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HAMPTONS MEETS BALI

Posted by on Oct 14, 2016 in Blog, Travel | 0 comments

HAMPTONS MEETS BALI

My husband and I have just returned from our holiday in Bali.  We counted that it was our 7th trip to the Island of Gods. When my kids were younger, we preferred to stay at Club Med but if it is only the two of us, despite the fact that the island boasts myriads of five star hotels, we prefer to stay at a private villa.  Not only does it provided you with absolute privacy and sole use of the pool and all the other facilities, the majority of villas offer you more personalised service such as having your own butler, a cook and a driver with further services of a masseur, yoga instructor and so on, subject to the your budget.  Luckily for us, due to the very favourable exchange rate, we could afford to live surrounded by such luxuries which back in Australia are totally beyond our reach. We try not to stay at the same location but rather get a perspective of different parts of Bali and this time we chose Seminyak, the hip resort area at the end of Bali’s main beach strip where the chaos of Kuta gives way to a more sophisticated, laid-back vibe, in one of the myriads of private villas called Villa Hermosa, situated in one of the tiny gangs (lane-ways) not far from the main strip but hidden behind tall walls and dense fauna providing us with complete privacy and noise isolation. The house itself was absolutely beautiful.  Painted in white inside and out, it was sparkling under the hot sun and its white walls were reflected in the bright blue pool situated in the middle of the front lawn surrounded by sunbeds on one corner and a cabana on the other. The interiors were kept in the a light neutral palette and reminded me of the Hampton’s style, casual and relaxed but done in a classic and sophisticated way skilfully blended with a distinctive touch of Balinese culture.   Beaded boxes, woven baskets, cute tin containers and other artefacts, showcasing the best crafts of local artists, were brought in to create a fusion of East meets West ambiance. The villa also provided a private chef, a driver and two lovely local young women who were there to cater to our every whim and make sure that our stay was the most enjoyable.  As we had done a lot of sightseeing and driving up and down the island in the past, we decided that it was high time for us to do virtually nothing but relax and have some care-free moments. On a few occasions we asked our chef to prepare us dinner using local recipes and they were delicious. DINNER AT THE VILLA The other advantage of staying in Seminyak area is the close proximity to the great dining scene of Bali:  places like Ku-De-Ta and Potato Head, two of the most popular beach clubs, restaurants such as Mamasan, Metis, Merah Putih and the likes were all within a 20 minute drive from our villa. POTATO HEAD BEACH CLUB WATCHING SUNSET AT KU-DE-TA BEACH CLUB OUTSIDE OF KU-DE-TA BEACH CLUB                                                  ART INSTALLATION, METIS So if you are...

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LET A SOLAR JAR BE YOUR VALENTINE’S DAY MESSENGER OF LOVE

Posted by on Jan 27, 2016 in Blog, interior styling | 0 comments

LET A SOLAR JAR BE YOUR VALENTINE’S DAY MESSENGER OF LOVE

You might think that it is too early to talk about Valentine’s Day when it feels that we just recently packed away the Christmas decorations but believe me that time flies and very soon this romantic day will be upon us. Making a special gift for someone you love for Valentine’s Day may not be on everybody’s list of New Year resolutions but why not try it? My idea is so simple that anyone who can hold a paint brush can do it, neither will you need any special tools nor expensive materials.  On the contrary, it is very easy to do but the result is simply outstanding. All you need is a Solar Jar, a few smooth stones ( black, white or gray – the choice is yours), white or red acrylic paint and a thin paint brush. I am using black stones simply because I have plenty of them lying around in my planter boxes but white or grey stones will work just well.  Using either white or red paint, draw a large letter “X” on one of the stones and a large letter “O” on the other.  Then using a larger size stone, write the word “LOVE” and if you can master it, draw a heart on yet another stone and leave the paint to dry. And that’s basically it.  Open the Solar Jar and place your newly painted exhibits of love on the bottom of it. Put the lid back on and your special gift is ready.  Give it to someone you love and have a happy Valentine’s Day!!! If my idea appeals to you but you don’t know where to get a Solar Jar, please send an e-mail to solarjar@optusnet.com.au and we will help you to find a stockist near...

