Thursday, 30 June 2011

Black Opals

Today's outfit was chosen purely to accessorise with another bling purchase from Cairns, my black opal drop earrings. They are very simple and not too long which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE plus I think the colours are absolutely beautiful - teal blue, emerald and red (although the photo taken on my dodgy iphone does them no justice at all). I have loved opals since I was little and actually bought my first ever pair of opal stud earrings in Canberra, at the War Memorial Gift Shop on a family trip there when I was in Grade 3. I begged Mum for the earrings which cost the princely sum of $7.00 some 25 years ago and luckily for me, she said yes! Little did she know it was going to set me up for a life long love of opals and the gorgeous colours they show. My first earrings way back then were triplet opals (where a slice of opal is sandwiched between a dark background to highlight the colours and a clear gloss on top) whilst my latest purchase has seen me graduate onto solid stones.  

So back to my outift choice. Today I wore my Kain silk cowl neck top in a lovely "opal" green to match my new earrings. This was coupled with a Bellisima white microfibre long-sleeved top underneath to keep out the winter chill, Sass & Bide Straight Up Jeans (otherwise known as my "chubby day" jeans due to the ability of the denim to soften quickly and easily to accomodate an extended muffin top when required) and white Mimco silver and gold studded ballet flats.

I am seriously excited that I found these earrings, I think they are the perfect addition to my earring wardrobe. Bingo.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

My Bracelet of Memories

With the purchase of a Pandora bead whilst in Cairns, I have now finally filled my bracelet and I have to say that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! It is predominantly silver with hints of gold, red and orange. I didn't have a set idea of how I wanted it to look but somehow it has just evolved into the perfect bracelet for me. Bingo.

I first got my bracelet 4 years ago when Eady bought it along with my first ever bead, a love heart (awwwww). He bought it as a reward for me for being an excellent patient during my recuperation from a big operation. Since that time, many of my beads have been gifts that remind me of particular people, places or events and one of my favourite things to do when I need some time out at The Office is to look at each bead and reminisce about what each represents. I find this is a very calming thing to do so I guess it is like my personal version of worry beads!

Monday, 27 June 2011

A Holiday without a Husband

Whilst I have had a lovely time away soaking up the sun, eating for Australia and stimulating the Far North Queensland economy with various purchases of the bling kind, it has been bittersweet. That is because this mini-break was conducted sans Eady. Having a high falutin finance job like he does, Eady is up to his ears in budget forecasts for the next financial year right now and couldn't take any time off, even on the weekend, to fly up to FNQ. As luck would have it, I had a very small window in which to travel too. I was in dire need of getting away and needed to do it before the school holidays (due to a massive phobia I have about holidaying whilst surrounded by noisy, splashy children that don't belong to me) and before my next lot of work commitments kick in in July.

It was my first ever holiday by myself in my entire life and it was an interesting experience for the most part. I am used to travelling solo for work, something that has been part of my life pretty much since I graduated and took on my first "professional" role. I have travelled for extended periods and have been perfectly happy to occupy myself on weekends or even to take some leave whilst away on work travel to have a bit of a holiday (Monaco Grand Prix, yeah!). However, after this experience, I do feel that travelling alone for pleasure might be slightly different to travelling alone for work, for me anyway. I am not sure whether this has a purely psychological basis i.e. that I was very self-conscious of other people looking at me dining solo because I wasn't travelling for work and wasn't surrounded by other workers in the same position or if my paranoia was actually warranted - the holiday spot I went to tends to get predominantly holiday-makers, families and couples, so aren't really used to having females dining on their own. I got some unusual looks and reactions ranging from disparaging to incredulous (I assume because I was on my own but perhaps my ksubi coloured jeans were a bit too much...) from staff at one restaurant and staff at one pub and interesting enough, all of the staff involved were guys in their late 20s. Luckily for me, I have developed a pretty thick skin (or a healthy disregard of my acute paranoias!) and these reactions didn't bother me enough to force me into hiding away in my hotel room. It just meant I took my tourist dollars elsewhere and enjoyed some fabulous food in more comfortable surrounds. Bingo.

