Sunday, April 26, 2009

Aisle of blooms

A canopy of powder-puff blooms - fragrant, whimsical, heavenly...

Photo credit: My French Life

Thursday, April 23, 2009

House of dreams

In most things, the boy and I share very similar tastes. When it comes to food, the weather, friends, what makes for a good night out and even in more serious matters of politics and principles, our opinions rarely divide and are usually in perfect harmony. I use the word “perfect” loosely as we can never really be perfectly harmonious...thankfully, for some of our most cherished memories were born from our disagreements and (my) fits of rage. So, as I was saying, we agree on most things, but, our visions of our house of dreams are from two very different worlds.

I long for a stately home from yester-year – not too large, but large enough for two and two or maybe three more. The boy pictures something with clean, modern lines, filled with space and very little yard. I dream of a beautiful limestone fireplace that warms the room with golden light, white-washed walls infused with the subtleties of age, floor-to-ceiling shelves of masterpieces and classics, timber floors pierced with old life, high ornate ceilings that hang crystal chandeliers and a story-book garden growing cherry blossoms, herbs and berries. At the bottom of the garden would be a magnificent old tree with dark brown arms holding and enfolding stories and secrets in its boughs. Nestled beneath its canopy of a hundred floating voices would be a dear little tree house – a place for solitude and relaxation, for inspiration and imagination, somewhere to dream sweet dreams and become lost in deep thoughts. Whatever our house of dreams will be, I can not wait to bring it to life...with beautiful furnishings...and wonderful scents and smells... to clothe it with love... paint the walls with laughter and good times, nurture a family in it and together with the boy, grow old in it...
Now our love is deep enough to need no frantic gestures. You smile in passing, touch my shoulder. I walk with you in the garden, sharing the last light, the flickering of the bats, the scent of the roses. We are at home in quietness. Passion and the everyday flow from each other, equal expressions of our love.

Charlotte Gray, 1937

Photo credits: 1) Peonies and Polaroids 2) Unknown source 3) Paul Massey 4) Cherry Blossom Girl 5) Unknown source

All other photos by Paul Massey

Monday, April 20, 2009

Late Autumn days

Soft-grey hazes lace dim skies.
Rich gloom slowly exhales a film of faint vapour.
The light bids farewell and departs hastily.
Night winds start to dance wildly
through the blackness.

Stars drown in a lair of purple mist.
Darkness hangs veils of
grey cloud and violet shadows.

A forgotten chill returns.
Winter is nigh.

Photo credit: Weather Underground

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A garden party

The Casket

I have a garden of my own
Shining with flowers of every hue
I loved it dearly while alone
But I shall love it more with you
And there the golden bees shall come
In summer time at the break of morn
And wake up their busy hum
Around the Siha’s fragrant thorn

Thomas Moore, 1835

There is something hauntingly beautiful about that time of day when the sunlight is soft, veiled with a haze of light gold, like a golden mist. The air is balmy and charged with sweet scents. I hear only the birds whispering secrets to each other and the leaves frolicking with a soft breeze. There is a fortifying sense of calm and tranquillity.

How romantic would it be to marry at dawn – a Spring dawn, with a glorious sunrise winking through the trees; slipping down to meet your groom in a ethereal garden laden with buds and blossoms; embracing under a canopy of thick foliage; climbing roses and towering boughs gleaming in the soft romantic glow of the early sun.
It would feel like standing beneath the dome of a great cathedral and declaring your eternal love to each other with the pink and yellow sky above and the glistening sunshine all around. It would be a small gathering – circled only by the loving faces of long-familiar family and friends.

The bride would carry a simple bouquet of fragrant lavender, berries and rosemary tied with vintage lace. She would wear something so fabulous she could and indeed would wear it again and again.

Nothing welcomes Spring more beautifully than dining outside.

There is nothing more splendid than a table illuminated with crystal that bounces around a confetti of coloured sunlight and overflows with all kinds of deliciousness.

So, after a relaxed but heart-warming ceremony, laughter and conversation will bubble out as guests indulge in the sweetest champagne and a precious home-made breakfast while soaking up the intoxicating scents of Spring.

On the menu – French toast sprinkled with mixed berries, buttermilk pancakes ladled with cinnamon butter syrup, soft-boiled eggs with asparagus and caviar, warm buttered rolls with salads of chicken and herbs garnished with lemon, sweet, nutty muffins, a delightful spread of cheese, fresh fruit, jams and of course, endless coffee.

