Thursday, December 22, 2011



Well, here we are with Christmas Day almost upon us.  Although they say its a time for the children, my favourite quote is 'Never Lose Your Childish Enthusiasm' and so we are just big kids here, enjoying the excitement and fun of the season.

The showroom is just bursting with all things Christmas, including our new contemporary Christmas Trees in white.  We have medium and large.

Loving our gold acorns in various sizes....lets see the chipmunks try to store these in their cheeks!

We bring back the romance of another era with our hand crafted danish baubles in an array of shapes and sizes.

Our Rudolph.....

Our stunning black urn filled with festive silver branches, surrounded by French Handcrafted Limoges dinnerware.

A French Christmas...?

Here's our biggest secret for the year...Our 'Cosmo' Clock is just over a metre squared in size and fully functioning, with rustic style frame, hands and patina - only...wait for it...$125!
We have two available and they will go! quick.

We have so many beautiful decorations for your Christmas Table...pop in and have a browse.
Also check out our range of Gourmet Provisions and hampers.  We have your last minute Christmas shopping all wrapped up...literally!  Our hamper packs start at just $20!..and all wrapped and ready for giving.
Looking for something special yet affordable for Dad?  Look no further than 'The Dad Pack' which includes a bottle of quality Sth Australian Red Wine by Bremerton and our scrumptious Chilli Almonds...a great prezzie for the Dad who likes to kick back and watch the cricket with a tipple and a snack!
Or...our Chilli Lovers pack with Matchetts Chilli Jam, Chilli Fire Chutney and Chilli Almonds, once again all wrapped up and ready to give to the loved one who likes things hot!


After all the inspiration last week from the team at Inside Out mag, Jen got stuck into some creative gift wrapping.  Using butchers paper, ribbons and cut outs from pieces of recycled card, she came up with something a bit different.

Butchers Paper and some cutouts from recycled card...then with string tied around the box...but the kids all want to know...Who's Joy?? hehe

Gift tags made from recycled card and cutouts.

Heres one for our neighbours son, who incidentally has been knocking on our front door for the last 2 weeks since he found out we had bought him a we thought we should make it special for him...down to the wrapping paper :-)


This week, our lovely customer Sandrine popped in with a gift...for Brian the dog!
Sandrine frequents the showroom weekly for her Gourmet Provisions, but really we think its to see Brian.
Pop into the showroom anytime for you free pat!  
Here he is receiving his gift from Sandrine...a 'Chop' squeaky toy!



To compliment our Alfresco menu from last week, we have a great salad and potato recipe.  This is easy, delicious food that can be made in a snap, and will be devoured in seconds.


Ingredients (serves 12)

  • 1 (about 1.5kg) butternut pumpkin, quartered lengthways, peeled, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 300g baby spinach leaves
  • 200g feta, crumbled
  • 1 tbs wholegrain mustard
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar

Ingredients (serves 12)

  • 1 (about 1.5kg) butternut pumpkin, quartered lengthways, peeled, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 300g baby spinach leaves
  • 200g feta, crumbled
  • 1 tbs wholegrain mustard
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar



Ingredients (serves 12)

  • 4kg chat (baby coliban) potatoes
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
  • 1 tbs cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp sea salt flakes - we used Port Willunga Fine Foods Sea Salt with Desert Lime and Rosemary...sooo good!


  1. Preheat oven to 220°C. Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Place over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes or until almost tender. Drain well.
  2. Reserve one-third of the potatoes and set aside (see note). Place remaining potatoes in a large roasting pan. Use the back of a wooden spoon to gently crush the potatoes. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with cumin and salt. Season well with pepper. Roast in oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Place on a serving platter and serve immediately.



OK, so you have had one of those Christmas lunches where the top pants button is now undone and you just want to lie down somewhere and have a we need something light and zingy to pep you up in readiness for the next round of food.

We bring to you....the Pimms Cocktail, with refreshing lemonade, ginger ale and lemon and just that hint of alcohol will give you the zing and stamina needed to carry on into the Christmas evening fray! 



1 litre

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • 1 lemon, cut into thin slices
  • 160ml Pimm's No. 1
  • 125ml lemonade, chilled
  • 125ml ginger ale, chilled
  • 1/2 Lebanese cucumber, cut into thin strips


  1. Place 1/2 the ice into a 1-litre capacity jug. Add lemon slices. Pour in Pimm's, followed by lemonade and ginger ale. Stir with a swizzle stick to combine.
  2. Divide remaining ice among four tall glasses. Place a piece of cucumber in each glass then fill with cocktail. Serve.


