll tell you why. Because I have uploaded photos of my kitchen, living room, and family room (and on one occasion, my toes soaking in our bathtub, but that's another story) to other sites before in the hope of some sort of response (if not a win, maybe a runner up, or a fourth place, or at least a Highly Commended medal. Hell, I'd even accept a Certificate of Participation, as long as it was laminated) but I've never got a cracker. I've wanted other people to love our place as much as we do (shut up, I'm needy) but have never thought it was up to scratch in designer terms because the rooms eventually featured and applauded (The Chosen Ones) were always white. Often white on white. Occasionally even white on white on white.

I don't have white walls. Or white floors. Or white sofas. Or white linen. Or an all white kitchen. The whitest things in my house are my legs at the end of winter. 

So imagine my surprise when my photo was posted on the Better Homes & Gardens page as one of their five 'top picks of the week'!

Okay, so it's only the first week of the competition which runs for a month, and there'll be plenty more entries once word spreads a bit more, and maybe they only had a total of five entries last week...
I'll totally take that title.

They won't choose winners by number of likes, but HELLOOOOO, I TOLD YOU I'M NEEDY, so you can go LIKE my shot, and look at all five pics (but especially mine, because MINE) HERE AT THIS LINK.

Aug 23, 2014

Happy Weekend!

Catching up with friends.
Board games. 
Movie theatre.

That's the plan, Stan.

Have a good one.

Aug 20, 2014

Jeopardising My Reviews

Challenge. Can I do it?
Review four books, three movies, and one theatre show without boring you?

*cue kitschy game show music*

*Enter from left: Sleazy, arrogant host with slicked back hairpiece, shiny suit, porcelain teeth, and the weight of the world on his shoulders due to an upcoming court case involving his missing accountant, embezzled investment funds, a 40 grand credit card bill run up at a hotel in Cancun allegedly owned by the Mexican Mafia, his pregnant-with-twins former personal assistant currently in witness protection, a botched blackmail attempt, some suspicious blood stains, and a spectacularly buff maƮtre de from New Jersey called Pablo.*

*Host smiles cheesily at camera, introduces himself, makes sexist joke, laughs, reluctantly peels his eyes away from the camera to introduce the increasingly frustrated carry-over champion Cate, whom he belittles every episode by drawing attention to the studio lights making her hair look grey, her need to stand on a box to be in camera shot, and mentioning her obvious lack of any successful cosmetic surgical procedures, all while thinking ahead to which bisexually-oriented strip club he will take the network bosses that night and wondering if he can turn it into a tax deduction*

*Cate decides to reject her usual front-of-camera state of total zen*

*dim lights*

Host: "And here we go! [assumes serious demeanour by remembering the exquisite Pablo has an uncle who is a hitman] My dear Cate, select a category."

Cate: "Theatre for $200. [mutters "And I'm not your dear."]

*audio guy chuckles, all floor crew pay a little more attention, the director sits up straighter in his chair, and the atmosphere in the control booth intensifies*

Host [hides annoyance behind gritted teeth]: "Okayyyyy. A remarkable live show. Part shadow theatre, part modern dance, part circus, part acrobatics. An enthralling story, told completely through such fluid, beautiful, and astoundingly clever human movement, that not once do any 'interpretive dance' jokes enter your mind. Captivating, funny and brilliant."

Cate: "What is 'Shadowland', presented by Pilobolus Dance Theater.

Host: ""

Cate: "They've finished their Australian tour."

Host [shrugs]: "Right, we don't need to know..."

Cate: "Wherever they are now, everyone should go see them."

Host [frowns, vein in temple twitches]: "Fine. Whatever. Now, would you like to select a category?"

Cate: "Movies for $200."

Host [catches his own reflection in a new part of the set, grins stupidly and starts daydreaming of white beaches and dark biceps, until a cameraman coughs and interrupts his reverie]: "Yes. Next. The true story of four young men from the wrong side of the tracks, who were in and out of trouble with women, the law, local gangsters, and worst of all, their mothers, but went on to form one of the most iconic groups of the 1960s. A rollicking journey through music history with fantastic performances, and tunes you will be humming long after the credits finish rolling. You probably didn't even know what a fan you were, until you realised you knew the words to every song. Toe-tapping fun."

Cate: "What is Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons."

Host [surprised and flustered by mental images of the last time he met Pablo in a Four Seasons hotel, searches through question cards]: "Err..."

Cate [rolls eyes impatiently]: "What? It's Jersey Boys. Check your card, Einstein."

*director asks assistant if they have a four-second-delay button on standby*

Host [laughs dismissively]: "I already put the card aside, I thought the answer was supposed to be Grease. Hahaha..." [turns to floor manager and mouths "What is she doing?"]

Cate [snorts]: "Grease? Seriously? Are you shitting me?"

