the perfect mother’s day gift

“The bags under my eyes are CHANEL”. 

-Coco Chanel

We tell our children that the only thing we want for Mother’s Day is a card, and yet what we mean is, please just don’t forget me!

So when my son’s Mother’s Day gift arrived in the mail (let’s not mention a few days late … ) I was thrilled to find the perfect gift. The card and his heartfelt words always warm my heart (and I am just a little bit relieved that he has stopped giving me Easter cards for Mother’s Day and Christmas cards for Easter)!

More than just a Book | The title of the book resonated with me immediately.  The book told me that he not only loves me but he knows me so well and both are equally as important to me.  “The Kinfolk Table | Recipes for Small Gatherings”, by Nathan Williams … just perfect!

What I love even more is the blurb on the inside front cover where they talk in a language that is also close to my heart.  They talk about discovering the simple pleasures of a shared meal.  The Kinfolk is about good food, but it is just as much about opening up the table to the people around you.

I cannot wait to read this book from cover to back and I cannot wait to try a few of the recipes!


Gift in-situ | on the dining room table of course!

a sparkling new year…

We enjoyed a New Year’s Eve party at our house for about 60 guests.  We made it a Cocktail Party which ran from 7 pm-11 pm so that they could party here and then happily see the New Year at home.  I often hear people say that what they dislike most about a New Year’s Eve party is the count down at midnight (maybe for fear of catching a cold sore from someone who has had one too many).


Easy Entertaining | It was an easy night for entertaining.  We used the dining table to lay out all the buffet food, the benchtop for the teas, coffee and chocolates (which from memory very few people even bothered to have) and the outdoor floating benchtop for all the drink service.

The invitation list and the music are just as important as the food and wine on nights like these.



same vase | 4 looks

“Be Different | Be Yourself”.

Use your favourite entertaining pieces and then reuse them again! Using a favourite item makes for a reliable entertaining piece.  I bring the same pieces to each occasion and just change them up a little so that they suit the theme or the occasion.

Bold & Versatile | This vase has been one of my favourites which gets used time and time again.  It is glass, clear and bold.  Baubles get thrown into it at Christmas time (I just adore a massive clear bowl filled with beautiful glass baubles), and white orchids often find their way in there along with an assortment of other flowers which best suits the occasion.  Right now the glass bowl is playing host to 8 eight goldfish (our house became instantly stagnant post the death of our dog Bo, hence the need to create some much-needed movement again).  They look ever so pretty and they are located under the staircase where Bo’s bed used to be.


Going Fishing | I researched the correct number of goldfish for a small bowl to create lucky feng shui energy in our home.  Number nine is meant to be the most auspicious (and while I would love 9 in the bowl I feel that we have already potentially overcrowded the bowl with 8). If you can accommodate 9 fish then remember to also include one black coloured fish (black moor) as this creates energy and good fortune. The blackfish also absorbs any negative energy and becomes a symbol of protection.  Remember, if the blackfish dies then it was possibly because it absorbed negative energy which was headed your way.  You should remove it immediately and give it a respectful burial and replace it as quickly as possible.  If you don’t believe me check out

9 the Luckiest | As for us 8 fish, they represent money and abundance.  I still prefer the meaning of 9 fish, being long life and the luckiest, so in time I suggest we might invest in a bigger bowl and welcome a new fish into our home.  Money and abundance just feel me feel as if the meaning is lacking a little heart.






uproarious family christmas

“Never sacrifice these three things:  your family, your heart, or your dignity”

The Bigger the Better| Each year our family Christmas Dinner grows.  This year we had 31 for a buffet dinner.  For me the bigger the merrier and that is just my side of the family.  I love it!  It is never a quiet occasion and I suspect the neighbours might well  leave home to escape the noise.

Everyone brings a shared plate.  I prepare the baked ham and roast turkey breast and my other half and I prepare dessert.  He can actually bake a mean pavlova.  The only problem he is his limited attention span in the kitchen.  By the time he has added  the  3 ingredients he has already started to lose interest. So when it comes to preparing the cream, fruit and fluffing it all up, it is often left to me.  I let him take the credit, after all it is all about the pav isn’t it!

Our buffet is always filled with loads of roast vegetables and delicious salads.  Our dessert is always finished with our signature pavlova (which now means 2-3 pavlovas) all topped with festive fruits.

Our indoor easily takes in the outdoor and we erect a 3rd temporary table in between  the two. All seated side by side, inside and out to accommodate the cast of a thousand.



Bringing a Game into Play | The highlight of the night is our Secret Santa. My Son brought this idea back from Copenhagen with him.  We have loved it ever since and it simply means that our noisy gathering just got a whole lot louder.

We place our wrapped Secret Santa gifts in the centre of the tables (remember three tables for us on this occasion) and everyone takes it  in turn to throw the dice. As soon as someone gets a 6 they select a gift from the centre of the table.  This continues until all the gifts have been taken.  There are a few problems with this game and that is my Mother who takes them even when she hasn’t thrown a 6 and tucks them under her seat, my Father who pulls the 90 year old card and takes one or two when he feels it is warranted and naturally my Son who I have since learned had his own dice in play.

Once certain members of the family have cheated and all gifts have been taken, a timer is set for a specific number of minutes, and nobody other than the official timer knows just how many minutes (oddly enough it is my Son who has appointed himself the timer).   As soon as the timer is set everyone starts throwing the dice again.  As soon as a 6 is thrown they can take someone else’s gift.  I am sure by now you can picture the utter mayhem in our house as everyone is racing from table to table, falling over each other, screaming and knocking off the the best wrapped gift in the house.

Just Another Normal Family | We have such a multicultural family these days and I love that about our family.  We have a few countries not yet represented so there is no pressure whatsoever on those still unmarried!

