Vivez Bien * Live Well

Friday, December 22, 2017


Apologies for my long absence... I hope there are still some of you out there reading this! I've realised that blogging regularly requires quite a bit of discipline and sadly, I'm not as disciplined as I'd like to be. I somehow got out of the habit and struggled to get back into it. I have missed it though so am going to make it a New Year resolution to blog more regularly. On second thoughts, that's a bad idea - I'm useless at sticking to New Year resolutions. Let's just say I'll be trying much harder from now on. 

I have been quite restrained with my Christmas decorations this year. I find that every year I tend to put out less and less stuff. I also include much less colour, tending to stick to the natural and neutral with touches of gold and silver. When my kids were young they were drawn to the bright and shiny, and the decorations were all red and green. I found this photo, below, from about 8 years ago. I haven't used this wreath for many years now, but am hanging onto it because hopefully one day I'll have some grandchildren that will appreciate it! (It might just disintegrate before then)

 Now that the boys are all teenagers and older, they don't really notice things like Christmas decorations. That would involve turning their heads away from the PlayStation and that's not going to happen! The upside is that I can indulge my own ideas without interference. 

This scene above my mantel feels a bit like a white Christmas. In those blazing hot summer days here in Cape Town I imagine myself lying in the snow somewhere freezing. My friend, Jacqui, just spent some time at the Ice Hotel in Sweden. I was as green as a Christmas tree with envy!

The boys' Christmas sacks are out waiting to be filled by Father Christmas. They might have lost a bit of interest in the Christmas decorations but they certainly haven't lost interest in the gifts! They are stuffed with newspaper for now, and might not look quite as abundant on Christmas morning. (What was I thinking making such huge Christmas stockings!?!)

As usual other peoples ideas are always much better than mine. Here are some pictures found on the web which really appealed because of their simplicity....

Frosted pine cones in silver containers under a cloche, so easy and so effective...

 Tea lights in pretty holders and a pine branch...

Baubles in a rustic urn....

 Wooden beads and white birds in a tree....

Fairy lights under a cloche....

I think these trees made out of drift wood are a lot more suited to a South African Christmas than the traditional fir tree. Especially in drought-ridden Cape Town at the moment with our parched gardens, we should be able to find a lot of dead wood lying around!

How about paper trees? The boys could use their school books. It would probably be the best use they would make of them all year!


Love this idea.... just simple foliage in a silver vessel. I could use my silver trophies. I have quite a good collection, not through any sporting or academic prowess, just excellent shopping skills!

Fresh olive branch wreath with gold bells - neutral, fresh Christmas

 And finally, a wreath made from an olive branch and some Christmas bells. 

On that note, wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas filled with peace, love and laughter.

 Till next time (and there is going to be a next time, I promise)....

Sharon x

 For some more Christmas ideas, visit my Pinterest page here.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Have you Heard of Hygge?

Pronounced "hueguh", hygge is a Danish word, loosely translated as cosiness, togetherness, conviviality, comfort and contentment. The Afrikaans word "geselligheid" is a good description.

The Danes are one of the happiest nations on earth so perhaps it's worth paying attention to the concept of hygge. While I don't believe that anyone can be in a state of perpetual happiness (unless you are smoking something which might come with its own set of problems), I do think a state of general contentment with moments of pure happiness is worth pursuing.

So how do we create hygge in our homes? 

It's not about doing specific things, eating specific food or having a particular style of decor. It is more about creating an atmosphere of comfort and contentment that makes you feel happy.

 It tends to be associated more with winter - think fires, blankets, candles and hot drinks....

 but is certainly attainable on summer as well.

It is indulgent, but not decandent.... is about togetherness with family or friends...

but is equally achievable on one's own with a good book, a puppy and a glass of red...

It is about casual entertaining, no pomp and ceremony and no need for perfection. Its about inviting your friends over without worrying about your house being a bit untidy. 

It's about lighting candles...

bringing out the board games...

cosy blankets ...

comfort food....

and warm drinks.

It's not limited to home either. A picnic on the beach is very hygge... is meeting a friend for coffee and conversation.

 It is about slow food...

and fresh flowers.

