Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Food with a view

On Sunday we spent a lazy afternoon lunching on the deck at the Riverhead Tavern. Even though the sky was threatening to open at any moment, we braved the elements and were rewarded with uninterrupted river views (and thankfully a mostly dry afternoon).

Our table lunched on Sea salt & Szechuan squid, Espresso & blue cheese lamb, Cola pulled pork sandwich and Prawn & bacon pizza, washed down with boutique beers and Brancott Estate bubbles. The menu had so many delicious-sounding options, it was difficult settling on just one each. I can't wait to go back in winter, to make the most of a pile of fleecy blankets stacked outside should you need a little snuggle-factor.

At 153 years old, the tavern holds New Zealand's second oldest liquor license (after the Duke of Malborough in Russell), and it's a melting pot of everyone from bikies to wealthy retirees to young families.

It's now top of my list for visiting friends and family; a prettier lunch venue you would be hard pressed to find.


Monday, January 30, 2012

The Love Stuff: Part 1

Valentine's Day is not a big deal in our family. That's not to say I'm immune to the romance of it all, but a bottle of nice wine and dinner at home is all I need.

However, every now and then I spot a funny little gift that I can't help putting away for a (romantic) rainy day, so I thought I would share this loved-up version of perennial favourite Connect Four. I found mine at a gift shop in Birkenhead called 'Crave', but I'm sure any of the cutesy homeware stores around New Zealand will sell them.

I haven't won a game yet, but I'm nothing if not determined! Even if it takes me until next Valentine's Day, I will be the champion.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Sounds : Grouplove

When I played this song earlier in the week, the boy sighed with relief that it wasn't another 'indie accoustic number' and actually jived around while he made dinner. It's not often I score his musical approval, so choosing this week's Sunday Sounds was easy.

Group Love are a new discovery for me, and I'm already hooked. They sound like they're having so much fun on every song, and I can't help getting up and dancing around the lounge, especially to this song Tongue Tied.

A little more uplifting than my usual, perfect for a Monday-morning-free Sunday (if you're reading on this side of the Tasman anyway!) We're on our way to the Riverhead Tavern for lunch, how about you?


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Scrapbook : Street style blogs

I am completely addicted to street style blogs, and I browse my bookmarks several times a week (at least) looking for inspiration. Of course, there are the big guns like The Sartorialist, Garance Dore and Tommy Ton, but I thought I would share a few of my personal favourites with you. First up is local blog, Foureyes. With crisp, carefully composed photography and a real eye for quirky details, this is the e-place to be seen.

I love a fashionista that doesn't take herself too seriously, and the Man Repeller makes me laugh out loud every time I read her. My favourite posts are the Man Getter to Repeller ones, where she takes a perfectly beautiful item of designer clothing and adds her own spin until it looks completely bonkers, but somehow fugly

There is something soft and beautiful about Vanessa's photos, as though she feels tenderly for each of her subjects, and I love that she steers clear of the usual fashion week nutters, preferring to focus on the ones with true personal style.

Although not technically street style, this delicious, voyeristic peek into the coveted wardrobes of uber-stylish women is pure style-porn. Prepare to lose a couple of hours of your life on the first visit.

A little dose of Nordic style that appeals to our own obsession with black, black and black.

Oh, to have Rumi's wardrobe! Even just her shoes...and her Isabel Marant... After attending NZFW a couple of years ago, she is often snapped wearing our own designers, especially Stolen Girlfriends Club. I'm also secretly chuffed that we own the same pair of pants...

What about you, Beaunz belles? Where do you look for style inspiration?


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Old Man Lamp

This little man peers at me and my daughter each morning as I nurse my coffee and she eats her breakfast.

I've known him my whole life; he was previously a fixture at my grandparents house and kept me company on many a sleepover.

When they died and their belongings were offered out to my extraordinarily large family, for some reason he was one of the last remaining items that hadn't been claimed and was stacked by the door for delivery to the local Salvation Army. I'm sentimental at the best of times, and couldn't bear the thought of him leaving our family so he rode home with me in the front seat, catching more than a few tears.

I don't know where he came from, who he is or what he means, but he keeps my grandparents close and for that I'll treasure him forever.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You had me at stitches

How sweet is this DIY embroidered iPhone cover from Yellow Brick Road Boutique?

