Sunday, 29 January 2012

Home Improvements are on the Horizon!

Being a science geek and more recently "a suit" in my day gig, I was very chuffed this weekend to be asked by a super cool retailer "Do you work in interiors?" This very unexpected thing happened to me whilst doing some home renovation research in Surry Hills i.e. the capital of cool homewares. Eady was there to witness this miraculous event, miraculous as budgeting and management are really the antithesis of anything remotely creative so to be accidentally mistaken for one of the arty brigade really was a miracle that made me giddy with excitement. Hence the re-living of it every 5 minutes: "Gosh, babe, how funny that they thought I was an Interior Designer?" (Cue preening and self-deprecating shrug whilst Eady smiles and nods his head for the 150+ time).

Anyway, compliment aside, the home improvements are really at a very exciting stage which is reason enough for some giddiness on my part. We have now done all of the hard work for phase one of the townhouse project - chosen colours, materials and suppliers so we are all good to go come March. Woo hoo! In a nutshell, we are updating flooring (upstairs and down), two staircases and an outdoor area and then replacing window dressings upstairs and furniture downstairs. For the downstairs flooring, we have decided on bamboo as it is very environmentally friendly and super hard-wearing and therefore more likely to stand-up to any punishment metered out by Jimmy Choo. We debated about floating floorboards but have decided to go with the solid, stick-down variety as we absolutely abhor squeaky floors plus we love the feel of something solid under foot. It was a huge decision about whether to go carpet or bamboo on our dog-legged stairs and mezzanine level due to the amount of work needed to make each step symmetrical and even but bamboo won out in the end and we are quite excited by this as it will really make a feature of the staircases. We are going for a mid-brown colour (the bottom sample in the photo to the right) which we think will work really well with both our current furniture and new furniture. 

Upstairs we are going to stick with carpet but go for something which is much easier to keep clean then the current cream sisal. Greys and charcoals are my favourite shades and to offset the colour of the timber flooring and stairs, we have selected a beautiful dark grey carpet. We had our bedroom furniture made last year in Tasmanian Oak and think the carpet will look fantastic against these pieces plus the feature wall which we are re-painting to a cool pale lime / soft green colour. The other walls are a soft vanilla, the ceiling and plantation shutters will be in white. We love the thought of all of this combined so fingers crossed it works as well in the bedroom as it does in my mind! The study is also very accommodating to grey carpet as our furniture is white, large accessories are red with some anodised aluminium thrown in for good measure.

For the plantation shutters upstairs we are going streamlined with narrow louvres and narrow panels (the top sample in the photo right). They will be made up so that each window is made up of 2 x 2 bifold shutters for a total of 4 shutters per window. We felt that if we did want to open the shutters and allow some sun in (in all honesty, there is 0% chance of that happening as we face South!) or watch the fireworks in the harbour at night, we can do so easily and without the shutters taking up hugs amounts of room when open. I really love the look of plantation shutters although the wider louvres (bottom sample in the picture right) really seem to be more suited to a Queenslander and not a teeny, tiny townhouse in inner Sydney. I have seen examples of both sizes in properties nearby and I am pretty certain we have made the right decision. I guess we will know for sure in about 3 weeks time...

Friday, 27 January 2012

Big Day Out (BDO) 2012

When we bought our tickets to the 2012 BDO back in October last year, on a day that was unseasonably warm and with no threat of rain or storms, we were well on board. We planned our day and we booked our hotel - being middle-aged and lazy, we no longer do trains home after a big day out at Homebush but choose to stay in the luxury that is the Pullman Hotel, some 10kms from home instead. However, as the day got closer and the weather forecasts predicted doom and gloom, we got more and more concerned. So it was a huge surprise that the Australia Day 2012 dawned bright and shiny! And what's more, the weather gods really went all out for the whole day. Not one shower and some pretty intense sunshine too. Bingo.

It was by far the best BDO I have been too. Unlike previous years, we spent most of our day in the main arena, switching spots on the grass or in the stand to get the best vantage point depending on what stage was being used and how hot the sun was. I loved The Jezebels, my definite priority for the BDO and the first band we headed off to see. Eady loved the Hilltop Hoods and just like two years ago, they whipped the crowd up into a frenzy. Living End, although not a band that we would list in our top 10 favourites, were the consumate performers and everyone went kinda crazy watching them which made it a lot of fun. Kanye West was very good as expected (we saw him a couple of times before when he supported U2 in Australia) but the show was a bit self-indulgent and more suited to a concert then a festival. Note to Kanye, the kiddies just want to sing and dance, not watch theatrics and fireworks. Kasabian were definitely the highlight of the day although a shout out to Noel Gallagher too. We only caught the last half of his show due to bloody Kanye's melodramatics but what we did see was very cool and very much like what we expected Noel to be like.

