Friday, November 26, 2010


Happy Friday and greetings to one and all.  Oooooh its warming up here in Brisbane town.  The people have started coming out of the woodwork and its been a week of catching up with past clients and also welcoming through new faces.  Everyone is just so happy...and its nearly Christmas!  Great to see.  I think we should all have the resolve this year to stay cool headed and just enjoy the lead up to the Festive Season.
Speaking of staying cool headed and keeping Christmas stress free, we are offering some amazing Christmas Gift ideas for our customers.  Pop into 18 Doggett street Fortitude Valley, and view our latest range of Lanterns (which make an amazing centrepiece to the Christmas Table), Natural Stone Candlesticks, Moroccan Lanterns, Asian Inspired Wooden Lanterns, Vases, Silver Candlesticks, Urns and pots, and other interesting and unique gift ideas.  It really can be hard to buy for loved ones nowadays, so we try to make the shopping experience a lot easier for you by carefully selecting our accessory range.
New Arrival!  Our Statement Arched Mirror...and dont you love the Antique Wooden Horse and Divine Black Candlesticks!

Our Belgian Urns Crafted from Zinc really do give the 'Wow' factor to a room.

Gorgeous Statement Agean Urn.  Perfect for indoors or out....
Our Giant Cathedral Lantern can be used in a Christmas Setting and then perfect for elsewhere in the house over the remainder of the year...Looks amazing in a bathroom setting, or perfect for the outdoor dining table, setting a romantic and relaxed mood light.
Our exclusive Narnia Hand carved Mirror from France is a gorgeous backdrop against our Rustic Filigree Candelabras, Urns and Church Candles.
What better addition to the Christmas Table Setting than a pair of Silver Candlesticks that would make Jack Jump With Joy!?


We are big fans of the TV Show 'How Not To Decorate' starring the adorable Englishmen Justin Ryan and Colin McAllister.  These Interior Design Gurus and quite frankly...slightly mad individuals...venture weekly into homes that are desperately in need of a complete overhaul.  The boys, in their deliciously 'campy' style create a hysterical mix of humour and complete creative genius to come up with amazing solutions which eventually become a reality.  From 'Drab-ulous' 'Fabulous'.  
Tune in to 7Two Friday nights at 9.30pm for this really entertaining and inspiring show that is a must see for all lovers of Interior Design.


There are those who can just put together a delightfully stylish home without batting an eyelid. You walk into the space and feel completely at ease.  The home cannot be classified to any certain orange melamine benchtops in the kitchen teamed with pine cupboards and matching handles, no garish feature walls to be seen and not a trace of shag pile or oversized outdated 'trend' furniture and accessories.
And then, there are those clients who come into the showroom looking for direction, either for the reasons of time restrictions or perhaps their creative streak leans itself towards other endeavours, who just need some clear advice and professional assistance when it comes to creating a home that reflects their personal taste and style.
There are 5 main rules to adhere to when starting off the process of creating a beautiful home space, and we would like to share them with you.....
1. Ignore the size of the room. Nothing looks more out of place than doll-house sized furniture in a grand living room, or a baby grand piano stuffed into a cozy den. The furniture that worked in your old house or apartment may simply be out of scale for the rooms in your new home, so take a deep breath, let go and replace those items with furniture that is a realistic balance.
This small sun room space is balanced and uncluttered with a medium sized round French Provincial Style dining setting, the addition of shutters in place of heavy drapery, giving this smaller sized room a feeling of spaciousness and light.

