Category Archives: Top Books

Our best picks and recommendations

Entertaining this festive season with a little help from the top chefs

The big day is less than three weeks away and if you are hosting the main meal or boxing day lunch this year and want to offer something a little different to your guests, then this blog post is for you. 

We have scoured the internet and found the best hosting and cooking books that have been released this festive season for you to pick and choose your Christmas menu and tabletop inspiration from. They aren’t necessarily tricky or expensive ideas, but rather ones that capture the feeling of love between friends and family. 

First off, hands down, the hottest cookbook out this festive season is Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi which we have covered it on the blog previously… in case you missed it you can read our review here. 

Special Guest by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe 

If you are someone who prepares for guests by sweeping bills, laundry and newspapers behind sofa cushions, take heart! It’s possible to be an imperfect host, but happily so. The essential ingredient is not, paradoxically, the food, nor the perfect house to host in, but the sentiment you convey when you open the door. Do your eyes say: ‘I like you and I enjoy your company,’ or does a weepy cloud of visceral horror descend as pine nuts burn quietly in the kitchen? Special Guest is a gentle guide to turning easy basic fare into something of a celebration. For when you want to say to your friends with their spouses and ten small children, ‘Why don’t you stay for lunch?’ without hating yourself afterwards. Learn the lesson of ‘one splendid thing done well’ without regard to the hundred other things, and call the day a success. Pick up some pointers for the modern conundrum that is cooking for people with seemingly incompatible dietary requirements. Hosting your friends is not about showing off; it is about delighting others. Your dining table might be decorated with a pile of unmatched socks and kids’ homework, but that’s no reason not to invite friends in for a chat, a sit-down and something delicious to eat. Annabel Crabb is one of Australia’s best-loved TV and media personalities and a joyfully imperfect host. Wendy Sharpe is Annabel’s oldest friend, a recipe consultant on Kitchen Cabinet and co-conspirator in mad-capped cookery projects.

 

Together by The Hubb Community Kitchen

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, a group of local women gathered together to cook fresh food for their families and neighbours. Over the chatter and aromas of the kitchen they discovered the power of cooking and eating together to create connections, restore hope and normality, and provide a sense of home. This was the start of the Hubb Community Kitchen. Together is a storybook of this West London community, showcasing over 50 delicious recipes from the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen and including a foreword by HRH The Duchess of Sussex. The women invite you to make their favourite simple dishes – many handed down over generations – from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Eastern Mediterranean for you and your loved ones. Every dish tells a story of history, culture and family, and each has been developed to use few ingredients and easy methods so that anyone can cook these personal recipes. Together features mouthwatering recipes including Green Chilli and Avocado Dip, Coconut Chicken Curry, Aubergine Masala, Persian Chicken with Barberry Rice, Caramelised Plum Upside-Down Cake, Spiced Mint Tea and lots more.

 

From Crook to Cook by Snoop Dogg

You can see Snoop work his culinary magic on the Emmy-nominated Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, and now, Dogg’s up in your kitchen…with his first ever cookbook. Delivering 50 recipes straight from his own collection, Snoop’s cookbook features staples like Baked Mac & Cheese and Fried Bologna Sandwiches with Chips, and new takes on classic weeknight faves like Soft Flour Tacos and Easy Orange Chicken. And it doesn’t stop there… Snoop’s giving a taste of the high life with remixes on upper echelon fare such as Lobster Thermidor and Filet Mignon. But we gotta keep it G with those favorite munchies too, ya know? From chewy Starbursts to those glorious Frito BBQ Twists, you should have an arsenal of snacks that’ll satisfy. And of course, no party is complete without that Gin and Juice and other platinum ways to entertain. The Dogg Father’s got you covered – complete with epic stories and behind-the-scenes photos that brings this masterpiece to life. Now this would make for an interesting Christmas lunch!

 

Berber and Q by Josh Katz

Ditch burnt, joyless burgers for bold, flavoursome and wonderfully surprising barbecue food. Inside there are over 120 of the very best, lip-smackingly good barbecue recipes from ex-Ottolenghi chef, Josh Katz. Perfect for sharing and pairing in different combinations, all of the recipes are a celebration of flavour. A book that is not just for meat-lovers, equal status is given to vegetables so that they are never treated like a sideshow. Instead each and every component of the meal is big, bold and completely unforgettable. Meats, fish and vegetables are left to marinate and are then smoked, grilled, slow cooked or burnt (on purpose); while essential extras such as punchy pickles, fiery sauces, creamy dips and fresh salads are prepared ahead and ready to be heaped onto the plate. Taking inspiration from East to West, from the modern to the traditional, these barbecue recipes are like nothing you have ever encountered before – mashing tastes and techniques from New York, the Middle East, London, North Africa and beyond. With recipes including Cauliflower shawarma with pomegranate, pine nuts and rose; Harissa hot wings; Blackened hispi cabbage with lemon crème fraiche; Honeyed pork belly with pineapple salsa; Monster prawns with a pil pil sauce and Saffron buttermilk-fried chicken with tahini gravy, you will be inspired to grab a bag of charcoal and a lighter, and create your very own barbecue feast.

 

Gunpowder by Harneet Baweja, Nirmal Save, Devina Seth

The famous gunpowder spice mix is a heady blend of pulses and spices, including chilli, curry leaves and asafoetida. It is a fitting title for this exciting collection of recipes from the founders of the hugely respected restaurant of the same name. In this beautiful book, complete with stunning photography, Harneet, Devina and Nirmal have managed to capture the bustle and flavours of their childhoods in Kolkata, and the intricacy of true homestyle dishes from across India. From Maa’s Kashmiri Lamb Chops (which have garnered outstanding reviews from many restaurant critics) to Wild Rabbit Pulao, these exceptional recipes are impressively authentic, yet given a modern twist. Throughout the book, the authors share personal anecdotes about their recipes and give handy cheats to make things easier for the home cook, including time-saving tips and alternative ingredients. With chapters covering Small Plates, Big Plates, Sweet Plates & Drinks and Sides & Spice, Gunpowder is the perfect opportunity to create some of these widely admired dishes in your own home.