After our night in the hotel, there was no time to lounge around in our king-size bed. We had a 6.30am wake-up to ensure that we could get to work on time. Aaaargh, the things we responsible adults have to do to fund our social lives...

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Lazy Days

I worked from home today and despite me working super hard, not everyone in the house pulled their weight...

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Gourmet and Grit

Eady has been keen to try a Mexican restaurant recommended to him by a work colleague for weeks called El Barrio in Bayswater Road, Kings Cross. So when I booked tickets to see "The Boys" at a theatre just down the road after completely forgetting my vow to avoid any travel that involved a trip over the Harbour Bridge over the two weekends that works were being carried out, we decided to give El Barrio a go. We headed there for a "kiddie-timed" dinner at 6pm so that we could make the theatre by 7pm. As the food can be ordered in the style of tapas, this wasn't a problem at all and the staff were fabulous about ensuring we would be able to finish in time. Everything was handmade: from the guacamole to the pulled pork on corn chips to the 3 different flavours of tacos we ate - crumbed flat head (heaven in our collective mouths!), frejoles and chicken. The margaritas were sensational too. Eady managed to down two in the hour we were there and even finished off mine whilst giving blessing for the fact he married such a light-weight in the alcohol consumption stakes. The style of the decor was really lovely too and had me thinking about adding concrete floors and exposed brick walls to our list of renovation musts for our townhouse...

After dinner, it was off to the Griffin Theatre where "The Boys" was being staged. I have seen the movie by the same name a number of times (gritty Australian drama being my  most favourite movie genre), which was taken from the original stage production that debuted in Sydney some 20 years ago. It is loosely based on what became known in the media at the time as "The Anita Cobby Killing", a horrific and sadistic murder committed against a young female nurse by a group of 3 brothers. The play was set in the backyard of the house in which the brothers lived and the scenes alternated between pre and post-crime. It reflected on the build-up to the crime and the misogynistic views the brothers had not only towards the women in their lives but the female race in general. It touched on class themes, family loyalty at all costs, feelings of inferiority the brothers had as well as the effect prison can have on someone and the question of rehabilitation within the prison system. It also highlighted not only the acceptance by the women in the lives of the brothers of their faults but the resignation they felt in that the attitudes and behaviour displayed were just part of being a man "It's the thing you see all the time, on street corners and outside's a kind of energy and it's full of nothing but evil".  It was quite harrowing to watch at times, particularly in the second half and I was not the only person grappling with the sheer hatred displayed towards women by the three main characters. Despite the challenging themes, Eady and I both thought the production was brilliant and were really pleased to be able to see such a riveting Australian production. 

Thursday, 19 January 2012

My boots are made for walking!

When you wake up to a weather forecast of 26C and showers in the height of summer, you just have to make the best of it and for me that usually means warm weather clothing paired with wet weather footwear. Strappy shoes (or god forbid, anything as delicate as a Chanel ballet slipper) are definitely not the best choice in my personal opinion, for traipsing from the grassy carpark to the office and back again. So, taking the glass half full view of Sydney's crazy summer weather, I decided to debut my new tan Belstaff boots. They were purchased on our recent Christmas trip to ye ole Blighty, where on the last Saturday before flying home the combination of a quick one hour madcap shop in Hampstead with my sister, a strong Aussie dollar in the post-Christmas sales plus my sister's own desire to buy herself some boots, resulted in a purchase of a pair of my very own. I have wanted a pair of tan boots with a wooden stacked heel forever, ones that looked a little bit 70s mixed with a little bit country and preferably well below the knee so they could be worn all year round back in Oz. It just so happened that these were the ticket. Add to that 25% off plus a VAT refund at the airport, it was just too good a deal to pass up. So my feelings after my first wear? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these boots!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Culture Vultures Tour 2012 - J Mascis

We decided to start our cultural new year off with a shout-out to our glory days - the 90s where we had no responsibilities other then getting to a uni lecture on time, with bonus points if that happened after no sleep the night before. The first event of 2012 saw us off to enjoy the music of J Mascis, the founder and frontman of Dinosaur Junior, in the Spielgeltent in Hyde Park where he was playing as part of the Sydney Festival 2012. Eady somehow managed to snaffle some tickets when they were first released and was giddy with excitement as the last time he had seen J was at one of the first Big Day Outs back in the early 90s, definitely a long time between drinks in anyone's pub! But 20 years seemed to have passed in a blur for most of us there, J included - Eady and I love a concert but love an early finish even more especially now that age and work commitments have wearied us. So the 7pm kick off was brilliant! Luckily it was only the start of the brilliance of the night as J was amazing. His voice has matured so much and is so deep and resonating. Without the backing of his band, the acoustic show definitely had a Country-meets-California vibe about it, even with the old Dinosaur Junior songs he played.

