Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Living the Dream

Living the Dream is when I wake up to this and go Sunrise Chasing with the dog in tow...






All these photos were taken over the course of 30 minutes on the morning of Tuesday the 29th of July in Seatoun, Wellington, New Zealand

[all images taken by Zahara Dessert via an iPhone]

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"If you build it, they will come": My House Tour

I have been a frustrated Interior Designer for many years now. It all started when I was searching for ideas on how to build a window seat for our house in Australia. I stumbled across a little website called Apartment Therapy and I was hooked.

I visit AT nearly every day. I especially love looking at the house tours and seeing how people put their houses together with such creativity and style.

I have always wanted my house featured on Apartment Therapy, and one of the first things I put on my Life List was #13: "Have my home appear on Apartment Therapy or similar".

So this post is my Field of Dreams moment: "If you build it, they will come".

These are the original plans to the house which I found in the Wellington City Archives... I would love to know more about Lily Coombe, the original owner of the house

Our Dream House
When we lived in Australia we owned a town house that was quite new. We loved decorating it, but I always dreamt of owning a house that had much more character and wasn't so 'un-original'.

We moved from Australia to New Zealand because my husband was offered an amazing job which we couldn't pass up. We somehow went from renting a little 1970's Town House to owning our very own Bungalow in a matter of months. It really is the Dream House we could NEVER have afforded back in Sydney.

We have been living in our 'Dream House' house here in Wellington for just over 1 year now. It is a bungalow that was built in 1930. A lot of the architectural features have been kept, like the original stain glass windows and Carrara ceilings that are very typical to houses here in Wellington.

Although the bungalow had been renovated before we bought it, the previous owners seemed to have taken the 'easy' option on a few of the updates.They didn't bother updating what we feel are important things like the electrics (a lot of the house still had the original 1930 wiring) or having the house insulated. The poor tenants who lived in this house before we bought it must have been very very cold during the cold New Zealand winters.

The house still needs some work and I need to learn how to take better photos, but here is my very own House Tour.

The Living Area


In the plans you can see that originally the Living Room was separated into 2 separate rooms. We assume that you could close the doors and stay in the room with the Fireplace and keep warm. However by opening up the rooms it created a much bigger living area.

I have a love/hate relationship with the fireplace. From what we can tell, it is the original fireplace to the house. But I just don't like it. I don't like the poo brown tiles or the gold tiles they used to 'bling' it up (an original feature). I have always wanted a fireplace similar to Anna's at Door 16. But I am learning to love this one.

Prints from Society 6 and She Hit Pause
At the moment the TV area needs a bit more love. The TV unit is not exactly what we want and it needs some more art above the TV so the TV doesn't dominate the area so much, but it will do for now.
I love my print from James Jean - it has always reminded me of Windy Wellington
When we were viewing the house the real estate agent described the house as being 'Light Challenged".

The lack of light was really an issue and we had to think long and hard if this would be a deal breaker. But we decided that we hopefully could install skylights and fix the issue.

So the week we moved in, we installed some really amazing Sky Tunnels. We had originally only wanted to install two of these above the Fireplace, which was the darkest part of the house. However the skylight man recommended we add another one in the main lounge area and we never have regretted the decision to do so.

Although we don't get the abundance of light that we would like, you wouldn't describe the house as necessarily 'light challenged' anymore.


We only recently moved the 'study' from the dining room area to near the fireplace. We love this new little nook.


These are my Jam Fancy prints. I think of them as portraits of 'husband', my sister and I.
The burglar is husband, I am Rose Red and my sister is Snow White.

My DIY Piano Stool
I very proud of my DIY piano stool. I found it for $30 at a second hand store in Wellington. I reupholstered it myself using material I found at Spotlight for $10. Hey presto we have a new laptop stool.

The Master Bedroom


Our bedroom is probably my most favourite place in our home.

I love waking up in the mornings, opening up the curtains and looking at the mountains and seeing the boats and ferries sail by.


Our new 'walk in wardrobe'
When we bought the house, the main bedroom for some reason had no wardrobe and had a hole in the gap where the previous owners had something hanging to hide the clothes from view. So the first night we moved we went to Bunnings (for not the last time) and bought a new wardrobe system and installed it that very night.

This is how the bed head originally looked
However the gaping hole was still there. We solved this by installing some tongue and groove boards and creating a mini walk-in wardrobe behind it. 


We have really struggled with finding the right art work for this house. Given this house may not be our forever house and we probably will move back to Australia eventually we don't want to buy more art work to add to the works we have already stored in Australia.

