Mother’s Day is always such a special occasion in our household, and I always like to get together with my family to honour my mum and celebrate the wonderful mother she is. One way we like to do that is to enjoy a delicious breakfast together. Our preferred menu? Pancakes and waffles and lots of it.
I always like to dress the table for the occasion and add some simple design flourishes that will turn Sunday breakfast into something befitting Mother’s Day. I usually choose to do something pared back yet impactful, because I don’t really want to spend the entire morning fussing around with setting the table. That said, I’ve found there are some easy, but striking decorations that will really set the mood.
Just add flowers
I don’t think a table is ever really set without some gorgeous blooms to add a splash of colour. And the thing with flowers is, you can go in so many different directions, from bright and vibrant, to understated and classic. I personally like to embrace a lot of striking hues as I think it really lifts the scene, and turns a table at home into something special.
Add a delicious scent
Whenever I’m entertaining I always have candles burning as I find it’s such an effective way to create a great atmosphere, and makes any space so warming and inviting. Scent is such a powerful thing and for events, it’s always great to add a scented candle as it will instantly transport you to that time and place whenever you smell it again. This year, I’m embracing this beautiful limited edition Glasshouse Candle aptly titled, An Ode to Women, as Mother’s Day is a lovely reminder of the beautiful women in my life, from my mum, to my gorgeous daughters.
Keep it simple
Any good design is about keeping things simple, with a tight edit of beautiful things, and that includes setting a table. I went for simple tableware as I didn’t want it to overwhelm. I don’t think you can really ever go wrong with crisp white plates, linen napkins and placemats and interesting design details, like wooden napkin rings. It all works together to create a mood that’s sophisticated and elegant, yet is still comfortable enough that people feel welcomed and at home.
Generously portion serving plates
Don’t neglect your plating! Part of setting a nice table is to ensure that the food is celebrated. I usually like to keep platters or plates piled high as I think it looks more inviting. Creating that abundant effect is always a critical part of setting a table that has people wanting to sit and enjoy themselves.
Layer your table
I think it’s all about working with different layers when it comes to setting a photogenic table. Consider the base, which includes things like placemats, cutlery, tableware and glassware. Then consider what goes on top, from napkins to serving platters, then look to the decorative touches. This includes things like a delicious scented candle, to assorted florals in a range of different colours.
This post was produced in collaboration with Glasshouse Candles
I’m lucky to come across a lot of beautiful things in my job, and as a result I’m always finding new additions for my wish list. This month I’ve been in equal parts house and wardrobe shopping mode. I’ve been looking for new decorative pieces for our home post-reno, just small things that can really help transform our space. While on the fashion front, I’ve been searching for new updates to add to my autumn wardrobe. And in my travels, I’m lucky to have managed to find a few pieces that fit the bill. Here’s what’s currently on my radar.
This cute structured bag is just the thing to add a fresh touch to the more moodier tones I’ll no doubt be wearing throughout autumn and winter. The size is perfect as I’ll be able to carry all my essentials without it being too cumbersome, and I love the chain strap which adds a layer of elevated elegance to the overall design.
This is currently sold out but I’m waiting patiently for new stock to arrive. This ceramic fruit stand is made in Puglia in Italy, and the colours and design remind me of many of my favourite holidays in Italy. I’m planning for it to be a stylish reminder of more Italian soujourns that will hopefully be on the horizon in the not so distant future.
I’ve been looking for a trench to get me through the next few months and I immediately fell in love with the design of this Camilla and Marc number. It’s the perfect length/shape to work back with my winter wardrobe and the colour is just right. I can’t wait to snap this one up as it’s definitely going to fill a gap in my wardrobe.
Big or small, home renovations can be daunting. It’s such a period of upheaval that you want to make sure that you are well equipped to deal with what’s ahead. We recently underwent a home renovation at our apartment, tackling our living spaces and giving it a more updated, modern feel. While it wasn’t our entire place, it was still a big project to tackle and it required having a good plan to take us through the few months of being in reno mode. Having now gone through it firsthand, here are some of my biggest tips.
Work out what you want to achieve
For our reno, we knew we wanted an updated look and also to create more living space, and also to make better use of the areas we spent a lot of time in as a family. Having a clear idea of your vision is important to keeping the project on track.