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GIVE YOUR OLD MIRROR A NEW LIFE

Posted by on Apr 30, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

GIVE YOUR OLD MIRROR A NEW LIFE

Do you happen to own a mirror that does not fit into you current décor but you keep it nevertheless. Well, before dumping it on the side of the road for the next council garbage pick-up, here are a few ideas on how you can give it another quite useful life, also known as my mantra:  re-use, re-cycle, re-purpose. Bur first, let me clarify, we are not talking a bout a mirror of enormous proportions, we are talking about a medium size mirror that is easy to handle and that does not look too bad. My first idea is to use it as a base of the dining table’s centre piece. Gather all the glass candleholders you can possibly find around your house and place them haphazardly on the mirror surface. Not only will the frame of the mirror give the whole piece an artful boundary but the flicking of the candle lights reflected in the mirror’s surface will light up the whole table with their warm sparkling glow making your guest feeling welcome. Another idea is to arrange flowers in a few vases (odd numbers work really well) and then place the whole collection on a mirror surface. This little vignette looks lovely on a coffee table or a small side table. Instead of a traditional fruit platter, use the mirror to display the fresh fruit to make it look more visually attractive for everyone to enjoy.  I saved the best for last. A bottle of champagne placed in a stylish bucket reflecting in a mirror’s surface will help to create a party mood sending out an exciting vibe of fun and...

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Shamwari Game Reserve – Garden Route Part III

Posted by on Oct 30, 2014 in Blog, Travel | 0 comments

Shamwari Game Reserve – Garden Route Part III

Hello again my dear readers, Our Garden Route adventure continues. Just to bring you up to date: after two heavenly days at Plettenberg Bay Hotel and Spa we headed off to Shamwari Game Park. Shamwari (meaning My Friend) Private Game Reserve is in one of the malaria free zones in South Africa situated in the East Cape Province. Stretching 25,000 hectares over a malaria free landscape, it offers an award-winning nature experience and is one of the largest private conservation initiatives in Southern Africa. After a few hours drive from Plettenberg Bay, we arrived at the park on time for lunch. We were escorted to a circular shaped large green lawn where in the centre of it were placed wrought iron dining tables and chairs overlooking the pool. As we sat down, we had a good look around. The reserve’s grounds were stretched all around us as far as you can see and if you strained your eyes hard enough, you were able to spot some animals grazing in the distance under the blazing South African sun. The setting was stunning, the lunch – sumptuous and the service – immaculate – a winning trifecta. After lunch one of the hotel staff showed us to our lodge. It looked amazing. All the rooms looked very comfortable and elegant with a reflection of colonial style coupled with the latest electronic equipment. Every window has a lovely view over the savannah. And thus our safari adventure had begun. There are two drives each day – early morning and late afternoon. The main object of each drive is to spot The Big Five – elephant, leopard, cape buffalo, lion and rhinoceros. The visitors are driven in open jeeps equipped with a rifle, bottles of drinking water, blankets and delicious food for a morning tea or sundowners, depending on the time of day. The driver of the vehicle is your tour guide whose fascinating and extensive knowledge of the park if very helpful. He reads the land like an open book and he will make every effort to make sure that you have seen all of The Big Five. He will find you a perfect spot on the top of the hill to see the sunset and while you are busy taking photographs, he will spread a magic carpet with canapés and drinks helping to break the ice with the other passengers who share the jeep with you and together you toast the setting sun and new friendship. Upon your return to the camp after the night ride, a sumptuous dinner is all set up for you in the beautifully furnished dining room. On an alternative night, you are invited to share in a traditional African food in the boma. After two most exciting days at the Park, it was time to return to Cape Town. Our suitcases loaded into our car, we said goodbye to the friendly staff, exchanged phone numbers with the lovely people with whom we had shared the jeep and feeling refreshed and recharged we went back on the road. As we were reminiscing about the highlights of the last two days, we knew that we would never forget what a unique experience it was. And if anyone asks me what should they do while in South Africa – my...

