Friday Fleurish: Thou Wilt Not Wilt


It's Friday Fleurish, and here are some sculptural beauties for the weekend ahead: Lobster claws. I must confess, I don't usually gravitate to these as a cut flower. But no matter how much I might droop from the unseasonable heat we're - err, "enjoying" at the moment, these hardy heliconias will stay fresh for quite some time. Heat? What heat! In fact, they are begging for more humidity but I'm hoping they'll have to wait until summer proper for that to kick in. If they play their cards right, I'll take them into the bathroom while I shower... not an offer I make lightly.

Happy Friday Fleurish to you!

Balmy Barmy


It's the last week of winter here. As I sit in my studio tucked up in the eaves of our A-frame timber house, wearing a light cotton frock and chugging mint-drifted water while temperatures rise into the 30s {90s if you prefer yours in fahrenheit}, I feel like I'm in a climactic Bermuda Triangle. On the weather report last night, the weatherperson was using a kaleidoscope of coloured arrows and a goodly amount of gesticulation to demonstrate something we figured out for ourselves: it's damn hot for this time of year!

In honour of the heat which appears to have united both hemispheres temporarily, and in hopes of a cooling breeze, here's a beach bungalow so we can overlook the Bermuda Triangle in comfort. And yes, I've already had my first G&T for the season... care to join me? Our thatched-roof bar out the back has a colourful selection of mocktails on offer as well.

Francophile Friday: Macarons of Brisbane


Bonjour! It's Francophile Friday and this afternoon, I'll be eating macarons for afternoon tea. Here in Brisbane? Mais oui, that is correct! I'm so happy, so happy, happy, happy! Yes, I'm doing my happy dance because I discovered there's a French couple creating macarons almost on my doorstep! Yes - the genuine ones like those of Ladurée and Pierre Hermé in Paris - a delicate, crisp shell that yields to a chewy yet tender alchemy of almond meal, egg whites and whatever else makes it so bewitching.

Thierry and Sylvie Serplet moved to Brisbane with their children 18 months ago for the lifestyle, and decided to set up a bakery. They sell directly from their Twist'n'Roll premises in Rocklea, a tiny 20 minutes drive from my place. They also sell online, at the markets on weekends, and through several of the most chic and upmarket delis and pâtisseries around town. {You can find out where on their website.} They bake other niceties too, but frankly, I haven't torn my eyes off the macarons long enough to look at anything else. I've only met Thierry, who is shy, kind and ever so helpful - and looked quite chuffed when I asked him to add a "framboise" {raspberry} macaron to my selection. You can tell from this lovely bit of local press here that his wife Sylvie is a honey too.

This afternoon, I may even read a few pages from my French copy of Agatha Christie's 'The Mysterious Affair at Styles' while I munch on my violet macaron. Actually, it's lavande - lavender - with cream filling. I'm still deciding on my favourite. I figure it will take a lot of macarons to make such a decision...

Come Into My Parlour


Ok, it's not really my parlour. You'll need to be invited to Australian interior designer Stuart Rattle's country home to sit in that gorgeous wing chair.

He transformed his weekend escape, Musk Farm, from a former schoolhouse into a comfortable and beautiful home in a hamlet on the outskirts of Daylesford in Victoria. He was blessedly lucky the property narrowly escaped the horrific February bushfires. He and partner Michael O'Neill also developed the grounds into a series of 'garden rooms', and run a small herd of rare British White cattle ~ cream-coloured with black points. Intentionally colour co-ordinated with the property? Or merely a happy coincidence that a breed so loved by Winston Churchill matched perfectly. After all, Stuart Rattle has imbued Musk Farm with a comfie, classical English vibe. I wish I could say I'd visited at their personal invitation {which I'm sure would have arrived on thick creamy card imprinted with black letterpress} but my visit was courtesy of the August 2009 edition of one of my favourite Australian mags, Country Style. By the way, there's a nice little article about Australian execs - including Stuart Rattle - and their rural fancies here at The Age. I'd want my tractor to be an automatic too!

Friday Fleurish: Bargain-villea Posy


I'm positive there's a little magic dust in our yard. Trees grow larger than usual and the garden constantly seeds itself, especially with mock oranges which spring up here, there and everywhere to my grateful delight. Every so often, it needs rather bold pruning to keep it at least one degree of separation away from a forest. For the last couple of days, we've bestowed its care to a lovely gardener who clearly knows his way around a hedge clipper and chain saw. He's tickled and carved things back ready for spring. This afternoon, I spied a small pile of fuchsia-coloured bougainvillea in the fresh clippings - just enough to tidy it, of course. This brings a touch of Francophile Friday to this post, because {according to Happy DIY Home, which also has marvellous tips for growing them} the bougainvillea was discovered in Brazil in 1768 by French botanist Philibert Commerçon who was accompanying French Navy admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville. French fingerprints seem to find their way everywhere! I salvaged its blooms and tucked them into a miniature ginger jar-inspired pot for a posy for your weekend that cost me nothing. The pot is only as tall as my pinkie, to give you an idea of how teensy it is... Happy Friday Fleurish to you!



I've Got Your Number


So here it is: my drawing of a phone book.

But I'm cheating, of course. It's a lot easier to make a drawing of the phone book look pretty when you have a phone book cover, as I do. A girlfriend gave it to me many years ago and I bless her every time I look up a number the quaint offline way.

My phone book cover doesn't actually look at all like this one, but mine is printed with illustrations of chairs - I guess they figured chairs and phone calls go hand in hand. It seemed cheeky to draw someone else's illustrations ~ so the one you see here is my imaginary version, whose chairs are nothing like theirs. Likewise, the pink phone is taking liberties. Our real one is a bland cordless phone, but I'd love to have an old-fashioned one that you can put your immaculately polished talon or a leopard-print pencil into and turn the dial. How about you?

Venerdi in Venice: Arch Rivals


Here we have the architectural equivalent of hedging one's bets, expressed in a typical arched window in Venice, grounded by geraniums running delightfully amok from the window box. I say 'typical', but the underside is a rounded {Roman} arch and the top is a pointed {Gothic} arch. And I've just spent a long and thoroughly pleasing time browsing Venice photos and failing to find a similar example. Hmmmm. Not so typical, I guess. Invigorated by an odd fit of latent curiosity about the whole thing, I just read that in early examples of Gothic architecture, semi-circular and pointed arches were often used in the same buildings - typically, pointed arches {technically a derivation of pointy-topped doo-dads} were used for larger openings and curved arches were reserved for smaller openings and windows. I guess they couldn't decide when they came to build this one and with a nice Friday afternoon Chianti beckoning, figured two styles were better than one. Who can blame them.

Happy Venerdi in Venice to you ...

Bicycles and Bellinis at Le Meurice


When I saw Eric's Le Meurice photo at Paris Daily Photo, the inspiration for my illustration, my first thought was 'oooh, a hot air balloon'! Mais non, closer inspection revealed it to be a chic bicycle basket, elegantly clad in its very own monogrammed linen cape to signify its five star heritage, that of a luxurious hotel frequented over the centuries by royalty and celebrities. This fetching bicycle tempted me {in my mind} to take my long-untested cycling legs for a short spin, at least to Van Cleef & Arpels in the nearby Place Vendôme.

On my return to Le Meurice in the 1st arrondissement at the heart of Paris, I could retire to my room to freshen up and emerge at least partially like this glamorous young lady from the hotel's own website {I do have some long black gloves}, ready to swan downstairs to Le Bar 228 for one of William Oliveri's legendary Bellinis. Did I say 'one'. Perhaps I meant 'two'...
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