Work out the main areas you want to update
I would have loved to have done our kitchen and living rooms and additional bits and pieces throughout our place, but for us, we decided to just focus (and put all our budget) on the living/dining and balcony area as that is the place where we spend most of our time as a family.
If you are not great at interiors and/or dont have the time to devote to searching for the right pieces, I highly recommend a stylist if you can fit that into your budget. We used an interior stylist and while they do charge a fee, you get industry rates for your purchases which can save a lot if you intend on buying lots of new pieces. Also our stylist really helped us work out exactly what we needed and helped us find cheaper options of what we liked if we couldn’t afford the exact look.
Ask yourself if it’s your forever home
We knew that we wouldn’t be in our apartment forever so we opted not to do any built-ins. All our new cupboards and furniture can be taken with us. We would have loved a built-in TV unit and a built-in BBQ area but we left it and it ended up saving us a lot.
Don’t underestimate the impact of light cosmetic updates
It’s amazing how much new paint and carpet can lift a place. Sometimes you can work with what you have and not have to tear down walls or completely demolish a space—you can lift a space simply by just adding new soft furnishings.
Make the timings work for you
For minimal disruption I highly recommend planning around your calendar to ensure you’re not in the midst of a demo at inopportune times. For example we pushed back our reno so new carpet and paint could be done when we were away for school holidays and then the we booked in our furniture install when the kids were back at school so they weren’t waiting around all day every day.
What are some of your tips when it comes to surviving a reno?
I know most of us would be missing overseas travel after so long without it. I definitely am! We always like to go away on family holidays and are lucky to be able to jet off to different spots yearly, so we’re looking forward to being able to go away just as soon as we’re allowed. In the meantime, I think it’s always nice to tap into that holiday feeling at home. In lieu of being able to jet off on a plane, here are some things you can do to help ease those feelings of wanderlust.
A scented candle
Scent is such a powerful thing—I know for me, a particular perfume or even just a certain dish cooking in the kitchen can bring memories flooding back. So if you are craving that holiday feeling, why not light a candle with a scent that brings you back to a favourite getaway, or even one that you’re looking forward to.
Watch a film set in an exotic location
Let a movie take you away, even if it’s just for a few hours. Film is such a vivid way to escape the every day and the best thing is you can head off to all corners of the globe without ever leaving the comfort of your couch.
Order in the cuisine of the next place you want to visit
Italy holds a special place in my heart, so whenever I am enjoying any Italian food I always feel transported back to my fave holidays there. So I think a great way to have something to look forward to is to order a meal (or cook one!) from the country of the next place you want to visit. Enjoy the flavours and really savour it and remind yourself that one day hopefully very soon, you’ll be eating an authentic meal locally.
Read a travel-themed book
There are so many travel tomes out there, from Eat Pray Love, to Into the Wild and On The Road, there’s nothing quite like embracing a good novel and allowing it to take you somewhere far, far away.
Have a themed dinner party
Why not invite some friends around and have a dinner party themed to a particular travel destination? Whether it’s a Parisian themed soiree, a Mexican fiesta or an amazing sushi spread, this is a way to let food take you on a vacation for an evening.
Plan a travel TV binge
When you’re in binge watching mode, tune into a great travel TV program. There’s nothing like an episode of a travel themed show, whether it’s an Anthony Bourdain series or chef David Chang traversing the globe in Ugly Delicious, to help you soothe those travel pangs.
Play the long game and really take the time to learn a new language to prepare for your next big holiday. There are so many online programs, apps or even good ol’ fashioned books to help you learn a new language. It’s such a great way to truly immerse yourself in the experience of visiting a new country by being able to speak the local dialect.
Do something you always do on holiday
Is there something that you always do when you’re on a getaway? Whether it’s hitting up the spa for a treatment or ordering room service and relaxing in a bathrobe, tap into holiday you and indulge in a little vacation behaviour.
Plan your next trip
I am already dreaming of what our next holiday will entail. I can’t wait to be able to jump on a plane and end up somewhere far away. So, it’s been great to check out some dreamy locations and hotels to help us start planning what our itinerary would be. It’s definitely given me something to look forward to and is a great way to help deal with those travel pangs.
What have you been doing to ease the longing for overseas travel?
