A little of FRANCE in the Dandenongs

Experience the wonders of ancient European time at the magnificent Mont du Soliel property in Emerald, Australia

Mont du Soleil, which means Mountain of the Sun, is the third house the couple has built and, according to Robert, ‘definitely the last’.  Set on 40 acres and facing due north, the house is often bathed in sunlight.

The story of Mont du Soleil is one of serendipity.  Having already lived in the area for many years, it was an encounter with the property’s previous owner that began the Stygall’s latest chapter.  ‘I used to walk our dog along the road fronting the existing property and used to jokingly say to the Farmer who owned it, “if you ever want to sell this, let me know”.  And one day, he did.’

Robert and Liz Stygall have created a homestead that has a timeless elegance and ambience.

This Provencal-cum-Tuscan style abode is located on the north-facing property and has spectacular panoramic views of the Warburton Ranges and Yarra Valley

Robert and Liz have created a homestead that has a timeless ambience.  This has in part been achieved with the extensive use of recycled materials.  For example, the massive structural posts and beams are ex-bridge timbers from Gippsland and are over a hundred years old

For a home that was built less than two decades ago, what’s remarkable about Mont du Soleil and its cluster of outbuildings including rental accommodation ‘Sunrise Cottage‘, is its seamless and ancient look and feel.

With Robert’s background in energy and an ardent interest in low-energy design, he was drawn to the high thermal mass that mudbrick construction provides.  The house takes advantage of the northern orientation to provide passive heating, which means that it stores heat from the sun in the winter.  Conversely, mudbrick keeps the house comfortably cool in summer, as it evens out day and night temperature variations. 

The property abounds with some outstanding architectural detail.  For example, wrought iron fencing and bluestone come from the old Melbourne Cemetery and timber from an old railway station in Western Australia is used in the bucolic stable-like garage. 

There’s even a traditional church bell that originally came from Northern Victoria.  It has been run on multiple special occasions including on their daughter’s and friend’s wedding days. 

Capture the full story in Figs & Feta Magazine Issue 2

Capture the exclusive story on the exquisite property Mont du Soleil and indulge in the Celebration Feast styled by Joanne Motee and Kim La Ferla.  

We celebrate some stylish contemporary interiors by Resident Interior Designer Joanne Motee and introduce guest Interior Designer Aaron Wong who transforms a room int he historic Como House in Melbourne’s South Yarra. 

Enjoy delicious recipes from the renown Kathy Tsaples along with a Master Class with Vicky Papazaharias from Adixions and meet Monica Del Rosario a passionate cook discovered on Instagram.

Lisa Egglestone of Aequora shares the compounding impact 1% on skincare ingredients can have on your skin whilst Janet Roach from Raw Essentials Tea details the ingredients and function in their 2017 International Gold Medal Slim Tea. 

We learn that Adversity is a choice we make and Diane Agars helps us to Access our Courage whilst also introducing ‘Coach Dar‘ Darlene Santore, ‘A Performance Meets Purpose Coach’ an extraordinary women whose decision in life is to ‘Be Well, Live Well and Serve Well’.

And for those whom struggle to get a good nights sleep with their children’s bedwetting expert nurse of 30 years Linda Sullivan has the perfect solution with Night Ollie

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Meet the Melmaison TEACUP Artisans!

Have you ever wondered how fancy, delicate and colourful China is made?​

I‘d often be drinking a cup of tea and in admiration wondered where you would begin to create it. Privileged to meet the Artisans that make our Melmaison Cups and Saucer Set, I’ve shared with you the very interesting manufacturing process in Issue 1 of our Figs & Feta Magazine.

Melmaison Tea Cup & Saucer, Styling & Photograph: Kim La Ferla

Nestled among a population of fewer than 3 million people, Chaozhou, China is host to ARTISANS blessed with very delicate hands and an acute eye for detail.

Chaozhou is not likely to be on your tourist radar when visiting China. Unlike the bustling city of Guangzhou, despite being in the same province, Chaozhou is very remote and in many ways reminded me of Bali!