And so, this is the last blog for the year.  It's been a big year for all of us, and I suppose on reflection the amount of achievements, friends and experiences gained is pretty surprising.  Theres been a lot of travel, a new Gourmet Provisions section added to the showroom...heck..even a new showroom (that just seems like years ago now...)..Brian the dog...a wedding...loss of a beloved pet...Caths camel riding experience another highlight (did I mention I will never let her forget that...?)...the familiarity of our regular customers and the welcoming of the new into the showroom and as design clients.  It truly has been a great year...exhausting, but great!  And so, we are off to have a well deserved break starting this Saturday afternoon the 24th through to Monday the 9th January.
Stay tuned next year....we cant wait to get into your space again :-)

Happy Christmas, Love and Light to you all.
The Charcoal Team
Colette, Cathie, Jen and Brian the Dog

Friday, December 16, 2011



Gosh, its crept up on us in a big way, and now only days until the big guy arrives.  Cath has been busy unpacking more new stock arrivals to replenish all the favourites that have sold out.  We now have MORE of our gorgeous stone lanterns in varied sizings starting at just $49.50!  They make the nicest gift and also look amazing on the Christmas Table!  These lanterns sell faster than we can unpack them, so be quick!
Charcoal Interiors - 59 Doggett St. Newstead. every day but Sunday.

Our stone based lanterns...stunning!..but be quick!

Our Gourmet Provisions area is bursting at the seams with hampers and gift packs...prices start at just $20 and all the wrapping is done for easy!

 We make last minute gift buying just soooo easy!

 Limoges gift packs are now instore...give the gift of style, elegance and quality with these stunning Limoges collectors pieces....after all...who wouldnt like a little piece of French craftsmanship for Christmas this year?

Our elegant silver hand painted tea-light holders will bring a sense of festivity glam to your Christmas Table Setting this year...why not go for a silver and white theme like we did last year...simple, but stunning!

Love the look?...its all yours.  Everything here is available for sale right now...we are open this Saturday and our showroom is literally heaving with possibilities for your home this Christmas.  From gift hampers starting at just $20 to Cathedral Style Candles, Stunning Crystal Chandeliers and Hand Painted traditional cabinetry...Christmas doesnt have to be all tinsel and holly...for something different pop in and see what all the fuss is about this season.....we are here to help.  See you soon!
Charcoal Interiors - 59 Doggett St.  Newstead.  Qld.  Ph. 38526002



Our friends at Inside Out mag had their Christmas get together this week, with the gift giving order of the day being 'Secret Santa'....and being the creative types that they are, there was not a plainly wrapped gift in sight!...I mean, who thinks to wrap a gift in dress-makers pattern paper? nifty.  We loved it....and gorgeous red and white print material instead of paper...loved that one too.  The red polka dot paper with candy striped twine is another fave.  One year, I got my kids to draw and paint over a big roll of butchers paper...we used bright colours and they had a ball drawing whatever they liked in a christmas theme.  Then we cut the paper up into sections and used it for wrapping...small pictures were cut out and used for gift tags...the Grandparents in particular loved it, and the kids entertained for hours!  So, there really are just so many options and the sky and your imagination are the limit.  So get cracking and get creative this Christmas with your wrapping.

Dress-making paper with a simple swing it!

Fabric in rich red and white...and plain hand written swing!

The candy striped twine gives this gift wrap a Christmas feel without being over the top...a personal and individual way of saying you care....just that little bit of extra effort means so much.



Last week, we gave you some idea for Christmas Table Settings, and one favourite (weather permitting) is the outdoor Christmas party in the garden, or by the pool.  We liked this idea because the kids get to run around with easy supervision and we adults have the benefit of sitting under a big umbrella or tree in the backyard, kicking back and relaxing.  As mentioned last week with the infamous 'Sangria' Christmas party, it was held outdoors in my Aunties backyard.  I think the pre-requisite was for each family group to bring a table because there was a huge chain of tables covered in white cloth that stretched the whole length of the backyard...and we just had a conglomeration of umbrellas for really was quite a memorable setting and day to boot.

And so...the big question is "what to serve up for an outdoor Christmas Garden Party?"...simple, yet tasty and traditional are the order of the day.  So we found this recipe for Sage Roast Turkey with Pork Stuffing and Apple Cider Gravy.....ooooh la la!

