Tag Archives: interior design

French Kitchen

Akaroa April 2013 220Akaroa April 2013 217
I have just returned from a relaxing weekend visit to Akaroa, New Zealand. Akaroa is a picturesque seaside, historic French/British settlement; set in an ancient volcanic area 75km from Christchurch, New Zealand. I was so looking forward to staying at Fleur cottage on Rue Jolie, it did not disappoint. This historic 1870’s two storey cottage has been romantically restored. The owner Valerie has a wonderfully creative eye and the overall sensitive renovation has managed to retain a nonchalance which is in keeping with the relaxed spirit of Akaroa. The cottage is very chic, very frenchy!; for two days I was able to dream I was really in Provence. I love garden design and interiors magazines and this was like stepping inside one.Image

The garden was lush, green and a bit bohemian, a canopy of six trees covered the outdoor table for intimate outdoor dining. Apparently the owners of Fleur cottage had hung bags of bricks on the branches as they grew to weigh the branches down so they grew outwards. The garden had a magical sense, it could easily be a set for A Midsummers night dream.

I adore the old worlde sage green that Fleurs kitchen is painted. I loved looking in the cupboards and discovering treasures; a groovy vintage Kenwood stand mixer and eclectic china. This is one of those little kitchens that is soooo inviting; Tiny & cosy with a real big Baltic pine turned leg dining table. We hung out round the table, drinking and eating, writing and reading, talking and laughing. The chairs were painted a delicious sorbet lemon colour. This overall interior effect was good enough to eat.

Once we ate (seafood pie bound in white wine cream sauce) and drunk too much <em>(Syrah and Chardonay) we retired to the lounge and sunk into one of the comfortable, french linen, shabby chic couches, dimmed the lights and enjoyed the wonderful home that is Fleurs cottage.
Ces’t la vie !
Bonnie x

To view or book see link



Filed under cooking, food, home cooking, Interior design, Interiors, travel

Kitchen Dreams

This is my dream kitchen, my new dream….kitchen.

Ok it may be only in my imagination right now. I am a big believer; visualise it and you can have it – easy. Well easy not always, however I can testify with hard work, discipline and self belief wonderful things happen. A purpose built home kitchen with thoughtfully planned cupboard space for everything imaginable. I am constantly dreaming of a walk in butlers pantry full of my preserves, a beautiful aga style oven and lots of granite bench tops, white cabinetry contrasted with black laquered cupboards and delightful antique/industrial lighting, white painted tounge and grove ceilings with exposed painted beams.   I have decided to start my kitchen journal of what I want in the kitchen of my dreams that my husband Greg is going to build for me in our new home. He tells me it will be his pleasure.

 I adore the scalloped edged, patterned fabric on the roman blind – stunning.  A visual treat and compliments the warmth of the timber joinery, painted cupboards, stainless steel appliances (how insane is this rangehood) with the luxurious use of granite bench tops. Who would think all these materials would harmonise so perfectly together. Love, love, love this look. And I am still in love with kitchen islands. There is nothing better than how friends and family naturally gather around the island to talk and eat.

Another praise worthy island from the Tasmanian cooking school http://www.theagrariankitchen.com which speaking of having dreams, I hope to visit one day very soon. I just look at this photo and desire to get cooking. Wood fired pizza anyone?

Kitchen furniture as cabinetry, so pretty. How amazing would this granite island be to roll out  pastry or knead bread on.

After living on the hill with a wonderful kitchen view for the past 9 years I must say windows, an outlook and lots of light are very appealing in my ideal kitchen and certainly something worth insisting on. How lovely are these light fittings….ahhh…sigh.

And these lights are as divine. Bar stools get a big tick from me, my 3-year-old daughter likes swinging off ours. Deep butlers ceramic sinks and vintage looking tap ware add to the overall effect. I must ensure I have the high stud ceilings to incorporate this high cupboard look. Lets not forget the shuttered kitchen window. I could write a whole page on my love affair with shutters. The ivoke romanticism and cosiness.  Tiles; tiny slate grey or duck egg blue coloured mosaic tiles, traditional small envelope size white hospital style tiles and vintage weathered french style tiles. I must have tiles in my kitchen to really get my dream look.

I am the daughter of a serious collector of all things antique & vintage, Mum has always had a lovely collection of antique seagrass cane baskets. Consequently I have a very soft spot for them also. They give your kitchen a down to earth homeliness, they are also so practical as the dreaded hidden junk draw that every one has and no one likes to admit. I could see my stash of dirt covered agria potatoes and onions stored away in a pretty cane basket drawer. Exposed shelves for displaying all those equisite plate cakes and stands, this works for me.