Instead of buying more art work for the bedroom to put above our bed we decided to use Origrami  and print my Instagram photos out. These are the photos of our past year of living here in Wellington. It is a cheap and easily changeable solution. We love it.

The Kitchen

The kitchen was renovated when we moved in. But it had no range hood and the tiles and splash back was just plain old ugly.

So using the advice from Door 16 and Manhattan Nest we tackled our very own Subway Tile kitchen renovation.


The ugly tiles and no range hood in the kitchen when we bought it
 We are quite happy with the transformation.


This wallpaper is another part of the house that I have a love/hate relationship with.
I don't know whether to rip it down or leave it?


We put these shelves up ourselves, as this house has a BIG problem with storage. So the more spaces we can put our things on or in (especially in the kitchen) the better.

The Dining Room


In the original house plans this room was called the Breakfast Room and it was closed off from the 'Kitchenette'. However when the house was renovated the kitchen and dining room was opened up into one big space. This is such a great space especially in the mornings, when the morning light steams in. I am so happy that we moved the smaller sofa in this room. It has also become Ziggy's favourite part of the hose.

Ziggy has taken up ownership

 What the house looked like before
How the house looked in the real estate sales brochure... it was very brown

I hope you liked our House Tour?

All images by Zahara Dessert
Except for the before photos of the house - they were from our Real Estate agency

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

River Cottage Wellington

Ever since we moved into our Wellington home, we have wanted to tick  #19 and #63 off the Life List: Grow a veggie patch/orchard in back yard and Live more sustainably.

In Australia, our house had a tiny paved courtyard where you really could only grow potted herbs and nothing much more. We did however manage to get some tomatoes growing one Summer.

'River Cottage Wellington' Summer Harvest - 2013/2014
However here in Wellington, our home has a proper (although small) back yard.

So this past Summer,  inspired by River Cottage Australia and Miss Piggy's Balcony Garden we decided to make it happen and get our organic Veggie garden in working order, which I have unofficially called 'River Cottage Wellington'.

As you can see we have had a good little harvest, producing tons of strawberries, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, beetroot and rocket... and this was just the harvest in the back garden! 

The back veggie patch
My husband then decided to create a veggie garden in the front of the house, where we added pumpkin, beans, eggplant, capsicum and more carrots. However it wasn't as successful as the garden in the back and it is currently being reconsidered.

Now that it is Winter, the harvest has dwindled. But we still have an abundant supply of Rocket (Arugula), which means we haven't needed to buy Rocket in months.

Beans in the front garden
I love ticking things off the Life List.

I can't wait to bring River Cottage Wellington back for Spring/Summer 2014/2015...

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The American Dream Realised

As I mentioned way back in April, the year 2013 was going to be the year that quite a few Life List items would be ticked off.

And we did.

Last year we flew out to American to have a 3 week adventure. The trip was planned around LL point #32: 'Renewing our vows, Elvis style'.

So here are the 7 items I ticked off my Life List

32. Renew our wedding vows in Las Vegas (Elvis style) DONE 

Re-Married on the 31st of May 2013, Las Vegas Nevada
33. Buy a real Eames/Hand Wegner piece of furniture Explained Sorta DONE. 


Husband bought me for my birthday an Eames House Bird. OK so it isn't a piece of furniture, but it will do for now

35. Take a road trip through California and visit the Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs and San Francisco DONE

We had to do a U2 pilgrimage of sorts

71. Go back to Central Park in NYC and see the Alice in Wonderland statue DONE

We found her

72. Go to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles  DONE

Loved the planetarium

74. Go back to the Getty museum in Los Angeles DONE

This is really one of my most favourite 'Happy Places'

79. Search for the perfect Margarita (or at least go back to Spice Market in New York and have some more of those heavenly Ginger Margaritas) DONE

Our perfect Margarita
Things we tried to do but didn't manage to tick off...

82. See Bill Cunningham at work/on his bike in NYC (one can only hope) Tried, but we didn't see him
84. Be able to afford a pair of authentic designer shoes and/or hand bag (I need some glam shoes for #32!) We tried, but given we just bought a 2nd house the week before we left for the US, we thought the money could be better spend

I love ticking things off my Life List!

All photos by Zahara Dessert

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Happy 1 year (Elvis) Wedding Anniversary

Today we celebrate our one year Elvis Wedding renewal anniversary.