2. Hang all of your pictures too high. For some reason, most do-it-yourself decorators hang pictures at a height that only works for NBA basketball players. The focal point of the piece of art should be at gallery level, which is generally considered to be at eye-level for an average person who is 5 feet 7 inches tall. If you are hanging a picture to act as an accent piece for a table or lamp, the elements should be within 10 or 12 inches of each other.
Nina with her collection of Owls...even she admits it scares away the boys and can be a teeny wee bit creepy...
3. Display every nick nack you own. In home interior design, more is not necessarily better. If you own a large collection of porcelain rabbits (or in the case of Nina from Offspring...Owls), it can be visually overwhelming to display them all together.. My Grandmother collects spoons, which were displayed for all to see in the lounge room at one point...but now thankfully she has them in a drawer.  She can bring them out to show off when her art ladies come around, but then they fit nicely back in the drawer away from view.  Its ok to showcase a couple of special items or collectables, pop the rest away, and then swap them over to create a fresh look when you feel a change is necessary.  Collectables can definitely fit into a room scheme as long as they are not in numbers and added to give a subtle quirkiness.  I love Buddhas....Cath loves Antique Wooden and Stone Horses....but we only display one or two maximum in our home at one time....and dont get me started on soft toy collections......

4. Match everything. Have you ever walked into a room where the flowered wallpaper matched the flowered tablecloth, which matched the flowered seat napkins and the seat cushions? Didn't it just give you a headache? If this scenario describes a room in your house, you may want to replace the busy flowered napkins with a complimentary solid color.  Remember...walking into a room that is easy on the eye and mind is the optimum goal here.

The same concept goes for furniture. It is better to have two matching pieces of furniture in a room, paired with a couple of complimentary single pieces. The very best room decor have been carefully collected over a period of years, rather than purchased at Super A-Mart in one fell swoop on a Saturday afternoon.  We have clients who sometimes take years to achieve the right look and balance to their home.  Choosing quality, interesting 
pieces that you feel a real connection with can save you financially in the long run also.

And lastly...Dont..
5. Make it precious. The last major interior design mistake occurs when home decorators try too hard. The result is a room that makes for a great photograph, but lacks any kind of warmth or human appeal. If your guests are afraid to move a sofa pillow for fear of upsetting the aesthetic balance, you need to reassess ideas. I have a friend who once gave me my own personalised pair of little slippers for Christmas, which normally would have been such a sweet gesture, except they were specifically for the purpose of bringing to her home every time I went over for a visit, so that I could slip them on and she wouldnt have to worry about me leaving any marks on her pristine tiled floor with my shoes or bare feet.  It certainly created an atmosphere that wasnt quite welcoming...lovely lady, but now we meet for lunch out instead of me visiting.  Being too precious with your home can actually defeat the purpose of 'home'...which is a space to be enjoyed by yourself and also friends and family.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 200g rice stick noodles
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers
  • 165ml can coconut cream or milk
  • 2 1/2 tbs fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 long red chillies, deseeded, chopped
  • 1 tbs finely grated ginger
  • 3/4 cup roughly chopped coriander leaves
  • 4 x 200g skinless blue-eye fillets (or other firm white fish)
  • 1 tbs sunflower or rice bran oil


  1. Place noodles in a large bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Stand for 15 minutes, occasionally stirring with tongs, then drain. Remove seeds from cucumbers, then cut into thin matchsticks.
  2. Combine coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, chilli, ginger, coriander and cucumber in a large bowl. Add drained noodles and toss well to combine.
  3. Heat a barbecue or chargrill pan on medium-high heat. Rub the fish with oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook the fish for 3 minutes on each side or until cooked to your liking, then serve immediately with the coconut noodle salad.

    Happy Friday and welcome...welcome to Cocktail Friday.  This week we invite you to kick off the shoes, put your feet the so soothing tones Nina Simone and enjoy this weeks offering.  We do love Lime...the smell, the freshness of the colour, the delicious taste and the fact that Lime represents summer and warmth.  We couldnt go past this one for the Cocktail Friday celebration....Imbibe...Enjoy and most importantly....reeeelax...cos its Friday!

