Coffee, croissants and Josephine …

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There is nothing more heart warming than a freshly brewed cup of hot coffee, even more so on a chilly day. So rather than reaching for a cup at home, I decided to bundle up and go out for one instead. And given that we are in the midst of Bastille Day celebrations, By Josephine seemed to be the perfect spot to channel my inner Francophile and enjoy said coffee …  but with a yummy croissant too.

Situated on Sydney Road Brunswick, By Josephine would have to be one of my favourite spots to eat locally. This quaint French cafe with its bright surrounds, cheery staff and pretty bunting offers a small but delicious menu of both sweet and savoury goodies that really delivers. It was the perfect way to start my day and get into the spirit of the occasion. And to extend my Bastille Day celebrations I couldn’t resist picking up some deliciously sweet patisserie to take home for both dear husband and I to enjoy … perhaps with a fine French tipple as we continue with our Le Tour de France viewing and marvel over the beauty of the French countryside, wishing that we were both there.

Van Gogh and the seasons …

The winter masterpieces at the National Gallery of Victoria NGV is an event I look forward to with much anticipation every year. Wondering what grand treasures will be showcased makes the wait worthwhile and this year was no different. So, in its final days I decided to brave the cold, and the incredibly large crowds, and head to the NGV to explore Van Gogh and the Seasons.

The exhibition, I must say, was incredible. I had never seen any of his works in the flesh before so this was definitely a treat for me. There is a depth to Van Gogh’s artistry that goes beyond the bold colouring that you notice on first glance. His work really does evoke a sensory feeling, each brushstroke makes you feel as though you can almost see movement which I guess is what made Van Gogh such a profound artist.

And although the pictures I snapped do not do his work any justice they are however a lovely reminder of the beauty he saw in every season. From the regenerative beauty of blooms in the spring to the dormant and bleak landscapes of winter, his pieces really do reflect the circle of life that still has me pondering.

Afternoon tea at Ladurée …

There is nothing better than spending a cozy afternoon sipping tea, eating cake and enjoying the company of one of my favourite people, my big sister. And when you add the creative talents of a renowned fashion illustrator into that mix it makes for a memorable afternoon that combines two of my favourite things … tea and fashion.

A couple of weeks ago, dear sister and I headed to Ladurée at Chadstone for said afternoon tea as they celebrated the launch of their limited edition Melbourne box illustrated by the very talented Kerrie Hess. I’ve always adored Kerrie’s work, and actually own one of her illustrated prints of Audrey Hepburn, so to meet her was an absolute delight.

Friendly, graceful and warm, Kerrie spent the afternoon chatting about her current collaboration with Ladurée and gave us a front row peek into her creative process as she live painted a canvas that was inspired by what she considers the quintessential Melbourne woman. And as you can see from the images I snapped the final results of her work is both chic and elegant … just like the ladies of Melbourne she represents.

 

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A night to Gather at Pope Joan …

IMG_2460Seasonal eating is something I have been actively striving to do for many years now. I am constantly on the lookout for inspiration that champions this way of living both as a shopper and gardener, and I must admit that River Cottage had a lot to do with me adopting this attitude.

I was so inspired by its simple philosophy of being in tune with the seasons that I often wished I lived in a River Cottage of my own. So when our local eating haunt, Pope Joan, announced they would be hosting a three course feast to celebrate the launch of Gill Meller’s new cookbook Gather, I could not wait to snap up tickets for dear husband and I to attend. And I’m so glad I did.

I’d watched Gill many times on River Cottage and was always inspired by his simple, yet rustic take on cooking, so it was quite a treat to meet him in the flesh. I must admit I had a bit of a fangirl moment as he autographed my copy of his book. He was so lovely and obliging, thanking me for coming along to the launch, and all I could say was how much I was in awe of the honey cake we just devoured for dessert which seemed to make him smile.

And our hosts at Pope Joan really did his recipes justice. Their interpretation of all the dishes served up throughout the evening was absolutely delicious, as was the perfectly matched wines by Fowles. My favourites, apart from the honey cake, would have to be the beef shin and stuffed squash with fennel and barley. No words can describe their deliciousness other than, yum. Each mouthful was met with a sigh of absolute bliss.

Now, I cannot wait to sit down and have a proper read of Gather so I can cobble together a list of recipes to attempt, especially since winter has officially arrived and the craving for comfort food is strong. And judging by what I’ve seen so far I am confident that Gill’s dishes will undoubtedly keep our bellies both warm and filled as the mercury continues to drop this winter.

