Woo Hoo! We’re a month old


Yep! Its been 1 month since I started “Reaching for the Magic”.

I’m still stumbling a little bit around WordPress but I’ve somehow managed to load 8 posts and do two e-design consults. In addition to this I’ve kept my children alive, endured flu and redundancy, and managed to keep my marriage intact. Yep – feeling quite chuffed with myself. I’ve also managed to start an instagram account but still really don’t know how to use it properly so that just means I’m not as bright as Kim Kardashian.

According to WordPress lots of you are actually reading my blog. There are even people following me from locations such as Ireland, USA, Mexico and Brazil (not sure about the Brazil one it could just be some G-string wearing supermodel with a thing for “magic” tricks and an inability to use google properly).

When I first started the blog I was apprehensive about what people would think. I’ve been really heartened by everyone’s response and support. In a world of negativity its great to know that so many of you are cheering me on.

Thanks again

Kids Rooms

Lets be brutally honest here – we all spend way more time in our kids’ rooms than we would like. Putting away clothes, trying to find that missing library book, or reading “just one more” bedtime story so its important that the space works and is somewhat visually pleasing (at least when its tidy).

Its also important that children feel that they have their own space (even when sharing rooms) and responsibility for looking after that space.

Here are some snaps of my kids’ rooms – and no – they don’t always keep their rooms this tidy but the blog is called “Reaching for the Magic” not “Stumbling through the Mayhem”.

Master Magic’s room is the smallest in the house. He is 7 years old and absolutely soldier and rugby mad. My husband had the vintage Australian Flag framed. The chair, table and comforter are all from Ikea.

The walls are painted Dulux Tranquil Retreat. Its a great colour but I’m not sure anything associated with a 7 year old boy should ever be called “tranquil”.

Harry 1

My husband stained the bookshelf a deep wood stain and so far it hasn’t chipped or scratched so I’m pretty happy with that. The black storage containers are where the toy soldiers and figurines go to multiply when they are not hiding out in my flower garden! The decor is really set off by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Sewer Lair!

Harry 3

Miss Magic’s room is a little bit of a work in progress. She has just turned 10 so still a little girl but on the cusp of becoming a “tween”. The room was painted a couple of years ago “marshmallow magic”. Since then we’ve updated the room with some aqua blue accents as she’s moving away from pink. The room could do with a full make-over but she will probably want a lot more say in the design this time around.  No prizes for guessing her name.

Madeline 2

Madeline is quite the artist so her and I painted the Ikea table and letters on the wall together. The table acts as an art station. She’s hacked into my Pinterest account and is developing her own board on what she would like her big girl room to look like. I’m very proud to say she is developing very nice taste.

Madeline 1

So that’s it. As you can see these rooms would not feature in House and Garden magazine but they are definately very personal and loved spaces designed specifically to suit THEM.

E-Design Services

Apologies for the radio silence these last two weeks. I have been very busy working on a design consult. For those who don’t know – I offer e-Design Services. E-Design is a fantastic new way of offering interior design services. Here is how it works . . .

E-Design is a design service that is run digitally between my clients and I. Absolutely everything is done via email (with the exception of me occasionally posting the odd fabric sample or swatch).

E-Design is great for many people – especially people who are comfortable with email (which is pretty much everyone these days).

E-Design has many benefits:

  • You can choose a time that works for you to progress your decorating ideas. If you are like me, sometimes the best time to think clearly and discuss things with your partner is when the kids finally get to bed. E-Design works well in this respect.
  • E-Design means that I can offer my services to people who don’t live in Sydney’s Inner West – good news if you live interstate.
  • E-Design is quicker than traditional design methods – because I can electronically send through a mood board in an instant I can get quicker feedback from the client. The whole process runs quicker.
  • E-Design provides value for money. Traditional decorators incorporate travel costs in their overall cost. As I don’t need to commute to you I can spend more time working on the design.
  • E-Design is economical. Most interior decorators charge upwards of $1,000 per commission or between $50 – $200 per hour. Expect to pay at the higher end of the spectrum if the decorator runs a shop or studio as they have overheads to meet such as rent, electricity and staff. E-Design has no overheads so the savings are passed directly on to you.
  • E-Design is flexible to your needs. Whether you are designing an entire room from scratch or just wanting advice on the finishing touches e-design can accommodate your needs. For example – a client may have a sofa or a chair that they are thinking about re-upholstering. I can help them source a great fabric that will pull together the whole space. I can also assist with furniture placement or give advice on what colour would best lighten up a dark space.

