Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Top 10 Winter essentials

Being in the thick of the coldest season, I thought I'd share my Winter must haves without which I would be chapped, cracked and simply shivering without.

1. Papaw ointment - I love this for super dry and chapped skin, especially on lips. I use Lucas' Papaw Ointment in tube form because I can tote it around in my handbag or car console. You can grab a tub or tube from any supermarket or chemist.

2. Lavender wheat heat pack. Apart from smelling divine this helps to keep me warm and ward away any muscular cramps. You simply pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes on high and you're set. It's great to put in your bed before you jump in and warm up the sheets too.

3. A good moisturiser. I like any of the body butters from The Body Shop, but I have sensitive skin so a new find of mine is Alpha Kerri Dry Skin Lotion. It's dermatology tested and suitable for all skin types and perfect for dry skin in the cooler months. Available from chemists.

4. Leather boots - these are my latest buy from Country Road. I think that keeping your feet warm keeps your whole body warm, so I invested in a good pair. Wear with your favourite jeans or tights with a jacket and scarf and you're set!
5. Blanket or throw rug for when you're watching TV or reading on the couch. Those awful Snuggies look horrid - please don't go there.

6. Flannelette pyjamas - I love them! Especially worn underneath a dressing gown for extra warmth. Peter Alexander's new range is gorgeous.

7. Ugg boots or slippers - these are an absolute must have for everyone! My friend bought be a pair of polka dot Grosby ones and I live in them.

8. An overcoat or trench that can be worn over any outfit and keep out the cool. I've got my eye on a Burberry one similar to the one Emma Watson is modelling below.

9. Heat - if you don't have a reverse cycle air-conditioner or an open fireplace, get yourself a small portable heater to take the chill out of the air. But be sure not to leave it on! This may seem obvious but you would be surprised how many homes have been destroyed because someone forgot to turn the heater off when they left the house!

10. Someone to snuggle with! The best way to keep the cold at bay is to share body heat so grab someone and get warm!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's all about... Glasshouse

I was lucky enough to receive a beautiful birthday gift from a very good friend of mine that was simply a candle and a bar of soap.

But it wasn't just any candle or soap bar...

May I introduce my latest obsession - the Glasshouse range of candles, soaps, diffusers and body products, which simply put, smell divine. Once my house is built, it is going to be a haven of beautiful fragrances thanks to Glasshouse's fabulous range of scents for the home.

You can browse products by fragrance or by destination. Visit Amalfi, Bora Bora, Manhattan or Marseille - there are fragrances for every personal taste.

Glasshouse products are Australian made.

For local stockists, or more information go to:

My girlfriend gave me the body bar and candle from the Manhattan Glasshouse range for my birthday recently
The body bars come enriched with almond oil and Vitamin E to keep your skin soft and supple

Making changes for the better

With lots of new and exiting things happening in my life, I’ve decided that I want to do a complete overhaul so that I can be in the best physical shape and have the healthiest mind/body I’ve ever had.

I’ve decided to join Hello Sunday Morning ( and have joined many others who have taken the pledge to give up alcohol for a minimum of three months.

I can honestly say I am pretty proud of myself for making this commitment – it’s not as though I rely on alcohol, but I do like to have a glass of wine from time to time. It’s more the excessive consumption on a weekend that I think I really need to cut back on.

I think binge drinking in Australia, especially from 18-30 year olds is a growing problem and it’s sad because it often causes irreversible damage to those who abuse alcohol.

As part of my total transformation I’ve also decided that I want to know more about the food me and my family are consuming. 

I love cooking, as most of my friends would know, and I’ve realised that it’s no good putting things into our bodies when we don’t even know what they are. For instance, if you read the back of a chip packet and there are several different preservatives, added colours and flavours and ingredients that you can’t even pronounce… why would you eat something that you couldn’t even say?

I’ve decided that anything I cook, I am making from scratch so that I know exactly what is in the meal I’ve made.

