Creativity Corner Vive La Différence

Vive La Différence – Curiosity

March 10, 2014

What glorious weather we had over the weekend and I wonder whether Spring has sprung? Today it’s another Vive la Différence Monday. Time certainly flies when you’re having fun!

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Mel, who authors Armoire, Pegs and Casserole. Mel describes herself as “a Sydney girl living in Auckland, New Zealand with my French husband and our three little children.”

For new readers:

The concept: each month I will invite one blogger. They will create and showcase one image/vignette. There are 20 themes and 20 objects for my guest to choose from. They choose 1 theme and up to 3 objects. I will then create an image/vignette based on their choice. Everyone has free reign on how to create the image. It can be simple photography, a drawing, a collage, a hand-painted image, a styled table top… the choice is yours! The fun part is that you, my readers, will see 2 versions inspired by the same subject matter. There is no right or wrong. There’s just ‘different’.

Mel chose the theme: Curiosity with the objects: Food, Magazines and Crockery.  Here is Mel’s Vignette.

For as long as I’ve been able to cook a meal, I’ve collected tear sheets from cuisine magazines with all of my favourite recipes over the years. Before children, my husband and I used to have regular date nights at home where we’d make a beautiful three course meal with matching wines from our newly discovered recipes. You’d find things on our menu like Duck Vindaloo or Triple chocolate Praline Tart – everything was made from scratch. It was so much fun to do and it would always include a perfectly dressed table and of course us looking our best!

Now with three very young children we barely have time to prepare something so elaborate unless we have people coming over – although it still doesn’t compare to what we once whipped up. I still find so much joy in cooking and discovering new recipes, albeit in a more practical way, so it took me an entire second to choose curiosity as my theme with food, magazines and crockery as my objects for Vive la Différence.

Thank you Tina for inviting me to be part of this fun series!

Vive la Différence - mel chesneau - colourliving___________________________________________________________________________________

I have this strong belief that cultivating an inquiring mind can help us lead a happier and healthier life.

It all started with first meeting my art teacher at Boarding School when I was a tender 15 years old. Mike O’Connor ended up being the most important figure in my world. He didn’t just teach me art. He believed in me and taught me to be curious, to not take NO for an answer, question everything and stand up for myself. He was one of those rare teachers, a true mentor who dished out tough love but was caring and authentic in every way. He once said to me: ‘Tina, you’ll be young at heart even at 90’.

As an adult I often attributed these traits of being curious and standing up for myself to Mike’s wonderful teaching of such essential life skills. I was fortunate enough to stay in contact with Mike and his family. It was hugely important for me to do so. Whenever I would tell him how his positive influence enriches my life today, he would embarrassingly shrug it off and mumble that it had little to do with him.

My Vignette is about my curiosity, how it constantly grows. The tree, like Mike, symbolises strength and wisdom.

Mike’s wife wrote to let me know that Mike passed away before Christmas. I was very saddened. I hadn’t spoken to him in a couple of years. He was very private and wouldn’t let many people know he was ill. He was a wonderful person and I will always cherish his memory….I dedicate ‘The Curiosity Tree’ to him.

R.I.P dearest Mike.

Vive la Différence - tina bernstein - colourliving

Thank you Mel for being part of Vive la Différence and sharing this lovely pre-children anecdote. “Duck Vindaloo or Triple chocolate Praline Tart”, sounds fascinating!

Vive la Différence will be back on 7th April.

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  • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey March 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Hi Mel. Kudos to you & your husband. Those date nights sound wonderful… “…it would always include a perfectly dressed table and of course us looking our best”. How romantic. I love it! I spy many great ingredients in your styling, bread, butter and eggs being three firm favourites. I go though phases of being curious about food, such as baking. When I spend time doing this, it’s always fun and fulfilling.

    Tina, your ‘curiosity tree’ and its dedication are heartfelt. Thanks for sharing that story. Perhaps ‘London’ should be a leaf on the tree 🙂

    Thank you ladies x

    • Reply tina March 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      Isn’t that cool? Date nights at home, all dressed up with Gourmet food in the comfort of your surroundings.