For dessert – silver platters dripping with cake, cake and more cake, strawberries and cream served with more champagne, romantic French desserts and old jars still bearing faded French labels filled with truffles.

Faded grandeur and otherworldly beauty is my inspiration. The garden is a place of fantasy and guests will feel as though they were stepping out of a wardrobe and into an enchanted forest.

Antique chandeliers will hang from low branches and catch the first light of day within the crystals and time-worn mirrors with ornate frames and dull glass will lean against tree stumps, enticing you to stare deep into the magical world beyond your reflection.

Food will be served on silver platters, in etched crystal bowls and on mismatched porcelain plates. Tea will be served in dainty porcelain tea cups. An eclectic array of antique candlesticks and a confetti of blossoms and petals will be scattered across the sun-dappled table which will be draped in muslin, vintage lace and gorgeous French linens embroidered by hand.

Hand-made paper garlands made from the pages of old books will hang from the trees. Terracotta pots filled with herbs and lavender will serve as earthen centrepieces, perfuming the air with delicious aromas. The tinkling of silver spoons will chime gently to an old, record player crackling out French folk songs. Guests will be gifted with hand-made soaps and old books of poetry, gorgeously wrapped in lavishly patterned voile and richly-coloured ribbon.

After a slow and sumptuous breakfast, the happy couple will retreat to a quiet corner; with the sun now high and hot, they find coolness in the shade of a big, handsome tree; they stare into the heavens and smile...

"Ah, what happiness it is to be with people who are all happy, to press hands, press cheeks, smile into eyes…And the perfect afternoon slowly ripened, slowly faded, slowly its petals closed".

(Extract from The Garden Party by Katherine Mansfield, 1922)

Photo credits:
1) Isas little world 2) As before 3) Country Style 4) Giambattista Valli Spring/Summer 09 5) Unknown source 6) Isas little world 7) As before 8) A Girl's world 9) Real Living Magazine 10) Gemma Comas 11) Unkown source 12) Martha Stewart 13) Polka Dot Bride 14) Isas little world

Friday, April 10, 2009

My guy...

There's not a man today
Who could take me away from my guy

It is a truth universally acknowledged…

that a woman always finds something she loves when she least expects it and stops searching. This is true of love and true of her most cherished items of clothing.

My latest must-have and well thought-out (Should I buy this trench coat? But the boy already bought me a very similar one for my’s not that can never have too many trench coats...and...winter is just around the corner...and...I will be needing lots of warm layers for when we go to New Zealand for our honeymoon)purchase...

I must say it looks slightly better on Penelope but doesn’t everything? I just noticed the shoes...hmmmm

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The mean reds

We are suffering from an epidemic...and no one is immune. Miss Golightly would call it the mean reds...not the blues...the mean reds.

The cause?’s crisis overload – emotional crisis, economic crisis, identity crisis; someone you know is dying from cancer; someone you know has just died from cancer; the all too familiar be glad you still have a job; another psychopath on the rampage; another earthquake; another Josef Fritzl (I wonder how many more of these sick beasts that disguise themselves as fathers are out there?); depleting disposable incomes; an unsympathetic property market – and the list goes on...

Image by La Porte Rouge

A cure? If only...But, surely happiness is everywhere if we take a moment to look...

Things that make me happy...

Image by My Polaroid Blog

The end of daylight savings – waking up to the soft morning light instead of mourning darkness...

Discovering another beautiful blog and starting my own...

Spending time behind the wheel because I am finally road-worthy!

Wedding expenses coming under budget (which makes me wonder whether our budget was way too high to start with)...

Image by La Porte Rouge

A long weekend just around the corner – afternoon day-dreaming and aimless drives...

Cosing up with the boy to watch Gone with the Wind and finding out he loves it as much as I do...well, he didn't mind it...that much...

The cooler nights – sipping hot chocolate, cashmere cardigans, Audrey-like trench coats...

Image by the Cherry Blossom Girl

A wedding florist that gets as excited about lavender confetti, vintage lace and pink aisle runners as I do...

Morning cappuccinos – big coffee mugs, lots of foam, reward cards and that 5th coffee free!

Image by La Porte Rouge

Smells from the kitchen...