Tip:  Introduce a game to your Christmas Dinner!  It is so much fun!

ladies networking high tea & bubbles

“Keep Calm and Drink Tea”

Networking in Style | My friend Jenny and I co-hosted 40 ladies to a Saturday afternoon high tea at our house.  Sharing this up was such an excellent idea because not only do we get to share the food preparation, we also get to put two different groups of women together for a couple of hours of pleasurable networking.

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Saturday afternoon seems to work best for this type of invitation.   Sundays are generally reserved for families. So we try and leave that day for family events.

Tip:  Try hosting an afternoon tea with a friend!  It makes for such shared fun!

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wigs and afternoon tea

“Family | A Little Bit Crazy, Big Bit Loud & a Whole Lot of Love”

On this occasion, our afternoon tea was less about the food and decoration and more about getting together and simply having fun!  I was in the middle of chemotherapy so it was easy for me to pull the “I don’t want to go to a lot of effort” card.  How quickly the table turns when you are having fun because no sooner were we into afternoon tea when I revealed my bald head to my sister’s grandson.  I expected a reaction of shock and horror, however, instead he asked his mother if he could shave his head just like mine.  That provided a good laugh for all.

Pulling off a Bald Head | It wasn’t much longer when my wig and “other” wigs all fell onto the table. Everyone started trying them on and I was relieved that they looked equally as bad on them as they did on me.  I always wanted to wear a wig and I remind myself to be careful what I wish for.


As for my Mother, message to self Mother “you must never wear a wig“.  As always we made a lot of noise and had a lot of fun.

Tip:  If you don’t have a cupboard full of wigs hiding out, find something else which will entertain and create some added fun!




special little things

“Some people arrive and make such a beautiful impact on your life, you can barely remember what life was like without them”.  

Author:  Anna Taylor

Small Things | Big Difference: Everyone has the extraordinary little things they receive or collect along the way.  It is these little things that can often make a big difference.  I have a few items which I have collected either locally or when travelling, and they provide such pleasure being able to pull them out from time to time to create a different mood.

The hand-blown candle holders I purchased in Melbourne have been pulled out and used in so many different ways over time.  They operate with candle oil which is a safe and lovely soft glow.  These go out on loan often for friends’ weddings and social functions.



Bauble Delight | I build on my bauble supply every year.  Also, great quality glass ones naturally need to be treated and stored with great care.  Baubles don’t only have to be for Christmas; and they can be rolled out and used for other special occasions as well.


Christmas Trees in Shapes and Sizes | My paper fold-out Christmas Trees are a favourite of mine.  I also roll out the silver table runner for most occasions to add a touch of bling.



Create a Look | The black wire stands are constantly used when we entertain.  I have them in three different heights, and they provide a more exciting style of service.  I knocked the idea of elevation off from Ottolenghi’s tiered kind of a buffet. However, these are a little more delicate than the more rustic look of Ottolenghi.  I purchased these from Table Culture Subiaco, another of my favourite shops.


Pots Indoor & Out | These Seralunga pots are used both inside and outside our house.  Mostly they are filled with permanent potted plants; however, I have a few which are kept purely for decorative purposes.



a dinner with ottolenghi

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner … not |I have every one of Ottolenghi’s cookbooks.  I adore his food and his presentation.  Soon after breast cancer treatment, I found I wanted to open up my home again to our friends and celebrate the end of chemotherapy (well worth a celebration trust me).

I wasn’t yet fully ready to entertain 12 guests and do all the cooking, so we all pitched in and put together a menu from an Ottolenghi cookbook and each couple brought a plate to the buffet (since then we have done this a few times and not only at our house but others have jumped onto the idea).  So much easier and so much more fun because you are sharing the glory and we can all talk food all night (well almost all night).

I decorated the table in Ottolenghi style and I had to make the dessert (his sweet salty cherry cheesecake is delicious).










be there for your girlfriend

“A strong woman stands up for herself.  A Stronger woman stands up for others.”


Easy Entertaining Together | A friend was flat out at work and struggling to find the time to put her birthday party together, so I offered to help her.   It wasn’t difficult because I had the shopping list/action plan from my earlier birthday party and we were able to modify much of the information and replicate it in a way it was especially hers.

I won’t tell you which birthday it was for that would be disrespectful of me!  That said, she was born almost six months after me so I suggest that makes her younger.


Bringing Indoors Out |She has a gorgeous dining room table (to match her personality) which opens directly onto a large outdoor entertaining space.  The table enabled all my plates and platters and her massive cheese boards to sit perfectly together and in great harmony. Remember my earlier suggestion, you don’t have to go out and buy these things if you can borrow from a friend.

Her dining table was filled with cheeses, dips, antipasto, fruits, nuts, baguettes, and rolls, baked ham, mini gourmet burgers and the best assortment of gourmet dried biscuits I had ever seen (great shopping friend).  Her stone bench top was used to display cakes and dessert.

Tip:  Invest in great cheese boards!  They can be used in so many wonderful ways!






client brunch at home

Girls & Champagne always go Together|We hosted a staff and client brunch at our house!  Strangely enough, all women again!  The focus was on the dining table which was laid out with gorgeous delicate brunch-style foods and the kitchen stone bench played host to the champagne (again I always seem to put girls and champagne together) teas, coffees and chocolate.


I downloaded some French cafe style music to create a light atmosphere (my son always negotiates with me that he will stay and help with some entertainment if I allow him to put his music on in the background…fortunately it is not all bad and mostly nordic so I can live with that).

Our company colours were green and purple so of course, all the theming and food was styled around these colours.

Needless to say, what a great bunch of women and a fabulous brunch.