Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Printed Denim

I have to say upfront that I am not a fan of printed denim. It has been around for a while and I was kind of hoping that it would pass me and the rest of the sartorial world by with nary a glance back. Unfortunately though, the buggers have hung in for all they are worth and it seems as if they will still be around for the Southern Hemisphere summer so I thought to myself " What the Heck, if you can't bet 'em, better join 'em" and jumped on over to the dark printed side.

I need to be honest, I am not as daring as a few others I know and I humbly admit that florals in bright and crazy colours are a bit too out of my comfort zone (sorry Simone, sorry Beady). And whilst I do like a bit of animal print, I can't be doing it splattered all over my jeans. So I thought that a subtle lace pattern in grey on grey jeans would be a step in the right direction. So may I present my lace print crop jeans from Free People. They were on sale at Shopbop which makes me very happy in that it wasn't a big layout to be bang on trend. After a bit of lounging in my wardrobe (with tags intact in case of return), they have finally made their debut. The jury is still out on whether they will be a wardrobe staple worn until they wear out sometime in summer 2012/2013 or if they will just be a little fly by night fancy. One positive is that at least Honey Boo seemed to like them!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Impending arrivals

This weekend just gone was spent in the lovely surrounds of Melbourne, attending my cousin's baby shower. Her little girl is due to arrive in less then 4 weeks although just quietly, many of the Mums in attendance suspect that baby hanging on for another 4 weeks is really only an outside chance - the money is well and truly on an early arrival (which my cousin would probably be VERY happy with!). The great thing about baby showers, apart from catching up with everyone and seeing all the baby cuteness on display, is the amazing food on offer - just like a high tea only with all of my childhood favourites including jelly cakes, woo hoo! Even better, I came home with a prize. As my only claim to mothering fame is that Honey Boo, the cutest puddy in the world, is still alive after 7 months in our house, no-one was more surprised then me. The facts on babies that I have stored away in my head is mind boggling as it turns out. Mind you, I am sure it is all down to me being a marketing department's dream - everything I have learnt about babies has come straight from TV ads on Huggies and J&J baby shampoo.

There was also some shopping to be had too. What is a trip away without shopping after all. I don't know why it is but although the same shops are in Sydney, when you visit them in another location, they seem so much better. Maybe it is having Mum and Auntie S there to provide helpful advice makes it more fun. Anyway, I splurged in Zara (yep, it was a weekend of suprises), Target and even picked up some new tan ankle boots on the way back to the hotel to collect my baggage. It was brilliant visiting all of the old lane ways and arcades I used to know so well when I lived in Melbourne and I loved the Collins Place display which was a cheeky nod to Melbourne's rainy weather...

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter with us

I woke this morning to find the Easter Bunny had thoughtfully brought me yummy handmade chocolate eggs from the French patisserie down the road. Wow, I was seriously super-excited to find these on my bedside table! And as is usually the way with long weekends spent in Sydney, Eady and I then headed off with our baby Weber for a BBQ in our local beachside park with some of the inlaws. 

After eating far too many sausages in bread, chocolate cupcakes and easter eggs then is recommended in any one day, I decided it was high time to lay back on our picnic rug and relax. 

Eady on the other hand decided it was high time to teach our 3 year old niece Immi, just how closely related to chimps we really are. So convincing was his performance atop the wire jungle that I was certain someone would call Taronga Zoo to report a wild chimp had escaped and was causing a ruckus at nearby Clifton Gardens...

Friday, 6 April 2012

The Pros and Cons of Our First Renovation

Whilst we bask in the peace and solitude of our "new" house with no tradesmen making noise and ever more mess and all rooms now fully operational, I thought I would summarise the highs and lows of our first renovation experience:

The Highs:

Removal of the hideous faux-federation balustrading and skirting boards

No more cream carpets

No beige, nothing even close to being beige, anywhere in the house

The lights, the one in the living area especially!

Our electricians (see below) and most of our tradies

The colours, the floors, the walls and furniture. We love it all!

Our budget, only because we stuck to it and didn't spend all of the emergency funds (phew!)

The Lows:

Wiring that ran across floors and upstairs that was discovered only when the carpet was ripped up

The smell of paint, glue, solvents and waterproofing membrane

Project Managing the renos whilst holding down a full-time job (aaaargh!)

The DUST!!!

The alcoholic painter that drank our open bottle of wine in the fridge, got copious amounts of paint on our new carpet and bedding and then tried to hide the evidence in the shrubbery outside our front gate. He was caught in the act  by the electrician who took a photo and emailed straight to us (Yay, we love you Josh!)

The sheer inconvenience of living, eating, sleeping in one room (or having to de-camp to the inlaws place)

I do have to say that all of the lows resolved themselves easily enough and dare I say it, I have almost forgotten the stress involved now that I can look around and appreciate the home we have. 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The inside is done!