And on that note, I had better rush to the airport. My flight home to Eady is very soon!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Holiday Food

The great thing about any holiday is that the pretense of healthy eating can be forgotten purely under the guise of it being "holiday time". Yesterday I had crepes with butter, lemon and sugar for breakfast. Unbeknown to me at the time, the freshly squeezed orange juice that accompanied it would have to serve as my fruit, veggie and fibre dose for the day.

Lunch provided chicken fajitas by the pool and they looked quite healthy by holiday food standards (work with me here people). It suited my lazy tendencies in that I didn't even have to leave my deck chair to order.
Dinner was grilled red snapper....grilled in copious amounts of butter that is. Yum! Served with chips that I didn't eat (but of course I lie, I ate each and every one without pausing for breath). I finished off with a decadent chocolate pudding which I ordered not just with double cream but ice-cream too. Is it any wonder I had to roll myself to bed? Still I awake refreshed and ready to take on the eating challenges of today. Mmmm, come to me you cute little bacon and egg roll with extra bacon....

Thursday, 23 June 2011

And the mini-break begins

Come hell or high water, I was determined to be on my 6.00am flight to Cairns this morning, volcanic ash and winter lurgy be damned. So with luck on my side, a veritable pharmacy packed in my bag and a box of aloe vera Kleenex tissues within reach at all times, my travels have landed me on a banana lounge by the pool in balmy 28C sunshine somewhere in Far North Queensland. My eyes are running, there appears to be no end to the sheer volume of gunk my nose is expelling and I have no desire to consume anything stronger then Lemsip but jeepers, it sure is nice to be thawing out in the sun after the cold snap in Sydney. I swear I am starting to feel better already, must be all of that vitamin D!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The perfect cure for a winter lurgy

A dreaded winter lurgy has got the better of me over the last few days and despite my best efforts to fight it off, the big guns have had to be called in - antibiotics and bed rest. With a low boredom threshold at the best of times, this is amplified when I am feeling unwell and told that rest is best (Conversely, if I am feeling great I love nothing more then lazing about in my pjs all day. Go figure.). So after spending the last 3 days in bed, it was bound to happen...iPad + Bluefly website = Jimmy Choo. So what exactly does this highly technical equation mean? Well, it means that my lovely new pointy-toe flats are currently winging their way across the world to be delivered to straight to my door by the equally lovely Mr DHL. Yes, another internet purchase but ooooh, they sure are nice!

Now I have been coveting these shoes all year but for one reason or another, they sat in my shopping cart on the Jimmy Choo website patiently waiting for the day they would be purchased. After receiving some good news two weeks ago, I thought they would make an excellent celebration present but just didn't get around to hitting the "purchase now" button. In my bed-ridden boredom though, a quick check on the Bluefly website, initially conducted to cheer me up and keep me occupied for a bit, had an amazing result. Not only was my boredom cured, my heart positively skipped a beat when I laid my eyes on the very Jimmy Choos I wanted, not only in my chosen colour but with one pair left in my size too. Bingo. With Eady's grim request to go easy on credit card for the next few weeks ringing in my ears, the exchange rate plus the price reduction that always comes with Bluefly was just too good an opportunity to pass up. The shoes were almost $150 cheaper then if I had of purchased them via the Jimmy Choo website so as far as I see it, I have actually made Eady and I a profit by purchasing them. Eady, who is a proper Accountant, might not agree  but with thinking like that, I'm sure I could well be a financial genius in disguise.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Thriller night

There is something eerie if not downright scary about a full moon. As a child of the 80s, I'm in no doubt that Mr Michael Jackson and his Thriller video clip have a lot to answer for in this regard...