    Key Lime and Coconut Caipirinha 

    You will need.....
    2 oz. Cabana Cachaça (a very sweet Brazilian Rum..use other brand if you cant find this)
    1 tbsp. shredded coconut
    1 tbsp. granulated sugar
    1 lime, quartered
    Crushed ice

    Muddle (no muddle is to smash about the lime preferably using a mortar and pestle that is completely clean...really bash away at the lime and let the juices and rind meld together) lime with coconut and sugar. Add Cabana Cachaça, shake, and pour over ice.
    Yummeny Yummeny....refreshing and deeeelish...Enjoy!
    And so we bid you adieu for another week.  Enjoy family and friends this weekend and most importantly, be kind to YOU!

Friday, November 19, 2010


The irony of this week is that I am reading the much acclaimed novel Eat, Pray, Love whilst on a very carbohydrate prohibitive diet.  It's been hell...although I have been living out my food fantasies vicariously through the novel.

The author begins her journey of self discovery in Rome, spending 3 months there completely indulging and immersing herself and her taste buds in the local food and wine.  She writes about a pizzeria in Naples that produces the most amazing pizza with a base similar to naan bread.  I really...really want to go there....NOW!  Alas...its back to my little bowl of cashews.....

So, this week, we bring you an exciting summer pizza recipe that will have everyone queuing up for seconds, the Italian version of Coco Chanel, plus some great Christmas gift ideas fresh off the delivery truck!...and more, so read on and take a leaf of the Italians book....enjoy...and most importantly...indulge!

Elsa Schiaparelli (10 September 1890 — 13 November 1973) was an Italian fashion designer. Along with Coco Chanel, her greatest rival, she is regarded as one of the most prominent figures in fashion between the two World Wars. Starting with knitwear, Schiaparelli's designs were heavily influenced by Surrealists like her collaborators Salvador Dalí and Alberto Giacometti. Her clients included the heiress Daisy Fellowes and actress Mae West.

Schiaparelli did not adapt to the changes in fashion following World War II and her business closed in 1954.
Schiaparelli was born at the Palazzo Corsini in Rome. Her mother was a Neopolitan aristocrat and her father a renowned scholar and curator of medieval manuscripts. Her father, Celestino, was Dean of the University of Rome and an authority on Sanskrit. She was a niece of astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, who discovered the canali of Mars, and she spent hours with him studying the heavens. 

She studied philosophy at the University of Rome, during which she published a book of sensual poems that shocked her conservative family. Schiaparelli was sent to a convent until she went on hunger strike and at the age of 22 accepted a job in London as a nanny. Elsa led a refined life with a certain amount of luxury provided by her parents’ wealth and high social status. She believed, however, that this luxury was stifling to her art and creativity and so she removed herself from the “lap of luxury” as quickly as possible. Schiaparelli moved first to New York City and then to Paris, combining her love of art and design to become a surrealist couturier.

In Paris, Schiaparelli - known as "Schiap" to her friends - began making her own clothes.  Schiaparelli was an innovative woman and fashion designer. She had a lot of "firsts" in the fashion industry. Her career began with her introduction of graphic knitwear to the world of fashion with knit patterns and emblems.

As Madonna was a ground breaker in the music scene, so was Elsa to the world of fashion, and her designs and style mould can be seen in todays fashion influences around the world.

Just arrived! French Style 3 Piece Garden Setting.

French Style Wooden Door Panels with Iron Inserts...a perfect way to complete your gardening project.

Rustic Chandelier.  Fully Wired.  What a statement!

Rustic Style Wooden Garden Bench.  Perfect for those who love to read and enjoy the garden at the same time.

My favourite....our gorgeous Stone Based Hurricane Lanterns, make the perfect Christmas Table Centrepiece.

Everyone loves Pizza and this week, we bring to you a beautiful traditional pizza recipe.  Tomatoes are pretty much available year round, but always are so much more tastier in the warmer months.  Take advantage of their freshness and summer flavour with this amazing Summer Pizza.