      Hope you’ll do more baking Gerard. First off it’s good to get your hands dirty and ‘create’ and secondly it’s so much fun with a side effect of ‘pride’:-)
      Best thing after that is scoffing it all up:-)

      Thank you lovely Gerard. I didn’t know how to mark it on my blog. This seemed the perfect moment!
      Haha. You know, the titles were just meant to be suggestive BUT you’re absolutely right and I have duly changed it…
      so thank you my friend x

      • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey March 10, 2014 at 3:33 pm

        I’m very glad to see you added ‘London’. Makes complete sense as part of your curiosity tree 🙂 And you’re welcome darlin’. Plus yes… I really should get baking again xx

        • Reply tina March 10, 2014 at 6:12 pm

          Totally! I’m such a London fan.. thank you so much for pointing it out…
          And yes, get baking Mister:-) x

    • Reply Mel March 11, 2014 at 8:26 am

      Hi Gerard, those date nights were great – now we need a babysitter to take them away for the night:) Mel

  • Reply Jocelyn Casey March 10, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Hello Meg and Tina,

    Once again, I am reminded at how different we all truly are. This series is a true testament to reflection and perspective and how it is so different for all of us. Meg, I enjoyed your vignette very much for its authentic feel, I feel like I understand your passion for cooking just by your creation! How wonderful is that? Tina, your tree of strength and wisdom touches my heart. Mike sounds like a wonderful man. Would you call him a mentor or was he more of a teacher?

    Thank you ladies xx

    • Reply tina March 10, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      When I was growing up it was a hard lesson for me to learn that people are and see things differently. I would think that many people struggle with this. It’s only nice to embrace our differences and honour them in each of us. Most of us are our own worst critics. That’s what makes blogging and particularly this series so interesting. I love receiving everyone’s interpretations of that month’s theme and to me it’s a window into their soul:-)

      Hmm, interesting question. I definitely know Mike was a teacher. He was opinionated, outspoken, knew his mind and shared it with his students. He stayed a teacher until he retired in every sense. Mike and his wife adopted numerous children from difficult and deprived backgrounds and I always had such admiration for them. I suppose Mike, to me, was both a mentor and teacher all in one… really the best sort and I owe him gratitude for everything he taught me.

      Without him I would have ended up in Oxford or Cambridge, reading languages (my parents wish). He encouraged me to build a portfolio (with his help) and apply to Art College. I cannot thank him enough for teaching me to be authentic, curious, think creatively, to see inspiration in everything and to speak my mind!

      Thank you Jocelyn xx

    • Reply Mel March 11, 2014 at 8:27 am

      Thank you for your lovely comment Jocelyn and I agree that it’s such a wonderful series. Mel:)

  • Reply Anya Jensen March 10, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Hello ladies, again an amazing VLD – love how Meg and hubby made elaborate date nights with 3 course meals and all the trimmings. We love to cook nice recipes and try something new every now and again. Well done.:) And Tina – what a marvelous person Mike was – a true mentor, and what a fab person that grows peoples minds instead of limiting them. Bravo. Happy Monday lovely peeps xxx

    • Reply tina March 10, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      Check that out, right? Can you picture it? I can!
      I bet it’s harder now that you all have kids… but am also sure that kids that grow up with parents who love food will learn to eat well when they grow up!

      Oh yes, Mike was special.
      Don’t get me wrong. he had tough love, the best kind of education. I had to think, grow, work at it. He would be there to encourage you and hold hands but he didn’t
      suffer fools lightly (funny, nor do I as an adult now). You had to put in the sweat… oh, but the outcome… it was so worth it.
      Thanks lovely xx

    • Reply Mel March 11, 2014 at 8:28 am

      Thanks Anya, hope that you have many happy cooking nights! Mel:)

  • Reply Mel March 11, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Tina thanks so much for having me! Oh what a wonderful story, I love hearing stories about people that helped shaped others lives and at the time they would have had no idea that they were doing it. You should send that little story and a print out of your gorgeous curiosity tree to Mike’s wife, I’m sure she’d treasure it. M xx

    • Reply tina March 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      Mel, it’s my absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for taking part and sharing that lovely and intimate story with us. I do have all sorts of fantasies now… what did they dress up as? What happened afterwards? Am only kidding:-))

      Ha. I know… Mike could never accept the compliment! I was really shaken up by the news that he died… I might send Smith (Mike’s wife) this post.