‘Perhaps it was the motorbikes that triggered that image’.

Unmade roads, aged architecture and electrical posts with loose, dancing wires formed part of the charming Chaozhou landscape that I fell in love with.

The people in Chaozhou are extremely hospitable and thankfully so, because in such a remote space, taxis are nowhere to be found. Thankfully, our suppliers’ sales representative picked us up from our hotel and almost instantly began the tour of where our delightful Melmaison Cups and Saucers are created.

After a very welcoming meet and greet, we became immersed in the moulding station, our first official stop on the tour. As I approached the organised and a meticulously clean space, I stopped for a moment to appreciate the innate talents we all have the capacity to wield. The area wasn’t packed full of huge machines making these products; there were real human artisans creating greatness with their hands using some specific modernized tools. I took a couple of deep breaths and proceeded.

The Moulding Station, Photograph: Kim La Ferla

The moulding station took me by surprise. Here, a machine referred to as the spinning wheel was parked. A blob of clay is deliberately deposited onto the middle of the spinning wheel, then a mould is placed on top and a machine presses it into place over the clay. Each mould is then individually set on a tray and left to dry.

Almost immediately I saw resemblances to a bakery! It was a very moving sight to see those cups and saucers in raw clay sitting on the shelf drying, as if they were eager to complete their metamorphosis for the next process.

The Bakery!, Photograph: Kim La Ferla

When the moulds had dried, it was time for all the raw edges to be filed piece by piece. Monotonous you might think, but not so to the two ladies sitting opposite each other, chatting away and conversing about something that had them in fits of laughter. So beautiful to witness. They were definitely enjoying what they do, and I couldn’t help but imagine their happiness being transferred into the cups and saucers we would soon be drinking tea from.

The Cutting Room!, Photograph: Kim La Ferla

Finally, the dried and filed pieces reached glazing time. This was another process I’d imagined to be far more complicated than simply dunking the cups and saucers into a big tub of coloured liquid one by one.

You can imagine how many thoughts were going through my head as an entrepreneur at this point. It’s certainly not about having the cheapest product; it’s about truly having gratitude for the workmanship, precision and expertise to construct such a product.

‘Gratitude is of high value to me. It puts so many things into perspective.’

As I was walking past the glazing station, and from the corner of my eye, I saw all these clay boxes, again sitting on a bench in rows. Curious to know every detail, I had to ask what they were. To my surprise, they were teapot moulds. My next question was, ‘Where is the machine that moulds them together’? ‘Oh, no machine, Miss Kim, these are all done by hand. It is not possible to have a machine do this’, they replied. The reply blew me away.

The Room of Amazement, Photograph: Kim La Ferla

Each and every teapot is made by hand!

One of the more engaging aspects of the teapot-making process is how the artists mould the teacup handle, which at this point is not attached to the cup. With a little pick in her hand, a woman ensures that the mould is smooth and has the right feel to it. Left to dry on a shelf, it becomes ready to be attached to its chosen companion cup. The artists’ hands work in such a delicate yet fast pace. I continue to be amazed at the skill of these artisans.

The action was in the quality control station!

The Quality Control, Photograph: Kim La Ferla

Sitting on stools close to the floor, two girls we passed by were having an almost serious conversation about each piece. It was hysterical to watch how they entertained themselves with both in-depth conversation and joking around at the same time.

I felt overjoyed to know that whilst we sit in our homes enjoying the luxurious products, these ladies are having a blast of a day. That it is the opportunity that we are creating and sharing.

As I walked to the next factory where the printing and firing took place, I passed the carpark, as one might call it. There were no less than 40 bicycles and motorbikes parked in diagonal rows. I had wondered at one point whether all these people walked to work! This charming display answered my tacit question.

The Carpark, Photograph: Kim La Ferla

The print application process totally mesmerised me in its simplicity. Unless a product is handprinted, every beautifully designed plate is basically decorated with a special kind of beautiful, food-safe sticker, which is then fired to final perfection.

