Thursday, November 24, 2011



Well, its not every day that you get the Movie Star treatment, and myself being a tad adverse to 'primping' and 'schooshing'...merely because I dont want to end up looking like a drag queen (had a bad experience years ago after being made up for the television show Wheel of Fortune where after an hour with a heavy handed make up artist and hairdresser with a penchant for 80's high hair.....I resembled more of a Anglo-Saxon 'Effie').

Cath casts a 'last minute' eye over the set.

And so it was with a little bit of trepidation and a whole lot of trust that we girls surrendered ourselves into the creative cosmos of photographic guru Damien Bredberg and his team of assistants, stylists, make up and hair artistes, for our latest advertising campaign with Belle Magazine.
Stylist Lucia handles the finishing touches on Colette, while Pete the Greek does his very best with the holding of the ladder......

The first dilemma in what has now been a process over a couple of months, was to find an appropriate theme for our ad and then give it the 'Wow' factor.  Having beautiful furniture to use is a great start, and so Cath and Colette began piecing together a setting, which includes our gorgeous 'Regency' Pedestal Table as the hero of the shot.

Cath gets stuck into setting the scene for the photo shoot

It helps to have a big family and lots of friends who are willing to help out, and so we had plenty of volunteers to assist on the day, and a couple of lucky ones were even chosen to be in the shot.

The girls....Brooke, Colette, Cath and Sophia 

Stage is set... 

Assistant Josh and Pete the Greek hold Caths prop for the shoot...

Easy does it.....

 Steve works his magic on Colette

The talent gets a tweaking from stylist Lucia

Multi-Award Winning Photographer Damien Bredberg and all-round great guy works his magic on the day...they say never to work with children or animals?...well he had the whole circus, and was the perfect Ringmaster.

We think Brian was the star of the show.....but it will be up to you to judge for yourself once the finished ad is featured in Belle Magazines Jan/Feb edition....stay tuned.

Brian and Craig (our Maverick for the day) take a break from all the excitement.

....and it's a wrap!...and now to eat and drink the props!

We give a very big and humble thanks to Damien Bredberg and his team.  Everyone was so gracious and helpful on the day, and we couldnt have asked for more.
Award Winning Photographer Damien, can be contacted via his website.
Damien Bredberg Photography and Post Production



Well...what a lovely surprise.  We love flowers and to get them from clients makes us feel special.

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This week, we held a survey on Facebook, asking our followers what recipe they would prefer to see on this weeks blog.  There was a choice between Desserts, Finger Food or BBQ treats and so, we were thrilled when the resounding vote went to Finger Food, because we have been road testing a few different Christmas recipes, and will be showcasing them in the weeks leading up to the big day!

Zucchinis are one of those foods that you can get pretty much all year round at the grocers.  This is a very easy recipe and super delicious.  If you havent tried Haloumi before, it is yummy with a capital 'Y'.  Haloumi is great to break up and pop on a pizza because it crisps on the outside and stays soft on the inside.

  It's a cheese that you can fry.  We use it a lot in our house as its a fave of Pete the Greeks.
Follow the easy instructions below to make these lovely tasty fritters that will have your guests schmacking their lips and wanting more....





  • 300g (about 6-8) zucchini
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 250g haloumi cheese, grated
  • 75g (1/2 cup) plain flour
  • 2 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbs chopped fresh dill
  • Light olive oil, to fry
  • Sea salt, to serve
  • Aioli*, to serve


  1. Coarsely grate the zucchinis, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Place in a bowl and add the onion, haloumi cheese, flour, lemon rind, eggs and dill. Season with salt and black pepper and stir to combine. Form the zucchini mixture into about 25 bite-size patties. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry, in batches, for 1-2 minutes each side until golden. Drain on paper towel.
  3. Serve the fritters warm with the aioli and a little sea salt.


  • * From gourmet food stores.


    Cath loves Lychees...and she also LOVES Christmas (and cocktails too just quietly).  I have found the easiest and most delightfully delicious 'Lychee and Mint Sparkling Cocktail' recipe and I hope you love it.  I have never really been a fan of the strawberry plonked into the just looks so 'obvious' to me.  Whereas the lychee with its elegant soft texture and colour is much more appropriate and inviting.  Just looking at the pic is making me drool just a little...I'm off to have another one now...Cath!!??

    Ingredients (serves 8)

    • 560g can lychees in syrup, drained
    • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
    • 750ml sparkling white wine, chilled


    1. Divide lychees and mint between 8 champagne glasses.
    2. Top with wine. Serve.
    "Is that it??"....I hear you say??.....yes, yes it is...something so delicious and sooo pretty and just so easy as this...may as well have 2...or 3!