 

Eat Happy by Melissa Hemsley

This is carefree, quick cooking with a sense of fun, and just happens to be good for you. This beautiful new book is packed with dreamy recipes. Comfort and indulgence are at the heart of Melissa Hemsley’s flavoursome, healthy food, with plenty of ideas for everyday meals, batch cooking, cutting down on kitchen waste, and meals that can be enjoyed for supper and leftovers for a packed lunch. Bestselling co-author of The Art of Eating Well and Good + Simple and home cook, Melissa Hemsley presents quick and easy dishes featuring supermarket ingredients and designed to see you through the whole week – tempting breakfasts to family dinners and lunches, as well as party food, snacks, baking, desserts, drinks, and simple, healthier versions of takeaway favourites.

Enjoy!

Embrace your crafty side this Christmas

With the biggest gift giving day of the year fast approaching (yikes it’s only just over 3 weeks away) it’s easy for panic to set in and totally ruin your budget. So let’s flip that panic and make the festive season much more merry by embracing our inner creativity and having a clever little crafty Christmas instead. 

Our elves have scoured the internet for titles that we think have the most fun craft to try. So sit back, grab yourself a cup of your favourite beverage and let your imagination flow…

 

Weaving Within Reach by Anne Weil

The resurgence of the ’70s in fashion and home decor has brought about a new trend in crafting; weaving. Anne Weil gives macrame basket weaving, and other weaving skills a makeover with beautiful photography and styling with projects that can be made on various easily sourced looms, and even some that don’t require a loom, with just about any kind of material or fibre (including yarn, leather, and paper). The photography is light and bright, and the book’s look is a little bit bohemian. Best of all, projects are organised by time commitment (one hour, weeknight, and weeknight projects), so readers can craft at their comfort level…and you could totally finish something by Christmas!

 

Craft the Rainbow by Brittany Watson Jepsen

What began as an Instagram hashtag and project collection (#CrafttheRainbow) that quickly went viral has become a show stopping book, offering a rainbow of completely new project ideas. Learn how to make playful party decorations, luscious flowers, amazing cards, and sophisticated wreaths, garlands, centrepieces, and more than you can imagine, all with nothing but the creative power of paper. Sought-after designer Brittany Watson Jepsen is known for the unusually imaginative and amazingly beautiful designs she creates for her website and host of clients (including Anthropologie). In Craft the Rainbow, Jepsen walks readers through the easy basics of transforming simple paper -including tissue, crepe, cardstock, leaves of books, and vintage and recycled paper- into vibrant, fanciful, handmade projects suitable for every occasion.

 

Japanese Stitches Unraveled by Wendy Bernard

Japanese stitch patterns are eye-catching and much sought after by devotees, but before now, they often seemed out of reach, whether locked behind Japanese-only instructions or tangled up in difficult-to-decipher illustrations. Japanese Stitches Unraveled offers over 160 rare patterns inspired by these elusive and intricate Japanese stitch designs, along with fully illustrated charts, familiar symbols, and clear instructions for every single stitch. Each stitch pattern receives Bernard’s unique four-direction makeover-topdown, bottom-up, back-and-forth, and in-the-round. To showcase the knitting in action, Bernard also includes instructions for six garments as well as her famous formulas for knitting without a pattern.

Go on, give it a go, you know you want to. 

 

By Hand: The Art of Modern Lettering by Nicole Miyuki Santo

In a world of screens and social media, people are constantly searching for ways to reconnect to the handmade and the authentic to add a personal spark and a beautiful look to everyday objects and occasions. The art of modern lettering is a point of connection, a way of crafting letters and words into something that delights the eyes and feeds the soul. With unique projects and an Instagram-worthy aesthetic, By Hand provides an inspirational jumping-off point for readers who want to incorporate lettering into a slower, more intentional lifestyle. Blending the aspirational and the instructional, By Hand brings the beauty of lettering beyond the page, through 30 distinct projects, from dip-dyed place cards to acrylic home furnishings. Relatable lessons introduce readers to the essentials of lettering, including tools (watercolour brushes, brush pens, and markers), fonts, and essential lessons, with the warm and welcoming approach of popular Instagram letterer Nicole Miyuki Santo. Encouraging lessons sprinkled throughout the book add a touch of mindfulness, while bright, airy photography and step-by-step lettered samples make this lovely volume a stunning approach to an on-trend pastime.

 

Macramé for Beginners and Beyond: 24 Easy Macramé Projects for Home and Garden by Amy Mullins

Discover a fresh, new take on the traditional craft of macrame, a craft that was incredibly popular in the seventies, is currently enjoying a renaissance. Macrame projects are the best way to bring the current trend for hippy luxe, boho interiors into your home (oh and for other people too…sorry totally forgot we are thinking of crafting presents for other people!) Macrame for Beginners includes very on trend macrame projects for inside and outside the home. You can choose from 12 different projects with an ‘easy’ and ‘more advanced’ version for each so you can develop your skills as you go. Learn all the basic macrame knots with the knot tutorial library so you can get started with your favourite projects whether it’s the ubiquitous hanging plant holder or a statement arch for the garden or a doorway.

