Not Such a Long Way to the Long Track Pantry


I have heard that people drive down to Jugiong just for lunch at this gorgeous café……well at least from the Southern Highlands!  And it is worth the drive in my opinion, however I am somewhat biased.  Having spent the last 20 years on and off travelling to Harden to do the design work on one of the districts magnificent properties, I was just thrilled when Long track Pantry opened its doors.  This country is God’s own and such a delight to have the excuse to visit regularly – probably not as harshly affected by the wrath of the seasons as some areas, I have, never the less seen it in times of desperate drought and times where the lushness of those rolling hillsides takes your breath away.

Long Track Pantry is the highlight of my trip, summer or winter.  Always a smiling face behind the counter and a feast of goodies freshly baked to tempt me.  While coffee is being made I browse to find jams and relishes to bring home or take to friends, everything I have tried is super.

I have a sweet story that made my day and gladdened my heart.  On a recent trip I decided to buy a jar of honey and also jam for my gorgeous neighbours who go beyond the call of duty and bring in my bins on collection day when I am not in Bowral (seems like they do it every week!!)  Anyhow, Long Track Pantry did a beautiful job of packaging the two purchases with tissue etc and popped in a fridge magnet with their recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I couldn’t wait to duck up to see our neighbours with the gift.  They were delighted of course, but not nearly as delighted as I when the following cold and drizzly afternoon just about afternoon tea time they arrive bearing a plate of the freshly baked cookies on a plate with a doily and a note  – For the Brennan Family from Gwen’s Kitchen. How lucky are we to have such divine neighbours !! 



How to Choose a Colour Scheme – Six Great Tips To Wow!


General Rule of Thumb

As a general rule of thumb, your colour choices (colour palette) should be planned for the entire home.  This will give you something to work with as you either work from room to room if starting from the beginning or over time with a gradual renovation.

 The idea is that colours should flow harmoniously from room to room and form part of an overall palette rather than every room be completely independent.  Each room can have a different feel based on either strength of colour, fabric choice etc as long as they sit within the overall palette chosen.

Preparation of a ‘Look and Feel’ Board (Sample Board)

By sitting samples together on a board the juxtaposition of colours, fabric and textures will allow you to create a visual image of the feel you are trying to create.

The preparation of a sample board will also allow you to create a look and feel (scheme) that will sit with your existing colours if required.

A good place to start is to find a photograph in a magazine of something that reflects the palette of colours that appeals.  It could be of something in nature, a landscape, seashells etc.

By collecting paint chips or brushouts and samples of other materials to be used such as fabrics, floor material, tiles etc and arranging them on a piece of cardboard, you will build up a picture or image and feel of the room/ rooms.

It is important that the samples shown reflect in general the proportion of the material that is going to be used.  For example, a fabric that is only to be used for cushions would only take up a small space on the board with floor and wall materials and colours predominating.

Things to think about when deciding on your colour palette

1.  Your environment – Where you live will have a bearing on the colours you choose.

For example, the crisp, clear and brighter colours that work so well at the beach with its strong light, can look quite wrong when used in the country with the more subtle shades of the fields, gum trees etc.

2.  Your surrounding landscape is an excellent place to start when putting together a palette of colours.

3. Climate is very important. In a very warm climate you may want to choose cooler colours and in a cooler climate your chosen colour palette can provide warmth. Colour can most definitely give the illusion of warmth or cold.

4. Orientation – The amount and quality of natural light that you receive at any given time of the day or each season will influence your choice of colour and can alter how that colour looks in your room. A certain colour used in one area can look quite different in another if the orientation of that room is different ie north or south facing. Artificial light ie use of lamps can have a similar impact on the colours used

5. How you use the room – The rooms use may affect the mood you would like to create.  You will want a different mood to be created in a formal dining room to that of a family room or a bedroom.

Within your chosen palette of colours you may choose to select a darker or richer shade for the formal dining room giving a cosy warm feeling and a lighter shade for the family room.  A family room will be a much busier area of the house with a greater number of elements and areas where colour can be added.  Starting with a neutral palette is often best for these areas.

Different shades of the same colour can add sophistication and using texture in fabrics, matting or artwork can lift a neutral scheme.

6. Existing Possessions – Very few people will start the process of putting together  a colour palette with no existing furniture or furnishings.  It is important to work out which of these you want to work with and which items you will recover or phase out over time.  Existing artwork/paintings/fabrics can often be a good starting point around which you can put together a colour palette that you like.

Good Luck !!!