My new kitchen will not be entirely complete without another place to display my love of fabrics. I need some kind of window seat preferably in a sunny spot to take a seat or a sneaky nap while I wait for my cake to bake and read the paper or catch up with my sisters on the phone while I day-dream out the window. A set of french doors is compulsory adjoining the living room or to shut off the kitchen (cooking smells) is highly desirable. They look so lovely open like this too.

So many styles to choose from, I love the curved window seats, small telephone seats and window seats with dining tables for the whole family. Drawers underneath can double as storage. Cushions, glorious cushions – my friend Omima and I do have a little bit of an obession with buying cushions. A window seat in my kitchen could be another spot to display those new cushion purchases.

Black joinery in the image above, what a striking contrast with the neutrals.

 Ticking stripes, black and white…tick tick tick. Anything white and black in a kitchen gets my vote of approval.

Ok here is the winner –  The Bonnie cosy nook window seat for cuddling, reading cookbooks and resting from all that cooking.

I look forward to publishing my first post on the new kitchen.

What would be your dream kitchen readers?


Filed under food, home cooking, Interior design, Interiors, kitchens

The city girl moves to the country

I adored living here for 7 years, I have my parents to thank for providing this very special family home as it was in this nurtured environment I discovered my passion for food and cooking amongst other things. Terrace Cottage of Woodside Road is situated in the picturesque foothills of Oxford, North Canterbury, New Zealand on a quaint 3 acres. Originally the school masters house circa 1870’s, Terrace Cottage had an extensive renovation and addition in the 1980’s to a 300 sqm floor plan. We had a constant stream of friends and family as our guests visiting from around Auckland and overseas. There were gatherings and parties with delicious feasts prepared , this was a big, happy social home and never was there a shortage of great home cooked food and full baking tins.

  Being in my informative teenage year of 13 and moving from Auckland city (population 1,000,000) to rural Oxford (population 3,000) to say it was a shock was an understatement, I cried for a year. However what a great move my parents made. The only excuse for getting bored in Oxford was a lack of imagination. I creatively flourished, writing plays and short scripts, cooking, dancing, performing, acting, photography, art, exploring, river parties, bonfires,  friday youth group nights & river swimming with all my Oxford best friends.

You could easily spot the newly arrived townies, like me; walk up to electric fence hold on with both hands! argh. I learnt quickly.

There was a joke in Oxford that a few of my best girlfriends and I shared, let’s get t-shirts printed `I married someone who lived at the end of Tram RD” eg:Christchurch. We all joked (and secretly feared) we would end up marrying a farmer and never get out! eg:leave Oxford.

You can take the girl out of the city, but you cant take the city out of the girl!

Oxford, North Canterbury now can boast of its most famous resident,  New Zealand’s famous cook and food writer Jo Seager’s cook school, cafe and shop. http://joseagar.com

To find out more about Oxford   http://www.oxfordnewzealand.co.nz/


Filed under cafes, cooking, food, home cooking, photography, recipes, travel

Food diary

There is an abundance of overladen lemon trees on the hill at the moment, with a lot of people out of their homes due to the earthquake. I have been lucky enough to receive a few bags of these juicy, unwaxed lemons. I recently bought myself a tart tin, so was really excited to make some sweet short crust pastry and have a go at making a Lemon Tart.

I have been really enjoying cooking from an old Rachel Allen cook book Food for Living http://www.rachelallen.co.uk/book4.html

I have made the Fillet steak with mushroom brandy sauce and a tomato fondue twice now. My guests have all said it was better than a restaurant. Here is a hungry man-sized serving!.

My husband then found one of those marinara frozen seafood mixes at the supermarket that I would usually turn my nose up at. It was hugely economical $6.90 for the tray of mixed sea foods. I then made a basic chowder soup base and created a really tasty home-made seafood chowder for a lazy sunday night dinner.

I need to also rave about a cook book I have been enjoying Yottam Ottolenghi from London.


I made two amazing dishes. This mango coleslaw with an asian lemongrass and sugared hazelnuts. It had the whole sweet & sour flavours going on. I served it with a very moist perfectly roast free range chicken. I wanted the coleslaw to be the star so also made a big rice cinnamon, turmeric pilaf to feed the crowd who came to dinner to enjoy this special meal. Being a food blogger I am learning how sometimes photos really do not do the meals complete justice.





Filed under cooking, earthquake, fish, food, home cooking, meat, organic, photography, potatoes, recipes, soup, travel

Beautiful creative people

My Mum is one of these people, she has always expressed herself beautifully by being a very generous woman who has given  through cooking, baking, home making, collecting, sewing, crafting, mothering, being a faithful and loving wife, and more recently a successful creative business owner of Truly Scrumptious on Victoria St, Christchurch, NZ. (Which she lost during Feb 22nd 2011 Earthquake). I am so proud of my Mum, look what she achieved in her shop, her shop  is really an overflow of the creativity she expresses in her home.