*director drops coffee and lunges for four-second-delay button*

Host [coughs and mutters something unintelligible, but sounds suspiciously like 'bucking fitch']: "Right. Correct...and..."

Cate [smirks]: "I think you confused it because it was a stage show too. [dripping with sarcasm] All those singing and dancing shows are the same, right?"

Host [shuffles question cards violently]: "Yes, right....I mean... Anyhow.... moving on...."

Cate [speaking slowly]: "The DVD would make a great gift for anyone who doesn't understand the difference. Like yourself."

Host [vein throbbing noticeably, sheen of sweat appearing on forehead] : "CATE.... [clears throat].... Cate, select a category. Now."

Cate [haughtily]: "There's no need to yell at me. [mutters "dickhead" quite audibly, forcing director to move permanently closer to the four-second-delay button] Movies for $400."

Host [hears sniggering, glances at floor crew, plasters fake smile on face while wondering if Cate is related to one of his ex-wives] : "Right. A thrilling spy story, set in Hamburg and based on the John Le Carre novel. This is not the stuff of James Bond - no explosions or crazy gadgets here - but a smart and subtle insight into the gathering of intelligence from suspected terrorists,  and the battle amongst various agencies to control the outcomes. Captivating performances, particularly by Philip Seymour Hoffman."

Cate: "What is A Most Wanted Man."

Host [determined grimace]: "Correct. Select..."

Cate: "Such a wonderful talent lost to us."

Host [eyes widen, mouth drops open with exasperation]: "Sorry, what?"

Cate [sniffs]: "Philip Seymour Hoffman. His final movie. Tragic."

Host [confused look at floor manager, who is hiding behind the cameraman, both suppressing laughter]: "Uhhh... Isn't he making a living in Germany delivering messages in his Baywatch Speedos now or something?"

Cate [disgusted snarl]:"That's David Hasselhoff, you ignorant tosser."

*clattering sounds can be heard off set, as crew scramble to get advice from the legal department on the censorship of the word 'tosser'*

Host [turns red, takes deep breaths, glares at floor manager who is now doubled over with mirth]: "Cate, just select a goddamn bloody category."

*director wearily places forehead on four-second-delay button*

Cate [arches eyebrow]: "Clearly, you don't write the questions. It's a wonder you even have the ability to read them without having a stroke. If a thought ever crossed your mind it would be a long and lonely journey. [smiles sweetly] Movies for $600. [mutters "fucking arsehole"]

*director breaks four-second-delay button through repeated rapid pounding*

Host [turns away from camera and appears to take a sip from a flask concealed in his jacket, turns back with wet lips and drool on his chin]: "Ahh, hell. Umm...[burps] An action-packed futuristic thriller which makes us wonder what kind of world we would live in if we had the ability to use 100% of our brain's capabilities. From a young girl caught in a Taiwanese drug deal gone wrong, [tugs at shirt collar and looks nervously towards network lawyers who have now arrived on set] to a brains trust holed up in a French university where the girl becomes the focus of everyone's scientific attention, there is rarely a dull moment."

Cate: "What is..."

Host [wild-eyed, vein in temple threatening to explode, brow dripping sweat, punches fist in the air and yells]: "WAIT! HAHA! I know this one... It's the one starring Nelson Mandela and the blonde with nice tits..."

*director carefully pours his fresh coffee over the control board*

Cate [steps down from box and advances angrily towards Host]: "HEY, SHIT-FOR-BRAINS! I do the answers, you're supposed to let me say 'What is Lucy'..."

Host [desperately turns towards floor crew to find them all convulsing with laughter]: "Hey! Some help here? SOMEBODY STOP THE BLOODY COW BEFORE SHE..."

Cate [knocks the question cards from Host's hand and tugs the toupee from his head]: "The blonde's name is Scarlett Johansson and it's NOT Nelson Mandela, it's MORGAN FREEMAN, you COCKJUGGLING WANKBADGER..."

*director slowly stands up, puts on his coat, reaches into his pocket for his cigarettes and matches, sets fire to the booth, and heads straight to the unemployment office*

*office assistant bursts into studio yelling at Host that someone named Pablo is calling from a detention centre, crying and asking which of the fake passports he was supposed to use*

*Host faints*

Cate [steps over Host, looks around forlornly as the still laughing crew all wander off]: "But... we haven't even done the book categories yet..."

*lights go out*

Aug 13, 2014

Revenge is a dish which will sit in my freezer for a while...

I've made a pact with myself.
When (and that should probably read 'if') my kids leave home and get a place of their own, it's payback time. 
I hereby pledge I will...

Call them and ask them what's for dinner every day, then criticise their response. If I can do this face-to-face and roll my eyes and screw up my nose, even better.

Suggest I will be there for dinner. Maybe. Undecided. But probably. I'll let you know. Eventually.

