Thursday, December 24, 2015

Let The Feasting Begin

This year, I have been a terrible blogger. Sporadic, lazy and frankly some incredibly dull content. I doubt I'll be much better in 2016.

Tomorrow - as I'm sure you are all well aware - is Christmas. I'm less about the gifts this year, and all about the food and champagne. Tomorrow I'll be kicking things off with blueberry pancakes and croissants with Handsome Hubby.

After some gift unwrapping and probably some mildly panicked cooking, we're heading to my brother's place for Christmas lunch and all the mayhem that goes with 3 and 5 year old girls being lavished with gifts, love and loads of sugar.

Following that will be Christmas dinner with Hubby's family. Hubby's mother is basically a chef without a restaurant. She has never cooked the same meal twice, and her skill and generosity in the kitchen is unrivalled. Trust me when I say that when you bring a plate to her house, it is quite the stressful experience and one should not be offended if your plate is untouched. Even after surviving breast cancer treatment this year, she has managed to never complain (even when Hubby's dad cooked which was a challenge for all of us) and always been her caring self even when you could see it was all a bit much.

After seeing some of my very good friends lose their Dad to cancer this year, we know how lucky we are to have Hubby's mum still with us. Irrespective of the challenges we deal with, Christmas is probably the best time to count our blessings - be it family, friends, great prospects for the future, a Chanel handbag or simply the greatest blessing of good health and life. I hope you have a really gorgeous Christmas. Let your plate and cup runneth over.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Are you organised? Have you bought everyone on your list what you expect will be their favourite present over all other gifts this Christmas Day? No pressure. This year I am leaning toward utility  - tickets to tennis grand finals, shoes that demand to be worn on the daily, chocolate, gourmet pasta and pasta sauce sets etc. I have been finding "stuff" so abhorrent of late, that I find it difficult to purchase gifts when I know all the people in my life have basically everything they really need, and that anything I give them will just sit with all that other dusty, semi-useful, irregularly used stuff, that it makes me feel a little sick to my stomach. Better that it be food, experiences and creators of memories in my opinion... Sarah Wilson's, too.

It reminds of a Charles Bukowski line, which I think I've mentioned previously:
The less I needed, 
The better I felt.

Of course, this rule against stuff doesn't apply to tiny nieces, for they are just at the beginning of their stuff-collecting, and tiaras, tutus and adorable swimsuits are just the ticket from a doting Aunt.

However, if there is a man in your life who is attached to his phone, doesn't carry a man-bag, and likes a pocket square, then I think J.Crew and Jimmy Fallon have come up with the perfect, utilitarian gift: the Pocket Dial.

Hilarious. Purchase it here.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Innovations for the Film/Podcast/TV Series Tragic

Inadvertently telling someone the ending of a film or TV series, or giving away a major twist in a storyline is one of those things that, depending on your friend's demeanour, can spark either fuming, flame-spitting rage or (worse) mortally wounded you-stole-a-baby's-lolly, puppy-dog faces - possibly even tears depending on how attached to the narrative they are. Sometimes it's intentional (and evil) when you drop spoilers out there, other times it is a genuine mistake.

Last night, Handsome Hubby went to the midnight screening of Star Wars (geek alert) along with not only 20 of his closest mates, but also most of Australia it would seem based on social media, TV and radio this morning. He mentioned that one of his mates in the Northern hemisphere had made a semi-cryptic Star Wars reference on Facebook that part-way through the film made sense and was also something of a spoiler which, as Hubby commented, was almost a "de-friending offence". WOAH. That's serious.

But then I thought about that time I made a comment about Will Gardiner's fate at the end of a season finale The Good Wife episode, and the vitriol that came spewing at me from one particular friend, and I realised that you are skating on the edges of friendship when you make such pronouncements on social forums of any kind (including the oldest forum of all, in-person) - no matter how cryptic you think your statement is! And let's face it, there's always going to be a friend who makes a non-cryptic comment against your cryptic post, and it blows the storyline wide open and before you know it, friends are at war.

