Vivez Bien * Live Well

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Spring Supper

I have had my collection of  bone china teacups for about 15 years. They are all different, but all have a flower pattern of some sort. I used to have a lot of tea parties when my children were younger. Every birthday party or festive occasion involved a plethora of moms staying for tea and I always used my "harlequin" tea set. I don't use them as often these days, but decided to use them in a different way when we had some friends for supper on Saturday evening.

I filled each cup with some pretty pink sprigs of geraldton wax.

Water jug and glasses laid out on a side table.

Cotton napkins that I have had forever match the spring theme.

Petal shaped tea light holders are placed amidst the cups.

Delicate embroidery on white linen runners.

On the menu, melanzane  parmigiana followed by seared tuna with wasabi mash and a green salad. For dessert, crepes with caramelised and slightly boozy pears and gooseberries. (I never remember to actually photograph the food!)

Silverware and more flowers


And now a few days later, a table filled with pretty flowers in teacups remind me of a lovely evening spent with good friends.

My boys start their school holidays tomorrow so I am going to take a little break from blogging to do some boystuff. See you soon.

Till next time

Sharon x

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shades of Grey

...wandering around my home on a lazy morning, camera in hand, finding many different shades of grey....

I hope your day is anything but grey!

Till next time

Sharon x

PS I'm linking to No Minimalist Here

Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekend Romance

While doing some research for my previous post, I fell in love!

Yes, I fell in love with this gorgeous little cottage in the Cape Winelands.

It has a beautiful swimming pool, lovely garden, even a place to barbecue!

It has views to die for...

and a perfect setting.

Now, unfortunately, the interior wasn't really to my taste. Not to be deterred, however, I redecorated!

So follow me up the garden path to see inside my wonderful weekend getaway

I thought interior should match the muted palette of the exterior. The kitchen is simple and a bit rustic, but with enough of the mod cons to make life easy.

In the living and dining area, furnishings are simple and comfortable, nothing too precious!

The bedroom echoes the blue of the agapanthus in the garden.

There is a spare bedroom so you can come and stay too.

The bathroom window has a beautiful view.

I often have an afternoon nap on that daybed. Sometimes even a morning nap.

So what do you think of my little place in the country?

Till next time


Images: 1-7 Burgundy Borgogne
9 unknown
10 and 12 Via Pinterest
11 Via House Beautiful

Monday, September 12, 2011


I don't like to boast, but I really do live in a beautiful part of the world! I am especially reminded of this every Thursday when I drive to the studio where I have an oil painting class. I drive through one of the most beautiful valleys in the Cape, the Constantia Valley, where there is an abundant array of forests, hills, stately historical homes and vineyards, and all of this is found just 5 minutes from my home and about 20 minutes from the city centre.

The house in the first picture is on one of the beautiful wine farms that I see on my drive. It is called "Buitenverwachting" which loosely translated means "beyond expectations". The magnificent homestead prompted me to do some research on this style of architecture. In the 17th and 18th century, the houses in the Cape Town area were built in the Cape Dutch architectural style, unique to this small area of the world and unquestionably beautiful. This style has sources as widely different as medieval Holland and Germany, the French Huguenots and the islands of Indonesia.

The “Cape Dutch” style is characterised by a thatched sloping roof, decorative gable, white plastered walls and symmetrical front windows with small panes that were often protected by shutters. These houses were often built by Malay artisans without a single blueprint or plan!

The first houses in this “Cape Dutch” style just consisted of 3 rooms in a rectangular shape. This later evolved to a T-plan and even later, another wing was added at right angles to the T and parallel to the original building. And so the H-plan evolved. This plan became the ultimate design in country houses and on which some of the Western Cape's most elegant farmsteads were designed.

Still later, outbuildings began to appear. These included a house, called a "jonkershuis" for the eldest son, stables and coach-house, servants quarters and a wine cellar. Usually a wall encircled the whole farmyard. With the backdrop of blue mountains, this presented an image of settled stability.

In the towns, the houses were built closer together and had open hearths were in every kitchen. The thatch roofs were a fire hazard when the notorious southeast wind blew. These houses were prey to fires wiping out entire streets at a time. Sadly, by the end of the 18th century many of Cape Town's thatched and gabled dwellings had vanished. There are only about 400 original Cape Dutch homes left today.

One of the most distinguishing features of the houses is, of course, the gable.

These could vary from being extremely decorative to quite plain.

Earlier versions have more baroque, curved and rounded forms...

...while later versions have sharper and more linear shapes that are Neoclassical in style.

The elaborate example above is at Groot Constantia, built in 1685, by the Dutch governor, Simon Van der Stel,  who was the first Governor of the Cape of Good Hope.

This gable on the Groot Constantia wine cellar, which was built much later, is more elaborate than most and has a very Romanesque feel.

This Jonkershuis (the home built for the eldest son) has been turned into a lovely restaurant where we often go with our children.

The walls surrounding the properties were thick and solid with a coping along the top and pillars at the ends.

Many beautiful examples of Cape Dutch homes can be found in the wine farming areas around Cape Town such as Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek.

You might be wondering about the interiors of these beautiful homes so that will be the subject of another post.


A vine covered "stoep" is also a common feature of these homes.

Many of the homes were built against the mountains which form such a magnificent backdrop. 

This home was built by a Frenchman in 1791 and was named after his hometown of Bourgogne (Burgundy) in France. You can detect the French influence in the design of this homestead. I love the beautiful decorative detail on the gable.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into a little South African history.
Till next time

Sharon x