September 18, 2013

Sponsored post: A flavour-packed afternoon tea

Lipton Tea Masterchef

I was recently invited to the pop-up Masterchef Dining and Bar in Sydney to experience ‘High Tea Brewed by Lipton’ with master tea blender, Kurush Bharucha. As a self-appointed aficionado of tea and cake, I was excited to check out the new pop-up and explore the new range of Lipton‘s Pyramid teas. And I was also eager to sample some of the sweet treats that have featured in Australian Masterchef over the past few years. My date for the afternoon was my mum, the original aficionado of all things tea and cake.

Lipton Tea Tasting via WeeBirdy.com

First surprise? The magnificent set-up of the Masterchef Dining and Bar, which was a much grander verision of your usual wooden-crates-and-make-do nature of a pop-up. This was pop-up deluxe, with marble benchtops, magnificent lighting installations and Masterchef’s signature mezzanine, where our afternoon tea was taking place.

Lipton Afternoon tea via WeeBirdy.com

Lipton Tea Tasting via WeeBirdy.com

Our table was set with an intriguing line-up of bell jars housing samples of tea leaves, with another row of glass tea cups and a third row of Lipton Pyramid tea bags. After our glasses were filled with hot water, we were introduced to Lipton master tea blender, Kurush Bharucha, who is a man who knows a wee bit about tea. So much, in fact, at one point in his career he was tasting 1,000 cups of tea a day. Blimey!

Kurush guided us through each tea, explaining the finer points of each blend as we infused our hot water with the new pyramid tea bags. It was an experience for all the senses, and represented a departure from your usual automatic-robot-tea-bag dunking, as we could observe the tiny leaves, flowers and pieces of fruit within each pyramid swirl and burst into colour and fragrance.

Second surprise? The Russian Earl Grey tea pyramid came to life in the hot water. The pretty sky blue cornflower petals swirled amongst pieces of orange and lemon peel and the gentle aroma of bergamot and citrus wafted up from the cup. I’m not generally a fan of Earl Grey but this one had a subtle flavour that was gently warming.

So what’s the big deal about the pyramid shape? Kurush explained that it allows them to use longer tea leaves and bigger pieces of ingredients such as lemon peel, cinnamon bark and jasmine petals – which is responsible for the swirling visual treat in my cup! Also, the roomier teabag means that all the goodness in the tea bag can dance about and release more flavour. It’s a bit like having a mini teapot with loose leaf tea in your tea bag. Nice!

Lipton High Tea via WeeBirdy.com

Third surprise? We were also introduced to the new range of the delightful Lipton tisanes, with blends including Forest Fruits, Raspberry Passion and Peach Mango. Most of you will know that I generally like a good old cup of builder’s tea – English Breakfast is my blend of choice, but I really loved exploring the new fruit tisanes. Anything with a flavour punch of passionfruit gets a big tick from me. I usually fill my tea with milk and sugar, but there was no need for anything else with these cupfuls of rich flavour.

Lipton High Tea via WeeBirdy.com

We were also introduced to last year’s Masterchef runner-up, the lovely Julia Taylor, who took us through the tasty afternoon tea menu featuring Waldorf finger sandwiches, friands with tea-infused raisons, Zumbarons, Adriano Zumbo passionfruit tart and her signature Vegemite caramel chocolate cups.

Lipton’s Forest Fruits tea went down a treat with the zumbarons! The stand-out sweet morsels of the afternoon were the incredible friands, the flavour-packed passionfruit tart and the Vegemite caramel chocolate cups, which were the absolute highlight. Sweet and salty and incredibly moreish, we sat in reverent silence as we consumed the heavenly mouthful of the most surprising ganash.

Lipton High Tea via WeeBirdy.com

The best surprise of the afternoon? Discovering that Lipton’s pyramid tea is indeed a clever and innovative way to enjoy your favourite brew, and the 16 new flavours provide a real treat for your senses.

Who knew a tea bag could provide so much entertainment?

WIN! Lipton Pyramid Tea

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below telling me in 25 words or less which Lipton Pyramid tea flavour would you pair with your favourite sweet treat? The giveaway is open to all Australian residents 14 years and older, and ends at 5pm Friday, 27 September 2013.