As I blogged about before, we have been wanting to tick #32 off the Life List for sometime: 'Renew our wedding vows Elvis style'

When we found out our really good friends were traveling to Las Vegas to celebrate Mike's 40th Birthday, we jumped at the opportunity to join them and celebrate his birthday and also have a double wedding renewal on the same day.


The ceremony was very different to our first one, but we loved it just as much. It featured Elvis singing his hits, bad Elvin puns and a lot of Hunka Hunka Burning love.


And although it was 7 years after the first one, it was just as emotional and lovely wedding. Which was topped off by an amazing dinner to celebrate the birthday boy at Jean Georges.

Left: The original one, on a beach in Australia. Right: The renewal, in a chapel in Las Vegas

So Happy Anniversary dear husband. Its been a great ride.

Let's do it all again for my 40th Birthday!

Just (re)married

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Kia Ora... I am still here

I can't believe it has been nearly 1 year since my last post on this blog.

Did you miss me?

Seatoun, Wellington = My hood [image by ZaharaDessert]

The year has truly flown by. I had been meaning to post on this blog for ages and get back to the blog swing of things, but I just never got round to it.

So what has happened to us in this past year? Nothing much really.

We are still living in New Zealand. We are still loving living here. How can you not really when you live in such a beautiful town and such a spectacular country.

We still live in our 'dream house'.
Husband is still working on making Hobbits look amazing.
I am no longer a lady of leisure (which is sad). But am making money to pay for said 'dream house'.
I spend way too much time on Instagram.
And Ziggy still adores his new country of residence.

Seatoun [image by ZaharaDessert]

I am really going to try to make an effort to get back to blogging. I really did/do love it.
So hopefully I will get back into it.

I have ticked off some more things off the Life Life that I want to tell you about and still so many more things I want to tick off in the future.

Hopefully I can entertain you with my Kiwi adventures.

xxx Sara



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Psychic told me it would happen

It has been a crazy past few months and I apologise for my very long absence from Zahara Dessert.I'm sure you didn't miss me too much?

A lot has happened since I last wrote to you all way back in April.

We are still in the midst of ticking #41 off the Life List: 'Live and work overseas for a year' in New Zealand and still really enjoying it. Husband is still working very hard on that 'little movie' and I am still being a lady of leisure.

Although hopefully I won't be a lady of leisure for too long as I need to start financially contributing, as our finances are a bit stretched given we crazily bought a house here in Welllington. 

Our living room Bay window (with my Eames House Bird).
It all happened so fast.

We didn't want to keep on wasting money on rent and given the significantly cheaper houses prices to what we are used to in Sydney, we thought it would be a good little investment.

We had been looking for a while, trying to work out what areas we liked and could afford. We really loved the suburb where we had been renting in, but as it was one of the pricier ends of Wellington, we thought we would have no chance. We had put a few offers on some properties. We were even very close to buying a house, however it fell though as the house had significant building issues.

My husband found an ad for a beautiful 1930's bungalow and thought we should look at it. It was down the road from our rental and was in a gorgeous location. I thought he was going crazy. It was WAY too expensive and it would be a waste of our time to even go and look at it. Husband convinced me other wise and I was so happy that he did.

We fell in love with it straight away and we just 'had to have it'. We thought long and hard to see if and what we could really afford and put in a cheeky offer which was of course rejected. But with some stressful negotiation, the owners finally accepted a price (still significantly lower than what they wanted) and we moved in 2 weeks later!

It is our 'dream house' (that we could never have afforded in Sydney).

I call it my 'dream home' because that is what the Psychic had called it. I totally forgot about this until my mother reminded me. Before moving to New Zealand, I had gone to see a Psychic. I had never been to one before but I thought the time was right for a little guidance.

It was a really rough time in my life. Husband had just been made redundant, I wasn't really enjoying my work, we were dealing with some family 'issues' and my husband had been offered a job in New Zealand. We had to make the tough decision to move our lives (and dog) to another country and start again, away from our friends and family. I just didn't know what to do.

Without any help from me, the Psychic told me via some Tarot Cards that we would be moving overseas, we would be financially secure, we would buy our 'Dream House' and we would be really happy. That was all I had needed to hear.

And so far, she has been 100% correct.


The original 1930s plans. The house we bought it very different to this, as the previous owners modernised it and made it open plan. But the lovely original character is still there.
We still have a lot of work that needs to be done to the house. As you can imagine, a house that is over 80 years old needs a lot of love and care (and roof insulation), but I think it will be so worth it.

My favourite bit about the house are the original 1930s features.

The ceiling in the bedroom
 The Carrara ceilings are just divine and I also like the quirky fireplace.