    More Christmas Cheer to come in the weeks leading up to to the big day that children love.....Turkeys on the other hand??...well thats another story...


    ‎'A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart ♥ and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes' ♥....anonymous

    We really are ready for one of those Lychee Cocktails right now...its been a BIG couple of weeks.
    Until next week......Its a Wrap!

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

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Friday, November 11, 2011



We are so excited to finally be able to announce the opening of our Charcoal Gourmet Provisions section of the showroom.  
Over the past few weeks, we have been busy sourcing products exclusive to Charcoal.

We invite you to peruse our selection of quality Gourmet Pastes, Chutneys, Dressings, Fresh Herbs, Sauces, Flavoured Salts, Nuts, Dukkah, Flavoured and spiced Crackers, Dried Fruits, Exclusive Bon Haye Olive Oil (cold pressed and from 100 year old wild olive trees)....and coming compliment our delicious Gourmet Hampers - Bremerton Wines.
We now stock all your platter requirements and make entertaining a breeze.  Ask us about our hampers for all occasions.  Thinking of heading out of town for a picnic this weekend?...then grab one of our picnic hampers with everything you need for a delicious snack.
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Our front courtyard is now full to the brim, bursting with gorgeous pots, urns, statues, doors...and soon to come..water features!

And we know you will love our new outdoor furniture, plus the excited range of super comfortable pod chairs now in store.  
See yourself curled up on here?  

This divine outdoor setting is fully upholstered in outdoor fabric, and the weave..although it looks to be of natural fibres (which warp and crack in time) is actually a poly-propylene style weave, completely outdoors, weather resistant etc...and holds its colour.  We are just so in love with this new range.  Available in store now and waiting for a pool-side venue to call home.....

Or what about one of these out on the back deck?

...or this gorgeous urn as a special feature for just about anywhere in your home....


Forget crackers with a bit of cheese on top for you next dinner party 'horses-doovers' attempt.  Try these little gems.  I have never even thought of this technique so fortunately theres some very smart and clever people out there who  think of these things, because its now our new favourite recipe!
Just boil up the baby potatoes until they are soft, and then you gently squash them down flat, but make sure they still keep their shape, then follow the recipe and enjoy this delightful dish.  There are so many variations too that are only limited by your imagination.  We thought of combining some of our Spice Girlz Jamato with the cream cheese and then topping with smoked salmon and rocket or dill.  Or, how about combining some chopped spring onion with the cream cheese and then making up a little salsa with tomatoes, capsicum, red onion and a splash of balsamic and lemon...pop little mounds of this onto the cream cheese...delicious.
But for now, heres the original recipe that gave us a starting point.  Enjoy!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 12 chat potatoes
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbs each finely chopped fresh thyme leaves and basil leaves
  • 150g fresh ricotta or cream cheese
  • 12 slices Italian prosciutto
  • 2 cups (50g) watercress sprigs


  1. Preheat the oven to 240C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan of salted water and bring to the boil over high heat. Boil for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain well.
  3. Arrange potatoes on the lined baking tray. Using a potato masher, smash each potato so that it’s flattened but still holds together. Brush with the olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Bake the potatoes for 25 minutes or until crisp and golden. Cool slightly.
  5. Meanwhile, mix garlic, parsley, thyme, basil and cheese together in a bowl. Place a spoonful of the herbed cheese on each potato, then finish with a slice of prosciutto piled on top. Serve the potatoes garnished with watercress.



    Summer is well and truly here this week in Brisbane....phew...its been a warm one.  So I got to thinking about what kind of cocktail I felt like this week.  There were two main pre-requisites...number one was that it had to be cold and number two was that it had to quench my year-round desire for the beloved lime.  So, I found this great recipe for Raspberry and Lime margaritas!  
    If you run out of raspberries...or like me simply couldnt be bothered with fresh ones and juicing them...just use cranberry juice.
    Limes are lovely and fresh at the moment and pretty much plentiful in the shops.  My tip for limes is to juice them and then freeze in ice trays.  Then you can have the experience of the lime fresh all year round...great in Thai cooking too.
    Enjoy the Raspberry and Lime margarita and be sure to sip this one by the pool, feet up, mag in hand.