The five most creative responses will win a sample pack containing eight different flavours from the Lipton Pyramid range. Click here for the full competition terms and conditions. Please don’t forget to leave your email address in the space provided in the comments section – it will only be visible to me.

This post is sponsored by Nuffnang.

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July 26, 2013

A wee tour: My modern vintage baby’s room

It’s funny the things you forget. Like the little details in my son’s room when he first arrived. It’s been two years since these photos were taken, but since I’m running a week of all things related to babies and kids, I thought you might like to see how I decorated his room back then.

A wee vintage modern nursery room tour via WeeBirdy.comAll photography by Lucas Boyd.

There was no real plan or theme, as you can see from the photos (although there are a lot of birds and bunnies, naturally). I was fiercely opposed to anything too matchy-matchy, or beige and neutral. I wanted a light, bright and happy space for my new baby – and me.

I’ve spent a lot of hours in this room – and now that it’s home to a very busy two-year-old, quite a lot of things have changed. But one thing that hasn’t changed is my love of print and pattern, and my magpie approach to decorating.

A wee nursery room tour via WeeBirdy.com

Modern vintage nursery tour via WeeBirdy.com

I guess you could call Harry’s room modern vintage – but really, we were confined by a tight budget – and space. And like so many other new parents, we trotted off to IKEA for the requisite Expedit shelves and chest of drawers.

The rest of the space I filled with vintage and second-hand-stuff, like the Stokke cot I bought for a song on eBay. And I didn’t want to splash out on a new rocking chair or anything that was marketed as a ‘nursing chair’, so I made do with a mid-century chair that I bought and had reupholstered by the brilliant A Pair of Chairs in Redfern.

The teak arms of the chair were instantly ‘christened’ by my son on the first day we brought him home, so I hastily covered it with a mix of second-hand granny blankets, quilts and cushions.

Children's book shelf using IKEA spice racks via WeeBirdy.com

Harry's nursery room tour via WeeBirdy.comBlabla bird mobile via WeeBirdy.com

Budget and space were also major factors to consider when it came to buying baby furniture. So much in fact, that I was vehemently opposed to anything that had a sole ‘baby furniture’ purpose. So instead of buying a new nappy change table, we made do with a change mat on top of the IKEA set of drawers. And instead of a separate Moses basket or basinette, Harry slept in his cot from day one. I also decided against buying a bulky baby bath, so a baby seat in our bath did the job just as well.

Modern vintage baby's room via WeeBirdy.comModern vintage baby's room via WeeBirdy.com

Modern vintage nursery tour via WeeBirdy.comI introduced colour and texture into what was an otherwise plain white space with my own childhood toys, new finds, and the many generous gifts from friends. My beloved Little Wanderer by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara – a gift from a friend for my 30th birthday – found a new home on Harry’s shelves.

You can also see the hand-painted cotton reel garland that my mum and sister made for me when I was born. And if you look carefully, you’ll be able to spot my childhood copy of M Sasek’s This is Sydney, along with my childhood Mr Potato Head, fuzzy felt board, red school case, wooden xylophone and Danish wooden fish puzzle. And like every other design blogger with a baby two years ago, I duly bought the IKEA spice racks and re-purposed them as rather nifty book racks. Ha!

Modern vintage baby's room via WeeBirdy.comModern vintage baby's room via WeeBirdy.com

Vintage wallpaper giraffe decal via WeeBirdy.comTo keep things fresh and to add a splash of greenery, I popped a pot plant on top of Harry’s shelves – it’s still there but it’s now filled with dinosaurs.

Here’s a wee list of some of the things you can see in his room. Most of these things were gifts but I’ve provided sources where possible.