 

The Flower Expert by Fleur McHarg

Flowers are a beautiful gift to receive. Fleur McHarg is a florist in the true, traditional sense of the word. Guided by the eternal wisdom of Constance Spry, the trailblazing early 20th century British florist, Fleur believes in letting flowers be the stars of the show by working with the natural shape of a flower or branch. When it comes to beauty, you can’t beat nature – but you can learn how to showcase it for startling impact. The Flower Expert is a stunning celebration of Fleur’s artistry and her ability to fuse modern and classic to create a style that suits each occasion.

 

So much craft…so little time.

Enjoy!

The Most Popular Books to Give This Christmas

Books are a great Christmas present because they not only show that you have thought about the person you are giving them to but they also offer a chance for the reader to disappear into a world of their own…oh and they are super easy to wrap!

In an effort to help you out with your Christmas shopping we have clicked around the internet and found some of the most popular books being gifted this festive season. 

 

How to be Famous by Caitlin Moran

Johanna Morrigan lives in London in 1995, at the epicentre of Britpop. She might only be nineteen, but she’s wise enough to know that everyone around her is handling fame very, very badly. Her unrequited love, John Kite, has scored an unexpected Number One album, then exploded into a Booze And Drugs Hell™ – as rockstars do. And her new best friend – the maverick feminist Suzanne Banks, of The Branks – has amazing hair, but writer’s block and a rampant pill problem. So Johanna’s decided she should become a Fame Doctor. Using her new monthly column for The Face to write about every ridiculous, surreal, amazing aspect of a million people knowing your name. But when her two-night-stand with edgy comedian Jerry Sharp goes wrong, people start to know her name for all the wrong reasons. ‘He’s a vampire. He destroys bright young girls. Also, he’s a total dick’ Suzanne warned her. But by that point, Johanna’s already had sex with him. Bad sex. Now she’s one of the girls he’s trying to destroy. He needs to be stopped. But how can one woman stop a bad, famous, powerful man?

 

The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker

Ohh this one is going to be a hot ‘gift voucher’ book for sure…mainly because it doesn’t come out until January and secondly because it is from the super popular Minimalist Josh Becker. In this new book, Josh shows you how to methodically turn your home into a place of peace, contentment, and purposeful living. He both offers practical guidelines for simplifying our lifestyle at home and addresses underlying issues that contribute to over-accumulation in the first place. The purpose is not just to create a more inviting living space. It’s also to turn our life’s HQ, our home, into a launching pad for a more fulfilling and productive life in the world.

 

 

 

 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald by J K Rowling

At the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald was captured in New York with the help of Newt Scamander. But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escapes custody and sets about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore enlists Newt, his former Hogwarts student, who agrees to help once again, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world. This second original screenplay from J.K. Rowling, illustrated with stunning line art from MinaLima, expands on earlier events that helped shaped the wizarding world, with some surprising nods to the Harry Potter stories that will delight fans of both the books and films. 

 

 

P is for Pterodactyl by Raj Haldar

From wacky words to peculiar pronunciations, get kids excited about language with this unconventional alphabet book from Raj Haldar (aka Lushlife) Turning the traditional idea of an alphabet book on its head, P is for Pterodactyl is perfect for anyone who has ever been stumped by silent letters or confused by absurd homophones. This whimsical, unique book takes silent letter entries like “K is for Knight” a step further with “The noble knight’s knife nicked the knave’s knee.” Lively illustrations provide context clues, and alliterative words help readers navigate text like “a bright white gnat is gnawing on my gnocchi” with ease. Everyone from early learners to grown-up grammarians will love this wacky book where “A is for Aisle” but “Y is definitely not for Why.”

 

 

The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glower

The new book from the bestselling author of Flesh Wounds. A funny and frank look at the way Australia used to be and just how far we have come. ‘It was a simpler time’. We had more fun back then’. ‘Everyone could afford a house’. There’s plenty of nostalgia right now for the Australia of the past, but what was it really like? In The Land Before Avocado, Richard Glover takes a journey to an almost unrecognisable Australia. It’s a vivid portrait of a quite peculiar land: a place that is scary and weird, dangerous and incomprehensible, and, now and then, surprisingly appealing. It’s the Australia of his childhood. The Australia of the late ’60s and early ‘70s. Let’s break the news now: they didn’t have avocado. It’s a place of funny clothing and food that was appalling, but amusingly so. It’s also the land of staggeringly awful attitudes – often enshrined in law – towards anybody who didn’t fit in. The Land Before Avocado will make you laugh and cry, be angry and inspired. And leave you wondering how bizarre things were, not so long ago. Most of all it will make you realise how far we’ve come – and how much further we can go.

 

 

Feel Free by Zadie Smith 

The one and only Zadie Smith, prize-winning, bestselling author of Swing Time and White Teeth, is back with a second unmissable collection of essays. No subject is too fringe or too mainstream for the unstoppable Zadie Smith. From social media to the environment, from Jay-Z to Karl Ove Knausgaard, she has boundless curiosity and the boundless wit to match. In Feel Free, pop culture, high culture, social change and political debate all get the Zadie Smith treatment, dissected with razor-sharp intellect, set brilliantly against the context of the utterly contemporary, and considered with a deep humanity and compassion. This electrifying new collection showcases its author as a true literary powerhouse, demonstrating once again her credentials as an essential voice of her generation.

 

 

Milkman by Anna Burns

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2018: Milkman is extraordinary. In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous. Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.

 

 

 

Enjoy!

The Best Picks for Secret Santa Gifts 2018

Secret Santa gifts can be tricky…not only do you need to show that you are being thoughtful, but it also needs to remain affordable.

We’ve had a look around the internet and come up with a list of fab books that are sure to delight any name you happen to draw out of the hat. 