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Plettenberg Bay Park Hotel and Spa

Posted by on Oct 19, 2014 in Blog, Travel | 0 comments

Plettenberg Bay Park Hotel and Spa

Hello again, my dear readers, As you may recall from reading my previous post, I was telling you about our trip along South Africa’s Garden Route. In this post I would like to tell you about the place where we, after travelling for a long day, stopped for two days. It is called Plettenberg Park Hotel and Spa. My husband pre-booked via the internet while we were still in Sydney but didn’t reveal any details about it to me. Knowing his taste for all the good things, I expected it to be a 4-5 star hotel where the beds are extremely comfortable, towels are white and crisp and the staff is very well trained. Well, was I up for a big surprise? Driving along the freeway, we spotted the road sign for the hotel. We took the turn and found ourselves in front of a massive wrought iron gate with a security intercom on the side. After we identified ourselves, the gates were opened and we found ourselves on the top of a private gravel road running through the grounds that belong to the hotel. After a good five minutes of driving, we finally arrived at the front of the hotel. As we stepped out of the car, I looked around with awe. It looked like we had reached the end of the Earth, literally, as the hotel was nestling on a top of a cliff and behind it as far as your eyes can see – lay the sparkling turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. It was absolutely magnificent, I must tell you, I didn’t expect that at all!!! We were greeted by the friendly hotel staff that took care of our car and luggage and escorted us to our room. It was during the week so the hotel was not busy and they allocated us the Honeymoon Suite. As the bell boy showed us the room, I couldn’t stop but “wooing and wowing” at the size of the room, quality of furniture, beautiful artwork and tasteful décor – absolute perfection. In this sea of luxury and taste, two things, however, where absolutely outstanding: a shower, with three walls of clear glass, its clever design makes you feel like you are floating above the ocean below. The other was the stunning view. As we stepped over to the balcony, the sun began it’s descent into the blue cold waters of the Indian Ocean, painting the sky in all the colours of the rainbow. And down below was the hotel’s private beach!!! We have met with the chef who asked us about our preferences and any dietary requirements and that cooked us dinner accordingly. It was served in the dining room lit up by the huge candelabras with the doors opened letting the smell of the ocean breeze come inside and play with the lights of the candles. Needless to say the service was impeccable and the food utterly delicious. After dinner the waiter led us to the beautifully appointed library full of books and typical Africans artefacts. When we returned to our suite, we found that not only everything was ready for the night; they had even lit up the candles in the hurricane vases sitting on the mantelpiece. We woke up relaxed and refreshed and went to...

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South Africa – Garden Route Part I

Posted by on Oct 7, 2014 in Blog, Travel | 0 comments

South Africa – Garden Route Part I

Hello, my dear readers. If you are planning a trip to South Africa, try to include two more activities into your already busy itinerary: one is to hire a car and take a gorgeous drive along the Garden Route and two – spend at least two days at one of the many game park reserves this country is proud to offer.  True to my word, on our 7th trip to this lovely country, we finally did just that!!! My excuse for not doing it sooner is that our prime reason for going to South Africa every year is to visit my in-laws and spend as much time with them as possible. If you do, however, decide to give it a go, you may try to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, ie take a drive from Cape Town up the Garden Route and once you reach the Eastern Cape, spend a couple of days in the malaria free Shamwari Game Reserve. Garden Route is an 800 km drive along the east coast of South Africa.  It lies north of Cape Town and encompasses some of South Africa’s most beautiful beaches, mountains, and rivers. It is considered as one of the great coastal drives of the world. Since we were pressed for time we decided to bypass the first leg of our journey by flying from Cape Town to George.  I found that this little town is quite ordinary and was not disappointed at all that we missed  it.  There we hired a car and thus our Garden Route adventure began. This is a magnificent part of South Africa.   True to its name, whenever you look along the road, you see the brightly coloured flowers blooming amongst luscious bushes, dark rich forests rising up the slopes on one side and the sparkly blue Indian Ocean on the other. We stopped at Victoria Bay for coffee and a stroll along the beach, popular among locals for its soft sandy beach and a big grassed area behind it where they can cook the braaivleis, a traditional South African barbeque. Our next stop was at Knysna, a small, picturesque town famous for its beaches, lagoons and lush forests and thus a perfect place for water activities, walks and other adventures.  We had a lovely lunch at an Italian restaurant called Cornuti that served us an excellent pizza with a breathtaking view over the lagoon on the side.  After lunch we took a long luxurious walk along the beach admiring the surrounding environment.  It was peacefully quite, no traffic, no shops, and no people in crowds and for city slickers like us it was heaven. We left Knysna the same day in the late afternoon for Plettenberg Bay where we were staying overnight at one of the most magnificent hotels I ever seen but this is for the next post. Until then………   An old map of the Garden Route   An Old Light House in Knysna   Traditional African craft for sale Around The Wilderness   Victoria Bay beach Traditional South African BBQ...