General thoughts on people who take pleasure in issuing spoilers via social media

Today I am issuing an edict to Zuckerberg and his Facebook-coding illuminati to go out there and resolve this first-world crisis and devise a filter which enables you to filter out stories and status updates regarding [insert guilty pleasure / TV, film, podcast addiction] so you may never have an ending spoilt again. In this age of NetFlix and binge TV series watching - where no one is really watching at the same time as anyone else, this invention must be developed. The sooner the better!

It was so hard on my poor little thumb as I furiously scrolled through Facebook in April this year to not see Mad Men spoilers before I had the opportunity to lock down access to that final season* (thank you, Qantas in-flight entertainment). More immediately, I am currently listening to the second Serial podcast, and finding it very hard to not read all those damn articles about Bowe Bergdahl that keep popping up in my newsfeed.

By the by, I believe this ingenious filter I have devised (that I'm sure no one has ever conceived of before), could also be used for blocking stories and photos certain people in your life you would prefer not to know a dang thing about but whom politeness dictates you cannot defriend (I know there is an Unfollow filter, but does that block photos of them with your friends? NO). This is so ingenious, I can't believe it doesn't already exist.

You may have a newborn baby and generous paternity leave to attend to Zuckerberg, but I think this is far more deserving of your attention. After all, friendships are at stake here.

* It was excellent, harrowing, beautiful. Please watch.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Shoesday Foxes Den

No longer just the domain of Eskimos and Mongolians (this is a very big assumption I'm making here), fox fur shoes are making an appearance on New York's city streets. Logic dictates that if it happens on New York's fashion scene, it will happen elsewhere (we learned this very important lesson in The Devil Wears Prada).

In particular, Jimmy Choo has released a number of fox-fur pom-pom bedazzled shoes just in time for Christmas, which are perfect for your back-up singers at the annual Christmas carol event.

OMG are these shoes cerulean? Segway alert!
Not to be outdone, slippers are also featuring what I can only assume is this super warm, super soft new material which is likely to enrage animal activists globally. After all, when we say "fox" in this context we are most certainly not saying "faux".

Slippers courtesy of Brother Vellies

Just one last pair, in case you weren't convinced.

If you don't like fox on your feet, there is also the foxy fox fur coat to consider.

Perhaps don't wear your fox coat with your fox shoes lest you be confused for, well, a fox. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Breaking News

In somewhat dubious fashion news, it can be reported that the Ugly Christmas Rashie - Australia's answer to the ugly Christmas jumper (infamous thanks to Colin Firth's reindeer jumper in Bridget Jones' Diary is:

  1. A thing; and
  2. Sold out.
For those who love themselves a tragic rashie for their wardrobe, it will be available again next Christmas. Better get on that waiting list.

Tis the season

Suffice to say, Colin wore it better.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Wedding Dress Envy

Sofia Vergara wed ridiculously good looking werewolf / male stripper Joe Manganiello over the weekend in possibly one of the most-Instagrammed-by-a-bride celebrity weddings of all time. Colombian glamour-puss Sofia encased her curves in a white lace gown designed by Zuhair Murad (the brief was "sexy", which I think we can all safely agree was achieved).

 Vergara quickly changed from Princess Bride to Slinky Bride as she removed her detachable tulle skirt (FABULOUS!), to reveal the slim line, all-lace affair below.

I have mentioned in a previous post drooling over a Zuhair Murad gown that I had originally hoped to do something similar with my own wedding dress, but decided against it when the rather significant cost was quoted (I was a frugal bride!). While I still totally adore my wedding dress, when I look at the spectacular Sofia I am so glad to see what I had envisaged materialise so majestically. Who could achieve that but the daughter of a French lace distributor or a woman who cares not what she spends on her wedding dress? I think she looked utterly radiant, totally beautiful and madly in love. Just the way every bride should look.

To ease the sting of any wedding dress envy I may have had, it was my 2nd wedding anniversary yesterday and a chance to reflect on the real reason for a wedding. Don't get me wrong, the dress is important, but the person you marry is where it's at. Every day I feel grateful for the man I married. He is so kind, so considerate, so loving, so supportive, so dashing-in-a-suit and he makes me laugh. And that's really what it's all about.