It comes with several pattern options, or you can freestyle your own design, like this one. If your crafty skills are lacking, this whimsical wooden case is just as pretty and comes ready to go.

Now I'm more tempted than ever to get an iPhone...if only they were easier to use one-handed.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

For the love of...Honesty Boxes

I remember my Mum giving me $2 to spend at one of those 'junk emporiums', and pouring over the racks of clip-on earrings (I was 6) for a painfully long time trying to decide which ones I wanted most.

When we finally went up to purchase my chosen earrings (pink plastic half-moons hanging from a gold stud - the ultimate in eighties chic) the woman accused me of stealing and asked to look in my pockets. I was horrified and frightened and thankfully Mum put the woman in her place then dragged me out of the store. It was the first time I had heard of 'stealing', and have never forgotten the hot-cheeked injustice I felt.

These days, and I don't blame anyone, we are paranoid about being stolen from. Regardless, I cannot bring myself to buy anything from a store after being watched a little too eagle-eyed by an over-zealous shop owner. 

So, whenever I get the chance to buy from an honesty box, I can't resist. The fruit & veges are always fresh and delicious, and I love that the grower has complete faith in human nature to do the right thing.

Being trusted is a beautiful thing.


Monday, January 23, 2012

My little corner of the world : Omaha

My family has been going up to Omaha for over 20 years now, and it is without doubt one of my favourite places in the world. 

A kilometer of icing sugar sand, cerulean blue water that often shows you your toes even when you're up to your neck, well-preserved dunes that hide the rash of holiday houses, and the knowledge that even on the busiest of summer weekends you will have plenty of space to spread out. 

This weekend it was rainy one minute and biting sun the next, but even the nutty weather couldn't penetrate the bubble of calm that envelopes me as soon as we cross the bridge into Omaha. However long we stay, it is never long enough, especially now that there's an ice cream shop near the surf club!



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Sounds : Slow Club

I'm sharing a little secret today, a website called They Shoot Music, which is a Bermuda Triangle for your spare time. I can literally spend hours browsing this site and watching beautiful, indie music played acoustic, in gorgeous European settings.

Nice and sleepy and slow, perfect hangover listening.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday Scrapbook : Cinemusts

This awards season, there are so many brilliant films hitting cinemas; I can't remember the last time my list of 'must-sees' was so long. I won't bore you with the whole thing, but here are a few films on the top of my list, starting with 'Like Crazy', which is out 2nd February. Two words...heartbreaking, beautiful. 

George Clooney, a Hawaiian setting and a (not your usual) love story. 'The Descendants', out 26th January.

This trailer makes me smile, I can't wait to see the film; 'Vincent Wants to Sea', out 23rd February.

Annie Goldson was one of my lecturers at Auckland University, and I'm excited to see her latest documentary, due out 8th March.

As you may know from this beauty icon post, I'm a Marilyn fan and have been waiting for the release of 'My Week with Marilyn' for months now! It is finally out 8th March.

Plus, honorable mention goes to upcoming kiwi flick 'The most fun you can have while dying', due out in April.

How about you, Beaunz belles? Which films are you hanging out to see?


Friday, January 20, 2012

There's a mermaid in my bath

There’s a little mermaid in my bath 
I know she’s there, I heard her laugh. 
Making bubbles with the soap, 
And splashing as she does back stroke. 
I hope she knows to clean her toes
Behind her ears, below her nose. 
And though I haven’t got a tail, 
I gather it could smell quite stale, 
Like Poppa’s feet or old sardines 
Unless she gave it quite a clean. 
Though she isn’t making trouble 
I’m more than just a little puzzled. 
Did she climb up through the drain? 
And does she plan to come again? 
Then with a flicker and a glug 
She disappears back down the plug. 
A glistening, scaly tailed delight, 
I hope she’s back tomorrow night.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Come, I am tasting the stars!

I've always been of the opinion that you shouldn't add anything to Champagne. Sparkling wine - definitely, but when I'm drinking the good stuff I like it nude. However...

While in Australia, we were treated to Champagne cocktails at the beautiful Queenscliff Hotel, built in 1887. Served on the front porch looking back at the grand old building, these cocktails went down like a fireball, mellowing to leave the warmest glow in my chest. One was enough, not because I didn't enjoy it but because I was already starting to feel woolly tongued (I'm a cheap date these days).

