Vivez Bien * Live Well

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A New Year

"It's a new dawn. It's a new day. It's a new life. For me. And I'm feeling good"   Well mostly.....

You might wonder why I'm a little slow in acknowledging the New Year, after all, we are two weeks into 2017 already. I will explain, but first of all, I'm pleased to report that my dogs survived their Christmas Eve chocolate eating incident completely unscathed. The New Year, however, brought a different set of problems with our older dog, Baxter, having to have an MRI which revealed a bulging disc at the top of his spine which required an op followed by a week in hospital. My husband hardly slept the whole time he was in hospital. I slept a bit, but only because I self-medicated with wine. The good news is that he is now back home and recovering slowly but I think we might have to harvest a kidney or two from the children to pay for it all!

That's why I decided that I'm going to allocate the first 2 weeks of 2017 to the "Annus Horribilis" that was 2016. So my New Year officially started today. Happy New Year to you! Onward and upward! 

As far as New Year's resolutions are concerned I have only one.... to SIMPLIFY... my home, my life and my mind. My children already think I'm simple-minded so I can tick that one off!  My husband's  resolution for this year is to try and earn more than our children can spend. I think mine might be more attainable!

I have started going from room to room and removing anything that I either don't use or don't love. I've emptied cupboards, carefully sorted through everything and put back only half of the contents. I've started taking everything off coffee tables, fireplace mantles and bookshelves and only putting back the bare minimum. Its amazing how those things shine more when they aren't surrounded by a whole lot of other things.

I wouldn't call myself a hoarder by nature, but I am and always have been a collector. I have collected, amongst other things, white jugs, silver tea pots, bone chine tea cups and baskets of all shapes and sizes. My current obsession is Wonkiware.

 Yet I have this compulsion to discard. Do you see the conflict here? I will never be a real minimalist, but I also don't like being bogged down by too much stuff.  And when you are a collector, friends often give you gifts to add to your collection so there are the sentimental attachments to many of my things,

 I have made the difficult and brave decision to part with my white jug collection. I will only keep 3 of the nicest and will tell the others that they have been loved and appreciated but their time has come to be enjoyed by someone else.

And so my mission continues.... I am not rushing the process too much. When I have time and am in the mood, I will clear out yet another draw or bookshelf and will regularly take a car load to my local charity shop. I am also gearing up for a car boot sale and I might or might not use the proceeds to add to my Wonkiware collection. Please try not to judge me.

Here are some beautifully simple interiors that have inspired me. Perhaps they will inspire you too....


Till next time

Sharon x

Images via Pinterest

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Wishes

Christmas came a bit early for some members of our family..... we arrived home after a lovely Christmas Eve dinner out to discover that Baxter and Blossom, our beagles, helped themselves to an entire box of Lindt choccies destined for somebody's Christmas stocking. C'est La Vie and Happy Christmas to them and to all of you, my blog friends and readers. I hope your day is filled with love and laughter and that the year ahead will fulfill at least some of your hopes and dreams.

Till next year

Sharon x

Image via Pinterest

Monday, November 28, 2016

Afro-French Style

It is no secret that I have an ongoing love affair with France and all things French. But I also love South Africa (present leadership excluded, but that is not a subject for this blog). So when I came across this house on the Garden and Home website, my heart started to beat a little faster. To me, it is the perfect combination of the two countries. 

The entrance hall above combines a beautiful French style mirror and  console table with a Nguni hide on the floor, a wooden vat filled with proteas and some earthenware pots which are all typically African.

The house, owned and decorated by Sandy de Bruin of Country Living and ex Miss South Africa fame, is perched on a hilltop near Dullstroom, Mpumalanga. The family use it as their weekend getaway. Lucky them!

Here on the veranda, a pretty French bench sits happily alongside a rustic table and iron brazier. What magnificent views. I think I could sit out there all day.  

The living room is comfy and inviting in muted shades.

I love the juxtaposition of the elegant French table and chairs with the rustic wicker and roughly plastered walls. 

A perfect Afro-French bedroom. Nguni print cushions and ceramic horns beautifully paired with French chest of drawers and ottoman. 

Each bedroom has its own fireplace perfect for cozy winter nights.

This bedroom is decorated with blue accents that echo the sky and distant mountains. 

And yet another beautiful bedroom. 

Such an attractive corner. The creel baskets and hats are the perfect addition since Dullstroom is famous for fly-fishing. 

The blue shutters are reminiscent of French farmhouses and look so perfect combined with the stone walls.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour. For more tours of lovely South African homes visit the newly revamped Garden and Home magazine website here.

Till next time

Sharon x

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Stop and Smell the Rosé

This is a long one so you might want to get a cup of coffee or something a little stronger...I won't judge!
When I did a previous post on the Brita Carafe, I suggested that since I fared so well on the water taste test, if there were any obliging wine farmers out there, I would very happily do some wine tasting too. Well, it turns out there are some obliging wine farmers out there. Well maybe just one....