Sunny Saturday

There are days that really help reaffirm just why I love winter in Sydney. Despite my complaints about chilly days, I do have to concede that the temperatures are quite mild...especially in comparison with every other place we have lived. It gets cold enough that I can make the most of my winter wardrobe (Hello boots! Hello cashmere!) but there is hardly any possibility of a "snow day" keeping us home from work - a semi-regular occurrence in winter during our years in the Northern Hemisphere. Even better though, is that it is completely possible to have days of total sunshine. Where there isn't a cloud in the sky and you venture out without 30+ sunscreen solely at your own risk.

After a wet and windy time last weekend, I was reminded today of just how magical a winters day can be here in the harbour city. It was so lovely that Eady and I went for a leisurely stroll along the water from Balgowlah to Manly to make the most of the beautiful sunshine, the gorgeous views and the fresh sea air. We worked up a good appetite for a yum cha lunch at Manly Sky Phoenix where we managed to nab a window table and lots of steamed dumplings within minutes of arriving. Another leisurely stroll back to the car allowed us to enjoy the last of the afternoon sunshine before our drive home. Bliss.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Hair today, gone tomorrow

I woke up this morning very glad to have a hair appointment booked in for later in the day. Having short hair now, I find that it requires much more regular maintenance then my long locks ever did and consequently I have a tightly managed schedule that makes any of my efforts at The Office pale into comparison. It has been right on 6 weeks since my last cut so I was in dire need of a good trim plus a little blonding too.

My hair salon of choice is Our Place in Victoria Street, Potts Point, right near the big coca-cola sign at Kings Cross. The lovely Kelly ensures that my blonde is the perfect shade (and is very patient with my angst-ridden cries of "No yellow, I can't stand yellow" at the start of each appointment). Clive then cuts my hair and is a true artiste with the scissors, what he does with them is akin to what Da Vinci could do with a paint brush. If anyone is familiar with East Enders, the British soapie based on London's East End, Clive looks and sounds just like Phil the cranky bar-tender. Only Clive isn't cranky but absolutely, bloody hilarious. I seriously feel like I am in a parallel universe when I am at the salon where East Enders is set in Sydney and "Phil" is a comedic genius with a succession of stories and jokes (admittedly some that could only be shown after the watershed!).

Anyway, today I wanted to take some flowers into the salon as a huge thank you to Clive and Kelly. I have recently become involved in a charity which supports 3 different facilities in Vietnam that provide medical care and food and shelter to HIV positive patients who would otherwise not receive any care due to their financial circumstances. As part of this, Clive and Kelly donated a $250 voucher which was used as one of the raffle prizes at our annual fund-raising night a couple of weeks back. I was blown away by their generosity and wanted to thank them for their amazing gesture. And what can't be said adequately with words, is best said with flowers I think!

My outing to the salon also allowed me to try out one of the two new dresses that I purchased yesterday - a stripey dress called "Body Con" which I purchased from the Kmart store at Chatswood Chase (hidden away at the back of the food court and which I  didn't realise existed until this shopping trip). And for the paltry sum of $19! Let me just say, the strategic placing of stripes on this dress creates curves that a Herve Leger dress would be jealous of and at a mere fraction of the price. Of course, there isn't quite the support available in my cheapy version so the dress requires  me to constantly brace my core muscles so as not to distort the stripes. Not only is it a very cute and wearable dress but it is a portable pilates class to boot!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Shopping the Sales

Today seemed like the perfect day to hit the high street sales. Bizarre I know, considering most stores went on sale weeks ago but for me, missing the first mad days of sale time is purely a safety measure. Once all of the craziness dies down I figure that the risk of copping an elbow to the head whilst checking over the Chloe shoes on sale at DJs is much reduced. So whilst it might seem that I'm slow on the uptake, I'm actually a thinker (or a very big coward, depending on your point-of-view).