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 70g unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 bacon rashers, finely chopped
  • 1-2 good-quality pork sausages (100g total), skin removed
  • 1 cup (70g) breadcrumbs (made from day-old bread)
  • 1 green apple, peeled, coarsely grated
  • 1/2 cup (60g) coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbs finely shredded sage leaves, plus 8 extra whole leaves
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 6kg whole free-range turkey
  • 1/4 cup (35g) plain flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (375ml) chicken stock
  • 1 cup (250ml) dry alcoholic cider


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Melt 20g butter in a frypan over medium heat until foaming. Add the onion and bacon and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Allow to cool.
  3. Transfer the onion mixture to a large bowl. Add sausage meat, breadcrumbs, apple, walnuts, shredded sage and egg, then mix well with your hands until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Rinse turkey well, then pat dry with paper towel. Fill cavity with stuffing mixture. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wings under. Place turkey, breast-side up, in a roasting pan. Run your fingers under the skin of the breast to create a large pocket, taking care not to tear the skin. Arrange the whole sage leaves in a single layer inside the pocket. Melt remaining 50g butter, then brush all over the turkey. Season.
  5. Roast the turkey for 3 hours, basting occasionally with pan juices and covering with foil if browning too quickly, or until golden and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer. Transfer to a serving platter and loosely cover with foil. Rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, strain the pan juices into a heatproof jug. Stand for 2 minutes, then remove 2 tbs fat and place in the roasting pan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring to scrape any brown pieces from the base of the pan, for 1 minute or until bubbling. Gradually add the pan juices, stock and cider and cook, stirring constantly, for 5-6 minutes or until the gravy bubbles and thickens. Season, then strain through a sieve into a heatproof jug. Serve immediately with roast turkey.


There's no easier way to start off your Christmas Garden Party celebrations than with this refreshing and simple Guava and Peach cocktail.
To be sipped under the shade of a coolibah tree with your Christmas Hat donned and bells on :-)

Recipe via Taste

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 1 cup (250ml) guava nectar (see note)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) peach liqueur
  • 2 x 750ml bottles chilled sparkling white wine


  1. Combine the guava nectar and peach liqueur in a jug, then divide evenly among 8 Champagne flutes. Top with chilled sparkling wine and serve immediately.


  • Guava nectar is available from supermarkets and greengrocers.


    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”..Nelson Mandela....

    Stay tuned early next week for our final blog for the year, and its going to be jam packed with recipes, ideas and last minute gift suggestions....until then!

Friday, December 9, 2011



Last year, we all got together at my place for Christmas Dinner.  Everyone brought along a dish and some wine to share, and Cath decorated the table on the deck.  She never does anything by halves, so it was grand and just so beautiful......
The Table Setting had a bit of a theme, with white tablecloth and then two of our huge candlesticks as the base, then lots of silver....and a Reindeer for the little ones.

Cath checks out her handiwork before the hordes arrive 

All 'prettied' up and ready for the family to arrive!

With Christmas Day creeping up on us, its time to start thinking about how you are going to decorate your space this year.  We have some great ideas for the Christmas Table Setting, using urns to display in many ways and more....

What a great use for that rustic plank of wood you may have lying around in the backyard...I know we have plenty from 'gonna-do' home projects at home.  Make sure you give it a good clean up, as you wouldn't want any bugs infiltrating Christmas feasting,  cut to size if necessary, but a rustic wooden plank makes a fantastic table runner and amazing contrast with stark white as in this photograph.


Almost everyone has an urn in their home in some way, shape or form.  You can bring in the rustic one from outside that once housed the plant you managed to kill, or perhaps there's the urn you use as an ice bucket for special occasions?...anyway, have a hunt around and you are certain to find an urn or an urn style piece that will be perfect for the following ideas below!

Fill the urn to half way with tissue paper and then top up with Christmas baubles for a cute display in a corner, and then transfer to the Christmas Table as a centrepiece on the big day!

Cath filled one of our silver urns from the showroom with silver Christmas Foliage as an alternative to a tree for this year....we love it!

We love the use of an urn as a stand for the Christmas Tree...the usual stands are always pretty ugly looking...the urn does the rest of the tree justice.

Forgot the baubles and tinsel??...not to worry....just wrap your tree!  How effective with the little fairy lights underneath shining through!

...And finally...why not take the festivities outside (weather permitting) on the big day.  This is a great idea for those with kids, who can run around and play while the adults sit back and relax.  Necessities for the day when planning an outdoors feast are...lots of shade, insect repellent and loads of good food and wine...not to mention a hat...just because you can :-)

The candelabra chandelier gives the space an air of grandeur and occasion.