Tell them I will definitely be there for dinner, wait until they have defrosted meat, bought supplies, and started preparing dinner for me, then text them that I've had a better offer.

Turn up at dinner time with extra people.

Eat all their lollies and chocolate. Especially the chocolate.

Throw up in their freshly made bed.

Continually open their fridge and tell them I can't see something which is staring me right in the face.

Turn all their lights and tv on, then walk out.

Leave plates and glasses and mugs all around and next to their dishwasher, but never in it.

Open every jar, packet, box and container in their pantry and not close any of them properly.

Use all their toilet paper and not replace the roll. 

Never clean my own skid marks or use air freshener.

Wait until I'm at their house before applying any deodorant, perfumes or body sprays, then apply so much that a cloudy haze two metres off the floor remains for 24 hours.

Wear multiple layers of clothes, then gradually shed them around their house and leave them wherever they land.

Take my shoes off and find the most inappropriate place to put them.

Use their credit card to order books online and have them delivered to their house at 8am on a Saturday morning.

Give them a beagle which sheds white hair 24/7.

Roll around on the floor with said beagle, get covered in white hair, then sit on their dark grey sofa.

Criticise the fact there is white beagle hair all over their sofa.

Tell them all my friends are coming over just thirty seconds before the doorbell rings, and say "I thought I told you".

Kick footballs into every plant, garden structure, and window I can see.

Scatter fifty tennis balls around their back yard in slightly concealed places, but where they are most likely to be trodden on, resulting in a sprained ankle.

Run my fingers across their big screen tv and casually ask when was the last time they dusted anything.

Use their devices to download things, focusing especially on viruses. And if I can exceed their monthly limit while doing so, I will.

Break all their headphones and charger cords and maybe even a laptop.

Insult them hilariously, and end every crack with "I love you" in a sing-song voice.

Miss them terribly....sigh.

Aug 11, 2014

Laziest Post Ever

I wrote this on Facebook and decided to just screenshot it and post it here.

Lazy or genius? You decide.

Aug 7, 2014


I enjoyed my first attempt at #7vignettes in July so much, I knew I'd give it another go in August.
(For new readers, I watched, and enjoyed, the #7vignettes 'game' developed by Jen(@interiorsaddict) on Instagram for a while, before finally deciding to take the plunge last month. It runs for the first seven days of every month, and Jen forms a list of seven different themes, challenging all participants to create seven vignettes related to those themes, upload them to Instagram throughout the week, and join in the fun.)

Last month I focused on including lots of colour, vintage items, and bits of nature in every photo. I took a fresh photo every day over the course of the week and was happy with that process, but decided to get a bit more organised this time. I studied the list of prompts, gathered armfuls of props from around our home, and set about producing all seven photos in one morning. This meant I was able to be consistent with natural lighting, background, style, and themes. (I did have to redo one photo the next day as I wasn't happy with the original result when compared to the other six. I'm a fusspot.)
I stuck to my favoured vintage theme (smart move, as the day 4 prompt was in fact 'vintage') but decided to pare down the colours, and include things that meant something to me. Every photo ended up telling a story.

Day 1. North
My grandfather left Australia for the first time to travel north to a war from which most didn't return. Luckily, he did. He was a stretcher bearer who rescued and treated many soldiers while under fire, was wounded, and awarded the Military Medal.

Day 2. Collector
I am a collector of faces, and of the memorabilia treasured by those faces. 

Day 3. Unique
A camera with no film, a pocket watch with no hands, and admission to a race meet held 97 years ago. All uniquely useless, but I love them.

Day 4. Vintage
With so many vintage goodies to choose from, I focused on the fact August 4 was my late mum's birthday, so it was apt to show some of her belongings; her 1948 street directory, childhood autograph book, marcasite watch and a letter from the Queen's secretary dated 1939.

Day 5. Nurture
My mother's childhood melds with mine.

Day 6. Craft
My grandmother kept sewing paraphernalia and buttons galore because they were useful. I keep them because they're beautiful and remind me of her.

Day 7. Organic
My mother-in-law worked at Faulding's in her youth - she was even their hand model at one point - and kept some of the bottles she acquired during those years. Lucky for me and my vintage collection.

I really enjoyed these prompts; they were fun, brought some of my belongings to life, and stirred some nice memories.
Roll on September!

Aug 4, 2014

Swings & Roundabouts

I recently got tagged on Facebook to take part in a brief positivity challenge. With all the sad, tragic news lately, it was refreshing at the end of each day, for five days, to reflect on three positive things to have come from that day.
However, I did find it hard not to strive for balance. I wanted to look for negative things too. 
That sounds weird doesn't it...bear with me.

Life isn't all highs, nor all lows. Usually. You might get a run of really shitty things happening, or a streak of good luck and happy times....but you won't recognise the simplest of positives, like a clean toilet, if you've never had a negative, like the skid marks and vomit chunks from forty drunk teenagers.