I had the slim dress below the tulle - just not all that lace, and the tulle didn't detach. 

French lace... So divine

Happy days, big love
Weddings really are the best - especially your own. It remains the best day of my life. There is something very beautiful about being married. I highly recommend it.

Sofia's wedding pics courtesy of her Instagram account. My wedding pics courtesy of the extraordinarily talented and excellent Todd Hunter-McGaw. See more here.

Friday, November 20, 2015

As Another New High Street Store Opens in the Queen Street Mall...

An angel loses its wings. Or, more accurately, the joy of being overseas and snapping up bargains at international Zara, H&M and Uniqlo stores loses its lustre.

Of course it is fabulous for all Brisbanites who enjoy shopping that these stores have spread their wings to the Sunshine State, but a tiny part of me knows that I will rarely set foot in these shopping meccas - driven away by the teams of squealing teens and the racks of now utterly unappealing mass-manufactured clothes shoved onto cheap plastic coat hangers.

Then again. That brave, indefatigable consumer in me rises up and whispers ... "But you need new shoes". See you at Zara.

You can always count on Zara for the staples.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Finally - Banana Bread That's Not Cake

Not that we don't just love our cake, of course...

After my lifestyle retreat - which was fabulous (more on that later) - I really did notice the difference after removing sugar, alcohol and - yes, GASP - caffeine from my diet as well as adding a LOT more vegetables than this little meat-eater would ordinarily eat.  While I already eat pretty well, and try to limit my consumption of nasties (except the daily coffee ritual and my ongoing love affair with champagne), I certainly do look at recipes in a different light. 

I love to cook, and I tend to avoid highly-sugared meals anyway, but it's hard to have your friends over for brunch without loading them up with sugar. So here are some lovely options for you to consider that won't undo all the hard work you did at yoga the night before... ;o)

Healthy Banana Bread

This one is great any time of day, best served warm with lashings of tahini or coconut yoghurt. 

4 ripe bananas 
¼ cup coconut oil, melted 
¼ cup almond milk 
2 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 tablespoon rice malt syrup 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg 
½ cup quinoa flakes 
½ cup coconut flour 
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder 
½ teaspoon Himalayan rock salt 
1 tablespoons chia seeds 
½ cup walnuts, chopped. 

Pre-heat oven to 165°C. 
Mash three of the bananas with a fork, add wet ingredients, stir to combine, then add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly, making sure mixture is moist.
Spoon mixture into a lightly greased mini loaf tin. Slice fourth banana lengthways and press into the top of the mixture, brush with coconut oil and bake for approximately one hour, until brown on the outside and slightly moist in the middle. 
Serve with a lashing of butter, tahini, coconut oil or coconut yoghurt.

Easy Peasy Vegan Bircher Muesli

  • 5 pitted Medjool dates, finely chopped
  • 2 cups (190g) quinoa flakes
  • 1/2 cup (50g) LSA meal
  • 1/2 cup (35g) shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup (80g) pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1/2 cup (75g) slivered or chopped pistachios, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tsp each ground cinnamon, ground cardamom and ground ginger
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Juice of 1 orange (I left this out)
  • 3 cups (750ml) good-quality sugar-free almond milk (I replaced with coconut water)
  • 1 large green apple, grated, plus extra grated to serve
  • Thinly sliced seedless green grapes and flaked coconut, to serve
Soak the dates in 1/2 cup boiling water in a bowl until needed. For everything else (bar the grapes and pistachios), you know the drill: mix everything together and soak overnight. Serve the bircher topped with grapes, flaked coconut and pistachios or simply just with seasonal fruits, honey (if you need it) and Greek yoghurt. Note - you can basically add whatever nuts you want to this - I throw in whatever I have in the cupboard. You can also substitute quinoa flakes for rolled oats. Play with quantities as much as you like.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Happy Friday: The Silly Season Takes Off

Judging by today's mini-hangover, I think it's safe to say the silly season has kicked off.

