Monday, December 19, 2011

Perspective is everything

Last week my family and I were unfortunately guests at two funerals.

The first was for my 93-year-old Grana, who lived on the land and had a long and happy life.

The second was for my long-time neighbour and dear family friend Mike Stout, who sadly, passed away at only 56 after a long battle with cancer.

It’s a strange thing, I think, dealing with grief amidst all the joy and excitement that comes with Christmas. I feel like my emotions are giving me a massive battering – one minute I think about spending the holidays with my family and friends and I get a feeling of immense happiness, the next I am crying in the arms of my (incredibly) supportive husband about how life isn’t fair.

My friend Hayls wisely told me that amongst all the good that comes with this time of year, it’s the universe’s way of balancing the good with the bad and that unfortunately, bad things happen when there is good around.

It’s odd because last year at exactly the same time, just a week before Christmas, I had a negative turn of events whereby I found myself in hospital having surgery. Needless to say my Christmas last year was pretty lack-lustre and it looks like this year it will be a pretty sombre one too.

My husband told me though; it all comes down to perspective. While discussing life and our two loved ones that have now left us, we were talking about how their families would be coping and how they would move forward after such immense loss.

What I have learned out of this situation is, it’s not just about the quantity of life, it’s about the quality of life and the special moments that make life all the more special. On one hand my Grana lived a long life, but it was filled with such struggle and tragedy that only families who have lived on a farm or station know.

In her latter years, she got to enjoy the love and company of her family – grandchildren and great-grandchildren – so that once she passed her life was rich and full of happy memories.

Our friend Mike achieved so much in his short life – more in fact than many would ever achieve if they lived 30 or 40 years more. When I look at his amazing family and the legacy he left behind, it is hard to comprehend how someone achieved so much. He really did want to bring out the best in people and people wanted to better themselves because of him.

I guess that perspective really does teach you to look for the good in every situation – to find a positive in every day, no matter what (something my Dad tells me often).

The perspective that I have gained in the past two weeks is that time really doesn’t stop for anything or anyone and that we are constantly moving forward.

Things do happen at inopportune times, but you can’t plan these things. I can only hope that my family and friends who are going through these tough times after suffering loss, can gain a renewed perspective of life in the hope that it will help them on this emotional journey.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cookie goodness

I found this recipe for these yummo cookies on Give them a whirl, they are fool proof.

Peanut butter & choc-chip cookies

Preparation Time - 30 minutes

Cooking Time - 10 minutes

Makes 30


1 cup (260g) crunchy peanut butter
1 cup (200g) brown sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup (185g) dark choc bits


  • Preheat oven to 200°C. Lightly grease two baking trays and line with non-stick baking paper. Combine peanut butter, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and egg in a bowl. Stir in choc bits.
  • Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on the prepared tray. Press lightly with a fork. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until light golden. Leave to cool on the trays then place into an airtight container.

Makeup mahem

Unless you have six arms, please don't attempt this in the morning traffic rush!

When I was little, weekday mornings were always a mad rush to get my brother and I to school.

My mum successfully managed to juggle packing our lunches, making breakfast, ironing our uniforms and my dad’s work shirt, getting us dressed and making sure we brushed our teeth/hair, then showering herself and getting dressed before heading out the door. 

The only thing she would never put on before she left the house was her makeup. That was left for the car…

Now I used to watch my mum as she quickly and effectively applied foundation, mascara, blush, lipstick and combed her hair in a matter of two or three traffic light stops – she was quick, no mucking around here!

Now I know this is dangerous to do in the car, and I myself don’t have the coordination to even contemplate doing it, but it seems as though others who really should take more time in the morning to do their face, unfortunately leave it for the drive to work.

I had the unhappy pleasure of driving behind one such tragic this morning – she was hardly as deft as my mother in the applying-makeup-in-car department, and proceeded to swerve around in her lane, then into the other lane, narrowly missing oncoming traffic.

It wasn’t as if she even waited to stop at a light or anything – she thought she could do this while moving at more than 80km/hour. Oh the rush and the stress of it all!

I couldn’t even get around the maniac – she was swerving so much that if I had gone around her I probably would have been side-swiped. Cars were dodging her as they zoomed past, some even breaking to take a gander at the crazy behind the wheel.

Once we eventually stopped at a traffic light, she missed the light once it turned green. I let her know it was time to move (well, my horn let her know) to which I got a rude response – she gave me the finger.