I decided that instead of all of the usual spots that a trip to Chatswood Chase, a shopping centre just north of the Sydney CBD was the place for me. Normally I would avoid this retail monolith purely because of the issues with navigating the carpark but figured that as it was not school holidays, the number of 4WDs driven by harassed parents of bored children would be low thus making the carparks much more friendly to cute-little-car drivers like me. So I hoped into my cute-little-car (affectionately known as Shimmer to Eady and I because of her lovely silvery grey colour) and parked with the minimum of effort. The shopping expedition was off to a good start.

After a mad dash around, I picked up some great pieces for The Office wardrobe in under 2 hours. Amongst my haul, I got a lovely winter dress from Fleur Wood which ticks all of my winter dress boxes - long sleeves, knee length, merino wool and easy to dress up with heels and jacket or dress down with boots and long cardigan. The best bit was a drastic reduction in price. Yes people, we are talking well over 50%! Bingo.

Considering my purchases and the good old "It's not what you spend, it's what you save" credo that was my inspiration today, it was a very succesful trip. I am sure my goodies will form part of my outfit blogs over the coming days!

Note: No Chloe shoes were purchased in the interests of this blog post. Thankfully (in Eady's mind anyway) my size had sold out in the pink suede scalloped edge ballet flats. Although I am sure my size is available somewhere in the great cyber shopping mall ....just kidding babe!

Monday, 13 June 2011

One wet long weekend

This weekend was a long weekend in honour of the Queen's 85th birthday. Although I have  major girl crush on The Duchess, I would probably identify myself as a Republican if I had to choose however I am more then happy to celebrate with the Queen if it means a public holiday and an extra long weekend! Although we didn't have plans to go away and the weather did it's best to keep us indoors, we managed to get out and about (well, to the next suburb anyway).

On Saturday afternoon, we headed to our local cinema to watch "Super 8", the new Stephen Spielberg movie best summed up as the ET equivalent for the children of Gen Y and just as fun to watch. A couple of rows in front of us sat a little boy and and during the scary parts, of which there were a few, he would snuggle up to his Dad and hide his face. Cute for us but probably not so much for him!

On Saturday night we caught up with our best man Wozza, who was lucky enough to be given an overnight leave pass from his wife to fly to Sydney to see his beloved Swans play at the SCG. Wozza was travelling with his brother and nephew and we all caught up at our local pub, which is very "child" and "cook-your-own-steak-just-how-you-like-it" friendly, a double bonus for any family group. I learnt a lot from Oscar on all of the games that can be played on an iPhone although I sincerely doubt I could manage the skill or dexterity this 6 year old displayed during his demonstration and detailed commentary on the what, where and hows of each game. Oscar, his Dad and I called it quits fairly early on in the night and headed to our various places of rest, which allowed Eady and Wozza to relive their glory days without the early-to-bedders impeding them. Let's just say, judging by Eady's attempts to give me a goodnight kiss some hours later, those two have still got it.

Sunday was a lazy day, for me anyway. After a long sleep-in, a very dusty Eady managed to get himself to the SCG for a dose of AFL whilst I lazed in front of the heater with the Sunday papers for most of the afternoon. Pizza and red wine seemed like the perfect post-football dinner for Eady and also got me out of the house and into the awful weather (well, long enough to eat anyway!).

The weather today was also less then ideal so we decided that it was another good day to venture to the cinema, this time to see "Bridesmaids" a film about the adventures of wedding planning after a motley collection of girls are thrown together to form the bridal party.  The story was cute, if a little predictable, but the writer and director Judd Aptow worked his magic to make it funny, relevant, highly entertaining and touching in the way his previous movies have been (Knocked Up, 40 year-old Virgin). The lead character of Annie, the maid of (dis)honour was played by Kirsten Wiig. She had a small part in Knocked Up as an MTV Assistant and pretty much stole that movie in my opinion so I am really glad that she was selected as the lead for this movie as she was perfect! The cameos throughout the movie were hilarious too. Mr Don Draper as a sleazy and selfish friend-with-benefits to Annie, Matt Lucas (of Little Britain fame) and Rebel Wilson (our latest export from Oz) as a creepy brother and sister duo and from the IT crowd, Chris O'Dowd as Annie's policeman love interest - what's not to love about a cute Irish man in uniform? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this movie and it comes highly recommended from me. 5 stars!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