  • 4   tomatoes (about 2 pounds), seeded and chopped
  • 1  teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1   small red onion, cut into thin slices
  • Fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 6  tablespoon(s) chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2  shop purchased pizza bases
  • 1/2 cup(s) grated Parmesan
  • 2  tablespoon(s) olive oil
  1. Heat the oven to 450°F. Put the tomatoes in a strainer set over a medium bowl. Toss with the salt and let drain for 15 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the drained tomatoes with the onion, mozzarella, basil and pepper. Top each pizza shell with half of the tomato mixture.
  3. Sprinkle the pizzas with the Parmesan and drizzle with the oil. Bake directly on the oven rack until the cheese just melts, about 8 minutes.
  4. Grilled Pizza: The summer ingredients on this pizza make it a perfect candidate for grilling. Brush a tablespoon of oil on the top of the pizza bases and set them, oiled-side down, on the grill. Cook until warm, about three minutes. Brush with another tablespoon of oil, flip the bases, and top with the remaining ingredients. Cook until the cheese just melts, about ten minutes.
 Bellissimo!...Dig in...

The Perfect pre- dinner Cocktail...and so very Italian too.  The Negroni!

Ingredients: 1/3 Vermouth rosso, 1/3 Bitter Campari, 1/3 Dry Gin.
Preparation: Served on the rocks, you need to use a medium tumbler or a old fashioned glass, stir the ingredients directly in your glass and garnish with a half slice of orange and lemon peel.

Cheers to all and hoping that your weekend is a great one.  We know it will be!
 Be sure to pop into the showroom for a spot of Christmas shopping.  We have a huge selection of unique and exquisite gifts and homewares, made especially for the person who has everything! 

Until next week.....
The Charcoal Girls xxx

Friday, November 12, 2010

Opulence in Wategos Byron Bay...Branson Gives the big Thumbs Up...Eclectic Spaces...Hellllooooo Aaron Harvie...Masterchef meets Spaghetti with Mussels Lime and Chili....and the Wategos Sunrise!

Greetings to one and all on this magnificent Friday in Brisbane Australia.
I am pleased to report that Cath is back from her coastal sojourn, and man alive...does she look hot! She has come back sun-kissed, relaxed and unwound and ready to take on the world again!  We were glad to see her too.  And during her absence I even refrained from purchasing anything lime green....or re-arranging things in the showroom!

Last week, we took a peek at some of the most amazing beach houses in Australia.  I think it wouldnt really be a story about seaside accommodation without featuring a very special place from an area that is beloved to so many of us.  Its the home of love, light, free thinking, rejuvenation, pristine beaches, earth inspired restaurants and cafe's, alternative and creative souls and much, much more....just dont pass by there during the Christmas holidays or during a music festival...thats if you want to experience that inner peace thing...rather than sitting in hours of infuriating traffic jams, as I have found out on more than one occasion.  
Oh, yeah...nearly forgot to say, this little piece of paradise is the one and only...
Byron Bay!

Byron Bay is Australias most Eastern Point.  A trip to the famed Cape Byron Lighthouse is a must.  Its a good spot to sit and take in those calming effects that the ocean seems to have on us, watch the dolphins play, at the right time of the year do a spot of whale watching, check out the hang gliders as they weave their way along the coast and if you're lucky (like a friend of mine was) see a pack of sharks devouring bait fish. 

One of Byron Bays most revered beaches is the spectacular Wategos.  Wategos bleeds wealth and style, but without the intimidation factor.  Its a place where you can blend in with the rich and famous on any given day.  It doesnt matter who you are or what you do....Wategos always welcomes with open arms.

And on my 'lets treat the Charcoal Girls for a weekend' wish list  is the magnificent Raes on Wategos.
And I mean...if its good enough for Richard Branson,who has stayed there and given it the two thumbs up, then by jove its good enough for us!

Raes on Wategos...Rated one of the top 25 hotels in the world.