Cutting back on red meat and animal products in general is also something I’ve committed to doing and to clarify, I don’t mean turning vegetarian.

What many people don’t realise is that consuming meat-and-three-veg is not an ideal diet to survive on. It’s proven that red meat causes cancer if consumed on a regular basis (or more than four times a week).  Saturated animal fats are among the worst kinds of fat we can put into our bodies.

So in the spirit of understanding the things I consume, I’ve decided I am going to do a course in nutrition – not full time, but I just want to take it up as a part-time hobby, because I’m generally interested in making a change and being better educated when it comes to what I put in my body.

I have a couple of dear family friends who are battling life-threatening illnesses at the moment and they remind me that at the end of the day, being healthy and happy is the main thing in life. It’s not about materialistic crap – if you don’t have your health, you don’t have much of a life, so it’s important to look after yourself.

I am not judging anyone or making any outlandish statements by doing this – it’s just a personal decision and something I want to do for me. I still endeavour to be social and go out with friends who are drinking, but I’ll just stick to the mineral water thank you very much!

If anyone has participated in a nutrition course (on the Gold Coast) I’d really like to hear about your experience and what you got out of it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Coconut caramel slice is nice

I made this yesterday - a friend gave me the recipe from a clipping out of a magazine... it was yummo! Here is the recipe if you wish to give it a go!

Coconut caramel slice

  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 400g can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbs golden syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 60g butter, melted, extra
  • 4 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar, extra
  • 4 cups desiccated coconut, extra
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a slice pan. Line base and two opposite sides with baking paper, extending paper 5cm over edge of pan.
  2. Combine sifted flours, coconut, caster sugar and butter in a medium bowl. Press mixture evenly over base of prepared pan. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool slightly.
  3. Combine sweetened condensed milk, golden syrup, brown sugar and extra butter in a medium bowl. Spread mixture evenly over base.
  4. Combine eggs, extra sugar and extra coconut in a medium bowl and sprinkle evenly over filling. Cook for further 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool in pan. Cut slice into squares or triangles to serve.

Everything old is new again

Being the newest member of the Royal Family would come with a certain amount of expectation.

Being able to converse with heads of state, supporting your new family and appearing at charity functions and important events are a must.
Also, being presentable and looking the part is crucial – so then why is the Duchess of Cambridge (aka Kate Middleton) getting flack about being photographed wearing recycled outfits at recent events?

Then and now: Kate recycled a wedding outfit from 2009 (L) for Prince Philip's birthday last week.

I for one think that she is being smart – she’s come out and said that she’s not a ‘clothes horse’ and won’t wear outfits sent to her from designers to royal engagements. I think that during these hard times she wants to prove that she is normal and, like everyone else, wears an outfit more than once.

I think following the royal wedding in April and being photographed in her spectacular Alexander McQueen creation, royal watchers and those in fashion circles believed that Kate would up the ante with her choices in outfits, wearing designer here, there and everywhere.

Instead, she’s maintained loyalty to picking up threads from Topshop and Reiss, where ‘commoners’ can afford the pick up something snazzy for the weekend.

I think this just shows what most of us already know about the Duchess of Cambridge – she’s down to earth and one of us. She has spoken out and said that she is not a fashion model and it is not her job to parade around in the newest looks from the runway.

Wearing a cocktail dress that she wore on a night out on the town in 2007 (above) and wearing it again at a friend's wedding recently (below)

I really admire this about her – the Queen and Princess Anne are also known for re-wearing certain garments. I think that Kate is showing empathy and is being incredibly sensible with her wardrobe choices. In her first official royal trip overseas to Canada and the US, Kate’s entire wardrobe will cost approximately $40,000 and she is not taking a stylist with her, instead making her own choices in outfits.

This isn’t to say that she always says no to a designer gown (she’s only human, after all) and recently wore a gorgeous dusty pink Jenny Packham gown with LK Bennett shoes to a charity event in London.

 Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge arrive at an ARK charity gala dinner.