Realising how lucky I am to have a man that can cook...

Image by When your Heart Feels and Needs to Speak

Realising how very lucky I am to be marrying the man that can cook...

And the list goes on...

Image by La Porte Rouge

What is it that mum always says...count your blessings, name them one by one...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I take you...just as you are

"I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best."

Marilyn Monroe

The sweetest thing…

(illo by me)

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved cake. Especially little ones – they look so dainty and sweet she thought, too good to eat…but she always did – every last morsel of deliciousness.

I have never been fond of the over-sized wedding cake – stiff like a stack of hat boxes; the cake that never gets eaten entirely (and often, not even partially) and always sacrifices taste for one too many layers of thick, chalky icing.

I did find one notable exception – this magnificent masterpiece; a tower of elaborate wowness.

Indeed impressive and breathtaking in its grandeur, but not the sweet and dainty wedding cake that haunted my dreams.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the smaller wedding cake was very fashionable and there were plenty of inspiring ideas out there. While cupcakes were so chic, I immediately fell in love with these little pieces of heaven - so simple but oh so pretty.

I obsessed over their heavenliness for many many nights.

It was decided – eight of these small sweetnesses (about 3 inches high); adorned with a row of scalloped piping and a single, delicate sugar blossom on top. The eight minis will surround a single-tiered cutting cake about the size of a dinner plate, like this one -

The cutting cake would be covered with lots and lots of buttercream icing and strewn with luscious, natural, rambling sugar flowers. It will stand on a 1930's pressed glass cake stand for no other stand would do. They inspire images of English country gardens and Victorian tea parties.
I just can't resist such pretty glassware - I want them all!

Now, all I had to do was find someone to recreate these beauties. She was not very hard to find. After tearing out pictures of several beautiful cakes, I realised that they all happened to be designed by Faye Cahill, cake designing maestro.

After our first meeting with Faye, we were sent home with a box of sample cupcakes – chocolate mud; white chocolate; vanilla rose petal; citrus and strawberry; coconut and white chocolate and almond torte. Oh! Too good I thought. If only they were as yummy as they looked, my dream just may have come true…and they were.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A timely reminder

Anxiety is slowly creeping in. In just a few short months the big day will unfold and about a year’s planning will unravel into what the lovely wedding florist assures me is going to be magical. So far, preparations have been far from the nightmare I expected and was warned of. Maybe it’s because we started planning early – for starters, we locked down the venues months before the proposal. I know – where’s the romance and spontaneity in that? But after five years of “courting” and months of wedding chatter, the proposal was never going to be a big surprise – my only wish was for it to be utterly heartfelt, and that it was. There was no candlelight dinner, hot air balloon rides or kneeling down on one knee – just one sincere question, one knowing “Yes!” and one oh so beautiful ring. Like the proposal, we have planned our wedding to be a relaxed affair –understated but elegant and filled with personal touches. I must mention that after ransacking newsagencies for all the latest wedding magazines (and I have the photos to prove it) and pouring over wedding blogs and day and night, I was given a timely reminder when Peonies and Polaroids posted a beautiful, inspiring letter from 2000 dollar wedding, which I must also share with you.

Dearest Bride-to-Be

The 12-18 months of wedding planning will pass in a matter of hours or days. When it’s all said and done, the photos will be the primary artifact remaining.

My wish for you—when you look back at those photos—is for you to think:

Look at how relaxed I was. Fully present in the moment. Basking in it. Soaking it in. I was not saturated in stress.

My shoes and dress were comfortable enough for dancing. My beauty radiated out of me; it was not applied to me.

I got to spend quality time with my friends and family. I was myself, not a show. In fact, I was my fullest expression of self.

I do not remember whether the invitations were letterpress or whether the flowers at the ceremony were the same ones at the reception.

The wedding favors or the fanciness of the food did not make memories. The sincerity did. The connection did. The time together did.

It did not matter whether every last detail conformed to the signature colors. Instead of saying, “What a beautiful bouquet,” the guests said, “What a beautiful love.”

This is my wish to you, dear brides, as you pore over wedding magazines and read daily blogs. Some of it matters. Most of it does not. Casting your net in the wrong direction will most surely mean you miss the things you most dearly want to catch.

May your wedding be just one sincere, authentic, happiest day in a long line of many.

This is my wish to you.

All my best,Sara