Vintage fabric bunting by Hazy Jane from My Messy Room.
Babar print from a seller on the banks of the Seine, Paris.
Original Winnie the Pooh etching, from a bookshop in Cecil’s Court, London.
White Expedit shelving unit (lying in its side) from IKEA.
Malm chest of drawers (with Cath Kidston nappy change mat on top) from IKEA.
Hen and chicks mobile by Flensted.
White crochet granny square rug by IDA Interior Lifestyle’s Etsy shop.
Alphabet blocks, a gift from a friend, can be bought here.
Yoshitomo Nara’s Little Wanderer.
Heico rabbit lamp, kindly gifted by Caravan Interiors.
Small hand painted tambourine
, trimmed with vintage ribbons by Claire Fletcher from Made in Hastings.
Vintage chair re-upholstered by a A Pair of Chairs.
Birdy cushions from Habitat, London.
Vintage wallpaper animal wall decals from Inke Heiland.
Bajo wooden bird abacus from My Messy Room.
Bajo red wooden bus from My Messy Room.
Old fairground wooden battleships from Pedlars‘ Notting Hill shop.
Much loved McNuttie the Squirrel, kindly gifted by BlaBla Kids.
Multibirds mobile, gifted by BlaBla.
Red bird dream ring, gifted by BlaBla Kids.

Modern vintage baby's room via WeeBirdy.com

Photography by Lucas Boyd.

It’s a week of babies and kids on Wee Birdy! Make sure you haven’t missed:
Top 12 affordable art prints for children’s rooms
Wee find: Laikonik once-a-year baby record books
19 clever ways to transform a kid’s room with wallpaper
The 12 best presents for baby girls
A wee historic royal baby exhibition
The 12 best presents for baby boys

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July 19, 2013

Shopping in London: New summer brights at Goodhood’s Life Store

Have you poked your nose into Goodhood‘s relatively new shop, Life Store? As the name suggests, the East London store is home to Goodhood’s edit of lifestyle products – and if you’re familiar with the Goodhood brand, you’ll know that true to their moniker, they’re rather good at cherry-picking all the good stuff.

On the fashion side of things, they stock the likes of Antipodium, Karen Walker Eyewear and P.A.M for girls (yay for the Antipodeans!) and Garbstore, Junya Watanabe Man and Norse Projects for guys. Or in their words, they stock “everything you would require for a good life”.

Macrame plant hanger from Goodhood Life Store via WeeBirdy.com
Goodhood plant hanger via WeeBirdy.comGoodhood plant hanger via WeeBirdy.com

As part of their statement for their summer lifestyle collection, the good people at Goodhood claim that “colour is an important aspect in life, it can dramatically affect moods, feelings and emotions.” Now if anyone deserves a star, I suggest they get a big fat (neon pink) one for delivering on their mission, with a ripe-for-the-picking bunch of delicious bright new products for summer.

It almost feels like they’ve raided my favourite shops from around the globe (including Etsy sellers!), with cult Scandi brand Hay leading the way in the colour and style stakes. The Danish design super-store brings a whopping dose of hygge to Life Store – that unique Scandinavian concept that doesn’t directly translate into English, but suggests a certain warmth and cosiness at home.

Brights at The Goodhood Life Store via WeeBirdy.comGoodhood Hay blanket via WeeBirdy.comGoodhood Hay blanket via WeeBirdy.comGoodhood Life Store Hay throw via WeeBirdy.com

The buyers at Life Store have shown a rather deft hand in selecting key products from Hay’s considerable product lines, from the vividly patterned wool blankets and quilts to the stunning ombre plisse accordian file (£18.33), which is well on its way to becoming a modern design classic (see below).

Hay plisse at Goodhood Life Store via WeeBirdy.comGoodhood Life Store Hay plisse folder via WeeBirdy.com

The immaculate curation continues with a gorgeously inexpensive range of neon-dipped concrete candle holders from Melbourne brand Sarai (£21). Seriously, is one of the buyers Australian?

Sarai candleholders at Goodhood Life Store via WeeBirdy.com

And they’ve delved into the Etsy archives with a collection of more neon colour-dipping, courtesy of Wind & Willow‘s stunning range of wooden bowls and spoons (just £7 for a wee bowl).

Wind and Wilow bowls and homewares at Goodhood via WeeBirdy.com

The Neon Brights show continues with Nud lighting, a collection of beautiful oversized naked globes and bang-on-trend neon and patterned cords, which are sold separately (from £25). Transform your bedroom by hanging a couple of bulbs over your bedside tables and – pow! Instant mood change.