It has been a very busy month since my last blog post and why is this so? One simple word for you - renovations. My gosh, what a stress they are! I don't think I ever fully appreciated the sheer extent of madness they can cause in even the most sane and sensible of people. Surely witnessing the huge number of tears shed on every renovation show we have ever watched should have given us some insight but no, we were none the wiser when we woke up in excitement on the first day of "Renovations Stage 1A" only a few weeks ago. And in all honesty, having come through the other side, I don't think there is ever anything that can fully prepare you for the intense highs and lows that occur when your long saved for and hard-won house is at the mercy of builders and tradesmen and meticulously drawn-up quotes. Even though our renos paled into insignificance compared to the wild and whacky plans unleashed on "Grand Designs" (ah, Kevin McCloud, not just the thinking girl's crumpet but probably a very handy person to have around when debating measurements and all things structural), the anxiety levels reached fever pitch for both Eady and I. Luckily for our sanity and that of Honey Boo, the cutest puddy in the world, we never lost the plot at the same time.

Here we are though, one month later, and I am pleased to say that "Stage 1A" is now complete. We tackled most of the townhouse in this phase, both upstairs and downstairs, and rather then looking like the dated-early-1980s-faux-federation-drowning-in-beige place that it was, we now have quite a simple and elegant look that mixes a very modern colour palate with a mix of modern classic and retro styling. In a nutshell, we have solid floorboards downstairs, charcoal carpets upstairs, soft grey walls and vivid white woodwork throughout. We made all of the decisions ourselves, without engaging any professional help and we both really love what we have created. Downstairs has been described by a Stylist we engaged for the outdoor area (Stage 1B!)  as "very masculine" which is interesting given that most of the suggestions we went with came through me. In this area, we have paired modern white and black gloss furniture with some very cool light fittings which were first released in the 1970s and sourced through our new favourite lighting store in Surry Hills to create a very stream-lined and minimalist living space. For two Type A personalities like us where clutter of any kind is not just unwelcome but down-right distressing(!), we just love the clean lines and clinical colours we went with. Not to say that the space is cold, it definitely isn't thanks to the soft grey we used on the walls but rather it is more low maintenance and perfect for getting home from work and knowing that everything is as it should be with no "stuff" to distract us from relaxing. Upstairs is definitely a little more relaxed. Same colour palate but softened with charcoal carpets, oak furniture in our bedroom and white and red in our study, with plantation shutters throughout and lets of personal effects too that remind us of our travels and experiences. 

The planning for our outdoor space is nearly done and work should kick-off in about 2 weeks time in what we have imaginatively called Stage 1B (work with me people, between an accountant and former project manager we like our simple and concise names). With all of the issues around plumbing and fencing and asbestos, we can't wait for the first bit of soil to be turned or in this case, first brick paver be removed! So ideally we are looking at everything being done by June. Well I say that, but we do need to update our wardrobe doors and re-do the bathroom even though a lick of paint has done wonders to both. Planning Stage 2 already? Seems we may well have caught the renovation bug....

Monday, 5 March 2012

Back to the Grind Stone

As the sun rose this morning,  I realised that our holiday had officially come to an end and it was time to head back to The Office and the reality of earning a living. Luckily for me, I love work and the people I work with so I was quite excited to be heading back. I'm sure my plan to debut a new outfit recently purchased over in Hawaii helped too! Hooray then for my new navy and white polka dot shift dress from Tommy Hilfiger. By the end of the day, I realised just how easy this dress was to wear and how super-comfy too (just like a beach dress only corporate!) and after only the first wear, it has now become my new favourite work outfit. Paired with my Jimmy Choo patent flats and a navy Zara cardigan, I was ready to hit the desk running on Day 1 post-holiday.

In other news, our renovations started this morning with prep work being the key aim for the builders today. So when Honey Boo, the cutest puddy in the world and I came home this evening, we found the carpets and skirting boards had been ripped up, the balustarding on the stairs had been ripped out and a water-proof membrane painted on the downstairs floor which can't be walked on until tomorrow morning. It is messy and dusty and a tad inconvenient but also very exciting! And the best thing ever about the builders? After taking Honey Boo to work with me today so she wouldn't get in the way (she was a terrible flirt with John Paul, one of our builders, when he came to do his measurements. It was really quite a shameless spectacle but he seemed to fall for it hook, line and sinker!) and knowing we couldn't access the kitchen to get to her food, the builders left a selection of puddy treats on the stairs for her dinner. Who says flirting doesn't pay?!!


Sunday, 4 March 2012

Oh Hawaii, how I miss you!

Well it is back to reality and a wet and drizzly Sydney and whilst it is nice to be home and snuggling up to Honey Boo, the cutest puddy cat in the world, I am pining just a little for warm and sunny Hawaii. Not to mention our new second home, the Moana Surf Rider Hotel in Waikiki. We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this hotel! For it's early 1900s elegance, relaxed vibe and prime position on our favourite shopping strip in the whole wide world, it just can't be beat. 