For your work bestie

Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales

As a journalist, Leigh Sales often encounters people experiencing the worst moments of their lives in the full glare of the media. But one particular string of bad news stories – and a terrifying brush with her own mortality – sent her looking for answers about how vulnerable each of us is to a life-changing event. What are our chances of actually experiencing one? What do we fear most and why? And when the worst does happen, what comes next? In this wise and layered book, Leigh talks intimately with people who’ve faced the unimaginable, from terrorism to natural disaster to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Expecting broken lives, she instead finds strength, hope, even humour. Leigh brilliantly condenses the cutting-edge research on the way the human brain processes fear and grief, and poses the questions we too often ignore out of awkwardness. Along the way, she offers an unguarded account of her own challenges and what she’s learned about coping with life’s unexpected blows. Warm, candid and empathetic, this book is about what happens when ordinary people, on ordinary days, are forced to suddenly find the resilience most of us don’t know we have.

Prosecco Drinking Games by Abbie Cammidge

First up, we really recommend you drink responsibly…but you can still do that while reading this! Get the party started with this awesome collection of Prosecco-themed games to play with friends. What could be better than getting the gang together, grabbing a glass and cracking open a bottle of bubbles? Why, throwing a few Prosecco-based drinking games into the mix, of course! There are over 25 games that use everyone’s favourite sparkly tipple – ranging from hilarious Beyonce Bingo to the organised chaos that is the Prosecco Olympics. So what are you waiting for? Choose your game, pop a cork and prepare to laugh. A lot!

 

 

 

For the newbie

Your Dream Life Starts Here by Kristina Karlsson

This book is filled with powerful ideas and simple proven tools that will help you transform your wishes into dreams, and then into an achievable one-page roadmap for creating your dream life; a life designed by you for you, and for your loved ones. Kristina Karlsson, the woman behind the inspiring global success story, kikki.K, shares personal insights from her amazing journey, from humble beginnings on a small farm in Sweden to the 3am light bulb moment that led her to chase and achieve dreams that are now inspiring a worldwide community of dreamers. Filled with simple and practical magic and inspiring stories and wisdom from people who’ve dared to dream big, this book will show you how to harness the power of dreaming to transform your life in small, simple steps. Featuring stories of: Dr Tererai Trent (Oprah Winfrey’s all-time favourite guest), Arianna Huffington, Stella McCartney, Sir Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Li Cunxin (author of Mao’s Last Dancer), Alisa Camplin-Warner (winner of a remarkable Olympic gold medal), Michelle Obama, and others. Whether you want to get the most out of your personal life, career or business, the insights on dreaming and doing in this book may be your most important learnings this year.

 

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A F**k by Sarah Knight

A brilliant, hilarious homage to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, showing how to shed your mental clutter for good. Aimed at overachieving but dissatisfied people everywhere. Sarah’s inspirational two-step “NotSorry” program shows how unleashing the power of not giving a fuck will help you shed unwanted guilt and obligations to redirect time, energy, and enthusiasm to your true priorities. Sarah reveals why giving a fuck about what other people think is your worst enemy-and how to stop doing it; how to sort your fucks into four essential categories; simple criteria for whether or not you should give a fuck (i.e. “Does this affect anyone other than me?”); and the two keys to successfully not giving a fuck without also being an asshole.So, get rid of the mental clutter, ditch the perfectionism and create the life you want – for good.

 

For the boss

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

In 1962, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed $50 from his father and created a company with a simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost athletic shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the boot of his Plymouth, Knight grossed $8000 in his first year. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In an age of start-ups, Nike is the ne plus ultra of all start-ups, and the swoosh has become a revolutionary, globe-spanning icon, one of the most ubiquitous and recognisable symbols in the world today. But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always remained a mystery. Now, for the first time, he tells his story. Candid, humble, wry and gutsy, he begins with his crossroads moment when at 24 he decided to start his own business. He details the many risks and daunting setbacks that stood between him and his dream – along with his early triumphs. Above all, he recalls how his first band of partners and employees soon became a tight-knit band of brothers. Together, harnessing the transcendent power of a shared mission, and a deep belief in the spirit of sport, they built a brand that changed everything. A memoir rich with insight, humour and hard-won wisdom, this book is also studded with lessons – about building something from scratch, overcoming adversity, and ultimately leaving your mark on the world.

 

Taskmaster by Alex Horne

Taskmaster- 200 Extraordinary Tasks for Ordinary People is the first book based on Dave’s flagship game show with a difference. In the show Greg Davies, as the Taskmaster, sets a series of ridiculous tasks to a group of comedians with Alex Horne assisting as his right-hand man, coaxing the hopeful champions to think creatively while completing various challenges – from trying to paint the best picture of a horse (while riding an actual horse), to destroying a cake in the most beautiful way. Taskmaster- 200 Extraordinary Tasks for Ordinary People is the closest thing to being a contestant on the show (without being a contestant on the show). It is a painstakingly plotted, carefully crafted collection of preposterous tasks, a personal introduction to the Taskmaster world and a fully-interactive guide to indulging your competitive streak with friends and family from the comfort of your own living room. From making the most artistic tea-stain on the page to creating a self-portrait while blindfolded, this book requires you to think – and draw – outside of the box. Rivalry is encouraged, dodgy tactics rewarded and bribes accepted. In short, the reader gets the total Taskmaster experience in the form of a book. Part board-game, part choose-your-own-adventure, part self-help guide, it is to books what Taskmaster is to TV; uniquely original and deviously addictive. Expect cheating. Expect arguments. Expect both cheating AND arguments.