I for one think that this modern-day princess is putting her best foot forward in the fashion stakes while delivering the message that she’s always going to be true to herself, while never forgetting where she comes from despite the new life she has been married in to.

Kiddy-kickboxing a no-no

I grew up in a household where participating in weekend sport was the norm. My parents brought my little brother and I up to be active and encouraged us to participate in team and individual sports.
I still love playing sport, as does my husband and we’ll definitely be encouraging our kids to play sport and teach them the benefits of getting exercise and interacting with others on the sporting field.

However, I was a bit horrified over the weekend to learn that a local kickboxing promoter had created a match between his eight-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old opponent – the young girls kicked and punched each other in a ring where onlookers (mostly older men) consumed alcohol, screamed out encouragement and handed out cash tips for the little girls.

My issue with this is not the fact that these young girls are ‘competing’ in a sport – it’s the kind of activity that they are doing. With their bones not finished growing and their brains not yet fully developed, I feel like this is a completely unsuitable past time for any minor (girl or boy) to be participating in.

Georgia Barton 7 (L) and Jasmine Parr 8 (R) fighting in Saturday's match

What ever happened to kids wanting to play soccer, go to Nippers or run at Little Athletics? When I was about 10-years-old, my parents enrolled my brother and I in Karate lessons to help teach us the basics of self defence. My dad also decided to undertake the adult classes to help encourage us and also learn some potential life-saving defensive techniques.

I see nothing wrong with this kind of contact sport – Karate teaches you how to focus and be disciplined and it is also very spiritual.

I don’t see what small children are going to learn from kickboxing? The little girls over the weekend were dressed up in garish pink outfits with lipstick and streamers and then proceeded to kick, shove and punch each other.
Jasmine "Princess" Parr with her father and fight promoter John Wayne Parr

They aren’t learning anything from participating in this but how to most effectively beat their opponent to a pulp. I think it's sick!

I just think this is sickening and I feel that the promoter of this match should be ashamed of himself for encouraging such a thing (he isn’t though – he’s already promoting future child matches).

The crowd at Saturday's fight - mostly older men who were consuming alcohol

I am not sure how everyone else feels about this, but it just feels like the kickboxing fraternity on the Gold Coast has just hit an all time low and I for one wouldn’t go to see a child match if you paid me.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Home inspiration

So as we get closer and closer to our house being built, I am starting to look at certain colour schemes and furnishings that might look good in our new home.

As we are doing a grey/charcoal and white colour scheme (on the interior and exterior) I need to ensure any colours that we are adding to our predominantly cool base are a perfect match and complement our scheme perfectly.

I want to utilise feature walls where possible and include statement lighting to really give the main living areas a real wow factor.

Adding splashes of colour like mustard yellow and aquamarine with blacks and greys really add something different from the norm - I love the below looks. 

We have chosen a dark charcoal tile that will run throughout the entire house, bathrooms/ensuite and alfresco areas, however wall tiles in the wet areas will be white. We have decided against using a feature tile because we think they may date and are trying to keep our 'shell' as neutral as possible. 

I think the use of feature wall paper makes a fabulous statement, especially in an entrance or wall in a master bedroom. I love the patterns, especially stripes, but I think that adhesive wall art also looks really effective.

For little touches, I want to incorporate candles, fresh flowers, rugs, throws, cushions and mirrors where possible to make our new house feel like a home and add atmosphere.

For now it's all ideas... until we can move in around September!