      Great to have you here on Colourliving xx

      • Reply Mel March 13, 2014 at 1:45 am

        Oh la la – well my husband’s French… Ha!

  • Reply Catherine Bedson March 11, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    How wonderful that you and G got the chance to indulge your passion for cooking and beautiful food with these date nights Mel. So much fun and lovely for your relationship. Ahh things do change when we have children. I can see you’ve passed your love of food and beautiful things onto your children with yours and their Grandmothers cooking when she visits.

    Tina your story about Mike is so special and has really shaped the person you are today. Everybody should be lucky enough to have a ‘Mike’ in their childhood. Someone who really gets you & is willing to nurture your spark. So sorry to hear of his passing, he’s forever in your heart. Thank you Mel & Tina for a poignant VLD. xx

    PS: Tina, glad you put London there wouldn’t have been complete without it. Xxx

    • Reply Mel March 12, 2014 at 2:15 am

      Thanks Catherine! Yes our children are already real gourmands! M xx

    • Reply tina March 12, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Now you’re kids are grown up, you can indulge in all the cooking you want… oh, yes, you started a blog about food:-))
      Who knows, Mel might follow when her kids grow up. I do believe that food and design are a passion and it has to be instilled from a young age.

      I wish that everyone had a ‘Mike’ figure in their lives. Some children get it from their parents or grandparents. I wasn’t that lucky so Mike was super important in my development!

      Hahaha. I know, I don’t think I will ever live down the missing out of “London’… 🙂 xx

  • Reply caroline @trend-daily March 11, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    How wonderful to have experienced a teacher like that in your life Tina. Mel-I remember those days when cooking was a treat-I think we will get them back again when the kids are older and we’re less knackered!! I love your tear sheet mood board in your shot too. Another lovely VLD Tina and Mel! xxxx

    • Reply Mel March 12, 2014 at 2:17 am

      Oh yes, until that moment arrives, lets go eat out (at only the best of course) M xx

    • Reply tina March 12, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it xx

  • Reply Igor March 11, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    One theme and two completely different stories. It always is a surprise to see how we approach topics differently. Sometimes there were similar approaches in the VLD series, but most of the times the two stylings differ tremendously – just like in this case. I really like the food styling by Mel – it looks very authentic as though she was just cooking and snapped a pic. Your work Tina is completely different and speaks for itself but makes even more sense after reading your personal story. Great work ladies!

    • Reply Mel March 12, 2014 at 2:18 am

      Thank you Igor, this really is a fab series. Tina, this would make a great book idea don’t you think? M xx

    • Reply tina March 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      Thanks Igor. You’re right. The choice lies with me as I first see my guest’s submissions. Sometimes I take a similar stance, sometimes I shake things up or it fits in with something dear to me, like this one… whichever way, I hope that there’s always an element of surprise and we continue to show how the same theme is interpreted differently by 2 people. Who knows, one day I might get 5 people to interpret one theme… would be fun:-)

  • Reply geraldine@littlebigbell March 11, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Tina, I remembered you telling me about Mike a while back over tea. So beautiful how you’ve held him in your heart and drawn on that tree what inspires and makes you grow as a person. It was the same how my dad inspired me and it was only after he passed away that I realised I should draw on his strength to explore the real me by being creative.

    Mel, I love your interpretation of curiosity and enjoyed reading your story. I love the idea of your date nights and cooking up elaborate recipes. I can relate to the kids part. Before, we used to make pasta from scratch, now with limited time it has to be the ready made ones. a beautifully put together vignette and photo.

    • Reply Mel March 12, 2014 at 2:19 am

      Oh pasta from scratch! That I’ve never done but have been meaning to. Thanks Geraldine. xx

    • Reply tina March 12, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      Did I? I remember you kindly responding to my tweet when I heard about his death and announced it on Twitter!
      I think it’s really important to have role models in your life, alive or not and draw strength from them!

      I also have to ask… pasta from scratch? Impressive!