I will definitely be recreating these when the weather cools down, they are the perfect winter aperitif. To make them yourself...

Place a sugar cube at the bottom of a Champagne flute.
Add a dash of angostura bitters and a nip of brandy.
Fill with Champagne and serve with a maraschino cherry.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Waxing Lyrical about Jo Malone

The beautiful 'tasting bar' at Jo Malone

I've been sitting on this post for a month now because every time I re-read it I sounded gushy, but I can't help it! I have taken out as many superlatives as I can, I hope you'll forgive me the rest.

Just before Christmas I spent an hour with the ladies at Jo Malone in the new Britomart flagship store. From the moment I arrived, on a ridiculously soggy, windy Auckland day, I felt like I could stay for days.

The minimalistic, apothecary-style layout is a little daunting at first, especially when you realise that the rows upon rows of candles and fragrances and body products are not, as they first appear, all the same. There are literally dozens of scent combinations, and each can be layered again with other combinations...cue squeal of delight from this self-professed fragrance fanatic - oh the possibilities!

Thankfully my expert Anne had the patience of a saint as I literally opened and smelled every bottle. The interesting thing I noted, was that even though each fragrance smells unique, there is definitely a signature undercurrent that ties the Jo Malone collection together. My nose isn't refined enough to recognise exactly what it is, but you can be sure of one thing, the ingredients that make up these scents (and the candles and body products) are absolute, premium quality. They go on fresh and vibrant and true, then dry down (nestle in over the next hour or so) warm and deep so that they seem to emanate from your skin. If you want to smell expensive, this is your brand.

I'll be completely honest, though I adored a couple of the fragrances I tried on the day, I haven't been swayed from my 10year love affair with Lalique de Lalique (we are truly scented soulmates). But I've been burning Jo Malone candles at home (their limited edition Chestnut is heavenly), and cannot recommend a (complimentary) Jo Malone fragrance consultation highly enough if you are looking for your own signature smell.

You can just turn up on the day, or phone them to book an appointment. How fun would it be to bring a hen party here before heading out for the night?

What about you, Beaunz belles, do you have a signature scent? Or a 'wardrobe' of fragrances that you wear on a whim?


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

For the love of...Almond Gold

Whittakers Almond Gold.

Rich, pillowy, bordering on espresso-bitter chocolate, and toasted almonds with just the right amount of bite.

Come to Mama...


Monday, January 16, 2012

Cinemust : Hanna

When I watch films, I love to be wowed either with a beautiful character story or gorgeous, stylish direction (or sometimes both), and I especially love it when films make the most of the possibilities of the medium of, well, film. Why not have fun with a few special effects and slick cinematography?

Over the weekend I finally got to see Hanna, a film I have had my eye on for months, and absolutely loved it. A great soundtrack, beautiful scenery, cool editing and a riveting storyline all came together brilliantly. 

Saoirse Ronan plays the title character, Hanna, a 16 year girl who has lived, until now, in isolation in the forest with her father (played by Erica Bana). Without giving too much away, events bring her out into the real world to face her nemesis.

Saoirse's face is so unique, I found it impossible to look away each time she was on screen. She even manages to outshine the (weirdly grotesque-looking thanks to some strange camera angles) queen of the intelligent blockbuster Cate Blanchett.

It's not perfect, and I'm sure it was probably panned by the usual armchair critics, but it's the most film fun I've had in ages. Have you seen Hanna, Beaunz belles? What did you think?


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Sounds : Seabear

Something about this song, 'I sing I swim' by Seabear, makes me think of 1950s rockabilly rebels making out at the drive-in, acting tough but really scared and insecure on the inside.

'Human skin, can be hard to live in
You'll feel better in the morning'

Happy Sunday Beaunz belles, my feet are dangling out the window in the sun and I'm already on my second coffee, how about you?


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday Scrapbook : 2012 Wishlist

2011 was a year of great ups and downs for my family. There was a lot of joy, but to be truly honest it was a year we are all pretty happy to see the back of.

So, it is with great anticipation that I await the slow unfurling of 2012 and all that comes with it...

In 2011 I acquired a lot of beautiful antique crockery, and I hope to continue to add to my collection this year. Where is your favourite place to buy antiques? I would love any recommendations.