 

 

For the person you’ve only ever seen in the lift

 

The Honey Badger Guide to Life by Nick Cummins

Are you jaded by modern life? Do you dream of ‘going rogue, running hard, standing tall, fearing nothing, getting off the grid and attacking life?’ Then meet The Badger . . . The Honey Badger Guide to Life is a maverick guide to a better life for anyone who wants to live at maximum revs and get smarter, stronger and happier in the process. With his hilarious stories, Aussie eccentricity, dedication to family and incredible lust for life, Nick ‘The Honey Badger’ Cummins has inspired Australians of all ages. The Honey Badger Guide to Life teaches novice Badgers how to survive and thrive in the urban jungle with tips on health and hygiene, sex and romance, culture and cooking, money and career, life and death, manners and morals, friends and family. Buckle up and listen in as The Badger schools you in how to; Give a speech, Win an argument, Administer a ‘man hug’, Tell a joke, Break-up with a bird, Survive in the wild, Stare down a bull and much more! Jam-packed with crazy yarns, dinkum Badger-isms and practical wisdom acquired on his adventures around Australia and the world, this hilarious, warm (and weird) book will enlighten, entertain, baffle and inspire you to embrace life . . . just like The Honey Badger.

 

Suburbia: The Familiar and Forgotten by Warren Kirk

“The sentiment that flows through these images is a balm to the knowledge that time is passing and things will change,” – William McInnes.    Warren Kirk’s photos will strike a chord with anyone who’s grown up in the Australian suburbs in the past 50 years. Somehow both achingly familiar and unimaginably strange, these luminous images continue his 30-year project of documenting a way of life that is slowly disappearing, along with the people who lived it. Taken with loving attention and considerable skill, and with the utmost respect for the people and places that appear in them, Kirk’s photos of shops and houses, of gardens and lounge-rooms, of people surrounded by the things they love, are beautifully evocative and powerfully nostalgic.

 

Enjoy!

Styling your home; getting your property ready for the market

The traditional Spring selling season is in full swing here in Melbourne and while it may not be the strongest property market for everyone, first home buyers are set to snap up a bargain. However, with the finale of The Block on Sunday night (a renovation reality show for all of our non-Australian readers), inspiration to renovate looks rather appealing. 

Whether you’re getting your home ready for sale, fancy a little spruce up, or are scouring the market for a new home we have a few titles that may make the process a little easier and certainly more fun!

 

The House That Pinterest Built by Diane Keaton

This book is a go-to reference for all those seeking to embark on the creation of home. The House that Pinterest Built defines what home and house mean to the celebrated movie star, who is known for her love affair with houses and design. Filled with ideas that reveal a personal yet engaging aesthetic, this volume includes compelling photos from Keaton’s past homes and those she admires, as well as a multitude of details from every corner of those spaces and objects that excite and inspire the house designer and dreamer. Dramatic staircases and magical light fixtures, film stills and book covers, pottery and art drawn from the visual treasure trove known as Pinterest and Keaton’s private collection, as she creates and designs her newest house. Beyond the interior, she explores curb appeal and environmental sensitivity, always with an eye to making home the way it should be: a place of tranquillity, a place where one is restored, and where one returns to dream again and again.

 

Homebody : A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave by Joanna Gaines

In this beautiful book, Joanna Gaines walks you through how to create a home that reflects the personalities and stories of the people who live there. Using examples from her own farmhouse as well as a range of other homes, this comprehensive guide will help you assess your priorities and instincts, as well as your likes and dislikes, with practical steps for navigating and embracing your authentic design style. Room by room, Homebody gives you an in-depth look at how these styles are implemented as well as how to blend the looks you’re drawn to in order to create spaces that feel distinctly yours. A removable design template at the back of the book offers a step-by-step guide to planning and sketching out your own design plans. The insight shared in Homebody will give you the confidence to thoughtfully create spaces you never want to leave. 

 

Make the Home you Love by Fiona McPhillips

After completing her own home renovation and extension, Fiona McPhillips, author, journalist and interiors fanatic, was inspired to bring together everything she learned along the way. In collaboration with three award-winning architects, Fiona provides you with the most holistic approach to your design and build. A practical step-by-step guide to surviving the transformation of your home, taking the reader from the design stage, through the planning process to building, decorating and finishing touches. The balance of personal stories and professional advice makes this an accessible and inspiring guide to renovation. Filled with photographs of real homes, this books is bursting with great ideas and will no doubt inspire you to make the home you love. 

 

Renovating for Profit by Cherie Barber

At last a highly illustrated, practical book that renovators will love – Renovating for Profit reveals property expert Cherie Barber’s secret methods for renovating property to turn a profit. Covering budgeting, time-saving plans, timelines and successful use of colour and space, Cherie shows you how to avoid all the common mistakes. She uses real-life examples and before-and-after pictures, to explain they key areas you need to address (and those that you can ignore as they won’t influence a potential buyer). Cherie’s proven, step-by-step approach is shown over 90 renovation projects, featuring all types of homes from flats to houses to cabins. 

 

Home Staging That Works by Starr Osbourne

Want to sell your home at a premium price? Never mind simply tidying up: an amazing 91% of real estate professionals say professional staging is the way to go. But sure enough, hiring a staging consultant will cost you. Thankfully, you can now get all the secrets and techniques the pros don’t want you to know, from one of America’s most successful staging experts. Home Staging That Works shows you how to turn any home into a showpiece that buyers will be fighting over. With specific recommendations on what to do, keep, chuck, fix, paint, replace, avoid, update, show, hide, highlight, and more, you’ll learn how to: Focus on your potential buyers’ tastes (not your own), create curb appeal, drive Internet interest with photos that flatter your home, de-clutter and pre-pack at the same time, clean and repair your home without spending a fortune, and keep your home sale-ready―without being afraid to live in it. Complete with photographs of real-life before-and-after transformations, Home Staging That Works offers strategies for each room in your home, as well as conceptual approaches to bring the parts together beautifully. 