HOT Leggings

Last night, Eady and I caught up with Sammy and his lovely wife Dine who was due to give birth to their first baby the day before. Yes, Dine was 9 months and one day pregnant. But luckily for us all, baby wasn't quite ready to venture out into the big, wide world so a final night of freedom (for Sammy and Dine at any rate) was in order by way of tapas at a local restaurant. Apart from a good dose of yummy tapas and catching up with friends for the last time pre-baby, the night out also gave me the opportunity to try out my latest favourite thing for keeping the winter chill at bay. Fleece-lined leggings. Yes, that's right, leggings that have a thin layer of fleece on the inside to keep my pins nice and warm. And let me tell you, they worked an absolute treat! I wore them with a thin merino wool dress and riding boots and despite the icy wind and winter temperatures, I was toasty warm on the walk to and back from our night out. Even better though, I didn't overheat or turn into a sweaty-betty indoors either. Bingo.

I had first heard about fleece-lined leggings a few months ago via some US shopping websites but the reviews seemed quite mixed and for the cost of them (about $70 USD per pair), I was a little reluctant to purchase in case I fell into the category of people who didn't rate them. Instead I did some investigation and found that there were some fleece-lined leggings available locally at a much cheaper price at Myer store in Pitt Street Mall. They are  Ambra fleece-lined leggings and cost $19.99 AUD and are very much worth the small outlay. They are opaque and not bulky at all, being only a teeny bit thicker than standard leggings. I can imagine wearing them with skirts and dresses, with boots or leggings-style with shoes and also under pants or jeans when one layer alone isn't enough to keep my chicken legs warm in the depths of winter.

Seriously, fleece-lined leggings are the best invention since sliced bread! A word of warning though, I am a firm believer in the cardinal rule that "leggings are not pants" and that there are no exceptions to this rule, even if your job title begins with "super" and ends with "model". Although the picture on the front of the package suggests that these fleece-lined tights could be worn out to yoga class or to the cafe with your converse trainers, the cotton gusset which is on plain display should be an extra incentive to remember that leggings are actually hoisery. Meaning, don't take the photo on the package literally - if you can't style tights like this then you can't do it with leggings either!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Go the Doggies!

After spending my formative years in Victoria which is the home of all things AFL, it was almost inevitable that I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Aussie rules to the point of obsession. Despite living in various locations around the world since and developing a fondness for other football codes, AFL still remains my number one sporting love. 

My team of choice is the Western Bulldogs who were formerly known as Footscray. I have always been a very firm believer in choosing one team and following it for life as to chop and change between teams because of friends, lovers or circumstance means that you are NOT a true dyed-in-the-wool supporter. As a big AFL fan, that is not a label I want to be tagged with. Consequently, I have supported the Bulldogs for most of my life. Even with my Dad's best efforts to convince me as a child to support Essendon by regularly offering me a dollar note (which was enough to keep me in Barney Bananas and mixed lollies for weeks at a time back then and therefore a pretty good incentive), it just wasn't enough to make the Bombers my team. Instead, I came to conclusion to support the Bulldogs on my own when I was about 4 years old and have stuck with it ever since. My decision was based upon our pet dog at the time, Larry. Larry was the bestest dog ever, we hung out, he followed me everywhere I went and we both loved to share the same ice-cream, one lick for me and another lick for Larry. Therefore, I decided that as Larry was a dog, I needed to support the Bulldogs as a show of solidarity with him. It didn't matter that Larry was actually a fluffy, ginger-coloured chihuahua and probably the dog least likely to resemble a bulldog in any way, shape or form. Larry was a dog and so the Bulldogs were the team for me even with Dad's bribes thrown into the mix.