Until I started Figs & Feta and began making all sorts of enquiries into how such beautiful pieces came to be, I was oblivious to where one would start making such a product. Knowing the time and love that goes into each product makes my world so much more exciting.

The Journey, Photographs: Kim La Ferla

Meet Betty Yong, my rock in my China Office! Absolutely love her to bits and without realising she has taught me so much more that she says I have taught her.

Life is truly beautiful!

LIVE and LOVE and RESPECT all that you have for behind all that you own are AMAZING PEOPLE!

With much LOVE,
Kim La Ferla
Founder – figsandfeta.com.au
Editor – Figs & Feta Lifestyle Magazine

TIMELESS elegance and SYMMETRY in perfection!

Have you ever walked into a room and it just felt so right?

It may just be the colour scheme and the selection of furnishings, but maybe it’s because the symmetry in the room gives you feelings of stability, calmness and luxury. Asymmetry is also important in decorating your home, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Symmetry, the balance of elements, is easy to process at first sight and therefore makes it easier for your brain to grasp the flavour of a room at a glance. 

While talking with Resident Interior Designer Joanne Motee, planning and designing Interior Articles for upcoming issues of our Figs & Feta Magazine, I instantly noticed that her Hawthorn Estate project signifies TIMELESS elegance, glamour and SYMMETRY in perfection.

Interior Designer Joanne Motee @joannemotee Photography by: Edmund Bourrilhon
Symmetry is often used to cleverly create sitting areas within larger spaces. Joanne has used two ornate crystal lamps with custom-made shades behind a velvet upholstered, sofa to draw attention from the coffee table to the spectacular outside view. The luxurious interlined curtains accompanied by the luxurious cushions create the perfect frame for the symmetrical sitting room.


‘An Interior is the natural projection of the SOUL’

– COCO CHANEL –

Interior Designer Joanne Motee @joannemotee Photography by: Edmund Bourrilhon
Even a room abundant in detail retains its calmness with perfectly balanced symmetry. The jacquard upholstered armchairs on either side of the cherrywood side table delightfully cast your attention to the brass-footed accessories and then beyond to the serene view behind. Collectively, the sofa in symmetry with the armchairs surrounding the coffee table create the hub of the room.


‘There is always a left and right to a centre’

– KIM LA FERLA –

 

Interior Designer Joanne Motee @joannemotee Photography by: Edmund Bourrilhon

I love the grandeur of SYMMETRY and the emotions its inspires in a room.

When designing the home decor for Figs & Feta, symmetry contributes to the bigger picture of a completely decorated room.

In our current collection, the Provincial Urn was definitely designed with symmetry in mind. Grand in size with a gaze-capturing white crackled reflective finish, this piece makes a statement that brings dimension, warmth and calm all at the same time.

The Melmaison Ginger Jars hand-painted in our very own signature print are art pieces and most definitely conversation starters, particularly when used in symmetry. The Melmaison range will continue to grow in different shapes and sizes to create your own blue and white collection.
Our Laurent Collection, perfectly and purposefully aged, gives off a lovely feeling for everyone to enjoy in every room. Indoors or outdoors, these pieces will bring warmth, love and sophistication to your rooms.

In Issue 1, Joanne Motee shares a glimpse of the greatness yet to come as Resident Interior Designer.

Issue 2 celebrates:
‘Art in Dining & Apartment Wonderland’ by Joanne Motee
‘Styled Unleashed’ by Aaron Wong
I love simple and I love FANCY!

Decorate, ENJOY and LOVE the luxuries LIFE. Let your creativity run wild….it’s your gift!

With much LOVE,
Kim La Ferla
Founder – figsandfeta.com.au
Editor – Figs & Feta Lifestyle Magazine

The great Australian PAVLOVA in style!

Australia Day is for all Australians, no matter where our personal stories began. Reflect on being Australian, celebrate Australia as it is today and recognise our history.