Colette and Cathie: "The client brief was minimalist, good quality, sophisticated styling."
"Longevity of the pieces but also the quality and style were of the utmost importance."
"They felt we had taken them on the journey with us throughout the process", says Colette...
"Every time something new came into their home from us, we would get excited phone calls."  
  "During this small renovation we were able to work with the clients and assist in their selections."
 "This was a thoroughly enjoyable project," says Cathie.  We think the photograph with our happy client says it all....

Artworks 'Circle of Life' by Dean Reilly 
 Chairs and Solid Oak Parquetry Top Dining Table - All Custom Made by Charcoal Interiors.

We will have more on this project in the coming weeks of Style In The City blog.



We have a 'fisho' who visits every Thursday/Friday.  I bought a stack of freshly caught Green Prawns for this recipe....a long standing fave in our household.
Perfect summer fare and a great recipe for Christmas Lunch, because you can pre-prepare the night before.
We also use the Seasalt with Desert Lime and Rosemary from Port Willunga Fine Foods

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 24 (about 615g) medium green king prawns, peeled leaving tails intact, deveined
  • 2 tsp ground Sichuan pepper
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes - we use our Lime and Rosemary Gourmet Salt from Charcoal Gourmet Provisions.
  • Lime wedges, to serve

  • Lemon-grass mayonnaise

  • 125ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 2 stems lemon grass, pale section only, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely grated lime rind
  • 235g (1 cup) reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Thai basil



When I was a kid, we always spent Christmas lunch with my Dads family, who were very strict Christians and there was never a drop of alcohol to be had.  I always thought everyone in the family was keen on this idea, but when my Nan passed away and her home sold, we started taking turns as a family as to who was going to host Christmas Day, the first year of the new arrangement I turned up with my Orange Juice (I was an adult by then, and didnt mind a glass of nice red by that stage)...and there was the whole clan half cut on Sangria!  So, obviously everyone was just holding out until Nan passed before breaking out the booze!
And love of Sangria began....sorry Nan xx

if you love watermelon, then this drink is perfect for a hot summers day....


  • 12 cups cubed watermelon
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry white wine
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup triple sec
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup
  • 3 cups cubed seeded watermelon
  • 1 medium lime, quartered
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries


  1. Place 9 cups of watermelon cubes in a blender; blend on high until very smooth. Strain juice through a mesh strainer into a large pitcher. Pour the wine, vodka, triple sec, and simple syrup into the pitcher. Stir to combine. Mix the remaining 3 cups of watermelon cubes, the lime quarters, orange sections, and blueberries into the sangria. Chill for 4 hours before serving.


                              "EVERY ONE'S ENTITLED TO MY OPINION" - MADONNA

Oooooooohhh....not too many sleeps to go until Christmas.  Until next week we wish you a marvellous weekend, full of fun, love and just a little bit of mischief!
...The Charcoal Team xxx

Thursday, December 1, 2011



Last weekend Pete the Greek and I took ourselves away for a couple of indulgent days up in Port Douglas, which for those 'out-of-towners', is in Norther Queensland Australia.  It's a tropical paradise and I can tell you that even with the temptation of whiling away the days swimming in the resort pool, whilst sipping umbrella drinks it was still very hard to drag ourselves away from the 5 teenagers, cooking, cleaning, ironing and washing etc......yeah right??

Ah...Port Douglas.  White sandy beaches that stretch for miles and miles....beautiful.

Port Douglas is only just over a 40 minute drive from Cairns, the capital.  The drive in itself is stunning as the road hugs the coastline for nearly the whole trip, and so you start feeling relaxed and on holidays straight away...theres nothing like the ocean to bring about instant serenity to body and mind.  And so, even though we were just missing the kids and the new non-housetrained puppy (Harry) and all the housework so very much, we still managed to wind down.

The Rising Sun Bar on the Esplanade at Port Douglas.  BEST cocktails and fish so fresh it almost flip flopped off the plate....yum!

Our first stop was Palm Cove, which had been highly recommended as a place to stop along the way for a drink and lunch.  It exceeded all expectations with its quaint esplanade lined with boutique hotels and restaurants with anything from a Burger at Petes Place, to fine dining by the ocean.  We are most definitely going back there to linger longer on our next trip up North.  We made friends at The Rising Sun Restaurant and Bar.  Our delightful waitress went out of her way to look after us.  We ended up with 2 'Mango Tango' Cocktails, and shared a plate of freshly caught local fish....gosh my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  See below Cocktail Friday recipe for the Mango Tango.