The Eames bird makes another appearance, this is actually his permanent home.
We are still in the process of trying to make our house our own. Hopefully I will be sharing with you some photos of how it looks and what changes we have made. Who knows, maybe this will be the house that makes me tick off #13 "Have my current home/renovated home appear on Apartment Therapy/deecor8/or similar"?

Who knows how long we will be living here, but I think it will always be our dream home and we will be really happy here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The American Dream

Winter in Central Park
I wrote down my Life List, soon after we returned from a holiday in the United States, way back in 2011.

A lot of the things on the 'Life List' had been churning in my head for some time, others had appeared after our US trip. These were things that we just didn't manage to get done or I wanted to do again when I returned to America.

Ever since this trip, I have been trying to get back to the USA to tick all American items off the list.

I am very excited to report that in May we will be returning to the USA, armed with my Life List and all the intentions to tick these items off.

This trip was planned around #32: Renew our wedding vows, Elvis style. This is something we have wanted to do for some time. However when we learnt our really good friend was having a party in Vegas to celebrate his 40th Birthday, we knew this would be the perfect opportunity to organise a trip around the Life List. The Birthday Boy and he wife also wanted to renew their vows in Las Vegas while they were there, so we felt it was destined to happen!

What is better than a double wedding?

Elvis here we come..

Here are all the things I am planning to tick off while we are in America (to say I am excited is an understatement)...

32. Renew our wedding vows in Las Vegas (Elvis style)
35. Take a road trip through California and visit the Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs and San Francisco
47. Go to Disneyland
71. Go back to Central Park in NYC and see the Alice in Wonderland statue
72. Go to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles
74. Go back to the Getty museum in Los Angeles
77. Find the perfect Fajitas
79. Search for the perfect Margarita (or at least go back to Spice Market in New York and have some more of those heavenly Ginger Margaritas)
82. See Bill Cunningham at work/on his bike in NYC (one can only hope)
84. Be able to afford a pair of authentic designer shoes and/or hand bag (I need some glam shoes for #32!)

Central Park, New York
I will keep you posted on how I go...

[all images by Zahara Dessert].

Monday, April 15, 2013

#46: Pay off my credit card(s)...Paid Off DONE


Florescent Seaweed at Seatoun Beach, Wellington, New Zealand

I just realised that I ticked #46 off the Life List and I didn't even realise. Woo Hoo!!!

For some time now I have been trying my best to curtail my frivolous spending and not buy everything that I like.

It has also really helped that I currently do not have a job. I just can't buy that dress I like or that top I just 'have to have'.

Thanks so much 'husband' for helping me tick this off the Life List... you are the best!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Kia Ora to all

Breaker Bay, at sunset
Kia Ora in the Māori language literally means "be well/be healthy", but it is used to just say "Hi.

I first must apologise for my very very long absence from Zahara Dessert. To be honest, I have been very busy doing not very much at all.

As you may already know, I am 8 weeks into ticking #41 off the Life List: 'Live and work overseas for a year' in lovely New Zealand.

So far Wellington has been very kind to us. We have had the most amazing weather and according to the locals, it has been the best Summer in more than 10 years. However the downside of this is that the North Island is now in drought, so we are waiting for the rain to come and help out the farmers who have been suffering.

The Pass of Branda (I love saying that out loud)
We are also very lucky to be living in one of the most beautiful parts of Wellington. We are surrounded by the Cook Straight and have the most amazing views from our house of Wellington Harbour. I have wasted many hours looking out our window and watching the Ferries and life pass by.

Our 'private' beach, behind our house (Oruaiti Reserve)
We are also blessed to be surrounded by the most spectacular stretches of coast line. No more than a 5 minute walk from our house we are on the beach at the Oruaiti Reserve, a rugged area surrounded by beach and tracks along a volcanic foreshore. The views from here are ever changing and I am yet to tire of the views (even when it is blowing the famous Wellington gale).

Seatoun Harbour on my daily dog walk
Although I am yet to find work, I really am enjoying being a 'lady of leisure'. A lot of my time has been taken up 'nesting' and trying to make our Kiwi rental feel like home.

...So all in all, life in New Zealand has been treating us very very well.

Our view
I really am looking forward to seeing where this amazing adventure will take us and what things I will be able to tick off the  Life List. As I have mentioned before, 2013 will be the year that I will achieve many of my Life List goals and I say 'bring it on'.

Breaker Bay
I hope you can follow me on my Kiwi journey...

[all images by Zahara Dessert]