 Raes is a boutique retreat with the personalised service one can expect with only seven rooms, providing an elegant, opulent and exceptionally private space in which couples can forget everything in the world except each other.
 We 'love' the eclectic mix here in one of the 7 bedrooms on offer at Raes.  

The 'Deluxe Penthouse'...resident artist David Bromleys artworks feature throughout the entire hotel.

Too Tooo Divine...The 'Mirabella Penthouse' with its arched window feature, fireplace and atrium.....

The 'Moroccan Suite'...simply stunning with King Sized Poster Bed, Moroccan Archway features balanced with smatterings of contemporary and traditional artworks.

Decor and furnishings are first class, yet warm and accommodating. This is a hotel with an exotic and eccentric charm that you are not afraid to live in.We absolutely adore the eclectic mix of furnishings. 

Little wonder the establishment is so popular with lovers and celebrities alike! 
So, if I close my eyes reeeeeal tight and click my heels together......... 'There's no place like Rae's'....'Theres no place like Rae's....

All images gratefully used with the permission of Raes on Wategos

Like to know more?....

Click here to find out more about Raes on Wategos

OK...we are putting it out there.  We are absolute, unabashed fans of Aaron Harvie from Masterchef 2010.  I mean, this guy was given all the blessings in life with a fantastic sense of style, Cool McCool coolness, panache mixed in there with a big dash of moxie and to cherry top it all off...he's a handsome dude to boot!

We loved how Aaron took risks on Masterchef.  I recall a dish where he used Truffle oil in a pretty unconventional way.  The judges didnt really have faith in his ideas...but the dish was a huge success.
Aaron is our male equivalent of Katie Noonan...and you all know how much we LOVE Katie.  
Anyway, this week I contacted Aaron because I had seen the most amazing mussel dish on his blog 'Food that Rocks'.  Its one of those meals that is just so super easy (and you know how much we like to stick with the easy peasy food preparation theme here on Friday blog).  But as Aaron describes its just a meal that you can bang together and sit with the squeeze or mates and watch some bad reality tv with whilst slurping your way through the amazing deliciousness that is...
Aaron Harvies Spaghetti with Mussels, Chili and Lemon...
click on the link below for the recipe

Friday....Thank God its Cocktail Friday!!

OK, ladies and's the time for all good men and women to kick those shoes off...and allow yourself to relax a little and imbibe in another great cocktail creation from the Charcoal Interiors Cocktail Recipe Book.

With all this talk of summer and the beach, and then that Mussel recipe of Aarons...we couldnt go past a cocktail recipe using that old classic stalwart that is 'Malibu'.  Now Malibu can be used to create some pretty crazy and yet classy cocktails you know.  This week we have selected for your sipping pleasure...
The Wategos Sunrise
Place a hibiscus behind your ear...pop on some Beach Boys...and enjoy!

1 ½ ounces Malibu rum (coconut)
4 ounces orange juice
½ ounce grenadine
Fill a glass with ice; a cocktail glass adds a stylish touch. Add the Malibu rum and then the orange juice. Pour the grenadine into the cocktail slowly. Let the grenadine settle to the bottom so that the drink looks like a sunrise.....well, maybe after a few of these it might....

Friday down and dusted.  Another week of great times together.  Glad to have Cath back.  She just has to stand far, far away from me because she just looks tooooo gooooood.  Whenever I get back from a holiday I have bad skin from all the junk I have eaten and needless to say carrying an extra million kilos or so!!
And so...wishing you all a wonderful weekend.  With love from the Charcoal Girls xxx

Friday, November 5, 2010

Australias Best Beach Houses....While Caths Away....Brilliant Beachy Bevvies and the Quintessential BBQ Prawn Recipe...Plus! New Arrivals and More! Cheers and Happy Friday to

I am not exactly sure what is happening with the weather here in Brisbane lately....we should be dragging out our togs and heading to the beach...but that delightful cusp of spring/summer just wont quite break through the barrier. 