With a calendar bursting with commitments and a bunch of friends coming back from overseas for a visit in the next few months, I am feeling pretty happy about the advent of summer right now. Happy Friday! And if it's your birthday week - happy birthday! xo

Every now and again, my 30+ year old head disagrees with this statement

Thursday, October 15, 2015


To maintain her sanity, the woman of variable self-esteem should remind herself of the word "Photoshop" any time her gaze rests upon the impeccable beauty gracing the cover or advertising pages of most magazines. That's a given.

Sometimes though, photoshop or timelapse videos can be used for more intriguing purposes. This week there have been a few rock-solid examples of the informative power of photoshop. Elle UK has used photoshop as part of its #MoreWomen campaign to create the video below, illustrating the deficit of women in positions of real power around the globe.

Emma Watson looks damn lonely at the UN all by herself... As well as pointing out the gaps in representation, the campaign also aims to show that successful women are not one-off individuals: "Our new initiative #morewomen, will celebrate the global power of women's collectives in a playful, engaging way. Smart, successful women are too often portrayed as one-offs: fierce individualists concerned with their own success" Elle's campaign page reads.

"The story of how women in positions of strength continually support and empower each other is consistently ignored while the myth that we pit ourselves against each other perpetuates. We want to change this narrative in our feminism issue and create a more positive conversation – to reflect the power of women, and to support and grow each other as we push for global equality."

On a less serious note, an Instagram artist known as SaintHoax has created videos indicating the level of alteration the Kardashian women seem to have undergone to become the gorgeous, seemingly-flawless creatures they are. Saint Hoax, using the tag #pumpingupthekardashians has created time-lapse videos which show the progression of Kim, Khloe and Kylie Jenner from the time they entered the reality TV spotlight until now. It's an important reminder for us mere mortals that photoshopping, surgery and a whole lotta make-up and professional style advice goes into the visage of effortless perfection that is trotted out daily by gossip and fashion mags and which at times can become a tad unbearable for those feeling less-than-perfect as these images are beamed on to us while we sit at traffic lights, read news/fashion websites, turn on the TV or simply go grocery shopping. 

Please note, this is not to say I don't still think the Kardashians are a beautiful bunch - they surely are. It's just important to remember their beauty has been enhanced in ways those of us with boring 9-5 jobs and tonnes of commitments and bills to pay simply cannot attain for ourselves. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Shock and Dismay

Today Australia lost one of its great thinkers and an exceptionally talented writer.

I've been reading Sam de Brito as long as I can remember - his columns have long been one of my favourite time idlers. He has always been able to articulate with great ease and sensitivity many of the great challenges we face as humans, as a society and as elements of a vast ecosystem. Sam was a vegan. He was a father. He was a lover of women and he seemed determined to ensure the respectful treatment of women through his witty, acerbic All Men Are Liars column. He railed against injustice, and he provided insights into history, philosophy and the human condition that my mind could barely have skimmed towards in normal life. I always felt richer for his writing.

Some of his most memorable pieces for me were the ones he wrote about his friend's suicide, about the recent bullying of Adam Goodes, about what it means to be Australian, about how to be a good man, about political correctness, about his beloved Sydney and his passion for North Bondi Surf Club, and all those articles about the love he felt for his daughter.

I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing. The loss his daughter, former partner, friends and family feel is being felt widely (I heard the news via text from an equally shocked friend). Australia owes a huge debt to Sam for his work in changing and expanding minds. Vale Sam de Brito.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Gigi Tells The Haters to Go-Go

I just love this post from It Girl of the moment, Gigi Hadid. While I am saddened that she even has to defend herself in this way, I am realistic: it's the Internet, and there are trolls out there who will attack and denigrate even the cutest cat video out there, let alone the looming target of a good looking girl living the dream as a supermodel. Haters gonna hate.

I have thought on a number of occasions that models like Gigi Hadid suggest a shift towards a more realistic body image. She certainly makes it look very appealing!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Happy Friday: And Breathe Out

TGIF. One of the recommended coping strategies following my little cry for help a few months ago was to send myself off on a wellness/yoga retreat.