As for the Speigeltent, it was our first experience of this temporary venue and I have to say it was pretty amazing. The interior is like an old-fashioned circus tent with lead-light windows and a giant chandelier dangling from the Big Top. There are chairs in front of the teeny stage at one end, booths around the sides of the tent with a standing section near the entrance. It feels as if the venue only holds a handful of people and there is not one bad seat in the house, even the standing room offers fabulous views. Despite a big queue, we got ourselves 3rd row seats (after declining front row) and just chilled with some wine for the duration of the show. This really is concert-going for the old and weary!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Back to Work for 2012

Today was my first day back at The Office after our Christmas in the UK. After dressing in civvies suitable for winter in the northern hemisphere for the last few weeks, it was time to get back into 9 to 5 dressing for summer in Sydney. The dress code at The Office is best described as relaxed, where being identified as "A Suit" means that you are out of touch with reality and lacking in some serious NFP credibility. Aaaaargh, the pressure! I wanted to make an effort i.e. not immediately resort back to jeans, sandals and singlets of my pre-Christmas wardrobe but not so much of an effort that I came over all corporate. Gosh, no wonder my brain was tired before I even left home! With all of these priorities balanced in my mind, today's 2012 debut outfit turned out to be:

My top is from a cute little shop in Surry Hills, my skirt from Country Road and new Jimmy Choos fresh from London (the flat version of my heeled favourites which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!) accessorised with two necklaces, the white one of which was a Christmas present from my SIL, Beady. Even though I did get a lovely compliment on my outfit today, I am already feeling tempted by the ease of dressing in denim so we shall see what tomorrow brings...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

A Quick Update

My, how time flies when you're having fun! It has been quite some time since my last blog post - 3 months to be exact. So how did 2011 end up? Well, work-wise, I started a new role in a new company in a new industry back in July. It has been an incredible experience and I have loved every minute of the new challenges and experiences that these changes have brought with them. I had a major KPI due before the end of 2011 and I am very excited to say that a few late nights and a bit of craziness meant that this was actually achieved at the end of November - woo hoo! There is obviously some personal satisfaction that results from coming in ahead of time on major deadlines but more importantly, now that I have left the dark corporate side and joined a Not-for-Profit company, it is the benefits that our target audience will receive that really drive and motivate me. My days are spent working to directly benefit people with a physical disability, as opposed to making money to buy the CEO's second private jet(!). Trust me, overtime is so much easier to handle when there is an altruistic reason behind it.

As for Eady, he was offered a very exciting promotion in his company back in October. Now a CFO for an Australian retail company, he needs to keep a very tight rein on spending within the company amongst other accountant-y type things. Apart from the obvious pride I have, the fact that he scrutinises company bank balances all day has meant that he has had less inclination to scrutinise home finances which I have taken complete and unashamed advantage of over the last couple of months. The plus of this is that the global economy continues to be sustained by internet shopping purchases linked to one particular IP address in Australia that may or may not be connected to my ipad/Mac/iphone...However, I do acknowledge that I need to be more fiscally responsible especially now that we have a new addition to the household - our tabby/tortie cross, Honey Boo! She is the cutest puddy, she never cries, is quite independent but still loves a good cuddle too. She was abandoned at about 3.5 weeks of age when she had only just opened her eyes and hadn't yet been weaned. A work colleague found her on a roundabout in a busy Sydney street and we all took turns to do her 4 hourly dropper feeds in our very pet-friendly office and then taking turns to look after her at night. When it was my turn, she just never left! She has even won over very anti-cat Eady too, which is no mean feat.

On the home front, all is well and life in Sydney's lower North Shore has continued to be nice and relaxed, albeit on a much cooler scale then we would like given the time of the year. Our home suburb is undergoing quite the metamorphosis at the moment, all thanks to Clover's new liquor licensing laws and we now have a veritable selection of local bars and new restaurants to eat at, all within a 5 minute walk of home. Apart from sheer convenience, this also means we no longer covert the lifestyle on offer in the Eastern suburbs or in our old home town of Melbourne :)

On a final note, Eady and I spent Christmas and New Year with my family in London which was wonderful. More to follow on that topic in later posts once the jet lag has cleared!