It was believed that Pavlova was created at around 1926 when the famous ballerina Anna Matveyevna Pavlova toured Australia and New Zealand. She was a true celebrity, admired and adored by all wherever she went. It is debatable whether the Pavlova originated as both New Zealanders and Australians claim that a chef residing in the country created the popular dessert in her honour.

Wherever and whoever the Pavlova continues to evolve in so many different ways as each pair of creative hands attempts showcasing their version.

The Eaton Mess, the Individual Pavlova and the Classic Pavlova, here are Figs & Feta’s versions!

Styled and Photographed by: Kim La Ferla
Figs & Feta Beaded Collection Pasta Bowl and Fruit Bowl

Recipe: Preheat oven to 120°C. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Use an electric mixer to whisk 6 egg whites until soft peaks form. Once all the sugar has been added (1 and a half cups), continue to whisk on high until stiff peaks form and the texture is glossy. Bake meringues for 1 hour 30 mins.

Styled and Photographed by: Kim La Ferla
Figs & Feta Melmaison Ginger Jar

Before placing your meringue mixture on the baking paper, take a moment to think about how you would like to present the Pavolva. It is always helpful to outline at the back of the baking paper the perimeter to stay within.

Styled and Photographed by: Kim La Ferla
Figs & Feta Beaded Collection Cake Plate

Unlike a typical Pavlova, we have raised the edges of the meringue to form a well in the centre where the cream will reside at the assembly.

Styled and Photographed by: Kim La Ferla
Figs & Feta Beaded Collection Cake Plate

The Eaton Mess: Chunks of meringue layered with marinated berries (in this case we have used fresh homemade raspberry jam) and freshly whipped cream. Top and garnish with fresh berries.

Individual Pavlova: Create a miniature version of the Classic Pavlova (in this case we have used the fruit bowl as a template) and assemble.

Styled and Photographed by: Kim La Ferla
Figs & Feta Beaded Collection Cake Plate, Fruit Bowl, Laurent Bowl

Layering always adds drama! The Eaton Mess is typically served in glass however Figs & Feta will find another way. We’ve assembled our Eaton Mess in preserving jars and decorated with a beautiful striped ribbon. Placed in rows on a buffet table beauties will be sure to impress.

Here we have it, Figs & Feta’s version of the Classic Pavlova. The vision to create dimensions on the buffet table lent us to using the Avery Stand to display our Pavlova. One Avery stand accommodates the Centre Piece keeping the cage on and the other the Pavlova. We chose to use the cage to more drama and placed it over the cake plates.

Styled and Photographed by: Kim La Ferla
Figs & Feta Beaded Collection Cake Plate, Fruit Bowl, Pasta Plate, Avery Stand

I love simple and I love FANCY!

EAT, ENJOY and LOVE the luxuries LIFE and our country has on OFFER to EVERYONE. Let your creativity run wild….it’s your gift!

With much LOVE,
Kim La Ferla
Founder – figsandfeta.com.au
Editor – Figs & Feta Lifestyle Magazine

LOVE my kitchen, LOVE organisation and LOVE Rocky Road!

LOVE, being in the kitchen particularly when the house is freshly cleaned. I get behind my island bench and get into creation mode. Something, anything that I can round up with ingredients from the pantry and share the LOVE with my gorgeous family.

With that said, the house is clean and it needs to remain clean. Prep bowls, are my saviour! Although it might mean a little extra work, trust me it saves MESS and the upside it allows me the opportunity to get versatility out of my ‘things’ and really appreciate the luxuries we are so privileged to have on a daily basis.

Styled and Photographed by: Kim La Ferla
Beaded Collection Fruit Bowl

In admiration and gratitude of my gorgeous bowls I eagerly fill them with ingredients to make some delicious Rocky Road which by the way is so easy to make and a unique creation every time.