      • Reply geraldine@littlebigbell March 12, 2014 at 8:06 pm

        At Brasserie Zedel, you mentioned a teacher who inspired you, except I didn’t know then he was called Mike. 😉

        • Reply tina March 12, 2014 at 8:52 pm

          Ahhhh, well remembered! I think I often talk about him:-))

  • Reply Carole Poirot March 12, 2014 at 8:39 am

    All I remember is “Triple Chocolate Praline Tart”…….. 😉

    I can so relate to collecting recipes, being curious about food, trying to come up with new ways to use ingredients and experimenting (sometimes unsuccessfully) in the kitchen. I think that staying curious throughout our lives is not only important, but keeps us from becoming stuck in our old ways and ageing before our time. Having a great teacher early on is very fortunate and can help to set you on the right path for life. Tina, you’ve been very lucky to have had somebody like Mike in your life and I believe that his teachings will live on in pupils like you. xo

    • Reply tina March 12, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      Hahaha, of course you would, you French foodie:-)

      Aww, that’s a very sweet thing to say… ‘and I believe that his teachings will live on in pupils like you’.. I sincerely hope so and try hard to pass it on whenever I can! xx

    • Reply Mel March 13, 2014 at 9:47 am

      Oh it was so good Carole and it took forever to make..! Mel x

  • Reply Gudy Herder March 12, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Both stories are truly inspiring, lovely and so nice to read. They encourage to cook, spend quality time with your beloved ones, believe in yourself and never take a NO personal. And ask again and again until you get a yes! What a great post again. Thank you Mel and Tina!

    • Reply tina March 12, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      Thank you Gudy. Glad it inspired you:-) And learning to ‘never take a NO personal’ isn’t easy at first but with practice it gets easier. x

    • Reply Mel March 13, 2014 at 9:48 am

      You summed it up beautifully Gudy. Thanks dear! Mel x

  • Reply Doris March 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Another great VLD ladies! Thank you Mel, I love your mood board and the story behind it. The date nights sound fabulous and I also identify with not having the time for being able to cook a decadent meal as I also have a little one. I know that it will come back one day. I also collect recipes from different sources, I have a folder of them all including recipes that I got off my mother when I sat her down one day during a visit to Oz to tell me how to make my favourite dishes when I came back to the UK.
    Tina, your story about Mike made me smile. People like that have a habit of leaving a mark on you forever. It must have been wonderful to have such an inspiring person in your life like that. Thanks for another thought provoking post. xD

    • Reply tina March 12, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Thank you Doris… ‘cook a decadent meal’ sounds so wonderful. It reminds me of ‘Babette’s Feast’ and ‘The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, And Her Lover’..
      I’m also thinking that with or without children it isn’t that easy these days to make time for decadent cooking. I think people like to go to restaurants for those..
      I will always prefer cooking at home!

      You’re right, people like Mike leave a legacy that they are probably not even aware of. xx

    • Reply Mel March 13, 2014 at 9:50 am

      Oh I love that you did that with your mother Doris! I hope that you’re making them now? Thank you! Mel x

  • Reply Holly March 12, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Very very cool ladies!

    Mel, your vignette is very enticing. I can feel the energy of your date nights right through it!

    Tina, how appropriate that your curiosity tree is inspired by Mike. I know he is very special to you and he would be so proud to see this fabulous illustration and this VLD series and all the creativity and hard work you put into this blog.

    Beautiful sentiments and amazing representations from both of you. What a great VLD 😀


    • Reply tina March 12, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      It’s great to have date nights, right?

      Ha, I wonder… would have been great to blog about him. Mike has the most incredible ceramics collection ever. Hima nd Smith were also avid Art Collectors. I nearly dropped dead when I saw a Bacon Tryptich hanging on their wall. They both invested in great art and also had the most beautiful gardens ever. I’ll never forget when I once visited for Lunch, I walked into the most beautiful wild garden with more trees I had ever seen. On top of it all I had never met a couple so devoted and in love with each other for so many years. Truly inspirational.

      Thanks Holly x

    • Reply Mel March 13, 2014 at 9:51 am

      Oh thank you Holly! Gosh, maybe I’m going to get a reputation about these date nights 😉 Mel

  • Reply Louise - 30s Magazine March 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    wow so different and both so compelling. Sorry to hear about your friend Tina. And love the date nights story.