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What I wore – Stripetease

Posted by on Sep 26, 2014 in Blog, Fashion | 0 comments

What I wore – Stripetease

Hello my dear readers, As you have probably noticed by now, I am not a spontaneous shopper nor do I follow the latest fashion trends. I very seldom buy clothes on impulse or because it is “hot”, for a few reasons: a) I do not want end up looking like everybody else around me and b) once the trend becomes yesterday’s news, I don’t want face the dilemma of “what should I do with this piece now”? And it is not just the money you pay for it, you have to find valuable space in your wardrobe to store this currently useless item till the wheels of fashion turn over yet again (say every 10 years) when you may be able to wear it once more. My guess is that by that time, you will probably completely forget about its existence. My philosophy in buying clothes is quite simple and logical, to me at least: avoid impulse shopping, do not succumb to short lived trends; instead look for a timeless classic piece that you never grow tired of and when buying a new piece think what it will go with in your existing wardrobe. Mixing and matching is a lot of fun, and if you can master this trick, you will instantly double or triple the volume of your outfits. I prefer to shop in stores that allow you to bring the item back for a refund and not just for a credit note. I like to bring a new purchase home to see whether it works with what already is in my closet and if it does’t – I will take it back. There are quite a few items in my wardrobe that go a couple of years back that I love and wear them regardless, such as DVF dresses, black silk slim fit pants, white silk blouse, a couple of knitted cardigans and a pair of black and white wide leg silk pants. You know that time of a year when the summer is over but real autumn has not settled in yet, when it is hot during the day but once the sun dips into the sea, you wish you had taken a scarf with you when you left the house in the morning. It is during these few weeks in between the seasons that you need what I call transitional clothes. Typically it is a light jacket in neutral colours or silk blouse that you can throw over your shoulders, a light scarf. In my wardrobe – it is a pair of silk wide leg black and white stripy pants. Despite their strong pattern, they can be worn just about everywhere. In daytime they look so chic just with a black t-shirt or a singlet and a cropped linen jacket to fight the evening chill. But swap the jacket for a wide silk blouse that you knot around your waist, add some sparkling jewelry, a pair of smart shoes and a bag to match and you are ready to have a cocktail or two at your favourite bar. While my daytime attire is all a monochromatic palette of black and white, when I dress for an evening I like to add a punch of contrasting colour using 70-20-10 formula. Traditionally, its applies when selecting a colour...

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Flower Power

Posted by on Sep 17, 2014 in Blog, interior styling | 0 comments

Flower Power

Hello my dear readers, The Earth has rotated one more time and we are marching into spring.  At long last. I have to confess that this winter was not a very good time neither for me nor my family but hopefully it is all in the past and we are facing a bright and beautiful future, literally. Next time you go out for a walk or rush to your office, just take a moment and have a good look around you.  Notice that the trees don’t look so bare anymore and that spring has finally “sprung” and with it comes the sun and its gentle warm touches that wake up the bright sunny colours all around us.  The flower shops are bursting with a cacophony of smells and a variety of flowers that have just come back to life after months of hibernating.  And once again, City David Jones has presented Sydneysiders with a mesmerizing display of colours, textures and creativity to help awake our senses and imagination. Why not follow suit and bring the magic of spring into your home? If an artfully constructed bouquet or a flower basket is your cup of tea, then your local flower shop is an option (Seasonal Concepts is one of my favourites)but go a step further and create something of your own, something that reflects your style, taste or simply just your mood.   There are no rules and nothing is right or wrong, from a single stem to a bundle, from an heirloom porcelain tea cup to an aluminium laundry bucket – anything goes, just follow the mantra by British fashion designer Jasper Conran: “Add a little to change a lot.” If you happen to have just a plain vase, you can jazz it up in with very little effort and no time at all.  For some ideas, please read my post “Away with wicks and sticks“  A giant flower display at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore White orchids are my favourites A small colourful detail goes a long way  A single rose Create a visually effective display by using a variety of flowers placed in differently shaped vases in similar texture A single rose Cherry Blossom is a true a harbinger of spring Inside the quirky Seasonal Concepts store White flowers will add sophistication to the dinner setting A vintage tea cup is a perfect way to display your favourite flowers Roses in abundance at Bangkok night flower market A celebration of orchids at Bangkok night flower...