Loving Lively

So I am girl-crushing on Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively (aka Serena van der Woodsen) and I am not making a secret of it – this girl is hot!
Lively plays Serena in the dysfunctional, New York-based drama series – the always groomed, upper East-side princess who can’t seem to keep her life together, but always seems to have the perfect handbag.
Not only is she known for her amazing ensembles on screen, she has become fashion’s It Girl off set as well.
Lively has gone on the record confirming that she doesn’t employ a stylist and does her own hair and makeup before events. Given that she hardly ever makes a fashion faux pas, the girl obviously is confident in her ability to pick the perfect frock. Can I just say I think it’s so refreshing to see someone not worry about being fussed over in order to look amazing.   
At 23 she was made the face of Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle handbag line and it’s no secret she is Lagerfeld’s current obsession, having courted her to several recent fashion week events in Cannes and New York. She has also been invited as US Vogue Editor Anna Wintour’s plus one at a handful of front-row fashion shows.
With all the publicity she has been receiving lately (not to mention the suspicious nude photos that were released last month) it’s no wonder she has caught the attention of perennial womaniser, Leonardo DiCaprio, who she has just come home from spending several weeks in Europe with. 
I watched an interview between Lively and her Green Lantern co-star Ryan Reynolds (now they would make a cute couple) and unlike her messed up GG character, she seems completely grounded, relaxed and 100 per cent in control of her destiny. She actually reminded me of Cameron Diaz – both with that fun-loving, sunny disposition, from California and obviously have a great sense of humour. 
Blake is featured in this month’s US Glamour Magazine and was interviewed by friend and muso, Florence Welch. I’ve posted some pics from the 70s-inspired magazine shoot below. 

I am excited to see what Blake will do next – I think she is the Californian-ray-of-sunshine that the fashion and entertainment industries needed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Art of being HAPPY

Over the weekend, the Courier Mail featured a section in their Q Magazine titled ‘Laughter Lines’ – asking Queenslanders what makes them happy.

The questionnaire received responses from a range of people from all walks of life – ex-sporting greats, homeless people, chief legal professionals, musicians, students, charity directors, and every day residents.

Their answers were sometimes obvious – spending time with family and friends being the major one, but I liked the little specific things that people got much happiness from, like sipping a cup of tea in bed, sinking a putt, a cold beer at the end of the week and (this one is my favourite) watching the Queensland Maroons win at State of Origin time.

I thought about what made me happy, and this is what I’ve come up with:

-Being completely at ease with the world and having nothing to worry about (when I am not stressing about life!)
-Knowing that I have the unconditional love of my family, and that I can give the same in return.
-The crazy, 24-hour devoted love that is given to me by my beloved Cocker Spaniel, Charlie – I believe animals are the cure for even the worst of bad moods.
-Being able to cook for the people I love warms my heart and offers me a therapeutic outlet to express myself through food.
-Waking up and seeing a cloudless, spectacular sky and be thankful for the life and family I was born in to.
-Sharing a beautiful bottle of wine and dining with my wonderful husband in an amazing restaurant.
-Being superfluous with my language and making the most out of adjectives (see above point! Haha!)
-Singing aloud when there is no one at home and thinking to myself that I sound better than most contestants on Australia Idol…
-Being on the water and boating – a lifestyle that I grew up with and would love to give to my children one day.
-Going for a run in the fresh air.
-The excitement of overseas travel and the thought of the unknown, which I want to explore further.
-Having a good book to snuggle down on the couch with and just read for hours.
-Looking through photos from past events and reminiscing about the time that has already flown by.
-My future – one thing I realised is that I have so much to look forward to in life and my future and spending it with my wonderful family and friends makes me the happiest person right now, despite what adversities have featured in my past.

 I think whatever thing makes you happy, hold on to it because life can change in an instant and we all deserve a little happiness, no matter how big or small, or who we are.

“I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness…” Dalai Lama

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hello Sunday Morning

I have recently discovered this site where you basically make a pledge to quit alcohol for three months (or longer).
Hello Sunday Morning was created by Chris Raine, a 24 year-old Brisbane resident after he simply got over waking up with a huge hangover every Sunday morning.
Chris' theory is that binge drinking is increasing in younger Australians, so he set up a site where participants who have taken the pledge to give up grog for at least three months and blog about it - sharing their experience with others (blogging is optional). Chris himself gave up alcohol for a total of 15 months.
I think it's a great idea and I'm going to take the pledge myself. Check out the site if you're interested.