Friday, June 29, 2012

sonoma alexandria

So here it is. My first café post for Sydney. I did a few here and there in Melbourne, mainly focusing on kid & pram friendly cafes, but Sonoma is my first in Sydney and I am here without a kid or pram!
Sonoma Cafe. Love the picture collage
Nevermind though, there is plenty of room for the odd stroller or two. The space itself is roomy with high ceilings and a concrete floor, so kids, I daresay would be too loud to be accommodated comfortably here (and I always speak for my own kids, I am often envious of parents who have café trained kids. I inevitably end up wearing babycino when I try). There are a couple of tables outside (presumably for smokers) but the area is too open to the street to be used with kids who like to roam.

High ceilings, concrete floor - not a good mix for young kids, perfect for prams.
Teencie outdoor area
The interior is a classy mix of industrial and elegant. Black walls with timber accents, oversize bare bulbs and bentwood chairs make for a cosy atmosphere, while the concrete floor and sloping factory roof keep the industrial history of the building intact. The café is adjoining their main factory bakery in Sydney so keeping the interior grounded is a smart move.

The servery continues the classic mood with a carrara marble wrapped benchtop around a dark timber base. The marble adds welcome texture and elevates the design from its industrial core. Opposite this three white cutouts punch out from the exposed brick wall, two filled in with subtle related photography, and the third acting as a window into the bakery itself.

Exposed brick with dramatic lighting
The café/factory is located in an industrial area of Alexandria, but would still attract a large clientele based on the fact that many workers in the area would be starved of a good local caf. The sandwiches are interesting and made with Sonoma’s artisan bread, itself worth the $10 asking price, gotta try the chicken tarragon one - too good. There's also a selection of biscuits and cakes, a daily hot food menu and this morning I treated myself to some Spiced Rhubarb and Yogurt which was topped with toasty muesli. Yum.

Morning tea. (Note trendy toddler scrawl on laptop...)
Lucky me I get to have lunch here as well and today I go for the curried lentil soup. Alas I am on a carb free diet at the mo (and yes torturing myself at an artisan bakery!) but I am sure the soup will more than satisfy. OK maybe ONE BITE of the bread. Just to taste. And only for this post, yes I am doing this for you!

All in all, Sonoma is a lovely place to eat; very friendly service, elegant interior and great coffee. With or without the pram.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

kitchen musings

We are still awaiting a big move into a house in Sydney, hence we are in limbo land which kind of means everything around me is as well. But the good news is the house is in dire need of a new kitchen so my first personal reno will soon be afoot!

We are on a super shoestring budget so I am heading over to my favourite place in the whole world for ours - Ikea! You have heard me sing their praises before so I'll hold back (but they do have some fab designs!, OK stop now) but I have also been seeking inspiration online, here is a list of fave kitchen design elements... (Alright so it's a wish list but you might add some I haven't thought of too)

Kitchen Art: get those frames in there!
Loving the yellow... Image: Freshome
Window Splashback: love these, who wants to stare at tiles when you're cooking when you can see the garden, a view to water, a mosaic wall, or even a couple of pot plants?
View to the garden. Image: Freshome
wouldn't mind this oven too! Image:
Bold colour scheme: check out this fab kitchen...
Punchy. Image: Freshome
Pot rack: quite like them in front of the window...
Pots preferable to blinds. Image: Houzz
Image: Houzz
Cool Stools: even if they are completely impractical
You would have to try them for boing factor surely? Image: Houzz
Love these! Image: Houzz
Other things on the wish list, double oven (don't have $$ or space for that one), servery into the backyard, fridge with ice machine, matching cutlery and unchipped plates!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

global vintage

So from my last post, you know I have just returned from a trip in Europe with my sister. We had an amazing time everywhere we went, and sis being a keen shopper, especially for vintage goods, we did try and seek out vintage stores during our jaunt.

The most we came across were in Stockholm. Being a designy city, you know the second hand wares are gonna be good. We both picked up some great bargains and oh how I wish I could have bought some furniture; one day I will return with a shipping container!