Styled and Photographed by: Kim La Ferla
Beaded Collection Fruit Bowl

Ingredients: White Chocolate Melts, Marshmallow, Coconut, Macadamia Nut and Caramel Coated Popcorn! Aha, not an item I often buy however with the kids on school holidays, I thought why not and to be honest, totally mesmerised by the colour and texture it was actually what inspired me to start creating!

Styled and Photographed by: Kim La Ferla
Beaded Collection Fruit Bowl

Method: Place White Chocolate Melts into a heatproof bowl. Sit over a pan of barely simmering water (a bain-marie) and allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally. Whilst chocolate is melting line a slice pan with baking paper and combine all ingredients in a bowl. Pour melted chocolate over the ingredients once coated transfer to the slice pan and refrigerate until set.

Styled and Photographed by: Kim La Ferla
Melmaison Cup & Saucer set

EAT, ENJOY and LOVE the luxuries LIFE has on OFFER to EVERYONE. Sometimes all it takes it Gratitude for that we have and all that we already are! With much LOVE,

Kim La Ferla
Founder – figsandfeta.com.au
Editor – Figs & Feta Lifestyle Magazine

Blue & White for the Christmas Table!

There is something about Blue & White that so many people love. Is it the freshness of the Blue and White or is it the story that Blue and White ceramics tell?

As an Interior Decorator, Blue and White is still a huge favourite of mine although used in so many of the spaces I decorated. It was always so easy to place, it added character and at times became the artwork because of the intricate story each piece told.

In decorating although patterned Blue and White acts as a neutral background giving us the opportunity to contrast our favourite colours particularly for our Christmas dining inspiration.

Blue and White with White Flowers
Styled by Kim La Ferla
Decor by Figsandfeta.com.au

A simple way to contrast the Blue and White is the use of fresh flowers for the Christmas Table. Evenly spaced in the centre of the table I’ve used Melmaison Ginger Jars as vases.
Your selection and colour of flowers are a perfect reflection of your personality. I take any opportunity to be a little extravagant and Christmas for me is an ideal time!
Everyone loves to be and feel spoilt. Being around such beautiful decor and the colours of nature genuinely make you feel special, and so elevates the happiness in the room.
By now you must know I truly LOVE FANCY!

Blue and White with Pink Flowers
Styled by Kim La Ferla
Decor and Diningware by Figsandfeta.com.au

In decorating we often layer to create depth and detail. On the Christmas table layering creates excitement.
I’ve run the gorgeous white linen, and lace handmade table mats vertically instead of horizontally and dropping them off the end of the table to accentuate your guest’s unique space.
At the same time, the placemats become an interval table runner as they meet towards the middle of the table. I’ve opted not to use a tablecloth to allow the beauty and colour of the dining table top to add depth and character.
Continuing the layers, I’ve set out the gorgeous Beaded Collection tableware range by Figs & Feta separated with a linen napkin and topped with the amazing place name card.

Blue and White with Lime Green Flowers
Styled by Kim La Ferla
Decor and Diningware by Figsandfeta.com.au

Making your guest feel even more special is the ‘Keep Sake’ table name. The Blue & White Porcelain Ginger Jar Decoration is a gift that they will hold onto forever and could be a part of their next Christmas Tree!
Christmas is a beautiful time of year to take the time to share with your guests what they truly mean to you.
At the back of the name card, I’ve let “Danielle” know in one word what she means to me and what I see in her…Courage!

Blue & White with Ribbons
Styled by Kim La Ferla
Decor and Diningare by Figsandfeta.com.au

Finally, beautiful ribbon adds yet another layer to your festive decorations.
To give the room more movement and FANCY, I place beautiful ribbons around so many decorative pieces on festive occasions. Cake stands, vases, birdcages, you name it!
The choice in colour of ribbon is a fantastic way to tie in all your decorations to make a well-decorated room.

Enjoy taking the time to decorate your Christmas Festivities.
Wishing you and your family and friends a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2019.
Much LOVE, Kim La Ferla