As for the shopping, the haul this trip was truly spectacular thanks to a strong Aussie dollar and some clever and well-planned purchasing by Eady and I. A trip to the outlets where we bought amongst other things 3 pairs of Sketchers trainers for Mum for less then the price of 1 pair here in Oz, my favourite Calvin Klein bras for less then half price and some preppy gear from Polo Ralph Lauren. A trip (or two to be precise) to the Alamoana Shopping centre for lots of J. Crew and some Gap items for people back home and even the odd purchase or two from the boutiques near our hotel after early evening cocktails by the pool (Seriously, this must be the smartest business move ever - Happy hour at the local bars followed by a late-night trading until 11pm every night by the local retailers...). It all made for a bountiful haul that literally covered our hotel bed by the time we were ready to leave. Luckily we just managed to get it all into our bags and come in under the Jetstar weight allowance...

On the food front, there were some notable meals. Wolfgang's (New York style steakhouse that had us digesting red meat for days), The Beach House at Moana Surf Rider (romantic table on the balcony overlooking the water) and of course our perennial favourite, the Cheesecake Factory, where you are guaranteed to come out three sizes larger and 5 kilos heavier then when you came in. I pondered how the wait staff could stay so slim working at a place that offers no less then 30 different cheesecakes on the menu each day so decided to ask one of our waitresses:

Cole K: How do you guys manage to stay so skinny working here?
Waitress (in an incredulous tone): Oh, we don't eat the food!
Cole K: Ha, Ha!
Waitress: No seriously, even our salads are fattening
Cole K: Oh
Waitress: Yes, you can always tell the people that eat our food
Cole K: Hmmmm
Waitress: Would you guys like some cheesecake?
Cole K: No, we might pass this time.

One notable disappointment on the food front was Nobu, a modern Japanese restaurant that is critically acclaimed not only in Hawaii but around the globe too. We have dined here previously (as well as a few other Nobu restaurants in other locations) and were so excited to be dining there again on this trip. In fact, so excited that we planned to go twice in the 9 nights we had in Waikiki. Unfortunately though, we only made it once as whilst the food was impeccable, the service was absolutely appalling. For a while there we completely forgot we were dining in the US, usually the home of exceptional customer service. It appeared as if we were not the only people on the night to have this experience judging by the reactions of customers at nearby tables. Some of the issues we had were waiting 20 minutes for our wine despite making 3 requests for it, Eady being told to ensure he finishes his cocktail before the wine is brought out (WTF?), asking questions about the food and cooking techniques and having the waiter just read out the menu description rather then answering our questions (if you don't know, just ask the chef!) and even having one waiter interupt us in mid-conversation with another waiter by phsyically hip-and-shouldering him out of the way like a professional AFL player. And these were just a few of the complaints we had. It was so disappointing that we didn't leave a tip at all (crazy move in the US I know but it almost ruined the night for us) and even made a complaint to the manager via the concierage at our hotel. Thankfully a strawberry daiquiri and some soothing Hawaiian tunes from the local duo playing back at our hotel meant the night ended on a high for us anyway. Yay for the Moana Surf Rider!

All in all, we had a fabulous time in Hawaii. Lots of shopping, sight-seeing, eating and chill-axing which is pretty much the perfect holiday for us!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

North Shore Relaxation

Tuesday has dawned in heaven on earth i.e. Hawaii, which means we are already 5 days into our holiday. Slow down time, you're moving way too fast for us chilled-out entertainers. I guess it really is true that time flies when you're having fun (or doing nothing more then moving from bed to deck chair and back again). We have been staying at a resort on the North Shore of Oahu, which shouldn't be confused at all with the North Shore in Sydney even if the number of 4WDs on the road is roughly equivalent. We even managed to leave the resort long enough to find an authentic Mexican place a short bus trip away called "Los Chalos". Bring on the frozen margaritas and the most amazing chicken fajitas and re-fried beans ever!

Monday, 20 February 2012

A Girls Weekend and then a Holiday!

Whilst in Hobart for the conference, I was joined by my Mum who flew in on Friday afternoon to spend some time with me. We had a lovely girls weekend - lots of seafood, shopping and champagne! We spent a lot of time at the Salamanca markets on Saturday and trawling through the galleries close by. We bought quite a few accessories between us (could this be the biggest understatement of 2012 so far?!!). I got some lovely earrings and a throw for home which should compliment the renos we are starting in March and Mum got a beautiful scarf for herself and one for Auntie S too. We had a fabulous time and it was sad to get back on a plane on Sunday - Mum heading back to Melbourne and me back to Sydney.

Luckily though it was a short week at work as Eady and I headed off to Hawaii for a holiday on Thursday! Our first visit to this heaven-on-earth was about 18 months ago after an adult lifetime of avoidance (tourist trap anyone?) but cheap Jetstar flights and a hot Aussie dollar convinced us to take the chance back then. Gosh, we are sure glad we did! We had a fabulous time first time around and are delighted to be back for the second time, woo hoo!!