Well that’s fine love, but next time you’re wrapped around a light pole because you’re trying to fix your ugly mug in the tiny rear-view mirror instead of waking up 15 minutes earlier in the morning and being better organised to do it at home, maybe you will then re-assess how important it was to apply makeup in the car.

If you have mastered the art like my mum did back in the day, then hats off to you. In the meantime, please leave this task to your bathroom ladies!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Please, enjoy!

Yesterday I went to a supermarket (I won’t name which one) to buy a couple of mundane items including paper towel, insect spray and a zucchini.

As I lined up with all the other people at the checkout I noticed that the supermarket clerk had a strange farewell line he used for each customer – “enjoy!”

As I looked down at the three items I had in my hand, I wondered if you can really ‘enjoy’ insect spray, paper towel and a zucchini. I suppose there are ways?

So as it came to be my turn to be served and upon handing over my cash and receiving my change, the young man whipped out a big cheesy smile and said in a pleasant supermakety voice that you hear over the loudspeaker, ‘enjoy!’.

I raised my eyebrows and gave him a knowing look and with a hint of a wink I told him “oh, I intend to” as a bit of a joke, to which he gave a fleeting glance at my zucchini gripped in my hand and then gave me a smirk while snorting though his nose.

Dirty bastard!

So, word to the wise buddy, for those customers, even the elderly that you may serve, please don’t tell them to ‘enjoy’ what they have bought. It doesn’t make sense, especially when it isn't a food item. What if someone was there to purchase batteries or super glue or even a bottle of laxatives – people don’t always ‘enjoy’ their purchases.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Decorating for Christmas

I am so freaking excited about Christmas.

Reasons why:

1.                  I just love Christmas in general – it’s my favourite time of year.

2.                  We get to celebrate in our new home this year (YAY!)

3.                  It’s summer, which is my favourite season, and I love nothing better than entertaining and being with my best friends and family relaxing and celebrating the year that was.

4.                  Christmas means that New Years is just around the corner, which means even more celebrating!

Although, I must say I am starting to get a tad stressed out about shopping for gifts. I really don’t like the Christmas rush and the bedlam that is every single shopping centre from about now until the end of the Christmas sales in January…

I like the idea of Secret Santa – you only have to buy one gift if you do it with your family, and you can do it with your friends too. It takes the stress off having to buy dozens of pressies for people and breaking the bank so to speak.

One thing I will be hitting the shops for however, is Christmas decorations for the new abode. I love decking out the house in festive ornaments and will dedicate this post to yuletide inspiration for the home.  

Love the pink and green - cute!

We have always had stockings hung over my parent's fireplace - doesn't feel like Christmas without them!

Turquoise and greys are a surprisingly good Christmas colour theme

I can't wait to start decorating - I am not sure what colours we are going to go with yet, but I am excited to start making our home feel Christmasy!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Moving sucks

Maybe it’s because I’ve got paint under my fingernails, gyprock dust in my hair and have been cleaning and unpacking constantly for the past two weeks that I feel like an emotional wreck.

Moving house should be illegal. I know there are some people who really don’t mind doing it, but I am certainly not one of them.

Flat-pack furniture is another thing that should be prohibited. Things come cracked and with much less gleam than what they looked like on the shop floor… and it is just a pain in the arse to make! Bits don’t fit and parts that should slide in with ease don’t want to budge…

To give you an idea of my emotional state, as I was unpacking some kitchen ware the other day I stumbled upon some old-school bake ware that was given to us by Ben’s grandmother. I burst into tears upon seeing it. As most of you know I love cooking, and I like to think that I’ll make meals for people I care about using these items – just as they were used by Ben’s grandparents in the same way.

I don’t think that it really called for uncontrollable sobbing though? Usually I am not that bad…

Another thing – my neat freak persona hates the fact that one minute I’ll have a spotless house after three hours of scrubbing, vacuuming, dusting and mopping and the next I’ll turn around and it’s a filthy mess! They say that even after six months you’ll still be sucking up construction dust in a newly built home.

Great! I have another six months of this to look forward too…

And the dog. Oh, the dog.

I get that it’s a new yard Charlie, but seriously, do you want the neighbours to hate us before they’ve even gotten to know us? If I was a dog I would probably be excited about getting a new yard too, but please try and tone it down a notch!

The howling, chasing birds and barking at neighbours when they walk by with their baby in a stroller isn’t going to make us popular in the new street.