I'm not the healthiest of eaters (as you will know from my many posts on cupcakes and ice cream), but I have glugged through my fair share of Udo's Choice Greens, and am looking forward to reaping the benefits from my latest health recommendation - coconut oil. Have any of you tried this? 

The Auckland Craft Fair was a treasure trove of gorgeous arts and crafts, and top of my list is to acquire some illustrations by Wellington-based artist Heike Theis.

Taking photos, along with writing, is my favourite creative outlet. I'm not very good yet, but I am practicing every moment I get (99% of the images on Beaunz are mine) and this year I hope to refine my skills even further.  

In my previous life as a Brand Manager for L'Oreal, I regularly traveled to Queenstown and Arrowtown, and I have missed seeing these beautiful towns wax and wane with the seasons. This year, I want to see more of New Zealand again, starting with the Queenstown/Lakes and Canterbury regions. Any suggestions?

What about you, Beaunz Belles? What are you wishing for in 2012?


Friday, January 13, 2012

I'm a little magpie...

After pulling out all my 'girlie accoutrements' to get ready for a friend's wedding in Melbourne, I was taken by how pretty they looked and couldn't help taking a photo.  

It made me realise how much I love being female, with all the sparkly, fluttery, pretty, smelly things we accumulate. Although 95% of the time I'm mooching around in jeans and flats (albeit red lipped), I don't need much encouragement to throw on a dress and heels. 

I dabbled in women's studies as part of my BA then spent a couple of years feeling guilty each time I applied lipstick. Was I really only doing it to titillate the men around me? These days I know the real answer to that...heck no. 

I love makeup and jewelry and beautiful clothes because I like to be surrounded by pretty things. Life's too long for bad shoes.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

The other gold

How beautiful is this ring? It belongs to my friend Klara, and was bought in New York by her sister, Bara. 

Since receiving my platinum engagement ring, I have resisted wearing yellow gold and for the most part, haven't missed it...until now. 

Since spying Klara's ring, I have been singing a little rhyme that my Mum taught me in school. 'Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.'

Perhaps it is time I made friends again with the other gold.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Verdelho...hard to spell but casts a spell

I spent the last week of 2011 and first week of 2012 staying at the Kent family's vineyard in Victoria, Australia. It is always an eye-opening experience to see just how much blood, sweat and tears go into producing wine. We take it for granted that we can buy decent wine really cheaply in New Zealand, but after drinking their gorgeous, icy nectar for the past two weeks, I fear my taste buds have been spoilt for life.

Perched up high on the Bellarine Penninsula, just at the start of the Great Ocean Road, their vineyard (You Yangs View) is one of the prettiest I have seen and grows what is now (thanks to them) one of my favourite varieties, Verdelho. Originally from Portugal, a good Verdelho is rich and dense, like Sauvignon Blanc on steroids. We paired ours with everything from fresh oysters to spicy fried rice to seafood pizza (not all on the same night), but it really stole my heart served icy cold on the hottest day I have ever experienced without air conditioning...39.5 degrees. It was literally double the high in Auckland that day, and my skin felt like melted cheese. Mmmm, coincidentally, cheese also went well with Verdelho.

Although still pretty niche, there are a few Verdelhos around, but if you want to know more about You Yangs View in particular, have a look here. And next time you're out for dinner and spot one on the wine list, have one for me. Is it wine o'clock yet?


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Let me eat cupcakes

Am I cruel or what? Opening my first post for the year with such a delectable delight. 

I'm sure, Beaunz Belles, that you made those New Years Resolutions to lose weight and eat healthily with the best intentions, but where is the fun in that? Diet schmiet I say. 

The best diet advice I ever received was 'eat a little of what you fancy'. That came from my gorgeous Nanna June, once crowned runner-up Mrs. New Zealand (they were all married in those days), who was perfectly petite and curvy until she became terminally ill a couple of years ago.

So, my New Years resolution is not to (attempt to) abstain from cupcakes altogether, it is to eat only the most gooey and creamy and delicious cupcakes, and to stop everything else I'm doing and really enjoy it so that I feel satisfied with just one...a day.

I gave it a go with the above cupcakes (my own heavenly creation of Christmas mince cupcake with brandy butter icing) and it worked a treat. Best of all, I ate the first one for dessert, then happened to still be awake and ate the leftover at 12.01am. Not cheating!

Happy New Year Beaunz belles, here's to a year of great cupcakes, among other things.