    Raspberry and Lime Margarita
    Makes 4 cocktails
    1 pint fresh raspberries (or about 1 cup frozen)
    1/2 cup lemon juice
    1/3 cup lime juice 
    1 cup tequila (hefty, yes…if you alter this amount I won’t be offended)
    Combine the raspberries and citrus juices in a blender. Pulse until smooth. Use a fine mesh strainer and a spatula to press the raspberry mixture through into a bowl- this removes the seeds from the berries.
    Add the tequila, pour into a jug and pour into a salt-rimmed glass with ice. Garnish with half a lime. Cheers!
    We have had a great week!  Exciting stuff with the new arrivals and then all the fun of putting together our Provisions section in the showroom.
    Just finished a fabulous pre-production meeting with the wonderful Damien Bredberg (award winning photographer) and his lovely assistant Nicole.  We are so very excited about our photo shoot next Saturday and cant wait to bring you all the details!
    Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!
    The Charcoal Team...Cathie, Colette and Jen

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Thursday, November 3, 2011



This week, we are so excited to share with you, a wonderful experience that Cath and I recently had in South Australia.  You know...I am a bit over people bagging SA.  There is just so much more to this beautiful Southern state, than churches and the Clipsal 500.

We spent a couple of days, discovering the local Farmers Markets, colourful Central Market with the most varied selection of market food we have ever seen.  Our favourite stall??...the Chocolate Shop with not one, but two Chocolate Fountains!  Then it was off to dinner in Gouger Street....freshly made pasta and a glass of red whilst watching the world go by.  It was all happening and so buzzy!  

The Star of Greece Restaurant...what a location!

On the flight down, flicking through the airline mag, we discovered the treasure that is Star of Greece (above) restaurant at Port Willunga....a rustic open air restaurant perched on the cliff overlooking the sparkling ocean.  I swear the only thing missing were the donkeys are their tinkling bells otherwise we would have thought we were on a Greek isle somewhere.

We turned up without a booking, but the staff were more than accommodating....they took our mobile phone number, advising a call would be made once our table become available....and so we decided to go for a walk along the beach!  Gorgeous day, the sun was shining and if there were palms you'd mistake Port Willunga for The Maldives.  The water quality is that clear and beautifully pristine.

Remnants of the Old Jetty

Perfect day...the ocean was crystal clear

Taken on my old mobile you can imagine what it was like in reality.....stunning.

After a brief wait and a delightful walk during which we met a few locals and a few pooches, we got the call!  Back to the restaurant where we sat at our table overlooking the ocean and clearly were in heaven.  
Indulging in entree, main and dessert washed down with a couple of chilled Sauv Blancs the food, ambience and wines were excellent.  Very good service, with sunscreen thrown in for me when required.

We cant wait to head back to Star of Greece again and fingers crossed for another day of perfection.

Star of Greece on Urbanspoon



And then whilst driving along to visit my brother along the Currency Creek road, emerged like an Oasis, the Kingsbrook estate.  I used to drive past this place when I was a kid, and the legend had it that an old hermit lived in the run down old mansion that was built originally as an Inn back in 1842.  I was always so captivated by this story and would crane my neck as we drove past, desperate to catch a glimpse of the old man.
Proprietors Anne and Chris have lovingly restored this property.

 Keeping the character and charm of the old building has obviously been in the forefront of their vision with the added bonus of feeling like you are literally visiting a farm in Tuscany.

Beautifully classic can even stay in the Stable room!

As well as being a function centre for weddings etc...Kingsbrook offers accommodation, restaurant meals on a Saturday and Sunday, plus grows and produces their own wines.  Fresh produce is also gathered from the organic vegie garden, olive grove and free range chooks.  
We walked in without a booking once again and there seemed to be no problem at all with this.  Chris showed us to our table with glass in hand and we sat under the beautiful bougainvillea canopy feeling pretty excited about being finally inside the walls of what has always been quite a place of mystery to me.

Chris is an acclaimed Interior Designer and has a large display book showcasing a lot of his work, which is just extraordinarily grand and very, very much 'us'!

We indulged in the home made pizzas which are made in the woodfire oven right in front of you and washed it all down with a couple of glass of their home grown Shiraz.  I wanted to weep when it was time to absolutely fabulous afternoon.

Kingsbrook Cafe and Cellar Door on Urbanspoon

Kingsbrook is every foodies dream.  We loved it and felt an affinity with their style.
This place took our breath away.  I never did ask what happened to the old hermit?



From there it was off to 'Bon Haye' Vineyard and Olive Grove for even more food!  

 Chris from Bon Haye Vineyards and Olive Grove cooking up some freshly caught Snapper and Calamari!