Honestly, I am glad my partner in crime feels the same way – with an aching back, sunburned skin and irritated eyes from sawdust, I am somewhat glad that Ben feels as shit as I do right now. He has transformed a mud pit into a stunning and perfectly preened yard.

At least we can see the prize at the finishing line and I am sure one day, we will sit back after all the cleaning, unpacking and hard labour and say yep, we did this and it’s all ours.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Please don't bitch to me, I don't care for your whingeing

Sometimes people just want to live a life of drama.

I’m talking about the kind of person who thrives off gossip, nastiness and plain old shit-stirring.

I understand that at times it’s easy to be angry at people and have disagreements – fighting with people you care about is an unfortunate part of life. 

However moving on with dignity without dragging someone's name through mud is something that a lot of young people on the Gold Coast need to learn.

I am nearly 30 years old and have been to three different schools. In my time (I sound like an old Geezer, but moving on…) I have been part of many friendship ‘groups’ and hung out with some people who in the end, I didn’t stay friends with for various reasons.

The term ‘group’ is toxic, especially when you’re an adolescent growing up and going through high school – so much so that who you hang out with defines who you are as a person. It’s bullshit!

Now that I’m older I have some incredible friends that I have known for over ten years. What I love about these people is that I think I’ve had fights and disagreements with all of them over the years, and we’re still the best of friends.

With us, the connotation of ‘group’ has been dropped – we’re old enough now to make up our minds about who we love and want to invest time in, and who we had been wasting our breath on.

Being bitter about a failed friendship is shit. Slagging off that friend is even more shit. It’s hard to let go of a friendship because you may hold good memories, but you can’t fix something that’s broke – it will never be the same.

I don’t care for petty gossip, whispers and other people’s drama – I just want to live my life and enjoy the people in my life who actually matter and bring meaning to my existence.  

This is my solemn vow that I, Ashleigh, will no longer waste any time on people who can’t see past their spiteful resentment and just be a nice person.

Maybe it’s what the Gold Coast culture has done to them? But then that’s no excuse – I was born and bred here and have lived her for nearly 27 years and I’m not a cold-hearted bitch.

People should take note – because being a bitch is a pretty ugly trait.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

World Animal Week and Collars not Cruelty campaign

After a bit of a break (hey, it was my first wedding anniversary) I am back and wanting to discuss something very close to my heart.

Animal cruelty.

My husband and I are the type of people who will honestly tear up about a news reports about an animal that has been abused at the hands of a person or hearing about how it is customary for other cultures around the world to torture animals as part of their food processing...

My beautiful Cocker Spaniel, Charlie. Dogs deserve to live happy and full lives without cruelty and torture. No animal should have to suffer at the hands of a human unnecessarily.

I want everyone to remember this - animals don't have a voice and they can't fight back when they are trapped, scared or abused. It is not acceptable to treat any creature, no matter how big or small, young or old in a way that is not respectful of its life.

According to the WSPA website, 20 million dogs are killed every year in a cruel way. That's 38 every minute. People believe that killing a dog will end rabies - this is not true.

From today until October 10, it is World Animal Week and WSPA Australia is running a 'Collars not Cruelty" campaign to protect dogs from being drugged, gassed, strangled and tortured to death in the fight agains rabies.

I think that education is key - people need to know about what is going on so that they can inform others. Please go here to show your support:

This is a really important cause, and if you're like me and love your dog like it is your own child, you'll back this very important cause.

Remember that animals don't have a voice and it's not fair for humans to treat them in an inhumane way.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

McDonalds loses Heart tick and beat for healthy options


McDonald's will lose the right to display the National Heart Foundation's Tick on foods marketed as healthy options.

The fast food giant pays about $300,000 a year so it can put the trademarked Tick next to fish burgers, salads and chicken wraps. 

But the Heart Foundation has told McDonald's it is removing the company's right to use the Tick, which has been used to promote its foods during the past five years, News Ltd reports.

A number of smaller takeaway chains, including gourmet pizza group Crust, will also lose the Tick, but the symbol will remain on supermarket foods.

The foundation's chief executive Lyn Roberts said the move was not a criticism of McDonald's but a change in direction to concentrate on ingredients delivered to restaurants and food outlets. 

The foundation also plans to announce a new plan to conduct random tests on restaurant and takeaway food for levels of saturated fat and salt.

What does this mean for you as a consumer? I know that I never went to McDonalds with the hope of eating something healthy – I went for the French Fries, Cheeseburger and McNuggets!