So I'm going to even up the scales (I blame this on the fact I am Libran - which I do for every whim I cannot explain) and write a balanced summary of present day life.

Negative: My husband often works Mon - Fri in other cities, which means he flies out early on a Monday morning.  His alarm goes off any time between 4am and 5am depending on flight times, and in recent months I have found it impossible to go back to sleep after I am woken by the hideous ::brrrrrr::brrrrr::brrrrr:: of his phone. It fucking shits me to tears.
Positive: On the upside, I have been experiencing the gentle sounds of nature at that hour, as the birds wake, the dog stirs, the cat bangs on the window wanting breakfast, and the Husband rolls his suitcase up the driveway...::thud::thud::thud:: ...

Ok, I think I need to try harder at this 'balanced' thing.

Negative: It was so cold this morning (yes, after being woken at 5am) that I really didn't want to get out of bed. That Fucking Cat had no consideration for the temperature, which was a whole one degree. And when I finally dragged myself out to feed the fat arsehole, for fear of him actually breaking through the window and my bedroom becoming an instant igloo, I rushed back to bed to find the dog had taken my spot. 
Positive: The frost on the front lawn was beautiful.

Extra Positive: The payoff for a cold, frosty morning is a bright, sunny day. And a satisfied cat.

Negative: I woke up with a fat lip and the beginnings of a cold sore. This makes me wonder whose arse the Husband was kissing on his training course in another city last week.
Positive: My love for Nyal Cold Sore Cream (no fancy names, it just says what it is and it works) has been rekindled - lump holding steady at approximately 2mm, and the Husband has taken his virus (well, I'm blaming him) off to yet another city this week, away from me.

Negative: I'm still a bit of a tech noob. I don't know much, and get frustrated when things go wrong. I had an annoying couple of hours on Instagram on the weekend when something didn't work and I didn't know how to make it right. I blamed Instagram, my iPad, Kyle Sandilands, and the pro-Russian rebels, and seriously thought about starting drinking, all before midday.
Positive: I swallowed my pride and asked complete strangers what was going on. Turns out it was a technical fuckup by ME due to my use of a taboo hashtag (note to all: don't use #photography hashtag on Instagram pics, because DUH, IT'S INSTAGRAM, IT'S ALL PHOTOGRAPHY). Anyway, I discovered how helpful people are when you ask nicely (I didn't swear or blame terrorists) and more people were nice enough to come and 'like' my photo when I asked them to, because I didn't want to feel like a loser for the entire day.
(Shameless Plug: I am catep36 on Instagram, follow me and like all of my #7vignettes photos this week, because I'm needy. Seriously though, if you're into styling vignettes or just looking at nice stuff, it's worth checking out. There are some amazing pro stylists, decorators, artists and business people involved in the #7vignettes game each month. I'm a total rookie.)

Negative: Mum has been gone for just over a year.
Positive: It's her birthday today and I'm thinking CAKE.

It's all swings and roundabouts really, isn't it. Ups and downs. Good and bad.
And at the end, there's always cake.

Share a positive and negative with me.

Jul 29, 2014

Not a fashion blogger...

And I'm not. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But while I do love, for the sake of my own wardrobe, that pretty much 'anything goes' these days, there is something to be said for the times when people dressed up to leave the house, no matter where they were going. Of course, if life was still like that, we wouldn't have sites like People Of Walmart....

And where would the interwebz be without such gems?

If my grandparents, and even parents, had Instagram back in their day, I'm sure the web would be a much classier place. Or would it?

Well, there'd be a lot of hats, for starters....

                     Unknown source. Somebody with a good eye though.

My grandparents. The couple who were hatted together, stayed together.

Grandparents again, shopping in the city. For frocks. And possibly for hats.

My aunties donned belts and hats for a hit of tennis. Not to keep the sun off, but for fashion. And not a Nike contract in sight.

Great Uncle Frank and Grandfather Bert getting into the party hat spirit. Clearly, Great Uncle Doone hadn't drunk enough of the spirits yet. 
(Also, three piece suits were not just for weddings! Suave.)

Nanna, hatted, while Grandfather Bert looks embarrassed to be caught hatless. Nanna will make him pay for that later. At least he had his three piece suit on, surely that scored him points.

And of course, Mum wore the obligatory wedding hat. Or was it a shower cap...

And ties! All of the ties.

Pinstripe suits and ties, even a bow tie, at a party at a hall. (Alas, no hats)

The Downton Abbey staff,, sorry, it's just a party in my parents' rumpus room.

The sartorial splendour of ties and cardigans, while posing awkwardly at the bar.

And if you didn't want to wear a hat...or a tie... but still want to make sure someone posts your photo on the internet more than fifty years later....
Do what my dad's mate always did.


Now HE would've made a great fashion blogger...


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