I can be found at Sydney’s Balmoral Beach most days in summer and it’s one of my favourite ways to spend a day out with my family. And while a great beach day is fun, having two kids in tow also means that I need to be prepared with a well-stocked beach bag.
I like to be prepared for lazing about on the sand, but also for wherever the day may take us so it means I always have a few key things on hand at all times. Here’s what I often take with me…
A big tote
I always carry a nice roomy tote to the beach as it’s perfect for throwing everyone’s things in it. There are so many gorgeous beach bags out now whether it’s made of canvas or straw so shop around and find one that perfectly suits your lifestyle.
The bigger the better! I like a nice, big fluffy beach towel. I always need to be able to spread out my things and I like being able to lay down without having my feet hanging off into the sand so space is a necessity.
I usually opt for a pair that has larger lenses so I can be guaranteed extra coverage throughout the day. I’m quite militant about wearing sunglasses to protect my eyes in summer so I always invest in the best quality I can.
Believe it or not I bring three different kinds! One for the body, one specifically for the face and a kids’ sunscreen for the girls.
Lipgloss with SPF
I like a multitasking lip gloss with a built in SPF. The sun can be quite dehydrating so I like one that I can use as a moisturiser but can protect me at the same time.
A wide brimmed hat is a necessity
A wide brimmed hat
I am all about protecting my face from the sun’s rays so I definitely always pack a wide brimmed hat in my beach tote. A beautiful straw hat is my go-to.
Plain one piece or bikini
My swimsuits tend to be in plain block colours a lot of the time as I’m not really into wearing too many prints. I go for navy as it’s classic but I’ve also got swimmers in black, khaki and cream.
I’m a watch girl so I always wear a watch to the beach. The only mandatory is that it be waterproof. There are so many great, inexpensive watches out there now so I’ve found some great options that will survive a day in the sun.
I like to take a pair of sandals that I can slip on and off quite easily. I hate having to deal with multiple straps when I know I’ll have to be in and out of them the whole day.
I always bring a cover up of some sort so I can pop it on really quickly if I need to grab lunch or a drink for the girls. I like anything lightweight (linen is good!), airy and really uncomplicated – I just need to be able to take it on and off quite easily.
With Christmas just around the corner, our thoughts are quickly turning to the day itself and what we’ll be serving up to our nearest and dearest. While a feast is a delightful prospect, actually getting there is another story. For many of us, it can be a stressful experience trying to decide what to serve, with the daunting prospect of having to decide everything from nibblies to desserts and every morsel in between.
But as with most things, it always helps to have a little expertise on hand to help make it a little easier (and decidedly less scary). Which is where Liz Elton and Lisa Featherby, co-founders of food and entertaining site, Eatable come to the rescue. Both are alumni from Australia’s leading food, wine and travel bible, Gourmet Traveller (creative director and food director, respectively) so it’s no understatement to say they live and breathe all that goes into throwing a successful soiree.
Here, Liz and Lisa share their tips for everything from their go-to Christmas dessert to what drinks you need to have on hand and the must-haves on every table. (And stayed tuned later this week for their top tips on how to dress a festive table that will seriously impress.)
What are the must-haves for a successful Christmas spread?
Lisa: Condiments! We’ll be talking about the best condiments right up to the last minute on Eatable before Christmas. As long as you’ve ordered your protein—ham, turkey, seafood or whatever you’ve chosen, you can jazz it up with lots of side condiments for people to pick and choose their own adventure.
Liz: I can’t go past a charcuterie platter. If lunch or dinner is delayed for whatever reason, it will tide everyone over until the main meal is ready. If everything else goes wrong, you can’t lose by keeping everyone’s glasses topped up with a chilled sparkling or Champagne.
What are some easy things people can do when it comes to the food/drinks that makes a big impact?
Lisa: I’d suggest investing in a big wine bucket that can hold a few bottles at a time, particularly bottles of Champagne. Have a tray of glasses to the side and let people help themselves. This makes drinks easy to pour, but also can become a bit of a feature in itself. A jug of iced water that has some fruit or mint leaves aded with a stack of water glasses to the side can also be a nice touch.
What are your favourite go-to dishes at Christmas?
Lisa: Trifle always features in some form for me, as I’m a big fan of summer fruit. Make a jelly, top with a flavoured cream or custard and lots of fruit. Buy a pannetore or pandoro and rip that into pieces into a bowl before scooping in the trifle. The yeasty flavour and spice of pannetore is one of my favourite Christmas flavours.