I barely go to the fast food chain, but at least they offered something that was deemed healthy so that people who wanted to the option of choosing something that was better for them, could do so.

What are your thoughts regarding this? Are you surprised that the ‘tick’ has been taken away? Did you or anyone you know actually choose the healthy options offered on the McDonald’s menu?

Let me know!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tick-tock the life clock

Time is a precious thing for me and its speed is made more and more apparent as I look back at things I thought seemed so far away when I was a child.

For instance, when I was little, the thought of finishing school seemed like a never-ending journey. I think it was around the time I graduated from Year 7 that I thought “oh great, only another five years of school to go”. How I wish I could go back and cherish the simple things that I took for granted all those years ago.

I also vividly remember thinking that I would never own a car or a house (let alone a mortgage) because you needed to be super rich to have those things. And having a baby was just mind boggling… Those were all things that you did when you were a grown up!

Now I’m nearly 30 years old and these things are my reality – all the things I never thought I would have, all the stresses I saw my parents having to deal with are now mine, too.

All the responsibilities I never thought I would have, I have now. All the time I was at school studying hard and playing sport with my friends and going to the movies on weekends – life was so carefree and simple. It’s those times that I look back on and think about how those really were some of the happiest days of my life.

It’s funny looking through the eyes of your adolescent self – everything is so much bigger (literally) and scary (also, literally!) but at least back then, time was on your side. I was able to make mistakes and learn from them, I had the luxury of changing my mind (again and again) because I was in no rush to make my mind up. I could do stupid things and be young enough to get away with it… 

I am someone who gets excited by the future no matter how scary it once seemed – I love thinking about what’s in store.

But it’s as though now that I am deemed old enough to have my s*it together the pressure is on to make decisions, have a career, start a family, and carve out a life for myself and my husband… I no longer have the luxury of taking my time because people expect that by 30, your life should have a clear direction of where it is headed. I feel like I know what I want - but then how do you ever really know?

I can only hope that the direction I am heading in is a positive one – I’ll never forget the feeling of being over-awed about how hard it must be to be a “grown up” but at least I had time to figure out how to be one… where did all those years go?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cancer Council - Daffodil Day August 26

It's Daffodil Day today - Cancer Council's most important day of the year for fundraising to help find a cure for cancer.

If you think 1 in 2 people who get cancer is one too many, please buy a daffodil today or go online and donate - any donations over $2 are tax deductible.

The target to reach is $9.5 million for patient support and research - so far funds raised sit at $827,000.

Please get behind this worthy cause because every person is affected by cancer in one way or another.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nothing is worse than a BRIDEZILLA

As wedding season comes a knocking once again (referring to Spring time for the guys reading this) I am feeling kind of reflective.

We were married nearly a year ago (October 2) and our first year of marriage has really flown by. Soon, some close friends and even some family members will tie the knot and being involved in their preparations has also reminded me of the not-so-fun parts of organising the big day.

At the end of the day, I found I was getting frustrated by really minor things that at the time, seemed major.  

I know mothers and soon-to-be mothers-in-law and some over-bearing friends can get a bit hassling – but they are allowed to be (to a point!) as they are only trying to help because they love you!

What is important to remember is that you have to consider others in your plans (suprising to some of you!) so keep this in mind.  

I know people say ‘it’s OUR day’ and get all caught up in what they want and have this crazy tunnel vision that just focuses on them (lets not kid ourselves – it’s usually the bride referring to herself here and being totally selfish/unreasonable!) and I guess this happens with every wedding because the bride is telling herself it’s all about ME, wait… US!  

A wedding day is special because it brings together people that have been part of yours and your fiancée’s life – so just breathe and let other people offer you some help, even if you insist on not taking it. There is no need to cause fights just before your special day because someone has requested something and you have to change plans slightly!

If things don’t go to plan on the day guaranteed as the bride, you will be the only one who notices it. Everyone else is looking at you and your new husband and I can tell you they are just happy to be part of the celebrations.

If you get feedback afterwards that one of your guests has been rude and complained about food, the father-of-the-bride’s speech and even criticised your dress… well, that’s when you have cause to get angry!

This is spoken from a bride who has been there and (unfortunately) experienced some of these things (including the horrible things mentioned in the above paragraph!).  

So, my advice is this – YES IT’S YOUR WEDDING SO STOP COMPLAINING – organise it and be thankful that you have a wonderful fiancée that wants to marry you and that you have friends and family who want to celebrate with you!