Pete the Greek about to hold my hand and set off on our quest to find 'that' beach house on the hill.

And so, once fed and watered it was off to Port Douglas, where we spent the weekend, swimming, eating and drinking and not in that particular order either.  When we did feel energetic however, we took ourselves off for walks along the beach, and it was then, that we found the most amazing house nestled on the hill in Port Douglas looking right over the ocean.

'The' House

The View.....'sigh'...

  I just HAD to find out more about this place.  I could see people out on the balcony having a beer....and darn it..I just wanted to be there too.  So, I did my research and found that this amazing home is called Villa Empat Puluh Dua (which I think stands for really, really opulent house overlooking the ocean).  And guess what?  Even more exciting is that its an executive retreat for holiday rental!....and only at $1250 per night (gulp).....

The Massage Cabana....every girl should have one...

Just one of the many bedrooms with views to take your breath away

Pool area with infinity design that hangs over the rainforest

Sandstone stairs leading up to the magnificent entrance and what is to be a stay of a lifetime.

Sleeps up to 14 people and this incredible home, besides having birds eye views of the ocean, 4 levels of Indonesian architect designed luxury, its own massage cabana, French imported furniture, personal meet and greet and spa indulgence package...its also got my all time favourite...the infinity pool, suspended over the rainforest.  A truly stunning and inspiring home dont you think?

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....AND THE WINNER IS..............??

Thank you to everyone who entered our 'Guess the Crystals on the Bella Chandelier' Competition.  We had loads of guesses with anything from 20 (that would make for quite a sparse look....) to 600!  In the end we met somewhere in the middle there with 289 and the winner is Kristy Sweeney, who was only a few crystals off of nailing it to the exact amount.  
Kristy wins a beautiful silver candlestick and also quality Danish flocked table runner by Villa Collections.  Congratulations Kristy and enjoy your prize, which we think will look amazing on the Christmas Table this year.


Our Charcoal Gourmet Provisions Pantry is going so well, and it must be because we are trying just about everything that comes its easier to promote the products....well someones got to do it!??

This week, instead of the usual recipe, we have decided to share our latest secret gourmet gem, that is now to become a kitchen stalwart with us girls....Moroccan Jam by Spice Girlz.  
This delicious combo of capsicum, garlic, chilli and spices is perfect as a dipping sauce, or mix it in with plain yoghurt as an accompaniment with meat...especially great with fish as I found out this week.  Smear it on chicken breast and marinade overnight for amazing flavour, or serve up to compliment your cheese platter.
Today we drizzled it over our open sandwiches at lunch time.  It was deeelish!...just had to share this pic with you.

Todays lunch....we do it pretty tough here :-)

We stock most Spice Girlz products here at our Provisions store, so you can either pop in and purchase, or we are happy to post to you.  



Well, as promised, here is the recipe for one of the most unforgettable cocktails I have ever had....The Mango Tango.  After a few of these, if the music is playing...whether it be jazz, classical, rock or will be doing the tango no matter what!  With mangoes being so prevalent at the moment and the quality here in Brisbane is outstanding, theres no excuse not to try making one.  Trust me...lovers of mango...will LOVE this cocktail. 

Our Mango Tango and Marguerita at Palm Cove

 As in the pic, the bartender decorated the glass very simply with a palm leaf and a fresh slice of lemon/lime...I liked the simplicity and have popped that one into the memory bank for our next night of cocktail entertaining.

This is a photo of our Palm Cove Cocktails...we shared between the every dependable and delicious frozen Marguerita, and the Mango Tango...the mango tango won the fave pic on this day anyway....
Here 'tis!...enjoy.

Makes 12

  • 6 mangoes, peeled, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups white rum
  • 1 1/2 cups vodka
  • 6 lemons, juiced
  • 1 cup sugar syrup (see note)
  • 6 cups crushed ice

Just blend everything together and serve in a martini, or low ball glass. close your eyes and imagine the lap, lap, lapping of the water on the shore.....zzzzzzzzzzz


Mae West

Until next week...stay tuned for all the goss on Caths trip to the Hunter Valley, and I am off to source more
 yummy treats from down South...Happy Weekend to all!

Cathie, Colette and Jen...The Charcoal Team xxx