I love seafood, too. I’m usually keen to see some kind of seafood element over Christmas, and often served cured trout and oysters.
Classic roast pork and crackling is great and I love that with a light shaved fennel salad, or duck fat roasted potatoes if we want to be indulgent.
What are your recommendations for great drinks to serve on Christmas Day?
I’d choose a brut (dry) style to start, or even a good pét-nat (short for pétillant naturel), as these can be quite interesting. Have a good mix of interesting and classic wines ready to go with the main feast, too. Make sure you know the wine weight so you can stagger them out correctly, starting with aromatic whites, then moving into a more textural white like a chardonnay or Chablis, and then if you choose to serve red, try chilling it first if it’s a hot day.
With dessert, Moscato di Asti is always a winner – or you can come back to the sparkling, which is perfect with pavlova or trifle to finish – a demi-sec for a little more sweetness, or a saignée or rosé for something pretty. A new trend we’re seeing is low-alcohol wines, so if you want to include some of these, the alcohol volume doesn’t have to be high.
Apart from that, there are a huge amount of great vermouths out there, so a Christmas Spritz could be a nice celebratory drink to start with – you can make these non-alcoholic, too – I love a classic Americano with Campari, Maidenii sweet vermouth and soda, but you could serve vermouth and soda and include some festive aromatics, like a fresh bay leaf or a slice of orange peel. Make sure you have plenty of ice, too, stock up well beforehand so you don’t run out halfway through the day.
Liz: My family doesn’t drink alcohol, so I always make a big jug of non-alcoholic punch. I add fresh wedges of stone-fruit such as peach and basil or mint to a fresh juice and soda water, mixed with a non-alcoholic spirit and lots of ice. Seedlip do some refreshing, non-alcoholic spirits that you can make great non-alcoholic cocktails with as well. I have just discovered NON – a gorgeous non-alcoholic drink that is perfect for summer and special occasions. P&V in [Sydney’s] Newtown have a great selection of non-alcoholic spirits and shrubs.
What are some great entrees/mains/desserts to serve that are easy but delicious?
Lisa: I just love a glazed ham. There’s nothing to it as the work has already been done for you—all you have to do is find the right glaze to finish it. I’m a big fan of pineapple, brown sugar, golden rum and spices. We love curing a side of trout as it’s very easy to do and can be prepped a few days in advance and served cold, which is great for a hot Christmas day. A simple sauce like a classic mignonette for a platter of oysters over lots of ice is so easy to do. And if you want something that requires no time at all, a store-bought pannetore or pandoro can be turned into a stunning dessert just by adding a dollop of ice cream and some peaches roasted with some brown sugar and red wine.
What are your suggestions for guests to snack on when they arrive?
Lisa: A bowl of spiced nuts is always nice. You can buy raw nuts and roast them with some spices and salt. I love to make a pate around Christmas, and this can be done a couple of days ahead and served straight from the terrine mould. Or for something quite easy, you can make a smoked trout pate—simply buy some smoked trout and flake it, then whip it up with some creme fraiche as a quick and easy dip served with crackers.
With Christmas just around the corner it’s not uncommon for stress levels to start skyrocketing, particularly if you’re the one playing host to family and friends. So to help make it easier, I’ve enlisted the help of Stephanie Conley—a former fashion designer turned founder of the successful lifestyle blog, The Hostess, Le Cordon Bleu alumni and Electrolux ambassador to share her top tips for making hosting any gathering over the festive season a breeze.
It can be an overwhelming task hosting family and friends during the festive season. What are some things you suggest people do to help make it easier?
Being organised is key to a successful and enjoyable day. Perhaps you could delegate desserts to other family members so you can concentrate on the main meal, it will take a lot of pressure off.
What are the key trends you’re seeing when it comes to entertaining that people may want to keep in mind for any gatherings over Christmas?
Creating a large grazing table is a great way to entertain and feed a large amount of people. Plating individual meals is very time consuming and often stressful if you have 20 plates to do. Get creative and dress your table with beautiful fresh blooms, use wooden boards and crates to sit platters on, as well as Christmas decorations, fresh fruit and nuts.