Stop whining about minor things because at the end of the day, it should be the happiest day of your life for you and your new husband.

No one wants to hear your crap anymore because there is nothing worse than a Bridezilla!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Man-Flu - the facts...

A friend sent me this as there are a few viruses going around at the moment - one of which may be Man-Flu...

1. Man-Flu is more painful than childbirth. This is an irrefutable scientific fact*. *(Based on a survey of over 100,000 men).

2. Man-Flu is not 'just a cold', it is a condition so severe that the germs from a single Man-Flu sneeze could wipe out entire tribes of people living in the rainforest. And probably loads of monkeys too.

3. Women do not contract Man-Flu. At worst they suffer from what is medically recognised as a 'Mild Girly Sniffle' – which, if a man caught, he would still be able to run, throw a ball, tear the phone book in half and compete in all other kinds of manly activities.

4. Men do not 'moan' when they have Man-Flu. They emit involuntary groans of agony that are entirely in proportion to the unbearable pain they are in.

5. Full recovery from Man-Flu will take place much quicker if their simple requests for care, sympathy and regular cups of tea are met. Is that really so much to ask? Florence Nightingale would have done it.

6. More men die each year from MFN (Man-Flu Neglect) than lots and lots of other things (like rabbit attacks or choking on toast).

7. Men suffering from Man-Flu want nothing more than to get out of bed and come to work, but they are too selfless to risk spreading this awful condition amongst their friends and colleagues. In this sense, they are the greatest heroes this country has ever known.

8. In 1982 scientists managed to simulate the agonising symptoms of full blown Man-Flu in a female chimp. She became so ill that her head literally fell off.

9. Man-Flu germs are more powerful than He-Man, The Thundercats and The A-Team combined. They are too strong for weak, nasty tasting 'lady medicines' like Lemsip, so don't bother trying to force them on a victim of Man-Flu.

10. While it may seem like a Man-Flu sufferer is just lying around enjoying 'Diagnosis Murder' it is a commonly recognised medical fact that the exact pitch and frequency of Dick Van Dyke's voice has remarkable soothing powers.

Every minute in this country one man is struck down by Man-Flu. Women, all we ask is that each of you offers them a cup of tea, some kind words and your undivided attention and care. Then maybe, just maybe, we'll beat this monstrous disease together...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cash or the couch? That is the question.

King Furniture's Jasper Couch... le sigh

So as our house is rapidly (seriously, it’s going up so fast) being built my husband and I have been knuckling down and thinking hard about furnishings, appliances and pretty aesthetic things that will make our new home look faboosh!

It’s so easy for me to get carried away with the possibilities of furniture – I mean who wouldn’t be excited at the prospect of filling a brand new house with nice, shiny, plush furniture?

However, husband man has had to pull my head out of the clouds a few times now and has slapped me with the harshest word in a shopping-lover’s repertoire - “budget”.  I know we have to budget – we’re building a house for goodness’ sake, but I thought maybe we could splurge a tiny bit on the furnishing part…

The thing is, I know you can do things on the cheap, but my issue is that even though you might be able to buy a 32-piece furniture set for $3000 from Fantastic Furniture, doesn’t mean it’s going to last. 

It’s like buying a pair of crappy Supre jeans for $30 and expecting them to last as long as a pair of Levis…. Not going to happen!

So now our dilemma is this – how to keep a reasonably sound budget while still furnishing our home in stylish, modern and pretty things? Well I have found inspiration in a very good friend.

My friend Graham is amazing at doing things up – especially furniture. He can buy a $15 coffee table off eBay and strip it back, add some texture, paint and accessories and voila – you have something that looks like it came out of a Domayne catalogue. 

Oh, did I tell you that he also produces artwork? During my last visit to his house, I enquired as to where he purchased a gorgeous metallic three-piece canvas hanging on the wall of his sitting room. He nonchalantly said he made it – I was floored!

So I am taking a leaf out of Gray’s book because I think it will serve my purpose well – a mixture of quality store-bought furniture and appliances mixed with items that we have lovingly restored.

I mean we’re going to have a veggie garden as well, so if we’re growing our own food, we may as well refurbish our own furniture and make our own art?!

At least I still get to go shopping at some of my favourite furniture shops, but I think I can cut corners and make some savings too. Gotta love a win-win situation!

Hmm but I still think I'm going to pop into King Furniture and have a gander at the Jasper Couch...