What does the E-Design Process look like?

Obviously if you are reading this you are reading my blog – yippee we already have similar styles.

Scoping the project

When you contact me I will ask you a series of questions (either by email or on the phone – whatever works for you) to help me understand the scope of the project. Once this has been determined I will email you with my flat design fee. I usually charge around $350 per room depending upon the size and complexity of the job. First time clients often receive a substantial discount on their first room (usually around $100). I will then send you the agreed project scope and cost. Once this has been agreed on we can start the fun stuff.

Gathering information

I will ask you to email me some photos (one of each wall) and measurements of the space as we want the final room to look amazing and be spatially functional. You can also send me clippings or pictures of things you like.

Designing the Mood Board

I will then start the creative magic and custom design a mood board of the room. This will be emailed to you for discussion. The mood board is not a “how to” plan for the room. It is an arrangement of images, materials and pieces that are intended to evoke a particular style that you would like for the room.

Mood board


Obviously I will try and make the mood board as realistic as possible – I’m not going to include Ralph Lauren products if you are on a budget. I will also try and include existing and much loved items wherever possible as these tell your story and give the room a soul. For example the water lily photo above was actually captured by a client’s daughter – the design we came up with was built around tying the artwork with the existing beige lounge and walls. Not only does the client love the room – I was able to secure substantial discounts on the items that were needed for the room.

Costing and Sourcing

Once the mood of the room has been established I will go ahead and compile a detailed costing and sourcing document for you. This includes a shopping list of what to buy with pictures, supplier contact details and costs. I will also capture trade discounts wherever possible and pass these directly on to you.

Debrief and follow-up

Often life takes over and there is a delay between the completion of the design process and you actually finishing the room. I totally understand that this happens and I am more than happy to provide my clients with whatever advice they need long after the process is complete.

If you would like further information please don’t hesitate to contact me at:



Blogs I love – “For the Love of a House”

It’s been almost a week since my last instalment of “Blogs I Love” – no doubt we are all suffering major interior withdrawals :). For our next fix I couldn’t go past “For the Love of a House”.

Joan lives in a 150 year old farmhouse in new Hampshire with her husband and 3 adorable rescue dogs. Joan’s home is filled with really interesting items from her previous life as an antique dealer. I think you will agree that it is absolutely drool worthy! Let’s take a look. . .

For the Love of a House


From the moment you walk through the front door your jaw just drops. I also really love how her house has lots of beautiful verandas around it to capture the breeze and cool the house down.

The Living Room

The Living Room is the first room you see when you walk in. The decor is soft, muted an relaxed.

The Reading Room and the Dining Room

I absolutely love the Reading Room. I fell in love with the antique fishing floats from Joan’s collection.

The corner statue’s name is Mavis  – Joan often dresses her up depending upon what time of year it is.

The Barn Room

Joan and her husband connected an old barn to the main house. Although fully renovated the Barn Room manages to be comfortable and beautiful whilst still retaining the character of its humble beginnings.

The Kitchen

Joan’s kitchen is kind of famous in blog land. She’s used marble on the island bench and soapstone on the counter tops. Soapstone is not really used in Australia but I love the green veining in it.

Her cabinets are filled with ironstone, hotel silver and everyday white plates. Like me, Joan believes in using everything including the gorgeous silver. Joan’s silver collection makes mine seem really povo (for my OS readers that is Aussie for poverty/cheap).



The bedrooms are just all beautifully appointed. I think if I stayed the night I would never leave!

Honestly – I had real trouble picking pictures to show you. Her whole house just flows from one beautiful room to another.

You really must go on to her blog and have a look for yourself.


* all images courtesy of For the Love of a House

Blogs I love – “The Painted Hive”

About three years ago I discovered what a “blog” is (thanks Tash).

It was like discovering “house heroin” and I was quite hooked. I couldn’t believe the creativity that some people had. The great thing was that I could get a decorating fix at any time – I didn’t have to wait until the next House & Garden magazine hit the shelves.

So like all terrible addicts, I thought I would try and get you all hooked too. Kind of like smoking behind the toilets in high school – its better in a group.

The Painted Hive


To be honest I don’t know how I stumbled upon Kristine’s beautiful blog, but once there I never wanted to leave.