Goodhood Life Store via WeeBirdy.comGoodhood Life Store lightbulbs via WeeBirdy.com

More delicious summery hues are delivered via &Klevering‘s multi-coloured tealight holders (a colour punch steal at £7), Kleen Kanteen’s flask (a summer essential at £19) and Petites Production’s vivid green steel table legs (£126).

Goodhood Life Store via WeeBirdy.comKlean Kanteens at Goodhood Life Store via WeeBirdy.comPetit Productions table at Goodhood Life Store via WeeBirdy.com

For an excellent review of Goodhood’s Life Store from someone who’s actually set foot in the shop (anyone want to sponsor a wee birdy on a research trip to London?), head over to Jonestown London. Dan Jones is a sublime writer and as Time Out London‘s former Shopping & Style Editor (and my former boss), he’s totally in-the-know when it comes to best of London retail. Oh, and you can read Dan’s Secret London for Wee Birdy here.

Goodhood Life Store
20 Coronet Street
London N1 6HD
Tel.  (0)207 729 3600
Nearest tube: Old Street
Opening hours:

Monday to Saturday 11am-6.30pm
Sunday 12 noon-5pm

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July 17, 2013

Sydney design: Bright and bold new DAN300 textiles

Spring Dan300 cushions via WeeBirdy.comDAN300 Babcha Luxe spring textiles. Photography courtesy of DAN300.

I’m super-excited to exclusively reveal a sneak peek of the new DAN300 spring/summer 2013 collection of textiles on Wee Birdy. I’ve had my eye on Sydney designer and director of DAN300 Daniella (Dani) Rosen for the past few years, as each new collection grew bigger – and brighter.

It was only last year that DAN300 launched their very first collection of cushions – before that, the business was primarily focused on stationery and small accessories. The new spring/summer 2013 collection marks a new level of maturity for the design studio – and look how much it shines!

Dan300 spring textiles via WeeBirdy.com
DAN300 Nana’s Garage Folkland textiles. Photography courtesy of DAN300.

DAN300′s signature kaleidoscopic use of colour and pattern in last year’s Babcha Luxe collection is reflected in the new collection, with a soft new ‘aqua’ colour-way available in a range of cushions and handy zip-cases. The harlequin, fish scale and geometric prints are back, re-worked with a mid-century influence which would work beautifully in any retro-inspired or contemporary setting.

DAN300 cushions via WeeBirdy.com

I’m also loving the relaunched Nana’s Garage collection, with its ’60s folk-inspired floral prints that are worked through the range of cushions, zip cases and a collection of new softies for babies and kids.

Dan300 softies and zip pouches via WeeBirdy.com
DAN300 new Nana’s Garage Folkland softies and zip pouches. Photography courtesy of DAN300.

The textiles ranges are named after Dani’s grandmothers: Babcha Luxe is named after her maternal grandmother (‘babcha’ is Polish for grandma); and Nana’s Garage is named after her paternal grandmother, whose garage was often used as storage for DAN300′s early collections.

I like that Dani has brought a personal ‘family story’ to her collection, as her brightly-coloured, vivid designs are at once fresh, contemporary and nostalgic – and the collection has been cleverly designed to layer throughout the home.

DAN300 textiles for Spring via WeeBirdy.comDan300 Babcha Luxe aqua textiles. Photography courtesy of Dan300.

I’m rather keen on the smart collection of zip cases (below), which would make very handy emergency-nappy pouches for your handbag, as well as sweet little bags for make-up, craft supplies or pencils.

DAN300 zipcases pouches via WeeBirdy.comDAN300 zipcase via WeeBirdy.com
Dan300 Babcha Luxe accessories. Photography courtesy of Dan300.

DAN300 will be at the upcoming Home & Giving Trade Fair in Melbourne, where Nana’s Garage relaunch will make its debut.

DAN300 cushion via WeeBirdy.com
Dan300 Babcha Luxe Brights cushion. Photography courtesy of Dan300.

DAN 300 cushions via WeeBirdy.com

DAN300′s new spring/summer collection will be available to pre-order online from August 1, 2013. The new products will be shipped out from August 18. But in the meantime, check out the current collection. There is free shipping within Australia for all orders over $50. Click here for a list of stockists.

