Christmas at IKEA

I love IKEA! Great design at affordable prices and so many ideas! IKEA has truly turned on the festive charm this year with a huge range of Christmas decorations, serving ware and ideas for decking out the house.

Sure, you came in to look at kitchen layouts but you know you're going to leave with a armful of other miscellaneous items, why fight it? Here's my top five list of ideas to look out for on your next trip.

Kitchen setting
Baking tins and rolling pins
Cakes and cocktails
Santa plate setting
Outdoor table setting

New in the Newtown Hotel

After years of seeing the Newtown Hotel boarded up (except for its brief stint as the Freaky Tiki), it was great to see the pub open its doors once again under the Keystone Group (also owners of Cargo, The Winery and Gazebo). The hotel has been painted in a brave and eye-catching palette of greens.

I popped in for a quick drink after work and there's plenty to catch your eye and and make this an appealing, new place to meet with friends. Upstairs, it is called 'The Animal' and has been kitted out by Coco Republic Interior Design. So many fantastic touches, graffiti, a private dining stripper pole, a photo booth, pop art and even a caravan! Definitely looking forward to having more drinks on the beautiful new balcony overlooking King Street and tasting the Greek eats.

Fab food trucks

I admit it, I'm a food truck stalker. Their food is delicious, exciting and fresh. I've managed to hunt down five of the 10 trucks on the streets of Sydney. I've not seen inside one (except for on Top Chef, does that count?) but I suspect there must be some serious kitchen design genius going on inside to be able to whip out those tasty morsels with such limited space.

Let me show you the outside of three of these trucks. First up there's Eat Art Truck, run by Stuart McGill (former Tetsuya’s sous chef) and Brenton Balicki (former Quay chef). The truck is a canvas with regularly changing exterior courtesy of talented street artists. And those pulled pork buns are OMG-amazing and I've eaten a lot of BBQ in Texas. See more photos on the Eat Art Truck Facebook page.

Eat Art Truck during VIVID 2012, artwork by  Phibs .

Eat Art Truck during VIVID 2012, artwork by Phibs.

The second truck is the Veggie Patch Van, which aims to source fresh, local produce for a seasonal menu. A collaboration between design firm TMOD and restaurant Yulli's, it's not surprising that there's more to this truck than meets the eye. On the outside, the truck is covered with re-used wood, there are solar panels covering the entire roof for power and apparently vegetable oil runs the engine! Spreading the 'paddock to plate' sustainability message, the food truck is super stylish and draws its inspiration from a farm house surrounded by a veggie patch. Check out those herb boxes! 

Veggie Patch Van
Other side of the Veggie Patch Van

Lastly, Tsuru food truck reflects its Asian flavour with a graphic fishscale pattern contrasted with red branding. Tsuru is crane in Japanese and a nice touch is the addition of a paper crane with each meal. The crispy chicken wings are a definite winner!

Tsuru food truck
Crispy Wings

These 10 food trucks are part of City of Sydney's year-long trial. Make sure you get out and support them so they stick around! Follow their whereabouts on Twitter, Facebook or using the iPhone or Google Play app.

The Non-Flying Carpet

Sergio Mannino's Non-Flying Carpet is a handmade, modular wool rug created in Nepal by professional artisans. Launched at Wanted Design 2012, this rug can be laid in different configurations and is designed to recreate the look and feel of a courtyard.

As fun and quirky as it is, it would be easy to relegate this to a kids room, but why should they have all the fun? With a few accessories, this rug would make quite the statement in a sun room or informal lounge. Think about outdoor furniture that can be used indoors, organic shapes and a good serve of real greenery (as opposed to the wool kind).

Clockwise: Cote Sud Chair (68 x 55 x 98cm), $545 polished,  Le Forge . Dachshund Lamp (20.5" x 6" x 13.5"), USD$79,  Urban Outfitters . Non-Flying Carpet (six pieces, width 12' max, depth 9' max), USD$7,800,  Sergio Mannino Studio . Cushions Livingstones Smarin (various sizes),  Vincci Style . Serax Collections Pantone Universe flower pots (XXL 38 x 38 x 30cm), $197.95,  Beautiful Spaces - Inside and Out . Non-Flying Rug first spotted in  Furnishing International .

Clockwise: Cote Sud Chair (68 x 55 x 98cm), $545 polished, Le Forge. Dachshund Lamp (20.5" x 6" x 13.5"), USD$79, Urban Outfitters. Non-Flying Carpet (six pieces, width 12' max, depth 9' max), USD$7,800, Sergio Mannino Studio. Cushions Livingstones Smarin (various sizes), Vincci Style. Serax Collections Pantone Universe flower pots (XXL 38 x 38 x 30cm), $197.95, Beautiful Spaces - Inside and Out. Non-Flying Rug first spotted in Furnishing International.

Pick of the bunch

I cannot tell you how excited I was to find out that Daiso had opened a new store in Sydney! What's Daiso, you ask? It's a 100円 (hyaku en) shop, the Japanese version of the $2 shop. At Daiso everything is $2.80 and there's a large range of household goods, Japanese cuteness and ingenuity.

I just couldn't go past the sponge section. Everyone needs cleaning products, right? These 'pick and use' melamine sponges are the awesomest!

Banana sponges
Grape sponges
Grapes sponges, picked

I also got a 'Dakko sponge'. Dakko is a Japanese word meaning to cuddle or hold. I can't tell if it's a frog or a bear. Maybe it's a frogbear. In any case, SO cute. As the packaging says, 'Very soft. Three layers create luxurious bubbles.' Almost makes me want to do the dishes. Almost.

Dakko sponge

Very cheap and cheerful way to brighten up the kitchen. Boyfriend was overjoyed to see a frogbear stuck to the tap.

Get your own $2.80 goodies if you're able to visit a Daiso Japan store and let me know if you find any other gems.