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What I cooked – Farm Cheese Hotcakes Russian Style

Posted by on Sep 1, 2014 in Blog, food | 0 comments

What I cooked – Farm Cheese Hotcakes Russian Style

Hello my dear readers, If you, like me, were unable to read my blog during the last two months, there is a very bad reason for it – the hard drive of my website hosting company crashed and with it went my beloved blog.  And so back we went to square one and started all over again.  What my web designer was able to salvage were a few posts from 2013 but all the images were lost.  And that is what you will find in my blog now. So please welcome my new website, reborn and refreshed.  As for my blog, I will try to re-build it as fast as I can, hoping that you, my dear readers, will enjoy my new posts as much as you did in the past. And as generally a happy occasion is celebrated with a feast; my first post is dedicated to food.  This time it is a dish that brings me back to my roots, of the most loveable and delicious hot cakes Russian style. Ever since Bill Granger introduced ricotta hotcakes at his Surry Hills, Bills Restaurant, back in the late 90’s, they remain the most favourite dish on almost every breakfast menu of almost every eatery across Sydney. Well, we Russians have been cooking hotcakes for decades, the difference is we use farm cheese where Bill uses ricotta.  Nevertheless, they are delicious and remain as number one Saturday breakfast in my home.  FARM CHEESE HOTCAKES WITH ROASTED FIGS AND SOUR CREAM  You need (for 4 people) 500 gr of fresh farm cheese Olive oil for frying 1 egg 3 tbs of sugar 5 tbs of flour A pinch of salt 1 tsp of vanilla extract A handful of sultanas (optional) A tub of sour cream for serving 4-8 figs cut in half and sprinkled with sugar Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.  If the mixture feels a bit runny, add more flower.  The dough should not stick to your hands but also not to be too firm.  If you like your hotcakes really sweet, add more sultanas and if you don’t like them that sweet, just add more sugar. Sprinkle some flower over a chopping board, then take a piece of dough and roll into a shape of a tennis ball, then place it on the board and press lightly with the palm of your hand to flattened it out.  Heat some oil in a frying pan over moderate heat and fry the cakes in batched for about 3-5 minutes, until golden brown on both sides. Add some butter into the pan and pan fry the figs cut side down until the sugar is caramelised.  Remove from the pan and place on top of the hotcakes. Traditionally, the hotcakes are served with the sour cream that cuts through the sweetness but they are equally delicious just on their own....

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What I wore – Maxi Skirt

Posted by on Aug 26, 2014 in Blog, Fashion | 0 comments

What I wore –  Maxi Skirt

Last Sunday we were invited to a typical Australian feast of the day “Aussie barbie” – (a barbecue – for my readers who live in the US of A and a braai for those from South Africa) with some friends whom we haven’t seen for quite some time. The weather took mercy on us and blessed us with the sun and one of those light breezes that bring relief and a delicious aroma of barbecue prawns from the backyard next door.  Had it just been another BBQ lunch, I would have put on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt but I knew that my friends do not do casual clothes much so I decided to match the challenge head on and dress up a little for the occasion.  I chose a silk maxi skirt with a deep side split bought recently during one of the many pre-Christmas sales that didn’t break my budget but look and feel great.  Its fabric is light and very pleasant to the touch and despite my preference for stronger patterns and bold colours in my wardrobe, somehow its pastel palette appealed to me.  The main reason I liked about this skirt that it is awfully versatile.  It could be paired with a simple cotton t-shirt or singlet and sandals for a relaxed beach look or titivated with a glamorous top, killer accessories and high heels for something special.  In the cooler months it will be great with a blazer or a chunky knitted jumper, a scarf and a pair of ankle boots.  As for the colour, it goes with just about everything depending on your mood and style. As I mentioned earlier, I am not exactly after a soft romantic look neither in my home decor nor in my clothes, I love the contrast between soft and rough textures and that often determines the choice of what goes with what in my outfits as I did it for this occasion pairing soft silk skirt with chunky knitted top and quirky geometric shaped necklace. I bought it recently at one of my favourite shops – Becks & Minty: made of leather strings coloured in silver, gold and black, at both ends they are wrapped around rings that in turn connected to the clasp, it caught my eye the moment I walked in the store. I liked it straight away, I figured that this necklace could be dressed up or down, it will go well with almost every top I have in my wardrobe, it will add style and charm to the evening outfit, or simple t-shirt into a funky one. As for the shoes, I found a perfect compromise between flat sandals and high heels – wedges, a successful cross between glamour and the beach. A pair of aviator shades completed the...

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