Kristine is not a professionally trained interior decorator -she is a Mum from Melbourne with extraordinary style and creativity. Absolute proof that when it comes to taste in decorating you’ve either got it or you don’t.

Kristine designs warm and welcoming rooms which don’t cost the earth. When I emailed her asking if I could feature her blog she not only said yes but was just so lovely (even said I could contact her if I ever needed advice on blogging). I think her house is a real reflection of this giving, warm spirit. I’m pretty sure that is why I was so drawn to her blog in the first place – maybe I felt the warmth behind the designs. Lets take a tour.

The entry hall. I love, love the wallpaper which sets the tone of the individuality in style which you see throughout the house.


This is her gorgeous sitting room.


I admit it, I have desk envy. I wonder if I could carve out a little space like this for me at my house rather than sharing the dining room table with the kids and their homework.


This is the Master Bedroom. Just beautiful.

Master-Bedroom-1 (1)

This is one of her latest painted furniture projects. I love the grey paint colour.

Painted Hive

There are lots of pictures I could show you but I won’t. You absolutely must check it out yourself.

Careful though – you will get hooked.

* all images courtesy of The Painted Hive

Blog posts you will NEVER see here

Mr Magic asked me the other day if I was worried that I would ever run out of things to write about on the blog. I can’t ever imagine not having SOMETHING to say.

To be honest I don’t know exactly what topic the next post will be about. Luckily I do have a pretty good idea of what it WON’T be about though. Here are some posts I will NEVER write.

100 incredible uses for empty toilet rolls 

I will make something out of a toilet roll the day they invent a machine that enables other members of my family to change the roll when its empty! Did you know there are people in this world that actually spend their time making things like this . . .


I guess the woman who made this wanted to create a visual reminder to her family to change the goddamn roll!

What to do with left over wine

Yeah right! Are you kidding me – What left over wine?

I nailed my reverse park

I don’t reverse park EVER. I don’t care if there is a spot in front of where I want to be – if I can’t nose it in I will keep driving. I am the only person in Australia who admits to being a bad driver. I’m OK with this. Yes it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to drive a car, but I figure it takes one hell of a person to admit their limitations.

Why home schooling is for us

If I ever post something like this you will know I have been abducted by an Amish sect and you should rescue me immediately. I love my kids dearly – especially during school term.

Warning – if you home school you could end up looking like this . . .


My husband made a delicious quiche

For those of you who know and love Mr Magic he would never do this! Luckily for me he does know how to make a great restaurant booking.

Useful hints for organising your underwear drawer

These posts are all the rage right now in blog-land. They are usually posted by thin, attractive women with stripper names like Candy!

I on the other hand will advise you to simply throw the clean kickers in the draw and get a life! Yes I’m a big fan of order, but you gotta know where to draw the line!

No offense Candy.

under wear drawer

10 ways to knot curtains

I’ll admit it, this makes me very uncomfortable. Please, please, make it stop!

make it stop

My paleo-vegan dinner party

You turn paleo or vegan – this friendship is over!

Sorry Candy.

Embroidery / Scrapbooking / Sewing made easy

Lets make this perfectly clear – I do gardening; I do cooking; I do painting; I do DIY and even using the odd dangerous power tool. I DON’T do anything that could remotely be construed as craft.

Passionfruit Cheesecake


Step 1

Release the base from a 20cm (base measurement) springform pan and invert. Line with non-stick baking paper, allowing sides to overhang. Secure the base back into the pan.

Step 2

Place biscuits in the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely crushed. Add butter. Process until well combined. Transfer to pan. Use the back of a spoon to spread and press firmly over the base and side of pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.


NB: I use 150g butternut biscuits, 200g milk arrowroot and 150g melted unsalted butter (and of course one gorgeous assistant).

Step 3

Preheat oven to 160°C. Use an electric beater (I use my food processor) to beat cream cheese, sugar and lemon rind in a large bowl until smooth. Add the lemon juice and flour. Beat until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the cream and beat until well combined.

NB: Instead of lemon juice and rind I used two tablespoons of the syrup from the drained tinned passionfruit. Remember to reserve all the syrup and pulp separately for later.

Step 4

Pour the cream cheese mixture into the biscuit base. Place on a baking tray. Bake in oven for 1 hour 10 mins or until the cheesecake is just set in the centre. Turn the oven off. Leave the cheesecake in the oven, with the door slightly ajar, for 2 hours or until cooled completely (this prevents the cake from cracking). Place in fridge overnight to set.