What I didn't realise at the time was just how much heartache supporting the Bulldogs was going to lead me to, long after I grew up and Larry went to the great puppy playground in the sky. For despite the sentimental reasons for choosing them and my dedication to the cause over the last 30 years, the Bulldogs have not rewarded me...not one little bit. The Bulldogs are one of the worst teams in the AFL having only won one premiership in the entire history of the league and this event being well over 20 years before I was born. In fact, the last time the Bulldogs were actually in the AFL Grand Final (only to lose of course), I wasn't even a twinkle in my parents eyes. Sure, we have had our fair share of Brownlow medallists and colourful characters but as any true AFL supporter will tell you, a Grand Final win trumps all other rewards.

When I married Eady, I thought this would give me the option of taking on a second favourite team, one that would allow me to experience the satisfaction of being linked to a winning team without forgoing my beloved-if-extremely-frustrating Bulldogs. Well, it's pretty safe to say that I didn't do my homework very well. Eady supports St Kilda, the only other team in the history of the AFL to have won only one premiership. Over the last 2 seasons, our teams have had to play each other in the Preliminary Final to decide which team makes it into the AFL Grand Final. On both occasions, the Bulldogs lost. Whilst it was devastating to me to get so close only to miss out, there was some consolation that my second favourite team did in fact make it to GF day. But then the Saints lost the GF 2 years running! At the time I didn't know whether to be sad that my second favourite team couldn't even show me what it was to be a winner at the MCG on the last day in September (or the first week in October as it happened last year) or be relieved that there is still one other team with a record as dismal as the Bulldogs.

All I can say now is that it is pretty certain that neither the Bulldogs or the Saints are likely to be serious finals contenders this year, let alone premiership winners. So with the usual status-quo of our respective teams now restored and dreams of GF wins put on hold for another year, we can relax and resume our moaning about  supporting two dud teams. A situation that luckily we have had plenty of time to get used to... 

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Layering 101

Winter officially began today although judging by the weather in Sydney over the last couple of weeks, it seems that Mother Nature was well ahead of schedule this year. In order to stay warm and toasty and keep the chill at bay I religiously follow the layer, layer, layer mantra and it works a treat.

I usually start off with my favourite microfibre pieces from Italian brand Bellissima. The material is super-stretchy and feels so beautifully soft against my skin. They don't make me itchy, sweaty or uncomfortable and feel just as nice at the end of a really long day at The Office as when I first put them on in the morning. There are a number of different styles but my key pieces are the scoop neck, long sleeved tops in black and white and the leggings in black.  Of note, the length of the tops tend to sit just above my hip so they really need to be tucked in to sit properly under clothing and not roll up. With my top half, I love the layered look i.e. where I have a bottom layer poking out about an inch below my top layer. I normally throw on a long tank over my Bellissima  top which creates the longest layer in the outfit before I then add my top layer which gives the layering effect whilst still allowing me to tuck in the Bellissima top (Confused much? See picture below). I can't go past the "Favourite Tank" in white from Splendid for this task. Super thin, slightly sheer and long plus virtually indestructible in a normal wash cycle - much like the Bellissima stuff!

So my advice about Bellissima is that you don't let the retro 1970s-euro-soft-porn style box put you off and that you don't panic about the length of the tops as it can be overcome if required. The microfibre material is absolute genius and is an essential part of my winter armoury. Bingo.

Today's particular outfit was super casual, one of the benefits of working from The Home Office on the odd occasion. It consisted of my Bellissima top layered under a black scoop neck, long-sleeved Metallicus  merino wool top. Metallicus is one of my favourite brands for winter too, the merino pieces are warm but are light enough to be easily layered without adding a lot of bulk. The outfit was finished off by a gorgeous (and jangly) Mimco scarf that was a b'day present from Ro, my lovely MiLaw.

Layer, layer, layer = one warm Cole!