Sunday Lunch

There is something rather special about Sunday lunch whether it be family or friends gathered around the table.  One never really knows in Bowral if it will be a matter of an open fire and misty rain or French doors flung open to bring the spring garden in.  Either way suits me and I revel in having family home and friends included.  I have a firm favourite when it comes to slow cooked lamb and just about everyone I know has been served it by now so thought I would be adventurous and try another version.  I have included the recipe below and was thrilled with the result.  I think this is my favourite now!!!

Slow-Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Pears and Cumin

2 brown onions, skin on and sliced into rounds (not sure why skin on as it tends to fall off)

1 lamb shoulder (bone in)

1 tbs cumin seeds

1 tbs black peppercorns

3 cloves garlic

1 tbs flaked salt

1-2 tbs olive oil

7 sprigs thyme leaves only

3 beurre bosc pears skin on and cut in half

3 tbs raw sugar

2 tbs red wine vinegar

Preheat oven 160 degrees C fan forced (180 conventional)

Place onion in base of a heavy ovenproof dish (second time around I decided on the throw away foil baking tray)

Trim and slightly score top of lamb.

Crush cumin and peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, then add garlic and salt.  Crush to paste and add oil.  Smooth paste over lamb, rubbing between bones as well.  Place lamb on top of onions, scatter with thyme and add pear halves.  Sprinkle with sugar and vinegar and pour in 80ml water.

Cover dish in a double layer of foil and roast for 4 hours until will pull away from bone with fork.  You can increase temp at end or grill briefly to achieve a crusty top if necessary.

Serves 4 depending on size of lamb shoulder

Stylish Italian Fabrics and the Perfect Little Black Ballet Flats


I stumbled across this exquisite collection of fabrics on a day I was browsing in Transvaal Avenue, Double Bay.  The very stylish black and white window display including the perfect little black ballet flats, handbags etc on display are what initially tempted me inside where I ventured further to find the bolts of precious fabric.  The colours are very different and the quality and designs of the fine linens, cottons and wool are breathtaking. I was quite surprised that the fabric is woven 3 metre wide. Busatti is a company immensely proud of their eight generation Italian fabric house crafting fabrics for the table, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and nursery along with ballet flats and handbags designed by Nathalie George (designer for Hermes, Dior and Christofle.)

10 Tips for Redecorating Recession Style

Whether you live in a studio apartment or a large
rambling country house there are lots of ways of creating a new look
without spending a huge amount of money.  You can recreate spaces so
that they become far more warm and inviting.  It’s all a matter of
restyling your own beautiful or even not so beautiful possessions, books
anhouse_gardend nic nacs to create the new look and feel.

1.   Group furniture, colours and textures to maximise the appeal of the pieces and add interest and impact.

2.   Lamp light, fresh flowers in shades that compliment the furnishings and

3    Clever grouping of books and decorative items can turn a house into a home.

4    Look at your existing pieces with fresh eyes to
eliminate the pieces that you are just hoarding or have inherited and
don’t have the heart to dispose of.

5    A room can look very cluttered with a myriad of
small pieces of furniture. Choose your favourite of key pieces and note
what pieces you need to find for the room to function or work.  Often
the right piece will bring the room together or be the focal point if
there isn’t already one. Often a lesser piece can find a home in another
less important room if it really must stay.  Generally less is more
still applies and will create a more elegant feel and showcase the main
pieces you have.

6.  Placement of furniture can depend on how you live
your life.  If a sitting room needs to be the quiet haven where adults
retreat from teenage children then make sure you have lovely big
armchairs with a reading lamp or a small desk where you can bring some
work to do.  A  sunny corner or one with a  view  of a sitting or family
room can also be an inviting spot for a pair of comfortable armchairs.

7. A variety of seating options is important for different age groups and body shapes.

8. There is usually a focal point in a room which will
provide something to group furniture around.  A fire place is an
obvious one or even an entertainment unit/TV or even French doors to a
garden can offer the same solution.  The grouping of furniture should
allow for easy conversation with the practicalities of side tables or
coffee table s for drinks, books etc.

9.   Generally furniture of ample proportion  will
give a grander feel to a room as long as it doesn’t crowd the room too
much.  It is important to have pieces that add height to a room such as a
higher sideboard/console or armoire/bookcase, otherwise you end up with
everything down at the same low level.

10.   The scale of pieces can make or break a room.  A
sofa with a higher back can be enough to break up the space. In the
dining room or space designated for dining you should buy the largest
table that will sit comfortably in the space.  A small dining table in a
big space will never look right.  If a large dining table is not ever a
requirement then create a small area to eat as part of another space.
For example a small dining table can be perfect at one end of the
sitting room or  in a bay window.


Interior Design Checklist



This list is a starting point for you to get your head around and the sorts of decisions necessary when building/renovating an entire property or just one room. It may also form the basis for putting together a budget. I will elaborate further on some areas such as electrics at a later date.