NB: I separated my mixture into two bowls. In one I put the passionfruit pulp and some yellow food dye. I poured the two mixtures in bit by bit – ie a little of the yellow, then a little of the cream, then a little of the yellow etc). If you are pushed for time you can put the cheesecake in the freezer for 1 hour after it has had about 1 hour in the fridge.

Step 5

Combine the cornflour and water in a small bowl. Transfer to a saucepan. Add the passionfruit and extra sugar. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture boils and thickens. Set aside to cool slightly. Pour over cheesecake. Place in fridge until set.

NB: I just put the left over passionfruit in a pan with half a cup of caster sugar and 1 tablespoon of cornflour. Mix it up and let it thicken. Drain off any lumps and pour on top of the cooled cheesecake and then pop in the freezer again. It was delicious even though it looked a bit rustic.


What makes a house a home?

Beautiful homes don’t happen overnight. They take time, love, thought, compromise and patience. Anyone can design a room that is pretty – creating a beautiful home is a completely different story.

Think about it. Beautiful homes tell the story of those that live there. They are “collected” rather than decorated. Homes evolve with the people that live there. They should give you a glimpse of the personality of owners. Where have they been? Who lives there? What do they value?

Sure a little part of me will always yearn for schmick and uncluttered surroundings. The feeling rears its head when I’m stepping over the kids toys or dusting my husband’s militaria collectables.

The feeling always subsides and I realise that these are the things that tell our story. That like people, something doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. I’ve come to love the chaos. I’ve even started to become a little bit of a “collector” myself .

I love the beauty of antique fishing floats. I love them even more when the light hits them and you can see the imperfections in the hand-blown glass.


I love antique silver. When I polish my mind wanders to the story each piece could tell. I like to use all my pieces. No sitting in the cupboard and gathering dust for me. When people come to my home for dinner I want to use my silver and enjoy it. If it breaks so be it! At least it had a great send off. I don’t even care if it looks like it needs a polish!


I love the patina of antique furniture. The solidness of their construction makes them ideal for family living (a knock from a toy car just adds character).


I think art work should be picked because you like it – not because it matches your scatter cushions. I have a passion for antique maps and botanicals. Not only are they interesting their colours are soft and subdued.


Yes – I have a very clear picture of what I want my house to be. The good thing is that frequently I will walk into my bedroom and find that my son has created a charming “vignette” for me on my bedside table.


And we all know that had the Virgin Mary had access to her own corvette she could have high-tailed it out of that barn to the nearest hospital!


But mostly all us mums know that we have a large supply of photos just like this one waiting to be shared at our kids’ 21st birthday parties.



Reaching for the Magic

Reaching for the magic banner

Finding beauty in the everyday

Welcome to my little corner of the digital world – Reaching for the Magic.

For many years I have been toying with the idea of creating a blog about all the passions that make my life a little bit “magic”. If ever there was a statement that summed up my outlook on life “Reaching for the Magic” is it.

I am a true believer that a life is best led when you put aside your fears of failure and reach for something better. That you may land flat on your face many times, but that sometimes you might just surprise yourself. If I am honest with myself I have been waiting too long for all the stars to align before jumping in. I’ve been making excuses – I don’t really have any spare time at all; I’m really just an ordinary kind of gal living an ordinary life; what do I know; what happens if everyone thinks my blog really sucks and isn’t worth reading? I’ve decided to put those voices to rest and finally practice what I preach and “reach” for it!

So who am I? I’m an Inner West Mum from Australia who works part-time. I have been married to “Mr imperfect but perfect for me” for 15 years. Together we have two beautiful, but sometimes trying, children. We have a crazy but great family and friends that we treasure. I love my life and I have much to be thankful for. Like all women my life is busy and hectic but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This blog is about keeping real. Some things work – some things don’t. Sometimes the dinner party meal is restaurant quality – sometimes its not. Sometimes that DIY project comes up a treat – sometimes it doesn’t. The garden that I love and nurture sometimes looks amazing – sometimes it looks like it belongs to the Adams Family. Sometimes the kids make me burst with pride – sometimes I find myself retrieving the Ninja Turtle from the toilet s-bend. The magic is in the journey and loving life no matter how imperfect it is.