Mum also had a cafe selling delicious chocolates, friands, muffins, dainty club sandwiches, scones, pretty iced cupcakes, coffee La Farre espresso and high teas served all with fine antique bone china.

These special little dense fruit cakes were available in different icing styles and Mum even had one called the “boyfriend cake’, It was iced with masculine style icing.  A perfect gift. Here is a pretty iced cake which sold for around $20.00 each.

Mum’s nickname is Fou, because she loves, laces, fou fou and anything that is insanely beautiful, feminine and pretty. She has had a few stares at the supermarket dressed in vintage 1950’s petticoats and that’s all on!. She alway says she would be much more comfortable living in the 18th century wearing Victorian clothes. She really is a soul borne in the wrong era, she would agree.

When at home Mum loves to entertain and she is fabulous at creating an atmosphere for elegant dinners and creating a lovely table setting. I love her dining table which is an antique french farm table with the original chairs.

Mothers influence daughters and even though I always joke I don’t like too much pink, lace and antiques (after being surrounded growing up with it) I really am my Mothers daughter and have been blessed to inherit her love of all things beautiful and carry on a legacy to the beautiful creative people.

Mum is also a fabulous cook and baker, this is her soft as angels wings Pavlova cream filled sponge cake.

Truly Scrumptious Shop is hugely missed by all my Mums loyal customers in Christchurch, it was seen as an escape from the ordinariness of life to a beautiful dream world of sensory experience. I know Mum will find another outlet for her creativity in the near future – it is natural as breathing.  Being beautiful, creative people you can not help but express yourself in whatever you do. I love my Mum.


Filed under cafes, cake, cooking, earthquake, food, home cooking, photography, recipes, travel

Kitchen makeover – before and after

I was looking through my old photos and came across these of my kitchen in the midst of a major renovation in 2007. I dont know about you but I do love to see before and after photos of renovations. When you are in the middle of house renovation it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and it actually being finished. Once it is completed you usually are so exhausted (and poor) by the whole project you usually dont have the energy to really see what you have done.

My kitchen under renovation

The original 1970’s red retro kitchen can just be seen under a thick layer of dust. To help the builder (my husband) get through the work ahead pouring the drink of choice.

It is hard to believe we lived amongst this for the winter of 2007. In future renovations I recommend to self – move out till completed!. Some of the new kitchen cabinetry can be seen under wraps. It was even more dusty in reality, thanks to new plaster, sanding and paint work on all walls and ceilings.

Looking back towards the lounge with all the carpets up it looks so bleak. This is when you must have a vision.

One of the new kitchen cabinets installed, the beginning of the transformation which was about to come underway.

This is the exciting part, the big reveal!. Ta ta da da! The new renovation.

I love to make a home inviting and cosy.

All renovations were so worthwhile to now have this comfortable love nest to enjoy. However we will have to go back through this sometime in the the near future to repair the damage done by all three Christchurch earthquakes over the last 10 months. This time we will be moving out while the work is done.



Filed under cooking, earthquake, food, home cooking, recipes, travel

Living through the Christchurch Earthquake

My favourite Local Metro cafe, Ferrymead re-opened today, this is a milestone let me tell you. The last time I had coffee and a pumpkin chocolate muffin there was 10:43am the morning of February 22nd, 2011 (a bit like the last supper, for I ate nothing else that day) . The 6.3 Christchurch Earthquake rocked my city at 12:51pm.The  epicentre was only minutes away from this location. ALL the businesses, cafes, supermarkets, have been closed in this area. The nearest supermarket has been a 30 minute drive. For this trip you must be a skilled driver to negotiate the lumps, bumps, detours, roadworks, potholes and general road damage. I was so excited to go and have a coffee there. This felt a little like normality.

I lost all my food in my fridge/freezer as the power was off for weeks. Fish sauce!!! smashed onto my kitchen floor and the smell has only been removed with some very thorough cleaning.

The force of the earthquake was so strong it picked my island bench and huge oven and shifted it across my kitchen. I was in shock when I saw this mess…where do you start? with no power or water to clean the glass and mess and an active toddler who is on the move. We moved out. I have felt like a refugee. We are one of the lucky ones up on our hill as our house appears to have no structural damage unlike about 80% of my neighbours homes. We still have our fair share of cracks. Two days after the earthquake we were staying at my brother in laws house. I felt very grateful as I watched the news reports…over 200 missing presumed dead or missing. I felt the desire to make a  Chocolate cake!. Unfortunately I do not have a photo of it.

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