After some intensive researching and pros and cons lists, this Sunday I am finally heading off for a week of no phones, no laptops and lots of yoga for a whole week. I can't wait! I am looking forward to devouring Bliss Balls, communing with nature and having hot stones placed on my spine.

See you on the flip side... And Happy Friday! xo

Do Something

It would be far too blithe to put the events of this week down to planetary misalignment, which I am prone to do when I - or the geopolitical landscape more generally - has had an unusually bad week.

I have ranted about this issue before. I don't think it's right to stop talking about this issue until there is some kind of solution, or we have at least gone a long way further towards ensuring the protection of vulnerable women and putting systems in place to support men so furious at the world that they think it's right to kill their partner or their child.

Last time I ranted, 1 woman per week was killed at the hands of her partner right here in Australia. Currently, this statistic stands at 2 women per week - the national average. In addition, 3 women per week are hospitalised with serious head injuries as a result of domestic violence.

Are you angry yet? No? I'll keep going.

This week in South East Queensland, 2 women were murdered at the hands of their partners, 1 woman was viciously attacked but blessedly survived, a child was murdered and her sister almost killed. Among the offenders? A mining executive and a former Bandidos bikie gang member. It takes all types.

This is what we read in the papers this week:
In a place usually packed with children, a man walks in, shoots a woman dead and turns the gun on himself.Another man armed with a machete allegedly rams his ex-partner's car and chases her along a suburban street. She survives.A young mother succumbs to head injuries allegedly caused by her estranged partner accused of running her car off the road and beating her with a metal object as she was trapped in the vehicle.
Several of the victims had reportedly reached out to police for help in the weeks and days prior to the attacks. News reports suggest many police are disinclined to intervene in domestic disputes. Not only that, the manner in which domestic violence incidents are reported (read: played down or simply ignored) is also a focus of  increasing attention.

Can we please stand up and do something now? Domestic violence is at epidemic levels. More women - and possibly children - will be murdered this month at the hands of their partners, and probably in their homes. Quite possibly the reason these incidents have attracted so much attention is that they occurred in public places, rather than at home. Generally, these women are beaten up within the walls of the family home, somehow making it easier for the incidents to be ignored.

Think it doesn't affect you? Think again.

What's the answer? I don't know. I'm not an expert. I think men need to be educated from day one on how to be respectful of women, and to accept women as equals. Discrimination and unfair treatment of women still exists in many facets of daily life. This needs to be recognised and addressed. There needs to be better awareness nation-wide of the signs of someone potentially being affected by domestic violence. In the extreme cases - hospitalisation, murder, suicide - I can't help but think there must have been signs that could have alerted others to the danger these women and children were in. Police need to be empowered to act. We need better support for battered women: shelters, safe refuges, and agencies - whether it be law enforcement or social services - where women can be treated respectfully and in confidence so they can get the help they need.

In addition, it is quite clear the men in these scenarios need help too.

Set amongst all this violence, it was R U OK day this week - a national day of action whereby we turn to our friend, family member, work colleague, person passing in the street and ask if they're ok in a bid to raise awareness for mental illness and depression. Headlines have been created as one of the nation's favourite football players pulls out of finals season citing mental illness. Again, it takes all types.

While I'm not suggesting all cases of domestic violence can be attributed to mental illness, there is clearly something not right in the head of a man who thinks it's ok to intimidate, bully, belittle or treat with violence a woman or child they claim to love. Support services need to exist for these men. Education and awareness raising is an important element of this, as is men telling other men that domestic violence or abuse of any kind is simply not on.

As the He For She campaign suggests - men are an essential part of the solution. It is a fact that 95% of Fortune 500 CEOs are men. It is also a fact that while 40% of the agricultural labour force globally is comprised of women, less than 20% of women in those areas own land. We need powerful men to not only be a part of the conversation, but also to be leaders in the charge toward gender equality and in creating safer homes, university campuses and workplaces for women.

Emma Watson's comments at the launch of the He For She campaign go for all of us. Something needs to be done. After all, it takes all types.