But first let me back track a little and turn to the subject of road trips. I love a good road trip. But I am married to Dave, and while he is a very good-natured, easy-going and accommodating sort of a guy, there is something about a long car trip that brings out the inner airline pilot in him. As we pull out of our driveway he starts with calculations that involve time of departure, road traffic assumptions, wind speed, refuelling requirements and a host of other factors to work out our ETA down to the last nano-second. Bathroom stops and food stops will and shall coincide with refuelling stops even though our food and bathroom urges might not be quite so co-operative. I do remember a very stressful trip when I was heavily pregnant with twins when my bathroom stops were needed every 15 minutes. There was a lot of sighing, recalculating and re-calibrating that went on before we reached our final destination. I have also had to frequently remind my very male dominated family that when a girl demands a bathroom stop, she means an actual bathroom, not a lone tree or bush on the side of the road! So the upshot is, that given the opportunity, I would love to stop at all the interesting places that I see as we whizz along to get to our destination at the required time but I dare not suggest this as our ETA would be severely compromised. So I sit in silence and dream of the day....

One place that I have always noticed on the N2 on our trips back from Knysna is Gabrielskloof. The wine estate is perched on a hilltop surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. I love the simple style of the buildings and the way they blend into the surrounds. The whole setting just looks so appealing and reminiscent of France.

As luck would have it, the wine gift that arrived on my doorstep was from Gabrielskoof. Surely a sign that a visit to Gabrielskoof was imperative to get a feel for the place and take some photos before tasting the wine. And so it was arranged - part-owners of the estate, Catherine and Barry Anderson, very kindly showed us around, including a visit to the state of the art wine cellar, and we chatted like old friends over a bottle of very delicious Gabrielskloof Madame Lucy MCC. Dave later confessed to me that, not being a lover of bubbly, he accepted a glass out of politeness, but then found that he couldn't get enough of it! High praise indeed!

The tasting room is just so tasteful....along one wall, a magnificent armoire bought on a trip to France....

 ...and opposite it is a beautiful daybed upholstered in antique French linen.

 At the far end is an inviting lounging area and beautiful fireplace. 

The tasting room leads out to a beautiful lawned courtyard with two matching reflecting pools.

There are enticing seating areas dotted around on the veranda. 

Every corner is just so inviting....

The combination of stone walls, lavender and olive trees instantly transports me to France.

After a lovely stroll around the estate, we went for lunch at the Gabrielskloof Restaurant. The entire meal from start to finish was absolutely delicious as was the bottle of Gabrielskloof Viognier we shared.


All in all, a wonderful day out in the Overberg. But there was more to look forward to because I still had my gift of 2 bottles of wine and a bottle of olive oil to look forward to ...

As is was my birthday on the 9th of November (you might want to make a note of it for future reference) and I was going for lunch with a group of girlfriends (aka The Ladies That Lunch), I thought who better to share the wine with than this group of fun women. None of us are wine experts but Malcolm Gladwell will be pleased to know we are putting in a very good effort to reach our ten thousand hours of practice! 

Well, the Ladies that Lunch declared the Gabrielskloof Rosebud to be dry and delicious, not overly fruity, the perfect accompaniment to a summer lunch and a very pretty pink colour. By the time we got to drinking the second bottle which was Gabrielskoof Sauvignon Blanc, we forgot that we were supposed to be making intelligent comments about the wine and just quaffed it down which I think is compliment enough! 

So there you have it....I can highly recommend the wine and I can highly recommend a visit to Gabrielskloof for wine tasting and a meal. They have a Favourite Things Market coming up on the 16th, 17th and 18th of December which looks like it will definitely be worth a visit. Maybe I'll see you there. 

Till next time

Sharon x

P.S. I haven't yet tasted the Gabrielskloof Olive Oil but in my research I discovered that it was named one of South Africa's top 5 olive oils so something else to look forward to and I'll tell you about it in another post.

P.P.S. I may have been given to a little exaggeration on the subject of my husband and road trips.

Monday, October 31, 2016

My Pinteresting Life

My son, Jack, has been recuperating in hospital after an op, so I have been spending many hours at his bedside doing what any good mother would do, trawling through Pinterest! 

I think the appeal of Pinterest is that you can almost create a whole parallel life for yourself with no constraints, financial or otherwise. 

Of course in my Pinterest life I am slim and gorgeous with perfect hair and teeth.

 I have impeccable taste and faultless style.

 I live in an exquisite home

 which I decorated myself.

 I entertain beautifully and whip up amazing meals in my perfect kitchen

 whether it's a dinner for a hundred

 or a picnic for two.

 I go on incredible holidays,

 dressed in the perfect clothes 

and with all the right travel accessories.

I am amazingly creative. I produce the most beautiful paintings in my wonderful studio.

 I don my perfect linen apron

 and make homemade gifts for my friends.

 Not only are the gifts homemade, but so is the wrapping paper 

and the gift tags.

 There really is no end to my talents.

Now if only we could leave this hospital so that I can start living my Pinteresting life!

 Till next time

Sharon x

All images via Pinterest