    • Reply tina March 17, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      Thanks Louise… ha, date nights sound great, right?

    • Reply Mel April 1, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Thanks Louise. Very fun times, now we just go out! M x

  • Reply Colour Living’s Vive la Difference | Armoire, Pegs and Casserole March 16, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    […] may have seen on the social network channels last week that I was a guest over at Colour Living ? Tina has a regular challenge called  ”Vive la Difference” where a new guest each […]

  • Reply monsterscircus March 17, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Such a wonderful job Ladies! Just love when you talk about your affection for food and fantastic ingredients dear Mel, such an amazing styling! And for you Tina, your visual contribute to your dear friend Mike is marvellous and he sounds like a very amazing and inspiring man. Thumbs up for a great post!

    • Reply tina March 19, 2014 at 11:08 am

      Thank you so much. Glad you enjoyed it…

    • Reply Mel April 1, 2014 at 10:15 am

      Thanks Mette for your sweet comment. M x

  • Reply alisonsye March 20, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Delicious. Mel, at some point in the future your children may decide to go into the kitchen and cook for you. Mine do, and I didn’t see it coming at all.
    Tina – love your tree!

    • Reply tina March 28, 2014 at 11:51 am

      Ha. I bet that’s what the parents of Jamie Oliver think:-)
      Love that your kids cook for you….

      Thanks Alison xx

    • Reply Mel April 1, 2014 at 10:16 am

      Oh that will be incredible when that day comes! Already they’re so interested and help out. Mel x

  • Reply Lena March 24, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Oops, how did I miss this? But better late than never! I like that your vignettes are so different and that each one tells a beautiful story. Date night at home- perfect, what a good idea for the next time my children sleep over at my mom’s. I don’t want to wait until they’ve moved out!
    And I think your art teacher was very right about you, Young At Heart -Tina!

    • Reply tina March 28, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Good idea not to wait till your kids have moved out for a date night:-))

      Ha. I think he might have been. Thanks Lena!

    • Reply Mel April 1, 2014 at 10:17 am

      Oh good idea Lena, you should do it – I need to move back to Sydney to take advantage of that. Soon we can arrange sleep overs for all on the same night. M x

  • Reply Mimi April 18, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Dear Tina, I was fascinated reading “vive la difference’. This blog is amazing. So thrilling, stimulating, colourful, beautiful and full of passion and deep feelings – like you :-). So blessed you had this amazing teacher Mike O’Connor in your life who seemed to have known you so very well. May he rest in peace.
    Mel, also loved your post. I am planning to cook a romantic dinner soon (first in 19 years of being parents… ) thank you.

    • Reply tina April 19, 2014 at 7:44 am

      Welcome to Colourliving Mimi..
      Thank you and glad you enjoyed it:-)

      Ha. I think it’s great you’re going to cook that romantic dinner. Is it really 19 years ago since I came to your wedding? Wow!!!! Time flies and it was lovely to see that photo at Dani’s Birthday. x

  • Reply Simon August 20, 2015 at 1:07 am


    I stumbled over your post whilst searching to see what Mike O’Connor had been up to in the last near 20 years since I last saw him, he was a great man. He taught me a lot too when I was at CH, near Horsham. I received a lot of tough love from him (but also encouragement). He sent me off to an interview at Camberwell with one painting and some photos of my sculptures and ceramics, terrifying but taught me to stand by my work, and I received an unconditional offer. His attitude to people affected me a lot, in a positive way, I too was saddened by his death and am a better man for knowing him.

    • Reply tina August 23, 2015 at 11:05 pm

      Hello Simon,
      How nice that you stumbled over here…
      Yes, Mike was a great teacher in so many ways and I’m
      laughing that he sent you off to Camberwell like that.

      He did the same to me. I had never done Art and he helped me to develop some kind of portfolio and sent me to Central St Martins as my first interview. He did give me the confidence to talk myself into getting a place there:-)

      I love that you feel you’re a better man for knowing him. I so share that sentiment.

      Thank you for your comment!

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