Nestled amongst gum trees on the Strathalbyn-Goolwa Rd, Bon Haye stock quality Olive Oil.

Bon Haye Olive Oil is available from the store on the property until stocks last...also watch this space as you will soon be able to sample this quality oil at Charcoal Gourmet Provisions.

This time it was freshly caught Snapper and Salt and Pepper Calamari with a selection of local cheeses and fruits all washed down with a local white....bliss?...yes....and if we relaxed into it just a little bit too much that the time got away from us resulting in an almost Thelma and Louise style drive to the airport (Cath didnt get hurt too much when I threw her and the bags out of the car at departures level)....well who cares, because we got there just in the nick of time and the exercise I got whilst running to gate 23 did me the world of good.
All up, it was a great trip, and we are looking forward to announcing all the details of our latest venture...Charcoal Gourmet Provisions with you in the coming weeks!



Being a Design House, as well as other feathers to our cap we always have a good selection of chair samples for our clients to takes the leg work out of having to traipse all over Brisbane trying to find that perfect piece, with the added bonus of advice from the Design Team Colette and Cathie.
This week we have some new arrivals to share with you.  My personal fave is the Freeport Armchair which the girls tell me would work really well as a feature chair at the ends of the dining table, or as an occasional chair on a deck or bedroom.  It's earthy and natural and we really love it.

The 'Coco' Armchair. Manufactured in Australia. Upholstered in sumptuous European fabrics.

The Freeport Armchair...our fave.

The 'Matisse' Sofa Manufactured in Australia and using European Fabrics. Quality, quality, quality!

Rangoon Loom Armchair, classic design with a padding. Beautifully made with a quality the colour too.

Summertown Chair....loving the lines on this one, and with the padding its stylish and functional.

Woven padded seat bar stool....its speaking to me...cocktail by the poolbar!

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image credit to
Lemony Tuna Pasta recipe via Taste

Summer has come early in Brisbane town this week....when my makeup starts leaving its remnants on the mobile phone, thats when I know that things are hotting up and its time to clear out the winter woolies (goodbye for another season my beloved scarves that hide a multitude of neck wrinkles)...and hello to sandals, maxi dresses, shorts and dare I say it...the swimsuit!  
Inspired by the splash of warm weather and plethora of lemons on the market at the moment (we got given a whole box of them!...what to do!?) I found this recipe that includes some of my fave all time ingredients....lemons, tuna, pasta and pine nuts.  Its a really fresh recipe and you can also toss in some baby tomatoes for a bit of colour and flavour too...heap on the parmesan once its all ready to go and cracked pepper and rocket to top it all off. the kids say :-)

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 375g dried thin spaghetti pasta
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 425g can Safcol tuna in springwater, drained, flaked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • lemon zest, to serve


  1. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water, following packet directions, until tender. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, place pine nuts in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until light golden.
  3. Place tuna in a bowl. Add oil, lemon rind, lemon juice, parsley, pine nuts and pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Serve topped with lemon zest parmesan and a couple of leaves of fresh rocket.


This week, after the Melbourne Cup celebrations...and no..we didnt win anything, but DID have a fun day!...we were a bit 'Cocktailed Out'...which is a true medical condition.  So, have decided to review a really top drop of the grape variety by a small SA winery called Bremerton.  

This picturesque family owned and run winery in SA's Langhorne Creek region is a must see destination for foodies and wine lovers.  The old stone tasting room is filled with not only fine wine product, but also houses a small restaurant and pantry of local produce.

Bremerton Winery - Langhorne Creek, South Australia.

Inside the Cellar Door...lots of wine and yummy local produce...

Daughter Rebecca is the winemaker and to say she has done a stellar job in creating what we feel is a range of some of SA's finest wines is a bit of an understatement.  Next time you are down South, pop in for a look-see and sample.
For now, heres something to whet your whistle.  

The Tamblyn is an affordable, quaffable red that we fell in love with.  The four outstanding grape varieties all grown in Langhorne Creek have been blended to provide a generous and well balanced wine, showing lifted violet and ripe cherry aromas, rich mouth filling cassis fruit, complementing soft well integrated tannins and a flavoursome savoury finish that lingers on. To us, every good wine needs to tell a story, with a beginning, a middle and an end.  If a wine could be poetry, then this is it.

And so ends another week.  Thank you for some great feedback received via email this week.  You know it really does make our day!
Enjoy, relax and unwind this weekend.
To our gorgeous customers who always make us smile...we say thank you for helping to make our week great!
Ciao for now.....The Charcoal Girls...

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