 

Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves by Emily Henderson

It’s easy to find your own style confidence once you know this secret: While decorating can take months and tons of money, styling often takes just minutes. Even a few little tweaks can transform the way your room feels. At the heart of Styled are Emily Henderson’s ten easy steps to styling any space. From editing out what you don’t love to repurposing what you can’t live without to arranging the most eye-catching vignettes on any surface, you’ll learn how to make your own style magic. With Emily’s style diagnostic, insider tips, and more than 1,000 unique ideas from 75 envy-inducing rooms, you’ll soon be styling like you were born to do it.

 

How to Buy a Home : From Debt to a Deposit by Emily Power

When Emily Power declared online, ‘I am 33 and my parents give me pocket money,’ she started a national debate about personal finances and the challenges of breaking into the property market. The Pocket Money Savings Plan has empowered Emily to move out of stifling debt and start scouting for her first property. It’s a radical solution that won’t work for everyone, so Emily, who is now editor of Domain magazines, has interviewed experts to devise other savings methods and household budgets to suit your situation, whether you’re single, or planning to buy as a couple or a family. How can you escape the debt trap? What is stamp duty? And where are the right suburbs to buy property? In the plain and motivating language of someone who’s been there and done that, Emily takes you through; how to save your pocket money, how to be a cheapskate and keep your friends, how to read the market like a pro, how to find the one and how to win the keys. Along the way, you’ll get tips on building a budget wardrobe, cooking healthy recipes on a shoestring, cheap and effective skincare products and economical wines. Before you know it, you too will be stepping over the threshold of your new home.

 

Enjoy!

The Best Travel Books for 2018

We’re rushing headlong towards the end of the year, and here in Australia the weather is warming up beautifully – two things that make me think of holidays and travelling! For me, the prospect of resuming travelling (after an extended break) is filling me with anticipation – there are still so many places I want to visit!  Whether you are a seasoned traveller, or one new to the game, there’s some excellent travel writing to inspire, entertain and inform you. Here are some of our favourites from this year:

Journeys of a Lifetime, Second Edition: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips by National Geographic

Here’s all your travel inspo in one hit – the second edition of Journeys of a Lifetime, completely revised to mark its 10th anniversary.  From iconic places to hidden gems, these destinations and routes represent the 500 favourite journeys of the travel writers at National Geographic.  Covering every continent and mode of transport, Journeys of a Lifetime is particularly strong on adventurous trips – whether it’s cruising in Antarctica, trekking up Kilimanjaro or mountain biking in Transylvania.  There are also thematic sections, with ideas for urban walks, food pilgrimages, hot new museums and more.  Packed with maps, planning advice and amazing photography, this gorgeous book will provide inspiration and information for years to come.

Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Eatlist : the 500 Best Dishes to Eat on the Planet, Ranked by Lonely Planet

Ultimate Eatlist is another “500 Best” book that will be a great reference as well as inspiration.  For many people (myself included), trying different cuisines is a favourite part of travelling, so the team at Lonely Planet has scoured the world for the most delicious, iconic and memorable eating experiences.  From Laksa in Kuala Lumpur, BBQ in Texas to oysters in Tasmania, Ultimate Eatlist will show you what to eat, where to eat it, the history and culture behind each food, and why the experience will be special.  Don’t read this book when you’re hungry!

Rooms with a View: the Secret Life of Grand Hotels by Adrian Mourby

The names of famous hotels – such as the Dorchester (London), Raffles (Singapore), and The Plaza (New York) – instantly evoke images of history, glamour, money, celebrities. These are also potent ingredients for gossip!  Hotel historian and travel addict Adrian Mourby has collected wonderfully entertaining tales about 50 of these grand hotels around the world.  Read about how the details of India’s independence were drafted in the ballroom of the Imperial Hotel in Delhi; or about the time Salvador Dali asked room service at Hotel Le Meurice in Paris to send him a flock of sheep. The Great, the Good and the Eccentric, including Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Elizabeth Taylor – all made appearances, and some times, history – in these grand establishments.

Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy’s Food Culture by Matt Goulding

Pasta, Pane, Vino is the latest book by Roads & Kingdoms, a crew that applies foreign correspondence-style journalism to food, music and travel (thereby elevating it to a new and impressive level).  Matt Goulding travels across Italy and shows how food staples – pasta, bread, cheese, wine – remain anchored in tradition, whilst allowing new generations of artisans the scope to innovate for the future.  Matt’s exploration of food is also the starting point for deep-dives into Italian history, politics and culture.  Each chapter is like a short documentary that is both intense and intimate. Pasta, Pane, Vino will hit the spot If you like your writing insightful and intellectual.

The Kings of the Yukon: an Alaskan River Journey by Adam Weymouth

Adam Weymouth spent four months canoeing along the Yukon River, tracing the life cycle of the legendary king salmon.  From the spawning grounds of McNeil Lake in the Canadian interior, he travels over 3,000 km to the Bering Sea – and each year, thousands of salmon make this same journey in reverse, against the current and uphill, back to their birthplace to spawn and then die.  Along the way, he meets various locals, whose lives are entwined with the fate of the salmon.  The Kings of the Yukon is a quiet, poetic book befitting a journey through such a remote, rugged area.  The slow pace of canoeing allows Adam Weymouth plenty of time for reflection on ecology, sustainability, and the tension between conservation and cultural traditions.

A Year Off: a Story about Travelling the World and How to Make it Happen for You by Alexandra and David Brown

“Don’t Dream it, Do it!” is the message by Alexandra and David Brown – if you have ever dreamt of taking a year off to travel the world, then this is the book for you.  A few months into their relationship, Alexandra and David decided to take a year off from work and travel together. Visiting 20 countries in 12 months is a big challenge for a new couple, and this book details the highs and the lows, the glorious moments and the sheer exhaustion.  Alexandra and David also show how to plan and budget for such a trip, the conversations you need to have with your boss, how to manage the mundane stuff whilst on the road.  Combining guidebook, travel essays and memoir, A Year Off will inspire you to finally take the plunge with that dream trip.