 

 

I love the Night Life …

 

Melbourne’s love affair with all things Art Deco doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon. You only need to walk around town to see the beautiful reminders in our architecture. And while I do enjoying looking up to the sky and marvelling over these architectural wonders in the CBD, last week dear sister and I headed to Elsternwick, but more specifically to the Ripponlea Estate, to experience Melbourne’s Art Deco inspired Night Life.

Drawing on the fashion collection of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria), Night Life is a small but beautifully curated fashion exhibition of the 1920s and 1930s. It cleverly incorporates garments and accessories of the era with the work of contemporary stylists and photographers, who have put a modern spin on a time that truely was dazzling. Night Life brought back lovely memories I have of the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries exhibition which I attended a few years ago at Ripponlea, and this collection of treasures seemed to be arranged in a similar manner.

Wandering about the home it gave me an opportunity to admire the interior and gardens of this fine estate once more, a task that I never tire of, especially the gardens which are simply tranquil. After our stroll, dear sister and I retreated to the tearooms for a spot of tea and scones which not only promptly warmed us up from the chill outside but capped off a most enjoyable morning catching up with my big sis, and that for me, is always a treat.

Beautiful Bright …

Autumn really is the perfect time to go for a wander and enjoy nature when it is at its most beautiful. And the fact that we are blessed to be within driving distance of so many idyllic locations in regional Victoria, spurred dear husband, Hudson and I to head north to the alpine region so we could revel in the season and experience beautiful Bright and its annual Autumn Harvest festival.

We have visited Bright many times before in the summer, and while it is undoubtedly lovely at that time of the year, this particular trip was going to be a little more special for me as I absolutely adore autumn. The fact that Bright is renowned for showcasing a very vivid autumnal landscape added to my enthusiasm and I simply couldn’t wait to get there to experience it.

Bright is such a joy. It is the epitome of a quaint and charming town, and the Autumn Harvest was a wonderful celebration of not only the season but also of the town and its people. Festival events showcased local talent through music and parades as well as championing its local produce via its farmers markets and local eateries. But what made the festival so heart warming was the community spirit that was so evident and welcoming to visitors such as myself. We felt right at home.

During our stay there was no shortage of activity. Since we had Hudson in tow we spent a lot of time going on leisurely walks, enjoying the crisp fresh air whilst we marveled over the foliage. We also indulged in some hearty dishes, a tipple or two of fine wine and cider at the local brewery, and roasted chestnuts and sticky marshmallows at the Bright Brewery’s bonfire night gathering which was so much fun.

Our adventure also took us on a short drive to Beechworth Honey for a spot of afternoon tea which was a lovely treat and gave me the opportunity to stock up on some much-needed preserves and honey. Visiting a few orchards in the area as well as Gapsted winery, allowed us to also gather a bounty of goodies that ranged from apples and pears to walnuts and wine. Overall, Bright really delivered in terms of the perfect surrounds for a relaxing getaway that was very much-needed by us all. And I look forward to our next outing when we visit beautiful Bright yet  again.

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A wardrobe refresh …

As I am getting older, I’m finding that I am whittling down my wardrobe considerably, investing in pieces that are not only practical but what I consider timeless. It’s liberating to be honest, being able to free myself of clutter and paring back to the basics with my little twist.

So, I always get excited when Autumn-Winter campaigns drop from my favourite chain stores like Country Road, Mimco, Review, because this is usually the season that I tend to buy the most as opposed to Spring-Summer.

I must stress that these days I don’t have the biggest of budgets to play with and consequently I don’t buy that often, but when I do a lot of thought goes into every purchase made. I like to invest in tran-seasonal pieces that will go on high rotation throughout the year, and this seasons offerings, coupled with spend and save offers from said favourite stores, have made it easier for this savvy shopper to part with her pennies and make an investment.

As you can see below, quite a few pieces from my favourite stores have now made their way into my wardrobe … from the luxe and quirky elegance of Mimco’s accessories and shoes, to Country Road’s soft blouses and jeans, which are an absolute staple in my everyday life. I’m extremely happy with my bounty and know that each purchase is highly valued.

I have worn and adorned myself with everything that I have recently acquired so far which makes me very happy. It tells me that I have made the right choices in terms of how these pieces work with my existing wardrobe.

When I look back on my shopping habits of years passed, I had a burgeoning wardrobe of garments that still had their tags on and never worn. Buying, just in case I needed it and often forgetting what I actually owned. But not anymore. Now, my life and attitude is completely different. I buy based on what will enhance my wardrobe, as well as it’s practicality but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Having less to play with has taught me to be more mindful of colour palettes  and styles.

It also encourages me to be creative with my accessories, to create fresh new looks with the same items and I think that is far more enriching. It certainly keeps me on my toes as the seasons roll round but that is half the fun, wouldn’t you agree?