It is about talking rather than texting and books, rather than TV...

It's about knitting, not networking. 

Its about creating family rituals and living in the moment.

...its about hot baths...

and snuggly babies.

And it's about love and laughter.

So why not introduce some hygge into your life? I'm definitely going to bring some into mine. 

Till next time

Sharon x

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Gen on Gin

We have just come back from a relaxing week in Hermanus with 2 of our boys where we did some fun stuff for them and then rewarded ourselves with some fun stuff for us like wine tasting, craft beer and gin tasting. I hadn't been gin tasting before. It was an interesting experience. It was recommended that I try the gin neat first, I won't do that again in a hurry - it was like drinking fire water! Although I have just started watching the TV series "The Durrells" and Mrs Durrell drank neat gin from a bone china teacup. She needed it though, with 4 unmanageable children! I have 4 children too... maybe I need to give it another try.

Gin definitely seems to be the drink of the moment. I'm not complaining... there is nothing quite like a lunchtime gin and tonic sitting in the sun with a beautiful view.  I was in the Knysna area recently and ordered a G&T at the Brenton Blu Hotel. It came in a beautiful glass like a cross between a wine glass and a brandy snifter.

 My sister, who is more hip and happening than I, tells me this is the new way of drinking gin. It also came with just one ice cube, very large and round, bigger than a golf ball. 

I thought it looked absolutely beautiful and I was tempted to rush out and buy myself some of these special  ice-trays, but then when I tilted my glass for the final sip of my gin, the ice ball cracked the side of the glass! So if you get some of these, make sure your glasses are up to the challenge.

While not strictly gin, I recently discovered the best thing to come out of South Africa since Nelson Mandela! The Duchess Virgin Gin and Tonic. I have introduced it to all my friends so now it's time  to share my discovery with the rest of the world.

It has no alcohol content and ... wait for it ... zero calories! It tastes so like gin and tonic that you have to keep reminding yourself that you are not drinking alcohol. It's the perfect lunch time or sundowner drink if you have to drive home afterwards, or if you need to be productive post drinks, or if you are trying to restrict your calorie intake, or just because it tastes delicious. BTW, the folks at Duchess are not paying me for this, but they really should because I am doing a great selling job! Although my one friend, Jacqui, after tasting hers, said " Mmmmm, very nice, if I could  just add a bit of gin, it would be perfect!"

It should ideally be poured into a glass with some ice and lemon, or whatever else you like to accompany your G & T, but since the packaging is so elegant, you would be forgiven for taking it along on a picnic and drinking it straight out of the bottle.

The website list of stockists seem to be based only in South Africa (although there is one little marker in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean -  the Virgin Islands perhaps?)  So if you can't get The Duchess Virgin Gin & Tonic in your country, it's just another reason to visit ours!

Of course, there is nothing quite like the real thing. The local gin's I have tried and love are Inverroche, Hope and ClemenGold. The Inveroroche Verdant is my favourite. It has a delicate floral, herbal flavour that is very appealing. I'm not so keen on the Rooibos one.  I've only tried the Hope Salt River Gin which I really like, still need to try the others, and the ClemenGold had me with the packaging, so pretty, and the gin with its citrus and cinnamon undertones, is delicious. If there are any other distilleries out there, let me know. I'm always happy to have a reason to try a new gin!

Of course when you are serving gin or drinks to your guests, a beautifully styled drinks tray or bar trolley will be much appreciated. A least, by people like me (PLM's). My husband probably wouldn't notice. 

I love this artful arrangement that NetDecor  recently brought to our attention. You can shop here  to acquire all the bits and pieces to put this together. 

Depending on your style and taste, here are some other ideas to inspire you. You could go for an abundant and opulent look like these....

...or for something simple and stylish.

Maybe a beachy look for the summer months....

...or something more tropical for outdoor entertaining.

A male dominated get together might require a more masculine feel...

...and traditionalists will probably want to use decanters and crystal.

A tiered bar cart is useful if space is tight.

Whatever your style...
your guests will appreciate the extra mile...

Happy entertaining!

Till next time

Sharon x

Images via Pinterest