The Kindness of Strangers: Travel Stories that Make your Heart Grow edited by Fearghal O’Nuallain

Travelling is exciting because it takes us to new and distant places; however, in such unfamiliar places, without our usual support network, we become vulnerable.   The Kindness of Strangers explores what it means to be vulnerable and to be helped by someone we’ve never met, someone who could have walked past, but chose not to.  Contributors share personal stories of the kindnesses they have received from adventures around the world, from a warm and cheering bowl of soup, to a rescue from a dire situation.  The Kindness of Strangers is not just a travel book, but one that reminds its readers that much good can arise from even the smallest of kind gestures. In doing so, it encourages readers to empathise and be kind too.  All royalties go towards supporting Oxfam in their work with refugees – the most vulnerable travellers of them all.

The Atlas Obscura Explorers Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid by Dylan Thuras

The team behind the bestselling Atlas Obscura has returned with a book, designed to inspire wanderlust in a younger generation!  The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid is packed with fascinating and unusual information about 47 different countries spread across every continent.  Besides distant and exotic places – such as the Crystal Caves in Mexico and Blood Falls in Antarctica – it also encourages young readers to explore and reveal the hidden wonders of their own environments.  Designed to appeal to 8-12 year olds (the age when curious facts and amazing records really capture their imaginations), this is a beautifully-produced book that will be perfect for gifting.

The Best Books Celebrating Art in 2018

The world of art can be a little intimidating, polarising, exciting and even sometimes a tad bizarre. The idea of walking into an art gallery to have a little look around may seem like the perfect day to some and yet like stepping into Alice’s wonderland for others. There are so many styles and while we think the best way to determine one that resonates with you is to spend time in a gallery looking at all genres, the second best would be to leaf through a book. Here’s a few of our favourites that have been released this year. 

 

Pharmacy London by Damien Hirst

In 2005 Damien Hirst began photographing every pharmacy in the Greater London area. Shooting both the individual pharmacists behind their counters and the exterior views of the city’s 1,856 chemists, he took over a decade to complete the project. The images are brought together in their entirety in this extraordinary ten-volume artist’s book. Hirst’s career-long obsession with the minimalist aesthetics employed by pharmaceutical companies—the cool colours and simple geometric forms—first manifested in his series of Medicine Cabinets, conceived in 1988 while still at Goldsmiths College. For his 1992 installation Pharmacy, Hirst recreated an entire chemist within the gallery space, stating: “[Pharmacy] is like a contemporary museum. In a hundred years it will look like an old apothecary.”

 

 

When Artists Curate : Contemporary Art and the Exhibition as Medium by Alison Green

An increasing proportion of exhibitions are curated by artists rather than professional curators. In this ground-breaking book Alison Green provides the first critical history of visual artists curating exhibitions. The artist emerges as someone who carries a special responsibility for critiquing art’s institutions, brings considerable creativity to the craft of making exhibitions and, through experimentation, has changed the way exhibitions are understood to be authored and experienced. But the book also establishes a curious ubiquity to the artist-curated exhibition. Rather than being exceptional or rare, artists curate all the time and in all kinds of places: in galleries and in museums, in studios, in borrowed spaces such as shopfronts or industrial buildings, in front rooms and front windows, in zoos or concert halls, on streets and in nature. Seen from the perspective of artists, showing is a part of making art. Once this idea is understood, the history of art starts to look very different. 

 

 

MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art by Juliet Samantha Friedman

Since opening to the public in 1929, New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has amassed one of the most significant collections of modern and contemporary art in the world. The major exhibition MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art, presented at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, provides a unique survey of more than 200 iconic works in the MoMA collection.

This beautifully illustrated publication features insightful essays by curators Samantha Friedman (MoMA), Juliet Kinchin (MoMA) and Miranda Wallace (NGV), which together consider 130 years of radical artistic innovation. MoMA at NGV sheds light on art, design and architecture from the late nineteenth century to the present day, as well as on the many forces that have shaped the art world throughout this period.

 

 

Super Group by Richard Prince

While Richard Prince (born 1949) is most often discussed for his strategies as an appropriation artist—from the Marlboro cowboys in the 1980s to the Instagram portraits today—it is his own work as a painter that stands at the center of his approach: starting with paintings of jokes and cartoons, following up with, among other things, nurses and cowboys taken from the covers of dime novels, and freewheeling riffs on Picasso and de Kooning.

For his extensive new series Super Group, Prince uses objects loaded with meaning: the inner sleeves of vinyl records, which he collages on canvas and then overpaints with band names, abstract washes and funny figures. Richard Prince: Super Group presents 51 works in this new series, engaging with the question of how we define ourselves by our choices of objects, images and music.

 

 

Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future by Tracey Bashkoff

When Swedish artist Hilma af Klint died in 1944 at the age of 81, she left behind more than 1,000 paintings and works on paper that she had kept largely private during her lifetime. Believing the world was not yet ready for her art, she stipulated that it should remain unseen for another 20 years. But only in recent decades has the public had a chance to reckon with af Klint’s radically abstract painting practice, one which predates the work of Vasily Kandinsky and other artists widely considered trailblazers of modernist abstraction. Her boldly colourful works, many of them large-scale, reflect an ambitious, spiritually informed attempt to chart an invisible, totalising world order through a synthesis of natural and geometric forms, textual elements and esoteric symbolism.