But more than this, the thing I most enjoy about second hand shopping is the history you can gain from rifling through old stuff. I have enjoyed vintage shopping ever since it was just opp shopping, and would get excited about going to an opp shop in another suburb or town to pick up cool coloured glass or some polyester flares. And so much of this was about getting a glimpse of times gone by, whether it was the local Vinnies or a church opp shop in a small town that you stopped for a pie in.

Fab tea set from store in Gamla Stan, Stockholm

So it was with opp shopping in another country. My fave parts were looking through the books and their subjects, even though in Swedish it was still cool to see what was around. And the homewares were great, one tiny store in the old town was run by a sweet old couple, and had kitchenware! Awesome copper cake tins and massive pieces of silver cutlery. I did so well not to buy up big, it may have had something to do with the fact I would have ended up with a 30 kilo backpack, but still.

Next time you want to see a more accessible slice of history from a place you're visiting, whether it's the next town or the next continent, head to the opp shops BEFORE the museum, you can even take a little piece home with you...

Monday, March 26, 2012

life holiday

I know I said I was going to focus on designy stuff on here now, but after the last month, I had to add this wandering ramble about life - sorry in advance.

Recently I had an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream. Yeah, it was a big deal and although it meant using savings put aside for other things, being away from my family, missing my kids like crazy and poor hubs and my folks having them to themselves for 3 weeks, there was no way I could turn down an opportunity like this. Lifelong dream people! Had to be done!

Said dream was to see the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights. My sis in London mentioned she wanted to go to Sweden on the way to Berlin to celebrate her birthday in February this year, and after telling her of said dream, she simply said "You should come."

Such simple words, so hard to see how this could happen with 2 kids and no jobs after just arriving in Sydney 3 weeks prior. But stars came into alignment, things fell into place, the universe made it happen and I ended up having a mini winter Euro tour with my sister, who I haven't seen for 2 years.

Needless to say, the trip was amazing. I am so very lucky to be blessed with a family who were OK for me to do this, and to spend such a big chunk of time with my sister.

Me and my sis in the arctic circle!
But what I gleaned the most from this 'time out' from life, was how I was able to really see my life for what it was, to put everything into perspective and understand what matters most, and what needs to be let go of. I came back with a vitality I had not seen in ages, and so much love to give back to the people who had let me go.

I know many people would never do this. Either can't afford it, won't be away from family, think it's too selfish to go on your own. I have to say I did feel guilty being away on my own, but no, life is about yourself and your family. You are a part of your family, and every individual has needs that should be fulfilled. If they aren't, then I think you are only being half the person you could be, so not only do you miss out, but your family does not see the best person you could be as well.

So do it for them! A life holiday is the best thing I've done in a long time. What have you done for yourself today?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

is this the best waterplay ever?

Earlier this year a friend and I unearthed an amazing new play area at Darling Quarter, beside Darling Harbour in Sydney. We were amazed to find a massive playground, huge waterplay system (complete with pumps, dams and gates), slides, swings, you name it they had it.

Darling Quarter waterplay space. Image: ASPECT Studios
I was so impressed I insisted we take the boys as soon as we could, and of course they absolutely loved it! I don't blame them, if there weren't so many kids there (it was school holidays) I would have been running through the fountains myself!

Robbie splashing at Darling Quarter

So after getting some inside info, it seems the clever crew who designed this park had already built a multi-award winning park down at Pyrmont Point called Pirrama Park (don't worry, we'll be heading there soon as well) and won the opportunity to design the urban spaces at Darling Quarter based on this.

Aspect Studios are behind this amazing public domain, and I can't express how successful this design is. The interaction between the users and the space is continuous, and the collaboration between them and Waterforms International to make this stunning waterplay area is genius. We'll be back for sure.

Lucas saturated at Darling Quarter

Monday, January 16, 2012


I am sort of back.

We have moved to another state so maybe I am back somewhere else?

Home again
This is too confusing. Cutting to the chase, we have moved interstate (back to Sydney, my hometown), living with the folks, jobless and I am writing again. Ups and downs but exciting none the less.

I will miss Melbourne and loads of friends there... but hurrah, a whole new city of places to write you about...