Follow DAN300 on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

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July 15, 2013

Wee Birdy’s Top 12 Sandals

Saltwater sandals via Stitches and Maps.
Salt Water Sandals via Stitches and Maps

When you’re in the midst of summer heatwave (I’m talking about my northern hemisphere readers here), the most practical and on-trend option for footwear is a sensible leather sandal.

One step up in the style stakes from Havianas (er, flip flops), a good flat leather sandal will see you through many a fashion-meets-heatwave dilemma. This season, old-school sandals and fugly orthopaedic shoes are enjoying something of a mini renaissance, taking their wearers from day to night. And I haven’t stopped smiling.

It’s interesting watching trends emerge from the ‘other’ side of the world (and from the depths of a chilly winter). This past summer in Sydney, I couldn’t walk a block without spotting a veritable rainbow of bright and shiny Salt Water sandals. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Salt Waters were a Summer 2012/13 wardrobe staple. This pleases me no end, as my arthritic toes can’t really handle anything steeper than a five-degree slope.

Tan and coloured leather sandals handcrafted in the traditional Greco-Roman style are also having a moment in fashion right now, with the likes of Net-a-Porter and ShopBop stocking a range of K. Jacques sandals. (This is something I don’t think I’ll ever fully appreciate, after trekking through le Marais in Paris to find the cult-ish K. Jacques store back in 2007. And then blogging about it.)

But if you’re looking for something a bit friendlier on the wallet, you might like to head to Etsy and my secret-squirrel shops where you’ll find a range of traditional hand-crafted sandals for as low as £8.50 (GO!). And then a wee birdy told me about Greek Sandals, where you can pick up a pair of traditional Mediterranean-style sandals priced for around €30.

The Sandal and the Craftsman via WeeBirdy.com

Meanwhile, in London, The Sandal and the Craftsman (see above) has been popping up in locations around town, for one-one-on appointments with his gorgeous range of hand-stitched flat sandals inspired by the Italian tradition. Available in a range of gorgeous colours, this is one craftsman to keep an eye on.

The Top 12 Sandals for Summer by WeeBirdy.com

Here are my top 12 sandals for summer:
1. Salt Water sandals in yellow, US$39.99 from Mod Cloth.
2. Marais USA espadrille wedges, now US$88 from ShopBop (available in other colours).
3. Marais USA gladiator sandals, US$130 (available in other colours).
4. K. Jacques Flavia crisscross sandals, US$248 from ShopBop.
5. CoSTUME NATIONAL Fiore Flat Sandals, reduced to $178.50 in orange.
6. A.P.C. flat sandals, US $310 from ShopBop.
7. Red women’s leather sandal, £88.36 from Einat and Stephan Kedmi’s Etsy shop.
8. Roman Greek leather sandals in black, £8.50 by Ananias Sandals’ Etsy Shop.
9.  Thebes Sandal Natural Color sandals, €30 from Greek Sandals.
10. Ancient Greek Sandals Clio sandals, US$185 by ShopBop
11. Carvela Kloud studded flat sandals, £65 from Selfridges.
12. Loeffler Randall Dree woven sandals, now US$70 in cobalt/mint (other colours available).

Disclaimer: Some affiliate links are used in this post, for which I receive a small fee per sale. Never fear – it doesn’t affect my decisions or selections. I wouldn’t feature any crap on Wee Birdy.

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July 15, 2013

Out and about in Sydney: Sydney Design

Sydney Design edible walls via WeeBirdy.com

If you love design and happen to be in Sydney between the 3rd and 18th of August, you might like to book yourself in for some of the excellent talks, tours and workshops lined up for this year’s Sydney Design.

Now in its 16th year, more than 75 events across the city will explore the theme, ‘Design re-think – can clever design save the world?’. (I bloody well hope so!)

George Nelson mid-century design classics via WeeBirdy.com

My top picks? I’ll be making a beeline for:

Head over to Sydney Design to check out the full program.
Photography courtesy of Sydney Design and The Powerhouse Museum.

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