 

 

Fashion Drive by Christoph Becker

In the modern age of fast fashion, this book provides an overview of clothing in art and subversive moments in fashion through painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, photography and film. Fashion Drive looks at how artists have reacted to such creations as slashed clothing, codpieces, the crinoline and the dinner jacket. Fashion is often considered an expression of longing and an instrument for mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion and this book takes an interesting peak into this often amusing world.

 

 

 

Enjoy!

The Hottest Cookbooks of 2018

Over the past few years there has been a change in our approach to what we eat and drink. This shift  reflects our changing attitudes towards our health and the environment – and also how we socialise. We are now in a culinary world of adventurous vegetarian and vegan cuisine with avocado smash being a standard brunch item, not to mention deconstructed and bowl meals. 

But fear not, we have compiled a list of the hottest cookbooks of the year so that you can adopt a few new dishes to pop into your foodie repertoire and wow your dinner guests. 

So make yourself comfortable and get your fingers ready as you’ll want to bookmark these titles as possible Festive Season meal inspiration, or even just to give Santa a nudge as to what you want to unwrap in on Christmas Day…which is only 11 weeks away (yep…true fact)!

 

Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi

It’s no secret that we love Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes (you can read about Karen’s love of Ottolenghi here) But boy-oh-boy some recipes can be a little intimidating. Ottolenghi Simple showcases Yotam’s standout dishes that will suit whatever type of cooking you find easy – whether that’s getting wonderful food on the table in under 30 minutes, using just one pot to make a delicious meal, or a flavoursome dish that can be prepared ahead and then served when you’re ready.

 

 

 

Lagom By Steffi Knowles-Dellner

Technically this book came out last year, but it’s been a hot seller this year so we have included it on the list. This beautiful, fresh cookbook offers genuine insight into how Swedes eat and cook – with recipes that fit around the seasons, occasions, times of day, and appetite. Eating and cooking in tune with ‘lagom’ means embracing food that is good for body and soul, unfussy, delicious and sustaining, and all in harmony. The Swedes understand that balance is everything – that you crave comforting food when a bitter wind is howling outside, that refreshing, lighter meals suit hot, hazy days, that a mid-morning bun is good for morale, and that a long, sociable lunch with friends and family on a Sunday is the most rewarding way to end the weekend. There is a time and place for every kind of food, and when everything is in equilibrium, you will be content and satisfied. Steffi Knowles-Dellner is a Swedish food stylist and blogger (check out the blog here) who will introduce you to the unique Swedish concepts that encapsulate lagom, in this her debut book. From the well-known smörgåsbord table of open sandwiches, and Fredags mys (“cosy Fridays”) when hunkering down on a cosy sofa and tucking into tacos is a must, all the way to the irresistible idea of lördagsgodis – a single day for eating sweets to satisfy even the sweetest tooth.

 

 

Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering by Joanna Gaines

Magnolia Table is infused with Joanna Gaines’ warmth and passion for all things family, prepared and served straight from the heart of her home, with recipes inspired by dozens of Gaines family favourites and classic comfort selections from the couple’s new Waco restaurant, Magnolia Table, which opened early 2018.

Jo believes there’s no better way to celebrate family and friendship than through the art of togetherness, celebrating tradition, and sharing a great meal. Magnolia Table includes 125 classic recipes from breakfast, lunch, and dinner to small plates, snacks, and desserts. Complemented by her love for her garden, these dishes also incorporate homegrown, seasonal produce at the peak of its flavour. Inside Magnolia Table, you’ll find recipes the whole family will enjoy. You can check out Joanna’s blog here.

 

 

Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen 

Chrissy Teigen serves up a second glorious cookbook packed full of more delicious, irresistible, ‘eat-me’ food that you’ll want to devour right here, right now. Just as in Cravings, Chrissy’s recipes are high on flavour, low on guilt and she knows how to make every bite count. In this book, her focus is on faster and easier, but never less than 100% delicious. You’ll find the best comfort food, the sneakiest midnight feasts, instant dinner party grub to impress your friends, and a few more John Legend favourites. All accompanied with Chrissy’s laugh-out-loud irreverence and page-lickingly gorgeous food photography.

 

 

Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion by Shelly Westerhausen

Okay, so this is my favourite style of cooking….platters count as cooking I’m sure! This visual cornucopia of a cookbook is the guide to entertaining with effortless style. Celebrated author and food blogger Shelly Westerhausen shares the secrets to creating casually chic spreads anyone can make and everyone will enjoy (and envy). Organised by time of day, 40 contemporary arrangements are presented with gorgeous photography, easy-to-prepare recipes, suggested meat and drink pairings, and notes on preparation and presentation. Helpful advice includes tips on portioning, picking surfaces and vessels, pairing complementary textures and flavours, plus a handy chart featuring board suggestions for a variety of occasions (from holiday parties to baby showers). Platters and Boards is an inspiring housewarming or Christmas gift and resource for throwing unforgettable get-togethers.

 

 

On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen by Jeremy Fox

Okay…so this one was also published last year but it’s so good we had to include it. On Vegetables is the highly anticipated cookbook from Jeremy Fox, the California chef who is redefining vegetable-based cuisine with global appeal. Known for his game-changing approach to cooking with vegetables, Jeremy Fox first made his name at the Michelin-starred restaurant Ubuntu in Napa Valley. Today he is one of America’s most talked-about chefs, celebrated for the ingredient-focused cuisine he serves at the Los Angeles restaurant, Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen. In his first book, Fox presents his food philosophy in the form of 160 approachable recipes for the home cook. On Vegetables elevates vegetarian cooking, using creative methods and ingredient combinations to highlight the textures, flavours, and varieties of seasonal produce and including basic recipes for the larder.

 

Enjoy!