If you are suffering domestic violence, support is available from DV Connect via 1800 811 811 or the website. If you're in danger, call 000 in Australia.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Straight Outta Compton

This year, fierce tennis champ Serena Williams is battling for her first calendar-year Grand Slam. If Serena wins the US Open (which is well underway), she will have won all four major tournaments in one season, joining only two other women who have done so in the past: Australia's Margaret Court in 1970 and Germany's Steffi Graf in 1988.
Although the 2015 season is arguably one of Serena's best, she hasn't gotten here without some past struggles — she suffered from depression in 2006 and took a six-month hiatus, before coming back to being the number one world tennis player.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Happy Friday

Loving these Spring fashion looks from Gorman. Have a great weekend, and give your dad a big hug xo

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hey Diddle Diddle

The cow jumped over the moon.

Gosh, Australia is beautiful.

Pic courtesy of ABC Open contributor Ann Killeen in Rutherglen, Victoria via the ABC Facebook page.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Wildest Dreams

Taylor Swift goes a bit Out Of Africa and English Patient in her latest film clip. Each scene is rather fashion spread worthy. This girl is on fire at the moment.

Shoesday: Open Season

Can we hear an exuberant "BOO-YAH" for the arrival of Spring? After a Winter that has been experienced from Shanghai (at the end of the southern hemisphere's Summer) to Brisbane (ok, not much of a winter, but our houses are not built for cold morning air) to Hobart (deeply freezing!) to Melbourne to Adelaide to regional South Australia and rural Queensland - I feel I have been there and done that with Winter this year.

Magically enough, it is forecast to reach 26 today. So it is essential that we celebrate the advent of Spring with some open toed shoes and not a black opaque stocking in sight. Some shots from Charlotte Olympia's Frida Kahlo-inspired Cruise collection and Jimmy Choo because, well, Jimmy Choo.

Pictures from Charlotte Olympia and Jimmy Choo Cruise S/S2016 collections.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Designer Bircher

As I spoon another mouthful of artfully plated toasted granola with vanilla bean yoghurt and fresh seasonal fruits into my mouth,  I ask myself why I'm spending $13.50 on something I really could have whipped up at home for 1/8th of the price.

A huge part of the reason is so I can see the dear friends I never get to see in an environment that is not my own home (read, I don't have to tidy/vacuum before they drop by). Another is that breakfast, like many other comfort foods in life - I'm looking at you toasted cheese sandwich and Vegemite toast - is better when someone else has made it for you. But equally up there is the ambience factor of a really good cafe. No amount of So Frenchy, So Chic playlists can recreate the vibe of a bustly, beautiful and fabulously popular coffee shop. In particular, there is something very loving about a resplendently designed coffee shop - it's like a very public, warm embrace from Mr Too-Cool, which simply by association renders you invincibly well-loved and hip for the day.

As part of the annual Eat Drink Design awards is (naturally) the Design component. While a beautiful restaurant or bar is all well and good, there really is nothing better than a gorgeous cafe ensconced in subway tiles, exhaling ground coffee beans, and generally being the lighthouse for your Monday morning.

Some of my favourites from this year's cafe design award shortlist are below.

Adelaide's Abbots & Kinney

Perth's Alex Hotel Lobby Espresso & Lounge Bar

South Brisbane's new arrival, Gauge (it is very beautiful) - another cafe from the creator of Sourced in Teneriffe

Harry's at Bondi

Hutch & Co, Lilydale Victoria 

The Kettle Black, South Melbourne

Friday, July 31, 2015

Happy Friday: Golden Lust

Nothing like a bit of lust to get your weekend off to a very good start...

New in from Samantha Wills is the Golden Grand necklace - oozing all kinds of Middle Eastern luxuriousness and mystery. Being someone who is unable to put a bunch of necklaces together without looking like my 5 year old niece dressed me from her dress-up box, I am always appreciative of jewellery designers who create gorgeous clusters such as this.

Samantha Wills has taken this next level with length, width, beauty and the all important glamour factor.

Wish you were touring the Sahara Desert yet?