Living/Dining/Family Rooms/Bedrooms

  • Heating – Fireplaces – Underfloor Heating – Airconditioning
  • Electrical – Telephone/Fax – Power – Home Entertainment – Computer – Intercom – Security
  • Lighting – Decorative Ceiling/Wall Lights – Downlights – Picture Lights – Dimmer Switches
  • Ceiling and Wall Treatment – Cornice/Skirting/Architrave – Paint/Wallpaper
  • Doors/DoorFurniture
  • Built-In Joinery – Storage –
  • Skylights
  • Window – Locks – Double Glazing – Window Seats – Curtains/Shutters/Blinds
  • Flooring – Timber – Carpet – Tile/Stone – Rugs
  • Furniture – Lamps
  • Fabrics – Curtain/Blinds – Upholstery – Cushions
  • Artwork/Decorative Items

Kitchen/Laundry (Additional)

  • Sink/Taps/Waste Disposal/Stove Microwave/Fridge/Freezer/Dishwasher/Rangehood
  • Washing Machine/Dryer/Ironing Board/Hanging Rails
  • Splashback/Benchtop Material
  • Joinery/Storage Requirements

Bathrooms (Additional)

  • Bath/Spa
  • Taps/Shower Fittings
  • Toilet/Bidet/Toilet Seat
  • Basin
  • Heated Towel Rail
  • Shaver Socket
  • Toilet Roll Holder/Towel Rails/Soap Dish
  • Mirrors
  • Joinery
  • Shower Screens

More Pastries for Potts Point as Bourke Street Bakery Opens



I wasn’t all that excited when I heard about the iconic Bourke Street Bakery opening in Potts Point as we are a little spoilt for choice already, however it does offer an entirely different take on breakfast.  Given its rather subterranean location, well one does walk down into it, it has a great vibe.  Bustling with activity and endless trays of pastries appearing from the kitchen it is a fun space.  What I am attracted to however are the outdoor tables and chairs along Crick Avenue with its majestic Plane Trees.  So cool and inviting on a hot day, just far enough away from Macleay St to be a perfect spot to unwind with a coffee and one of those fabulous pastries.

It is of course perfect timing with the loss of another icon Yellow.

Rustic Charm From Master Craftsman Andrew Farquahar


I have just received news of these beautiful rustic yet somehow so refined American Oak tables.  Manufactured by Master Craftsman Andrew Farquahar in the Southern Highlands.  These gorgeous country kitchen tables, at home in either a rustic or very contemporary interior are available through Cotswold Furniture and will soon be on show in their Sydney Showroom.  Cotswold’s John Jessop declares them antiques of the future.  Already featuring in Melbourne, they are designed to seat 8 or 10.


Andrew Farquahar is well known for his handcrafted furniture and his wife is the very talented stylist Coty


National Treasures From Liberty by Paul Smith


Liberty in London are currently featuring a selection of one of a kind products by Britains best loved icons in a silent auction in aid of British charities.  My very favourite piece is the Paul Smith Sofa.  Fashion Designer Paul Smith has combined his love of 19th century English country house sofas with original Liberty print colour swatches (chosen from their early silk swatch books) printed onto beautiful pure linen.

This sofa style is itself classic in every sense of the word.  I have seen it placed in both traditional and extremely contemporary settings.  The choice of fabric is the key!! It is a style that translates well into any size from a neat two seater to an oversized three seater or larger.  I had this style made to order to fit the full length of wall in our television room/study and because of its size it looks rather opulent.  It is actually covered in a fine wool which is, if anything, smart casual and very inviting to curl up on.

Bowral Spring Markets


The start of spring. It is Market Day in Bowral and there was a certain buzz as everyone queued for their punnets of herbs or annuals….so keen to get started!!! Our Market held on the second Saturday of the month has never looked this good. It is somewhat disappointing that it is in fact freezing cold with a stiff breeze….not that you can tell that from my photos. Whether it be the fruit, particularly the strawberries, the vegies, the vast array of bread ords flowers… was all just bursting with freshness and colour.  Once stocked up on all of the above I remember the stall selling fabulous pork products.  After much deliberation I decide on the rack of pork accompanied by their marinated spiced apples and am delighted to receive detailed cooking instructions.

Time to head home, but not before thawing out with a coffee in Gastronome. I love the family friendly feel of this place. It occupies a sunny corner in Boolwey St not far from the markets and their coffee is always fabulous!! Sydney people arriving in the highlands and complaining about the cooler than anticipated weather should head here for a warm spot in the sun.

Most Popular Topics

Editor Picks