Have been off board

I am back on deck now after having a week off! Sometimes you just need a break : )

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Something for dinner

My friend Helen gave me this recipe for her lasagne, which is so tasty and much easier than my more 'traditional' lasagne I usually make. The sweet chilli in it really makes a difference.


-Fresh lasagne sheets (enough to serve 6-8)

-500 – 800g beef mince

-1 large brown onion, diced

-2 cloves garlic, diced

-1 can tomato soup, condensed

-1 can diced tomatoes

-1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce

-1 bottle of passata or pasta sauce

White sauce

-3 tbs butter or margarine

-3 tbs plain flour

-700ml milk


-Brown the meat, onion and garlic in a large saucepan with a little olive oil.

-When meat is browned and fragrant, add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until sauce is slightly thicker.

-Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, make white sauce by melting butter in smaller saucepan. Once melted, sprinkle in flour and whisk until flour is cooked out and is smooth. Gradually add milk bit by bit and keep whisking until sauce thickens. On a medium heat, this usually takes around 15 minutes.

Make lasagne by adding a small amount of meat sauce to the bottom of a large lasagne dish. Follow this with the pasta sheets, meat sauce, then white sauce and repeat. Finish lasagne with a layer of white sauce and a mixture of tasty, mozzarella and parmasen cheese.

Bake in a 180 degree oven (fan forced, pre-heated) covered for 40 minutes. Remove foil and cook for a further 15-20 minutes or until cheese on top is golden and bubbling.

Serve with garlic bread and a simple green salad.

Monday, August 1, 2011

This one's for you, Dad

1 year old me, with Dad
You have given me so much in my life and I will always be in debt to you (literally haha) but I couldn't ask for a better father, boss, friend and supporter. You have done so much for our family and you are so loved.

Happy Birthday, Dad xx 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The perils of homework tasks

I received this little joke in an email and thought it was worth sharing...

For homework a grade 3 class in NSW were asked by their teacher, Mrs Jackson, to draw one of their parents at work.
This is young Jessica's drawing about her mum (who features standing next to a 'pole'): 

Here's the letter the teacher received the next day from the artist's mother:

Dear Mrs. Jackson,

I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer. I work at Bunnings (hardware store) and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week after the floods hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had and then I found one more in stock and several people were fighting over who would get it. Her picture doesn't show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last shovel we had in the store. From now on I will remember to check her homework before she hands it in.

Erica Cameron

DIY disasters makes for good TV

Would you pay $250 each for a few pillows?

Maybe it’s more apparent to me because we are building a house at the moment, but everywhere I turn, there seems to be a new renovating or building show popping up on TV.

At the moment there is The Block, The Renovators and Top Design all featuring on free-to-air channels (not including all the home and design-based shows on Foxtel) which is more than enough to choose from to get your renovating fix if you so desire.

It is also apparent to me that these shows are about 50/50 when it comes to the balance between actual building and renovating and drama and contestant diatribe. I must say I am sick to death of hearing Jenna and Josh from The Block b*tch, moan and scream at each other and, frustratingly, see them do so well with their rooms each week (I’d much rather Polly and Waz do better because they are the cutesy/fun couple that even though produce rooms that are lack lustre, you still want them to win).

Josh and Jenna from The Block - constantly bickering and questioning each other, despite winning the most amount of room reveals.

I’d rather watch a show that is just about the renovating – I’m more interesting in seeing designs, hear them talking about the latest trends in furnishings and learn more about tiling techniques.

Instead it seems that these shows are all about the personal perils of each couple or group that are competing and how they can’t figure out how to cut plaster board, they are whinging because they haven’t had their hair or nails done in a month and they are upset because they don’t have enough money to pay their chippy this week because they blew their budget buying two pillows woth $500 that would be the ‘hero’ of the room…

I get that this is why people want to tune in but for me it’s about the end result – I just want to see the room and hear the professional judges’ opinions.

And that's another thing - these contestants who have very little experience compared to the professional building teams they are working with, think they know everything!

I have had feedback from people saying that they can’t stand many of the contestants on these shows, so I say this – let’s bring back Blitz (another Scott Cam-hosted series) where it’s purely about helping a struggling family or couple get the garden and house of their dreams. People just get in and do the work, it’s all about the end result and they are actually giving something to people that deserve it.

It seems like this TV fad is here to stay (thanks to soaring ratings) but next time around, I’d love it if the producers could make it less about the rubbish going on between the personal relationships and more about what they promise viewers – renovating and building.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tips for your big day

With several friends getting engaged and planning their special day, I have been thinking about things I would have liked to have known while I was booking and organising things for our wedding. 