What would be on your ideal Christmas menu?
Seafood is my go-to dish at Christmas, so a classic prawn cocktail, grilled scampi, an abundance of fresh salads and a citrus honey glazed ham. For dessert I always make pavlova and homemade rum and raisin ice cream.
What’s something you think people should spend less time on when it comes to entertaining?
Food – it doesn’t have to be 3 Michelin star! Rustic, casual and simple cooking is the best way to cook at home and entertain. The most important thing is to have fresh local produce, use good extra virgin olive oil and cook with love.
What’s something you think people should spend more time on when it comes to entertaining?
The table is where the focus is, so some effort is needed in the presentation of your table. Invest in some lovely linen napkins and a table cloth or runner. Buy some small table vases perfect for small arrangements that don’t take over your table or block the view of your guests. Update your salt and pepper shakers and flatware. All these little touches create ambience and once you have them you can keep adding and creating different looks for your table.
What are some shortcuts people can take to help put an event together easier?
There are a lot of items you can buy ready made and then just spend time on their presentation. For example an easy Christmas starter would be a fresh seafood platter of prawns, oysters, assorted sashimi and make or buy a dipping sauce. Arrange it all on a large platter with wedges of lemon and toss some watercress over the top with some crusty sourdough.
Glaze a ham and serve with assorted mustards and chutneys. Roast some root vegetables drizzled with maple syrup and rosemary then make a green salad with walnuts, cranberries and crumbled fetta cheese.
And for desert vanilla bean ice cream with fresh mango and crumbled ginger nut cookies on top.
This is a very simple and fuss free menu that everyone can do and would enjoy and it could be done the day of.
What are your key tips when it comes to decorating an event?
Flowers are always a key item as they just brighten a room.
What are your tips for styling a table that’s sure to impress?
A centrepiece of low fresh blooms, candles and an element of layering, whether that is using placemats or using a table cloth or runner to create some depth.
What are some things a host can do to ensure that when they’re hosting an event, they’re not spending all their time in the kitchen?
A secret helper, someone to pour drinks, stack the dishwasher and clear the plates – find a helping hand who wants to do a few hours work so you can enjoy the fruits of your hard work. Also, having large appliances, like the Electrolux RealLife XXL Fully Integrated Dishwasher, is great so you can wash more at one time.
What are three must-haves for any host?
1. A well-stocked bar
2. Good food
3. A great playlist-music is essential
Want more tips from Stephanie? Check out her new podcast, in conversation with her husband Oskar Buhre where they discuss Christmas traditions, entertaining and staying organised.
We’re all a little restricted in our movements at the moment, particularly when it comes to going too far afield for a holiday so it’s the perfect opportunity to embrace a good ol’ fashioned staycation. And yes, while it doesn’t quite beat being able to travel to an exotic, farflung location there is still something to be said for holidaying in your own backyard. Here are a few ways to make the most of it.
One of the best things about going away somewhere in my opinion is being able to check out the hotel spa. Being in luxe and relaxing surroundings while being able to enjoy a facial or massage is bliss. So, why not treat yourself to a pamper session at your favourite day spa? It’s the ultimate way to de-stress. Or if you want to stay closer to home, you can always enjoy a top-to-toe pamper session with a DIY facial and a mani-pedi.
Host a dinner party
Nothing says relaxation quite like a fun night in with friends. Choose a theme for the evening and either whip up a few dishes if you’re in the mood, or alternatively just order some nice takeaway (so many restaurants are doing at-home meal kits right now so take advantage of them) and sit back for a night of fun.
Play tourist in your hometown
We often take our local haunts for granted but there’s no doubt that here in Australia, we’re truly spoilt for choice when it comes to things to see and do. So pick out a spot that perhaps you haven’t been to in awhile or somewhere that you’ve always been curious about but have never got around to visiting and finally check it out.
Go on a day trip
The best thing about day trips is that you can go somewhere new without the hassle of having to pack for a longer stay. So pick out a spot on the map and head out for the day. The change of scenery is often what a holiday is about and this is a great way to do it.
Have a movie night
If you want to invoke those holiday feels then why not have a movie night featuring movies set in your favourite destinations. Paris, New York, Tokyo… there are so many amazing movies set around the world, and it’s a great way to get that vacation feeling, minus the airfare.