Cath is away this week.  Staying at her favourite haunt on the Sunshine Coast.  It was a bit of a struggle actually getting her out of we decided to be really gentle with her and found that locking her out and changing the keys worked a treat!  Will she forgive and forget...?  Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, we have been super busy with custom made table orders.  It seems that word has gotten out!  This latest addition that I have called the Beach House Table, has already sold, with others on order.  We love it!

I decided this week might be a good time to research into some great Aussie Beach Houses...for inspiration, but also the motivation factor.  I figure that if I start getting into the swing of will eventually manifest.

As a child, I remember when family friends invited us to their beach house for the weekend; I got the top bunk, a well-worn towel and a thin chenille how things have changed....
Below, are a selection of the BEST Beach Houses in Australia.  So kick off your shoes, create the cocktail from the recipe below, and draw inspiration and a bit of summer lovin from these amazingly tranquil and luxurious homes.

Altitude Beach House. Great Ocean Road.  
With views of the National Park and Ocean.  A birds eye view of this spectacular part of the world.

Ala Moana Hamilton Island
Slip on a kaftan and revel in the uninterrupted views over the sublime turquoise waters of the Hamilton Island Whitsundays....
One nights stay will set you back....

 $5500..or if you wish for a cleaner and meals, its just $6250 a night!  Split the cost with 100 of your best pals and its quite affordable really.....

Next week....more gorgeous Beach Houses to drool over.  And we also bring to you some great Beach House style ideas...bring a little bit of summer into your home wherever you are...

Sneak Peek at our new little favourites just arrived...
Check out our latest arrivals.  Gorgeous Stone Base Hurricane Lanterns.  So summery and very affordable.  Leave as it is with a candle, or add some interesting pebbles and place the candle on top.  I know I have quite a few collectibles from my beachcombing over the years that would look amazing in one of these.

A Beach Theme just wouldnt be the same without some kind of BBQ prawn recipe.  This one completely rocks!  It has prawns...(of course), lemongrass and mango!..what more could you want in flavour combos.  I am salivating at the thought.  So quick and so easy, plus the washing up is minimal.  Enjoy!

Lemon Grass Prawn Skewers with Mango Mayonnaise

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 40 (about 1.2kg) green prawns, peeled leaving tails intact, deveined
  • 1 stem lemon grass, pale section only, finely chopped
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, centre veins removed, finely shredded
  • 1 tbs palm sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbs finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 ripe mango, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbs fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 250ml (1 cup) peanut oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Cocktail Friday!
To those of you unfamiliar with our Cocktail Friday tradition.  This is a celebration of the weeks end.  Some meditate...others like to read or perhaps partake in a yoga class.  We choose to wind down every Friday with a Cocktail.  Its our way of recognising a job well done and another week down and dusted without causing too much trouble to ourselves or others.

It is important to kick off the shoes, relax and give yourself a pat on the back whilst sipping the weeks latest concoction.

Do you like getting caught in the rain...are you into yoga and sometimes into Champagne??...then you are going to love this weeks cocktail beachside fave....This week, we introduce to you.....

The Pina Colada.

Here's how to make it!

Pina Colada Recipe

2oz of  Rum
1 ½ oz of Cream of Coconut
2oz of Fresh Pineapple (cut into chunks & also use the pulp)
1 cup of ice
Pour everything into the blender.
Blend for roughly 20 seconds or until smooth
Pour into a frosted glass
Drink it through a straw; it somehow makes it taste better..and one of those fancy little umbrellas helps to create the mood too....aaaarrghhh...just throw caution to wind and!

 Happy Friday to All.  We are in exceptionally good spirits this week, with 2 family members receiving great health news.  And so we raise our glasses to you and yours, and wish you a very, happy Friday and a weekend full of love, laughter and all things happy.

 The Charcoal Girls xxx