Here are a few tips and some things I learned along the way:   

* Book your cars/transport in advance – we had issues booking our limo to go to the church because we had left it too late (a month and a half out) to book. If you are getting married in Spring, chances are that a majority of couples getting married are also planning a Spring wedding and will also need cars… so plan ahead and book them three months ahead (that way you can also get the exact car that you want).

* Do a trial photo shoot – we were lucky to have chosen a wonderful Gold Coast-based photographer who offered us everything we were looking for as far as the feel of her photos and her ideas. We had an ‘engagement’ shoot with our photographer, Lauren Ladgrove, who took us up to Burleigh Heads for an afternoon shoot. I thought this was a great idea because once we got these photos back we knew for sure that we wanted to secure her to do our wedding photos as well. It pays to look around because photographers can be expensive and charge you an arm and a leg.  Go to for more info on Lauren.

* Don’t skimp when it comes to bridal shoes – you are going to be standing and posing all day – and it is a loooong day! So make sure you wear comfortable shoes and even have a flat pair as back up that you can slip on at the reception (I didn’t do this and regretted it!). There is nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable when dancing!
    * Have a ‘reception dress’ as a back up – my wedding dress was raw silk and incredibly heavy, but I wanted to wear it all day as you only get married once! Well, after our photos were done and we were preparing to head into the reception, how I wished I had a back up dress that was light as a feather to put on! Of course it depends on what material your wedding dress is made of, but if you know it’s heavy, it pays to have something much lighter and easier to dance in that you can change in to.

    * Book in for hair and makeup trials – I had three hair trials and one makeup trial. If you have an event to go to, use this as an excuse to get these done – that way you can trial which looks you like and know which ones don’t go so well with your overall wedding vision. I used Mia Connor from the makeup bar for my makeup and she was amazing
      * Don’t drink too much on the day/night – you want to remember every detail of your wedding, so don’t get drunk and sloppy! I had one or two glasses before our church ceremony and then probably only four glasses at the reception (enough to relax and take the edge off while still being able to enjoy yourself). My husband did the same thing too – we were both very well behaved!
        * Don’t stress over the guest list – I agonised over this and I wish that I hadn’t. People understand if they aren’t invited, after all, it is your special day and it’s not like it’s just a casual barbecue that every man and his dog turns up to. We invited 116 people and we had 108 turn up and 20 of those people were friends (we have big families). Remember, don’t feel the pressure to invite your mother-in-law’s BFF or your 13 cousins that you see once every ten years – think about who you really want there and invite them.

        * Boys need help with their suits – don’t just assume that your groom and the groomsmen are on track with their organising (however small their list is compared to yours). I went out with my husband and looked at styles of suits and shirts that were in keeping with our colour scheme and theme of the day. Your opinion is valid and it helps keep the boys on their toes. Even if you call ahead and make a few appointments for them to try on suits at a few department stores, all they have to do is turn up and you can rest assured that you’ve got the ball rolling for them.
          * Make sure your mother’s outfit is secured – my poor mum… she had her amazing George Gross gown, which fit her tiny size 8 frame like a glove, sold by an incompetent sales assistant at David Jones. Mum had it on hold as it had to have some repairs done and the silly cow just went and sold it to someone else. After what felt like a thousand phone calls to track another down (there wasn’t one) the head office said they would tailor make the same dress for my mum, and after she was measured up, her one-of-a-kind dress was delivered only two weeks before the wedding. It all worked out in the end (thank god!).

          * Have your mum or a bridesmaid with you when you go to your final dress fitting. You need to have them there so that they can see exactly how to do your dress up for you on the big day. Get them to ask any questions and be patient if they have to be shown how to do this more than once. I can’t stress this point enough! 
            * A white rose is never as white as you want it. It’s just a fact – don’t get upset over it because if you are having a white dress (like I did) your white roses will look slightly cream against it. There is nothing you can do to avoid this, unless you are wearing an ivory or cream gown. Coloured roses are a good option, but it’s custom for a bride to usually go with white roses.
              * Ask lots of questions and put everything in writing!
                * Go and have a cake tasting – we went with Yenmart on the Gold Coast and they were incredible and gave us so many options. You need to check the dietary requirements of your guests if you plan on serving your cake as dessert (we did this and had gluten free and allergy free options for a couple of guests). Go to for more info. 
                  Our incredible cake - it was amazing!