Draw up a hit list of places you want to eat
One of my favourite things to do whenever I’m away is to check out all the local food spots. Dining out is my fave way to immerse myself in what a destination has to offer, and it’s something that’s so easy to do at home. I’ve often got a mental list of new places I’d really like to eat at, but sometimes end up just heading to places I’ve been to before whenever we head out to dinner so a staycation is a great opportunity to tick a few of those spots off your list. Whether it’s a cool bar, a brunch spot that’s had rave reviews or a hole in the wall pizza place, here’s your chance to holiday one dish at a time.
As anyone with kids can attest, children have a tendency to accumulate a lot of stuff. From books to toys and clothing, the sheer volume of things required by little ones is immense and can sometimes feel like it’s taking over the entire house. Which is why storage is so important. Having plenty of places to store things is key for maintaining order in a household (this is definitely the case at our place) and is also a great way to help teach kids about tidying up after themselves.
Sophia and Grace now share a bedroom which means we have to organise double the belongings so I was on the hunt for a storage system that looked nice but was also really practical. So when I teamed up with Pottery Barn Kids to trial their Cameron low storage system in the girls’ room it got me in the mood to organise their space. In the process, here are some things I’ve learned…
It’s worth getting into the habit of decluttering regularly. Doing an edit of all the girls’ things allowed me to identify things that they had outgrown or no longer needed and this in turn freed up a lot of space to store the things they are currently using.
Think about how the space is being used
Take the time to look at how the space is being utilised. For example, which toys need to be within easy reach? What books do they keep coming back to? What clothes are always on high rotation? This will give you a place to start and will help you determine what will go where.
Make everything within easy reach
If you want to encourage your kids to help with tidying up then it’s important to make everything easy to reach. I love the Cameron storage system for this reason because all the shelves, cabinets and baskets are all readily accessible which means the girls can put everything away once they’re done.
The more types of storage the better
I’m a huge fan of having as many different kinds of storage as possible. Open baskets are great for storing things that are always used and need to be accessible (or put away quickly). I love cabinets for hiding things away that we may not necessarily want on display or use often. While shelves and little cubby holes are perfect for everything from housing books to toys and showing off various trinkets and decorations.
Consider storage systems that will work with your house
I’ve always liked any kids’ furniture in our house to go with the rest of our decor. Anything white and in a simple design has always been our go-to. I think this allows for a little more cohesion in the home and will also make storing the kids’ things just a part of your home’s interiors as opposed to something that sticks out. Also, classic designs will mean that your furniture will grow with your kids and can be utilised in bedrooms at any age, or alternatively reworked into another part of the home.
Given travel is restricted right now, travelling too far afield isn’t really on the cards for most so it’s a great opportunity to explore regional Australia. One of my favourite spots in NSW is without a doubt the Southern Highlands. We have a farm in the area so we’ll often pick the girls up from school on a Friday and drive down for the weekend. And you’re guaranteed to find us there most of the time during school holidays.
It definitely holds a special place in my heart as my family and I have spent so much time there over the years but I also love coming back time and time again because there’s so much to see and do. From the great food and wine to fantastic shopping and beautiful surrounds and spending time in the great outdoors, there’s something for everyone. And if you’re in Sydney like I am, it’s only and hour and a half drive but when you get there it feels like such a different world. So, if you’re looking for your next weekend away, check it out, and be sure to stop in at some of my fave spots to shop, eat and have fun. Here’s what to do in the Southern Highlands.
This is my favourite for Sunday lunch. I love stopping by for a cheese or charcuterie platter and a glass of wine. It’s particularly nice on a beautiful day. Book a table outside and let the kids run around the beautiful lawns. Onesta Cucina is the restaurant onsite and it’s my go-to for a special occasion dinner.
We keep our family ponies here and love taking the girls whenever we’re in the area as they have such a great time riding. They offer riding lessons, trail rides and/or riding camps so perfect for keeping the kids occupied.
Trail walk at Fitzroy Falls
Going for long bushwalks is something we like doing as a family and I highly recommend this spot.It’s so beautiful and the waterfalls are breathtaking.
Parents usually are often big fans of this spot as they have animals for the kids to pat. There is also a farm shop, organic market garden and grass-fed cattle butchery, if you want to pick up some beautiful, fresh produce.