                  * Consider people travelling from interstate and overseas, as well as elderly guests. You may need to make specific plans for these people so keep them in mind.     
                    * Keep a small clutch bag with a bridesmaid or family member with tissues, lip gloss, blotting paper, pain killers, bobby pins, tampons, bandaids and lollies (to keep your blood sugar up) on hand. Also keep water close by and make sure you eat something (no matter how nervous you feel) before you get ready. You need energy to survive – it’s a long day!
                      * Don’t feel pressured to do the garter routine – I didn’t do it because frankly I think it is tacky and unnecessary. Just because other brides do it doesn’t mean you have to. I don’t regret not doing it one bit!
                        * Remember to thank your guests on the night – take the time to go around to each table and say hi to everyone and thank them personally for being there for you and your new husband.

                        * Prepare a few words to say during speeches, even if you didn’t plan on saying something. I was roped into a last minute speech and didn’t prepare anything (which was okay because I spoke from the heart) but it pays to think of a few things just in case.
                          * Confirm bookings and have final meetings the week of the wedding. It will help you rest peacefully at night!
                            * It goes fast so enjoy every part of your big day. Try not to let nerves get the better of you – remember it is you and your man and it’s a celebration – there is no need to feel stressed!
                              Us having our first dance as wife and husband

                              Tuesday, July 19, 2011

                              Where is the love?

                              With more and more expecting well, more, for their dollar, customer service has never been more important during these harsh economic times.

                              You only have to pick up the daily rag to read that retailers and big companies are putting the pressure on their staff to step up their game and really listen to their customers.

                              As the old line says ‘the customer is never wrong’ and this is the mantra that service providers live by (I have been at both ends of this statement). 

                              Why is it then, that some people who have titles such as Customer Care Manager or Customer Relations Consultant really have jack all skill in the specific area of offering care to their customers? Or do they just not give a shit? Or do they just like bickering with the people that are keeping them in a job?

                              I guess I am a bit jaded – our Customer Care Manager (or whatever her damn title is) who is dealing with us during our building process is being plain and simply, an irritating cow who has not given us a single amount of ‘care’.  

                              I think I have answered all of the questions Ben and I have had about the build myself, as our CCM has been unable to provide any kind of assistance and even when she attempts to, it’s very feeble. Essentially I am doing this woman’s job for her because she is so bad at what she does and I just don’t have the patience to deal with her.

                              I don’t get this. I mean we are building a damn house and giving this company more money that we’ve ever spent on anything… and we can’t even get a woman to return a phone call or email. I know you are busy, but so am I and a little communication wouldn't go astray. It really is frustrating and all I can hope is that it will be worth all the hassle in the end (which I am sure it will be).  

                              I am not going to be one of those customers who send a thank you card and a bunch of flowers or the customary bottle of wine at the conclusion of our dealings. I’ll send her a bag of my dog’s pooh more likely. 

                              What’s sad is that this isn’t the first time I’ve been given slack customer service when it comes to something important.

                              Last year one of the women who was instrumental in organising our wedding at the Sofitel on the Gold Coast (and who I had in charge of all of the minor details for the reception) decided that on the night of the reception, she wouldn’t turn up.

                              Well you could imagine how I felt upon hearing from her substitute that she wouldn’t be there (all I can say is that I had wonderful bridesmaids who were plying me with champagne at that point).

                              It’s like once they get paid, they really just don’t care anymore – there is no follow up and all of their initial promises of being there for you and being only a phone call or an email away are broken. It’s bullshit!

                              When I am at work the clients come first and that’s how it should be. I don’t ignore their requests and I don’t skit over details because I just can’t be bothered getting into explanations.

                              Hell, my husband is so damn dedicated to customer service (he works at a bank) that he is at work at 7:30am and often not home until 7pm because he is trying to sort out issues so that people aren't left in the dark without their questions answered. More people should adapt his work ethic!

                              People, a little care here and there goes a long way!

                              Thursday, July 14, 2011

                              Today I ate a croissant

                              Happy Bastille Day!

                              Bastille Day commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789; the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution. (Source: Wikipedia).

                              So this post is dedicated to all things French! <3

                              Source: According to nose

                              Source: Crimson-couture
                              Source: French moi
                              Source: House of Design and Style

                              Source: Reintroduction

                              Source: Space for inspiration

                              Source: Tour de Lizzy

                              Source: We love it

                              Source: YS Voice